Levy last round tomorrow night
Hours after thoroughbred racing fans will have witnessed the Arkansas Derby as the nation's top three-year-olds look to earn a berth in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby next month, standardbred fans will be closely watching the action at Yonkers Raceway as the New York half-mile ovals offers the fifth and final preliminary round of the George Morton Levy Memorial Series for Free-For-All pacers.
After the series began with 50 nominees and 42 entrants in the first round of eliminations, the fifth and final leg of the series attracted only 21 starters who will comprise three divisions. Idle Take It Back Terry has already secured a berth in the $500,000 final, while Lettucerockthem A is the only one of the 21 staters who cannot reach the consolation.
In the first of Saturday's three elims, carded as the fifth race on the program All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley) sits fifth on the standings - second among Burke trainees - and has post three and ample speed to take advantage of the inside draw. A first- or second-place finish this weekend will launch him into the final along with stablemate Take It Back Terry.
Railbound PH Supercam (Jason Bartlett) will look to punch his ticket to a third straight Levy final. A solid second to Wiggle It Jiggleit last week, PH Supercam would reach the final with a win or runner-up effort in the opening split.
Lettucerockthem A (Brian Sears) cannot reach the final or consolation, but he could take points away from one of the other final or consolation hopefuls.
Evenin Of Pleasure and Melmerby Beach sit 13th and 14th, respectively, in the standings and both appear destined for the $100,000 consolation. Melmerby Beach actually owns a win in the series, but he also has finished seventh three times and would need another win tomorrow to have any hope of reaching the final.
One race later in the sixth the second Levy split features Mach It So (Tim Tetrick) who has won two legs of the series and will likely head into the lucrative final for a third straight year. This Jeff Bamond, jr., trainee has raced well when he's drawn inside and he has the beneficial post two tomorrow night.
Just to his inside is Foiled Again (Yannick Gingras) the marquee name on the list of Levy noms, but he is clearly on the outside looking in for a second straight year. Foiled Again was 25th in the standings after the first three legs and bypassed round four, but moved up to 22nd since The Real One, Doctor Butch and Forty Five Red skipped the final round.
Foiled Again has the rail tomorrow night and will undoubtedly be used aggressively from the outset to secure good early position. A win could land him a spot in the final, although it would launch him into the consolation. Tomorrow he will make the 250th start of his career and he could add to his lofty totals of 86 wins and $7.35 million.
Defending Levy final hero Domethatagain (Daniel Dube) is genuinely on the bubble for reaching the final again. Domethatagain is tied with Texas Terror N for the eighth and final spot, but the defending champion drew into a weaker division and could work out a decent trip from post three.
Lucan Hanover won the first two legs of the series for trainer Andrew Harris, but he has been hindered by poor post position draws since then and will start from post seven tomorrow. He currently sits fourth in the standings and will reach the final with a fifth-place finish or better.
Santa Fe Beachboy is also on the bubble for the final. This Richard Banca trainee won a leg two starts back in the fastest clocking of the series, but he has also finished fourth once and fifth twice in the series. He start from post six tomorrow night and will likely need to finish in the top three to earn a spot in the final.
Texican N, currently 12th in the standings and Te Kawau N, 23rd, have both showed glimpses of ability in the series. Texican N was good early, posting two second-place finishes, while Te Kawau N was a solid second to Mach It So last week.
One race in the seventh, the third Levy split features a showdown between the best horse in the series, Bit Of A Legend N (Jordan Stratton), who has won all four legs thus far and Wiggle It Jiggleit (Montrell Teague), the reigning horse of the year who joined the Levy series belatedly but boasts one win and one second-place finish in two local tries.
Bit Of A Legend N has won on the lead and from well off the pace and his versatility will make him a serious threat in the final regardless of where he draws. He will start from post four tomorrow night and will be a factor in the lane regardless of his trip.
For the second time in his three Levy outings, Wiggle It Jiggleit will start from post seven. He has enough speed to overcome the outside draw but he also will have ample competition from inside rivals and a win could launch him into the final, but does not necessarily guarantee it. Another second-place finish likely means a berth in the consolation.
All five of the other starters in the last split appear likely for the consolation, but a win by either Texas Terror N, Scott Rocks, Limelight Beach, Phil Your Boots and Bettorever could help them vault into the final. But only one of them can reach the final and two or three could find a spot in the consolation with a good finish this weekend.
Interestingly enough, Bit Of A Legend N remains the only horse with a chance to sweep all five legs. Of the 50 noms and 21 starters tomorrow night, only 15 - barring any late scratches - will have started in all five legs. Heading into tomorrow night, 10 different horses have won at least one leg, but only four have won at least two legs.