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WILKES-BARRE PA –Cardiff had to go the dreaded “tuck-then-first-over” journey in the $30,000 Bobby Weiss Series Championship for pacing fillies and mares at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Monday, but the Sportswriter harness racing mare showed rare pluck in grinding raw for the last 5/8 and still getting the decision in a lifetime best 1:51.1. Cardiff, who had a first and two seconds in her Weiss prelims, tucked midpack from post eight for driver Simon Allard, as a pair of horses on a three-race win streak, 2-5 favorite Ghostwriter and Girl’s Got Rhythm, argued through a smoking 26.2 quarter, with the latter claiming the top at that point. Cardiff was again on the move under the wire the first time as Girl’s Got Rhythm led the field to the half in 54.4, then cut into the pacesetter’s advantage by the 1:22.3 3/4s, with the chalk lurking in the pocket. Turning for home it looked like the trip was starting to wear on Cardiff, as Ghosttothepost went to the Pocono Pike to try to catch Girl’s Got Rhythm. But Cardiff dug deep into her talent pool and gamely paced on to be 1½ lengths ahead at the wire, with Ghosttothepost next, a neck ahead of Girl’s Got Rhythm. Simon’s brother Rene trains the courageous winner for Allard Racing Inc. and Carmen Carson. Also on the Tuesday card were three $15,000 final preliminary round divisions of the Weiss Series for trotting males, and the Credit Winner four-year-old My Lindy Winner established himself as the likely Weiss Championship favorite by sweeping his three prelims, here scoring in 1:55.3 to reman undefeated in six seasonal starts. Though the Rob Harmon trainee won his other two prelims by six and four lengths, this half length victory over pacesetter Dover Dony may have been the most impressive of the trio, as Jim Morrill Jr. sent the horse uncovered from third at the 5/8, and his trotter responded by gaining into a 28.1 last quarter and finishing a measured winner. The Conway Hall gelding Hammer Creek must like suspense, as he had two wins in the Weiss prelims, but in both victories his winning margin was only a nose, on Tuesday over the wild-charging Livinonthedash in 1:55.3. Eric Carlson came uncovered at the 3/4, went to the lead in the stretch, then withstood the flying Livinonthedash for trainer Kenneth Hess Jr. and owner Richard Ciesielski. Lightfootedlegend, like his stablemate in the Erv Miller barn Livinonthedash, made his first start in the Weiss, and the Mr Cantab gelding broke his maiden in fine style, coming out on the far turn and catching pacesetting Higgs Boson by ¾ of a length in 1:56.3. Marcus Miller guided the four-year-old for the Ervin Miller Stable Inc, Ronald Michelon, and Harvey Eisman. Despite the good performances, the two Weiss debutants for the Millers did not finish in the top nine preliminary pointwinners (although they may make a $15,000 consolation, depending on how many and who declares in). The unofficial top nine pointwinners heading for next Monday’s $30,000 Weiss Championship in this group are: 1. My Lindy Winner, 2. Hammer Creek, 3. Higgs Boson, 4. Chapter And Ruth, 5. Dover Dony, 6. Got No Money Honey, 7. Keystone Thunder, 8. Loving Life, and 9. Teardown This Wall, with Flammable tenth and the pair of Brandywine Battle and London Hanover tied for eleventh in the shaping up of the “AEs” and the consolation PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA - Harness racing driver Tyler Buter recorded the 3000th driving victory of his career during a special Easter Sunday twilight card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Buter rallied Daddy Let Me Drive into a 28.1 last quarter, closing furiously in the last 1/16 to be up right on the money. The 33-year-old Buter, from a famous racing family, showed early talent in the sulky when he recorded his first win with I Luv My Pasture at the Gladwin (MI) fair before his 17th birthday. Along the way to his 3000 wins and almost $35 million in sulky earnings, Buter had his best money year in 2015, when his mounts brought home over $5 million; his best year for visiting the winners circle was 2007, when he won 444 times - while driving at 30 different tracks, more than half fairs in his native Michigan. Tyler Buter was also able to rouse a huge last 1/16 out of Two AM to overhaul favored Fearless Man late and take the $21,500 featured trot in 1:53.2. The Muscle Massive gelding made atonement for an uncharacteristic break last time, tucking in early, then coming on uncovered, and still able to roll home a length to the good over the chalk while raising his earnings to $368,460 for trainer Todd Buter and the ownership of Buter Farm Inc., Lynette Buter, and William and Carol Fuhs. Two AM The Chapter Seven miss Quincy Blue Chip trotted the fastest mile by a three-year-old filly anywhere in North America so far this year, and trotted faster than any three-year-old on a 5/8-mile track in 2019, when she took her seasonal debut in a lifetime best of 1:53.4 in one of two $17,000 cofeatures. Jim Morrill Jr. had the swift miss behind fast fractions of 27.2 and 55.3, moved out to challenge the pacesetter before the 1:24.2 3/4s, then drew away from her field for trainer Gareth Dowse and Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc. Shadow Cat had an adventurous journey in taking the $17,000 cofeature on the pace in 1:53. The Somebeachsomewhere gelding was looped out of the gate by JK Musicman and remained outside to continue on frontward, only to have to briefly dodge "JK" as that rival went on a break, then went to the infield. Shadow Cat hit the quarter in 26.1 while forcing main rival Tivo Hanover, who was carried wide early, then went to the half in 57 and looked comfortable nearing the 1:25.3 ¾. But Shadow Cat suddenly took a bad step, with Tivo Hanover easing outside from the two-hole. However, the winner of $165,660 righted himself immediately, then dug back in to hold off the surge of Tivo Hanover by a neck in a 27.2 last quarter for driver Jim Morrill Jr., trainer Jennifer Bongirono, and owners Howard Taylor, David Rovine Stable LLC, and Tom Lazarro. The first of the 2019 $30,000 Weiss Series Championships takes place on Monday's twilight card at The Downs, with Ghosttothepost trying to complete a Weiss sweep after taking all three of her preliminaries. She'll be handled by George Napolitano Jr. as she begins from post five in the nine-horse field of pacing distaffs. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - Last week Turbo Hill and Sports Legend faced each other in a harness racing Bobby Weiss Series preliminary in the male pacers ranks; Turbo Hill drew inside his main rival, and even though Sports Legend was favored, Turbo Hill was victorious. This past Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, one crucial factor changed at the draw - Sports Legend drew inside Turbo Hill. Though the crowd went to Turbo Hill this week, Sports Legend teamed with driver Jim Morrill Jr. to use the positional edge to the max, winning a $15,000 division of the final preliminary in a lifetime best of 1:51. Sports Legend, a four-year-old Sportswriter gelding, flew away quickly, with Turbo Hill going with him but not able to circle him. Turbo Hill chose to take his chances sitting outside the favorite, but the fractions of 26, 54.2, and 1:22.1 proved too much for the two-wide chalk, as Sports Legend paced strongly to the wire, winding up 7¼ lengths to the good over On Accident, who beat Turbo Hill home for second by 1¼ lengths. Jennifer Bongiorno saw the horse enter her barn between last year and this, and so far Sports Legend has a 6-4-2-0 record and the promise of even better ahead for owner Gestion J Y Blais Inc. But lest you think that the Weiss Final will come down to the positional shake for the two-time winners in the division above, you should also consider the American Ideal colt American Admiral, who overcame the outside post seven in his Weiss cut to equal his mark of 1:52.4. George Napolitano Jr. sent him to the top in 27.3, got a big breather to the half in 58, then hit high gear and got a pair of 27.2 quarters from the three-year-old coming home, fending off pocketsitter Aflame Hanover by a half-length. Andrew Harris seems to have the sophomore in peak form now for owners William, Ian and James Fleming, as after opening his career 1-for-13 American Admiral has now won three straight, the last two in the Weiss, and he may have the speed to go with Sports Legend and Turbo Hill. (The draw for this $30,000 Weiss Championship, by the way, is Monday morning, and will be monitored in several camps.) Going into that draw, here's an unofficial compilation of the top pointwinners: 1. Sports Legend, 2., Turbo Hill, 3. American Admiral, 4. Division Bell, 5. (tie) Aflame Hanover and On Accident, 7. Dakota Ole, 8. Major Escape, and 9. R U Talkin, with Love The Action and Springbridge Proud next in line and "AEs" (and heading a $15,000 consolation should it fill). Soho Wallstreet A sat in as the favorite in the $21,500 fast-class pace, found clearance late on the far turn, and unleashed a terrific last 1/8 to win his second straight in 1:50.2. The son of Four Starzzz Shark, driven by Pat Berry for trainer Scott Di Domenico and the ownership of J G Racing Stable, had to have the sharp late burst to catch a stubborn first-over Sports Column by a half length while raising his lifetime bankroll to $292,514. Fifteen more horses changed hands via the claiming process in six tag events at The Downs on Saturday, with $243,750 spent to acquire tough stock to be competitive in the fast-paced Pocono action. The Napolitano brothers had nine winners between them on the Saturday card, with George Jr. visiting Victory Lane five times on the night, and Anthony guiding four winners. Tomorrow's Easter Sunday card at The Downs will have a special post time of 5 p.m. PHHA / Pocono  

Trenton, NJ — American Admiral may not know it, but he is in the midst of trying to prove if he’s ready to fight some bigger harness racing battles down the road. The 3-year-old colt pacer is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in a $15,000 division of Saturday’s (April 20) Bobby Weiss Series at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Since he has only been working with the horse since January, trainer Andrew Harris is unsure of how extensively he will stake him this year. “We’re playing it by ear,” said Harris, who made American Admiral eligible for the Reynolds and Art Rooney Pace. “It all depends on how he continues to mature. If he goes through this series and shows he can go with those type of horses like Turbo Hill, then yeah, we’re going to go that route. As of right now we’re going to play it by ear. We don’t know what we’ve got, we don’t know what the bottom is yet. If he continues to improve maybe we’ve got ourselves a New York Sires Stakes horse that’s got some possibilities. Or maybe we just have an Excelsior Series type horse. We’re kind of using this series to tell us what we’ve got.” The early reviews have been positive. At the recommendation of Harris, American Admiral was purchased by the Flemings (William, Ian and James) for $34,000 at the Standardbred Mixed Sale at Harrisburg in November. He was trained by Tony Alagna last year and had a first, second and third while earning $19,890 in 10 starts. Harris knew nothing about the horse, but thought he would provide the most bang for the buck among those up for sale. “They called me up and said they wanted to have a nice little horse to race for next year,” the trainer said. “There were a lot of horses I thought we might have to over-pay for. This one kind of came in under the radar. I saw he raced at Yonkers and Yonkers is primarily where I race anyway so I thought he might just be in the price range. He ended up going a little cheaper than what I thought I’d have to give for him.” As for what he liked about American Admiral, Harris said, “His breeding was impeccable. He wasn’t overly-sized but he was a little muscle horse and those are the types of horses I kind of like for Yonkers. I didn’t know what to expect. We just kind of got lucky. So far it’s all working out.” It is indeed. American Admiral has hit the board four times in five races, having taken two firsts, a second and third for $19,640 in purse money. After the purchase, Harris put the horse out in the field and never looked at him for six weeks. “I didn’t even jog him,” he said. “I needed to let him grow up and let him mature. If he did have any aches and pains they would heal out in the field. I just let him get freshened up. We just started fresh and started off the chalkboard. We made adjustments to his training as he needed something, but we started with (knowing) nothing. We slowly added certain things here or there but I didn’t know what he had before. I never looked or asked.” Harris brought the horse back on Jan. 1 and