Gary Levine finished second in the trainer standings at Saratoga Casino Hotel in 2019 and the veteran conditioner has picked up right where he left off. The start to the ’20 campaign has been a strong one for Levine who added a pair of wins to his total on Wednesday’s matinee card. His Namje (Lucky Chucky) prevailed by the slimmest of margins in one of the afternoon’s co-featured races for New York sired trotters. Namje scored a win at the Meadowlands in January in his first start since being acquired by Levine and the five year old trotter cruised to victory in his first try at the Spa for Levine last week. On Wednesday, Namje was the 1-5 favorite in his $9,000 division of the co-features. He didn’t make it look easy but Namje got up in the final strides to prevail in 1:59.1 with Billy Dobson in the sulky. The victory was one of two on the day for Dobson and Levine who teamed up earlier in the afternoon to score with Thisishowwedoit (Shadow Play) who lasted on the lead to go back-to-back. Thisishowwedoit is owned by Paul O’Neil of Saratoga Springs while Levine owns Namje himself.
The other $9,000 co-featured races for trotters went to Thanks For Leaving (Muscles Yankee) who went coast-to-coast in 1:59.2 for trainer Tracy Tarantino and driver Larry Stalbaum and Stone In Love (Wishing Stone) who also prevailed on the engine. Brian Cross trains and drives Stone In Love who has been terrific since coming to town last December. Her victory on Wednesday was the fastest of all the co-features as she stopped the timer in 1:58.4 for third win in six local tries.
Live racing continues on Thursday afternoon with a first post time of Noon. The first race kicks off the Pick Five which has a $5,000 guarantee.
Photo: Melissa Simser-Iovino