By John Cirillo
There will be a different kind of “March Madness” hoping for a “Bracket Buster” on Sunday afternoon at Yonkers Raceway when Calipari – the horse – a 9-1 shot – tries for the upset in the First Division of the Yonkers vs. France Drivers’ Cup. The eight-year-old is owned by Rocco Manniello of Astoria, NY, but will compete for the French flag-carrier, driver Pierre Levesque, and drew post position six. Hasty Profit, with Yonkers’ leading driver and team captain Jason Bartlett handling the reins, has been tabbed the 5-2 morning line favorite from post position two in that first leg.
Calipari, a gelding sired by Ken Warkentin, is coached…errr trained…by Michael Forte.
“Don’t really follow college sports, but I know he’s a basketball coach,” says the owner. “I watch horses more than any other sport – both thoroughbreds and harness. Most of my horses race in New York.
“I’ve been an owner since 1989,” adds Manniello. It’s interesting that he’s (Calipari) racing on Sunday with the NCAA tournament taking place.”
The full details of the inaugural competition are below:
Yonkers, NY—On the heels of an exhilarating return of the Yonkers International Trot last October, and successful French-hub simulcasting to over a dozen countries since November ’14, Yonkers Raceway will continue its international intrigue this Sunday afternoon (March 20). Five of Yonkers Raceway’s premier drivers square off against five French counterparts in the first round of inaugural Yonkers-Vincennes Drivers’ Cup.
The two-nation competition begins on Empire City Casino’s historic half mile in races two and four, 1 ¼ mile trotting affairs which will be among those simulcast to the French-hubbed audience. The Cup then wraps-up with the second round at Vincennes in Paris, France, one race each on Friday, June 24, and Sunday, June 26.
Here are the Drivers’ Cup line-ups:
Yonkers Raceway: Jason Bartlett (captain), Tyler Buter, Dan Dube, Pat Lachance and Jordan Stratton; France:Pierre Vercruysse (captain), Matthieu Abrivard, Nicolas Ensch, Pierre Levesque and Franck Ouvrie.
In the First Division, carded as race two, Hasty Profit with Yonkers’ leading driver and team captain Jason Bartlett handling the reins, has been tabbed the 5-2 morning line favorite from post position two; the appropriately-named March Madness marauder Calipari is the 9-1 bracket buster for Frenchman Pierre Levesque from post six.
In the Second Division, the fourth race on the matinee program, Fast Eddie, with another Yonkers standout, Jordan Stratton in the bike, is the morning line favorite from post nine in the second tier, at 5-2; another aptly-named trotter, Paris Princess N., driven of course by the French flag-carrier Levesque, is 8-1 from post position two.
These are the full fields with posts, drivers and odds for the Yonkers-Vincennes Drivers’ Cup:
Division I, 2nd Race, 1 ¼ mile Trot, Purse $18,800: 1. Extracurricular, Matthieu Abrivard, 7-2; 2. Hasty Profit, Jason Bartlett, 5-2; 3. Brickyard Classic, Nicolas Ensch, 9-1; 4. Lily’s Swan Pond, Jordan Stratton, 20-1; 5. Vegliantino, Franck Ouvrie, 12-1; 6. Calipari, Pierre Levesque, 9-1; 7. HeadsAreGonna Turn, Tyler Buter, 5-1; 8. Big Bill Breeze, Pat Lachance, 20-1; 9. Wild Smile, Pierre Vercruysse, 10-1; 10. Gianni, Dan Dube, 20-1.
Division II, 4th Race, 1 ¼ mile Trot, Purse $16,400: 1. Play The Justice, Tyler Buter, 12-1; 2. Paris Princess N., Pierre, Levesque, 8-1; 3. R. Choochoo Charlie, Jason Bartlett, 6-1; 4. Lukas Hall, Franck Ouvrie, 20-1; 5. Massive Talent, Dan Dube, 3-1; 6. Time Will Tell All, Matthieu Abrivard, 20-1; 7. Western Credit, Pat Lachance, 20-1; 8. Ras ShackinThTBacon, Pierre Vercruysse, 6-1; 9. Cousin Eddie, Jordan Stratton, 5-1; 10. Limitless, Nicolas Ensch, 20-1.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Buter said. “It’s an honor to be part of Yonkers’ team and I hope things work out well for us.”
Monsieur Lachance, on the other hand, was a bit more matter-of-fact. Asked if he had any advice for the visitors. “No,” Lachance said. “I want to win.”
First post Sunday is 1:10 PM, with the first seven races going at half-hour intervals.