Let The Season Begin: Older Pacers Battle In Yonkers Series With Initial Legs Of ‘Levy’ And Matchmaker

Profile Picture: Frank Cotolo

March 15th, 2018

Each year for the past decade, at least, we have sounded the traditional beginning of the stakes season around this time, as two great series for older pacers launch multi-week features at Yonkers Raceway. It’s time for the horse pacers to engage in The George Morton Levy and the mare pacers in the Blue Chip Matchmaker series. The first leg of each headlines our features as we head into spring, merely a week away.

For the start of our betting weekend, Thursday, we offer a selected feature in the form or our exclusive Partners For Picks format.

The horses-to-watch (H2W) list suggestions remain as serious considerations as the features, so do your own handicapping and then consider our H2W selections.


Saratoga / Race 3, 4. 5
Thursday, March 15

Fresh contenders, hopefully eluding public-type prices, surface for this Partners For Picks (PFP) Pick-3 multi-exotic.

Leg one, Race 3
This conditioned pace accepts some three-year-olds in the early affairs of their soph season, along with some others not older than five. The huge favorite gets the 2 hole, where the four-year-old mare has started in her recent three races, winning two at this level. Those directly following her to last week’s win are also in this field and one of them has a bloated morning line (ML) of 8-1. J-S Miss Carolyn has a pair of good efforts at this level this year, both times being beaten by the 2 horse. Leaving to the favorite’s right she should be an obvious second choice, at least, but we hope the MLs hold tight because near 8-1 is a great price to start off a Pick-3 ticket.

Leg two, Race 4
A conditioned trot featuring state-breds only is the middle-ground event in the ticket. We have our eyes on another 8-1 ML entry, this one a male leaving from post 5. Whizzer Hanover defeated the ML favorite (who in this race leaves from the rail) on March 8. He took the second spot. Before that, his March 1 race is an easy toss out, with a break to begin and no recovery. This is his fourth race for Ron Harp, who has him in prime shape for a win.

Leg three, Race 5
A similar trot finishes the triptych. In the field of eight, there is just one four-year-old, all the others embarking upon a soph season. Our must on any ticket is the Chapter Seven filly, Puma Blue Chip. Her 10-1 ML reflects her inexperience, with only three races at two, not making the board on any. As well, raw data indicates racing has been a tough chore for the well-bred gal. She is back in the stable of Agostino Abbatiello and her March 1 race was a marked improvement from any of the few miles she has on her resume. Getting hanged first over was her first display of speed, which can not be ignored. 


Each division of four that launch the mares-pacing series is worth $40,000 on March 16. The quartet plus one other race is also a Pick-5 excursion.

Division 1, Race 7
Coming from a race with a sparkling performance and bound to be dismissed by the public, partially for post 6 and a few races since winning, Motu Moonbeam could be a the best price she offers in this series. Let her off for two finishes in seventh, though she shows some positive movement in both (in one she went off 2-1) and on her March 9 effort alone she should be a major contender here. Already this season she has a great in-the-money and win percentage, so try to catch her at a inflated price.

Division 2, Race 8
Similarly, Annabeth, from post 6, fits the same profile as Motu Moonbeam and also wears a 20-1 ML tag. Toss out  her last two (not so bad, either) and you have a 2-1 choice in a strong class with aggressive racing on her side. Two huge public choices leave from the first two inside posts and are veterans of this series, so there is no reason to believe Annabeth will be supported. Good, she is the perfect outside contender.

Division 3, Race 9
The talent crowds the track in this division, which also includes some veteran Matchmakers, familiar names that always attract dollars. Make note that two field members from the H2W list make their second appearances here: Lady Shadow and Safe From Terror. Call Me Queen Be makes her season debut here, too. Aside from all that, we have yet another mare from post 6, All About Madi, that deserves attention. Toss out her 8-hole loss last out and see she is competitive at this level and is, actually, the veteran of the group. She has eight races this year already and some good grinding Yonkers events where she picked up purses.

