Seven three-year-old colts and one gelding will vie in the 57th edition of the Messenger at Empire City Casino’s historic half-mile oval.
A son of Rocknroll Hanover, Pet Rock drew post position seven with Yonkers leading driver George Brennan taking over the reins for the first time. The colt is owned by Frank Bellino of nearby Bronxville, NY, and trainer Virgil Morgan Jr. Owner Bellino won this event two seasons ago with eventual 2010 Horse of the Year, Rock N Roll Heaven.
Admission to the casino and raceway is free. First post is at 7:10 PM, while the Messenger’s approximate post time is 9:35 PM.
Pet Rock enters the Messenger with seven wins, four seconds and four thirds in 18 seasonal starts ($690,563). He sandwiched a pair of Woodbine Preferred wins--the former in a life-best 1:50--around a seventh-place effort in his Breeders Crown elimination. Pet Rock showed great affinity for Yonkers half mile oval when he won the Rooney in June with Brian Sears driving in 1:51, a stakes record as well as a new track standard for his age group.
Hillbilly Hanover, who hasn't won a race all season, drew the coveted rail post position in the Messenger, which goes as the eighth race on the card.
The draw, with declared drivers and odds, is as follows: 1-Hillbilly Hanover (Jim Morrill Jr., 4-1), 2-Domethatagain (Brent Holland, 10-1), 3-A Rocknroll Dance (Dave Miller, 5-1), 4-Lawgiver Hanover (Eric Goodell, 12-1), 5-Bolt the Duer (Mark MacDonald, 5-1), 6-Major Bombay (Brian Sears, 6-1), 7-Pet Rock (George Brennan, 3-1), 8-Steelhead Hanover (Jason Bartlett, 15-1).
The stakes companion event, the $229,440 Lady Maud Pace for 3-year-old fillies, goes as the sixth race (approximate post time 8:55 PM). The ladies line up as follows: 1-Bettor B Lucky (Morrill Jr., 6-1), 2-Handsoffmycookie (Miller, 5-1), 3-Ramalama (Bartlett, 15-1), 4-Economy Terror (Goodell, 3-1), 5-Major Look (Brennan, 6-1), 6-Romantic Moment (Sears, 8-5), 7-Rockaround Sue (MacDonald, 12-1).