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YONKERS, NY, Saturday, April 21, 2018 - She went from dominant to doubting in just one start. It took just one more start to restore the reputation. Odds-on harness racing fave Shartin N (Tim Tetrick, $3.80) gave nothing else a chance Saturday night (Apr. 21st), winning Yonkers Raceway $373,000 final of the Blue Chip Matchmakerfor Open Mares A week after a confounding, double-break performance, Shartin N-who had won her first three series preliminaries before taking the subsequent fourth round off-had something to prove. An unhurried fourth after winning the draw, Shartin N saw Sell a Bit N (Jordan Stratton), Medusa (Yannick Gingras) and eight-holer Lakeisha Hall (George Brennan) all leave in front of her. It was Sell a Bit N leading through pokey intervals of :27.2 and :57 before Shartin N began her assault. Moving with purpose, she engaged the leader right at the half, then rolled by. A 27-second third quarter (1:24 three-quarters) gave her the lead, which she widened to 3½ lengths entering the lane. The final margin was 4½ lengths in a spiffy 1:52.2. Sell a Bit N did save second over 49-1 outsider Motu Moonbeam N (Brent Holland), with Dude'salady (Scott Zeron) and Lady Shadow (Jason Bartlett) settling for the minors. Medusa, Twinkle (Eric Goodell) and Lakeisha Hall rounded out the order. For Shartin N, a 5-year-old daughter of Tintin in America co-owned by Richard Poillucci & Jo Anne Looney-King and trained by Jim King Jr., it was his eight win in 10 seasonal starts. The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $8.70, with the All-Kiwi triple returning $87. "I wasn't racing her to win," Tetrick said. "I was racing her to make money. If she broke again, we'd get nothing, so I wanted to be careful getting out of there." "She's been fussy at times, and she was last week, but she was very good tonight," Tetrick said. "She has every attribute to be a good horse, you just have to keep her calm like she was tonight. She's learning how to be an 'American' horse, to stop and start and relax." "We did a lot of work with her, changed some things right up until the race and added a Murphy blind (right side)," King said. "I also warmed her up hard to get some of the sting out of her. I'm glad it worked out. It's a better feeling than last week, I can say that." Tetrick won his second Matchmaker, eight seasons after Ginger and Fred (2010). A pair of series consolations, worth $100,000 (Levy) and $75,000 (Matchmaker), were won by Always at My Place (Brennan, $47) in 1:53.1, and Mackenzie A (Stratton, $4.50), also in 1:53.1. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, N.Y. – New Zealand-bred mare Shartin has proven to be aggressive by nature since arriving in the stable of Jim King late last fall. Described by her former harness racing trainer Dean Braun as a bit bossy, Shartin’s eagerness finally got the better of her in the last preliminary leg of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series April 13.  Established as the 1-5 favorite off three impressive series victories in the preceding weeks, Shartin surprised punters and her trainer when she broke into a gallop as the wings of the gate folded. Although she recovered her stride as the field entered the first turn, Shartin became rough-gaited and again rolled off stride just before the half. She finished eighth beaten 7¼ lengths, her first finish outside the exacta in nine stateside starts. “She was overly aggressive. I don’t have a real good explanation about what happened, I sure know it wasn’t very pleasing,” King remarked. “The first one I could explain because she was overly aggressive and just had a gate problem, which we can work with. The second break, I was a lot more concerned about that.” Although Shartin’s streak of wins in the first three legs of the series earned her a place in the final and boosted her record to 14-for-22 with $182,492 earned, it may have also contributed to her mishap last week. With enough points accumulated, King gave the 5-year-old daughter of Tintin in America a week off, skipping leg four. Shartin came back too fresh and aggressive last week. The ease of her wins has also means King doesn’t truly know how well Shartin can handle the half-mile track. “At this point, we really don’t know quite what she is. I certainly don’t think we’ve seen her limit,” King said. “We don’t know what she thinks of a half-mile track that much because she’s never been out of the handholds; she’s been in-hand at all times. Timmy’s given her such wonderful trips that she hasn’t had to go to work yet.” Shartin and regular driver Tim Tetrick will start from post one as the 8-5 favorite in tonight’s $373,000 Matchmaker Series Final. She will face seven rivals: Sell A Bit, Medusa, Lady Shadow, Motu Moonbeam, Dudesalady, Twinkle, and Lakeisha Hall. King took several steps this week to have Shartin primed for the final. First, he adjusted her new hopples to more closely match the set that shipped with her from Australia. Next, after consulting with down under conditioners, he trained Shartin Friday morning (April 20) to expend some of her pent-up energy.  “I actually did take her hopples up a little. They were pretty new hopples, so not the ones she came with. I got the hopples out that she came to this country with and measured them up and they were a smidgen longer, not much, so I took them up a little. We made a little adjustment on her head, nothing major,” King explained. “I actually trained her some (Friday) to try to take some of the spitfire out of her where usually I train horses three days out and leave it at that,” King continued. “It’s been ok for the weeks we were racing weekly, but this time she was just awfully fresh. She was really eager, so I’m just trying to do something a little different that I think might suit her. That is one of the things they’ll do down under is give a horse a little work the day before to try to take the edge off them.” With the final looming and adjustments made, King hopes he has Shartin poised for a top effort tonight. Most of all, he wants to put last week’s breaks in the rear-view mirror and look forward to the races ahead. “We really have got to try to put that behind us. We really can’t go in with a fear factor, that’s for sure. At the same time, we’ve got to be concerned and know that she’s capable of making a mistake,” King said. “I don’t think there’s anybody in there who’s stronger than she is. From here, it’s all her and Timmy.” In addition to Shartin, King will start Christen Me in the $100,000 George Morton Levy Series Consolation. Although Christen Me seeks his first win of the year, an inside post position draw off a pair of good races earned him morning line favoritism at 9-5. King will also start Newborn Sassy in a $40,000 Mares FFA Pace for Matchmaker Series eligibles. She is the 8-5 early choice. “We have a great opportunity tomorrow,” King said. “The stage is set for us to have a really happy night or a really disappointing night, but we’re expecting the best.” First post time tonight night is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the million-dollar card, click here.   By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY  

YONKERS, N.Y. – Harness racing trainer Ron Burke will start one horse each in the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy Series Finals at Yonkers Raceway on Saturday night (April 21) and both will start from a disadvantageous post position. In a random draw, Lakeisha Hall and Rockin Ron both burdened with post eight. Despite the bad luck, Burke is keeping a positive attitude and isn’t surrendering before races even begin. “It’s awesome,” Burke said with a laugh. “I race in a lot of big races, so sooner or later you always have it, but you hate to start the year off with it. If anything, we’re going to err on the side of aggressiveness. I’d rather be parked and sit last and get nothing. If I get parked, maybe find a hole fourth or fifth, maybe upset the apple cart, but the idea of sitting eighth doesn’t appeal to me in either race. I’m not just going out there to take a ride around the track. I want to give my horses a chance.” George Brennan will drive the Lakeisha Hall, a 15-1 shot in the $373,000 Matchmaker Final, carded as race nine on the loaded 12-race program. In post position order, they will face Shartin, the 8-5 favorite, Sell A Bit, Medusa, Lady Shadow, Motu Moonbeam, Dudesalady, and Twinkle.  