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It's pretty difficult to believe that we are in the final quarter of the harness racing season here at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. (The warm weather is quite deceiving, because it certainly hasn't seemed like autumn around here.) It will be soon be time to pick out yearend honors at Pocono, but that can wait a bit. For now, let's be content to find the finest horses of the past week as we hand out the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: SI SEMALU This seven-year-old gelding from the Bruce Clarke barn has been a solid performer for much of the season both here and at Harrah's, but he seems to really be peaking here at the tail end of the meet. On September 30, Si Semalu dropped into a $12,500 condition pace and worked out a trip from an outside post, coming up late for a win in 1:50:1 as a 16-1 long shot. The winning time was a new career-best mark. On Saturday night, he stepped back up into the $14,000 condition group, a class that had given him problems earlier this season. This was a pretty stacked race, with a field that included million-dollar earner Lucan Hanover as the odds-on favorite. Si Semalu got away third from the #7 post as an 8-1 shot with Jim Marohn Jr. in the bike, while Lucan Hanover called the early shots. The pace was quick and the leader was pressured throughout. On the home stretch, Marohn had room to nudge Si Semalu to the outside. After saving so much energy to that point, he powered home past a tiring Lucan Hanover and held off closer Sports Bettor by three parts of a length. His winning time was 1:50:3, giving him two straight victories with sizzling times and a lot of confidence heading into whatever comes next. Other top pacers this week include: Unbeamlieveable (Matt Kakaley, Vincent Fusco Jr.), a mare who overcame an outside post and a barn switch to capture her second straight claiming handicap on Monday, getting it done in a career-best 1:52; Motor City Marco (John Kakaley, Travis Alexander), a three-year-old who rolled on the front end on Sunday to his third straight condition victory, picking up the victory in a new career-best of 1:53:3; and Allstar Partner (Anthony Napolitano, Andrew Harris), whose condition victory on Saturday night in a career-best 1:49 represented the fastest pacing time of the past week at Pocono. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: MONEYDONTBUYULOVE It has been an impressive streak put together of late by this four-year-old gelding from the Rene Allard barn. He came into a condition trot on Sunday night having won his last four consecutive starts. One of those was at Pocono in a non-winners of three condition group on September 5 on a sloppy track in 1:57. There was also a victory at Saratoga and back-to-back scores at Yonkers amassed by Moneydontbuyulove during the hot stretch. On Sunday night, Moneydontbuyulove faced his toughest test yet, going up against a noon-winners of five class for a purse of $16,000. The fact that he was stepping up didn't scare off the bettors, who made him a 1-9 favorite in a short field of six. His toughest competition figured to be from Arch Credit, a three-year-old who was coming off a sharp qualifier and sure enough hustled to the lead. Arch Credit attempted to set nasty enough fractions to shake the favorite, but even getting to the three-quarter mark in 1:24:4 didn't do the trick, as Moneydontbuyulove stayed attached. In the stretch, it was essentially a two-horse race, and Moneydontbuyulove utilized the passing lane to make his play for the lead. With Simon Allard in the bike, he glided by to beat Arch Credit by 1¾ lengths. For the icing on the cake, his fifth straight victory came in a new career mark of 1:54:1. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Catch A Mission (Jim Marohn Jr., Erv Miller), a mare who followed up a win at Harrah's with one at Pocono in a condition on Sunday night in 1:53:4, which was the fastest trotting time of the week; Silvermass Volo (Mike Simons, Michael Holcman), who rallied from far back for a condition win on Sunday night in 1:54:3; and Stormont Wizard (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who moved up in class to knock off a condition group on Tuesday night in 1:54, which was a new career-best time. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SIBSON This trotter previously had issues staying on stride, but, with Anthony Napolitano in the bike, he was flat and fast in a condition win on Tuesday night at 33-1, paying $68.80 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JOHN KAKALEY The veteran driver had just four drives on Sunday night but won with two of them, scoring with pacer Motor City Marco and trotter Swiss Platinum. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: BRUCE CLARKE The Clarke barn scored three wins on the week, highlighted by a training double on Sunday night and the second straight win by Si Semalu on Saturday night. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. Jim Beviglia

While we didn't quite reach the 90-degree temperatures of the previous week, the weather in Northeastern Pennsylvania still cooperated with an excellent stretch of pleasant autumn weather, giving us four straight fast tracks at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono for the harness racing week. The action was predictably slick as well, yielding plenty of candidates for the Weekly Awards, the best of which you can find right here. PACER OF THE WEEK: KING OF THE CROP Trained by Wayne Short, this six-year-old gelding struggled his way through much of the summer, with many finishes well up the track. In an effort to get him going again, his handlers dropped him to the lowest condition level on September 18, and the gambit worked. King Of The Crop came up first-over for a victory in 1:52:4 that night, and moved back up in class this past Saturday night to face an $11,000 group. With Tom Jackson in the bike, King Of The Crop left from post position #6 in a field of nine and didn't garner too much betting attention at 8-1. He sat sixth early on as East Coast Cruiser set a menacing pace. Jackson started the gelding up on the back stretch, and after a quick pass of a tiring horse on the outside he found himself first-over. For a while he was stalled a few lengths back, as it appeared East Coast Cruiser might be able to pace out the clock. But in the stretch the pacesetter started to feel the burden of the fractions and King Of The Crop began to surge. Despite being on the outside on the last turn he gathered momentum under the guidance of Jackson and took over as the line approached to win it by a head in 1:52:2. Now with two straight wins, King Of The Crop will likely make another move up the condition ladder, but his recent performances suggest he's ready. Other top pacers this week include: Si Semalu (Jim Marohn Jr., Bruce Clarke), who overcame an outside post to win a condition pace on Saturday night in 1:50:1, which was a new career-best and the fastest pacing time of this past week at Pocono; Pappy's Pal (Jim Marohn Jr., Matias Ruiz), who followed up a win at Harrah's with a victory in Saturday night's featured condition pace in 1:50:2; and Iwillnotbemached (Simon Allard, Amanda Payson), who switched barns, moved up in class and picked up his second straight claiming win on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:52:4. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SIMEON They say that revenge is a dish best served cold, but Simeon didn't have the luxury of waiting long for another chance at his nemesis. The five-year-old gelding from the Toni Freitas barn was an impressive winner on September 18 in the $15,000 to $20,000 claiming handicap trotting group, scoring in 1:55:3. But the following week Simeon was stymied with a fourth-place finish behind Warrawee Onyx, who won his second straight in the class. On Monday night Simeon was back at it in the same class, and once again he had to deal with Warrawee Onyx, who left as the even money from post position #8 as the even money favorite. Simeon, meanwhile, was let go as the 5-1 second choice. Warrawee Onyx dictated the pace and faced some stiff competition for the lead, but was still on top around the final turn. Simeon, by contrast, sat third on the inside and waited patiently for an opening. That opening finally arrived around the final turn, which is when driver Jim Marohn Jr. guided Simeon quickly to the outside for a furious charge. Warrawee Onyx was defenseless as Simeon hustled by to win it by 2 ¾ lengths in 1:54:1. That was a career-best time for the gelding, making his revenge pretty sweet, even if it wasn't all that cold. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Chocouture (Anthony Napolitano, Tom Wine II), who scored a condition win in 1:54:4 on Sunday night, earning a new lifetime mark; Jurgen Hanover (Matt Kakaley, Jenny Bier), who followed up a condition win at Harrington with a victory in 1:55:2 from an outside post on Monday in a claiming handicap ; and Justice Jet (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who handled a condition field on Tuesday night in 1:53:1, which was a new career mark and the fastest of the week at Pocono. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: LEAN ON YOU This pacer driven by Tom Jackson started Monday off with a surprise for the faithful, winning a condition at 17-1 and paying out $37.80 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY NAPOLITANO A-Nap had a monster evening on Sunday, ripping off wins on six of the 14 races on the program for one of his finest performances of the season. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: WAYNE SHORT Short made the most of his training efforts, winning with the lone starter he sent out on both Saturday (King Of The Crop) and Sunday (Moonshine Runner.) That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. Jim Beviglia

