The Legend Grows
Down Under import Bit Of A Legend N swept all five legs and Saturday’s $609,000 final of the George Morton Levy series at Yonkers to extend his winning streak to six races for trainer Peter Tritton.
by Dave Briggs and Tom Pedulla
Trainer Peter Tritton said he’s had a few good horses over his career, but none have compared to Bit Of A Legend N who won Saturday’s $609,000 final of the George Morton Levy Series at Yonkers in 1:51 to run his undefeated streak to six after sweeping all five preliminary legs of the series.
“He’s the best. He’s so consistent,” Tritton said of the New Zealand bred son of Bettor’s Delight out of the Sokys Atom mare Soky’s Legend. “He’s very strong. He won’t let horses get past him. He wouldn’t let Wiggle It Jiggleit get past him last weekend, and he’s a champion. We’re very proud of him.”
A week ago, Bit Of A Legend N and his driver, Jordan Stratton, dead-heated for win with 2015 Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit, who didn’t earn enough points to compete in the final and had to settle for a dominant 1:51 victory in the $100,000 Levy consolation at odds of 1/9 out of the seven-hole — a starting spot he’s been saddled with three of the four weeks in Levy action on the half-miler.
“If we were going for $600,000 instead of $100,000, it definitely would have been better,” said Wiggle It Jiggleit’s driver, Montrell Teague. “Maybe I would have popped the earplugs and gone a bigger mile. I was trying to be conservative because we’ve got so many big races left.”
Sent off as the favorite in the final, Bit Of A Legend N got away third in the early going behind Take It Back Terry and George Brennan. After All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley) took the lead through the :27 opening quarter, but Stratton soon zoomed Bit Of A Legend N to the front before reaching the half in :55.2. The seven-year-old Legend maintained an open lead through the 1:23.1 three-quarter marker and held a length-and-a-half advantage at the top of the lane.
Despite being under pressure in the stretch from All Bets Off, Bit Of A Legend N prevailed by one length.
“Last week, he fought Wiggle It Jiggleit to the wire. Tonight, I wasn’t worried about it,” said Stratton, who felt he had the hot horse since the Levy started six weeks ago. “He’s been phenomenal from Day One. These races, anything can happen, but it was in our favor tonight.”
Tritton’s other finalist, Texican N (Yannick Gingras) was two lengths back in third, just edging P H Supercam (Jason Bartlett). Take It Back Terry grabbed the final check in the 29th and richest edition of the Levy that honors the memory of the Harness Hall of Famer and founder of Roosevelt Raceway. The final was also the richest race of 2016, so far, and the 1:51 mile matched the stakes record Maltese Artist and Greg Grismore set in 2007 when the series returned after an 11-year hiatus.
Bit Of A Legend N, the first from Down Under to win the Levy, now sports an 8-2-0 record in 10 starts in 2016 and leads all horses in North America, so far, with earnings exceeding $450,000 for 90-year-old owner Harry Von Knoblauch of San Diego, CA.
“(Von Knoblauch is) on a cruise with his daughter right now,”
Tritton said. “He said, ‘I wish I could get off this boat and be there.’ I told him he’d feel a lot better when he got the check.”
Tritton said Bit Of A Legend N will get some time off and hope for invitations for stakes at The Raceway at The Western Fair District, Harrington and Northfield Park.
Yagonnakissmeornot wins Matchmaker
Trainer Rene Allard was so excited to win the $309,800 final of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series, he rushed onto the track and lifted winning driver Daniel Dube in the air moments after Dube piloted Yagonnakissmeornot to a 1:51.4 victory that was two lengths better than Sell A Bit N.
“I expected a big performance. She’s just a phenomenal mare,” Allard said. “People around the barn say she can’t be a mare. She’s got to be a horse. She’s long. She’s wide. She looks phenomenal.”
The victory improved the seven-year-old daughter of The Panderosa—Artstopper to 4-0-1 in seven starts in 2016, pushed her seasonal bankroll over $220,000 and her lifetime haul to more than $1.35 million for Allard Racing Inc and Yves Sarrazin of Quebec and Kapildeo Singh of Yorktown Heights, NY.
“She was real good and strong today,” Dube said. “She didn’t stop turning or home. She kept going. Right now, you need a real good one to go around.”
— with files from Frank Drucker