Day At The Track
Search Results
1 to 16 of 18

This Is The Plan was able to overcome starting from the outside post eight with a blitz off the harness racing starting gate and then never let anybody get close to him after that in winning Monday night's (April 19) $514,000 MGM Borgata Pacing Series final at Yonkers Raceway in 1:50.4. This Is The Plan, driven by Yannick Gingras and one of three in the final sent out by trainer Ron Burke, was dispatched at odds of 11-1. Rockapelo (George Brennan), Hesa Kingslayer N (Jim Marohn Jr.), Mach N Cheese (Joe Bongiorno), Western Joe (Dexter Dunn), Backstreet Shadow (Tim Tetrick), and This Is The Plan all showed speed at the start of the race, but it was This Is The Plan who was able to go from six-wide early on the bend to leading over stablemate Rockapelo by the time they entered the backstretch for the first time. Everybody else then got down to the cones except for Backstreet Shadow, who was left on the outside as the first quarter rang up in 26.4. On the second turn, 6-5 favorite Western Joe, who had landed in fourth, flushed Hesa Kingslayer N out of third, and they made some progress towards This Is The Plan at the 55.1 half, but then the pace dramatically quickened past that marker as Gingras stepped on the accelerator and This Is The Plan responded by opening up a gap on the rest of the field in a third quarter that went on the board in 27 seconds flat. After building up that advantage on his pursuers, This Is The Plan was not about to relinquish it, as he paced home in 28.3 to seal the deal by a length and a half over Rockapelo, who went off at 13-1. Mach N Cheese saved ground on the inside and finished third at 32-1, and 26-1 offering Lyons Steel (Corey Callahan) also stayed on the pylons and wound up fourth. Leonidas A, the 5-2 second choice, got away last from post seven, could never get involved, and had to settle for fifth. THIS IS THE PLAN REPLAY   "That was the plan for sure, at least plan A. I wasn't going to sit eighth. Maybe I was going to be parked the whole mile, but I was going to leave as hard as I could. The horse has great gate speed, and I thought I had the best horse, so I had to get him into the race somehow," said Gingras. "I was four-wide for a ways there, and I was just telling Ronnie (Burke), 'the plan became catch me if you can at the half.' I knew the backfield would be coming, but I figured I'd just take off and make them try to catch me." A 6-year-old gelding by Somebeachsomewhere, This Is The Plan is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC., Weaver Bruscemi LLC., J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby, and Larry Karr. This Is The Plan is now a 16-time winner in his career, and the winner's share of the purse made him harness racing's newest double millionaire, as his lifetime earnings now stand at $2,073,700. This Is The Plan paid $24.40 to win and was atop a $240.50 exacta and a $2,020 trifecta. This Is The Plan's victory also triggered a $3,493 and change carryover in the Tuesday night's (April 20) Pick 6 sequence. "When they came out with the nominations for the series, I thought 'this is the best horse.' He's got $2 million made. He's a true free-for-aller," said Burke. "Even before the race, I was like, 'I think he can make the top from the eight-hole,' and [co-owner] Mark (Weaver) was like, 'Do you think he can clear from there?' and I was like, 'I think he can clear from there.' The only thing that almost stopped him was Backstreet (Shadow) having a leg underneath him when he hit the turn. When you come away with first and second out of that, it's a lot of money." Western Fame (Dan Dube), who won the MGM Borgata Pacing Series final the last time it was held in 2019, was victorious in tonight's $100,000 consolation event. He pulled out of the pocket going to the 1:22.4 three-quarters, wore down leader San Domino A (Todd McCarthy) and prevailed by two lengths in 1:51.2. Mac's Jackpot (Tim Tetrick) was the runner-up from second-over, and Raukapuka Ruler N (Jordan Stratton) got up for third. WESTERN FAME REPLAY   Purchased in an online auction earlier this month, Western Fame, an 8-year-old Western Ideal stallion, scored in his second start for trainer Daniel Renaud and owner Dune Road Stables LLC. Western Fame is now a 30-time winner in his career, and he has banked $1,882,775. Western Fame returned $4.80 to win as the favorite and keyed a $33.60 exacta and a $260.00 trifecta. Monday night's card at Yonkers Raceway drew plenty of attention on the wagering front from start to finish, as the handle on the 10-race program went into seven-figure territory, ending at $1,121,424. Stakes action resumes at Yonkers Raceway on Wednesday night (April 21) with the $69,000 John Brennan Trotting Series final and $30,000 consolation. Get Legs is the favorite on the morning line in the final, as he looks to add to his two victories in the preliminary rounds. For full race results, click here. From Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, N.Y. – Although he’s raced at the stakes level for much of his harness racing career, Western Joe has never before tackled the MGM Borgata Pacing Series, or the George Morton Levy Pacing Series as it was formerly known. In fact, of the 7-year-old’s 101 starts heading into the Borgata Series first leg, only seven of them had come at Yonkers Raceway, the latest being an open handicap pace in Nov. 2019. The decision to nominate and race in the grueling six-week Borgata Series was a change of tactics by Western Joe’s connections in an effort to bring out the gelding’s best. Now he's going for $514,000 Monday night. Yonker's card Monday features more than $1 million in purses. Western Joe’s biggest season to date came in 2018 when he won the $260,100 Sam McKee Memorial Pace on Hambletonian Day and the $100,000 Great Northeast Open Series Final at Pocono Downs in Sept. 2018. Western Joe raced through the winter leading up to that campaign, but had time off before his 2019 and 2020 seasons, which did not see Western Joe replicate his 2018 successes. Although he banked just under $100,000 in each of the last two years, Western Joe hadn’t found the Grand Circuit winner’s circle again. “We’ve done some stakes the last few years and honestly, it seemed like he was maybe a step behind,” said breeder and co-owner Anthony Ruggeri. “Toward the end of 2020, he had been racing well at the Meadowlands, he was pretty sharp. We decided to try the Borgata.  “We’ve been doing all the regular stakes races at the Meadowlands and all these big tracks and we figured we would try something different. Especially since in 2018, we raced him through the winter that year and we decided that’s what we were going to do this year. He loves to race every week; he actually doesn’t like time off. He gets a little moody when he gets time off, he gets a little pouty. It’s tough and there are five legs, but we thought maybe he would like it.” Western Joe was thrown to the wolves in the Borgata Series first leg, drawing into the first division with preseason favorite Let It Ride and 2020 MGM Borgata Invitational Pace champion This Is The Plan. Dismissed at odds of 12-1, Western Joe followed along in third from post two and despite pacing home in :27.4, lost a position in the stretch to finish fourth.  “Right out of the gate, it was a tough draw,” Ruggeri said. “We did get a nice post, which is not regular for us. I knew it would be tough, but I thought we had a shot. He raced pretty well that first leg. I think it took a little bit of time to get used to the half-mile. He ran in a little bit that first week. He’s been pretty straight since then and as the legs went on, I think he got more comfortable.” Western Joe improved in the second leg, leaving from post six to set the pace through fractions of :26.2, :55.3, and 1:23.2. Western Joe kicked home in :27.3, pacing the mile in 1:51.1, but was caught in the stretch by pocket-riding Rockapelo for a nose loss. In the third leg, Western Joe had a breakthrough win over Backstreet Shadow, circling three-wide into the stretch to cruise 2 lengths clear as driver Dexter Dunn put away the whip and leaned back in the final sixteenth. For Ruggeri though, Western Joe’s most impressive Borgata Series performance came in the fourth leg. Forced to deal with post seven, Dunn tried to leave with Western Joe, but took back into sixth as None Bettor blitzed an opening quarter of :26.3 and a half of :55.1 on a clear lead. With the field single file and strung out behind None Bettor, Western Joe needed to make up 13 lengths in the final lap.  Entering the final turn, None Bettor weakened as the fractions took their toll. Sheriff pulled the pocket. Rockapelo vacated the pylons in third. Pat Stanley and Mac’s Jackpot got in gear from the backfield. Only Idea Jimmy and Western Joe stuck to the inside, but turning into the stretch, Brent Holland guided Ideal Jimmy off the pegs in search of a clear run at None Bettor. The move proved costly for Ideal Jimmy as the inside opened up and Dunn saw a path through with Western Joe. He shifted in, went to a strong right-handed whip, and Western Joe accelerated through the narrow opening for a neck victory. “I know that everyone thinks that was all a matter of luck, but you have to be able to take advantage of that,” Ruggeri said. “The rail opened up for him, but I thought that was a great race. He loves to come the inside route, so when I saw the inside open up, I knew he was going to take off. We just took advantage of that little opening and came on and won.  “He’s been closing well. You can never give up on ‘Joe,’ ” Ruggeri continued. “Sometimes it can look like he’s gapping or he’s being a little lazy, he’ll always come back and he always gives you that great last quarter. If the driver knows him, then he’s going to be OK. I think Dexter knows him really well now.” Western Joe finished second a half-length behind Backstreet Shadow in the final preliminary leg April 12 to boost his record to 33-for-106 with $791,858 earned and 283 points toward the Borgata Series Final, putting him second in the standings behind Leonidas and earning a spot behind the gate in the $514,000 Series Final Monday night (April 19). “It’s been fun. I think he’s done pretty well. We had a couple of nice wins and a couple of good seconds. He was close enough to win four legs, he’s been sharp as of late, Ruggeri said. “I was never 100 percent sure about racing on a half-mile with him. It’s been a nice surprise.” No matter the performance in the preliminaries, the open post position draw in the final can be the undoing of many horses. This Is The Plan won his division of the Borgata fourth leg and finished second in the other four legs for Ron Burke and Yannick Gingras, but drew post eight in the final, the same unlucky position he drew ahead of his victory is last fall’s Borgata Invitational.  Leonidas won all four preliminary legs he entered for Sheena McElhiney and Austin Siegelman, but will need to overcome post seven in the final. Backstreet Shadow had two wins and two seconds in the preliminaries and drew post six for Ron Burke and Tim Tetrick. Western Joe drew just to the inside of those rivals in post five. The field also includes Rockapelo, the third member of the ‘Burke Brigade’ and winner of two preliminary legs who will be driven by George Brennan from post one. Hesa Kingslayer captured three Borgata legs and was third in another for Mike Deters and Jim Marohn, Jr. and drew post two. Mach N Cheese and Lyons Steel complete the lineup. “The post position is what I was originally worried about,” Ruggeri said. “No matter where he goes, he seems to be on the outside. But the five is a decent spot here because the big stakes horses are on the outside of us, which is a bonus. It’s better than the six, seven, or eight, so we’ll take it. “We’re excited and we feel we have a good shot,” Ruggeri continued. “He’s sharp and we got a great driver. Everything seems to be falling into place here. I’m hoping he wins, but I’d be happy with second or third. He’s a great horse and he’s always been a notch underneath where I think he could be. Hopefully this series will boost him up a little bit.” For Ruggeri, a win in the MGM Borgata Series Final would mean more than the check that comes along with it. Western Joe is the only homebred in the field. Ruggeri claimed Western Joe’s dam, Ante Fay, for $20,000 at the Meadowlands in June 2004 and kept her as a broodmare. He bred her to Western Ideal in 2014 and she produced Western Joe, who Ruggeri partners in ownership with Richard Tosies and sent to Chris Choate to train. Western Joe is currently the only horse in Ruggeri’s stable. “I really liked (Ante Fay), she was a tough mare, so I kept her and bred her. I’ve had ‘Joe’ since he was a baby. It feels like it’s your own kid. He’s been by far the best horse I’ve ever had,” Ruggeri said. “Hopefully he’ll continue to race and do great things. It’s a very personal experience for me, it’s not just a business. I don’t have many horses, the most I have is two or three at a time. He’s a labor of love. “I could have never got ‘Joe’ through any other way,” Ruggeri continued. “It’s much more risky to breed than to claim one that’s been racing, but it’s high risk, high reward. You’ll never get a champion through the claiming game.” Ruggeri visited Western Joe in Choate’s stable Saturday morning and was pleased with what he saw. “He looks dynamite. He has a great attitude. He’s frisky, he’s sharp, he really looks good,” Ruggeri said. “I’m cautiously optimistic. You’re still racing against Yannick and Tetrick and you have George Brennan on the rail. You can’t be too confident. This is not going to be an easy race. It’s going to be a lot of luck and position and you just hope you get a good trip. Leonidas won four legs and he has the seven hole. Everyone can’t leave, so we’ll see what happens. “The money is great, but it would mean a lot emotionally,” Ruggeri continued. “He’s been such a great horse for a long time. We won one or two big races along the way, but if you don’t consistently win them, you’re not considered a champion so to speak. I think ‘Joe’ needs that, he needs another big race or two on his resume to really cement him as a great horse. I’d like to see him get that.” Monday night’s 10-race card also features the $232,800 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series Final, the $100,000 MGM Borgata Pacing Series Consolation, the $60,000 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series Consolation, a $40,000 race for MGM Borgata Series eligibles, and a $35,000 open handicap pace. First post time is 7:15 p.m. Free past performances for the races are available here. By Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