Lakeisha Hall’s path to the Matchmaker Final included a fifth in week one in her first start off the bench, a second to last year’s Matchmaker champion Mackenzie in leg two, a pair of victories in weeks three and four, and a third last week to rivals Dudesalady and Lady Shadow. Except in her first start, she’s been forwardly placed in all her races thus far. “She’s a very good mare and I’ve been very happy with her until her last start,” Burke said. “She had a little tie up issue last week and we got her through it, but I think it took just a little of the sharpness off her. I look for her to bounce back and be super this week. I thought, I’ve done the right thing to prep for this race, this is her home, so I have her ready to go.” Burke purchased Lakeisha Hall as a weanling with ambitions of her becoming a Kentucky Sire Stakes Champion. The daughter of Third Straight out of the Art Major mare Lantana accomplished that mission, winning the $175,000 KYSS Finals at ages 2 and 3. Now a 5-year-old, she’s exceeded expectations, earning 21 wins and $491,043 in 53 starts. The Matchmaker Final will be the biggest race of her career thus far. “We set out with a plan to win the Kentucky Sire Stakes those two years and we went out and bought three weanlings. We looked them over, broke them for a month, and then sold the other two and decided to try to keep the best one,” Burke explained. “The plan worked to perfection. She was 2- and 3-year-old champ and has been more than just a Kentucky Sire Stakes horse, so we were thrilled. “She really doesn’t have many stakes other than this and for her to draw the eight hole, that hurt, but it is what it is,” Burke continued. “Try to move on, at least get something. Crazy things will happen in these races, there’s a lot of money up for grabs. There will be constant movement in here, even if I have to be the one making the movement.” In the $532,000 Levy Final one race later, Yannick Gingras will drive Rockin Ron. The 20-1 morning line shot’s road to the series final was shaky. He posted a pair of victories in legs one and two and finished second by a nose to Western Fame in leg three before finishing fifth beaten 4 lengths in week four. Burke gave Rockin Ron the last week off and narrowly made the final. With 230 points earned, Rockin Ron was ranked eighth in the standings, only six points ahead of Missile J in ninth. “I thought I did the right thing and I had to sweat it out with Rockin Ron. I gave him last week off,” Burke said. “Usually, you do what’s right for the horse and they do race well for you in the long run. I had a great feel going into the race, I thought, if I can draw in the right spot we can be competitive. We got the eight, I said, ‘you’ve got to be kidding me.’ ” Although his races look good on paper, Burke doesn’t feel Rockin Ron, a $1.1 million earner who twice beat Wiggle It Jiggleit at 4, has been up to par in any of his races in the series. Burke was more impressed with the 6-year-old son of Real Desire’s qualifier and seasonal debut at the Meadowlands in February than his series wins. “Honestly, I haven’t been happy with any of his races. The race that he really raced well was the race he was second in. The next week, I didn’t feel like at any point he had pace, Burke said. “I pulled blood, I didn’t like his blood. I haven’t liked his stomach since he came back. That’s why I made the decision, sink or swim, I’m giving him the week off and going to try and get him right and get him ready for the final.  “We’ve done a lot of work on him the last couple weeks and I do think that he will be better,” Burke continued. “I look for him to be way improved this week.” In post-position order, Western Fame, Dr J Hanover, defending series champion Keystone Velocity, Evenin Of Pleasure, Somewhere In L A, Mach It So, and 2016 series champion Bit Of A Legend will start to Rockin Ron’s inside in the Levy Final.  First post time Saturday night is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the million-dollar card, click here.   By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, April 19, 2018 - Sometime about a decade ago, a meeting of the minds took place. The purpose of the skull session was to put an end to rampant equine gender discrimination and 'invent' a harness racing companion event for Yonkers Raceway's George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. The Levy, honoring the memory of harness-racing visionary and Hall of Fame founder of Roosevelt Raceway, was and remains a staple stop for the sport's best Free-For-Allers. The event, started in 1978 (as a one-dash affair), had been resurrected in 2007 after a decade-long hiatus, and the brain trust decided there was no reason the guys should have all the fun. Accordingly, Yonkers Raceway race secretary Steve Starr reached out to the good folks at Blue Chip Farms in not-too-far-away Wallkill, NY, with the idea of putting together a 'ladies only' Levy companion event for standout pacing mares. Hence, 2009 saw the beginning of the Blue Chip Matchmaker. It was/is as long (five preliminary legs) as the Levy Series, also for serious coin ($40,000 per division, per leg) with an rich, added-money final. Then, there's the 'Matchmaker' part of the equation, a lovely carrot at the end of the stick where the first three finishers in the final get a free breeding to one of the farm's pre-selected roster of world-class stallions. The winner gets first choice, runner-up gets second choice, third gets third. With this Saturday night's (Apr. 21st) $373,000 final going as the 10th Matchmaker, what better time-with apologies to Mr. Peabody and Sherman-to make use the WABAC Machine? It was the first Saturday in May, 2009, merely hours after Mine That Bird pulled off a 50-1 stunner in the Kentucky Derby. The first Belle of the Ball turned out to be a 5-year-old daughter of Noble Ability named Pancleefandarpels. "First time I drove her came after Jason (Bartlett) picked off in an Open Handicap here," Jordan Stratton said. "She was a fairly big mare who could take air and was easy on herself." Stratton and Pancleefandarpels won consecutive local distaff derbies-the latter from an assigned eight-hole-leading into the '09 Matchmaker. Competing in the all five prelims, the duo went 1-3-1-5-1 before drawing post position No. 3 in the $229,000 final. Stratton, who hadn't turned 22 years of age, remembered that night. "There was an early breaker (2-5 favorite Chancey Lady [Cat Manzi]) and I had to go a bit wide," he said. "I was able to get in (fourth), then moved first-up. "As I said, she could take air. She put away the leader (Omen Hanover [Eric Abbatiello]) and was sharp." Pancleefandarpels defeated Double Dream N (Brent Holland) by a length-and-a-quarter in 1:54.4, becoming the first name in the annals. After winning his second Matchmaker last season with Mackenzie A, Stratton tries for the hat trick Saturday with Sell a Bit N from post position No. 2. Now an 'over-the-hill' 30, Stratton has fond memories of Pancleefandarpels. "It was my first big stakes win, so definitely" he said. "People sort of forget about her, but she was very talented." Pancleefandarpels, a Peter Pan Stables homebred trained by Erv Miller, raced through 2012, ending her career with 35 wins and earnings of $1,057,244. This Saturday's Matchmaker goes as the ninth of a dozen races, right before the 31st finale of the Levy, worth $532,000. First post for the $1.3 million card is the usual 6:50 PM. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Monday, April 16, 2018 - Post positions have been drawn for North America's two richest races of the harness racing season to date, Yonkers Raceway's $532,000 final of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series and $373,000 final of the Blue Chip Matchmaker. The finales, set for Saturday night (Apr. 21st), wrap up their respective six-week sojourns and highlight a 12-race card worth just over $1.3 million. First post is the usual 6:50 PM. The events, for the sport's leading older pacers of both gender, go 'ladies first,' with the Matchmaker as the ninth race and the levy as race No. 10. The field for the 10th Matchmaker is...1-Shartin N (Tim Tetrick), 2-Sell a Bit N (Jordan Stratton), 3-Medusa (Yannick Gingras), 4-Lady Shadow (Jason Bartlett), 5-Motu Moonbeam N (Brent Holland), 6-Dude'salady (Scott Zeron), 7-Twinkle (Eric Goodell), 8-Lakeisha Hall (George Brennan). The 31st Levy rolled off the autodraw showroom as such...1-Western Fame (Mark MacDonald), 2-Dr. J Hanover (Brett Miller), 3-Keystone Velocity (defending series champ, Dan Dube), 4-Evenin' of Pleasure (Joe Bongiorno), 5-Somewhere in L A (Bartlett), 6-Mach it So (Dave Miller), 7-Bit of a Legend N (2016 series champ, Stratton), 8-Rockin' Ron (Gingras). At first glance, the intriguing storyline for the Matchmaker is Shartin N. After easily winning her first three Matchmaker starts-and getting a subsequent week off-she returned as the 3-10 favorite last Friday night (Apr. 13th), unable to get out of own way, breaking right before the start and again at the half. At least the bridge jumpers stayed dry, since the Raceway eliminated show wagering. "We couldn't find anything wrong with her," trainer Jim King Jr. said this past weekend. "Regroup and try again." The final of the Levy is flush with inside speed, with the first half of the gate probably just as comfortable with someone on their backs as someone in back of them. A pair of consolations, worth $100,000 (Levy) and $75,000 (Matchmaker), are also included in the Saturday card. This story shall be updated. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, April 13, 2018 - Yonkers Raceway paid homage to Friday the (April) 13th, wrapping the preliminaries with the fifth round of the harness racing Blue Chip Matchmaker. Three, $40,000 events again brought together many of the best pacing mares in the last chance to impress the electorate. First Division - A first-up toughie, but Dude'salady (Tim Tetrick, $27.80) prevailed in a blanket finish. Early leader Lakeisha Hall (George Brennan) gave it up to Lady Shadow (Jason Bartlett), with the latter setting early intervals of :27.3 and :56.4. From post position No. 2, Dude'salady took out of fourth, with 11-10 favorite Mackenzie A (Jordan Stratton) towed from second-over. Dude'slady found her best stride after a 1:24 three-quarters, though Lady Shadow owned a length-and-a-quarter lead in the lane. The pursuer surged late, whipping the pace-setter by a neck in a life-best 1:52.4. Lakeisha Hall found inside room but was photoed for second. Call Me Queen Be closed well for fourth, while Mackenzie A wound up a flat fifth, the quintet of payees separated by just a half-length. "I thought she was good last week (third), so I wasn't surprised she dug in," Tetrick said. For fifth choice Dude'salady, a 4-year-old daughter of Shadow Play co-owned by First Staters M&L of Delaware & Victoria Dickinson and trained by Bruce Saunders, it was her fifth win in a dozen seasonal starts (1-for-5 in series). The exacta paid $131.50, with the triple returning $629. Second Division - Pole-sitting Sell a Bit N (Stratton, $8.50) went the distance (:27.1, :56.3, 1:25.1, season's-best 1:53.1). She stuffed Medusa 19-10 fave (Yannick Gingras) in behind, then dealt with a first-up Twinkle (Eric Goodell). The latter could have been a tad better 'front ma'am' for Newborn Sassy, who herself was gapping a bit. Newborn Sassy rallied wide and did get into second. Sell a Bit N owned a three-quarter length lead in and out of the final turn, maintaining that margin to the wire. Medusa was third, with Twinkle fourth. For third choice Sell a Bit N, an 8-year-old Down Under daughter of Julius Caesar owned by Von Knoblauch Stables and trained by Peter Tritton, it was her fifth win in 10 '18 tries (2-for-4 in series). The exacta paid $42.40, with the triple returning $155.50. Third Division --- Well, this was a surprise. Series domimnatrix Shartin N (Tetrick), who had won all three of her Matchmaker starts before getting a week off, couldn't get out of her own way. The 3-10 choice broke right at the start, caught the field, then jumped it off again at the half. While this hard-to-believe was happening, pole-sitting L A Delight (Gingras) retook from Clear Idea (Mark Mark MacDonald), then held the other three in-range lasses at bay (:28.2, :57.4, 1:25.1, season's best-matching 1:53.2). Clear Idea was second, beaten a length-and-a-half, with Shesjustadelight N (Ron Cushing) third. Shartin N wound up last among the octet. "Just wasn't her night," Tetrick said. "There have been times when she's been fussy with her mouth, and I don't know if that's what happened. She jogged back to the paddock and seemed sound, so we have to see. " For second choice L A Delght, a 5-year-old daughter of Bettor's Delight owned by Diamond Creek Racing and trained by Nancy Johansson, she's now 2-for-4 this season (2-for-3 in series). The exacta paid $59.50, with triple returning $298. The final standings accompany this release. Be advised these are not necessarily the entrants for the Saturday, Apr. 21st final (purse $373,000) and consolation ($75,000). Those participants shall be determined by the race office in accordance with the conditions of the series and in advance of Monday afternoon's (Apr. 16th) draw. Saturday night (Apr.14th) offers a trio of $50,000 divisions of Free-for-Allers in the fifth (final) round of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, N.Y. – If Mackenzie gets a chance to defend her harness racing title in the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series Final April 21, no one will be able to say she didn’t earn it. A streak of outside post positions and an unplanned absence from leg four of the series for open pacing mares means Mackenzie is ranked eighth by points heading into the last preliminary leg. Although she drew post seven again this week, trainer Pete Tritton is keeping a positive attitude. “My first reaction was, ‘well, if she gets into (the final), that’s one more chance she’s got to draw good,’ so I always try to look on the bright side,” he said. “It’s a great series and you’ve got to have luck and ability. We knew that when we went in.” After finishing second to Lady Shadow in her lone qualifier March 9, Mackenzie started the 2018 season by finishing last in the opening leg of the Matchmaker from post seven. She overcame the same post in leg two, circling the field to score a 1:53.1 victory March 23. In her most recent effort March 30, Mackenzie started from post six and sustained a first-over bid from 8 1/4 lengths behind to wear down Newborn Sassy by a measured half-length in 1:54.1 with regular driver Jordan Stratton in the sulky. “I always thought she was a good mare, but she was a bit rank early and Jordan really looked after her when we raced her last year,” Tritton said. “I think she’s a lot stronger this year, a lot more versatile. I’m pretty impressed with her. She is staked to all the big races all over America, so I’ve got a lot of confidence in her. She’s very strong.” Outside draws aren’t the only obstacle Mackenzie will have to overcome to make it back to the Matchmaker Final. A scare in the barn last week caused the daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven to miss a chance to race in leg four of the series. Tritton has trained her since the incident and feels she is ready for this week’s race. “She just got a little bit of a bump on her tendon, which has been looked at and it’s alright. I think she just must have whacked it in the stall or out in the field. Hopefully that won’t come back to haunt her at all,” Tritton explained. “I didn’t plan to take the week off because she didn’t get any points the first time. You’ve got to deal with the cards you’ve got and she drew bad, so we just hope that she can overcome it with her ability and she has no more problems.” Mackenzie is the 5-2 morning line favorite in the first of three $40,000 Matchmaker divisions Friday night (April 13). Motu Moonbeam, third in the standings, will start from the rail while series leader Lakeisha Hall drew post three. Seventh-ranked Lady Shadow will start from post four and will also look to secure her spot in the final. “She’ll be fine for Friday night, she’s just probably going to have to do a little work and have a hard run to get it done because it looks like there’s a lot of speed inside her and she’s going to have to come from the back again, which does make it hard,” Tritton said. “I’ll leave it to Jordan, who’s done a good job from the bad draws to get it done the last two weeks, so I’m hoping that everything will work out. “I still don’t think she’s at her top. I think if we can get her through this week, we’ll have her right at the top for the following week,” Tritton continued. “She’s the whole package. She’s very strong, she keeps going, but she does have tremendous speed. Jordan tries to look after her and not really ask her for top speed, but when she has to, she can really go fast.” Tritton will also try to qualify Sell A Bit for the Matchmaker Final Friday night. Ranked 15th in the standings and in need of a victory to have a chance at making the main event, the 8-year-old daughter of Julius Caesar will start from the rail in division two. After posting a wire-to-wire win in leg one and consecutive fourth-place finishes in legs two and three, the 27-time winner and $746,506-earner is a 7-2 morning line chance. “I was a little but disappointed last time. She got a good trip and just battled to the line. Her other runs have been good, but she’s had a little bit of an issue in one foot,” Tritton explained. “I trained her the other day and I thought she worked better than she ever did since I’ve had her, so I’m quietly confident that she’ll be right there on Friday night and be a contender to get back into the final. If not, the consolation, but she’s really good at the moment and I think that week off has done her a world of good.” While Mackenzie and Sell A Bit are under pressure to make the Matchmaker Final, Tritton won’t feel the same stress with Bit Of A Legend in the final preliminary leg of the George Morton Levy Series Saturday night (April 14). After posting an impressive 1:53.3 win in week one and a 1:53.2 win last week, the 2016 series champion is ranked second by points. “I’m definitely sure he’s better than he was at this time last year. I think if he draws reasonable and luck goes his way, he’ll be really, really hard to beat,” Tritton said. “I’m sure there’s no better horse in it and you’ve just got to have luck in the draws and luck in running, but I’m fairly confident with him if he draws good because he’s very versatile. He can sit and sprint, he can do a lot of work, he’s got good gate speed. “I’m confident that the horse is 100-percent right and right on his game,” he continued. “Now we’ve got to get the other things to fit into place, but that’s racing. It’s exciting to be involved and to think you’re a chance. Hopefully it works out. It doesn’t always, like last year, but it’s good to be a chance.” Tritton is happy to have Bit Of A Legend back in the barn this year. Although retirement to stallion duty was floated for the $1.9 million earning son of Bettor’s Delight at the end of the 2017 racing season, Tritton and the Vonknoblauch family, who owns Bit Of A Legend, Mackenzie, and Sell A Bit, consider themselves racers first and are happy to keep their star on the track for as long as he continues to enjoy his work. “I think he’d be a nice stud horse, particularly because he’s so good-gaited and he’s got no problems, he wears no boots. I think he’d be a good sire for New York to race on the smaller tracks in the stakes races,” Tritton said. “But he keeps turning up and winning five- or six-hundred-thousand every year and he doesn’t seem to have any lameness issues and he enjoys his work. “I keep thinking every year we’ll probably retire him, but it’s a tough