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WILKES-BARRE PA - The 2017 Pacer of the Year at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Maxdaddy Blue Chip, visited the Downs winners circle for the first time in 2018, unleashing his patented late charge to capture the $21,500 feature on Saturday night. The 4-5 favored Sportswriter gelding was well-positioned second-over by driver Simon Allard, then started his surge three-wide midturn and carried it to the wire, which he reached ¾ of a length ahead of Waikiki Beach A. Maxdaddy Blue Chip is trained by Simon's brother and the meet's leading conditioner, Rene Allard, for Allard Racing Inc., Alycon Stable, How's That Stables Inc., and VIP Internet Stables LLC. The track's leading driver, George Napolitano Jr., was honored in the Pocono winners circle early in the evening for earning career driving victory #9000 on Monday night, making him only the 21st North American member of that exclusive club. Then "George Nap" went out and showed he was in a hurry to get to 10,000, scoring eight times on the card, including in the $18,000 claiming handicap pacing feature with the red-hot Major Trick, a gelded son of Art Major who made two speed moves in searing early fractions of 26.2 and 53.4, opened a big lead to the 1:21.4 ¾ pole, then stayed clear by 1¾ lengths to the wire in 1:50.1. The winner of $339,088, a five-time winner in his last six starts, is trained by Hunter Oakes for owner Omar Beiler. Napolitano also won the fastest mile of the night, a 1:48.4 triumph with the world champion (OPG-hmt) Scott Rocks. Finally, Walks Of Life, who was a gallant second while trying to increase his North American-leading 2018 win total to 14, will be doing something that he hasn't done since March 24 - returning to the same barn from which he started the night, in this case that of Team Allard. The tough claimer had been taken from his 12 previous starts, but attracted no claims tonight, and thus that streak is halted one shy of what is believed to be the longest series of a horse being claimed, the 13 purchases transacted for R Gauwitz Hanover in 2015. (But thirteen other horses were claimed on the Saturday card, with $223,750 changing hands.) From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE PA - Some three-year-old trotting colts who have the Earl Beal Memorial (eliminations Saturday, June 23), the Hambletonian, and other major races on their minds will be gathering at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Sunday (June 17) for three $30,000 divisions of their Pennsylvania All-Stars event. The first All-Stars section is race 8, and it finds Whats The Word as the early choice as he leaves from post seven for driver Corey Callahan. The Donato Hanover colt had won three straight races, including two Pennsylvania Sire Stakes, after putting on the trotting hopples, and last time he was in against tough older trotters on a sloppy track and did well to be third. His main opposition is expected to come from Samo Different Day, making his second start of the year from post four for Jimmy Takter after banking $337G as a two-year-old. The race 11 section finds You Know You Do installed as the early favorite for driver Yannick Gingras despite drawing post eight. A $374G+ winner at two, You Know You Do won a Pennsylvania Sire Stake here on May 26, but has only had a qualifying mile since then, and he can expect a strong challenge from two members of the Millers' Team Orange Crush, Haveitalltogether and Max's Beast. Race 12 will be the final of the night's All-Stars events, with Donatover accorded early favoritism for Trond Smedshammer off a 1:53.1 mark and a recent Pennsylvania Sire Stakes triumph. If you're looking for a longshot in this event, how about a 15-1 shot whose driver has never lost a race and who is a full brother to Father Patrick and Pastor Stephen? That would be Brothers N Arms and Josert Fonseca (undefeated in three career drives). Another $30,000 trot on the strong Sunday Pocono card, race 10, will be a Great Northeast Open Series event, with a full field of nine. 2016 Trotter of the Year Marion Marauder (post six, Scott Zeron) has a first and a second in two seasonal starts, both in the Great Northeast. Just outside him will be Homicide Hunter (driver George Napolitano Jr.), who comes back to his "home base" after equaling the world record for older trotting geldings with a 1:50.3 triumph in the Hill Trot at Scioto last week. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE PA - Manchego kept her place in the spotlight intact Tuesday night in one of four $30,000 divisions of the Pennsylvania All-Stars event for three-year-old trotting fillies at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, overcoming the tuck-then-first-over trip to post a 1:52.4 victory. The undefeated daughter of Muscle Hill found herself in the middle of a quintet of strong leavers, and Yannick Gingras backed the winner of $917,188 into a midpack tuck, then started first-over on the second turn after Nixie Volo, who had been responsible for the early numbers of 27.1 and 56.3. Manchego started to gain the advantage at the 1:24.4 3/4s, but for a second the upset-minded had a thrill as Nixie Volo kept the champion out on the turn. But Manchego simply increased her distance consumption in her effortless way, coming home two lengths to the good of late-closing Top Expectations, with Nixie Volo another 1¼ lengths back in third. Manchego's 1:52.4 equaled her personal mark, achieved last year at both Mohawk and Lexington. Jimmy Takter had the filly in top shape after a 22-day racetrack layoff, getting her 14th win in succession without much of a sweat for owners Black Horse Racing, John Fielding, and Herb Liverman. Manchego commanded so much of the crowd's respect, she drew almost $19,000 of the $22,000+ win/place/show pool, and the Exacta she headed with 43-1 Top Expectations second returned only $15.20 (the second choice was 23-1 behind the 1-9 shot). Then, the most marked of mutuel contrasts followed 18 minutes later, as the Explosive Matter filly Highland Dynamite made the most of a pocket trip behind pacesetter Bill's Lady, going up the Pocono Pike to catch that foe in 1:53.1 while returning $250.80 to win and combining with Bill's Lady, the 5-2 second choice, for a $4878.80 exacta. Simon Allard guided the Pierre Paradis-trained shocker, who reduced her mark 5 2/5 seconds while gaining into a 55.2 back half for the Highland Thoroughbred Farm. (The other galloping reference of the night came in race four, where the winner was named Justified.) Southwind Angelica came out before the ¾ to challenge pacesetting favorite Basquiat and wore her down late in their division, posting a neck victory while taking a new mark of 1:54.2. Another daughter of Muscle Hill, the winner stepped her own back fractions in 55.4 - 27.4 in taking the decision for driver Andrew McCarthy, trainer Jonas Czernyson, and owner Thomas Dillon. The final All-Stars contest was taken by the Donato Hanover filly Live Laugh Love, who gained solidly from third midrace to take the lead in early stretch and win by herself in 1:54.3. The Nifty Norman trainee, a Sire Stakes winner and then second to Manchego in her two previous starts, ran her record to 4-for-5 in 2018, with earnings of $117,227 lifetime for Melvin Hartman, David Mc Duffee, and Diamond Creek Racing. *************** In other important news, George Napolitano Jr., the all-time leading horseman in Pocono Downs history, goes so fast that a mere pencil cannot stay with him - it took a check of the USTA computer to show that in Monday's 12th race, his victory with Myidealson N was the 9000th of his top-notch career. "George Nap" becomes the 21st North American-based driver to get to 9000 wins, and ranks #12 among active drivers. The leading driver in North America in 2010 with 753 visits to Victory Lane, Napolitano has won a mind-boggling 29 titles at Pocono - 11 driving win titles (including the last six, and he leads the colony right now), 9 UDR championships (including the last five), and five training win titles. He has also won nine titles "down the Turnpike" at Harrah's Philadelphia - six for sulky victories and three for UDR. George will have his entire family to the track on Saturday night, where he will join with them to be honored in the Hanover Shoe Farms Winners Circle for this milestone triumph. From the PHHA/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 by Jim Bevigilia, for Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE PA - Unbeamlieveable, the winningest two-year-old pacing filly in North America in 2015 and tying for her divisional lead in 2016, has continued her winning ways into her older form, taking Monday's $14,000 distaff pacing feature at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in 1:53.4. The track's top driver, George Napolitano Jr., quarter-moved with the daughter of Moon Beam, rated the half and controlled the pace to the wire, seeing off the stretch move of pocketsitter LK's Nancy Lee by a length. Unbeamlieveable's 39th career victory raised her lifetime earnings to $195,652, and she's now 2-for-2 since teaming with owner Gilbert Garcia-Owen and trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera. FINISHING LINES - Undefeated champion filly Manchego returns to the races tomorrow (Tuesday) at Pocono in one of four $30,000 divisions of the Pennsylvania All-Stars event for three-year-old trotting misses, starting from post seven for driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Jimmy Takter. The All-Stars event has drawn many other nice sophomore fillies, including four other Pennsylvania Sire Stakes winners in 2018, winners in two divisions of the Currier and Ives Filly Trot, and perhaps Manchego's toughest opponent of 2017, Phaetosive, who came within ¾ of a length of her at the finish of last season's Peaceful Way Final. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE PA - LMC Mass Gem overcame a double jump in class, post eight, a sloppy track, and being parked 3/8 of a mile before getting the top, surmounting the adversity to post a 1¼-length 1:56.3 triumph in the $17,500 featured trot over a sloppy track Sunday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The Muscle Mass gelding is certainly in the winning grove right now, having taken two straight, three of his last four, and seven of fifteen 2018 starts. Here he defeated Crosbys Clam Bake, who also brushed off covering extra real estate to photo out favored sophomore Whats The Word, facing elders after two straight in the Sire Stakes. Simon Allard, a five-time winner on the night, guided the winner of $215,805 for trainer/brother Rene, the meet leader who added three to his total Sunday, and the partnership of Bruce Soulsby, VIP Internet Stable LLC, Kapildeo Singh, and Earl Hill Jr. Three $17,000 co-features sported two fields of trotters and one of pacers. The first trot was taken by the Glidemaster gelding Joey Pro, who had an explosive last 1/8 to see him come from fifth to take a 2 1/2 length victory in 1:57.1 for driver Matt Kakaley, trainer John Hallett, and owner Mark Wamp. In the other, the brothers Allard combined with another son of sire Muscle Mass, the gelding Zagster, who raced to command at the ¾, then held off a late charge by Critical Mass to take a photo victory, also in 1:57.1. Zagster has now won $165,489 for Allard Racing Inc. and Kapildeo Singh. In the pacing contest, Xpert Bayama grabbed the lead quickly for driver Matt Kakaley, then scooted home in 56 to complete a 1:54.2 victory while 2¼ lengths to the good. The victorious altered son of Up The Credit has won three of his last five for trainer Ron Burke and the omnipresent duo of Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. From the PHHA/Harrah's Philadelphia

WILKES-BARRE PA - All the bettors' attention was focused on Rodeo Romeo and Rockeyed Optimist, 1-2 in the Great Northeast Open Series pacing standings and 1-2 at the post draw, but Mach It So, a winner here recently and still let go as the 11-1 third choice, set the pace and held off Rodeo Romeo by a head to win a $30,000 Great Northeast event at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Saturday night. George Napolitano Jr., with five winners on the Pocono card joining the two he had at Philly this afternoon, gunned the Mach Three gelding at the start and easily beat 13 to the eighth to seat everyone behind him, with Rodeo Romeo in the pocket at the 26.1 quarter. Favored Rockeyed Optimist started uncovered nearing the 55.2 half, but Mach It So had had a nice breather in quarter two and restarted the jets, blunting the first-over's bid by reaching the  in 1:22. But Rodeo Romeo was still right there, and pulling out in the stretch he inched ever-closer to the leader. But the winner of $2,593,675 lifetime showed his heart was still in the right place at age 8, holding off the potential pocket rocket by a head for trainer Jeff Bamond Jr. and Bamond Racing LLC. The $21,500 conditioned co-feature resulted in the fastest mile of the year on a 5/8-mile track (unless it was beaten elsewhere Saturday night), as 2015 freshman champion Boston Red Rocks followed cover behind wicked fractions , then stormed home (last quarter 26.3) to stop the timer in 1:48.2 in turning back Scott Rocks by 1¼ lengths. The son of Rocknroll Hanover, now with a bankroll of $1,370,016, took a career mark with the impressive victory for driver Anthony Napolitano, trainer Jake Leamon, and owners Peter Blood and Rick Berks. In the $20,000 claiming handicap pace, "George Nap" and trainer Hunter Oakes combined for their second joint win on the night, this with the Art Major gelding Major Trick in a career best 1:49.4. Oakes had had the horse for three straight wins, lost him via claim, took him right back, and immediately started the winner of $330,098 back on the winning track for owner Omar Beiler. This