03/20/2014 2:41PM

Harness Racing: Stakes season begins at Yonkers Raceway


There are five divisions of the George Morton Levy Memorial series for older pacers at Yonkers Raceway on tap for Saturday and four preliminary legs of the Blue Chip Matchmaker for the best older females on Friday. The reigning divisional winners—Foiled Again and Anndrovette—are just a few of the competitors on hand. Let’s take a quick look at each race from a betting perspective.

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Blue Chip Matchmaker – Friday

Race 4

Top billing in this division has to go to Rocklamation, who has basically been the second-best pacing mare in the country behind Anndrovette for the previous two years. The now 6-year-old makes her 2014 debut off a pair of solid qualifiers, that last of which saw her dig in gamely near the wire. She is coupled with Camille, who was third in that qualifier and won four of nine races at Yonkers last year. Despite the credentials of the aforementioned pair, my call goes to (4) Shelliscape, last year’s Breeders Crown winner. This gal doesn’t quite look to be up to speed off her two qualifiers, but she was under her own power in each race and I’m fairly certain she’ll come to play on Friday.

Race 6

Anndrovette makes her first start of the year in this race and lays over the field on talent. But I wasn’t thrilled with her most recent qualifier. The effort was okay, although not good enough to accept a 3-5 price. On the other hand, (1) Summertime Lea was very sharp posting a 1:52 3/5 qualifying win on March 7 at the Meadowlands. She drew post one, has plenty of early speed and should be firing down the road.

Race 9

This is the best race of first round action. Royal Cee Cee N is the morning line favorite at 8-5, but she will have her hands full against a powerful group that includes Somwherovrarainbow, Krispy Apple and Feeling You. Somwherovrarainbow put up a sharp 1:49 1/5 mile in her first start of the year last week. She will take a lot of beating. Krispy Apple had no shot in a pair of prep races, the last of which she paced a 54 2/5 final half. I’m going to try last year’s Blue Chip Matchmaker champion (5) Feeling You. She raced steadily in her first attempt of the year and figures to be sharper this time around. Don’t be shocked if she fires off the gate for position at what could be a good price.

Race 10

This is arguably the weakest division of the night on paper. I’ll go with the 9-5 early favorite (4) YAGONNAKISSMEORNOT. She is far from my best play of the night, but the 5-year-old Rene Allard trainee is simply too sharp to go against right now.


Levy Memorial - Saturday

Race 2

This is a competitive race with Clear Vision, Mach It So, Word Power and Dancin Yankee all in with a legitimate chance. Word Power and Dancin Yankee figure to supply the all-important early speed, but Mach It So has proven capable of mixing it up on the engine at times. My pick is (1) Clear Vision (coupled with Aracache Hanover). The 8-year-old gelding was sharp in his qualifiers and now has a couple of nice primer races in the Open Handicap to prepare for this spot. He can sit off the speed and grind out a first-over victory.

Race 4

No lengthy analysis needed from me here. (2A) Sweet Lou was absolutely awesome in his recent qualifier and was basically powered down nearing the wire. I’m all in with him in this spot.

Race 5

This is a tricky race where almost any of the seven contestants could find their way into the winner’s circle. From a wagering angle I would pass, but if pressed for a selection, the Ron Burke entry of (1) Itrustyou and (1A) Escape The News offer a nice two-for-one combination of early speed and closing ability.

Race 9

Although there are only six betting interests, this is another interesting betting race. Burke sends out a nice duo in Easy Again and Special Forces, but neither looks unbeatable at what may be a short price. Doctor Butch has a nice history here but may need another race after only one qualifier. P H Supercam has a shot but may be done in by post seven. It comes down to the two imports—Mr Hasani N and Malak Uswaad N—for me. I’m going to try (2) Mr Hasani N because of his post one position and a feeling that he may finally be ready to take the next step up in class.

Race 11

On paper and in reality, this will likely come down to a battle between the richest standardbred—Foiled Again—and the red hot 4-year-old Apprentice Hanover. The former did everything right in his qualifiers to prepare for his 10-year-old debut, but I simply can’t look past (3) Apprentice Hanover, who has a post edge (3 to 6) and is riding a nine-race win streak.