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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

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

WILKES-BARRE PA - Trainer Ron Burke sent out winners in three of the four $30,000 divisions of Pennsylvania All-Stars competition at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Saturday night. Harness racing driver Simon Allard drove two of the successful freshman fillies for Burke, including the fastest winner, Shouldabeenatd, whose 1:52.3 winning time was a North American season's record. Allard left with the Sweet Lou - Breakheart Pass filly then let Lyons Sentinel go to the top before the :27.2 quarter; that one in turn gave way to favored Firefly in front of the stands, and she went on to the half in :56, with Shouldabeenatd coming back for more first-over and battling the leader to the 1:24.1 three-quarters. Neither of the frontenders gave an inch around the turn and into the stretch, where Lyons Sentinel joined them in the Pocono Pike. Shouldabeenatd showed tenacity late in putting up a head decision over Lyons Sentinel, with Firefly fading slightly late to be another length back. The winner, who had a 1:54.1 qualifying win at The Meadowlands and was second in her purse bow, is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. The former season's record of 1:53.2 had been equaled by another Burke/Allard combination earlier, when the A Rocknroll Dance - Liscaramore miss Dance Club notched her first purse win after a 1:57 Gaitway offtrack qualifier. Dance Club, who had a 1:57 sloppy track win in a Gaitway qualifier, made two early moves then sat in the two-hole while All In Fun and favored Wayside dueled on the front end, then cleared in the lane and paced off to a 1 3/4 length victory over All In Fun for Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Knox Services Inc., and David Wills. Mike Simons was in the sulky for Burke when the Somebeachsomewhere - Palazzo Princess distaff Sailaja Deo took her All-Stars event in 1:56 in her purse debut, coming after a 1:55 qualifying win at Gaitway. Simons had Sailaja Deo in the pocket behind pacesetting favorite Silver Tail, shifted outside when first-over Blood Red got by the pacesetter late on the turn, then ducked back inside and caught Blood Red by a head for owners Burke Racing Stable LLC, Phil Collura, Lawrence Karr, and J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby. None of the Burke winners was favored by the Pocono faithful, but the fourth divisional winner, the Captaintreacherous - Cashaway filly Lyons Monatize, did reward the crowd's backing her as she won by the largest margin, 2½ lengths, in 1:55.1 for driver Jim Morrill Jr. The Gareth Dowse trainee stepped home in :27.4 with no pressure to take her initial purse start (she had won a Pocono qualifier in the same time as this victory) for owner Geoffrey Lyons Mound. In a $21,500 fast-class co-featured pace, Soho Wallstreet A had three wins in this class showing in his lines, yet he still got away at 5-1, then rallied from the pocket to post a 1:50.2 triumph. Pat Berry guided the Four Starzzz Shark gelding, now a winner of $331,613, for trainer Scott Di Domenico and J G Racing Stable. Morrill and Burke both recorded five victories on the night, combining with Always At My Place and Mystery Island after the All-Stars races had been completed. Burke Racing Stable LLC owns a share of all of the Burke quintet. PHHA / Pocono

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

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

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Muscle Mass gelding Im The Muscle is in the process of regaining his top form, winning his second straight race on Sunday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and posting a mark of 1:53.4 in taking the $17,500 harness racing trotting feature. Driver Simon Allard hustled the winner, trained by his brother Rene, to the lead before the :27.3 quarter, then yielded to early brusher Optimist Blue Chip, who set middle fractions of :56.4 and 1:25.1. Allard waited patiently for the Pocono Pike, then quickly got his trotter in gear, with the pair going by Optimist Blue Chip by ¾ of a length for owner Rheau Vieu. In a $17,000 co-featured trot, the Explosive Matter mare Pat Matters is now perfect in two starts under the care of trainer "Nifty" Norman after a 1:53.4 