Harness racing pacers Leonidas A and Alexa Skye finished the preliminary rounds of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series and the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series at Yonkers Raceway with equal four-for-four records, but for their respective finals on Monday night (April 19) both of them face outside draws, with Leonidas A starting from post seven and Alexa Skye beginning from post position six. Driver Austin Siegelman raced Leonidas A from second-over in the first leg of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series, and that trip resulted in a victory, and then in his subsequent three starts in the event, which also saw Leonidas A emerge triumphant, Siegelman was more aggressive with his charge, planting him on the point before or just after the opening quarter. While Siegelman acknowledged that stalking horses is the 6-year-old Mach Three gelding's preferred journey, he had no issue with more aggressive handling either. "He got stuck on the front three out of four of those races. I don't think that's particularly his strong suit, but he didn't have a problem winning those races," Siegelman said. "We just kind of drew inside, and there was no reason not to put him on the front in any of those races. He was just better than those horses that he was racing against. There's no reason to take a risk and go to race him off-the-pace when he can easily just go on the front." While it might look like on the program that Leonidas A and Siegelman will be switching it back up to race off the speed in Monday's $514,000 final now that they're stuck outside on the gate, Siegelman explained that that's not necessarily going to be the case, due to the presence of known early speedster This Is The Plan to his right at post eight. "I think he's a better horse off-the-pace, but I wouldn't 100 percent say he's going to race from behind because I'm sitting eighth then, and that's not really ideal," offered Siegelman. "Even from off-the-pace, as long as he doesn't hit too many roadblocks, I think he can still be close at the wire." Racing over five weeks like horses do in the MGM Borgata Pacing Series certainly separates the true contenders from those that are a notch or two below, so everybody in the field merits respect, but Siegelman noted that he does have his eye on a few particular horses when the big purse is on the line. "There are a few horses in that race that worry me a little bit. We raced Backstreet Shadow the first leg, and he didn't really have a problem beating that horse, although he's very sharp right now," remarked Siegelman. "Obviously, This Is The Plan - he's probably the class of that field. I think Lyons Steel is a bit of a sleeper in there. He was good both starts I drove him there. He was easily good enough to win the second time I drove him. He just got unlucky and didn't get any room. Hesa Kingslayer N (post two) drew a very fortunate spot in that race. Those would be my two or three that I'm worried about in there." Siegelman and Leonidas A, who is trained by Sheena Mcelhiney for owner Jesmeral Stable, had a taste of success late last year when they teamed up to win the Potomac Pace at Rosecroft Raceway, and while the MGM Borgata Series will be race with the biggest purse Siegelman has competed in to date, the 29-year-old driver is heading in with a positive mindset. "I'm confident going in. It is what it is, whether we race for $20,000 or $500,000. It's a horse race, and (the purse) doesn't change anything," he said. Alexa Skye, co-owned by trainer Jeff Cullipher in partnership with Pollack Racing LLC., came into the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series with high expectations, and she certainly delivered, winning her four appearances by 4 1/2, 1 1/2, 1 3/4, and 2 3/4 lengths. Todd McCarthy has driven her in all but two starts since October 16, 2020, and he said she handled the grind of the series like a pro. "She felt pretty good through all the prelims. I was really happy with her each time. I think that Jeff and the team have done a terrific job managing her through the prelims," said McCarthy. "It can be tricky when they race week-in and week-out going to the final over so many weeks close together. She had that week off there prior to the last leg, and she felt terrific the last time around, so I'm sure she'll be spot on for the final on Monday." While her performances through the series would have been impressive no matter the circumstances, it certainly catches the eye that Alexa Skye is the only 4-year-old in Monday's $232,800 championship, bucking the popular notion that aged mares have the upper hand in this event. "It was always going to be a little bit of an ask for her, but each time she's faced a challenge, she's sort of taken the step," remarked McCarthy. "Early on, even when I was driving her, I kind of didn't know where she was at, but each time she had to take a step, she took the step. She's doing what the good horses do, and I'm certainly pleased to have her in the final." Starting from post six with all the other fancied contenders starting to her inside certainly isn't the most ideal situation for Alexa Skye, but she has experience racing from outside posts at Yonkers before, so McCarthy is expecting her current sharp form to remain status quo. "Obviously any time it's half-mile racing, the closer you draw the better it is. I would have liked to have been a little closer in, but in a lot of the prelims she drew out there too," McCarthy stated. "She can leave pretty good when I ask her, and she's always been the sort of horse that likes being a part of the action and racing up on the speed. Hopefully it doesn't faze her too much, but I think she'll be okay from there." The $232,800 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final goes as race seven on the 10-race program on Monday at Yonkers Raceway, and the $514,000 MGM Borgata Pacing Series final follows it in race eight. There are also consolations for both events, with the MGM Borgata Pacing Series consolation carrying a purse of $100,000 and the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series consolation going for $60,000. Post time is at 7:15 p.m. The full fields for both finals, with drivers, trainers, and morning line odds, are listed below. $514,000 MGM Borgata Pacing Series final 1-Rockapelo (George Brennan/Ron Burke, 9-2) 2-Hesa Kingslayer N (Jim Marohn Jr./Mike Deters, 6-1) 3-Mach N Cheese (Joe Bongiorno/Edwin Quevedo, 8-1) 4-Lyons Steel (Corey Callahan/Dennis Watson, 20-1) 5-Western Joe (Dexter Dunn/Chris Choate, 3-1) 6-Backstreet Shadow (Tim Tetrick/Ron Burke, 4-1) 7-Leonidas A (Austin Siegelman/Sheena Mcelhiney, 6-1) 8-This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras/Ron Burke, 5-1) $232,800 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final 1-Machnhope (Andrew McCarthy/Noel Daley, 4-1) 2-Siesta Beach (Matt Kakaley/Nick Devita, 5-1) 3-Blue Ivy (Tyler Buter/Todd Buter, 2-1) 4-Monica Gallagher (Jason Bartlett/Chris Height, 20-1) 5-Snobbytown (George Brennan/Ron Burke, 7-1) 6-Alexa Skye (Todd McCarthy/Jeff Cullipher, 5-2) 7-Caviart Cherie (Austin Siegelman/Nick Devita, 20-1) 8-My Reube Star N (Jordan Stratton/Shane Tritton, 20-1)   From Yonkers Raceway

