Lochinvar Art A, Hellabalou, Leonidas A and Idealsomemagic A emerged victorious from the four $50,000 divisions of the opening round of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series for free-for-allers on Monday night (March 20) at MGM Yonkers Raceway.
Driver Lauren Tritton hustled Lochinvar Art A away quickly from post five in the opening clash and cleared Soaring Now (Andy McCarthy) well before the :28.3 opening quarter. From there, Lochinvar Art A didn't face any outside pressure through a :57.2 half and a 1:25.1 three-quarters, and he sprinted home in :27.3 to win by three lengths in 1:52.4. Rockin Withelvis A (David Miller), who was sent first-up from fourth before three-quarters, was able to get by the pocket-sitting Soaring Now late in the mile to finish second. Bad Tothe Bone N (Jason Bartlett) and Dean B Hanover (Jordan Stratton) completed the top five.
Trained by Shane Tritton for owner Team Tritton Inc., Lochinvar Art A, who has now been victorious in all four of his U.S. appearances, is an eight-year-old Modern Art stallion. This was his 32nd career win and he has now earned $1,091,318.
He paid $2.30 to win as the 1-9 favourite. The exacta was worth $7.70 and the trifecta kicked back $20.40.
In the second division Hellabalou (Yannick Gingras) set up shop on the point from the pole position and carved out a :27.1 opening quarter and a :56 second half with even-money favourite Jimmy Freight (Scott Zeron) in the pocket. After tucking in fourth from post seven, Anothrmastrpiece N (Bartlett) went on the march first-over out of fourth as the field went under the wire for the first time and advanced into a joint second as Hellabalou tripped three-quarters in 1:24.2.
Anothrmastrpiece N continued to pester Hellabalou on the rim on the final bend and into the lane, but Hellabalou put him away for good early in the stretch, and then was able to keep a pylon-skimming Jimmy Freight at bay as well, prevailing by a neck in 1:52.1. Backstreet Shadow (Matt Kakaley) finished full of pace from third-over and finished in third, followed by Belmont Royale N (Miller) and Anothrmastrpiece N.
The Adios champion from two years ago, Hellabalou, a five-year-old stallion by Sweet Lou, is trained by Ron Burke for owners Burke Racing Stable, Eric Good, Weaver Bruscemi and Larry Karr. Hellabalou is now a 19-time winner and has pocketed $557,744.
Sent off as the 3-1 third choice, Hellabalou returned $8.20 to win and led a $20.40 exacta and a $45.00 trifecta.
Leonidas A (Austin Siegelman), the runner-up in the MGM Borgata Pacing Series final in 2022, pulled off a 10-1 upset from first-over in the third flight. The 1-5 favourite Tattoo Artist (Dexter Dunn) led through opening-half stations of just :27.4 and :56.4 while Leonidas A, who was able to find a spot in fourth after floating out from post seven, tested the waters uncovered prior to the half.
Tattoo Artist maintained command through a 1:24.2 three-quarters and around the last turn, but he came up empty in the stretch as Leonidas A put him away and struck the front. From there, Leonidas A went on to score by half a length in 1:52.1 over Priceless Beach (Miller), who tracked the victor from second-over. Defending MGM Borgata Pacing Series champion Funatthebeach N (Stratton) grabbed third from third-over, with American Dealer N (Joe Bongiorno) fourth and None Bettor A (Kakaley) fifth.
Matthew Medeiros trains Leonidas A, an eight-year-old Mach Three gelding, for owner Jesmeral Stable. Leonidas A now has 47 career victories and a bankroll of $943,007.
He paid $23 to win. The exacta and trifecta payouts were $143.50 and $772, respectively.
In Monday night's last MGM Borgata Pacing Series showdown, former MGM Grand Messenger Stakes champion American Courage (Kakaley) tipped out of third before the :27.1 quarter and took command from Semi Tough (Gingras) beyond that marker. American Courage stayed in front through a :56.1 half and a 1:24.2 three-quarters as Nandolo N (Bartlett) moved up first-over into second, with Idealsomemagic A (Stratton) following him from second-over.
American Courage was still clear around the last turn and into the stretch drive, but Stratton cut Idealsomemagic A loose three-wide, and once he saw clear racetrack, Idealsomemagic A powered home, catching American Courage and defeating him by half a length in 1:52 flat. Covered Bridge (Tyler Buter) got up for third at 31-1, Nandolo N held on for a fourth-place result and Hemsworth N (Miller) advanced from eighth at the half to fifth at the wire.
VIP Internet Stable and Bukers Stable own the Cory Stratton-trained Idealsomemagic A, a nine-year-old gelded son of American Ideal. Idealsomemagic A has compiled a record of 19-18-8 from 91 lifetime tries and he has now put away $217,566.
He returned $8.20 to win and was atop a $35.40 exacta and a $585 trifecta.
Monday's card featured a 2023 best wagering handle of $1,220,269.
The MGM Borgata Pacing Series continues for four more weeks before a $200,000-added final estimated to boost the purse to $500,000 on April 24. That card will also include the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final and consolation events for both races.
MGM Yonkers Raceway will also offer the MGM Borgata Pacing Series champion a win-and-you're-in opportunity to both the $200,000 Battle of Lake Erie at MGM Northfield Park on June 10 and the $200,000 MGM Aria Pace at Yonkers on MGM Yonkers International Trot Day, Sept. 23.
To complement the MGM Borgata Pacing Series, the Empire Terrace dining room will be open 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Mondays through April 24. Owners and fans are invited to attend the races and enjoy food from an ala carte menu. No reservations are required.
Starting this coming Thursday night (March 23), the Pick 5 pool at MGM Yonkers Raceway will be seeded with $10,000 and also have a guaranteed pool of $25,000. This initiative will continue on Thursdays into April and is being offered in partnership with the Standardbred Owners Association of New York as part of the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Program.
Stakes action will resume at MGM Yonkers Raceway on Friday night's (March 24) 11-race program with four $40,000 sections (races two, four, six and eight) of the second leg of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series for pacing mares. Leg one winners Amazing Dream N and Drama Act face off in race eight, and the other first round victor, Karma Seelster, competes in race six.
MGM Yonkers Raceway is currently operating on a Monday through Friday live racing schedule with post time at 7 p.m. (EST).
(With files from Yonkers Raceway)