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The Weekly Awards returns after a bit of a hiatus to our coverage of the harness racing action at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. While we took a break from chronicling the overnight action to put a focus on some big stakes races at Pocono, there were many outstanding performances that might have made the cut. We’re back to it this week, with many horses deserving of the honors but only a precious few lucky enough to be awarded them. PACER OF THE WEEK: SLIPIN SKIP If you think that claimers are somehow inferior to condition pacers and trotters, you need to watch the action a little bit more closely. It’s not uncommon at Pocono for claimers to put up times that would actually be comparable with Open competition. Such was the effort put together on Saturday night by Slipin Skip, a five-year-old gelding new to the Hunter Oakes barn following a claim from his previous start. Since arriving at Pocono on June 23, Slipin Skip had won two of his three races with identical winning times of 1:50:4. His lone loss in that span came when he moved up into the $30,000 to $40,000 claiming handicap pacing group, a hard-luck second by a neck. He moved back up into that class on Saturday night and went off as a 2-5 favorite from post position #4 in a field of nine. Driver Dave Palone was aggressive with the favorite, sending him after the lead in a spirited three-way battle on the first turn. Slipin Skip was able to win that duel. The fractions that he set from that point were not for the faint of heart. Yet he wasn’t able to shale Rock The Town, who came into the race having won three of his las four in the same class. It came down to Slipin Skip and Rock The Town, with Slipin Skip holding up well in the lane to win it by a length. The winning time of 1:48:4 was not just a career-best, but it was also the fastest time by anyone at the track over the past racing week, yet another impressive notch in the belt of Slipin Skip on his own and of Pocono claimers as a whole. Other top pacers this week included: Duel In The Sun (George Napolitano Jr., Hunter Oakes), who rolled to his third straight claiming victory on Sunday night, getting it done in 1:51:3; Always At My Place (Jim Morrill Jr., Ron Burke), the decorated veteran making his way back up the condition ladder after scoring his second straight win on Saturday night, this one in 1:50; and Blue Ivy (Tyler Buter, Chris Oakes), a three-year-old filly who captured her second straight condition pace on Sunday night, winning in 1:50:4. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: NOBLE PRIZE The nature of the victory that Noble Prize managed in his previous race on July 8 didn’t engender much confidence from the bettors at Pocono. In that race, he made a first-over move just as the pacesetter pretty much stopped on the back stretch. Noble Prize built a big lead, which he held onto for the win at 20-1 in 1:55. Maybe that’s why he was let go at 8-1 odds on Monday, despite the fact that he was facing a field very similar to the one he just beat in a $15,000 to $20,000 claiming handicap. Leaving from post position #6 in a field of nine with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike, Noble Prize, a five-year-old gelding trained by Lou Pena, sat back early while the 4-5 favorite High Blue set the pace. Once again Napolitano decided on a first-over trip for his horse, only this time the leader did not falter. Instead, High Blue stood his ground on the back stretch as Noble Prize battled with him. To win this one, Noble Prize would have to earn it without any help from a faltering horse. And, as it turns out, that’s just what he did. High Blue finally relented in ths stretch, while Noble Prize handily held off any pursuit from the closers to pick up the victory by a 1 ¼ over Keystone Sergeant. His winning time of 1:54:4 was a career-best, making the triumph even more special. Those who have believed in Noble Prize the last few weeks are likely counting their winnings right now. My guess is he’ll have a lot more folks on his bandwagon next time around. Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: Such An Angel (Matt Kakaley, Hunter Oakes), who scored a win in Sunday night’s featured condition trot in 1:51:3, a new career-best which matched the fastest trotting time posted at Pocono this season; Very Very Fast (Tim Tetrick, Jennifer Bongiorno), who lived up to his name with a condition won on Sunday night in a career-best 1:52:2; and Let’a Be Honest (Simon Allard, Lou Pena), who followed up a win at Harrah’s with a claiming handicap victory on Tuesday afternoon at Pocono in 1:56:1. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ARCH CREDIT Nobody saw this gelding coming in a condition trot on Monday’s card, but, with Kyle Di Benedetto in the bike, he upset the field at 46-1 to pay off $95.80 on a $2 wager. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JIM MORRILL JR. Jim made the most out of his one-off appearance on Saturday night at Pocono, leading all drivers with five victories out of 14 on the program. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: RON BURKE Burke flexed his training muscle during Pennsylvania All-Stars action this week, as his trainees won five of the eight total divisions held for two-year-old pacers on the weekend. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at   Jim Beviglia

