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On Tuesday afternoon (April 13), the harness racing draws were held for the $514,000 MGM Borgata Pacing Series final and $232,800 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final, both of which will take place on Monday, April 19 at Yonkers Raceway. In addition to the finals, there will also be consolation races in both events. Leonidas A finished with the most points in the MGM Borgata Pacing Series, but the draw for the final was not kind to him, as he will start from post seven in the eight-horse field. Austin Siegelman will be in the bike behind the Sheena Mcelhiney-trained and Jesmeral Stable-owned 6-year-old Mach Three gelding. Trainer Ron Burke has a powerful trio in the MGM Borgata final, as he will send out Rockapelo, Backstreet Shadow, and This Is The Plan. Rockapelo drew the coveted pole position for driver George Brennan, while his stablemates Backstreet Shadow (Tim Tetrick) and This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras) weren't as fortunate in the draw, as Backstreet Shadow has post six and This Is The Plan the eight. Western Joe, driven by Dexter Dunn for trainer Chris Choate, and Hesa Kingslayer N, piloted by Jim Marohn Jr. for trainer Mike Deters, both scored multiple victories in the prelims, and they will start from posts five and two, respectively. Rounding out the group are Mach N Cheese (post three, Joe Bongiorno/Edwin Quevedo) and Lyons Steel (post four, Corey Callahan/Dennis Watson). Mach N Cheese secured a spot in the final by winning in the final round of the event, while Lyons Steel picked up his lone victory back in the opening leg. In the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final, Alexa Skye, who went four-for-four in the preliminary rounds she entered, got post six for driver Todd McCarthy, trainer/co-owner Jeff Cullipher, and co-owner Pollack Racing LLC. Her main rival, Blue Ivy, who raced in all five legs, scoring three victories and two second-place finishes, will leave from post three for driver Tyler Buter, trainer Todd Buter, and owner Renee Bercury. Trainer Nick Devita has a pair of finalists in the Blue Chip Matchmaker final in Siesta Beach (post two, Matt Kakaley) and Caviart Cherie (post seven, Austin Siegelman). Siesta Beach picked up one victory in the preliminaries, while Caviart Cherie checked in second three times. Ron Burke will also be represented in the Blue Chip Matchmaker final as he has Snobbytown in the race. Snobbytown, who had one win, one second, and one third-place result in four starts, will depart from post five with George Brennan at the lines. Machnhope, who will be driven by Andrew McCarthy for trainer Noel Daley, started the Blue Chip Matchmaker two-for-two before finishing second and third in her last two appearances. She had the best luck in the draw for the final, as she will start from post one. Completing the entrants in the Blue Chip Matchmaker final are Monica Gallagher (post four, Jason Bartlett/Chris Height) and My Ruebe Star N (post eight, Jordan Stratton/Shane Tritton). Neither mare was able to get a win during the preliminary rounds, but they did score points in each leg they entered. Monday's card gets underway at 7:15 p.m., with the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final going as race seven and the MGM Borgata Pacing Series final following it in race eight. The $60,000 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series consolation is the fifth dash on the ten-race card, and the $100,000 MGM Borgata Series consolation comes up after that in race six. From Yonkers Raceway

Preliminary round action in the MGM Borgata Pacing Series concluded on Monday night (April 12) at Yonkers Raceway with a trio of $40,000 divisions that were won by Backstreet Shadow, Mach N Cheese, and Leonidas A. It was also another well-received program on the wagering front, as the handle on the ten-race card checked in at $951,089. Backstreet Shadow (Yannick Gingras) took full advantage of the pole position in the first split, going to the lead and putting up fractions of 27.3, 56.1, and 1:24.1 over a surface that was rated "good" and a second off. Western Joe (Dexter Dunn) took up the chase by going first-over out of third in the backstretch, but he couldn't make any headway on the outside, allowing Backstreet Shadow to turn into the lane with a clear advantage. Once they hit the stretch, Western Joe suddenly hit top gear and began to gain on Backstreet Shadow, but Backstreet Shadow was able to get to the wire half a length to the good in a 1:52.1 mile. Tyga Hanover (Jason Bartlett) came in third. BACKSTREET SHADOW REPLAY   A 6-year-old gelding by Shadow Play, Backstreet Shadow is trained by Ron Burke for owners Burke Racing Stable LLC., Weaver Bruscemi LLC., Larry Karr, and J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby. Backstreet Shadow, who won twice in the MGM Borgata Pacing Series, now has a record of 26-12-6 from 64 starts, and he has earned $910,162. The 3-5 favorite, Backstreet Shadow paid $3.40 to win and was atop an $8.90 exacta and a $107.50 trifecta. In the second grouping Semi Tough (George Brennan) cut out panels of 27.3, 57, and 1:25.1, but Mach N Cheese (Joe Bongiorno), who had come first-over from fourth before the half, made steady progress on the rim into second on the far turn. In the lane Mach N Cheese forged his way by Semi Tough, then held off a three-wide bid from pocket-sitter Western Fame (Dan Dube) to score by three-quarters of a length in 1:54 flat. Semi Tough held third over Mac's Jackpot (Dunn). MACH N CHEESE REPLAY   Mach N Cheese, who picked up his first triumph in the series, is trained by Edwin Quevedo for owner Save The Day Stable. A 6-year-old gelded son of Betterthancheddar, Mach N Cheese is now a 16-time winner in his career, and he has put away $283,512. Sent off at 9-2, Mach N Cheese returned $11.20 to win and keyed a $56.50 exacta and a $138.00 trifecta. Leonidas A (Austin Siegelman) left from post one and lined up the field in post position order right out of the gate in the last section, then led through an easy tempo of 28.4, 57.4, and 1:25.2. Leonidas A's two main rivals in the field, Hesa Kingslayer N (Jim Marohn Jr.) and This Is The Plan (Gingras) were in fifth and sixth, respectively, until beginning to advance first-over and second-over in the third turn. Though they made gains after pulling, Leonidas A had the jump on them and stayed in front, prevailing by a length and a quarter in 1:53.3. This Is The Plan kicked home widest in the stretch to get up for second over Hesa Kingslayer N. LEONIDAS A REPLAY   Finishing four-for-four in the preliminary rounds of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series, Leonidas A is a 6-year-old Mach Three gelding trained by Sheena Mcelhiney for owner Jesmeral Stable. Leonidas A now has 29 career wins, and he has banked $311,848. He was the 3-5 favorite and paid $3.20 to win. The exacta kicked back $6.10, and the trifecta was worth $11.80. Unofficially, the eight horses that advanced to the $514,000 MGM Borgata Pacing Series final were: Leonidas A (300 points), Western Joe (283), This Is The Plan (275), Hesa Kingslayer N (262), Backstreet Shadow (250), Rockapelo (230), Mach N Cheese (220), and Lyons Steel (192). Both the MGM Borgata Pacing Series final and the $232,800 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final will take place next Monday (April 19), and the draws for those two races will occur on Tuesday afternoon (April 13). Stakes action continues this week at Yonkers Raceway on Wednesday (April 14), as three $20,000 splits of the final leg of the John Brennan Trotting Series will go behind the gate in races six, seven, and eight. For full race results, click here. From Yonkers Raceway