After a few racing weeks that were abbreviated by a week-long hiatus from live harness racing, we once again had a full week at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. And scorching weather continued in the Northeast, which, along with excellent competition, made for some of the fastest racing that we've witnessed all season long. Here are some of the finest efforts from this past racing week at Pocono, honored by the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: DAVID THE SAINT Trained by Ted Suleski, this six-year-old gelding has campaigned often at Pocono over the past few seasons and has had some fine moments, including a career-best 1:50:4 mile here a year ago. But throughout the months of August and September, David The Saint was stymied against the $8,500 condition pacers, consistently finishing out of the money. That's when his handlers took him to New Jersey, and suddenly his fortunes changed. He finished second as a long shot at The Meadowlands in a fast time, then followed that up with a convincing victory at Freehold as a heavy favorite. His confidence restored, David The Saint returned to Pocono on Tuesday to once again face the field that had bedeviled him earlier in the meet. Leaving from post position #3 in a field of nine as a 4-1 third choice, he sat in the middle of the pace early. The pace set by Rather Swell was a rapid one, leaving him vulnerable to the first-over charge made by David The Saint with Simon Allard in the bike. The gelding took over just past the top of the stretch and paced away from the field at that point to win by 2¼ lengths. Now energized and confident once again, this gelding appears as if he'll be treating his foes in anything but a saintly fashion for the remainder of the meet. Other top pacers this week include: Bushwacker (Anthony Napolitano, Chris Ryder), whose victory in Saturday night's featured condition pace came in the week's fastest time at Pocono of 1:50; Boogie Nights (Simon Allard, Brewer Adams), who overcame an outside post to win a condition pace on Saturday night in 1:50:1, matching a career-best; and UF Dragon's Queen (George Napolitano Jr., Mark Ford), a mare who won Tuesday night's featured condition pace for distaffers in 1:51:4. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: WARRAWEE ONYX This seven-year-old gelding from the Rene Allard barn seems to have found his stride in this latter portion of the racing year. In his first 19 races of 2017, Warrawee Onyx won just once. But a win on August 28 at Pocono against $15,000 claimers started his renaissance, which continued two starts later when he beat the $15,000-$20,000 claiming handicap trotters in a career-best time of 1:54:1. Coming off that milestone win, Warrawee Onyx was once again tasked with beating that same claiming handicap group in the Monday night feature. This time around the field featured two other horses (Calipari and Simeon), who had won their last starts in the same class. Leaving from the #1 post in a field of eight as the 3-2 favorite, Warrawee Onyx sat fifth in the early part of the mile before moving second over in the back stretch behind Get To Doin It. Get To Doin It was able to wrest the lead away from pacesetting Calipari, but the effort he exerted to do so took a little bit out of him. With Simon Allard guiding him, Warrawee Onyx spun off the cover in the home stretch and rallied to win it by a neck. That gave him two straight wins, as he matched his career mark of 1:54:1 in the process, and three in his last four overall. He certainly looks like a trotter you don't want to face in the final portion of the meet. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Classicality (Marcus Miller, Lisa Dunn), who followed up a win at The Meadows with a win in Sunday night's featured condition trot in 1:53:2, the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; New Jersey Viking (Ake Svanstedt trainer and driver), a three-year-old colt who scored his second straight condition victory on Sunday night and did so in a career-best 1:53:4; and Weslynn Dancer (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), a three-year-old filly who won a condition from the #9 post on Tuesday in a career-best 1:55:1, giving her two straight victories. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ROCK ON THE HILL More like Long Shot of the Year, as this claiming pacer driven by Anthony Napolitano scored at 90-1 on Saturday night for a payout on a $2 win ticket of $188. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: SIMON ALLARD Allard raced at Pocono on three straight nights this past week and cranked out multiple wins each night, highlighted by his four victories on Monday and Tuesday. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: LISA DUNN It was about quality not quantity for the Dunn barn this week at Pocono, as she sent out a single starter both Saturday (Redder Than Red) and Sunday (Classicality) and won with both. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. Jim Beviglia

Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship day, which this year focused on the harness racing two-year-olds, was held at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono this past Monday. A lot of times you'll hear people say that these freshmen horses are stars of the future. But considering these horses were racing for purses of $252,000 for each of the four finals, which culminate the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes series, it's much more accurate to say that the 32 competitors in the four separate divisions were taking the track for what would likely be, for each, one of the most important races of its career. Monday's championships brought some of the finest two-year-old pacing and trotting talent in the country to Pocono in attempt to claim the title of best in the state. The races featured a little bit of everything, including dominant favorites, smart tactical driving, and a stunning long shot. Let's take a look at how the two-year-old Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championships played out. TWO-YEAR-OLD FILLY TROTTERS This shaped up to be the biggest mismatch of the afternoon, and that's exactly how it played. Manchego, trained by Jimmy Takter, came into Monday's final with five wins in five career races. The highlight of that stretch came in an easy win in the $330,800 Doherty at The Meadowlands. Leaving as the #1-9 favorite from the #5 hole in the field of eight in the championship, she made the lead as they rounded the first turn by clearing S M S Princess. From there she opened up an insurmountable lead with driver Yannick Gingras never having to lift a finger to ask her for more. Manchego strolled home a winner in an effortless 1:54:2, beating her closest foe Hey Blondie by 4¼ lengths and leaving no doubt about who is the class of the freshmen distaff trotters. TWO-YEAR-OLD COLTS AND GELDINGS PACERS Pedro Hanover went off as the even-money favorite in the final. The colt trained by Andrew Harris had won his previous two races with a late-kicking style, sitting back in the pack early only to uncork just as other horses were tiring. But the Pocono track was severely favoring horses who left early for the engine on Monday night. So driver Andrew McCarthy decided that Pedro Hanover, who left from post position #7, would follow suit. The colt took the lead away from Dorsoduro Hanover with a move around the first turn and dared everyone else to come and get him. Although the fractions seemed a little steep, Pedro Hanover looked no worse for wear in the lane, holding off fast-closing Hayden Hanover to win it by a length in 1:51, which matched his career-best time. TWO-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACERS In their previous start, Rainbow Room had nipped Come See The Show by controlling matters on the front end. Rainbow Room enjoyed the inside post in that victory at Harrah's, but, in Monday's final, she was in the #7 post while Come See The Show was a spot to her inside. But driver David Miller didn't make any changes with Rainbow Room, sending her to the front as the 4-5 favorite. Sure enough, Come See The Show blasted at her on the back stretch, but Rainbow Room rebuffed the challenge. In the home stretch, the filly from the Joe Holloway barn held together, holding off long shot Scuola Hanover to win by a length-and-a-half in 1:52:2. That gave Rainbow Room four victories in a row and five in her six career starts to date. TWO-YEAR-OLD COLTS AND GELDINGS TROTTERS After three straight favorites won on the front end, it seemed like that was the order of the evening for the Pennsylvania championships. But that trend ended with a thud in the male trotting division when the 9-5 favorite Whats The Word broke stride at the start. Scirocco Rob set the pace instead, but started to wither under pressure applied by Toast Of Lindy. As Toast Of Lindy took over, Fashionwoodchopper, who had won his previous Sire Stakes race at 15-1 and went off at 38-1 on Monday from an outside post, was following stealthily behind. In the stretch, David Miller spun Fashionwoodchopper off the cover and rallied him for the victory by a length over closing Lawmaker in 1:57. The huge underdog was the second longest shot on the board. With that big upset, so ended the championships and the Sire Stakes portion of the 2017 schedule at Pocono. After that fantastic finish, we can't wait for it to get started all over again next season. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. Jim Beviglia               As per the established contractual relationship between Downs Racing LP dba Mohegan Sun Pocono ("MSP") and any third party conducting business with MSP, the information contained in this message may be privileged, proprietary and/or confidential and protected from disclosure. Any information cannot be reproduced and/or shared with anyone outside of the intended recipient(s) without the expressed written consent by MSP. If the reader of this message and associated attachments is not the intended recipient, or an employee or agent responsible for delivering this message to the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution, or copy of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by replying to the message and deleting it from your computer.

