Ervin Rodriguez's odds-on favorite Big Apple Daddy made a decisive rally from well off the pace to run down the ultra-quick P. Kerney outside the sixteenth pole en route to a 2 ½ length victory in Saturday's $100,000 Donald LeVine Memorial Handicap over seven furlongs at Philadelphia Park.
It was the second stakes victory of the season for the rapidly improving Precise End
colt and pushed his career earnings to nearly $400,000. The final time, 1:20.79, was .18 off the track record.
The race set up perfectly for the stretch runner. P. Kerney went barreling through the opening half mile in an resounding :21 2/5 and :43 1/5 and at that point, Big Apple Daddy and winning jockey Richard Migliore had only one horse beaten while almost ten lengths behind.
"It took him almost a quarter-mile to get his legs under him," remarked Migliore. "I knew how fast they were going up front and I was still pretty confident at the half mile pole."
As they neared the quarter pole, the horses closest to P. Kerney were starting to tire after chasing the hot pace. But Big Apple Daddy was circling the field. Coming to the final furlong, Migliore had only one horse left to pass and that horse was feeling the strain of the grueling pace. 'Daddy' ran by with little trouble and won going away.
Big Apple Daddy was coming off a closing third-place finish in the Carter Handicap (gr. I) at Aqueduct.
Off that effort, the Bruce Levine trainee, was a heavy 1-2 choice at post time and returned his backers $3.00, 3.40, and 2.60. The pace maker, P. Kerney, off at 7-1 under Victor Molina, held on extremely well despite the fractions, taking second by 1 1/2 lengths and paying 4.40 and 3.40. Little Thunder, third choice at 5-1 for Dane Kobiskie, was an unthreatening third and paid 3.80 to show.