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Despite the fact that NAADA is preparing to host a contingent of their counterparts from Spain next week the beat goes on for the harness racing members of the North American Amateur Drivers Association. Tonight at Yonkers Raceway, two short divisions in the eighth leg of the current NAADA trotting series went to post and when the judges declared them official both Alan Schwartz and Dr. John Kokinos each emerged victorious in their respective splits which went postward prior to the betting card getting underway. Schwartz had an eyeopening triumph with his own Ladys Big Stornont in a 1:57.3 clocking while Doctor John scored comfortably in 1:59.2 with Here Comes Numbers. Both were convincing winners. Schwartz started from the four-hole and settled in fourth position and was there until the field headed to the halfway point where he moved first-up. They trotted around Wygant Prince (Paul Minore) and when Ladys Big Stormont passed the three quarter pole they had a length lead which was opened to two lengths at the wire. Soul Train in rein to Joe Lee, rallied to be second with Fox Valley Steffen and Jennifer Lappe captured the show dough. "He went a monster trip tonight," a jubulent Schwartz said after the race. "He's a nice horse with a big motor and tonight's race was his best thus far this year." Doctor John is enjoying one of his best seasons in the sulky notching his third win in the current trotting series and his 5th in just nine seasonal starts. In his split Kokinos sent Here Comes Numbers to the lead from the three hole and it was catch me if you can and nobody could as Here Comes Numbers trotted home a two length winner over Tough Get Going, driven by NAADA president, Joe Faraldo. Far back in third was Bob Davis with The Royal Harry. "Again, I had a good horse and was merely little more than a passenger," said Kokinos. "I'm learning good lessons driving these classy old veterans. by John Manzi, for NAADA

