03/20/2014 12:11PM

Yonkers: Mach It So leads a six-pack of Levy entrants for Fraley, Bamond

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Derick Giwner
Trainer PJ Fraley has 10 horses entered in stakes races at Yonkers Raceway this weekend.

All the talk before the opening leg of the George Morton Levy series was drawn suggested that trainer Ron Burke and his 10 nominees would dominate the box and the fields. Well, when five $50,000 divisions of the opening round were released on Tuesday, it was owner Jeff Bamond leading the pack as the single owner of six entries in the opening round.

Bamond’s trainer, P J Fraley, understands the strength in numbers and didn’t sound the least bit concerned about the additional $1,000 entry fee installed this year for each horse in each leg.

“I think with the 10 we have in (4 in the Matchmaker on Friday), if we can make $50,000 in purses in the first two weeks we’ll be fine,” Fraley said, indicating that his horses are not just in for the first week but in for the duration of the five-leg series, with hopefully a sixth leg final to follow.

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The trainer wasn’t shy about indicating that not all of his players will be expected to win, but he did show plenty of optimism for two four-year-olds in the group. Primarily he looks towards Mach It So, a four-year-old gelding making his first start of the year in the second race and first division on Saturday’s Yonkers Raceway program.

“He’s fresh. He’s a little on edge to begin with,” said Fraley of Mach It So, a winner eight times in 2013 before joining the stable in October. He qualified back on two occasions at the Meadowlands and both featured final quarters in under :27 seconds.

“I think he draw into a division that he can win in,” said Fraley, referring to the six other rivals, five of which haven’t won in 2014. Dancin Yankee, a former multiple-leg Levy winner, enters this year’s event with five wins in six starts this year and could be a favorite.

The wildcard in the Fraley line-up, at least as far as he’s concerned, is Validus Deo. Towards the close of 2013, Fraley raced the gelding at the Meadowlands and saw him capture a B-1/A-2 handicap in a 1:48 4/5 mile. “That mile really surprised me,” said Fraley, “So we (he and Bamond) decided to give him some time off and prep him for the Levy.”

Validus Deo drew well, something Fraley believes is vital to success at Yonkers and especially in this series. Post two may have been the good news, but the bad news was that he’ll meet the $6 million warhorse Foiled Again (post six) and the streaking Apprentice Hanover (post three) in the 11th race and final of the quintet of $50,000 events on Saturday.

Fraley definitely likes the chances of P H Supercam going forward in this series. Although he landed post seven in the ninth race leg, the trainer sees this seven-year-old as a superior closer on the half-mile track. “It’s not easy when you land outside, but in this series horses have come from off the pace because they tend to mix it up early. It’s not like your everyday claiming race,” said Fraley.

Perhaps the most competitive division of the Levy will be race four, with Fraley’s Fat Mans Alley (post two) and Here We Go Again (post seven) pitted in an eight-horse field against the $2 million winner Sweet Lou (post five) and a host of Yonkers Open winners including Bettors Edge (post four), Machs Beach Boy (post three), Statesman N (post six) and Sapphire City (post eight).

The trainer is taking a long-term approach to the series, hoping to grind it out with horses that are comfortable racing over the half-mile track.

Unlike years past, this year’s edition of the Levy has just one horse that appears to be dominant. “I watched Foiled Again qualify the other day and he was fantastic,” said Fraley, “This horse just refuses to lose.”

As far as any of his six entrants winning the final of the Levy, that’s not something the trainer is imagining at this point.

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“I wouldn’t mind finishing second to Foiled Again,” said Fraley.

Though Fraley is starting six in the Levy, according to the rules only two will be able to qualify for the final. The top eight point earners in the five preliminary legs will return for the rich final on April 26.