Levy and Matchmaker series both set for round three

Profile Picture: Ted Black

Ted Black

March 26th, 2019

This weekend may mark the round of the "Sweet 16" for those following the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, but for harness racing enthusiasts this Friday and Saturday as Yonkers Raceway hosts the third rounds of both the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy Memorial series, respectively.

Friday night's third leg of the Blue Chip Matchmaker for Free-For-All pacing mares includes a modest sum of 25 distaffers set to clash in four divisions. Of the 25 entered, 23 have competed in the first two legs but only one, Apple Bottom Jeans, has won twice with several others owning one win and one second-place finish. Defending champion Shartin N, the runner-up for pacer of the year and horse of the year, finished fourth last week after winning an opening round split.

After winning each of her first two rounds from posts six and eight, respectively, Apple Bottom Jeans (Corey Callahan) drew the coveted rail for the first division on Friday. The six-year-old Mr Apples mare trained by Dylan Davis overcame post eight to win her second straight series leg and fourth straight race overall and looms the odds-on choice from the rail this Friday. Another victory this week would solidify her status as the future book favorite to capture the near-$400,000 final on April 20.

Looking to upend Apple Bottom Jeans this week are Medusa (Jim Marohn, Jr.), Queen Lostris N (Mark Macdonald), Gold Orchid N (Jason Bartlett), Feelin Red Hot (George Brennan) and Newborn Sassy (Tim Tetrick). Feelin Red Hot won last week to foil Shartin N's bid for a series sweep and she had finished second the week before and looms a solid contender for the final. Maryland-bred Newborn Sassy was second last week after finishing fourth in the opening round and appears destined for the consolation.

Friday's second BCMM split two races later came up light, although leg winners Ideal Lifestyle A (Brennan) and Bettor Joy N (Tetrick) should solidify their spots in the final with another good effort here. Freakanomics (Scott Zeron) has a genuine right to improve starting from post three this week after getting posts eight and five, respectively, the previous two legs. Lisatty, Sell A Bit N and Itty Bitty have yet to display much thus far and will battle for spots in the consolation.

Friday's third leg immediately follows and includes series winners Don't Think Twice A (Bartlett) and Seaswift Joy N (Marohn), while Maryland-bred Angel's Pride (Brent Holland), who bypassed the opening round, Betterb Chevron N (Stratton), Shezza GNP N and Camera Lady (Matt Kakaley) are all facing uphill climbs for the consolation. Don't Think Twice A was a sharp second to Shartin N in the opening round then won last week from post seven. Seaswift Joy N has yet to draw well but owns a win and third-place effort in two tries.

Then one race later in the fourth BCMM split, all eyes will be on Shartin N (Tetrick) as she seeks to rebound from last week's fourth-place effort as the 1-2 choice. Shartin N started from post eight and then was three-wide by the half and three-quarters and had no chance of overhauling Feelin Red Hot after the leader cruised by the half in 57.4. Shartin N gets post three this week and will likely be on the move early as she seeks her 28th win from 40 lifetime tries.

Obvious Blue Chip (Zeron) and Kaitlyn N (Kakaley) drew inside and both have good chances to reach the consolation. Caviart Cherie (Joe Bongiorno), Magic Forces (Brennan), Scandalicious (Brennan) and Write Me A Song (Stratton) will need to improve from outside slots in order to keep their slim hopes alive of reaching the consolation.

Then on Saturday night a total of 39 pacers will compete in five divisions of the third round of the George Morton Levy Memorial Series for Free-For-All males. Among them, 35 will make their third straight appearance in the series while the Levy will welcome one genuine newcomer, Billy Badger, who passed on the first two rounds then got post eight in his debut draw. Only two pacers, Ideal Jimmy and Rodeo Rock, boast two wins thus far and they did not draw into the same split this week.

Prior to the midway point of the card in the first Levy split, leg winners Endeavor (Tim Tetrick), The Wall (Joe Bongiorno) and The Downtown Bus (Zeron) will all seek to enhance their chances of reaching the $675,000 final in a deep split. Both Beckhams Z Tam (Tetrick) and Imarocnrollegend N (Brennan) have been beaten favorites in both legs and Tetrick will have his first tough choice in the series between Beckhams Z Tam and Endeavor. Major Crocker A (Daniel Dube) and Pacing Major N (Stratton) appear headed back to overnight events soon.

One race later in the second Levy split, two-time series winner Rodeo Rock (Andrew McCarthy) draws the coveted rail but will likely yield the favorite's role to Western Fame (Dube), a superb, 1:51.1 opening round winner who was upset at 3-20 last week by first over JJ Flynn. Western Fame ended his previous campaign by capturing the third edition of the $100,000 Potomac Pace at Rosecroft Raceway and looms the tepid future book favorite to capture the final next month.

Somewhere In L A (Bartlett) rebounded from a second-place finish behind Western Fame in the opening round to capture the second split last week, but gets post eight for this leg. Nocturnal Blue Chip (Zeron), who bypassed the opening round, Dr J Hanover (McCarthy), Luciano N (Holland), Gokudo Hanover (Brennan) and Ballerat Boomerang (Bongiorno) all fit overnight classes typically contested on Saturday nights.

Several races later in the third Levy division, JJ Flynn (Brennan) will seek to prove that his gritty, first over victory at 20-1 last week against Western Fame was no fluke as he starts from the coveted rail for trainer Josh Green. A winner of six of eight starts overall this year, JJ Flynn drew into the softest split - none of his seven rivals has won a leg and Billy Badger got post eight in his belated series debut - and should secure a spot in the final with another handy score here.

Maryland-bred Bellows Binge (Bartlett) got another favorable draw and could improve his chances of reaching the consolation with another good effort here. Always At My Place (Brennan), Lyons Steel (Macdonald), Control Tower (Austin Siegelman), Sams A Champ A (Macdonald), Rock The Nite (Macdonald) and Billy Badger (McCarthy) all seem destined for overnight events soon.

One race later in the fourth series split, leg winners Anything For Love A (Bongiorno) and More The Better N (Zeron) drew the two inside slots and will vie for favoritism and redemption after modest efforts last week. Mach It So (Tetrick) and Duplicated N (Tetrick) will both seek to rebound as well as Tetrick has another choice to make. I'm Some Graduate (Brennan) and Whittker N (Holland) appear destined for overnights soon, but Bettors Fire N (Ron Cushing) and Don Domingo N (Stratton) could be upset specialists from posts seven and eight, respectively, in this group.

Then two races later in the penultimate race on the card, the Levy fifth split features Ideal Jimmy (Holland) who boasts a pair of victories in the series from inside draws where he could dictate the tempo. The Erv Miller trainee gets post seven this week and will have to work to make the front in a group where Rockathon (Stratton), Rodeo Romeo (Bartlett) and Windsong Leo (Brennan) will be on the move early. Mac's Jackpot (Kakaley) should be able to work out a trip from post four, but the jury is still out on Bit Of A Legend N (Stratton) who will seek to rebound from a dismal effort as the 9-5 second choice from the rail last week.