was the last claiming event of the night; in all, 14 horses changed hands via the claim box, totaling $261,750 and bringing Pocono's two-week money exchange amount to $514,250 - just on the two Saturdays. Finally, Walks Of Life remains the winningest horse in North America in 2018 with 13 visits to Victory Lane, and Saturday he was claimed for the 12th straight time, his fourth stay with Team Allard and approaching the local "record" of 13 straight claims put up by R Gauwitz Hanover in 2015. Alas, the hard campaign might be catching up to him, as he set the pace as is customary, but had nothing left in the stretch and finished out of the money - the first time he hasn't been 1-2 since March 10, and the first time he didn't hit the board in 21 starts this year. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs    

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS) is back in action at the two eastern Pennsylvania tracks this weekend, with an open pacing event at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Saturday night and an open trot at Harrah's Philadelphia the next afternoon. Saturday's open pace at Pocono brings together four of the top five horses in the GNOS divisional standings, with the only double winner in the series to date, Rodeo Romeo, drawing the rail and being accorded 2-1 favoritism for driver Eric Carlson and trainer Chris Ryder. In his last start, Rodeo Romeo was third in the Commodore Barry Pace at Philly, behind top 4YO Filibuster Hanover and the talented Australian import Heaven Rocks A. Second in the GNOS standings, and parading second, will be Rockeyed Optimist, who has come to good recent form for trainer Jake Leamon, with Anthony Napolitano in the sulky behind the horse who has a first and a second in the competition. The other two Top Five horses, Bettor's Edge (#4) and Mach It So (#5), didn't fare nearly as well at the post draw, getting the outside post seven and post six, respectively. On Sunday afternoon at Philly, the open trot has drawn a full field of nine. Accorded early favoritism from the rail is Such An Angel (driver George Napolitano Jr.), who comes off a lifetime best victory of 1:52.2. This will be the toughest field Such An Angel has ever faced, including millionaireness Broadway Donna, a two-time divisional champion, and four other horses who have bankrolled over $400,000 in their careers. With pointsleader Agent Q and eight of the top dozen in the standings behind her, totaling six of the seven GNOS division winners so far, in Toronto this weekend in eliminations for next Saturday's $365,000 Roses Are Red Pace, the mare pacing event did not fill. From the PHHA/Harrarh's & Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE PA - Undefeated trotting filly sensation Manchego returns to The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono this coming Tuesday night (June 12), racing in one of four $30,000 divisions of a Pennsylvania All-Stars series event. Manchego, a daughter of Muscle Hill trained by Jimmy Takter for owners Black Horse Racing, John Fielding, and Herb Liverman, went 12-for-12 during her freshman campaign, of course earning divisional honors and bankrolling $873,948. Manchego made her 2018 bow at Pocono on May 21, winning a division of a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes contest in hand, and she is again expected to be the overwhelming favorite from post seven for driver Yannick Gingras. Nixie Volo, recent winner of a Currier and Ives Filly division and a PA Sires contest on the same card as Manchego, draws in against her here, but is stuck with the outside post nine for driver Corey Callahan. The filly who gave Manchego her hardest battle in 2017, the Explosive Matter miss Phaetosive, may be the choice in another division despite also having to overcome the outside nine-hole. Trained and driven by Trond Smedshammer for Purple Haze Stables LLC, Phaetosive was second, beaten only ¾ of a length in the Peaceful Way final last year at Mohawk, and in her 2018 bow she came her back fractions in 54.1 - 26.2 while coming from eighth to miss only two lengths at The Meadowlands. Two Pennsylvania Sires winners, What A Knockout (post one, driver Tim Tetrick) and Piranha Fury (post two, David Miller) will square off in another All-Stars section against Bill's Lady (post six, Corey Callahan), coming off a win in a Currier and Ives Filly division. The other division of Tuesday's stake is headlined by two recent PA Stallion Series winners, Perfect Image (post five, Charlie Norris) and Pembroke Mystery (post seven, Tim Tetrick). From the PHHA/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 Jim Beviglia

