The grown-ups came out to play Saturday night, with Yonkers Raceway beginning its George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series.
A half-dozen, $50,000 divisions comprised the first leg for Free-For-Allers, and the participants saved the fastest for the lastest.
Defending series champ Real Nice (Jason Bartlett) stole a cheap early number in the final grouping, then held sway against the season-debuting, thrice-millionaire Foiled Again (Yannick Gingras). The mile, off fractions of :27, :56.1 1:24, was a life-best 1:51.1, also the swiftest local mile of the season.
The margin was a half-length, with Blatantly Good (George Brennan) another couple of lengths in arrears.
"I was able to rate the second quarter, and that helped," Bartlett said. "I knew Foiled Again was going to take his shot, and both horses raced super.
"He was running in last week (finishing second in Open), and was much better tonight."
"I couldn't have asked for anything else from (Foiled Again)," Gingras said. "I was able to get an early seat (third), and had to move sooner than I would have liked, but '51 and 1' for his first start back was great.
"I probably would have driven him a bit more aggressively had he had a race or two under his belt--maybe continue on to the lead at the start--but he's just going to get better as this series goes along."
For Real Nice, a 7-year-old Real Artist gelding co-owned by Gary & Beverly Paganelli and Anthony Scussel and trained by Rich Banca, he returned $10 (third choice) for his first win in four seasonal starts. The exacta paid $25.80, with the triple returning $59.50.
Saturday night's opening Levy quintets offered these scenarios...
First division--Odds-on favorite Strand Hanover (Brian Sears, $3.70) powered by from third-over, getting pace-setting MacRaider N (George Brennan) by a length in 1:52.4. Dreamlands's Art (Gingras) was a pocket third, with Giddy Up Delight (Mark MacDonald) a from-last fourth.
Strand Hanover, a 6-year-old son of Modern Art trained by Tony Alagna for co-owners Uncirculated Stables & Brenda Selwyn Waxman, won his third consecutive race in as many starts at as many venues (3-for-8 this season). The exacta paid $6.20 (two choices), the triple returned $26.80 and the superfecta paid $163.50.
Second division--Canadian invader Reibercrombie (Sears, $32), who made headlines getting into this series, did his damage from second-over. He picked off 2-5 fave Code Word (Jason Bartlett) by a half-length in 1:53.1, with One More Laugh (Ray Schnittker) a pocket third.
Reibercrombie, a 5-year-old Cheyenne Rei gelding owned by Steve Calhoun and trained by Andrew Harris, is now 3-for-8 in 2012. The exacta paid $95.50,with the triple returning $756.
Third division--People's preference Clear Vision (Gingras, $3.20), away third, moved to the lead after the quarter and was kept to his task. He won by a half-length in 1:52.3. Dancing Yankee (Bartlett) closed well from a three-hole, with Mainland Key N (Eric Goodell) a pocket third.
For Clear Vision, a 6-year-old Western Hanover gelding co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi, Panhellenic Stable Corp. and James Koran, he's approaching $950 in career earnings. The exacta paid $15.20, the triple returned $56 and the superfecta paid $154.
Fourth division--Art Z (Brett Miller, $12) encored his win in the final of the Four Leaf Clover by picking off pace-setting, even-money choice Summer Camp (Bartlett) by a neck in 1:52. Southern Allie (Gingras) offered a hard challenge to the leader before fading to third.
Art Z, a 4-year-old Artiscape gelding owned by Richard Lombardo and trained by Jordan Rubin, has those pair of wins in eight seasonal starts. The exacta paid $25.20, with the triple returning $75.
Fifth division--Atochia (Gingras) and his $1.3 million bankroll were too much for these, circling the course (twice) in 1:52.1. Nob Hill High (Jordan Stratton) rallied into second, beaten a half-length, with a first-up Flipper J (Sears) lasting for the bottom of the ticket and Rock to Glory (Goodell) fourth.
For Atochia, a 7-year-old Dragon Again gelding trained by co-owners (as Burke Racing) Burke Weaver Bruscemi, JJK Stables and M1 Stables, it was his first win in two '12 tries. The exacta paid $23.80, the triple returned $108 and the superfecta paid $336. (Yonkers)