With two horses already guaranteed spots in the harness racing final of the MGM Borgata Series for older male pacers, trainer Ron Burke will look to add a third on Monday (April 12) when Yonkers Raceway hosts the last preliminary round of the six-week event. Based on points accumulated in the series, the Burke Brigade's Rockapelo and This Is The Plan are among five horses to have already secured places in the eight-horse final on April 19. The others are Western Joe, Hesa Kingslayer N, and Leonidas A. Burke's Backstreet Shadow is in the best position to join that group, pending the outcomes in Monday's last preliminary divisions of the series. Backstreet Shadow, sixth in points, is the 8-5 morning-line favorite in the first of the last three Borgata splits, starting from post one. The six-horse field also includes four of the five horses directly behind Backstreet Shadow in the standings: San Domino A and Lyons Steel, who are tied for seventh, ninth-place Raukapuka Ruler N and 11th-place Tyga Hanover. The remaining horse in the field is series leader Western Joe. Other horses that could bolster their chances of making the final with wins on Monday are Mach N Cheese and Mac's Jackpot, who are both in the second division, and Ostro Hanover, who is in the third. None are morning-line favorites. Backstreet Shadow has a win and two seconds in the Borgata. A trainer can start only one horse in a division, and Burke has four horses in the series, so Backstreet Shadow sat out last week's leg after coming up sick in his second-place finish on March 29. "He had a legitimate excuse his last start," said Mark Weaver, who is among the owners of Backstreet Shadow, as well as Rockapelo and This Is The Plan. "We had to give someone the week off, so it just made sense for it to be him. We expect him to be pretty good this start and then hopefully even better in the final." Backstreet Shadow, a 6-year-old gelding, has won 25 of 63 career races and $890,162. Last year, he won the Roll With Joe Stakes and hit the board in the Breeders Crown, TVG Open Pace Series championship, Sam McKee Memorial, and Allerage Farms Open Pace. "I think Backstreet Shadow and This Is The Plan are two of the top five or six aged pacers," Weaver said. "They've been factors the last several years. Hopefully, they are again, all season long. This is just the start of a long year, hopefully, for them." This Is The Plan, a 6-year-old gelding with $1.8 million in career purses, has a win and three seconds in the Borgata. He is the 2-1 second choice in Monday's third division. Rockapelo, a 2018 New York Sire Stakes champion who has been lightly tested on the Grand Circuit, is sitting out Monday's action. The 6-year-old gelding has two wins, a second, and a fifth in the series. Nine of his most recent 12 victories have come at Yonkers. "He's kind of a Yonkers specialist, a grinder," Weaver said. "He's surprised us. This will be his Super Bowl, so to speak, for the year. After this, it will be back to overnights." The Burke Stable has traditionally been deep with talented older male pacers. The returning group this season also includes a past Dan Patch Award winner, Dorsoduro Hanover, as well as millionaire Filibuster Hanover, Elver Hanover, The Greek Freak, and Covered Bridge. "The aged division is kind of our bread and butter," Weaver said. "If you get a couple good ones, you can really do some damage. "We try to treat them like a baseball team where you've got some major leaguers, but you're always looking to develop your minor league system. At some point, they're going to get called up to the big leagues. We're constantly trying to keep the pipeline going. Hopefully, we have some that can fill the void when the time comes." Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT) Monday at Yonkers. For complete entries, click here. For the Borgata standings, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA   

Harness Racing This Week: Blue Chip Matchmaker and MGM Borgata Pacing series fifth legs, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit at Yonkers features two $35,000 divisions on Friday (April 9) in the fifth round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker series for open pacing mares. The Monday (April 12) card at Yonkers will see three $40,000 divisions in the fifth round of the MGM Borgata Pacing series for open pacers. Each series offers five preliminary rounds leading to the finales, both set for Monday (April 19). Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link. Last Time: This Is The Plan, Western Joe, and Leonidas A scored victories in the trio of $40,000 divisions of the fourth leg of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series on Monday night (April 5) at Yonkers Raceway. This Is The Plan broke through for the first time in style, taking the opening split in 1:51.1. Chris Brokate photo. After finishing second in all three of his appearances in the series coming into this leg, This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras) broke through for the first time in style, taking the opening split in 1:51.1. Gingras fired This Is The Plan to the top from post four and he would put up fractions of :27.2, :56.1, and 1:23.3 before he closed in :27.3 to win by three lengths over pocket-sitter Raukapuka Ruler N (Jordan Stratton). Mach N Cheese (Joe Bongiorno) held third over Let It Ride N (Dexter Dunn). Ron Burke trains This Is The Plan, a 6-year-old gelding by Somebeachsomewhere, for owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby, and Larry Karr. This Is The Plan is now a 15-time winner in his career and he pushed his earnings to $1,806,700. Blue Ivy didn't get all of the respect on the toteboard, but the 5-year-old mare had her say in a powerhouse performance, capturing the first of two $35,000 Blue Chip Matchmaker divisions on Friday (April 2) at Yonkers Raceway. Sent off as the surprising 7-5 second choice, Tyler Buter put Blue Ivy into the three-hole entering the first turn as 3-5 favorite Keep Rockin A made the lead easily for Tim Tetrick and marched to the quarter in :27.4. With just five in the field, Tetrick was able to back down the pace with the Jim King Jr.-trained import. The slow half didn't shake Buter in the least as he waited until midway down the backstretch to energize Blue Ivy. It didn't take more than 50 yards for Blue Ivy to engulf and dispose of Keep Rockin A, as that mare slowed markedly into the final turn. After three-quarters in 1:25, Blue Ivy kicked home in :28 and scored by open lengths in a 1:53 mile. Monica Gallagher (Jason Bartlett) was able to come up the pylons late to secure the place spot, with Caviart Cherie (Matt Kakaley) third in the mile. It was Blue Ivy's second win in the series, to go along with two second-place finishes, for trainer Todd Buter. Owned by Renee Bercury, Blue Ivy, a daughter of Captaintreacherous, paid $4.80 for the victory. Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2021, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2021 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders (through the races on 4-5-21): Drivers: 1. Todd McCarthy - 50; 2t. Andrew McCarthy - 47; 2t. George Brennan - 47; 4. Austin Siegelman - 44; 5. Tyler Buter - 34. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 92; 2t. Jeff Cullipher - 30; 2t. Mike Deters - 30; 2t. Todd Buter - 30; 2t. Sheena McElhiney - 30. Owners: 1t. Jesmeral Stable - 30; 1t. Renee Bercury - 30; 3. Eric Prevost - 28; 4t. Burke Racing Stable - 26.8; 4t. Weaver Bruscemi - 26.8. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will continue at Yonkers with the finals of the Blue Chip Matchmaker and MGM Borgata on April 19. by Paul Ramlow, for The Grand Circuit  