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, May 1, 2018 -- As an opening act for Saturday's (May 5th) 144th Kentucky Derby, Yonkers Raceway Tuesday morning (May 1st) played host to rare early-morning 'races'. The event, which was aired and streamed live, featured Greg T. from Elvis Duran and the Z100 Morning Show first competing in a dash, completed with double-seat jog carts. For entertainment purposes only, Greg T.'s horse, as noted by track announcer John Hernan, was renamed 'Shartin #2,' in deference to the newly-minted Blue Chip Matchmaker winner. The second competition featured Greg T. racing 'Shartin #2' foot versus hoof. Despite the human head start, there was a predictable result, though a good time was had by all. Links to photos (credit Jelena Gerga) and audio clips follow here, with video to be sent when available. audio--https://www.dropbox.com/sh/c9sz22zfbx8bigw/AABg9-p_ehzCCmILE5pd6a6Wa?dl=0 photos--https://www.dropbox.com/sh/yfe3h9nie7dobnd/AADUJNRDQqvgZUxqkuJCqVDsa?dl=0 As a reminder, Yonkers Raceway shall accept wagers for the entire Derby Day card beginning this Friday (May 4th), with Churchill Downs' first post both days at 10:30 AM. Saturday finds the Raceway offering all sorts of Derby-themed goodies, from a big-cash hat contest (with Greg T. selecting the grand-prize winner) to mint juleps to food specials, along with plenty to places to watch and wager. Live racing that evening is set for the usual 6:50 PM first post. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Monday, April 30, 2018 - Yonkers Raceway has announced an across-the-board purse increase, effective with the upcoming harness racing condition sheet for the race week beginning next Monday, May 7th. The increases range from 10-20 percent, depending upon the purse of the race. Races going for less than $15,000 shall get the higher hike (moving the lowest purse from $7,500 to $9,000), while any race worth $15,000 or more gets a 10 percent rise. Thus, the weekly Open Handicaps move from $40,000 to $44,000. For more information, please contact the race office at (914) 457-2627. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, April 28, 2018 -- Harness racing driver Jason Bartlett won a full one-third of Yonkers Raceway's dozen races Saturday night (Apr. 28th), including the co-featured $40,000 Open Handicap Trot with favored Fearless Man ($4.50). Forwardly-placed from assigned--and moist--post position No. 4, Fearless Man made the first lead. He then gave it up to lass Charmed Life (Dan Dube) right at a 27-second opening quarter-mile. The latter continued through subsequent of intervals of :57.3 and 1:26.3, with 32-1 Crazshana (Brent Holland) supplying some unwanted company. Charmed Life owned a length lead into the lane, but tired and bore out enough to allow Fearless Man to through the side door. That one whipped a second-up Mostinterestingman (Larry Stalbaum) by a length in 1:56.2. Charmed Life saved the bottom of the ticket, with In Secret (George Brennan) and Crazshana coming away with the minor awards. For Fearless Man, an 8-year-old Elegant Man gelding trained by Andrew Harris for co-owners Rick Zeron Stables, Murray Greenfield, Noblock and Cool Cat Racing, it was his fourth win in a dozen seasonal starts. The exacta paid $63, with the triple returning $281. The evening's $40,000 Open Handicap Pace was won by wagering choice Windsong Leo (Brennan, $5.10) in a down-the-road 1:53.2. Back to Bartlett, who swept a popular $13.80 early daily double with faves P H Supercam ($4.10) in 1:53.2 and Bell I No ($4.50) in 1:53. He also bookended ended the card with Perfect Bet ($20.80) in the 12th-race finale (1:52.4). Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, April 27, 2018 - Mach it a Par (Jason Bartlett, $7.60), after paying her way through the just-concluded Blue Chip Matchmaker, rallied from off the pace Friday night (Apr. 27th). winning Yonkers Raceway's $30,000 harness racing filly and mare Preferred Handicap Pace. At the outset, it was Caviart Cherie easily clearing her seven inside rivals. Last week's winner then gave it up to Ellie'sjet N (Jordan Stratton) before a 'good' :26.4 opening quarter-mile. Mach it a Par, meanwhile, left for a seat from post position No. 7. She found one fifth, winding up second-over behind tepid 5-2 choice Lovineveryminute (Brian Sears). Both were out moving prior to a :55.3 intermission, though the first-up number wasn't making many inroads. That forced Mach it a Par wide right at the 1:23.4 three-quarters. Ellie'sjet N owned a length-and-a-half lead in and out of the final turn, but her pursuer was about to pay her a visit. Mach it a Par wore down the leader, edging past by three-quarters of length in a season's-best 1:52.4. Gina Grace N (Larry Stalbaum), Lovineveryminute and Caviart Cherie settled for the minors. For second choice Mach it a Par, an 8-year-old daughter of Mach Three co-owned by D’Elegance Stable IX, Carmen Iannacone, T L P & Gandolfo Stables and trained by Richard Banca, it was her third win in a dozen seasonal starts. The exacta paid $27.60, with the triple returning $108.50. The winner is now over $800,000 in career earnings after her 40th victory Earlier in the evening, there was a 'Cherie' union meeting in the paddock, where Caviart Cherie was introduced to Cherie Czerniowski, Empire City's Assistant Director of VGM Operations. The two ladies seemed to get along, with photographic evidence to prove it, Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, April 24, 2018 -- Pole-sitting Bluebird Jesse with harness racing driver George Brennan in the bike went the distance, winning Tuesday night's (Apr. 24th) $85,000 final of the Bonus Trotting Series. The event, co-sponsored by Yonkers Raceway and the Standardbred Owners Association of the New York, offered three preliminary legs leading to the final. The field was reduced to seven after an injury defection, with three of those coupled due to the intersection of common trainer and cross-ownership. At the outset, Bluebird Jessie was about to stuff Tyson (Yannick Gingras) in behind when the latter broke. That misdeed may have been the reason Optimist Blue Chip (Andy Miller) jumped it off. Tyson would eventually get back trotting, only to 'dance' again. Meanwhile, Seasoned Saint (Jim Marohn Jr.), starting right next door to the leader, wound up pocketed as part of a the 15-cents-on-the-dollar favored troika. Bluebird Jesse was hard-used early (:27.4 opening quarter-mile), before rating a :58.1 intermission. Lone lass Romancing Rachel (Mark MacDonald), another part of the entry, was third. However, the battle lines were drawn between the leader and his pursuer. Seasoned Saint, the only entrant to sweep all three prelims, pulled against Bluebird Jesse well before the 1:26.4 three-quarters. The two were just about in tandem from the final turn to the wire, but Bluebird Jesse was both stubborn and swift. He defeated Seasoned Saint by a head in a life-best-matching 1:54.4. Romancing Rachel was another five lengths back in third, with Aces and Eights (Ray Schnittker) and Icanflylikeanangel (Jeff Gregory) settling for the minors. For second choice Bluebird Jesse, a 4-year-old Jailhouse Jesse gelding trained by Scott DiDomenico for co-owners Brian Carsey, John McGill and Adam Friedland, it was his third win in six seasonal starts. The exacta paid $21.20, with triple wagering cancelled due to the limited number of wagering entrants. The 'bonus' portion of the series was a $10,000 SOA-paid premium to the winner, all of whose humans were association members prior to the first draw of the series A $35,000 series consolation was won by Chapter Too (Bartlett, $4.30) in 1:55.1. Frank Drucker

(Yonkers, NY )- The Kentucky Derby is often described as the "most exciting two minutes in sports," but there will be four hours worth of excitement trackside at Empire City Casino on "Derby Day" on Saturday, May 5th. Highlighted by the annual Derby Hat Contest, the festivities begin at 3:00 p.m. with food & beverage specials, live simulcast of the big race from Churchill Downs, and musical entertainment. The highlight of the event is Empire City's Derby Hat Contest, overseen by Greg T. from the Elvis Duran and the Z100 Morning Show. Empire City's viewing party for the 144th renewal of Kentucky Derby officially launches the summer racing & simulcast season. The first post-time of the day is at 10:30 a.m. with the Kentucky Derby race expected around 6:30 p.m. Wagering on the "Run for the Roses" from Churchill Downs is available at simulcast locations throughout the casino including outdoor trackside and in Dan Rooney's Sports Pub. In addition to the Derby, Yonkers Raceway will simulcast more than 30 of the premier harness and thoroughbred tracks from across North America throughout the day and night, as well as host live harness racing beginning at 6:50 p.m. As the racing season continues, Empire City will also simulcast the Derby's companion events - the Preakness Stakes, held May 19th in Maryland, and Belmont Stakes, held June 9th on Long Island, NY. A multitude of major stakes races throughout the summer and into the fall will also take place at the racetrack including two signature Triple Crown harness races - the Yonkers Trot and the Messenger Stakes, both on September 1st - as well the Art Rooney Pace on May 26th and the Dan Rooney Pace & $1-million Yonkers International Trot, which puts an exclamation point on the stakes season, in October. Registration for the Derby Hat Contest is from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Contestants must be Empire Club members to claim prizes - new members can sign up to join the Empire Club for free at any Promotions Booth. The finalists will be announced at 5:00 p.m. when Greg T. selects his "Celebrity Prize Pick" to win a cash prize of $750. First place will win $500, with $250 going to the runner-up and $100 for third place. DJ LAX will provide the musical entertainment, and Z100 will be on-site giving away swag. Guests can indulge in the signature Derby cocktail - a classic Mint Julep made with bourbon, mint leaves and sugar and available in a commemorative glass for the first 700 to purchase. A variety of traditional raceway food will be available for purchase trackside, or guests can experience classic raceway dining in the Empire Terrace, open from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. race day, where the Derby can be viewed on a private screen at the party's table. Reservations for the Empire Terrace are now being accepted for parties of six or more by calling 914-968-4200 ext. 649. After experiencing Kentucky-in-New York, guests can try their luck on the casino's IGT Wheel of Fortune Triple Stars® slot machine jackpot, now over $1.1-million. Just this past March, Theresa P. of Westchester, NY won a life-changing jackpot of $2.9-million, the highest-ever jackpot at any of New York State's regulated casinos. For more information on Empire City Casino, the Kentucky Derby Party & Hat Contest, and directions visit www.empirecitycasino.com. Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway, 810 Yonkers Avenue, Yonkers, New York 10704, 914-968-4200 John Cirillo

