Levy series heads into final round

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Ted Black

April 13th, 2016

For the owners, trainers and drivers with horses eligible to the George Morton Levy Memorial Series for Free-For-All pacers at Yonkers Raceway, Tuesday morning's post position draw was of vital importance. Through the first four legs of the series, perhaps only a quartet of horses have already secured a berth in the $400,000 final on April 23, but for the others this Saturday's final leg will determine whether or not they reach the final, consolation or nothing at all.

A total of 50 horses were nominated to the series at a cost of $5,000 per horse and the pot has nearly doubled over the elimination rounds as each starter ponies up another $1,000 each week. The opening round of the Levy series had 42 participants, but the number has dropped gradually since and this Saturday's final leg attracted only 21 entrants. Bit Of A Legend N is the only four-time series winner to this point and he is back again, while three-time hero Take It Back Terry got the week off from trainer Ron Burke.

While Bit Of A Legend N and Take It Back Terry have already secured a spot in the lucrative final, the other 20 pacers entered in the three Levy divisions this weekend are still in quest of joining the elite group in the final or at least garnering a spot in the $100,000 consolation. Interestingly enough, in addition to Take It Back Terry, the idle Ideal Cowboy is currently sitting in sixth in the points standings but almost assuredly will drop out of the elite eight and into the consolation.

Another Burke trainee, All Bets Off, owns one win, one second and one third-place finishe in the series thus far and sits fifth in the standings and drew post three in the opening division on Saturday. PH Supercam has only won one series leg and was second last week, but he currently sits seventh in the standings and drew the rail for the opening split and both looked poised to secure a spot in the lucrative final.

Both Evenin Of Pleasure and Melmerby Beach, currently 13th and 14th, respectively, in the standings, have a chance to attain enough points to reach the final. Melmerby Beach won the second leg but has been seventh in each of the other three, while Evenin Of Pleasure was second twice to start the series but has not raced well in subsequent weeks. They will start from posts five and seven, respectively, this weekend and one of them could eventually earn a spot in the final although both appear headed for the consolation.

Headlining the second split is Mach It So, a two-time series winner who drew post two and has already secured a spot in the final for a third straight year. He won an opening leg handily, finished second in the third leg and narrowly prevailed last week. Lucan Hanover won the first two legs for trainer Andrew Harris and sits fourth in the standings despite not hitting the board in his last two outings. He also drew post seven again this weekend, but he may have enough points to reach the final.

Defending Levy final hero Domethatagain is clearly on the bubble sitting in ninth. He is already assured of leaping past the idle Ideal Cowboy, but he may need to finish in the top four in order to prevent from being overtaken by several horses in the second tier. Santa Fe Beachboy boasts the fastest clocking of the series courtesy of a 1:50.2 score for trainer Richard Banca and sits eighth in the standings and could improve position with a good effort here or perhaps get relegated to the consolation. Texican N is also on the cusp of joining stablemate Bit Of A Legend N in the final. He finished second in each of the first two legs but has had little to offer since then and seems more likely for the consolation.

Despite drawing the rail this weekend, Foiled Again will have to improve considerably simply to earn a berth in the consolation. He has finished second once and fourth twice in three outings and then bypassed last week. The ageless 12-year-old Dragon Again gelding will make the 250th start of his Hall of Fame career on Saturday night, looking to add to his 86 career wins and record $7.35 million lifetime bankroll for Burke.

Another horse looking to perhaps reach the consolation is Te Kawau N, another 'down under' import who has finished second once, third once and fourth once in three Levy tries after skipping the opening leg. Last week Te Kawau N was a sharp second to Mach It So to vault into 23rd in the standings. He will leapfrog past the idle Doctor Butch and The Real One simply by starting, but he will likely have to finish first or second in order to earn a spot in the consolation.

Last but not least this weekend the third Levy split and final elimination of the series features Bit Of A Legend N, who has wowed onlookers and horsemen alike. Bit Of A Legend N has displayed stellar versatility during the series, winning from on or near the lead and from well off the pace and also boasts victories from posts six and eight, respectively. He will start from post four this weekend having already earned a spot in the final, but he could play the ultimate spoiler role on Saturday.

Defending horse of the year, Wiggle It Jiggleit, bypassed the first two legs and then finished second to All Bets Off in his series debut before winning handily last week in 1:51.1. But this weekend presents his toughest test as he will leave from post seven against five rivals - the exception obviously being Bit Of A Legend N - who have not nailed down a place in the final or the consolation. Wiggle It Jiggleit currently sits 21st in the standings and will move past several idle horses, but he will virtually have to win to have any hope of reaching the final.

Texas Terror N is tied for ninth in the standings with Domethatagain and both have already improved position since Ideal Cowboy skipped the last leg. But he has gone backwards since winning the opening leg in 1:51. Phil Your Boots (15th), Limelight beach (16th) and Bettorever (17th) have little hope of reaching the final, but two of them could advance to the consolation. They have all started in all four previous legs, but none of them has won a leg and Phil Your Boots claims the best finish thanks to a runner-up effort in week three.