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WILKES-BARRE PA - Ms American Muscle and I M Fishin became two-time harness racing winners in the Bobby Weiss Series for trotting females at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, capturing their $15,000 divisions of the third preliminary leg at the mountain track over off going on Tuesday. I M Fishin made a break in her first Weiss outing yet recovered for third, and in her next two series starts she has not been catchable. This week Anthony Napolitano sent her to the lead at the 3/16 around Miss Ruby (who had a win-break pattern, opposite to that of the winner), and the ABC Garland mare proved too strong for the opposition, defeating Miss Ruby by four lengths in 1:58.2 over a "good +2" track in mid-30s weather for trainer Jody Riedel and Super Mile LLC. While I M Fishin was a well-supported favorite, the Donato Hanover filly Ms American Muscle caught the crowd by surprise, returning a $39.60 mutuel, the fans more influenced by last week's miscue than by her win two starts ago. This week Marcus Miller kept her third-in, pulled her out at headstretch, and surged by the tired pacesetter Corrupt by a neck in 2:00.2. Jenny Melander conditions the late-charging miss for owner John Devito. In the third Weiss section, Puma Blue Chip broke her maiden in 1:58.2, making a big sweeping move down the backstretch for driver Tom Jackson to move close to pacesetting One Fine Lady, then getting by her late to take a neck decision. The Chapter Seven filly is conditioned by Agostino Abbatiello for the Durazzano Stable. In addition to bringing home the two-time Weiss winners, Anthony Napolitano and Marcus Miller also had the distinction of bringing in $50+ longshots - Pocono's second such "doubling up" in three cards. Body Slam used pocket rocket tactics to take the second for Napolitano at $53.80, while in the ninth Miller brought Heavens Dancer from far back to light up the board at $60.80. And both winners were coming off of victories in their previous starts! PHHA / Pocono      

WILKES-BARRE PA - Sharen Hanover and Kimberlee both recorded their second victories in the Bobby Weiss Series for harness racing pacing females on Monday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, where earlier in the dank evening Eric Carlson recorded his 3000th driving victory. The Well Said mare Sharen Hanover is now perfect in two starts for the brothers Allard, driver Simon and trainer Rene, as she quarter-moved to command and went on to win her $15,000 division of the series' third preliminary leg. Three lengths clear at the end of a 1:55.3 mile in "sloppy +2" conditions, the mare appears to be peaking at just the right time for owner Geoffrey Mounds. In the other section, the Rock N Roll Hanover filly Kimberlee, who won in the first round and then sat out last week, raced just off a contested pace, then caught the series' only double winner in the first two prelims, Miss Hill, by a half-length in 1:55.4. Marcus Miller was in the sulky behind the winner, now undefeated in three seasonal starts, for trainer Ãke Svanstedt and the ownership of Knutsson Trotting Inc. and Asa Sjoberg. Eric Carlson, starting the night with 2999 career sulky successes, got the wait for his milestone over quickly, guiding Call Me Richard to a safe victory in the night's opener. The 42-year-old Carlson, a Detroit leader before "coming East" some years ago and establishing himself as a talented catch-driver, then wasted no time setting out on the road to 4000, making a big sweeping move with Western Bayama to take the night's eighth event. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - Archibald has stamped himself as the trotter to beat in the Bobby Weiss Series section for diamondgaited males, taking a new mark of 1:55.1 in his $15,000 third preliminary round harness racing action Sunday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The four-year-old altered son of Archangel has had to go first-over in all three of his Weiss starts - the first week he made a break while challenging, while during the second he proved his superiority by reducing his mark to 1:55.3. That number was again lowered on a very cool night Sunday, with trainer/driver Fern Paquet Jr. sitting outside of pacesetting Law Of Attraction, then overpowering that one the last half of the stretch to win by a length for breeder/owner Michael Sherman Jr. Chas Hanover, one of two double winners in previous Weiss contests, could not go with the cover of the winner the last 3/8 and wound up fourth. Perfect Chapter AS, who like Archibald made a break while motoring uncovered in his first series start, atoned for last week's error with a big sweep from the back of the field, winning by four lengths for driver Marcus Miller while reducing his speed standard to 1:56.3. The Chapter Seven four-year-old gelding is trained by Anette Lorentzon for ACL Stuteri AB and Kjell Johannson. The other double Weiss winner in this group, Meadowbranch Ricky, had been able to hold off the late surge of Stormont Manpower last week; on Sunday, Stormont Manpower was a bit closer at headstretch, and he was able to catch the pacesetting "Ricky" by three-quarters of a length while reducing his record to 1:57. Second in his first two series starts, the winning altered son of Kadabra made the third time a charm for driver Andrew McCarthy, trainer Robert Bresnahan Jr., and owner Robert Bresnahan. McCarthy, who had four winners on the card, also led the longshot brigade on Sunday, bringing home City Hall first in the twelfth race while returning $79.80 as a pocket rocket. Two races earlier, Jim Morrill Jr. had used similar tactics with Drinkin Again, getting the nod to the mutuel tune of $51.40. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - Heavenly Sound and I Soar Him First kept their records in the Bobby Weiss Series for pacing males perfect after two starts, each winning one of the $15,000 three divisions of the second preliminary leg of their Weiss competition Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Heavenly Sound was the fastest of Saturday's three winners, ripping off a 1:50.4 clocking that equaled the mark he set at The Meadowlands two starts back. But the Rock N Roll Heaven colt needed every ounce of energy reflected in that time to overcome a first-over trip and catch pacesetting Heartbeat Hill by half a length - probably a little closer than the backers who sent him off at 1-20* might have liked. However, Heavenly Sound did get the job done for driver Tom Jackson, trainer Bruce Saunders, and M&M Harness Racing LLC. The other two first-round Weiss winners clashed in the heat where I Soar Him First quarter-moved to the lead for driver George Napolitano Jr. and went on to tie the 1:52 mark he set in the first leg. Goose Mountain, at a disadvantage in the post draw, could get to only 1¾ lengths behind the winner at the finish as the So Surreal sophomore gelding contains to thrive for owner/trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera. The other Weiss winner Saturday wasn't triumphant here in the first round - but Ostro Hanover had won his previous five starts between Monticello and Yonkers, and here he made it six straight while lowering his mark over three seconds to 1:52.1. Record Machine, three-quarters of a length back of the victorious Betterthancheddar colt, photoed out unlucky favorite Riggle Wealth for second. Frank Yanoti conditions the impressive Pocono newcomer for Twin Bridge Racing. In the $21,500 featured pace for older performers, Highalator raised his career win percentage to 50%, overcoming a first-over journey to just nip pacesetting American Primetime by a head in 1:49.4, fastest mile of the young season at Pocono and a new mark for the winner. Tyler Buter handled the sulky assignment behind the son of Somebeachsomewhere, now a visitor to Victory Lane 15 times in just 30 trips behind the gate, for trainer Jenny Bier, who is also the co-owner with Joann Dombeck. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - The harness racing team of owner Bob Key, trainer Trish Adams, and driver Jim Morrill Jr. accounted for two of the four $15,000 divisions of the second preliminary round of the Bobby Weiss Series for trotting females Tuesday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Baby Wants, a Conway Hall filly, had not won in 14 prior career starts and was up against the heavily-favored Myrna Myrna, the fastest winner in the first prelim, but "Baby" was moved to the lead in front of the stands by Morrill, then stepped home in 1:57.2 to post a half-length decision over the chalk, who came from sixth at the half in another good showing. The other winner for Morrill/Adams/Key was a Deweycheatumnhowe filly, Corrupt, a good-closing third in her Weiss bow, with Morrill here using the same early move tactic that helped Baby Wants while guiding Corrupt to a 1:57.4 triumph, a new mark by over three seconds. Deweycheatumnhowe got a second siring credit, and Anthony Napolitano posted the first of his two Weiss wins on the night, when the four-year-old Dewitonemoretime raced on the engine and held off Ãke Svanstedt's white trotting mare, Via Lattea IT, by a head while equaling her mark of 1:57.3 in her seasonal bow. Scott Betts trains the winner for owners Timothy Betts and Nicholas Catalano. First round winner Miss Ruby made an early break but rallied from last to be third here. Fortunes were reversed in the final Weiss sector: I M Fishin was favored in the first leg but had to settle for third after a good recovery from an early miscue, while Ms American Muscle posted the victory last Tuesday. This week "Ms Muscle" was the victim of a lapse from gait, and I M Fishin was able to go wire-to-wire from "Anthony Nap" despite the outside seven, with the 1:56.3 final clocking lowering her speed tab by just over two seconds. Jody Riedel conditions the victorious ABC Garland mare for Super Mile LLC. Morrill went on to have five winners on the night; Anthony Napolitano wound up with three. That gives each driver 30 wins as they are tied at the top in the early Pocono standings. And since Pocono has raced only 12 cards so far in 2018, that means they are each averaging 2 1/2 winners a card so far -- fancy numbers at anybody's racetrack. The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week in Review April 7-13, 2018 - Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t April supposed to be when the weather starts to turn away from the long, cold winter? It certainly hasn’t done that yet in Northeastern Pennsylvania. We’re nearly a month into the season and I don’t believe we’ve hit the 60-degree mark on a racing night yet this season. Luckily, the racing at Pocono hasn’t been bothered one iota by the chilly temps, as the early weeks have been as fast and furious as ever. On that note, let’s honor the best performances of the past four racing nights with the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: AWESOMENESS With a name like that, this five-year-old gelding trained by Brett Pelling is practically begging people to come up and knock him off his perch. Luckily, Awesomeness has more than enough talent to back up his moniker. He really started to come to the fore in 2017, earning a hefty $164,368 on his campaign. And he hasn’t let up at all this season. Back-to-back wins at The Meadowlands in February and March got him rolling, and a win on March 31 in his Pocono debut in the winners of over $25,000 lifetime feature in 1:51:3 cemented his status. On Saturday night, he was once again facing that tough winners over group, only this time around, the field was even more rugged, with the inclusion of juggernauts from Dover Downs (Major Uptrend) and The Meadowlands (Bettor’s Edge) bringing a lot of class into town with them. But driver Jim Morrill Jr., utilizing the inside post to his advantage, found an early sweet spot in the pocket with Awesomeness, as the fractions were cut out at a blistering pace. In the home stretch, Awesomeness had the room to uncork his late kick in the passing lane as the 3-2 betting favorite. He took over the lead but still had to deal with a big late move from Archangel Three in the lane. He prevailed by a neck, making it two in a row against the toughest pacers on the grounds. His winning time was 1:50:4. Look for this talented pacer to keep living up to that name and to perform as one of the top aged pacers at Pocono and anywhere else he decides to roam. Other top pacers this week include: Sapphire City (Anthony Napolitano, Ron Burke), who moved up in class on Saturday night to take home his second straight condition victory, this one coming in 1:52:4; Miss Hill (Anthony Napolitano, Bruce Clarke), a filly who picked up her second straight Bobby Weiss series win on Monday night and did so in a career-best 1:54; and Charming Hill (Jim Morrill Jr., Marc Mosher), who switched barns to pick up her second straight claiming handicap win over mares on Monday night in 1:55:1. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: CHAS HANOVER Much of the trotting action this past week was dedicated to the second leg of the Bobby Weiss late closer series, including Sunday night’s three divisions for the three and four-year-old colts and geldings. Chas Hanover came into the race looking for his second straight victory in the series and his third straight overall. The three-year-old gelding, trained by Gilberto Garcia-Herrera, had previously scored at Yonkers on March 18 and in the first leg of the Weiss on April 1 in a career-best 1:56:2. In both of those victories, Chas Hanover was lucky enough to draw an inside post, allowing him to work out excellent trips behind pacesetters. On Sunday night, however, he left from post position #6 in a field of seven trotters, meaning that he wouldn’t be afforded the luxury of good position with little effort. Knowing that, driver George Napolitano Jr. gunned him early to the lead, despite getting a challenge for that lead from Church Choir. It wasn’t easy from there, either, as Chas Hanover had to deal with persistent pressure from Golden Attitude, who snuck up behind him around the last turn for some cover before charging up in the stretch. Chas Hanover found a little something more, however, holding off Golden Attitude by a nose in a thrilling duel. His winning time was 1:56:4 for this third victory in a row, as he establishes himself as one to watch throughout the entirety of the Weiss races. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Meadowbranch Ricky (George Napolitano Jr., Jenny Melander), who moved to two-for-two in the Weiss by scoring on Sunday night in 1:56:2; I M Fishin (Anthony Napolitano, Jody Riedel), who picked up a win in the Weiss series for distaff trotters on Tuesday night in 1:56:3, which was the fastest winning time posted of the four divisions that night and a new career-best for filly; and Perfect Stick (George Napolitano Jr., Anette Lorentzon), who scored a condition victory on Sunday night in 1:54:4, which was a new career-best and the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: PERFECT MAVERICK This pacing mare, driven by Ron Cushing, made her first career win a memorable one, scoring a condition victory on Sunday night at 27-1 and paying off $57.40 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JIM MORRILL JR. Morrill is always a force early in the season at Pocono, and this year has been no different, as he picked up four wins on Saturday night and three more on Tuesday. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: KATRICIA ADAMS Adams is looking strong in the Bobby Weiss trotting fillies and mares series after picking up a pair of wins in that class on Tuesday night with Corrupt and Baby Wants. That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - Miss Hill became the only two-time winner in the Bobby Weiss Series for harness racing pacing females on Monday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, taking her $15,000 division of the second preliminary leg of her Weiss Series grouping. Miss Hill's race was probably the toughest of the three, as it matched her with Unnreal, another first leg winner, and Line Dancer, who missed a head last week to Kimberlee (who did not compete Monday). And the first week's form was reflected again on Monday as the finish was Miss Hill, Line Dancer, Unnreal, with the victorious Somebeachsomewhere filly closing into a 55.3 last half to take a new lifetime mark of 1:54. Miss Hill, driven by Anthony Napolitano, is now 2-for-2 for trainer Bruce Clarke, who also co-owns her with Patricia Waldeck and John Coffey. Pretty Angel Eyes had tried the front end in the first Weiss leg and came up shy; this time driver Jim Morrill Jr. had her last at the half, and she came her own back half in 56.4 to record his first career victory in 23 starts, stopping the timer in 1:56. Brandon Todd trains the winner, a Bettor's Delight mare who also made Curtis Lee fans happy, for owners Belrose Standard LLC. "First-time Allard" has become a watchword phrase at Pocono over the last few years, and with the Well Said mare Sharen Hanover going over to the Rene Allard shedrow, she made her barn debut a winning one, lowering her mark to 1:53.2 with a wire-to-wire effort. Rene's brother Simon was in the sulky for owner Geoffrey Lyons Mound as the acquisition scampered home in 55.2. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - George Napolitano Jr., perennially the leading harness racing driver at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, steered Meadowbranch Ricky and Chas Hanover to their second straight victories in the Bobby Weiss Series for trotting males Sunday night at the northeast Pennsylvania oval, while Archibald bounced back from a first-round break to take the third $15,000 division in this Weiss division's second preliminary leg. Both of the "George Nap"-guided diamondgaiters remain undefeated in 2018. The Muscle Massive colt Meadowbranch Ricky raised his seasonal record to 2-for-2 while taking a new mark of 1:56.2 in his division for trainer Jenny Melander and owner Hans Enggren, while the Cantab Hall sophomore gelding Chas Hanover is now unbeaten in three starts for owner-trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera, but he had to work hard to down Golden Attitude by a nose at the end of his 1:56.4 victory. Archibald, who made a good move first-over in the first Weiss leg before losing gait last week, again was saddled with the difficult first-over duty on Sunday. But trainer/driver Fern Paquet Jr. was able to get the victorious Archangel four-year-old gelding to mind his manners this week, and he responded with a lifetime-best 1:55.3 tally, stepping home in 27.4 for owner Michael Sherman Jr. PHHA / Pocono

