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The countdown is on to the Breeders' Crown, now just a couple weeks away from taking place at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Based on some of the incredible stakes performances being delivered recently at other tracks around the country, this has the making of one of the most memorable Breeders Crown editions in many years. We can't wait, but we also don't want to give short shrift to the excellent overnight action going on each and every racing night at Pocono. With that in mind, let's hand out some Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: PEMBROKE WILDCAT Throughout the summer and even into the early part of September, this six-year-old gelding competed against the toughest claimers on the grounds at Pocono. He was often a kind of best-of-the-rest competitor, but that started to change when worked out a pocket trip for a victory in the $30,000-$40,000 claiming handicaps on September 22 in 1:50, a new career-best. The following week, Pembroke Wildcat once again worked out the perfect trip and scored, this time in 1:51.4. On Saturday night, he once again faced off with the $30,000-$40,000 claiming handicappers, leaving from post position #2 in a field of eight. Pembroke Wildcat was made a 6-5 second choice behind Ideal Kiss at 2-5, even though he had beaten Ideal Kiss in one of his previous two victories. Perhaps bettors were a bit skeptical about the fact that he had need a trip to win the previous two. When Pembroke Wildcat got away mid-pack while Ideal Kiss set the pace, it was time for him to prove that he had another trick up his sleeve. Driver Anthony Napolitano sent Pembroke Wildcat, trained by Brittany Robertson, on a first-over journey on the back stretch to try and corral the leaders. Once he pulled up even, Pembroke Wildcat flew right on past the defenseless Ideal Kiss and kept right on rolling until he hit the line in front by two lengths in 1:50.1. There shouldn't be any more lingering doubts about this gelding, because he certainly picked up that third straight victory the hard way. Other top pacers this week include: Voracity (Eric Carlson, Ron Burke), who moved up in class on Saturday night but still managed his second consecutive condition win in sub-1:50 territory, pacing the mile in 1:49.4; Zero The Hero (George Napolitano Jr., Hunter Oakes), who tore it up on Saturday night for this third straight claiming win, this one coming in 1:49.4; and That Man Of Mine (George Napolitano Jr.,), whose win on Saturday night in a claiming handicap in 1:51.4 gave him five victories in a row, four of which have come at Pocono. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: TWO AM Sunday night's featured condition trot with a purse of $21,500 was filled to the brim with trotters who were having excellent seasons. Two AM, a four-year-old gelding trained by Todd Buter, came into the race with four victories on the season, but none quite at the level he was dealing with on Sunday night. Still, he had won his previous race at Pocono on September 29 in 1:53.4, and was a star as a three-year-old, so the move up in class wasn't completely out of the question. With Tyler Buter in the bike, Two AM sat back early as the pace was set by Crazshana. Tyler Buter waited for some cover and then sent the gelding second-over once he found that cover on the back stretch in the form of Elysium Lindy. That horse carried Two AM as far as he could go before starting to tire. The same fate befell Crazshana, who started to feel it in the lane as well. That left Prairie Fortune, the 3-2 favorite who was sitting in the pocket, and Two AM, who was revving up out wide. Two AM may have had the tougher journey, but it didn't stop him from showing powerful closing kick. In fact, he out-trotted Prairie Fortune and came up a winner by three-parts of a length. His winning time of 1:52.4 was the fastest that anyone trotted at Pocono this past week. With his second straight victory, this time against the toughest trotters on the grounds, Two AM is looking very much like the big earner he was just a year ago. Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: Mighty Macko (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), a three-year-old filly who scored her second straight condition win on Sunday night, this one in 1:55.3; Silvermass Volo (Eric Carlson, Michael Holcman), who powered to a condition victory on Saturday night in 1:53.3; and Cant U Spell (George Napolitano Jr., Jody Riedel), who moved up in class on Tuesday night to captures his second straight condition trot and get it done in a career-best 1:54.2. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: RAISING KERCKHAERT It was a memorable maiden victory for this trotter, as he picked up a condition won on Sunday night with Jim Taggart Jr. in the bike at 49-1, paying off $101.40 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JIM TAGGART JR. Taggart was the guy you wanted this week if you liked long shots, as he brought home a 49-1 on Sunday night with Raising Kerckheart and then scored at 10-1 with Sneak On Bye on Monday. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: SCOTT DI DOMENICO Di Domenico always seem to bring in a high percentage of winners at Pocono, and he managed victories with both of his starters on Sunday night. 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. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs  

As we roll into the month of October, it is hard to ignore the fact that, by the end of this month, a dozen division champions will be crowned on October 27 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The Breeders Crown is fast approaching, but we still have some business to conduct at Pocono in the few weeks between now and then. Namely, some more outstanding overnight racing action, such as what transpired these past four racing nights to produces these Weekly Award winners. PACER OF THE WEEK: ROCKSTAR ANGEL A This Australian-bred mare has taken a shine to Pocono even since arriving from overseas this past summer. So far all of her victories in the United States has come at the Pocono oval, including a win in her U.S. debut back in July and an impressive victory on September 4 in a $17,000 condition pace in a career-best 1:51. Leading into Sunday night's featured $21,500 condition pace for mares, Rockstar Angel A had not raced since that September 4 win, a span of almost four weeks. The fact that there was a possible rust factor and the step up in class may have been why Rockstar Angel A went off as a 3-1 third choice on the board with an inside post in a field of seven. That also could have been a byproduct of the quality of the field, which was led by Bettorhaveanother, winner of the finals of the Great Northeast Open mares pacing series final in her previous race at Pocono. It was indeed Betterhaveanother who set the pace, ceding the lead around the clubhouse turn to 3-2 favorite Penpal. Meanwhile Rockstar Angel A sat on the inside about four lengths away on the back stretch. Once driver George Napolitano Jr. called on this Chris Oakes trainee around the last turn, she gobbled up the margin. She overtook Penpal and Betterhaveanother and held off fellow closer Don't Think Twice to win it by a neck. Her winning time was 1:51.2, and Rockstar Angel A now has two straight wins against the very toughest distaffers that Pocono has to offer. Other top pacers this week include: Pembroke Wildcat (Anthony Napolitano, Brittany Robertson), who picked up his second straight claiming handicap victory against the toughest claimers on the grounds at Pocono on Saturday night, winning this one in 1:51.4: Voracity (Eric Carlson, Ron Burke), who returned from New York to defeat a condition field on Saturday night in 1:49.3, the fastest time at Pocono this past week and a new career mark; and Well Played Out (Tyler Buter, Alex Kavoleff), who rolled to his second straight conditional claiming win on Monday night, getting it done in a career-best 1:52.2. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: TYSON This five-year-old gelding has been one of the better performers on the trotting side all meet long at Pocono. Trained by Edwin Gannon Jr., Tyson has earned the bulk of his seven victories this year at Pocono. The kicker is that most of those wins have come when he hasn't been a favorite, with several coming at middle-priced odds. On Sunday night he dropped down into a $17,500 condition group and went off as the 5-2 third choice in a field of seven. Driver Eric Carlson held Tyson back in the middle of the pack early as Dream Baby Dream, the race favorite, headed for the front. Elysium Lindy set right behind the leader on the inside. As they rounded the final turn, Dream Baby Dream went on a speed break. That was a big break for Tyson, who otherwise might have been hopelessly blocked or had too much ground to make up in the stretch if he had been locked into his third-in journey. Instead he wound up right behind Elysium Lindy, who had inherited the lead from the breaking horse. In the stretch, Carlson tipped Tyson to the outside and he won a tight stretch duel over Elysium Lindy. The margin was just a head, but the 1:53.4 winning time by the gelding matched the fastest trotting time this past week at Pocono. We are getting closer to yearend awards time at Pocono, and Tyson is a trotter who definitely deserves consideration. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Two AM (Tyler Buter, Todd Buter), who dropped down in class to win a condition trot on Saturday night in 1:53.4, matching Tyson for the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; Mandela Blue Chip (Tyler Buter, Alex Kavoleff), who handled a condition field on Monday night in a sharp time of 1:54.1; and Second Sister (Anthony Napolitano, Michael Deters), a mare who snuck in a condition won on Tuesday night in 1:54.3 before rain cancelled the remainder of the card. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SOME GOLD Nobody saw it coming when this condition pacer driven by Vinny Ginsburg upended the field on Saturday night at stunning odds of 114-1, paying off $230.80 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: TYLER BUTER Buter has returned to a more regular driving role this year at Pocono and has been on fire of late, tallying three wins on Saturday night and then four more on the Monday program. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: CHRIS OAKES The Oakes' barn had a field day on Sunday night, ripping off five victories out of five starters sent to the gate, including a win in the mares pacing feature with Rockstar Angel. 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. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs  

