Yonkers Finale on Sunday Earns Top Billing

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Ted Black

January 7th, 2017

While many sports enthusiasts will be focused on the National Football League's Wild Card weekend this Saturday and Sunday, standardbred fans will be paying close attention to the first live racing card of the New Year at Yonkers Raceway on Sunday with a main emphasis on the finale.

Since the Yonkers signal is generally very well received in Europe on Sundays, the New York half-mile oval often focuses its attention on the trotters. But this Sunday, while the $75,000 Open Handicap for trotters will take center stage early on the card, the Yonkers finale, a $50,000 "Winners Over" handicap for pacers that includes a number of talented horses that could eventually be competing in the George Morton Levy Memorial Series.

The eight starters have combined earnings of over $4 million, but more than one-third of that sum is PH Supercam (Jason Bartlett), a classy, 10-year-old Million Dollar Cam gelding trained by Jeff Bamond, Jr. PH Supercam had bounced back and forth through the conditioned events and the Preferred and Open last season at Yonkers, but he finished the season with consecutive wins against non-winners of $25,000 last five starts and the "Winners Over" to conclude the campaign with a 6-6-5 slate and $267,000 bankroll from 32 outings.

PH Supercam has been a fixture in the Levy Series the last three years, winning the final in 2014 for Bamond. He has been a durable, hard-hitting sort over the years and sports a solid 52-32-38 slate and $1.5 million bankroll from 204 career tries, including a 1:51 tally last season at Yonkers and a lifetime mark of 1:49.2 at Harrah's Philadelphia at age seven in 2014.
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While PH Supercam is the class of the field, the aged wonder has to yield the top honor right now to City Hall (Tyler Buter), who is riding a five-race win streak for trainer Amber Buter, including last weekend's $35,000 Invitational at the Meadowlands. City Hall finished his 2016 campaign on a five-race skein - all at the Meadowlands - to finish the season with a 12-1-4 slate and nearly $100,000 banked from 37 tries. He will have to overcome post eight in order to extend his win streak to six, but City Hall merits respect even on the smaller oval.

Another horse that is peaking right now and gives every indication he could be a budding star this season at age five is In The Huddle (Jordan Stratton) - a fitting hunch play on Wild Card weekend - who has won his last two outings and owns three wins and three second-place finishes from his last six outings. This American Ideal gelding trained by Joe DeCarlo finished his four-year-old campaign with two straight scores and a solid 10-4-1 slate and $84,000 bankroll from 23 tries and has ample gate speed and merits respect while getting another serious test for class.

Just to his outside is Roland N Rock, who ended the previous campaign with three straight second-place finishes, once at this level and twice in the Preferred. This five-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding trained by Rob Harmon once appeared to be a one-dimensional speedball, but his last three outings at Yonkers featured a stellar late kick. He was first over in his most recent outing and was unable to overcome a slow tempo and fast back half while just missing in that trio of performances.

Like City Hall, who dropped into a non-winners of $5000 last five class to end a prolonged drought and then begin his climb through the class ladder, Somewhere In LA dropped into a non-winners of $9000 last five starts class at Pocono Downs in October to regain his winning ways. He won his next outing as well against tougher there then ended his 2016 campaign with a determined, neck victory over Polak A in a non-winners of $25,000 last five starts class. The five-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding finished the season with a 6-3-2 slate and now owns a 20-14-9 slate and $840,000 bankroll from 79 career tries.