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One of the many things making the harness racing action at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in 2018 even more exciting than usual is the brand new Great Northeast Open series. Pocono and Harrah's at Philadelphia will be hosting these races all through the spring and summer for the best aged pacers and trotters around. It will all culminate with big-money Finals held at Pocono in September, meaning that the horses will be battling in the preliminary legs not just for the excellent purses, but also for the chance to nab the really huge payday at the end. This edition of the Weekly Awards is highlighted by horses who triumphed in the series this week in thrilling fashion. PACER OF THE WEEK: AGENT Q Winning in your first start off a significant layoff is difficult against anyone, let alone a field of crackerjack distaffers. Yet that's what faced Agent Q in her 2018 debut on Sunday night in the $30,000 Open pace for mares. In addition to that, her return to racing for the first time since back-to-back stakes wins in November to end her three-year-old season would have to come from an outside post in a field of eight stars. Not an easy task, even for a mare with over $1.1 million in earnings in her first two years of racing. Driver David Miller didn't push Agent Q, who went off as the 5-2 second choice, early in the mile, preferring instead to let her sit at the back of the pack. Lady Shadow took the early lead and had to deal with Pure Country pressuring her first-over. Agent Q, making her first start in the Chris Oakes barn, saved ground until the 5/8-mile marker, when she started moving on a three-wide path behind the cover of Elliesjet N. Still, Agent Q was last at the three-quarter pole, albeit closing the margin, as Pure Country took over the lead. Once Miller guided the mare to a clear look at the leaders, there was simply no stopping her. She eclipsed the entire field until Pure Country was the last one in front of her, eventually nipping her at the line to win by a nose in 1:52.3 on the off track (good condition.) Consider her first test against aged mares passed with flying colors, especially considering everything she had to surmount to get the victory. Other top pacers this week include: Soho Wallstreet A (Marcus Miller, Ross Croghan), who followed up a win at The Meadowlands with a victory in Saturday night's featured condition pace at Pocono in 1:50.4 in the slop; Pa's Corn Squeezin (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), a mare who is now three-for-three since coming from California after a claiming handicap win on Monday night in 1:53.3; and Eclipse Me N (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), a mare who moved up in class to win her second straight, doing so in the Tuesday feature condition distaff pace in a career-best 1:50.1. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: WILL TAKE CHARGE Will Take Charge, a five-year-old gelding who did very well in the early part of the year in Canada for trainer Jeffrey Gillis, was made the 3-5 favorite on Sunday night in the $30,000 Open trot after just missing in his last start at The Meadowlands behind the great Hannelore Hanover. But then the thing that every trotter dreads befell him at the beginning of the race: He went off stride. Even though driver Tim Tetrick was able to get him back and trotting relatively quickly, Will Take Charge found himself last in an excellent field of seven. At that point, most probably wrote him off and looked to the horses at the front of the pack, as Sutton set a measured pace that looked like it would hold up when push came to shove. Will Take Charge didn't give in, however, moving third over on the back stretch and hoping for the best. As they entered the final turn, all eyes once again turned to the favorite, as Tetrick spun him off the cover and he came bounding up to threaten the leaders. In the stretch, despite the reasonable fractions that were maintained, the rest of the field appeared as if they were trotting in molasses. Will Take Charge swept right by for the win by a comfortable two lengths over Smalltownthrowdown. The winning time of 1:53:4 might seem modest, until you consider that the track was only in good condition and he had to give up that early ground because of the break. If he gets a clean trip, it will be a blast to see what Will Take Charge can really do. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Star Studded Cast (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), whose winning time in a claiming handicap trot on Monday of 1:54.1 was a career-best and faster than anybody at Pocono this week not named Will Take Charge; Holy Halibut (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who now has wins in two of his last three races following a claiming handicap victory on Monday night in 1:56.1; and Tyson (Jason Bartlett, Edwin Gannon Jr.), who sprung an upset in a $21,500 condition trot on Sunday night in 1:56. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SERIOUS SAVANNAH This gelding came into his condition trot on Tuesday night winless in 2018, but he wasn't anymore after rallying at 22-1 with Marcus Miller in the bike to pay $46.80 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JIM MORRILL JR. Morrill's win with Indy Ingot from last to first capped off a three-win night on Sunday and also gave him 7,000 driving victories in his outstanding career in racing. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: HUNTER OAKES The young conditioner had one of his finest nights ever on Saturday night at Pocono, ripping off four wins on the program. 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

This past Saturday, The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono used the occasion of The Kentucky Derby to show off our exceptional harness racing product. This meant a whole lot of stakes races, including four finals of the Bobby Weiss late closer series, each carrying a purse of $30,000, and two separate divisions of the Van Rose Memorial pace, each featuring some of the best aged pacers in the world and toting a purse of $50,000. We're going to give the Weekly Awards a week off and use this space to highlight that cluster of outstanding races. VAN ROSE MEMORIAL (FIRST SPLIT) Rodeo Romeo was bet down from 8-1 to a 6-5 favorite, as bettors believed in him despite the fact that he was the lowest career earner of anybody in the field. But the six-year-old stallion trained by Chris Ryder showed off the speed he has been displaying in this, his breakout season. Driver George Napolitano Jr. gunned him to the front and he took it from there, holding up some of the bigger names in the field, including second-place Dr J Hanover, who finished 1½ lengths back. Rodeo Romeo paced the mile in 1:49.2, a new career-best and the fastest time posted at Pocono so far in the meet. WEISS FILLIES AND MARES TROT I M Fishin had dominated the distaff trotting portion of the Weiss, winning the last three legs in pretty