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9,000 For Dube; Levy Kicks Off

Published: March 17, 2019 2:01 am ET

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Approaching his latest driving milestone for a while, Dube coordinated it just right, stylishly winning Saturday night‘s (March 16) opener of Yonkers Raceway’s George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series.

His open-length romp with favoured Western Fame ($4.40) not only served as the 9,000th win of his career, but threw down the Free-For-All series gauntlet as the fastest local mile (1:51.1) of the season.

From post position four Western Fame gave nothing else a shot through intervals of :27.1, :56.2 and 1:24.1. The two-length lead off the final turn became five-and-three-quarter lengths at the wire, helped by his fast feet and a scattering behind after a nasty break by Windsong Leo.

Somewhere in L A avoided the happenstance to end up second, with Mach It So, Lyons Steel and Don Domingo N settling for the remainder.

For Western Fame, a six-year-old son of Western Ideal co-owned by Go Fast and B&I Stables, Stephen Klunowski & Gilbert Short and trained by Rene Allard, it was his first win a pair of seasonal starts. The exacta paid $17.80, the triple returned $110 and the superfecta paid $967.

The Quebec-born Dube, turning 50 this June, was the main driver of Horses of the Year Gallo Blue Chip (2000) and Rock N Roll Heaven (2010). His career purse earnings exceed $119 million.

"He (Western Fame) was ready for this mile,” Dube said. “I thought he’d race well. I heard something behind me (field scattering), but I was in front by a few lengths so I wasn’t worried about it.

“I’m obviously happy to get to this (9,000) number. When I came down from Canada, I never thought I’d have the success I’ve had.”

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) to win the second Levy split. 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 seven-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.”

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

‘Beckham’ 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.”

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

For third choice Ideal Jimmy, a six-year-old homebred Western Ideal gelding owned by D R Van Witzenberg and trained by Erv Miller, it was his fourth win in seven ’19 tries. The exacta paid $373, the triple returned $2,388 and the superfecta paid $5,031.

Driver Andrew McCarthy traveled across the river to drive Rodeo Rock ($4.40) and launched that one from second over to win handily in the fourth Levy division.

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 Im Some Graduate (Kakaley), then went wide after his target.

Duplicated N owned a length-and-a-half 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 Im Some Graduate coming away with the smaller envelopes.

For second-choice Rodeo Rock, a six-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.

Just-over-even-money favorite Imarocnrollegend N (Kakaley) literally and figuratively hit The Wall (Bongiorno, $41.60) in the fifth Levy split.

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 Imarocnrollegend N second and a pocketed Bettors Fire N (Ron Cushing) third. Endeavor (Tetrick) and Rockathon (Stratton) also made coinage.

For rank-outsider (sixth choice) The Wall, a five-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.”

A gritty first-up effort by favoured More The Better N (Zeron, $4.70) won him the sixth division of Levy action.

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, Bellows 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 six-year-old Down Under son of Bettors Delight owned by Robert Cooper Stables and trained by Ross Croghan, it was his first win in a trio of ’19 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.

(Yonkers Raceway)

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