Day At The Track

More Levy, Matchmaker races set

02:22 AM 04 Apr 2019 NZDT
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The Grand Circuit
The Grand Circuit

Harness Racing This Week: Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy series fourth legs, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y.

Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit at Yonkers this week features three $40,000 divisions on Friday (April 5) in the fourth round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker series for open pacing mares. The Saturday (April 6) card at Yonkers will see four $50,000 divisions in the fourth round of the George Morton Levy series for open pacers. Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link.

Last time: Jordan Stratton’s Saturday night (March 30) at Yonkers Raceway began with a bummer, as former George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series winner Bit Of A Legend N was scratched with what trainer Peter Tritton described as “a serious quarter crack. It’s going to take some time.”

Undaunted, Stratton won two of the evening’s five $50,000 third-round events, both with certified Free-For-All bombardiers.

A second-over, 67-1 Pacing Major N — from post position No. 3 — held off a third-over, 58-1 The Wall (Joe Bongiorno) by a half-length in 1:52.3.

The race unfolded with The Downtown Bus (Scott Zeron), a winner from fourth-over a week ago, leaping over his six inside rivals to make the first lead. He looped 3-5 favorite Endeavor (Tim Tetrick), the latter eventually moving past right at the :27.1 opening quarter-mile.

It was a speedy :55.3 intermission before Beckham’s Z Tam (Jim Marohn Jr.) moved from third. Pacing Major N latched on to that tow, getting in range by the 1:24.2 three-quarters as Endeavor was being chased along.

Endeavor owned a diminishing length lead on the final turn, but company was coming. After the rank outsiders finished 1-2, Major Crocker A (Dan Dube), Endeavor and a shuffled The Downtown Bus rounded out the payees.

For seventh choice Pacing Major N, a 6-year-old son of Art Major owned by Von Knoblauch Stables and trained by Tritton, it was his first board finish in six seasonal starts/three Levy tries.

What goes around comes around. Last week, JJ Flynn (George Brennan) was 20-1 as went he went up and over an odds-on Western Fame. This time around 10-1 Lyons Steel — from post No. 4 — went up and over 1-4 JJ Flynn (Tetrick this week) after that one’s early intervals of :27 and :55.3.

Lyons Steel then threw down a :26.4 third quarter (1:22.4), opening 4-1/2 lengths in and out of the final turn. The final margin, over JJ Flynn, was the same 4-1/2 lengths in 1:50.4, fastest local mile of the season and matching his 2019 and life-best effort. Control Tower (Austin Siegelman), Always At My Place (Brennan) and Bellow’s Binge (Jason Bartlett) settled for the remainder.

Third choice Lyons Steel, a 4-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven gelding owned by Bryan Dzugan and trained by Dennis Watson, is now 2-for-9 this season (1-for-3 in Levy).

“I’ve always thought (Pacing Major N) had the ability, but he tends to crossfire (hit right rear and left front legs) on the last turn,” Stratton said. “He didn’t have any problem tonight and the trip couldn’t have been better.

“I didn’t know anything about (Lyons Steel) other than he’s beaten my horses a few times here in some non-winners races. I just asked him down the back and he put them away.”

Complete recaps of the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website.

Grand Circuit Standings: In 2019, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2019 Grand Circuit awards.

Here are the leaders following this past weekend at Yonkers:

Drivers: 1. Tim Tetrick – 82; 2. George Brennan – 71; 3. Jason Bartlett – 55; 4. Scott Zeron – 52; 5. Matt Kakaley – 39.

Trainers: 1. Jim King Jr. – 57; 2. Ron Burke – 32; 3. Ross Croghan – 30; 4. Tony Alagna – 29; 5. Rene Allard – 27.

Owners: 1. Robert Cooper Stables – 26.3; 2. D R Van Witzenburg – 25; 3. Brad Grant – 23.8; 4. Royal Wire Products – 22; 5. Jo Ann Looney-King – 20.9.

Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will continue with the final leg of the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy next weekend. The finals and consolations for both events will be held on April 20.

Paul Ramlow

Internet News Manager

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