Older horses prep for Levy series

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Ted Black

March 1st, 2016

While thoroughbred racing fans are eager to see undefeated three-year-old colts Mohaymen and Nyquist meet in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park in early April and unbeaten sophomore fillies Songbird and Cathryn Sophia clash in the Kentucky Oaks on the first Friday in May, standardbred racing fans are already eagerly anticipating the upcoming George Morton Levy Memorial Series for older pacers that gets under way at Yonkers Raceway on March 19.

Several of last year's Levy series combatants have already made their presence known at Yonkers, Dover Downs and The Meadowlands in Open events and qualifiers and many of them will be back on the track this weekend in qualifiers at the Big M and races at the New Jersey miler as well as across the Hudson River at the New York half-miler hosting the Levy. But one of the genuine Levy contenders has already won his first two starts of 2016 at Dover.

On Monday night at Dover, Lucan Hanover (Corey Callahan) easily lived up to his role as the 8-5 favorite in the $30,000 Preferred Handicap when he brushed to command before the half and edged clear late to a two-length score in 1:49. A six-year-old Western Ideal gelding trained by Casie Coleman for the West Wins Stable, Lucan Hanover overtook early leader Mustang Art then held safe the late bid of Doctor Butch - another likely Levy nom - to prevail handily in 1:49. It was his second win as many tries in the top class at Dover.

Last Saturday night at Yonkers, Polak A (Brian Sears) served notice that he is going to be a contender throughout the Levy series when he overhauled pacesetter Phil Your Boots - another likely Levy nom from the Coleman barn - to score in 1:53. It was the second straight win in the Yonkers weekly feature for the eight-year-old Pacific Fella gelding trained by Tony O'Sullivan. Polak A has been good virtually every start this season and should make his presence known in the Levy.

Rock Icon (1:52.2) won the fastest non-winners of $25,000 last five split and could be among the Levy noms, but runner-up Bit Of A Legend N was an unlucky second in that event and should get at least one start in the Levy for trainer Peter Tritton. The "down under" invader has been very good in all three of his local outings, winning twice. Sapphire City (1:52.1), Caution Signs (1:53.1), Texas Terror N (1:53.1) and Cyclone Kiwi N (1:53.4) won non-winners of $18,000 last five splits and at least three of them could be headed to the Levy.

Last Friday morning at The Meadowlands, trainer Ron Burke unveiled a six-pack of talented older pacers that dominated a pair of qualifiers. Always At My Place, Request For Parole and Take It Back Terry finished one-two-three in their qualifier and all three should be headed to the Levy. Take It Back Terry will make his official seasonal debut this Saturday in the $25,000 Open at the Big M against fellow Burke trainee Dynamic Youth and the talented Rockeyed Optimist, a winner last out.

In the latter qualifier, Burke trainees Somewhere In LA, Foiled Again and Bettor's Edge finished one-two-three and will all likely contest another qualifier this week before making their seasonal debuts on March 12, one week before the Levy series opener. Foiled Again has already earned over $7 million during his Hall of Fame career and will make his 12-year-old debut in the very near future. Bettor's Edge has been a regular in the Levy series and even owns a Breeders Crown victory while often overshadowed by his illustrious stablemate.