Stratton orchestrates the unpredictable in third round of Levy Series

Yonkers, NY — Seriously, who saw this coming?

Jordan Stratton’s Saturday night (March 30) at Yonkers Raceway began with a bummer, as former George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series winner Bit Of A Legend N was scratched with what trainer Peter Tritton described as “a serious quarter crack. It’s going to take some time.”

Undaunted, Stratton won two of the evening’s five $50,000 third-round events, both with certified Free-For-All bombardiers.

Here’s what happened in not quite real-time.

First division: A second-over, 67-1 Pacing Major N (Stratton, $136.50) — from post position No. 3 — held off a third-over, 58-1 The Wall (Joe Bongiorno) by a half-length in 1:52.3.

Pacing Major N held off a third-over The Wall by a half-length in 1:52.3. Mike Lizzi photo.

The race unfolded with The Downtown Bus (Scott Zeron), a winner from fourth-over a week ago, leaping over his six inside rivals to make the first lead. He looped 3-5 favorite Endeavor (Tim Tetrick), the latter eventually moving past right at the :27.1 opening quarter-mile.

It was a speedy :55.3 intermission before Beckham’s Z Tam (Jim Marohn Jr.) moved from third. Pacing Major N latched on to that tow, getting in range by the 1:24.2 three-quarters as Endeavor was being chased along.

Endeavor owned a diminishing length lead on the final turn, but company was coming. After the rank outsiders finished 1-2, Major Crocker A (Dan Dube), Endeavor and a shuffled The Downtown Bus rounded out the payees.

For seventh choice Pacing Major N, a 6-year-old son of Art Major owned by Von Knoblauch Stables and trained by Tritton, it was his first board finish in six seasonal starts/three Levy tries. The exacta paid $1,630, the triple returned $15,607 (both local exotic highs) and the superfecta paid $16,299 (base $2 ticket, 10-cent ticket worth $814.95).

Second division: Western Fame (Dube, $4.20), from post No. 5, went around Dr J Hanover (Tetrick), then went the distance (:27.1, :56.2, 1:24.2, 1:51.4). He whipped that pursuer by a comfortable couple of lengths, with Rodeo Rock (Andrew McCarthy) a first-up third. Nocturnal Bluechip (Zeron) and Luciano N (Brent Holland) completed the cashers.

For the tepid second choice, a 6-year-old son of Western Ideal owned by Go Fast Stable, B & I Stables, Stephen Klunowski and Gilbert Short and trained by Rene Allard, it was his second win in four seasonal tries (2-for-3 in Levy). The exacta paid $28.20, the triple returned $50 and the superfecta paid $142.50.

Third division: What goes around comes around. Last week, JJ Flynn (George Brennan) was 20-1 as went he went up and over an odds-on Western Fame. This time, around 10-1 Lyons Steel (Stratton, $22.40) — from post No. 4 — went up and over 1-4 JJ Flynn (Tetrick this week) after that one’s early intervals of :27 and :55.3.

Lyons Steel then threw down a :26.4 third quarter (1:22.4), opening 4-1/2 lengths in and out of the final turn. The final margin, over JJ Flynn, was the same 4-1/2 lengths in 1:50.4, fastest local mile of the season and matching his 2019 and life-best effort.  Control Tower (Austin Siegelman), Always At My Place (Brennan) and Bellow’s Binge (Jason Bartlett) settled for the remainder.

Third choice Lyons Steel, a 4-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven gelding owned by Bryan Dzugan and trained by Dennis Watson, is now 2-for-9 this season (1-for-3 in Levy). The exacta paid $76, the triple returned $246.50 and the superfecta paid $572.

“I’ve always thought (Pacing Major N) had the ability, but he tends to crossfire (hit right rear and left front legs) on the last turn,” Stratton said. “He didn’t have any problem tonight and the trip couldn’t have been better.

“I didn’t know anything about (Lyons Steel) other than he’s beaten my horses a few times here in some non-winners races. I just asked him down the back and he put them away.”

Fourth division: Pocketed from post No. 2, tepid choice More The Better N (Zeron, $6.30) stalked pole-sitting leader Anythingforlove A (Bongiorno) through subsections of :27.4, :56.2 and 1:23.4.

The leader was tiring as More The Better N edged out and went by. He defeated a second-over I’m Some Graduate (Matt Kakaley) by a half-length in a season’s-best 1:52.1. Anythingforlove A, Bettor’s Fire (Ron Cushing) and Duplicated N (Tetrick) were relegated to the minor spoils.

For More The Better N, a 6-year-old son of Bettor’s Delight owned by Robert Cooper Stables and trained by Ross Croghan, it was his second win in a pair of seasonal starts (2-for-3 in Levy). The exacta paid $24.40, the triple returned $149.50 and the superfecta paid $530.

Fifth division: Pole-sitting Mac’s Jackpot (Kakaley, $7.30) went first-up from third, disposing of early (:26.3, :56.1) leader Windsong Leo (Brennan) before that one subsequently stopped.

Mac’s Jackpot then found a 1:24.1 three-quarters, opened a pair of lengths in the lane, then off a fast-closing Ideal Jimmy (Holland) by a neck in 1:52.4. Rodeo Romeo (Bartlett), Rockathon (Marohn Jr.) and Lockton Luck A (Tetrick) picked off the remainder.

Second choice Mac’s Jackpot, a 5-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding co-owned by Howard and Michael Ouriel and trained by Jeff Smith, is now 1-for-4 this season (1-for-3 in Levy). The exacta paid $33, the triple returned $99 and the superfecta paid $388.

The series standings, as dutifully compiled by Bob Miecuna, are available at this link.

Saturday night’s $44,000 Open Handicap Trot was won by a repeating New Heaven (Stratton, $16.80) in a season’s-best 1:55.1.

“I hope (trainer) Eric (Abbatiello) stays at the Meadowlands,” Stratton said a week after he won this race at 31-1.

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