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Kadabra harness racing gelding Noble Prize overcame the tough first-over journey for the second straight week, winning the $14,000 claiming handicap trotting feature on the Monday twilight card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. After a forward tuck early, Noble Prize started his uncovered move for driver George Napolitano Jr. on favored High Blue at the half, battling that one down the backstretch, through the turn, and into the stretch. Nearing the wire, the grinder proved the toughest horse, winning by 1¾ lengths, with second-over Keystone Sergeant just along to nip High Blue for second. The winner's time of 1:54.4 gave him a new mark. Noble Prize raced for trainer Lou Pena and owner Clinton Lugar, but he won't go for these connections next time he faces the gate, as he was taken for the $17,000 claiming price, a frequent occurrence at a track with sharp horsemen always looking to acquire fit horses. The featured trot was carded as the curtainraiser on the card; "George Nap" then completed the Early Double with the 10-year-old Cee Pee Panic (the Quebec-bred champion way back at age three) in 1:53.4. Napolitano had a total of five winners on the Monday card, and now has climbed to 299 victories during the season, putting him in fourth among North American drivers. Not bad for a driver who had a total of nine 2019 victories when Pocono opened its season on March 16; only Iron Man Aaron Merriman has won more races than Napolitano since that date.     PHHA / Pocono

WASHINGTON, PA, July 15, 2019 -- Savini grabbed the lead before the quarter and kept right on rolling, scoring his maiden harness racing victory in a stake-record 156.4 in Monday's $80,000 Pennsylvania Stallion Series event at The Meadows. The stake for freshman colt and gelding trotters was contested over four divisions, with Town Victor, Bargain Bob and Libero Hanover taking the other splits. Once Savini hit the point for Dave Palone, he encountered no serious challenges in his third career start, downing Will Power Fashion by 3 lengths, with Drop The Pilot third. The time knocked a tick from the previous stake mark set by Cufflink Hanover in 2015. "I just let him skip along where he was comfortable, and he was well within himself," Palone said. "We weren't shooting for any records, just a good experience. He's super-intelligent." Donna Marshall trains Savini, an Explosive Matter-Ivory Lindy gelding, for Robert McNerney. A growthy Winning Mister-P Town Girl gelding, Town Victor inherited the point following the leader's early break and made the most of it, cruising to his second straight victory for Wilbur Yoder in a career-best 1:58. Vulcan Hanover, who made that early miscue but recovered nicely, was second, 1-3/4 lengths back, while Shell Shock earned show. "He trained down in Florida, and when we got him up here, we just finished him off," said winning trainer Rich Gillock, who owns the homebred Town Victor with Barbara Richardson. "As the year progresses, with his size, we'll maybe try the bigger boys later on. For right now, we're content to do what we're doing. The Arden Downs is next for him." Bargain Bob was coming off a fourth-place finish in a Pennsylvania All-Stars split at Pocono, a performance that persuaded Mike Wilder to send the youngster to the top at the quarter. "He showed some pretty good lines, and he felt good," Wilder said. "A couple of horses I thought I might have to beat were behind me, so I thought I'd take my shot. He was professional and never missed a beat." The strategy worked beautifully, as Bargain Bob defeated the first-over Matter Of Focus by a length in 1:58.3 for his maiden-breaker. Scirocco Patrick completed the ticket. Homer Hochstetler trains the son of Donato Hanover-Frau Blucher for Connie Hochstetler, Robert Buddig and Allen Schwartz. Palone collected three wins on the 13-race program. Live racing at The Meadows continues Tuesday, when the program features a $188,016 PA Sires Stake for 2-year-old colt and gelding trotters as well as a $3,137.76 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. In addition, post positions for Saturday's eliminations for the $400,000 (est) Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids will be announced at mid-day. First post Tuesday is 1:05 PM.   By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