Hightstown, NJ --- Cozette McAvoy has spent fewer than six years in harness racing, but her involvement in the sport has grown from simply owning horses to also include training and breeding. The 38-year-old McAvoy, a corporate attorney, has won 53 races as a trainer since 2014 and assembled a broodmare band of a dozen horses. She hopes to have two homebred 2-year-olds hit the racetrack later this year. “I’m really happy with it,” McAvoy said, adding about her breeding operation, “I don’t intend to be a huge size. I totally love the movie ‘Secretariat,’ as I’m sure many people do. My dream is a bit of what (Penny Chenery) had. You go out in the morning with your cup of tea and the sun is coming into the barn and you’re peeking in on a horse or two. “I want to always know their names and take time to say hi to them. And they know who I am and I know who they are. Having a smaller operation like that suits me just fine.” So far this year on the racetrack, the Pennsylvania-based McAvoy has seen her stable notch six wins in 42 races this year, with 4-year-old male trotter Presidente Zette leading the way. Presidente Zette, who was unraced at 2 and limited to four starts at 3, has won three of eight races and hit the board a total of six times this season. Last weekend, the stallion won his first-round division of the Bobby Weiss Series for male trotters by a neck over Stormont Power in 1:57.1 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. On Sunday, Presidente Zette is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line in the second of three Weiss divisions. Meadowbranch Ricky, another opening-round winner, is the 5-2 favorite for trainer Jenny Melander. Racing begins at 7 p.m. and the Weiss divisions are races three through five on the 14-race card. “You can see from the race times and the past performances of the horses that are racing in the series that he fits in quite well,” McAvoy said about Presidente Zette. “He seems to be one of the top horses entered in the series, so I’ve got high hopes for him.” McAvoy bought Presidente Zette under the name Southwind Magnum for $12,000 at the 2015 Lexington Selected Sale. He is by Muscle Hill out of Missymae Bluestone and a full brother to Southwind Mozart, who was second in the 2015 Yonkers Trot and later a winner in Europe. He also is a half-brother to New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Southwind Cocoa and his full brother Mission Hill (formerly Southwind Bugz) sold for $335,000 last fall in Lexington. “I was not expecting to bid on him,” McAvoy said. “I was thinking he was going to be a high-priced yearling. He ended up being one of the most inexpensive yearlings I bought. I was very surprised at that. I’m thrilled to have Presidente considering how it easily could have not been me as the owner.” Presidente Zette missed his 2-year-old campaign because of surgery to remove bone fragments and got a late start to his 3-year-old season, but is making up for lost time. “He’s great,” McAvoy said. “Like many ungelded horses, I think sometimes they’re a little more interested in chasing things than racing things. It can be an exercise in patience. But he’s certainly putting it all together now. I’ve been really happy with him. “He’s a sweetheart, even though he’s a stud. You can fuss with him in the stall and pet him and feed him treats. When you ask him to go, he will really grab ahold of you and go. He’s really, really powerful and really nicely gaited.” Given his inexperience, McAvoy did not stake Presidente Zette to any events this year. But given his pedigree, McAvoy is anxious to see how the stallion develops. “We’re going to take it one race at a time and go from there,” McAvoy said. “The more he shows, the more we’re willing to give him other chances at harder things. It’s a matter of letting the horse tell us when he’s ready to take the next step. “I think anybody that has a well-bred stallion is hopeful the horse will eventually mature enough to really have a nice record and win some money. Obviously, not having anything huge at (ages) 2 or 3 is a typical of the normal stallion profile. But I have a growing broodmare band of my own, so we’ll just play it by ear and see what happens.” If nothing else, maybe one morning in the future McAvoy will be enjoying a cup of tea, peeking in on one of his sons or daughters, and saying hi. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Hightstown, NJ --- When he was a teenager, John Devito would hop on a bus with a friend and head to Yonkers and Roosevelt raceways, where he developed a passion for harness racing. Trips to the track these days continue to provide the 54-year-old Queens, N.Y., resident with thrills, but as much more than a fan. Devito, who is in the car wash/express oil change business, owns 20 horses including a handful of homebred trotters. One of those horses, Ms American Muscle, competes Tuesday (April 3) in the first round of the Bobby Weiss Series for 3- and 4-year-old female trotters at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Pocono hosts three divisions of the Weiss for female trotters on Tuesday’s 14-race card. Action begins at 7 p.m., with the Weiss events as races three through five. Ms American Muscle, a 3-year-old making her seasonal debut for trainer Jenny Melander and driver Mike Simons, is 6-1 on the morning line in the second division. Ms American Muscle won her final start of 2017, a conditioned race at Harrah’s Philadelphia, for her first lifetime victory. “Jenny says she should be OK,” Devito said. “There are a lot of horses making their first (seasonal) starts in there. I don’t think she’s in too deep, but you never know. I think she will be OK.” Devito and his late racing partner Rocco Manniello purchased Ms American Muscle’s dam, 2002 Filly World Trotting Derby champion CR Ms American Pie, from Rod Allen and Joseph Palermo III in October 2013. At the time, CR Ms American Pie was in foal to Donato Hanover and the resulting filly was named My Cherry Pie, who was a winner on the Pennsylvania Stallion Series circuit in 2017. Ms American Muscle is My Cherry Pie’s full sister. “We never did it before, so it was just trying something new,” Devito said about breeding. “A lot of times you go to the sales and the yearlings are off the charts. We figured we would take a shot on the breeding end. CR Ms American Pie is an outstanding mare with great bloodlines and she was in foal to Donato. We just took a shot with it.” Devito’s relationship with Allen yielded another result. Devito was introduced to Melander, his trainer for the past several years, by Allen. “They’re all good people,” Devito said. “Jenny is a great trainer, a great person. I feel like I’m in really