Older Pacers Make Their Case for the Levy

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Ted Black

February 27th, 2017

Conditions were hardly ideal for measuring the ability of all of the combatants on the Saturday night card at Yonkers Raceway, but several older pacers clearly stamped their ticket to the upcoming, lucrative George Morton Levy Memorial Series at the New York half-mile oval.

Saturday night's $50,000 Open Handicap included a pair of proven local commodities Caviart Luca and Somewhere In LA who have already earned their place in the Levy. But one week after finishing fourth in the Open in his local debut, Soto was looking to make his case for the Levy.

Sent out as the 6-5 favorite, Soto (Matt Kakaley) left alertly to secure good early position, yielded to Somewhere In LA past the opener, sat a pocket trip to the half and three-quarters, angled to the passing lane and surged past 'Somewhere' to nearly a length score in 1:52.1 over a rain-soaked sloppy oval.
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A five-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven stallion out of an Art Major mare, Soto has now won four of seven starts and earned nearly $70,000. Trained by Eric Ell for owners Kenny Wood, William Dittmar and Steve Iaquinta - the same connections of former champion trotter JL Cruze - Soto now looks poised to make his presence known in the Levy series that gets under way on March 18 and continues through the April 23 final and consolation.

Prior to arriving at Yonkers for the Open on Feb. 18, Soto had captured the Open/Prf Hcp at Dover Downs on Feb. 9 in 1:51.4 and the Prf Hcp there in 1:50.1. He had captured the Open at DD in 1:51.2 in his seasonal debut on Jan. 5.

One week after making their respective seasonal debuts in the same conditioned event, both Rockin Ron and Artistic Major found ideal spots to prevail. Rockin Ron, a five-year-old Real Desire gelding trained by Ron Burke prevailed in 1:53, while Artistic Major, a five-year-old Art Major gelding trained by Steve Elliott, overhauled Lucan Hanover to score in 1:53.3.