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Odds-on favorite Bit of a Legend N (Jordan Stratton, $2.60, part of entry)  was the best Free-For-Aller entering and the best exiting Saturday night, winning the $609,000 harness racing final of Yonkers Raceway's George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. The 29th Levy, again honoring the memory of the Harness Hall of Fame founder of Roosevelt Raceway, served as both the richest race in the history of the event and richest race of the season to date. Bit of a Legend N, after winning all five of his series prelims (including a track-record dead-heat [with Wiggle It Jiggleit] a week ago), drew post position No. 2 in the final. He was away third early, behind pole-sitting Take it Back Terry (George Brennan) and that one's stablemate, All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley). All Bets Off, from post No. 5, paid a 27-second price for the first lead. Stratton, wanting no part of a three-hole, quickly moved Bit of a Legend N to the front, finding a :55.2 intermission. "Terry" then took out of third, trying his luck down the backside the second time, with P H Supercam (Jason Bartlett) happily accepted that one's tow. However, Take it Back Terry never came that close to the "Legend," who maintained an open lead in and out of a 1:23.1 three-quarters. The advantage was a length-and-a-half entering the lane, and Bit of Legend N was about to close the sale. All Bets Off ducked in but never threatened as the people's preference won by a length in a life-best 1:51. Hr also become the first Down Under winner of this event. Texican N (Yannick Gingras), stable buddy of the winner, rallied quite nice for third, with P H Supercam and "Terry" earning the minor moolah. Texas Terror N (Brett Miller), Lucan Hanover (Brian Sears) and Mach it So (Tim Tetrick) rounded out the order. The final time of 1:51 also matched Maltese Artist's (Greg Grismore) stakes record set in 2007, when the series returned after an 11-year hiatus. For Bit of a Legend N, a 7-year-old son of Bettor's Delight owned by Harry von Knoblauch and trained by Peter Tritton, it was his eighth win in 10 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $4.60, with no triple wagering offered to the limited number (five) of wagering interests. For Stratton, it was the biggest win of his career. "He's perfect for Yonkers, a small horse who gets around this track great. "Anything can happen when you go for this money," Stratton said. "I let everything settle and then went to the front. He's been great through the series and I'm just fortunate to be able to drive him. "He's the best horse I've ever trained and Jordan's taken good care of him," his Aussie-born trainer said, before giving a shout out to the owner "(Harry von Knoblauch) is 90-years-old and he's on a cruise with his daughter right now. He said, 'I wish I could get off this boat and be there.' I told him he'd feel a lot better when he got the check." What's next? "He gets some time off, and then, since he's not staked to very much, we're hoping for Invitationals at other half-miles (Western Fair, Harrington, and Northfield). The $304,500 winner's share upped Bit of a Legend N's seasonal earnings to an industry-best $451,250. A $100,000 series consolation was won by death-and-taxes Wiggle It Jiggleit (Montrell Teague, $2.10) in 1:51. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, April 21, 2016--We're not condoning identity theft, but c'mon, which one of the other 4,247 currently-licensed U-S harness drivers wouldn't change places with Jordan Stratton this Saturday night? That's because Stratton has better-than-legitimate shots to win both of Yonkers Raceway's series finals, the $609,000 George Morton Levy Memorial and $309,800 Blue Chip Matchmaker. These are the sport's two richest races of the season to date. Since we believe in Ladies First, let's begin with the seventh race (approximate post time 9:10 PM) and Sell a Bit N in the Matchmaker. The 6-year-old Down Under daughter of Julius Caesar wears head No. 4 and leaves from post position No. 3. After winning legs two and three of the five-week trial period, Sell a Bit N found herself trapped in "No Woman's Land" the last two weeks, shuffled behind the tired and the stopping before finishing third and second, respectively. "The best thing about her is I can't hurt her feelings," Stratton said. "She's shown more gate speed than we anticipated and she can also take air. It doesn't seem to faze her. With the draw, I'm expecting we're near the front Saturday." The 28-year-old Stratton, who won the inaugural Matchmaker in 2009 with Pancleefandarpels, tries for his first Levy (ninth race, approx. post 9:50 PM) with another Kiwi expatriate, Bit of a Legend N. Both of Stratton's charges are owned by Harry von Knoblauch and trained by Aussie Peter Tritton. Bit of a Legend N, a 7-year-old Down Under son of Bettor's Delight completed a perfect (5-for-5) prelim performance, wrapped by a scintillating dead-heat with reigning Harness Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit. "He paced right through the wire," Stratton said of the two-time (ages 2 and 3) Australian Breeders Crown winner How consistent has "Legend" been? He's danced the last three dances in exactly 1:51.2. For the season, it's seven wins and a pair of seconds in nine starts ($146,750). In the final, he wears head number 2 and leaves from that same venue. "The best horse I've ever driven. He's on the small side, which helps here (Yonkers) and he has a good mouth, which helps make very handy. "Even though he raced every week in the series, he wasn't used all that hard. He obviously drew well, but I've found the worst thing is to have a game plan before the gate opens, since they never seem to work out." Asked if he thought about what winning one or both of Saturday's races might do for his career, Stratton was quite level-headed. "I've learned in this business, it's possible to go from the top to the bottom very fast," he said. "I just try to do the best job I can." First post for Saturday's 13-race, $1.3 million card is 7:10 PM by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

