BY FRANK DRUCKER, Publicity Director, Empire City @ Yonkers Raceway
YONKERS, NY, Saturday, March 25, 2017—Yonkers Raceway’s George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series for Free-For-Allers continued Saturday night, with another quartet of $50,000 divisions.
Second choice Missile J (Tim Tetrick, $4.40) enjoyed his off-the-pace antics so much in Round 1, he parlayed the performance this time around.
From post position No. 3 in the third division, he was fourth as Somewhere in L A (Jason Bartlett) cleared his six inside rivals with the aplomb of a hurdler. After a :27.3 opening quarter-mile and moving toward a 56-second intermission, even-money fave Provocativeprincen (Jordan Stratton) moved from third.
It appeared Bartlett was fighting with his charge to let Stratton and his ride go, but the latter duo could not seize the initiative. Somewhere in L A then threw in a :27.1 backside number (1:23.1) to dispose of Provocativeprincen, taking a length-and-a-quarter lead into the lane.
As this was transpiring, Missile J was closing ranks. He rallied from fourth in the lane, beating a solid ‘L A’ by a length in 1:51.3. Third went to 51-1 P H Supercam (Brett Miller), with 98-1 Texas Terror N (Mack MacDonald) and Take it Back Terry (George Brennan) rounding out the payees.
Provocativeprincen backpedaled to last, his first blemish after a 4-for-4 start to his U-S career.
For Missile J, a 4-year-old American Ideal gelding trained by Scott DiDomenico for Hoosierland co-owners John McGill and Brian Carsey, it was his sixth win in seven seasonal starts. The exacta paid $40.60, with the triple returning $505.
Saturday night’s first Levy grouping was a private stretch battle between 3-2 choice Bettor’s Edge (Miller) and an uncovered Keystone Velocity (Dan Dube). The latter whipped the pace-setting (:27.3, :56.2, 1:24) former by half-length in 1:51.3.
First leader Dr. J Hanover (Scott Zeron) held third—beaten 3½ lengths—with Santa Fe Beachboy (Stratton) and Burning N (Ron Cushing) settling for the remainder.
For Keystone Velocity, a 9-year-old son of Western Hanover co-owned (as Allard Racing) by trainer Rene Allard, Kapildeo Singh, Earl Hill Jr and VIP Internet Stable, it was his first win in three seasonal starts. The exacta paid $30, with the triple returning $185.
The evening’s second series soiree had slight 7-5 choice Rockin’ Ron (Yannick Gingras, $4.90) take it the distance from the pole while matching (1:51.1) the fastest local mile of the season.
Defending series champ Bit of a Legend N (Stratton) actually poked about a neck in front entering the lane from first-up, but a resurgent ‘Ron’ won by three-quarters of a length. Soto (Matt Kakaley) was a pocket third, with Mach it So (Tetrick) and Guantanamo Bay (Miller) settling for the minors.
For Rockin’ Ron, a 5-year-old Real Desire gelding co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi and RTC Stables, he’s now 3-for-5 to begin the season. The exacta paid $15.20, with the triple (three wagering choices in order) returning $25.
"I was worried on the final turn and wanted to save something for the stretch,” Gingras said. "I had Bit of a Legend N challenging and Soto in the pocket. He's very easy on himself and he can really sprint home."
The second round’s final foray offered a 12-1 upset as Melmerby Beach (Bartlett, $26.60) pick off both 3-10 shot All Bets Off (Kakaley) and second choice Wakizashi Hanover (Tetrick). The former set seemingly-sensible fractions (:28, 57, 1:24), but gave way readily in the lane.
Melmerby Beach, apparently not bothered by a 27-second third quarter, defeated ‘Wakizashi’ by a length-and-a-quarter in 1:52, with All Bets Off beaten three lengths. Artistic Major (Zeron) and Great Vintage (MacDonald) wound up with the leftovers.
For third choice Melmerby Beach, a 6-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere owned and trained by Ettore Annunziata, it was his first win in three ’17 starts. The exacta paid $132, the triple returned $237.50 and the superfecta paid $464.
“He’s had his moments,” Bartlett said of Melmerby Beach. “I remember last season when he beat Foiled again in this series last season. I was surprised the leaders came back to me, but my horse finished very well.”