decisive fashion. But she had to push hard early for the engine in the final, and the fractions that she posted were almost a couple seconds faster than her previous wins at every pole. Lurking in the pocket was Via Lattea IT, an Ake Svanstedt trainee, who came into the final with three straight near-miss seconds but still no wins in her career. With Simon Allard in the bike, Via Lattea IT rallied up the passing lane to surprise I M Fishin, winning for the first time ever in a scorching time for the class of 1:54.4. WEISS COLTS, STALLIONS AND GELDINGS TROT This was the most wide-open of any of the Weiss finals coming in, with Archbald made the even-money favorite even though he broke stride in two of the four preliminary legs. He stayed flat in this race, but a slow start meant that he could only rally to third. Instead a speed duel between long shot Photo Bomber and 9-2 third choice Stormont Manpower raged for much of the back stretch and final turn. Once Stormont Manpower, trained by Bob Bresnahan Jr. and driven by Jim Morrill Jr., won that duel, he had to fend off the charge of Chas Hanover to win by a nose in a career-best 1:56.4. VAN ROSE MEMORIAL (SECOND SPLIT) This race was expected to feature Keystone Velocity, but the Levy champ was scratched by the judges prior to the race. Rockin Ron took the early lead in the race, with Anthony Napolitano guiding the Ron Burke trainee to relatively soft fractions. The only problem was that he carried Mach It So, the 6-5 favorite, right behind him in the pocket. When they reached the stretch, both Rockin Ron and Mach It So were bursting with energy. Although Mach It So got to within a head, Rockin Ron found a way as the 2-1 second choice to prevail in 1:50.2. WEISS COLTS, STALLIONS AND GELDINGS PACE Another Ron Burke trainee, the four-year-old gelding Riggle Wealth, was made the 1-2 favorite in this group after winning the final two legs. The key in this race, with a lot of horses in the field having speed to burn, was getting to the front end, and Riggle Wealth managed to do that after a contested first turn. Driver Jim Morrill Jr. was able to rate him well to the half, leading to an extremely quick second half of the race. But Riggle Wealth proved up to the challenge, holding off a late charge on the outside by Mach N Cheese to pick up the win in 1:51.2. WEISS FILLIES AND MARES PACE Perhaps the night's gutsiest performance was turned in by Kimberlee, a three-year-old filly trained by Erv Miller who came into the final unbeaten in four races in 2018. As the 4-5 betting favorite, she had to work hard just to get the lead, and then she was pestered by a first-over charge on the back stretch from Sharen Hanover. Even after she dispatched that one, Kimberlee had to deal with the pocket-sitting Jewels For Real, who threatened in the lane. But when the dust cleared, it was still Kimberlee and driver Marcus Miller on top, picking up her fifth consecutive win to start the year in a career-best 1:53.0. It was an outstanding night of racing featuring some well-deserved winners. And it's really just the tip of the iceberg for what's to come in the 2018 meet 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

Next week in this space, we will be profiling all the happenings from our Kentucky Derby evening card, which is filled up with all four finals of the Bobby Weiss late closer series and two divisions of the Van Rose Memorial pace featuring some of the finest aged pacers in the world and kicking off the Great Northeast Open series, which will continue throughout the spring and summer at Harrah's at Philadelphia as well as at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Here now are the finest performances of the past week at Pocono, highlighted in our Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: STRAWB'S CHIPPIE Every once in a while, a horse will ship into Pocono with a gaudy record at other tracks and be unable to match that level of success once it reaches the top levels of competition here. Strawb's Chippie initially looked like she might fall into category. The seven-year-old mare had amassed wins in four of her first five starts on the New York harness circuit to begin 2018. But her first two starts at Pocono in this meet were less distinguished, as she came away with a second and a sixth in two races against the $15,000 to $20,000 claiming handicap pacing mares. The tide started to turn for Strawb's Chippie when she joined the Rene Allard barn on April 16. She located her front-pacing stride that had garnered her so much success in New York and ripped off back-to-back wins while leading at every pole with winning times of 1:56.1 in the slop and 1:52.3, the latter a career-best. She joined the Hunter Oakes barn following a claim and took on the same grouping on Monday night from an outside #8 post as a 4-5 betting favorite. Even though the barn changed, the strategy didn't for the mare. Driver George Napoitano Jr. cut her loose early to reach the early lead and she played keep-away from there. Despite a solid challenge from Warrawee Qually in the lane, Strawb's Chippie once again proved her toughness with the lead and came home a half-length winner, this time in 1:52.4. With her third straight victory, those early Pocono struggles now seem like a distant memory. Other top pacers this week include: Drunken Terror (Anthony Napolitano, Marta Piotrow), who scored his second consecutive claiming handicap win on Saturday night, this one in 1:51.2; We Think Alike (George Napolitano Jr., Brandon Todd), who moved up in class to win a condition pace on Saturday night in 1:52.4, his second straight victory; and Make A Statement A (Anthony Napolitano, Jody Riedel), whose condition win on Tuesday night came in 1:50.4, a new career-mark and tied for fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: GOLDEN SON In Sunday's $17,500 featured condition trot, a showdown was looming between Golden Son and Upfront Billy. The former, a five-year-old gelding from the Jenny Melander barn, was coming off a sharp victory at Harrah's and returning to a class at Pocono where he had a near-miss second on March 24. The latter, a nine-year-old gelding trained by Mark Ford, is the defending Trotter of the Year at Pocono and has already scored two wins in this meet, including a victory in his previous race in 1:52.2, fastest trotting time at Pocono in 2018 so far. Golden Son, the 2-1 second choice, left from the inside post in a field of nine as a 2-1 second choice. Upfront Billy, the 6-5 favorite, left from the #3 post. It was Upfront Billy who grabbed the early lead, a change in tactics from his earlier victory, when he sat the pocket behind a hot pace. With Upfront Billy doing the work, driver Jim Morrill Jr. was all right with letting Golden Son sit the pocket, knowing he'd likely have a shot at the leader late if he could stay close. Of course, that meant he would have to outtrot Upfront Billy, who is known for being extremely game late in the race. But when Morrill tipped Golden Son out of the pocket to take dead aim, the gelding responded with powerful late kick, just enough to corral Upfront Billy at the line by a nose in 1:54.1. That gives him two wins in a row, and anytime you can beat the Trotter of the Year at the top of his game, it's quite an accomplishment. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Such An Angel (George Napolitano Jr., Hunter Oakes), who overwhelmed a condition group on Monday night to win in 1:53.1, the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; Elysium Lindy (Anthony Napolitano, Ron Burke), who shipped in from The Meadowlands to pick up a condition win on Saturday night in 1:55.1; and Chelsees A Winner (George Napolitano Jr., Christie Collins), a mare who moved up in class on Tuesday night to win her second straight condition since arriving from Ohio, this one coming in a career-best 1:55:4. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: MR HAM SANDWICH Despite having won his last start, this pacer driven by Eric Carlson went off at 43-1 in a condition on Saturday night, a race he promptly won to pay off $88 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: PAT BERRY Berry always seems to give bettors great value for his wins, as he proved Saturday night by posting a double with horses who went off at 7-1 (A Real Miracle) and 9-2 (Jimmy C R). TROTTER OF THE WEEK: BRANDON TODD Todd is making the most of his opportunities at Pocono, as was evidenced on Saturday night when he won with two of the three starters he sent out to race. 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 took about a month's worth of harness racing action, but we finally received an extended stretch of lovely weather over the past week at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. I must admit it was nice to be able to throw the window open wide and feel the fresh air while I called the races. I'm guessing that the horses and horsemen felt the same way about the weather, as they responded with some fantastic performances, many of which we will highlight in this week's edition of the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: CHEVALS CLIVESDALE This 9-year-old gelding trained by Jose Godinez has certainly found a nice home here at Pocono. Chevals Clivesdale started out the year in New York facing tough condition and Open competition, but he came up short of any victories. That quickly changed when he showed up at Pocono on Opening Night and scored a victory in a $14,000 condition pace in 1:52:4. He didn't follow it up very well, however, finishing 8th in the same class two weeks later and then seventh in an Open Handicap at Saratoga on April 7. On April 14, he was dropped down into a $12,500 condition group at Pocono, and, despite a tough #7 post, he worked out a pocket trip and won the race in a career-best 1:51. His next stop on Saturday night was his toughest challenge yet, as he stepped up in class to face the $17,500 featured condition pacers. Leaving from post position #3 in an eight-horse field as a 3-1 second choice, Chevals Clivesdale started fast and then ceded the lead around the first turn to Dancin Yankee, a decorated earner of over $1.6 million in his career and the 8-5 favorite. That's the way it stayed until they reached the stretch. Chevals Clivesdale had been reserving his energy for the final portion of the race, and when driver Anthony Napolitano tipped him to the outside, he began to storm for home. Dancin Yankee couldn't hold him back, as Chevals Clivesdale powered on by to take the lead and, eventually, the win by a neck. He reset his career mark in the process with an impressive mile of 1:50:3, giving him two straight wins and three victories overall in the meet, each at a different level of competition. Other top pacers this week include Art Scene (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who captured Sunday night's featured condition pace in 1:49:3, a new career mark and the fastest pacing time so far in 2018 at Pocono; Strawb's Chippie (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), a mare who picked up her second consecutive claiming handicap victory on Monday night, this one coming in a career-best 1:52:3; and Fox Valley Cadet (George Napolitano Jr., Dennis Walsh), who picked up his third consecutive claiming victory on Tuesday night, this one coming in 1:53:3. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: PERFECT STICK A change of scenery has also seemed to ignite our Trotter of the Week. Perfect Stick, a four-year-old mare trained by Anette Lorentzon, hadn't done much in her time spent in New York to start 2018, hitting the board just once in five races. But upon arriving at Pocono for a non-winner of six trot on April 8, she immediately found her stride. Using a first-over brush on a chilly night, she blew by the pack and picked up a romping victory in 1:54:4, which was a new career-best time. The mare was at it again in the same class this past Sunday night, leaving from post position #7 in a field of nine as a 6-5 betting favorite. Driver George Napolitano Jr. wisely kept Perfect Stick far away from a speed duel that percolated between Arch Credit and Whats The Word. That also meant a long journey to the front of the pack for the mare, which included a pair of times in which she was forced to move three-wide to advance. Nonetheless, at the top of the stretch Napolitano had earned her a clear look at the tiring leaders. From there, Perfect Stick did the rest, rallying right by with the best stride in the stretch. She trotted away to win it in 1:54:2, thereby besting the career mark she had posted in her last race. Two in a row with two straight lifetime bests means that Perfect Stick is looking like one of the top trotters going forward in the 2018 meet. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Upfront Billy (George Napolitano Jr., Mark Ford), who picked up a condition win on Saturday night in 1:52:2, the fastest trotting time posted so far at Pocono in 2018; Sir John F (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who arrived from Yonkers and picked up a win in a condition trot on Saturday night in a career-best 1:53:1; and Myrna Myrna (George Napolitano Jr., Scott Betts), who picked up her second win in the Bobby Weiss series for distaff trotters on Tuesday night, doing so in a career-best time of 1:56:3. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: JOHNNY Q Despite coming into the race on a three-month layoff, this condition pacer with Austin Siegelman in the bike came up with a victory on Saturday night at 26-1, paying off $54.20 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR. The 10-time driving champ at Pocono is starting to really heat up, as evidenced by his six wins on the card on Saturday night, more than any driver has picked up in a single evening so far this year. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: GILBERTO GARCIA-HERRERA Garcia-Herrera has been a Top Five trainer for the past several seasons at Pocono, and he's once again planted near the top of the standings in this meet, with a triple on Saturday night helping his cause. 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

Well, the good news is we had our first really beautiful night weather-wise for harness racing on the 2018 season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono this past Saturday. The bad news is that it was followed by three more nights of winter-like conditions. Nonetheless, the stubbornly-clinging cold did not dampen the enthusiasm at the track, not when there were so many outstanding performances that we witnessed, the best of which we now honor with the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: HIGHALATOR A year ago as a sophomore pacer, Highalator did much of the damage during an 11-win season at Pocono, including dominance of the Bobby Weiss late closer series for male pacers. His 4-year-old season began with him racing in Delaware, and he did well in his first taste of veteran competition, hitting the board in four of seven races with one victory. But his season immediately jumped a notch when he came to Pocono, as he picked up a victory in a $14,000 condition pace on April 7 in 1:51:3. On Saturday night, the 4-year-old stallion trained by Jenny Bier decided to step up in class to face the featured $17,500 condition pacers. Leaving from position #3 in a field of eight, he was a 7-2 fourth choice, while Bettor's Edge, earner of over $2 million in his career, went off as the 8-5 favorite in a rugged field. Highalator sat 4th early as Americanprimetime cut out the mile from an inside post. Driver Tyler Buter decided to take a first-over shot with Highalator just prior to the clubhouse turn. Highalator immediately pulled up alongside Americanprimetime but couldn't slip past right away. Instead the two stayed locked up around the second turn as well. But instead of fading, Highalator kept after it and eventually wheeled on by to beat the game American Primetime by a head. Not only did he set a career-best with a winning time of 1:49:4, the stallion also became the first to horse to snap the 1:50 barrier at Pocono in 2018. Other top pacers this week include: Catherinesdiamond (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who overcame a #9 post on Saturday night to win his second straight $10,000 claimer in 1:53:3; Drinkin Again (Jim Morrill Jr, Philip Jasper), who moved up in class to win Sunday night's featured condition pace in 1:53:2, giving him two straight victories and three in his last four; and Fox Valley Cadet (George Napolitano Jr., Rob Harmon), who picked up his second straight claiming victory on Tuesday night, this one coming in 1:56:1. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: ARCHBALD This four-year-old gelding from the Fern Paquet Jr. barn had wins early in the year at both Saratoga and Pompano before stopping into Pocono for the Bobby Weiss late closer series for male trotters. In his first try in that group, he made a costly break of stride and finished fourth. On April 8, however, Archbald steered clear of any breaks and overpowered the field to win a spilt in 1:55:3, which was a career-best and the fastest time in that grouping of the Weiss up to that point. Archbald was back at it on Sunday night in the third leg of the Weiss as a 7-5 favorite leaving from post position #4 in a field of seven. The field included Chas Hanover, who had won the first two legs of the Weiss, but he wasn't a factor in the race, eventually finishing fourth. Instead the race became a duel between Law Of Attraction, who set the pace, and Archbald, who, with Paquet doing the driving as well, made a first-over move from third on the back stretch. The two leaders were practically inseparable throughout the back stretch and the final turn. But in the final strides, Archbald finally wore down Law Of Attraction to take over late. He ended up winning by a length in 1:55:1. That winning time reset his career mark and also reset the standard for the male trotters in the Weiss. It's looking like Archbald might just be the one to beat in that Weiss classification as we get closer to the Finals. Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: Lightningpedia (Chuck Connor Jr., Janice Connor), who won his second straight condition trot at Pocono to start his career, this one coming on Monday night in 1:59:2 in the slop; Body Slam (Anthony Napolitano, Tom Wine II), who compiled a two-race winning streak over five months at Pocono, with his maiden win last November, and then a condition win on Tuesday night in his first start of 2018 in 1:59:4; and Karets (Marcus Miller, James Cosenza), who moved up in class to capture his second straight condition victory on Tuesday night, this one in 1:56:1. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: CITY HALL This veteran pacer worked out a pocket trip in a condition pace on Sunday night with Andrew McCarthy in the bike and rallied for a win at 38-1, paying off $79.80 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ERIC CARLSON Carlson has been a steady performer at Pocono for several seasons now, so it was fitting that he picked up his 3,000th career victory on Monday night at the track with Call Me Richard. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JOSE GODINEZ Godinez hasn't sent out a ton of starters at Pocono but is hitting a high average with the ones who have raced, including a training double 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

Since we're up to three nights per racing week (soon to be four) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, we have enough material for our first harness racing weekly awards of the season. For those who might not have followed us in the past, every week I'll parse through all of the excellent performances by the horses and horsemen and women competing at Pocono and write up the best of those in this little column. Always tough choices, but we're certainly off to a great start with this week's honorees. PACER OF THE WEEK: GOOD LIVING This 5-year-old stallion from the Tom Cancelliere barn started his racing year off on March 3 at The Meadowlands. It was only a fifth-place finish, but, considering Good Living went off from a #10 post and was more than 100-1 at the windows, it was certainly encouraging. When he came to Pocono on Opening Night, he was made the 3-5 favorite in a non-winners of six pacing group, and he delivered on that promise by scoring gate-to-wire in a career-best 1:50:3. On Saturday night, Good Living faced a group of more experienced pacers in the $17,000 condition feature. Coming off the outstanding performance the week before, he was made the 6-5 favorite leaving from post position #3. Once again, he went after the early lead, but he faced a fight for it from Somewhere Fancy. Unwilling to settle for a covered-up trip, driver Anthony Napolitano asked Good Living for a burst of speed to retake the lead on the front stretch. Such a move often leaves a horse vulnerable later in the race to tiring. And Good Living also had to deal with first-over pressure from Ideal Cowboy, meaning that it was no easy lead. Yet he still looked sharp in the stretch, holding of Somewhere Fancy's second move to win it by three parts of a length. It was another solid winning time of 1:50:4, proving that this stallion could be ready for the finest season of his career in 2018. Other top pacers this week include: Feeling Cam Lucky (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who tore it up in a condition pace on Saturday night for a victory in 1:50:2, a new career-best and the fastest time of the young season to date at Pocono; Dancingwithdelight (Anthony Napolitano, Ron Burke), who went to two-for-two on the meet by moving up in class to beat the $10,000 claimers on Saturday in 1:54:2; and Walks Of Life (Pat Berry, Vincent Fusco Jr.), whose victory in a claiming handicap on Saturday in 1:53:3 gave him two straight at Pocono and seven wins in ten races so far this year. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: TRUSTWORTHY KID One of the most difficult things about handicapping is knowing how much to believe in results accomplished at tracks different from the one at which it is currently competing. A horse might perform completely different when dealing with separate surfaces, drivers, track sizes, and levels of competition as opposed to when it ships in. This little preface is my way of making an excuse (probably a poor one) for listing Trustworthy Kid, a nine-year-old gelding trained by Lisa Dunn, at 10-1 morning line odds in a $14,000 condition trot on Saturday night. He was coming off a front-trotting victory in 1:54:1 at Northfield, a half-mile oval in Ohio where the times tend to be significantly slower than at Pocono. Yet I was skeptical about the caliber of horses that he had faced compared to what he would be going against at Pocono on Saturday night. The Pocono faithful were much more assured of his bona fides, however, making him an even-money favorite. Leaving from post position #2, Trustworthy Kid strode confidently to the lead with the confidence of a favorite. Even though he wasn't able to completely separate from his pursuit, Trustworthy Kid, under the guidance of driver Marcus Miller, held strong on the lead and fought off a late charge by Panamanian Hanover to win by a half-length. His winning time of 1:54:1 matched what he did at Northfield and also matched the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono. I, for one, will trust this Trustworthy Kid the next time he lines up at the gate. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Home'N Dry (Jim Morrill Jr., Ron Burke), whose victory in a $17,000 condition trot on Saturday night in 1:54:1 matched the week's fastest trotting time at Pocono; Queen's Lonely Earl (Marcus Miller, Bruce Clarke), a top performer at Pocono a year ago who returned on Sunday night for a claiming handicap win in 1:55:2; and Danish Design (Anthony Napolitano, Tom Shay), who followed a streak of four wins in five races at Northfield with a Pocono condition victory on Tuesday night in 1:57:1 on an off-track. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS Sporting a great name for a long shot, this trotter driver by Jim Taggart Jr. surprised a condition field on Sunday night for his maiden win at 22-1, paying off $47 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY NAPOLITANO A-Nap has grabbed possession of the driving victories lead early in the season by following up a great first week with more of the same on Saturday night, chalking up five victories. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: RON BURKE The Burke barn figures to be a major player all year long at Pocono, even into the Breeders Crown, and it got off to a stellar start with a hot first week and four wins on Saturday night. That will do it for this week, but I'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. Jim Beviglia

It has been a long, cold, snowy winter in Northeastern Pennsylvania, one that, at press time, hadn't shown many signs of letting up. Yet there is one sure sign that spring is on the way, and that, of course, is the opening of the harness racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. And 2018 should be a special one for our beloved track and all those who inhabit it, fans and competitors, on a nightly basis. Saturday night, March 17, marks the 52nd racing season at Pocono. That is really an incredible number, especially when you consider that countless other harness racing tracks have come and gone in that time span. The longevity of the track is a testament to the love of the sport that has never really waned in this area since Pocono racing debuted. That love has only intensified over the years. It hung around even when the racing product was at its lowest point, in terms of both purses and mainstream attention. Those patrons who followed us faithfully even through those lean years have been rewarded for the past decade or so, ever since Mohegan Sun took over ownership, with some of the most exciting racing in all of North America. It is not bragging to say that Pocono is one of the premiere tracks; it is just a statement of fact backed up by the amount of money on the line during the racing season and the caliber of horses and horsemen and women who frequent the track each year. Part of what makes a special track is the ability to host big racing events. There are, of course, none bigger than the Breeders Crown, and, in October of 2018, those year-end championships will return to Pocono for the third time in the past decade. The first two events were unforgettable, and I was so proud to have been a part of calling the action. I'm probably like the rest of the Pocono faithful in that I simply cannot wait for the Breeders Crown return engagement. After all, it is a night akin to the World Series in baseball or, since we are at that time of year, the NCAA tournament in college basketball. All of the action that takes place during the season leads up to it, and it allows the sport to close out the year in definitive fashion by crowning champions in the various classes. To put it simply, no horse's legacy is complete without competing in the Breeders Crown as the ultimate test against the best of the best. Of course, there will be plenty of thrilling action leading up to that point. And that's not just in terms of the stakes races that will be held throughout the year, although there are plenty of those that will whet the faithful's appetite for the high stakes of the Breeders Crown races. What has distinguished Pocono's rise to among the elite tracks has been the quality of our overnight racing, both in terms of the horses who compete and the drivers and trainers who battle night in and night out for supremacy during the season. Attracted by the top-of-the-line racing surface, the excellent purses, and a colony of regular drivers that can stand with any those at any track in the world, the finest owners and trainers bring in their claimers and condition horses to how well they'll fare against the rugged racing competition at Pocono. Judging by just what I saw on the