Free-for-all pacing series finals take center stage at Yonkers

Handicapping the Borgata Pacing Series and Blue Chip Matchmaker finals.

by Brett Sturman

Monday’s (April 22) series finals at Yonkers have two different looks. Whereas the Borgata Pacing Series final shapes up to be dominated by two horses, a reasonable case can be made for most mares in the Blue Chip Matchmaker final. These two races, along with consolations for both, make up four of the five races in a $10,000 guaranteed Pick-5 beginning in race 5. Here is a proposed Pick-5 ticket, along with how I see the races shaping up.

Race 5, $0.50 Pick-5: 3-5-6 / 3-5-7 / 1-2 / 2 / 2-4 $36


Kicking off the Pick-5, Racine Bell will be the one likely trying to control the race. She got things figured out in leg 3 of the series when she held off Lit De Rose who will be the favorite in the series final two races from now, and then last out there was nothing wrong with her try from post 7; now moves further inside with the class and speed edge.

Man Don’t Forget Me has been a longshot throughout the series but closed well last week when moving widest of all in a race won by a good one; goes third start with Dunn aboard and is a live play. Crème Delight took a solid first-over run three back; nearly fought past the leader into the stretch and finished gamely. AVF Claire desperately needed racing room in the stretch from that same referenced Crème Delight race; eventually knifed through late to get third in a blanket photo for second; lands the rail now.

Easy To Please flushed the cover on Lit De Rose two races back in leg 4 and eventually just missed by less than a length that race. Sale El Sol hasn’t been a factor yet in the series and now goes third start for Camilleri. Jive Dancing, stablemate of Sale El Sol, was a good winner against Doug’s Babe who was 1-5 in leg 2, but hasn’t been as strong since and now moves to post 8. Treacherous Penny seems like a longshot from post 7 but you could do worse than Toscano and Gingras.


A chance to shine for many of these that are now in a more reasonable spot. Backstreet Shadow was a solid winner two back for trainer Alexander when he took charge with a first-over rush and held off all comers. Had the tables turned on him last week to a contender in the series final and is moving in the right direction after having missed the series’ first leg. Alexander also sends out Pleaseletmeknow who was a winner two back but that couldn’t quite do enough to catch cover last week in the series final preliminary leg.

Venturesome Arden N would be a top pick if not for the post. He was four-deep into the stretch moving widest of all when just missed by a neck to Backstreet Shadow two back, and then last out he moved strongly first-over past the leader to win by open lengths over the rest of the field; hasn’t shown early speed to date.

Sumomentsomwhere A hasn’t had an easy go of it this series, having been against the series top two in all of his preliminary legs. He wasn’t bad two back when dead-heating for second and at least tried to give it a go last out uncovered against Desperate Man; that should count for something. Former series winners Funatthebeach N and This Is The Plan will start in posts 1 and 2, respectively. Hemsworth didn’t show much interest last week when he stayed in from fourth. Leonidas who has been a factor in this series in years past is now 0 for 10 on the year and finds himself in post 8.


In contrast to the Borgata final which in my estimation is a clear two-horse race, the mares FFA final could go to anyone.

That’s not to say there won’t be a clear favorite as Lit De Rose is going to have that distinction, but the race could still go any number of different ways. A winner in three of her five Matchmaker legs, Lit De Rose won easily last out when put on the front and Monday’s final will be her third straight race drawing the rail. She did come up short two back when she raced outside for two turns and the question is will Lachance remain aggressive once again and have her control her own destiny on the front.

Coachellabound N is another that comes off a win last week and two back missed against Mikala off a perfect 2-hole trip. Three back her 2-hole trip turned into a nightmare as she lacked room when loaded with pace and she’s raced well in all her starts with Gingras as driver since leg 3. Mikala is somewhat of a wildcard. The 1:47.4 winner from last year was a little short in her first series try but rebounded since then but the outside post will make it difficult; her two series wins have come from posts 1 and 2.

I’m less sold on Tony’s Mom and Doug’s Babe, both who figured to be single-digit odds. Tony’s Mom was just even last week and two back took pressure from mares who will be in the consolation and faded to fourth. Doug’s Babe is always in the neighborhood, though her only series win thus far came when she swept in a race where the leader tired. She was one of the favorites in this series final last year. Karma Seelster looked prominent three back against a tiring leader before having to settle for third and did well to finish second to Coachellabound N last out. Incaseyoudidntknow gets a driver change to Tetrick. Delitfulcatherin N put a scare into Lit De Rose as a longshot in the series opening leg.


Coming into this series it looked like the two horses to keep eyes on were Linedrive Hanover and Desperate Man. That’s the way it started and that’s what it’s going to come down to.

Linedrive Hanover, who has previously established himself as Canada’s fastest ever half-mile horse and was one of the top FFA horses in all of the sport from last season, has done nothing whatsoever to diminish his stature throughout this series. His lone loss, which one could argue came in a less than all-out effort against rival Desperate Man in leg 2. Linedrive Hanover heads into Monday’s final off an easy win in leg 5 after he took the prior week off; he opened up a couple of lengths at will against Hellabalou in that race in what should be an ideal prep for the showdown against Desperate Man.

Desperate Man is another one that brings a Canadian background with him, having been that country’s Horse of the Year in 2021. He had a long win streak snapped in December of last year but has come right back by not losing a single time in 2024. He took a break, sitting out of leg 5 last week and his past performance record of late speaks for itself. The prior time he and Linedrive Hanover raced, Desperate Man was the slight second choice at even money to Linedrive Hanover’s odds of 4-5. I suspect with Linedrive Hanover having the post edge the odds on these two horses may be nearly identical to their first race against each other.

Elsewhere in the field, What’s Stanley Got A came into the series as a longer chanced horse and has overachieved throughout all legs. A winner three back and a solid runner-up two back, he did well to easily hold for second last week in a time of 1:51.3. Coaches Corner flew from a seemingly impossible spot last week to get a well-deserved win after four consecutive second-place finishes in prior legs. Last year’s winner Hellabalou was screaming for racing room in the stretch two back and then last week did his best to keep up with Linedrive Hanover to finish second well clear of the rest. Rocknroll Runa got off to a promising start in the series as did the 4-year-old Dunkin’ but both will be longshots now from the outside posts. Covered Bridge went into the final last year as one of the favorites; hasn’t been quite as strong this time around but has the rail to help.