business being a stallion, too. He’ll keep racing while I think he’s going as good as he is now. We’re here to race horses, we’re not really breeders. Same with Mackenzie. We got offered a lot of money for Mackenzie as a broodmare back in New Zealand last year after she won the Matchmaker, but as I say, we race them.” Bit Of A Legend is a 7-2 morning line chance from post seven in the third and final Levy preliminary Saturday night. Series leader Somewhere In L A will start to his immediate inside while fourth ranked Dr J Hanover drew post five. For Tritton, the prospects of Mackenzie and Bit Of A Legend each earning a chance to win their second titles in Yonkers’ signature races for older pacers is humbling. Achieving these feats at his home track is made better by his partnership with Stratton. “It’s very satisfying and it’s helped Jordan as well, which is great because he’s a great guy and a great driver. These races are not easy. A lot goes into it. It’s been very satisfying, and we’ll take it as it comes and hopefully we can get a good result again this year,” Tritton said. “Before I lived up here, I used to train in Delaware and I’d ship them up. I got a few into the finals over the years, I won a few preliminaries of the Levy, but the final was always beyond me,” he continued. “It does mean a lot because the main reason I moved up here was to race at Yonkers and these are the two signature races with my horses, so it’s very satisfying.” First post time Friday and Saturday night at Yonkers is 6:50 p.m. To view entries to Friday’s races, click here. For entries to Saturday’s races, click here. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

Harness Racing 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 three $40,000 divisions on Friday (April 13) in the fifth and final round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker series for open pacing mares. The Saturday (April 14) card at Yonkers will see three $50,000 divisions in the fifth and final 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 Saturday night (April 7) hosted a formful fourth of five preliminary rounds in the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. A trio of $50,000 events comprised the Free-For-All foray, which was guaranteed a different look as series (3-for-3) leader Dr J Hanover 'stole' a week off. It was nary more than a qualifier for money for people's puny pari-mutuel preference Bit Of A Legend N (Jordan Stratton, $2.30). From post position No. 2, he worked around pole-sitting Chumlee A (Larry Stalbaum), then waltzed though a flat :28 opening quarter-mile and :57.2 intermission. Long Live Rock (Dan Dube) tried it first-up from third, but even that didn't sufficiently up the tempo (1:25.3 three-quarters). Bit Of A Legend N opened a couple of lengths in and out of the final turn, winning by 1-1/4 lengths in a season's-best 1:53.2. Chumlee A saved second, with Killer Martini (Jason Bartlett) third. For 2016 series champ Bit Of A Legend N, a 9-year-old Down Under son of Bettor's Delight owned by Vonknoblauch Stable and trained by Peter Tritton, it was his second win in four seasonal/series starts (career earnings more than $1.97 million). Pole-sitting favorite Somewhere In L A (Bartlett, $4.40) retook from 96-1 rank outsider Evenin Of Pleasure (Joe Bongiorno) right at a :26.4 opening quarter-mile, then held that one at bay (:56.3, 1:25, 1:53). Christen Me N (Stratton) was a ground-saving third. Second and third choices Rockin Ron (Yannick Gingras) and Missile J (Tim Tetrick) were non-factors from first- and second-over, respectively. For Somewhere In L A, a 7-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding co-owned by D'Elegance Stable IX, Carmen Iannacone, T L P Stable and The Gandolfo Stables and trained by Richard Banca, it was his fourth win in six seasonal starts (2-for-4 in series). Odds-on Mach It So (David Miller, $3.80) rebounded from a failed retake a week ago. From the pole, he played early leapfrog with defending Levy champ Keystone Velocity (Dube) before finishing his appointed rounds (:27, :56.4, 1:24.3, season's-best 1:53.1). Mach It So held off the pocket pursuer by a length, with Bettor Memories (Tetrick) third. Mach It So, a 9-year-old Mach Three gelding owned by Bamond Racing and trained by Jeffrey Bamond Jr., is 2-for-4 this season/series. Complete recaps of the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2018, 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 2018 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the past weekend at Yonkers: Drivers: 1. Tim Tetrick - 87; 2. Jordan Stratton - 74; 3. Jason Bartlett - 72; 4. Yannick Gingras - 57; 5. George Brennan - 34. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 64; 2. Richard Banca - 63; 3. Peter Tritton - 57; 4. Jim King Jr. - 39; 5. Scott Di Domenico - 34. Owners: 1. Vonknoblauch Stable - 47; 2. Bamond Racing - 22; 3t. Brittany Farms - 20; 3t. Friendship Stables - 20; 3t. Gestion J Y Blais Inc. - 20. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will continue with the finals and consolations of the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy on April 21. Paul Ramlow

YONKERS, NY, Friday, April 6, 2018 -- With series starlets Shartin N, Twinkle and defending harness racing champ Mackenzie A getting the week off, Yonkers Raceway Friday night (Apr. 6th) presented the fourth round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker. Three, $40,000 events again brought together many of the best pacing mares, all of whom were thrilled the three queens abdicated this time around. Thus, some previous understudies stepped to the fore. First Division--A compact quintet (after a defection) saw a last-to-first late lunge by Scandalicious (Tim Tetrick, $16.80) in 1:53.4. From post position No. 4 (in one notch), Scandalicious was content to watch Eclipse Me N (Dan Dube) throw it down (:26.4, :56). Miss Irish Rose A (Larry Stalbaum) left into the pocket, while 9-10 favorite Lady Shadow (Jason Bartlett) was away fourth. That one was out toward the 1:24.3 three-quarters, needing some first-up reminders. Eclipse Me N maintained a length-and-a-half lead into the lane, but her rivals were about to conduct an intervention. Scandalicious, who didn't leave the cones until past the three-quarters, paced over her four foes, snapping Miss Irish Rose A by a nose. Lady Shadow, though never a threat to win, did continue to grab third, beaten a length-and-a-quarter. Eclipse Me N faded to fourth. For third choice Scandalicious, a 7-year-old daughter of American Ideal owned by JFE Enterprises and trained by Scott DiDomenico, it was her first win in 11 seasonal starts (1-for-4 in series). The exacta paid $87.50, with triple wagering cancelled due to the short field. Second Division--Medusa (Yannick Gingras, $12.40) was hard-used to make the lead, then just lasted (:27, :56.4, 1:25.2, 1:54) over a surging Clear Idea (Mark MacDonald). From post No. 5, Medusa found herself shut out of an early seat by polester Dewar N Soda (Tetrick). She then drove past 11-10 fave Call Me Queen Be (Scott Zeron), stealing a self-serving soft second quarter. Call Me Queen Be pulled pocket before the three-quarters, but was repelled. Medusa had a length-and-a-half advantage in and out of the final turn, and she'd need it. Clear Idea closed quickly from second-over, missing a head. Call Me Queen Be did save the bottom of the ticket. For third choice Medusa, a 7-year-old daughter of Bettor's Delight co-owned by Keystoners Randy Bendis & Tom Pollack and trained by Ed Hart, it was her first win in six '18 tries (1-for-4 in series). The exacta paid $53, with the triple returning $132.50. Third Division---Lakeisha Hall (George Brennan, $5.60) doubled her series pleasure, going the distance (:27.2, :57, 1:25.3, 1:54.1). From post No. 2, Lakeisha Hall went up and over pole-sitting Motu Moonbeam N (Brent Holland). Safe from Terror (Jordan Stratton), as the 8-5 choice, tried to leave, but was forced to slip in fourth. Safe from Terror moved again down the backside, only pacing in place before tiring. Meanwhile, Lakeisha Hall opened to a length-and-a-half entering the lane. Motu Moonbeam N edged from the pocket, from never came close to reaching. The margin was a length in a tick faster than the winner's effort a week ago. with Dude'salady (Tetrick) third. For second choice Lakeisha Hall, a 5-year-old daughter of Three Straight co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi and Jack Piatt II, she's 2-for-4 this season (and series). The exacta paid $10.80, with the triple returning $65. Saturday night (Apr.7th) offers a trio of $50,000 divisions of Free-for-Allers in the fourth round of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, N.Y. – Harness racing trainer Paul Blumenfeld will start two horses in the fourth leg of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series at Yonker's Raceway Friday night (April 6). Vintage Babe and Motu Moonbeam, who both started from post eight last week, each drew the rail in their respective divisions this week. Blumenfeld sees the draw as an opportunity to win key points toward in the final when series leaders Shartin, Twinkle, and Mackenzie took the week off. “They’re just really nice horses and it’s a great race. The Matchmaker and the Levy, it’s just exciting,” Blumenfeld said. “I think they fit good. Obviously, you have those horses that are winning who are impressive, like Mackenzie and Shartin, that have