WILKES-BARRE PA - Trainer Ron Burke, who won three of four $30,000 Pennsylvania All-Stars contests for two-year-old pacing fillies Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, came back to add two more when four harness racing divisions of All-Star freshman male pacers went postward Sunday. Tying for Sunday's fastest All-Star performer was the Somebeachsomewhere - Michelle's Jackpot colt Mac's Big Boy, who was the first horse to show off the gate, but tucked and fell back as far as fifth down the back, got room deep in the Pocono Pike and squeezed through under Matt Kakaley's guidance to win for the first time in a purse race in 1:53. Lyons Music, who was to the winner's right in the Pike, ducking inside the pacesetter, was outdashed by ¾ of a length to the wire, with closer Tell Them Lou another neck back in third. Mac's Big Boy, who had won a Gaitway qualifier in 1:55.3, is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby, and Wingfield Five LLC. Also recording a 1:53 victory was the Captaintreacherous - Dream Outloud colt Catch The Fire, who made two speed moves to control the pace for driver Mike Wilder, then sprinted home in 27 for a two length victory over Patriot Nation. A winner of two qualifiers and his purse debut before finishing second in a PA Sire stake in his last start, Catch The Fire posted his fastest time ever for trainer John Ackley and the CT Stables LLC. There wasn't much ability difference showing among the four All-Star winners, as the other two stepped home first in 1:53.1. The other Burke Brigade winner was Cattlewash, who sat in the pocket behind Team Best, who like the winner had had two qualifying wins and then a fast victory in his purse bows This time it was the Somebeachsomewhere - Road Bet colt Cattlewash who had the most kick late, gaining into a :27 last quarter to put away his game foe by a half length. Cattlewash, who had won the fastest Sire Stakes opener in 1:52.1 and who was the first Burke favorite in his quintet of weekend winners, is owned by W J Donovan. The other 1:53.1 winner was the Captaintreacherous - Lets Groove Tonite colt Captain Groovy, who ironically won his purse debut in a Stallion Series race with a time of 1:52, faster than any Sire stakes division. Here Captain Groovy took control of the situation early and really was not threatened in winning by two lengths over Caliber for driver Mark MacDonald and trainer Ray Schnittker, the latter co-owner with Ted Gewertz, Howard Taylor, and Mary Kinsey Arnold. The $21,500 fast-class trot saw the Credit Winner gelding Such An Angel take a new mark of 1:51.3, which also equaled the fastest local trotting effort of the year as well as the divisional season's record, posted twice by Rich And Miserable. Such An Angel didn't look back in this contest, stepping home in 27.3 to leave behind a talented field while raising his earnings to $327,568 for driver Matt Kakaley, trainer Hunter Oakes, and owner Sam Caruso Jr.   PHHA / Pocono

Chester, PA -- There were none better than None Bettor A ($2.20), who posted a gritty 1:49.4 harness racing victory -- his ninth straight -- in Sunday afternoon's (July 14) $30,000 Great Northeast Open Series pacing event at Harrah's Philadelphia. The 6-year-old Bettor's Delight gelding and driver Joe Bongiorno had no trouble achieving the lead in the field of five, clearing inside rival The Wall (George Napolitano Jr.) in a comfortable :27 first quarter before rating a :55.2 half. Up the backstretch, Keep On Rocking A (Pat Berry) mounted a first-over challenge to force None Bettor A to three-quarters in 1:22.3, but the streaking gelding maintained a length lead before shrugging off that foe on the final turn. After dismissing Keep On Rocking A, None Bettor A sprinted off at the eighth pole to leave The Wall in his wake, but Our Max Phactor N (Andy McCarthy) spun three-wide off stalled cover and closed boldly. Undeterred, None Bettor A held sway by a length in 1:49.4 to record his 25th career win. Our Max Phactor N was second, while Mister Ohanzee A (Tim Tetrick) improved belatedly from astern to take third. Jenn Bongiorno trains None Bettor A for Joe P Racing LLC and Oldford Racing LLC. In the sub-feature $18,000 top-level conditioned pace, Tiger Thompson N ($3.00) got back in the win column with a 1:49.4 score over Slick Tony. Dexter Dunn brushed the Josh Parker trainee out from third to clear Sunfire Blue Chip with a lap to go, and the pair parried Slick Tony's rally from third-over by a length. Jackpot Hi-5 carryover climbs past $40k For the first time in its tenure at Harrah's Philadelphia, the Jackpot Hi-5 carryover has surpassed the $40,000 plateau, as the 5-4-1-9-3 combination keyed by Billy Badger N ($4.20, Dunn) in the fifth race yielded a $290.90 dividend to multiple players and a carryover of $40,870.89 for Wednesday afternoon (July 17). The Jackpot Hi-5 is a 20-cent wager that requires players to select the first five finishers in each day's fifth race, with the carryover paid out in the event of one unique winning ticket. Racing returns to Harrah's Philadelphia with a 14-race program on Wednesday; post time is 12:25 p.m. Eastern. by James Witherite Harrah's Philadelphia racing media

