04/04/2013 12:14PM

Yonkers: Goodell looks to keep 'Rockin' in Levy Series

USTA Photo
Eric Goodell has four drives in the Levy Memorial Series on Saturday.

The George Morton Levy series brings the best pacers in North America to Yonkers Raceway. Included in the mix are some of the sport’s premier drivers, with Yannick Gingras and Tim Tetrick making regular pilgrimages to Westchester County for weekend action. Some lesser known drivers tend to get lost between the cracks in the series, but there’s a major exception in 2013. Eric Goodell has been a driving star in the series thus far, winning three divisions in the first two legs. On Saturday he’ll be driving in four of the five $50,000 divisions and he has some star power to work with.

Perhaps the best of his chances on Saturday night will come in the form of Rockincam. The six-year-old by Cambest missed the opening leg but arrived in time to earn a dead-heat victory in round two with Goodell at the controls. The driver was impressed with his horse but saw a little change since the last time he drove him in the fall of 2012.

“He was a lot more aggressive than last year behind the gate. Perhaps they had him a little too sharp,” said Goodell.

“He’s good on the front end, but I think his best game is chasing horses,” said Goodell of Rockincam. “I could have let Brian (Sears, driver of Classic Rock NRoll) get the lead and sit off the pace, but he was such a big favorite so I sent him to the front.”

Rockincam looked to have a comfortable lead in most of the stretch, but in the late stages Classic Rock NRoll made up ground quickly to earn the dead heat.

“He wasn’t tired,” said Goodell about Rockincam. The driver believed that like many a top horse Rockincam tends to relax when on the front end and not stalking a horse.

Rockincam landed post three in the tenth and final Levy division on Saturday’s 12-race Yonkers program. He’ll face what appears to be the most competitive field, with leg winners Versado (post four), Annieswesterncard (post five) and Code Word (post seven) all signed on. Yet the driver doesn’t seem phased by the competition.

“I think he’s among the top horses in the series,” Goodell said.

Goodell guided 12-1 outsider Casimir Jitterbug to victory over Foiled Again and company in last week’s second round. The six-year-old by Sir Luck will meet Foiled Again for the second straight time in race nine on the program. Foiled Again landed post two in his quest for his first Levy victory of the year.

Goodell had finished third in the opening leg with Casimir Jitterbug as the 3-5 favorite.

“I couldn’t stop thinking about that drive for a week,” Goodell said, “I probably had too much respect for Atochia since he won the series last year and has a top trainer (Burke) and driver (Gingras).”

Casimir Jitterbug wound up sitting behind Atochia when that horse gave way down the backstretch, pushing Goodell back on the final turn and forcing him to lose all chance in a rather pedestrian 1:55 mile.

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Last week in round two, Goodell was determined to give his horse more of a chance at victory from post six against stalwarts Foiled Again and Razzle Dazzle.

“I had made up my mind before the race that if no one on the outside left I would leave. When Razzle Dazzle left I decided to take back. But coming off the first turn things started to jam up and I was glad Brian (Sears) moved with Razzle Dazzle,” Goodell said.

Goodell was a long way back at the half but his horse made up ground quickly and wore down the leaders in the final stages to score in 1:52 2/5.

This week Goodell is quite conscious of what he’ll be dealing with.

“You know in the Levy and Matchmaker there have been a lot of races with no early pace. It’s really frustrating to try to race from behind when nobody pushes the front end,” Goodell said.

With that in mind there’s a real chance that Casimir Jitterbug (post 3) will not let Foiled Again get away without a fight early.

Goodell has been at his best driving longshots as he did in the opening round with Nob Hill High. The seven-year-old drew post two in race seven but is likely to be a major outsider in a field that includes two-time Levy leg winner Something For Doc (post one) and Classic Rock NRoll (post six).

“I think post position means everything for Nob Hill High. He’s the kind of horse that takes care of himself. His best game is to probably come first over, but in this field I think if he can sit close to the pace he can do well,” said Goodell.

Goodell will also guide Little Michael B from the rail in the sixth race Levy division. It is the only division that lacks a Levy leg winner to date.

First post at Yonkers on Saturday is 7:10 p.m.