began working on him, and then eased him back into racing. He is fairly well behaved in the barn, but “He’s a little stud colt so he lets you know that he’s there. He’s not over rambunctious or anything like that but you have to watch him a little bit. He wants to play but his play is a little aggressive. He’s a nice horse, but you don’t want to get caught sleeping around him.” He is keeping folks wide awake on the track as of late. As American Admiral’s confidence grew, Harris began putting him into play a bit more. The strategy seems to be working, as the horse has won his last two races. “He’s just developing into kind of a nice little horse that I don’t know where his bottom is quite just yet,” he said. “I don’t have super high expectations for the horse but I think he’s going to be a nice little horse. He’s got a big engine and he wants to go. But you have to race him the right way.” Just what way is that? “We try to teach him to stay off the helmet a little bit until it’s time to press the go button,” Harris continued. “He’s just come to the point where we can use him now. He’s ready, he’s tight now. He wasn’t tight when we were starting. I brought him back a little bit slower than I usually do. Now his confidence is right and he looks like a totally different animal. He’s happy and strong. “And every driver that sat on him likes him. George (Napolitano Jr.) sat on him the other night and said ‘Wow, can this thing fly for a piece.’ That’s the type of horse you want. He takes care of himself for the mile right now as long as we don’t over-drive him too early in the race. He’s got as good of a move as anyone in that series.” Harris feels American Admiral is the best horse in his division in the Bobby Weiss, but knows that the final will be a different story. “I think Sports Legend and Turbo Hill are the two horses to beat in the whole series,” Harris said. “We kind of got lucky, we avoided them this week, so it will be interesting to see how we face up against them.” However it comes out will go a long way in determining where the American Admiral fleet ends up next. by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

WILKES-BARRE PA - Harness racing trainer/driver Ray Schnittker shipped in a squadron of three-year-olds who were impressive victors during qualifying events on Wednesday morning at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Fastest of three three-year-old pacing colts that Schnittker guided to wins was the So Surreal colt Hickfromfrenchlick, named after basketball star Larry Bird, who made very pole a winning one in 1:54, last quarter 27. 2¼ lengths behind Hickfromfrenchlick was Shake That House, third in the Metro at two and a ¾ brother to Breeders Crown winner Split The House. Branquinho, a maiden who was stakes-placed at two, looked a bit more like a full brother to Huntsville as the Somebeachsomewhere colt paced in 1:55 - 27.4. A race earlier Captain Malicious, a Captaintreacherous colt and Sheppard winner, won in 1:55.2, coming from third with his own back fractions of 56.3 - 27.4. A fourth Schnittker winner was the sophomore trotting filly Jezzy's Legacy, a Donato Hanover out of the $800G+ winner Jezzy, who put in a 28.1 last quarter to stop the timer in 1:56.2. Another of Donato Hanover's offspring was successful - the four-year-old Whats The Word, second in his Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship last year, who came out of the pocket sharply to get home first in 1:57 for the Allard brothers. Fastest mile of the a.m. session went to the Captaintreacherous filly Blue Ivy, winner of a Bluegrass division, who made two moves to win in 1:53.3 for driver Tyler Buter and trainer Chris Oakes. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - Spring In Paris, a sophomore daughter of Explosive Matter, went 3-for-3 in her Bobby Weiss Series preliminary action at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, taking one of Tuesday's $15,000 harness racing prelim divisions in a lifetime best in 1:55.3. And she's economical in her energy dispersal: her total winning margin in her three victories was eight feet, or one length. On Tuesday, Andrew McCarthy moved her uncovered on the second turn, then picked up the cover of pocketpulling Critical Hanover, who went to the lead near the ¾, leaving Spring In Paris uncovered. The gritty three-year-old just kept her mind to business and finally wore down her rival by half a length - the largest margin in her three Weiss victories. Steve LeBlanc conditions the consistent miss, now undefeated her four seasonal starts, for LeBlanc Racing Inc., Glenn Dyke, and Douglas Johnson. The only other horse in this division to notch two Weiss prelim wins was the Cantab Hall filly Fade Into You, who moved to the lead early and went on to a handy five-length triumph in a personal best of 1:56. Fade Into You has now sandwiched wins around a break in Weiss racing, and must be respected as a Weiss Final contender for trainer Ron Burke and the ownership of Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby, and Phil Collura. Town Hall Justice picked the occasion of her moving into the Rene Allard barn to break a 19-race losing streak and earn enough points to make the Weiss Final. Driver/brother Simon Allard made two moves with the Justice Hall mare and lowered her mark two seconds to 1:56.4 while defeating Cayenne Victory by two lengths. Rene Allard is also the owner of the victress. The Weiss Series $30,000 Championship for this division, in addition to a $15,000 consolation if it fills, will be conducted on Tuesday, April 23, and the unofficial top pointwinners in the prelims are: 1. Spring In Paris, 2. Fade Into You, 3. Lollipop Lindy, 4. Nicole Hanover, 5. Royal Esteem, 6. (tie) Moshannon Magic and Town Hall Justice, 8. Meadowbranch Vicki, 9. Run Lindy Run; Dawn Of Glory and Whip N Neigh Neigh are next in the points, in that order, and thus would be the AE1 and AE 2 "on the bubble" for the Championship, and likely among the top contenders in the consolation. Tequila Monday started her five-year-old campaign with over $740,000 in career earnings, and based on her three starts this year, all victories, she may be as good as she ever has been, which could be bad news for the best of the pacing mare set. The American Ideal quarter-moved going by a 27.1 opener in the $21,500 featured for fast-class distaffs, made the lead, then went on to fractions of 55.1 and 1:23.1, finally stopping the timer in 1:50.2, with a game Eclipse Me N following from the pocket to wind up only 1¼ lengths behind. Matt Kakaley got the sulky assignment from trainer Hunter Oakes for the Northfolk Racing Stable and Chuck Pompey.   PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