CHESTER PA - Rockn Philly, straight off a harness racing victory in the Lynch Consolation at Pocono, won as the heavy favorite in the $17,000 featured distaff pace on Friday afternoon at Harrah's Philadelphia, but she had to be sharp in the stretch to wear down pacesetting Lyons Hedgeabet in 1:51.2. The victorious sophomore daughter of A Rocknroll Dance was away second for the meet's leading driver, Tim Tetrick, as Lyons Hedgeabet beat the entire field away from the outside post eight and put up fractions of :27, :55.3, and 1:22.3. The leader did not surrender easily, but Rockn Philly found enough late to defeat her main rival by a half length for trainer Jim King Jr. and the ownership of Tim Tetrick LLC and Jo Ann Looney-King. There were a pair of $16,000 subfeatures, one for filly and mare pacers and the other for trotters. The pacing event was captured by the Captaintreachrous sophomore filly Alii Nui, who advanced with cover, went three-deep mid-far turn, swept by pacesetting Afraid Not Hanover, then held off the inside move of Ilana Z Tam in 1:52.3 by ¾ of a length. Driver Marcus Miller's father Erv trains the winner, now victorious in four of her last eight starts for Ervin Miller Stable Inc., Hannah Miller, Nick Surick Stable LLC, and Louis Willinger. On the trot, Amador passed Smooth Acceleration going to the quarter and set reasonable middle fractions,with Massive Opulence grinding up first-over. When the first-up made a break headstretch, Smooth Acceleration moved out to challenge, but driver Simon Allard kept the Yankee Glide sophomore gelding Amador rolling and nosed out his charging rival in 1:55.4. It was the second consecutive victory notched by Amador for owner/trainer Joseph King. Before heading to The Meadowlands for nighttime stakes duty after the ninth race, David Miller, the leading active moneywinning driver with over $235M, won four races on the Friday afternoon card.   PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

Chester, PA -- A pair of carryovers will await players on Sunday (July 14) at Harrah's Philadelphia, as not only did multiple players successfully select the daily Jackpot Hi-5 combination on Friday afternoon (July 12), but a spree of harness racing long shots in the Pick-4 sequence rendered that bet without a winner.   In the fifth race, Tyson ($2.80, Victor Kirby) keyed a 4-6-2-9-8 Hi-5 combination that yielded $163.62 to multiple players and boosted the carryover for that wager to $39.416.38. The Jackpot Hi-5 is a 20-cent wager that occurs daily in the fifth race and requires players to select the top five finishers in order. The jackpot is paid in the event of one unique winning ticket.   Three odds-on favorites were upended in the Pick-4 sequence, with Misscheckmatehill ($52.60, Donald Dupont), Piraeus ($20.40, David Miller), Iron Mistress ($67.00, Ray Baynes) and Brunhilda ($22.80, Marcus Miller) proving victorious. With no players successfully selecting all four winners, a $3,459.69 carryover will head to Sunday's seventh race.   Post time for Sunday's 14-race card is 12:40 p.m.       by James Witherite Harrah's Philadelphia racing media

CHESTER PA - Over a track that has not been kind to closers lately, the $14,500 featured harness racing trot on Thursday afternoon at Harrah's Philadelphia narrowed down to a pair of stretch chargers, Rock Of Cashel and All Champy, with the latter getting up in the final strides by a neck in 1:53.3. Rock Of Cashel (driver David Miller) was second-over and All Champy (Dexter Dunn) third-over behind first-up Casa Palmera, who went up to battle pacesetting Inner Peace after the last-named went fractions of :27.3 and :56.3. The front-end duel continued past the 1:24.4 three-quarters and through the turn, with Rock Of Cashel swinging wide and All Champy wider as they headed to the stretch. Rock Of Cashel made the stretch lead, but the Explosive Matter gelding All Champy was a determined trotter, and he got the job done for the seventh time this season while boosting his yearly bankroll to $118,905. William Wyatt trains the winner for owners Howard and Joshua Kauffman. In a $14,000 trotting co-feature, favored Yankees Beast made a break at the ¼, and pacesetting second choice Mystical Wynn lost his gait going around the far turn. The Cantab Hall sophomore filly Dawn Of Glory kept her composure, sitting in the pocket and inheriting the lead nearing headstretch, then holding off Fanatic by 1 3/4 lengths while equaling her speed badge of 1:57 as rain started to fall. Andy Miller was in the sulky for trainer/wife Julie and the ownership of Red Wall Stables LLC and Andy Miller Stable Inc. The rain falling in this race, the seventh of the program, turned into a "monsoon," as track announcer Mike Bozich described it, with the eighth race field having to battle a 30 mile per hour stretch headwind and a heavy downpour. After that race, there was a weather delay, so that the racetrack could be reconditioned after the rapidly-moving storm passed through.   PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

