Levy and Blue Chip finals take center stage
by John Furgele
If you like big races with big purses, then look no further than Yonkers Raceway on Saturday, April 22. After numerous rounds and legs, both the Blue Chip Matchmaker and Levy Memorial finals will be run. And the purses are nothing to sneeze with the Blue Chip offering $310,600 and the Levy $529,000.
In addition to these huge races, there are consolation finals for each division with purses of $75,000 for the Blue Chip and $100,000 for the Levy. Yonkers continues to offer big money in many of its races; recently the open paces and trots saw purses go from $50,000 to $55,000.
At Yonkers, post position is often the deciding factor. It is very hard to win from post position seven and eight, so it is easy to throw out those who start from there. In the Blue Chip for the mares, Bedroom Confessions comes in with a season best of 1:52.1 but she drew the unlucky seven post. Lis Patty got the one, while Mach It a Par drew the three. The others include Shesjustadelight, Medusa, Mackenzie, Regil Elektra and Divas Image. Bedroomconfessions will have to get out fast and that could hurt her in the stretch run. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mach It a Par grab the $155,300 first place prize.
The Levy will also have eight runners. Soto has posted the fastest time of the group with a 1:50.1 clocking, but has the dreaded eight post. Missile J will be the likely betting favorite and has a favorable post position of three. Somewhere in LA has won a race at Yonkers from the eight, but he drew the five and should be a real threat to take home the $264,500 first place prize. This is a talented field of older horses and I would not be shocked if Soto pulls it off. Weather should not be a factor as the forecast is calling for dry skies and a daytime high of 65 degrees.
Post time for the Blue Chip is scheduled for 9:30 while the Levy is supposed to begin at 10:10, but this is harness racing and we know that these races will likely go off at 10 and 10:30 because that’s harness racing. Scheduled post times are merely warnings to bettors to get those bets in as it is very seldom that races go off at their scheduled times.
In other track news, Monticello announced a 10 percent increase in daily purses, something that usually happens once the weather warms. Like Yonkers, Monticello races 12 months per year and in 2017 offers 207 racing days (prior to any cancellations). And even though the purses are much smaller, handle at Monticello is usually bigger than it is at Yonkers.
April 21 will pass with no racing at Vernon Downs and as of now, there is no indication as to when they track will open for the 2017 season. As we noted in an earlier writing, Vernon owner Jeffrey Gural says he is losing too much money because of two nearby casinos that recently opened and says racing at Vernon will only add to the red ink. Gural is seeking tax breaks from New York State and with the state budget already passed; the delay could be a long one.
Plainridge Park in Massachusetts is off and running in 2017 and things appear to be going well at the only harness track in the Bay State. The track is touting that state subsidies are helping to grow the sport with more licenses issued as well as an increase in Massachusetts breeders. From a racing standpoint, the biggest announcement came when officials said that the inaugural Spirit of Massachusetts Trot will take place on Friday, July 28 and will have a purse of $250,000.
The two features this weekend at Saratoga Casino Hotel are the $13,000 Open Pace for fillies and mares on Friday and a $14,500 Open Trot on Sunday. Saratoga continues to run afternoon cards on Thursdays and Sundays with post times of 12:15 pm.
There are just three weekends of racing remaining at Freehold. On Friday, the feature is an $8,000 Preferred Trot while Saturday offers a unique $7,500 Open Trot for 3-year olds. Freehold’s meet will end on Saturday, May 6 and the fall meet will commence on Labor Day, September 4 and will run through December 30.
If you like racing, there is no shortage this weekend. From Yonkers to Saratoga to Freehold to everywhere in between, there is a little something for everybody.
See you at the races.
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