Older horses to take center stage

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Ted Black

March 11th, 2016

Both thoroughbred and standardbred racing fans who enjoy watching the older horses compete will have a chance to see the world's best over the next two weekends as Yonkers Raceway offers round one of the lucrative George Morton Levy Memorial series for aged pacers on March 19 and Meydan Race Course in Dubai will host the ultra-lucrative $10 Dubai World Cup on a card where purses will approach $30 million total.

Nominations for the George Morton Levy Memorial series were released on Friday morning and the race attracted exactly 50 of the sport's top older pacers, including reigning harness horse of the year, Wiggle It Jiggleit and the sport's wealthy, grand old man, Foiled Again, who is about to make his seasonal debut at the ripe age of 12. Foiled Again is among a bevy of horses trained by Ron Burke who will compete each week, while trainers Jeff Bamond, Jr. and Casie Coleman will also be well-represented in the series.

Foiled Again heads a "Burke brigade" that also includes recent Open winner All Bets Off, Always At My Place, Beach Memories, Limelight Beach, Somewhere In LA and Take It Back Terry. While Foiled Again and Take It Back Terry are veterans of past Levy battles, Always At My Place makes his debut in the series and figures to be prominent throughout. He could be the heir apparent to the throne that Foiled Again will have to abdicate at some point among the older ranks.

Bamond will have both Mach It So and PH Supercam primed for the series. Mach It So, hero of both the William Haughton at the Meadowlands and the Bobby Quillen at Harrington Raceway last summer, has performed admirably in the last two editions of the Levy. PH Supercam won four legs of the series last year before drawing post eight for the final. He ended the season, however, with a gritty victory in the Geraty Memorial at Saratoga.

Coleman will have Lucan Hanover, a sharp winner of his first two starts this year at Dover Downs and a regular in the Levy last spring, as well as "down under" invader Bettor Rock On N who has won his first two local tries against conditioned foes at Yonkers. Bettor Rock On N is among a stellar contingent of New Zealand arrivals that also includes Bit Of A Legend N and fellow Peter Tritton trainee Texican N.

Defending Levy final hero Domethatagain spent the winter at Pompano Park in Florida and won the Open III there last weekend in 1:50.3. But fellow Florida invader Scott Rocks has been the best older pacer on the grounds this winter at Pompano, including last week's stellar 1:49 score in the Open Handicap.

Other local talents include Casimir Jitterbug, Doctor Butch, Great Vintage, Melmerby Beach, Polak A, Sapphire City, Sunfire Bluechip and The Real One, all of which have fared well in the Open Handicap at Yonkers in recent years. Melmerby Beach, Sunfire Bluechip and The Real One will be making their Levy debuts next weekend and all three of them should be in line for a berth in either the final or consolation on April 23.

Yonkers will host round one of the Levy series on March 19 with subsequent preliminary rounds taking place on March 26, April 2, April 9 and April 16 with the $450,000 final and $100,000 consolation both set for April 23.

While standardbred fans will be closely monitoring the first and second rounds of the Levy series through March 26, thoroughbred racing fans will be eager to awake early that morning to catch the Dubai World Cup card from Meydan Race Course. The $10 million World Cup will feature a showdown between California Chrome, the 2014 horse of the year and Frosted, arguably the second-best three-year-old last season behind Triple Crown winner and eventual horse of the year American Pharoah.

Both California Chrome and Frosted have already won prep races over the Meydan main track and both will vie for favoritism in the World Cup. Of the two, Frosted looked sharper winning a stakes at the Preakness distance of one-mile and three-sixteenths while California Chrome won a paid workout going one-mile and one-quarter. Both horses will likely improve off of their respective prep tallies, although Frosted looked the better of the two.

Tryster has clearly been the best turf horse at Meydan this winter, winning a pair of route stakes handily for trainer Charlie Appleby. Tryster will get an acid test on World Cup Night when Solow arrives, but that showdown will be worth the wait and Solow, despite his 11-race win streak, is not going to be a cinch. Likewise, sprinters Muarrab, Rich Tapestry, Reynaldothewizard and Marking will meet - along with several potential invaders - in the $2 million Golden Shaheen Stakes at six furlongs on the main track.