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YONKERS, NY, Saturday, April 20, 2019  - "She's a tough SOB with big lungs." Even-money harness racing favorite Shartin N (Tim Tetrick, $4) employed the same tactic she did a season ago, winning Saturday night's $402,600 final of Yonkers Raceway's Blue Chip Matchmaker. As was the case in the evening $663,260 final of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series, both were the richest incarnations in the respective histories. Shartin N, from post position No. 6 among the high-end mares, was away fourth as Feelin' Red Hot (George Brennan) and Apple Bottom Jeans (Corey Callahan) were dueling early. The latter retook from the former by the :27.2 opening quarter-mile before Shartin N was out and moving again. She made the lead just before a :55.2 intermission, then finished off the 11th Matchmaker from there (1:23.3, 1:52.1) in her fastest purse mile of the season, Shartin N became the first lass to defend this race's title and the first to win it more than once. From the hinterlands came uncoupled stablemate Bettor Joy N (Dexter Dunn) to get second, beaten a length-and-a-half, with Apple Bottom Jeans, Don't Think Twice A (Jason Bartlett) and Seaswift Joy N (Jim Marohn Jr.) settling for the smaller envelopes. A first-up Kaitlyn N (Matt Kakaley), Ideal Lifestyle A (Jordan Stratton) and a backpedaling Feelin' Red Hot brought up the rear. For Shartin N, a 6-year-old Down Under Tintin in America miss co-owned by her escort, Richard Poillucci and Jo Ann Looney-King & trained by Jim King Jt. it was her fourth win in five starts. The exacta paid $21.60, the triple returned $77.50 and the superfecta paid $301.50. "I've put her in spots before where I didn't think she would reach and she just digs down and finds something," Tetrick said. "When I saw Corey (Callahan, with Apple Bottom Jeans) had to go hard to get the lead, let George (Brennan, Feelin' Red Hot) go and retake, I thought I'd take my chance and push the envelope and he let me go. "(Shartin N) is a great mare; she's proven it time in and time out," Tetrick said. "For her to do what she's done, make a million dollars (in 2018), it speaks for itself." A $75,000 series consolation was won by Tetrick-driven and King Jr.-trained Newborn Sassy ($3.50) in a career-ending 1:54. The 6-year-old lass, who's off to be bred to Captaintreacherous, retires with 33 wins in 92 career starts and just under $1,1 million. "There's a special place in my heart for her," Tetrick said. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, N.Y. – Harness racing trainer Tahnee Camilleri couldn’t have been more excited to start racing Ideal Lifestyle. The Australian mare came to Camilleri’s barn off a career-best 1:50.3 victory at Menangle in September 2018 and by late fall, Camilleri had the Western Ideal mare ready to qualify at the Meadowlands. However, Ideal Lifestyle’s North American debut suffered a delay. “I had her ready to qualify at the Meadowlands roughly in October or November, but she had a bit of a mishap in the paddock when I had her in to qualify,” Camilleri said. “She kicked and got her leg caught over her hopples, so she ended up doing a little tear in her hamstring and she needed time off then.” For Camilleri, the injury proved to be a low point. After embarking on a career as a lawyer, the Australian native changed course and came to the United States to pursue her passion of harness racing. After a brief stint here in 2009, Camilleri returned last year. Her growing stable of Australian imports have posted 20 wins from 54 starts since April 2018 and Ideal Lifestyle looked to be the star of the stable. “It was really disappointing because I was quite excited to start racing her and just to have a horse of that caliber,” Camilleri said. “Her last start in Australia, she made a bunch of very good mares look ordinary, she absolutely destroyed them. I was pinching myself to be able to get my hands on a mare of that caliber and for it to all go pear-shaped her first time she set foot on a racetrack here was a little bit disappointing, but I suppose that’s racing.” A multiple Group 3-placed performer Down Under, Ideal Lifestyle came to Camilleri off an open-length victory in a 1-mile mares FFA. After leaving from the far outside post, Ideal Lifestyle set and opening fraction of :25.8 and came home with a :27.6 quarter to post her lifetime mark. When she arrived in Camilleri’s barn, her impression in the flesh was even more impressive than that on the track. “She’s built like a breeding stallion, she’s a very big Western Ideal mare, extremely highly-strung, but a lot of the good mares are,” Camilleri said. “Just looking at her, she’s a very impressive looking individual. I’ve never trained a Standardbred that big, let alone a mare. She’s quite impressive to look at. She was very hard to get out of the stall when I first got her. She’s very high-strung and you just have to train her with sheepskin gloves, I guess. She’s a little bit temperamental, but she’s entitled to be.” After her arrival, Camilleri and Ideal Lifestyle quickly got off on the wrong foot. However, over time, the daughter out of the Albert Albert mare Trebla Trebla has become easier to work with. “I got her off the truck when she had just come from quarantine and I put her in a stall. I let her rest in there for a little while, let her have something to eat and drink,” Camilleri recalled. “And then I went and hour or two later to let her out in the field and she wasn’t having it. She chased me out of the stall. That was basically my introduction to Ideal Lifestyle. It’s not very fun being chased out of a stall by a horse that size. “She’s definitely taught me a lot,” Camilleri said. “She hasn’t been an easy horse to train, but I’m now starting to reap the rewards of the patience I’ve put into her. It’s been a bit of a ride, but it’s been an exciting one, anyway.” Camilleri gave Ideal Lifestyle time to recover from her injury and by January, she was ready to qualify again. After two successful trials at the Meadowlands and a runner-up finish in 1:52.0 on debut February 1, Camilleri decided to nominate to the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series despite her concerns about the half-mile track. “I had my doubts about whether she would get around Yonkers,” the trainer said. “I paid up for the Matchmaker and just thought I would put her around Yonkers and see how she goes. She’s a very big mare, a very long mare.” Ideal Lifestyle made her Hilltop debut February 15, the evening after payments were due. She wired the field in a $29,000 overnight, scoring in 1:54 with Jordan Stratton in the sulky. Ideal Lifestyle subsequently posted two straight runner-up finishes in the $44,000 distaff feature before taking aim at the series. Ideal Lifestyle continued to surprise her trainer with a 1:52.3 victory in leg one of the series March 15. After two straight second-place finishes in weeks two and three and a fourth April 5, Ideal Lifestyle accumulated 208 points, enough for an eighth-place ranking in the standings, earning her a spot in the $402,600 Final Saturday night (April 20).  “Probably half-mile racing isn’t really her go, but it’s a testament to her ability that she qualified for the final when it’s very obvious she struggles around a half,” Camilleri said. “I’m very proud of her; she does a lot of things wrong, but she still qualified for the final and she’s a great trier, so it’s going to be fun.” Ideal Lifestyle drew post seven in the final and will be reunited with Jordan Stratton after George Brennan drove throughout the preliminary legs. Although she is a 20-1 outsider, the long odds take the pressure of Camilleri in her stakes debut. “This is my first stakes race I’ve ever been in. She’s a bit of a forgotten horse and it’s a lot less pressure on me and her and I’m going to go into (Saturday) night and just enjoy myself,” she said. “I’m still pinching myself. It’s very, very exciting and I’m very excited for the mare,” Camilleri continued. “George came off and said she was a little tired her last start. I skipped last week and freshened her up, she’s jumping out of her skin, so I’m expecting her to run a good race. I’ve got a great tactical driver on board in Jordan Stratton and I’ll just leave it up to him. Win, lose, or draw, I’m so proud she qualified for the final and I’m thankful to be there.” The field for the Matchmaker Series Final is listed below: Post Position     Horse         Sire                                Driver                 Trainer 1       Kaitlyn N                      American Ideal            Matt Kakaley        Rich Banca 2       Apple Bottom Jeans    Mr Apples                   Corey Callahan      Dylan Davis 3       Feelin Red Hot            Feelin Friskie              George Brennan    Ron Burke 4       Don’t Think Twice        Armbro Operative       Jason Bartlett        Andrew Harris 5       Bettor Joy N                 Bettors Delight            Dexter Dunn         Jim King Jr. 6       Shartin N                      Tintin In America        Tim Tetrick             Jim King Jr. 7       Ideal Lifestyle A            Western Ideal             Jordan Stratton     Tahnee Camilleri 8       Seaswift Joy N             Bettors Delight            Jim Marohn Jr.      Tony Alagna  Saturday night’s card also features the $664,000 George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series Final, the $100,000 Levy Series Consolation, the $75,000 Matchmaker Series Consolation, and a $50,000 Open Handicap Trot. First post time is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here.  By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, NY, Wednesday, April 17, 2019 - When harness racing driver Dexter Dunn left New Zealand to try his driving luck stateside, he didn't necessarily think he'd be seeing an old flame. Such is the romance of Yonkers Raceway's Blue Chip Matchmaker...where even the two- and four-legged can become an item. In the case of Dunn, his 'old flame' is Bettor Joy N, who did a pretty fair job racing in the long shadow cast by her stablemate, defending series champion Shartin N. Bettor Joy N, who landed post position No. 5 in Saturday night's $401,600 final for Free-For-All ladies, enters off three consecutive preliminary-round wins. For the season, the 5-year-old Down Under daughter of Bettor's Delight has won four of her six races ($85,030) for co-owners Jo Ann Looney-King, Richard Poillucci & Tim Tetrick (aka Shartin N's date) and trainer Jim King Jr. Shartin N is directly outside in post No. 6, looking to become the first mare to win this series twice. "I drove her as a 3- and 4-year-old and she did a good job," Dunn said of Bettor Joy N. "She made about $200,000 racing against some good mares (fillies). "She had the speed and the attitude, and obviously, was very good in the heats here (Yonkers). Dunn laughed the laugh of someone asked a rhetorically-inane question of how long it took him to accept this catch-drive from the trainer. "Not very. "I've seen her races and spoken with Tim (Tetrick) about her, and he's been pleased. This is going to be her toughest test, since she hasn't had to race Shartin (N). Tetrick drove Bettor Joy N through the prelims. As for starting directly inside of Shartin N in the final, "I haven't really thought about it and probably won't until later in the week. "You try and have a plan, but once the gates opens, it doesn't always go that way," Dunn said. "I'm just happy to have a shot at it." The 11th Matchmakers goes as race No. 9 during Yonkers' dozen-race card Along with the $662,800 final of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series (11th race), they are by far 2019's richest North American harness races to date. Post time for the 12-race card is the usual 6:50 PM. The Matchmaker draw... 1-Kaitlyn N (Matt Kakaley), 2-Apple Bottom Jeans (Corey Callahan), 3-Feelin' Red Hot (George Brennan), 4-Don't Think Twice A (Jason Bartlett), 5-Bettor Joy N (Dexter Dunn), 6-Shartin N (Tim Tetrick), 7-Ideal Lifestyle A (Driver TBA), 8-Seaswift Joy N (Jim Marohn Jr.). All the ladies race uncoupled. Saturday's card shall be finalized Thursday afternoon (Apr. 18th). Frank Drucker

If fans are looking for a horse in top form entering Saturday's (April 20) $401,600 Blue Chip Matchmaker championship for harness racing older female pacers, they need to only look at...well, just about everyone. Six of the eight mares are heading to the Matchmaker championship at Yonkers Raceway off a win (thanks to four horses skipping last week's fifth-and-final preliminary round of the series). Furthermore, a look at each of the finalist's past three starts show only three finishes worse than second in the 24 total tries, and two of those occurred from post eight, which is the least favorable post position at the track. "It's been a very good series," said Jason Bartlett, who drives Andrew Harris-trained Dont Think Twice A. "There have been a lot of different winners every week. It's basically the same times too, right around (1):52. "Shartin is Shartin, but otherwise it's a very competitive group. It's going to come down to who gets the better trip." Shartin is defending Matchmaker champion Shartin N, the New Zealand-bred mare who was the 2018 Dan Patch Award winner for best older female pacer. She won three of her four preliminary rounds in the series and was fourth from post eight in her remaining start. She will start Saturday from post six, one spot outside of stablemate Bettor Joy N, who was a nose from being undefeated in four races in the series. "They're both pretty powerful girls," said Jim King Jr., who trains both mares. "Hopefully everybody behaves in the first turn and no one causes any bad luck for somebody else. From there, let the best horse win. At least let them all have a chance. If they all behave around the first turn and everyone gets where they're going, I think I've got a little better chance than most. I've got two good horses and they're in respectable spots." Shartin N was a known quantity entering the series, but Bettor Joy N has made a name for herself as well. She has won once by leading from start to finish and twice by rallying from fourth at the top of the stretch. "We had a little adjustment to make (after she lost in the first round) and fortunately it all went well," King said. "We opened her up and got her more quiet, got her to pay a little more attention to the driver rather than be so anxious. She's very versatile. I don't think we've seen her best work yet." Dont Think Twice A, who starts Saturday from post four, has two wins and two seconds in the series. She is one of four mares to finish no worse than second in all her Matchmaker prelims, along with Apple Bottom Jeans, Feelin Red