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'Legend' Is Kind Of A Big Deal

Published: April 21, 2016 9:35 am ET

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Bit Of A Legend was already a bit of a star before arriving in the U.S., but the New Zealand-born pacer has been adding to his legend this year with his performances in the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series at Yonkers Raceway.

A seven-year-old stallion, Bit Of A Legend went 5-for-5 in the preliminary rounds of the six-week Levy Series, which concludes Saturday with a $609,000 final at Yonkers. Since February, when he began racing for New York-based trainer Peter Tritton and owner Harry von Knoblauch, Bit Of A Legend has won seven of nine starts and earned $146,750. He is the richest horse in North America this year.

Prior to being sold to his new connections in December, Bit Of A Legend won 20 of 63 races and earned $659,686 (U.S.) while competing Down Under. Among his exploits, he was the first male pacer to win Australian Breeders Crown finals at ages two and three.

“He’s the best horse I’ve had. He’s always been a good horse,” said Tritton, a 65-year-old Australia native who over the years has teamed with von Knoblauch to campaign a number of successful imports from Down Under. “He’s always raced the best company and he’s done a real good job.

“Yonkers really suits him because he’s so good-gaited and you can drive him anyway -- leave, sit, come first over -- it doesn’t matter. He just goes when you say go. He’s just a great little racehorse.”

In the Levy’s preliminary divisions, Bit Of A Legend won from off the pace in four of his five starts, including a rally from last place at the top of the stretch in the third week of the event. Last week, he finished in a dead heat for victory with Wiggle It Jiggleit, the 2015 Horse of the Year, after a duel neither horse wanted to lose. The time of 1:51.2 for the mile was a track record for a dead heat.

“That stretch drive was really something,” Tritton said. “Neither horse wanted to get beat. I thought Wiggle It Jiggleit had it halfway up the straight, but my little horse really fought hard.”

Tritton could have skipped last week’s round of the Levy because Bit Of A Legend already had enough points to qualify for the final. But Tritton didn’t want to disrupt the pacer’s schedule.

“He thrives on racing,” Tritton said. “I thought if I didn’t race him I might have to train him a couple of times hard and I wanted to stick to what I was doing.”

Bit Of A Legend, a son of stallion Bettors Delight out of the Sokys Atom mare Sokys Legend, came highly recommended to Tritton by Down Under horse agent Peter Larkin. Tritton also spoke with Bit Of A Legend’s former trainer, Cran Dalgety, prior to the sale.

“He’s one of the best trainers over there,” Tritton said. “He wins a lot of races and knows a good horse from a bad horse. He really educates the horses and looks after them.”

Still, Tritton has been pleasantly surprised with Bit Of A Legend’s fast start to his career in the States. Jordan Stratton has driven the horse in all of his races.

“I didn’t know he would go through the series undefeated,” Tritton said. “You really wouldn’t think he would be as good as he is, but he just relishes racing at Yonkers. And I think Jordan really suits him. He’s always tried to look after him and leave something in the tank.”

The entry of Bit Of A Legend and New Zealand-born stablemate Texican is the 5-2 third choice in Saturday’s Levy final. The Ron Burke-trained entry of Take It Back Terry and All Bets Off is the 8-5 favourite, followed by the Jeff Bamond Jr.-trained entry of P H Supercam and Mach It So at 9-5.

Take It Back Terry, last year’s Levy runner-up, and Mach It So had three wins in the preliminary rounds of this year’s series. P H Supercam and All Bets Off both had one victory.

Bit Of A Legend will start from post two and Texican from post six. Take It Back Terry leaves from post one and All Bets Off from post five. P H Supercam and Mach It So have posts three and seven, respectively.

“I would have liked Texican to draw a bit closer, but I’ve got to be thankful for what I’ve got,” Tritton said. “We’ve got a shot, there’s no doubt about that. I think Jordan will stay up near the leaders and see if he can out-sprint them at the finish. If there’s one thing (Bit Of A Legend) has got it’s real good speed. At the top of the lane, he can make up a length or two real quick. It’s a good spot where he can work it out.”

Tritton also will send out New Zealand import Sell A Bit in Saturday’s $309,800 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final for pacing mares. Sell A Bit is 5-1 on the morning line. Last year’s Matchmaker champion Venus Delight, part of an entry with Krispy Apple, is the 2-1 favourite.

“I think she can win, I really do,” Tritton said about Sell A Bit. “You can do a bit of work with her early and she’ll just keep going. She’s a very good mare. I’m quietly confident with her.

“(My horses) just need racing luck. I’m hoping to have a good night. Even if you get second or third, you still make a fair amount of money. Having said that, it would be lovely to win. For Jordan too; it would be great to see him do it. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.”

$606,000 George Morton Levy Memorial Series final
(Post – Horse – Listed Driver)
1 – Take It Back Terry – G. Brennan
2 – Bit Of A Legend N – J. Stratton
3 – P H Supercam – J. Bartlett
4 – Texas Terror N – Br. Miller
5 – All Bets Off – M. Kakaley
6 – Texican N – Y. Gingras
7 – Mach It So – Ti. Tetrick
8 – Lucan Hanover – B. Sears

$309,800 Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final
(Post – Horse – Listed Driver)
1 – Lady Shadow – C. Callahan
2 – Regil Elektra – Ti. Tetrick
3 – Sell A Bit N – J. Stratton
4 – Yagonnakissmeornot – D. Dube
5 – Al Raza N – D. Miller
6 – Mach It A Par – G. Brennan
7 – Venus Delight – Y. Gingras
8 – Krispy Apple – J. Bartlett

This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit

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