Harness Racing This Week: Blue Chip Matchmaker and MGM Borgata Pacing series finals and consolations, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit at Yonkers on Monday (April 19) features the $514,000 final of the MGM Borgata Pacing series for open pacers and the $232,800 final of the Blue Chip Matchmaker series for open pacing mares. The card will also have the $100,000 MGM Borgata Pacing series consolation and the $60,000 Blue Chip Matchmaker consolation. Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link. Last Time: Preliminary round action in the MGM Borgata Pacing Series concluded on Monday night (April 12) at Yonkers Raceway with a trio of $40,000 divisions that were won by Backstreet Shadow, Mach N Cheese, and Leonidas A. Backstreet Shadow was able to get to the wire a half-length to the good in a 1:52.1 mile. Chris Brokate photo. Backstreet Shadow (Yannick Gingras) took full advantage of the pole position in the first split, going to the lead and putting up fractions of :27.3, :56.1, and 1:24.1 over a surface that was rated "good" and a second off. Western Joe (Dexter Dunn) took up the chase by going first-over out of third in the backstretch, but he couldn't make any headway on the outside, allowing Backstreet Shadow to turn into the lane with a clear advantage. Once they hit the stretch, Western Joe suddenly hit top gear and began to gain on Backstreet Shadow, but Backstreet Shadow was able to get to the wire a half-length to the good in a 1:52.1 mile. Tyga Hanover (Jason Bartlett) came in third. A 6-year-old gelding by Shadow Play, Backstreet Shadow is trained by Ron Burke for owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Larry Karr and J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby. Backstreet Shadow, who won twice in the MGM Borgata Pacing Series, now has a record of 26-12-6 from 64 starts and he has earned $910,162. The 3-5 favorite, Backstreet Shadow paid $3.40 to win. Alexa Skye and driver Todd McCarthy served notice in the fifth and final preliminary round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series at Yonkers Raceway with an imposing 1:52.3 victory in their $35,000 division on Friday night (April 9). The fleet-footed 4-year-old by Somebeachsomewhere had to work just a bit to gain control at the quarter, but from that point, her four rivals chased her in vain. Alexa Skye left the gate along with Monica Gallagher (Jason Bartlett) from the inside, with Siesta Beach (Matt Kakaley) between those two into the opening bend. Siesta Beach settled along the pylons, but McCarthy pushed Alexa Skye to the top and cleared passing a :27.4 opening fraction. Alexa Skye maintained the lead after that, setting fractions of :56.3 and 1:24.4, with Siesta Beach moving to the outside into the final turn as Monica Gallagher lost contact with the pacesetter. McCarthy let his mare do the talking, and Alexa Skye spoke volumes, cruising home effortlessly with a :27.4 kicker to win by open lengths. Siesta Beach held down the place spot, with Soho Burning Love A (Austin Siegelman) showing decent late foot for third. Sent off as the 1-5 favorite in the field, Alexa Skye paid $2.40 to win. Alexa Skye won all four of the Blue Chip Matchmaker preliminary legs she participated in for Pollack Racing LLC and Jeff Cullipher. Now a winner in seven of nine starts on the season, Alexa Skye moves into the $232,800 final on April 19 as the clear horse to beat. Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2021, 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 2021 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders (through the races on 4-12-21): Drivers: 1. Todd McCarthy - 60; 2. Austin Siegelman - 56; 3t. Andrew McCarthy - 49; 3t. George Brennan - 49; 5. Tyler Buter - 44. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 109; 2t. Jeff Cullipher - 40; 2t. Todd Buter - 40; 2t. Sheena McElhiney - 40; 5. Nicholas DeVita - 38. Owners: 1t. Jesmeral Stable - 40; 1t. Renee Bercury - 40; 3. Eric Prevost - 38; 4t. Burke Racing Stable - 31.1; 4t. Weaver Bruscemi - 31.1. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will take place on April 24 at Freehold Raceway with the Dexter Cup eliminations for 3-year-old open trotters. by Paul Ramlow, for The Grand Circuit

On Tuesday afternoon (April 13), the harness racing draws were held for the $514,000 MGM Borgata Pacing Series final and $232,800 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final, both of which will take place on Monday, April 19 at Yonkers Raceway. In addition to the finals, there will also be consolation races in both events. Leonidas A finished with the most points in the MGM Borgata Pacing Series, but the draw for the final was not kind to him, as he will start from post seven in the eight-horse field. Austin Siegelman will be in the bike behind the Sheena Mcelhiney-trained and Jesmeral Stable-owned 6-year-old Mach Three gelding. Trainer Ron Burke has a powerful trio in the MGM Borgata final, as he will send out Rockapelo, Backstreet Shadow, and This Is The Plan. Rockapelo drew the coveted pole position for driver George Brennan, while his stablemates Backstreet Shadow (Tim Tetrick) and This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras) weren't as fortunate in the draw, as Backstreet Shadow has post six and This Is The Plan the eight. Western Joe, driven by Dexter Dunn for trainer Chris Choate, and Hesa Kingslayer N, piloted by Jim Marohn Jr. for trainer Mike Deters, both scored multiple victories in the prelims, and they will start from posts five and two, respectively. Rounding out the group are Mach N Cheese (post three, Joe Bongiorno/Edwin Quevedo) and Lyons Steel (post four, Corey Callahan/Dennis Watson). Mach N Cheese secured a spot in the final by winning in the final round of the event, while Lyons Steel picked up his lone victory back in the opening leg. In the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final, Alexa Skye, who went four-for-four in the preliminary rounds she entered, got post six for driver Todd McCarthy, trainer/co-owner Jeff Cullipher, and co-owner Pollack Racing LLC. Her main rival, Blue Ivy, who raced in all five legs, scoring three victories and two second-place finishes, will leave from post three for driver Tyler Buter, trainer Todd Buter, and owner Renee Bercury. Trainer Nick Devita has a pair of finalists in the Blue Chip Matchmaker final in Siesta Beach (post two, Matt Kakaley) and Caviart Cherie (post seven, Austin Siegelman). Siesta Beach picked up one victory in the preliminaries, while Caviart Cherie checked in second three times. Ron Burke will also be represented in the Blue Chip Matchmaker final as he has Snobbytown in the race. Snobbytown, who had one win, one second, and one third-place result in four starts, will depart from post five with George Brennan at the lines. Machnhope, who will be driven by Andrew McCarthy for trainer Noel Daley, started the Blue Chip Matchmaker two-for-two before finishing second and third in her last two appearances. She had the best luck in the draw for the final, as she will start from post one. Completing the entrants in the Blue Chip Matchmaker final are Monica Gallagher (post four, Jason Bartlett/Chris Height) and My Ruebe Star N (post eight, Jordan Stratton/Shane Tritton). Neither mare was able to get a win during the preliminary rounds, but they did score points in each leg they entered. Monday's card gets underway at 7:15 p.m., with the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final going as race seven and the MGM Borgata Pacing Series final following it in race eight. The $60,000 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series consolation is the fifth dash on the ten-race card, and the $100,000 MGM Borgata Series consolation comes up after that in race six. From Yonkers Raceway