Hot, and Bettor Joy N. "I think I drew a good spot," Bartlett said. "There is speed inside and Shartin got the six so (driver Tim Tetrick) has to make a decision what he wants to do. I have a good mare, coming off a win, so I think she's got as good a shot as anybody. She's handy. She can do just about anything you ask her to do and she's got a great attitude. I've loved her since day one." Apple Bottom Jeans, who was a neck from being unbeaten in four Matchmaker starts, will start from post two. She has gone gate-to-wire in all three of her victories in the series and was caught by Feelin Red Hot just prior to the finish in the other. "She should be a perfect 4-for-4," driver Corey Callahan said. "That week (she lost) was my fault. Everybody was kind of walking to the half, so I went ahead and did that too. I shouldn't have done that. I should have let her keep moving along. She's got a big, long gait. I took full responsibility for that. "She's been winning on the front because that's how the races have set up and she's been such a heavy favorite. I've been able to cut it or get away quiet to the lead. But she is a better horse tracking horses down. She might be in that spot (this week), or she might be in a spot where she can cut it. I don't really think she will be, but you never know when they say go." Apple Bottom Jeans did not race during the fourth week of the series but returned with a win in the fifth round. Dont Think Twice A, Bettor Joy N, Shartin N, and Ideal Lifestyle A all took off last week. Kaitlyn N, Feelin Red Hot, and Seaswift Joy N each competed in all five preliminary rounds. "We'll see which one of us went the right way," Callahan said with a laugh. "Until somebody beats her, Shartin is the one to beat," he added. "There are a lot of other nice mares in there. It's not like she's going to be able to get away quiet and brush to the lead and have things her way. I don't think anybody is going to be able to do that." Racing begins at 6:50 p.m. (EDT). The Matchmaker is race nine on the card, which also includes the $662,800 George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series championship (race 11). Following is the field for the $401,600 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series championship. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer 1-Kaitlyn N-Matt Kakaley-Richard Banca 2-Apple Bottom Jeans-Corey Callahan-Dylan Davis 3-Feelin Red Hot-George Brennan-Ron Burke 4-Dont Think Twice A-Jason Bartlett-Andrew Harris 5-Bettor Joy N-Dexter Dunn-Jim King Jr. 6-Shartin N-Tim Tetrick-Jim King Jr. 7-Ideal Lifestyle A-TBA-Tahnee Camilleri 8-Seaswift Joy N-Jim Marohn Jr.-Tony Alagna Ken Weingartner

Harness Racing This Week: Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy series finals and consolations, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit at Yonkers this week features the $662,800 final and the $100,000 consolation of the George Morton Levy series for open pacers, as well as the $401,600 final and $75,000 consolation in the Blue Chip Matchmaker series for open pacing mares. All four races will take place on Saturday (April 20). Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link. Last time: Ideal Jimmy and Western Fame have raced with distinction throughout the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. Saturday night (April 13) was no exception. The tandem each handily won their respective Yonkers Raceway event. All told, four $50,000 Free-For-All forays were carded. Western Fame added another victory to his Levy Series resume. Mike Lizzi photo. Odds-on Western Fame (Dan Dube, $2.30) - from post position four - stole a cheap second subsection (:27, :56.2, 1:24, 1:51) en route to victory. He disposed of a gallant Rodeo Rock (Andy McCarthy) by 1-3/4 lengths. That one tried to leave, was forced to settle third, then fought the good, first-up fight into a :54.3 back half. More The Better N (Scott Zeron), Pacing Major N (Jordan Stratton) and Endeavor (Jason Bartlett) picked off the small change. Western Fame, a 6-year-old son of Western Idealowned by Go Fast Stable, B & I Stables, Stephen Klunowski and Gilbert Short and trained by Rene Allard, is now 4-for-6 this season (4-for-5 in the Levy). At no point in the eight furlongs did Ideal Jimmy (Brent Holland, $5.60) look anything except the easiest of winners. From post position six, he aired (:27.2, :57.1, 1:25.1, season's-best 1:52) by open lengths, while under severe restraint. Ideal Jimmy took down Ballerat Boomerang (Tim Tetrick) by 3-1/2 lengths. Rockin Ron (Matt Kakaley) was third after missing four weeks, with a pocket-tiring, 7-5 choice Anythingthingforlove A (Joe Bongiorno) and Somebaddude (George Brennan) also earning appearance coin. For second choice Ideal Jimmy, a 6-year-old son homebred Western Ideal gelding owned by D R Van Witzenburg and trained by Erv Miller, it was his sixth win in 13 2019 tries (3-for-5 in Levy). 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 - 126; 2. George Brennan - 90; 3. Jason Bartlett - 77; 4. Scott Zeron - 68; 5. Matt Kakaley - 63. Trainers: 1. Jim King Jr. - 82; 2. Rene Allard - 57; 3. Ron Burke - 53; 4t. Tony Alagna - 41; 4t. Richard Banca - 41. Owners: 1. D R Van Witzenburg - 40; 2. Brad Grant - 34.3; 3. Robert Cooper Stables - 32.8; 4. Jo Ann Looney-King - 30; 5. J L Benson Stables - 27.5. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will take place next weekend at Freehold Raceway, with $40,000 (est.) Dexter Cup eliminations (if necessary) for 3-year-old open trotters on Saturday (April 27). Paul Ramlow  

YONKERS, NY, Monday, April 15, 2019-After five preliminary rounds, post positions have been drawn for Yonkers Raceway's harness racing finals of the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. Both go this Saturday night (Apr. 20th), worth $401,600 and $662,800, respectively, by far 2019's richest North American races to date. Post time for the 12-race card is the usual 6:50 PM, with the co-features presented as race 9 (Matchmaker) and 11 (Levy). The 11th edition of the Matchmaker autodrew as such for the Free-For-All pacing mares... 1-Kaitlyn N (Matt Kakaley), 2-Apple Bottom Jeans (Corey Callahan), 3-Feelin' Red Hot (George Brennan), 4-Don't Think Twice A (Jason Bartlett), 5-Bettor Joy N (Dexter Dunn), 6-Shartin N (Tim Tetrick), 7-Ideal Lifestyle A (Driver TBA), 8-Seaswift Joy N (Jim Marohn Jr.). Shartin N is the defending champ. It's the 32nd Levy, a Free-For-All for the boys again honoring the memory of the Hall of Fame Founder of Roosevelt Raceway. The roster reads as such... 1-Anythingforlove A (Joe Bongiorno), 2-More the Better N (Scott Zeron), 3-JJ Flynn (Tetrick), 4-The Downtown Bus (Tetrick also listed), 5-Western Fame (Dan Dube), 6-Rodeo Rock (Andrew McCarthy), 7-The Wall (Andy Miller), 8-Ideal Jimmy (Brent Holland). Dube goes for a Levy hat trick, having won (with trainer Rene Allard) the last couple with the now-retired Keystone Velocity. All 16 finalists race uncoupled. Saturday's card also includes series consolations, going for $75,000 (Matchmaker, 8th race) and $100,000 (Levy, 10th race), along with a pair of $50,000 events for Levy eligibles (races 4 and 6).   Frank Drucker Director of Publicity Yonkers, NY 10704