Bit Of A Legend was already a bit of a star before arriving in the U.S., but the New Zealand-born pacer has been adding to his legend this year with his performances in the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series at Yonkers Raceway. A 7-year-old stallion, Bit Of A Legend went 5-for-5 in the preliminary rounds of the six-week Levy Series, which concludes Saturday with a $609,000 final at Yonkers. Since February, when he began racing for New York-based trainer Peter Tritton and owner Harry von Knoblauch, Bit Of A Legend has won seven of nine starts and earned $146,750. He is the richest horse in North America this year. Prior to being sold to his new connections in December, Bit Of A Legend won 20 of 63 races and earned $659,686 (U.S.) while competing Down Under. Among his exploits, he was the first male pacer to win Australian Breeders Crown finals at ages 2 and 3. "He's the best horse I've had," said Tritton, a 65-year-old Australia native who over the years has teamed with von Knoblauch to campaign a number of successful imports from Down Under. "He's always been a good horse. He's always raced the best company and he's done a real good job. "Yonkers really suits him because he's so good gaited and you can drive him anyway --- leave, sit, come first over --- it doesn't matter. He just goes when you say go. He's just a great little racehorse." In the Levy's preliminary divisions, Bit Of A Legend won from off the pace in four of his five starts, including a rally from last place at the top of the stretch in the third week of the event. Last week, he finished in a dead heat for victory with Wiggle It Jiggleit, the 2015 Horse of the Year, after a duel neither horse wanted to lose. The time of 1:51.2 for the mile was a track record for a dead heat. "That stretch drive was really something," Tritton said. "Neither horse wanted to get beat. I thought Wiggle It Jiggleit had it halfway up the straight, but my little horse really fought hard." Tritton could have skipped last week's round of the Levy because Bit Of A Legend already had enough points to qualify for the final. But Tritton didn't want to disrupt the pacer's schedule. "He thrives on racing," Tritton said. "I thought if I didn't race him I might have to train him a couple of times hard and I wanted to stick to what I was doing." Bit Of A Legend, a son of stallion Bettor's Delight out of the Sokys Atom mare-Soky's Legend, came highly recommended to Tritton by Down Under horse agent Peter Larkin. Tritton also spoke with Bit Of A Legend's former trainer, Cran Dalgety, prior to the sale. "He's one of the best trainers over there," Tritton said. "He wins a lot of races and knows a good horse from a bad horse. He really educates the horses and looks after them." Still, Tritton has been pleasantly surprised with Bit Of A Legend's fast start to his career in the States. Jordan Stratton has driven the horse in all of his races. "I didn't know he would go through the series undefeated," Tritton said. "You really wouldn't think he would be as good as he is, but he just relishes racing at Yonkers. And I think Jordan really suits him. He's always tried to look after him and leave something in the tank." The entry of Bit Of A Legend and New Zealand-born stablemate Texican is the 5-2 third choice in Saturday's Levy final. The Ron Burke-trained entry of Take It Back Terry and All Bets Off is the 8-5 favorite, followed by the Jeff Bamond Jr.-trained entry of P H Supercam and Mach It So at 9-5. Take It Back Terry, last year's Levy runner-up, and Mach It So had three wins in the preliminary rounds of this year's series. P H Supercam and All Bets Off both had one victory. Bit Of A Legend will start from post two and Texican from post six. Take It Back Terry leaves from post one and All Bets Off from post five. P H Supercam and Mach It So have posts three and seven, respectively. "I would have liked Texican to draw a bit closer, but I've got to be thankful for what I've got," Tritton said. "We've got a shot, there's no doubt about that. I think Jordan will stay up near the leaders and see if he can out-sprint them at the finish. If there's one thing (Bit Of A Legend) has got it's real good speed. At the top of the lane, he can make up a length or two real quick. It's a good spot where he can work it out." Tritton also will send out New Zealand import Sell A Bit in Saturday's $309,800 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final for pacing mares. Sell A Bit is 5-1 on the morning line. Last year's Matchmaker champion Venus Delight, part of an entry with Krispy Apple, is the 2-1 favorite. "I think she can win, I really do," Tritton said about Sell A Bit. "You can do a bit of work with her early and she'll just keep going. She's a very good mare. I'm quietly confident with her. "(My horses) just need racing luck. I'm hoping to have a good night. Even if you get second or third, you still make a fair amount of money. Having said that, it would be lovely to win. For Jordan too; it would be great to see him do it. We'll keep our fingers crossed." by Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications/USTA  

