• ‘Levy’ Brigades Begin Battles At Yonkers

    POSTED Mar 19, 2014
    Damn the weather, spring is here because Yonkers Raceway launches the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series and the Blue Chip Matchmaker this weekend. It’s a six-week Free-For-All feast for older pacers, the ‘Levy,’ and pacing mares, the Matchmaker.

    The Matchmaker mares begin their journey with four divisions ($40,000 each) on Friday, March 21, and the stalwart male pacers cross paths with five divisions ($50,000 each) the following night. Be with us each week for analysis and suggested contenders in one of the more contentious series of the season, complete with upsets and striking star action as the divisions narrow down to the final in April.

    Meanwhile, from the Meadowlands on Friday and Saturday, the Horse & Groom trotters and the Clyde Hirt pacers continue their series.

    Even with the feature menu full, the horses to watch (H2W) list, presented exclusively for TwinSpires harness blog readers, send up flares for probable across-the-board and exotic contenders that can cause cashing. Please note that horses from our featured overnight events the week before appear on the H2W list as second-time members if they did not win when we highlighted their previous race.

    ’Levy’ Lancers

    Yonkers Raceway’s Saturday night program gathers 36 opening-round Levy lancers for races 2.4,5,9 and 11. Ten of the warriors carry the Ron Burke training flag, including two-time Levy champ Foiled Again (second last season). He is, of course, the sport’s highest money earner ($6,030,968).

    Race 2
    It looks like a pace-away romp for Dancin Yankee but for a few unknowns, like Word Power. Just how much better has he gotten after waking up late last season? It remains to be seen. It would be a huge surprise if he got to “Yank” here but he is worth a shot other than a pass and an exacta with Yank.

    Race 4
    Ron Burke and P J Fraley (a combined six entered in the opening round) each have coupled entries in the second division, where double-millionaire Sweet Lou (post 5) makes his five-year-old debut. “Lou” ended his 2013 season with a handy win in an Open Handicap at this oval and he comes off of a fiery 1:51.1 qualifier on the mile. Fraley’s Here We Go Again and Fat Mans Alley will get some play, but this division wreaks of low returns. If you feel Lou is best, try him atop Pan From Nantucket and Sapphire City, both of which may sneak into a pay spot if the traffic gets thick midway.

    Race 5
    A huge favorite, AJ Corabelli, leaves from the golden post 1 and the Burke duo from posts 3 and 7. Bet On The Law will have an outside chance as a contender returning to start his season and may get a charmed steer from Brian Sears to edge by the obvious members of this group.

    Race 9
    Doctor Butch, a state-bred standout and last season’s Art Rooney Pace champ, begins his four-year-old season in this division. Trainer Linda Toscano may have him ready but he will have to work for it since this group already has some decent earners. Burke’s pair will be hammered but here, again, Sears is aboard an outsider, Malak Uswaad N, that could take advantage of the suspicious talent involved.

    Race 11
    Foiled Again draws in with the red-hot Apprentice Hanover, who has won nine consecutive races (five this season) for trainer Ben Wallace. If he is going to make it six, he will have to outshine “Foiled,” who is coming off of swift qualifying miles. And look at the morning-line odds, gracing Hillbilly Hanover at 6-5 for his return to the races. Dare we look for another Sears-upset? Why not? Texican N is fast and is the second highest earner in the group. Go for it.


    Friday, March 21, Yonkers’ Blue Chip Matchmaker begins Friday with 29 Free-For-All pacing mares going in races 4,6,9 and 10. Defending series champion Feeling You goes in the third event, from post 5 for co-owner driver Tyler Buter. She comes off a 12-win, $407,000-plus season in 2013.

    Race 4
    Shelliscape debuts, her 2013 bow being a Breeders Crown win. She faces Burke’s Rocklamation and Camille and the hot Angels Delight in the seven-mare malaise. This is a good shot for Cheyenne Miriam to prove she will make noise in thie series. The Siegelman barn has her sharp for this, which could be her first win of six tries already this year.