Harness Racing This Week: Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy series fifth legs, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit at Yonkers this week features three $40,000 divisions on Friday (April 12) in the fifth and final round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker series for open pacing mares. The Saturday (April 13) card at Yonkers will see four $50,000 divisions in the fifth and final 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: Yonkers Raceway's Blue Chip Matchmaker saw its fourth preliminary round conducted over Friday night's (April 5) 'sloppy' surface. Three $40,000 groupings of Free-For-All mares went at it, down one from a week ago. Shartin N was a 1:54.2 winner on April 5.  Shartin N, the defending series champ (Tim Tetrick, $2.20) was (from post four) the lone leaver, with a highly-predictable result (:28.3, :57.4, 1:26.2, 1:54.2). The margin was a length. Second went to a pole-protecting Kaitlyn N (Matt Kakaley), while Medusa (Jason Bartlett) sat third and wound up there. Sell A Bit N (Jordan Stratton) and a first-up Freakonomics (Scott Zeron) settled for the smallest envelopes. Second choice Seaswift Joy N (Jim Marohn Jr.) could not get involved from behind the eight-ball. For Shartin N, a 6-year-old Tintin In America miss co-owned by her driver, Richard Poillucci and Jo Ann Looney-King and trained by Jim King Jr., it was her third win in four seasonal/series starts. Yonkers Raceway Saturday night (April 6) hosted the next-to-last preliminary get-together of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. Four $50,000 Free-For All events were carded, one fewer than a week ago. Odds-on Western Fame (Dan Dube, $2.40) restored some normal to the gathering with an as-expected romp (:27.2, :56, 1:23.4, 1:50.4). From post three, the series points leader drilled his foes by 5-1/2 lengths, a personal '19 best and matching Lyons Steel for the fastest Westchester mile of the Levy and season. Gokudo Hanover (George Brennan) was a very loosely-pocketed second, with Rock The Nite (Mark MacDonald), Somewhere In L A (Bartlett) and Ballerat Boomerang (Joe Bongiorno) earning the minor moolah. Western Fame, a 6-year-old son of Western Ideal owned by Go Fast Stable, B&I Stables, Stephen Klunowski and Gilbert Short and trained by Rene Allard, is now three-for-five this season (three-for-four in Levy). 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 - 112; 2. George Brennan - 83; 3. Jason Bartlett - 67; 4. Scott Zeron - 56; 5. Matt Kakaley - 46. Trainers: 1. Jim King Jr. - 77; 2. Rene Allard - 42; 3. Ron Burke - 39; 4t. Ross Croghan - 34; 4t. Andrew Harris - 34. Owners: 1. D R Van Witzenburg - 30; 2. Robert Cooper Stables - 28.3; 3. Jo Ann Looney-King - 27.5; 4t. J L Benson Stables - 25; 4t. Richard Poillucci - 25. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will continue with the finals and consolations of the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy on April 20. Paul Ramlow

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

YONKERS, NY, Friday, March 29, 2019 - Yonkers Raceway's Blue Chip Matchmaker offered up the third of five harness racing preliminary rounds Friday night (March 29th). Four, $40,000 groupings of leading lasses were contested, same as a week ago. Here was the lay of the land... First division - Feelin' Red Hot (George Brennan, $11.60), from post position No. 5, was first to the lead and first to the wire (:27.2, :58, 1:25.4, 1:53.1), picking off 1-5 favorite Apple Bottom Jeans (Corey Callahan) late. There was no visible excuse for the pole-sitting people's preference, who came in as the only two-time winner in the Matchmaker. She retook from the eventual winner, owned a length-and-a-half lead off the final turn, but missed a neck. Medusa (Jim Marohn Jr.), Gold Orchid N (Jason Bartlett) and Queen Lostris N (Mark MacDonald) rounded out the payees, while Newborn Sassy (Tim Tetrick) was outrun. For second choice Feelin' Red Hot, a 6-year-old Feelin' Friskie ma'am co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke and Weaver Bruscemi, she's now 5-for-10 this season (2-for-3 in Matchmaker with identical win times). The exacta paid $16.80, the triple returned $72.50 and the superfecta paid $182. Second division - Odds-on Bettor Joy N (Tetrick, $3.50) saw none of her five inside rivals contest the lead, so she dutifully went the distance (:27.3, :56.2, 1:24.4, 1:52.3). The margin was a widening 3¼ lengths. Ideal Lifestyle A (Brennan) moved from third down the backside, was summarily dismissed but did come back for second. Lispatty (MacDonald), Freakonomics (Scott Zeron) and Itty Bitty (Marohn Jr.), came away with the minors, while Sell a Bit N (Stratton) hopefully learned from the experience. For Bettor Joy N, a 5-year-old Down Under daughter of Bettor's Delight co-owned by her driver, Richard Poillucci & Jo Ann Looney-King and trained by Jim King Jr., it was her third win in four '19 tries (2-for-3 in Matchmaker). The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $6, the triple returned $12 and the superfecta paid $31.60. The half-dozen ladies finished in ascending odds order. "She was awesome and gets around Yonkers very well." Tetrick said. Third division - A week after a brutal, three-move trip, Seaswift Joy N (Marohn Jr., $5.20) had a shorter route and a better result. From penultimate post No. 5, she made an immediate lead, looping even-money choice Don't Think Twice (Bartlett). The latter then found front, putting up subsections of :27:3, :57.3 and 1:25.2. Outsider Camera Lady (Matt Kakaley) moved from last by the half, her bid flattening before she gave the leader any grief. Meanwhile, Don't Think Twice opened a length-and-a-half lead in and out of the final turn. However, Seaswift Joy N received the memo and closed ranks, edging out to win by a half-length in 1:52.4. Bettorb Chevron N (Stratton), Angel's Pride (Brent Holland) and Shezza GNP N (Austin Siegelman) settled for the remainder, while Camera Lady eventually backed away. For second choice Seaswift Joy N, a 6-year-old Bettor's Delight Down Under dame owned by Brad Grant and trained by Tony Alagna, it was her fourth win in seven seasonal starts (2-for-3 in Matchmaker). The exacta paid $9, the triple returned $14.40 and the superfecta paid $31.20. "She is great," Marohn Jr. said. "her strongest point of the race was at the wire. Fourth division - A week removed after her own eight-hole odyssey, defending Matchmaker champ Shartin N (Tetrick, $2.20) left minimal to the imagination. After pole-sitting Obvious Blue Chip (Zeron) lined 'em up early, Shartin N-from post No. 3-took over and took off (:27.1, :56, :1:24.3, 1:52.2), cementing a three-length win. Second went Kaitlyn N (Kakaley), while Caviart Cherie (Joe Bongiorno) Obvious Blue Chip and a first-up Magic Forces (Brennan) settled for the smaller envelopes. For Shartin N, a 6-year-old millionairess Down Under Tintin in America ma'am co-owned and trained bv the same fine folks who bring you Bettor Joy N, it was her second win in three season/series starts (same time both wins). The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $4.70, the triple returned $27.80 and the superfecta paid $55.50. "She's a freakin' bull," trainer King Jr. said. Shartin N For full results of tonight's program click on this link. Updated Matchmaker standings.     