09/16/2006 12:00AM

Level Playingfield captures Marfa

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Level Playingfield proved an aptly named winner of the Marfa Stakes at Turfway Saturday. Racing over a Polytrack surface that played fair to all running styles, he rallied from ninth to win the 6.5-furlong Marfa Stakes in track-record time.

Ridden by John McKee, Level Playingfield was far out of it in the early going, racing last as Caller One and Old Deuteronomy dueled on the front end with splits of 22.24 seconds and 44.70. But once in the stretch, he quickly became a player, advancing to fourth with a furlong remaining and surging to the lead in the final sixteenth of a mile.

Smalltown Slew finished second, 1.75 lengths behind the winner. Yukatan followed in third. Man of Illusion, a graded stakes winner moving off of turf for the first time, finished fifth.

Level Playingfield, a 5-year-old gelded son of Level Sands, scored as the slight favorite over Man of Illusion in the field of nine, paying $8.40. He raced 6.5 furlongs in 1:16.58 over a Polytrack surface that has been noticeably quicker during the current meeting than in past meetings over the partially synthetic Polytrack surface.

Bob Holthus trained the winner for owner Fly Racing LLC.

* Also Saturday, Dynamist won the opening-day Pleasant Temper Stakes at Kentucky Downs in southern Kentucky. Well handled by Brice Blanc, the winner rallied from eighth and rolled to a four-length victory over Miss Wellspring. Alyla Bella was third.

Dynamist, the second choice in the field of ten, ran a mile on a firm turf course in 1:36.68, paying $7.80. Dr. John Chandler owns the winner, a 4-year-old Dynaformer filly trained by Ralph Nicks.