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Freehold, NJ --- Last week, Lyons Steel was pace compromised in the Freehold Raceway harness racing feature, and finished up the track. On Saturday (March 7), he removed all doubt early on, and destroyed the field on the lead.   Leaving from post position six, driver Pat Lachance immediately cleared to the front and opened up a big margin, going the first quarter in a blazing 26.4. That's the fastest opening quarter of the new year at Freehold. Undeterred, Lachance slowed things down with Lyons Steel in the second quarter, going the half in 55.4 while maintaining a comfortable advantage.   Heading up the backstretch the final time, Lyons Steel began to open up on the field, holding a five-length advantage as he went by three-quarters. No one was able to make up any ground on the dominant pace-setter, and Lyons Steel coasted under the wire 5 1/4 lengths in front. The final time was 1:53.1.     Lyons Steel has now won twice at Freehold this season, having won the Preferred back on February 15. He paid $3 to win, $3 to place, and $2.80 to show. He's owned by BD Racing LLC and trained by Dennis Watson.   Although Lyons Steel was well clear of the rest, the other seven were separated by just two lengths on the wire. Exit Cam got up for second at 32/1, while National Seelster was third at 15/1. Casual Cool, Hudsen A, Newbie, Lucan Hanover, and Tie Your Shoe Ed.   Live racing resumes at Freehold on Friday, beginning at 12:30 PM EDT. From Freehold Raceway      

Freehold, NJ --- Lyons Steel made his first harness racing victory of 2020 a dominant one on Saturday (February 15) at Freehold Raceway, winning the Preferred Handicap pace by three lengths.   After a brief layoff, Lyons Steel returned to the races last week, finishing fifth in the Preferred with a strong closing rally. Off that big effort, he was made the 3/5 choice in this week's Preferred.   Dropped into sixth in the early stages, driver Pat Lachance took him to the outside nearing the half-mile point, then went three-wide at the 5/8 marker to get around a stalled rival. He continued his move nearing three-quarters, effortlessly moving by early leader Smileandsaycheese and getting a clear advantage as they turned for home. With no serious competition in the stretch, he coasted home a three-length winner. The final time over the fast track was an impressive 1:53.3.     Lyons Steel made waves at Freehold last year, winning the Preferred three times. He picked up where he left off Saturday afternoon, continuing his impressive ways over that track. He's owned by BD Racing LLC and trained by Dennis Watson.   Live racing resumes on Friday at Freehold, starting at 12:30 PM EST. There will be a double carryover in the pick 5, worth $1,474.46.   From Freehold Raceway  

Freehold, NJ --- Lyons Steel has been one of the hottest harness racing pacers on the east coast as of late, with four consecutive victories under his belt. He'll seek to make it five on Saturday at Freehold Raceway, as he takes on seven challengers in the Preferred Handicap pace.   The Dennis Watson-trained gelding is no stranger to Freehold: he's won four races there this year. Three starts back, he won the Preferred by half a length in a gate-to-wire effort, storming to a fast early lead and holding on for the win. Since that victory, he's shipped to Harrah's Philadelphia and Yonkers Raceway, and won at both tracks. He was assigned the outside post position eight for his return to the New Jersey half-miler, with Jack Baggitt Jr. down to drive.   Perhaps the toughest of his opponents will be Ginger Tree Marty, for Ron Burke. He was bet down to 4/5 favoritism in his most recent start at Freehold, but finished a fast-closing second behind Lyons Steel. He'll seek a rebound off an eighth-place finish at the Meadowlands last week, from post position six.   Three recent Freehold winners will also try their luck. Bullet Bob, a recent winner of the NW $5,000 class, and a two-time winner of the Preferred last year, drew post position three. Austin Siegelman drives for trainer Mark Harder.   Northern Virgin won the NW $6,000 class at 12/1 two races ago, and returns from a sixth-place finish at Yonkers. Steve Smith will drive for Nick Surick.   Andy Miller is named on Surick's other entrant, Rockin M, who won the Preferred over this track on October 5. He won the NW $8,000 by 3/4 of a length last week.   Drinkin Again, Texican, and Letschasethedreamn complete the field. The race is scheduled as the seventh on the ten-race card, with an approximate post time of 2:30 PM EST.   The first post at Freehold on Saturday is scheduled for 12:30 PM EST.   Freehold Raceway will kick off the new month on Friday (December 6) with a nine-race card, headlined by a carryover in the 50-cent pick 5. The sequence went unsolved on Saturday afternoon, leading to a carryover for Friday of $705.85. The wager begins in race 5, starting at 1:50 PM EST. Four eight-horse fields and one seven-horse field comprise the sequence. The day's feature race, the sixth race, will be the headliner. It's an upper-level filly and mare pace, drawing a field of eight. Fear My Shadow and Petal to the Metal, second and third at the level last week, return to competition. They drew post positions four and seven, respectively. Jimbelina was 3/5 in that race, but faded late to finish seventh. She'll seek a rebound from post position five. The first race at Freehold on Friday is scheduled for 12:30 PM EST. From Freehold Raceway    