We enjoyed quite the busy week of harness racing action at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. High winds and slanting rains, Bobby Weiss Series action heating up, the fastest pacing time of the young season, and a 70-1 shot winning: All of it was part of the rich tapestry. Let's take a look back at all the wildness by handing out some Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: TURBO HILL In the three-and-four-year-old male pacers division of the Bobby Weiss series, it's hard to argue against this one as the class of the group. Yet he faced a situation on Saturday night where he wasn't favored in one of the races in the series. Hard to believe, considering that he came into the race on a five-race winning streak, two of which came at Pocono, and with a career record of seven wins in eight races for trainer and driver Hunter Oakes. Granted, Turbo Hill was a pretty prohibitive second choice at 4-5. Yet Sports Legend, who had won of three of four coming in, including a division of the Weiss in the first leg of the series, went off as the 3-5 choice. Leaving from post position #3 in a field of seven, it was Turbo Hill who got the jump, taking the lead over Sports Legend on the front stretch. And, with no pressure on the outside, Oakes was able to rate the pace in his horse's favor. At the top of the stretch, the race was pretty much a two-horse dance between the top two choices. Even though Sports Legend was attached to Turbo Hill at the top of the stretch, he couldn't gain through the lane. Instead, Turbo Hill, a four-year-old stallion, solidified his lead and came home a winner in a swift 1:51:2, 1 ¼ lengths in front of Sports Legend. These two might meet again in the final a few weeks hence, but, for now, Turbo Hill owns bragging rights. Other top pacers this week include: Hitman Hill (Hunter Oakes, Chris Oakes), who tore it up for a condition victory on Saturday night in 1:50:1, the fastest pacing time of the season to date at Pocono; Soho Wallstreet A (Pat Berry, Scott DiDomenico), who handled a top field in Saturday night's featured condition pace in 1:50:3; and Major Bucks (Anthony Napolitano, William Adamczyk), who rose up the condition ladder to score his second straight win on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:51:3.   TROTTEER OF THE WEEK: HANKS TANK Sunday night brought our first off-track of the season. Heavy winds battered the horses and slanting rain poured over the track, making it a night that wasn't for the faint of heart. It also benefitted those who were able to get to the early lead, as horses coming from off the pace struggled to make up ground all night long. Hanks Tank, therefore, didn't seem to mind the conditions at all, as they very much suited his racing style. A six-year-old gelding trained by Rob Harmon, Hanks Tank was coming off a win in his previous start on April 7 in 1:55:3. He won that race on the front end, and, with Jim Morrill Jr. in the bike, attempted the same kind of trip on Sunday night as he moved up in class to face the $11,000 condition group. The gelding went off as the 9-2 second choice, but he was the one sitting on the engine after winning an early speed duel with Very Very Fast. Hanks Tank then opened up a sizable advantage on the back stretch, as the rest of the field labored to get close to him. When the stretch arrived, Morrill no longer had to ask anything of his horse, and Hanks Tank was able to coast home a comfortable two-length victor. His second straight win came in a time of 1:56, which wasn't bad at all considering the sloppy track. Hanks Tank seems built for the weather, whatever it might be, when his form is as fine as it is right now. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Fire'N Woodshed (Eric Carlson, Kerry Welty), who moved to two-for-two in his career by winning a second straight condition win at Pocono on Monday, matching his debut's winning time of 1:56:3 in the process; Tyson (Andrew McCarthy, Edwin Gannon Jr.), who picked up his first win of the year in Sunday night's featured condition trot, posting a 1:55:1 mile in the slop; and Thisguyisonfire (Andrew McCarthy, Christopher Lakata), who followed up a win at Chester by scoring a condition victory on Sunday night in 1:54:3 in the slop.   LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: LEAN ON YOU This condition pacer avoided trouble caused by a breaking horse in front of him on Saturday night and, with Jim Taggart Jr. in the bike, won at 70-1, paying off $143.40 for a $2 win ticket.   DRIVER OF THE WEEK: SIMON ALLARD Simon is once again perched high in the drivers' standings at Pocono, and this week was a big one for him, with multiple wins on each card and a four-bagger on Monday.   TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JOSE GODINEZ Godinez wasted no time getting in the groove on Monday afternoon, sweeping the early Daily Double with pacers Don'tcallmefrancis and Hot Seat. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.   Jim Beviglia

WILKES-BARRE PA - The American Ideal mare Ghosttothepost became the only distaff to be victorious in all three of the preliminaries for the Bobby Weiss Series for harness racing pacing fillies and mares, coming home in 56.2 on a cold Monday with swirling winds at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono to triumph in 1:54.3. George Napolitano Jr. got early fractions of 28.3 and 58.1 with the five-time seasonal winner, then turned on the back half jets, with a 28.2 second quarter and then a 28 last quarter into the win. Ghosttothepost, who suffered broken equipment during the contest, needed the speedy finish to keep pocketsitting Cardiff a neck away at the finish for trainer Darren Farrell and owner Peter Paul Venturini. Ashlee Sparkles came to her third Weiss prelim with a pair of series victories, but this week she couldn't catch the Sportswriter filly Girl's Got Rhythm, who clocked splits of 28.2, 57.2, and 1:25.3, then held off Ashlee Sparkles by a length in 1:54. Girl's Got Rhythm was unraced as a freshman, but she has begun her career with three straight victories, including one previous Weiss success, for driver Tyler Buter, trainer Nicholas Devita and owner John