As we get set to round out the month of August, it's a good time to remind you that the harness racing schedule changes slightly in the month of September at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Beginning in September, Monday racing will begin with a first post time of 4:30 PM, two hours earlier than usual. So keep that in mind as we approach that milestone on the calendar. In the meantime, the finest of this past week in August are on display in this edition of the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: FIRST CLASS HORSE Last year as a four-year-old, this stallion trained by Tracy Brainard had his finest season yet, earning over $134,000 in a six-victory season. He started this year out in tough against Open handicap pacers at Yonkers, failing to hit the board in his first four races of the year. Then came a long layoff, as First Class Horse stayed off the track from March 4 until July 29, a span of nearly five months away from racing. When he returned for a start at Pocono, he looked predictably rusty, finishing last in a $20,000 condition pace. After a second-place finish the following week in which he looked more like his old self, First Class Horse handled a $14,000 condition pacing group on August 12 in 1:50. He was back at it on Saturday night in $16,500 condition pace, facing an outside post in a field of seven and a sloppy track. But driver Tom Jackson didn't concern himself with any of that, sending his charge to the front end and daring everyone else in the field to play catch-up. By the time they reached the back stretch, First Class Horse had opened up a double-digit lead on the rest of the field. That's because his fractions on the sloppy track were simply too hot for the rest to handle. He was able to gear it down and come home a winner as a 7-2 third betting choice in 1:49:4, which was a new career mark despite the slop. With two exceptional miles back-to-back, First Class Horse is living up to his name all over again. Other top pacers this week include: Beach Boogie (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), a three-year-old gelding whose victory in a condition pace in a career-best 1:51:2 on Sunday night gave him three straight wins, two of which have come at Pocono; Blue Moon Stride (David Miller, Mark Harder), who captured Sunday night's featured condition pace for mares in a career-best 1:49:1, which also doubled as the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono; and Americanprimetime (George Napolitano Jr., Rick Dane Jr.) who shipped in from Yonkers and captured Saturday night's featured condition pace in 1:49:4 in the slop. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: CAN I SAY For the most part, the only time you'll two different genders battling on a harness racing track would be in an aged trotting race. Those races give mares the opportunity to test the waters against older male trotters. For the past two races, Can I Say, an eight-year-old mare trained by Doug Berkeley, has been the only distaff trotter facing off against eight other male horses. And she has found these fields much to her liking, as her two-race winning streak would indicate. On August 12, she battled her way up from an outside trip to pull off an upset win against a $14,000 condition trotting group in 1:54, scoring at 29-1. Can I Say returned to action on Saturday night against an even tougher group, this time going off at 9-2 odds in a $16,500 race. With an inner half post this time around, driver Anthony Morgan decided he wanted to control matters on the front end with the mare, so she grabbed the early lead. For the bulk of the mile, Can I Say had Wisenheimer lurking right behind her in the pocket. But the mare was able to locate and ignite the afterburners in the home stretch, winning by a margin of 1¼ lengths. The winning time of 1:53:1 matched her career-best. Now with two in a row under her belt, Can I Say is one mare that no other trotter, regardless of gender, wants to see in their field. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Broadway Jo Ell (Jim Marohn Jr., Jim Campbell), a mare who followed up a victory at Yonkers with another at Pocono on Sunday night in 1:56:4; Patent Leather (David Miller, Jim Campbell), who posted the fastest mile in three divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes on Sunday night for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings with a win in 1:54:2; and Keystone Apache (Marcus Miller, Erv Miller), whose winning time of 1:56:3 in the slop on Monday night was the fastest of seven divisions of the Stallion series for two-year-old colts and geldings on the trot. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: WARTECH After breaking stride in his last race, this trotter with Tim Tetrick in the bike rebounded on Monday night to win a claiming handicap trot at 19-1, paying $41 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: DAVID MILLER To say Miller loved Sunday night's Pennsylvania Sire Stakes races at Pocono for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings would be an understatement; he swept all three divisions as part of a five-win night. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JIM CAMPBELL Campbell picked up two Sire Stakes victories among his three Sunday night training wins, which came at odds of 11-1, 7-1 and 9-1. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. Jim Beviglia

The week gone past provided plenty of thrills for the Pocono faithful. Among the highlights were Stallion Series and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action for harness racing  two-year-old pacers, a showdown between two previous Pocono Pacers of the Year in Saturday night's feature race (won by Luck Bewithyou over Keystone Velocity), and plenty of long shots driving up the prices on the tote board. So let's take a closer look at this beguiling week by handing out the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: CRUISE PATROL This four-year-old stallion trained by Michael Dowdall can do no wrong of late at Pocono. His recent hot streak began on July 22 when he led most of the way for a victory in a $12,500 condition pace in 1:50:4 on a sloppy track. He followed that up with a move up in class to the $14,000 conditioners on July 29, and, despite having to grind on the outside to get it done, he delivered a second straight win, this one coming in 1:51:4. On Saturday night, Cruise Patrol stepped up again to meet the $16,500 condition pacers. Leaving as the #6 horse in a field of eight, he stayed in the middle of the pack early as Poisonous set the pace. On the back stretch straightaway, driver Jim Marohn Jr. decided it was time to boogie and set Cruise Patrol in motion first over to take aim at the leader. Corralling and passing Poisonous, which he did as they rounded the final turn, was only half the battle for the stallion. He then had to deal with First Class Horse, a classy pacer who had followed his cover and looked to kick on by in the stretch. But Cruise Patrol handled that challenge with aplomb, pacing out powerfully to win by 1¼ lengths in a time of 1:51:4. After three straight wins, another move up in class might be in the cards. Wherever he races, it will take a big effort to beat him. Other top pacers this week include: Luck Be Withyou (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), who followed up a win at Saratoga with a victory in Saturday night's featured $25,000 pace in 1:48:4, the week's fastest pacing time at Pocono; Big Bad Mike (Tom Jackson driver and trainer), who picked up his second straight condition claiming victory on Sunday night in 1:55; and Glow Stick (George Napolitano Jr., Hunter Oakes), a mare who overcame a #9 post to win her third straight claiming handicap on Monday night, this one coming in 1:54:4 in the slop. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: KARETS A confidence-building victory at Plainridge on July 18 seems to have ignited this 6-year-old stallion. Trained by James Cosenza, Karets promptly returned to Pocono to face a $14,000 condition group. He controlled the field on the front end with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike that night, winning in a career-best 1:53:4. Off of those two wins, he stepped up to face a $16,500 condition class on Saturday night. Being saddled with an outside #7 post certainly didn't seem like a positive development for Karets, considering his desire to trot on the front end. That and the fact that he was moving up in class against some talented veteran horses combined to scare a lot of bettors off; he went off at 7-1. But Napolitano once again allowed Karets to show off his early speed, and he made the lead by the time the field was an eight of a mile into the race. At the top of the lane, a trio of horses who all received more betting attention than Karets were lining up to try and reel him in. But the stallion didn't buckle, not only holding on to the lead but carrying it home with an authority. His third straight win came in 1:53:1, not just a new career mark but also the fastest trotting time put up at Pocono this past week. This Karets has certainly been golden of late. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Queens Lonely Earl (Matt Kakaley, Bruce Clarke), who rallied for a win in the slop in Monday night's featured claiming handicap trot in 1:56:3, giving him two wins in a row; Joey Pro (Matt Kakaley, John Hallett), who followed up his maiden victory with a win against non-winners of two on Monday night in 1:58:3 on a sloppy track; and Morosita Bi (Matt Kakaley, Bruce Clarke), who picked up her third straight win, the last two at Pocono, with a condition win on Tuesday night in a new career-best of 1:54:2. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: MACH ON THE BEACH With Eric Carlson in the bike, this gelding rallied from out of the clouds on Saturday night to win a condition pace at 35-1, paying off $73.40 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: YANNICK GINGRAS Gingras races at Pocono infrequently, but when he does he makes his presence felt, like on Monday night when he won three of the first four races on the card. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: OWEN EILER JR. Training wins on Sunday and Monday night solidified what has been an impressive recent streak of success at Pocono for the Eiler barn. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. Jim Beviglia

