04/21/2014 11:15AM

Jay Bergman: Entrymate saves the day for Foiled Again backers

Mike Lizzi
Easy Again took care of business and saved those that bet stablemate bet Foiled Again on Saturday, April 19.

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

This tale is more about the best of intentions and the worst of circumstances.

Following Saturday’s concluding preliminary round of the George Morton Levy Series at Yonkers, it was hard not to see just how much Yannick Gingras’ drive behind Foiled Again didn’t look and sound very similar to the intentions of a young driver a few weeks ago at The Meadowlands.

The stage was certainly different. Here there was a $50,000 purse on the line and most people wouldn’t necessarily assume there was going to be a “wait until next week” scenario.

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Yet, the previously unbeaten in 2014 Foiled Again did what so many others before him have done. Having drawn outside on a half-mile track with the knowledge that better days would certainly be ahead, in this case a $567,000 date on April 26, Foiled Again and his pilot elected to let the race play out without them as key players.

What were those words again?

“I’m going to race him off a helmet.”

Fortunately for those players with the stomach to accept 1-20 odds on a horserace, there was entrymate—Easy Again and driver George Brennan—to save the day, and for the most part the explanation of Foiled Again’s sixth-place finish.

Ironically, when Gingras was asked following Foiled Again’s fourth Levy leg victory if he would be in favor of giving the horse a week off and return to race in the final, he indicated that he would want to race the horse in the fifth leg. Though, those comments were made before Foiled Again drew post seven in a field that included the impressive four-year-old Mach It So.

Yonkers Raceway had the good fortune to have Foiled Again enter every leg of its series and will again be blessed by his presence in the final this Saturday. In an era where it’s difficult to get a horse to commit to appear two weeks in a row at any one track, the Levy series has been the sufficient lure that has pulled in star power.

Yet, following Saturday’s final preliminary one has to wonder whether the overall benefit of a series of this length has proven to be something with more negatives than positives.

Take into account first and foremost that throughout the Levy there were an extreme amount of short fields. Secondly, the no show and no place wagering stamp was displayed way too often for those serious enough about making bets. Third, the number of fields that also includes two and three horse entries was abundant. Combine all of these elements and what you have are stars with no action.

The strict length of the series is something that needs to be looked at. While the track was fortunate this year to get a host of players to enter each and every week, there were too many races that were not playable for an average fan.

To me the difficulty in finding a better race has more to do with the combination of splitting common-ownership entries into separate divisions as well as restricting the number of starters in each race. This has led to races with five betting interests and three horse entries.

The Levy holds a great place on the stakes schedule for aged horses as does its female counterpart the Blue Chip Matchmaker. The money is great but the races can surely be made better, more competitive and more interesting to the general public if some changes are to be made.

On that subject, I think it’s time, at least when it comes to these races, that horses do not get divided into separate divisions based on ownership. If an owner or owners wish to race more than one horse in the series they have every right to do so. However, there shouldn’t be a built in advantage to race more horses with the knowledge that they can’t draw in against each other.

Splitting the horses into separate divisions works beautifully for those owners with the horsepower, but it offers an unnecessary advantage against those with single horses. More specifically, why should a majority of Burke’s stable enter the series knowing they won’t draw in against Foiled Again while those with one horse have a greater chance to draw in against the champ?

It’s been suggested that we’ve reached a period in the sport where combining common-owned entries in races of these type is no longer required. The argument is based on the theory that all horses will race independently and that the public is really not impacted negatively.

That argument went out the door this past Saturday when Easy Again rescued the Foiled Again money. Had those two been separate betting interests on Saturday, I dare say we’d be hard pressed to explain to what is left of the betting public what actually took place on the racetrack.

I think a better idea when it comes to this series is to put all entries into a pool and separate them evenly without consideration for stable or ownership. In addition, I believe that rules should be put in place to provide the race office with the freedom to create races with more betting interests. If that means having a nine or 10-horse field, by all means the race office should have carte blanche in the series to provide bettors with the best product possible.

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Between too many divisions of odds-on commodities and motionless races, the Levy and Matchmaker did provide some epic races with real competition. This past Friday, Tim Tetrick and last year’s Breeders Crown champion Shelliscape took on the wildly overbet Somwherovrarainbow through a middle half war that saw longshot Monkey On My Wheel emerge victorious at a generous 18-1 payout.

On Saturday, Jody Jamieson and Apprentice Hanover took on 2-5 favorite Clear Vision in a middle half battle that left the door open for the 9-1 outsider P H Supercam to pick up the pieces in dramatic style.

The problem for those who love high-class racing is the imbalance that has been created in these series between truly epic competitive races and those hardly worth watching or betting on.

To create the best of times you must eliminate the worst.