Bongiorno wins two in opening round of Levy Series

Yonkers, NY — Saturday night’s (March 16) opening round of Yonkers Raceway’s George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series offered a fair amount of form and a fair amount of ‘huh?’ among the Free-For-Allers.

A half-dozen, $50,000 groups were contested in succession.

Here’s the ‘wrap’ sheet…

Rodeo Rock wins his division of the first round of the Levy Series.

First division-Won by Dan Dube and Western Fame.

Second division—Odds-on Anythingforlove A (Joe Bongiorno, $2.70)—from post three—who’d been doing his damage up front, sat pocketed to the returning Rockin’ Ron (Kakaley). The latter led through intervals of :27.4, 57.2 and 1:25.1, with his stalker pulling early.

Anythingforlove A finally dispatched the leader, then held off Somebaddude (Andy McCarthy) by three-quarters of a length in 1:53.4. Luciano A (Brennan) was third, with a tiring Rockin’ Ron and Pacing Major N (Jordan Stratton) rounding out the payees.

For Anythingforlove A, a 7-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven gelding owned by Wish Me Luck Stables and trained by Jennifer Bongiorno, it was his fourth win in seven seasonal starts. The exacta paid $11.80, the triple returned $45 and the superfecta paid $228.

“I was happy to sit behind Rockin’ Ron,” Joe Bongiorno said. “(Anythingforlove A) can’t be on the lead every week against these horses, so if I could get him an easier trip, I did.”

Third division—Pole-sitting Ideal Jimmy (Brent Holland, $20) went the distance (:27.4, 57.2, 1:24.4; 1:52.4) while 3-10 favorite Beckham’s Z Tam (Tim Tetrick) never seemed comfortable, winding up a non-factor fourth.

Beckham’s Z Tam was away second, not wanting to take the lead while losing pocket contact down the backside.

“Tim (Tetrick) said the horse just sort of fell asleep in the pocket and he probably should have put him on the front and let him pace,” trainer Bruce Saunders said. “He seemed fine, but we’re going to scope him anyway.”

Mac’s Jackpot (Kakaley) closed for second, beaten a length at 38-1, with Micky Gee N (Scott Zeron), Beckham’s Z Tam and Sam’s a Champ A (Jim Marohn Jr.) earning the minors.

For third choice Ideal Jimmy, a 6-year-old homebred Western Ideal gelding owned by D R Van Witzenberg and trained by Erv Miller, it was his fourth win in seven 2019 tries. The exacta paid $373, the triple returned $2,388 and the superfecta paid $5,031.

The Wall won a three-horse scrum by a head in a season’s-best 1:53, Mike Lizzi photos.

Fourth division—“He’s the reason I came here tonight.”

Such was the pre-race assessment of driver McCarthy, who launched Rodeo Rock ($4.40) from second-over to win handily.

From post four, Rodeo Rock watched 9-10 polester Duplicated N (Tetrick) take over from longshot Rodeo Romeo (Bartlett), then lead through soft (and flat) intervals of :28 and :57 before a 1:24.4 three-quarters. Rodeo Rock worked from behind I’m Some Graduate (Kakaley), then went wide after his target.

Duplicated N owned a 1-1/2 lead in and out of the final turn, but Rodeo Rock picked him off. The margin was three-quarters of a length in 1:52.4, with Rodeo Romeo, JJ Flyin’ (Brennan) and I’m Some Graduate coming away with the smaller envelopes.

For second choice Rodeo Rock, a 6-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven gelding owned by Royal Wire Products and trained by Robert Cleary, it was his second win in as many seasonal efforts. The exacta paid $7.80, the triple returned $82.50 and the superfecta paid $473.

Fifth division—Just-over-even-money favorite I’marocnrollegend N (Kakaley) literally and figuratively hit The Wall (Bongiorno, $41.60).

Winning the draw and sitting a three-hole through fractions of :26.3; 56.3 and 1:24.2, The Wall waited for a first-up Always at My Place (Brennan) to retreat before hanging a sharp right turn for clearance.

The Wall won a three-horse scrum by a head in a season’s-best 1:53, with I’marocnrollegend N second and a pocketed Bettor’s Fire N (Ron Cushing) third. Endeavor (Tetrick) and Rockathon (Stratton) also made coinage.

For rank outsider (sixth choice) The Wall, a 5-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding owned by J L Benson Stables and trained by Nick Surick, he’s now 2-for-8 this season. The exacta paid $92.50, the triple returned $325.50 and the superfecta paid $2,230.

“They were getting out of there quickly, so I had no choice but to be third,” Bongiorno said. “I wasn’t going to come first-up and I was fortunate when (Always at My Place) tired to have room. This horse had had some bad draws and been in some bad spots, so it was good to save ground for once.”

Sixth division—A gritty (though not Philadelphia Flyer Gritty) first-up effort by favored More The Better N (Zeron, $4.70).

After pole-sitting Mar Nien A (Greg Merton) rebuffed quarter-move advances of Gokudo Hanover (Brennan), the former led through early substations of :27.1 and :56.4.

From post three, More The Better N hooked Mar Nien A through a :27.4 third quarter (1:24.3), eventually putting that one away early in the lane. More The Better N held off a crisply-rallying Mach Doro A (Cushing) by a neck in 1:53.2. Gokudo Hanover, Bellow’s Binge (Bartlett) and Ballerat Boomerang (Tetrick) fell into line for the remainder, while Mar Nien A backpedaled to last among the octet.

For More The Better N, a 6-year-old Down Under son of Bettor’s Delight owned by Robert Cooper Stables and trained by Ross Croghan, it was his first win in a trio of 2019 tries. The exacta paid $45.40, the triple returned $257.50 and the superfecta paid $862.

Saturday night’s $44,000 Open Handicap Trot was won by a down-the-road Eye Ofa Tiger AS (Bartlett, $7.60) in 1:56.

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