The preliminary rounds of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series conclude on Monday night (April 12) at Yonkers Raceway with three $40,000 harness racing divisions in races four, five, and six. The first section showcases four horses who have tasted success during the event in Backstreet Shadow (post one, Tim Tetrick), San Domino A (post three, Todd McCarthy/Nancy Takter), Lyons Steel (post five, Corey Callahan/Dennis Watson), and Western Joe (post six, Dexter Dunn/Chris Choate). Backstreet Shadow, San Domino A and Lyons Steel both have won once in the series, and Western Joe enters having won his last two appearances. None of the entrants in race five's second split have picked up a victory in this year's MGM Borgata Pacing Series, so a new face will get a big boost to their point total. The horse that looks to be in the best form is Mach N Cheese (post three, Joe Bongiorno/Edwin Quevedo), as he has finished second and third the past couple of weeks. In contrast to that tilt, the final flight (race six) features two horses that are both three-for-three in the series in Leonidas A (post one, Austin Siegelman/Sheena Mcelhiney) and Hesa Kingslayer N (post five, Jim Marohn Jr./Mike Deters). Also entered in that contest is This Is The Plan (post six, Yannick Gingras/Ron Burke), who has a record of 1-3-0 in four MGM Borgata Pacing Series efforts and prevailed in 1:51.1 on April 5. Prior to that stakes action, Yonkers will play host to four $20,000 divisions of the second leg of the John Brennan Trotting Series on Wednesday night (April 7). Opening round winners Guilty Desire (race five/post six, Jordan Stratton/Betty Clegg), Hunting AS (race six/post one, Todd McCarthy/Jenny Melander), Look In My Eyes (race six/post eight, Jordan Stratton/Anette Lorentzon), and Lady Jeter (race seven/post four, Scott Zeron/Ed Gannon Jr.) are all back in action. Then, on Friday (April 9), Yonkers has a pair of $35,000 splits of the final preliminary round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series for pacing mares. The first of those races will take place as a non-wagering contest, and the second one is race two on the pari-mutuel program. In the non-wagering tilt, Blue Ivy (post one, Tyler Buter/Todd Buter) and Machnhope (post three, Andrew McCarthy/Noel Daley) will both shoot for their third win in the series, and in the other Blue Chip Matchmaker match-up, Alexa Skye (post four, Todd McCarthy/Jeff Cullipher), currently three-for-three in the event, meets up with one of last Friday's victors in Siesta Beach (post three, Matt Kakaley/Nick Devita).. Yonkers Raceway has a Monday-Friday live racing schedule, with first post at 7:15 p.m. From Yonkers Raceway

This Is The Plan, Western Joe, and Leonidas A scored harness racing victories in the trio of $40,000 divisions of the fourth leg of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series on Monday night (April 5) at Yonkers Raceway. In addition to the on-track action, betting was also brisk on Monday's 10-race card as the handle entered seven-figure territory at $1,037,217.95. After finishing second in all three of his appearances in the series coming into this leg, This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras) broke through for the first time in style, taking the opening split in 1:51.1. Gingras fired This Is The Plan to the top from post four, and he would put up fractions of 27.2, 56.1, and 1:23.3 before he closed in 27.3 to win by three lengths over pocket-sitter Raukapuka Ruler N (Jordan Stratton). Mach N Cheese (Joe Bongiorno) held third over favorite Let It Ride N (Dexter Dunn). Ron Burke trains This Is The Plan, a 6-year-old gelding by Somebeachsomewhere, for owners Burke Racing Stable LLC., Weaver Bruscemi LLC., J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby, and Larry Karr. This Is The Plan is now a 15-time winner in his career, and he pushed his earnings to $1,806,700. This Is The Plan, the 3-2 second choice, paid $5.00 and was atop a $51.50 exacta and a $126.50 trifecta. THIS IS THE PLAN REPLAY   In the second section, driver Todd McCarthy put the hammer down with None Bettor A and roared through stations of 26.3, 55.1, and 1:23.1. On the far turn Sheriff N (Daniel Dube) attacked the leader two-wide from the pocket, with favorite Rockapelo (George Brennan) picking up cover from third to sit second-over. Even though Sheriff N and Rockapelo had first dibs on the tiring leader, it wound up being a cavalry charge through the stretch after the hot tempo, and taking advantage was Western Joe (Dunn), who sat inside in sixth and rallied through a gap on the pylons on his way to the win by a neck in 1:52.4. Rockapelo wound up second, with Sheriff N back in third. Western Joe, a 7-year-old gelded son of Western Ideal, scored his second straight victory in the series for trainer Chris Choate, co-owner/breeder Anthony Ruggeri, and co-owner Richard Tosies. Western Joe now has a record of 33-16-11 from 105 starts, and he has banked $781,858. Western Joe, who was the second choice at odds of 5-2, returned $7.70 to win and keyed a $15.60 exacta and a $54.50 trifecta. WESTERN JOE REPLAY   Leonidas A (Austin Siegelman), returning after a one-week break, ran his MGM Borgata Pacing Series record to an unblemished three-for-three in the final flight. Leonidas A settled in third behind Ostro Hanover (Tyler Buter) and Lyons Steel (Corey Callahan) in the early going, but Siegelman had him out and on move before the 28-second opening quarter went on the board, and he would take command after that marker. Leonidas A would go on to put up a 56.4 half and a 1:24.4 three-quarters, and a 28.3 final kicker gave him the victory by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:53.2. Lyons Steel was second after a first-over try, narrowly bettering Ostro Hanover. A 6-year-old Mach Three gelding, Leonidas A is trained by Sheena Mcelhiney for owner Jesmeral Stable. Leonidas A posted his 28th career victory, and he has now put away $291,848. Leonidas A, hammered down to 1-9, paid $2.30 to win and led a $7.90 exacta and a $19.20 trifecta. LEONIDAS A REPLAY   There is one more leg of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series to go, and that will be held next Monday (April 12). The final will take place on Monday, April 19. Stakes action resumes at Yonkers on Wednesday night (April 7) when the track plays host to four $20,000 divisions of the second leg