Cummins. Charms Little Sis lowered her record 4 1/5 seconds when she won the other Weiss cut in 1:55.2, giving Tyler Buter victories in two of the three series divisions. Charms Lil Sis, a Mach Three mare, also used frontstepping tactics en route to the winners circle, opening a big lead down the backstretch and staying three lengths clear at the wire for trainer Scott Blackler and the Millar Farms. The $30,000 Weiss Championship for this group will be featured next Monday, April 22, with a $15,000 consolation also to be available if enough horses enter. The unofficial pointleaders after this group's preliminary round action, from highest to lowest points, are: 1. Ghosttothepost, 2. Ashlee Sparkles, 3. Cardiff, 4. Girl's Got Rhythm, 5. Final Escape, 6. Charms Lil Sis, 7. Flippin Fun, 8. Linda Lace Hanover, and 9. JK Lockherup; Take Abit Of Life and Barbs Beach would be the two AEs "on the bubble," in that order of preference, and would be the top eligibles for the consolation if it fills. FINISHING LINES - If you didn't get your licks in during races 4, 5, and 6, and your driver's name wasn't Tyler Buter, Anthony Napolitano, or Simon Allard, you did not have a pass into the Pocono winners circle on Monday night: "ANap" and Simon won four races each, Tyler three. Anthony Napolitano combined with trainer Jose Godinez to win the Early Double; Simon Allard hooked up with trainer/brother Rene to sweep the Late Double; and Buter as noted won two Weiss divisions, bringing him to 2998 career sulky successes.   PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA - Developing three- and four-year-olds of both gaits and sexes will begin contesting their $15,000 third and final preliminary legs of the Bobby Weiss Series at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono starting tonight (Monday), hoping to solidify places in the $30,000 series Championships (or perhaps a $15,000 consolation) that will begin in one week, Monday, April 22. The pacing fillies and mares will take to the track for Weiss harness racing action on Monday in three divisions. Undefeated in their first two preliminaries were Ghosttothepost, an American Ideal mare to be guided by George Napolitano Jr. for trainer Darren Ferrell from post five in the fifth race division, and the Art Major filly Ashlee Sparkles, who will begin from race two in the eleventh race Weiss contest for driver Matt Kakaley and trainer Blake MacIntosh. Both are morning line favorites in their respective divisions. There were six different winners in the first two preliminaries of the distaff trotting Weiss Series, with the only repeat winner the Explosive Matter filly Spring In Paris, who was game to win by a neck in each of her Weiss starts. During Tuesday's eleventh race cut of the third Weiss preliminary, she's be starting as the morning line choice from post five for trainer Steve LeBlanc, who doesn't disrupt a winning formula and again taps Andrew McCarthy for sulky action. This coming Saturday, pacing males will be contested their final Weiss preliminary action. The horse to watch in this section is the American Ideal four-year-old Turbo Hill, who closed in 26.3 in his second Weiss prelim to post a 1:51.2 victory. Trained and driven by Hunter Oakes, Turbo Hill is riding a six-race win streak, and he has won eight times in but nine career starts. The trotting male third round preliminaries will be held on Monday, April 22, as the Downs will be dark on Easter Sunday, April 21. My Lindy Winner, a four-year-old son of Credit Winner, will be the only horse bringing two straight Weiss victories with him, both times winning impressively to remain undefeated in five 2019 starts for trainer Rob Harmon, with Jim Morrill Jr. slated for sulky duty.   PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA - My Lindy Winner emerged as the only double winner in the first two preliminary legs of the Bobby Weiss harness racing Series for male trotters at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, winning on Sunday in 1:56.4 despite a sloppy track, considerable rain, and swirling, occasionally strong, wind. My Lindy Winner was sent to the front off the first turn by driver Jim Morrill Jr., rated a moderate half, then sprinted off to an insurmountable lead that wound up being four lengths at the finish. The four-year-old Credit Winner entire is now undefeated in five 2019 starts for the Rob Harmon stable after notching only one win at two and three combined. His ownership consists of Vincent Laurenzo, Howard Taylor, and Thomas Lazzaro. Chapter And Ruth, like many other winners this evening, found the front end a good place to be, going 27.4 down the back to build up a big advantage, then withstanding Got No Money Honey by 1½ lengths while taking a new mark of 1:56.4 despite the messy track. Simon Allard handled the assignment behind the Chapter Seven four-year-old gelding for trainer/brother Rene and Allard Racing Inc. The other Weiss section saw a pair of horses undefeated in 2019, pacesetter Omaha Omaha and pocketsitter Archway, fighting it out late, and in keeping with the speedfavoring night, the Muscle Mass four-year-old gelding Omaha Omaha held off his rival by a neck in 1:57.2 to push his seasonal tally to 4-for-4. Matt Kakaley kept the winner rolling to the wire for trainer Mark Harder, and owners Glenn Goller and Abraham Basen. Tyson gained control of the racetrack just past the quarter and was never again headed in winning the $21,500 high-end conditioned trot in 1:55.1. Andrew McCarthy drove the altered son of Donato Hanover as he came home in 57 to beat Golden Son by 1 1/4 lengths for trainer Ed Gannon Jr., who is also co-owner of the winner of $248,050 with Frank Canzone. PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA – With two horses sent off at odds-on, something had to give, and 4-5 Turbo Hill forced 3-5 Sports Legend in behind him early, then sprinted home to hold him safe in 1:51.2 during one of three $15,000 contests in the second preliminary leg of the Bobby Weiss Series for harness racing pacing males on Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Both crowd favorites won their first Weiss series start, and both boiled away from the gate, with Turbo Hill, starting from post three for trainer/driver Hunter Oakes, insisting on early command, forcing Jim Morrill Jr. and Sports Legend, beginning from post five, to settle for the two-hole approaching the 27 first marker. Turbo Hill got a breather to