03/25/2017 10:55PM

Yonkers: Rockin Ron turns away Bit Of A Legend N in Levy Series marquee matchup

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Mike Lizzi
Rockin Ron improved from a second-place finish last week to a win this week in his Levy division

Rockin Ron, a two-time conqueror of Wiggle It Jiggleit in 2016, put in a gallant effort for driver Yannick Gingras, holding off defending George Morton Levy Series champion Bit Of A Legend N in a 1:51 1/5 mile to capture one of four $50,000 divisions at Yonkers Raceway on Saturday night.

Starting from the pole, Gingras put the field in line through the opening bend and carved out rated fractions of 27 2/5 and 56 before encountering any pressure. That challenge came in the form of Bit Of A Legend N and driver Jordan Stratton. The top pair from 2016 made a brisk move to gain even terms with the winner, and for a moment past the 1:23 3/5 three-quarters, it looked as if the defending champ had the edge. However, once straightened away, Rockin Ron reasserted himself and sprinted off. Bit Of A Legend N held gamely for second, with first leg winner Soto settling for third.

"I was worried a little on the final turn and wanted to save something for the stretch with Soto sitting on my back," said Gingras post-race. "He's so easy on himself and he can really sprint."

Trained by Ron Burke, Rockin Ron won for the third time in five starts this year.

Keystone Velocity rebounded from a first-round pace-setting defeat with an overpowering first-over grind for driver Dan Dube and trainer Rene Allard in another $50,000 division. The veteran moved on 3-2 favorite Bettor's Edge at the half, and the two locked horns through a 27 3/5 third quarter. It was a two-horse race to the wire, with Dube urging the son of Western Hanover by in the late stages, scoring in a 1:51 3/5 mile as a 5-1 offering. Bettor's Edge settled for second with Dr J Hanover, an early leader, finishing third.

It was the first win of the year for Keystone Velocity.

Missile J became a two-time Levy winner this year as driver Tim Tetrick's presence perhaps changed the outcome of the race. Tetrick deftly put Missile J, a 6-5 second choice, in fourth leaving the gate, directly behind odds-on favorite Provocativeprincen with driver Jordan Stratton. Somewhere In L A and Vegas Vacation exchanged the lead early, with the former in control at the quarter and slowing down the action after the 27 3/5 opener. In the past Stratton had used a slow grind to perfection with his charge, but with the prospects of towing Tetrick into the action, Stratton moved late on the second turn with the favorite and made a powerful move seeking the front. Jason Bartlett and Somewhere In L A refused to give up top spot, though, hitting the half in 56 and the three-quarters in an accelerated 1:23 1/5.

The contentious pace softened up the leaders, and Missile J was able to sprint strongly to take the top spot in a 1:51 3/5 mile. Trained by Scott DiDomenico, Missile J has now captured six of seven starts in 2017.

Bartlett turned the tables on the pace-setters in the final Levy split as 12-1 shot Melmerby Beach managed to sit chilly along the inside as heavy favorite All Bets Off controlled the half in 57 flat, and then sped away down the backstretch without a challenger in a 27 second third quarter. The sprint didn't shake the closers, and Bartlett was able to angle Melmerby Beach out in the stretch and devour the pacemaker as well as pocket-sitter Wakizashi Hanover in the stretch.

Melmerby Beach completed the mile in 1:52, finishing ahead of Wakizashi Hanover, with All Bets Off tiring in third. Ettore Annunziata owns and trains Melmerby Beach, a winner for the first time in three 2017 starts.