Siegelman seeks MGM Borgata redemption with Leonidas A

Gordon Waterstone

Lexington, KY — In just his 10th full year of driving, 30-year-old Austin Siegelman has compiled an impressive resume, already topping 2,000 wins and more than $19.89 million in purse earnings. Siegelman could pass the $20-million mark on Monday (April 25) at Yonkers Raceway when he directs Leonidas A in the $549,000 MGM Borgata Pacing Series final.

In last year’s Borgata Series, Leonidas A won all four of his preliminary starts, but then he drew post seven for the rich final, eventually finishing fifth after never being a factor. Once again this year, Leonidas A has won all four of his preliminary series starts, but this time around he moves in one slot on the starting gate as he will leave from post six.

“I’m happy to move in the one slot, but it would have been nice to move in two more,” Siegelman said with a laugh.

In comparing the Leonidas A of 2021 to the Leonidas A of 2022, Siegelman is optimistic for his chances in the Borgata final.

“I think he’s a little bit better than he was last year,” he said. “There’s not really any secret to him, but he’s better when he’s not on the front. He’s won a bunch of races on the front, but I imagine in the final he won’t be on the front.”

Leonidas A has posted 21 wins in 38 North American starts. Georgia Panagi photo.

The Australian-bred Leonidas A is a son of Mach Three out of the Art Major mare Rogers Joy. Now seven, Leonidas A was purchased in July 2020 by Steve Finkelstein’s Jesmeral Stable and brought to the U.S. from Down Under. Trained by Sheena Cohen, Leonidas A has posted 21 wins in 38 North American starts — seven of nine overall this year — while adding $510,649 to bring his career earnings on the two continents to $624,187.

As for Siegelman, his career got off to a flourishing start in 2013 when he won 90 races and was voted the Rising Star of the Year Award winner by the Monticello-Goshen Chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association.

“I started at the right place at Monticello,” said Siegelman. “They seem to like new people over there.”

The son of trainer James Siegelman, Siegelman and his girlfriend, Leah Posner, train a stable of two at a New Jersey farm owned by Leah’s father, Mike Posner. The pair are both owned by Siegelman and include the 5-year-old pacer Bondi Shake N, a two-time winner in seven starts this year, and the 9-year-old pacer Deedenuto A.

Siegelman is also currently competing on the afternoon cards at Freehold and the nightly programs at Yonkers. He won the dash title the past two seasons at Freehold and currently leads the colony this year, and he stands sixth in the current standings at Yonkers. Siegelman said he plans on adding The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono to the mix later this year.

Siegelman has topped the $1-million mark in earnings every year since 2014, including a career-high $4,729,140 in 2021. Last year he also set a career high in victories with 324 trips to the winner’s circle. His wins and money totals placed him 25th on both the North American drivers’ dash and earnings lists. With 2,305 drives, Siegelman was also among the busiest drivers on the continent.

“I never imagined I’d make it this far,” Siegelman admitted. “The goal was to make it this far, but I didn’t expect to make it this far.

“Originally all I wanted to do was have 100 wins, but now 300 wins is good,” he added with a laugh.

Up until now, Siegelman’s biggest purse win came with Leonidas A in the $100,000 Potomac Pace at Rosecroft Raceway in 2020. He’d like nothing more than to add this year’s Borgata final to his resume.

“Yes, it’d be very nice,” said Siegelman. “That’d be great.”

Despite his unblemished record in the Borgata preliminaries, Leonidas A is listed as the 9-2 third choice on the morning line. Installed the 7-5 morning-line favorite is Tattoo Artist (post one, Dexter Dunn), who has two wins, two seconds and a third in five Borgata preliminary efforts. At 7-2 is Jacks Legend N (post three, Matt Kakaley), who finished eighth in his first Borgata start but then posted two wins, one second and one third in his next four attempts. This Is The Plan, who was an 11-1 upset winner in last year’s Borgata Series final, is the 5-1 fourth choice (post five, Yannick Gingras).

Racing begins at 6:55 p.m. (EDT) on Monday at Yonkers. The Borgata final is race eight on the card, which also includes the $381,000 final of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series for mares. Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link.

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