No bait and switch here. It was as advertised Saturday night, with Yonkers Raceway hosting the fifth and final preliminary round of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. The highly-anticipated first matchup between Wiggle It Jiggleit and Bit of a Legend N---two photogenic figures-was so stirring, neither one wanted to be left out of the picture. Both were sent off at odds-on in the last of three, $50,000 divisions, and when the stone dust settled, the camera was unable to separate 3-4 favorite Wiggle It Jiggleit (Montrell Teague) and 9-10 second choice Bit of a Legend N (Jordan Stratton) in 1:51.2. Neither was put in the play at the outset, with "Legend"-from post position No. 4-operating from second -over, directly in front of WIJI, who started from post No. 7. As the battle unfolded in earnest, it appeared Stratton, with his place in next week's final (purse TBA) already secured, was in no hurry to advance, knowing exactly who was on his back. Wiggle It Jiggleit, meanwhile, had to win (and get plenty of help) if he was to have to any shot of making that same race. Fourth and sixth, respectively, turning for home, Bit of a Legend N and WIJI unleashed a torrid stretch duel before hitting the line together as "Legend" completed a 5-for-5 series prelim resume. It was another 2½ lengths to Limelight Beach (Yannick Gingras). Bit of a Legend N, a 7-year-old Down Under son of Bettor's Delight owned by Harry von Knoblauch and trained by Peter Tritton, has won seven of his nine North American starts. Wiggle It Jiggleit, a 4-year-old Mr. Wiggles gelding, is now 3-for-4 (2-for-3 in series) this season and 26-for-31 in his $2 million-plus career. George Teague Jr. and Teague Racing Partnership co-own WIJI, trained by Clyde Francis. Both halves of the track-record heater returned the lowest-allowed-by-law $2.10. The exactas paid $2.80 (WIJI first) and $3.40 (Bit of a Legend N first), with the triples returning $6.20 (WIJI first) and $11.60 ("Legend" first). "I thought (Wiggle It Jiggleit) may have had us late, but my horse came back," Stratton said. "It was a helluva race." Saturday night's opening Levy division was won by 6-5 choice Lettucerockthem A (Brian Sears, $4.50). From post No. 2, he quarter-moved, then held second-choice P H Supercam (Jason Bartlett) at bay by a half-length in life-best 1:51. All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley) was buried early, then picked off the rest for third. Lettucerockthem A, a 6-year-old Down Under Art Major gelding co-owned (as Allard Racing) by (trainer) Rene Allard, Bob Hamather and Bruce Soulsby, is 2-for-7 this season (1-for-3 in series). The exacta paid $13.60, with the triple (three wagering choices in order) returning $22.40. The second series get-together was won by a pocket-sitting fave Mach it So (Tim Tetrick, $3.90). From post No. 2, he tripped-out by a neck over a stubborn, first-up Texican N (Stratton) in 1:51.3. Te Kawau N (George Brennan) third. Foiled Again, in his 250th career start, cut the mile from the pylons, gave way grudgingly late and finished fourth. Mach it So, a 6-year-old Mach Three gelding owned by Bamond Racing and trained by Jeffrey Bamond Jr., is now 3-for-5 this series/season. The exacta paid $24.20, with the triple returning $118.50. (Note...final Levy standings were being fact-checked by the race office and thus unavailable as of this writing.) Saturday night's $40,000 Open Handicap Trot was won by Melady's Monet (Bartlett, $2.40) in 1:54.4. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Wednesday, April 13, 2016-The marathon is about over, but instead of 26.2 miles in "x" number of hours, it's five miles in five consecutive weeks......and nary a Kenyan in sight. This weekend, Yonkers Raceway offers the fifth and final preliminary rounds in both the Blue Chip Matchmaker (Friday night) and George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series (Saturday night). The lasses in the Matchmaker go in consecutive (races 6 and 7), $40,000 divisions. Though series points-leader Al Raza N has the week off, just about all the other leading ladies are in-to-go. Sell a Bit N (Jordan Stratton, post 4) and Yagonnakissmeornot (Dan Dube, post 2)-each with a pair of leg wins-drew into the first and second groupings, respectively, while Krispy Apple (Jason Bartlett, post 2) and Carolsideal (Dube, post 3) found their way into the opening scrum. "Yagonnakissme," Krispy Apple and Carolsideal won last Friday's fourth-round events. The Levy has been whittled down to a series-low three $50,000 groupings (races 5 through 7), with the last of 'em getting the deserved attention. A perfect Bit of a Legend N (Stratton, post 4), 4-for-4 in his series soirees, hooks reining Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit (Montrell Teague, post 7) for the first time. Not that a 25-large winner's share is chump change, but neither actually needs to win this race. "Legend" is already in the final (both series conclude Saturday night, Apr. 23), and WIJI cannot qualify due to his late (third leg) Levy debut. Bit of a Legend N enters of a pair of 1:51.2 wins in succession, while Wiggle It Jiggleit authored a 1:51.1 public workout in winning his event last weekend. The opening division is led by P H Supercam (Bartlett, post 1), Lettucerockthem A (Brian Sears, post 2) and All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley, post 3). Series "doublers" Mach it So (Tim Tetrick, post 2) and Lucan Hanover (Brett Miller, post 7) highlight the second event, which also includes one Foiled Again (Yannick Gingras, post 1). The sport's richest-ever horse ($7.3 million) had last week off after two fourths (one in a dead-heat) and a second in three series starts. Matchmaker and Levy standings accompany this release. Be advised that the standings do not necessarily indicate qualifiers for finals and/or consolations. Those shall be determined by the race office, as per conditions of the series. http://www.empirecitycasino.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/bluechipstandings.pdf http://www.empirecitycasino.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/levystandings.pdf by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