been racing super. But everybody’s trying to get their horse into the final. It’s a hard series because you’re racing a lot. But say you’re in the final, everybody goes. I don’t think there’s going to be a standout.” Blumenfeld acquired Vintage Babe last fall after longtime friend, trainer and owner Jim Ellison passed away. Vintage Babe had been racing at the Open level at Hawthorne and Hoosier Park and Blumenfeld saw the opportunity to bring her back to Yonkers. “I was friends with Jimmy for years, I knew him for a long time when I raced in Illinois and he passed on and his wife sold all the horses and she was one of them,” Blumenfeld said. “A guy called me and said she was for sale and asked if I’d be interested in looking at her. So I flew to Illinois and looker her over and bought her. She’s got some sentimental value in her for that aspect.” Vintage Babe previously raced at Yonkers in her 4-year-old season. She made the final of last year’s Petticoat Series after overcoming early breaks in stride in both of her starts in the Petticoat preliminary legs for trainer Ed Gannon. Maturity and some equipment changes on Blumenfeld’s part have helped the 5-year-old daughter of Vintage Master stay flat on the half-mile track since returning to Yonkers last October. “When she raced here last year, she raced for another trainer and she used to make breaks. She made breaks, but she still raced fantastic,” Blumenfeld said. “She had done a great job for Jimmy on the bigger track. When I brought her to Yonkers, it was a little touch-and-go if she would get around it and she did well. She did mature. Made some changes, made a few rigging changes, shoeing changes.” Although she won a $22,500 overnight wire-to-wire in 1:53.1 in her first start for Blumenfeld October 20 and took a $20,000 overnight in 1:55.4 in similar fashion January 19, Vintage Babe hadn’t competed at the Open level at Yonkers when Blumenfeld decided to nominate her to the Matchmaker Series. The talent he saw in those wins gave him the confidence to pay her in. “She did a good job when she won, she showed a lot of ability,” Blumenfeld said. “She won here one night on the front end really impressively and then she raced a couple times from off the pace and she just keeps coming. She’s been very unlucky in the legs so far because she’s been coming, but she hasn’t been drawing good or hasn’t had good racing luck.” Vintage Babe is ranked 22nd by points heading into leg four after finishing fourth and third in weeks one and two, respectively. The outside draw last week hindered her chances, but Blumenfeld expects driver Brent Hollard to race her aggressively this week. Vintage Babe is a 6-1 morning line in the first $40,000 Matchmaker split of the night, a field that includes Lady Shadow as the 8-5 favorite. “I’m hoping she’s close to the front the whole mile,” he said. “With any racing luck, I’m expecting her to race good.” While Vintage Babe was a relatively new acquisition for Blumenfeld, Motu Moonbeam is a stable stalwart. The New Zealand-bred daughter of Bettor’s Delight came to Blumenfeld at the end of her 4-year-old season in 2016. Unlike in Vintage Babe’s case, when he made the trip to inspect his prospect in person, Blumenfeld relies on his own research and a handful of close advisors when making a purchase from Down Under. “When I buy horses Down Under, I have an agent that calls me on a bunch and I watch the one he calls on, plus I look at the other ones in the race and I kind of weed through a lot and I found that I liked Motu Moonbeam because she was a green horse and she went through the ranks for us and has done a good job.” Motu Moonbeam has raced exclusively at Yonkers since arriving stateside. When she began her U.S. career in June 2016, she was still eligible for the non-winners of four pari-mutuel races lifetime condition. She won her way out of the conditions and worked her way to the Filly and Mare Open Handicap by November 2016. Vintage Babe earned her first win in Yonkers’ top class for distaffers with a pace-setting 1:54.4 score January 26, 2018. “It’s very satisfying. It’s like getting a baby and bringing it to the races. It’s really gratifying breaking a baby and watching him or her go through the ranks and develop. It was the same thing with her,” Blumenfeld said. Although bettors dismissed Motu Moonbeam as a 47-1 outsider in the Matchmaker first leg March 16, she overcame post six to finish second to Shartin. Despite her good showing week one, another outside draw made her a 36-1 chance in week two. Motu Moonbeam rallied from 9 ¼ lengths behind into a slow :57.1 half to win leg two in 1:54.3. Her placings earned her 155 points for a fifth-place ranking in the series standings coming into leg four. “I actually loved her, I just didn’t like the draw. I just knew if they mixed it up or made a mistake, sometimes, if you go too slow, a horse like her can pick up the pieces too,” Blumenfeld explained. “They bunch up on the last turn and she can just swoop them. I told the owners in every leg, I think she’s good.” After finishing fifth from post eight last week, Motu Moonbeam is a 7-1 morning line in leg four. The division’s 9-5 favorite Lakeisha Hall, a winner in the series last week, will start to Motu Moonbeam’s immediate outside. Although Motu Moonbeam has mainly been a closer since she began racing at Yonkers, Blumenfeld expects her to be a factor early in this spot. As with Vintage Babe, Brent Holland will drive. “She has tremendous gate speed. She has done the work on the front end, she can leave fast, she’s quick out of the gate,” he said. “She can do it both ways, but to keep longevity on horses, you can’t zing them every week. “All I can say is I’d like to see her race good. I really don’t tell the drivers what to do because anything can happen when the gate springs,” he continued. “I’m assuming he’s going to leave to either be on the front or get good position. If I were driving her, that’s what I would be doing.” First post time Friday night is 6:50 p.m. For entries for the card, click here. To view the Matchmaker Series point standings, click here. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

Harness Racing 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 6) in the fourth round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker series for open pacing mares. The Saturday (April 7) card at Yonkers will see three $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 deferred to the ladies on Friday (March 30), offering the third round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker. Four $40,000 events again brought together many of the best pacing mares. If Tim Tetrick has asked series leader Shartin N at any point during the first three weeks, he did it in private, as the femme fatale made it look simple again. Chilly early from post four she watched pole-sitting Lady Shadow (Jason Bartlett) take over from Scandalicious (Yannick Gingras). The intervals were soft enough (:28, :57.4) when Shartin N moved from third. She used a :27.2 third quarter (1:25.1) to dispose of Lady Shadow, taking a 1-1/2 length lead in and out of the final turn. Shartin N finished it off by a length in 1:53.3, remaining the Matchmaker's lone unbeaten mare. Safe From Terror (Jordan Stratton) lost her tow when the winner cleared, but continued well to be second. Eclipse Me N (Dan Dube) was third. For Shartin N, a 5-year-old Down Under daughter of Tintin In America co-owned by Richard Poillucci and Jo Ann Looney-King and trained by Jim King Jr., it was her seventh win, fourth consecutive, in eight 2018 tries. Yonkers Raceway used the last day of March, Saturday (March 31), to feature the third round of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. Four $50,000 events comprised the free-for-all foray. Odds-on from post four, Dr J Hanover (Brett Miller) did what he did in the first two legs. He made an immediate -- and 'cheap' -- lead, then again made his rivals pay (:28.3, :58, 1:26; 1:53.3). Bit Of A Legend N (Jordan Stratton) fought the good fight with a two-move second, but missed by a half-length. Another Daily Copy (Jason Bartlett) was a pylon-pocket third. For Dr J Hanover, a 5-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding co-owned by Brad Grant, Robert Leblanc, Steven Wienick and Irwin Samelman and trained by Tony Alagna, it was his third win in four seasonal starts (3-for-3 in series). Complete recaps of the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2018, 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 2018 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the past weekend at Yonkers: Drivers: 1. Tim Tetrick - 73; 2. Jordan Stratton - 62; 3. Jason Bartlett - 58; 4. Yannick Gingras - 47; 5. Brett Miller - 30. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 54; 2. Richard Banca - 51; 3. Peter Tritton - 47; 4. Jim King Jr. - 37; 5. Tony Alagna - 30. Owners: 1. Vonknoblauch Stable - 37; 2. Brittany Farms - 20; 3. Jo Ann Looney-King - 17.5; 4. Richard Poillucci - 17; 5t. Burke Racing Stable - 15; 5t. Diamond Creek Racing - 15; 5t. Friendship Stables - 15; 5t. Gestion J Y Blais Inc. - 15; 5t. Weaver Bruscemi - 15. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will continue with the final leg of the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy next weekend. The finals and consolations for both events will be held on April 21. Paul Ramlow

