Levy series at Yonkers enters second round

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Ted Black

March 26th, 2015

While the teams for the annual NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament otherwise known as "March Madness" will be down to four after Sunday's action, the top aged pacers in training will be looking to secure their berths in the "Elite Eight" for the George Morton Levy Memorial Series final at Yonkers Raceway in four weeks.

This Saturday evening Yonkers will host the second round of the Levy series with four $50,000 divisions. Of the 32 starters scheduled to behind the gate in round two, all but one was on hand for the opening round last weekend. The series became more competitive and more playable this season when Yonkers opted to limit each trainer to one entry per division, eliminating the series of tag-team entries that dominated last year's series.

In the first of the four Levy divisions this weekend, slated as the 7th race on the Yonkers card on Saturday night, defending Levy final hero and first round winner PH Supercam (Jason Bartlett) will start from post four, while Clear Vision (Yannick Gingras) will start from post five after finishing third in his seasonal debut last week for trainer Ron Burke.

The inside three horses, Frankies Dragon, Dapper Dude and Heez Orl Black N finished fourth, seventh and fourth, respectively from outside posts last week, so all three will have to utilize their inside draws and begin earning points for the final. Only eight pacers will reach the $400,000 final on April 25, while another eight will go in the $100,000 consolation. So roughly one-half the horses competing on Saturday will be elsewhere on the big night.

Big N Bad, Texican N and Lucan Hanover drew the outside three stalls, respectively, and will have to overcome them this weekend. Big N Bad faded to sixth after a first over bid last week and cannot afford another off-the-board finish if he plans to earn a spot in either the final or consolation. Texican N was a modest fourth last week, while Lucan Hanover rallied to be second in a good effort.

One race later on the card, much of the attention will be focused on Foiled Again (Gingras) the durable, venerable aged star who finished second in his seasonal debut last week from post seven and now gets post two this weekend. This Ron Burke trainee continues to compete against the best older pacers in the land at his ripe age of 11 and boasts 83 wins and earnings of over $6.9 million from 225 career outings in a Hall of Fame career.

But this division drew three opening round winners - Polak A, Michael's Power and Warrawee Needy. Both Polak A and Warrawee Needy had inside posts last week and Polak A drew the rail for a second straight week. Michael's Power overcame post seven to lead throughout last week and will start from post five this evening.

While the afforementioned four pacers have an inside track to the final, American Venture, Machs Beach Boy, Holdingallthecards and Validus Deo will have to improve dramatically this weekend in order to get back into the final and consolation chase. Machs Beach Boy was third as the 3-2 favorite in his division last week and should be able to accumulate more points toward the final while the other three may want to look for overnight events after this weekend.

The third division one race later features opening round winner Beach Memories (Gingras) and one of last year's top performers in the series, Mach It So (Tim Tetrick), who was third in his seasonal debut last week. Both appear poised to earn a spot in either the final or consolation, but the other six pacers in this group will have plenty of work ahead of them.

Smooth Criminal gets the rail this weekend but was not a factor when seventh last week. Sapphire City finished third despite a pocket trip last week, but loves this oval and he can be a factor throughout from post two. Capozzo was a nondescript sixth from the rail and would be fortunate to earn a spot in the consolation. Speckled Door is the lone "new shooter" in the series' second round, but steps up from the non-winners of $8000 last six starts class.

The two pacers who drew outside, Aslan and Apprentice Hanover, both have plenty of ability but the draw was not kind to them this week. Aslan was fourth after a first over journey last week, but may find the going even tougher from post seven. Apprentice Hanover was the runner-up in last year's Levy final and even won one of the legs, but he was fifth from post two last week and now gets the dreaded eight hole for the second round.

The fourth and final division of the Levy second round features Dancin Yankee (Brett Miller) and Bettor's Edge, who were prominent in last year's series. Dancin Yankee finished a solid third in his seasonal debut last week behind PH Supercam and Foiled Again, gets the rail this weekend and figures to be much sharper for trainer Josh Green. Bettor's Edge (Gingras) will have to improve on last week's dull sixth-place effort in his seasonal bow.

Two horses that finished second last weekend, Windsong Jack and Fat Mans Alley, will look to maintain their high placings in order to have any chance of making the final. Capital Account finished fourth from post six last week and moves in three slots and could be a factor throughout. Mcerlean, Domethatagain and National Debt, the lone Maryland-bred in the series, drew posts five, seven and eight, respectively, and may seek softer company in subsequent rounds.