M-G-M/Yonkers Pacing Series Ensue; Matchmaker Co-Stars
The first of six legs of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series (formerly the George Morton Levy) for older male pacers begins on March 14. The accompanying series for mares, the Blue Chip Matchmaker, starts March 13 The rest of the series glide through early spring.
Here we are, then, with features focused upon the annual array of major-paying events that end with six-digit finals. Still on hand are harness prospects across the continent. Respect our off-the-beaten-track opinions that have proven to swell your handicapping choices with cash, especially with our H2W (horses-to-watch) list, following selections that should be outsiders for win, place, show and most single- or multi-exotic races.
Pompano / Races 1—3, 5—7
Thursday / March 12
Our last Wallyworld challenge for awhile highlights the beginning of weekend. In each race he appears, Wally Hennessey tries to beat an outsider of our choice. After we conclude the Pompano feature, we will come back in an Weekly Update edition of our blog with some stats on the nine weeks it recorded.
Wally’s offered on as the program opens. We offer one, also—Ugottobinittowinit. With only a single win this season, Kelly Case’s pacer is as good as the only other single-winning pacer in the field, which is not driven by Wally. Note the H2W, where Mach Lee returns from a failed Wallywood event last week.
Wally rides on the outside with a most-likely favorite. We will back a trotter in her third race of 2020, Trotalot in a poor field that could spawn such an upset.
Another trot to go after Wally has eight at the gate. It’s another bunch of losers, with only three having won a single race so far in ’20. Another chance for a big price surfaces here with the 8 horse, JAs Going Away. The post may only help raise his odds, though he is one of the three inners. Note the H2W, where Cousin Rickard returns from a failed Wallywood event last week.
Wally leaves with his horse from the 8 in this one, while we hope to glide home first with Moon Doggie, Kim Sears’ lightly raced pacer.
Wally gets to choose from two here, while we take another shot against him from an 8-hole leaver, Bettors Jet Ray. It’s only race two this year for this one, who could be better than the poor foes to her left.
We will go with the rail pacer, Fernando, while Wally leaves with a lesser earner. Not for anything, but Fernando is the only drive Andy Santeramo has in nine races.
Wally supposedly finishes his work for the night in Race 8. So, we finish Wallyworld challenging him with our choice, Expo. Goodnight, Wally.
The Blue Chip Matchmaker series for mare pacers retains its title and association with Blue Chip Farms of New York with its 2020 launch on March 13 at its home track, Yonkers Raceway. Three $40,000 divisions of the first leg are on tap, including a few obvious from the division.
Division one offers seven, including the pair of rivals that defined the division in 2019. Shartin N and Caviart Ally join five other top performers represented by top trainers and connections to get the series rolling. Both mares returned to racing for the 2020 season by winning easily—though not against one another. Shartin has always been all-around better than “Ally” but Brett Pelling had Ally sharper than ever at the end of last season.
It is highly unlikely they will cancel one another out but that is our only scenario for playing the race. For that, we turn to Sandy Win. She is in a great spot to suck along behind Shartin N and save enough ground to surprise her late, while still being ahead of Ally. As well, she is doing very well this year so far, honestly in the same class as the first two. And, for more upset quality and exotics, do not dismiss Imprincessgemma A. Jennifer Bongiorno’s mare has not been off the board in two starts.
Division two has merely six at the gate; some that have been whirling around the four turns for weeks already. Ron Burke’s Snobbytown should get the favorite nod and if she races to those odds she won’t pay much at all. Her obvious foe is Bettor Joy N, except she has earned all of her ’20 money without winning a race in five starts.
Our outsider is the veteran, Apple Bottom Jeans. She has been to this circus before and loves Yonkers. She will be a price and if she races her best mile she will leave the other five behind with ease.
The remaining division of Leg 1 also delivers a sextet, featuring another Matchmaker-returnee, Kaitlyn N. She will go off with the most support, looking like a lock. We still have to try to keep her honest by backing who we think might race and pay better.
That mare is Seaswift Joy N. Tony Alagna’s entry has laid low to ready for this series, racing only once this season to lose after a sparkling qualifier of 1:53.2. Again, upset possibilities but certainly an exotic element.
M G M PACERS
The boys are back in town on March 14. At $50,000 a division, leg 1 of the MGM Boragata Pacing Series, sets sail with a quartet of fields filled with prospects to see the light at the end of the six-week tunnel to the final. Top trainers are sending out older pacers to take chunks out of the big purses.