We continue to barrel forward in the 2018 racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, closer and closer to the Breeders Crown in late October. With each passing week, the excitement builds just a little bit more. Meanwhile, the overnight action at Pocono continues to impress. A new batch of star performers seems to step forward each week, and these past four racing nights were no different. Let's hand out the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: INTOVIEW Respect has been hard-earned for this seven-year-old mare trained by Gilbert Garcia-Owen, but success has been easier to come by for her. After going winless in her first 15 races of the year, Intoview found her stride with a condition pacing win at Harrah's at the end of August at 7-1. She then came to Pocono and managed to make a late rally at 5-1 to capture a $15,000 to $20,000 claiming handicap on September 17, winning in 1:53 on a sloppy track. On Monday night, Intoview took on that same claiming handicap group, leaving from post position #4. Yet even with the two consecutive wins, she still went off as the 9-5 second choice. The 7-5 favorite was LK's Nancy Lee, a horse that Intoview had beaten the week before. LK's Nancy Lee set the pace on Monday night, while Intoview made an early first-over move. Driver George Napolitano Jr. couldn't get her immediately to the front, meaning that she was parked around two turns. As they hit the stretch, the top two were joined by pocket horse Rosy Outlook and second-cover closer Tataria. It seemed for a moment about midway through the straightaway that Intoview was staring to drop back. But then she surged again as the line approached, nipping LK's Nancy Lee by a head in a hard-fought 1:52.4. That makes three straight wins, including two straight Monday night features, for the mare, who might just start more betting attention to go along with the victories. Other top pacers this week include: Areyoureadygirl (George Napolitano Jr., Hunter Oakes), a mare who won her second claiming handicap on Monday night in 1:52.3; giving her wins in the last four races that she has been at the Pocono oval; Pembroke Wildcat (Anthony Napolitano, Brittany Robertson), who captured a claiming handicap pace on Saturday night in 1:50, a new career-best and the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono; and Sir Pugsley (Pat Berry, Ron Burke), who delivered a win in the Saturday night feature pace in 1:50.2. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: D' DREAM One thing we consistently see at Pocono is that horses ship in from all over the place. Sometimes, it's a case of trainers and owners wanting to test the waters at a top track. Other times, horses are purchased from other locations to come and race for a Pocono trainer. The latter seems to have been the case with D' Dream, a three-year-old filly. She had been racing in fair races in the state of Ohio, picking up back-to-back wins on that circuit in the month of August. D' Dream than arrived at Pocono and immediately paid dividends for new trainer Neal Ehrhart, winning a race on September 16 for her first ever pari-mutuel victory. On Monday night, she was at it again, this time against the non-winners of two fillies and mares trotters. Leaving from post position #1 in a field of nine as a 2-1 second choice, the filly settled in third in the early part of the mile as Fair Chase, the 9-5 favorite, set the early pace. When an opening presented itself on the back stretch, driver Mike Simons took advantage, sending D' Dream on a first-over journey. She blew by Fair Chase in a matter of moments and opened up a wide advantage on the rest of the field. It was all academic from there as the filly powered home a 3 ½-length winner in 1:57, a new career-best. Ohio fairs, Pocono bright lights: It's all the same to D' Dream. She just keeps on beating everybody in her path. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Boffin (George Napolitano Jr., Anette Lorentzon), who rolled to the victory in Sunday night's featured condition trot in 1:53.3, the fastest trotting time of the week; Wisenheimer (Steve Smith, Jenny Melander), who rolled to a condition win on Saturday night in 1:55.1; and Jack Rules (Simon Allard, Tony Dinges), who moved up in class on Tuesday night but sill scored his second consecutive win, this one coming in 1:56.2 on an off-track. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ACTRESS HANOVER The maiden victory for this two-year-old pacing filly will be a memorable one, as she scored in a condition on Tuesday might with Mike Simons driving at 65-1, paying off $140.20 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: KEVIN WALLIS If you like long shots, Wallis was your man this past weekend, winning three races on Saturday and Sunday, all with horses whose odds were greater than 10-1. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: LOU PENA Pena, who was once a training champ at Pocono, found some of the old magic on Saturday night, ripping off three victories on the program. 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. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs.

We are now just about a month away from the 2018 Breeders Crown, to be hosted by none other than The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Excitement is definitely building for that monumental event. But that doesn't mean everything else stops. Overnight racing at Pocono continues to hurtle forward, with each new week bringing us a fresh batch of excellent performances. With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the finest efforts from the past week of racing as we hand out the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: MAROMA BEACH Stepping up in class is never easy to do, but that's especially true when you have reached the upper rungs on the condition ladder. At that point, taking a jump into a higher condition means you will be going up against the toughest horses on the grounds. That was the predicament that faced Maroma Beach, a four-year-old gelding trained by Ron Burke. He was coming off a victory gate to wire in his previous start on September 1 in a career-best 1:50. That was the good news. The bad news was that the earlier victory came against a $12,500 condition pacing group, and on Saturday night, the opposition would come in the form of a $17,500 class. That meant Maroma Beach skipped a class to make the move up and face that field, and that was reflected in the odds, as he went off at 13-1. Still, driver Pat Berry was aggressive, sending the gelding to the lead from an outside post and setting swift fractions. Throughout the race, Maroma Beach kept a solid advantage, preventing anyone from putting too much pressure on him. In the lane, he was able to dig in and come home strong, finishing a half-length in front of fellow long shot Seel The Deal N in 1:50.4. Maybe Maroma Beach will move up again following that second straight victory. One thing is for sure: He'll have less people doubting his ability to do it next time around. Other top pacers this week include: Persistent Threat A (George Napolitano Jr, Gilbert Garcia-Owen), who rolled to a win in a condition pace in 1:49.3, a new career-best and the fastest pacing time this week at Pocono; Bettor N Blue (Eric Carlson, Gilbert Garcia-Owen), whose victory on Saturday night in 1:51.4 was his second straight claiming handicap win at Pocono and his third straight overall; and Eclipse Me N (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who captured Tuesday night's featured condition pace for mares in 1:51. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: MUSCLE DIAMOND In the $21,500 featured condition trot on Sunday night, the field was stacked. Among the entries: Fraser Ridge, winner of four consecutive races; What's The Word, a three-year-old who had barely missed behind the superstar Crystal Fashion in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championships; and Dayson, who was coming off his first victory of the year and was the 8-5 betting favorite. Muscle Diamond's record was propped up by two wins at The Meadowlands, with both of his victories coming in faster times than anybody else in the field could manage. Muscle Diamond, a six-year-old stallion trained by Brett Bittle, left from post position #4 in a field of seven. He sat back in the pack early and then appeared to be content to follow cover for a while on the back stretch. But driver Tyler Buter coaxed him into action, and with a sudden burst of speed, he went three-wide around Fraser Ridge and kept right on rolling past the pacesetter Dayson. By the time the field reached the three-quarter pole, he had opened up a sizable lead. Considering the powerful late kick of Muscle Diamond, you knew that lead was going to be tough to overcome. He kept the field at bay all the way around the final turn and through the stretch, winning by three comfortable lengths over Dayson. The win proved that he could handle the 5/8-mile oval at Pocono as well as he could the one-mile jaunt at The Meadowlands. And his winning time of 1:52.2 was the fastest trotting mark of the week at Pocono. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Ostrich Blue Chip, a mare who picked up a condition win on Saturday night in a new career-best mark of 1:52.3; Sciroccco Imsosmart (Tyler Buter, John Butenschoen), who handled a tough condition group on Sunday night in 1:55.2; and Boxing Gloves (Marcus Miller, Erv Miller), who stepped up in class to win his second straight condition trot on Tuesday night in 1:55.4, a new career mark. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: CAJOLE HANOVER With trainer Joe Poliseno in the bike, this condition trotter opened up Sunday night's racing with a surprise at 22-1, paying off $46.40 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MARCUS MILLER Known for coaxing home long shots at Pocono, Miller was at it again on Tuesday night, scoring with 19-1 shot Boxing Gloves among his three victories on the evening. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: GILBERT GARCIA-OWEN Garcia-Owen immediately made an impact this past week after switching to a training role, picking up three victories on the Saturday night program. 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. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs

Next week in this space we shall be reviewing everything that went on during an outstanding program of championship races scheduled for this coming Sunday, September 2. Both the three-year-old Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championships and the finals of the Great Northeastern Open Series will be taking place at Pocono on that evening. Until then, here are some Weekly Awards highlighting the best of the best from the previous four racing nights. PACER OF THE WEEK: BIG CITY BETTY Sometimes a horse can get stuck in a rut where it constantly is right in the mix but can't seem to break through with a big victory. Such was the case for this four-year-old mare trained by Steve Salerno. She started the year with in-the-money finishes in six of her first nine races. Included among those were back-to-back seconds in a pair of $17,000 condition paces for distaff horses four years and under in the month of July. It seemed as though she was stuck on second. Big City Betty then took nearly a month-and-a-half off, returning on August 17 without a qualifier to battle that $17,000 group again. Only that time out she cured her second-itis, putting together an impressive first-over brush to pick up her first victory of the year in 1:52.3. She was back at it against that grouping on Sunday night, this time going off as a 6-5 betting favorite with an inside post in a field of eight. Eric Carlson was a new set of hands for the mare, and he guided her into a comfortable spot in the pocket behind pacesetting Jewels Forreal. That's where she bided her time until the stretch, when Carlson guided her off the cover to the outside. Big City Betty had enough momentum to plow right on by for the win in 1:52.1, which set a new career mark. Now that she has a taste for winning, this mare might go on a serious roll. Other top pacers include: Rodeo Rock (Anthony Napolitano, Robert Cleary), who followed up a win at Harrah's with a victory in Saturday night's featured condition pace in 1:50.3; Ali (Pat LaChance), who managed a third straight win at a third different track by winning a condition pace at Pocono on Sunday night in a career-best 1:50.3; and YS Lotus (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who scored a condition win on Saturday night in 1:50.1, the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: OPTIMIST BLUE CHIP This four-year-old gelding from the barn of trainer Carl Conte Jr. had been struggling throughout the summer facing some of the toughest condition trotters at Yonkers. Needing the confidence booster, he was slotted in the lowest condition group at Pocono on August 20. With Matt Kakaley in the bike, Optimist Blue Chip put together a confident front-trotting victory despite an outside post in 1:57.2. With that out of the way, it was time to move back up the ladder. On Monday night, the gelding faced off against an $11,000 condition group. Even with the move up in class, the bettors sensed his potential and made him the 6-5 favorite. Unlike in his previous start, however, Optimist Blue Chip started a bit slowly. Instead, Winwood Scout surged to the front, leaving the favorite to grab a spot in the outer flow and try to come from behind. He found cover behind Idle Bones N and began to get closer to the lead with a second-over journey. As Winwood Scout began to struggle, Idle Bones N moved onto the lead. But that mare was then ripe for the picking, as Kakaley spun Optimist Blue Chip off the cover and let him do his thing. The gelding powered by and managed the victory, his second consecutive. His winning time of 1:54.2 was an impressive one for the condition, which means that he might just be able to move up even more and still keep his newly-minted winning streak alive. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Jackie's Jim (Marcus Miller, Neal Ehrhart), a three-year-old gelding who moved up following his maiden win to capture a second straight condition win on Monday night in 1:56.4, a new career mark; Crazshana (George Napolitano Jr., Jeffrey Bamond Jr.), who handled a tough condition group on Saturday night and did so in a sharp 1:52.4; and Muscle Fashion (Fern Paquet Jr., Antonella Galie), who toughed out a condition win on Tuesday night in a career-best 1:55.4. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ANDOVERS ASSET This two-year-old trotter driven by Anthony Napolitano, stayed flat, worked out a trip, and rallied for a condition win on Monday night at 20-1, paying off $43.40 on a $2-win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MATT KAKALEY Kakaley had his A-game working in his Pocono appearances this week, as he shared driving honors on both Sunday (three wins) and Monday (four wins.) TRAINER OF THE WEEK: ANDREW HARRIS Harris made the most of his two Monday night starters, as both trotter Blue And Bold and pacer You Got Trumped came away with condition victories. 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. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs

For a few years there, world records seemed to occur at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on a semi-regular basis. The last two years have been quiet on that front, however, with a combination of factors coming into play, the biggest of those being that the previous record-setters established standards that were simply too daunting to reach. But we were back in the world record business on Sunday night, and the horse that managed the feat leads off this edition of the Weekly Awards. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: WHITE TIGER Most of the best young male trotters are colts, which is part of the reason why the record times for freshman colts on the trotting side are so much more impressive than those of the geldings. On Sunday night in the first division of three Pennsylvania Sire Stakes held for two-year-old male trotters, Gerry, one of those precocious colts, seemed to be the class of the group, having won two of his first three starts, with the only loss coming in a huge stakes race at The Meadowlands. White Tiger, a two-year-old gelding, came in with a record that, while solid, was more modest than Gerry's. White Tiger came in with wins in two of five career starts for trainer Andrew Harris, with one of those wins coming in Sire Stakes competition. He went off as the 7-2 second choice behind 2-5 favorite Gerry. Driver Anthony MacDonald seemed to be keeping an eye on the favorite. When Gerry started moving first-over on the back stretch, MacDonald sent White Tiger out to grab the live cover, as the two made up ground on pacesetter Klutzy. As they hit the stretch, Gerry had corralled Klutzy. But White Tiger stayed attached to the favorite. Once he managed a clear look, MacDonald spun White Tiger off the cover and raced on by to win by a neck. His winning time of 1:55 set a new track record for two-year-old trotting geldings at Pocono, breaking a five-year-old standard set by It Really Matters. Even better, it matched the world record for his age group and gender on a 5/8-mile oval. Other top trotters this week include: Tyson (Andrew McCarthy, Edwin Gannon Jr.), who captured Sunday night's $21,500 condition trot in 1:53.3; Prairie Fortune (Anthony Napolitano, Michael Deters), who matched a career-best with a condition win on Saturday night in 1:53.2, a time that was also the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; and Aldebaranwalkabout (David Miller, Jonas Czernyson), who posted the fastest time among six divisions of Stallion Series races on Monday night for two-year-old male trotters with a win in 1:55.2. PACER OF THE WEEK: T'S ELECTRIC This nine-year-old gelding came into a $10,000 claiming pace with 136 career starts in his rear-view mirror. But he has been lightly raced for the past two years. In 2017, he raced just four times, winning two of them. This year T's Electric didn't get started with his season until July 17. In his third start off the layoff on August 7, the Rene Allard trainee found his stride and blew away a $7,500 claiming group for a six-length victory in 1:54. Even with the move up in class on Saturday night, T's Electric was made a 3-5 favorite as he left from post position #4 in a field of eight pacers. With Anthony Morgan doing the driving, the veteran gelding grabbed the early lead, only to relent as Admiral, who was coming off a win in the $10,000 claimers in his previous race, wrested the engine away. Morgan decided he wanted to be the aggressor, so he tipped his charge out for a retake on the front stretch. When they rolled around to the home stretch, Admiral was still lurking in the pocket. He briefly surged to put a challenge on the favorite. But T's Electric responded and pushed back until he was two lengths in front of Admiral at the line, pacing the mile in 1:54. Even though he might not race as much as he once did, this gelding has proven that he is a tough customer in the lower claiming ranks whenever he does make it to the gate. Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: More The Better N (Corey Callahan), the stallion who continued his impressive first stint in the United States with a victory on Saturday night in the Great Northeast Open Series in a new career-best of 1:49, fastest time of the week at Pocono; Big City Betty (Andrew McCarthy, Steve Salerno), a mare who came off a month-and-a-half layoff to win a condition pace for distaffers in a career-best 1:52.2 on Sunday night; and Twinkle (Eric Carlson, Ross Croghan), who captured Tuesday night's featured condition pace for mares in 1:52.2. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: EXPLOSIVE ZETTE Not a lot of big long shots came in this week, so this mare who scored a condition trotting win on Sunday night takes the cake; she won with Tom Jackson at 11-1, paying $25.60 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR. The meet's leading driver just keeps on rolling; with five wins on Saturday night, he became the first driver to 200 wins on the 2018 campaign at Pocono. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: DOMENICO CECERE Cecere is a name that's new to the racing wars at Pocono, but he immediately made his presence felt with a pair of Stallion Series winners on Monday 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. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs

It was a busy week of stakes action at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. There were big-money races held each night, with both two-year-old trotting fillies and three-year-old pacing fillies competing in both Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and Stallion Series action. There were some scintillating performances and some head-scratching winners. And one of those stakes winners also has been doing damage in the overnight races at Pocono, making her the perfect candidate to lead off the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: ATTENTION HANOVER This three-year-old filly has shown a knack for being able to win no matter what the race throws at her. She started her hot streak with a win against non-winners of two at Pocono on July 2 by going gate to wire in a career-best 1:51.2. At Harrah's for her next start, she came on with a first-over victory. On July 22 at Pocono, Attention Hanover passed four horses in the stretch for an upset win at 15-1. Finally, after a near-miss second, she scored at 8-1 with a pocket trip and rally in a condition group on August 5. That meant she rode into Sunday night's $20,000 Stallion Series races for three-year-old pacing fillies with wins in four of her last five races, all coming in unique fashion. As the even-money favorite leaving from post position #4 in a field of seven, she sat the pocket seat once again, this time behind pacesetting Butchie Beach. Driver Eric Carlson then made the crucial decision to tip Attention Hanover to the outside late to follow the cover of the first-over mover Sandy's Beach. That proved to be a stroke of genius, because it gave Attention Hanover the opportunity to rally. Instead of getting blocked behind a faltering horse, the filly was able to spin off the cover and overtake Sandy's Beach for a victory by 1 ½ lengths in 1:51.2, which was the fastest of the three Stallion Series splits that night. Her win gives Attention Hanover victories in five of her last six starts, each one of them unique unto itself but still building toward her overall excellent record. Other top pacers this week include: Hallie's Comet (Pal LaChance driver and trainer), who rallied from off the pace for a second consecutive condition win on Sunday night, this one coming in 1:51.3; Sea's Ideal (George Napolitano Jr., Hunter Oakes), who churned through sloppy conditions on Monday night to pick up her second straight claiming victory in a career-best 1:51.4; and Rock Absorber (George Napolitano Jr., Brandon Todd), whose victory in a condition pace on Saturday night in 1:50.2 not only matched a career mark but also was the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: ABC MUSCLES BOY One of the reasons that Rene Allard has been the top trainer for several years running at Pocono is because his horses never stay down for too long. They may suffer slumps at some point during the meet, but they generally rally from those slumps, right the ship and come back hotter than ever. Case in point: ABC Muscles Boy. The seven-year-old gelding had always been a solid performer in the past, but he started his 2018 season off with five straight finishes out of the money. On August 6, he was dropped into our lowest condition group. Needing the boost of confidence that comes with victory, ABC Muscles Boy responded with a solid win, handling the field by eight lengths in a sharp time of 1:54.3. Riding high once again, he moved up into the $11,000 condition trotting group on Monday night. Recognizing his potential, the bettors made him a 3-5 favorite even with the move up in class. Leaving from post position #6 in a field of eight, ABC Muscles Boy was sent right to the front end by driver Brian Sears. Even in a torrential downpour and extremely sloppy conditions, he held the lead with little concern. By the time the stretch rolled around, he was once again well ahead of his competition, coasting home for the victory in 1:55.2. It looks like we have another Allard trainee moving back up the ladder, his slump long since a thing of the past. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: I'm Your Captain (Andy Miller, Julie Miller), who followed up back-to-back wins at Harrah's with a condition win at Pocono on Sunday night in a career-best 1:53.4; Silvermass Volo (Eric Carlson, Michael Holcman), who tore it up for a condition win on Sunday night in 1:53.1, matching the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; and Beautiful Sin (Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter), whose winning time of 1:56.3 was the fastest of three divisions of Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for two-year-old trotting fillies held on Monday night in the slop. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: RIPROY There were a bunch of long shots that scored on Saturday night, but this pacer driven by Tom Jackson topped them all, winning a claiming handicap at 55-1 and paying off $117 on a $2 win ticket. (Correction from last week: In last week's column, I misidentified the Long Shot of the Week. The honor should have gone to Mandela Blue Chip. My apologies for the mistake.) DRIVER OF THE WEEK: BRIAN SEARS Sears makes occasional appearances at Pocono on stakes nights, and he made the most of a visit on Monday, scoring five victories, including a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes win with Swizzle Sticks. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JIM CAMPBELL Campbell won a Sire Stakes on Saturday night with three-year-old pacing filly Alexa's Power, and then scored another on Monday night with two-year-old trotting filly Swizzle Sticks. 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. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Down

A stalled weather front brought us a lot of rain this past week in Northeastern Pennsylvania, leading to a bunch of sloppy tracks at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The geese loved it, as evidenced by the one who managed to actually show up in a photo finish with one of the horses on Sunday night. As for the horses, there were some strange occurrences and bizarre outcomes, showing that you never can tell in this sport. Here are the finest performances, as we hand out the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: HURRICANE BEACH On Sunday night, it poured rain on and off, leading to an ever-changing track condition that eventually settled on sloppy for the end of the program. In the final race, a $17,000 condition pace for five-year-old and younger winners from three to seven races, Hurricane Beach, a new addition to the Rene Allard barn, was made the 2-1 favorite from post position #8 in a field of nine. Other than expecting it to be a competitive field with some excellent pacers, there wasn't anything in the ledger to suggest we were in line for something special. Hurricane Beach, a four-year-old gelding who came into the race with a modest record of two wins in nine races this season, had other ideas. Driver Simon Allard cut him loose, and he scorched the mud to the tune of a :25.1 opening quarter. The ridiculously fast number was eye-popping, but there are many horses that can go wild for a quarter-mile. It was the half-mile time that really left us all slack-jawed, as Hurricane Beach tripped the timer in :51.2, a new world record for the fastest ever half on a 5/8-mile oval. On a sloppy track. Hurricane Beach kept up his tear to the three-quarter pole, hitting it in 1:19.3. It was only in the stretch that he began to ease up a little, but by then he was well ahead of the rest of the stunned field. His winning time was 1:49.4, a new career-best and the fastest of the week at Pocono, and he defeated the field by 7 ¼ lengths. For those who stuck around for that closing race on that rainy night, they witnessed something special. Other top pacers include: Big N Bad (George Napolitano Jr., Gareth Dowse), who picked up his second straight claiming handicap win on Saturday night against the highest-priced claimers on the grounds, managing this victory in 1:52.3 in the slop; Attention Hanover (Simon Allard, Steve Salerno), who moved up in class on Sunday night and rallied for his third straight condition win, two of which have come at Pocono with the other at Harrah's, in 1:54 in the slop; and Rockstar Angel A (Brett Miller, Chris Oakes), an Australian invader who made a striking United States debut at Pocono on Tuesday night, winning the featured condition pace for mares in 1:52.4 in the slop. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: BOFFIN As veteran trotters go, there are few around who seem to do damage at Pocono every single year they appear quite like this warrior trained by Anette Lorentzon. Now aged eight, Boffin arrived at Pocono in June in a rare slump, having come up empty in four races in the Midwest. Coming to his old stomping grounds immediately energized him, as he handled an $11,000 condition field on June 18 at Pocono to get his first win of the season. That win must have given him a taste, because Boffin followed that up with another victory, this time over a $14,000 group in 1:52.4 on June 30. This past Sunday, he was at it again in the rainy conditions, once again moving up in class to face off with a $17,500 class. Even with the step up the ladder, the bettors were wise to the caliber of this gelding and made Boffin a 3-5 favorite leaving from post position #4 in an excellent field of nine. George Napolitano Jr., who has driven Boffin to many a victory over the years, decided to end the suspense early, as he quickly sent him to the front end. From there, the rest of the field, which was comprised of accomplished trotters, looked like amateurs in his wake. Boffin never really endured any challenge to his supremacy, and he steadily opened up the lead until he came home a 4 ¾-length winner at the end of the mile. His winning time, even in the slop, was a solid 1:54.1, giving him three straight victories. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Uknow What To Do (Anthony Morgan, Rene Allard), who moved up in class on Saturday night and scored his second straight condition win, this one in 1:56.2 in the slop; Alpha D'Urzy (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who followed up a win in his U.S. debut at Saratoga with a condition victory at Pocono on Sunday night in 1:57.4 in the off conditions; and Satin Dancer (Matt Kakaley, Travis Alexander), a mare whose win in Sunday night's featured condition trot in 1:53 matched a career-best and represented the fastest trotting mile of the week at Pocono. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: CASINO DIRECTOR This pacer driven by Tyler Buter sent the folks home shocked with a condition win in the finale on Monday night at 36-1, paying off $74 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MATT KAKALEY One of the most consistent performers at Pocono on a regular basis, Kakaley did his usual damage this week, picking up six combined wins in three nights of racing. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: GARETH DOWSE There has been no hotter barn on the grounds for the past month or so, and Dowse solidified that hot streak with three more training wins this week. 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. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs

It was another busy week of harness racing stakes action at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with Pennsylvania Sire Stakes, Pennsylvania All-Stars, and Stallion Series racing all holding court. Our two top horses this week, however, battled for the honors on Monday night, which featured nothing but overnight racing. It just goes to show you that every night is witness to something special at Pocono, as this edition of the Weekly Awards makes plain. PACER OF THE WEEK: FUTURE LIFE Sometimes a winning streak is only as impressive as whom you beat. In the case of Future Life, she came into a $15,000-$20,000 claiming handicap pace for mares on Monday night having picked up a victory in her previous race against lower claiming competition. The nine-year-old mare trained by Andrew Adamczyk had churned out a come-from-behind win on July 9 in 1:53.0. But the field that she faced on Monday night included five of eight horses who had won their previous start, including Unbeamlievable, who had been the dominant force in the division. Future Life started from post position #2 in a field of eight at long odds of 16-1, likely because of the move up in class. As a horse who doesn't mind coming from off the pace, driver Tyler Buter kept her out of the early battle for the lead, which was eventually won by Unbeamlievable. The mare began her journey on the back stretch by making a third-over move, meaning that she had a lot of traffic to overcome on her way to the front. In the stretch, Buter tipped Future Life out four-wide to get a clear look at Unbeamlievable, who was still battling away on the front end. The momentum that Future Life gathered proved too much for the favorite, as she blew by to win it by a half-length in 1:53.4. That gives the mare five wins on the year and two in a row, and in neither of the last two races was she favored. She'll probably get more betting attention next time around. Other top pacers this week include: De Los Cielos Deo (Dave Palone, Ron Burke), a two-year-old colt who moved to two-for-two in his young career with a Pennsylvania All-Stars victory on Saturday night in 1:52.4; Ginger Tree Cash (George Napolitano Jr., Robert Bath), who moved up in condition to win his second straight on Saturday, this one in 1:52.0; and Warrawee UBeaut (Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke), who captured the second straight win to start her career on Tuesday night and did so in 1:52.1, the fastest time of four divisions of the Pennsylvania All-Stars for two-year-old pacing fillies. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: PAT MATTERS This three-year-old filly trained by Paul Kelley didn't race as a freshman. At the start of her career this year, she had issues staying flat in her races, which was odd because of how sharp she was in qualifiers. On June 24, she finally found her form under the lights, picking up her maiden victory in 1:59.2 on a sloppy track. Pat Matters followed that up with an impressive second place finish on July 2, with only an extremely fast mile from Urban Legend beating her. On Monday night, Pat Matters took on a group of non-winners of two trotting fillies and mares as a 4-5 favorite. It was a pretty solid field she faced in this one, including several horses that were coming off sharp efforts in Stallion Series races. Leaving from post position #5 in a field of nine, the filly fired early to the front end. Driver Matt Kakaley then chose to stay in the pocket with Pat Matters when Strength Of A Woman made a play for the lead on the front stretch. Strength Of A Woman and Pat Matters stayed one-two in the order for most of the mile until the home stretch rolled around. That's when Kakaley asked for more from Pat Matters, who immediately swooped on by to pick up the victory by two lengths in a new career mark of 1:56.1. The filly seems to have put those breaking problems well behind her, which means that she could be ready for more rugged competition in the near future. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Crosbys Clam Bake (Pat Berry, Randy Bendis), who scored a condition victory in the slop on Saturday night in 1:55.4; Homicide Hunter (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), who continued his dominance in the Great Northeast Open Series on Sunday night with a win in 1:52.2, his fourth consecutive victory; and Magic Vacation (John Kakaley, Travis Alexander), who handled a condition field on Sunday night in a career-best 1:54.2. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: PYRO Even stakes races can provide long shot winners, as this two-year-old colt driven by Pat Berry proved when he scored a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes win on Saturday at 29-1, paying off $60.20 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: COREY CALLAHAN Callahan had a big night on Sunday during the Stallion series for two-year-old pacing colts and geldings, winning three of the six divisions. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: BRIAN BROWN Brown always seems to make his presence felt come stakes time, and he did it again on Saturday night by sending out two winners in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action for two-year-old male pacers. 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. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs

Just because Sun Stakes Saturday is now in our rear-view mirror here at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, that doesn't mean the stakes season has slowed up any. This past week featured Pennsylvania All-Stars action for two-year-old trotters, and we have Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and Stallion Series races for two-year-old pacers coming up. When you factor in the excellent overnight racing taking place night in and night out, we are at a truly exciting point in the season, one which we'll now chronicle by handing out some Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: ZANE HANOVER This four-year-old mare trained by Bruce Saunders made an immediate impression when she arrived from Harrah's on July 1. Facing a group of five-year-old and younger distaffers for a purse of $17,000, she controlled matters on the front end for a victory in 1:52.4. Zane Hanover was back at it on Sunday night, this time facing winners of four but no more than seven races for that same purse of $17,000. She left from post position #4 in a field of six as the even-money favorite. In the previous win, Zane Hanover was able to get to the lead with relative ease and pace fractions that weren't overly daunting. It was a different story on Sunday though, as Big City Betty fought hard to keep the lead, forcing faster fractions from the favorite as she took over on the front stretch. Big City Betty stayed right in the hip pocket of Zane Hanover, leading to numbers on the timer at the second and third poles that were a couple seconds faster than in her earlier victory. For many horses, that would have spelled doom. But driver George Napolitano Jr. called on the leader for more late, and she responded. Big City Betty came on strong in the lane, but Zane Hanover held her off to pick up the victory by a length in 1:51.1. The winning time was more than a second-and-a-half faster than the week before, but the bottom line is that she has collected two victories in a row against excellent competition at Pocono. Other top pacers this week include: Davids Coming Home (George Napolitano Jr., Gareth Dowse), who picked up his second straight condition win at Pocono and third straight victory overall, doing so in a career-best time of 1:53.3; Feeling Cam Lucky (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who followed up back-to-back wins at Harrah's with a condition victory at Pocono on Saturday night in 1:51; and Skippin By (George Napolitano Jr., Nick Surick), a mare whose 1:49.4 winning time in Sunday night's featured distaff condition pace was a career-best and matched the fastest of the week at Pocono. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SPLITSVILLE When you are trying to move up the ladder in the harness racing world, versatility is a good quality to have. Whereas a horse might be able to control a lower-quality field with no problems, moving up in class requires figuring out ways to handle tougher competition. Splitsville, a nine-year-old gelding trained by Karen Fread, was faced with that dilemma on Monday night. After winning his previous race in relatively comfortable fashion on the front end, he stepped up to face an $11,000 group on Monday night. Not only was he moving up in class, but Splitsville was also saddled with the extreme outside post in a field of nine. That meant that driver Brett Miller couldn't realistically entertain thoughts of another cozy, front-trotting win. So instead, he kept Splitsville back from the early fray, a wise move considering the way the front end bunched up with horses trying to grab the lead. At the three-quarter pole, the gelding was three-wide in sixth, but the others who had worked hard for the engine were beginning to falter. At the top of the stretch, Splitsville had worked himself into fifth position and, more importantly, had a clear path to the finish line. Miller coaxed a furious late charge out of him and he passed everybody in front, eventually winning by a half-length over Show Biz Hall in 1:56.4. Not bad considering he went off at 5-11 odds, and especially impressive considering the wide journey he had to take to pick up that second consecutive victory. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Gural Hanover (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who scored a condition victory on Sunday night in 1:53.2, the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; Fashion Possessed (David Miller, Jim Campbell), whose first career start was one to remember, as the two-year-old colt captured a Pennsylvania All-Stars race in 1:56.4, matching the fastest All-Stars time of the evening; and Sonnet Grace (Rod Allen trainer and driver), who followed up a Sire Stakes win at The Meadows in her debut with a victory Tuesday night in a Pennsylvania All-Stars race on Tuesday night in 1:56.2, the fastest time in five All-Stars splits that evening. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SUDDENLY SAM Neither a #9 post nor a 1-9 favorite blocking his path could stop this condition pacer driven by Marcus Miller from a victory on Monday night at 48-1, leading to a $99 payout on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: YANNICK GINGRAS Gingras enjoyed the Pennsylvania All-Stars action throughout Monday and Tuesday night, leading all drivers with three victories in those $30,000 races for two-year-old trotters. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: MARCUS MELANDER Melander owned the Pennsylvania All-Stars action on Monday night for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings, as his trainees won three of the six divisions. 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. by Jim Bevigilia, for Pocono Downs

