BY FRANK DRUCKER, Publicity Director, Empire City @ Yonkers Raceway
YONKERS, NY, Saturday, April 1, 2017—Horses aren’t supposed to win races from where Missile J was situated Saturday night. He didn’t get that memo.
Missile J (Tim Tetrick, $2.70) unleashed a filthy stretch move, winning his third race in as many tries during Yonkers Raceway’s George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series.
Round 3 featured another quartet of $50,000 divisions, with Missile J completing his own personal three-peat. After fifth from post position No. 4 the second event, the cause appeared hopeless. Sitting third-over in a stagnant outer tier, Missile J was sixth—3¾ length behind Great Vintage (Mark MacDonald)—after that pole-sitter led through intervals of :27.2, :56.4 and 1:24.
Missile J couldn’t be bothered with such impediments. He not only won, he measured it off, the final margin over Great Vintage a head in 1:51.3. Third went to Clear Vision (Brett Miller), with Dr. J. Hanover (Scott Zeron) and Santa Fe Beachboy (Jason Bartlett) relegated to the remainder.
For Missile J, a 4-year-old American Ideal gelding trained by Scott DiDomenico (big props for 1,000 career training victories) for Hoosierland co-owners John McGill and Brian Carsey, it was his seventh win in eight seasonal starts. The exacta paid $10.80, with the triple returning $50.50.
“He wants to chase horses,” Tetrick said. “Winning three races from the off the pace the way he has is a plus in a grueling series like the Levy.”
Defending series champ Bit of a Legend N (Jordan Stratton, $4.90) did get off the seasonal and series schneid, using a solid, two-move effort in the evening’s final Levy event. An early fourth from post No. 6, he watched as polester Guantanamo Bay (Scott Zeron) offered some rare early foot (:28.2, :57.3, 1:25.3).
Despite those rather comfy fractions, Guantanamo Bay was powerless to stave off Bit of a Legend N. The people’s choice took over early in the lane, then edged away by a length in 1:52.4. Second went to an improved McWicked (Matt Kakaley), with Always at My Place (Yannick Gingras), a tiring Guantanamo Bay and Blood Brother (Bartlett) settling for the minors.
For Bit of a Legend N, an 8-year-old Down Under son of Bettor’s Delight trained by Peter Tritton for owner Harry von Knoblauch, it was his first win in five seasonal starts. The exacta paid $31.40, with the triple returning $117.
“Tonight was the first time this season he resembled his old self,” Stratton said. “Scoring down, he wanted to kick me out of the bike. He had a lot left at the wire.”
Saturday night’s first Levy grouping had Soto (Kakaley, $10) work out his third pocket trip in the series and earn his second series win. From post No. 2, he conveniently slid in behind 19-10 choice Somewhere in L A (Bartlett). That job was made easier when Bettor’s Edge (Miller) and his inside speed broke early and vacated the course.
Somewhere in L A laid down the law (:26.3, :55.4, 1:23.4) while being pestered by a second move of Rockin’ Ron (Gingras). ‘L A’ owned a length lead in and out of the final turn, and held well, but not well enough.
Soto stuck his tongue out on the money, getting the decision in 1:51.4. Wakizashi Hanover (Stratton) closed for third, beaten a neck, with Rockin’ Ron and Mach it So (Tetrick) earning small coinage.
For third choice Soto, a 5-year-old son of Rock N Roll Heaven trained by Eric Ell for co-owners Kenneth Wood, William Dittmar Jr. and Stephen Iaquinta, it was his sixth win in 11 ’17 starts. The exacta paid $29.20, with the triple returning $121.50.
As was the case with Soto, Keystone Velocity (Dan Dube, $3.10) grabbed his second series win.
Pocketed from the pole in the third event, he was both lucky and good, getting the passing lane after Caviart Luca (George Brennan) tired (:27, :55.1, 1:23.1).
P H Supercam (Miller) cleared first-up, with Provocativeprincen (Stratton) slipping out from behind Keystone Velocity to grab third tow. Provocativeprincen made his had ‘first run,’ but Keystone Velocity was raging. He zipped up the cones, whipping the ‘Prince’ by a half-length in 1:51.3.
P H Supercam, Caviart Luca and Texas Terror N (Mark MacDonald) rounded out he payees.
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 second win in four seasonal starts. The exacta paid $13.20, with the triple returning $48.80.
Saturday night’s $55,00 Open Trot was won by Lady’s Dude (Brennan, $3.80) in 1:55 for a second consecutive featured-trot win.