Weekend Harness Preview

Profile Picture: Molly Jo Rosen

Molly Jo Rosen

March 22nd, 2014

by Ted Black

With spring weather perhaps having finally arrived, at least temporarily, the racing action will certainly heat up at several tracks along the East Coast on Saturday night with stakes action at two of them and a bevy of overnights at the other pair.

On Saturday evening, Yonkers Raceway in New York will host the opening round of the lucrative George Morton Levy Memorial Series for aged pacers. The series consists of five rounds of eliminations, with each division of each leg worth $50,000, culminating with a $450,000 final and $100,000 consolation on Saturday, April 26.

Saturday's second race is the first division of the Levy opening round and the event contains two or three horses that could garner a spot in the final. Dancin Yankee performed well in the series last spring and dominated the action at Dover Downs in February before making one start at Yonkers earlier this month as his initial tuneup for the Levy. The Josh Green trainee will be the favorite in the opening leg and a factor throughout the series.

Looking to topple Dancin Yankee tonight are Clear Vision, Word Power, Code Word and Aracaches Hanover. Last fall Clear Vision was among the best older pacers in the land, edging stablemate Foiled Again to capture the $200,000 Robert Quillen Memorial at Harrington Raceway. But his first two starts this year leave a lot to be desired and Clear Vision will have to regain some hint of his 2013 form before anyone can back him with any confidence.

The fourth race on the card is the second division of the Levy opener and trainer Ron Burke appears to be holding all the cards in this one. His coupled entry of Bettor's Edge and Sweet Lou will be difficult to upend. Sweet Lou arrives as the more proven commodity and he even won an Open Handicap last fall here despite being assigned the eight hole. Bettor's Edge is an honest animal and cannot be taken lightly.

In the fifth, two more Burke trainees will garner much of the attention. Itrustyou actually emerged on the scene as the dominant three-year-old colt pacer at Colonial Downs three years ago before moving to the Burke barn and enhancing his winning ways. Stablemate and entrymate Escape The News is another pacer with plenty of back class and he will look to overcome his outside draw to be a factor this evening.

After a trio of overnight races, the fourth Levy division also features another pair of Burke trainees. Easy Again and Special Forces, top class winners at The Meadowlands and Dover Downs, respectively, will be very difficult to beat in this split. Mr. Hasani has the rail and should be able to work out a good trip, but PH Supercam was unlucky to get the seven hole and may have to wait until round two to be a factor.

The fifth and final division of the Levy, which comes as race 11, features the much anticipated return of Foiled Again, clearly the most famous pacer in the Burke barn. The reigning champion aged pacer and the sport's all-time winningest pacer with a bankroll exceeding $6 million, Foiled Again makes his seasonal debut off a pair of sharp qualifiers at The Meadowlands and he will leave from post six.

Looking to topple the sport's richest pacer and inevitable Hall of Fame inductee is Apprentice Hanover, who arrives having won all five of his starts this year at Woodbine for trainer Ben Wallace. Apprentice Hanover will leave from post three and should have the fitness edge on the champ this weekend, but we'll see how the two pacers stack up against one another next month after Foiled Again has had several races under his belt.

At Pompano Park each Saturday, the presence of Prairie Jaguar in the Open Handicap is worth the price of admission. But since he has been so dominant since arriving from Canada last December, reeling off nine straight wins, Prairie Jaguar is not able to compete each week. In his absence, Northern Companion should triumph in the Open, slated as the third race on the card.

With many of the top aged pacers on the continent across the Hudson River at Yonkers Raceway on Saturday, the highlight of the card at The Meadowlands is the track's two divisions of the Clyde Hirt Series for three- and four-year-old colt & gelding pacers.

In the sixth, Avatartist will be the solid favorite off his opening round victory, but with a win already under his belt in the series and a berth in the final virtually secured, he could be vulnerable. The pick here goes to Burkentine Hanover, who will be a generous price while starting from post 10 and will have to be first or second this weekend to find a spot in the final.

In the seventh, opening round winner and future book favorite for final, Wake Up Peter, will be the odds-on choice from the rail having won all four of his starts this year for trainer Larry Remmen. But both See And Ski and Exit Cam are worth playing in this round because both are going to need good finishes to ensure a spot in the final.

The Saturday cards at Rosecroft Raceway in Maryland are not as strong as the track's Tuesday programs, but one race in particular could offer some value. In the sixth, a non-winners of three races lifetime event where Dover Downs invader Stars N Bars will be the favorite, look for either Southern Lady, Southern Hoss or Chepachet to emerge victorious. Southern Hoss was a good second last week, while both Southern Lady and Chepachet won lesser classes.