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Monday, April 16, 2012

Time to Tinker with the Levy and Matchmaker

So far in the George Morton Levy Memorial Series at Yonkers Raceway, it has been the Atochia, Foiled Again, and Real Nice show with these horses dominating the series through the first four legs.  See You at Peelers and Androvette have been dominating in the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series, pretty much making these races snoozefests.  It seems to be a safe bet that the winner of the two finals will come from these horses.

Many will argue the problem with these series thus far is primarily half track racing.  I will argue the problem with these races is they are too early in the season, with most of the top horses from both sexes not yet being ready which allows the few top horses that are ready to compete to eat the 'not ready for prime time horses' for dinner.  In effect, you have the top horses competing against nothing more than high-level conditioned horses.

To make the Levy and Matchmaker a better event there needs to be a change in the format and/or timing of these series.  Now let me state first of all, these races are the property of Yonkers Raceway so to expect the track to give up the finals of these races is out of the question.  With that stated up front, we know there are those horses who will not race on the half mile track, unwilling to take a chance with a bad post position draw, but we can't worry about those horses who won't participate despite the lucrative purses.

There are two ways the series could be improved.  If it wished to remain a completely stand alone event at the start of the season, Yonkers Raceway could partner with four other tracks in the region and let them have preliminary legs in addition to Yonkers.  The same point system could be used with the top point earners in the five preliminary legs returning to Yonkers Raceway for the finals.  By having only one preliminary and the final at Yonkers, other top horses may be willing to participate in the series as it would be likely the other four preliminaries would be held on 5/8 mile ovals and bigger.

Another option would be for allowing other stake races to be used as preliminaries to get into the finals to be held at Yonkers.  This would result in the Levy finals being held later in the year; likely not before June.  Again, points can be earned by eligible horses earning points in these stakes races and then have the highest point earners compete in the finals.

Regardless of which approach would be used, racing fans at multiple tracks would have the opportunity to see the best horses in training competing in a mini-circuit at different size tracks, with the added cachet of being part of the road to the Levy (or Matchmaker).  The races would be more competitive with regards to level of competition and those trainers who hate half mile racing may be willing to have their horses go over to Yonkers for at least the final (possibly taking a chance to skipping a preliminary leg to avoid two races on a half mile oval).

The Levy and the Matchmaker are races with big purses.  The level of competition should match the purses.  It is time to tinker with the event.  Otherwise, we can expect these series to be races where the top horses coast through the series and the second tier horses take advantage of the early season scheduling to get a chance at minor spoils and then go back to the levels they belong racing in.

1 comment:

JLB said...

Excellent idea which would end the domination of the FFA types racing against upper conditioned horses, and, most important, showcase the sport's older stars throughout the region. The purses should present no problem to Pocono, Chester, and the Meadows, and the Meadowlands might be willing to pitch in, given that the race handle there would likely skyrocket. Now we will see if Messrs. Rooney, Galterio, and Starr are broad-minded or not.