Preliminary round action in the MGM Borgata Pacing Series concluded on Monday night (April 12) at Yonkers Raceway with a trio of $40,000 divisions that were won by Backstreet Shadow, Mach N Cheese, and Leonidas A. It was also another well-received program on the wagering front, as the handle on the ten-race card checked in at $951,089. Backstreet Shadow (Yannick Gingras) took full advantage of the pole position in the first split, going to the lead and putting up fractions of 27.3, 56.1, and 1:24.1 over a surface that was rated "good" and a second off. Western Joe (Dexter Dunn) took up the chase by going first-over out of third in the backstretch, but he couldn't make any headway on the outside, allowing Backstreet Shadow to turn into the lane with a clear advantage. Once they hit the stretch, Western Joe suddenly hit top gear and began to gain on Backstreet Shadow, but Backstreet Shadow was able to get to the wire half a length to the good in a 1:52.1 mile. Tyga Hanover (Jason Bartlett) came in third. BACKSTREET SHADOW REPLAY   A 6-year-old gelding by Shadow Play, Backstreet Shadow is trained by Ron Burke for owners Burke Racing Stable LLC., Weaver Bruscemi LLC., Larry Karr, and J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby. Backstreet Shadow, who won twice in the MGM Borgata Pacing Series, now has a record of 26-12-6 from 64 starts, and he has earned $910,162. The 3-5 favorite, Backstreet Shadow paid $3.40 to win and was atop an $8.90 exacta and a $107.50 trifecta. In the second grouping Semi Tough (George Brennan) cut out panels of 27.3, 57, and 1:25.1, but Mach N Cheese (Joe Bongiorno), who had come first-over from fourth before the half, made steady progress on the rim into second on the far turn. In the lane Mach N Cheese forged his way by Semi Tough, then held off a three-wide bid from pocket-sitter Western Fame (Dan Dube) to score by three-quarters of a length in 1:54 flat. Semi Tough held third over Mac's Jackpot (Dunn). MACH N CHEESE REPLAY   Mach N Cheese, who picked up his first triumph in the series, is trained by Edwin Quevedo for owner Save The Day Stable. A 6-year-old gelded son of Betterthancheddar, Mach N Cheese is now a 16-time winner in his career, and he has put away $283,512. Sent off at 9-2, Mach N Cheese returned $11.20 to win and keyed a $56.50 exacta and a $138.00 trifecta. Leonidas A (Austin Siegelman) left from post one and lined up the field in post position order right out of the gate in the last section, then led through an easy tempo of 28.4, 57.4, and 1:25.2. Leonidas A's two main rivals in the field, Hesa Kingslayer N (Jim Marohn Jr.) and This Is The Plan (Gingras) were in fifth and sixth, respectively, until beginning to advance first-over and second-over in the third turn. Though they made gains after pulling, Leonidas A had the jump on them and stayed in front, prevailing by a length and a quarter in 1:53.3. This Is The Plan kicked home widest in the stretch to get up for second over Hesa Kingslayer N. LEONIDAS A REPLAY   Finishing four-for-four in the preliminary rounds of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series, Leonidas A is a 6-year-old Mach Three gelding trained by Sheena Mcelhiney for owner Jesmeral Stable. Leonidas A now has 29 career wins, and he has banked $311,848. He was the 3-5 favorite and paid $3.20 to win. The exacta kicked back $6.10, and the trifecta was worth $11.80. Unofficially, the eight horses that advanced to the $514,000 MGM Borgata Pacing Series final were: Leonidas A (300 points), Western Joe (283), This Is The Plan (275), Hesa Kingslayer N (262), Backstreet Shadow (250), Rockapelo (230), Mach N Cheese (220), and Lyons Steel (192). Both the MGM Borgata Pacing Series final and the $232,800 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final will take place next Monday (April 19), and the draws for those two races will occur on Tuesday afternoon (April 13). Stakes action continues this week at Yonkers Raceway on Wednesday (April 14), as three $20,000 splits of the final leg of the John Brennan Trotting Series will go behind the gate in races six, seven, and eight. For full race results, click here. From Yonkers Raceway

With two horses already guaranteed spots in the harness racing final of the MGM Borgata Series for older male pacers, trainer Ron Burke will look to add a third on Monday (April 12) when Yonkers Raceway hosts the last preliminary round of the six-week event. Based on points accumulated in the series, the Burke Brigade's Rockapelo and This Is The Plan are among five horses to have already secured places in the eight-horse final on April 19. The others are Western Joe, Hesa Kingslayer N, and Leonidas A. Burke's Backstreet Shadow is in the best position to join that group, pending the outcomes in Monday's last preliminary divisions of the series. Backstreet Shadow, sixth in points, is the 8-5 morning-line favorite in the first of the last three Borgata splits, starting from post one. The six-horse field also includes four of the five horses directly behind Backstreet Shadow in the standings: San Domino A and Lyons Steel, who are tied for seventh, ninth-place Raukapuka Ruler N and 11th-place Tyga Hanover. The remaining horse in the field is series leader Western Joe. Other horses that could bolster their chances of making the final with wins on Monday are Mach N Cheese and Mac's Jackpot, who are both in the second division, and Ostro Hanover, who is in the third. None are morning-line favorites. Backstreet Shadow has a win and two seconds in the Borgata. A trainer can start only one horse in a division, and Burke has four horses in the series, so Backstreet Shadow sat out last week's leg after coming up sick in his second-place finish on March 29. "He had a legitimate excuse his last start," said Mark Weaver, who is among the owners of Backstreet Shadow, as well as Rockapelo and This Is The Plan. "We had to give someone the week off, so it just made sense for it to be him. We expect him to be pretty good this start and then hopefully even better in the final." Backstreet Shadow, a 6-year-old gelding, has won 25 of 63 career races and $890,162. Last year, he won the Roll With Joe Stakes and hit the board in the Breeders Crown, TVG Open Pace Series championship, Sam McKee Memorial, and Allerage Farms Open Pace. "I think Backstreet Shadow and This Is The Plan are two of the top five or six aged pacers," Weaver said. "They've been factors the last several years. Hopefully, they are again, all season long. This is just the start of a long year, hopefully, for them." This Is The Plan, a 6-year-old gelding with $1.8 million in career purses, has a win and three seconds in the Borgata. He is the 2-1 second choice in Monday's third division. Rockapelo, a 2018 New York Sire Stakes champion who has been lightly tested on the Grand Circuit, is sitting out Monday's action. The 6-year-old gelding has two wins, a second, and a fifth in the series. Nine of his most recent 12 victories have come at Yonkers. "He's kind of a Yonkers specialist, a grinder," Weaver said. "He's surprised us. This will be his Super Bowl, so to speak, for the year. After this, it will be back to overnights." The Burke Stable has traditionally been deep with talented older male pacers. The returning group this season also includes a past Dan Patch Award winner, Dorsoduro Hanover, as well as millionaire Filibuster Hanover, Elver Hanover, The Greek Freak, and Covered Bridge. "The aged division is kind of our bread and butter," Weaver said. "If you get a couple good ones, you can really do some damage. "We try to treat them like a baseball team where you've got some major leaguers, but you're always looking to develop your minor league system. At some point, they're going to get called up to the big leagues. We're constantly trying to keep the pipeline going. Hopefully, we have some that can fill the void when the time comes." Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT) Monday at Yonkers. For complete entries, click here. For the Borgata standings, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA   