Yonkers Raceway     Blue Chip Matchmaker Pacing Series     2019           March 29, 2019                     Order        Name 1st Leg 2nd Leg 3rd Leg 4th Leg 5th Leg 25 pts/start Total    1   Feelin Red Hot 25 50 50     75 200 2   Bettor Joy N 25 50 50     75 200 3   Apple Bottom Jeans 50 50 25     75 200 4   Seaswift Joy n 50 12 50     75 187 5   Shartin N 50 8 50     75 183 6   Ideal Lifestyle A 50 25 25     75 175 7   Don’t Think Twice A 25 50 25     75 175 8   Kaitlyn N 12 12 25     75 124 9   Obvious Blue Chip 0 25 8     75 108 10   Newborn Sassy 8 25 0     75 108 11   DelightfulmemphisN 50 5       50 105 12   Betterb Chevron N 12 5 12     75 104 13   Caviart Cherie 5 8 12     75 100 14   Twinkle 25 25       50 100 15   Medusa 0 12 12     75 99 16   Gold Orchid n 0 12 8     75 95 17   Magic Forces 12 0 5     75 92 18   Write Me A Song 12 5 0     75 92 19   Freakonomics 8 0 8     75 91 20   Itty Bitty 8 0 5     75 88 21   Lispatty 0 0 12     75 87 22   Shezza Gnp N 5 0 5     75 85 23   Rockstar Angel A 25 8       50 83 24   Sell A Bit N 5 0 0     75 80 25   Camera Lady 0 5 0     75 80 26   Scandalicious 0 0 0     75 75 27   Queen Lostris N 12   5     50 67 28   Bettor's Up 8 8       50 66 29   Angel's Pride   0 8     50 58 30   Dudesalady 8 0       50 58 31   Lakeisha Hall 5 0       50 55 32   Mach It A Par 5 0       50 55 33   Amateur Hour 0 0       50 50 34   Believe In Waco 0         25 25 35   Bronze Over N 0         25 25 36   Monica Gallagher           0 0                 0 0                 0 0                                             ADDED MONEY 1st Leg 2nd Leg 3rd Leg 4th Leg 5th Leg Nom. Fees Total          $27,200 $25,600 $20,000 $0 $0 $172,000 $244,800                   $125,000                 Final Purse $369,800 Saturday evening's (March 30th) third round of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series features five, $50,000 Free-For-All divisions. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, March 22, 2019 - Yonkers Raceway's Blue Chip Matchmaker saw the second of five harness racing preliminary rounds go Friday night (March 22nd). Four, $40,000 groupings of leading lasses were contested, one fewer than a week ago. Here's the basics... First division - A wide-early Don't Think Twice A (Jason Bartlett, $6)-from post position No. 7-worked around 3-2 favorite Newborn Sassy (Tim Tetrick), then held that one off through the lane in equal halves (:27.2, :57, 1:25.2, 1:54). Third went to second-over Kaitlyn N (Matt Kakaley), with Rockstar Angel A (Eric Goodell) and Bettorb Chevron N (Jordan Stratton) picking off the remainder. For second choice Don't Think Twice A, a 6-year-old Down Under daughter of Armbro Operative co-owned by (trainer) Andrew Harris, Arrhythmic, Pollack Racing and Jeff Cullipher, it was her first win in three seasonal starts. The exacta paid $16.40, the triple returned $76 and the superfecta paid $235.50. (Don't Think Twice A) is just so handy and smart, a perfect horse for Yonkers," Bartlett said. "Drive her any way you want to." Second division - Apple Bottom Jeans (Corey Callahan, $4.10) became the first lass to 'double date' in the Matchmaker. Leapfrogging her seven inside rivals, the just-over-even-money favorite had no issues (:27.3, :56.3, 1:25.1, 1:53.3) en route to a three-length win. First leader Twinkle (Scott Zeron) could not match strides from the pocket, but saved second. Medusa (Jim Marohn Jr.), Bettor's Up (Tetrick) and Write Me a Song (Stratton) rounded out the payees. "She's a mare with a lot of class," Callahan said, "I mean, you can leave with her six weeks in a row, then duck her. When the new owners were thinking about buying her, they asked me what I'd thought, since I'd driven her. "I told them she might not be the best mare in the country, but she enjoys her work and she's honest." For Apple Bottom Jeans, a 6-year-old daughter of Mr. Apples co-owned by Ed Gold, Howard Taylor, Thomas Lazzaro & Robert Cooper Stables and trained by Dylan Davis, it was her fourth win in six seasonal starts (2-for-2 in series). The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $8.70, the triple returned $98.50 and the superfecta paid $400.50. Third division - Bettor Joy N (Tetrick, $6.50), who was snapped at the wire as an odd-on choice a week ago, turned the tables here. Second-over from post No. 5, she nailed 3-4 fave Ideal Lifestyle A (George Brennan) by a going-away length in 1:53.4. The latter, looking to repeat, walked early (:28, :58), then threw down a :27.3 third quarter (1:25.3) trying to lose her rivals. It did not work. Gold Orchid N (Bartlett), Caviart Cherie (Joe Bongiorno) and Camera Lady (Kakaley) came away with the remainder. For second choice Bettor Joy N, a 5-year-old Down Under daughter of Bettor's Delight co-owned by her escort, Richard Poillucci & Jo Ann Looney-King and trained by Jim King Jr., it was her second win in four '19 tries. The exacta paid $13.80, the triple returned $35 and the superfecta paid $85.50. Fourth division - Feelin' Red Hot (Brennan, $13.20), from post No. 4, went the distance (:27.4, :57.4, 1:24.2, 1:53.1) to whip a stacked field. Pole-sitting Obvious Blue Chip (Zeron), at 46-1, photoed a three-move Seaswift Joy N (Marohn Jt.) for secomd, while 1-2 choice Shartin N (Tetrick) was a brutal-trip fourth, with Delightfulmemphisn (Bartlett) fifth. Seaswift Joy N also had also sorta of fun. Leaving first into a five-hole, then moving into a three-hole ahead of Delightfulmemphisn. Approaching the half, those two were both off the cones, with Shartin N, already in the throes of a rotten, eight-hole sojourn, forced wide. While all that was happening, Feelin' Red Hot was employing the 'shortest distance between two points' theory. She had three lengths in and out the final turns before winning by 2¼ lengths. For fourth choice Feelin' Red Hot, a 6-year-old Feelin' Friskie ma'am co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi, she's now 4-for-9 this season. The exacta paid $263, the triple returned $1,288 and the superfecta paid $5,036. Saturday evening's (March 23rd) second round of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series features six, $50,000 Free-For-All divisions. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, N.Y. – When Delightfulmemphis wheeled first-over on heavy favorite Bettor Joy in the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series first leg March 15, harness racing trainer Nifty Norman didn’t have high hopes. As rain poured down and the track quickly changed from fast to sloppy, Bettor Joy brushed to the front and cruised untested through a half in :56.1. With Jason Bartlett’s whip on her tail, Delightfulmemphis worked within 1 ½ lengths passing the three-quarters, but appeared to stall around the final turn as Tim Tetrick confidently handled the leader. “I was quite happy to be second, I thought that would be just fine; come first-over and finish second, that would be great,” Norman said. “I knew that other mare was a very nice mare and I didn’t expect to beat her.” Luckily for Norman, Bartlett didn’t concede that easily. Turning for home, the track’s leading driver kicked out the plugs and went to a strong right-handed stick. Delightfulmemphis straightened out, bore down, and inched closer and closer. The mares crossed the wire together and Delightfulmemphis got her nose in front in time to win the $40,000 series split. “I thought it was fantastic. I thought turning for home, she had no shot, but she’s one of those horses who can just hang around and stay close,” Norman said. “Once she’s in the straights, she gets wound up a little bit and right at the wire, she just lunged at that other mare. Jason said on the turns, she struggles a little bit, loses a little ground, but if you can just keep within half-a-length of another horse, she tries like hell.” Despite her first-leg series win, which boosted her seasonal record to 5-for-8 with $92,250 earned, the most of any horse so far this season, the Matchmaker wasn’t Delighfulmemphis’ target all along.  