Chester, PA -- Following two consecutive Preferred wins at Freehold, Lyons Steel ($4.40) extended his streak to three with a 1:52.3 harness racing victory in the $18,000 pacing feature on Sunday (Nov. 24) at Harrah's Philadelphia. The 4-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven gelding and driver David Miller worked clear of Nine Ways (Tony Morgan) after a :27.1 first quarter, and then parried two separate challenges en route to the 15th win of his career. After rating a :55.4 half mile, Lyons Steel staved off a first-over push from JK Musicman (George Napolitano Jr.) through three-quarters in 1:23.4, and then dug in to defeat the late-rallying Billy Badger N (Dexter Dunn) by three-quarters of a length. JK Musicman narrowly held third over Mako Banner N (Corey Callahan). Dennis Watson trains Lyons Steel for BD Racing LLC. Tim Tetrick notched a grand slam on the 14-race card, winning with King Harvest ($5.80), Song Cycle Senese ($1.20), Sadiq Hanover ($13.40) and In Rock We Trust ($10.40). Due to an insuficent amount of entries, qualifiers at Harrah's are cancelled on Tuesday. Live racing returns to Harrah's Philadelphia on Wednesday afternoon (Nov. 27), with a 14-race card due to commence at 2:05 p.m. Eastern. by James Witherite, for Harrah's Philadelphia 

