03/24/2017 12:50PM

Yonkers: Stratton feeling good heading into round two of Levy series

Mike Lizzi
Provocativeprincen has been on a roll winning four straight at Yonkers Raceway.

Breaking into any driving colony is difficult. It takes patience and hard work, but more importantly it takes efficiency when given the chance. Jordan Stratton was an up and coming driver heading into 2016 at Yonkers Raceway. The events in the early spring catapulted him to headliner and Stratton hasn’t lost a step.

“I think the success I had in the Levy has made the biggest difference,” Stratton said in regard to the quality and quantity of horses he’s driving today.

“I don’t know if any horse will be able to do what Bit Of A Legend N did last year,” said Stratton, referring to a horse that swept all preliminary legs of the arduous series and then captured the final.

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Stratton and Bit Of A Legend N (Race 7, post 3) are back for round two of the Levy series this Saturday night at Yonkers and the driver is more than happy with the direction the defending champion is going in.

“I thought that was a big effort finishing second over that track,” Stratton said about the 1:53 3/5 mile by Bit Of A Legend N behind winner Soto. “If you put him into the other divisions I think he would have won.”

Bit Of A Legend N will obviously not sweep this year’s edition, but he’ll get a chance at some quick redemption in the seventh race and second $50,000 Levy division on Saturday. Thus far the 8-year-old import has two thirds and a second in his three starts, but appears to be closing in on the kind of form that saw him win 13 times in 2016 and earn in excess of $723K.

Last year at this time Bit Of A Legend N was making a name for himself. Stratton has another from the Pete Tritton stable that has been exceptional this season. Provocativeprincen, a solid winner in the first leg of the Levy and undefeated this year in four starts, landed the pole in the third division (Race 9) on the program and faces a quality field that includes first round winner Missile J (post 3) and the rugged Take It Back Terry (post 6) making his first appearance in the series.

“I think the trip worked out well for him last week. I think he’s a horse you can come first over with,” said Stratton. “He’s a bit on the lazy side but I think that’s a good thing.” Last week Provocativeprincen needed some encouragement when Stratton pulled him on the backstretch, but once the driver got his attention he was all business.

Stratton hopes he can get a bounce-back effort from Santa Fe Beachboy (post 4) in the first Levy division on Saturday night carded as race six. “I got stuck behind McWicked last week. If he could have gotten me to the stretch, I think we would have been fine,” Stratton said, referring to the lack of racing luck sitting behind an odds-on choice that succumbed into the final turn. “I think he can go with these.”

Stratton will see action on Friday night in all three $40,000 legs of the Blue Chip Matchmaker series, but at least one horse, Al Raza N (post 3), may still be a few weeks away. “It’s tough coming back and making your first start against these mares,” said Stratton of Al Raza N. Her path to the winner’s circle could be on hold, especially with the depth of her division that includes first-round winner Shesjustadelight N (post 1) and the $731K career earner Sandbetweenurtoes (post 4).

The Tritton-trained Mackenzie A raised some eyebrows finishing a brisk second in the Open Handicap on February 24 at Yonkers in her maiden North American voyage. The 5-year-old daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven has since added Lasix.

“She was much better last week,” said Stratton. “She finished with a lot of pace along the inside. I think she’s back to the way she felt that first start.”

MacKenzie A drew the pole in the sixth race and second division on Friday. She’ll meet a solid field that includes first leg winner Mach It A Par (post 5) as well as the Rene Allard-trained Wrangler Magic (post 3), an Open Handicap winner at Yonkers in January.

Sell A Bit N (post 4) is an outsider in the final Blue Chip Matchmaker division Friday. “I think when she’s on her game she can go with these,” said Stratton, while at the same time not suggesting the import has regained the edge she had last spring.