Since she began her stateside career for Norman last July, the Australian Group 3 winner and Group 1 and 2 placed mare racked up wins in the conditioned ranks and Harrah’s Philadelphia and the Meadowlands. However, the Bettor’s Delight daughter was 0-for-6 at Yonkers, including two tries in the distaff open. “To be honest, I thought she was probably a big track horse,” Norman said. “I thought she was a closer and I thought you’d have to race her at the Meadowlands or Mohawk. I raced her at Yonkers a couple times and she got around it pretty good. I still don’t really think it’s her forte because she likes to get home good. She’s not a great front-runner, which was sort of against her at Yonkers; she’s a little bit lazy in front. But Jason has done a good job driving her. Because of Jason’s help, she’s worked it out and if you don’t use her too hard early, she can really come a good back three-quarters. “I didn’t think she was a Matchmaker horse, really, but she’s gotten better and better.” The turning point came February 1 when Delightfulmemphis scored her first local victory in a $29,000 overnight. The uncharacteristic front-stepping win prompted Norman to nominate her to the series, which closed February 15. Delightfulmemphis won her first local feature that evening and finished second in the Filly and Mare Open Handicap March 8. “I only sent the check in right before they were due,” Norman remembered. “She won a non-winners of $30,000 the week before and I said, ‘you know what, why not?’ You might as well be in it and she had just won, so that helped pay for the starting fee, so that’s when I decided.” Although she established herself as one to watch with her first-leg win, Delightfulmemphis will still have her work cut out for her in week two. She drew post two in the fourth and final division Friday night (March 22), which features fellow first-leg victors Shartin and Seaswift Joy, who drew posts eight and seven, respectively. Feelin Red Hot finished second to Seaswift Joy last week and drew post five while Obvious Blue Chip, compromised by post seven last out, will start along the pylons. Dudesalady, Angel’s Pride, and Sell A Bit complete the lineup.  “It’s a good race. Obviously Shartin is probably the best mare in the country, so she’s tough to beat any time. I think we’re in a good spot there with post two to not do too much work early and just hope we can get a good run at the end and pick up a good check,” Norman said. “Apart from Shartin, I think she’s probably competitive with most of the others. It’s a tough series. I’d actually like to get another top-two finish so you could maybe give her a week off somewhere along the way. Having a good draw helps, so we’ll just see how it works out.” Friday night’s card features four divisions of the Matchmaker Series Second Leg while the George Morton Levy Series goes with six splits Saturday, March 23. Monday night’s card features the $58,000 Petticoat Series Final and the $60,200 Sagamore Hill finale goes Tuesday night. Live harness racing is featured at Yonkers Raceway every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. First post time is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, NY, Friday, March 15, 2019 -- Beware the Ides of March (Friday the 15th), provided you weren't mesmerized by the start of Yonkers Raceway's harness racing Blue Chip Matchmaker. Five, $40,000 groupings were consecutively contested, featuring the best pacing mares around. Here's the skinny... First division Odds-on Ideal Lifestyle A (George Brennan, $3.90)--from post position No. 2--took over from lone leaver Twinkle (Scott Zeron) before a :27.3 opening quarter-mile, then held sway (:57.2, 1:24.4, life-best 1:52.3). Twinkle tried the winner inside through the lane, but missed a length. Write Me a Song (Jordan Stratton) was a non-threatening third, with Newborn Sassy (Tin Tetrick) and Caviart Cherie (Joe Bongiorno) settled for the minors. For Ideal Lifestyle A, a 7-year-old Down Under daughter of Western Ideal owned and trained by Tahnee Camilleri, it was her second win in five seasonal starts. The exacta paid $15.40, the triple returned $40.60 and the superfecta paid $153.50. Ideal Lifestyle A Second division With the rain teeming down, a first-up--from post No. 4--Delightmemphisn (Jason Bartlett, $6.60) snapped 2-5 choice Bettor Joy N (Tetrick) at the (1:53) wire. First leader Magic Forces (Brenan) was a best-of-the-rest third, with Freakonomics (Zeron) and Sell a Bit N (Stratton) picking off the final pay envelopes. Bettor Joy N had laid down early intervals of :27.2, :56.1 and 1:24.2, but just faltered by a short nose. For second choice Delightfulmemphisn, a 6-year-old Down Under daughter of Bettor's Delight owned by Enzed Racing and trained by Nifty Norman, it was her fifth win in eight '19 tries. The exacta paid $11.40, the triple returned $24.80 and the superfecta paid $57. Third division Rain continued and so did formful results. It was a down-the-road--from post No. 3--Apple Bottom Jeans (Corey Callahan, $2.60) winning as she pleased (:28.1, :56.3, 1:25, 1:52.2). Rockstar Angel A (Zeron) chased from a loose pocket, beaten 3½ lengths. A weak, first-up Queen Lostris N (Mark MacDonald), Bettor's Up (Bartlett) and Lakeisha Hall (Brennan) were the other payees. For Apple Bottom Jeans, a 6-year-old daughter of Mr. Apples co-owned by Ed Gold, Howard Taylor, Thomas Lazzaro & Robert Cooper Stables and trained by Dylan Davis, it was her third win in five seasonal starts. The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $9.20, the triple returned $52.50 and the superfecta paid $160.50. Fourth division More precipitation, more predictable performances. From post No. 6, Favored Seaswift Joy N (Jim Marohn Jr., $5.50) eschewed an early three-hole, then completed her wet rounds (:26.4, :56.4, 1:24.3, life-best 1:52.1). Feelin' Red Hot (Brennan) took a shot from the pocket, but missed by three-quarters of a length. For Seaswift Joy N, a 6-year-old Down Under daughter of Bettor's Delight owned by Brad Grant and trained by Tony Alagna, it was her third win in five '19 efforts (3-for-3 here). The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $15.60, the triple returned $87 and the superfecta paid $339. Seaswift Joy N Fifth division ....and the theme continued. Defending series champ Shartin N (Tetrick, $2.20), began her purse season by fooling very few. From post No. 2, she found herself away third before finding front. From there (:27.4, :56, 1:24.3, 1:52.2), she was a puny parimutuel proposition. Don't Think Twice A (Bartlett) made first lead, yielded and missed, beaten a half-length. Bettorb Chevron N (Stratton) closed for third, with Dude'salady (Marohn Jr.) and Mach it a Par (Brennan) settling for the small change. For Shartin N, a 6-year-old Tintin in America Kiwi lass, co-owned by her chauffer, Richard Poillucci and Jo Ann Looney-King, she comes off a 19-for-24, million-dollar season. The exacta paid $5.60, the superfecta returned $10.40 and the superfecta paid $34.40. Saturday evening's (March 16th) opener of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series features six, $50,000 divisions (races 4 through 9) for the Free-For-All gentlemen folks. Earlier Friday evening, Dan Dube knocked an item off the to-do list, getting career win No. 8,999 with Rural Art ($6.30) in the $20,000, third-race pace (1:54.4, updates if necessary) Frank Drucker