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 two $40,000 divisions on Friday (April 15) in the fifth round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker series for open pacing mares. The Saturday (April 16) card at Yonkers will see three $50,000 divisions in the fifth 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 Saturday night (April 9) brought with it the fourth round of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. Four $50,000 divisions brought the series further in focus, with the gazing especially glaring at both Wiggle It Jiggleit and Bit Of A Legend N. Starting with the latter, even-money Bit Of A Legend N (Jordan Stratton) extended his perfect preliminary resume, easily winning the third division from the pocket in 1:51.2. He won by a length, with a second-over Lettucerockthem A second and Limelight Beach third. Bit Of A Legend N, a 7-year-old Down Under son of Bettor's Delight owned by Harry von Knoblauch and trained by Peter Tritton, has won six of his eight North American starts. As for Wiggle It Jiggleit (Montrell Teague), he earned the respect Rodney Dangerfield never could. Last season's Horse of the Year, making his second series start, won the draw in the second division and his rivals dutifully demurred. The result was a qualifier-esque first half (:28, :56.3) and a :54.3 back portion (1:24.1, 1:51.1). The final margin was 2-3/4 lengths over P H Supercam, who outgamed a pocket-sitting All Bets Off. Wiggle It Jiggleit, a 4-year-old Mr Wiggles gelding, is now two-for-three this season and 25-for-30 in his $2 million-plus career. George Teague Jr. and Teague Racing Partnership co-own Wiggle It Jiggleit, trained by Clyde Francis. Driver Tim Tetrick bookended Saturday night's other Levy groupings, the first with Ideal Cowboy in 1:52.1 and the finale with Mach It So, also in 1:52.1. Yonkers Raceway's Blue Chip Matchmaker continued Friday night (April 8), with what has become commonplace: three $40,000 divisions. The fourth of five preliminary rounds began with a first-up Carolsideal (Dan Dube), saved by the wire to barely beat a very unlucky Mach It A Par. Venus Delight, as the 3-2 favorite, was third. Fourth choice Carolsideal, a 7-year-old Western Ideal miss co-owned (as Allard Racing) by trainer Rene Allard, Yves Sarrazin and Kapildeo Singh, is now one-for-three in her seasonal/series resume. Dube's strategy worked so well in the first series division, he employed it again in the second. This time, he and Yagonnakissmeornot sat off the early scrum and went from first-up to first home. She won by four lengths in a season's-best 1:52. Regil Elektra gapped the winner but grabbed second, with Sell A Bit N settling for third. Fifth choice Yagonnakissmeornot, a 7-year-old daughter of The Panderosa who shares same trainer and ownership consortium as Carolsideal, is now two-for-five this season (two-for-four in series). The evening's final series soiree saw Krispy Apple (Jason Bartlett) get her first win in 2016. Al Raza N put in a valiant, two-move effort, but gave way grudgingly as Lady Shadow owned a 1-3/4 length lead into the lane. However, Krispy Apple, as the third choice, ducked in and went by, the final margin a neck in 1:51.4. Cinamony offered decent ground-saving pace to wind up third, while Al Raza N faded to fifth in her first series defeat. Krispy Apple, an 8-year-old Western Ideal ma'am co-owned by Bamond Racing and Joseph Davino and trained by Jeffrey Bamond Jr., is now one-for-five this season (one-for-four in the series) after her 41st career victory. Complete recaps of the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2016, 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 Farm is the sponsor for the 2016 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the past weekend at Yonkers: Drivers: 1. Jordan Stratton - 114; 2. George Brennan - 89; 3. Jason Bartlett - 73; 4. Daniel Dube - 56; 5. Tim Tetrick - 54. Trainers: 1. Jeff Bamond Jr. - 98; 2. Peter Tritton - 82; 3. Ron Burke - 77; 4. Rene Allard - 51; 5. Andrew Harris - 37. Owners: 1. Harry von Knoblauch - 82: 2. Bamond Racing - 57.5; 3. Durazzano Stable - 30; 4t. Burke Racing Stable - 21.45; 4t. Weaver Bruscemi - 21.45. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will again take place next weekend at Yonkers Raceway, with the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy finals and consolations. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, April 9, 2016-Yonkers Raceway's Saturday night brought with it the fourth round of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. Four, $50,000 divisions brought the series further in focus, with the gazing especially glaring at both Wiggle It Jiggleit and Bit of a Legend N. Starting with the latter, even-money Bit of a Legend N (Jordan Stratton, $4) extended his perfect preliminary resume, easily winning the third division from the pocket in 1:51.2. Making the first lead (:27.4) from post position No. 5 (in one notch after a scratch), Bit of a Legend N yielded to Let's Drink on It (Tim Tetrick). That one then led the way (:55.2, 1:23.1), taking a length-and-a-half lead into the lane. Unfortunately, something went awry with Let's Drink on It, who faded to last, but not before he carried Bit of a Legend N to the Promised Land. He won by a length in 1:51.2, with a second-over Lettucerockthem A (Brian Sears) second and Limelight Beach (Yannick Gingras) third. Bit of a Legend N, a 7-year-old Down Under son of Bettor's Delight owned by Harry von Knoblauch and trained by Peter Tritton, has won six of his eight North American starts. The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $14.80, with the triple returned $54. "You can race him any way you want," Stratton said. "Even though he's won four races in this series, he really hasn't been used that hard." Asked what's impressed him about his steady date, Stratton offered that "he's done all this with me driving." As for Wiggle It Jiggleit (Montrell Teague, $2.10), he earned the respect Rodney Dangerfield never could. Last season's Horse of the Year, making his second series start, won the draw in the second division and his rivals dutifully demurred. The result was a qualifier-esque first half (:28, :56.3) and a :54.3 back portion (1:24.1, 1:51.1). The final