YONKERS, N.Y. – Dennis Watson isn’t getting much sleep these days. His George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series contender Lyons Steel is 12th in the standings ahead of the last preliminary harness racing leg Saturday night (April 13). A victory in the last leg would likely earn him a spot in the estimated $660,000 final April 20. It would be the biggest race of Watson’s training career. “That would be the greatest thing for me, I mean the greatest thing,” Watson emphasized. “I’m used to racing cheap horses and I’ve never had the opportunity to train a good stakes horse of my own in my own stable. My head doesn’t get big, the same helmet fits me and I remain humble. A lot of people, my family, everybody watches when he races. It’s a big opportunity.” A regular trainer and driver at Freehold for years, Watson’s career in harness racing began as a teenager working for Sonny Dancer. Amid a difficult upbringing, Watson discovered his passion for working with horses. “I was born in a women’s prison and went to a foster home around where Dancer used to train. I lived down the street from him and I took an interest in training horses and that’s how I got started with Dancer when I was 15 years old,” Watson explained. "He used to pick us up at the foster home and take us to the track and we used to watch them train and that’s how I got started working with racehorses with him. He was a first-class trainer. I enjoyed it, being top trainer at Liberty Bell and these tracks.” Watson eventually went out on his own, but finding horses he could afford proved challenging. Watson improvised and made a career out of rehabilitating Standardbreds sold by the Amish.  “I mainly used to deal with Amish horses. I used to wait at the Amish truck and I’d look at their papers and take them off the truck,” Watson said. “Whatever amount of money I had to buy, I took them off the Amish truck and patched them up and got them back to the races. That’s all I had. Nobody would give you a horse to train, but I would patch those horses up and get them to the races and one time I made the second-leading driver at Freehold racing those horses.” Now semi-retired, Watson’s stable consists of a small group of claimers and young horses. The standout among them is Lyons Steel, a 4-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven gelding who Watson and owner Bryan Dzugan purchased at the 2018 Meadowlands January Mixed Sale for $17,000. Watson and Dzugan connected while campaigning the hard-knocking claimer Whataorse at Freehold and the Meadowlands between 2013 and last summer. Watson worked with Whataorse early in the gelding’s career, but lost him to a claim in 2011. After racing in Pennsylvania for some time, Whataorse returned to Freehold and Watson worked with Dzugan to get the gelding back. The partnership paid off and Watson and Dzugan went to the sale together last winter. “We went over a bunch of young horses at the Meadowlands sale and we picked Lyons Steel out,” Watson remembered. “We went for it and he got him. It was a great deal.” Lyons Steel proved to be a project. After going just 1-for-9 as a 2-year-old and failing to make an impression in the New York Sire Stakes Excelsior A division, Lyons Steel began his sophomore season with an 0-for-10 streak racing in overnights at Freehold and the Meadowlands. “When we got him, he wasn’t performing too well, but I just kept working with him until I got him straightened out,” Watson said. “We had to teach him. He used to make breaks and stuff, but when he did get it together, he would show a lot of speed, so I said this is a horse worth dealing with.” Lyons Steel finally broke through with a 1:58 win in a $2,800 overnight at Freehold April 27, 2018. He doubled up in his next start a week later, scoring in a 1:55.2 victory for $3,300. Lyons Steel continued to improve, surprising his connections with a runner up finish in NYSS individually timed in 1:50 at Vernon Downs May 28.  “I really didn’t know how fast he was. Every place I asked him to go, he would do whatever I asked him to do,” Watson said. “He didn’t start off too good, but he still showed potential. He couldn’t get around the half mile track when I first got him. He was a case. I like dealing with tough cases like that.” Lyons Steel went 5-for-32 in 2018, earning $107,578. His impressive development led to Watson and Dzugan nominating him to the Levy Series this spring. “We just said let’s take a shot and go in there. We were going to race him a couple starts and see if he was competitive and if he was, we were going to let him stay in there. “We took a chance,” Watson said. Lyons Steel ran into trouble in the first leg of the series when the field scattered behind breaking rival Windsong Leo. In week two, Lyons Steel finished fifth beaten 5 ¾ lengths, but Watson saw enough from his :27.3 final quarter to continue in the series. Week three proved to be the breakthrough as Lyons Steel kicked away from his rivals to win by 4 ½ lengths in 1:50.4., the fastest mile of the season at Yonkers. “I kind of put that first race aside and said, let’s see what happens in the next one. And the next race, they went a pretty good last half and he was still competitive, so I said, let’s put him in another one and take another shot, and that’s when he showed real great speed,” Watson said. “He fooled me a little bit, he fooled me. When he came out of that hole like a slingshot, he likes to do that, so I thought if he keeps going, he would fare well,” Watson said. “He did keep going and he didn’t have to get urged. He was in hand, so that means he still has more in him. He didn’t hit him or anything, didn’t have to touch him.” Last week, Lyons Steel left from post six, but was caught in a speed duel with The Downtown Bus. Parked the mile, Lyons Steel tired to finish seventh, leaving the 4-year-old with 163 points heading into Saturday’s last preliminary leg. Lyons Steel is a 7-1 morning line from post four in Saturday’s seventh race while rival The Downtown Bus drew post one as the 5-2 early favorite. Gokudo Hanover is 3-1 from post six while Imarocnrollegend will start at 6-1 from post two. A win by any of the four aforementioned horses would likely earn them a spot in the final. Major Crocker, Always At My Place, Rodeo Romeo, and Bettors Fire complete the field. “I’m a little nervous about the race coming up because the one he got into the duel with has got the rail and we have the four hole,” Watson said. “I never tell a driver how to drive, so the decision is his. I just hope we fare well. I probably won’t sleep (Friday) night; I don’t think so. “Oh, it would mean a lot to make the final. Yes, it would.” Saturday night’s card features four divisions of the Levy Series fifth leg and the regular Open Handicap Trot. The Blue Chip Matchmaker and Levy Series Finals will be held Saturday, April 20. 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

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