For photos from the Meadowlands contact Lisaphoto@playmeadowlands.com

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Curtain Rises on the Levy

Yes, the Meadowlands closes on Saturday evening, hopefully for a brief vacation.  However, the real action is across the river at Yonkers Raceway where the George Morton Levy Pacing Series kicks-off it's six week stand.  Arguably, the best horses currently racing will be taking their shot, hoping to qualify for the $493,000 final.  With six divisions in this first leg, clearly some trainers are taking their chance and as the five preliminary legs continue, obviously many of these horses will fall to the wayside.

What is it that makes the Levy special?  It the closest we will ever get to the glory days, where horses like Big Towner and Le Baron Rouge; horses that attracted horseplayers to the track, did battle week in, week out in true FFA battles.  Races like the Levy also encourage older horses to keep racing though admittedly, we need more races like this to keep the older horses out of the breeding shed.

The point system for the Levy keeps horses from dogging it in any one leg.  Each horse gets 25 points for just starting in the race with additional points awarded for those that finishe first through fifth.  The top eight horses point-wise in the series qualify for the $493,000 final.  Based on the scoring system, missing a week may have you on the outside looking in come the day of the final and with those 25 points awarded just for racing, a poor performance in any one leg may cost your dearly.

While I will be discussing only the Levy, the first six races of the card are the second leg of the Sagamore Hill Serires for the lesss experienced 3yo Colts, Horses and Geldings.  The final race on the card is a $28,000 Preferred Handicap.  Since the only overnight event is the last race, the first twelve races will be held at the traditional one mile distance.

Let's take a look at the six divisions of the Levy.  Horses are listed in post position order:

7th Pace - $50,000; George Morton Levy Memorial Pace 1st Leg (1st Div)
  2  Forgein Officer (Pantaleano, 9-5) - 4yo tries the half mile.  Been racing well.
  3  Wholly Louy (D Miller, 6-1) - Unable to handle this class last year.  Needs to show more.
  4  Barber Pole (C Manzi, 4-1) - Ambitiously placed by Teague.  Pass.
  1  Dreamlands Art (Gingras, 3-1) - Solid preparation but 4yo takes on older.
  5  Real Gentleman (Brenan, 8-1) - Pena Trainee needs to improve to factor.
  6  Keystone Rideau (Dube, 10-1) - War horse gets share with a trip.
  7  Trueys Legacy (Lewis, 12-1) - Finished 2nd in Meadowlands Invite at 112-1.  Better than that but bad post.
1A  Atochia (Bartlett, 3-1) - May be class of race but first start and eight hole says wait for later.
Coupled: Dreamlands Art and Atochia
Selections: 1-2-5

8th Pace - $50,000; George Morton Levy Memorial Pace 1st Leg (2nd Div)
  1  Foiled Again (Gingras, 4-5) - Half mile specialist is the one to beat.
  2  Whackamole Hanover (Dube, 15-1) - Appears to be shooting for the moon.  Safe to ignore.
1A  Dymond Joe Mindale (D Miller, 4-5) - Does get a good draw, completes strong entry.
  3  Erics Legend N (Goodell, 4-1) - Kiwi gave good effort in first North Am start.  May offer value.
  4  Poker Hat (Bartlett, 8-1) - Don't see here.
  5  Windfall Blue Chip (Manzi, 8-1) - Fringe 3yo last year takes on older; pass.
  6  Real Nice (Brennan, 6-1) - Never better but draws poorly.
  7  Aliveandwell N (Pantaleano, 20-1) - No chance against theres.
Coupled: Foiled Again and Dymond Joe Mindale
Selections: 1-3-6

9th Pace - $50,000; George Morton Levy Memorial Pace 1st Leg (3rd Div)
   2  Go Go Solano (Dube, 6-1) - Showed some life in last start.  May finally be finding his spot?
   3  Shark's Legacy (Bouchard, 12-1) - Not likely off recent.
   1  Lucky Bettor (Gingras, 3-1) - Lands share with a trip.
1A  Mcapulco (Brennan, 3-1) - Appears to be a live one.  Stronger half of entry.
  4  Southwind Lynx (Manzi, 8-1) - Has not returned well.  May have a problem?
  5  Gallant Yankee (Bartlett, 8-5) - Forced to take a road trip last week.  Returns and figures to be the best.
  6  Sand Savage (D Miller, 15-1) - Defeated top pick at the Spa last week but draws worse this week.
  7  Valentino (Pantaleano, 6-1) - Draws poorly but may be able to overcome.
Coupled: Lucky Bettor and Mcapulco
Selections: 5-7-1A

10th Pace - $50,000; George Morton Levy Memorial Pace 1st Leg (4th Div)
1  Pangiorno (Dube, 5-1) - Had blow out qualifier.  Enough in one of weaker divisions?
2  Lahaye (Brennan, 4-1) - Steps up in class but finally gets a good post draw in ages.
3  The Mohegan Pan (Bartlett, 6-1) - Can't recommend.
4  Jetty (Manzi, 15-1) - If you are looking for a longshot play; this may be it.
5  Forensic Z Tam (P Lachance, 8-1) - Lands share with best effort.
6  Mainland Key N (Goodell, 5-1) - Should improve with post relief.
7  Legal Litigator (Miller, 3-1) - Coleman trainee does not appear ready.
8  Versado (Gingras, 8-1) - Would need to show huge improvement from this spot
Selections: 6-5-4-2

11th Pace - $50,000; George Morton Levy Memorial Pace 1st Leg (5th Div)
1  This Is Wyatt (Goodell, 9-5) - Possibility from the rail.
2  Shoobee's Place (Bouchard, 10-1) - Not likely.
3  Corky Baran (Dube, 15-1) - This is not the Corky Baran of last year.  Pass till he shows last year's form.
4  Blueridge Western (Brennan, 4-1) - Loves track and well prepped.  May provide some value this week.
5  Southern Allie (Gingras, 8-1) - 4yo is reaching in this spot.
6  Doubletrouble (Bartlett, 6-1) - May grab share with trip.
7  Handsome Harry (D Miller, 8-1) - Expect to hear more from him in subsequent legs; not from this spot)
Selections: 4-1-6

12th Pace - $50,000; George Morton Levy Memorial Pace 1st Leg (6th Div)
1  River Shark (Brennan, 3-1) - Uncharacteristic break in last.  Toss start and he fits.
2  Blatantly Good (Bartlett, 5-1) - Better than he looks.  May pop here.
3  Classic Rock Nroll (Dube, 12-1) - Needs to show he belongs here.
4  Mr Massimo (Bouchard, 8-1) - Has had success over this oval before but must show more.
5  Mccedes (Gingras, 12-1) - Appears to be a fringe player here.  Pass.
6  Royal Morn (D Miller, 8-1) - Must fire out to be a factor.  Will he get the lead?  Guess is no.
7  Giddy Up Lucky (Goodell, 8-5) - Hot last season and makes return.  Could win at first asking but no value.
Selections: 2-1-7