Levy series concludes on Saturday, Matchmaker wrapped up Friday

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Ted Black

April 15th, 2018

Several hours after Oaklawn Park offered the final Kentucky Derby on Saturday afternoon, Yonkers Raceway hosted the last three divisions of the George Morton Levy Memorial Series for Free-For-All pacers and the last two dozen combatants were looking to secure berths in the $540,000 final and $100,000 consolation next Saturday.

In the first of the three Levy prelims, Long Live Rock (Daniel Dube) used his inside post position and gained command before the opener in 27.3, got a breather to the half in 57.2, shook off the pocket bid from Bettor Memories (David Miller) before three-quarters then just outlasted the late bids of Western Fame (Mark Macdonald) and Missile J (Tim Tetrick) to score in 1:53.3. A nine-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding trained by Rene Allard, Long Live Rock notched his first win in the series and now owns a 3-2-1 slate and $90,000 banked from nine starts this year.

Long Live Rock vaulted past numerous horses in the series standings but did not earn enough to make the final. Western Fame joined the top eight with his second-place finish, but Missile J could not catch the idle Rockin Ron. Bettor Memories had raced well throughout the series until Saturday night when he offered little in the lane despite the pocket trip and settled for fourth and dropped out of final contention and squarely into the consolation.

Then one race later in the second Levy split on the card, Keystone Velocity (Dube) left alertly from along the rail to get away second behind Evenin of Pleasure (Joe Bongiorno) before a 27.2 opener, sat a loose pocket to the half in 56.2 and three-quarters in 1:24.2, angled out of the pocket on the far turn and easily overhauled the leader in the lane and held safe Christen Me N (Tetrick) in 1:52.1.

A 10-year-old Western Hanover stallion trained by Allard, Keystone Velocity notched his first win in five series tries and the defending Levy final hero vaulted into position to reach the final yet again. Hero of the second edition of the $100,000 Potomac Pace at Rosecroft Raceway in 1:47.3, Keystone Velocity recorded his 28th victory in 115 career tries and now sports nearly $1.38 million. Christen Me N is headed to the consolation but Mach It So (David Miller) is headed back to the final following a decent third-place effort.

Then one race later in the last Levy elimination of the series, Killer Matini (Yannick Gingras) gained command before the opener in 27.1, maintained an honest tempo to the half in 56.2, met token pressure from Always At My Place (Brennan) down the backside and by three-quarters in 1:24.2, opened a clear lead on the far turn and easily held safe the late bids of Bit Of A Legend N (Stratton) and Dr J Hanover (Brett Miller) to score in 1:52.4.

When the dust settled after Saturday's third Levy elim was made official, Bit Of A Legend N vaulted to the top of the standings with 287 points, followed by Somewhere In L A with 275, Dr J Hanover (262), Mach It So (249), Evenin Of Pleasure (233), Western Fame (233) and Keystone Velocity (233) and Rockin Ron (230). Keystone Velocity arrives as the defending champion, while Bit Of A Legend N won it two years ago. Dr J Hanover won three legs this year and will be more aggressively handled in the final next weekend.

Destined for the consolation are Missile J (224), Long Live Rock (220), Bettor Memories (207), Always At My Place (193), Chumlee A (191), Caviart Luca (174), Killer Martini (174) and Christen Me N (174). Missile J was the favorite in last year's Levy final but will have to settle for minor spoils here, while Bettor Memories raced well in the first four legs before a dull effort in the last one. Christen Me N raced very well in the last prelim and looms a contender in the consolation although Tetrick will likely opt off of him for Missile J.

One night earlier in the last round of Blue Chip Matchmaker eliminations for Free-For-All pacing mares, Dudealady (Tim Tetrick) punched her ticket to the final by taking the first prelim despite a long, first over grind in 1:52.4. A four-year-old Shadow Play mare trained by Bruce Saunders, Dudesalady recorded her first win in five series tries and finished tied for seventh in the points standings with Sell A Bit N (Jordan Stratton) who won the second split in wire-to-wire fashion for trainer Peter Tritton and vaulted past stablemate and defending champion Mackenzie A to reach the final.

Lakeisha Hall finished third in the opening split but finished as the leader in the points standings with 267 points, followed by Shartin N, who won her first three legs, skipped round four and then made multiple breaks last night. Twinkle (Eric Goodell), who missed round four, finished fourth after a first over bid on Friday night and should be a major player in the final, along with Motu Moonbeam N (230), Medusa (229), Lady Shadow (228) and the aforementioned Dudeslady and Sell A Bit N.

Bound for the consolation along with defending final heroine Mackenzie A are Scandalicious, Clear Idea, L A Delight, Shesjustadlight N, Safe From Terror, Mach It A Par and Miss Irish Rose. L A Delight won two legs of the series but also missed two legs, which prevented her from attaining enough points to reach the final. Winbak Farm products Dudesalady, Lady Shadow and Twinkle are all bound for the final, while Clear Idea is headed to the consolation.

Hall of Fame catch driver Brian Sears is expected to make his Yonkers return next weekend and may be on hand for the Saturday card and stick around for the Sunday program which primarily features trotters.