CHESTER PA - The sensational Australian import None Bettor A goes for his ninth consecutive harness racing victory on Sunday afternoon at Harrah's Philadelphia as the 9-5 morning line favorite in a $30,000 Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS) contest for fast-class open pacers. None Bettor A, an altered son of Bettor's Delight trained by Jennifer Bongiorno for owners Joe P Racing LLC and Oldford Racing LLC, opened his U.S. account with a pair of good thirds, then has been untouchable since his win streak started on April 27. During that time, he has won his only two starts in the GNOS, and he equaled the all-time track record at Cleveland's Northfield Park with a 1:49 victory over the half-mile oval. Jen Bongiorno's brother Joe is to drive None Bettor A as the pair begins from post two in Sunday's seven-horse field. The last time the GNOS open pacers were at Philly, Keep On Rocking A and Our Max Phactor N were a nose apart at the wire, and they again figure to be in the thick of the action this Sunday. Keep On Rocking A, who closed from eighth at the stretch call to win that race, his second after a brief layoff, will begin from post four for trainer Chris Scicluna and driver Pat Berry, while Our Max Phactor N, who had to go first-over in that contest and almost hung on, will begin from post five for "Team Andrew" - trainer Andrew Harris and driver Andrew McCarthy. Also in the field are The Wall (PP1, trainer Nick Surick, driver George Napolitano Jr.), I'm A Big Deal (PP3, trainer Chris Ryder, driver Dexter Dunn), Decoy (PP6, trainer Gary Candell, driver Jimmy Takter), and Mister Ohanzee A (PP7, trainer Jim King Jr., driver Tim Tetrick). The GNOS contest is slated for the seventh race on Sunday's fourteen-race Philly card, which is scheduled to begin at 12:40 p.m.   Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association, in conjunction with Harrah's Philadelphia and The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono racetracks

Chester, PA -- The carryover for the Jackpot Hi-5 continues to grow at Harrah's Philadelphia, with $36,035.38 awaiting harness racing players in the fifth race on Thursday afternoon (July 11).   Persistent Threat A's victory as the 8-5 favorite in Wednesday's (July 10) fifth race keyed a 1-7-9-4-2 combination that returned $253.36 to successful backers, while yielding the highest carryover to date in the history of the wager.   The 20-cent wager carries a low 15 percent takeout and occurs daily in the fifth race, with the carryover paid out in the event of one unique winner. In the event of no or multiple winners, the carryover progresses to the next card. The Jackpot Hi-5 was hit for $35,989.90 on May 23.   Post time on Thursday is 12:25 p.m. Eastern.     by James Witherite Harrah's Philadelphia racing media

WASHINGTON, PA, July 10, 2019 -- Parked three wide through a grueling 27.1 opening quarter, Tee's Sweet Ryde nevertheless was much the best as she jogged to a 1:53.4 harness racing victory in Wednesday's feature -- an $11,800 Filly & Mare Conditioned Pace -- at The Meadows. Making her first start at The Meadows following her recent purchase by Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Tee's Sweet Ryde easily withstood the first-over challenge of Sewonandsewforth, defeating her by 3 lengths. McCheetah finished third. Dave Palone piloted the 3-year-old daughter of Sweet Lou-Ryder Blue Chip, who had been campaigning at Hoosier Park, for trainer Ron Burke. Tony Hall collected four wins and Aaron Merriman three on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Saturday, when the program features a pair of carryovers -- $916.43 in the Pick 5 (races 2-6), $2,345.80 in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 1:05 PM.   By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