good hands with her. She’s going to have a lot of success; she’s an extremely hard worker. I’m very happy that I’m with her.” Devito’s successes last year with Melander included Golden Son and Ameliosi, who both won preliminary rounds of the Yonkers Raceway/Standardbred Owners Association of New York Bonus Trot Series and combined for $286,477 in seasonal earnings. In 2016, Roccos Tacos won a division of the Arden Downs. He missed last year because of injury, but is on the comeback trail this season. “I enjoy going to the racetrack and watching the races,” Devito said. “It’s been good to me. “We’re hoping to have a good year. It’s like one of those things, lucky and good. There is always a luck factor. You can breed the best mare to the best stallion and it doesn’t always work out. If you have a little luck on your side, it always helps. It’s always good.” For Tuesday’s complete Pocono entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Easter Sunday harness racing twilight card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono was headlined by events in the first preliminary round of the Bobby Weiss Series for developing younger horses, with three $15,000 divisions for both trotting males and pacing females. In the trot action, all-time Pocono leading driver George Napolitano Jr. emerged victorious in the first two sections. Meadowbranch Ricky led off the card, and his 2018 campaign, by taking a 1:57.2 victory, moving to command after the quarter and going on to post a new lifetime best. The Muscle Massive sophomore colt is trained by Jenny Melander for owner Hans Enggren. Napolitano placed the Cantab Hall gelding Chas Hanover on the back of heavily favored pacesetter Law Of Attraction in the next division, then rallied the three-year-old to post a half-length upset triumph, lowering his mark to 1:56.2. Chas Hanover is now 2-for-2 since entering the barn of trainer/owner Gilbert Garcia-Herrera. The Muscle Hill four-year-old stallion Presidente Zette continued a recent run of fine form while taking the third cut for males in 1:57.1. Jim Pantaleano handled sulky duties behind the three-time seasonal winner for owner-trainer Cozette McAvoy, overcoming a first-over trip to post a neck decision over Stormont Manpower. In the pacing action for distaffs, the Rock N Roll Heaven filly Kimberlee was well-driven by Jim Marohn Jr. to take the fastest cut in 1:53.3, a personal best. Marohn hustled Kimberlee, trained by Ãke Svanstedt for Kuntsson Trotting Inc. and Asa Sbojerg, away swiftly to take a bit of early sting out of favored Line Dancer, then had a great view as the chalk and first-over Carly Girl had a tough second-half duel. Ducking to the Pocono Pike, Kimberlee was along in deep stretch to post a head decision, with Carly Girl missing the big money by only a neck. Also taking a new personal speed badge in Weiss female action was the Somebeachsomewhere filly Miss Hill, who made a first start of the year a winning one in 1:54.4. Miss Hill stepped home in 56.3 under the guidance of Anthony Napolitano, the early leader in the 2018 Pocono drivers dash table, for new trainer Bruce Clarke, also co-owner with Patricia Waldeck and John Coffey. Unnreal, a sophomore daughter of Real Artist, stamped herself as one to watch in Weiss action as she shook off the effects of a 25-day layoff and a first-over trip to hold off the horse who tailed her, Sweetest Devotion, by a neck in 1:55.1. Simon Allard guided the Pocono debutante for trainer John Wagenhoffer and Beaver Creek Farm LTD. FINISHING LINES - The Downs had its first 2018 foray into 1:50 Territory Saturday ... however, it did not come in the featured $25,000 pace, but a race later, in a $14,000 contest. The Somebeachsomewhere gelding Cowboy Terrier, out of the Dan Patch Award-winning broodmare Wild West Show and thus a full brother to Huntsville, sat just off a scorching (26, 53, 1:20.3) pace, then moved wide and drew clear in the lane, taking a lifetime mark of 1:50 at age 8 for driver Eric Carlson, trainer Ron Burke, and owner Howard Taylor. Racing continues on Tuesday at Pocono, with first round action in the Weiss Series for the female trotting set going in three $15,000 divisions. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - The annual $800,000 (est.) Bobby Weiss Series, for up-and-coming harness racing three- and four-year-olds of both gaits and sexes, starts its 2018 edition on this Sunday's card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, which will have a special Easter Sunday post time of 5 p.m. The Weiss Series, named after the legendary trackman who made Pocono's surface into one of the most highly-regarded in all of harness racing, races four $15,000 preliminary legs throughout April for each of its divisions. The top competitors in the prelim action come back during the evening portion of the Kentucky Derby doubleheader (Saturday, May 5) to try to take their $30,000 Championships, while the next in line will have a chance to go for $15,000 in consolation races on the Derby afternoon program. With one exception, the four classes of Weiss horses will each take their turn on a different racing day: Sunday - trotting males Monday -- pacing females Tuesday -- trotting females Saturday - pacing males The exception is on this Easter Sunday, as since Monday, April 2 is a dark day, the trotting males and pacing females will both feature on the Sunday card. One section per day of the week will then follow to the end of the preliminaries. All of the divisions except for the pacing colts have drawn their first legs. Here is a preview of each section: TROTTING MALES - Sunday's third race may have the best matchup, between Glide In The Wind (PP2), a Stallion Series winner last year who makes his 2018 debut for trainer Lucas Wallin and driver Andrew McCarthy, and Law Of Attraction (PP5), coming off two straight smart scores at The Meadowlands, the latter in 1:55.2, for trainer Rob Harmon and driver Jim Marohn Jr. Another horse to watch could be Meadowbranch Ricky (race one, post two, trainer Jenny Melander, driver George Napolitano Jr.), who came his last ¾ in 1:26.2 in a recent 1:57.4 qualifying mile, and who had several high stakes finishes last season. PACING FEMALES - The best first leg showdown figures to come in the tenth race division Sunday, matching as it does Kimberlee, starting from post two for trainer Ãke Svanstedt and driver Jim Marohn Jr. off a 1:55.1 seasonal debut triumph, and Line Dancer, starting just to her right for trainer Kevin Lare and driver George Napolitano Jr. after a win in Yonkers' Petticoat Series and a second in its consolation. TROTTING FEMALES - The team of trainer Lucas Wallin and driver Andrew McCarthy are behind the first-time starter Girl Crush, who begins from the rail in race 3 off a qualifier where she showed 28.3 finishing speed; her toughest foe may be Myrna Myrna (post four, with the "Pocono Trot Man" Mike Simons driving), who has gone 5-2-2-1 since coming under the care of trainer Scott Betts. Another interesting distaff in this group is Via Lattea IT (race five, post three, trainer/driver Ã…ke Svanstedt), who tries her luck on this side of the Atlantic at four after racing in Europe last year at three. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - Favored Ooh Rah was moved to the lead at the quarter by harness racing driver George Napolitano Jr. and went on to a fairly easy victory in the $30,000 Championship of the Bobby Weiss Series for trotting males Tuesday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.   Ooh Rah and Hilarious Hero were the only two Weiss horses in this section to post three wins in their four prelims, so it seems fitting that they were 1-2 all the way around after Ooh Rah moved to the lead near the 28.1 quarter. The middle splits of 57.3 and 1:26.3 were not very hard on the victorious four-year-old altered son of Credit Winner, and when Hilarious Hero vacated the pocket to make his stretch bid, Ooh Rah still had a 28.2 last quarter in him, staving off his major rival by a length.   The 1:55 clocking lowered Ooh Rah's lifetime mark by a full second, and raised his seasonal tally to 12-6-1-0, with a lifetime bankroll of $74,200, with trainer Kathleen La Montagne sharing ownership with Donald La Montagne.   Since coming north from Pompano in mid-April, trainer Tony Dinges has posted a 27-10-2-3 record, good for a "northern UTR" of .449, including the 3-for-3 Pocono Tuesday Dinges shared with driver Jim Marohn Jr. One of their winners was the If I Can Dream mare Yes You Can, who stormed four-high on the far bend after a wild pace and hit the wire first in 1:51 in the $16,500 distaff pacing feature; another was with the Big Jim mare Tempus Seelster, taking a $14,000 subfeature in a personal best 1:50.1 - just 2/5 of a second off the overall Pocono seasonal standard of 1:49.4 set by Orillia Joe. Both of these mares are owned by Holland Racing Stable.   The third came with Dangerousprecedent, a Western Hanover mare Dinges owns, who spoiled the sophomore debut of 1-20 favorite and freshman NYSS champion Tequila Monday by opening a big lead down the back and then holding off the heavy chalk by a neck in 1:52.1, equaling her lifetime best.   PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA – The $30,000 Championship of the Bobby Weiss Series for harness racing trotting distaffs, held at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Tuesday, was shaping up normally just past the half: Connie Jean, with a win and three seconds in the prelims, was on the lead, with Sunrise Avenue, the top prelim competitor with three wins and a second, first-over, and 1-9 favorite Checkmate Time, off a sensational 1:53.3 win in her only prelim, well-placed second-over.   Then early in the backstretch, it was as if somebody sent a phonograph needle skidding and scratching across a vinyl album, as racing dissonance grew louder and louder. Checkmate Time made a break at that point; later Connie Jean would give up the lead to Sunrise Avenue in early stretch, only to see the latter tire, as 47-1 Abbie’s Celticlass – eighth when the needle started to skid early backstretch -- closed steadily to win in a shocker in 1:55.2, with the four outer-tier horses a very Pocono-atypical 1-2-3-4 at the wire.   Connie Jean forced tucks and hit the quarter in 27.2; Checkmate Time pulled from sixth at the ¼ and soon flushed the cover of Sunrise Avenue, who worked up to the leader nearing the 57 half. Checkmate Time made her misstep as the speed sharpened down the back, with Whambamthankumaam, Abbie’s Celticlass, and Gin’s Tonic moving to second-/third-/fourth-over by the 1:25.4 ¾ pole.   The inner tier started to collapse headstretch, unusual over the this speed-favoring oval, and though Sunrise Avenue went to the top, she did not open much distance, and it would be Whambamthankumaam going by her towards midstretch, only to see Abbie’s Celticlass and driver Matt Kakaley rallied of “Maam”’s back to get the ½-length decision while lowering her mark by two seconds. Sunrise Avenue lasted for third over Gin’s Tonic; Talkin Tootsie used the deep Pocono Pike to get the last check.   The victorious Explosive Matter mare was no slouch in the series prelims, with a first, second, third, and fourth, but she was double digits behind Checkmate Time last week, prompting her long-odds dismissal. But the tote board was no factor to winning trainer Ken Hess Jr. and the winning ownership of Stop The Jade Farm LLC, although it may have shocked others, with $2-based payouts of $96.00 to win, $672.80 for the Exacta, $3754.60 for the Trifecta, and $41,822.40 for the Superfecta (though the actual pool was nowhere nearly that big).   The trotting distaffs’ male counterparts began their Weiss action a week later, so on Tuesday they raced their fourth and final preliminary leg, going for $15,000 in each of two divisions. Ooh Rah and Hilarious Hero, both winners in prelims one and two before losing last week, regained their winning ways during this card.   The Credit Winner four-year-old gelding Ooh Rah, who broke before the start as the favorite last week, minded his manners this outing and led at every call to take his Weiss cut in 1:56.2. George Napolitano Jr. sent Ooh Rah to the lead, where he remained strong to the wire, winning 2½ lengths over Bend In The River, the other double winner in the early prelims who came up short the third week. Kathleen La Montagne trains the five-time seasonal winner, and she co-owns him with Donald La Montagne.   