By John Cirillo
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The storied history of Yonkers Raceway, first established in 1899 as the Empire City Trotting Club, adds another page this Sunday afternoon, March 12, when it presents what is believed to be the first-ever all trotting-race card.
Another page in Yonkers Raceway history
This according to longtime publicity director Frank Drucker, Assistant Race Secretary Bob Miecuna, and the track statistician Fred Opper.
Frank says all-Trot card ranks in history
All 11 races on the matinee card, with first post at 12:30 PM, will be trotting affairs, including seven (races 3 through 9) for the French-hub simulcasting at the mile-and-one-quarter distance.
Pacers are the customary, standard fare offered at Yonkers and harness racing tracks across America, accounting for an estimated 80 percent of the races.
Hemi Seelster, leading driver Jason Bartlett in the bike, heads field for feature
The card starts off with a $50,000 Open Trot, which is blind-draw battle that includes Hemi Seelster handled by leading driver Jason Bartlett from post seven, Springbank Sam N., driven by Jordan Stratton from post position two, and the lone mare in the field, Allerage Star, with Andy Miller in the bike from post eight. The trio finished first, second and third in last week’s handicapped event.
Sunday’s afternoon card also features the return of the “New York, New York Double,” with the third race from Aqueduct (post time 2:20 PM) and the sixth from Yonkers (post time 2:55 PM).
Rooney family, headed by CEO Tim (right), pictured with the author, has owned the raceway since 1972
The thoroughbred legend Seabiscuit raced at Yonkers in 1937
Nominees for Levy Series Announced
Defending champion Bit of a Legend N. leads 40 Free-For-All nominees into Yonkers Raceway’s 2017 edition of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series, which honors the Hall of Fame founder of Roosevelt Raceway.
The five weeks of preliminaries begin next Saturday, March, 18, with each race in each leg worth $50,000.
Bit of a Legend N is an eight-year-old Down Under son of Bettor’s Delight, who swept through the Levy series a season ago. He won the $609,000 final (1:51, matching stakes record) a week after his scintillating, dead-heat with Wiggle It Jiggleit (world-record ‘heater’ of 1:51.2). Peter Tritton trains and Jordan Stratton drives for owner Harry von Knoblauch.
Other notable eligibles listed alphabetically include: All Bets Off, Bettor’s Edge, Caviart Luca, Mach it So, McWicked, Missile J, Provocativeprincen, Rockin’ Ron, Soto, Take it Back Terry, Vegas Vacation, and Wakizashi Hanover.
The Levy’s companion event, the ladies-only Blue Chip Matchmaker, seduced 28 of the best distaffers in training.
Among the fast femmes (alphabetically) are: Bedroomconfessions, Devil Child, Krispy Apple, Mach it a Par and Sell a Bit N. The ’17 edition was guaranteed a new leading lady after Yagonnakissmeornot, last season’s victress, began her second career as a broodmare.
That series, also with five prelim legs (at $40,000 per race), begins Friday night, March 17.
Finals (and consolations) for both the Levy and Matchmaker are set for Saturday night, April 22 with purses to be announced.