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By Ken Weingartner, USTA — Tim Tetrick will enter Friday’s two Triple Crown events for 3-year-olds at MGM Yonkers Raceway driving horses starting as No. 1. He hopes to see that number again, connected to their finishing positions, when the races are completed.

Security Protected and Tetrick will leave from post No. 1 in the $300,000 MGM Yonkers Trot, the first jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown. The Marcus Melander-trained colt, unbeaten in three starts this season, is the 3-2 morning-line favorite.

One race earlier, Armada Hanover and Tetrick will leave from post one in the $225,000 MGM Grand Messenger Stakes, the first jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown. The Brett Pelling-trained gelding is the 4-1 third choice on the morning line.

Post one is statistically the most advantageous starting spot at Yonkers, producing winners at a 19-percent clip.

Security Protected was one of three horses to receive a bye to the Yonkers Trot final. He heads to the race with three victories on the Pennsylvania stakes circuit, including a 1:53 triumph at Mohegan Pennsylvania’s Pocono Downs in his seasonal debut on May 19 with Tetrick in the sulky. The colt rallied from sixth place in the stretch with a :27.2 last quarter to win by a half-length. His time is tied for the season’s second best for a 3-year-old male trotter on a five-eighths-mile track, trailing only T C I’s 1:52.2 clocking.

“He flew through the stretch and came home strong,” Tetrick said. “He raced really good. He’s always been a pretty nice handy horse, and this year he’s just more mature. He’s a true professional. He gets the job done.”

Security Protected has hit the board in 12 of 14 career races, winning seven and earning $442,540. His four victories last year included a 1:52.4 triumph in a division of the International Stallion Stakes at The Red Mile, which was the third-fastest mile of the season by a 2-year-old male trotter, behind only millionaires Karl and T C I. He finished second behind T C I in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship and third behind Karl and T C I in the Breeders Crown final.

Karl and T C I are ranked 1-2, respectively, in Meadowlands announcer/analyst Ken Warkentin’s Road to the Hambletonian. The $1 million Hambletonian, which will be contested Aug. 3 at the Big M, is the second jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown. The Kentucky Futurity, held in October, completes the series.

“Those two are awful special,” Tetrick said about Karl and T C I. “Hopefully, (Security Protected) keeps getting better and stronger and catches up to those guys.”

Security Protected, a son of Father Patrick-Thatsnotmyname whose family includes 2010 Hambletonian champ Muscle Massive, will be making his first start on a half-mile track when he visits Yonkers for the Yonkers Trot.

“He should be fine,” Tetrick said. “He’s great gaited. He’s handy, light on his feet; I see no problems with him handling that track.”

Situationship and Sir Pinocchio, who were the other Yonkers Trot bye recipients, are the second and third choices on the morning line, at 3-1 and 4-1, respectively. Situationship, who is 2-for-2 this year and won a division of the Empire Breeders Championship on June 14, will leave from post eight with trainer Ake Svanstedt in the sulky. Dexter Cup winner Sir Pinocchio will leave from post two with Jason Bartlett driving for trainer Ed Hart.

Bargain, who won last week’s lone elimination race in 1:54.3 for driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Nancy Takter, will leave Friday from post three and is 10-1. Svanstedt’s second entry in the event, Flying Kronos S, will start from post five with driver Dexter Dunn and is 8-1. He finished fourth in the elim.

“There are no easy races,” Tetrick said. “Any of them could jump up and be good.”

The past five editions of the Yonkers Trot have been won by horses trained by either Svanstedt or Melander, with Svanstedt winning in 2018 with Six Pack, 2021 with Johan Palema, and 2023 with Up Your Deo. Melander won in 2019 with Gimpanzee and 2022 with the filly Joviality S. There was no race in 2020.

In the Messenger Stakes, Tetrick will drive Armada Hanover, who finished second to Howlenthehills in one of the event’s two eliminations last week. He was beaten by a head as Howlenthehills won for the sixth time in six starts this year.

The other elim was won by Janelle Granny, who was driven by Tetrick. Howlenthehills will leave from post four in the final with Matt Kakaley driving for Travis Alexander and is the 2-1 morning-line favorite. Janelle Granny, who will have George Brennan driving for Scott DiDomenico, will leave from post six and is the 3-1 second choice.

“I’ve driven Armada off and on for the last two years for Brett,” Tetrick said. “I like the horse. I think he’s going to get better with age. I thought last week was a very good performance for him. He likes to chase and comes off a helmet really good. Hopefully, we can do good with him.”

Armada Hanover, a son of Stay Hungry-Anderosa Hanover, is a three-quarter brother to Dan Patch Award-winner Allywag Hanover. He has hit the board in 12 of 15 career races, winning three and finishing second on eight occasions. This year, he has four seconds and a third in six starts. One of his runner-up finishes came behind 2023 Breeders Crown champ Gem Quality in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes.

“He’s been racing against a tough 3-year-old group,” Tetrick said. “The Pennsylvania-bred sire stakes horses are a lot of times the best in the country. He’s been chasing them, he just hasn’t beat them yet. This is a good race for him. Hopefully, he can get his picture taken.”

The Messenger is the first leg of the Pacing Triple Crown, followed by the Cane Pace in August and Little Brown Jug in September.

Friday’s card at Yonkers also includes the $90,000 Park MGM Filly Pace for sophomore female pacers and two $55,000 divisions of the New York New York Mile for sophomore female trotters. Peace Talks is the 6-5 morning-line favorite in the Park MGM while She Shaq and Southwind Banshee, both at 8-5, and R Melina, at 3-5, get the nods in the New York New York splits.

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