CHESTER PA - The Muscle Mass sophomore gelding Cavill Hanover came off the stakes trail and promptly wired his field in the $16,000 trotting feature in a career best 1:55 during the Wednesday afternoon harness racing program at Harrah's Philadelphia. Trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt never showed any intention than to race the three-year-old on the lead, and Cavill Hanover took the field through fractions of :27.4, :57.4, and 1:25.4. Favored Daylon Phantom came three-wide on the final turn and loomed menacingly, but Cavill Hanover had more than enough to turn back his late charge by 1 1/2 lengths. The Wolfgang A Stable Inc. and Boris Nasstrom share ownership in the winner with the Little E LLC of Jeff Gural, who earlier in the day was announced as being on the summer ballot for election to the Hall of Fame. In a $14,500 event for fast-class pacers, favored Ideal Wheel brushed to the lead after a :26.3 quarter, and before the :55.3 half he was challenged by Santiago Style, who was parked the mile. The two continued their fight past the 1:23.4 three-quarters and into the stretch, where it was the favorite who gave way - but Santiago Style had Western Hill on his back from the second turn, and it was that Western Ideal gelding who went by the gallant if unlucky Santiago Style late to win by ¾ of a length in 1:52.3. Corey Callahan guided the winner of two straight and $298,707 lifetime for trainer Ed Gannon Jr., also co-owner with Frank Canzone. Tim Tetrick, who literally minutes before the Early Double had his place on this summer's Hall of Fame balloting announced, then went out to sweep the Double with favorites Sweet Colt Of Mine and Turn The Paige. In all Tetrick, the leading dashwinning driver at Philly, had five victories; another came with the freshman Somebeachsomewhere - Fashion Ecstasy filly, Beyond Ecstasy, a full sister to Filibuster Hanover who won her purse bow in 1:55.3.   PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

