03/21/2013 10:21AM

Yonkers: Trainer Cassar hopes to post some Levy Series upsets


Make no mistake about it, the George Morton Levy series set to commence on Saturday at Yonkers Raceway holds the most value for owners and trainers in the sport. With six $50,000 divisions carded in opening round action, 41 horses will start divvying up what will inevitably be somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.75 million in purse money at completion of the series on April 27.

Trainer Darran Cassar will send out three of his top class pacers in opening leg action and seems to appreciate the competition and the purse structure.

“I’m not sure if any of them can win the series, but they’ll give a good account of themselves,” Cassar said. “They’re all closers, so if we draw well and the race breaks right we could win and get a big check, but if not I’ll be just as happy with a small check.”

While owners had to ante up $5,000 to nominate horses for the series, two fifth-place checks in the five preliminary rounds will be all it takes to get that money back for the also-ran types.

Cassar believes he has a couple with potential to win a few legs. Leading that list is Our Cullenscrown N, a three-time winner near the top levels at Yonkers this winter. “I told you back in December that I thought he was the best one of the group we brought over,” said Cassar.

While Our Cullenscrown N may be Cassar’s best, he didn’t get the best of the draw in opening leg action. As a matter of fact he probably drew into the toughest of the six divisions. Though the pacer has earned $53,550, more than any of his six rivals this season in the tenth race on the program, he’s got a long way to go to reach the $4.6 million rival Foiled Again has earned during his storied career.

Our Cullenscrown N landed post five with Tim Tetrick in the bike while Foiled Again, a multiple Levy final champion (2009-2010), makes his first start of the season from the pole position with regular pilot Yannick Gingras.

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The field also includes Razzle Dazzle, a 2012 leg winner that captured the Levy consolation in 1:51 last year. Razzle Dazzle is now under the care of Mark Silva and has Brian Sears in the bike.

Aussie Reactor A, a 1:51 2/5 performer last year at Yonkers, is Cassar’s hope in the first of six divisions (race five) on the program. The eight-year-old is on the comeback trail.

“The trip he went (March 9) is his type of trip, one that he can grind it out at his own pace. He can get kind of temperamental when you grab into him,” said Cassar.

The trainer thinks that over time Aussie Reactor A may prove to be his toughest in the series but that may take a few weeks.

Lettucerocku A drew post five in the eighth race division of the Levy. The trainer has been most impressed with the advancement he’s shown this year. He’s earned $41,740 in 2013 already. Lettucerocku A faces a solid group that includes Yonkers winter stalwarts Sapphire City and Something For Doc.

Cassar will be going Down Under in the near future to look for more of the same quality to import to North America.

“I have my eye on a couple,” Cassar said, “We paid $40,000 a piece for two Levy horses (Lettucerocku A and Our Cullenscrown N). That’s pretty good.”

While Cassar has a solid group in the Levy series his best aged horse, Mr Hasani N was left out of the equation.

“He’s too young and too inexperienced,” said Cassar. “That Presidential final took a lot out of that horse.”

Mr Hasani had gained recognition towards the latter half of 2012 winning opens at Harrah’s Philadelphia against some of the top horses in training. In the Presidential final driver Corey Callahan blasted Mr Hasani to the front with an electrifying :25 3/5 opening quarter. However, he tried to slow the horse down during the second quarter and Mr Hasani didn’t take kindly to that.

“The horse raced a lot on the front end down under and he just wanted to park other horses,” said Cassar. The driver tried to grab into the horse and eventually Mr Hasani went off-stride.

“He really hasn’t been the same since then and I’m trying to bring him back slowly and get him ready for some of the bigger races this summer,” said Cassar of Mr Hasani. The horse is entered on Friday in a $40,000 Open at Harrah’s Philadelphia.