Yonkers Raceway Saturday night offered up fifth and final preliminary round competition in its George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series competition. Four $50,000 harness racing events comprised the fourth round, with many of the usual names--save for the AWOL Foiled Again--strutting their stuff.
Defending series champ Real Nice (Jason Bartlett, $2.70) was this season's five-legged monster, as in the only entrant to sweep all his prelim performances. Leaving from post position No. 2 in the evening's final event, he stepped around pylon attendee Strand Hanover (Luc Ouellette). Slogging early fractions (:28 and :57) eliminated whatever suspense might have lingered. A :55.2 back half (1:25, 1:52.2) gave Real Nice a comfy, three-quarters-of-a-length win.
Strand Hanover ducked inside, but was no match, while Clear Vision (Yannick Gingras) was third and Power of a Moment (Brent Holland) fourth.
For Real Nice, a 7-year-oldgelding co-owned by Beverly and Gary Paganelli and Anthony Scussel & trained by Rich Banca, it was his fifth win in eight seasonal starts. The exacta paid $4.70, the triple returned $8.60 and the superfecta paid $50.
"What can I say about him?" Bartlett asked aloud. "To beat these horses five weeks in a row. He's so quick out of the gate that he's able to control the race, but I've also had him when he's raced very well off a helmet. He's been a pleasure to drive, and I hope we get some luck with the draw for the final."
Saturday night's other play dates played out as such...
1st division--Second-choice Valentino (Cat Manzi, $5.50), a solid, first-up, runner-up to Real Nice a week ago, took no prisoners from the pylons here. Retaking from Code Word (Gingras) after a 27.2 opening quarter-mile, he threw down the gauntlet to the tune of :55.2, 1:23.1 and 1:51. That effort matched Foiled Again's fastest mile of both the series and local season. Power of Tara N (George Brennan) won the scrum for second--beaten five lengths--with P H Jackpot (Brian Sears) third. Nob Hill High (Jordan Stratton), as the 11-10 favorite, was a brutal-trip fourth.
For Valentino, a 5-year-old son ofowned by KDM Stables and trained by Nick Surick, it was his first win in seven seasonal starts. The exacta paid $14.80, the triple returned $191 and the superfecta paid $499.50.
2nd division--A sharp, two-move effort earned third-choice Razzle Dazzle (Sears, $7.70) his first series win. Starting outside his six rivals, he dropped in fourth, chasing 19-10 favorite Flipper J (Manzi). The pole-sitter reclaimed from Shoobee's Place (Pat Lachance), then set sail through intervals of :27.3, 55.3 and 1:23.1. Razzle Dazzle chased through that :27.4 third quarters, then picked off the leader early in the lane. He widened to win by 3¼ lengths in 1:51.1. Third went to Dancin' Yankee (Bartlett).
For Razzle Dazzle, a 5-year-oldgelding trained by Richie Silverman and owned by Ira Kristel, it was his first win in four seasonal starts. The exacta paid $26.60, with the triple returning $75.50.
3rd division--Third-choice Art Z (Brett Miller, $8.90), from post No. 3, found the front, rated it softly relative to the first two divisions (;28.1, 56.4 and 1:24.3), then held off pocket-sitting Fitz's Z Tam (Sears) by three-quarters of a length in 1:52.2. Shark's Legacy (Stratton) added value to triple, sneaking past Atochia (Gingras) late at 99-1.
For Art Z, a 4-year-old statebredgelding owned by Richard Lombardo and trained by Jordan Rubin, it was his third series victory and fourth win in a dozen seasonal starts. The exacta paid $20.80, with the triple returning $224.
The $455,000 final of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series, along with the $297,000 final of the Blue Chip Matchmaker, are both scheduled for next Saturday night, Apr. 28.
As he did Friday night after the Blue Chip Matchmaker prelims had ended. tally meister Bob (Fingers and Toes) Miecuna offered the final Levy leg standings...
1--Real Nice (375 points),
2-Art Z (312),
3-Foiled Again (275),
4-Fitz's Z Tam (270),
5-Strand Hanover (263),
7-Nob Hill High (245),
8-Blatantly Good (242).
Again, we remind that these are points only, and do not necessarily represent those who have qualified for the final. That determination shall be made by the race office in conjunction with the rules of the series.