Harness racing is a fascinating sport, in large part because of its unpredictability. Coming into Sun Stakes Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, we previewed the races and focused on the horses that seemed likely to dominate the action. By the time the dust cleared on Saturday night, only one of the four races went even remotely how all of those previews expected it go. And we weren't alone: The races also flummoxed the betting public, as just one of the four huge stakes races on the card went to a favorite. More than that though, the biggest names on the program, for the most part, struggled, while some new, unsung heroes stepped up in their wake. As we take a look back at the four finals from Saturday while keeping a watchful eye on the horizon and the Breeders Crown at Pocono in October, it all comes back down to a powerful lesson: In this sport, nobody knows anything. $300,000 JAMES M LYNCH MEMORIAL PACE (Three-year-old fillies) The favorite in this race was Sidewalk Dancer, who was coming off a hard-luck loss in the eliminations but stood to enjoy a much better post position in the final. Kissin In The Sand, who had beaten Sidewalk Dancer the week before, was saddled with an outside post this time around. Meanwhile Youaremycandygirl, the defending division champion, seemed ready for a big mile on the front end following her own elimination win. Kissin In The Sand did indeed get the worst of it, parked the entire mile outside of pacesetting Youaremycandygirl. But driver Scott Zeron made the best of it, keeping Kissin In The Sand afloat somehow until she surged past Youaremycandygirl to win it by a neck for trainer Nancy Johansson in a career-best 1:49.3 $500,000 MAX C. HEMPT MEMORIAL PACE (Three-year-olds) Lather Up came into the final looking absolutely unbeatable. Winner of his first seven starts on the year, including a triumph in the lucrative North American Cup and a waltz in the previous week's eliminations, he was bet down to odds-on. For whatever reason, he just never fired, starting in the middle of the pack, stalling out on a first-over attempt, and even eventually going off stride. That didn't stop the others in the field for going after the huge purse with everything they had. Dorsoduro Hanover set a nasty pace, leading to the closers coming into the picture. The best of those closers was Springsteen, overlooked at 15-1 despite an impressive record and despite coming from the Rene Allard barn. With Simon Allard in the bike, he glided around the tiring leaders late to win in a career-best 1:48.3. Glory days, indeed. $500,000 BEN FRANKLIN PACE (Free-For-All) McWicked was attempting to become the first horse in history to win both the Hempt and the Franklin, all the more impressive because of the four years elapsed between his Hempt win as a three-year-old. The pride of the Casie Coleman barn has been stellar this year, even when in defeat, and he conjured up a second-over trip in the final as the 3-5 choice. The one thing that didn't go according to plan for the seven-year-old stallion was a pace that was rather tepid. Under normal circumstances, that would make it difficult for a horse coming from off the pace. But McWicked is good enough to overcome such circumstances. When driver Brian Sears called on him for more, he blitzed the leaders and hustled home for the victory in 1:49.3, securing the Hempt-Franklin Daily Double in the process. $500,000 EARL BEAL JR MEMORIAL TROT (Three-year-olds) This race was billed as one where something had to give. Mission Accepted came in from Ohio to win an elimination and stood four-for-four this year. Six Pack, a New York invader, trumped that with seven straight wins dating to last season. And then there was Manchego, the superstar filly unbeaten after 15 career races and trying to beat the boys. It turned out that they all gave. The late-trotting style of Mission Accepted didn't suit a race where there were soft fractions. Meanwhile Six Pack, who grabbed the early lead, and Manchego, who came first-over, weakened each other. Manchego's winning streak went up in flames when she went off-stride, Six Pack wearied, and Crystal Fashion, driven by Tim Tetrick and trained by Jim Campbell, showed them all how it was done by rallying from the pocket to win in 1:51.4 It was another thrilling Sun Stakes Saturday, even if it didn't turn out as quite expected. The surprising results only make the divisions involved more interesting as we head towards the many more stakes races ahead, both at Pocono and elsewhere. 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. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs

Last week's eliminations for this coming week's Sun Stakes Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono were notable for the way that most of the biggest names were able to sail through to the finals. In many cases, the elimination week can be extremely troublesome for highly-favored horses, but nine of the eleven Sun Stakes elims were won by the favorites, while the other two favorites who came up short did manage to get in by finishing high enough in the order. Although there were some highly-regarded horses who came up short of the finals, the races on Saturday are about as star-studded as fans could have hoped. As we both look back at the elims and preview the finals, you'll note that post position is a big factor heading into this Saturday. A few horses will have to overcome some tough spots to take home the winner's share of the giant purses, while others will benefit from much better posts than they had a week ago. Here's how it all shakes out. Race 9: The James M. Lynch Memorial Pace This $300,000 showcase for three-year-old fillies is distinguished by extremes in terms of the post position draw. Sidewalk Dancer, who actually came up short in her elimination behind Kissin In The Sand, will be the favorite. The reason: She had to deal with an outside post in the elimination, but for the final the Chris Oakes trainee gets the inside post. Meanwhile Kissin In The Sand drew the short straw and will start from the dreaded #9 post. Youaremycandygirl comes in as the defending division champion but has endured an up-and-down year. Although she won her elimination, her front-pacing style really benefitted from soft fractions, fractions she's unlikely to get away with on Saturday night. One to watch who could get you decent odds is the Ron Burke-trained Double A Mint, who was closing fast last week right behind Youaremycandygirl. Race 10: The Max C. Hempt Memorial Pace With $500,000 on the line for three-year-old open pacers, you might expect it to be an incredibly competitive group. But the bottom line is that if Lather Up races like he has throughout this year, he will be tough to beat. Unbeaten this year with a win in the North American Cup as a highlight, he left the pursuit behind late in his elimination. Although Dorsoduro Hanover and Hitman Hill were the other elimination winners, it feels like the one with the best chance of springing the upset is Stay Hungry, a Breeders Crown champion at age two and coming off a third in the elimination despite an awful trip. Springsteen, coming out of the Rene Allard barn, also could be looking to enjoy some glory days on Saturday night, but this is Lather Up's show. He just needs to race to his potential. Race 11: The Ben Franklin Free-For-All Pace On the one hand, McWicked was the easiest winner of Saturday night's three eliminations for the $500,000 showcase for aged pacers, gliding first-over to a comfortable win. But he only had to beat four other pacers in that split, so the task on Saturday night will be considerably more difficult for the favorite. All Bets Off, Sintra, and Filibuster Hanover come out of last week's most competitive race, as All Bets Off won thanks to a DQ of Sintra, who finished first but went inside the pylons to do it. Don't sleep on Filibuster Hanover, who was squeezed in the stretch to suffer his first loss of the year. If the pace gets wild and woolly, which it very well could, Heaven Rocks A, the Aussie invader who came from behind to win his split, could be a major factor, although McWicked also generally comes from off the pace. Race 12: The Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Trot Something has to give in the $500,000 sophomore trotting showcase. Colts Mission Accepted and Six Pack come in undefeated on the year, but the filly Manchego is unbeaten in her career, having passed her first test against the boys in the eliminations, albeit barely over Crystal Fashion. Ake Svanstedt's Six Pack is stuck on the outside, which won't make it easy on his favored style of early speed. The Ohio invader Mission Accepted proved he belonged with a furious rally to win his split. Crystal Fashion must be feeling confident following his near-miss against Manchego, while Patent Leather, Fashion Woodchopper, and Evaluate are all extremely dangerous. If Manchego sustains against this stacked field, it's hard to imagine her losing anytime soon. As you can tell, it should be a thrilling night of racing on Sun Stakes Saturday. Don't miss out on the action. 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. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs  

