More Matchmakers and Levys Highlight Harness Weekend


We are approaching week two of six jam-packed, action-filled, chocolate-glazed harness stakes weekends to kick off the spring harness season, headlined by Yonkers Raceway as it hosts the second round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy series. Watch as aged mares go in circles and aged horses go in similarly-sized circles, all for our pursuit of great riches, which we achieved last week (more on that in the preview review below).

We’ll start this week’s quest with the second preliminary of the Blue Chip Matchmaker, which goes on Friday, March 24.

MATCHMAKER | Div. One – Race 5 

Shesjustadelight N draws the rail again off a pocket-ride victory in the opening round of the Matchmaker as the 4-5 favorite. In a familiar position here, she could take as much play as she did last week.

Jumping into the series to pose a possible threat to her favoritism is Sandbetweenurtoes, who has been finishing on the board against the top-level mares at Woodbine. Her speed should benefit her over the half-mile oval, but she will not be the ideal price for us.

Leaving from post seven, For The Ladies N displays sneakily sharp form when compared to the other six she’s against. She exits one of the stronger Matchmaker divisions, finishing sixth to 2016 Matchmaker winner Mach It A Par. She has always raced best from off the pace, and the potentially heated pace presented here could put her in position to pull off an upset similar to a few years back.

MATCHMAKER | Div. Two – Race 6 

There she is, sitting upon her throne all mighty-like… in a horsey way. Off a win last week, Mach It A Par should once again be the odds-on choice going to the gate.

Now drawing better than her, Mackenzie A is given a third chance to dethrone the Matchmaker champion. Missing by a head three starts ago and going a conservative mile last week, Mackenzie A’s rail draw should position her close enough to the pace where her closing ability will threaten the favorite’s chances.

MATCHMAKER | Div. Three – Race 7 

Concluding round two Matchmakers will be the toughest division from which to scrape value (or so it seems). Bedroomconfessions, finishing second to Mach It A Par last week, starts from the rail, which will suit her stalking style well. Her and Krispy Apple, receiving an improved draw after a poor trip from post seven in round one, will take a majority of the action and likely compose a majority of the action.

Yet, if she can remotely leave the gate and not start the race from Manhattan, Change The Rulz N may be able to secure an upset. She was flying to finish third against Shesjustadelight N in round one after trailing the field 12 lengths at the quarter. The goal for her will be to not have to recoup so much ground.

Phew! That was a lot of races, I don’t think I can handle any more.

But then the second round of the George Morton Levy Series goes on Saturday, March 25.

LEVY | Div. One – Race 6 

We embark on another adventure to the Old Hilltop and are greeted in the first Levy division with the misfits of the series. Bettor’s Edge and Keystone Velocity are attempting to not hoist the anchor, as they did last week; and Santa Fe Beachboy is still trying to find his clique.

Perhaps the most valuable of all the misfits, for us, is Mccardles Lightning. Not facing the likes of Missile J today, he may be able to shine with his late-pacing ability in a field that presumably lacks stamina. His performance, however, is solely dependent on how he leaves the gate… well, it is also dependent on his health, what he ate this morning, etc., but early positioning will be key.

LEVY | Div. Two – Race 7

Hoooweee, my cowboy hat has just gone done flown off my noggin. That’s ‘cause we got some speedsters racing in this division.

Rockin Ron, Soto, Bit Of A Legend N, and Mcwicked are all factors of the pace, but the situation we’re hoping for is a full-blown speed duel.

Then Guantanamo Bay will come storming in.

Guantanamo Bay closed to finish third in his prelim to Missile J, doing a majority of his pacing in the final eighth of a mile, which is not enough ground to do anything, let alone sweep from last to first and win a race. Today, he will likely be observing the pacesetters burning one another out until the oil lights pop on and when they merge to make a pit stop, expect to see Guantanamo Bay zoom right past them.

I mean, it could happen, but it’s not guaranteed, of course.

LEVY | Div. Three – Race 9

Remember P H Supercam? He once dominated this series. He even won it back in 2014. But the years have not been good to Supercam. For starters, they have made him old — he’s 10 now.

But I have a proposition in this race that is all about Provocativeprincen and Missile J… what if P H Supercam wins?

It’s a far-fetched idea, I agree, but there is some evidence supporting this possibility. Firstly, he was in no way going to be involved from post eight in round one, so we toss that race. The start before that he chased home the pacesetter, as they sprinted home off a slow pace, so we toss that race, too.

We have to look to three starts ago to find a line that captures the form required from P H Supercam to win this race. In that start, he launched home from post eight to finish sixth by a length, having trailed the field by 12 lengths at the half. If he’s forwardly placed and up to form, he could score his first win of the season.

LEVY | Div. Four – Race 10 

Unopposed by the major players of this series, All Bets Off will start from the rail as the public choice off a second-place finish to Long Live Rock, who will struggle to circle around the track from post seven.

Our value will likely come from Artistic Major, who should improve with an inward draw following a poor mile from post seven in round one. His best miles have come from inner posts and from stalking trips, so he should receive the set-up he needs.

Bounce Backs

The “Bounce Back” list features contenders we touted in the past who did not win in their first outing, but are worth considering a second time.

Downundermatter – Friday, March 24 | Meadowlands, Race 6
Laser Lucy – Saturday, March 25 | Pocono Downs, Race 13
Mach On The Beach – Saturday, March 25 | Woodbine Racetrack, Race 4
Rock The Town – Monday, March 27 | Dover Downs, Race 11

Preview Review 

We were winless in the four divisions of Blue Chip Matchmakers last week.

In division one, Devil Child (DNF, 7/2 odds) failed to finish the race and Change The Rulz N (third, $8.80) completed the trifecta at 48-1.

Mackenzie A (fourth, 19-1) rode the rail and chased home her rivals in division two.

Traveling first over, Medusa (fourth, 5-1) faltered in the stretch in division three.

We proved much more successful in round one of the Levy series, exempting Keystone Velocity (fifth, 9/2) and Bettor’s Edge (fourth, 3-1).

Our value contenders were the only non-favorites to win Levy divisions. We managed to snag Long Live Rock ($38.60; $9.80; $7.20) and Soto ($14.00; $3.40; $2.60) when they won the second and fourth divisions respectively.

And here are the results of our contenders on the last two weeks’ Bounce Back lists:

  • I Could Care Less­ (Nor, R10 3/10) – third, $2.80
  • Petrossian As (YR, R6 3/12) – 10th, 5-1
  • Stayin Strong (YR, R6 3/12) – fourth, 6-1
  • Party Jammer (Stga, R9 3/17) – sixth, 127-1
  • Ado Duharas (Wdb, R6 3/18) ninth, refunded
  • Dialamara (Wdb, R4 3/18) – seventh, 7-1
  • Grandpa Don (Mea, R10 3/18) second, $6.40; $5.60
  • Jackson Wyatt (MVR, R10 3/18) – sixth, 18-1
  • King Harvest (MVR, R12 3/18) – ninth, 59-1
  • Single White Sock (Wdb, R10 3/18) – fourth, 12-1
  • Champagne Phil (FlmD, R8 3/19) – fourth, 14-1
Ray Cotolo
Ray Cotolo is a seasoned handicapper and harness writer. At 17-years-old, he has worked in the harness racing industry for approaching a decade. Known for his creativity, humor, and eccentric personality, he works to promote harness racing while also entertaining. He is also known as the son of harness-racing guru Frank Cotolo and focuses primarily on the pari-mutuel side of the sport, invested in seeking value.

Ray hosts the weekly radio show “North American Harness Update,” which combines his talents to both entertain and aid the public in discovering overlay contenders from the highest-stake harness races to the cheapest overnights at Truro Raceway. He strives to put on the greatest show possible for all audiences along with his co-host, Mike Pribozie. It airs from 9-11pmEDT on SRN One.

Outside of racing, Ray is a playwright, writer, and, debatably, a comedian. He has performed and written sketch comedy while attending high school, as well as plays and varying side projects. He continually updates his Twitter account, @RayCotolo, with thoughts either pertaining to or not pertaining to harness racing.

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