Levy series heads into final round

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Ted Black

April 12th, 2015

After opening with 34 horses split into five divisions on March 21, the George Morton Levy Memorial Series for aged pacers at Yonkers Raceway saw only 17 horses go behind the gate on Saturday evening as the contenders and pretenders continued to get separated while three idle horses remained easily on target for the lucrative $350,000 final on April 25.

Initially the three divisions of last weekend's fourth leg of the Levy series was split equally into three, six-horse divisions. But Warrawee Needy, an opening leg winner who has since finished sixth and seventh, respectively, in two subsequent rounds, scratched out of the first division and his chances of earning a spot in either the final or the $100,000 consolation now appear in serious jeopardy.

Although only five horses went behind the gate for the opening split, there was plenty of action. Bettor's Edge (Yannick Gingras) easily gained command in a 27.2 opener and got a breather by the half in 56.4, but he wilted under the pressure from Mach It So (Tim Tetrick) down the backside and by three-quarters in 1:23.4 and went off stride and finished last.

Mach It So, who had been third twice as the favorite and fifth once while backed, grinded his way to the lead on the far turn then was eventually overhauled late by Windsong Jack (Brian Sears) who prevailed in 1:52.4 for his first win in series action. In fact, that victory vaulted Windsong Jack into a tie for fifth overall in the points standings for the series and another good effort this coming weekend should earn him a spot in the lucrative final. Mach It So looks bound for the consolation, as does Bettor's Edge.

The second division of the Levy's fourth leg proved to be very formful as Take It Back Terry (George Brennan) lived up to his billing as the 2-5 favorite when he brushed to command before the half in 56.4, then shook off the first over bid of Frankies Dragon (Sears) to score in 1:53.1. It was his second straight win in the series after skipping the second round following a gritty second-place finish to Polak A in the opening leg. Take It Back Terry appears to be trainer Ron Burke's best hope for a final tally, while Bettor's Edge, Clear Vision and the idle Foiled Again have been among the biggest disappointments in the series.

Frankies Dragon raced bravely first over and has now finished second in two legs of the series and looks destined for the consolation, although a win this weekend could vault him into the final. Fat Mans Alley, who settled for third this weekend following a victory in round three, is still on target for reaching the final along with his idle stablemate, PH Supercam, the defending Levy final hero and lone three-time winner in the series and overall points leader.

Saturday's third division provided the biggest upset of the weekend and vaulted the top two finishers into position to possibly make the final or at least earn a spot in the consolation.

Favored Michael's Power (Daniel Dube) left alertly along the rail to secure good early position, then yielded the Clear Vision (Gingras), who typically does his best racing from well off the pace. After Clear Vision cleared, Lucan Hanover (Tetrick) launched a brush bid but was rebuffed by Clear Vision and the two pacers dueled by the half-mile mark in an eye-opening 54.1 that would prove to be detrimental to both.

Clear Vision and Lucan Hanover continued to battle down the backside and by three-quarters in 1:23, which more than appealed to the closers in the field. National Debt (Eric Carlson), the lone Maryland-bred in the series, rallied wide to gain the lead briefly but he was overhauled by Heez Orl Black N (Sears) who closed willingly for a 13-1 upset in 1:53.1. Lucan Hanover, despite being parked for seven-eighths of the mile, somehow lasted for the show spot in a tremendous try, while Clear Vision and Michael's Power both weakened.

When the dust settled, Heez Orl Black N vaulted into the midpack of the consolation and he could earn a spot in the final with another win in the last round of the series this weekend. National Debt continues to improve and looks destined for the consolation following another good outing. Lucan Hanover sits among those in the consolation right now, but a victory this weekend would land him a spot in the final. He has perhaps delivered two of the five best efforts in the series, although he only has two second-place finishes and a third-place finish to show for them.

Like Bettor's Edge and Foiled Again, Clear Vision seems unlikely for either the final or the consolation. Burke won two legs of the series with Beach Memories before that one was transferred to trainer Scott DiDomenico for the remainder of the series. He was absent on Saturday, but will return this weekend to prep for a likely spot in the final. Father time appears to have caught up with Foiled Again, who has not been as sharp in three legs and then skipped the recent one. Clear Vision is usually better in the fall and might make the consoaltion.