the half in 56.3, was not too taxed in increasing the speed to reach the 3/4s in 1:24.4, then really turned one the afterburners with a 26.3 last quarter, leaving his archrival 1¾ lengths in his wake at the wire under highlining tactics. Turbo Hill has now won six straight and has eight victories in nine career starts for owner Tom Hill. The other two winners posted their first tallies in the Weiss Series. First up was the Sweet Lou sophomore gelding Springbridge Proud, who equaled his mark of 1:54 in his second seasonal start. Anthony Napolitano utilized the Pocono Pike with the pocketsitting winner, with the three-year-old having enough acceleration to parry the late thrust of Major Escape by a length for trainer Ron Burke and the ownership combine of Thestable Springbridge, Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, and Adriano Sorella. Anthony Napolitano’s brother George accounted for the other division with first-time Weiss starter American Admiral, coming in off a victory at Yonkers. The American Ideal colt burst out of third on the far turn and gained into a 27.2 last quarter to earn a new speed badge of 1:52.4, ¾ of a length ahead of Division Bell for trainer Andrew Harris and owners William, Ian, and James Fleming. The $21,500 fast-class pace saw the Four Starzzz Shark gelding Soho Wallstreet A survive hard usage both early and late to post a neck victory in 1:50.3. The winner of $281,764 was parked between horses in a 26.1 quarter to claim the lead, then just kept on rocking down the road in middle splits of 53.1 and 1:21.3. The early usage took some energy out of the winner, but he was kept together by driver Pat Berry to bravely hold off Mariner Seelster by a neck, with Captain Deo just photoed out of the deuce behind Soho Wallstreet A, who is trained by Scott Di Domenico for 4 G Racing Stable. In the opening race of the evening, Hitman Hill, who was third in both the Hempt Final and the Adios Final last year after winning a preliminary, went a huge mile in his second start as a four-year-old, stopping the clock in 1:50.1, fastest mile of the young season here. The American Ideal gelding was used early, moved back out on the far turn, and generated good late speed for driver Hunter Oakes to win by 1¼ lengths for trainer Chris Oakes and the ownership of Tom Hill and Northfork Racing Stable.13 more horses were claimed for $224,750 during the Saturday night card, raising the seasonal total after fourteen cards to 78 claims, resulting in a total cash transfer of $1,349,250.   PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors  

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Explosive Matter filly Spring In Paris emerged as the only female with a 2-for-2 record in the Bobby Weiss Series for trotting distaffs after three $15,000 second round preliminary harness racing divisions on Tuesday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Driver Andrew McCarthy had Spring In Paris in second-over position when pacesetting Fade Into You made a break early in the backstretch, with the victorious filly briefly three-wide as her cover was fading and could not cross over, allowing then-pocketsitter Town Hall Justice to scoot through to the lead. But Spring In Paris downshifted when she regained two-wide status, went on to the lead then held off the late inside bid of Royal Esteem by a neck in 1:57.4. Steve LeBlanc conditions the winner, now undefeated in three 2019 starts, for Leblanc Racing Inc., Glenn Dyke, and Douglas Johnson. That victory completed a siring double for Explosive Matter, as his daughter Nicole Hanover won the first Weiss division by a nose in 1:58.4. The mare followed behind pacesetter Meadowbranch Vicki, then used the famed Pocono Pike to nip her foe late for driver Tyler Buter, trainer Bob Rougeaux III, and the Brocious Racing Stable Inc. Sire dominance in the third Weiss cut went to Cantab Hall, as his daughters finished 1-2-3-4, topped by Lollipop Lindy, a three-year-old who reduced her mark two seconds to 1:57. George Napolitano Jr. went the uncovered route with Lollipop Lindy in the last half, and the pair rallied by hard-used pacesetter Run Lindy Run by a half-length for trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera and her owner, Hall of Famer Chuck Sylvester. In the top mares overnight pace for $14,000, the Stonebridge Regal mare Bye Bye Michelle was used hard early and late, yet still was able to defeat Ella Christina by a neck in 1:52.4. Andy Miller secured a pocket trip past a 26.4 opener and sat in the two-hole by the 56 half. Ella Christina made a huge uncovered backstretch move to sweep to the lead before the 1:24 3/4s - but her cover did not keep up with her, allowing Miller to move out behind the sweeper, then take off after her in the stretch. Ella Christina held well, but Bye Bye Michelle (favored by only $50 in the win pool over Ella Christina) proved the best at crunch time as she raised her career earnings to $371,225 for trainer Mike Watson and owner Clifford Grundy.   PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

Our second full week of harness racing for the 2019 season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono witnessed the Bobby Weiss late closer series getting into full gear. For the next month or so, three and four-year-old horses of varying genders and gaits will be battling it out to make the finals of that series, which go for a hefty purse. One of those Weiss horses actually grabs Trotter of the Week honors this week, which you'll discover as you read on for this edition of the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: GILLYS BOY In Saturday night's featured condition pace, with a purse of $21,500, this five-year-old gelding trained by Ron Burke went off as a 6-1 third choice despite coming in on a two-race winning streak. That was probably because those two wins, one at the Meadowlands and one at Pocono on March 16 in 1:52:2, both came against slightly lesser competition. Many of the other horses in the field on Saturday night were either veterans of the class or were coming from similarly stiff competition at other venues. Gillys Boy, as he did in those two wins in a row, shot out of the gate quickly, grabbing the lead from post position #5 in the field of nine. But unlike those previous two starts, the gelding had to cede the lead to someone else. Stars Align A, the even-money favorite, swooped by him as they rounded the first turn. Gillys Boy had to play