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YONKERS, NY, Friday, March 15, 2019 -- Beware the Ides of March (Friday the 15th), provided you weren't mesmerized by the start of Yonkers Raceway's harness racing Blue Chip Matchmaker. Five, $40,000 groupings were consecutively contested, featuring the best pacing mares around. Here's the skinny... First division Odds-on Ideal Lifestyle A (George Brennan, $3.90)--from post position No. 2--took over from lone leaver Twinkle (Scott Zeron) before a :27.3 opening quarter-mile, then held sway (:57.2, 1:24.4, life-best 1:52.3). Twinkle tried the winner inside through the lane, but missed a length. Write Me a Song (Jordan Stratton) was a non-threatening third, with Newborn Sassy (Tin Tetrick) and Caviart Cherie (Joe Bongiorno) settled for the minors. For Ideal Lifestyle A, a 7-year-old Down Under daughter of Western Ideal owned and trained by Tahnee Camilleri, it was her second win in five seasonal starts. The exacta paid $15.40, the triple returned $40.60 and the superfecta paid $153.50. Ideal Lifestyle A Second division With the rain teeming down, a first-up--from post No. 4--Delightmemphisn (Jason Bartlett, $6.60) snapped 2-5 choice Bettor Joy N (Tetrick) at the (1:53) wire. First leader Magic Forces (Brenan) was a best-of-the-rest third, with Freakonomics (Zeron) and Sell a Bit N (Stratton) picking off the final pay envelopes. Bettor Joy N had laid down early intervals of :27.2, :56.1 and 1:24.2, but just faltered by a short nose. For second choice Delightfulmemphisn, a 6-year-old Down Under daughter of Bettor's Delight owned by Enzed Racing and trained by Nifty Norman, it was her fifth win in eight '19 tries. The exacta paid $11.40, the triple returned $24.80 and the superfecta paid $57. Third division Rain continued and so did formful results. It was a down-the-road--from post No. 3--Apple Bottom Jeans (Corey Callahan, $2.60) winning as she pleased (:28.1, :56.3, 1:25, 1:52.2). Rockstar Angel A (Zeron) chased from a loose pocket, beaten 3½ lengths. A weak, first-up Queen Lostris N (Mark MacDonald), Bettor's Up (Bartlett) and Lakeisha Hall (Brennan) were the other payees. For Apple Bottom Jeans, a 6-year-old daughter of Mr. Apples co-owned by Ed Gold, Howard Taylor, Thomas Lazzaro & Robert Cooper Stables and trained by Dylan Davis, it was her third win in five seasonal starts. The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $9.20, the triple returned $52.50 and the superfecta paid $160.50. Fourth division More precipitation, more predictable performances. From post No. 6, Favored Seaswift Joy N (Jim Marohn Jr., $5.50) eschewed an early three-hole, then completed her wet rounds (:26.4, :56.4, 1:24.3, life-best 1:52.1). Feelin' Red Hot (Brennan) took a shot from the pocket, but missed by three-quarters of a length. For Seaswift Joy N, a 6-year-old Down Under daughter of Bettor's Delight owned by Brad Grant and trained by Tony Alagna, it was her third win in five '19 efforts (3-for-3 here). The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $15.60, the triple returned $87 and the superfecta paid $339. Seaswift Joy N Fifth division ....and the theme continued. Defending series champ Shartin N (Tetrick, $2.20), began her purse season by fooling very few. From post No. 2, she found herself away third before finding front. From there (:27.4, :56, 1:24.3, 1:52.2), she was a puny parimutuel proposition. Don't Think Twice A (Bartlett) made first lead, yielded and missed, beaten a half-length. Bettorb Chevron N (Stratton) closed for third, with Dude'salady (Marohn Jr.) and Mach it a Par (Brennan) settling for the small change. For Shartin N, a 6-year-old Tintin in America Kiwi lass, co-owned by her chauffer, Richard Poillucci and Jo Ann Looney-King, she comes off a 19-for-24, million-dollar season. The exacta paid $5.60, the superfecta returned $10.40 and the superfecta paid $34.40. Saturday evening's (March 16th) opener of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series features six, $50,000 divisions (races 4 through 9) for the Free-For-All gentlemen folks. Earlier Friday evening, Dan Dube knocked an item off the to-do list, getting career win No. 8,999 with Rural Art ($6.30) in the $20,000, third-race pace (1:54.4, updates if necessary) Frank Drucker