WILKES-BARRE PA - Four $15,000 events for the "rising younger set" were the features on a Tuesday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Both of the pacing events were restricted to males. In the first, Pembroke Joey proved most photogenic in a three-way picture as he lowered his mark to 1:53. Driver Tyler Buter got the Roll With Joe gelding into the pocket, then sat a two-hole trip behind pacesetting His Excellence. In a long stretch battle, Pembroke Joey used the Pocono Pike and got a nose up very late; the same margin separated second-place His Excellence over David Himself, who gained ground inside the winner and just missed taking it all deep in the Pike. Mark Ford conditions the winner and co-owns him with Bill Varney. The second pacing event's contentiousness was reflected in the fact that the favorite in the eight-horse field was 7-2, and the finish was also close, with three in the picture at the wire. Taking the major portion of the purse was the Western Ideal gelding Winston, equaling his mark of 1:52.1 for driver Tom Jackson, trainer John Butenschoen and Crawford Farms Racing. Jackson worked out a pocket trip with the winner, took the lead in the Pocono Pike midstretch, then withstood a hard-charging Terror Atthe Beach by a nose, with first-over Instructor only a neck off the top two. One of the trotting headliners saw the Federal Flex mare Passthecrownaround go a big mile on the engine after two early moves, ringing up a new mark of 1:55.4. George Napolitano Jr. kept his charge on the bit throughout, and the pair was 1¾ lengths clear on the money for trainer Mike Watson and owner Clifford Grundy. In the second trot, sister-in-law and brother-in-law trainers were 1-2, as the Cantab Hall gelding Haveitalltogether, trained by Julie Miller, caught the Erv Miller pupil Keystone Apache to win going away while tying his lifetime best of 1:55.1. Driver Eric Carlson, who had three wins on the night, kept Haveitalltogether well-placed throughout the mile, and he was strongest to the line for the Pinske Stable, the Andy Miller Stable Inc., Kentuckiana Racing Stable, and Eddie Gran. Top event for the older set was a $14,000 pace for mares, taken by the Always A Virgin mare Itty Bitty, who equaled her lifetime mark of 1:51.1. Driver Simon Allard got the winner of $126,367 away nicely from post eight to tuck third, pulled her out at headstretch, and took the measure of pacesetting Juxta Cowgirl by a neck for trainer Andrew Harris and owners Evan Katz, J. Robert Darrow, and A Harris Racing LLC. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE PA - After the heaviest kind of favorite - the $2.10 to win variety - took each of the first two $30,000 divisions of the Pennsylvania All-Stars event for three-year-old pacing fillies at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on a chalk-laden Monday night, the third winner, racing in the tenth, paid more to win ($48.60) than the previous nine visitors to Victory Lane had returned combined. The upset was posted by the Somebeachsomewhere filly Destiny Hanover, who took a new mark in 1:52.2 in a race during which she had some help, but showed she knew what to do with good fortune. Simon Allard had her sitting third-inside as favored Serene Stride ranged up along pacesetting Pass Line Bluechip early on the far turn, then sent her scurrying up the pegs as the leader broke and went to the infield, allowing pocketsitting Aldine Hanover to dash through and grab the lead, with the winner on her bumper. In the stretch Allard took his charge to the Pocono Pike and got a nose advantage over Aldine Hanover late in tallying for trainer Jake Leamon and the ownership of David Van Dusen, Michael Cimaglio, and Stephen Demeter. The first of the heavy stakes chalk to make the Pocono winners enclosure was the A Rocknroll Dancer filly Sidewalk Dancer, who won her second straight race with a 1:51.3 clocking. Brett Miller had the winner on the lead before the quarter despite the outermost starting slot six, and she paced home in 55.2 to be 1½ lengths clear on the money for trainer Chris Oakes and the partnership of Northfork Racing Stable, Omar Beiler, and Dennis Coons. Alexa's Power, the Lismore Final winner, had a bit of a harder time from her outside starting assignment, but she defeated her six rivals in 1:53. Driver Tim Tetrick was content to tuck the Somebeachsomewhere miss in fifth early, then went second-over and three-wide nearing headstretch, with a determined charge into a 55.3 last half getting her a half-length decision over Aims Whisper for trainer Jim Campbell and owners Jeffrey and Michael Snyder.  

