04/17/2014 12:29PM

Yonkers: Apprentice Hanover has his sights set on Levy final

Mike Lizzi
Apprentice Hanover (3) winning his Levy preliminary leg on April 5.

The $567,000 George Morton Levy purse has been set for the final on Saturday, April 26, but there is still business to be taken care of this Saturday night at Yonkers Raceway, with the final of five preliminary legs featured. While everyone’s favorite, Foiled Again, has more than assured himself a spot in the final as well as favoritism to win, there is still plenty of argument left as to which of the group will give him the biggest challenge.

Apprentice Hanover has only faced Foiled Again once during his three rounds of action and will again miss a confrontation on Saturday in the first (race four) of the three $50,000 Levy divisions. The four-year-old by Somebeachsomewhere is fresh off 10 days of R & R at Classy Lane Farms in Ontario.

“He shipped home the Sunday after his last race (April 5),” said Ben Wallace, his trainer. “It’s a tough grind this series and I knew we were in good shape to make the final so we gave him the week off.”

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Apprentice Hanover won for the first time in the series following two second-place finishes on April 5 and gave both driver Jody Jamieson and his trainer belief that he could compete in the final. “Take nothing away from Foiled Again,” said Wallace, “But I think he can go with any horse in this series.”

His 1:52 4/5 victory, over Mach It So in round three action, showed the horse at his best, with Jamieson setting him in motion before the half and blitzing a :27 flat third quarter to gain control. Mach It So made a race of it as he has in every Levy leg, but Apprentice Hanover held strong for his sixth victory in eight starts this year.

As good as Apprentice Hanover has been, Wallace couldn’t hide his feelings about a second-place finish in round two action. “Sure I was disappointed. I thought he should have won that race. I can’t say whether it was the horse or the driver that was the difference there, but I thought he should have held off Mach It So,” said Wallace.

What concerns the trainer is that sometimes Apprentice Hanover can get a little lonely when in front and wait on horses. If he’s not reminded enough he tends to make things more interesting than any trainer would like. “There was a race at Woodbine (February 15) where he almost got caught at the wire,” said Wallace, “He came back from that with wins by five and nine lengths in his next two starts.

“We’ve made a bridle change that I hope will help. We’ve gone from the Kant-See-Back to a set of cups behind instead,” said Wallace who continued, “If they help we’ll leave them on for the final, if not he’ll go back to the Kant-See-Back.”

Apprentice Hanover is pretty much assured a spot in the final no matter what the outcome in Saturday’s six-horse field. He landed post three, which may dictate another off the pace outing. Inside in the field will be Sapphire City from the rail. This veteran local performer looks to secure a spot in the final with a top effort. Heading into Saturday, he appears the seventh horse on the finals leaderboard, with the expectation that trainers Ron Burke and PJ Fraley will have two each advancing.

Clear Vision was a finalist last year but may be aced-out in 2014 despite a victory, two seconds and a third in the four legs. The $1.8 million winner landed post two with George Brennan to drive in this tightly matched division. Clear Vision won for the first time this season on the front end in last week’s fourth leg and did so convincingly in 1:52 1/5.

P H Supercam has gone winless in the Levy but has been in two losing photos with Foiled Again in the last two legs. While he’s been fortunate to draw away from Foiled Again this week, he landed post six in this contentious division.

Bettors Edge, second in the Levy standings behind stablemate Foiled Again, drew the rail in the second $50,000 division (race five) and looks to rebound from a break in last week’s action. His closest competitor on form in this field is Dancin Yankee, a solid second in the most recent two rounds of action. Dancin Yankee landed post seven.

Foiled Again landed post seven in the evening’s final preliminary leg directly outside Mach It So. Foiled Again looks for his fifth straight victory of 2014 in this division.