of the John Brennan Trotting Series. Opening round winners Guilty Desire (race five/post six, Jordan Stratton/Betty Clegg), Hunting AS (race six/post one, Todd McCarthy/Jenny Melander), Look In My Eyes (race six/post eight, Jordan Stratton/Anette Lorentzon), and Lady Jeter (race seven/post four, Scott Zeron/Ed Gannon Jr.) are all back in action. Then, on Friday (April 9), Yonkers has a couple of $35,000 splits of the final preliminary round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series for pacing mares. The first of those races will take place as a non-wagering contest, and the second one is race two on the pari-mutuel program. In the non-wagering tilt, Blue Ivy (post one, Tyler Buter/Todd Buter) and Machnhope (post three, Andrew McCarthy/Noel Daley) will both shoot for their third win in the series, and in the other Blue Chip Matchmaker match-up, Alexa Skye (post four, Todd McCarthy/Jeff Cullipher), currently three-for-three in the event, meets up with one of last Friday's victors in Siesta Beach (post three, Matt Kakaley/Nick Devita). For full race results, click here. From Yonkers Raceway

Harness Racing This Week: Blue Chip Matchmaker and MGM Borgata Pacing series fourth legs, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit at Yonkers features two $35,000 divisions on Friday (April 2) in the fourth round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker series for open pacing mares. The Monday (April 5) card at Yonkers will see three $40,000 divisions in the fourth round of the MGM Borgata Pacing series for open pacers. Each series offers five preliminary rounds leading to the finales, both set for Monday (April 19). Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link. Last Time: Hesa Kingslayer N improved to three-for-three in Monday night's (March 29) third leg of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series for free-for-allers at Yonkers Raceway. Hesa Kingslayer N improved to three-for-three in the MGM Borgata Pacing Series. Chris Brokate photo. Driven by Jim Marohn Jr. in his $40,000 section, Hesa Kingslayer N was able to get into the pocket from post four and had a great view of a battle for the lead between Pat Stanley N (Jordan Stratton) and a parked-out None Bettor A (Todd McCarthy). Pat Stanley N gave None Bettor A the cold shoulder through fractions of :27, :56.4, and 1:25 and when None Bettor A began to back up on the final turn, that gave Marohn and Hesa Kingslayer N the escape route to the outside they needed. Once he had clear sailing, Hesa Kingslayer N pounced on Pat Stanley N, going by him in upper stretch on his way to a 2-1/4 length victory in 1:53. This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras) was also on the outside throughout in the second-over position and checked in as the runner-up after going three-high on the final bend, and Pat Stanley N held third. Trainer Mike Deters also co-owns Hesa Kingslayer N, an 8-year-old gelding by Christian Cullen, with partner Joel Warner. Hesa Kingslayer N is now a 20-time winner in his career and he has earned $189,962. Alexa Skye was expected to face her toughest test of the year in the second of two $35,000 divisions of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series on Friday night (March 26) at Yonkers Raceway. However, when two mares were scratched prior to the race, reducing the field to just five, the task was made considerably easier for driver Todd McCarthy. Nevertheless, it took two early moves for the 4-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere to secure the front, but the rest was once again quite easy as Alexa Skye made it three straight conquests in the series, scoring by a comfortable margin in 1:53.4. My Ruebe Star N (Jordan Stratton) left alertly, as did Blue Ivy (Tyler Buter). The pair were directly inside Alexa Skye, the race favorite, and McCarthy settled in third as My Ruebe Star N seated Blue Ivy and marched towards the opening quarter. Alexa Skye moved before the quarter had been passed, secured the lead after the :27.4 quarter, and from there was in control. After a :29.4 second quarter, McCarthy and Alexa Skye had all of the rest time they needed and quickly marched off with a :28 third quarter, gaining some separation from My Ruebe Star N as Buter and Blue Ivy moved to the outside to try to track down the leader. McCarthy felt the urgency of the threat that Blue Ivy, a first leg winner, posed and began to urge Alexa Skye on coming off the final turn. He kept active in the bike, and it certainly woke up the sharp mare as she sprinted off with a :28.1 kicker, keeping Blue Ivy at bay, with Siesta Beach (Matt Kakaley) closing strongly late for third. Trained and co-owned by Jeff Cullipher, along with Pollack Racing, Alexa Skye was a winner for the sixth time in 2021 and is just $250 shy of the $100,000 mark in seasonal earnings. This was her 15th victory overall and she now has banked $209,890 lifetime. Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2021, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2021 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders (through the races on 3-29-21): Drivers: 1. Todd McCarthy - 50; 2. Andrew McCarthy - 42; 3. George Brennan - 40; 4. Austin Siegelman - 34; 5. Tim Tetrick - 30. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 75; 2t. Jeff Cullipher - 30; 2t. Mike Deters - 30; 4t. Noel Daley - 20; 4t. Todd Buter - 20; 4t. Sheena McElhiney - 20. Owners: 1t. Burke Racing Stable - 21.9; 1t. Weaver Bruscemi - 21.9; 3t. Jesmeral Stable - 20; 3t. Renee Bercury - 20; 5. Brad Grant - 15. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will continue with the final leg of the Blue Chip Matchmaker and MGM Borgata next week. The finals for both events will be held on April 19. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

The fourth leg of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series is set to take place on Monday, April 5 at Yonkers Raceway. Twenty horses dropped in the box, meaning there will be three $40,000 divisions (races four, six, and seven). After taking last night (March 29) off, round one winner Let It Ride N (post five, Dexter Dunn/Richard "Nifty" Norman) returns and headlines the first flight. Let It Ride N saw his undefeated streak in the United States end on March 22 when he couldn't get involved from post eight, but has an improved draw this time. He will be up against the likes of This Is The Plan (post four, Yannick Gingras/Ron Burke), who has finished second in all three of his MGM Borgata Pacing Series attempts. In the second section, Rockapelo (post four, George Brennan/Ron Burke) will look to build on his two straight victories in the series. Western Joe (post seven, Dexter Dunn/Chris Choate) picked up his first win in the event last night and will get another chance at Rockapelo after finishing just a nose behind him when they battled on the 22nd of March. Leonidas A (post four, Austin Siegelman/Sheena Mcilhiney) also bypassed the third leg, but will be back in action in Monday's last split. Leonidas A won in the series on both March 15 and March 22 and looks like he's sure to be a heavy favorite. Lyons Steel (post two, Siegelman also listed for trainer Dennis Watson) has a win and a third-place result in his two series attempts, and while he'll likely need a new driver, he certainly has the credentials to threaten. Additional stakes action at Yonkers Raceway will be held prior to the MGM Borgata Pacing Series. On Wednesday (March 31), there are four $20,000 divisions of the first leg of the John Brennan Trotting Series, with early season stars Some Chapter (race four, Dexter Dunn/Anette Lorentzon) and Get Legs (race seven, Andy Miller/Julie Miller) among the entrants. Then, on Friday (April 2), there are two $35,000 splits of the fourth round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series for pacing mares. Leg one winner Blue Ivy (post five, Tyler Buter/Todd Buter) heads the first section (race two), and then in the second flight (race three), Machnhope (post four, Andrew McCarthy/Noel Daley), a two-time victor in the event, returns from a one-week break to battle with Snobbytown (post three, George Brennan/Ron Burke), who scored in Matchmaker action a week ago. Yonkers races on a Monday-Friday schedule with first post at 7:15 p.m. From Yonkers Raceway