It's a little bit hard to believe, but we are closing fast on the halfway point of the 2017 harness racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. In our season of approximately eight months, we are just about four months in with four more to go. Let's hope that the downhill portion of the schedule has as many exciting weeks as this past one, with a great many horses and horsemen and women in the running for this edition of the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: ALWAYS AT MY PLACE On Saturday night at Pocono, rain started falling right at the start of the card and continued throughout the evening, so that a track that started out fast was eventually downgraded to good and finally bumped down even further to sloppy. That meant that the night's featured $20,000 condition pace would go off in the slop, but neither the weather nor the track condition could dampen the enthusiasm of Always At My Place to atone for his previous start. In that previous race, the six-year-old gelding had been favored at 1-5 to win against the very same class at Pocono, but he made a rare break of stride at the start. Although he fought valiantly to get back in it, he could only reach fifth at the end of the mile after giving up so much ground at the beginning. On Saturday night, bettors gave him another chance as the 4-5 favorite, and Always At My Place did not disappoint. With George Napolitano Jr. in the bike, Always At My Place set fractions that weren't for the faint of heart. None of the excellent field put any kind of a scare into him as he paced his own race on the front end. Amazingly, he rolled home 4½ lengths in front in 1:48:2, easily the fastest mile of the week at Pocono. One wonders what the time would have been had the race been contested on a fast track. Maybe next time, but for now Always At My Place has shaken off the break and is back at the top of his game. Other top pacers this week include: Trevor Win For Us (George Napolitano Jr., Hunter Oakes), who has now won three in a row, with the last two coming at Pocono after a claiming victory on Saturday night in 1:53:2; Firefox Hanover (George Napolitano Jr., Christopher Freck), who came off a layoff of a month since his maiden win and still captured his second straight condition pace on Monday night in 1:54:3; and Vegas In Style (Eric Carlson, Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), a mare who won for the second straight time on Tuesday night and the third in her last four races, this time beating a condition field in 1:52:1. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: POUNCE HANOVER Something had to give in Monday night's featured claiming handicap trot for a purse of $14,000. Hyway Marcus shipped in having won his last three starts. What A Peach had won his previous race at Pocono in the very same class. But nobody had been performing any better coming in than Pounce Hanover. The seven-year-old gelding trained by Hunter Oakes came in with four consecutive victories, including the last two against the very same claiming handicap group he was facing on Monday. All three of those stalwarts love to fly out on the front end. It wasn't meant to be for Hyway Marcus, who started slowly and was never a factor. But What A Peach and Pounce Hanover went after each other for the engine, both trying to establish a lead. Pounce Hanover ended up doing just that just past the three-eighths mile marker of the race, and driver George Napolitano Jr. was able to rate the pace well despite an early first-over attempt by talented mare Windsongmusclelady. What A Peach lost ground to the leader and wasn't able to close the gap. Sarcastic Man did come on late but could only get to second, because Pounce Hanover was simply too tough to catch. The fifth consecutive victory for the gelding came in 1:55:1. He was able to control the race pretty effortlessly, which, against all those winners in the field, was quite an accomplishment, but one we're getting used to seeing out of this red-hot trotter. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Rose Run Parker (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who returned to Pocono to capture Sunday night's $20,000 featured condition trot in 1:53; Wartech (Simon Allard, Robert Greenwood), who followed up a condition win at Harrah's with another at Pocono on Monday night in 1:56; and Rosesareexplosive (George Napolitano Jr., Linda Toscano), a filly who romped to her second straight condition victory on Tuesday night, this one coming in 1:56:1. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ALEXANDRIA HANOVER She was last at the half-mile marker, but this mare then began a rally with Simon Allard in the bike to shock a condition pacing group on Tuesday at 34-1, paying off $71.80 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY MORGAN The veteran driver filled in for Simon Allard to drive many of Rene Allard's trainees on Saturday night and performed well with a driving double. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: MICHAEL DOWDALL Dowdall sent out four starters total on Saturday and Sunday night at Pocono, and three of them came home winners, with the double coming on Saturday's card. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to email me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. Jim Beviglia

Harness racing utilizes a system of different classes of races to ensure competitive results. Many handicappers rely on class as a good predictor when trying to separate horses. But the two horses who won top honors this past week at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono proved that a move up in class doesn't always mean that a horse is doomed to fail. Those two horses lead the way in this edition of the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: TE KAWAU N He might have a name that's unusual to American audiences, but this seven-year-old, New Zealand-bred gelding is making people learn that unusual moniker via the strength of his performances. Trained by Robert Bresnahan Jr., Te Kawau N came into Saturday night's $16,500 condition pace with over $81,000 in earnings so far this year. In his last race, he took a $14,000 condition grouping at Pocono gate-to-wire for a victory in 1:50:3, which was a new career-mark. With the move up in class on Saturday, Te Kawau N went off as the 9-5 second choice. The Wayfaring Man, who put up a sizzling 1:48:1 time in a second-place finish at The Meadowlands in his previous race, went off as the 3-5 favorite and set a sharp pace. But Te Kawau N quickly attached himself to the leader in the pocket and stayed tight until the stretch. Driver George Napolitano Jr. guided Te Kawau N to the passing lane at that point and the horse was full of energy after the covered trip. He zipped by a defenseless The Wayfaring Man and then held off closing City Hall to win it by three-quarters of a length. The winning time of 1:50:2 reset the career mark for the gelding for a second consecutive week. It's time to commit this name to memory, because it figures to come up a lot if he continues in the Pocono racing wars. Other top pacers this week include: Gracie's Parade (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), a mare who overcame a #9 post on Monday night for her second straight claiming handicap win and third in her last four, with this victory coming in 1:52:2; Power Of A Cruiser (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who win his second straight $15,000 claimer on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:51:4; and Ginger Tree Cash (George Napolitano Jr., Michael Dowdall), who won Sunday night's featured condition pace for non-winners in 1:49:3, a new career-best and the fastest time of the week at Pocono. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: UP FRONT BILLY Trained by Mark Ford, Up Front Billy came into Saturday night's $16,500 condition with two victories in the 2017 Pocono meet. One was in June, and the other was in his previous race in July 8, and both came against the $14,000 conditioners. When he had moved up any higher than that, however, the 8-year-old gelding had struggled, casting doubts on his ability to move up in class. In his win the week before, Up Front Billy worked out a pocket trip behind a hot pace before rallying in the stretch to win in 1:52:4. Working with the inside post on Saturday night, driver Anthony Napolitano decided to take away any worries about a trip by grabbing the engine. On the back stretch, Up Front Billy was put to the test by the first-over charge of TSM Photo Bugger, who went off as the 4-5 betting favorite in the race. The gelding was up to that challenge, parking TSM Photo Bugger out and holding tight to the lead. In the home stretch, long shot Panana Republic made a respectable closing move, but it wasn't enough to dislodge Up Front Billy from the lead. He came home a winner in 1:54. That gives him two in a row, but more importantly it proved that he could clear a class hurdle that had previously bedeviled him up to this point in the meet. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Valley Of Sin (Simon Allard, Syl King Jr.), whose condition win in 1:52:3 on Saturday night not only matched a career-best but also stood as the fastest trotting time of this past week at Pocono; Pounce Hanover (George Napolitano, Hunter Oakes), who churned out his fourth consecutive claiming handicap victory on Monday night, doing so from an outside post in 1:55 on a good track; and Manchego (Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter), who posted the fastest time in five divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for two-year-old trotting fillies on Tuesday night with a victory in 1:54:4, giving her three wins in three lifetime races. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: TEA PARTY POLITICS With Alex Kavoleff in the bike, this veteran trotter surprised a condition field on Monday night in the slop at 55-1, paying off $113.80 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR. The meet's leading driver, George Nap had a big week, with multiple victories on all three nights he was at Pocono and driving four-baggers on Saturday and Sunday night. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JIMMY TAKTER The only trainer to pick up a win in both Monday night's Stallion Series and Tuesday night's Stallion Series was Takter, doing the honors with Basquiat on Monday and Manchego on Tuesday. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. Jim Beviglia