Division 4, Race 10
Not such an outsider in this field is Mackenzie A (7-2 ML). She has qualified once as a prep for this series and brings with her three-straight wins at about this level to end her 2017 campaign. She has the stuff that can beat the obvious public choices on her inside and looks like an overlay at the ML price. Having had a qualifier, unlike a few mares coming into this season in other divisions without prepping, helps her chances.


Each of the five horse-pace divisions in the series is worth a whopping $50,000 on Saturday, March 17.

Division 1, Race 4
Some “Levy” vets will be starting their seasons in this series, including Mach It So and Caviart Luca. The former had success at this level last season, bringing that over to the Meadowlands as well. Western Fame has had one race this season for Takter and Takter’s former student, Blood Brother, is back. Blood Brother is very sharp now. He topped one of our features last week and has already won two races. He may not be the choice here and he may not scourge the series but he is the hot horse here.

Division 2, Race 5
More returning Levy foes launch their seasons here, including the 2017 champ, Keystone Velocity. Waikiki Beach A is two for two, with some international success already this season. Danger will loom from Bakersfield, who some may remember loves to wire half-mile fields, as he did when three under the tutelage of Ray Schnitker. He may be a better older pacer and here he has a shot at a wire-to-wire win as three in the field may need a mile.

Division 3, Race 6
Raring to get into the high-stakes flow is a returning trainer of note, Brett Pelling. He aims with Awesomeness, a serious contender against some Levyites [sic] from the past, including Dr J Hanover, All Bets Off and Somewhere In LA. This is a good time to back Pelling, who is taking his return to the U.S. harness scene seriously, rebuilding a money barn. Against trainer Ron Burke product and some from the barn of his own mentor, Ross Croghan, Awesomeness could pay best of his series in this one.

Division 4, Race 7
From Canada, Evenin Of Pleasure takes on the series as his season debut here, where Burke’s Rockin Ron prepares to start streaking for grabbing some big purses. There is some danger on the outside as 7-hole-starter Luciano N goes for Paul Blumenfeld. A good, smart trip can beat “Ron” here and a decent price will be offered for the farthest post starter.

Division 5. Race 11
Missile J, your favorite here is apt to be one of a few solid contenders. He was tons the best in last year’s series but paced into some bad trips. It would be great if the fans gave him an equal chance against Great Vintage and Bit Of A Legend N; then we would have a decent low price for him to pay. Still, it will be tough to beat him if he is anywhere near as good as last year. An outside contender for exotics is Franco Rayner N, who is heating up his new season.

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 on the also-eligible list. If a horse is listed twice, refer to the entries on the night of the race since a horse may enter in more than one race. Types of wagering on any of the H2W listed horses are based on your judgment. If you have any questions, email us at TwinSpires.


3/17/18, +Rebel Soldier R3; RU Machin Me R7

3/16/18, +Jazzmanian Devil R9
3/17/18, Magnifique R1; +Mint To Cruise R2; Mystery Dragon R6; +Cadet R12; +Don Lindy R12

3/15/18, +Casimir Oppee R1

3/18/18, +Coin Vault R7

3/16/18, +Mommas Artist R1; +Real Evidence R2

3/16/18, Wildflower R5; Howsaboutakiss R11
3/17/18, Bupa Bruiser R9

3/17/18, Pembroke Vig R2; Rycroft N R5; Uncle Bud R8

3/17/18, Mach It Paiden R8

3/17/18, +Wynnfrith R8; +Wake N Bake R8; +Cowgirl Chic R14

3/16/18, Uptown Romance R2; Shawty Hanover R4
3/17/18, +Two Beat R11

3/18/18, Rockntouch R8; +River Valley R11
3/19/18, Sophia Seelster R6

3/17/18, Saphhire City R2; +Somewhereonthebeach R5; Verdad R7

3/15/18, Speeding Star R1
3/16/18, +Awake My Soul R4
3/17/18, Steuben Patriot R6; Big Game R10

3/15/18, +Machlicious R4; Casimir Quasimodo R7
3/16/18, +Hope And Faith R10

3/15/18, +Our ELs Dream N R8; +Bullet Bob R11