Hesa Kingslayer N improved to three-for-three, Rockapelo repeated impressively, and Western Joe picked up his initial triumph in the event in Monday night's (March 29) trio of $40,000 divisions of the third leg of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series for free-for-allers at Yonkers Raceway. Driven by Jim Marohn Jr. in the opening section, Hesa Kingslayer N was able to get into the pocket from post four and had a great view of a battle for the lead between Pat Stanley N (Jordan Stratton) and a parked-out None Bettor A (Todd McCarthy). Pat Stanley N gave None Bettor A the cold shoulder through fractions of 27, 56.4, and 1:25, and when None Bettor A began to back up on the final turn, that gave Marohn Jr. and Hesa Kingslayer N the escape route to the outside they needed. Once he had clear sailing, Hesa Kingslayer N pounced on Pat Stanley N, going by him in upper stretch on his way to a 2 1/4 length victory in 1:53. This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras) was also on the outside throughout in the second-over position and checked in as the runner-up after going three-high on the final bend, and Pat Stanley N held third. HESA KINGSLAYER N REPLAY    Trainer Mike Deters also co-owns Hesa Kingslayer N, an 8-year-old gelding by Christian Cullen, with partner Joel Warner. Hesa Kingslayer N is now a 20-time winner in his career, and he has now earned $189,962. The 2-5 favorite, Hesa Kingslayer N paid $2.80 to win and led an $8.40 exacta and a $24.00 trifecta. In the next split, Rockapelo (George Brennan) motored directly to the lead from post three and fronted his rivals through opening-half stations of 27 and 55.2. Mach N Cheese (Joe Bongiorno) watched the early proceedings from the three-hole, then came with a quick burst off the third turn that nearly put him on even-terms with Rockapelo as three-quarters went on the board in 1:23.2. Rockapelo was able to fend off Mach N Cheee's bid, though, and when Rockapelo kicked it into another gear entering the lane, Mach N Cheese couldn't match strides with the pace-setter, who went on to an impressive 2 1/4 length victory in 1:51.2. Mach N Cheese did end up second over San Domino A (Todd McCarthy). ROCKAPELO REPLAY   The victorious 6-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven gelding is trained by Ron Burke and owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC., Weaver Bruscemi LLC., and Phil Collura. Rockapelo now has a record of 21-19-11 from 83 appearances, and he has banked$491,106. Rockapelo, the 2-1 favorite, returned $6.60 to win and was atop a $72.50 exacta and a $148.50 trifecta. Monday night's final flight saw leg one winner Lyons Steel (Austin Siegelman) charge out to early command from post two, but round two victor Backstreet Shadow (Tim Tetrick) was out and on the move from third, and Backstreet Shadow landed on the point after the quick 26.3 opening quarter. Backstreet Shadow would go on to the half in 55.3, with Ostro Hanover (Tyler Buter) coming first-up from fourth prior to that marker and Western Joe (Dexter Dunn) grabbing the cover to sit second-over. Ostro Hanover advanced on the rim into second before the 1:23.2 three-quarters, but that was as far as he could get as Backstreet Shadow rebuffed any further headway. Meanwhile, Western Joe had gapped on the third turn and into the backstretch, but after being high-lined along by Dunn, he caught back up to Ostro Hanover entering the far turn before going three-wide. Backstreet Shadow still looked good as he turned into the lane first, but Western Joe had a full head of steam on the far outside, and he powered by Backstreet Shadow on his way to a two length score in 1:51.4. Backstreet Shadow came in second, a nose better than Lyons Steel. WESTERN JOE REPLAY   Western Joe is a 7-year-old Western Ideal gelding trained by Chris Choate for co-owner/breeder Anthony Ruggeri and co-owner Richard Tosies. Western Joe picked up lifetime win 32 from 104 trips behind the gate, and he has now put away $761,858. Western Joe, sent off as the 2-1 second choice, paid $6.40 to win and keyed a $10.20 exacta and a $37.20 trifecta.   The MGM Borgata Pacing Series has two preliminary rounds remaining on Monday, April 5 and Monday, April 12. The final is scheduled to take place on Monday, April 19. Stakes action continues at Yonkers Raceway later this week. On Wednesday (March 31), there are four $20,000 divisions of the first leg of the John Brennan Trotting Series, with early season stars Some Chapter (race four, Dexter Dunn/Anette Lorentzon) and Get Legs (race seven, Andy Miller/Julie Miller) among the entrants. On Friday (April 2), two $35,000 splits of the fourth round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series for pacing mares will take place. Leg one winner Blue Ivy (post five, Tyler Buter/Todd Buter) heads the first section (race two), and then in the second flight (race three), Machnhope (post four, Andrew McCarthy/Noel Daley), a two-time victor in the event, returns from a one-week break to battle with Snobbytown (post three, George Brennan/Ron Burke), who scored in Matchmaker action a week ago. For full race results, click here. From Yonkers Raceway

Harness Racing This Week: Blue Chip Matchmaker and MGM Borgata Pacing series third legs, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit at Yonkers features two $35,000 divisions on Friday (March 26) in the third round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker series for open pacing mares. The Monday (March 29) card at Yonkers will see three $40,000 divisions in the third round of the MGM Borgata Pacing series for open pacers. Each series offers five preliminary rounds leading to the finales, both set for Monday (April 19). Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link. Last Time: Leonidas A and Hesa Kingslayer N repeated in Monday night's (March 22) $40,000 divisions of the second leg of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series at Yonkers Raceway. Leonidas A kicked into high gear, pacing a :55 back-half to win by 2-1/4 lengths in 1:52. Chris Brokate photo. Driven by Austin Siegelman, Leonidas A landed in the pocket from post one early in the third of four sections, then moved around fellow round one winner San Domino A (Todd McCarthy) for command passing the :28 opening quarter. After that, Leonidas A got away with a soft :57 half, and it was pretty much over once that happened as Leonidas A kicked into high gear, pacing a :55 back-half to win by 2-1/4 lengths in 1:52. San Domino A held second over Chief Mate (Scott Zeron), who put in a good try from first-over given the early tempo. Sheena McElhiney trains Leonidas A, a 6-year-old Mach Three gelding, for owner Jesmeral Stable. Leonidas A posted his 27th career win and he has earnings of $271,848. This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras) rolled to the lead in the last split and he would lead through fractions of :27.3, :56.2, and 1:24, with Hesa Kingslayer N (Jim Marohn Jr.) going first-up from third prior to three-quarters. Hesa Kingslayer N advanced into second on the final turn, then sustained his bid through the stretch, wearing down This Is The Plan on his way to the victory by a half-length in 1:51.4. Stars Align A (Todd McCarthy) was the third-place finisher after a pocket trip. Let It Ride N (Dexter Dunn) saw his seven-race undefeated streak in the U.S. end in this race as he couldn't get involved from post eight and had to settle for a dead-heat for sixth. Trainer Michael Deters also co-owns Hesa Kingslayer N, an 8-year-old gelded son of Christian Cullen, with Joel Warner. Hesa Kingslayer N now has 19 career triumphs and he has put away $169,962. Having gained enormous respect from her blowout victory in the opening leg of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series, Alexa Skye had a much easier time putting away her rivals on Friday night (March 19), capturing the first of three $35,000 divisions at Yonkers Raceway in a 1:53.4 clocking. Sent off as the prohibitive 1-10 betting favorite, Todd McCarthy wasted little time seizing command on the opening bend from an accommodating My Ruebe Star N and driver Jordan Stratton. McCarthy kept an easy clip, going to the quarter in :28.4 and reaching the half unchallenged in :58.1. From there, the field of six stayed very much in line as Alexa Skye picked up the pace on the backstretch, hitting three-quarters in 1:26 on her own power. McCarthy hardly moved a muscle edging into the homestretch and the powerful 4-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere finished out her mile with a :27.4 final quarter as the rest of the field battled hard for the place spot. My Ruebe Star N held her ground and won the competition for the second position, while Siesta Beach (Matt Kakaley) closed along the pylons and finished in a dead-heat with Keep Rockin A (Tim Tetrick) for show. Alexa Skye, who picked up her 14th victory overall and has now banked $192,390, is owned in partnership by Pollack Racing and trainer Jeff Cullipher. Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2021, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2021 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders (through the races on 3-22-21): Drivers: 1. Andrew McCarthy - 42; 2. Todd McCarthy - 38; 3. Austin Siegelman - 32; 4. Tim Tetrick - 23; 5. George Brennan - 20. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 45; 2t. Jeff Cullipher - 20; 2t. Noel Daley - 20; 2t. Mike Deters - 20; 2t. Sheena McElhiney - 20. Owners: 1. Jesmeral Stable - 20; 2t. Renee Bercury - 15; 2t. Brad Grant - 15; 4t. Burke Racing Stable - 12.7; 4t. Weaver Bruscemi - 12.7. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will continue with legs of the Blue Chip Matchmaker and MGM Borgata over the next two weeks. The finals for both events will be held on April 19. by Paul Ramlow, for The Grand Circuit  

Leonidas A and Hesa Kingslayer N repeated and harness racing trainer Ron Burke prevailed with Backstreet Shadow and Rockapelo in Monday night's (March 22) four $40,000 divisions of the second leg of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series at Yonkers Raceway. Driven by Austin Siegelman, Leonidas A landed in the pocket from post one early in the third section, then moved around fellow round one winner San Domino A (Todd McCarthy) for command passing the 28 second opening quarter. After that, Leonidas A got away with a soft 57 second half, and it was pretty much over once that happened as Leonidas A kicked into high gear, pacing a 55 second back-half to win by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:52. San Domino A held second over Chief Mate (Scott Zeron), who put in a good try from first-over given the early tempo. Sheena McElhiney trains Leonidas A, a 6-year-old Mach Three gelding, for owner Jesmeral Stable. Leonidas A posted his 27th career win, and he has earnings of $271,848. Leonidas A, sent off as the 2-5 favorite paid $2.90 to win. The exacta returned $11.80, and the trifecta kicked back $48.40. LEONIDAS A REPLAY   This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras) rolled to the lead in the last split, and he would lead through fractions of 27.3, 56.2, and 1:24, with Hesa Kingslayer N (Jim Marohn Jr.) going first-up from third prior to three-quarters. Hesa Kingslayer N advanced into second on the final turn, then sustained his bid through the stretch, wearing down This Is The Plan on his way to the victory by half a length in 1:51.4. Stars Align A (Todd McCarthy) was the third-place finisher after a pocket trip. Let It Ride N (Dexter Dunn) saw his seven-race undefeated streak in the U.S. end in this race as he couldn't get involved from post eight and had to settle for coming in a dead-heat for sixth. HESA KINGSLAYER N REPLAY   Trainer Michael Deters also co-owns Hesa Kingslayer N, an 8-year-old gelded son of Christian Cullen, with Joel Warner. Hesa Kingslayer N now has 19 career triumphs, and he has put away $169,962. Hesa Kingslayer N, who was dispatched at 9-2, returned $11.20 to win and keyed a $29.80 exacta and a $111.00 trifecta. While second-best with This Is The Plan in that event, Burke had already scored earlier decisions with Backstreet Shadow (Tim Tetrick) and Rockapelo (George Brennan). Backstreet Shadow made it look pretty easy in the first grouping, going to the front from post five, leading his six foes through panels of 27, 55.4, and 1:23 3/5, and kicking home in 27.4 to win by a length and three-quarters in 1:51.2. Raukapuka Ruler N (Dan Dube) worked out a pocket trip at 58-1 and was second, with Rodeo Rock (Andrew McCarthy), the 1-2 favorite, third from second-over. BACKSTREET SHADOW REPLAY   Burke Racing Stable LLC., Weaver Bruscemi LLC., Larry Karr, and J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby own Backstreet Shadow, a 6-year-old Shadow Play gelding. Backstreet Shadow picked up his 25th lifetime victory, and he pushed his bankroll to $880,162. Backstreet Shadow was the 8-5 second choice and paid $5.20 to win. The exacta returned $91.50, and the trifecta was worth $227.00. Rockapelo and Brennan picked up a hard-fought 1:51.1 win over Western Joe (Zeron) in the second MGM Borgata battle. Tyga Hanover (Jason Bartlett), Rockapelo, and Western Joe dueled three-wide for the lead after the start, with Western Joe forging his way into the top spot in a quick 26.2 first quarter. Western Joe continued on the engine through a 55.3 half and a 1:23.3 three-quarters and turned for home first, but Rockapelo attacked out of the pocket midway on the final bend. Western Joe dug in