margin was 2¾ lengths over P H Supercam (Jason Bartlett), who outgamed a pocket-sitting All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley). Wiggle It Jiggleit, a 4-year-old Mr. Wiggles gelding, is now 2-for-3 this season and 25-for-30 in his $2 million-plus career. George Teague Jr. and Teague Racing Partnership co-own WIJI, trained by Clyde Francis. The exacta paid $16.20, with the triple returning $27.60. "It as if he didn't have the break after last season," Montrell Teague Jr. said. "When I looked over and saw everyone else take of the gate, I knew it was his race. I just popped the plugs, never even had to ask him." Tetrick bookended Saturday night's other Levy groupings, the first with Ideal Cowboy ($11.20) in 1:52.1 and the finale with Mach it So ($3.40), also in 1:52.1. Ideal Cowboy, from second-over, snapped Take it Back Terry (George Brennan) by a neck-"Terry's" first series defeat-while Mach it So went the distance to edge Te Kawau N (Gingras) by a nose. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

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 8) in the fourth round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker series for open pacing mares. The Saturday (April 9) 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: Yonkers Raceway's Saturday night (April 2) brought with it the third round of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. Four $50,000 divisions featured something for everyone, as in a pair of series hat tricks, a Ron Burke double, the fastest local mile of the season and a locally-debuting Harness Horse of the Year. Let's start with apropos props for the series co-leaders, with Bit Of A Legend N (Jordan Stratton, $12.80) winning from an impossible locale and Take It Back Terry (George Brennan, $4.10) going down the road. Bit Of A Legend N found some room between rivals, then whipped Phil Your Boots by a half-length in 1:51.2.  The former, stuck behind the eight-ball, found himself last turning for home in the second division. Instead of fanning widest, Stratton found some room between rivals, then whipped Phil Your Boots by a half-length in 1:51.2. Fourth choice Bit Of A Legend N, a 7-year-old Down Under son of Bettor's Delight owned by Harry von Knoblauch and trained by Peter Tritton, has won five of his six North American starts. As for favored Take It Back Terry, he did his damage from post position No. 4 in the final division, holding off pocket-prowling Mach It So by a half-length in 1:51.4. Take It Back Terry, a 7-year-old Western Terror gelding co-owned as Burke Racing by trainer Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi, Larry Karr and Phil Collura, won his third race in four seasonal starts. Burke's first win of the Levy evening came when All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley, $17.60) bottomed out his foes in 1:51.3. From post No. 6, he gave himself enough separation to whip a storming home Wiggle It Jiggleit (Montrell Teague) by a length. Wiggle It Jiggleit, stuck seventh (from post No. 7) until the backside the second time, unleashed a torrid wide move but couldn't get to the winner in a very good local debut. Fourth choice All Bets Off, a 5-year-old son of Bettor's Delight co-owned as Burke Racing by trainer Burke, Weaver Bruscemi, Frank Baldachino and Panhellenic Stable, is now two-for-five this season. The evening's first division found Santa Fe Beachboy (Jason Bartlett, $15.20) go up and over pole-sitting, pace-setting Bettorever, then whip him by 3-1/2 lengths in 1:50.2, fastest eight furlongs of the local season. Fourth choice Santa Fe Beachboy, a 6-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere owned by Santa Fe Stable and trained by Richard Banca, is now two-for-seven this season. Yonkers Raceway's Blue Chip Matchmaker continued Friday night (April 1). Three compacted, $40,000 legions of lasses comprised a 'sloppy' third of five preliminary rounds and driver Jordan Stratton found his way to the winner's circle in each of the divisions. For The Ladies N ($40.40) won the first division in 1:53.1. The longest shot on the board -- from post position No. 5 -- won by a neck over Regil Elektra. For The Ladies N, a 7-year-old Down Under daughter of Jereme's Jet owned by Harry von Knoblauch and trained by Peter Tritton, is now one-for-five this season. Friday's second Matchmaker event had owner, trainer and driver double-up with Sell A Bit N ($7.10), who herself made it a series two-fer. Negating her outside six-hole, the second choice worked around Skippin By, then laid down the law in 1:53. Sell A Bit N won by 1-1/4 lengths, with Venus Delight second and Skippin By third. Sell A Bit N, a 6-year-old Down Under daughter of Julius Caesar, is now two-for-six this season. The evening's final series soiree saw Stratton and just-over-even-money Al Raza N ($4.10) complete an evening/series hat trick, respectively. Al Raza N moved widest in the lane and defeated the lass on her back, Mach It A Par, by a half-length in 1:53. For Al Raza N, a 6-year-old Down Under daughter of Gotta Go Cullect owned by Durazzano Stable and trained by Agostino Abbatiello, it was her fourth win in five starts. Complete recaps of the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2016, 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 Farm is the sponsor for the 2016 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the past weekend at Yonkers: Drivers: 1. Jordan Stratton - 102; 2. George Brennan - 79; 3. Jason Bartlett - 51; 4 Matt Kakaley - 36; 5t. Daniel Dube - 34; 5t. Tim Tetrick - 34. Trainers: 1. Peter Tritton - 70; 2. Ron Burke - 66; 3. Jeff Bamond Jr. - 61; 4. Andrew Harris - 37; 5. Agostino Abbatiello - 30. Owners: 1. Harry von Knoblauch - 70: 2. Bamond Racing - 35.5; 3. Durazzano Stable - 30; 4. West Wins Stable - 20; 5t. Burke Racing Stable - 18.20; 5t. Weaver Bruscemi - 18.20. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will continue with the final preliminary leg of the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy next weekend. The finals and consolations for both events will be held on April 23. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