Coming on the heels of Sun Stakes Saturday, The Pennsylvania All-Stars races have continued the trend of high stakes and thrilling harness racing action at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Two weeks ago, the best two-year-olds took center stage, getting their first taste of intense competition in the process. It was an excellent chance for the Pocono faithful to check out some of the future stars of the sport. This past week it was the three-year-olds who competed in All-Stars action. Even though these horses are a bit more established than their freshman counterparts, the competitiveness of the fields meant that there were plenty of surprises along the way. Next week we'll get back to the Weekly Awards, but, for now, let's take a look back at which three-year-olds undoubtedly earned the moniker of All-Star. THREE-YEAR-OLD COLTS AND GELDINGS ON THE PACE (Sunday) The so-called glamour division offered three winners who had been seasoned by competing in rugged Max Hempt action the previous two weeks at Pocono. After struggling to eighth in the Hempt final, Eddard Hanover (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke) won a thrilling duel with Last Gunfighter in his split in a career-best 1:50:4. Donttellmeagain (Tim Tetrick, Jo Ann Looney-King), who finished third in the Hempt, picked up an All-Stars win as a 1-9 favorite in 1:51:2. Highalator (George Naplitano Jr., Jenny Bier), who won the Weiss series for his age group at Pocono earlier this season but finished out of the money in his two Hempt tries, bounced back with a gutty victory over Photobombr Hanover in the night's fastest split of 1:50:3. The big surprise in the division came when Jo Pa's Somebeach (Brett Miller, Jim Campbell), knocked off heavy favorite Summer Side at 16-1 in 1:51:2. THREE-YEAR-OLD COLTS AND GELDINGS ON THE TROT (Sunday) Fans of trainer Jim Campbell had a good night on Sunday. As mentioned, he had a 16-1 winner with Jo Pa's Somebeach on the pacing side. But that was nothing compared to his trotter Thisguyisonfire, who, with David Miller in the bike, rallied from the clouds to win an All-Stars division in 1:54 at stunning odds of 80-1. The combination of driver Corey Calllahan and trainer John Butenschoen took care of business on Sunday night with a pair of favorites. Dover Dan won his split in 1:53:3, the night's fastest trotting time among the All-Stars, and then Giveitgasandgo followed that up with a victory in 1:54:1. The remaining division for the sophomore male trotters was captured by Two AM (Tyler Buter, Todd Buter) in mild upset fashion at 9-2, as he rallied late for a victory in 1:54. THREE-YEAR-OLD FILLIES ON THE PACE (Monday) It wasn't a great night for the chalk in the sophomore distaff pacing division. Only one favorite came home a winner out of four divisions; that was Freakonomics (George Napolitano Jr., Ross Croghan), who captured a victory in 1:51:2, fastest time of the group. Driver Brett Miller and trainer Nifty Norman was responsible for two of the surprises. First Perplexed, at 11-1, used a ground-saving trip to rally for a win in 1:52. Then the duo hooked up again with Bridge To Tomorrow, who made the last move in a race where the lead changed hands several times to score in 1:51:4 at 6-1. Meanwhile 9-2 shot Pitttstop Danika (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke) flew up the pylons late to knock off 3-5 favorite Inverse Hanover in 1:52 in another division. THREE-YEAR-OLD FILLIES ON THE TROT (Tuesday) As is usually the case with stakes nights, driver David Miller played a big factor. He won the first two splits of the sophomore distaff trotting division, first aboard favorite Vodka N Lindy for trainer George Ducharme in 1:54:2, then with second choice Broadway Idole for trainer Jim Campbell in 1:54:3, with both wins coming on the front end. Crann Tara (Marcus Miller, Linda Toscano), was a first-over, grinding winner in her split at even money in 1:54, while Fine Tuned Lady (Corey Callahan, John Butenschoen) continued the chalky night by winning at 2-5 in 1:54:2. In the night's final split, Treviso, trained and driven by Charlie Norris, continued her perfect 2017 campaign by coasting to a win in 1:55 to go five-for-five on the season. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. 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It's always nice when the hype is justified. We've been talking about Sun Stakes Saturday for a while now, and that conversation really ramped after some fascinating harness racing eliminations. What dominated those discussions was the fact that, unlike in past years, there were no horses that simply dwarfed the fields they were scheduled to face. The four stakes races featured on Saturday figured to be extremely competitive. And that's just how it turned out to be. Although the track was listed in fast condition, rain earlier in the afternoon made it a somewhat heavy surface, preventing the times from being too explosive. But the finishes were, for the most part, tight and a little surprising, with only one favorite out of four winning. Let's take a look at how the action unfolded. JAMES M. LYNCH MEMORIAL PACE for three-year-old fillies The betting favorite was Tequila Monday, who had the fastest elimination victory and drew an inside post. But that filly simply never factored into the action, finishing a disappointing eighth. Idyllic Beach was the surprising pace setter from an outside post, but she, and everybody else in the field, had little chance to respond once Agent Q started rolling first-over. After finishing second in a pair of big-money stakes races earlier this season, the filly trained by Aaron Lambert was not going to be denied in this one. With David Miller in the bike, she zipped by the leaders and coasted home by three lengths in front of 99-1 shot Caviart Ally, tripping the line in 1:51, easily the most convincing winner in the four big stakes races on the night. MAX C. HEMPT MEMORIAL PACE for three-year-old pacers The Brian Brown barn is blessed with two special three-year-olds. One of them, Downbytheseaside, was the star of the Hempt eliminations with a stupendous effort for a win. Meanwhile the other, Fear The Dragon, suffered his first loss of the season in his previous start, casting some doubts about his supremacy in the division. In the Hempt final, Downbytheseaside went after the lead from a #8 post, and the early fractions he set to get the engine were cumbersome. Fear The Dragon, on the other hand, saved ground early, found cover on the back stretch, and was in full gear out wide as the field rounded the final turn. With David Miller in the bike, Fear The Dragon took over the late lead and held off a game charge by Funknwaffles to win by three quarters of a length in 1:49:3, reasserting his dominance in the process. BEN FRNAKLIN PACE for free-for-all pacers This was the night's emotional high point. Although the field was stacked with eight superb aged pacers, the two on the inside garnered the attention. Keystone Velocity, trained by Pocono's leading trainer Rene Allard and driven by Pocono regular Simon Allard, had the inside post and watched as the 3-5 favorite Mel Mara set the pace. Although the fractions were zippy, they weren't the kind that would cause a horse like Mel Mara to falter. But Keystone Velocity remained locked in at the pocket, eventually utilizing the passing lane in the stretch. The stretch provided a classic battle. Mel Mara wasn't giving an inch, but Keystone Velocity was full of firepower on his inside. When the dust cleared, Keystone Velocity added to the incredible season he's been putting together by heading out Mel Mara in 1:48:4. The emotion came from Simon Allard returning the horse to the Winner's Circle while standing in the sulky, aping a classic moment from the career of the late, great Herve Filion. EARL BEAL JR. MEMORIAL for three-year-old trotters All eyes were on the Ariana G, the first filly to ever compete against the boys in the Beal. She went off as the favorite and had to deal with a tough #8 post position. Unable to make the lead early, she took on pacesetting Long Tom, who, like Ariana G, hadn't lost in his first three starts this season, with a first-over charge. It looked for all the world like the top two choices would decide it in a stretch duel. But Devious Man had other ideas. The three-year-old colt trained by Julie Miller suffered his first loss of the season in the eliminations in upset fashion, but he wasn't scared off by the competition in the Beal final, having won a stakes race earlier this season at Vernon that carried a $252,000 purse. Driver Andy Miller settled Devious Man in behind the speed duel between Long Tom and Ariana G. When the field reached the top of the lane, Devious Man had the passing lane all to himself, and he scooted by to beat Long Tom by 1 ¼ lengths in 1:52:4 as a 15-1 bomber. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. Jim Beviglia

