04/15/2017 9:53PM

Yonkers: Bit Of A Legend N in top form heading into Levy Series final

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Mike Lizzi
Bit Of A Legend N took full advantage of drawing the rail in his Levy division Saturday night

Defending champion Bit Of A Legend N served notice on Saturday night that he was ready and able to win another George Morton Levy Series final with an impressive 1:51 3/5 mile in one of three $50,000 divisions at Yonkers.

The imported son of Bettor's Delight swept last year's legs and final, but this year entered Saturday's fifth and final prelim with but one victory. Trainer Peter Tritton has obviously been saving his horse for crunch time, and it showed in a major way with his wire-to-wire victory that included a 26 3/5 final quarter.

In a field that included incumbent points leader Missile J (post seven), the early action determined the outcome. Rockin Ron, the second choice with Yannick Gingras, left alertly from post two, but Bit Of A Legend N and Jordan Stratton had the inside track from the pole position and parked Rockin Ron, putting him in a hole. Stratton set comfortable fractions of 27 1/5, 56 1/5 and 1:25, with Blood Brother pulling on the backstretch to offer some pressure.

In the stretch no one had sub 26 3/5 speed to overhaul Bit Of A Legend N, as the 8-year-old cruised home as the 6-5 favorite, ahead of Rockin Ron and Blood Brother. Missile J, already assured a spot in the final by virtue of his three straight prelim victories, closed willingly for fifth while racing well off-the-pace.

"Two weeks back I could tell he was his old self," said Stratton after the mile. "With the final next week some guys drove conservatively."

Bit Of A Legend N has two wins in seven starts this year.

McWicked stamped his ticket for the final as he finally found the winner's circle after four attempts and two close second-place finishes. Trainer Steve Elliott had the 6-year-old ready, and driver Matt Kakaley had the luxury of sitting third as Caviart Luca and Mach It So shared the early lead before Caviart Luca took the front at the 27 2/5 quarter. With a half in 56 4/5, driver George Brennan accelerated the pacemaker through a 28 second  third quarter as McWicked began his assault. The pair locked horns through the final turn, but McWicked, the even-money choice, proved much stronger. The 6-year-old by McArdle sprinted home in 27 seconds flat, finishing well ahead of Caviart Luca, who edged out Mach It So for the place spot.

With the victory McWicked went from an outsider to a serious contender in next week's final.

Somewhere In L A made easy work in the final of the three preliminary divisions as Jason Bartlett pushed the button early, and the even-money favorite had the lead on the first turn. Fractions of 28, 56 4/5 and 1:24 3/5 left the son of Somebeachsomewhere fresh and willing when called upon in the stretch. A 1:51 3/5 mile was the result, as the 27 second final quarter gave him ample space ahead of a solid-closing Clear Vision. Guantanamo Bay was out before the half without cover and gamely held on to the final board spot.

Rich Banca trains Somewhere In L A, who now has career earnings above $1 million.

"I thought I might have an easy lead," said Bartlett. "He kind of deserved it; he's been used hard a lot throughout the series."

Indeed, Somewhere In L A has been in some of the more contentious legs and now moves into the final with a serious chance.

The unofficial point standings following tonight's action show Somewhere In L A, Bit Of A Legend N, Missile J, Keystone Velocity, McWicked, Soto, Blood Brother, and Provocativeprincen as the eight horses qualifying for next week's $529,000 final, but the ultimate determination of the finalists and the horses who will compete in the consolation is at the discretion of the Yonkers race office.  The open draw for the final will take place on Monday.