YONKERS, NY, Friday, March 30, 2018 - Yonkers Raceway deferred to the harness racing ladies for Good Friday and Passover (March 30rd), offering the non-denominational third round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker. Four, $40,000 events again brought together many of the best pacing mares. First Division - A perfectly-pocketed Lakeisha Hall (George Brennan, $14.60) measured it off against 1-4 favorite L A Delight (Yannick Gingras). The latter, away third from the pole, moved to the lead right at a 27-second opening quarter-mile. She then had a no-excuse middle half (:56.4, 1:25.4). Meanwhile, Lakeisha Hall, from post position No. 4, made a quick lead before finding her sequestered in the two-hole. L A Delight owned a length-and-a-quarter lead into the lane. However, former Kentucky Sire Stakes champ Lakeisha Hall edged out and edged past, winning by a half-length in 1:54.2. Medusa (Scott Zeron) was a best-of-the-rest, three-hole third. For second choice Lakeisha Hall, a 5-year-old daughter of Third Straight co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi and Jack Piatt II, it was her first win in three seasonal starts. The exacta paid $28.20, with the triple returning $88.50. "Once I made the lead, I wanted to make (L A Delight) work," Brennan said. "She had to go some in the first quarter, then not much, but my mare was sharp. "I was kicking myself last week. It was one of the few times I picked off Ronnie (Burke) and she was very good. She was good again." Second Division - If Tim Tetrick has asked series leader Shartin N ($2.90) at any point during the first three weeks, he did it in private, as the femme fatale made it look simple again. Chilly early from post No. 2, she watched pole-sitting Lady Shadow (Jason Bartlett) take over from Scandalicious (Gingras). The intervals was soft enough (:28, :57.4) when Shartin N moved from fourth. She used a :27.2 third quarter (1:25.1) to dispose of Lady Shadow, taking a length-and-a-half lead in and out of the final turn. Shartin N finished it off by a length in 1:53.3, remaining the Matchmaker's lone meticulous mare. Safe from Terror (Jordan Stratton) lost her tow when the winner cleared, but continued well to be second. Eclipse Me N (Dan Dube) was third. For Shartin N, a 5-year-old Down Under daughter of Tintin in America co-owned by Richard Poillucci & Jo Anne Looney-King and trained by Jim King Jr., it was her seventh win (fourth consecutive) in eight '18 tries. The exacta paid $10.60, with triple returning $47.20. "She's really versatile and learning to become an Americanized horse," Tetrick said. Apparently, she's going to turn into a 'slacker' as well, as Mrs. King indicated Shartin N is getting next week's fourth round off for good behavior. Third Division --- Second-choice Twinkle (Eric Goodell, $4.80) played leapfrog with 13-10 fave Sell a Bit N (Stratton). Good thing, too, as the latter tired and the leader held sway. Twinkle, from post No. 4, made the first lead, looping Sell a Bit N. The latter did take over before the :27.3 opening two furlongs. Twinkle left the cones to seize the initiative going into the second turn, finishing it off from there (:57.3, 1:25.2, season's-best 1:54.1). Shesjustadelight N (Ron Cushing), away third from the pole, came first-up and was a very good second, missing by three-quarters of length. Third went to Miss Irish Rose A (Larry Stalbaum), with Sell a Bit N fading to fourth For Twinkle, a 5-year-old daughter of Bettor's Delight co-owned by Dana Parham & Let it Ride Stables and trained by Ross Croghan, she's 2-for-3 this season (and series) and won 13-of-15 career starts. The exacta paid $22.80, the triple returned $318.50 and the superfecta paid $1,035. Fourth Division - For a second consecutive week, defending series victress Mackenzie A (Stratton, $3.10) was an off-the-pace beast. Away sixth from post No. 6, she watched Newborn Sassy (Tetrick) leave around Call Me Queen Be (Zeron). Again, there's wasn't much early excitement (:27.4, :57.4), but no matter. Mackenzie A was moving, and she nearly had an unwanted deterrent for yet another week. This time however, All About Madi (Bartlett), slipped back in after briefly coming out from third. That left Mackenzie A to engage Newborn Sassy in and out of a 1:26 three-quarters. The leader was tough, but the challenger was tougher. Just about synchronized turning for home, Mackenzie A wore down Newborn Sassy by a half-length in 1:54.1. Call Me Queen Be wound up third. For Mackenzie A, a 6-year-old Down Under Rock N Roll Heaven lass trained by Peter Tritton for co-owners Von Knoblauch Stables and Ellen Kinser, it was her second win in three seasonal/series efforts. The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $13, with triple returning $65.50. “She never disappoints me because she always shows up,” Stratton said. Saturday night (March 31st) offers a quartet of $50,000 divisions of Free-for-Allers in the third round of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. A reminder that there is no horse race wagering permitted in New York State Easter Sunday (Apr. 1st), including the Raceway and Empire City Bets. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, N.Y. – As the leading driver at Yonkers Raceway in each of the past four seasons, including last year when horses he drove earned $10.4 million, harness racing driver Jason Bartlett finds himself in an unusual position three months into the 2018 season: in second place. Although his 104 victories at the meet are 36 more than George Brennan’s 68 wins, Bartlett trails Jordan Stratton by nine wins with a quarter of the season in the books. Although he calls it a slow start by his standards, Bartlett’s competitive mindset looks forward, not back. “I had a real slow winter meet, but everything is picking up now,” Bartlett said. “My main barns weren’t racing a lot of horses. It happens, I guess. There’s some things you can’t control and that’s one of them. I guess it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” One of the main trainers Bartlett drives for, Rich Banca, went 6-for-61 in January, the stable heated up as the Matchmaker and Levy series approached, going 25 for its next 135 through March 28. Bartlett will drive in all eight of this weekend’s Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy series divisions and he drives for Banca in six of them. As the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy Series continues into their third legs this weekend, Bartlett continues to be impressed by the competitiveness of each series. Six different horses have won the first seven division of the Matchmaker while seven unique horses captured the first nine Levy splits. “The great thing about it this year is you have your top-level horses in there, but some of the horses who are maybe not as talented can beat the better horses because of the post positions, the bad draws, bad spots,” he explained. “I think both the Matchmaker and the Levy are great this year because right now it’s been post position draws that have won the races. It’s going to be interesting. Now more so than most years, because there’s so many different horses winning, the wins really matter. Coming down to the wire, it’s going to be very interesting.” Bartlett gave his thoughts on each horse he will drive in the series. Friday March 30, 2018: Blue Chip Matchmaker Series Third Leg Race 6 – Division One #5 Mach It A Par 7-2 (Tr. Rich Banca) A 39-time winner and earner of $783,847, Mach It A Par is a two-time finalist of the Matchmaker Series. She was unplaced in her first three starts of the year, but strung together consecutive wins in a $25,000 overnight and a $30,000 Filly and Mare Preferred entering the series. After finishing fourth from post seven in leg one, Mach It A Par finished second to L A Delight in leg two. She will get a rematch with that rival tonight. “She’s been good. All year she’s been pretty consistent. In the right spots, she’s done her job. She’s the best she’s been in a long time. I was very happy the way she finished up last week. We’re in kind of a tough spot on the outside of the gate, so if we can work out a trip with her, second- or third-over, she could be pretty good. Last week was very good seeing her like that again.” Race 7 – Division Two #1 Lady Shadow 5-2 (Tr. Rich Banca) Champion mare Lady Shadow joined the Banca ranks last fall and made her seasonal debut a winning one when she captured leg one of the Matchmaker wire-to-wire in 1:53.4. Although $1.9 million earner finished fourth as the odds-on favorite last week, Bartlett believes the trip got the better of her after he brushed her to the lead in a :55.4 half. Lady Shadow will face Shartin N this week, who is 2-for-2 in the Matchmaker. “Last week I used her a little bit too hard. We were going a pretty quick clip and then it slowed down real fast and I heard a little commotion behind me, so I had to move there or come first-over a little bit later. I decided just to move her to the front and she got a little tired there. If they would have gone a little bit faster to the half, I would have never moved her. They forced my hand. They went :26.1 and we were going really slow into the paddock turn and I didn’t want to shut her off, so I had to move her. We got the rail this week and it doesn’t look like we’re going to have to go :26.0, that’s for sure.” Race 8 – Division Three #6 Wishy Washy Girl 3-1 (Tr. Rich Banca) Five-year-old daughter of Roll With Joe returned with a lackluster sixth March 9, just a week