Opening Night program, and how difficult it was for me as an oddsmaker to find definitive favorites when there were so many worthy possibilities in each race, 2018 could be the most competitive ever at the track. That's why I, for one, can't wait to get this thing underway. For those who might be unaware, our racing schedule, once it is fully up and running after three partially full weeks to start the season, consists of action on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights each week. The one big change this year comes in terms of our post times, which will be at a steady time of 7:00 PM Eastern time for Race 1 each evening. With all of that said, there's really nothing more to do than get those horses out on the track and get this season rolling. We have a lot to look forward to in 2018, and every step of the way should be thrilling. So welcome to the 2018 racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. It should be a blast. That will do it for me for this week, but I'll be speaking to you each week in this column and, of course, we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. Jim Beviglia      

For the past seven months plus in this column, we've been chronicling the exploits of some of the finest harness racing horses each week at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Now it's time to go a little further and highlight the 2017 Horses of the Year. This is never an easy task, simply because there are so many excellent horses who pass through Pocono, many of whom put up outstanding records along the way. Narrowing down all of those choices from an eight-month season into just four winners means leaving out a lot of worthy competitors. But these choices are what I consider to be the best of the best this season. Let's take a look. PACER OF THE YEAR: MAXDADDY BLUE CHIP After dominating racing at Pompano Park early in the season, this five-year-old gelding made his first appearance at Pocono in August not long after joining the Rene Allard barn. He immediately made his presence felt by ripping off back-to-back wins in tough condition races. And that pretty much set the tone for what we could expect from him in 2017. He raced at Pocono nine times, often in Saturday night features, and won five of those races. He only missed the board in two of those races, and many of his wins broke the 1:50 barrier. If that kind of performance sounds familiar, you might remember that Keystone Velocity, another Rene Allard trainee, put up similar stats in winning Pacer of the Year at Pocono, and now he is one of the top aged pacers in the country. Who knows? Maybe Maxdaddy Blue Chip will follow in his footsteps. TROTTER OF THE YEAR: UP FRONT BILLY This seven-year-old gelding trained by Mark Ford has bounced around this year, but whenever he journeys to Pocono, good things to happen. He started out the meet inauspiciously, finishing no better than fourth in his first three races, before picking up a $14,000 condition win on May 6. After about a month in New York, he returned to Pocono and really got cooking, picking up wins in four out of nine races, including a couple for $16,500 purses. Then it was off again, this time to Harrah's for a couple months. But when he returned for a condition start on October 14, he picked up right where he left off with another solid condition victory. When you combine the amount of time that he has performed here this season, his excellent overall performance with six victories in the meet, and the caliber of the competition he faced, Up Front Billy makes sense as our Trotter of the Year. CLAIMER OF THE YEAR: POUNCE HANOVER Sometimes a horse can make such an impact with just one hot streak that it overpowers the deeds of those horses who have been around much longer and put up consistent performances throughout the season. That's the case with this six-year-old gelding, who made his mark this season at Pocono with a six-race winning streak. That stretch ran from June 5 to July 31, during which time Pounce Hanover had three different trainers and three different drivers. He also raised his claiming price during that time from $10,000 to $20,000. Many of his wins came from far outside posts, which raised the degree of difficulty level considerably. Overall this gelding won seven of his twelve races this season at Pocono, but that unforgettable two-month streak is the reason he stands as the 2017 Pocono Claimer of the Year. CELEBRITY EVENTSY Making the transition from three-year-old to four-year-old can be tough for a distaff trotter, because you often go from facing just your own age and gender to battling older, male horses. This four-year-old mare trained by Staffan Lind made that transition this season with aplomb, especially when he was at Pocono. In seven races this year at Pocono, all condition trots and none with a purse lower than $14,000, she put up three wins and three places. In most of those miles, she faced off against more experienced trotters with gaudier career records. Much of her damage was done in May and June, but Celebrity Eventsy returned for one command performance in September, beating the $25,000 winners over trotters. Along the way she also posted a career-best of 1:52:2 on the Pocono oval. Her performance was such that you could also make a case for her as Trotter of the Year, but Mare of the Year will do just fine. Congratulations to these well-deserving winners. Next week we will wrap up the 2017 season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun in this column. 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 we closed in on the month of November, Northeastern Pennsylvania finally settled into autumn-like weather after an extended benign stretch. It presented interesting challenges to the harness racing competitors at The Downs at Mohegan Sun this past racing week, including a steady downpour throughout Sunday night and biting winds on Monday afternoon and evening. Yet even with the adverse conditions, our horses and horsemen and women shined, as evidenced by these outstanding performers who earned Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: ANDREIOS KARDIA Saturday night's $20,000 featured condition pace attracted a lot of excellent competitors, as that featured pace usually does. Andreios Kardia was one of the big names, a six-year-old gelding from the Tony Dinges barn who made his bones with excellent work throughout the summer with the toughest pacers at Tioga Downs. He wasted no time at Pocono, winning his first start after the ship on September 30 in 1:50:4. The gelding was sixth in his next race against a brutally rugged field on October 21. On Saturday night he left from post position #7 in a field of eight at odds of 5-1. Andreios Kardia is not a pacer who likes to fire early, preferring instead to stay back and let others set the pace. This was a race that was made for him, as Parnu Hanover set the pace and was determined to hold it to such an extent that it creating grueling fractions. Andreois Kardia sat well off the pace, and even when he started moving third-over on the back stretch, he seemed like a non-factor, five lengths back at the three-quarter pole. But Andreios Kardia was hitting his best stride just when everybody else was beginning to falter. Even with driver Jim Marohn Jr. forced to guide him five-wide so he could have racing room in the stretch, the gelding overpowered the pacers in front of him, finally picking off a game Parnu Hanover by a neck in 1:50:1. That makes two wins out of three against competition that would make lesser horses wilt. Other top pacers this week include: Sneaky Girl (Matt Kakaley, Agostino Abatiello), a three-year-old filly who has now won two straight at Pocono after shipping in from the Midwest, scoring on Monday night in 1:55:4; Pramatic Life (Jim Taggart Jr., Robin DiBenedetto), who picked up his second straight claiming win on Monday with a victory in 1:54:2; and Stirling Escort (Matt Kakaley, Douglas Hamilton), who captured the annual Grey Ghost & Poltergeist Pace for Halloween on Tuesday night in 1:52:3. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: PANANA REPUBLIC It's easy at times in the harness racing world to get caught up in the exploits of younger horses and overlook the performances of veterans. That could be why this six-year-old mare was let go as a 2-1 third choice on Sunday night despite coming off a standout win in 1:53:4 and having the post position edge on his top two competitors. Panana Republic, trained by Jennifer Sabot, possessed the #2 post in a non-winners of seven trot with a purse of $18,000. Her toughest foes figured to be Evelyn, a three-year-old filly from the Ake Svanstedt barn with buckets of class and the fastest win in the field this season, and Catch A Mission, a four-year-old mare trained by Erv Miller without a loss in three tries in 2017. Those two horses were on the far outside to start and watched as Panana Republic muscled her way to the front early. When Catch A Misssion tried to get past on the second turn, Panana Republic, with Simon Allard in the bike, held her position and forced the other mare to go on a speed break. Evelyn, on the other hand, made a furious charge at the leader late in the mile. But, again, Panana Republic was up to the challenge. She held together and held off Evelyn by a half-length, making it two in a row. Her win came in 1:55:2 in the sloppy, cold conditions that prevailed on Sunday night. This is a mare who is deserving of respect no matter the age or caliber of her foes. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Smalltownthrowdown (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who moved up in class and rallied for a condition victory on Saturday night, his third straight, in a career-best 1:53:4; Weslynn Dancer (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), a three-year-old filly who picked up her second straight condition victory and fourth in her last five when she won on Sunday night in the slop in 1:55:2; and Crosbys Clam Bake (Pat Berry, Randy Bendis), whose condition victory on Saturday night came in 1:53:3, the week's fastest trotting time at Pocono. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: EL PESCADORO In the sloppy mess on Sunday night, this gelding glided between the raindrops for a condition trotting victory with Austin Siegelman in the bike at 65-1, paying off $132.20 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JIM MAROHN JR. Marohn's consistency in such a tough driving colony continues to be impressive, and he displayed it again this past week with four straight racing nights of multiple driving wins. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JENNY MELANDER In a week with a lot of balance among the training community, Melander gets the nod for the convincing victory by her trotter Golden Son in Sunday night's feature. 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

We are only about a month away from concluding the 2017 harness racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. As a result, there will only be a few more editions of the Weekly Awards before we use the space in this column to wrap up the meet. The racing was quite spicy the past week, as the action shows no sign of letting up as we get nearer to Closing Night. Let's see who takes the honors for the week that was at Pocono. PACER OF THE WEEK: JJ FLYNN Moving up the condition ladder is never an easy task. In the case of this four-year-old gelding trained by Josh Green, it seemed like it would be a monumental undertaking on Saturday night. Not only was JJ Flynn stepping up to face a $16,500 condition group after winning a notch below that in his previous race on October 14 in a career-best 1:50:1, he was also entering a field especially full of classy pacers, with Luck Be Withyou and his over $1.4 million in career earnings looming particularly large. JJ Flynn left from post position #6 in a field of nine as the 9-2 second choice on the board. He sat mid-pack early on, while Luck Be Withyou, the 1-2 favorite, unsurprisingly set the pace. Had the favorite been able to get away with an uncontested journey, JJ Flynn might have been doomed. But a first-over challenge by Nimble And Quick kept Luck Be Withyou honest. JJ Flynn followed the cover of Nimble And Quick to get into striking position. On the home stretch, JJ Flynn stepped wide of Nimble And Quick and zipped past him, but still had to get past Luck Be Withyou. Just a few yards before the finish line, it still seemed like the favorite would get home. But that's when JJ Flynn, with Anthony Napolitano in the bike, surged and sped past to win it by a neck. His second straight victory was made even more memorable by the fact that he did it in 1:50, resetting his career mark. Other top pacers this week include: Motor City Marco (John Kakaley, Travis Alexander) who once again won in the condition claiming ranks on Sunday, this time in 1:54:4 to give him four in a row; Montana Pablo A (George Napolitano Jr., Mark Kesmodel), who picked up his second straight claiming handicap win on Saturday night in 1:51:2; and Big N Bad (Jim Marohn Jr., Rob Harmon), whose victory on Monday night in a condition came in 1:49:2, the fastest time of both his career and the week at Pocono. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: CLASSICALITY In order to beat the enemy, you have to properly identify it first. Classicality, a seven-year-old gelding trained by Lisa Dunn, has been making a lot of enemies himself lately. His last three starts: a win at The Meadows in 1:53:4 on September 7; a win at Pocono on September 24 in 1:53:2; and another win at The Meadows in 1:53:1 on October 11. And he wasn't facing chopped liver either, going for $20,000 purses in each race, which is also the purse for which he competed on Sunday. Classicality was the 5-2 second choice, however, as Centurion ATM, a stallion who had faced stakes competition for his past several starts, was made the favorite at even money. Centurion ATM also benefitted from a much better post position in the #3 hole, while Classicality was on the outside in the field of eight. Simeon set the pace, but Centurion ATM came stalking on the outside on the back stretch. Classicality, with Marcus Miller in the bike, knew whom he had to follow and quickly latched on to the favorite second-over. Having identified his main enemy, Classicality was set to take him on. Centurion ATM took over the lead from Simeon, but it was short-lived. Classicality possessed more trot in the stretch and came up a winner by a neck in 1:53:2. That makes it four in a row for the gelding, which, considering the caliber of the competition he's been facing, is quite an impressive streak. Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: Catch A Mission (Marcus Miller, Erv Miller), a mare who stayed perfect on the year with her third straight win, the last two of which have come at Pocono after a condition victory on Sunday night in 1:54:4; Silvermass Volo (Simon Allard, Michael Holcman), who churned his way to his second straight condition win on Sunday night and did so in a new career-best time of 1:54; and CR Blazin Beauty (Anthony Napolitano, Al Annunziata), a filly who has followed up an extended winning streak at smaller tracks in the Midwest with back-to-back victories at Pocono, the latest coming on Monday night in a condition trot in a career-best 1:55. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: WILD BILL M In Saturday night's final race, this condition pacer with Simon Allard in the bike overcame an outside post to pull off an upset at 60-1, paying off $131.40 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: TOM JACKSON The steady veteran driver had an effective week at Pocono, putting up a driving double on Sunday and then scoring on Monday with 55-1 shot Sinspirational. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: DOUG HAMILTON Hamilton enjoyed a race in honor of his retirement on Tuesday night, but first he made sure he put up one more win in the ledger when Pilgrims Tide scored a win on Sunday. 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 weather finally got a little bit chilly in the middle of this past harness racing week at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, but not so much that it had a profound effect on the racing conditions. It was still a fast and frenzied four nights of racing at Pocono. As is so often the case, there were many excellent candidates for the Weekly Awards, so read on and see who gets the honors. PACER OF THE WEEK: DOREL When a horse steps up its game and pulls off a performance that is much better than any other that it had previously managed, it's easy to assume that said performance was a fluke. Dorel probably had some people thinking that about him as he prepared to take on a non-winners of five pacing group on Sunday night. In his previous race, the three-year-old gelding trained by Chris Ryder tore up a condition claiming group from a #8 post at 10-1, going gate-to-wire for a career-best win in 1:50:4. The field was tougher on Sunday night, including an impressive sophomore shipper named Daiymir. That colt was the even-money favorite and assumed control of the early lead, but needed a blistering 25:4 opening quarter to get there. Dorel, who went off as a 9-2 third choice from post position #4 in a field of eight, settled for the pocket spot, which turned out to be the right place to be. On the back stretch, Daiymir started to labor and driver Anthony Napolitano quickly guided Dorel around him and into the lead. For the last quarter mile, the gelding dug deep and had to endure a late-closing threat from Crossfirehurricane. He held tight to win by three parts of a length in 1:52:4. One great win could be a fluke, but two excellent performances in a row is starting to look like a trend for this rising star. Other top pacers this week include: Regalanthropist (Matt Kakaley, Bruce Clarke), who switched barns and moved up in class but still managed a victory in a claiming handicap on Saturday night in 1:51:4; About The Benjamins (Matt Kakaley, Daniel Renaud), who captured his third consecutive win against the $7,500 claimers on Monday night, with this one coming in 1:55; and When Sharks Fly (Jim Marshall III, Donna Marshall), a mare who moved up the condition ladder on Tuesday night and scored her second straight win, this time in the distaff feature in 1:51:4. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SOUTHWIND WARSAW Anytime a horse reaches double figures in the win totals in a calendar year, it's an impressive accomplishment. Southwind Warsaw, an eight-year-old gelding trained by Lou Pena, stood on the precipice of that achievement when he faced off against a $10,000 to $12,500 claiming handicap field to start off the racing action on Monday afternoon. In an eight-horse field, Southwind Warsaw left from post position #6 as a 1-9 favorite. The heavy betting attention was understandable, as the gelding was coming off a 3½ length win the previous week in the same class in front-trotting fashion. Once again driver Anthony Napolitano was aggressive with the favorite, sending him to the front end early in the mile. From that point it was just a matter of keeping the fractions under control while not allowing any pressure to rankle his horse. Napolitano handled that task expertly, and Southwind Warsaw did the rest, lengthening the lead steadily until no one else was in the picture. He coasted home effortlessly 6½ lengths in front in 1:54:1. Not only was that his second straight victory, but it was put him at the ten-win marker for the season with a couple months to spare. Who knows? If he stays in this kind of groove and keeps after it into the winter months, he might threaten 15 wins for the year. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Skates N Plates (Anthony Napolitano, Andrew Harris), whose condition victory on Saturday night came in 1:53, the fastest trotting time posted this past week at Pocono; Checkmate Time (Donald Dupont, Marie Dupont), who followed up a win at Harrah's win with a victory on Sunday night at Pocono in 1:56; and Up Front Billy (George Napolitano Jr., Mark Ford), who returned from Harrah's for a condition victory on Saturday night in 1:54:2. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: DECISION DAY This 2-year-old pacer's maiden win on Sunday night is not one either he or his backers will forget, as he rallied with Eric Carlson in the bike to win at 60-1, paying off $124.40 to win on a $2 ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MATT KAKALEY Kakaley amassed double figures in the win column this past week and, on both Monday and Tuesday, ripped off three wins in a row at one point on the program. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: ROB HARMON Harmon wasted no time making an impact at Pocono on Sunday night, as he scored training victories in two of the evening's first three races. 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 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

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