03/28/2013 9:17AM

Yonkers: Second is not good enough in Levy prelims

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Sean Hamrock
Versado is second in North America in earnings for 2013.

“Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”

One could hardly think that Vince Lombardi was talking about the George Morton Levy series when he coined the phrase, but the facts bear it out. To earn one of eight berths in the rich final on April 27, winning and winning often will be the only thing that guarantees a ticket to the big dance.

That’s because with five preliminary legs and the likelihood of at least five divisions in each of the remaining four legs, a spot in the final cannot be earned by simply finishing second and third. This week’s second leg puts some horses on the spot while other first leg winners will need to overcome post eight to make it two straight.

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Rockincam, one of last year’s premier pacers, missed the opening leg action while prepping in Florida. He’s arrived for round two but has already dug a hole for himself. Last year Rockincam closed out his campaign with a 1:51 4/5 victory against Open Handicap rivals at Yonkers in mid-November. He returns fresh for battle coming off two open lengths victories in qualifiers at Spring Garden Ranch, a training center in Florida. Rockincam drew post two in the first $50,000 division, race six on the 12-race program.

Clear Vision, third in opening leg action, drew the eight-hole in this field and may need to step up his game for driver Yannick Gingras if he’s going to reach the final. The Ron Burke-trained gelding figures to improve making his second start of 2013.

Gingras again will be batting from the outside post in the second division (race 7) with defending champion Atochia. The career winner of over $1.7 million was used on a few occasions in last week’s opening leg and faded to sixth. This week he’ll have to overcome post seven against a field that includes Forever Just (post 1) a runner up in opening leg action and Second Wind N (post 4) a solid third in his Levy debut.

Nob Hill High had to come a long way to capture a leg of the Levy last week and his prospects won’t get any easier the second time around. The veteran pacer is saddled with post eight in the third division (race 8) that includes the fastest first leg winner Something For Doc (post 4) as well as the gritty down-under product Ourcullenscrown N (post 1).

The ninth race division pits two first leg winners head-to-head and on the outside looking in. Annieswesterncard (post 7) and Versado (post 8) will need to be on their respective toes to get into the hunt and prevail against a solid group. Annieswesterncard just held off a pocket-sitting Dancin Yankee by a neck in opening leg action and will again face that rival on Saturday. Dancin Yankee landed post five. Versado raced on the outside through much of the opening leg action but scored by open lengths in 1:53 4/5. The six-year-old has already earned in excess of $127,000 in less than three months of racing in 2013.

Racing secretary Steve Starr obviously wanted to save the best for last and he accomplished that in the tenth race and final Levy division on Saturday night. Foiled Again, the richest pacer of all time, drew post three and will need to get on the winning track to move onto the Levy final leaderboard. Foiled Again finished second behind Razzle Dazzle in the opening round and will again meet him in round two. This week Razzle Dazzle will be saddled with post eight. While that is an obstacle, it is not likely to keep the six-year-old son of Real Desire out of the equation. Razzle Dazzle, now trained by Mark Silva, went a solid mile in defeating Foiled Again on the front end last week. While it seems unlikely he’ll be able to dictate the pace this week, Razzle Dazzle has been known throughout his career as a closer and that may be where he does damage on Saturday night.

Adding to the final Levy mix is the appearance of Code Word. The first leg winner took the off-the-pace route to victory but may find himself closer to the action this week after drawing the pole position. With up and coming trainer Conor Flynn on the sidelines, Brad Irvine has been listed to train Code Word this week.

Horses in the Levy series will earn points based on finish position: First-50; Second-25; Third-12; Fourth-8 and Fifth-5. All horses that start in a leg earn an additional 25 points. Only the top eight qualifiers are guaranteed a spot in the final with no trainer allowed more than two spots.