Matchmaker Series Prelims Wrap Up

Dougs Babe A winning at Yonkers Raceway
Published: April 14, 2023 10:17 pm EDT

Lucky Artist A and driver Braxten Boyd cut lively fractions, then held off a determined bid by Mabalene N to capture the first of three $40,000 Blue Chip Matchmaker divisions at MGM Yonkers Raceway on Friday night (April 14). The 10-year-old mare by Artistic Fella scored in a season's-best 1:51.2 in the final qualifying leg of the series.

Mabalene N and Jason Bartlett overcame the outside draw and looped the 1-2 favourite Lucky Artist A to take control on the first turn, but Boyd stayed parked and eventually advanced to the front before the :27.4 opening quarter. Lucky Artist A continued with consecutive :27.4 second and third quarters as Gias Surreal and Andy McCarthy attempted a first-over grind from turn three but couldn't gain contact with the top horses.

It was a two-mare contest into the homestretch and Boyd encouraged Lucky Artist A on. The Ricky Bucci-trained mare responded in kind, holding firm with Mabalene N settling for second. Alta Madeira N, driven by Jordan Stratton, gave imports a sweep of the trifecta in the event.

Owned by Flatland Racing, Lucky Artist A increased her lifetime earnings above the $500,000 level with the victory and returned $3.10 to win. The exacta was worth $9.70 and the trifecta kicked back $35.60.

"She doesn't get tired," said Boyd following the victory. "She's got like three lungs."

Dougs Babe A made it three consecutive Blue Chip Matchmaker preliminary victories with an impressive near wire-to-wire performance in capturing the second section for driver Dexter Dunn. The Nifty Norman-trained mare scored in 1:51.2 at the expense of Karma Seelster and Incaseyoudidntknow.

Sent off as the 1-5 favourite, Dunn allowed Karma Seelster and Matt Kakakley to gain control late on the first turn, while at the same time stuffing Incaseyoudidntknow and Andy McCarthy into a three-hole behind her off the opening bend. Once the dust had settled, Dougs Babe A marched to the front at the :27.4 quarter and commanded the way from there.

Setting sensible fractions of :56.2 and 1:24.1, Dunn was able to keep pressure at bay as McCarthy made a second move with Incaseyoudidntknow on the backstretch but never got close to the winner. A final quarter sprint of :27.1 assured the victory, with Dunn confident throughout the stretch drive. Karma Seelster tracked her intently for second, with Incaseyoudidntknow holding off Lit De Rose and Pat Lachance for the third spot.

Owned by Tom Vassiliou, Nicholas Tallarico, Patricia Stable and Enzed Racing Stable, Dougs Babe A has now won three of her six starts since arriving in North America, with this victory putting her over the $200,000 mark in career earnings. Dougs Babe A paid $2.50 and likely stamped herself as one of the favourites in the $328,000 final scheduled for Monday, April 24. The exacta and trifecta returned $6 and $19, respectively.

In what proved the most exciting finish of the night, Racine Bell was able to pull off a minor upset, lunging in front of pacesetter Delitfulcatherin N for driver Jason Bartlett in a 1:51.3 mile.

Delitfulcatherin N and driver Jordan Stratton left boldly from post five and moved ahead of favoured pole-sitter Drama Act and Georgen Brennan on the first turn, with Bartlett and Racine Bell content to sit a three-hole in the early stages. Stratton had Delitfulcatherin N lead through a solid :26.4 opening quarter but keenly applied the brakes, hitting the half in 56 seconds and bracing for a second-half challenge.

Brennan sat antsy with Drama Act in the pocket for much of the opening-half but could wait no longer and popped out on the backstretch before the three-quarters to engage the leader. That move gave Bartlett and Racine Bell what appeared to be perfect cover for the final quarter.

Drama Act and Delitfulcatherin N were inseparable through the final turn, but Racine Bell was having difficulty tracking the top pair as Man Dontforget Me and Scott Zeron scooted up the pylons to gain close contention.

In the homestretch, Stratton was able to urge Delitfulcatherin N away from the favourite and looked to have the race won until Bartlett set Racine Bell in motion. The six-year-old daughter of So Surreal kicked it into overdrive and blew by with a ferocious rally. Delitfulcatherin N gamely held Man Dontforget Me off for the place spot, with Drama Act fourth over the wire. 

The win was the 31st lifetime for millionaire Racine Bell, who is owned by Chris and Dale Lawton and trained by David Dewhurst. As the 9-5 second choice, Racine Bell returned $5.80 to win and keyed a $30 exacta and a $175 trifecta.

Unofficially, the eight mares who will compete in the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final on April 24 are:

  • Dougs Babe A (292 points)
  • Amazing Dream N (275)
  • Lucky Artist A (266)
  • Drama Act (266)
  • Racine Bell (250)
  • Karma Seelster (245)
  • Lit De Rose (232)
  • Incaseyoudidntknow (224)

The final of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series and companion consolation races for both events will also occur on the same card.

Stakes action will resume on Monday, April 10 at MGM Yonkers Raceway with three $50,000 splits of the fifth leg of the MGM Borgata Series for free-for-all pacers. Trotters will also be in action next week as the John Brennan Series continues with four $25,000 sections of the third round on Wednesday, April 19.

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.

Also, continuing through April, the Pick 5 pool on Thursdays at MGM Yonkers Raceway will be seeded with $10,000 and also have a guaranteed pool of $25,000. This initiative 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.

MGM Yonkers Raceway is currently operating on a Monday through Friday live racing schedule with post time at 7 p.m. (EDT).

(With files from Yonkers Raceway; Photo of Dougs Babe A winning on April 7)

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