Hilarious Hero, as noted, bounced back in Tuesday’s second section, rallying from the pocket to post a half-length victory in 1:56. Matt Kakaley vacated the two-hole with the four-year-old Deweycheatumnhowe four-year-old gelding past midturn, keeping circling Muscles On Fire three-deep through the curve, and that move may have made the difference in the outcome as Hilarious Hero outfooted his rival home, posting his fourth win in five 2017 starts (after going 0-for-24 at two and three) for trainer Jenny Melander and the ownership of Melander Racing Inc. and Clark Stables LLC.   After the preliminaries, the ranking of the competitors, with top-listed here first, are: Hilarious Hero, Ooh Rah, Bend In The River, Uncle Leroy, Muscles On Fire, Gustavo Fring, Tech Titan, Perseverance, and Armbro Hall. Gustavo Fring was second in a Dexter Cup elim last Saturday at Freehold; watching tomorrow’s Freehold draw for this Saturday’s final with interest will be AE1 Mister Photogenic.   Next racing at Pocono will be Saturday, Kentucky Derby Day, with a doubleheader of racing: a 10-race “brunch” card starting at 11 a.m., and then a 13-race card after the Derby, topped by the $50,000 Van Rose Memorial Pace, with of field of eight who average over $1 million in lifetime earnings; Sunfire Blue Chip, McWicked, and Somewhere In L A are the three early choices.   PHHA/ Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA – The favorites kept long winning steaks going at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Monday night in their respective $30,000 Bobby Weiss Series Championships for harness racing pacers, with Highalator winning his ninth straight race in conquering the males and Cousin Mary in control of the distaffs to run her win skein to eight.   Highalator took the “low road” for trainer Jenny Bier getting ready for his Weiss Championship – after easy wins in the first two preliminaries, the Somebeachsomewhere colt took the third Weiss week off and then last week raced in overnight company, avoiding any “bears” in the last prelim, and the strategy worked to perfection.   Highalator left alertly, and when A Bettors Risk made a break soon after the start, the fast colt had the lead. The Ron Burke trainee Art N Music was given a pocket tuck by his stablemate Dash Of Danger, the leader in the prelims, to clear the way for a quarter move after a 27 opener, which Highalator and driver Victor Kirby took with aplomb, letting his foe go by and then reclaiming command nearing the 55.2 half.   Dakota Jack got stuck with first-over duty against the even-money pacesetter, with 20-1 Rough Odds second-over and 6-5 second choice Talent Soup third-over. However, Talent Soup gapped his cover most of the back half, and after the 1:22.4 ¾ clocking it was instead Rough Odds moving wide for the stretch drive and bearing down on Highalator. But Kirby kept his game colt going to the wire to win by a neck in a career-best 1:51.1; Dash Of Danger, Talent Scout, and Dakota Jack completed the checkgetters behind the homebred winner, who is owned by Charles Dombeck and Daryl Bier.   Cousin Mary came to Pocono after taking three prelims and the final of the Petticoat Series at Yonkers, and she duplicated that pattern in the Weiss prelims and Championship, winning easily for the hot team of driver Anthony Napolitano and trainer Andrew Harris. “ANap” put the Camluck mare right on the lead, got a 57.4 stroll to the half, then sprinted hone in 54 flat to reduce her mark to 1:51.4 for owner Jeffrey Williamson.   I Deal In Kisses was first-over against the 1-5 favorite, and when pocketsitter Twist Of Fate couldn’t stay tight on the far turn, I Deal In Kisses dropped inside, finishing out 2¾ lengths behind the strong winner, who is now 10-for-13 and with earnings of $135,000 this season. Twist Of Fate did hold for third, with Warrawee Sunshine and Tearful Of Happy getting the final paydays.   The Bobby Weiss Series honors the longtime Pocono trackman who was primarily responsible for honing the local brick-red oval into one of the fastest and safest surfaces anywhere, a favorite of horsemen, and Weiss was on hand to greet the two champions. Bob will be back in the winners circle tomorrow night to present the trophy for the $30,000 distaff trot Championship, for which Checkmate Time is the 2-1 favorite after winning her only Weiss start last week in 1:53.3 after a nine-month layoff. The final Weiss prelim for trotting males will also be held tomorrow, seven days before its $30,000 Championship event.   PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - Three $30,000 Championships in the Bobby Weiss Series for the different sexes and gaits will be the highlights of the coming week's harness racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with both male and female pacing Championships on Monday night and the trotting females set for Tuesday. (The trotting males began their preliminary Weiss action a week later, so they will have their fourth and final prelim this Tuesday, and then go in their $30,000 Championship next Tuesday.)   No Weiss horse in any division will be able to pull off a "sweep" - wins in all four preliminary rounds and then a capturing of the Championship. But the prelim action has certainly marked several horses as likeliest to get the major share of the respective Championship purses.   In Monday's Championship for pacing males, Highalator has been made the 5-2 morning line favorite from post four for driver Victor Kirby after taking an unusual path to the final: he paced to easy wins in the first two Weiss prelim legs, then skipped the third week and raced last week in an overnight rather than bump heads with the tough Weiss crew, posting his eighth straight victory in easy fashion.   One horse who looked like he may have been in a position to "sweep" was Dash Of Danger, who had three wins to start his Weiss campaign, but then last week was caught by Talent Soup in 1:51.1, fastest of all Weiss prelims. Dash Of Danger will look to get back on the winning trail Monday (post one, driver Matt Kakaley, 3-1); Talent Soup, who had only a win and a fourth to his Weiss credit, stood "on the bubble" in tenth in this division's standings, but a couple of defections above him finds him coming back for the Weiss Championship (post five, driver David Miller, 6-1).   Among the pacing females, another long winning streak will be on the line as Cousin Mary looks for her eighth straight victory. To be driven by Anthony Napolitano from post four and 5-2 on the morning line, Cousin Mary did not compete in the first Weiss prelim, but has raced strongly since coming to the mountain oval, winning last week in 1:52.3, fastest prelim clocking in her section. Her major rival may be her stablemate in the shedrow of Andrew Harris, Itty Bitty (post one, George Napolitano Jr., 7-2), who won twice in the Weiss prelims.   