WILKES-BARRE PA - The two-year-old Pennsylvania-sired pacers take over the harness racing spotlight this weekend at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with four $30,000 divisions of the Pennsylvania All-Stars event for females scheduled for Saturday and the same number of sections for males carded for Sunday. Ron Burke, operator of the biggest stable in North American harness racing and a Pennsylvania-based horsemen, has no fewer than twenty-two freshmen entered in the Pocono weekend stakes action - a dozen fillies on Saturday and ten colts on Sunday. Burke will send out the favorite in one division of the fillies and two among the colts. The baby miss who is the morning line favorite in her cut for Burke is the Sweet Lou - Breakheart Pass filly Shouldabeenatd, who won two of her three preparatory qualifiers at New Jersey's Gaitway Farms, then was second in a Kindergarten Series leg at The Meadowlands, timed in 1:52.2. Burke also has the second choice in this tenth race contest, Sweet Ace (Sweet Lou - One Ace Too Many), who makes her first purse start on Saturday after winning two Gaitway qualifiers, the faster in 1:54.3. The filly entrants have among them four horses who have already posted a winning clocking of 1:55 or less, plus five more who have a victory in less than 1:56. Also entered is the Somebeachsomewhere - Wild West Show filly Rodeo Beach, who last Friday won a stakes race at Goshen despite suffering interference midrace. On the colt and gelding side, the Burke Brigade has the top two choices in the fifth race cut, the colt Lou's Sweetrevenge (Sweet Lou - Before The Poison) and the gelding Caliber (Sweet Lou - Allstar Rating), both of whom were third in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes racing at The Meadows last Saturday. Also in this section is the intriguing Captain Groovy (Captaintreacherous - Lets Groove Tonite), who won a Stallion Series contest at The Meadows in 1:52 - faster than any of the three Sire Stakes divisions. The fastest of those Sire Stakes winners was Cattlewash, a Somebeachsomewhere - Road Bet colt, who won his race by 5¼ lengths in 1:52.1 while paying a very un-Burke-like $41.60. His main rival in their ninth race division appears to be Team Best (Somebeachsomewhere - Sports Chic), who won his betting bow in 1:53.2 at Woodbine/Mohawk. Among the four sections of colts, nine have already been under the finish line first in 1:55 or less, plus another three who show a victorious time less than 1:56.   PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - Sister Sledge trotted the fastest mile of 2019 by a freshman when she won one of five $30,000 harness racing divisions of Pennsylvania All-Stars action for two-year-old trotting fillies in 1:53.4 on the Tuesday twilight card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. A daughter of freshman colt track recordholder Father Patrick out of the $580,000+-winning Behindclosedoors, Sister Sledge tucked behind a :27.2 early duel between Ms Savannah Belle and Solsbury Hill, then moved uncovered towards the :56.4 half. Ms Savannah Belle (Jimmy Takter driving) put up a good fight along the inside to the 1:25.1 three-quarters and through the turn, but in the stretch Yannick Gingras sat calmly in the sulky as his powerful horse drew away to a 4 1/2 length victory for trainer Ron Burke and the ownership of Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Jason Mellilo, and J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby. Sister Sledge, the only favorite to win in these All-Stars events, won three qualifiers at Gaitway, the last in 1:55.2, before making her purse bow with a 1:56.2 win in a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes last Tuesday. Her clocking eclipsed the fastest time by a freshman filly, 1:55.1 by Love A Good Story at Tioga, and even eclipsed the 1:54.3 put up by the colt Play Trix On Me at The Meadowlands. After this effortless victory, one could believe an interesting note within the USTA website: next to MARKINGS on Sister Sledge's page is a single word: STAR. Trainer Burke also had the second-fastest All-Star winner in Sans Defaut, who overcame the outside post nine in 1:55.2, stepping home in 28 from the pocket for driver Matt Kakaley to outrush pacesetter Never Content by 1¼ lengths. A daughter of Muscle Hill out of Fearless Lindy who was third in a Sire Stakes in her purse debut, Sans Defaut (whose name translate from the French to "flawless") crossed the wire first for the first time for many of the owners of Sister Sledge - Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC along with J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby - with Crawford Farms Racing also sharing ownership of Sans Defaut. Team Orange Crush - trainer Julie and husband/driver Andy - also tallied with two All-Stars winners, and like Burke they had a Father Patrick and a Muscle Hill win for them. Their successful daughter of Muscle Hill, out of Anonyme Hanover, was the 1:55.4 winner Aldabra Hanover, who had horses coming at her throughout the mile, including favored Jula Beauty AM on the far turn, but that one broke in the lane and wound up 3¼ lengths behind Aldabra Hanover. The filly won a PA Sires contest in her purse debut, and here lowered her mark by over two seconds for Stroy Inc. and Andy Miller Stable Inc. Team Orange Crush's Father Patrick winner was Word Of Honor, out of Honor Thy Daughter, who was hard used to get the lead but then maintained it to the wire, coming home in :28.3 to finish out a 1:57.1 mile in her purse bow (she had a 1:57.2 qualifying win), a length to the good of Context. Brittany Farms LLC, Marvin Katz, and Al Libfeld share ownership in the winner. The Father Patrick - Tail Of Night miss Do You Wanna Dance made every pole a winning one in her cut, but she had to put in successive back quarters of :28.3 to withstand favored pocketsitter Knockdown Dragout by a neck in 1:55.3, lowering her race mark by 3 3/5 seconds. Corey Callahan had the driving assignment from trainer John Butenschoen for owners William Wiswell, Jean Goehlen, and Eugene Schick. FINISHING LINES - Six divisions of All-Star colts averaged 1:56.2 win times Monday night; on Tuesday, only slightly warmer, the fillies averaged 1:55.3 ... The week's claiming activity (15 for $326,250) pushed the Pocono seasonal totals over 300 claims and over $6,000,000 in transactions for sharp racehorses.   PHHA / Pocono

WASHINGTON, PA, July 9, 2019 -- Touchamatic outdueled Camera Lady for the early lead and rolled home without a serious harness racing challenge in a sharp 1:50.2 in Tuesday's $20,000 Filly & Mare Open Handicap Pace at The Meadows. Touchamatic easily thwarted the first-over challenge of Baron Remy and defeated Camera Lady by 2 lengths, with Keystone Riptide a ground-saving third. Aaron Merriman piloted the 5-year-old daughter of American Ideal-Perfect Touch, who won for the 11th time this season and extended her career bankroll to $317,822, for trainer Bill Bercury and owner Renee Bercury. It was one of five victories for Merriman on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows continues Wednesday, when the program features a $1,989.60 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 1:05 PM.   By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association          

