YONKERS, N.Y. - Foiled Again ($2.10) withstood a sustained first-over charge from Dancin Yankee and a challenge in the passing lane from P H Supercam to pick up a fourth straight victory and remain unbeaten in his 10-year-old campaign with a narrow triumph in the third division of the fourth leg of the George Morton Levy Challenge series on Saturday night at Yonkers Raceway.
A winner of the Levy final in 2009 and 2010, Foiled Again was parked momentarily on the first turn by P H Supercam before taking the lead and crossing over to the inside. He paced the opening quarter-mile in 27 4/5 seconds and led comfortably passing the grandstand the first time before Dancin Yankee began to move up in the two path approaching a half in 56 3/5.
With Dancin Yankee to his outside in second and P H Supercam biding his time behind the top two in third, Foiled Again led by less than a length through three quarters in 1:24 and was never asked for his best in the stretch by Yannick Gingras as Dancin Yankee bore down on the outside and P H Supercam moved up along the rail.
Foiled Again, owned by Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi, completed the mile in 1:51 and came home in 27 seconds.
"He just does the talking," said Gingras. "He's an unbelievable racehorse, and he did it again tonight. As long as he comes into the stretch fairly fresh, I know he'll fight them off."
It marked the 12th win for trainer Ron Burke in 15 Levy races since the series began March 22. Foiled Again, harness racing's richest pacer in history with more than $6.1 million in earnings, won a division of the first leg by 2 3/4 lengths on March 22, a division of the second leg by 3 1/4 lengths on March 29, and a division of the third leg by a head over P H Supercam one week ago.
"Yannick had a good hold of him," said Burke of Foiled Again. "We seem to be in a good spot [going into the next two races in the series."
Burke had nothing but praise for Dancin Yankee and expressed concern that the runner-up is peaking at the right time going into next Saturday's $50,000 guaranteed fifth leg and the $300,000 added final on April 26.
"Dancin Yankee had a ridiculous mile," said Burke. "I'm worried that down the road that he'll be tough. He was awful good tonight and appears to be rounding into top form."
Foiled Again's entry-mate Bettor's Edge broke stride in the stretch and finished last in the field of seven.
Earlier on the card, 8-year-old Clear Vision ($2.10) became Burke's fifth horse to win a Levy series race when he captured the first division by 1 3/4 lengths over stablemate Itrustyou, who had won on March 22 and March 29.
After finishing third from post one week ago, Clear Vision drew post 2 for tonightâ€™s race and found himself three lengths behind the leader Itrustyou in third through a quarter in 27 3/5. He made a quick move to grab the lead on the turn and never looked back, setting fractions of 56 2/5 and 1:24 4/5 and being driven home by George Brennan while being chased by Itrustyou. The final time for one mile was 1:52 1/5.
â€œHe just was in a good spot,â€ said Brennan. â€œI was able to get him back to the lead, and he won pretty easily.â€ Previously, Clear Vision finished second in his first two Levy starts before missing by a half-length behind Apprentice Hanover and Mach It So last week.
Special Forces, coupled with Clear Vision and Itrustyou, finished fourth.
There was a brief reprieve to Burkeâ€™s run of dominance in the second division as Mach It So ($4) rolled home to a 4 Â½-length victory with Tim Tetrick in the bike for trainer P.J. Fraley.
Mach It So, a 4-year-old who won divisions of the first and second legs of the Levy series before coming up a neck short last week, left well from the inside, briefly racing in second behind Sapphire City before tipping outside and moving to lead through an opening quarter in 26 4/5. Tetrick backed down the pace and Mach It So paced the half in 55 4/5 and three quarters in 1:25 before opening on his seven rivals in the stretch, completing the trip in 1:52 1/5. Sapphire City was well clear of third-place finisher Rock On Me.
â€œI had the rail, and I used it to my advantage,â€ said Tetrick. â€œIt was a pretty good first quarter, 26 4/5. I moved him and he rated really well, got a nice middle half. He turned on the afterburners and paced on strong.â€
With Mach It Soâ€™s three wins in four Levy series starts, Fraley already was looking ahead to the final.
â€œHe was super,â€ said Fraley. â€œThe main thing with him, we just have to keep him quiet because he's a grabby horse. Tonight he did 26 and change out of the gate, 55 [4/5] to the half, three quarters in 1:24 4/5, and that was perfect. He'll make the final off of that. Hopefully, he'll draw inside. If he draws inside, he definitely will be a force because he's fast enough to go with any of them, but he's a bit of a spooky horse, so have to keep his head on. â€œ
But until somebody else steps up and beats Foiled Again, Burkeâ€™s ageless wonder remains the horse to beat, Fraley said.
â€œ[Ron Burke] is tough,â€ said Fraley. â€œFoiled Again is the best in there. I'd love to be second to him.â€
For one race, Burke appeared to be mortal as his three starters in the second division filled out the final three spots. Hillbilly Hanover was disqualified from fourth and placed fifth, while Aracache Hanover was promoted to sixth from seventh after Easy Again was disqualified for going off stride and leaving the course in the second quarter.
Apprentice Hanover bypassed the fourth leg and is expected to return next week Saturday for the fifth leg.