YONKERS, N.Y. – When harness racing trainer Jim King, Jr. thinks about returning to the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series at Yonkers Raceway, the trainer admits he’s, “going in with a better chance than most.” King will start a trio of mares in the series first leg Friday night (March 15), and the onslaught is led by Shartin, who will try to become the first mare to repeat in the Matchmaker Series. Shartin’s victory in the $373,000 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series Final last April was the first of nine major Grand Circuit wins last year which propelled her to become the first mare to win over $1 million in a single season and earned her the Dan Patch Award for Older Pacing Mare. The experience is still fresh on the minds of King and his wife, Joann.  “Between my wife and I we’ve got well over one hundred years in this business and to be in a position here where we get this kind of stuff, it’s still very exciting to us,” King said. “This time last year (Shartin) was a real handful,” King remembered. “By now, we’ve kind of got a handle on her, but she started off real big because she won races in January for 11 months straight. That’s pretty good in that class to be doing that. She’s exceeded all our expectations time after time. As far as I’m concerned, she never got beat without a really good reason, not necessarily an excuse, but there was always an answer for why it didn’t work out and a couple were that she just plain old made a break. It’s probably a once in a lifetime go.” While the answers were there each time Shartin tasted defeat, she rarely needed them. Shartin went 19-for-24 last year and took a mark of 1:48.2 in Lexington. She wrapped up her season with a win in the $175,000 TVG Mares Series Final November 24 at the Meadowlands. Shartin made her first qualifying start this year February 13 at Dover Downs, winning in 1:56. She returned eight days later to qualify again in 1:52. “I don’t see where she’s any worse for the wear,” King said. “She qualified back really good. Easy enough the first time, just a good trainer. Then we went back and qualified her like you would expect for a horse like her do to, so that was good.” While Shartin came into the series last year with five races under her belt, Friday night’s start as the 7-5 morning line favorite in the ninth race, the $40,000 fifth and final division of the Matchmaker first leg, will be her seasonal debut. King couldn’t get a race into Shartin without shipping her north, so he opted to stay home in Delaware and wait. King thinks going into the series with a fresh horse is an advantage. “We really couldn’t get her started without sending her to New York and that’s a pretty good trip. I’d be satisfied if we get six starts up there, or even five,” he said. “She’s ready. She always gets back ready when I had time in between. I didn’t go into a race three weeks out that I felt, ‘man I wish I had a race in her.’ She’s always been OK, but not off this long a break, but I feel pretty good about it. “I do think you’re better off going in fresh because it’s such a long, grueling series,” King continued. “We leave home nine hours before a race. That’s a big deal to do that week after week after week. She’s always held up to that kind of stuff. (Bettor Joy) I feel is really competitive also, I just don’t know if she’s that stout, I don’t know if she can stand it week after week, but we’re here to find out. Where they come from, they don’t race regularly like that, but they do ship around.” Like Shartin, Bettor Joy is a New Zealand-bred mare imported to the United States by owner and managing partner Rich Poillucci. A new face in the series this year, Bettor Joy was a two-time Group 2 winner back home and won another two listed stakes.  “Rich Poillucci, he does all the legwork, he does the homework, he finds these horses, he watches the horses that they race with,” King said. “We’ve got some pretty good connections over there now to go over them and give us their opinions on them. It’s a big team effort and we’ve got a pretty good team.”  Bettor Joy, a 5-year-old mare by Bettor’s Delight out of the Road Machine mare Joyfulbelle, completed her final start in New Zealand November 16 and made her first stateside qualifying appearance January 23 at Dover Downs. She finished fourth in her first pari-mutuel start January 30, but returned a winner from post seven in the $27,500 Filly and Mare Open February 27. “She was good enough we made all the payments on her. She’s quick, she’s handy,” King said. “She did what we expected. Dexter Dunn raced her (in New Zealand) and he said that she was all that, she was a really good horse. Her first start was just OK. They went pretty good and we just weren’t up to that kind of mile. Then we got her back in and she was ready to go.” Although they are both New Zealand-bred and are both talented, Shartin and Bettor Joy have distinct personalities on the racetrack. “Entirely different horse than Shartin; she’s just a bull and (Bettor Joy), she’s a lady. She’s a good girl,” King said. “She’s very drivable. You can leave with her, you can take her off, she can step around horses. Shartin, when you get her cranked up she’s ready to roll. You don’t want to be changing course in the middle of a straight, that’s for sure. Bettor Joy’s a lot more professional in that aspect. She lets the driver be a lot more part of the game there.” Bettor Joy will make her Yonkers debut in the sixth race, the $40,000 second division of the Matchmaker first leg, as a 9-5 morning line choice. Her start will come one race after Newborn Sassy kicks off King’s chances in the series at 9-2 in the first division. Perhaps overshadowed by her New Zealand-bred counterparts, Newborn Sassy placed in two preliminary legs of the Matchmaker Series last year before winning a $40,000 consolation shortly before Shartin captured the final. The 6-year-old Western Ideal daughter went 9-for-36 last year and made $289,290, boosting her career tally to $1,036,455. Newborn Sassy “She’s a good girl. She can’t do what the other two can do, but she’s a half-mile track specialist,” King said. “Last year we came up with just one (win in the series), the other starts went wrong. They had just taken out the passing lane, we got locked in a couple times in the two hole and just didn’t work out for her, but still ended up OK. She came back real good, she can do her job good enough.” Tim Tetrick will drive all of King’s starters in the series Friday night. The driver purchased an ownership interest in all three mares, a move that gave King confidence. “Timmy thought enough of them that he decided he’d like to own part of them. I think that’s saying something because that puts him in a position where he doesn’t have any choice, he has to go with them,” King joked. “All those girls, I think they’ll all go out and do their job even if they don’t all come home a winner. If they do their job and we come back and do it again next week, I’m really going to be happy with them,” King said. “We’ve got a good team and that’s what it takes.” Friday night’s card features five divisions of the Matchmaker Series First Leg while the George Morton Levy Series kicks off with six splits Saturday, March 16.  Live harness racing is featured at Yonkers Raceway every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. First post time is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY  

Medusa is revved up and ready to go. The harness racing 8-year-old pacing mare is set for her fourth appearance in the upcoming Blue Chip Matchmaker Series at Yonkers and will look to continue her good fortune in the event, which included a second-place finish in the 2017 final. "You always wonder, especially with a mare at her age, that when you shut her down the engine might not start back up," said trainer Randy Bendis, who co-owns Medusa with Pollack Racing. "But she really came back great. She's fresh and ready to go." A total of 35 mares entered Friday's opening round of the Matchmaker and were divided into five $40,000 divisions. Medusa races in the first, which also includes millionaire Newborn Sassy. New Zealand-bred star Shartin, the 2018 Dan Patch Award winner for best older female pacer and defending Matchmaker champion, is in the fifth division. For her career, Medusa has won 37 of 132 races and earned $881,743. She has spent much of her career competing at The Meadows and Yonkers, with nearly half of her career appearances coming at The Hilltop. Medusa has won 10 of 61 races at Yonkers, hit the board a total of 32 times, and earned a paycheck in 55. "She's got near world-class ability, especially on a half," Bendis said. "Her ability to get around four turns is what will keep her a factor this year. She is just a great half-miler. Shartin is just better than everybody, but she fits with the rest of them. On a half, a lot of it is the draw. If you get a good string drawing you can make a lot of money real quick." Pollack and Bendis, who is based in western Pennsylvania, bought Medusa at the beginning of her 5-year-old season in January 2016. Since then, she has produced three consecutive seasons with earnings between $206,444 and $246,691. "She's a warhorse now," said New York-based trainer Ed Hart, who conditions Medusa for Bendis when the mare is racing at Yonkers. "She's just a big, strong, good-looking mare. She's been doing it for many years. You can leave, you can take her off; she's just a versatile mare. You wish you had a barn full