Coming up in this space next week, we'll be providing all of the results and commentary on the eliminations for Sun Stakes Saturday, with the elims on the 23rd of June and the finals coming up the following Saturday. These races will feature a large majority of the sport's finest performers at this time, so there should be a lot to discuss. In the meantime, two horses who know their way around stakes-level competition are at the top of the heap for this edition of the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: SCOTT ROCKS For the past five years or so, this gelding could be counted on to drop in at Pocono every once in a while to face off against some of the toughest pacers on the grounds, and more often than not he would come out victorious. The difference this year is that his longtime trainer Chris Oakes handed his handling over to his son Hunter. In his first try at Pocono in the 2018 meet on June 9, Scott Rocks, now age eight, came up just short in a $21,500 condition pace behind Boston Red Rocks, who had to pace the fastest mile of the season at Pocono just to beat him. On Saturday night, Scott Rocks was back at it, facing off against a group of $17,500 condition pacers for a slight drop in class. As per usual, Scott Rocks came off the gate well, but others were rushing to the lead as well in the early going and through the front stretch. At one point driver George Napolitano Jr. tipped the gelding to the outside for what would have been a second-over journey around the second turn. But then George decided against it and utilized about a split-second window to tuck Scott Rocks back in at the pylons. Scott Rocks was still sitting third-in as they rounded the final turn, and it looked like there might not be an opening for him to come on late. But the waves of horse flesh parted just in time for him to make a flying rush to the finish line, upending the game pacesetter First Class Horse by a length-and-a-half in 1:48.4, easily the fastest time of the week at Pocono. It was a memorable way to get his first win of the year, and it's a good time for Scott Rocks to be peaking as he heads into the eliminations for the Ben Franklin Pace on the weekend. Other top pacers this week include Maxdaddy Blue Chip (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who came up a winner in Saturday night's featured condition pace in 1:50.1; Unbeamlievable (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who captured Monday night's featured claiming handicap pace for mares in 1:52.1, her second straight win at Pocono and third in a row overall; and No Easy Day (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who followed up a win at Harrah's with a condition win at Pocono on Tuesday night in a new career mark of 1:50.2. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: HOMICIDE HUNTER Like Scott Rocks, Homicide Hunter has been a stalwart in the Chris Oakes barn for many years. Unlike Scott Rocks, however, Chris is still the man in charge of Homicide Hunter, and he has witnessed the six-year-old gelding as he has taken off on one of his characteristic hot streaks in recent weeks. It started when he picked up a win in the Great Northeast Open Series at Pocono on June 3 on a sloppy track in 1:55.3. He went much faster than that the following week at Scioto when he captured the Hill Memorial in a world-record-matching time of 1:50.3. Coming off those two victories, it might have seemed like he would be an overwhelming favorite to win another Great Northeast Open race at Pocono on Sunday night. But one of the horses he was facing, Marion Marauder, came in with a record as much if not more accomplished. Marion Marauder had been scratched sick from the Hill, denying fans an opportunity to see a clash of the titans in that race. But they battled on Saturday night, with Marion Marauder taking the early lead and Homicide Hunter getting parked around turn two before he made the front himself. Although there were seven other top-flight trotters in the field, the showdown between Homicide Hunter and Marion Marauder seemed an inevitability. Indeed, in the stretch, Marion Marauder gathered momentum from the pocket and pulled up right alongside the leader in the passing lane. But Homicide Hunter simply found one more burst of energy and hustled to the line a neck in front in a winning time of 1:52.2. His third straight win wasn't a world record, but it was impressive nonetheless for the caliber of trotter he beat in that stretch duel. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to Joey Pro (Matt Kakaley, John Hallett), who picked up his second straight condition win on Sunday night and did so in a career-best 1:55; Haveitalltogether (Eric Carlson, Andy Miller), who followed up a condition victory with a win against the Pennsylvania All Stars for three-year-old colts and geldings on Sunday night in a career-best 1:53.4; and Lindy's Big Bang (David Miller, Nifty Norman), who posted the fastest time among winners of the Pennsylvania All-Stars for sophomore male trotters on Sunday night with a career-best mile of 1:52.2. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: CARMENS BEST This pacer's first win of the year, with Anthony Napolitano in the bike, proved a surprise, as he beat a bunch of claimers on Saturday night at 20-1, paying off $42 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ERIC CARLSON Carlson's picked up multiple victories three nights in a row this week, highlighted by a surprising win in the Pennsylvania All-Stars with Haveitalltogether. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: NIFTY NORMAN Norman always seems to bring in a high percentage of winners, and he chalked up two more at Pocono this week, including a Pennsylvania All-Stars victory with Lindy's Big Bang on Sunday night. 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. by Jim Bevigila, for Pocono Downs

It was a great week for all of horse racing with the stupendous Triple Crown-winning performance by Justify in The Belmont Stakes. That kind of thing reminds everyone what special athletes these horses are, and we at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono are privileged to get to see them do their thing up close and personal four nights a week. We see great performances on the regular, and the best of those from this past week get the spotlight as we hand out the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: MAJOR TRICK In many cases, the horses that take home the Weekly Awards are those who are in the midst of winning streaks. Yet in the case of Major Trick, his previous race to his start on Saturday night in a $30,000 to $40,000 claiming handicap pace was a loss by a half-length in third to Eastend Eddie. That loss snapped a string of three consecutive wins for the seven-year-old gelding. Major Trick, a popular claiming commodity even at the high price, rejoined the barn of trainer Hunter Oakes in his Saturday night attempt to atone for the loss. Leaving from post position #4 in a field of nine as a 6-5 betting favorite, Major Trick sat third early in the mile. A speed duel materialized in front of him, and the fractions spiraled quickly out of control. Sensing that the leaders were tiring, driver George Napolitano Jr. sent Major Trick for a quick first-over move on the back stretch, and he was on the lead in just a matter of moments. But it also made him a target for the closers, especially considering how close he had been to the blistering pace. In the stretch, both Our Dragon King and Our Regal Ideal were closing with a head of steam. But Major Trick showed himself to be none the worse for wear, closing strong to hold of Our Dragon King by a half-length. The proof of his excellence was in the winning time of 1:49.4, which established a new career mark. Major Trick has now won four of his last five races, and it seems like another prolonged winning streak could be starting right after the one that was just broken. Other top pacers this week include: Unbeamlievable (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who followed up a win at Harrah's with a victory in Monday night's featured claiming handicap for mares in 1:53.4; Boston Red Rocks (Anthony Napolitano, Jake Leamon), whose condition win on Saturday night came in 1:48.4, fastest time of the 2018 meet to date; and Mach It So (George Napolitano Jr., Jeffrey Bamond Jr.), who came up victorious in the Great Northeast Open series on Saturday night as an 11-1 shot in 1:49.3. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: OSTRICH BLUE CHIP For handicapping purposes, there were a couple of red flags that might have dissuaded you from putting your money on Ostrich Blue Chip on Saturday night. On the one hand, the four-year-old mare from the Rene Allard barn was coming off a sharp win on May 28 at Pocono in 1:54.3. But the negatives for her condition trot on Saturday night included the fact that she would be leaving from the difficult #9 post and would be jumping a few rungs on the condition ladder to face the $14,000 group. But the mare was driven by Simon Allard as if she was the no-doubt favorite and not a 6-1 third choice, which was the reality of the situation. She quickly hustled to the front end from the outside post in a rapid :26.4 for the opening quarter. That made it seem like she would be vulnerable, and, indeed, the favorite TSM Photo Bugger came brushing up on the back stretch to challenge. But when he reached Ostrich Blue Chip, she accelerated again and left him hanging on the outside. From there, it was just a matter of sealing the deal, and Ostrich Blue Chip was able to do that with aplomb. She withstood yet another charge from the game TSM Photo Bugger at the end of the mile, coming home three-quarters of a length in front. The winning time of 1:53.1 was a new career-best and also the fastest trotting time posted at Pocono this week. For all of those red flags, Ostrich Blue Chip was the one who took home the green, as in the winner's share of the $14,000 purse. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: LMC Mass Gem (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who moved up in class to capture Sunday night's featured condition trot, winning in 1:56.3 in the slop for his second straight victory; Skates N Plates (Anthony Napolitano, Andrew Harris), who stepped up the condition ladder to pick up his second straight win on Monday night, this one coming in 1:55.4; and Manchego, the three-year-old filly superstar who stayed perfect, two for two this year and 14 for 14 lifetime, with a Pennsylvania All-Stars victory on Tuesday night in 1:52.4, matching her career mark. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: HIGHLAND DYNAMITE Dynamite, indeed: This trotting filly, with Simon Allard driving, pulled a stunner in Pennsylvania All-Stars action Tuesday night, winning at approximately 124-1 to pay off $250.80 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR. The milestones just keep on coming for Pocono's 10-time driving champion, as his win on Monday night with Myidealson N was the 9,000th driving victory of his illustrious career. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JENNIFER LAPPE Lappe sent out a pair of New Zealand-bred winners on Saturday night, each of whom managed a new career-best with their victory: Motown N in 1:50.1 and Seel The Deal N in 1:51.1. 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. by Jim Bevigilia, for Pocono Downs

