Levy series final highlights Yonkers Saturday card

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Ted Black

April 24th, 2015

One week before thoroughbred racing fans will focus their attention on the Kentucky Derby, America's most famous horse race, standardbred fans will pay close watch to the Saturday night card at Yonkers Raceway in New York, highlighted by the $530,000 George Morton Levy Memorial series final for older pacers and the $260,000 Bluechip Matchmaker series final for pacing mares.

Saturday's lucrative George Morton Levy series final will be the richest harness race contested in the country to this point and the race, which looked to be chalky through the five preliminary rounds, gained more than a hint of intrigue courtesy of Tuesday's post position draw.

Last year's Levy final hero, PH Supercam (Jason Bartlett) had won four legs of the series, including a round five score after bypassing the week before. But the Jeff Bamond trainee suffered the ultimate cruel twist of fate on Tuesday when he drew post position eight, a dreaded spot on any half-mile oval. His entry mate, Mach It So (Tim Tetrick), a sharp prelim winner last week to earn a spot in the final, drew post seven.

With the Bamond entry starting from posts seven and eight, respectively, on Saturday, the Levy final is not only competitive and intriguing but should offer plenty of value. Take It Back Terry (George Brennan), the lone Ron Burke trainee to reach the final, has won three straight legs after bypassing week two of the series, but he drew post five after having very favorable posts throughout the series.

Domethatagain (Daniel Dube) who finished second last week to Take It Back Terry after winning in round three, drew the rail, while Lucan Hanover (David Miller), who finished second three times in five winless tries in the series, will start from post two. Windsong Jack, a leg winner two starts back, has post three, with Beach Memories (Yannick Gingras) in post four and Polak A, a two-time series winner, will start from post six.

Of the eight finalists, PH Supercam, Mach It So, Take It Back Terry and Lucan Hanover delivered the best efforts in the series. PH Supercam won four legs, but he also enjoyed very good trips in each of them and now gets the eight hole. Take It Back Terry has won three straight, but all with good posts. Mach It So continues to improve with each start, but drew post seven.

Although he failed to win in five Levy leg outings, Lucan Hanover might have been the unluckiest. He was roughed up two starts back and was beaten by PH Supercam last week and three weeks ago. But Lucan Hanover also drew post two for the final and he has plenty of gate speed to take advantage of that inside draw. He should get around Domethatagain then will have to decide whether or not to park any other leavers, but Lucan Hanover could notch his first victory of the season on Saturday night at the most opportune time.

One race earlier on the card, the $100,000 George Morton Levy Memorial Series consolation is nearly equally intriguing.

Leg winners Bettor's Edge (Brennan), Fat Mans Alley (Bartlett), Michael's Power (Dube) and Heez Orl Black N (Brian Sears) had to settle for the consolation, while Frankies Dragon, Sapphire City, Dancin Yankee (Brett Miller) and National Debt (Eric Carlson), the only Maryland-bred horse in the series, performed well in second- and third-place efforts that enabled them to earn plenty of points.

Bettor's Edge drew the rail, but has been off form since a week two score. Fat Mans Alley was actually fifth in the points standings, which normally would have earned him a spot in the final. But Bamond had two others finish ahead of him. Frankies Dragon raced well when he drew inside and gets post three here, but otherwise looks overmatched, as does Sapphire City, Michael's Power - who skipped last week - and National Debt, who will start from the dreaded eight hole.

Although he failed to win in four tries in the series and was the beaten favorite in consecutive weeks when he drew the coveted rail, Dancin Yankee looks like the play in the consolation. Last week he raced third over down the backside behind Mach It So and Polak A and was hindered by Polak A when Mach It So surged to command past three-quarters and opened a clear lead on the far turn.

Dancin Yankee remained behind dull cover through the far turn, then fanned wide for the drive and closed willingly in the lane to finish second despite missing the week before. It was clearly his best effort of the series and one of the better performances in any of the legs. The seven-year-old Yankee Cruiser gelding trained by Josh Green may have been a bridesmaid through the series, but he looks poised to notch his first tally of the year in the consolation.

One race earlier in the $260,000 Bluechip Matchmaker Series final for aged pacing mares, the Rene Allard-trained entry of Yagonnakissmeornot (Brian Sears) and Carolsideal (Daniel Dube) should rule as the odds-on favorite from posts two and four, respectively. Carolsideal won four legs of the series then skipped last week's round, while Yagonnakissmeornot won two starts back then also bypassed last week.

Unlike the Levy series final, Bamond was quite fortuitous in the draw for the Matchmaker. His trainees Venus Delight (Jason Bartlett) and Krispy Apple (Tetrick) will start from posts one and seven, respectively. Venus Delight won twice in three Matchmaker tries, while Krispy Apple was second in each of her last two.

One race earlier in the $75,000 Matchmaker consolation, the Burke entry of Medusa (Brennan) and Charisma Hanover (Gingras) will garner plenty of support, but Anndrovette (Tetrick) looks like the obvious play. This Bamond trainee will start from post four off a determined victory as the 2-5 favorite in the Preferred Handicap for pacing fillies and mares here last week and was the beaten favorite in a Matchmaker prelim two starts back.

One race earlier in the secondary $50,000 Levy consolation, Texican N (Carlson), Machs Beach Boy (Pat Lachance), Clear Vision (Brennan) and Mcerlean (Tyler Buter) will all seek to end modest droughts after five unsuccessful tries in the series. Clear Vision was third three times, while both Texican N and Machs Beach Boy were each third on two occasions during the series. Warrawee Needy (Mark MacDonald) actually won an opening round leg before his form went south.

In the race immediately after the Levy final, Dw's Ny Yank (Brennan) will look to overcome post eight and last week off to capture the $42,000 Open Handicap for trotters, then in the tenth look for Bettor Reason N (Eric Abbatiello) to regain his winning ways in a non-winners of $25,000 last six starts class. Last week the seven-year-old Bettor's Delight gelding displayed good early speed, got shuffled then rallied widest of all late to finish second in a very good effort that was much better than it looks on paper. The recent New Zealand import could be headed for the Open ranks here this summer.