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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


By Ken Weingartner, USTA — There is no shortage of intrigue heading to Friday’s (April 12) last preliminary round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series for older female pacers at MGM Yonkers Raceway.

Three slots remain available for the final on April 22, and eight mares — four in each of the night’s two fifth-leg divisions — are in a position to guarantee their spot with a win.

Five horses already have punched their tickets for the $125,000-added final: Lit De Rose, Mikala, Delitfulcatherin N, Dougs Babe A, and Incaseyoudidntknow.

Karma Seelster, Coachellabound N, Tony’s Mom, and Man Dontforget Me are among the group looking to join them. They meet in the night’s first $40,000 division, where Karma Seelster is the 2-1 morning-line favorite.

She is in seventh place in the standings, with 154 points, one spot behind Coachellabound N (163 points) and one spot ahead of Tony’s Mom and Treacherous Penny (138 points apiece). Man Dontforget Me sits at 129 points.

All starters receive 25 points. Horses then receive 50 points for winning, 25 for second, 12 for third, eight for fourth, and five for fifth.

Karma Seelster, a 7-year-old daughter of Sportswriter-Kiddie Cocktail, has a second, two thirds, and a fifth in the series. She will start from post five Friday with Matt Kakaley driving for trainer Andrew Adamczyk.

“I didn’t really want to race all five legs, but just the way the post positions and races worked out, we have to race this week and try to get some points to stay in the final,” Adamczyk said.

“I might have given her more time off (three months during the winter) than I should have. She’s been competitive, but she’s just not as sharp as I thought she should be right now.”

Karma Seelster, who is owned by Karen Hauver and Shady Hill Racing Stable, has reached the final of the Matchmaker each of the past two years. Unfortunately for the horse and her connections, she drew post seven in the 2022 final and post eight in 2023. She finished seventh in both.

For her career, the Ontario-bred Karma Seelster has won 24 of 100 races and earned $978,551 in purses in U.S. dollars ($1.16 million Canadian).

“She was super the last couple years (in the Matchmaker),” Adamczyk said. “Even in the finals, she raced well, but it can be really tough from those posts at Yonkers.

“She’s just a pleasure to have,” the conditioner added. “I’ve raced her a lot of times, and every time she’s tried very hard. She digs in. She gives her heart every race.”

Coachellabound N, who leaves from post one, follows Karma Seelster on the morning line at 5-2. Tony’s Mom, leaving from post two, is next at 7-2. Man Dontforget Me is 20-1 from post six.

Also in the first division is Incaseyoudidntknow, who will start from post eight and is 6-1 on the morning line. She is trained by Cory Stratton, who in the second division will hope to see his Easy To Please take the easy way into the Matchmaker final with a victory.

That field includes three of the top-four mares in the standings — Lit De Rose, Delitfulcatherin N, and Dougs Babe A — as well as Treacherous Penny, Racine Bell, and Jive Dancing A.

But no matter where Easy To Please finishes, she will always be first in the eyes of co-owner Stratton. Since joining his stable in September 2021, the 6-year-old daughter of Roll With Joe-Lorrie Please has won 13 of 61 races and earned nearly $400,000.

“I always call her the OG; she was my first good horse and definitely put me on the map,” Stratton said. “I owe a lot of credit to her for everything I’ve got going on. Her and her owners, Our Three Sons Stable, I owe a lot of thanks and credit to them for everything that I’ve done. She’s a super nice horse, as tough as they come. She’s just class.”

Racine Bell has 137 points, Jive Dancing A 135, and Easy To Please 134. Last week, Racine Bell got her first win in the series. She will start from post seven this week, one spot outside of Treacherous Penny. Jive Dancing A will leave from post three and is the 7-2 third choice behind 2-1 favorite Dougs Babe A and Lit De Rose at 5-2.

Easy To Please, who finished third in the 2022 Matchmaker final and was a regular on the Grand Circuit that season, has two thirds and two fifths so far in the series.

“She’s been very good the whole series, she’s just been a little bit unlucky,” Stratton said. “She belongs in there. She is in the tougher division this week, so we’ll see. She needs a good trip and some luck to get into the final, but if not, she will be one of the favorites in the ($75,000) consolation.

“She can compete with anybody, it’s just a matter of what kind of trip she gets. Yannick is going to give her a chance and we’ll see what happens. No regrets either way.”

Racing begins at 7 p.m. (EDT) at Yonkers. For free programs, visit the Standardbred Owners Association of New York website here.

Point totals for both the Matchmaker and MGM Borgata series for male pacers can be found here.

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