YONKERS, NY, Monday, April 23, 2018 - After three preliminary rounds and sufficient whittling, the field is set for Tuesday night's (Apr. 24th) harness racing  $85,000 final of the Bonus Trotting Series. The event, co-sponsored by Yonkers Raceway and the Standardbred Owners Association of the New York, goes as the ninth of 11 races. Post time is the usual 6:50 PM. Seasoned Saint (Jim Marohn Jr., post 2) was the only perfect participant, winning all three of his series starts. The 5-year-old Dewycheatumnhowe gelding, co-owned by (trainer) Rene Allard, Bruce Soulsby and Alan Weisenberg, has won six of his 10 seasonal starts and half of his 32 career efforts. Allard also co-owns (with Blue Chip Bloodstock and John Lengacher) and trains the lone lass, Romancing Rachel (Mark MacDonald, post 3). The 4-year-old daughter of Muscle Hill won her first two starts before a tiring pocket third in the final leg. 'Rachel' has hit the board in nine of her 11 '18 tries. Due to overlapping ownership, Optimist Blue Chip (Andy Miller, post 4) completes this three-pronged posse. The 4-year-old Dewycheatumnhowe gelding, owned by Blue Chip Bloodstock and trained by Julie Miller, has gone 1-2-3 in his series starts. Bluebird Jesse (George Brennan, post 1) was another prelim 'two-timer,' the wins sandwiching a race mired by incessant road trouble. The 4-year-old Jailhouse Jesse gelding is trained by Scott DiDomenico co for-owners Brian Carsey, John McGill and Adam Friedland. Ei Ei O (Scott Zeron, post 8) also won twice before being victimized by an interference break a week ago. The 4-year-old son of pacing stallion Cam's Rocket is owned and trained by Arlene Cameron. Aces and Eights (Ray Schnittker, post 5), Icanflylikeanangel (Jeff Gregory, post 6) and Tyson (Yannick Gingras, post 7) each had a win in the series, the first two of this set at 14-1 odds. The 'bonus' portion of the series title is an additional $10,000 SOA payday to the winner, provided the owner(s), trainer and driver(s) of the horse throughout the series were association members before the first draw of the series. A $35,000 series consolation goes as the fourth race. Frank Drucker

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, NY, Saturday, April 21, 2018 - Foiled Again has company. Favored Keystone Velocity (Dan Dube, $7) successfully defended his harness racing title Saturday night (Apr. 21st), winning Yonkers Raceway $532,000 of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. The 31st Levy, a Free-For-All event honoring the memory of the harness-racing visionary and Hall of Fame founder of Roosevelt Raceway, wrapped its annual six-week sojourn on a brisk, (theoretically) spring evening. At the outset, it was pole-sitting Western Fame (Mark MacDonald) seating everyone, including next-door neighbor Dr. J Hanover (Brett Miller). However, Keystone Velocity wasn't happy with that arrangement. Away third from post position No, 3, he moved to the lead right at a :26.4 opening quarter-mile. He then rated a :29.3 next subsection (:56.2 half), which would serve him well. Somewhere in L A (Jason Bartlett) was the first to move, taking out of fifth before the intermission. Mach it So (Dave Miller) and Bit of a Legend N (Jordan Stratton) found themselves second- and third-over, respectively. It was Keystone Velocity maintained the lead in and out of a 1:23.4 three-quarters, his job made easier when Western Fame backed up in the pocket and right into the lap of Dr. J Hanover. The lead was a length-and-a-quarter entering the lane, and Keystone Velocity wasn't seriously threatened. Somewhere in L A hung in there, Mach it So dove inside and Bit of a Legend N rallied late, though too late. The final margin for Keystone Velocity was a length in a season's-best 1:52. Bit of a Legend N (now a double-millionaire) did get into second, with Somewhere in L A third. Mach it So and a compromised Dr. J Hanover settled for the remainder, while Evenin' of Pleasure (Joe Bongiorno), Western Fame and Rockin' Ron (Yannick Gingras) rounded out the order. So, Keystone Velocity, the 'old man' of the octet who needed a win in last week's final preliminary leg just to make the final, joined Foiled Again (2009-10) as back-to-back Levy champions. For Keystone Velocity, a 10-year-old son of Western Hanover co-owners (as Allard Racing) by (trainer) Allard, Kapildeo Singh, Earl Hill Jr. and VIP Internet Stables, it was his second win in six seasonal/series starts. The exacta paid $39, the triple returned $224.50 and the superfecta paid $1,161. The $266,000 winner's share raised Keystone Velocity's career earnings to $1,644,413. "He's tough horse," Dube said. "I think he's better when he's racing from behind, but he drew well and we were able to get a breather, it was good." "He doesn't know he's 10," Allard said. "There are just so many people who work with him that deserve the credit. Me? I was more nervous last season, so I'm able to enjoy this one." After some R&R, Keystone Velocity 'is staked to pretty much everything," Allard said. Members of the Levy family, including George Morton Levy's son, Robert, and daughter, CeCe, made the winner's circle presentation. Frank Drucker

As in the years in past, CeCe Levy and her brother, Bobby Levy, will be presenting the harness racing trophy to the winner of the George Morton Levy, a race named in the honor of their father. This year joining them in the presentation at Yonkers Raceway will be Bobby's children Tristin and Gavin. The accomplishments of George Morton Levy are too many to mention and if he had not existed our sport may not have, too. Levy invented harness racing as we know it when he opened Roosevelt Raceway introducing pari-mutual and night time racing. He would also later introduce the mobile starting gate which would revolutionize the sport. Some of his other accomplishments include the implementation of the International Trot and the single heat racing. There is also a funny story from a few years ago. While on their way to the winners circle the Levy family members who were to present the trophy to the winner got separated from the Yonkers PR people and ended up on the outside of the winners circle and the security guard would not let them in to present the trophy. Later they were photo-shopped into the winning photo. CeCe said that she and her family are grateful beyond words to Yonkers Raceway for staging the George Morton Levy and honoring her father. CeCe also made a prediction that this year's race will be won by Tony Alagna's horse, Dr J Hanover. Pictures CeCe Levy & Freddie Hudson CeCe Levy, Freddie Hudson & Bobby Levy Wally Hennesey, CeCe Levy & Jim Morrill CeCe Levy at Goshen HOF CeCe and Dave Miller By Fred Hudson

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

Kiwis will be able to enjoy the feature harness racing card from Yonkers, New York this Sunday.   Trackside will broadcast the first nine races live, with Race 10 the Levy Final (featuring Bit Of A Legend) to be replayed when possible.   Trackside 1 will take the action until 12noon, then it will move over to Trackside 2.   The time-honoured Levy Final has previously been won by great horses such as Falcon Seelster, Jaguar Spur, Dragon’s Lair and Foiled Again (twice).   Although he just missed a spot in the Levy Final, Christen Me has drawn barrier one in the consolation which is Race 8, due off at 1.35pm New Zealand time.   The programme features a host of expat Kiwi horses, with the rich mares feature – the Matchmaker Final – consisting of Shartin, Sell A Bit and Motu Moonbeam.   Please note that due to the nature of North American racing and start times these races may go later than advertised so there may be instances where races will be played in a replay situation.   The start times and Kiwi horses are as follows:   Race 1 – 10.52am - featuring Sammy The Bull Race 2 – 11.13am – featuring Texican, Highview Conall, Franco Rayner, Simply Susantional (em) Race 3 – 11.38am – featuring Torrid Bromac, Dream Out Loud Race 4 – 12.02pm – featuring Mach Time, American Boy (first US start) Race 5 – 12.26pm – featuring Gina Grace, Eclipse Me Race 6 – 12.49pm – featuring Statesman Race 7 – 1.12pm – Matchmaker Consolation – featuring Shesjustadelight Race 8 – 1.35pm – Levy Consolation –featuring Christen Me, Luciano Race 9 – 1.58pm - $373,000 Matchmaker Final – featuring Shartin, Sell A Bit, Motu Moonbeam Race 10 – 2.12pm (Replay) – $532,000 Levy Final – featuring Bit Of A Legend Race 11 – 2.44pm (No TV) Race 12 – 3.17pm (No TV) – featuring Alberto Contador, Texas Terror   Jess Smith

Trois-Rivieres, QC - Following the same as Yonkers Raceway, management at the Quebec Jockey Club has announced that they are removing the passing lane at the Hippodrome 3R for the 2018 harness racing season that gets underway on Sunday, April 29. "We starting looking at the wagering on Yonkers around the end of January after they did away with their passing lane," said Murielle Thomassin, general manager at the Hippodrome 3R. "and we continued to look at their increasing numbers in February. "Sometimes there is no need to re-invent the wheel," Thomassin explained. "Of course, Yonkers did other changes that contributed to the rise in wagers, but this change was a no-brainer, we need to at least try it and see if our clients like it. The entire dynamic of the races will have to change. The strategies the driver's use will have to be much different and thought of. No more waiting in the hole until the passing lane to come out and steal the win." The passing lane was first installed at the Hippodrome 3R in the late 1980's. Track superintendent, Sylvain Blais, and his team has already begun working on restoring the old home stretch. "We were able to locate the old lane in the stretch," Thomassin said. "and it is still in the ground from 18 years ago. We just need better weather and soft grounds to complete the change. "We had more snow Wednesday, but it melted and now it's raining. Our fingers are crossed that Mother Nature cooperates this week and it looks like it will with warming temperatures and some sunshine to dry up the mess we have so we can do more work on the track." Thomassin said she has talked to various horsemen and when told about getting rid of the passing lane they have been very positive about it. "They understand that we are trying to better the sport and race quality," Thomassin added. "That additional purse money coming from the increase in wagering will mean purse increases in the future for them." There are new post times at the Hippodrome 3R this season. Sunday's afternoon program will begin at 12:50 pm and the Tuesday evening racing will start at 6:30 pm. For more information, visit www.quebecjockeyclub.com. From the Quebec Jockey Club        

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

If Western Fame were human, harness racing driver Mark MacDonald could envision him fidgeting with his necktie while bemoaning a lack of respect. A multiple-stakes-winning pacer, Western Fame has not been the favorite in his most recent six victories (five at odds of 9-2 or higher) and has been the betting public's top choice only five times in his past 39 races. When he was the favorite during that span, he produced three wins and missed a fourth by a nose. In his past three starts, all in preliminary rounds of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series at Yonkers Raceway, Western Fame won twice and finished second by a half-length. On Saturday, the 5-year-old stallion competes in the $532,000 Levy championship, leaving from post No. 1 with MacDonald driving for trainer Jimmy Takter. Western Fame is 7-1 on the morning line. "He's always been a little bit of a Rodney Dangerfield; no one gives him a whole lot of respect," MacDonald said. "I don't think people realize what a nice horse he is. He's always been a little under the radar." Western Fame has won 12 of 46 career races and earned $750,618 for breeder/owner Brittany Farms. Last year, he won the Prix d'Ete and Confederation Cup, and in 2016 he won a heat of the Little Brown Jug (where he was second to Betting Line in the final), a division of the Bluegrass Stakes, and an elimination of the Breeders Crown. In addition to his runner-up Jug finish in 2016, he was second in the Matron Stakes (at 23-1), Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship (from post seven at 29-1) and a division of the Tattersalls Pace (by a neck at 9-2). "He's been a lot of fun," MacDonald said. "He didn't race much at 2 and didn't really start coming into his own until September of his 3-year-old year. He's a lightly raced horse and he's really turned into a nice racehorse." Prior to this year, Western Fame was a horse that needed to be raced aggressively from the start. Half of his wins were gate-to-wire and only twice was he worse than second at the race's midpoint. This season, he has not led prior to the stretch and only once was he better than third after three-quarters. "I found that as a 3- and 4-year-old he was kind of a one-trick pony; he really liked to be on the front," MacDonald said. "He's matured and is more versatile now. He seems to really have the will to go forward and likes a target. He's won all different kinds of ways. I really like the way he's coming into the race." The Levy brings together a number of harness racing's top older male pacers. Last year's divisional Dan Patch Award winner and defending series champion Keystone Velocity is the race's 5-2 morning-line favorite, followed by Mach It So at 4-1, Dr J Hanover at 9-2, and Somewhere In L A at 5-1. Evenin Of Pleasure follows Western Fame, at 8-1. New Zealand-bred Bit Of A Legend, who won the 2016 Levy championship, topped the points at the end of the five preliminary rounds. He drew post seven for the final and is 9-1. Rockin Ron -- who joined Bit Of A Legend, Somewhere In L A, Dr J Hanover, Mach It So, and Western Fame as multiple winners in the prelims -- will start from post eight. "It's wide open," MacDonald said. "There are not too many horses in that race that you could say would be a total head-scratcher if they won. If any horse can win from the outside, it would be Bit Of A Legend. Rockin Ron got the eight hole, but he's a good horse too. That race is so competitive. "At the end of the day it's going to come down to whoever gets the best trip or a lucky break. That's it. Whoever can work out the best trip is going to win." Also on Saturday's card is the $373,000 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series championship for older female pacers. New Zealand-bred Shartin, who posted a series-best three wins in the preliminary rounds, is the 8-5 morning-line favorite from post No. 1 with Tim Tetrick driving for trainer Jim King Jr. Racing begins at 6:50 p.m. (EDT) with the Matchmaker championship carded as race nine and the Levy as race 10 on the night's 12-race card. For complete entries, click here. Ken Weingartner

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