Harness Racing This Week: Blue Chip Matchmaker and MGM Borgata Pacing series fifth legs, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit at Yonkers features two $35,000 divisions on Friday (April 9) in the fifth round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker series for open pacing mares. The Monday (April 12) card at Yonkers will see three $40,000 divisions in the fifth round of the MGM Borgata Pacing series for open pacers. Each series offers five preliminary rounds leading to the finales, both set for Monday (April 19). Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link. Last Time: This Is The Plan, Western Joe, and Leonidas A scored victories in the trio of $40,000 divisions of the fourth leg of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series on Monday night (April 5) at Yonkers Raceway. This Is The Plan broke through for the first time in style, taking the opening split in 1:51.1. Chris Brokate photo. After finishing second in all three of his appearances in the series coming into this leg, This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras) broke through for the first time in style, taking the opening split in 1:51.1. Gingras fired This Is The Plan to the top from post four and he would put up fractions of :27.2, :56.1, and 1:23.3 before he closed in :27.3 to win by three lengths over pocket-sitter Raukapuka Ruler N (Jordan Stratton). Mach N Cheese (Joe Bongiorno) held third over Let It Ride N (Dexter Dunn). Ron Burke trains This Is The Plan, a 6-year-old gelding by Somebeachsomewhere, for owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby, and Larry Karr. This Is The Plan is now a 15-time winner in his career and he pushed his earnings to $1,806,700. Blue Ivy didn't get all of the respect on the toteboard, but the 5-year-old mare had her say in a powerhouse performance, capturing the first of two $35,000 Blue Chip Matchmaker divisions on Friday (April 2) at Yonkers Raceway. Sent off as the surprising 7-5 second choice, Tyler Buter put Blue Ivy into the three-hole entering the first turn as 3-5 favorite Keep Rockin A made the lead easily for Tim Tetrick and marched to the quarter in :27.4. With just five in the field, Tetrick was able to back down the pace with the Jim King Jr.-trained import. The slow half didn't shake Buter in the least as he waited until midway down the backstretch to energize Blue Ivy. It didn't take more than 50 yards for Blue Ivy to engulf and dispose of Keep Rockin A, as that mare slowed markedly into the final turn. After three-quarters in 1:25, Blue Ivy kicked home in :28 and scored by open lengths in a 1:53 mile. Monica Gallagher (Jason Bartlett) was able to come up the pylons late to secure the place spot, with Caviart Cherie (Matt Kakaley) third in the mile. It was Blue Ivy's second win in the series, to go along with two second-place finishes, for trainer Todd Buter. Owned by Renee Bercury, Blue Ivy, a daughter of Captaintreacherous, paid $4.80 for the victory. Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2021, 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 2021 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders (through the races on 4-5-21): Drivers: 1. Todd McCarthy - 50; 2t. Andrew McCarthy - 47; 2t. George Brennan - 47; 4. Austin Siegelman - 44; 5. Tyler Buter - 34. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 92; 2t. Jeff Cullipher - 30; 2t. Mike Deters - 30; 2t. Todd Buter - 30; 2t. Sheena McElhiney - 30. Owners: 1t. Jesmeral Stable - 30; 1t. Renee Bercury - 30; 3. Eric Prevost - 28; 4t. Burke Racing Stable - 26.8; 4t. Weaver Bruscemi - 26.8. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will continue at Yonkers with the finals of the Blue Chip Matchmaker and MGM Borgata on April 19. by Paul Ramlow, for The Grand Circuit  

The preliminary rounds of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series conclude on Monday night (April 12) at Yonkers Raceway with three $40,000 harness racing divisions in races four, five, and six. The first section showcases four horses who have tasted success during the event in Backstreet Shadow (post one, Tim Tetrick), San Domino A (post three, Todd McCarthy/Nancy Takter), Lyons Steel (post five, Corey Callahan/Dennis Watson), and Western Joe (post six, Dexter Dunn/Chris Choate). Backstreet Shadow, San Domino A and Lyons Steel both have won once in the series, and Western Joe enters having won his last two appearances. None of the entrants in race five's second split have picked up a victory in this year's MGM Borgata Pacing Series, so a new face will get a big boost to their point total. The horse that looks to be in the best form is Mach N Cheese (post three, Joe Bongiorno/Edwin Quevedo), as he has finished second and third the past couple of weeks. In contrast to that tilt, the final flight (race six) features two horses that are both three-for-three in the series in Leonidas A (post one, Austin Siegelman/Sheena Mcelhiney) and Hesa Kingslayer N (post five, Jim Marohn Jr./Mike Deters). Also entered in that contest is This Is The Plan (post six, Yannick Gingras/Ron Burke), who has a record of 1-3-0 in four MGM Borgata Pacing Series efforts and prevailed in 1:51.1 on April 5. Prior to that stakes action, Yonkers will play host to four $20,000 divisions of the second leg of the John Brennan Trotting Series on Wednesday night (April 7). Opening round winners Guilty Desire (race five/post six, Jordan Stratton/Betty Clegg), Hunting AS (race six/post one, Todd McCarthy/Jenny Melander), Look In My Eyes (race six/post eight, Jordan Stratton/Anette Lorentzon), and Lady Jeter (race seven/post four, Scott Zeron/Ed Gannon Jr.) are all back in action. Then, on Friday (April 9), Yonkers has a pair of $35,000 splits of the final preliminary round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series for pacing mares. The first of those races will take place as a non-wagering contest, and the second one is race two on the pari-mutuel program. In the non-wagering tilt, Blue Ivy (post one, Tyler Buter/Todd Buter) and Machnhope (post three, Andrew McCarthy/Noel Daley) will both shoot for their third win in the series, and in the other Blue Chip Matchmaker match-up, Alexa Skye (post four, Todd McCarthy/Jeff Cullipher), currently three-for-three in the event, meets up with one of last Friday's victors in Siesta Beach (post three, Matt Kakaley/Nick Devita).. Yonkers Raceway has a Monday-Friday live racing schedule, with first post at 7:15 p.m. From Yonkers Raceway

This Is The Plan, Western Joe, and Leonidas A scored harness racing victories in the trio of $40,000 divisions of the fourth leg of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series on Monday night (April 5) at Yonkers Raceway. In addition to the on-track action, betting was also brisk on Monday's 10-race card as the handle entered seven-figure territory at $1,037,217.95. After finishing second in all three of his appearances in the series coming into this leg, This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras) broke through for the first time in style, taking the opening split in 1:51.1. Gingras fired This Is The Plan to the top from post four, and he would put up fractions of 27.2, 56.1, and 1:23.3 before he closed in 27.3 to win by three lengths over pocket-sitter Raukapuka Ruler N (Jordan Stratton). Mach N Cheese (Joe Bongiorno) held third over favorite Let It Ride N (Dexter Dunn). Ron Burke trains This Is The Plan, a 6-year-old gelding by Somebeachsomewhere, for owners Burke Racing Stable LLC., Weaver Bruscemi LLC., J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby, and Larry Karr. This Is The Plan is now a 15-time winner in his career, and he pushed his earnings to $1,806,700. This Is The Plan, the 3-2 second choice, paid $5.00 and was atop a $51.50 exacta and a $126.50 trifecta. THIS IS THE PLAN REPLAY   In the second section, driver Todd McCarthy put the hammer down with None Bettor A and roared through stations of 26.3, 55.1, and 1:23.1. On the far turn Sheriff N (Daniel Dube) attacked the leader two-wide from the pocket, with favorite Rockapelo (George Brennan) picking up cover from third to sit second-over. Even though Sheriff N and Rockapelo had first dibs on the tiring leader, it wound up being a cavalry charge through the stretch after the hot tempo, and taking advantage was Western Joe (Dunn), who sat inside in sixth and rallied through a gap on the pylons on his way to the win by a neck in 1:52.4. Rockapelo wound up second, with Sheriff N back in third. Western Joe, a 7-year-old gelded son of Western Ideal, scored his second straight victory in the series for trainer Chris Choate, co-owner/breeder Anthony Ruggeri, and co-owner Richard Tosies. Western Joe now has a record of 33-16-11 from 105 starts, and he has banked $781,858. Western Joe, who was the second choice at odds of 5-2, returned $7.70 to win and keyed a $15.60 exacta and a $54.50 trifecta. WESTERN JOE REPLAY   Leonidas A (Austin Siegelman), returning after a one-week break, ran his MGM Borgata Pacing Series record to an unblemished three-for-three in the final flight. Leonidas A settled in third behind Ostro Hanover (Tyler Buter) and Lyons Steel (Corey Callahan) in the early going, but Siegelman had him out and on move before the 28-second opening quarter went on the board, and he would take command after that marker. Leonidas A would go on to put up a 56.4 half and a 1:24.4 three-quarters, and a 28.3 final kicker gave him the victory by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:53.2. Lyons Steel was second after a first-over try, narrowly bettering Ostro Hanover. A 6-year-old Mach Three gelding, Leonidas A is trained by Sheena Mcelhiney for owner Jesmeral Stable. Leonidas A posted his 28th career victory, and he has now put away $291,848. Leonidas A, hammered down to 1-9, paid $2.30 to win and led a $7.90 exacta and a $19.20 trifecta. LEONIDAS A REPLAY   There is one more leg of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series to go, and that will be held next Monday (April 12). The final will take place on Monday, April 19. Stakes action resumes at Yonkers on Wednesday night (April 7) when the track plays host to four $20,000 divisions of the second leg of the John Brennan Trotting Series. Opening round winners Guilty Desire (race five/post six, Jordan Stratton/Betty Clegg), Hunting AS (race six/post one, Todd McCarthy/Jenny Melander), Look In My Eyes (race six/post eight, Jordan Stratton/Anette Lorentzon), and Lady Jeter (race seven/post four, Scott Zeron/Ed Gannon Jr.) are all back in action. Then, on Friday (April 9), Yonkers has a couple of $35,000 splits of the final preliminary round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series for pacing mares. The first of those races will take place as a non-wagering contest, and the second one is race two on the pari-mutuel program. In the non-wagering tilt, Blue Ivy (post one, Tyler Buter/Todd Buter) and Machnhope (post three, Andrew McCarthy/Noel Daley) will both shoot for their third win in the series, and in the other Blue Chip Matchmaker match-up, Alexa Skye (post four, Todd McCarthy/Jeff Cullipher), currently three-for-three in the event, meets up with one of last Friday's victors in Siesta Beach (post three, Matt Kakaley/Nick Devita). For full race results, click here. From Yonkers Raceway