It begins with an eight-horse field for division one (Race 5) and there are arguments for any of them to win. We like Rodeo Rock, who was on last week’s H2W list, finishing second to None Better A, who will get a lot of play here. Rodeo Rock finished second at 26-1 and still may go off at fairly high odds due to Jesse Duke N, who rolls into the series having won three of four already.
Race 6 is the MGM’s second division, featuring another eight stalwart pacers. Western Fame, last year’s final winner, leaves from post 7 in the third division. His speed may be compromised from the outside, so we look to his left and find Blood Line. Richard Banca’s steed has opened his season with aplomb and he may get a great trip behind the rail horse, $80k-winner Tookadiveoffdipper, from Ohio’s contributing trainer Virgil Morgan, Jr. Blood Line has found a profitable home in the older ranks so far this year and coming into the new season. For price and purpose, he will be a good bet here.
Eight more battle in division three, Race 7 on the program. The fan favorite should be Trump Nation, who was second of the three at the wire with None Bettor A and Rodeo Rock. Money should also find its way to a few others in this tight field, making for close quarters in the favorite spot.
One of the contenders that may not impress the crowd as much as others mentioned is Jack’s Legend N. Richard Banca’s pacer has only one a single race of six but has made money in all but one of the starts. He’s the second highest earner in the batch behind “Trump” and has a better chance to win than where the betting crowd will measure him, which probably makes him the fourth choice or less.
The evening’s final leg, Race 8, also lines up eight at the gate. This division may be considered the weakest of this program. Burke’s Backstreet Shadow, who blew away an Invitational field at Dover last week, should catch the public’s eye, bringing his price down enough to pass. Next in line on the probable list is a competent foe—Imarocnrollegend N. Jennifer Bongiorno sends this one out after a place finish in the catbird seat, unable to catch the favorite on these grounds.
We look to the rail for a sharp, winning effort from Bechers Brook A. At Yonkers last week, the 10-1 shot worked well to get second. He is deserving of a step up into this series and certainly fits among the weakest links of leg 1.
Review our choices and confirm the wagers available at the prescribed track. H2W offers possible contenders researched from reviewing races. Horses’ names are listed beneath the name of the track with the date of their race and the race number (R6 ) follows. If a + is in front of a horse’s name, it appears on the list for the second time (horses are listed twice only if, at first, they failed to win. An “ae” signals also-eligible. Types of wagers to make are based on your judgment.
3/14/20, +Bubeleh Stone R1; +Artacus R3; Willey Bite R8; Daylight Rush R9
3/13/20, Velocity Layla R6; +Brians Magic Girl R8; +Five Card Drawn R10; Sin Machqueen R11
3/14/20, +Delightfully Wild R4; Ahead By A Century R6
3/12/20, +Father Sarducci R8
3/12/20, Twice An Angel R3; Oseemylucky Bo R4
3/13/20, Pureform Mr Toffee R3; Salvadors Son R5; Mr Saturday Night R7; Spiderman R12
3/13/20, Dear Diary R4; Our Royal Majesty R4; Ms Seton R10
3/13/20, +Mosh Pit R1; Et Tu Brute R4; +Mitch McBluegrass R7; Special Sauce R7
3/13/20, Broadway Ruler R5; Buen Camino R6; Dorothys Legacy R11
3/13/20, Bicorne Hanover R6; +Dracarys Z R7; +Art Seeker R9
3/13/20, +N Expense R7
3/14/20, Armabluechipboy N R5; True To Mach R14
3/12/20, Fox Valley Hotcake R4
3/14/20, +Ubanji R3; +Buddy Hally R3; Duck Duck Dragon R4; +Pearl Crush R7
3/14/20, +O Jonnie R8
3/15/20, +Mckinley R1; +Triple Seelster R3
3/16/20, +Hey Jock R2; +Miss U Big Mike ae R13
3/12/20, +Mach Lee R1; +Cousin Rickard R3; +Sportscam R9
3/12/20, +The Band K R2; Dragmetoglory R8; +Aberdeen Seelster R9
3/14/20, +Rock N Tony R8; +Dramatist R9
3/12/20, Mission Hill R2; Caviart Scarlett R5
3/13/20, Yacht Week R3; Caviart Skyler R8
3/14/20, +Gunpowder N +Gunpowder N