03/20/2016 4:57PM

Yonkers: Stratton leads hometown drivers to victory over France

Mike Lizzi
USA and France were represented in the first Drivers' Cup.

Jordan Stratton led Yonkers Raceway’s quintet of drivers Sunday afternoon to a win over their French counterparts in the opening round of the inaugural Drivers’ Cup.

Round One was contested in two races, each featuring 10 trotters at the mile-and-one-quarter distance and included in the seven events simulcast to a French-hubbed audience.

Scoring was compiled using a 17/12/9/7/6/5/4/3/2/1/ points formula (five points in the event of a scratch, an occurrence which did not come into play here).

Stratton picked up the gauntlet for the locals, earning a share of a win with 23-1 Lily’s Swan Pond ($15.80 dead-heat win mutuel) in the $18,800 first event and easily winning the second event with Cousin Eddie ($7.40)

The first event (2:31 2/5) was a Yonkers’ sweep, with captain Jason Bartlett getting the other half of the win pie with 11-10 favorite Hasty Proffitt ($2.80 dead-heat win mutuel). Headsaregonna Turn (Tyler Buter) was an unlucky third.

Stratton was not in a sharing mood in the second race (2:29 4/5) of the competition, isolated for much of the race with “Eddie” as the pair won by 7-1/4 lengths. Paris Princess N (Pierre Levesque) was a best-of-the-rest second, with Massive Talent (Dan Dube) third.

The final team totals were 85 points for Yonkers (45 + 40), and 47 for France (26 + 21).

“It was just an honor for me to be asked to participate,” Stratton said. "The first trotter (Lily’s Swan Pond) hung a bit late, but at least was able to get there for the dead-heat. The second one (Cousin Eddie) is just very sharp right now.

“The French drivers are all pros, but they don’t have the small-track experience.”

“This is true,” French captain Pierre Vercruysse said in response to Stratton's comments. “There are some half-mile tracks in Europe and we do watch (Yonkers) races when they are simulcast to France, so we learned from that."

Vercruysse, who did have an extended stateside stay earlier in his career, was appreciative of this return visit.

“Everyone in our party was very well-received,” he said.

Pat Lachance was the fifth Beatle for Yonkers, while France’s other participants were Matthieu Abrivard, Nicolas Ensch and Franck Ouvrie.

The French returning the hosting favor in June, with Yonkers’ contingent going to Paris (Vincennes) for a pair of races.

Sunday afternoon’s $50,000 Open Handicap Trot, also at the added distance, was won by a repeating Major Athens (Brian Sears, $9.80) in 2:26 3/5.

-edited release