Day At The Track

Alexa Skye eyes $232,000 Matchmaker final

04:06 AM 16 Apr 2021 NZST
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Alexa Skye, harness racing
Alexa Skye
Ken Weingartner Photo

After his mare went four-for-four in the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series preliminary races, owner Tom Pollack wasn't about to get too technical about Alexa Skye's chances in Monday's (April 19) $232,800 final for older female pacers at Yonkers Raceway.

"If luck's shining on you, it is. And if it isn't, it isn't," surmised Pollack of Pollack Racing LLC, which owns the horse along with trainer Jeff Cullipher. "Just as long as you put your best foot forward, and I think she will.

"Obviously, we'd love to see her finish the deal on Monday night and win this series. But we're just hoping for a good effort, that's all you can do."

The 4-year-old drew post six and is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line behind Blue Ivy at 2-1. Pollack admitted that things broke right for Alexa Skye in her four races in the series as she was able to take charge in the short fields.

"She's made her mark right at the beginning and that kind of garnered the respect of the other ones in there," Pollack said. "We've been able to get to the lead fairly easily and kind of dictate the races. From that standpoint it's been great."

In Monday's eight-horse final, Blue Ivy will start from post three. She won three times and finished second twice in the preliminary rounds. Machnhope, a two-time winner in the series, is 4-1 from post one while Siesta Beach, also a prelim winner, is 5-1 from post two.

"Obviously when the money's on the line, that's why they hold the race," Pollack said. "Anything can happen. All eight horses can probably win. We're going to have to earn it, for sure."

Speaking of earnings, Alexa Skye has already garnered a career-high $117,250 this year by winning seven of nine starts and finishing second by a head and a nose in the other two. She has already tied her career-best seven wins (in 17 starts) from last year and far surpassed her purse money of $63,430.

The mare, by Somebeachsomewhere out of Pirouette Hanover, was bought by Pollack on Feb. 17. She had already won three of four races when the transaction was completed. Pollack was contacted by an agent he hadn't previously worked with and was immediately interested after having seen Alexa Skye at The Meadowlands last year and seeing her dominance early this season.

"We want to be in the game," the western Pennsylvania native said. "We're not huge yearling players outside of Indiana, we're more into the aged racehorse game. Having a chance to get one that's eligible to all these Grand Circuit races and performing at that level, she was too good to pass up. The fact she comes from a good family and has some breeding value when she's done racing made it even easier to pull the trigger."

After being off for three weeks, she finished second by a nose for her new owners before rolling through the Matchmaker prelims.

Pollack estimates he and Cullipher own around 70 horses together and each one has their responsibility.

"I'm the legs of finding and acquiring," he said. "That's my forte. He sticks more toward training them. But when I find horses, he's watching replays or talking to folks he knows who might have been associated with the horse. That's kind of the way our partnership works."

And the duo appears to have nailed it with this latest acquisition. Pollack hoped she would be good, but is pleasantly surprised about the success so far.

"Obviously, you could have never predicted we'd be racing in five- or six-horse fields in the Matchmaker (prelims) for $35,000 a week and then the $230,000 final after that. It kind of looks like I knew what I was doing in buying her, with her kind of being one of the top dogs in this series."

Alexa Skye is staked to the Grand Circuit in the U.S. this year, but her connections will skip Canadian stakes due to the uncertainty around COVID-19 protocols, and also because of the length of the six-week Matchmaker.

But she will be a busy mare and appears ready for the grind.

Asked what he likes most about the horse, the owner noted two specifics.

"Number one, the fact she is so versatile; she can win at Yonkers or the Meadowlands," Pollack said. "And number two is her toughness. She's kind of all business. She's a sweetheart to be around in the barn but once she gets on the track, she's all business. Hopefully, she's ready with her A game Monday, that's all you can ask."

Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT) Monday at Yonkers. The Matchmaker final is race seven on the card, which also includes the $514,000 final of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series for older males (race eight) as well as consolations for both series.

For complete entries, click here.

by Rich Fisher, for the USTA

 

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