The preliminaries are out of the way. This Saturday, July 1, the faithful at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono will get to witness the main harness racing event. Or events, as the case may be, as Sun Stakes Saturday will feature four races with huge stakes attached to them, pushing the night's purses well over $2 million total. This past Saturday, the eliminations were held, and it was an interesting set of races. Drivers on the top horses had to decide how much effort they asked from their charges. On the one hand, a tired horse in the final is no good to anyone. On the other, a horse that's held back and then doesn't make the final is a disappointment. Here is how the eliminations played out, followed by a primer on what to expect on Saturday night. The outcomes may be unknowable until the races are run, but we can say for sure that it will be an exceptional night of racing. BEN FRANKLIN PACE for aged pacers The only favorite to win out of the three eliminations was Mel Mara, who paced the fastest time of the night on the front end in 1:48:4. There were surprises in the other two divisions. While Freaky Feet Pete faded from the lead in his first start of the year and race favorite McWicked was boxed in, Keystone Velocity, trained by Rene Allard and driven by Simon Allard, both Pocono regulars, rallied for the victory. Dealt A Winner was a convincing winner in the remaining elimination, beating heavy favorite Boston Red Rocks by 3½ lengths. At least Boston Red Rocks is headed to the final; big names like Freaky Feet Pete, Luck Be Withyou, and McWicked all failed to qualify. EARL BEAL JR. MEMORIAL TROT for three-year-old trotters The big news here is that Ariana G, the only filly competing against the male trotters, easily won her split as a 1-9 favorite. Meadowlands invader Long Tom also won as the favorite in his split, meaning that he and Ariana G will compete in the final as 2017 unbeatens, both three-for-three this year. Although Driver Yannick Gingras will likely stick with Ariana G in the final, he also pulled off a surprise in the remaining division with Perfect Spirit, who staged a furious rally on the inside to upend favorite Devious Man at 23-1. MAX C. HEMPT MEMORIAL PACE for three-year-old pacers Fear The Dragon received all the betting attention in his elimination, which was understandable considering he hadn't lost in six races this year and was coming off a win in the North American Cup at Mohawk. But Miso Fast, with Matt Kakaley in the bike for Ron Burke, had other ideas and blitzed Fear The Dragon with a first-over move to win at 11-1. Although Fear The Dragon reaches the final, he goes in knowing that his archrival Downbytheseaside put in perhaps the most impressive performance of the evening. Despite being parked around two turns, the colt trained by Brian Brown battled his way to a victory in a sizzling 1:49:2 with Brain Sears in the bike. The remaining division belonged to the longshots, with 21-1 Santafe's Coach, driven by Pocono regular Anthony Napolitano, picking up a late-kicking win over 29-1 Ozone Blue Chip in second. JAMES M. LYNCH MEMORIAL PACE for three-year-old pacing fillies This was the one set of races where form held, as favorites won all three splits, all on the front end. Tequila Monday, trained by Chris Oakes, bounced back from a disappointing loss in the Fan Hanover Stakes at Mohawk by delivering on the front end in 1:50:4, the fastest of the three winning times from the Lynch eliminations. Meanwhile Bettor's Up, who had pulled off the upset win in the Fan Hanover, settled for second on Saturday night behind Agent Q, the filly she nosed out for the win in Canada. Brazuca, driven by Corey Callahan for trainer Tom Cancelliere, stayed unbeaten in three starts this year with a rock-solid win in her split. What to look for in the finals: BEN FRANKLIN: Mel Mara might be the one to beat but will need a good post for his front-pacing style. He'll have some powerful competition, especially from Keystone Velocity, who is once again showing the form that made him the Levy champion at Yonkers this year. EARL BEAL: Ariana G is far and away the best trotting filly in the land, so she's seeking out the boys for a true challenge. She'll get just that from Long Tom. MAX HEMPT: Will Downbytheseaside be in less than top form after his huge effort on Saturday? Can Fear The Dragon shake off his first loss? Is Miso Fast for real and at the same level as the other two? JAMES LYNCH: Tequila Monday was favored in the Fan Hanover and will have the chance to exact revenge on Bettor's Up and Agent Q, the two fillies who beat her in that race. Meanwhile Brazuca looks for her fourth consecutive win against the toughest competition she's yet faced. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. Jim Beviglia

Next week in this space we'll be detailing all of the harness racing action from the Sun Stakes eliminations, which take place on Saturday night, June 24. On that night, the sport's superstars will be congregating at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono to battle it out in an effort to reach the high-stakes finals the following week. In the meantime, we witnessed an excellent four nights of racing just past, the best of which will be highlighted now in the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: ONE TO DRAW TO For the second straight week, this award goes to a claimer on an impressive winning streak. Last week, it was Tell Us More, who, by the way, added another win on Saturday night to make it five in a row. This week the honors go to One To Draw To, a five-year-old gelding who came into Saturday night's $25,000 claiming pace for four and five-year-olds with two consecutive wins in that class in front-pacing fashion. Hot claimers are subject to switch barns, and One To Draw To was indeed claimed from his victory on June 10, leaving the Rene Allard barn and joining Steve Salerno's contingent of racers. His first start for the new barn looked a lot like the previous two for the old barn. Leaving from post position #1 in a field of nine as a 7-5 favorite, the gelding quickly took control of the pace with Anthony Napolitano doing the driving. The fractions he set were merciless, even faster than he had in his previous two victories. Anyone hoping that those quick early times would lead to a late comeuppance had another thing coming. Despite pressure from Next Success, a formidable presence who won this award earlier in the meet, One To Draw To held string through the lane, winning by 1 ¾ lengths. The winning time was a real eye-popper, as the gelding came home in 1:49:3, a new career-mark and the fastest pacing time laid down this past week at Pocono. Other top pacers include: Baby Kitty (Simon Allard, Eric Foster), who moved up the condition ladder to win his second straight at Pocono on Saturday night, this one coming in a career-best 1:50:1; Art Of Illusion (Jim Marohn Jr., James Guagliardo), who scored his second straight victory over the $15,000 claimers on Saturday night, doing so in a career-best 1:50:4; and Deerfield Beach (Corey Callahan, Dylan Davis), whose victory on Sunday night in a condition pace on a sloppy track in 1:51:4 gave the three-year-old gelding wins in four of his last five races. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: TIRADE HANOVER This seven-year-old gelding trained by Rene Allard has put together an accomplished career, with earnings pushing near $800,000. But he had been in a little bit of a slump until managing a big effort from the #9 post to win a condition trot on June 5 in 1:54:4. That proved to be the impetus for a step up in class, as Saturday night Tirade Hanover jumped up a couple notches on the condition ladder to face off against a $14,000 group. Although he won his previous start on the front end, Tirade Hanover raced toward the back of the back early on this time around. It proved to be a good choice by driver Simon Allard, because a raging speed duel between Madhatter Bluechip and Armor Hanover created unsustainable fractions. Allard chose a three-wide path on the back stretch for his charge, and the horse picked off the foes in front of him until he took the lead rounding the final turn. In the stretch, Tirade Hanover had to deal with a late move from 3-5 favorite Wilberforce, but he proved ready for the challenge, holding him off by a length for the win. His winning time of 1:53:1 was a personal best for the 2017 season to date, and he also provided nice value for his backers at 5-1. With a two-race winning streak that was achieved with two extremely different strategies, Tirade Hanover has proven to be as versatile as he is quick. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Top Dollar (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who ripped off his second straight condition win on Saturday night, achieving a new career-best time of 1:53:1 in the process; Treviso (Charlie Norris driver and trainer), who stayed a perfect four-for-four in 2017 with a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes win against other three-year-old fillies on Sunday night in 1:54:2; and Overdraft Volo (Andy Miller, Julie Miller), a filly who followed up a Sire Stakes win at Chester with another at Pocono Sunday night, getting it done in a career-best 1:54:3. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ABOUT THE BENJAMINS With Marcus Miller in the bike, this condition pacer sprung a surprise on Sunday night with a rallying win at 16-1, paying off $34.20 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MARCUS MILLER Miller not only scored wins on every racing night this past week and had multiple victories on three of those nights for his best stretch of the meet thus far. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: DOUG HAMILTON Monday was a good night at the Stallion Series for three-year-old trotting fillies for the Hamilton barn, as Itsgoodtobequeen won at 13-1 and Out Of Luck picked up a victory at 10-1. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. Jim Beviglia