of them. Take care of her and she'll do the rest." The Matchmaker and companion George Morton Levy Memorial series, which begins Saturday for older male pacers, both feature five preliminary rounds followed by added-money finals April 20. A horse receives 25 points each time she or he races in a preliminary round. Points are also awarded based on finish, with 50 points for a win, 25 for second, 12 for third, eight for fourth, and five for fifth. Sell A Bit N, a two-time Matchmaker runner-up, also is among this year's group along with millionaire Mach It A Par. "It's a very tough series," Hart said. "She loves Yonkers, she loves the half; I think she should be fine with a little bit of luck." Following last year's Matchmaker, Medusa finished second to Shartin in the Chip Noble Memorial at Miami Valley Raceway before focusing on the top-level overnights for fillies and mares at The Meadows and Yonkers. Bendis is looking at a similar schedule this season. "I think she can go with the better mares early," Bendis said. "I think it would be a lot to expect of her in July and August on the big tracks to go with them. If we can get the first part of the stakes season, I think that's what we can ask of her. "Ed has done a wonderful job with her. She will probably stay (at Yonkers) for as long as it works. It sure has worked recently for us there." Medusa is a daughter of Bettor's Delight out of Mythical. She was bred by White Birch Farm. There are no secrets behind her success. "She's easy on herself, a sound mare, a happy mare; that's a good combination," Bendis said. "She likes her field time. In the winter it's tough to give them quality field time, but we just try to keep her as happy as we can. We train her up a little bit, but figure out what she needs week to week. She normally responds well. "She's in great shape. She's never trained a bad trip in her life for me. She's just that kind of mare. I'll shed a real tear the day we pull the harness off her for the last time because not too many come around like her." Follow the links for early Matchmaker program pages for Friday (March 15) and early Levy program pages for March 16. Friday's program pages will be finalized today (March 12); Saturday's program pages will be finalized on Thursday (March 14). Ken Weingartner

YONKERS, NY, Monday, March 11, 2019 - The big girls and big boys come to play this weekend, with Yonkers Raceway hosting the opening round of both the harness racing Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. Friday night (March 15th) finds four, $40,000 divisions of the Matchmaker for leading pacing mares, going consecutively as races five through nine. Defending series champ begins her 6-year-old season with post position No. 2 in the final event. Tim Tetrick takes his usual seat for co-owners himself, Richard Pollucci and Jo Ann Looney-King. Keeping it in the family, Jim King Jr. trains the lass, fresh off an 19-for-24, million-dollar season. Saturday evening (March 16th), the Levy does the Matchmaker one better, with six, $50,000 groupings (races 4 through 9) for the Free-For-All folks. Double-millionaire 10-year-old Bit of a Legend N, the 2016 Levy winner, begins this season's marathon from behind the eight-ball in the third division. Jordan Stratton again does the honors for owner Von Knoblauch Stables and trainer Peter Tritton. Each series offers five prelim rounds leading to the finales, both set for Saturday night, Apr. 20th . For The Matchmaker entries click on this link. Frank Drucker  

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, March 3, 2019 -- Yonkers Raceway's 2019 harness racing stakes season begins Monday night (March 4th)--weather permitting--with the opening round of the Petticoat Pacing Series. The series, for three and four-year-old young ladies who are/were non-winners of four races and/or $40,000 through last Dec. 1st, offers four, $20,000, first-round events. That's the same set-up for the gentlemen's companion series, the Sagamore Hill, which gets underway Tuesday night (March 5th). Both the Petticoat and Sagamore Hill offer three prelim legs leading to $50,000-added finals March 25th (girls) and 26th (boys), respectively. Eligibles have been announced for Yonkers' premier older pacing soirees, the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy Memorial. The Matchmaker attracted 43 of the sport's preeminent mares, while the Levy numbered 55 male Free-For-Allers (see accompanying lists). Those rich events begin their respective six-week runs Friday and Saturday evenings, March 15th (Matchmaker) and 16th (Levy). For all the eligibles click on the following links; Blue Chip Matchmaker George Morton Levy Memorial Frank Drucker

Richard Poillucci is looking forward to watching his New Zealand-bred standout Shartin return to action this season and the 6-year-old Dan Patch Award-winning mare has a new stablemate that Poillucci hopes can keep her company on the stakes trail. Shartin hit the racetrack for the first time this year on Wednesday (Feb. 13) at Dover Downs, winning a qualifier in 1:56 as she prepares to defend her title in the upcoming Blue Chip Matchmaker Series at Yonkers Raceway. Expected to join Shartin in the series is New Zealand-bred Bettor Joy, who was purchased in December from the Down Under stable of Cran Dalgety and is owned by Poillucci and Jo Ann Looney-King. Bettor Joy, who is a dathe difference in breeding seasons, Bettor Joy, who was born in October 2014, is considered a 5-year-old in North America as opposed to a 4-year-old in New Zealand. Shartin, also owned by Poillucci and Looney-King, and Bettor Joy could provide their owners and trainer Jim King Jr. a strong one-two punch in the pacing mare division. "That's what we hope for, but you never know," Poillucci said. "Bettor Joy is a real good mare. She is just getting started. She raced once at Dover and came up sick on us and finished fourth. We'll probably race her again next week. We're looking for big things from her." Of course, Poillucci also is looking for big things from Shartin. Last year, she became the first pacing mare to earn $1 million in a season, finishing with $1.05 million thanks to 19 wins in 24 races. Her victories included the Breeders Crown, Roses Are Red, Lady Liberty, Blue Chip Matchmaker Series championship, TVG Series Mare championship, Artiscape, Betsy Ross Invitational, Chip Noble Memorial, and Allerage Farms Mare Pace. In December, she was named the sport's best older female pacer of 2018 and joined Hall of Famer Cardigan Bay as a "Down Under" import to receive a Dan Patch Award. Cardigan Bay, also from New Zealand, was a two-time honoree (1965 and 1968). Shartin's connections will accept her Dan Patch Award at the U.S. Harness Writers Association's Dan Patch Awards banquet at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando on Feb. 24. The mare remains a top contender for Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year, which both will be announced at the banquet. "It was amazing, absolutely amazing," Poillucci said about Shartin's season. "Looking back at what she did, it's surreal trying to take it all in. You know how many people start out in January with horses and to end up the year with a mare that could stay as good as she stayed all year long is mindboggling. She's just a very special mare. If all goes well, I can't see why she can't come back this year and be a top contender again. There is no reason." Shartin can be a tricky horse to drive, so Poillucci gives credit to Tim Tetrick for playing an integral part in the mare's success. Tetrick has been Shartin's only driver in North America. "Jim King does a tremendous job as a trainer, but the key is Tim Tetrick," Poillucci said. "Timmy took the time to understand her and learned how to drive her. When she goes to the gate, he really has to work with her. She's aggressive. She's not a mean horse by any means, but when you put her behind the gate she just wants to roll. She just wants to go. Those few bobbles she made last year, those were her trying to outpace herself." The 2018 season was Shartin's first in North America. Poillucci hopes the mare can build upon last year's performances now that she has become more mature and acclimated to racing here. "I'm not saying that is going to happen, but that's what you would think," Poillucci said. "We're definitely in the hunt for a good year. I think it can happen. They said she was absolutely just running over horses (in her qualifier). That's a good sign. She doesn't like time off. She wants to race, that's her thing. "I know it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (to have a horse like her). They don't come along very often like this. I may have a couple of very good ones behind her and I'm hoping for good things, but to say they can do what she does, that's a tough act to follow. It's very rare to find a mare that can do what she does." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, February 12, 2019--Yonkers Raceway's first seasonal deadline for series nominations is right around the corner. Blue Chip Matchmaker, George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series, Petticoat and Sagamore Hill Pacing Series all close this Friday (Feb. 15th). Forms are available in the nightly racing program, on-line at www.empirecitycasino.com/racing/nomination-blanks/ and through selected harness publications/websites. For more information, please contact the race office at (914) 457-2627. by Frank Drucker, for Monticello Raceway

