Harness racing action heats up Thursday-Saturday

Profile Picture: Ted Black

Ted Black

March 27th, 2018

While many sports enthusiasts will be eagerly anticipating this weekend's NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Final Four match-ups on Saturday evening, harness racing fans will have plenty of events to watch leading up to the pending finale of "March Madness" next Monday.

This Thursday marks the finale of the fall-spring meet at Dover Downs and the Delaware five-eighths mile oval will conclude in stellar fashion by hosting four $100,000 Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund finals for three-year-olds of both gaits and genders along with a $35,000 Preferred Handicap for older pacers.

In fact, the first two races on the card are the respective $100K DSBF finals for sophomore trotters, with the fillies opening the program and the colts capping the early daily double.

In the opener, Deja Vu Blue (Tim Tetrick) will seek a sweep of the series for trainer Dylan Davis when he starts from post seven off consecutive elim scores, while prelim winners Star Sapphire (Russell Foster) and Vandalous (Corey Callahan) will look to defeat the choice while overcoming posts six and eight, respectively. Uptown Spunk (Roger Plante, Jr.) and Alpine Chic (Allan Davis) will look to play spoiler roles as well with a trio of runner-up efforts in the elims between them.

Then one race later in the $100k final for sophomore colt trotters, prelim winners Super Fly (Art Stafford, Jr.) and Sky Marshall (Carlo Poliseno) will start from posts four and five, respectively. Super Fly posted the fastest prelim score of 1:57.3, while Sky Marshall prevailed in 1:59.3. Bosston Cruiser and Brother Kenny were runner-ups in their respective elims and will start from posts three and seven.

Then just before the midway point of the card, Go Sandy Go (Jason Green) will look to complete a series sweep for trainer Josh Green, while freshman heroine Gracefullyforgiven (Stafford) will seek to start her sophomore campaign with a pair of scores. Go Sandy Go looms the odds-on choice following her recent 1:54 victory, while Gracefullyforgiven seeks to immediately regain her juvenile form in just her second start of the season for trainer Jeff Clark.

Then two races later in the $100k DSBF final for sophomore pacing colts, Slick Tony (Foster) and Evolution Tour (Tetrick) will renew their rivalry. Slick Tony rebounded from a second-place finish in his seasonal debut behind Evolution Tour to prevail last week in 1:52.3 for owner-trainer-breeder George "Ronnie" Leager of Sudlersville. Evolution Tour will finally seek to dethrone Slick Tony in a final for trainer Jim King, Jr., having missed twice last year by a nose at Harrington and Dover.

Then Thursday's penultimate race on the card is the $35,000 Preferred Handicap for older pacers that includes last week's winner, Super Imposed N (Callahan), previous winners Major Uptrend (Tony Morgan) and Sicily (Montrell Teague) and former Levy series combatant Soto (Stafford). Machtu N (Pat Berry) arrives from Yonkers, while Normandy Beach (Tetrick) makes his belated seasonal debut in this tough spot for trainer Scott DiDomenico.

Friday's card at Yonkers Raceway again features the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series for pacing fillies and mares with four third round divisions slated as races six-nine.

In the opening split, L A Delight (Yannick Gingras) will look to climb the points standings when she goes in her quest of her second straight series tally after being scratched sick from the opener. The five-year-old Bettor's Delight mare trained by Nancy Johansson of JK She's A Lady fame, was a sharp 1:53.2 winner last week and gets the rail in a soft group that includes series fixture Mach It A Par (Jason Bartlett), a runner-up last week after finishing fourth the week before.

One race later, Shartin N (Tetrick) will seek her third straight series tally from post four for trainer Jim King, Jr., while railbound Lady Shadow (Bartlett) will look to rebound from a fourth-place finish at 2-5 last week after capturing an opening round split. Motu Moonbeam N (Brent Holland) pulled off a 36-1 shocker last week but gets post seven here, while Eclipse Me N (Daniel Dube) has been the victim of poor post positions, dull cover and slow fractions in her first two splits, but gets post two this week and should be a major threat in the lane.

Then one race later in the third BCMM division, Wishy Washy Girl (Bartlett) will seek her second series leg score from post six for trainer Richard Banca, while opening round winners Sell A Bit N (Jordan Stratton) and Twinkle (Eric Goodell) will look to rebound off modest defeats while well backed one week ago. Shesjustadelight N (Ron Cushing) draws the rail and should be around for a piece.

One race later in the fourth and final BCMM third round split, defending series heroine Mackenzie A (Stratton) seeks her second straight series score after benefiting from wicked fractions and a fading Lady Shadow last week but gets post six in a pace-less heat. Dudesalady (Brent Holland) and Newborn Sassy (Tetrick) both drew well and should move forward this week, while Clear Idea (Mark Macdonald), a runner-up from the rail last week, will look to get involved from post seven.

Saturday night' four divisions of the third round of the George Morton Levy series for aged pacers is also slated on the back end of the card and the series leaders are in again.

In the opening split, carded as the seventh race on the program, Mach It So (David Miller) drew favorably to pursue his second series score when he leaves from post two for the second time in three legs. Last week the Levy fixture left from post eight, tucked fourth, came back out first over and gave way late as Rockin Ron scored in 1:53.2. Hero of the $350,000 TVG Open in his season finale, Mach It So has been a fixture in this series since 2014 and appears a contender for the final yet again.

Missile J (Tetrick) has finished second once and third once in two Levy legs, both times as the odds-on choice. One of the dominant players in the series last spring and third in the final as the favorite, Missile J will look to regain his winning ways from post three just outside of Mach It So. Caviart Luca (George Brennan) draws the rail but looks outclassed here, while bettor Memories has been sneaky good in each of his first two leg outings.

One race later two-time series leg winner Dr J Hanover (Brett Miller) gets post four this week after a pair of rail draws and has the speed to make the top and dictate the tempo yet again for trainer Tony Alagna. Opening round winners Always At My Place (Brennan) and Bit Of A Legend N (Stratton) - the 2016 Levy hero - will start from posts two and six, respectively, and hope not to be burdened by another slow tempo. Another Daily Copy (Bartlett) gets the rail off a good try last week, while Christen Me N (Tetrick) will look to rebound off third- and sixth-place efforts at short prices.

Then two races later in the third Levy elim, two-time leg winner Rockin Ron (Yannick Gingras) seeks his third straight score for trainer Ron Burke from post four, while last week winners Western Fame (Macdonald) and Evenin of Pleasure (Joe Bongiorno) are on opposite ends of the draw this weekend leaving from the coveted rail and the dreaded eight hole, respectively. Last year's Levy final hero and champion aged pacer, Keystone Velocity (Daniel Dube) finally draws inside and should be a major player this week from post two after getting posts six and seven the first two weeks.

Then one race later in the fourth and clearly weakest Levy split used as the penultimate race on the card, all eight starters here will seek their first series triumphs this spring. All Bets Off (Gingras) gets the rail and should be a factor throughout, while Somewhere In L A (Bartlett), the series final runner-up last year, gets post six off a pair of second-place efforts in the series behind Western Fame and Dr J Hanover. Pompano Park invader Waikiki beach A (Scott Zeron) gets post two and will look to improve off a pair of dismal efforts in the opening two rounds, while Long Live Rock (Dube), Luciano N (Holland), Franco Raymer N (Bongiorno), Chumlee A (Larry Stahlbaum) and Change Stride N (Shaun Vallee) all make their third straight appearance in the series.