After waiting for warmer temperatures for what seemed like the entire harness racing season to date at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, the faithful were rewarded with steamy, at times record-setting evenings this past racing week. The standardbreds on display responded with some of the fastest times of the 2017 campaign so far. As a result, there were many candidates for this week's edition of the Weekly Awards. Let's see who made the cut. PACER OF THE WEEK: TELL US MORE No claimer has been on a bigger tear than this seven-year-old gelding. After enduring a 2016 season in which he won just two of 31 races, Tell Us More has been awful hard to beat this year. He came into Saturday night's $20,000 claimer with victories in 11 of 15 starts, including his last three. His most recent conquest had come at Pocono on May 27 in a career-best 1:50:3, a win which followed up two straight victories at Harrah's at Philadelphia. As is often the case, a hot claimer tends to change barns, and that's exactly what happened with Tell Us More. After picking up those three in a row for trainer Matias Ruiz, he was claimed for $20,000 and switched over to new conditioner Richard Banca. On Saturday night, the beat went on and then some for the gelding. As the 3-5 favorite, he took over the lead early and dared everyone to chase. They might as well have been chasing the wind. Tell Us More poured it on and came home a winner by 5¼ lengths. He also ripped up the mile in 1:49:4, a brand new career-best and one of the rare occasions at Pocono when a claimer goes sub-1:50. His name suggests someone who's a bit of a blabbermouth, but Tell Us More has done far more showing than telling this year at the track. Other top pacers this week include: Some Playa (Simon Allard, Jennifer Sabot), who moved up in class on Saturday night to pick his second consecutive condition victory; Rockeyed Optimist (Jason Bartlett, Steve Elliott), who followed up a win at Harrah's by scorching the Pocono surface to the tune of a 1:49:1 in a condition win on Saturday night, with that winning time standing up as the fastest of the week at the track; and One To Draw To (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who scored his second straight victory over the $25,000 claimers on Saturday night in 1:50:4. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: LIBERTARIAN This 5-year-old gelding from the barn of trainer Rich Gillock has been a whirlwind on the Pocono oval in 2016. He arrived in April and quickly ripped off two straight convincing victories against the non-winners of five. He then broke stride in his following race, but Libertarian shook that stumble off the beat the non-winners of seven the next time around. As if to prove that he could do it elsewhere, he then took to The Meadowlands and conquered the one-mile oval with a win in a career-best 1:53:1. On Sunday night he returned to Pocono to once again take on the rugged non-winners of seven for a purse of $18,000. With Matt Kakaley in the bike, Libertarian left from the #5 post in a field of nine as a 1-2 favorite. He watched early from third as Sidebet Hanover set the early pace. Kakaley set the favorite in motion on the back stretch with a first-over maneuver. Sidebet Hanover was game enough to park Libertarian around the final turn, not giving up the lead without a fight. But there was no panic in Libertarian, just a steady, effortless advance to the front and the eventual victory by two lengths in 1:54. That's three in a row, five out of six, and eight wins in 13 races overall this season for the gelding. No matter what your political preferences, this Libertarian is earning votes for year-end honors with the way he's going right now. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Crazy About Pat (Jim Marohn Jr., Paul Kelley), who moved up in class on Monday night and picked up his second straight condition win, this one in 1:54:3; Buen Camino (Jason Bartlett, Trond Smedshammer), who arrived from Yonkers to capture Sunday night's $25,000 featured condition trot in 1:52, which was a career-best and the fastest trotting time of the meet so far at Pocono; and TSM Photo Bugger (George Napolitano Jr., Karen Fread), who arrived from the Meadows to score a condition victory on Saturday night in 1:52:4, which matched a career-best. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: CAROLINKIA It wasn't the best week for bombers, but this mare driven by Eric Goodell provided nice value by winning a claiming handicap trot on Monday night at 11-1 for a $24 payoff on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JASON BARTLETT Bartlett's four-win evening on Saturday included victories aboard the fastest pacer of the week (Rockeyed Optimist) and the $25,000 featured pace winner (Blood Brother.) TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JOHN BUTENSCHOEN Saturday night's Pennsylvania Sire Stakes were good to Butenschoen, as he claimed two of the three divisions held for three-year-old male trotters with Giveitgasandgo and Dover Dan. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbevigia@mohegansunpocono.com. Jim Beviglia

As we entered the month of June, the weather was a bit of a mixed bag at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. For example, Saturday night was gorgeous and, as a result, featured some of the fastest times of the harness racing season. The following night the track was sloppy enough to slow normal winning times down several seconds. Monday and Tuesday were similarly erratic. But the racing action never wavered, giving us plenty of candidates for this edition of The Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: LIFEIMITATESART Sometimes you need to see a horse before you can tell what exactly it has to offer. Such was the case with Lifeimitatesart, an 8-year-old gelding trained by Marty Fine who has spent much of his career racing in Canada. That's where he was toiling early this season, before eventually going on a layoff of nearly four months. He eventually resurfaced at Pocono for a start against the $7,500 claimers on May 29 without even having a qualifier over the track to give handicappers some clue about his talent. The new kid in town went off at 9-2 that night, the second choice behind heavy favorite Visible Gold. With Scott Zeron in the bike, Lifeimitatesart used a first-over move to blow away the favorite and the rest of the field in 1:52:3. When he returned on Monday night against the same field, the faithful knew that he had the goods and made him the 2-5 favorite. With Simon Allard driving him this time around, Lifeimitatesart once again sat mid-pack early on before launching a first-over jaunt before the half-mile marker. And once again he had Visible Gold in his sights, overtaking him on the back stretch. From there the rest of the field faded from view as Lifeimitatesart poured it on to the tune of a 6 ½ length victory in 1:54. After two victories in a row, this pacer has gone from unknown quantity to serious force in a very short time. Other top pacers this week include: Split The House (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), who rolled to an easy win in Saturday night's featured condition pace in 1:48:4, a new career mark and the fastest mile of the season so far at Pocono; Just Bettor (George Napolitano Jr., Jason Robinson), who handled the $12,500 claimers for the second straight week on Saturday night, this time around in 1:51:1; and Call Me Queen Bee (Jim Marohn Jr., Ross Croghan), who overcame an outside post to win Sunday night's $25,000 featured distaff pace in 1:53:2 in the slop. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: HOMICIDE HUNTER Fans need a long memory when handicapping, or at least the wherewithal to peruse the program closely to get every bit of pertinent information on the competitors. In the case of Homicide Hunter, a five-year-old gelding trained by Chris Oakes, his record this year might not have suggested that he was ready to take on the toughest trotters on the grounds on Sunday night for a $25,000 condition purse. Although he had faced excellent competition in two starts at Yonkers, his middle-of-the-pack finishes might not have inspired too much confidence. But anybody who witnessed Homicide Hunter's world-record mile of 1:50:1 at Pocono knows that he is a special performer. And the third start off the layoff proved to be the night when that talent reemerged in a major way. Driver George Napolitano Jr. sent him to the front end early and let the rest of the field decide if they wanted to hang. The field in the race consisted of some truly outstanding trotters, with four out of the other seven horses having earned at least $100,000 a year ago. But Homicide Hunter was having none of it, extending his lead throughout the race until he was all alone. He coasted home effortlessly 5 ¼ lengths in front of second-place Celebrity Eventsy. The winning time of 1:54:1 probably would have been in the 1:52 or even 1:51 range were it not for the sloppy conditions. It was another impressive performance at Pocono for this star trotter. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Fashion Creditor (Jason Bartlett, Tom Fanning), who chalked up a condition win on Saturday night in 1:53:1, the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; No Reason At All (Mike Simons driver and trainer), who followed up a victory at Tioga with a win on Monday night at Pocono in 1:55:4, making him two-for-two on the season; and Southwind Avanti (Jason Bartlett, Anette Lorentzon), a three-year-old filly who arrived from Yonkers and romped for a condition win on Tuesday night in the slop in 1:55, a new career mark and her third win in four races this season. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SOME PLAYA An outside post didn't scare off this condition pacer on Saturday night, as Simon Allard guided him to the victory at 47-1, paying off $97 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY NAPOLITANO Anthony's finest season to date at Pocono continued at a hot pace this week, as he picked up multiple victories in three of the four racing nights. TRAINER OF THR WEEK: CHRIS OAKES When there are big races, expect Chris' horses to be intimately involved in the outcome; his trainees won three out of the four $25,000 races held this week at Pocono. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. Jim Beviglia