On Tuesday in the Weiss Championship for trotting females, Sunrise Avenue, starting from post one for driver Eric Carlson, had the best Weiss prelim record with three wins and a second, but it seems likely she'll be second choice to Checkmate Time (post four, driver John Campbell), who in her first start of 2017 and only her fourth lifetime outing, trotted effortlessly in 1:53.3, over a second faster than any other Weiss prelim in this category.   In the trotting male side's two last round prelims Tuesday, two of last week's three winners, Tech Titan and Uncle Leroy, are back in to go, as are all three horses who won their first two Weiss starts in this section but couldn't stretch their win streaks last week - Hilarious Hero, Bend In The River, and Ooh Rah.   Fast overnight horses dominate the Pocono cards on Saturday and Sunday. "Starting off the racing week" on Saturday, that day's $20,000 pacing feature finds a well-matched field of eight headed by Book Binge, Phil Your Boots, and Barimah A, all of whom have won in sub-1:51 time already this year.   Sunday's $18,000 featured pace features the return of the three-year-old Miso Fast after having qualified in 1:52.2 - 26.4 at Philly; Miso Fast was third in his Breeders Crown Championship at two en route to winning over $250,000 as a freshman.   PHHA / Pocono  

WILKES-BARRE PA - Trotters of both sexes raced in three $15,000 divisions of Bobby Weiss Series harness racing action on Tuesday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with the distaffs going in their fourth and final prelim, while the males contesting their third prelim round action.   Fastest of all, in her first start in over nine months, was the Muscle Hill filly Checkmate Time, who looks ready to improve on her main notoriety gained in 2016, as the only horse ever to be favored against superfilly Ariana G. Checkmate Time let the field settle into the first turn, then rolled up after the frontstepper Connie Jean after a 28.1 quarter, and with the wind Checkmate Time reached the half in 56.1, then coasted to a 1:25.3 3/4s.   With John Campbell barely moving in the sulky behind her through the stretch, Checkmate Time trotted home with the wind in 28 to stop the timer in 1:53.3, a lowering of her mark by 1 2/5 seconds and five lengths clear of Connie Jean, for trainer Dennis A. Laterza and owner Roy Dobbins. Checkmate Time more than fulfilled the promise she showed last year, when she won two NJSS prelims while Ariana G won her only NJSS prelim start, and was 13-10 in the NJSS final to Ariana G's 3-2, only to suffer an interference break on the lead and finish back, a hard-luck start that finished her 2016 racing.   But will Checkmate Time's next start possibly be next Tuesday's $30,000 Weiss Championship, with her having a win in her only prelim start? Read on three paragraphs and see.   Sunrise Avenue, who had won her first two outings in the series only to lose a nose to Connie Jean last week, rebounded nicely Tuesday to equal her mark of 1:55.4, taken two weeks ago in a Weiss prelim, and run her Weiss scorecard to 4-3-1-0. The Kadabra mare made the front past the quarter and set the rest of the pace, withstanding the pocket charge of The Muscle Touch by a length for driver Eric Carlson, trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera, and J M F Racing LLC.   In the other cut, Hot Mess Hanover took her second Weiss triumph with a 1:56.2 effort that saw her lead at every call, with back fractions of 57.3 - 28.3 allowing her to lower her record, taken in her other Weiss victory, a tick. Andrew McCarthy had sulky duty behind the Cantab Hall filly for trainer Joe Pavia Jr. and the ownership group of the Estate of Edmund Smith, Daniel Smith, and James and Daniel Gianuzzi.   So here are the nine Weiss trotting female finalists for next Tuesday's $30,000 Championship, with high pointearner first and onward: Sunrise Avenue, Hot Mess Hanover, Connie Jean, The Muscle Touch, Abbie's Celticlass, Talkin Tootsie, Whambamthankumaam, Gin's Tonic, and ... Checkmate Time, who claimed the ninth guaranteed starting spot with her fast victory!   None of the three males who won their first two Weiss prelim starts were able to run their record to 3-for-3 during the three $15,000 divisions of their third round prelim. One section had double winners Hilarious Hero and Ooh Rah, but various pieces of bad luck kept both of that pair from attaining even a 1-2-3 finish; instead, driver Eric Carlson and trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera, also the braintrust behind Weiss trotting mare Sunrise Avenue, got their picture taken with the Explosive Matter sophomore gelding Gustavo Fring, who stormed home from second-over in a personal kicker of 28.1 to defeat Muscle On Fire, on his back, by 1¾ lengths. Gustavo Fring lowered his mark by almost three seconds to 1:54.3 for his trainer, who is also co-owner with Michi Yvette Abday.   Another division had the other double Weiss prelim winner, Bend In The River, but after opening a clear margin early in the stretch that one could not hold off the Muscle Hill four-year-old gelding Tech Titan, who unleashed an explosive last 1/16 in his seasonal bow to win in 1:55.1 and double his lifetime victory total in his 23rd career start. "Mr. Sebastian K," trainer/driver Ã…ke Svanstedt, visited Pocono's Victory Lane for the first time this season behind Tech Titan, who won for Knutsson Trotting Inc.   The other Weiss section for the boys did not feature a winner from the first two rounds, but Uncle Leroy, who had had 3-2 finishes, finally stopped knocking on the door and went right in to the winners circle, leading at every call to win in 1:57.1 - 58.1 - 28.3. Andrew McCarthy gained a victory on the male side to match his female triumph with Hot Mess Hanover as the driver teamed with trainer Jeff Gregory and owner Richard McCormick as the braintrust behind the four-year-old altered son of Neely Dunn, who posted his 18th career triumph after much success at the Ohio fairs at two and three.   PHHA / Pocono    

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