03/17/2016 9:56AM

Yonkers: Speedy Lady Shadow seeks Blue Chip Matchmaker success

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Lady Shadow, racing Friday at Yonkers Raceway, is now under the care of trainer Josh Green

Each year when the Blue Chip Matchmaker series unfolds at Yonkers Raceway it brings an as-yet untested group of top pacing mares into play. With 23 dropping in the box on Monday, Friday’s opening leg of the series has been split into three divisions. Which of the 23 will emerge the champion in six weeks?

Questions will start being answered this week, but in the long run speed and durability will be key components in crowning a champion.

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Josh Green does most of his racing in Delaware, but when he ships to the Metro area he usually comes with a horse of the caliber of Lady Shadow. The now-5-year-old daughter of Shadow Play has been in his care since late last season and was put away in time by her connections with an eye on the Matchmaker as well as many other of the top stakes events for aged pacing mares.

“I really like her,” said Josh Green of Lady Shadow. “I would like it if she could be a bit more versatile.”

Lady Shadow has amassed $735,561 during her career racing primarily in Ontario. With 16 wins in 35 lifetime starts, her speed has been on display. Her current ownership group purchased her midway through the 2015 season and elected to keep her north of the border into the fall. She finished fourth after setting the pace in the Breeders Crown at Woodbine in October and then just made one start for Green at Dover Downs before being shut down for the winter.

“It’s a tough series and I wish we had a few starts in her,” said Green. “But she qualified very well.”

Indeed, Lady Shadow blew out a 1:51 4/5 mile at Dover on a balmy morning last week. That mile should have tightened her considerably for Friday’s contest.

Lady Shadow drew post seven in the final of three $40,000 Matchmaker divisions, but the post shouldn’t be a major issue considering her eagerness at the start.

“She likes to go at the start,” said Green of an issue that could be both a blessing and a curse if a driver could not get Lady Shadow to relax.

“Corey (Callahan) is going to drive here,” said Green. “He qualified her the first time and will stay with her.”

Lady Shadow may be on the outside of the gate but she makes her Yonkers debut against an evenly matched group, many that have yet to define themselves as elite pacing mares. Bettor N Better (post 2) and The Show Returns (post 5) are making their 4-year-old debuts after minimal stakes victories a year ago.

Cinamony won nine races last year for the Burke stable, earning $241,990 in the process for the Burke stable. The 5-year-old starts from post eight.

The first $40,000 preliminary for the Matchmaker is carded as race six and it brings together some hot horses this winter with some returning champions from the past. Regil Elektra (post 3) has won half of her eight starts in 2016 nearly matching her earnings from the entire 2015 campaign. Hazmatt (post 6) is undefeated in five starts this year all at Yonkers, but she’ll be moving up considerably in class.

Krispy Apple (post 4) returns for the father-son Bamond team. A career earner of nearly $1.6 million, the veteran mare had a prep at Yonkers last week and should be ready for action.

Sandbetweenurtoes (post 5) has prepped sharply for her return to the local area by racing at the top level at Woodbine this winter.

Without question, race seven will be the strongest group in the opening round of the Matchmaker, with last year’s one-two finishers in the final, Venus Delight and Yagonnakissmeornot, meeting for the first time in 2016. Last year, Venus Delight had the pole and her rival post two in the $261,000 finale. The post positions are reversed on Friday, with Yagonnakissmeornot shipping north from Florida and Venus Delight fresh and ready off two solid qualifiers at The Meadowlands.

Adding depth to this already class-filled group is Velocity Vespa, a 1:49 winner in the Isle Of Capri late closer at Pompano on March 5 and Secrets Out N, a winner in last week’s open for red-hot trainer Tom Milici.

First post for Yonkers 12-race program is 7:10 p.m.