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BY FRANK DRUCKER, Publicity Director, Empire City @ Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, February 7, 2015=Not Afraid (Dan Dube, $2.80) and a repeating Sapphire City (Eric Carlson, $10) grabbed the gusto Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's co=featured $35,000 Open Handicaps.

Not Afraid made it three wins in his last four featured trot tries. Outsprinted--from post position No. 6--at the outset by outside number Count Me In (George Brennan), the odds-on choice settled fourth. After early intervals of :27.4 and 58 seconds flat, Not Afraid took off after the leader, engaged in and out of the 1:26.3 three-quarters.

Not Afraid took over early in the lane, then held off a trio of closers to prevail in 1:55.4. On the Podium (Carlson) grabbed second, beaten, three-quarters of a length, with Awesome Valley (Jason Bartlett) third. A from-last Struck By Lindy and Murmur Hanover (Pat Lachance) completed the cashers.

For Not Afraid, a 6-year-old S J's Caviar gelding trained by Jimmy Takter for co-owners his wife, Christina, John Fielding and Goran Andeberg, he's 3-for-5 this season. The exacta paid $34.80, with the triple returning $200,.

Sapphire City, from post No. 3 in the pacing feature, made the first lead before Michael's Power (Dube) went by. That one, from an assigned eight-hole, cleared and led early (:27.1, :57.1). Invading Dapper Dude (Brian Sears) tried it first-up from fifth, prompting past a 1:25.1 three-quarters. The leader remained so, with a length-and-a-half in and out of the final turn.

However, he began to tire as Sapphire City ducked in and went by. In a virtual carbon copy of last week's race, he was able to whip a closing 2-1 choice Take it Back Terry (Brennan). The margin was a half-length (same as last Saturday) in 1:52.4. Dapper Dude held credibly for third, with Michael's Power and BJ's Guy settling for the minor spoils.

For third choice Sapphire City, a 7-year-old Metropolitan gelding trained by Paul Blumenfeld for co-owners Centaur Stable and Jordan Sklut, it was his second win in five seasonal starts (career earnings now over $900,000) The exacta paid $39, the triple returned $292.50 and the superfecta paid $699.

The Raceway's live season continues (weather permitting) Monday (7:10 PM), then a French-centric Tuesday (1 PM) and Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM).


(photos by Sean Hamrock)

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