Harness Racing This Week: Blue Chip Matchmaker and MGM Borgata Pacing series fourth legs, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit at Yonkers features two $35,000 divisions on Friday (April 2) in the fourth round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker series for open pacing mares. The Monday (April 5) card at Yonkers will see three $40,000 divisions in the fourth round of the MGM Borgata Pacing series for open pacers. Each series offers five preliminary rounds leading to the finales, both set for Monday (April 19). Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link. Last Time: Hesa Kingslayer N improved to three-for-three in Monday night's (March 29) third leg of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series for free-for-allers at Yonkers Raceway. Hesa Kingslayer N improved to three-for-three in the MGM Borgata Pacing Series. Chris Brokate photo. Driven by Jim Marohn Jr. in his $40,000 section, Hesa Kingslayer N was able to get into the pocket from post four and had a great view of a battle for the lead between Pat Stanley N (Jordan Stratton) and a parked-out None Bettor A (Todd McCarthy). Pat Stanley N gave None Bettor A the cold shoulder through fractions of :27, :56.4, and 1:25 and when None Bettor A began to back up on the final turn, that gave Marohn and Hesa Kingslayer N the escape route to the outside they needed. Once he had clear sailing, Hesa Kingslayer N pounced on Pat Stanley N, going by him in upper stretch on his way to a 2-1/4 length victory in 1:53. This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras) was also on the outside throughout in the second-over position and checked in as the runner-up after going three-high on the final bend, and Pat Stanley N held third. Trainer Mike Deters also co-owns Hesa Kingslayer N, an 8-year-old gelding by Christian Cullen, with partner Joel Warner. Hesa Kingslayer N is now a 20-time winner in his career and he has earned $189,962. Alexa Skye was expected to face her toughest test of the year in the second of two $35,000 divisions of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series on Friday night (March 26) at Yonkers Raceway. However, when two mares were scratched prior to the race, reducing the field to just five, the task was made considerably easier for driver Todd McCarthy. Nevertheless, it took two early moves for the 4-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere to secure the front, but the rest was once again quite easy as Alexa Skye made it three straight conquests in the series, scoring by a comfortable margin in 1:53.4. My Ruebe Star N (Jordan Stratton) left alertly, as did Blue Ivy (Tyler Buter). The pair were directly inside Alexa Skye, the race favorite, and McCarthy settled in third as My Ruebe Star N seated Blue Ivy and marched towards the opening quarter. Alexa Skye moved before the quarter had been passed, secured the lead after the :27.4 quarter, and from there was in control. After a :29.4 second quarter, McCarthy and Alexa Skye had all of the rest time they needed and quickly marched off with a :28 third quarter, gaining some separation from My Ruebe Star N as Buter and Blue Ivy moved to the outside to try to track down the leader. McCarthy felt the urgency of the threat that Blue Ivy, a first leg winner, posed and began to urge Alexa Skye on coming off the final turn. He kept active in the bike, and it certainly woke up the sharp mare as she sprinted off with a :28.1 kicker, keeping Blue Ivy at bay, with Siesta Beach (Matt Kakaley) closing strongly late for third. Trained and co-owned by Jeff Cullipher, along with Pollack Racing, Alexa Skye was a winner for the sixth time in 2021 and is just $250 shy of the $100,000 mark in seasonal earnings. This was her 15th victory overall and she now has banked $209,890 lifetime. Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2021, 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 2021 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders (through the races on 3-29-21): Drivers: 1. Todd McCarthy - 50; 2. Andrew McCarthy - 42; 3. George Brennan - 40; 4. Austin Siegelman - 34; 5. Tim Tetrick - 30. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 75; 2t. Jeff Cullipher - 30; 2t. Mike Deters - 30; 4t. Noel Daley - 20; 4t. Todd Buter - 20; 4t. Sheena McElhiney - 20. Owners: 1t. Burke Racing Stable - 21.9; 1t. Weaver Bruscemi - 21.9; 3t. Jesmeral Stable - 20; 3t. Renee Bercury - 20; 5. Brad Grant - 15. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will continue with the final leg of the Blue Chip Matchmaker and MGM Borgata next week. The finals for both events will be held on April 19. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

The fourth leg of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series is set to take place on Monday, April 5 at Yonkers Raceway. Twenty horses dropped in the box, meaning there will be three $40,000 divisions (races four, six, and seven). After taking last night (March 29) off, round one winner Let It Ride N (post five, Dexter Dunn/Richard "Nifty" Norman) returns and headlines the first flight. Let It Ride N saw his undefeated streak in the United States end on March 22 when he couldn't get involved from post eight, but has an improved draw this time. He will be up against the likes of This Is The Plan (post four, Yannick Gingras/Ron Burke), who has finished second in all three of his MGM Borgata Pacing Series attempts. In the second section, Rockapelo (post four, George Brennan/Ron Burke) will look to build on his two straight victories in the series. Western Joe (post seven, Dexter Dunn/Chris Choate) picked up his first win in the event last night and will get another chance at Rockapelo after finishing just a nose behind him when they battled on the 22nd of March. Leonidas A (post four, Austin Siegelman/Sheena Mcilhiney) also bypassed the third leg, but will be back in action in Monday's last split. Leonidas A won in the series on both March 15 and March 22 and looks like he's sure to be a heavy favorite. Lyons Steel (post two, Siegelman also listed for trainer Dennis Watson) has a win and a third-place result in his two series attempts, and while he'll likely need a new driver, he certainly has the credentials to threaten. Additional stakes action at Yonkers Raceway will be held prior to the MGM Borgata Pacing Series. On Wednesday (March 31), there are four $20,000 divisions of the first leg of the John Brennan Trotting Series, with early season stars Some Chapter (race four, Dexter Dunn/Anette Lorentzon) and Get Legs (race seven, Andy Miller/Julie Miller) among the entrants. Then, on Friday (April 2), there are two $35,000 splits of the fourth round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series for pacing mares. Leg one winner Blue Ivy (post five, Tyler Buter/Todd Buter) heads the first section (race two), and then in the second flight (race three), Machnhope (post four, Andrew McCarthy/Noel Daley), a two-time victor in the event, returns from a one-week break to battle with Snobbytown (post three, George Brennan/Ron Burke), who scored in Matchmaker action a week ago. Yonkers races on a Monday-Friday schedule with first post at 7:15 p.m. From Yonkers Raceway