WILKES-BARRE PA - The rains came to The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono just before Sunday night's $30,000 harness racing contests in the Great Northeast Open Series, so the trotters and mare pacers had to negotiate a "sloppy" surface. In the first of the trotting contests, the Deweycheatumnhowe gelding In Secret, despite 22 days away from the races and having to go the difficult "tuck-then-grind" journey, proved a strong winner in 1:54.4 (+1 variant) at 18-1 odds for driver Matt Kakaley and trainer Ron Burke. The career winner of $459,810 wrested the lead early in the lane, then held off the late charge of a slow-to-clear Smalltownthrowdown by a length for Burke Racing Stables LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, J&T Silva Stables LLC, and Lawrence Karr. The track had been downgraded to a "+2" variant before the other section of the trot. Homicide Hunter, whose 1:50.1 mile here two years ago still stands as a world record for four-year-old trotting geldings on 5/8-mile ovals, left from the outside post eight with world-class speed, yielded to Classicality and stalked him from the pocket, then went by that foe by 1¼ lengths to stop the timer in 1:55.1. The altered son of Mr Cantab, who raised his lifetime tally to $1,125,907, was driven by George Napolitano Jr. for owners Crawford Farms Racing and trainer Chris Oakes. Chris Oakes' son Hunter was the conditioner of the winner in the next race, the mares pace, the American Ideal mare Tequila Monday, who missed her lifetime mark by only a tick despite the off going as she came home a length and a quarter to the good in 1:51. Brian Sears quarter-moved with the winner of $636,167 and was in control the rest of the way, hustling her home in 55.1 for owners Northfolk Racing Stable and Chuck Pompey. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Among the entrants in Monday's Pennsylvania All-Stars event for three-year-old pacing fillies at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, each of the three horses coming off of a big stakes victory in their last start have drawn the outside position in their respective $30,000 divisions. Alexa's Power won the richest of the stakes races, capturing the $111,444 Lismore Final at Yonkers last time out. The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere is three for four in 2018, her only loss coming when she drew the outside PP8 in her Lismore elimination - but the race before that, she did win at Yonkers from post eight in a division of the Reynolds Stake. Trainer Jim Campbell entrusts driver Tim Tetrick to work out the winning trip from Monday's difficult PP7 draw. The other two fillies are coming off triumphs in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes competition. The faster was the A Rocknroll Dance filly Sidewalk Dancer, who took a new mark of 1:50.3 in the Harrah's Philly event despite it being only her second start of the year. Driver Brett Miller is again be using by trainer Chris Oakes to try to duplicate the end result as they start from the outside post six. Serene Stride moves from the extreme inside to the extreme outside as she will attempt to post her sixth victory in an undefeated season. Eric Carlson, whom trainer Mark Harder has used for the Somebeachsomewhere filly's last two victories, including last week's 1:51.3 lifetime-quickest success, is again slated for sulky action in the field of seven. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

CHESTER,PA - After a highly-successful first month of operation, the Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS) begins its June action with a first - two fields of trotters - joining the pacing mares at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Sunday night, while the male pacers going to the gate at Harrah's Philadelphia to start the GNOS action that afternoon. Recent Down Under import Heaven Rocks A looks to change his luck - and maybe his ability to maximize his talent - as the favorite at Philly against the male pacers. The Rock N Roll Heaven gelding surged late to miss by a neck in his first series start, then last week, in the $150,000 Commodore Barry Pace (which counted for GNOS points), he was a hard-charging second to Filibuster Hanover, undefeated his year and #3 in the national polls, while bearing out. David Miller will have the steer Sunday for trainer Ross Croghan as the pair starts from post four in race eight. The trotters will go postward at Pocono in races eight and ten. The first division has the two favorites to the inner part of the gate -- Opulent Yankee (driver Andy Miller, post two) and Smalltownthrowdown (Simon Allard, post one) - while in the second division Sutton (also Andy Miller from post two), who was second behind #1-rated Hannelore Hanover in a GNOS event last week, faces Classicality (Marcus Miller, post one), coming to town after three straight wins at The Meadows, and Homicide Hunter (George Napolitano Jr., post five), making his second start of the year, among other talented foes. In the mares pacers, the inside horses are once more highly-regarded: Tequila Monday (Brian Sears, post one) comes to the mountain oval of a sweeping 1:52 victory over the top mares at Yonkers, while Diva's Image (Andy Miller from post two yet again) looks to continue to be the "overachiever" in her division, with a second and two thirds in the GNOS to date. The GNOS continues every week at Philly and Pocono throughout the end of August, with the open pacers at one track and the other two groups at the other, and the schedules flipping tracks every week. The top pointearners will be eligible to go for $100,000 over 1¼ miles on Sunday, September 2 at Pocono, the same day the track hosts the $1M Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championships for three-year-olds. From the PHHA at Harrah's and Pocono

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 by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs  

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