    Race 6
    One of Burke’s two in this split is the in-and-out Androvette. She is a terrific contender but can have her carefree moments when she disappoints as the choice and here she should be the choice. Perhaps overlooked will be Uf Dragon’s Queen. Trainer Mark Ford may have her primed to open with a strategic trip against suspicious speed here, upsetting with a price, for sure.

    Race 9
    Here’s a set up for a closer, with a rash of speed that could be too much by three-quarters. Feeling Good will try to steal her first outing with hopes of sweeping another championship; Somewherovrarainbow will be in hot pursuit of the lead and Burke’s Charisma Hanover won’t easily give up the rail spot in an attempt to command the fractions. This could open a path for Campanile, who has only two starts and one of them a win. In a speed-dueling scenario she is the late flyer and should bring with her a rewarding price.

    Race 10
    Economy Terror may be the best from past battles but will that allow her to pay well enough? She may work as a key in exotics better, especially if Rockaround Sue makes a late statement.

    Meadowlands In Motion

    Friday, the trotters in the Horse & Groom Series are on board for another leg. In the first division we are going to go with our choice from last week, Crosbys Calm Bake, who was scratched. All the same reasons hold up here, as his Meadows’ races make him look ready for the fight. Why he scratched may not matter.

    In the second division, we hope the crowd sticks with the obvious choices and lays off of Banker Volo. In his defeat against this race’s probable favorite Amigo Ranger (6-1 last week but not expected to have that value here), “Volo” broke out of the gate and made up a ton of real estate to finish fifth. He was well supported then, so we look for a fickle betting public to hold that break against him and raise the odds. He certainly appears ready to fly if he stays flat.

    The Clyde Hirt Series ensues Saturday and in the first division we see an outside contender in Burkentine Hanover. We aren’t going to let the 10-post start bother us, it should only increase his odds. He is in fine shape and cuts the mile with the best of his competitors, so value should ride the mile with him against no particular dynamos.

    After a frustrating sophomore season, Wake Up Peter woke up around New Year’s Day for trainer Larry Remmen and is in perfect shape, having not lost one in four starts. Why should he be beaten here when it is looking like he can sweep the series? Judge the value yourself but if you want any upset chance, go with Nathaniel B, who lost for us last week but put in a great race at 54-1. Could be an exacta booster, too, with “Pete” either way.

    H2W Legend

    Review our choices and follow the wagering at the prescribed track. These are possible contenders we have judged from reviewing races. The horses’ names are listed beneath the name of the track after the date they will be racing. The race in which they are entered (R and race number) follows. If a + is in front of a horse’s name it means it is appearing on the list for the second (and last time) because it failed to win the first time it appeared. An “AE” signals the horse is entered but on the also-eligible list. Types of wagering on any of the H2W listed horses are based on your judgment. If you have any questions, email us at TwinSpires.


    3/21/14, +RA Shakenbake R6

    Cal Expo
    3/21/14, Love Live Laugh R4; +Lust R7; +Mystically Mine R7; +Missys Diamond R8; +Cordealia R8; Wild About Eagle R10; Skyway King R13
    3/22/14, Scarboro Hanover R12

    3/23/14, +Snowball’s Keeper R5; Briteolive R7; Chipoffablueblock R11

    3/20/14, +Lemon Drop Hall R6
    3/22/14,+Docdor Laughing R1; Waywatcher R1; +GW Gizmo R4

    3/20/14, +Sturdy As A Hall R4  
    3/21/14, +Handoffmycupcake R5; Grey Ice R9

    3/21/14, +Hawaii And Son R6; +Nottin To Much R10; +Truth To Power R12

    Miami Valley
    3/20/14, +Alluring Art R4; +B Quite Marvelous R6; Dream On Shorty R7; Camilla The Terror R11

    3/22/14, +Quinnman R4; +Danishdujour R13

    3/22/14,+ Premier R3; +Avantage R4; +Waldy Jimmy R6; +Skad’s Winner R7; 

    3/22/14, Lone Raider R1;+Doomsday Hanover R3; +Wicked Persuasion R4;+Nuclear Standoff R7; Gamblers Vacation R10; +Caviat Lindy R11; Nothing Wrong R12

    3/21/14, Coraggioso R11

    Ray Cotolo contributed to each Thursday edition.      
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