the waiting game, taking his chance that he'd be able to outpace the favorite in the lane. When they came to top of the stretch, it was still Stars Align A and Gillys Boy sitting first and second, respectively. That's when driver Anthony Napolitano called on a little bit more from Gillys Boy and he stormed past the favorite to win it by a half-length in 1:50:3. That makes three straight wins, with the latest win coming in a career-best time against the toughest competition on the grounds, meaning Gillys Boy has been the man so far in the Pocono meet. Other top pacers this week include: Havefaithinme N (Jim Morrill Jr., Jose Godinez), who scored a condition victory on Saturday night in 1:50:2, a new career-best and the fastest pacing time at Pocono so far in 2019; River Runs Deep (Anthony Napolitano, Marta Piotrow), who switched barns and moved up in class but still scored his third claiming win in a row on Saturday night, scoring in 1:53; and Turbo Hill (Hunter Oakes driver and trainer), who pushed his winning streak to five, two of which have come at Pocono, after handling a division of the Bobby Weiss series for male pacers on Saturday night in 1:54:2.   TROTTER OF THE WEEK: MY LINDY WINNER You can't hold it against a horse if the competition against it isn't up to snuff on a given week. That was the case for My Lindy Winner in his race on Sunday night. Considering that it was the first leg of the Bobby Weiss series for male trotters, you might have expected a pretty competitive group. But the way the draw worked out, he ended up with one of the softest fields against him. Since he was probably the divisional favorite to start, that meant he would be the heavy favorite. After all, My Lindy Winner, a four-year-old stallion trained by Rob Harmon, came into the race on a three-race winning streak, with each victory more impressive than the one before. His streak started with a win at the Meadowlands, then continued when he posted a career-best mile in a condition victory at Pocono in 1:55:1. On March 28, he overcame an early break of stride to gut out a win at Yonkers. All of those took a lot more effort than he would need on Sunday night. Facing just four other competitors after two horses were scratched, My Lindy Winner, a 1-9 favorite with Jim Morrill Jr. in the bike, quickly grabbed the lead past the quarter-pole. From there, he was never threatened, coasting to a six-length victory in an unhurried 1:57. The competition will almost certainly be tougher from this point forward. But My Lindy Winner is racing with such confidence right now that it might not matter who is up against him. Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: Starsaboveallerage (Anthony Napolitano, Allen Sisco), who scored a condition trotting win on Sunday night in 1:54:4, the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; Archway (George Napolitano Jr, Aaron Lambert), who followed up his maiden victory at Freehold with an easy condition victory on Monday afternoon in a career-best 1:56:4; and Spring In Paris (Andrew McCarthy, Steven LeBlanc), whose victory in 1:57:4 in the second leg of the Bobby Weiss series for distaff trotters on Tuesday was her second straight in the series and her third in a row to start the season.   LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ONE MORE MIRACLE Maybe "miracle" is too strong a word, but this pacer driven by Billy Mann certainly conjured up a surprise with a victory in a claimer on Sunday night at 14-1, paying off $31.80 on a $2 win ticket.   DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JIM MORRILL JR Morrill doesn't usually stick around for the whole meet at Pocono, but he does damage while he's here, as evidenced by three straight cards of multiple driving victories this past week.   TRAINER OF THE WEEK: MARTA PIOTROW   Piotrow made the most of her two starts on Saturday night, winning with claimers River Runs Deep and JK Pridenjoy, both of whom were brand new to her barn. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.   Jim Beviglia  

WILKES-BARRE PA - Perennial local harness racing driving leader George Napolitano Jr. accounted for half of the twelve races on the Monday twilight card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, including keeping of a pair of impressive pacing distaffs undefeated in Weiss Series competition after their $15,000 second round preliminaries. Ghosttothepost had a bit of an adventurous journey in her section, but the American Ideal came through with flying colors, taking a new mark of 1:53. George Napolitano chose to keep his charge in third as brother Anthony rushed up with McCoolen before the half, then was able to slip out behind that one as Cardiff, another first-round Weiss winner, posted fractions of 28, 57.1, and 1:24.4. The stretch battle boiled down to the 1-1 Cardiff and the 4-5 Ghosttothepost, with the latter swinging wide off her cover and having the most late to win by 1¾ lengths. Darren Ferrell conditions the fast mare for owner Peter Paul Venturini. 18 minutes previously, "George Nap" put the Art Major filly Ashlee Sparkles on top past a 27.4 split, posted middle numbers of 57 and 1:25.3, then withstood the heated late charge of pocketsitting Final Escape by a head in 1:53.4. The winner's only two starts of 2019 have been Weiss victories for trainer Blake MacIntosh, who is also co-owner with Hutt Racing Stable, Jacqueline Tierney, and the Mortgage Boys Stable. In the third Weiss section, the Sportswriter filly Girl's Got Rhythm ran her lifetime record to 2-for-2 as she overcame the outside post eight and a two-move journey to prevail by a half-length over 50-1 shot Flipping Fun in 1:53.1. Unraced at two, Girl's Got Rhythm had broken her maiden in her bow, then handled the shift to Weiss action with aplomb for driver Tyler Buter, trainer Nicholas Devita and owner John Cummins. In addition to the six wins for Napolitano, Jim Morrill Jr. fashioned three victories on the Monday card; in fact, from races three to eleven inclusive there was no admission via sulky to the local winners circle unless your name was "GNap" or Morrill. PHHA / Pocono   Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA - The male trotters got their first crack at Weiss Series harness racing action Sunday evening at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with three $15,000 first round preliminaries seeing the fastest winner emerge as the Conway Hall gelding Hammer Creek, who nipped the