Hesa Kingslayer N improved to three-for-three, Rockapelo repeated impressively, and Western Joe picked up his initial triumph in the event in Monday night's (March 29) trio of $40,000 divisions of the third leg of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series for free-for-allers at Yonkers Raceway. Driven by Jim Marohn Jr. in the opening section, Hesa Kingslayer N was able to get into the pocket from post four and had a great view of a battle for the lead between Pat Stanley N (Jordan Stratton) and a parked-out None Bettor A (Todd McCarthy). Pat Stanley N gave None Bettor A the cold shoulder through fractions of 27, 56.4, and 1:25, and when None Bettor A began to back up on the final turn, that gave Marohn Jr. and Hesa Kingslayer N the escape route to the outside they needed. Once he had clear sailing, Hesa Kingslayer N pounced on Pat Stanley N, going by him in upper stretch on his way to a 2 1/4 length victory in 1:53. This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras) was also on the outside throughout in the second-over position and checked in as the runner-up after going three-high on the final bend, and Pat Stanley N held third. HESA KINGSLAYER N REPLAY    Trainer Mike Deters also co-owns Hesa Kingslayer N, an 8-year-old gelding by Christian Cullen, with partner Joel Warner. Hesa Kingslayer N is now a 20-time winner in his career, and he has now earned $189,962. The 2-5 favorite, Hesa Kingslayer N paid $2.80 to win and led an $8.40 exacta and a $24.00 trifecta. In the next split, Rockapelo (George Brennan) motored directly to the lead from post three and fronted his rivals through opening-half stations of 27 and 55.2. Mach N Cheese (Joe Bongiorno) watched the early proceedings from the three-hole, then came with a quick burst off the third turn that nearly put him on even-terms with Rockapelo as three-quarters went on the board in 1:23.2. Rockapelo was able to fend off Mach N Cheee's bid, though, and when Rockapelo kicked it into another gear entering the lane, Mach N Cheese couldn't match strides with the pace-setter, who went on to an impressive 2 1/4 length victory in 1:51.2. Mach N Cheese did end up second over San Domino A (Todd McCarthy). ROCKAPELO REPLAY   The victorious 6-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven gelding is trained by Ron Burke and owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC., Weaver Bruscemi LLC., and Phil Collura. Rockapelo now has a record of 21-19-11 from 83 appearances, and he has banked$491,106. Rockapelo, the 2-1 favorite, returned $6.60 to win and was atop a $72.50 exacta and a $148.50 trifecta. Monday night's final flight saw leg one winner Lyons Steel (Austin Siegelman) charge out to early command from post two, but round two victor Backstreet Shadow (Tim Tetrick) was out and on the move from third, and Backstreet Shadow landed on the point after the quick 26.3 opening quarter. Backstreet Shadow would go on to the half in 55.3, with Ostro Hanover (Tyler Buter) coming first-up from fourth prior to that marker and Western Joe (Dexter Dunn) grabbing the cover to sit second-over. Ostro Hanover advanced on the rim into second before the 1:23.2 three-quarters, but that was as far as he could get as Backstreet Shadow rebuffed any further headway. Meanwhile, Western Joe had gapped on the third turn and into the backstretch, but after being high-lined along by Dunn, he caught back up to Ostro Hanover entering the far turn before going three-wide. Backstreet Shadow still looked good as he turned into the lane first, but Western Joe had a full head of steam on the far outside, and he powered by Backstreet Shadow on his way to a two length score in 1:51.4. Backstreet Shadow came in second, a nose better than Lyons Steel. WESTERN JOE REPLAY   Western Joe is a 7-year-old Western Ideal gelding trained by Chris Choate for co-owner/breeder Anthony Ruggeri and co-owner Richard Tosies. Western Joe picked up lifetime win 32 from 104 trips behind the gate, and he has now put away $761,858. Western Joe, sent off as the 2-1 second choice, paid $6.40 to win and keyed a $10.20 exacta and a $37.20 trifecta.   The MGM Borgata Pacing Series has two preliminary rounds remaining on Monday, April 5 and Monday, April 12. The final is scheduled to take place on Monday, April 19. Stakes action continues at Yonkers Raceway later this week. On Wednesday (March 31), there are four $20,000 divisions of the first leg of the John Brennan Trotting Series, with early season stars Some Chapter (race four, Dexter Dunn/Anette Lorentzon) and Get Legs (race seven, Andy Miller/Julie Miller) among the entrants. On Friday (April 2), two $35,000 splits of the fourth round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series for pacing mares will take place. Leg one winner Blue Ivy (post five, Tyler Buter/Todd Buter) heads the first section (race two), and then in the second flight (race three), Machnhope (post four, Andrew McCarthy/Noel Daley), a two-time victor in the event, returns from a one-week break to battle with Snobbytown (post three, George Brennan/Ron Burke), who scored in Matchmaker action a week ago. For full race results, click here. From Yonkers Raceway

Harness Racing This Week: Blue Chip Matchmaker and MGM Borgata Pacing series third legs, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit at Yonkers features two $35,000 divisions on Friday (March 26) in the third round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker series for open pacing mares. The Monday (March 29) card at Yonkers will see three $40,000 divisions in the third round of the MGM Borgata Pacing series for open pacers. Each series offers five preliminary rounds leading to the finales, both set for Monday (April 19). Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link. Last Time: Leonidas A and Hesa Kingslayer N repeated in Monday night's (March 22) $40,000 divisions of the second leg of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series at Yonkers Raceway. Leonidas A kicked into high gear, pacing a :55 back-half to win by 2-1/4 lengths in 1:52. Chris Brokate photo. Driven by Austin Siegelman, Leonidas A landed in the pocket from post one early in the third of four sections, then moved around fellow round one winner San Domino A (Todd McCarthy) for command passing the :28 opening quarter. After that, Leonidas A got away with a soft :57 half, and it was pretty much over once that happened as Leonidas A kicked into high gear, pacing a :55 back-half to win by 2-1/4 lengths in 1:52. San Domino A held second over Chief Mate (Scott Zeron), who put in a good try from first-over given the early tempo. Sheena McElhiney trains Leonidas A, a 6-year-old Mach Three gelding, for owner Jesmeral Stable. Leonidas A posted his 27th career win and he has earnings of $271,848. This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras) rolled to the lead in the last split and he would lead through fractions of :27.3, :56.2, and 1:24, with Hesa Kingslayer N (Jim Marohn Jr.) going first-up from third prior to three-quarters. Hesa Kingslayer N advanced into second on the final turn, then sustained his bid through the stretch, wearing down This Is The Plan on his way to the victory by a half-length in 1:51.4. Stars Align A (Todd McCarthy) was the third-place finisher after a pocket trip. Let It Ride N (Dexter Dunn) saw his seven-race undefeated streak in the U.S. end in this race as he couldn't get involved from post eight and had to settle for a dead-heat for sixth. Trainer Michael Deters also co-owns Hesa Kingslayer N, an 8-year-old gelded son of Christian Cullen, with Joel Warner. Hesa Kingslayer N now has 19 career triumphs and he has put away $169,962. Having gained enormous respect from her blowout victory in the opening leg of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series, Alexa Skye had a much easier time putting away her rivals on Friday night (March 19), capturing the first of three $35,000 divisions at Yonkers Raceway in a 1:53.4 clocking. Sent off as the prohibitive 1-10 betting favorite, Todd McCarthy wasted little time seizing command on the opening bend from an accommodating My Ruebe Star N and driver Jordan Stratton. McCarthy kept an easy clip, going to the quarter in :28.4 and reaching the half unchallenged in :58.1. From there, the field of six stayed very much in line as Alexa Skye picked up the pace on the backstretch, hitting three-quarters in 1:26 on her own power. McCarthy hardly moved a muscle edging into the homestretch and the powerful 4-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere finished out her mile with a :27.4 final quarter as the rest of the field battled hard for the place spot. My Ruebe Star N held her ground and won the competition for the second position, while Siesta Beach (Matt Kakaley) closed along the pylons and finished in a dead-heat with Keep Rockin A (Tim Tetrick) for show. Alexa Skye, who picked up her 14th victory overall and has now banked $192,390, is owned in partnership by Pollack Racing and trainer Jeff Cullipher. Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2021, 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 2021 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders (through the races on 3-22-21): Drivers: 1. Andrew McCarthy - 42; 2. Todd McCarthy - 38; 3. Austin Siegelman - 32; 4. Tim Tetrick - 23; 5. George Brennan - 20. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 45; 2t. Jeff Cullipher - 20; 2t. Noel Daley - 20; 2t. Mike Deters - 20; 2t. Sheena McElhiney - 20. Owners: 1. Jesmeral Stable - 20; 2t. Renee Bercury - 15; 2t. Brad Grant - 15; 4t. Burke Racing Stable - 12.7; 4t. Weaver Bruscemi - 12.7. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will continue with legs of the Blue Chip Matchmaker and MGM Borgata over the next two weeks. The finals for both events will be held on April 19. by Paul Ramlow, for The Grand Circuit  