YONKERS, N.Y. – When harness racing trainer Jim King, Jr. thinks about returning to the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series at Yonkers Raceway, the trainer admits he’s, “going in with a better chance than most.” King will start a trio of mares in the series first leg Friday night (March 15), and the onslaught is led by Shartin, who will try to become the first mare to repeat in the Matchmaker Series. Shartin’s victory in the $373,000 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series Final last April was the first of nine major Grand Circuit wins last year which propelled her to become the first mare to win over $1 million in a single season and earned her the Dan Patch Award for Older Pacing Mare. The experience is still fresh on the minds of King and his wife, Joann.  “Between my wife and I we’ve got well over one hundred years in this business and to be in a position here where we get this kind of stuff, it’s still very exciting to us,” King said. “This time last year (Shartin) was a real handful,” King remembered. “By now, we’ve kind of got a handle on her, but she started off real big because she won races in January for 11 months straight. That’s pretty good in that class to be doing that. She’s exceeded all our expectations time after time. As far as I’m concerned, she never got beat without a really good reason, not necessarily an excuse, but there was always an answer for why it didn’t work out and a couple were that she just plain old made a break. It’s probably a once in a lifetime go.” While the answers were there each time Shartin tasted defeat, she rarely needed them. Shartin went 19-for-24 last year and took a mark of 1:48.2 in Lexington. She wrapped up her season with a win in the $175,000 TVG Mares Series Final November 24 at the Meadowlands. Shartin made her first qualifying start this year February 13 at Dover Downs, winning in 1:56. She returned eight days later to qualify again in 1:52. “I don’t see where she’s any worse for the wear,” King said. “She qualified back really good. Easy enough the first time, just a good trainer. Then we went back and qualified her like you would expect for a horse like her do to, so that was good.” While Shartin came into the series last year with five races under her belt, Friday night’s start as the 7-5 morning line favorite in the ninth race, the $40,000 fifth and final division of the Matchmaker first leg, will be her seasonal debut. King couldn’t get a race into Shartin without shipping her north, so he opted to stay home in Delaware and wait. King thinks going into the series with a fresh horse is an advantage. “We really couldn’t get her started without sending her to New York and that’s a pretty good trip. I’d be satisfied if we get six starts up there, or even five,” he said. “She’s ready. She always gets back ready when I had time in between. I didn’t go into a race three weeks out that I felt, ‘man I wish I had a race in her.’ She’s always been OK, but not off this long a break, but I feel pretty good about it. “I do think you’re better off going in fresh because it’s such a long, grueling series,” King continued. “We leave home nine hours before a race. That’s a big deal to do that week after week after week. She’s always held up to that kind of stuff. (Bettor Joy) I feel is really competitive also, I just don’t know if she’s that stout, I don’t know if she can stand it week after week, but we’re here to find out. Where they come from, they don’t race regularly like that, but they do ship around.” Like Shartin, Bettor Joy is a New Zealand-bred mare imported to the United States by owner and managing partner Rich Poillucci. A new face in the series this year, Bettor Joy was a two-time Group 2 winner back home and won another two listed stakes.  “Rich Poillucci, he does all the legwork, he does the homework, he finds these horses, he watches the horses that they race with,” King said. “We’ve got some pretty good connections over there now to go over them and give us their opinions on them. It’s a big team effort and we’ve got a pretty good team.”  Bettor Joy, a 5-year-old mare by Bettor’s Delight out of the Road Machine mare Joyfulbelle, completed her final start in New Zealand November 16 and made her first stateside qualifying appearance January 23 at Dover Downs. She finished fourth in her first pari-mutuel start January 30, but returned a winner from post seven in the $27,500 Filly and Mare Open February 27. “She was good enough we made all the payments on her. She’s quick, she’s handy,” King said. “She did what we expected. Dexter Dunn raced her (in New Zealand) and he said that she was all that, she was a really good horse. Her first start was just OK. They went pretty good and we just weren’t up to that kind of mile. Then we got her back in and she was ready to go.” Although they are both New Zealand-bred and are both talented, Shartin and Bettor Joy have distinct personalities on the racetrack. “Entirely different horse than Shartin; she’s just a bull and (Bettor Joy), she’s a lady. She’s a good girl,” King said. “She’s very drivable. You can leave with her, you can take her off, she can step around horses. Shartin, when you get her cranked up she’s ready to roll. You don’t want to be changing course in the middle of a straight, that’s for sure. Bettor Joy’s a lot more professional in that aspect. She lets the driver be a lot more part of the game there.” Bettor Joy will make her Yonkers debut in the sixth race, the $40,000 second division of the Matchmaker first leg, as a 9-5 morning line choice. Her start will come one race after Newborn Sassy kicks off King’s chances in the series at 9-2 in the first division. Perhaps overshadowed by her New Zealand-bred counterparts, Newborn Sassy placed in two preliminary legs of the Matchmaker Series last year before winning a $40,000 consolation shortly before Shartin captured the final. The 6-year-old Western Ideal daughter went 9-for-36 last year and made $289,290, boosting her career tally to $1,036,455. Newborn Sassy “She’s a good girl. She can’t do what the other two can do, but she’s a half-mile track specialist,” King said. “Last year we came up with just one (win in the series), the other starts went wrong. They had just taken out the passing lane, we got locked in a couple times in the two hole and just didn’t work out for her, but still ended up OK. She came back real good, she can do her job good enough.” Tim Tetrick will drive all of King’s starters in the series Friday night. The driver purchased an ownership interest in all three mares, a move that gave King confidence. “Timmy thought enough of them that he decided he’d like to own part of them. I think that’s saying something because that puts him in a position where he doesn’t have any choice, he has to go with them,” King joked. “All those girls, I think they’ll all go out and do their job even if they don’t all come home a winner. If they do their job and we come back and do it again next week, I’m really going to be happy with them,” King said. “We’ve got a good team and that’s what it takes.” Friday night’s card features five divisions of the Matchmaker Series First Leg while the George Morton Levy Series kicks off with six splits Saturday, March 16.  Live harness racing is featured at Yonkers Raceway every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. First post time is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY  

