Day At The Track

Defending Levy Champion seeks place in Final

04:52 AM 15 Apr 2018 NZST
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Keystone Velocity, harness racing
Keystone Velocity

YONKERS, N.Y. – Last year, Keystone Velocity used a victory in the George Morton Levy Series as a springboard to a successful harness racing season. In addition to the Levy, Keystone Velocity posted wins in the Ben Franklin Final and the Potomac Pace. His accomplishments ultimately earned him the Dan Patch Award for Older Pacing Male. 

“He definitely had a great year from start to finish. He’s definitely a very nice horse. We love the horse,” said trainer Rene Allard, who also won the Levy Final in 2015 with Domethatagain.

Allard pointed Keystone Velocity to a similar start to his 2018 campaign. However, unlike last year when Keystone Velocity won two legs of the Levy to secure a spot in the final early in the series, this year the son of Western Hanover is winless in his first four starts. After a fourth and two runner-up finishes in the first four preliminarily legs of the Levy, Keystone Velocity is ranked 12th by points heading into tonight’s last leg. The top eight earn a spot in the final.

“This year, he’s had a little bit of a slow start, but he had a little bit of a virus and I think it just took a little something out of him,” Allard said. “It seems like he’s getting better, feeling better this week. We definitely need a win to make the final.”

Although Keystone Velocity is now 10 years old, Allard hasn’t seen any signs of aging from his star pacer. Keystone Velocity missed almost two years of racing between 2014 and 2016 and has 114 lifetime starts. He’s won 27 and earned $1,353,413 for Allard and partners Kapildeo Singh, Earl Hill Jr., and VIP Internet Stable.

“He trained down really good. He’s just a very classy horse. He does everything you want, very happy going, just loves his work. That’s one thing about him, he just loves to do his work and that makes him great,” Allard said. “He doesn’t show any signs of getting older or slower. If you have a bad day, you just go jog him and it makes you feel better. It’s nice to have him around, that’s for sure.”

After posting a 9 ¼-length, 1:52.1 win in a Pocono Downs qualifier March 6, Keystone Velocity made his seasonal debut in the series the following week. After starting from post seven, he led at every call, but faded in the stretch to finish fourth. In week two, Keystone Velocity closed from an 8 ¼-length deficit to finish third and was later placed second by the judges. He suffered from the effects of a virus when he finished a disappointing sixth in leg three and last week, rebounded with a second-place finish to Mach It So, who scored a wire-to-wire win off a :56.4 half.

“I think he should be bouncing back, I’m hoping. He’s not racing horrible. Last week, he sat the two-hole, finished second, I thought with a trip like that, he would have a little bit more punch coming home, but it was really slow fractions,” Allard said. “For a horse like Mach It So to get fractions like that, it’s tough to catch them. Hopefully he keeps improving and best-case scenario, if he wins (tonight), we might be able to get in the final.”

Keystone Velocity will start from post one in tonight’s $50,000 Levy split, the second of three on the 12-race program. To help ensure a top performance in tonight’s race and give Keystone Velocity the best chance of making the final, Allard opted to make a change to glue-on shoes. Keystone Velocity wore glue-on shoes in his Levy Final, Ben Franklin, and Potomac Pace wins last year.

“Usually, we just glue them on for the final, but we need to try to get a win tomorrow, so we’re going to glue his front shoes on. It seems like he’s always way better with glue-ons, but we just can’t do it every start,” Allard explained. “He’s always had a history of feet a little bit. Every horse has his little things, his feet can get a little sensitive here and there. We always take good care of his feet, but when you glue the shoes on, it always seems like he’s a little better.”

Keystone Velocity will start from post one tonight with regular driver Dan Dube in the sulky. The inside draw made him a 5-2 morning line chance. Mach It So is the 9-5 morning line favorite from post three while Evenin Of Pleasure is a 9-2 shot from post four. Simply Susational, Christen Me, and Another Daily Copy complete the lineup.

“That was very exciting that he got the rail because he has a shot. He has Mach It So and Evenin Of Pleasure in there as his two main competition I think in this race,” Allard said.  “We definitely appreciate what the horse has done for us and we’re just going to take care of the horse. We’ve still got to decide his schedule from here on, but he’s doing really good. If there was a reason for him not to race, we wouldn’t be racing in the Levy, but he’s definitely feeling really good right now. I think he’s going in the right direction.”

First post time tonight is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the card, click here

By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

 

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