07/01/2017 10:38PM

Pocono: Keystone Velocity victorious in Ben Franklin

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Nikki Sherman
Winning driver Simon Allard emulates the late Herve Filion by standing up in the bike behind Keystone Velocity on the way to the winner's circle

Keystone Velocity collected his second six-figure stakes victory of the season when he scooted through the passing lane to beat Mel Mara in the $500,000 Ben Franklin for aged pacers Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.

This year's Levy Series champion, Keystone Velocity (Simon Allard) was up to grab the lead away from Boston Red Rocks (Brett Miller) just beyond the 26 1/5 opening quarter.  Keystone Velocity's lead wouldn't last long though as Mel Mara (Corey Callahan) came to call from third, and Mel Mara would take command before the 54 1/5 half.

All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley) made a first-over bid from fourth in the third quarter, getting to within a length of Mel Mara at the 1:22 three-quarters, but he couldn't get any closer than that around the final turn and into the stretch.

In the lane Mel Mara looked to see it through, but Allard guided Keystone Velocity into the passing lane, and after a stretch-long battle, Keystone Velocity was up to score by a head in 1:49 1/5.  All Bets Off held third, ahead of Boston Red Rocks and Mach It So (Tim Tetrick).

Allard returned Keystone Velocity to the winner's circle standing up in the sulky, paying tribute to the late Herve Filion.  Allard said post-race that he talked on the phone with Filion on occasion, and that Filion always told him to, "Just Do It, like the Nike ad."

It was the biggest win of Allard's driving career, and he said that the horse gave him confidence.

"This horse makes me pretty comfortable because he can go either way - he can race anyway I want," he said.  "He's such a nice horse.  I said, 'David Miller just won from the back with the rail horse in the last race (Fear The Dragon in the Hempt), so if I have to do that, and if there's a little action, I'm going to do it.  If not, I'll get close to the lead,' and that's what happened.  It set up perfect.

"That third quarter, I said 'I don't know if I'm going to get (Mel Mara).'  Keystone, he's been a great horse his whole life.  He had that target, and he just said I'm doing it."

Keystone Velocity, a 9-year-old Western Hanover stallion, is trained by Simon Allard's brother Rene and owned by Allard Racing Inc., Kapildeo Singh, and VIP Internet Stable LLC.  Keystone Velocity is now a 25-time winner in his life, and he has earned $1,176,471.  Keystone Velocity was the 5-2 second choice and returned $7.60 to win.