Medusa is revved up and ready to go. The harness racing 8-year-old pacing mare is set for her fourth appearance in the upcoming Blue Chip Matchmaker Series at Yonkers and will look to continue her good fortune in the event, which included a second-place finish in the 2017 final. "You always wonder, especially with a mare at her age, that when you shut her down the engine might not start back up," said trainer Randy Bendis, who co-owns Medusa with Pollack Racing. "But she really came back great. She's fresh and ready to go." A total of 35 mares entered Friday's opening round of the Matchmaker and were divided into five $40,000 divisions. Medusa races in the first, which also includes millionaire Newborn Sassy. New Zealand-bred star Shartin, the 2018 Dan Patch Award winner for best older female pacer and defending Matchmaker champion, is in the fifth division. For her career, Medusa has won 37 of 132 races and earned $881,743. She has spent much of her career competing at The Meadows and Yonkers, with nearly half of her career appearances coming at The Hilltop. Medusa has won 10 of 61 races at Yonkers, hit the board a total of 32 times, and earned a paycheck in 55. "She's got near world-class ability, especially on a half," Bendis said. "Her ability to get around four turns is what will keep her a factor this year. She is just a great half-miler. Shartin is just better than everybody, but she fits with the rest of them. On a half, a lot of it is the draw. If you get a good string drawing you can make a lot of money real quick." Pollack and Bendis, who is based in western Pennsylvania, bought Medusa at the beginning of her 5-year-old season in January 2016. Since then, she has produced three consecutive seasons with earnings between $206,444 and $246,691. "She's a warhorse now," said New York-based trainer Ed Hart, who conditions Medusa for Bendis when the mare is racing at Yonkers. "She's just a big, strong, good-looking mare. She's been doing it for many years. You can leave, you can take her off; she's just a versatile mare. You wish you had a barn full of them. Take care of her and she'll do the rest." The Matchmaker and companion George Morton Levy Memorial series, which begins Saturday for older male pacers, both feature five preliminary rounds followed by added-money finals April 20. A horse receives 25 points each time she or he races in a preliminary round. Points are also awarded based on finish, with 50 points for a win, 25 for second, 12 for third, eight for fourth, and five for fifth. Sell A Bit N, a two-time Matchmaker runner-up, also is among this year's group along with millionaire Mach It A Par. "It's a very tough series," Hart said. "She loves Yonkers, she loves the half; I think she should be fine with a little bit of luck." Following last year's Matchmaker, Medusa finished second to Shartin in the Chip Noble Memorial at Miami Valley Raceway before focusing on the top-level overnights for fillies and mares at The Meadows and Yonkers. Bendis is looking at a similar schedule this season. "I think she can go with the better mares early," Bendis said. "I think it would be a lot to expect of her in July and August on the big tracks to go with them. If we can get the first part of the stakes season, I think that's what we can ask of her. "Ed has done a wonderful job with her. She will probably stay (at Yonkers) for as long as it works. It sure has worked recently for us there." Medusa is a daughter of Bettor's Delight out of Mythical. She was bred by White Birch Farm. There are no secrets behind her success. "She's easy on herself, a sound mare, a happy mare; that's a good combination," Bendis said. "She likes her field time. In the winter it's tough to give them quality field time, but we just try to keep her as happy as we can. We train her up a little bit, but figure out what she needs week to week. She normally responds well. "She's in great shape. She's never trained a bad trip in her life for me. She's just that kind of mare. I'll shed a real tear the day we pull the harness off her for the last time because not too many come around like her." Follow the links for early Matchmaker program pages for Friday (March 15) and early Levy program pages for March 16. Friday's program pages will be finalized today (March 12); Saturday's program pages will be finalized on Thursday (March 14). Ken Weingartner

YONKERS, NY, Monday, March 11, 2019 - The big girls and big boys come to play this weekend, with Yonkers Raceway hosting the opening round of both the harness racing Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. Friday night (March 15th) finds four, $40,000 divisions of the Matchmaker for leading pacing mares, going consecutively as races five through nine. Defending series champ begins her 6-year-old season with post position No. 2 in the final event. Tim Tetrick takes his usual seat for co-owners himself, Richard Pollucci and Jo Ann Looney-King. Keeping it in the family, Jim King Jr. trains the lass, fresh off an 19-for-24, million-dollar season. Saturday evening (March 16th), the Levy does the Matchmaker one better, with six, $50,000 groupings (races 4 through 9) for the Free-For-All folks. Double-millionaire 10-year-old Bit of a Legend N, the 2016 Levy winner, begins this season's marathon from behind the eight-ball in the third division. Jordan Stratton again does the honors for owner Von Knoblauch Stables and trainer Peter Tritton. Each series offers five prelim rounds leading to the finales, both set for Saturday night, Apr. 20th . For The Matchmaker entries click on this link. Frank Drucker  

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, March 3, 2019 -- Yonkers Raceway's 2019 harness racing stakes season begins Monday night (March 4th)--weather permitting--with the opening round of the Petticoat Pacing Series. The series, for three and four-year-old young ladies who are/were non-winners of four races and/or $40,000 through last Dec. 1st, offers four, $20,000, first-round events. That's the same set-up for the gentlemen's companion series, the Sagamore Hill, which gets underway Tuesday night (March 5th). Both the Petticoat and Sagamore Hill offer three prelim legs leading to $50,000-added finals March 25th (girls) and 26th (boys), respectively. Eligibles have been announced for Yonkers' premier older pacing soirees, the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy Memorial. The Matchmaker attracted 43 of the sport's preeminent mares, while the Levy numbered 55 male Free-For-Allers (see accompanying lists). Those rich events begin their respective six-week runs Friday and Saturday evenings, March 15th (Matchmaker) and 16th (Levy). For all the eligibles click on the following links; Blue Chip Matchmaker George Morton Levy Memorial Frank Drucker

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