triumph. Driver Marcus Miller directed the mare to the front by the :27.2 quarter, got a breather through a :57.1 half, geared up to battle the bid of first-over Max to a 1:25.4 three-quarters, then stepped home in :28 to keep off the resilient Max by a neck. The Patricia Stable owns the winner. Driver Jim Marohn Jr. was unseated by his horse Draft Year during the post parade for race 3, and was taken to the hospital. He was treated and released, and he is recuperating at home. The loose horse was caught by outrider Tia Shafer and returned to the paddock, and then scratched from the race. Pocono had its second $100+-paying winner in two nights, and third in six cards after not having had one since one since April 13, as Tom Jackson rallied P L Lester off a hot pace to win the night's first event at a $137.00 mutuel for trainer Scott Di Domenico. After the first race toteboard fireworks, eleven favorites were victorious in the remaining thirteen races on the card. Tyler Buter and George Napolitano Jr. each won four races on Sunday at Pocono. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - Three divisions of three-year-old trotting colts took to a "sloppy" harness racing track at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Saturday evening to contest $30,000 sections of a Pennsylvania All-Stars contest. Goes Down Smooth, winner of the Walner final and a Pennsylvania Sire Stake before being plagued by some bad luck in June, returned to top form in an impressive way, winning his All-Stars division in a lifetime best 1:53.1 in the off going. Matt Kakaley moved the Muscle Hill gelding to the lead past the :28.3 quarter , reached the half in :56.4, opened up a big lead to the 1:24.1 three-quarters, then coasted home 6¾ lengths ahead of Faithfulandtrue. Goes Down Smooth has now own half of his ten seasonal starts for trainer Ron Burke and the ownership of Burke Racing Stable LLC, William Switala, James Martin, and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Lindy's Crazy Hall won his third straight race in taking his All-Stars contest in 1:54.4 in the sloppy conditions. Driver Drew Monti, who recently moved his base to Plainridge and has made an important connection there with Lindy Farms and trainer Domenico Cecere, sent the son of Cantab Hall right to the top, going :28.2 and :58 to the first two markers, then buzzing him home in successive :28.2 panels to hold off late-closing Mass Fortune K by ¾ of a length, with favored Explosivebreakway, a full brother to Phaetosive, another length back in third. The Explosive Matter gelding Chiplosive had notched his latest victory with the guidance of George Napolitano Jr., so trainer Trond Smedshammer tapped Pocono's leading driver to handle the sophomore in the third All-Star cut, and the reunited pair brought off a 1:56 victory under the off conditions. Chiplosive went sent to the front well before the :28 quarter, then benefited from some confusion directly behind him approaching the finish line for the first time and took advantage by putting up mild middle fractions of :57.2 and 1:26.3. The winner, now victorious in half of eight starts this year, stayed safely in front to the wire though tiring in the mire, with Final Claim closing to within ¾ of a length at the finish, a neck ahead of Consus Victory. Purple Haze Stables LLC owns the winner. Prairie Panther, winner of two straight Open handicaps at Tioga, brought his winning ways over the state line and won the $21,500 fast-class pace in 1:51.2. The Royal Millennium gelding, owned by trainer Mike Deters in partnership with Laurie Lee Poulin, made two moves in the race, grinding down favored pacesetter, than withstanding a clearing-too-late Soho Wallstreet A by 1¼ lengths to raise his career win percentage over 50% (29-for-57). Matt Kakaley recorded his fourth winner of the card, tying George Napolitano Jr. for nightly honors. Pocono's "Poster Boys of Claiming," Rock The Town and Atta Boy Dan, both won their $20,000 divisions of the top claiming handicap pace in identical 1:51.2 clockings through the muck. They both started from the far outside post, and both were again claimed for the $40,000 top tag - within each horse's last seven starts, Rock The Town has been claimed five times (7-3-3-0-$46,000) and Atta Boy Dan six times (7-4-1-1-$48,400, his four wins coming with four different trainers). Eight transactions in four claiming races grossed $221,250 exchanged. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - On Monday and Tuesday The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono will be hosting $330,000 worth of Pennsylvania All-Stars stakes action for two-year-old trotters, with many well-pedigreed babies already showing racing ability taking another early step towards the top of their harness racing classes. Monday will find six divisions of competition for males, while on Tuesday five sections of females will go behind the gate. The Marcus Melander stable, which has dominated the three-year-old trotting colt division so far with their "Triple G" attack of Greenshoe, Gimpanzee, and Green Manalishi S, will be sending an entrant out in each of the six Monday All-Stars divisions. Five of the Melander sextet show wins in freshman qualifying races - the fastest winner is the Muscle Hill - Nalda Nof colt Hellbent For Am S, who dead-heated for win in 1:56 at The Meadowlands, while another is Rome Pays Off, the Muscle Hill - Order By Wish full brother to Marseille, who just won the Beal Championship here at the expense of Greenshoe and Green Manalishi S. Also among the entrants are the well-bred North American season's recordholders for freshman males on 5/8-mile tracks: the Andover Hall - D Liteful Hanover colt Paulie Walnuts, a double pari-mutuel winner already with a 1:56.2 mark, and the Muscle Hill - Cooler Schooner gelding Real Cool Sam, who won his purse bow in 1:56. The two-year-old trotting fillies have already had a leg of their pari-mutuel Pennsylvania Sire Stakes / Stallion Series competition already, with two of the divisional Sire Stakes winners coming to race at Pocono on Tuesday. The fastest cut of the PaSS action conducted this past Tuesday at The Meadows was won by the Father Patrick - Behindclosedoors miss Sister Sledge, who won three straight qualifiers at Gaitway for the Ron Burke stable, the fastest in 1:55.2, then won her purse bow at her "home track" in 1:56.2. Three other stakes winners racing Tuesday, representing all the levels of Pennsylvania-sired competition, are Aldabra Hanover, the Muscle Hill - Anonyme Hanover baby who also won a Sire Stakes at The Meadows; the Donato Hanover - Headintheclouds filly Path Of Totality, victorious in a Stallion Series division; and Berry Kay, a daughter of Sebastian K S - Spiceberry Hanover who struck the stakes scoreboard on the Pennsylvania fair circuit with a Sire Stakes win at Butler.   PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - Trainers of some quality three-year-old colt trotters will have an idea about the future route of their charges - the Grand Circuit, state-bred competition, or "back to the drawing board" - after they contest three $30,000 divisions of a Pennsylvania All-Stars harness racing event at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Saturday evening. In the third race first division, the Muscle Hill gelding Goes Down Smooth has been established as the early favorite from post two for trainer Ron Burke and driver Matt Kakaley. The winner of the Walner series final at The Meadowlands and a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes at The Meadows, Goes Down Smooth qualified for the Beal Trot Championship here last Saturday, but was far behind early and then suffered interference; he and his connections will be hoping for better racing luck here in the field of six. The Ãke Svanstedt stable, which masterminded the upset of the heralded Greenshoe in the Beal Championship with Marseille, will send out Night Hall as the second choice from post four, with Eric Carlson guiding the Muscle Hill colt who shows a second and a third in Pennsylvania stakes competition. In the fifth race second division, the Explosive Matter gelding Explosivebreakaway, a full brother to the top mare Phaetosive, starts from the rail for trainer Fred Grant and driver Tom Jackson. The lightly-raced colt, locally-based, has six wins in ten lifetime starts, including a Pennsylvania Sire Stake win over the track and a solid victory in an overnight race here last week. The Cantab Hall colt Lindy's Crazy Hall has two wins in three starts in 2019, including a Stallion Series victory, and he may be coming on strongly now as he starts from post three for trainer Domenico Cecere and driver Drew Monti. In the third division tenth race, the Muscle Hill gelding Final Claim looks to rebound from the rail for the Burke / Kakaley team. Final Claim was undefeated in three seasonal starts prior to the Walner final, where he made a break, and following a layoff after that race, he did well after a hard trip in his comeback attempt. Rock My Muscles and Chiplosive both have Stallion Series victories to their credit, but in this division they have had the misfortune to draw the outside posts six and seven, respectively. First of fourteen races on the Saturday night card at Pocono is listed for 7 p.m. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - Eclipse Me N equaled the world record for older pacing mares on a 5/8-mile track when she won the $17,500 featured distaff pace in 1:48.2 during the Tuesday harness racing twilight card at the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Eclipse Me N, a seven-year-old daughter of Real Desire coming off a 1:50.4 win at Yonkers, went right to the front for driver Simon Allard and stayed in firm control of the race, going out in :26.3, posting :27.3 splits in the middle for :54.1 and 1:21.4 clockings, and then storming home in :26.3 to equal the divisional world record first established right here at Pocono by Drop The Ball on August 17, 2013. Pocketsitter Shebang N finished two lengths behind the new world champion, who is trained by Rene Allard, is owned by Allard Racing Inc., Yves Sarrazin, and Donald Mac Rae, and reduced her mark from 1:50.1. The freshman trotting colt Paulie Walnuts is perfect after two career starts after a wire-to-wire 1:56.2 victory, not only a lifetime best but also a North American season's record. The likely reason trainer Gareth Dowse could lure driver Jim Morrill Jr. to Pocono for his first appearance since May 19, Paulie Walnuts went to the front early and had no problems throughout the mile, although Hit Show did very well from the pocket to stay within 1¼ lengths of the winner at the finish. The son of Andover Hall out of D Liteful Hanover (a half-sister to Donato Hanover) looks like a potential stakes colt for owner Howard Taylor. Anthony Napolitano drove five winners on the Tuesday Pocono card, three of them for trainer Jose Godinez. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Majestic Son gelding High Blue took a new mark of 1:54.2 at age nine as he was a winner in the $14,000 claiming handicap trotting feature on the Monday twilight harness racing card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Simon Allard, driving for trainer/brother Rene and owners Allard Racing Inc., was away swiftly with High Blue, putting fellow leavers in behind him before a :27.1 quarter. After a :56.2 half, Djokovic N came first-over and battled with the leader to and past the 1:24.3 three-quarters. High Blue proved game in the lane, holding off both Djokovic N and pocketsitting Chuckabuck, with the biggest late threat coming from the fast-closing Keystone Charger, but that one came up 3/4 of a length shy of the winner of $264,209, who now has 35 career wins. In a $13,000 contest for two-year-old pacing fillies, two misses put on a titanic struggle the last 3/8 of a mile, as the American Ideal - Good Stuff filly American Dreamgirl nosed out the Captaintreacherous - Tutu Hanover miss Lyons Sentinel in 1:54.4, lowering her mark by 3 3/5 seconds. Gareth Dowse sent Lyons Sentinel around favored American Dreamgirl and Simon Allard early, hitting the quarter in :27.4, then slowing the half to :59. American Dreamgirl came out of the pocket at the 5/8, and the pair fought tooth-and-nail the rest of the way. American Dreamgirl got a brief lead past the 1:26.4 three-quarters; Lyons Sentinel reclaimed command at headstretch, only to have American Dreamgirl stay on and stick her nose ahead right on the money. The winner, also successful in an Excelsior A race at Monticello seven days previously, is trained by Kevin Lare for owner Frank Chick.   PHHA / Pocono