YONKERS, N.Y. – Last year, Rich Banca and Barbara and James Boese watched as New Zealand-bred mare Kaitlyn went on a tear. The American Ideal daughter won her first four harness racing starts in the United States at Harrington for trainer Josh Parker and went on to win across the East Coast at Harrah’s Philadelphia, the Meadowlands, and Yonkers.  Although she began her campaign in the non-winners classes, Kaitlyn worked her way up to Harrington’s Open ranks. She beat the top mares at Harrington four starts in a row last fall and earned $110,875 in the season. Boese, the track’s Chief Operating Office and General Manager, took notice and bought her, bringing Banca in on the partnership and giving him the horse to train. “I had seen her at Yonkers. (The Boeses) watched her down there and they liked her. They picked her out and they bought her,” Banca said.  Kaitlyn is the latest horse the Boeses have teamed with Banca on after their successful partnership began with the Adagio de la Tour last summer. The French-bred came to the United States as part of the French American Trotting Club, finished second in the $120,000 final, and went on to earn $122,640 last year. “I have quite a few horses with them, they’re really good people,” Banca said. “It started with the French trotters. They wanted to buy one of the horses coming from France and they called me up and asked if I would take the horse. I said yes. That’s where it started and I’ve gotten a bunch more sense.” Kaitlyn made her last start for Parker November 21, finishing second in the Filly and Mare Open Handicap at Dover Downs. Banca turned her out with the intention of getting her ready for a 2019 campaign. She qualified back in 1:56.2 with Matt Kakaley in the sulky while finishing second to Havefaithinme at Yonkers February 2. “We bought her, she got turned out for a while, and we brought her back and qualified her last week,” Banca said. “We turned her out for a while after we bought her, gave her a break and got her fresh and well. It was probably about a month and then we trained her back and qualified her. “I didn’t see it, I wasn’t there, but Kakaley likes her a lot. He said she was very good, so that was enough for me,” Banca continued.” Although it is difficult to gauge her talent without seeing her race, Banca is pleased with Kaitlyn so far.  “I haven’t had her very long, we haven’t raced her yet. We’ll see how it goes. We’ll see what happens, but so far, I can’t say a bad thing about her,” he said. “She’s nice. She’s a good-looking horse, she doesn’t do a thing wrong. I like her. I’m really happy with her. She’s perfect.” Kaitlyn will start from post six in the $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace at Yonkers Friday night (Feb. 8). She is a 7-1 morning line with Kakaley back in the bike. Her rivals include 5-2 early favorite Delishka, who won three straight Opens in Delaware in January before finishing fourth and third in her first two tries at the Hilltop, respectively.  Invader Nerida Franco is 4-1 off two victories in the Filly and Mare Select at Dover, but drew a difficult assignment in post seven. Amateur Hour is also 4-1 and benefits from an assigned inside post after Paul Blumenfeld claimed her for $30,000 two back. Ella Michelle won the Yonkers Distaff feature two starts ago and will start from post three with Joe Bongiorno in the sulky. Shez Sugarsweet, Shezza GNP, and Itty Bitty complete the lineup. “She’s only got one qualifier, she’s been off for quite a while. I’m not expecting to see her best. I think she’ll need a start or two,” Banca said of Kaitlyn’s prospects first time out. “We’ll try and get her right for the Matchmaker. “I hope she’ll be a contender in the series,” he continued. “It’s hard to say, we haven’t raced her yet, but I hope she is. She’s done everything right and part of the reason for buying her was for that race and we’re going to stake her to some other things. Hopefully she’s up to it.” Live harness racing is featured at Yonkers Raceway every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. First post time is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. by Brandon Valvo, for the SOANY

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

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