gamely when called on, but Rockapelo was unrelenting in his own right and got by just before the wire to score by a nostril. Tyga Hanover wound up third. ROCKAPELO REPLAY   The victorious 6-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven gelding is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC., Weaver Bruscemi LLC., and Phil Collura. Rockapelo now has a record of 20-19-11 from 82 appearances, and he has earned $471,106. Rockapelo, the 2-1 second choice, returned $6.80 to win and was atop a $38.20 exacta and a $114.00 trifecta. The MGM Borgata Pacing Series now has three remaining preliminary rounds, with the last one scheduled for Monday, April 12. The final will be held the following Monday (April 19). Stakes action continues at Yonkers tomorrow night (March 23) with the $57,800 final and the $25,000 consolation of the M Life Rewards Ladies Pacing Series for fillies and mares, and on Wednesday night (March 24) as the M Life Rewards Gents Pacing Series for colts and geldings concludes with a $58,400 final and a $25,000 consolation. After the curtain comes down on those races, the pacing mares in the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series will be in action in two $35,000 divisions of the third leg of that event on Friday (March 26). Seaswift Joy N (post two, Andrew McCarthy/Tony Alagna), Blue Ivy (post five, Tyler Buter/Todd Buter), and Alexa Skye (post six, Todd McCarthy/Jeff Cullipher) have all won during the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series thus far, and they will lock horns in Friday night's second split (race seven), giving a new face a chance to collect a victory in race six's opening flight. Machnhope, who was victorious both weeks of the series, is idle this time. Yonkers Raceway continues with a Monday-Friday live racing schedule, with first post at 7:15 p.m. For full race results, click here. From Yonkers Raceway

Hightstown, NJ – When trainer Mike Deters purchased harness racing pacer Hesa Kingslayer N last year, he was told the gelding might be a diamond in the rough. Initially, the emphasis was on rough. In his first couple trips to the racetrack, the horse was a bit hot to handle. But after several equipment changes, Deters has been left with a gem. The 8-year-old Hesa Kingslayer N raced only 29 times Down Under, winning 13. Since arriving in the U.S., he has won five of 14 starts and hit the board a total of 11 times while earning $89,425. This past Monday (March 15), Hesa Kingslayer N won his opening-round division of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series at Yonkers Raceway. In the second leg on March 22, he is 9-2 on the morning line in the fourth of four divisions. Let It Ride N, unbeaten in seven U.S. starts, is the 2-1 favorite followed by This Is The Plan at 3-1. “It looks like he drew what might be the toughest division,” Deters said. “But if he’s going to get anywhere in the series, he’s going to have to beat these horses sooner or later anyway, so it’s all good. Hopefully, we work out a nice trip and he’s pacing at the wire.” In his first Borgata start, Hesa Kingslayer N and driver Jim Marohn Jr. got a second-over trip before a three-wide move from fourth place heading into the final turn. Finishing with a rush has become the gelding’s signature style; only once has he been closer than fourth at three-quarters in any of his Stateside races. “He’s never very close,” said Deters, who owns Hesa Kingslayer N with Joel Warner. “He went a couple of unbelievable trips at (Harrah’s Hoosier Park) where he was in another ZIP code at the half and ended up being very competitive. He has a tremendous finishing kick.” Hesa Kingslayer N is the first horse Deters has ever started in the Borgata series, which was formerly the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. The six-week series concludes April 19 with a $150,000-added final and $75,000 guaranteed consolation. “It’s a very tough series and I’ve never had a horse that was a really good half-mile-track horse,” Deters said. “It seems that all the horses that come from New Zealand and Australia are very good small-track horses. “As long as we make the final, I’ll be very happy. In reality, if we make the consolation, it’s a good thing. He’s a nice little horse and we have the opportunity to race for pretty good money every week. I just hope he shows up.” Deters does not plan to race Hesa Kingslayer N in all of the preliminary rounds of the series. Horses receive 25 points for entering and additional points based on their finish, with 50 points going to the winner, 25 to second, 12 to third, eight to fourth, and five to fifth. “Win, lose, or draw, he will not race every week,” Deters said. “I don’t know when it will be, but we’re definitely going to give him a week off and freshen him up. Hopefully, we’ll have our best foot forward later, hopefully, for either the consolation or the final.” In addition to the Borgata, Hesa Kingslayer N is staked to Grand Circuit events at The Meadowlands and Hoosier Park. “If he’s good enough, he’s staked where he can do well,” Deters said. “I’m very happy we got him. The agent that we bought him from said he might be a diamond in the rough. We got lucky. I’m super happy.” Other first-round Borgata winners were Let It Ride N, Lyons Steel, San Domino A, and Leonidas A. Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT) Monday at Yonkers. For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Harness Racing This Week: Blue Chip Matchmaker and MGM Borgata Pacing series second leg, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit at Yonkers features three $35,000 divisions on Friday (March 19) in the second round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series for open pacing mares. The Monday (March 22) card at Yonkers will see four $40,000 divisions in the second round of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series for open pacers. Each series offers five preliminary rounds leading to the finales, both set for Monday (April 19). Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link. Last Time: Alexa Skye and driver Todd McCarthy served notice in the second of three $35,000 divisions of opening round action in the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series for pacing mares on Friday night (March 12) at Yonkers Raceway with a blistering 1:51.2 victory. McCarthy took the 4-5 public choice to the lead shortly after the start, putting second choice Seaswift Joy N, driven by his brother Andy, in the pocket. Alexa Skye dictated the pace, cutting the first two fractions in identical :28 quarters and keeping the abbreviated field of five at bay in the process. Alexa Skye picked up the pace noticeably past the half and smoked her third quarter in :27.2, gaining ample separation on the field before marching home impressively with a :28 final kicker. A 4-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, Alexa Skye won for the first time since being purchased by trainer Jeff Cullipher, along with Pollack Racing, in February. Alexa Skye picked up her 13th victory overall and has now earned $174,890. It was a chalky beginning to the 2021 MGM Borgata Series for free-for-all pacers on Monday night (March 15) at Yonkers Raceway as favorites delivered in four of the five $40,000 divisions. Let