Expectations are a funny thing. They can put you in a mindset where you can only see a few possible outcomes for some upcoming event, when, in actuality, life has a funny way of showing us that anything can happen at any time. That is certainly true in the world of high-stakes harness racing, where unpredictability is built into the sport because of the dependence on animals to repeat performances week after week against other top-notch competitors all trying to do the same thing. After watching the eliminations for the 2019 edition of Sun Stakes Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, I thought I had a pretty good feel for what would transpire. But I can't say that any of the four Finals this past Saturday worked out anything like what I would have expected, other than the fact that they were all as exciting as could be predicted. I clearly wasn't alone in my confusion, as none of the four races was won by a favorite, and the odds for the winners got progressively longer as the night went on. Let's take a look back at what transpired and try to pick apart how the unexpected became commonplace on this star-studded night of racing. THE JAMES M. LYNCH MEMORIAL PACE FOR THREE-YEAR-OLD PACING FILLIES: What We Expected To Happen: A showdown between Treacherous Reign and Warrawee Ubeaut, two fillies who have been going back and forth at each other in a battle for divisional supremacy. What Actually Happened: Well, in this case, we weren't all that far off, because there was indeed a showdown between Warrawee Ubeaut and Treacherous Reign, the top two choices in the race. But that showdown occurred too early and for too long a chunk of the mile, leaving both a bit weary in the lane. That left the 3-1 third choice Stonebridge Soul in perfect position in the pocket. Driver Tim Tetrick guided the Chris Ryder trainee up the passing lane for the victory by three-quarters of a length in 1:49:3, providing the first indication that the pocket was going to be the place to be on this night. THE MAX C. HEMPT MEMORIAL PACE FOR THREE-YEAR-OLD PACERS What We Expected To Happen: Proof, with a much better post position than the other two elimination winners, would build on his outstanding career-best mile in the eliminations and dominate. What Actually Happened: Proof did indeed go off with 1-5 expectations, but wasn't on his game after starting slow, eventually finishing sixth. Meanwhile, Captain Victorious tried to double on his elim win with another gutsy front-pacing effort. But he couldn't shake Shake That House, trained by Chris Oakes, who has a shelf full of huge stakes victories at Pocono. From the pocket, Shake That House, with Brian Sears in the bike, erupted late for a two-length win in a career-best 1:49:2, paying off handsomely for his backers with 8-1 odds. THE BEN FRANKLIN PACE FOR FREE-FOR-ALL PACERS What We Expected To Happen: A three-way donnybrook between Western Fame, McWicked, and Lather Up that would produce a definitive aged pacing group standout. What Actually Happened: Lather Up continued to be haunted by clunkers during the biggest nights at Pocono, starting slowly and eventually breaking stride. McWicked battled first over but could never get even with the leader. Western Fame, who went off as the favorite, set that pace, but was pressured enough by McWicked that he labored in the lane. Which left This Is The Plan, winless in 2019 coming into the race, ready for his closeup. The Ron Burke trainee came flying from the pocket with Yannick Gingras driving to win at 12-1 in 1:48:2. THE EARL BEAL JR. MEMORIAL TROT What We Expected To Happen: A coronation for Greenshoe, the colt who many thought could only lose if he broke stride (and even then, many wondered if it would matter.) What Actually Happened: Trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt didn't get the memo apparently, because he fired out from an outside post with 55-1 shot Marseille as if the outcome was still up in the air. Greenshoe, meanwhile, got away a bit lethargically, in much the same manner as he did in the elimination. The difference on this night was that he was beaten to the punch in the outer flow, meaning that he couldn't glide up to his liking. Once he finally did shake free, it was too late to catch the well-rated Marseille, the stunning winner in 1:52:3. 