Can Levy Winner Overcome Post Eight?

Bruce Saunders believes Nob Hill High is the type of horse any trainer would love to have in his or her stable.

Saunders is certainly glad the seven-year-old pacer is in his.

Last week, Nob Hill High won his first round division of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series at Yonkers Raceway. It was his second win of the year, in 10 starts, and the 30th of his career. Nob Hill High has earned at least $156,000 each of the past four seasons, pushing his lifetime purses to $877,393 for breeders/owners Robert Mondillo and Donald Robinson of Ohio.

Saunders has trained Nob Hill High since late in the horse’s three-year-old season in 2009. Prior to heading to the East Coast, Nob Hill High was a stakes-winner in the Midwest for trainer Bill Webb.

“He’s a terrific racehorse,” Saunders said. “He’s a blue-collar worker; he comes with his lunch pail every day and does what’s asked of him. He’s a great horse for the owners and a great horse for me to have in the barn. He’s a professional and tries hard all the time. He’s an overachiever. He’s the kind of horse every horseman admires.”

Last year, Nob Hill High won one round of the Levy series and finished fourth in the final.

The Levy features five preliminary rounds, from which the top eight horses advance to the final on April 27. There were six first round divisions last week, with Annieswesterncard, Code Word, Razzle Dazzle, Something For Doc, and Versado joining Nob Hill High as a winner.

There are five second round divisions Saturday, with Nob Hill High and driver Eric Goodell starting from post eight in the third split. Something For Doc, from the powerhouse Ron Burke stable, is in the same division and starts from post four with driver Yannick Gingras.

Horses starting from post eight, the outermost spot on the gate at Yonkers, win at a 4.7 per cent clip. Post one has the best win percentage, at 19.6.

“A bunch of the winners from last week were rewarded by drawing outside posts this week,” Saunders said. “But if you show up five or six times the chances are that you’re going to get an eight-hole.”

Annieswesterncard and Versado drew posts seven and eight, respectively, in the fourth Levy division Saturday while Razzle Dazzle got post eight in the fifth division, where Code Word drew post one.

Defending series champ Atochia drew post seven in the second division and Foiled Again, last season’s Dan Patch Award winner for best older male pacer, drew post three in the fifth division.

“It’s going to be a tough series,” Saunders said. “There are a lot of good horses in there, a lot of outstanding horses.”

Nob Hill High won his first round start in the series with a first-over grind from the halfway point, defeating Forever Just and favourite Clear Vision by a neck in 1:54.2.

“I was delighted he worked as hard as he did and got his picture taken,” Saunders said. “He doesn’t mind that kind of a trip. On a half-mile track [like Yonkers] or five-eighths, they can’t go too fast for him. He’s not as talented as some of them, but he gives you effort every time.”

During his career, Nob Hill High has started 160 times and finished among the top three on 88 occasions. He is a son of stallion McArdle and the last foal out of the millionaire mare Anniecrombie.

“He’s got the stall closest to my office and he loves to come out and say hello whenever someone comes into the barn,” Saunders said. “He’s basically a pet, a spoiled pet. He knows what he wants and when he wants it. He knows how to use his energy and I basically let him train himself.

“Certain horses just have that terrific demeanor and personality and enjoy people. He’s one of them. He’s just a special horse in many ways.”

This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit