by Frank Carulli
April 16, 2019
Keystone Velocity retired as the two-time defending champion in Yonkers Raceway’s George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series, but trainer Rene Allard and driver Daniel Dube remain threats to three-peat in the $662,800 final of the free-for-all pace this Saturday, April 20.
Western Fame carries high hopes for Team Allard after he won 4 of 5 Levy elimination heats at the half-mile oval. He controlled the pace to win in his final tune-up last Saturday in 1:51 as the 1-to-5 favorite.
Western Fame drew post 5 in the Levy final, the 11th of 12 races scheduled on the card that begins at 6:50 p.m. EST. The others, from the rail out, are: Anythingforlove A (Joe Bongiorno), More the Better N (Scott Zeron), JJ Flynn (Tim Tetrick), The Downtown Bus (Tetrick on a double call), Rodeo Rock (Andrew McCarthy), The Wall (Andy Miller) and Ideal Jimmy (Brent Holland).
Ideal Jimmy poses a serious threat if he can negotiate the outside post. He won three Levy eliminations, the latest in a seasonal-best 1:52 while geared down in the stretch.
Bettor Memories and The Downtown Bus also arrive off victories. Bettor Memories rallied second-over and surged past favorite I’m Some Graduate to spring a mild 5-1 surprise, while The Downtown Bus, hard used in the pace two starts back, slowed it down from the rail and went the distance on the front end.
The Levy will be the richest race run in North America this year. The second biggest – the $401,600 Blue Chip Matchmaker – will swing into action two races earlier at Yonkers.
Shartin N, who used the Matchmaker as a springboard to the first $1 million season ever by a pacing mare last year, looms as the favorite to repeat despite bypassing last week’s prelims. She bounced back from an erratic effort with a pair of odds-on victories in 1:52.2 and 1:54.2, respectively, for regular driver Tim Tetrick.
Shartin N drew post 6 in the field of eight and will be surrounded by (from the rail out): Kaitlyn N (Matt Kakaley), Apple Bottom Jeans (Corey Callahan), Feelin’ Red Hot (George Brennan), Don’t Think Twice A (Jason Bartlett), Bettor Joy N (Dexter Dunn), Ideal Lifestyle A (driver TBA) and Seaswift Joy N (Jim Marohn Jr.).
Kaitlyn N has tactical speed and the rail and won in 1:52.2 in the fastest of three eliminations last weekend. Seaswift Joy N is consistent and in top form but drew post 8. Apple Bottom Jeans went wire-to-wire to win in 3 of her 4 Matchmaker eliminations, the latest in 1:53 as the odds-on choice.
Saturday’s undercard features the series consolations, going for $100,000 in the Levy and $75,000 in the Matchmaker.