Day At The Track

Heyden's Levy legends - past and present

01:37 PM 26 Apr 2011 NZST
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Bob Heyden with Stanley Dancer
Bob Heyden with Stanley Dancer

Once again, Bob "Hollywood" Heyden provides us with unique insights on the 2011 George Morton Levy Final to be contested at Yonkers Raceway this Saturday evening, April 30, and shares with us some more great harness racing 'Levy' moments of the past:

Just one driver won the Levy final back to back; that was the incomparable Buddy Gilmour. The “budster” won it with Caramore in1984 and On The Road Again in 1985, both at the shuttered Roosevelt Raceway.

Foiled Again goes for his third straight George Morton Levy final at Yonkers on Saturday, April 30. Yannick Gingras drives the son of Dragon Again. Yannick won with him in 2009, but because Jason Bartlett won with him last year, Yannick can’t win back-to-back driving Levys. He can, however, improve Foiled Again’s 2011 financial statement which now reads an impressive 4-1-0 from 5 starts and $108,000.

Ron Burke conditions the 7-year-old gelding. Regarding this year’s competition, the trainer observed, "This year's group is a lot tougher than in recent years. When I won it with Maltese Artist (2007) he did it out of the 8-hole. Last year, Foiled Again was not that sharp this time of the year; he got better later in the year. I have to hope for some luck at the draw, but so far this year, for whatever the reason, he's drawn good posts and seems to have landed in the cheapest divisions. We haven't had to start him up yet." Yannick Gingras concurred, "He hasn't been tested yet. He's been able to handle everything easily so far. I'm very much looking forward to the final this weekend with him."

Burke also sends out Ginger And Fred to the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series Final. "They go for such good money in there - she's got a big shot in the Final". The Yonkers' half miler has been proven to be a Burke ATM machine for the talented horseman.

Ron Burke comes off a record-setting 2010 season. 840 wins; 638 seconds; 484 thirds from 3,737 starts for an incredible $18,050,797. Did we say $18 million? Yes sir, we did. Burke just happens to also train, Won The West - history’s fastest ever Breeders Crown winner (1:47 flat) and the defending Older Pacer of 2010. Burke says with pride, “I think he's ready to go for Gallo Blue Chips' record. I'm probably jinxing myself by even saying that, but he's come back good." (Gallo is presently $773,935 ahead of Won The West on the all-time list for pacers-$4,260,959 to $3,87,024). Won The West comes off a huge 2010 season of $1,368,088. When asked about having the TWO BEST Free-For-Allers at the SAME TIME, he commented, "I thought last year, even when Shark Gesture tailed off at the end that our two were the best pair. That has carried over to this year."

Levy Legends….

  • Back to the 24th Edition of the George Morton Levy Memorial, Burke can tie with Bill Robinson for most training wins in the Levy with four if he matches Robinson’s wins. Burke has the 2007 winner Maltese Artist and 2009 / 2010 Foiled Again.
  • When the "REDMAN", Carmine Abbatiello won the 1981 Edition won with Newt Lobell, he was the perennial leader at Yonkers and a master of the half mile track. Carmine NEVER did win a Triple Crown race (Today, 4 of the 6 Triple Crown events are contested on a half-mile oval). In spite of that, in his career the REDMAN topped the $50 million mark and ended with a Hall Of Fame induction.
  • In 1985 On The Road Again won off by himself in the Levy at Roosevelt putting away his chief nemesis for the year, George S. He was voted the Older Pacer Of The Year. Soon after that win., On The Road Again also set his lifetime mark at the Meadowlands, with a 1:51.4 tally.
  • In 1986 Falcon Seelster took the Levy in 1:55.2, equaling the stakes record. The year prior he had obliterated the world half-mile track standard with a 1:51 flat effort on Jug Day, even though he was NOT a Jug eligible himself. His pacing vocation came to an end shortly after the Levy by virtue of his unsuccessful match race with Forrest Skipper; final career effort.
  • In 1989 Jaguar Spur captured the 12th edition of the Levy. Jaguar Spur was the first pacer ever to win over $500,000 at 2, at 3 and again at age 4!
  • In 1991, Covert Action; the first million dollar winner trained by Ray Schnittker, captured the George Morton Levy Final.

t is clear the legendary George Morton Levy made his mark on this sport by being not only the advocate of nighttime harness racing, but also its pioneer. The legacy of this Memorial event, starred by great equine and human accomplishment, is fitting to both his greatness and that of its participants over the years. The Levy is a true tribute to this great sport and this great man. No one has been able to fill his shoes.

Joseph A. FARALDO

1985 George Morton Levy Memorial Final - Roosevelt Raceway

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