Leonidas A and Hesa Kingslayer N repeated and harness racing trainer Ron Burke prevailed with Backstreet Shadow and Rockapelo in Monday night's (March 22) four $40,000 divisions of the second leg of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series at Yonkers Raceway. Driven by Austin Siegelman, Leonidas A landed in the pocket from post one early in the third section, then moved around fellow round one winner San Domino A (Todd McCarthy) for command passing the 28 second opening quarter. After that, Leonidas A got away with a soft 57 second half, and it was pretty much over once that happened as Leonidas A kicked into high gear, pacing a 55 second back-half to win by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:52. San Domino A held second over Chief Mate (Scott Zeron), who put in a good try from first-over given the early tempo. Sheena McElhiney trains Leonidas A, a 6-year-old Mach Three gelding, for owner Jesmeral Stable. Leonidas A posted his 27th career win, and he has earnings of $271,848. Leonidas A, sent off as the 2-5 favorite paid $2.90 to win. The exacta returned $11.80, and the trifecta kicked back $48.40. LEONIDAS A REPLAY   This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras) rolled to the lead in the last split, and he would lead through fractions of 27.3, 56.2, and 1:24, with Hesa Kingslayer N (Jim Marohn Jr.) going first-up from third prior to three-quarters. Hesa Kingslayer N advanced into second on the final turn, then sustained his bid through the stretch, wearing down This Is The Plan on his way to the victory by half a length in 1:51.4. Stars Align A (Todd McCarthy) was the third-place finisher after a pocket trip. Let It Ride N (Dexter Dunn) saw his seven-race undefeated streak in the U.S. end in this race as he couldn't get involved from post eight and had to settle for coming in a dead-heat for sixth. HESA KINGSLAYER N REPLAY   Trainer Michael Deters also co-owns Hesa Kingslayer N, an 8-year-old gelded son of Christian Cullen, with Joel Warner. Hesa Kingslayer N now has 19 career triumphs, and he has put away $169,962. Hesa Kingslayer N, who was dispatched at 9-2, returned $11.20 to win and keyed a $29.80 exacta and a $111.00 trifecta. While second-best with This Is The Plan in that event, Burke had already scored earlier decisions with Backstreet Shadow (Tim Tetrick) and Rockapelo (George Brennan). Backstreet Shadow made it look pretty easy in the first grouping, going to the front from post five, leading his six foes through panels of 27, 55.4, and 1:23 3/5, and kicking home in 27.4 to win by a length and three-quarters in 1:51.2. Raukapuka Ruler N (Dan Dube) worked out a pocket trip at 58-1 and was second, with Rodeo Rock (Andrew McCarthy), the 1-2 favorite, third from second-over. BACKSTREET SHADOW REPLAY   Burke Racing Stable LLC., Weaver Bruscemi LLC., Larry Karr, and J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby own Backstreet Shadow, a 6-year-old Shadow Play gelding. Backstreet Shadow picked up his 25th lifetime victory, and he pushed his bankroll to $880,162. Backstreet Shadow was the 8-5 second choice and paid $5.20 to win. The exacta returned $91.50, and the trifecta was worth $227.00. Rockapelo and Brennan picked up a hard-fought 1:51.1 win over Western Joe (Zeron) in the second MGM Borgata battle. Tyga Hanover (Jason Bartlett), Rockapelo, and Western Joe dueled three-wide for the lead after the start, with Western Joe forging his way into the top spot in a quick 26.2 first quarter. Western Joe continued on the engine through a 55.3 half and a 1:23.3 three-quarters and turned for home first, but Rockapelo attacked out of the pocket midway on the final bend. Western Joe dug in gamely when called on, but Rockapelo was unrelenting in his own right and got by just before the wire to score by a nostril. Tyga Hanover wound up third. ROCKAPELO REPLAY   The victorious 6-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven gelding is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC., Weaver Bruscemi LLC., and Phil Collura. Rockapelo now has a record of 20-19-11 from 82 appearances, and he has earned $471,106. Rockapelo, the 2-1 second choice, returned $6.80 to win and was atop a $38.20 exacta and a $114.00 trifecta. The MGM Borgata Pacing Series now has three remaining preliminary rounds, with the last one scheduled for Monday, April 12. The final will be held the following Monday (April 19). Stakes action continues at Yonkers tomorrow night (March 23) with the $57,800 final and the $25,000 consolation of the M Life Rewards Ladies Pacing Series for fillies and mares, and on Wednesday night (March 24) as the M Life Rewards Gents Pacing Series for colts and geldings concludes with a $58,400 final and a $25,000 consolation. After the curtain comes down on those races, the pacing mares in the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series will be in action in two $35,000 divisions of the third leg of that event on Friday (March 26). Seaswift Joy N (post two, Andrew McCarthy/Tony Alagna), Blue Ivy (post five, Tyler Buter/Todd Buter), and Alexa Skye (post six, Todd McCarthy/Jeff Cullipher) have all won during the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series thus far, and they will lock horns in Friday night's second split (race seven), giving a new face a chance to collect a victory in race six's opening flight. Machnhope, who was victorious both weeks of the series, is idle this time. Yonkers Raceway continues with a Monday-Friday live racing schedule, with first post at 7:15 p.m. For full race results, click here. From Yonkers Raceway

Hightstown, NJ – When trainer Mike Deters purchased harness racing pacer Hesa Kingslayer N last year, he was told the gelding might be a diamond in the rough. Initially, the emphasis was on rough. In his first couple trips to the racetrack, the horse was a bit hot to handle. But after several equipment changes, Deters has been left with a gem. The 8-year-old Hesa Kingslayer N raced only 29 times Down Under, winning 13. Since arriving in the U.S., he has won five of 14 starts and hit the board a total of 11 times while earning $89,425. This past Monday (March 15), Hesa Kingslayer N won his opening-round division of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series at Yonkers Raceway. In the second leg on March 22, he is 9-2 on the morning line in the fourth of four divisions. Let It Ride N, unbeaten in seven U.S. starts, is the 2-1 favorite followed by This Is The Plan at 3-1. “It looks like he drew what might be the toughest division,” Deters said. “But if he’s going to get anywhere in the series, he’s going to have to beat these horses sooner or later anyway, so it’s all good. Hopefully, we work out a nice trip and he’s pacing at the wire.” In his first Borgata start, Hesa Kingslayer N and driver Jim Marohn Jr. got a second-over trip before a three-wide move from fourth place heading into the final turn. Finishing with a rush has become the gelding’s signature style; only once has he been closer than fourth at three-quarters in any of his Stateside races. “He’s never very close,” said Deters, who owns Hesa Kingslayer N with Joel Warner. “He went a couple of unbelievable trips at (Harrah’s Hoosier Park) where he was in another ZIP code at the half and ended up being very competitive. He has a tremendous finishing kick.” Hesa Kingslayer N is the first horse Deters has ever started in the Borgata series, which was formerly the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. The six-week series concludes April 19 with a $150,000-added final and $75,000 guaranteed consolation. “It’s a very tough series and I’ve never had a horse that was a really good half-mile-track horse,” Deters said. “It seems that all the horses that come from New Zealand and Australia are very good small-track horses. “As long as we make the final, I’ll be very happy. In reality, if we make the consolation, it’s a good thing. He’s a nice little horse and we have the opportunity to race for pretty good money every week. I just hope he shows up.” Deters does not plan to race Hesa Kingslayer N in all of the preliminary rounds of the series. Horses receive 25 points for entering and additional points based on their finish, with 50 points going to the winner, 25 to second, 12 to third, eight to fourth, and five to fifth. “Win, lose, or draw, he will not race every week,” Deters said. “I don’t know when it will be, but we’re definitely going to give him a week off and freshen him up. Hopefully, we’ll have our best foot forward later, hopefully, for either the consolation or the final.” In addition to the Borgata, Hesa Kingslayer N is staked to Grand Circuit events at The Meadowlands and Hoosier Park. “If he’s good enough, he’s staked where he can do well,” Deters said. “I’m very happy we got him. The agent that we bought him from said he might be a diamond in the rough. We got lucky. I’m super happy.” Other first-round Borgata winners were Let It Ride N, Lyons Steel, San Domino A, and Leonidas A. Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT) Monday at Yonkers. For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

1 to 16 of 18