Day At The Track

Rich finals head Grand Circuit action

12:33 AM 16 Apr 2021 NZST
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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

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