Homeracing

Yonkers, Meadowlands and Pocono Downs offer Saturday card action

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Ted Black

March 31st, 2019

While thoroughbred racing fans were keen on watching a superb card at Gulfstream Park capped by the Grade I, $1 million Florida Derby, harness racing enthusiasts were paying close attention to the action at Yonkers Raceway in New York, the Meadowlands in New Jersey and Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania.

Just prior to the midway portion of the Saturday card at Yonkers, Pacing Major N (Jordan Stratton) benefited from a second over journey behind Bechkams Z Tam (Jim Marohn, Jr.) down the backside, fanned three-wide for the drive and overhauled favored Endeavor (Tim Tetrick) and outlasted the late move of 55-1 outsider The Wall (Joe Bongiorno) to forge a 67-1 shocker in the opening division of the third round of George Morton Levy Memorial series action.

A six-year-old Art Major stallion trained by Peter Tritton, Pacing Major N rebounded from a pair of dull efforts in the first two series legs and notched his first win in six starts this year. The Wall raced well third over to finish second, while Endeavor and Beckhams Z Tam were both disappointing.

Then one race later in the second Levy split, Western Fame (Daniel Dube) gained command through a sharp 27.1 opener, got a breather to the half in 56.2, met token pressure from even-money choice Rodeo Rock (Andrew McCarthy) down the backside, shook loose on the far turn and edged clear late from Dr J Hanover (Tetrick) to score by three lengths in 1:51.4 as the even-money second choice.

A six-year-old Western Ideal stallion trained by Rene Allard, Western Fame rebounded from a second-place effort as the 1-5 choice last week to notch his second win in three starts in the series and regain his status as the future book to capture the $675,000 Levy final on April 20. Rodeo Rock settled for third after a gritty, first over try and will be on hand for the final in three weeks.

Then three races later in the third Levy split, Lyons Steel (Stratton) forged a 10-1 upset when he brushed to command past the half, opened a clear lead down the backside and by three-quarters in 1:22.2 then romped home four lengths clear in 1:50.4. A four-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven gelding trained by Dennis Watson, Lyons Steel recorded his first win in three Levy legs and now owns two wins from nine starts this year and probably seems destined for the consolation despite his wicked clocking on Saturday night.

One race later in the fourth Levy split, More The Better N (Scott Zeron) benefited from a pocket trip behind Anythingforlove A (Bongiorno) through the first three calls, angled out at the head of the lane, surged to command mid stretch then held safe I'm Some Graduate (Matt Kakaley) to score by a length 1:52.1. A six-year-old Bettor's Delight stallion trained by Ross Croghan, More The Better N recorded his second win in three series outings and now owns 18 wins and $565,000 banked from 47 career outings.

Then two races later in the last Levy division of round three, Mac's Jackpot (Matt Kakaley) lived up to his role as the tepid 2-1 choice when he angled out first over past the half, wore down longshot leader Mach Doro A (Ron Cushing) by three-quarters in 1:24.1 then outlasted the late bid of two-time series winner Ideal Jimmy (Brent Holland) for a neck score in 1:52.4. It was the first win in three series tries for the five-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding trained by Jeff Smith.

That same evening at the Meadowlands, Highalator (Richard Still) lived up to his role as the 3-5 favorite in the $30,000 Preferred Handicap when he gained command along the rail before a 26.1 opener, got a breather by the half in 55.4, met token pressure from K Ryan Bluechip (Andy Miller) through the far turn and by three-quarters in 1:24.1 then held safe the late bid of Caviart Luca (Yannick Gingras) to score by two lengths in 1:50.1.

A five-year-old Somebeachsomewhere stallion trained by Jenny Bier, Highalator notched his second straight score at the Big M and now owns three wins from 10 starts this year and sports 24 victories and nearly $330,000 banked from 56 lifetime outings. Still had guided Highalator to a handy score against conditioned foes one week earlier and now looms one of the premier pacers at the New Jersey miler.

Then two races later in a non-winners of $17,500 last five starts/optional $60,000 claiming event, Wheels On Fire (Gingras) lived up to his role as the 1-5 favorite in his seasonal debut to score by a neck over Hudson Phil (Marcus Miller) in 1:49.1. A four-year-old Somebeachsomewhere stallion trained by Ron Burke, Wheels On Fire prevailed at first asking this year and now owns 12 wins and nearly $150,000 banked from 22 career tries and could be a surprise contender in the upcoming Graduate series for four-year-olds.

Then just past the midway point of the Pocono Downs cards, Rockeyed Optimist (Mitchell Cushing) lived up to his role as the 2-5 favorite in a non-winners of $19,000 last five starts class when he brushed to command before the opener in 27.1, got a breather to the half in 56.3, rolled by three-quarters in 1:24.1 then outlasted the late, first over bid of Black Chevron N (Jim Morrill, Jr.) to score by a neck in 1:52.1. It was his second straight win for the Jake Leamon trainee and he now sports 34 victories and nearly $690,000 banked from 89 career tries.

Then two races later in the non-winners of $22,500 last five starts class for older pacers, Eddard Harnover (Anthony Napolitano) gained command in a 27 opener, got a breather by the half in 57.1, rebuffed a first over bid from even-money choice Christen Me N (George Napolitano, Jr.) down the backside, edged clear on the far turn and held safe Dragonology (Simon Allard) to score by a neck in 1:53. It was the first win in three starts this year for the Burke trainee who now sports an 11-11-9 slate and nearly $475,000 banked from 61 career outings.

One night earlier Yonkers offered four divisions of the third round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker series for Free-For-All pacing fillies and mares and the quartet proved to be formful while not entirely chalky.

In the opening split, Feelin Red Hot (George Brennan) lived up to her name when she left to secure good early position, yielded to 1-5 favorite Apple Bottom Jeans (Corey Callahan) before a 27.2 opener, sat a loose pocket to the half in 58 flat and by three-quarters in 1:25.4 then overhauled the odds-on choice in the lane for a length score in 1:53.1.

A six-year-old Feelin Friskie mare trained by Burke, Feelin Red Hot has now won two straight races in the series and owns five wins and over $100,000 banked in 10 seasonal outings. Apple Bottom Jeans tasted defeat for the third time in three series outings for trainer Dylan Davis but has already secured a spot in the final.

Then two races later in the second BCMM split, Bettor Joy N (Tetrick) raced parked to gain command in a 27.3 opener, got a mild breather by the half in 56.2, raced unpressed by three-quarters in 1:24.4 then edged clear late to a three-length score in 1:52.3. A five-year-old Bettor's Delight mare trained by Jim King, Jr., Bettor Joy N recorded her second straight victory in the series and now owns three wins and $65,000 banked from five starts this year.

One race later in the third BCMM split, Seaswift Joy N (Jim Marohn, Jr.) left to secure good early position, yielded to even-money choice Don't Think Twice A (Jason Bartlett), sat a loose pocket behind the choice through modest middle splits, angled out at the head of the lane and wore down the choice late for a length score in 1:52.4. A six-year-old Bettor's Delight mare trained by Tony Alagna, Seaswift Joy N has now won twice in three series tries and now owns five wins in 10 starts this year.

Then one race later in the fourth BCMM split, Shartin N (Tetrick) regained her winning ways when she easily lived up to her billing as the 1-9 choice when she brushed to command before the opener, maintained an honest tempo by the half and three-quarters and romped home three lengths clear in 1:52.2. Another talented King trainee, Shartin N notched her second win in three series outings and now owns 28 wins and nearly $1.175 million banked from 40 lifetime outings.
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