heavy favorite Dover Dony in a personal best 1:55.1. Dover Dony had quarter-moved after a 27.2 opener and went on to post nice midsplits of 56.2 and 1:25.1. Pocono's "Trot Man," driver Mike Simons, bided his time with Hammer Creek, then moved out just before the ¾ and aimed right at the leader. Dover Dony had gamely and still was ahead in deep stretch, but his foe was relentless in pursuit and got the decision by the shortest possible margin. Kenneth Hess Jr. trains the winner, who dropped three seconds off his mark, for owner Richard Ciesielski. Although his time of 1:57 may not quite match up to 1:55.1, My Lindy Winner was also quite impressive in victory, remaining undefeated after four 2019 starts. Jim Morrill Jr., who teamed with trainer Rob Harmon for a pair of winners on the card, took his time with the son of Credit Winner in getting the lead, but once on top the issue seemed little in doubt, with My Lindy Winner six lengths clear after a 57.3 last half for the ownership of Vincent Laurenzo, Howard Taylor, and Thomas Lazzaro. The Explosive Matter gelding Higgs Boson doubled his lifetime win total when he won his Weiss division while taking a lifetime mark of 1:57.2. Driver Fern Paquet Jr. sent Higgs Boson on an uncovered mission nearing the 5/8, and the winner proved more than equal to the challenge for trainer Dave Wiest, co-owner with Paul Britcher Jr. Co-featured were a pair of $17,000 events for developing horses, many of whom should be a good bit higher on the class ladder in short order. First up were the pacers, and the winner was the Rock And Roll Heaven gelding Rebel Rouser, who had established a four-race win streak at Yonkers and The Meadowlands, then made it five in a row with a 1:51.3 victory. The lightly-raced but successful pacer (12 for 24 lifetime now at age five) was three-wide a good part of a 27.2 opener, made the lead just after that station , then yielded to a tough opponent in Shadow Cat, who took the field past the half in 55.4 and the 3/4s in 1:24. Driver Andrew McCarthy roused Rebel Rouser out of the two-hole past midturn, went up to the leader and then asserted himself with strong stretch steps, finishing under a hold while ¾ of a length to the good of Shadow Cat, who took second over inside-rallying Ideal Wheel. Robert Cleary is the conditioner of the promising pacer, who is owned by W. J. Donovan of New England and Florida and Donal Murphy of Baltimore - Baltimore, Ireland, that is. Andrew McCarthy also accounted for the trotting co-feature, taking advantage of a perfect pocket trip with the Kadabra gelding Mr Houdini and then holding off longshot closers by ¾ of a length while posting a clocking of 1:56.4. The combine of Ron Burke and Burke Racing Stable LLC / Weaver Bruscemi LLC added yet another victory to their unprecedented accumulation. PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA - Three $15,000 divisions of the first preliminary of the Bobby Weiss Series for pacing males highlighted the harness racing card on Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with Jim Morrill Jr. guiding two of the winners to 1:52.3 victories. First on the track was the Sweet Lou sophomore gelding Division Bell, who broke his maiden for trainer Ron Burke and Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Morrill sent Division Bell to the lead in front of the stands, then kept the youngster rolling home in 56.1 to be 1¼ lengths ahead of R U Talkin at the finish while also setting a new mark. Sports Legend, an Ontario Gold finalist at two and three despite only notching one victory in his initial two campaigns, is making up for lost time in 2019, as the Sportswriter gelding ran his 2019 scorecard to 4-3-1-0 with a half-length success over hard-charging Pocono Pike utilizer Under Paid. Jennifer Bongiorno trains the winner for Gestion J Y Blais Inc. Turbo Hill, a four-year-old son of American Ideal, won his fifth straight race and is now 7-for-8 lifetime, with his 1:54.2 final clocking (after he stole a 58 half on the lead) sufficient to hold off Dakota Ole by 1¼ lengths. A winner in 1:51.1 here earlier in the meet, Turbo Hill was driven and is trained by Hunter Oakes for owner Tom Hill. Gilly's Boy ran his 2019 record to 3-for-3, and he also posted the fastest mile of the young season so far at the mountain oval, 1:50.3, while winning the $21,500 fast-class pacing feature. The Cam's Card Shark gelding, who also took a new mark, left alertly, yielded to favorite Stars Align A as that one cut fractions of 26.3, 55.1, and 1:22.1, then came out for the drive and passed the chalk by a half-length under the guidance of Anthony Napolitano, who had four visits to Victory Lane. Ron Burke conditions the career-sharp pacer for Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. ... And then 38 minutes later, the Bettor's Delight gelding Havefaithinme N lowered the Pocono seasonal best another tick, moving to the lead after a 26.4 opener, posting middle splits of 54 and 1:21.4, then staying strong to the finish to give driver Jim Morrill Jr. a third win on the night (Tyler Buter also drove three winners). Trained by Jose Godinez for Blindswitch Racing Stable, Gary Axelrod, Good Friends Racing Stable and Santo Farina, Havefaithinme N was of course a star Down Under, winning the 2016 Miracle Mile in 1:47 5/10, at the time the fastest Australasian mile race ever, and recorded most of his $1,182,169 bankroll in the Southern Hemisphere. Once again the claiming box was a Saturday night beehive of activity at Pocono, as seasonal records were set in amount of horses claimed (17) and amount changing hands for horseflesh ($328,750). Ten days into the meet (with most of the claimers written on Saturdays), there have been 62 horses going back to different barns after their races, with the money tally now over seven figures for the meet at $1,094,500. FINISHING LINES - The Pocono horsemen's community was saddened to learn that Syl DeCample Jr. passed away recently at age 76. Only three horsemen (George Napolitano Jr., Bill Lambertus, and Bill Mullin) have won more horsemen's crowns locally than did the colorful DeCample, who was the best in driving victories three straight years (1977 through 1979), and then won both the UDR title and the training wins title in 1992 - with Syl's son Syl III succeeding his father in the trainers' category the next year. PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

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