Yonkers Raceway hosts opening leg of Blue Chip Matchmaker

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Ted Black

March 17th, 2018

Friday's opening round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker series for Free-for-all pacing mares hardly produced any genuine surprises, but the quartet of first round winners all took the first steps toward earning a berth in the lucrative final on April 21.

In the first of the four $40,000 Blue Chip Matchmaker opening legs, Shartin N (Tim Tetrick) quickly made her presence known when she lived up to her role as the 1-4 favorite by delivering a sharp score in her local debut. A five-year-old Tintin In America mare trained by Jim King, Jr. of Wakzashi Hanover fame, Shartin N got away fourth, angled out first over before the half and brushed to command through the clubhouse turn, opened a clear lead down the backside and cruised home four lengths clear in 1:54.2.

Shartin N may have benefited from her inside draw, but she displayed ample grittiness clearing on the clubhouse turn and handled the half-mile oval with ease. The King trainee notched her second straight victory and posted her fifth win in six starts this year and now owns 13 tallies in 19 career tries. She had climbed through her conditioned events at Dover Downs en route to capturing the F-M Open there twice, both times as the odds-on choice.

One race later in the second Blue Chip split, Sell A Bit N (Jordan Stratton) also benefited from the rail and lived up to her role as the 2-5 favorite when she brushed to command early, got a breather by the half in 58.2, faced pressure from Dudesalady (Brent Holland) down the backside and through the far turn and just held safe the pocket-sitting Medusa (Scott Zeron) for a neck victory in 1:55.2.

An eight-year-old Julius Caesar mare trained by Peter Tritton, Sell A Bit N notched her second straight score and posted her fourth win in seven starts this year and pushed her seasonal earnings to nearly $100,000. Sell A Bit N had missed three weeks leading into the event and was clearly the slowest winner of the four, but she took a giant leap toward earning a berth in the final.

Then one race later in the third Blue Chip Matchmaker split, Lady Shadow (Jason Bartlett) lived up to her role as the 2-5 favorite when she brushed to command down the backside, got a breather by the half in 57.2, raced unpressed down the backside and by three-quarters in 1:26 then held safe Scandalicious (Tetrick) and Eclipse Me N (Daniel Dube) for a two-length score in 1:54.3.

A seven-year-old Shadow Play mare trained by Richard Banca, Lady Shadow kicked off her 2018 campaign in sharp fashion nd recorded the 34th victory in her 72-race career and pushed her lifetime bankroll past $1.94 million. Lady Shadow was the 2016 Maryland-bred harness horse of the year, but yielded the honor to Devious Man last year. A $320,000 Harrisburg sale purchase last fall, Lady Shadow took the first steps toward recouping that hefty sale sum and earning a berth in the lucrative final.

Scandalicious raced well in defeat while displaying early speed and yielding the advantage to the odds-on choice and benefiting from a pocket trip. Eclipse Me N perhaps delivered the best performance of the two dozen mares that did not prevail in the opening round of the Matchmaker when she rallied widest of all on the far turn around dull cover and finished stoutly in the lane to finish third for trainer Rene Allard and the six-year-old Real Desire mare should be a factor in the series.

Then one race later in the fourth Blue Chip series opening leg, Twinkle (Eric Goodell) benefited from an inside draw and a pocket trip behind 9-5 favorite Lispatty (George Brennan) through the first three calls, angled out of the pocket at the top of the lane and easily overhauled the choice for a length score in 1:54.2. Dewar N Soda (Bartlett) saved ground throughout and rallied late to gain the place spot.

A five-year-old Bettor's Delight mare trained by Ross Croghan, Twinkle looked sharp in her seasonal debut and now owns 12 wins from 13 lifetime outings and pushed her career earnings past $120,000. Twinkle was the second Maryland-bred pacing mare to capture an opening round leg and she topped a Maryland-bred exacta in the fourth leg as Dewar N Soda gained the runner-up spot for trainer Brandon Todd. Another Maryland-bred mare in this group, Vintage Babe, finished fourth.