Day At The Track

'Legend' no longer an outsider

09:05 AM 22 Jul 2016 NZST
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Bit Of A Legend
Bit Of A Legend
Mike Lizzi Photo

After either drawing or being assigned the outermost starting spot in each of his past four races, Bit Of A Legend looks to return to his winning ways when he leaves from post No. 1 in Saturday's harness racing $260,000 Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial Pace at Saratoga Casino Hotel.

The New Zealand-born Bit Of A Legend is a 7-year-old stallion who arrived in the U.S. in December. He won eight of 10 races to begin his career in the States, including the $609,000 George Morton Levy Pacing Series championship in April at Yonkers Raceway, but has visited the winner's circle only once in his past four starts.

Bit Of A Legend, who will have the services of regular driver Jordan Stratton, is the 3-1 second choice on the Gerrity morning line behind 6-5 favorite Wiggle It Jiggleit, harness racing's 2015 Horse of the Year and the winner of 32 of 41 lifetime starts. Wiggle It Jiggleit and driver Montrell Teague will start from post five.

"Wiggle It Jiggleit is going to be hard to beat," said Peter Tritton, who trains Bit Of A Legend for owner Harry von Knoblauch. "I thought he could beat the others with the right trip, but Wiggle It Jiggleit is going to be tough. I've got a good draw, so that might even it up a bit.

"I just wish Wiggle It Jiggleit wasn't in it, but it is what it is," he added, laughing. "So we'll give it a shot."

Bit Of A Legend and Wiggle It Jiggleit have met twice this year. The first encounter came in a preliminary round of the Levy Series at Yonkers and resulted in the horses finishing in a dead heat for win. The second meeting was in the Dorothy Mullin Invitational at Harrah's Philadelphia on May 29. Wiggle It Jiggleit won in 1:47.3, the fastest mile in the 11-year history of the racetrack, while Bit Of A Legend went off stride from post eight and finished last.

"I changed his shoes for up there (at Philadelphia) and that didn't work out," Tritton said.

Bit Of A Legend has raced only once since the Mullin, finishing sixth from post eight in the Open Handicap at Yonkers last Saturday. Bit Of A Legend paced his final quarter-mile :27, the fastest time in the field, and finished 2-1/2 lengths behind winner Doctor Butch.

Tritton had hoped to get Bit Of A Legend a start prior to last weekend, but the horse was slowed by a soreness issue.

"He went good the other night," Tritton said. "He may be one run short, but he won't be far away. I didn't completely give him off (since the Mullin). I just sort of took it easy for a while because he's not staked to anything this year."

Prior to arriving in the U.S., Bit Of A Legend won 20 of 63 races and earned $659,686 while competing Down Under. Among his exploits, he was the first male pacer to win Australian Breeders Crown finals at ages 2 and 3.

For his career, the son of Bettor's Delight-Soky's Legend has won 29 of 77 starts and earned $1.13 million.

One of Tritton's goals during the remainder of the season is to determine how to stake Bit Of A Legend in 2017. He plans to race the horse at the Meadowlands to gauge his ability on a one-mile oval. So far, Bit Of A Legend has posted all nine of his victories at Yonkers, which is a half-mile track, and not competed on a track larger than five-eighths.

"I don't think that's a concern with him," Tritton said. "It's just that he's so handy around the little tracks, where some of them aren't as handy as he is. He still might be able to go with them on the bigger tracks as well. We'll find that out before the end of the year, but he's a very good horse."

Following is the field for the Gerrity:

PP - Horse - Driver - Trainer - Morning Line

1 - Bit Of A Legend - Jordan Stratton - Peter Tritton - 3/1

2 - Doctor Butch - Tim Tetrick - Linda Toscano - 8/1

3 - All Bets Off - Matt Kakaley - Ron Burke - 6/1

4 - Artistic Major - Jim Morrill Jr. - Steve Elliott - 12/1

5 - Wiggle It Jiggleit - Montrell Teague - Clyde Francis - 6/5

6 - Sunfire Blue Chip - Mark MacDonald - Jimmy Takter - 10/1

7 - Cooperstown - Vincent Ginsburg - Daniel Renaud - 15/1

8 - P H Supercam - Jason Bartlett - Jeffrey Bamond Jr. - 20/1

P H Supercam is the race's defending champion. The stakes record is 1:48.4 was set in 2014 by Dancin Yankee.

Ken Weingartner

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