Our Pacer and Trotter of the Week for this edition of the Weekly Awards have something in common. Both horses were struggling in the early part of the 2018 season coming off big harness racing campaigns a year ago. Both dropped down in class and picked up a win which seemed to ignite their confidence to move back up in class and beat even tougher horses the next time out. And both figure to be major factors going forward now that they've found their stride. Here is the lowdown on their exploits, as well as all of the other exciting action this past week at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. PACER OF THE WEEK: THE WAYFARING MAN Last year as a five-year-old, this gelding from the Ron Burke barn put together a stellar season, earning over $110,000. He started this season off against the toughest pacers at Yonkers and Harrah's but wasn't able to do much damage. Then when he arrived at Pocono, he was saddled with back-to-back #9 posts, which he wasn't able to convert into anything better than a seventh-place finish. On May 26 he dropped into the $11,000 condition group, and, even with another forbidding post (#8), The Wayfaring Man rolled to a sharp victory in 1:50.2. On Saturday night, he moved back up the condition ladder to take on a $12,500 group, leaving from post position #6 as a 9-2 third choice. With Eric Goodell in the bike, The Wayfaring Man flashed with good early speed, then allowed race favorite YS Lotus to assume control of the lead. YS Lotus set nasty fractions, but The Wayfaring Man hung close in the pocket nonetheless. By the time they hit the stretch, YS Lotus was starting to feel the effects of the rapid pace. The Wayfaring Man, on the other hand, came rushing up to take the lead once he had a clear look in the stretch. But his work wasn't done, as Urban Renewal uncorked a late move and pulled up just about even at the finish line. When the dust settled, the photo showed The Wayfaring Man just out in front by a nose. His second straight victory came in a nifty winning time of 1:51.2, as he seems poised to hit the same heights that he reached a year ago. Other top pacers this week include: Baby Kitty (Pat Berry, Eric Foster), who picked up a condition pacing win in Saturday night's feature in 1:49.2, which was a new career-best and matched the fastest pacing time this week at Pocono; Tequila Monday (Brian Sears, Hunter Oakes), who followed up a win at Yonkers by scoring in the Great Northeast Open Series for mares on Sunday night in the slop at Pocono in 1:51; and Sidewalk Dancer (Brett Miller, Chris Oakes), who came in off a Sire Stakes win at Harrah's and posted the fastest winning time of three divisions of the Pennsylvania All Stars for three-year-old fillies on Monday night with a 1:51.3. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: FRASER RIDGE The move from three-year-old to four-year-old is often fraught with peril for Standardbreds. Horses go from facing primarily others of their own age to taking on experienced horses who are often much older than them. Fraser Ridge glided through his first two seasons of racing, earning six figures both years. But this year proved to be a bit confounding, at least to start things off, as the stallion trained by Chris Beaver found himself winless after three races. Things started to cook for Fraser Ridge on May 26 at Pocono. Facing a $14,000 condition trotting group, he was cut loose on the front end and smoked the field to the tune of a sizzling mile of 1:52.1. He was back at it again on Sunday night, this time moving up to the $17,500 conditioners and facing an outside post in a field of seven. But the strategy was the same for driver George Napolitano Jr., as he sent Fraser Ridge to the front end with a swooping move around the first turn. On a sloppy track, Fraser Ridge was able to open up a big lead and dare everyone to try to make their way through the muck and try to catch him. Nobody got even close. The winning time was a modest 1:55.4, but that was due to the sloppy conditions more than anything else. The proof of Fraser Ridge's dominance came in his comfortable margin of victory over some high-class trotters. It looks like his four-year-old season might be as productive as his first two racing years after all. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: In Secret (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), an 18-1 long shot who stunned a field in the Great Northeast Open Series on Sunday night in the slop in 1:54.4; Homicide Hunter (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), who captured a division of the Great Northeast Open Series on Sunday night in just his second start of the year, winning in 1:55.1 in the slop; and Star Studded Cast (George Napolitano Jr., Gliberto Garcia-Herrera), who won his second straight claiming handicap and his third in his last four on Monday night, this one coming in 1:54.3. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: WILLIE B WORTHY This trotting gelding started Sunday night off with a shocker in the first race, winning a condition with Marcus Miller in the bike at 37-1, paying off $77.20 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ERIC GOODELL Goodell was a regular once upon a time at Pocono, and he still does damage in his sporadic appearances, such as on Saturday night when he rang up three victories. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JENNIFER SABOT Sabot made the most of limited starters on Saturday night, sending out horses from her barn in three races and picking up wins in two of them, with pacers Some Playa and Drunken Terror. 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

This past week brought the hottest temperatures of the year to Northeastern Pennsylvania. Needless to say, that also meant that the harness racing was faster than it has been all season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. It seemed like each new race brought another career-best mile. In addition, the fastest pacing time of 2018 was matched, while a new fastest trotting time of the meet was laid down as well. Those are some of the accomplishments that were in the running on a competitive week for the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: PA'S CORN SQUEEZIN It isn't often that we get shippers from California at Pocono, so this six-year-old mare was a bit of an anomaly right from the start. Her performance since arriving is the true reason that she stands out. Pa's Corn Squeezin immediately began dominating the distaff claiming pacers upon her arrival, winning her first four races. She picked up wins for three different barns during that streak, with the latest of those victories on May 21 coming in a career-best 1:52. On Monday night, Pa's Corn Squeezin faced a $12,500 to $15,000 claiming handicap group from a #8 post in a field of nine in her first start under the guidance of trainer Jake Huff. She went off as the 7-5 second choice and made the lead around the first turn, but it took some effort to get by race favorite Macho Chick. She then had to deal with a persistent first-over charge from LK's Nancy Lee. All of that meant that the fractions were quite burdensome, certainly faster than any she'd had to deal with in her winning streak. By the home stretch, Pa's Corn Squeezin had shaken both Macho Chick and LK's Nancy Lee but was getting leg-weary. 40-1 long shot Dilly Dali, on the other hand, had stayed back from the early speed and was rallying heartily. Driver George Napolitano Jr. asked Pa's Corn Squeezin for just a little bit more in the final strides, and she held off Dilly Dali by a head in 1:53.1. It was her fifth consecutive win since coming from the West Coast wasn't her fastest, but it just might have been her gutsiest. Other top pacers this week include: Lawrencetown Beach (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), whose condition victory on Saturday night came in a career-best 1:49, which also matched the fastest time of the 2018 meet at Pocono; Nocturnal Beach (Yannick Gingras, Gareth Dowse), who moved up the condition ladder to win his second straight on Saturday night, doing so in a new career mark of 1:49.1; and Major Trick (George Napolitano Jr., Hunter Oakes), who outpaced a claiming handicap group on Saturday night for his third straight win and did it in a career-best 1:50.2. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: EVALUATE The racing in the early part of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes circuit has been especially spicy, and Saturday night's three divisions for three-year-old colts and geldings on the trot was no different. In the very first split of the night, the even-money favorite was Captain Morgan, who had won his first two starts of the year, including a Sire Stakes at The Meadows in convincing fashion. Among the horses that Captain Morgan beat in that race at The Meadows was Evaluate, who closed well but came up short in second in what was his first start of the year. On Saturday night, Evaluate left from post position #1 in a seven-horse field as a 7-2 second choice, with the favorite Captain Morgan starting right to his outside in the #2 post. Once again Captain Morgan fired out to the early lead. The difference this time around was that Evaluate was able to stay a bit closer early in the race, so that when he moved first-over for driver Corey Callahan on the back-stretch, he didn't have nearly as far to come to corral the pacesetter. The fractions were ripping throughout the mile as Captain Morgan tried to shake Evaluate, the colt from the Marcus Melander barn. But Evaluate stayed after it despite getting parked around the final turn, and he eventually surged past the favorite late. He ended up winning by 1 ¼ lengths and put up a sizzling winning time of 1:51.4 in the process. That was easily his fastest trotting time of his young career and set the mark for the fastest in the 2018 meet to date at Pocono. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Whats The Word (Corey Callahan, Janice Connor), who won a Sire Stakes race on Saturday night in a career-best 1:53.2 to give him two straight in the Sire Stakes and three in a row overall, with two of those victories coming at Pocono; Fraser Ridge (George Napolitano Jr., Christopher Beaver), who handled a condition trotting group on Saturday night in a career-best 1:52.1; and Rich And Miserable (Tyler Buter, Todd Buter), who followed up a Stallion Series win at The Meadows with one at Pocono on Sunday night, the latter coming in a career-best 1:55 to match the fastest Stallion Series split of the night. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: HALLIE'S COMET In a condition pace on Sunday night, this Comet came rallying through the night sky with Tom Jackson in the bike for the upset win at 19-1, paying off $40.40 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: TYLER BUTER Buter has been making the most of limited driving opportunities, including on Sunday night when he led the entire Pocono driving community with three victories. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: ANETTE LORENTZON Lorentzon sent out two trotters on Sunday night and they both came back with big wins: Spartan in a Stallion Series race for three-year-olds and Perfect Stick in a $17,500 condition. 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. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs  

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