Homeracing

Series get under way at Yonkers Raceway

Profile Picture: Ted Black

Ted Black

March 17th, 2019

While the NCAA Basketball tournament is commonly known as "March Madness", serious harness racing fans were paying much closer attention to a pair of lucrative series that got under way at Yonkers Raceway on Friday and Saturday.

Friday night offered the first round of eliminations for the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series for Free-For-All pacing mares and the opening leg attracted the defending BCMM champ, Shartin N, who parlayed her success in the series to champion aged pacing mare and runner-up honors for pacer of the year and horse of the year.

In the first Matchmaker elim, Ideal Lifestyle A (George Brennan) lived up to her role as the 4-5 favorite when she brushed to command past the opener in 27.3, got a breather by the half in 57.2, raced unpressed down the backside and by three-quarters in 1:24.4 then held safe Twinkle (Scott Zeron) in the lane for a two-length score in 1:52.3. A seven-year-old Western Ideal mare owned and trained by Tammy Camilleri, Ideal Lifestyle A notched her second win in five starts this year and now owns 15 wins and nearly $150,000 banked from 60 lifetime tries.

One race later in the second BCMM elim, Delightfulmemphis N (Jason Bartlett) overcame an extended first over trip to wear down 2-5 favorite Bettor Joy N (Tim Tetrick) in the lane for a determined nose victory in 1:53. A six-year-old Bettor's Delight mare trained by Richard "Nifty" Norman, Delightfulmemphis N recorded her fifth win in eight starts this year and now owns 19 wins and nearly $365,000 banked from 60 career outings.

Then one race later in the third BCMM split, Apple Bottom Jeans (Corey Callahan) easily lived up to her role as the 3-10 favorite when she gained command in a modest 28.1 opener, rolled by the half in 56.3 and by three-quarters in 1:25 then sprinted clear in the lane to a four-length score in 1:52.2. A six-year-old Mr Apples mare trained by Dylan Davis, Apple Bottom Jeans owns three wins in five starts this year and now sports 28 wins and over $700,000 banked from 66 career tries and looms one of the serious contenders for the series title.

One race later in the fourth BCMM plit, Seaswift Joy N (Jim Marohn, Jr.) overcame post six with an extended bid to gain command in a 26.4 opener, got a breather by the half in 56.4, raced unpressed by three-quarters in 1:24.3 then edged clear from Feelin Red Hot (Brennan) to score in 1:52.1. Another six-year-old Bettor's Delight mare trained by Tony Alagna, Seaswift Joy N recorded her third straight tally and now owns 14 wins and $144,000 banked from 45 lifetime outings.

Then one race later in the final BCMM opening round elim, reigning division queen Shartin N (Tetrick) lived up to her role as the 1-9 choice in her seasonal debut when she quarter moved to command, maintained an honest tempo by the half in 56 flat, met token pressure by three-quarters in 1:24.3 then held safe Dont Think Twice A under confident handling for a neck score in 1:52.2.

A six-year-old Tintin In America mare trained by Jim King, Jr., Shartin N prevailed in her seasonal bow and now owns 27 wins and nearly $1.15 million from 38 career outings and looms the future book favorite to repeat as BCMM series champion. She will not have things handed to her on a silver platter, however, since Apple Bottom Jeans and Seaswift Joy N both have ample gate speed and plenty of late grit as well.

Then on the Saturday night card at Yonkers the attention quickly turned to the older pacing Free-For-All males as they convened for six divisions of the lucrative, prestigious George Morton Levy Memorial Series. Like the BCMM mares the night before, the Levy participants were looking to take the first small steps toward earning a berth in the lucrative final on April 20.

In the opening leg of the Levy series, Western Fame (Daniel Dube) easily lived up to his billing as the 6-5 favorite when he gained command before a 27.1 opener, got a breather by the half in 56.2, rolled by three-quarters unpressed in 1:24.1 then romped home six lengths clear in 1:51.1 for his first win in two starts this year and Dube's 9000th of his career. The six-year-old Western Ideal stallion trained by Rene Allard ended his previous campaign with a victory in the $100,000 Potomac Pace at Rosecroft Raceway and now owns 17 wins and $1.067 million lifetime from 69 career outings. He also stamped himself as the future book favorite for the April 20 final.

Then one race later in the second Levy elim, Anythingforlove A (Joe Bongiorno) just lived up to his role as the 7-20 favorite when he benefited from a pocket trip behind Rockin Ron (Matt Kakaley) through the first three calls, angled out of the pocket entering the far turn and just prevailed under serious urging in 1:53.4. A seven-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven gelding trained by Jenn Bongiorno, Anythingforlove A has won two straight, four of seven this year and 19 victories in 62 career tries.

One race later in the third Levy opening split, Ideal Jimmy (Brent Holland) forged a 9-1 upset when he gained command from the rail at the outset, got a breather by the half in 57.2, faced token pressure from Micky Gee N (Jordan Stratton) by three-quarters in 1:24.4 then held safe the closers late to score in 1:52.4 while 3-10 favorite Beckhams Z Tam (Tetrick) never threatened despite a golden pocket journey.

Then one race later in the fourth split, Rodeo Rock (Andrew McCarthy) rallied for his second straight score; The Wall (Bongiorno) forged a 9-1 upset in the fifth division in 1:53 then More The Better N (Zeron) prevailed in the final division in 1:53.4. While there may have been more opening round legs than normal, the competitiveness of the Levy series will get tested this weekend as the top older horses look for a way to upend Western Fame following his superb performance this past Saturday night.
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