before the series began. She skipped leg one of the series in favor of a $20,000 overnight March 16 and won by 6 ¾ lengths in 1:54.2. Last week, Bartlett drove her to a wire-to-wire score in the Matchmaker second leg, where she beat first leg winner Twinkle. “If you’re going into that series, you’re going to want to be kind of sharp. It was a step up for her anyways. For her to jump right in there not off a great race the week before, that would be asking a lot of her. We threw her in an overnight to see if she was going to be able to go with them and she proved that she could. Last week, she drew the rail and the good thing about her is she can leave the car really fast and then she’s really handy afterwards. Last week, we had the horse to beat on our back and was able to not let them out. That’s what she can do; she’s able to put better horses in bad spots because she’s so handy. Do I think I would I have been able to beat that hose if I hadn’t been in front of her? Probably not. She’s just handy on the half-mile track, she can do anything you want her to do. It looks like a tough spot this week. We have some horses inside that can leave. I’m just going to read the gate and go from there.” Race 9 – Division Four #2 All About Madi 9-2 (Tr. Brittany Robertson) Daughter of Brandon’s Cowboy was unplaced in the first two legs of the series after putting together a string of on the board finishes in open company earlier this season. Bartlett will drive her for the first time since January 19 when she faded to finish fourth as the even-money favorite in a $25,000 overnight. “I think she’s been pretty good. I haven’t driven her since the beginning of the year, went off favored, put her on the front, she was no good. That’s really not her gig, racing her on the front probably wasn’t the best idea. She’s got a good spot. I’ve seen her a couple times, she’s been coming up the rail near the wire, she’s had a lot of pace. She’s one of those horses that you need a helmet and she’ll give you a good kick home, so that’s probably what I’ll try to do is get her on the right helmet and go from there.” Saturday March 31, 2018: George Morton Levy Series Third Leg Race 7 – Division One #5 Blood Brother 6-1 (Tr. Rich Banca) The 6-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere is a 23-time winner, a $739,380-earner, and made the final of the series last year. Bartlett drove him to consecutive wins at the $20,000 level in the weeks leading up to the series, one in wire-to-wire fashion in 1:53.1 and one from off the pace in 1:54.2. Blood Brother finished a disappointing seventh beaten 11 lengths in the first leg of the series and skipped last week. Series standouts Mach It So and Missile J drew to his inside. “He’s just been ok this year so far. He was sick last week, so we gave him the week off. I really don’t know what to expect from him. He’s a nice little horse, he’s handy. I’ll just have to trip him out. It’s a pretty tough field of horses, it’s a pretty tough group.” Race 8 – Division Two #1 Another Daily Copy 4-1 (Tr. Rich Banca) Dismissed at odds of 25-1 last week, the 5-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere rallied up the inside to finish third to Evenin Of Pleasure by 2 ¼ lengths in 1:53.3. He draws favorably this week and Bartlett looks to get an ideal trip behind Dr J Hanover, who won the first two legs of the series after setting slow half-mile fractions of :58.1 and :57.3, respectively. “Finished really well last week. I never left the rail with him, he kind of battled on. He came up the inside and actually had a lot of pace at the wire. Looks like hopefully we’ll get a decent trip again this week and he can be right there. He’s another horse that can beat some nice horses with a decent trip. I’ll probably push the rail and try and sit behind ‘Dr J.’ Dr J Hanover is a great horse obviously, but he hasn’t had to work for anything yet. We’ll see what happens when he has to work a little bit. The horse can leave with the car, sometimes the car can’t get out of the way fast enough, so that’s part of his game, leaving fast, shutting it down, and sprinting home. Looks like a good horse to follow.” Race 10 – Division Three #5 Killer Martini 6-1 (Tr. Ricky Bucci) Teamed with Bartlett to score two upset victories in the Open Handicap Pace in February before posting a string of four straight losses, including in leg one of the series March 17. The 6-year-old son of Camluck was scratched sick in leg two. He draws outside Western Fame, a winner in the series last week, Keystone Velocity, the series’ defending champion, and Rockin Ron, who is 2-for-2 to start the series. “We got a couple good races there in the Open two weeks in a row. We got fast halves, great trips, so that was good. He’s a nice little Yonkers horse, makes a lot of money. No gate speed, so we’re just going to be dependent on how the race develops and take it from there.” Race 11 – Division Four #5 Somewhere In L A 3-1 (Tr. Rich Banca) Finished second beaten a head by Keystone Velocity in the $529,000 final of the Levy Series last year, Somewhere In L A is a $1.4 million earning son of Somebeachsomewhere. Although his form tailed off at the end of 2017, Somewhere In L A returned a wire-to-wire winner in a $20,000 overnight March 3 and posted another pace-setting win the following week in a sharp 1:52.4. He finished second to Dr J Hanover in week one of the series and second to Western Fame last week. Bartlett was happy with the former effort, but blames himself for the most recent loss. “He qualified great, he raced great. The first race with ‘Dr J,’ I just didn’t want to get into a speed duel with that horse, so I elected to come first-over. I knew it was going to be a slow half, but he still grinded out a second, which is great. Last week, I think I lost the race. I shouldn’t have raced the horse on the backside as much as I did. I felt I had him beat. I think it was my fault, but he raced really well. He is a tough horse and he just doesn’t quit. He might not be the most talented, but he has a big heart and he’s pretty versatile. He’s just a nice horse all around. I think he might have caught one of the cheaper groups this week. All Bets Off had the outside the first week and we beat him. I’m not sure, he can go both ways, but he likes to be placed forward, so we’ll see.” By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

Harness racing this Week: Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy series third legs, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit at Yonkers this week features four $40,000 divisions on Friday (March 30) in the third round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker series for open pacing mares. The Saturday (March 31) card at Yonkers will see four $50,000 divisions in the third 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 this past Saturday night (March 24) offered the second round of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. A quartet of $50,000 events again brought together many of the marquee Free-For-Allers. The result was three, down-the-road winners, including two series repeaters. The encore performers were faves Dr J Hanover (Brett Miller, $4.10) and Rockin Ron (Yannick Gingras, $2.30) in the bookend divisions. Dr J Hanover won the draw for the second consecutive start and put his rivals to sleep for the second consecutive start. A cheapy (:27.4, :57.3) half served him well after another first-leg winner, Always At My Place (George Brennan), offered a hard, first-up challenge. That one was disposed after a :27 third quarter (1:24.3), while Dr J Hanover swelled up to two lengths entering the lane. The final margin was 2-1/2 lengths in 1:52.4. Chumlee A (Larry Stalbaum) lost touch in the pocket, crossed the line second but was set down to fourth for cutting some cones. That placed Keystone Velocity (Dan Dube) second and Bit Of A Legend N (Jordan Stratton) third. For Dr J Hanover, a 5-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding co-owned by Brad Grant, Robert Leblanc, Steven Wienick and Irwin Samelman and trained by Tony Alagna, it was his second win in three seasonal starts. Rockin Ron, from post position two, wanted no part of an early pocket. He took over from pole-sitting Luciano N (Brent Holland), then -- with another pedestrian early portion -- held that rival at bay (:26.3, :57, 1:24.4, 1:53.2). The margin was three-quarters of a length. Mach It So (Tim Tetrick), after last week's win, turned in a solid, two-move effort for third from behind the eight-ball. For Rockin Ron, a 6-year-old Real Desire gelding co-owned as Burke Racing by trainer Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi, RTC Stables and J&T Silva Stables, it was his second win in four seasonal starts. Complete recaps of the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2018, 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 2018 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following this past weekend at Yonkers: Drivers: 1. Tim Tetrick - 48; 2. Jason Bartlett - 44; 3. Jordan Stratton - 42; 4. Yannick Gingras - 37; 5. Brent Holland - 26. Trainers: 1. Richard Banca - 39; 2. Ron Burke - 37; 3. Peter Tritton - 32; 4t. Paul Blumenfeld - 22; 4t. Jim King Jr. - 22. Owners: 1. Vonknoblauch Stable - 27; 2t. Friendship Stables - 15; 2t. Gestion J Y Blais Inc. - 15; 4t. Bamond Racing - 12; 4t. Richard Poillucci - 12. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will continue with legs of the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy over the next two weekends. The finals and consolations for both events will be held on April 21. Paul Ramlow Grand Circuit Publicity Director