The fact that the calendar has now crossed over into June means that we are just about a quarter of a way through the harness racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. It's been a thrill-a-minute ride to this point, and we haven't even really entered the heart of stakes season yet. This past week we saw four excellent racing cards and many horses and horsemen who could make legitimate claims on the Weekly Awards. Let's see who takes them home. PACER OF THE WEEK: CHEAP N EASY This nine-year-old mare has been a hot streak of which most horses can only dream. In a stretch from March 28 to May 1, Cheap N Easy ripped off five consecutive victories, four of them right here at Pocono. But then she was laid off for the next four weeks, as she was scratched sick from her only scheduled start in that period. Trained by Gilberto Garcia-Herrera, Cheap N Easy returned to face a group of $15,000 to $20,000 claiming handicap mares on Monday night. In every one of those previous five straight wins, the mare had either led or been in the pocket at the top of the stretch. But in this one she got away third and watched as Timmylynn opened up a pretty sizable advantage. Still there was no panic from driver George Napolitano Jr., as he allowed Cheap N Easy to save ground. In the stretch, Napolitano was able to shift Cheap N Easy out three-wide to get a clear look at the leader. Timmylynn didn't give way easily, but Cheap N Easy was flying and made up a lot of ground in a little bit of time to win by a neck in 1:53:4. Apparently the month or so off didn't slow her down at all, and she'll take a six-race winning streak into her next race. Whether that's a month from now or tomorrow, this mare is going to be tough to handle. Other top pacers this week include: Luck Be Withyou (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), who captured Saturday night's featured condition pace in 1:49:3, giving him the fastest time of the week at Pocono and two wins in a row; Long Live Rock (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who overcame a move up the condition ladder and an outside post to capture his second straight victory on Saturday night, matching a career-best with a mile of 1:50 in the process; and Angels Rockin Pink (Marcus Miller, John Butenschoen), a mare who moved up in class to win Tuesday night's featured distaff condition pace in 1:53 for her second straight victory. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: CELEBRITY EVENTSY For the first two years of her racing career, this four-year-old mare from the Staffan Lind barn was a standout, earning at least $200,000 at ages two and three. There is often a period of adjustment for four-year-olds who have to face older horses for the first time after taking on their own age group almost exclusively in their first two seasons. But Celebrity Eventsy made that adjustment pretty quickly. In just her third race of the year on May 13 at Pocono, she beat a $14,000 condition field made up of mostly older horses on a sloppy track in 1:56:2 She was back at it once again on Saturday night, only this time she stepped up the ladder to face an even more rugged test in a $16,500 condition. Leaving from post position #1 in a field of nine as a 3-1 second choice, the mare sat third early on in the mile. Driver Christian Lind chose to keep her out of the outer flow on the back stretch, a risky move considering that the horse could have got blocked in late. But Lind read the race perfectly. The outer flow mostly faded from view, allowing him the chance to tip Celebrity Eventsy out three-wide on the back stretch after saving all that ground and energy. The mare unleashed some fierce closing speed and swept by race favorite Skates N Plates in the final strides to win by a head in 1:54:2. If she keeps this up, Celebrity Eventsy is going to make her third racing year as lucrative as the first two. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: French Press (Scott Zeron, Frank Antonacci), a filly who followed up her maiden win with a second straight condition win on Monday night in 1:59; The Erm (Charlie Norris driver and trainer), a filly who picked up her second consecutive condition win on Tuesday in 1:54:4, a new career mark; and Meteoric (Joe Bongiorno, Richard Johnson), a 3-year-old gelding who burned up the track for a condition win on Tuesday night in 1:52:4, a new career-best and easily the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: TICA HANOVER This filly driven by Marcus Miller worked out on inside trip in a condition pace on Monday night to score at 24-1 for a $51.60 payout on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: SIMON ALLARD Simon had multiple victories on all four racing nights at Pocono this past week, but the highlight came on Sunday night when he picked up his 3,000th career victory aboard San Jose Hanover. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: RICHARD JOHNSON Johnson made the most of his two Pocono training wins this week, as Windsongmusclelady won Monday night's featured claiming trot and Meteoric posted the fastest trotting time of the week. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. Jim Beviglia

While every race has its own special charms, the races with the biggest purses always tend to carry something a little extra special with them at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The early part of the harness racing season consists mostly of overnight races, but now is the about the time of year when some major money is up for grabs on the Pocono oval. This past week saw a significant influx of high-stakes races on the racing schedule at Pocono. It was the first time we've hosted the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes in the meet, in particular the glamour division of three-year-old pacing colts and geldings, with three divisions on Sunday night each carrying a purse just shy of $50,000. Sire Stakes are always followed by Stallion Series races, and we had six of those on Monday night to the tune of $20,000 a pop. Sprinkle in three condition paces with $25,000 on the line for each, and you've got a lot of cabbage up for grabs. With that in mind, I thought I'd give the Weekly Awards a rest and talk solely about how those big races went down during this past racing week at Pocono. We'll start on Saturday night with a $25,000 featured condition pace for winners of over $25,000 lifetime. That race featured Boston Red Rocks, who starred as a 3-year-old a year ago, and Barimah A, who was coming off a surprising win in the Van Rose Memorial at Pocono. One of the ones that Barimah A beat that night was Rockin Ron, who suffered through a miserable trip on the outside on a sloppy track. But Saturday night was an entirely different story, as driver Matt Kakaley settled the five-year-old gelding in the pocket early and then coaxed some potent closing kick out of Rockin Ron for the win in 1:50:3 by a neck over Major Uptrend, who had set the pace. On Sunday night, the distaff pacers had their turn at the spotlight, as a winners of over $25,000 lifetime mares grouping took to the track. Nike Franco, a seven-year-old mare trained by Jo Ann Looney-King, was made the 3-5 favorite off an impressive victory at Yonkers. Facing a field that included a pair of rising four-year-old stars in Call Me Queen Bee and Blue Moon Stride, the veteran was in complete control from the start. Driver Tim Tetrick guided Nike Franco to fractions that were quick but not out of control, and she led all the way home to the tune of a 1:50:1 time, a new career-mark for the mare. Next up on Sunday came the winners of over $25,000 lifetime trotters, with a field of nine competing for a $25,000 purse. Post positions were assigned in this race and Melady's Monet and Charmed Life, a pair of trotters with over a million bucks in career earnings, took those outside slots. Melady's Monet set the pace and got away with reasonable fractions on the front end. But he wasn't counting on the stiff first-over challenge from Rubber Duck, the 2-1 co-favorite who arrived from the Meadowlands having faced extremely tough company his last few starts. The two battled tooth-and-nail until Rubber Duck, driven by Joe Bongiorno for trainer Richard Johnson, came out on top by three parts of a length in 1:53. That led to the three Sire Stakes divisions, and it was no surprise that trainer Jimmy Takter was a heavy player in the action. Ocean Colony was a Takter trainee who was expected to win on Sunday night and he did, pouncing from the pocket in his split in 1:50:2 with Yannick Gingras doing the honors. But Blood Line was a surprise for the Takter barn, taking his Sire Stakes division gate to wire for a victory in 1:50:2 with Mark MacDonald in the bike and paying off at 12-1. The Sire Stakes race that stood out though was the second split of the night, one that was expected to be a showcase for Huntsville, a Breeders Crown champion as a 2-year-old in 2016 and winner in his 2017 debut in a Sire Stakes at The Meadows by ten lengths. But while Huntsville drew the pre-race attention, it was Fear The Dragon, trained by Brian Brown and driven by David Miller, who stole the show. Fear The Dragon made an electric first-over brush on the back stretch that stunned the heavy favorite Huntsville and resulted in an impressive victory at 5-1 in 1:49:1. Last up in this stretch of high-stakes contests were the six Stallion Series races on Monday night for the three-year-old male pacers. Most of those splits were won by horses handling matters on the front end, and the most impressive of those miles was turned in by Donttellmeagain. With Tim Tetrick in the bike, this sophomore gelding trained by Jo Ann Looney-King powered to a winning time in his division of 1:50:2, which was a tick faster than two of the three Sire Stakes winners managed the night before. So it was a week filled with exciting, high-stakes races at Pocono. With summer fast approaching, those kind of weeks will be the norm and not the exception very soon. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. Jim Beviglia

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