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Harness Highlights: Favorites Dominate in Levy, Matchmaker Finals

by Frank Carulli

April 23, 2019

Western Fame and Shartin N emerged in the month-long George Morton Levy Memorial and Blue Chip Matchmaker pacing series’ at Yonkers Raceway as deserving favorites, but both millionaires might have saved their best for last Saturday’s finals.

Western Fame left nothing to chance in the $663,260 Levy. He bid 3-wide to the lead before a 26-second opening quarter mile, held strong through a :56 middle half and widened his 2-length stretch lead to 4-1/2 lengths at the wire in a stakes-record 1:50.4, equaling Silver Almahurst’s 1993 clocking.

“Those fractions maybe looked fast, for him he does it nice and easy,” said winning driver Daniel Dube. “Turning for home he gave me another run. He’s so nice to drive. He just doesn’t get tired.”

Western Fame’s closest pursuer, pocket-sitting JJ Flynn (Tim Tetrick), got tired chasing the 1-to-5 favorite and finished out of the money. Rodeo Rock (Andrew McCarthy), who trailed after a half mile, rallied from fourth-over position to edge More the Better N (Scott Zeron) for second. The exacta paid $10 and the trifecta $44 as Yonkers bettors wagered more than $1 million on the card.

Dube and trainer Rene Allard have owned the Levy in recent years. Domethatagain won in 2015 and Keystone Velocity went back-to-back in 2017-18 before he was retired. Western Fame, co-owned by Stephen Klunowski, Gilbert Short, Go Fast and B & I Stables, won 4 of 5 preliminary heats leading up to the 32nd running of the Levy, named in honor of the Hall of Fame founder of Roosevelt Raceway.

“I think we had the best horse going into the Levy,” Allard said. “It’s a bit of a stressful thing to race them every week. We had thought about giving him the week off before the final, but he was in a good routine.”

Shartin N, the even-money favorite, made it look routine when she added to her gaudy resume and won in the $402,600 Matchmaker final for older mares. She made a second-quarter brush past dueling leaders Apple Bottom Jeans (Corey Callahan) and Feelin’ Red Hot (George Brennan) and cruised to a 1-1/4-length win in 1:52.1 for driver Tim Tetrick. Her stablemate, Bettor Joy N (Dexter Dunn) launched a eye-catching 3-wide rally on the final turn but settled for second best on the back end of a $21.60 exacta. Apple Bottom Jeans, who boasted three front-end victories in the Matchmaker prelims, held third.

Shartin N, the reigning Older Female Pacer of the Year, became the first repeat champion in the Matchmaker and improved to 30-for-42 for trainer Jim King Jr. and co-owners Richard Poillucci and Jo Ann Looney-King.

“She’s a tough SOB,” said Tetrick. “I’ve put her in spots before where I didn’t think she would reach and she just digs down and finds something. When I saw Corey (Callahan, with Apple Bottom Jeans) had to go hard to get the lead, let George (Brennan, Feelin’ Red Hot) go and retake, I thought I’d take my chance and push the envelope.”