YONKERS, NY, Friday, March 23, 2018 - Yonkers Raceway Friday night (March 23rd) offered the second round of the harness racing Blue Chip Matchmaker. A quintet of $40,000 events again brought together many of the best pacing mares. 'Quintet' was the watchword in the first division, with the field pared to five after a defection. Pole-sitting, series-debuting Wishy Washy Girl (Jason Bartlett, $4.80) kept pocket-sitting, even-money fave Twinkle (Eric Goodell) trapped in behind, then took it the distance (:27.1, :57.1, 1:25.3, 1:54.2, matching her previous season's win effort). The margin was a neck. Scandalicious (Tim Tetrick) moved from last down the backside, flattened but held third For Wishy Washy Girl, a 5-year-old daughter of Roll with Joe co-owned by Michael Cimiglio, Glenn Goler & Stephen Demeter by Richard Banca, it was her second win in three seasonal starts. The exacta paid $11.40, with triple wagering refunded due to an insufficient number of starters. The second division was a second handy Matchmaker win for Shartin N (Tetrick, $2.30). From post No. 4, she worked around polester Clear Idea (Mark MacDonald), then had no grief whatsoever (:27.1, :57.1, 1:25.3, 1:53.2). Throwing down an early gauntlet in this series, Shartin N won by a facile length-and-three-quarters. Clear Idea saved second, with 69-1 rank outsider Vintage Babe (Brent Holland) a ground-saving third. She gained the bottom of the ticket after Au D Lox Bluegrass (Yannick Gingras) took out of third, tried to test the winner and faded to fourth. For Shartin N, a 5-year-old Down Under daughter of Tintin in America co-owned by Richard Poillucci & Jo Anne Looney-King and trained by Jim King Jr., it was her sixth win in seven '18 tries. The exacta paid $13.40, with triple returning $97. Friday evening's third series event found another series newbie, L A Delight (Gingras, $5.70), eschew an early three-hole, then hold sway (:27.3, :56.3, 1:25.1, 1:53.2). From post No. 3 after last week's scratch-sick, L A Delight took over from pole-sitting Mach it a Par (Bartlett). That one, and a first-up Wrangler Magic (Dan Dube) were quite credible, but not quite good enough. L A Delight disposed of Mach it a Par by a length-and-a-quarter, with Wrangler Magic third. For timid choice L A Delight, a 5-year-old daughter of Bettor's Delight owned by Diamond Creek Racing and trained by Nancy Johansson, it was her first win in a pair of seasonal starts. The exacta paid $18.20, with the triple returning $93. Friday's fourth division saw logic take a holiday in the form of 36-1 bombardier Motu Moonbeam N (Holland, $74.50). From outside post No. 7, she watched from the back as 'Sissy and Sassy' show, with HP Sissy (Dube) and tepid 2-1 favorite Newborn Sassy (Tetrick) leading the ladies (:27.2, :57.1, 1:25). Jag Out (Gingras) pulled from third with a hard challenge, only to eventually break stride. However, the front end was more than vulnerable, with Motu Moonbeam closing crisply to win by a length-and-a-quarter in a season's-best 1:54.3. Safe from Terror (Jordan Stratton), who misstepped in the third turn allowing the eventual winner to improve position, made up much ground to end up second. Gina Grace N (Larry Stalbaum), second-over and gapping the misbehaving Jag Out, did get third. For Motu Moonbeam N, a 6-year-old Down Under daughter of Bettor's Delight owned by Friendship Stables and trained by Paul Blumenfeld, she's now 3-for-10 this season. The exacta paid $459, with the triple returning $4,101. The evening's final series get-together found last season's series victress, Mackenzie A (Stratton, $16.20), make her first statement this season. Working off the pace after starting outside her six foes, Mackenzie A did have some numbers to chase as Lakeisha Hall (Gingras), Call Me Queen Be (Scott Zeron) and 2-5 choice Lady Shadow (Bartlett) were all in play. Before the dust settled (:26.1, :55.4) and Lady Shadow had two-moved to the lead, Mackenzie A was out and moving. She was done no favors-and forced three-wide briefly-when Lispatty (Brennan) came out directly in front of her. That one threw down another roadblock, tiring by the 1:24.1 three-quarters and forcing Mackenzie A wide again. No problem, as she just rolled over a tiring Lady Shadow in the lane. Mackenzie A drew out, winning by a length-and-a-half in 1:53.1. Lakeisha Hall raced well at both ends of the mile to finish second, with Dudesalady (Holland) and Lady Shadow retreating to fourth. For third choice (barely) Mackenzie A, a 6-year-old Down Under Rock N Roll Heaven lass trained by Peter Tritton for co-owners Von Knoblauch Stables and Ellen Kinser, it was her first win in a pair of seasonal efforts. The exacta paid $131.50, with the triple worth $1,008. Saturday night (March 24th) offers a quartet of $50,000 divisions of Free-for-Allers in the second round of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. Frank Drucker

Harness racing this week: Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy series second legs, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit at Yonkers this week features five $40,000 divisions on Friday (March 23) in the second round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker series for open pacing mares. The Saturday (March 24) card at Yonkers will see four $50,000 divisions in the second 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 George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series for Free-For-Allers began Saturday night (March 17), with five $50,000 divisions. From post position two, season-debuting Mach It So (Tim Tetrick) threw down an early series gauntlet, retaking from Chumlee A (Larry Stalbaum) en route to a handy 1:53.3 win. Chumlee A chased, beaten 1-3/4 lengths, with pole-sitting Bettor Memories (Kyle Husted) a three-hole third. For Mach It So, an 8-year-old Mach Three gelding owned by Bamond Racing and trained by Jeffrey Bamond Jr., it was a 41st career victory as he nears $2.5 million in career earnings. It was first-up and first home for Always At My Place (George Brennan) in the second division. From post two, he engaged last season's series winner Keystone Velocity (Dan Dube) after that one's intervals of :27.2, :56.4 and 1:24.3. Always At My Place forged by late, beating a pylon-skimming Mister Daytona N (Jordan Stratton) by a head in 1:54. Christen Me N (Tetrick), angling from the pocket as Keystone Velocity tired, was third, beaten a neck. Always At My Place, a 7-year-old Always A Virgin gelding, is co-owned (as Burke Racing) by trainer Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi, Larry Karr and Phil Collura. Polester Dr J Hanover (Brett Miller) took one step forward and the rest of the field deferred. The result (:28.2, :58.1, 1:26.4, 1:55) was nary more than a public workout. Dr J Hanover won by 1-3/4 lengths, with Somewhere In L A (Jason Bartlett) a first-up second and favorite All Bets Off (Yannick Gingras) a loose-pocket third. For second choice Dr J Hanover, a 5-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding co-owned by Brad Grant, Robert Leblanc, Steven Wienick and Irwin Samelman and trained by Tony Alagna, it was his first win in a pair of seasonal starts. Odds-on Rockin Ron (Gingras) -- from post four -- rebounded from a poor effort in his final pre-series overnight event and went the distance (:27.1 :56.4, 1:24.3, 1:53). Evenin Of Pleasure (Joe Bongiorno) chased the winner in a good try, beaten three-quarters of a length. Western Dynasty (Bartlett) sat a three-hole and picked off the rest. For Rockin Ron, a 6-year-old Real Desire gelding co-owned (as Burke Racing) by trainer Burke, Weaver Bruscemi, RTC Stables and J&T Silva Stables, it was his first win in three seasonal starts. Bit Of A Legend N (Stratton) seemed to be minding his own affairs in his 2018 purse debut, when things worked out quite well for him. From post three, the 2016 Levy champ worked out a second-over trip behind 1-2 favorite Missile J (Tetrick) and won by a neck in 1:53.3. Long Live Rock (Dube) rallied for third. For fourth choice Bit Of A Legend N, a 9-year-old Down Under son of Bettor's Delight owned by Vonknoblauch Stable and trained by Peter Tritton, it was his 42nd career win (earnings of $1.93 million). Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2018, 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 2018 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the opening weekend at Yonkers: Drivers: 1. Tim Tetrick - 32; 2. Jordan Stratton - 25; 3. Jason Bartlett - 22; 4t. George Brennan - 12; 4t. Yannick Gingras - 12. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 22; 2. Peter Tritton - 20; 3. Richard Banca - 17; 4. Jim King Jr. - 12; 5t. Tony Alagna - 10; 5t. Jeff Bamond Jr. - 10; 5t. Ross Croghan - 10; 5t. Scott DiDomenico - 10. Owners: 1. Vonknoblauch Stable - 20: 2. Bamond Racing - 10; 3. Richard Poillucci - 7; 4t. Burke Racing Stable - 5.5; 4t. Weaver Bruscemi - 5.5. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will continue with legs of the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy over the next three weekends. The finals and consolations for both events will be held on April 21. Paul Ramlow Grand Circuit Publicity Director  

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