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September 1, 2018-It didn't start out as a match race, but it quickly became one.

A wide-early Stay Hungry (Doug McNair, $7.60) outgamed an out-a-long-way Jimmy Freight (Louis-Philippe Roy) Saturday night (Sept. 1st), winning Yonkers Raceway's Messenger Stakes No. 63.

The half-million-dollar second jewel of the Pacing Triple Crown offered a handful of leavers, including 66-1 rank outsider Winston (Corey Callahan), Babes Dig Me (George Brennan) and the "match-race twins."

Cane Pace winner Stay Hungry, from post position No. 6, was caught deep in the early going, eventually getting the lead after a 27.1 opening quarter-mile. Eight-holer Jimmy Freight, the lone $30,000 supplemental entrant here, was actually able to get underneath Stay Hungry and found a brief seat fourth.

However "Jimmy," who scorched a 1:50.3 effort in last week's second elim, was out and moving again. He was destined to become Stay Hungry's synchronized shadow, starting with a 55.3 half. The tandem were not quite in lock step at the 1:23 three-quarters, but close enough.

Meanwhile, the remaining half-dozen-including a second-over, second-choice Springsteen (Brian Sears)-were being outrun.

Stay Hungry actually opened a length-and-a-quarter in and out of the final turn, but Jimmy Freight was relentless. He fought the good fight, but Stay Hungry lasted by a persevered neck in 1:52.1. Third went to a third-over Topville Olympian (Jim Morrill Jr.) with Babes Dig Me-last week's other elim winner and Nutcracker Sweet (Jordan Stratton) rounding out the payees.

For second choice Stay Hungry, a $150,000 (Lexington) of 2008 Messenger winner Somebeachsomewhere co-owned by Brad Grant & Irwin Samelman Estate and trained by Tony Alagna, it was his fourth win in 10 '18 tries (career 10-for-19, earnings now $1,154,072) The exacta paid $8.40, the triple paid 86.50 and the superfecta paid 267.50.
The Triple Crown Daily Double (Six Pack/Stay Hungry) paid $8.20.

It was McNair's first Messenger start, while Alagna has three stakes wins (Revenge Shark 2015, Racing Hill 2016) in the past four seasons.

"I actually had him too much up on his toes," McNair said. "I probably could have taken my time a little bit more (going for the lead), I just thought Jimmy (Freight) would get over there a little quicker than he did, but it all worked out.

"They both got pretty tired there the last sixteenth. We got lucky to hold on."

"Tony does a great job. He's just a pleasure to drive. Every week he gives you a hundred percent. The front end usually isn't his forte, but he showed tonight that he could do it."

“When we’re doing the staking, I have in mind horses that I think will suit the racetrack, suit this style of racing,” Alagna said. “This horse has always been very good in the turns, even though maybe it’s not the run-and-gun, but I thought he was a horse that could get around here. After the horse won the Cane, it was a no-brainer.

"We had to go for the Triple Crown, so that's why we brought him here tonight. We've been very blessed in this race. It's a great race for us."

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