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 Muscle Massive gelding Two AM won his fourth straight trip over the red oval at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, showing a powerful last sixteenth to catch pacesetting The Veteran by a neck in 1:53.1 in Sunday night's $21,500 harness racing feature. Driver Tyler Buter pushed the favored The Veteran with his second choice to a :27.2 quarter; the chalk got moderate middle fractions of :56.1 and 1:25.1 with no outside pressure. Outside pressure for the leader, in fact, did not come until early stretch when Buter moved Two AM to the outside, and despite trotting a :28 last quarter The Veteran could not withstand the winner of $401,135 lifetime in a hard-knocking stretch battle. While not particularly successful away from the local scene, Two AM has not lost at Pocono since April 21, all at high levels, for trainer Todd Buter and the ownership of Buter Farm Inc., Lynette Buter, and William and Carol Fuhs. The Big Stick Lindy mare Satin Dancer, shipping in from Indiana for trainer Travis Alexander and the ownership of Summit Pacing Acres LLC, rallied from the pocket to come within a fifth of her lifetime record of 1:53, taken here last year, in the $17,500 co-feature. Satin Dancer, favored slightly over fellow 8 to 5 proposition Blenheim, had a tough task in front of her as Blenheim drew off to a clear lead nearing the ¾ and into the turn, but the Matt Kakaley-driven winner, now with earnings of $701,940, gradually ate into the leader's margin and wound up 1½ lengths ahead of Karets, who outclosed Blenheim by ¾ of a length for second. The promising trotter Explosive Breakaway, an altered sophomore son of Explosive Matter - Phaeton and thus a full brother to top mare Phaetosive, went wire-to-wire in a $17,000 trot, stepping home in :56.3 to defeat pocketsitter The Lionking AS by ¾ of a length in 1:55.1; favored Max made an early break but then recovered nicely to be third. Tom Jackson drove the winner, who has won three of five starts at both two and three including a PA Sire Stake here on June 2, is co-owned by trainer Fred Grant along with Janice Rubin, Steve Katz, and Murray Brown. Trainers Mike Watson and Travis Alexander both had winners in consecutive races - Watson used the catch-driving brothers of Anthony and George Napolitano, while Alexander used the father-son combination of John and Matt Kakaley.   PHHA / Pocono

Wilkes-Barre, PA - Ake Svanstedt expected his colt Marseille to follow heavy harness racing favorite Greenshoe in Saturday's (June 29) $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial, but his plan never came to fruition. Instead, Marseille led from start to finish in the event for 3-year-old trotters to spring a 55-1 upset at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Marseille won the Beal by a head over Greenshoe, the 1-9 favorite whose furious rally in the final sixteenth of a mile came up a stride short, in a time of 1:52.3 over a track labeled "good" to spark a $116 payout on a $2 win ticket. Green Manalishi S finished third. At the start of the race, Marseille and Swandre The Giant each left quickly from outside spots on the gate, posts seven and eight, respectively, with Marseille getting the lead in a :26.2 opening quarter-mile. Marseille led by 1-1/4 lengths over Swandre The Giant and 5-1/4 lengths over third-place Osterc at that point. Svanstedt rated a :30.3 second quarter with Marseille, during which Osterc launched a first-over bid, getting out ahead of Green Manalishi S, who was fourth, and Greenshoe, who was sixth. Osterc attempted to overtake Marseille in a :27.4 third quarter but was unable to draw even with the leader. Osterc went off stride in the final turn while Green Manalishi S was on the move three wide and Greenshoe eventually four wide as they headed toward the top of the stretch. Marseille trotted his final quarter in :27.4, which was just enough to hold off Greenshoe, who was more than five lengths back after the field turned for home. It was Greenshoe's first loss in four races this season. Greenshoe entered the Beal as the No.1-ranked horse in Meadowlands Racetrack announcer/analyst Ken Warkentin's Road to the Hambletonian. The $1 million Hambletonian is Aug. 3 at the Meadowlands. Marseille also is eligible to the Hambletonian. "My chance to be second in this race was to leave fast and maybe come behind Greenshoe," said Svanstedt, who also trains Marseille. "But he never came, so then it was just to go to the front." Marseille, a son of Muscle Hill-Order By Wish, has won two of four races this season and two of eight in his career. He has earned $317,758 for owners Ake Svanstedt Inc., Order By Stable, and Howard Taylor. The Earl Beal Jr. Memorial honors the former president of the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association, who was a driving force to bring casino gaming to the state's racetracks. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

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