While much of the action this weekend will center around the boys, the Friday night card at Yonkers Raceway featured the pacing fillies and mares in the opening leg of the Bluechip Matchmaker Series and the Saturday afternoon program at Laurel Park could highlight one youthful filly.
One night before the older boys take center stage in the opening round of the George Morton Levy Memorial Series for free-for-all pacers, the pacing distaffers were on display Friday night in a trio of opening divisions of the Bluechip Matchmaker Series. Two of the three splits were won by an odds-on favorite, while the third featured a mild upset.
In the opening Matchmaker split, Shesjustdelight N (Ron Cushing) benefited from a pocket trip behind dueling leaders Empress Deo and American Girl, angled to the passing lane at the top of the stretch and surged clear late for a length score in 1:53. A seven-year-old Bettor’s Delight mare trained by Heidi Gibbs, Shesjustdelight N notched her first win in three starts this year and now owns 23 wins and $185,000 banked from 58 career outings. Empress Deo lasted for the place spot in a game effort after being pressed to the half in 55.2 by American Girl.
One race later Mach It A Par (Jason Bartlett) just lived up to her role as the 3-5 favorite in the second Matchmaker split when she outlasted the late inside bid of 9-5 second choice Bedroomconfessions in 1:53.2. A seven-year-old Mach Three mare trained by Jeff Bamond, Jr., Mach It A Par recorded her second win in four starts this year for trainer Richard Banca, having previously won the F-M Open here on Feb. 24. Bedroomconfessions has a 2-2-0 slate in five seasonal tries as the five-year-old American Ideal mare had won the F-M Open on Feb. 10 & 17.
Then in the third Matchmaker opening split, Regil Elektra (Bartlett) gained command in a rapid 27.2 opener, go a breather to the half in 57.1 and held safe the late bids of Hidden Land and Lispatty for a half-length score in 1:52.4. Another seven-year-old Mach Three mare trained by Keith Armer, Regil Elektra notched her third win in six starts this year, having won the F-M Open here on March 10. Maryland-bred Hidden Land closed willingly into a fast back half despite dull cover, while 4-5 choice Nike Franco N (Tim Tetrick) offered little late despite a second over journey and faded to seventh.
Saturday afternoon much of the focus at Laurel Park will be in the three stakes for males, as O Dionysus seeks to make his case for an eventual berth in the Preakness Stakes when he headlines the $100,000 Private Terms Stakes, but sophomore Maryland-bred filly Crabcakes will look to regain her winning ways in the $100,000 Caesar’s Wish Stakes. Trained by Bernie Houghton for owner-breeder Binnie Houghton’s Buckingham Farms, Crabcakes won her first two starts last fall one week apart and later won her seasonal debut before settling for second last out in the $100,000 Willa On The Move. She has every right to redeem herself here and will likely be a generous price thanks to the presence of Fair Grounds invader Jen’s Agenda.