Yonkers hosts opening leg of George Morton Levy series

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Ted Black

March 18th, 2018

Saturday may have marked the St. Patrick's Day celebration for many Americans, but serious and novice harness racing fans focused their attention on the opening round of the George Morton Levy Series for Free-For-All pacers with several making their seasonal debut in hopes of reaching the lucrative final on April 21.

In the opening leg of the series, Mach It So (Tim Tetrick) lived up to his role as the even-money choice in his seasonal debut when he left to secure early position, retook past the opener in 28.2, got a modest breather by the half in 57.3, raced unpressed down the backside and by three-quarters in 1:25.3 then sprinted clear from the pocket-sitting Chumlee A (Larry Stahlbaum) and Bettor Memories (Kyle Husted) to score by two lengths in 1:53.3.

An eight-year-old Mach Three gelding trained by Jeff Bamond, Jr., Mach It So kicked off his current campaign with a sharp score and now owns 41 wins and $2.47 million from 121 career outings. Mach It So concluded his previous season by winning the $350,000 TVG Open at the Meadowlands and he finished second in the voting for champion aged pacer to Keystone Velocity, who concluded the 2017 season by taking the second edition of the $100,000 Potomac Pace at Rosecroft Raceway in 1:47.3.

One race later in the second Levy opening split, Always At My Place (George Brennan) overcame an extended first over bid and wore down Keystone Velocity (Daniel Dube) down the backside and through the far turn and outlasted the late bids of Christen Me N (Tetrick) and Mister Daytona N (Jordan Stratton) to score by a neck in 1:54. A seven-year-old Always A Virgin gelding trained by Ron Burke, Always At My Place kicked off his campaign in gritty fashion and now owns 38 wins and nearly $800,000 banked from 109 lifetime tries.

Both Daytona N and Christen Me N raced well in defeat. Christen Me N sat a tight pocket trip down the backside and through the far turn, angled to the outside turning for home and closed willingly in the lane. Daytona N saved ground throughout and rallied inside once Christen Me N abdicated the pocket. Keystone Velocity overcame post seven to gain command early and carved out the fractions before weakening in the lane in his seasonal debut and has a right to atone next out.

Then in the third Levy split, Dr J Hanover (Brett Miller) benefited from an inside draw and pedestrian fractions of 28.2, 58.1 and 1:26.4 then edged clear in the lane to a two-length score in 1:55. A five-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding trained by Tony Alagna, Dr J Hanover notched his second win in two starts this year and now owns 14 wins and $525,000 banked from 44 career outings. Somewhere In L A (Jason Bartlett) rallied first over to get second, while All Bets Off (Yannick Gingras) faded to third after a pocket journey in his seasonal debut.

Then one race later in the fourth Levy leg, Rockin Ron (Gingras) lived up to his role as the 2-5 favorite when he left to secure good early position behind Evenin Of Pleasure (Joe Bongiorno), immediately retook before the 27.1 opener, maintained an honest tempo by the half in 56.4 and three-quarters in 1:24.3 then held safe the late bid of Evenin Of Pleasure to score by nearly a length in 1:53.

A six-year-old Real Desire gelding trained by Burke, Rockin Ron notched his first win from three starts this year and now owns 29 victories and nearly $1.1 million banked from 84 career outings. Evenin Of Pleasure left to gain command, yielded to the favorite and raced well in the pocket and looms a contender throughout the series for trainer Jen Bongiorno. The eight-year-old Dragon Again stallion finished a sharp second in his seasonal debut and now owns a 27-26-14 slate and earnings of $800,000 from 126 lifetime outings.

Then four races later in the fifth and final Levy opening leg split, Bit Of A Legend N (Stratton) benefited from a second over journey behind Missile J (Tetrick) down the backside and through the far turn and rallied stoutly in the lane to prevail by a head in 1:53.3. A nine-year-old Bettor's Delight stallion trained by Peter Tritton, Bit Of A Legend returned from a brief respite off one qualifier and a second over trip behind Missile J and closed willingly in the lane to record the 42nd victory in 120 career outings and push his lifetime earnings toward $1.945 million.