Fooling no one, Yonkers Raceway's Blue Chip Matchmaker continued Friday night. Three compacted, $40,000 legions of harness racing lasses comprised a 'sloppy' third of five preliminary rounds...and if you're name isn't Jordan Stratton, there's really no reason to continue reading. The first event saw 1-2 favorite Krispy Apple (Jason Bartlett) caught wide early, paying a pretty (:26.4, :55.4) price for the lead. Regil Elektra (Tim Tetrick) then moved from fourth, disposing of the leader after the 1:24.3 three-quarters. Regil Elektra owned a three-quarter-length lead into the lane and hung in there gamely, but was mowed down late by a from-last For the Ladies N (Stratton, $40.40) in 1:53.1. The longest shot on the board-from post position No. 5-won by a neck, with Jungle Genie N (Matt Kakaley) third, while Krispy Apple faded to lead among the half-dozen. For the Ladies N, a 7-year-old Down Under daughter of Jereme's Jet owned by Harry von Knoblauch and trained by Peter Tritton, is now 1-for-5 this season. The exacta paid $140.50, with the triple returning $884. Friday's second Matchmaker event had owner, trainer and driver double-up with Sell a Bit N ($7.10), who herself made it a series two-fer. Negating her outside six-hole, the second choice worked around Skippin' By (Yannick Gingras), then laid down the law (:27.4, :56.4, 1:25.2, 1:53). Venus Delight (Bartlett), as the 3-5 choice, moved to challenge from third, but never came close. Sell a Bit N won by a length-and-a-quarter, with Venus Delight second and Skippin' By third. Sell a Bit N, a 6-year-old Down Under daughter of Julius Caesar, is now 2-for-6 this season. The exacta paid $12.20, with the triple returning $55. The evening's final series soiree saw Stratton and just-over-even-money Al Raza N ($4.10) complete an evening/series hat trick, respectively. Watching early from post No, 4, series points leader Al Raza N was content to have Yagonnakissmeornot (Dan Dube) retake from Request for Parole (Gingras), with early intervals of :27.4 and :57. Anndrovette moved from third down the backside, towing Al Raza N along for the ride in and out of a 1:25.1 three-quarters. Entering the lane, Yagonnakissmeornot was about to give up the ghost. Al Raza N moved widest and defeated the lass on her back, Mach it a Par (George Brennan), by a half-length in 1:53. Anndrovette held well for third. Al Raza N, a 6-year-old Down Under daughter of Gotta Go Cullect owned by Durazzano Stable and trained by Agostino Abbatiello, it was her fourth win in four five starts. The exacta paid $9, with the triple returned $41.60. “(For the Ladies N) was definitely helped by fast fractions and a short field, while the other two (Sell a Bit N and Al Raza N) always race well,” Stratton—now an honorary Kiwi—said. “I’ve been fortunate they haven’t drawn in against one another.” Yet. Friday night's Pick 5 wager, beginning with a carryover of $8,041.75, attracted $24,967 of new investments. After takeout, $26,767 was divvied up to those who had the correct sequence. The "phrase that pays" was 4/7/2/6/4, returning $545.25 for each winning half-a-buck wager. Saturday night's card brings the third round of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. Four, $50,000 divisions (races 6 through 9) comprise this go-round, with reining Harness Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit debuting in the third event. Frank Drucker

Through the first two rounds of the Levy/Matchmaker series at Yonkers Raceway we’ve seen horses that have never competed in this harbinger of spring before step up, and several of them are from Down Under. This is the second year under the “Burke Rule,” which restricts trainers to one horse per division. Prior to that, Ron Burke, and others, would routinely have an entry racing in each division. They could only race two in the final, but the numerous $50,000 splits in the five preliminary rounds of the Levy were fertile ground for a powerful stable: In 2014 Burke won nine of the first eleven divisions, with seven of those winners being odds-on favorites. Aside from the rule changes, another factor that has opened up the Levy to new blood is the passage of time. Foiled Again, the 12-year-old dean of the series, is competing in his eighth edition. He has won 20 legs and two lucrative finals, good for well over a million dollars. But last year he was pulled from the series after three unsuccessful starts and he is still looking for a win this year. Three-time Dan Patch winner, Anndrovette, is contesting her sixth edition of the Matchmaker, but while she has triumphed in seven legs since 2013, she has never won the final. Iron-tough Krispy Apple is back for the sixth time, but a couple of preliminary legs back in 2013 is all she has to show for it in the win column of late. Many of the horses that have dominated the two series over the past few years are either past their prime or retired. Back in 2014 the Christian Cullen mare, Royal Cee Cee N, was the only import in the Matchmaker. She failed to win any legs and finished fifth in the consolation. Five horses from Down Under competed in the Levy that year and none of them won any preliminary legs. The Bettor’s Delight gelding, Texican N, who has two seconds in the current edition, did make the final on points, where he finished sixth. Last year, in a smaller than usual group of nominees, the Jereme’s Jet mare For The Ladies N, who has fared poorly in the current series, was the only import in the distaff series. She didn’t win any legs, but she did take the $75,000 consolation. The Pacific Fella pacer Polak A won two legs of the Levy, each by a neck, in his first two starts in North America. He was sixth in the final. And the In The Pocket gelding, Heez Orl Black