It Ride N (Dexter Dunn) began the proceedings, prevailing off a second-over trip at 1-5 to run his record in the United States to seven wins from seven starts. Dunn brought Let It Ride N to the outside from fourth after the :56.4 half, and then picked up cover when This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras) tipped out of the pocket beyond the 1:24.1 three-quarters. Dunn sent Let It Ride N three-wide on the far turn, and he kicked home strongly to win by a half-length in 1:52.2. This Is The Plan was the runner-up, and Rodeo Rock (Tim Tetrick) closed from sixth to third in the last quarter. Richard "Nifty" Norman trains Let It Ride N, an 8-year-old gelding by Rock N Roll Heaven, for owners William Hartt and Enzed Racing Stable. Let It Ride N has won 25 times from 61 lifetime starts and he has now pocketed $395,958. Complete recaps of all the races are available on the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2021, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2021 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders (through the races on 3-15-21): Drivers: 1. Austin Siegelman - 22; 2t. Andrew McCarthy - 20; 2t. Todd McCarthy - 20; 4t. Dexter Dunn - 12; 4t. Tyler Buter -12. Trainers: 1. Nifty Norman - 17; 2. Ron Burke - 15; 3t. Todd Buter - 10; 3t. Jeff Cullipher - 10; 3t. Nancy Takter - 10. Owners: 1t. Bd Racing - 10; 1t. Renee Bercury - 10; 1t. Jesmeral Stable - 10; 4t. Enzed Racing Stable - 7; 4t. Eric Prevost - 7. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will continue with legs of the Blue Chip Matchmaker and MGM Borgata over the next three weeks. The finals for both events will be held on April 19. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

It was a chalky beginning to the 2021 MGM Borgata Series for free-for-all harness racing pacers on Monday night (March 15) at Yonkers Raceway as favorites delivered in four of the five $40,000 divisions. Let It Ride N (Dexter Dunn) began the proceedings, prevailing off a second-over trip at 1-9 to run his record in the United States to seven wins from seven starts. Dunn brought Let It Ride N to the outside from fourth after the 56.4 half, and then picked up cover when This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras) tipped out of the pocket beyond the 1:24.1 three-quarters. Dunn sent Let It Ride N three-wide on the far turn, and he kicked home strongly to win by half a length in 1:52.2. This Is The Plan was the runner-up, and Rodeo Rock (Tim Tetrick) closed from sixth to third in the last quarter. Richard "Nifty" Norman trains Let It Ride N, an 8-year-old gelding by Rock N Roll Heaven, for owners William Hartt and Enzed Racing Stable Inc. Let It Ride N has won 25 times from 61 lifetime starts, and he has now pocketed $395,959. Let It Ride N paid $2.30 to win and led a $5.30 exacta and a $53.50 trifecta.   The lone upsetter was 9-2 offering Lyons Steel (Austin Siegelman), who won the second split in 1:53.1. Lyons Steel raced in fifth through fractions of 27.3, 56.4, and 1:25, went four-wide from third-over on the final turn, and got up in the stretch to defeat American Mercury (Andrew McCarthy), who had the second-over journey, by a neck. Mac's Jackpot (Brent Holland) was third after popping out of the two-hole nearing three-quarters. A 6-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven gelding, Lyons Steel is trained by Dennis Watson for owner BD Racing LLC. Lyons Steel picked up career victory 27, and he pushed his bankroll to $394,668. Lyons Steel returned $11.40 to win. The exacta kicked back $58.00, and the trifecta was worth $231.00.   San Domino A (Todd McCarthy) didn't disappoint at 3-5 in the next grouping, tallying in 1:53.1. San Domino A sped out from post four and cleared to the point around Tookadiveoffdipper (Pat Lachance) passing the 27 second opening quarter. After a 56.1 half and a 1:24.3 three-quarters, San Domino A slammed the door with a 28.3 final kicker, topping a first-over Tyga Hanover (Jason Bartlett) by a length and a half. Pat Stanley N (Jordan Stratton) turned a second-over trip into a third-place result. The victorious 8-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding is trained by Nancy Takter for the ownership group of Joe P Racing LLC. and Oldford Racing LLC. San Domino A now has 30 lifetime wins, and he has earned $367,225. San Domino A paid $3.30 to win and was atop a $23.80 exacta and a $58.00 trifecta. Hesa Kingslayer N (Jim Marohn Jr.) was the even-money choice in the fourth flight, and he would get the job done in a 1:52.4 mile. This race was action-packed as 42-1 shot Ideal Jimmy (Holland) forged his way to the lead going to the 27 second opening quarter, then gave a parking ticket to Shnitzledosomethin (Gingras) through a 55.3 half and a 1:23.3 three-quarters. Hesa Kingslayer N, who had joined the two-wide flow from fourth before the half, went on the attack three-wide prior to three-quarters, assumed the first-over position on the final bend, and showed an advantage on the outside before they turned for home. From there, Hesa Kingslayer N went to win by a length over Semi Tough (George Brennan), with Ostro Hanover (Tyler Buter) third from off-the-pace. Trainer Michael Deters also co-owns Hesa Kingslayer N, an 8-year-old gelded son of Christian Cullen, with Joel Warner. Hesa Kingslayer N now has 18 career triumphs, and he has put away $149,962. He returned $4.00 to win and keyed a $69.50 exacta and a $258.50 trifecta. Siegelman picked up another MGM Borgata Pacing Series victory when he guided even-money favorite Leonidas A to a 1:53.1 decision in the final tilt. Western Fame (Daniel Dube), who won this event the last time it was held in 2019, posted stations of 28.1, 57.1, and 1:25.1, but Backstreet Shadow (Tetrick) was moving quickly towards him from first-over heading to three-quarters, and Leonidas A was glued right to that rival from second-over. Siegelman tipped Leonidas A three-wide on the last turn, he vaulted into the lead in upper stretch, and then drew off to a convincing 2 1/2 length tally. Backstreet Shadow had to settle for second, and Chief Mate (Scott Zeron), who started from post eight, advanced from last to third in the final quarter. Last year's Potomac Pace champion, Leonidas A is trained by Sheena McElhiney for owner Jesmeral Stable. A 6-year-old Mach Three gelding, Leonidas A has won 50 percent of his lifetime starts (26 of 52), and he has earnings of $251,848. Leonidas A paid $4.00 to win. The exacta returned $8.90, and the trifecta kicked back $76.50. The MGM Borgata Series continues with preliminary round action through April 12, and the final is scheduled to take place on Monday, April 19. There is more stakes racing ahead at Yonkers this week with the third and final leg of both the M Life Rewards Ladies Pacing Series on Tuesday (March 16) and the M Life Rewards Gents Series on Wednesday (March 17). On Friday (March 19), pacing mares take to the track in three $35,000 divisions of the second round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series. Alexa Skye, Blue Ivy, and Machnhope, who were victorious in the first leg of that event, have drawn in separate races again this time. Post time for all of those programs is 7:15 p.m. From Yonkers Raceway

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