Yonkers, NY --- The Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace, long a Yonkers Raceway stakes staple for 2-year-old colts and geldings, returned to the menu Saturday night after a nine-year hiatus.
A trio of $25,000 eliminations--with six contestants each--led into next Saturday's final, worth $119,000.
The first battalion was led by OK Fame (George Brennan, $6.90), who sat a three-hole Americasgottalent (Jason Bartlett), with To Beach His Own (Ray Schnittker) loosely pocketed. As Americasgottalent (:28.2, :58.2, 1:27) came back to his rivals through the lane, he bore out as To Beach His Own was bearing in. The pair locked wheels, with To Beach His Own making a break. Visa Viper (Brent Holland) altered, then left, the course. Meanwhile, OK Fame, after hanging a slight right to avoid the close quarters, was up by a nose in 1:56.3.
To Beach His Own, who crossed the line second, was deemed to have initiated the contact and was set down to fourth.
For OK Fame, a homebred son of The Panderosa-Mary Artman co-owned by Oak Knoll Stables and trainer Mark Ford, it was his second win (both in identical times) in three frosh tries. The exacta paid $13.20, with triple wagering scrapped due to a five-horse field.
The second Sheppard elim saw Scalped (Bartlett, $5.50) last on the lead (:28.2, :57.4, 1:26.2, 1:56.1) in an early-career life-best. Dealmaker (Larry Stalbaum) was a passing-lane second, with Rocnrolwilneverdie (Brennan) a first-up third.
For Scalped, a statebred son of Bettor's Delight-Spirit Of The West owned by Brenda Teague and trained by George Teague Jr., he is now 2-for-2 to begin his career. The exacta paid $19.40, with the triple returning $43.
The third and final stakes elim found Doctor Butch (Bartlett, $3) eschewing an early three-hole, then throwing down the gauntlet (:27.2, :57, 1:26.1) to the tune of 1:55.2...by far the fastest frosh event. Hail the Taxi (Eric Goodell) rallied from last among the half-dozen to grab second--beaten four lengths--with A Bettor World (Brennan) third.
For Doctor Butch, an Empire-bred Art Major-Classical Yankee colt owned by Ken Jacobs and trained by Linda Toscano, it was his first win in a couple of tries. The exacta paid $41, with the triple returning $99.
"He's very green, but he has a lot of talent," Bartlett said.
The finalists for the Sheppard, in alphabetical order, are...A Bettor World, Americasgottalent, Dealmaker, Doctor Butch, Hail the Taxi, OK Fame, Rocnrolwilneverdie and Scalped. The race shall be drawn (open draw) Tuesday afternoon.
Saturday night's $44,000 Open Handicap Pace was won by Dancin Yankee (Greg Merton, $8.70) in 1:51.2.