WILKES-BARRE PA - Six $30,000 divisions of Pennsylvania All-Stars stakes harness racing action for two-year-old trotting males were featured Monday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with enough pedigree and precociousness showing that fans of the mountain oval may have seen a starter or two in the 2020 Hambletonian, a race 13 months to the day in the future. Two of the winners set season's records in 1:55.2; the one with the more adventurous journey was the gelding Real Cool Sam, whose sire Muscle Hill had four stallion credits in the six All-Stars races and whose mother Cooler Schooner set a 1:51.3 world record here as a freshman. David Miller settled the winner, who won his purse bow in 1:56 at Philly, in fourth early as double purse winner and favored (both were 4-5 on the board) Paulie Walnuts went down the road in :28.1, :57.4, and 1:26.2, with the winner moving right to him approaching the three-quarters. Real Cool Sam was working by Paulie Walnuts late on the turn when he suddenly bore out three-wide nearing headstretch, where the Pocono paddock is located, and Paulie Walnuts found himself back on a clear lead. But Miller soon straightened out the Jim Campbell-trained freshman, and despite the detour "Sam" won in 1:55.2, within 2/5 of a second of the world record for the division (Correctamundo, Mississippi Storm, White Tiger) - on July 9 -- and a season's record for baby geldings on any size of track. Paulie Walnuts could not respond to Real Cool Sam's resurgence and made a late break, finishing second, 5¾ lengths behind the budding star, for Fashion Farms LLC. The other 1:55.2 mile fell to Big Oil, a son of Pocono freshman track recordholder Father Patrick out of the half-million-dollar-winning Cee Bee Yes. Big Oil also took the tuck-then-first-route for driver Andy Miller, but he was the recipient of good fortune when Legion Of Honor, who moved to the lead after a :27.4 opener and set middle fractions of :57.4 and 1:26.2, made a break nearing headstretch fighting against the winner. Big Oil took a 2¼ length margin over favored Expectations under the wire in his purse bow for trainer Julie Miller and owners Joseph, Douglas and Ronald Allen while also rewriting the North American season's standard for colts. Big Oil                                 ---Curtis Salonick photo Trainer Marcus Melander, who has been dominating the three-year-old colt stakes, won the first two divisions of this freshman action with Muscle Hill colts making their purse bows. One was with Rome Pays Off, who is out of the mare Order By Wish - which makes him a full brother to Marseille, who ironically defeated Melander's big gun Greenshoe here in the recent Beal Championship. Mattias Melander raced Rome Pays Off in the pocket behind pacesetter Vinny De Vie, then went to the Pocono Pike and overhauled that rival by ¾ of a length in 1:58.1, closing into a :58.2 back half for the S R F Stable. Marcus Melander then teamed with driver Brian Sears (the Greenshoe combo) to win with Hellbent For AM S, out of the mare Nalda Nof, who came first-over, made the lead in the lane, then held off the horse on his back, Patriarch Hanover, by a neck in 1:56.1 for Courant Inc. The time was a season's record for 18 minutes until Big Oil came along, and a tick shy of the time he recorded in a dead-heat qualifying win. The Explosive Matter colt Can't Say No, a $78.60 shocker winning his purse debut here, saw the crowd back him Monday to favoritism, and he and trainer/driver Ray Schnittker responded with a wire-to-wire win in 1:55.4, a new mark. Steel Schooner was good in the pocket but at the finish could get no closer than 1¼ lengths behind Can't Say No, who is co-owned by Schnittker in partnership with Steven Arnold, Arden Homestead Stable, and Fred Hertrich III. The other of Muscle Hill's winning sons was Mister Walker, the first foal out of world champion mare D'Orsay, who was successful in his first start for a purse in 1:57.1. Corey Callahan got the youngster going quickly raw out of fifth down the back and Mister Walker gobbled up the ground (his own last half in 57.3) to reach pacesetter Dublin, then overhauled that rival by ¾ of a length for trainer Jonas Czernyson and Consus Racing Stable Inc. FINISHING LINES - The Early Double produced what might be a once-in-a-lifetime sight: George Napolitano Jr. and Tim Tetrick combining on a 3-6 ticket worth $5934.00, with George winning with Noble Prize ($42.40) and then Tim bringing home Logan Hanover ($38.20). ... Napolitano wound up with four wins on the twilight card, giving him eleven in the first three days at Pocono this racing week, and sixteen if including Friday and Sunday action at Philly.   PHHA / Pocono

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