N, also won a leg. Last Friday five mares from Down Under competed in the Matchmaker, while seven imports started in the Levy. Eight newcomers to these series have won over the first two weeks and five of them are from the Southern Hemisphere. The mighty Bit Of A Legend N, who is racing for trainer Peter Tritton, came first up at the half and crushed the field in 1:53 as the 2/5 favorite in the third division. Driver Jordan Stratton, who has gone to the gate in 23,000 races, labeled him the best horse he has ever driven. Bit Of A Legend is now two for two in the series. Stratton also won for the second time with the Gotta Go Cullect mare, Al Raza N, in Friday’s second leg of the Matchmaker. And Sell A Bit N, also from the Tritton barn, won the first split for Stratton. The Julius Caesar mare dominated the filly and mare open division at Yonkers last year, winning ten of her 21 starts. Sell A Bit, who was 8/5 co-favorite with Venus Delight, won in 1:52.1, the fastest time thus far in the mares’series. The 8-year-old Western Terror gelding, Texas Terror N, racing for Jose Godinez and Blindswitch Racing, was a 49/1 upset winner in the first leg of the Levy. He finished third this week behind Melmerby Beach and Foiled Again. Polak A, a winner of almost $90,000 for Tony O’Sullivan and the Bellino family in 2015, finished a disappointing last in the first leg and was not entered this week. However, newcomer Te Kawau N (Bettor’s Delight) joined the fray and, making his first North American start, finished a well measured third behind double winner Lucan Hanover and Texican N. Dream Out Loud N (Bettor’s Delight) and Western Terror N (Western Terror) were both third in their respective divisions. Bit Of A Legend N is tied with Lucan Hanover and Take It Back Terry for the top spot in the Levy with 150 points. If the series ended today, Texas Terror N would also qualify for the final and Bettor Rock On N and Texican N would both be part of a four-way tie for the eighth spot in the final, which carried a $529,000 purse last year. Al Raza N tops the Matchmaker point list, while Sell A Bit N would also make the final, which went for $261,000 last year, if the series ended today. But there are three more preliminary legs left in both the Levy and Matchmaker, and 2015 Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit, who cruised to victory in Monday’s seasonal debut at Dover Downs, should be in the mix on Saturday. Joe FitzGerald has been an avid harness racing fan and historian for the last half-century. He writes a weekly blog for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/. Joe's commentary reflects his own views and not that of Harnesslink.

It's official...Jordan Stratton has replaced Jerry Lewis as the new American genius in France. Stratton led Yonkers Raceway's quintet of harness racing drivers Sunday afternoon to a win over their French counterparts in the opening round of the inaugural Drivers' Cup. Round One was contested in two races, each featuring 10 trotters at the mile-and-one-quarter distance and included in the seven events simulcast to a French-hubbed audience. Scoring was compiled using a 17/12/9/7/6/5/4/3/2/1/ points formula (five points in the event of a scratch, an occurrence which did not come into play here). Stratton picked up the gauntlet for the locals, earning a share of a win with 23-1 Lily's Swan Pond ($15.80 dead-heat win mutuel) in the $18,800 first event and easily winning the second event with Cousin Eddie ($7.40) The first event (2:31.2) was a Yonkers' sweep, with captain Jason Bartlett getting the other half of the win pie with 11-10 favorite Hasty Proffitt ($2.80 dead-heat win mutuel). Headsaregonna Turn (Tyler Buter) was an unlucky third. Stratton was not in a sharing mood in the second race (2:29.4) of the competition, isolated for much of the race with "Eddie" as the pair won by 7¼ lengths. Paris Princess N (Pierre Levesque) was a best-of-the-rest second, with Massive Talent (Dan Dube) third. The final team totals were 85 points for Yonkers (45 + 40), and 47 for France (26 + 21). "It was just an honor for me to be asked to participate," Stratton said. The first trotter (Lily's Swan Pond) hung a bit late, but at least was able to get there for the dead-heat. The second one (Cousin Eddie) is just very sharp right now. "The French drivers are all pros, but they don't have the small-track experience." "This is true," French captain Pierre Vercruysse said. "There are some half-mile tracks in Europe and we do watch (Yonkers) races when they are simulcast to France, so we learned from that. Vercruysse, who did have an extended stateside stay earlier in his career, was appreciative of this return visit. "Everyone in our party was very well-received." Pat Lachance was the fifth Beatle for Yonkers, while France's other participants were Matthieu Abrivard, Nicolas Ensch and Franck Ouvrie. The French returning the hosting favor in June, with Yonkers' contingent going to Paris (Vincennes) for a pair of races. Sunday afternoon's $50,000 Open Handicap Trot, also at the added distance, was won by a repeating Major Athens (Brian Sears, $9.80) in 2:26.3. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, January 30, 2016 - A pocketed Somebody AS (Jordan Stratton, $13.40) and a down-the-road Phil Your Boots (Tyler Buter, $5.40) earned the glory Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's harness racing co-featured $32,000 Open Handicaps. The weekly featured trot saw Somebody AS from assigned post position No.3 watched invading Major Athens (George Brennan) led the way. The slight 2-1 choice threw down the anvil (:28.1, :57.2, 1:26), taking a length-and-a-half lead into the lane. Red Hot Herbie (Brian Sears), who found an early three-hole, loomed at the leader in and out of the final turn, but flattened. Somebody AS though, was waiting for his shot. He ducked inside and bested a rallying Crazshana (Jason Bartlett) by a neck in 1:54.4, fastest local mile of the season. Red Hot Herbie settled for third, with Major Athens Zooming (Buter) completed the cashers. For third choice Somebody AS, a 7-year-old Striking Sahbra gelding trained by Anette Lorentzon for co-owners ACL Stuteri Ab and Kjell Johansson, it was his first win in two seasonal starts. The exacta paid $102.50, with the triple returning $703. The week's pacing feature had 17-10 choice "Phil" leave from post No. 5, steal away with a cheap (:28.0, 57.4) half. From there, the pursuers had no shot, with a :55.4 back portion (1:25.4; 1:53.3). The final margin was a length-and-three-quarters over a good effort from Melmerby Beach (Bartlett), with Texas Terror N (Matt Kakaley), Atta Boy Dan (Brennan) and Hugh Hefner N (Stratton) settling for the remainder. For Phil Your Boots, a 6-year-old Shanghai Phil gelding trained by Andrew Harris for owner Louis Frascella, he's now 2-for-3 this season. The exacta (two wagering favorites) paid $12.60, the triple returning $129.50 and the superfecta paid $949. The Raceway's live season continues Monday night, with a dozen races and a first post of 7:10 PM. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, December 4, 2015 - They can't stop Sell a Bit N (Jordan Stratton, $11.80). They can't even hope to contain her. The leading lady continued her distaff derby dominance Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $32,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace for a fifth consecutive victory. Ordered outside her seven rivals, Sell a Bit N paid a :27.4, opening-quarter price to get the lead, looping Gallie Bythe Beach (Matt Kakaley). After a soft :57.1 intermission, "Gallie" moved from third, with Al Raza N (Eric Carlson) slightly gapping that one. Sell a Bit N maintained her advantage in and out of a 1:2.52 three-quarters, taking a length lead into the lane before winning by a length-and-a-half in 1:53.1. Jonsie Jones (Tyler Buter) chased the winner home from a loose picket, with Gallie Bythe Beach, Request for Parole (George Brennan) and Al Raza N rounding out the payees. Secret's Out N (Brian Sears) was a non-factor sixth as the slight 2-1 favorite. For fourth choice Sell a Bit N, a 5-year-old Down Under daughter of Julius Caesar owned by Harry von Knoblauch and trained by Peter Tritton, it was her 10th win in 21 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $158, with the triple returning $903. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, November 27, 2015 - Slight harness racing favorite Sell a Bit N (Jordan Stratton, $6.30) continued her distaff derby dominance Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $40,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace for a fourth consecutive victory. Ordered outside her seven rivals, Sell a Bit N paid a :27.4, opening-quarter price to get around Skippin' By (Brian Sears). That one wanted no part of an early seat behind Stormunn (Brent Holland). From there, no issues for the people's preference, as she completed her rounds (:57.1, 1:25.2, 1:53.2) for a comfy win. After a mild, first-up bid from Carolsideal (Dan Dube), Sell a Bit easily closed the sale. The final margin was a length-and-a-quarter over Request for Parole (George Brennan), with Skippin' By, Al Raza N (Eric Carlson) and Jonsie Jones (Tyler Buter) completing the cashers. For Sell a Bit N, a 5-year-old Down Under daughter of Julius Caesar owned by Harry von Knoblauch and trained by Peter Tritton, it was her ninth win in 20 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $26.80, with the triple returning $82 Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, November 20, 2015 - Sell a Bit N with harness racing driver Jordan Stratton   in the bike continued her roll Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $40,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. The race took on a different dynamic after Krispy Apple came up ill. That left Sell a Bit N-now from post position No. 7-with an easier path to pursue. She worked around Request for Parole (George Brennan) then completed the course (:27.1, :56.3, 1:25, 1:53.1), disposing of a first-up Jonsie Jones (Tyler Buter) along the way. Sell a Bit N held sway Request for Parole by a three-quarters of a length, with slight 2-1 choice Al Raza N ( Eric Carlson) showing up late and losing the place photo. Narcian Jewel (Matt Kakaley) and UF Dragon's Queen (Mark MacDonald) rounded out the payees. For second choice Sell a Bit N, a 5-year-old Down Under daughter of Julius Caesar owned by Harry von Knoblauch and trained by Peter Tritton, it was her eighth win (third consecutive) in 19 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $23.40, the triple returned $93 and the superfecta paid $644. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, November 13, 2015-Sell a Bit N (Jordan Stratton, $11.60) went the distance and repeated Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $40,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. Rarin' to go from post position No. 7, Sell a Bit N worked around Medusa (George Brennan) and was then left without much in the way of adult supervision. So, she toyed with her rivals (:28, :57.1, 1:25.3, 1:53.2), easily whipping a second-over Al Raza N (Eric Carlson) by three-quarters of a length. Medusa, a first-up Dune in Red (Brian Sears) and Stormunn (Brent Holland) rounded out the payees. As for 3-2 favorite Krispy Apple (Matt Kakaley), she wound up seventh, done in by a non-leave from an eight-hole in a paceless race. Stratton won five of the evening’s dozen races.. For third choice Sell a Bit N, a 5-year-old Down Under daughter of Julius Caesar owned by Harry von Knoblauch and trained by Peter Tritton, it was her seventh win in 18 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $37.20, the triple returned $221.50 and the superfecta paid $2,270. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

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