Day At The Track

Blue Ivy rematch with Alexa Skye Monday

09:06 AM 18 Apr 2021 NZST
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Blue Ivy, harness racing
Blue Ivy in prior win
Chris Gooden Photo

YONKERS, N.Y. – It’s not every day the phone rings and the person on the other end wants to send a stakes-caliber mare to your stable. But that’s exactly what happened a few weeks before the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series first leg when Todd Buter answered Bill Bercury’s call.

Then the trainer of Blue Ivy, who he was pointing to the Matchmaker Series at Yonkers Raceway, the western Pennsylvania-based Bercury asked New York-based Buter to take the mare on the recommendation of Todd’s son, Tyler.

“Mr. Bercury contacted Tyler and said he wanted him to drive Blue Ivy in the Matchmaker. He asked if Tyler had any suggestions of who he should send her to. Tyler said, ‘well, I’m sure my dad would take her,’ so he gave me a call and that’s how it ended up. He brought her out about a week before her first start.”

Todd Buter didn’t know Bercury before that call and Tyler Buter hadn’t driven Blue Ivy since Bercury took over the training in Nov. 2019. However, Tyler Buter had success with the mare in the past; in nine starts together from July 2018 through Oct. 2019, Buter and Blue Ivy paired for four wins, two seconds, and a fourth in the $122,224 Lady Maud Pace at Yonkers. Bercury’s instructions were concise.

“She’s easy to get along with and likes being outside as much as possible; being a mare, that’s kind of routine anyway. He left the rest up to me,” Todd Buter said.

Buter found that Blue Ivy was easy to get along with, as advertised, and had no bad traits. 

“When you put her on the racetrack to head to the starting gate, she’s all business,” he said. “Very easy on herself on the racetrack, very good attitude on the track, and since she’s been here, she’s had all good days.”

Blue Ivy debuted for the Buters in the Matchmaker first leg March 12. After a fifth-place finish in a Meadows open handicap against males the week prior, the public dismissed her at 6-1, the second longest shot in the field of a half-dozen distaffers. Blue Ivy got away fifth as 4-5 favorite Soho Burning Love set the tempo. In the second lap, Blue Ivy grabbed the cover of Lady Dela Renta and advanced within 2 3/4-lengths of the lead passing the three-quarters. 

At the midway point of the final turn, Buter – motionless in the sulky to that point – made his first move, popping the ear plugs and putting the whip on Blue Ivy’s tail before guiding her three-wide into the stretch. Buter tucked the whip in the final yards as Blue Ivy glided past Soho Burning Love to record a length win in 1:53.3.

“She went some good miles before and you never know what to expect coming over to Yonkers and putting them on the half-mile track, but she adapted well and she’s been very good,” Todd Buter said. “I thought after the first week that we probably could go up against most of the ones that were in there. She did that very easily. That built our confidence up, that’s for sure.”

In the Matchmaker second leg, Blue Ivy charged home with a :27.1 final quarter to finish second behind Seaswift Joy, who had set a dawdling pace. The third leg saw Alexa Skye catch a soft half of :57.3 and Blue Ivy unable to track her down in the stretch, again finishing second. Legs four and five each resulted in a win for Blue Ivy, including a 4-length, 1:53 romp April 2 and a 1 1/4-legnth, 1:52.3 effort while setting the pace April 9. In her career, Blue Ivy is 25-for-56 with $374,040 earned.

“She’s won on the front, she won first-over, and she won second-over. She’s done it all ways, she doesn’t just have to go one way all the time,” Todd Buter remarked.

With 325 points accumulated throughout the preliminaries, Blue Ivy leads the standings heading into the $232,800 series final Monday night (April 19). She secured a coveted inside position in the open draw in post three while Jeff Cullipher’s series favorite Alexa Skye will start from post six. The field also includes Machnhope, winner of two preliminary legs for Noel Daley and Andrew McCarthy, Nick Devita’s duo of Siesta Beach and Caviart Cherie, Monica Gallagher, Snobbytown, and My Ruebe Star. 

For Todd Buter, drawing inside Alexa Skye, who won all four Matchmaker preliminary legs she entered, is already a win. The Matchmaker final will be Blue Ivy’s second crack at Alexa Skye after the pair avoided each other in all but one of the preliminary legs. 

“I was glad to see that. I surely didn’t want to have the six, seven, or eight,” Buter said. “It’s probably going to depend on the trip. They’ve both shown that they’re very nice mares. We’ll just have to see how it shakes out. The ideal trip would be sitting the two-hole behind Alexa Skye, but I think there’s probably six other ones in there that would like to do the same thing.

“We’ll hope she’s happy and healthy on Monday and see how it shakes out,” Buter continued. “She’s been feeling good, we didn’t change anything. It seems like she’s having a very good week leading up to it. She doesn’t take a lot of work.”

Monday night’s 10-race card also features the $514,000 MGM Borgata Pacing 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

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