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Well, the good news is we had our first really beautiful night weather-wise for harness racing on the 2018 season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono this past Saturday. The bad news is that it was followed by three more nights of winter-like conditions. Nonetheless, the stubbornly-clinging cold did not dampen the enthusiasm at the track, not when there were so many outstanding performances that we witnessed, the best of which we now honor with the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: HIGHALATOR A year ago as a sophomore pacer, Highalator did much of the damage during an 11-win season at Pocono, including dominance of the Bobby Weiss late closer series for male pacers. His 4-year-old season began with him racing in Delaware, and he did well in his first taste of veteran competition, hitting the board in four of seven races with one victory. But his season immediately jumped a notch when he came to Pocono, as he picked up a victory in a $14,000 condition pace on April 7 in 1:51:3. On Saturday night, the 4-year-old stallion trained by Jenny Bier decided to step up in class to face the featured $17,500 condition pacers. Leaving from position #3 in a field of eight, he was a 7-2 fourth choice, while Bettor's Edge, earner of over $2 million in his career, went off as the 8-5 favorite in a rugged field. Highalator sat 4th early as Americanprimetime cut out the mile from an inside post. Driver Tyler Buter decided to take a first-over shot with Highalator just prior to the clubhouse turn. Highalator immediately pulled up alongside Americanprimetime but couldn't slip past right away. Instead the two stayed locked up around the second turn as well. But instead of fading, Highalator kept after it and eventually wheeled on by to beat the game American Primetime by a head. Not only did he set a career-best with a winning time of 1:49:4, the stallion also became the first to horse to snap the 1:50 barrier at Pocono in 2018. Other top pacers this week include: Catherinesdiamond (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who overcame a #9 post on Saturday night to win his second straight $10,000 claimer in 1:53:3; Drinkin Again (Jim Morrill Jr, Philip Jasper), who moved up in class to win Sunday night's featured condition pace in 1:53:2, giving him two straight victories and three in his last four; and Fox Valley Cadet (George Napolitano Jr., Rob Harmon), who picked up his second straight claiming victory on Tuesday night, this one coming in 1:56:1. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: ARCHBALD This four-year-old gelding from the Fern Paquet Jr. barn had wins early in the year at both Saratoga and Pompano before stopping into Pocono for the Bobby Weiss late closer series for male trotters. In his first try in that group, he made a costly break of stride and finished fourth. On April 8, however, Archbald steered clear of any breaks and overpowered the field to win a spilt in 1:55:3, which was a career-best and the fastest time in that grouping of the Weiss up to that point. Archbald was back at it on Sunday night in the third leg of the Weiss as a 7-5 favorite leaving from post position #4 in a field of seven. The field included Chas Hanover, who had won the first two legs of the Weiss, but he wasn't a factor in the race, eventually finishing fourth. Instead the race became a duel between Law Of Attraction, who set the pace, and Archbald, who, with Paquet doing the driving as well, made a first-over move from third on the back stretch. The two leaders were practically inseparable throughout the back stretch and the final turn. But in the final strides, Archbald finally wore down Law Of Attraction to take over late. He ended up winning by a length in 1:55:1. That winning time reset his career mark and also reset the standard for the male trotters in the Weiss. It's looking like Archbald might just be the one to beat in that Weiss classification as we get closer to the Finals. Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: Lightningpedia (Chuck Connor Jr., Janice Connor), who won his second straight condition trot at Pocono to start his career, this one coming on Monday night in 1:59:2 in the slop; Body Slam (Anthony Napolitano, Tom Wine II), who compiled a two-race winning streak over five months at Pocono, with his maiden win last November, and then a condition win on Tuesday night in his first start of 2018 in 1:59:4; and Karets (Marcus Miller, James Cosenza), who moved up in class to capture his second straight condition victory on Tuesday night, this one in 1:56:1. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: CITY HALL This veteran pacer worked out a pocket trip in a condition pace on Sunday night with Andrew McCarthy in the bike and rallied for a win at 38-1, paying off $79.80 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ERIC CARLSON Carlson has been a steady performer at Pocono for several seasons now, so it was fitting that he picked up his 3,000th career victory on Monday night at the track with Call Me Richard. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JOSE GODINEZ Godinez hasn't sent out a ton of starters at Pocono but is hitting a high average with the ones who have raced, including a training double on Saturday night. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at Jim Beviglia

WILKES-BARRE PA - Ms American Muscle and I M Fishin became two-time harness racing winners in the Bobby Weiss Series for trotting females at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, capturing their $15,000 divisions of the third preliminary leg at the mountain track over off going on Tuesday. I M Fishin made a break in her first Weiss outing yet recovered for third, and in her next two series starts she has not been catchable. This week Anthony Napolitano sent her to the lead at the 3/16 around Miss Ruby (who had a win-break pattern, opposite to that of the winner), and the ABC Garland mare proved too strong for the opposition, defeating Miss Ruby by four lengths in 1:58.2 over a "good +2" track in mid-30s weather for trainer Jody Riedel and Super Mile LLC. While I M Fishin was a well-supported favorite, the Donato Hanover filly Ms American Muscle caught the crowd by surprise, returning a $39.60 mutuel, the fans more influenced by last week's miscue than by her win two starts ago. This week Marcus Miller kept her third-in, pulled her out at headstretch, and surged by the tired pacesetter Corrupt by a neck in 2:00.2. Jenny Melander conditions the late-charging miss for owner John Devito. In the third Weiss section, Puma Blue Chip broke her maiden in 1:58.2, making a big sweeping move down the backstretch for driver Tom Jackson to move close to pacesetting One Fine Lady, then getting by her late to take a neck decision. The Chapter Seven filly is conditioned by Agostino Abbatiello for the Durazzano Stable. In addition to bringing home the two-time Weiss winners, Anthony Napolitano and Marcus Miller also had the distinction of bringing in $50+ longshots - Pocono's second such "doubling up" in three cards. Body Slam used pocket rocket tactics to take the second for Napolitano at $53.80, while in the ninth Miller brought Heavens Dancer from far back to light up the board at $60.80. And both winners were coming off of victories in their previous starts! PHHA / Pocono      

WILKES-BARRE PA - Sharen Hanover and Kimberlee both recorded their second victories in the Bobby Weiss Series for harness racing pacing females on Monday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, where earlier in the dank evening Eric Carlson recorded his 3000th driving victory. The Well Said mare Sharen Hanover is now perfect in two starts for the brothers Allard, driver Simon and trainer Rene, as she quarter-moved to command and went on to win her $15,000 division of the series' third preliminary leg. Three lengths clear at the end of a 1:55.3 mile in "sloppy +2" conditions, the mare appears to be peaking at just the right time for owner Geoffrey Mounds. In the other section, the Rock N Roll Hanover filly Kimberlee, who won in the first round and then sat out last week, raced just off a contested pace, then caught the series' only double winner in the first two prelims, Miss Hill, by a half-length in 1:55.4. Marcus Miller was in the sulky behind the winner, now undefeated in three seasonal starts, for trainer Ãke Svanstedt and the ownership of Knutsson Trotting Inc. and Asa Sjoberg. Eric Carlson, starting the night with 2999 career sulky successes, got the wait for his milestone over quickly, guiding Call Me Richard to a safe victory in the night's opener. The 42-year-old Carlson, a Detroit leader before "coming East" some years ago and establishing himself as a talented catch-driver, then wasted no time setting out on the road to 4000, making a big sweeping move with Western Bayama to take the night's eighth event. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - Harness racing driver Eric Carlson wasted no time in recording his 3000th career victory Monday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, taking the first race of the night with Call Me Richard for the milestone victory. Call Me Richard pressed forward to control the pace over Monday's sloppy racetrack at Pocono, and he opened up a large lead towards the ¾. In the stretch Holy Halibut, second choice to the winning favorite, made up some late ground, but Carlson kept after his charge and crossed the wire with a safe 1¼-length margin at the end of the 1:57.3 mile. The 42-year-old Carlson was half that age when he won his first race, an FFA pace worth $930, at the Fowlerville MI fair with Calamity Clyde. Eric grabbed industry attention in 2010, when he won 603 races, sixth-highest in North America, while dominating the Detroit circuit. He soon afterwards decided to take his driving skills eastward, with his earnings benefiting from the transplantation: his best money year was 2014, when his horses brought in $5.3 million of his career $27.3 million tally. PHHA / Pocono

A double header of live harness racing; a hat revue with 5 categories including the “Triple Crown” winning hat;  and a Champagne Brunch are all part of the biggest Kentucky Derby party north of Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May at the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.  Doors open Saturday, May 5th at 10:00 Post for the first of the double-header of live harness racing card is 11:00a.m., and a patio bar will be open just for those early birds!  Pacer’s Clubhouse will host a Champagne Brunch like no other from 10:00am to 3:00pm featuring delectable Southern delicacies and Brunch favorites, by reservation only.  Call 1-888-WIN-IN-PA.  At 5:30pm, a top shelf all-you-can-eat dinner buffet will be featured, also by reservation only.  Ladies can proudly wear their elaborately decorated Kentucky Derby hats for the Run for the Roses Hat Revue sponsored by Spa Sapphire, located in the casino.  All hats must be registered from  3:30pm to 5:15pm in the lobby, and the Revue takes place promptly at 5:30 p.m. in front of the Winner’s Circle with cash prizes and Spa Sapphire gift cards.  Five categories will be judged, including “Most Colorful;  “Most Horsie”; “Most Elegant”; “Most Fascinating Fascinator”, and the overall grand prize winner, the “Triple Crown Winner”! The “Most Fashionable Couple” will also be selected.  All prizes will be awarded by a panel of judges. A photo booth in the lobby will be open at 3:00pm to capture the best moments of the day, with a $1 minimum donation to the Standardbred Retirement Foundation.  The Trackside Concession bars, food truck, and the Party Tent open at 3:00PM, and of course, Mint Juleps will be available all day in the official Kentucky Derby 144 souvenir glasses!  Following Kentucky Derby 144 on the jumbo screen, fans can stay and enjoy another exciting live card under the stars.  A stellar card is planned, including the finals of the Bobby Weiss Series for the 3 and 4 year-old trotters and pacers, as well as the Van Rose Memorial Pace for 4 year-olds and up. As always, parking and admission is free at the racetrack! The Downs will open for advance wagering on Friday, May 4th at 11:00am.  

WILKES-BARRE PA - Archibald has stamped himself as the trotter to beat in the Bobby Weiss Series section for diamondgaited males, taking a new mark of 1:55.1 in his $15,000 third preliminary round harness racing action Sunday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The four-year-old altered son of Archangel has had to go first-over in all three of his Weiss starts - the first week he made a break while challenging, while during the second he proved his superiority by reducing his mark to 1:55.3. That number was again lowered on a very cool night Sunday, with trainer/driver Fern Paquet Jr. sitting outside of pacesetting Law Of Attraction, then overpowering that one the last half of the stretch to win by a length for breeder/owner Michael Sherman Jr. Chas Hanover, one of two double winners in previous Weiss contests, could not go with the cover of the winner the last 3/8 and wound up fourth. Perfect Chapter AS, who like Archibald made a break while motoring uncovered in his first series start, atoned for last week's error with a big sweep from the back of the field, winning by four lengths for driver Marcus Miller while reducing his speed standard to 1:56.3. The Chapter Seven four-year-old gelding is trained by Anette Lorentzon for ACL Stuteri AB and Kjell Johannson. The other double Weiss winner in this group, Meadowbranch Ricky, had been able to hold off the late surge of Stormont Manpower last week; on Sunday, Stormont Manpower was a bit closer at headstretch, and he was able to catch the pacesetting "Ricky" by three-quarters of a length while reducing his record to 1:57. Second in his first two series starts, the winning altered son of Kadabra made the third time a charm for driver Andrew McCarthy, trainer Robert Bresnahan Jr., and owner Robert Bresnahan. McCarthy, who had four winners on the card, also led the longshot brigade on Sunday, bringing home City Hall first in the twelfth race while returning $79.80 as a pocket rocket. Two races earlier, Jim Morrill Jr. had used similar tactics with Drinkin Again, getting the nod to the mutuel tune of $51.40. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - Heavenly Sound and I Soar Him First kept their records in the Bobby Weiss Series for pacing males perfect after two starts, each winning one of the $15,000 three divisions of the second preliminary leg of their Weiss competition Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Heavenly Sound was the fastest of Saturday's three winners, ripping off a 1:50.4 clocking that equaled the mark he set at The Meadowlands two starts back. But the Rock N Roll Heaven colt needed every ounce of energy reflected in that time to overcome a first-over trip and catch pacesetting Heartbeat Hill by half a length - probably a little closer than the backers who sent him off at 1-20* might have liked. However, Heavenly Sound did get the job done for driver Tom Jackson, trainer Bruce Saunders, and M&M Harness Racing LLC. The other two first-round Weiss winners clashed in the heat where I Soar Him First quarter-moved to the lead for driver George Napolitano Jr. and went on to tie the 1:52 mark he set in the first leg. Goose Mountain, at a disadvantage in the post draw, could get to only 1¾ lengths behind the winner at the finish as the So Surreal sophomore gelding contains to thrive for owner/trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera. The other Weiss winner Saturday wasn't triumphant here in the first round - but Ostro Hanover had won his previous five starts between Monticello and Yonkers, and here he made it six straight while lowering his mark over three seconds to 1:52.1. Record Machine, three-quarters of a length back of the victorious Betterthancheddar colt, photoed out unlucky favorite Riggle Wealth for second. Frank Yanoti conditions the impressive Pocono newcomer for Twin Bridge Racing. In the $21,500 featured pace for older performers, Highalator raised his career win percentage to 50%, overcoming a first-over journey to just nip pacesetting American Primetime by a head in 1:49.4, fastest mile of the young season at Pocono and a new mark for the winner. Tyler Buter handled the sulky assignment behind the son of Somebeachsomewhere, now a visitor to Victory Lane 15 times in just 30 trips behind the gate, for trainer Jenny Bier, who is also the co-owner with Joann Dombeck. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - The harness racing team of owner Bob Key, trainer Trish Adams, and driver Jim Morrill Jr. accounted for two of the four $15,000 divisions of the second preliminary round of the Bobby Weiss Series for trotting females Tuesday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Baby Wants, a Conway Hall filly, had not won in 14 prior career starts and was up against the heavily-favored Myrna Myrna, the fastest winner in the first prelim, but "Baby" was moved to the lead in front of the stands by Morrill, then stepped home in 1:57.2 to post a half-length decision over the chalk, who came from sixth at the half in another good showing. The other winner for Morrill/Adams/Key was a Deweycheatumnhowe filly, Corrupt, a good-closing third in her Weiss bow, with Morrill here using the same early move tactic that helped Baby Wants while guiding Corrupt to a 1:57.4 triumph, a new mark by over three seconds. Deweycheatumnhowe got a second siring credit, and Anthony Napolitano posted the first of his two Weiss wins on the night, when the four-year-old Dewitonemoretime raced on the engine and held off Ãke Svanstedt's white trotting mare, Via Lattea IT, by a head while equaling her mark of 1:57.3 in her seasonal bow. Scott Betts trains the winner for owners Timothy Betts and Nicholas Catalano. First round winner Miss Ruby made an early break but rallied from last to be third here. Fortunes were reversed in the final Weiss sector: I M Fishin was favored in the first leg but had to settle for third after a good recovery from an early miscue, while Ms American Muscle posted the victory last Tuesday. This week "Ms Muscle" was the victim of a lapse from gait, and I M Fishin was able to go wire-to-wire from "Anthony Nap" despite the outside seven, with the 1:56.3 final clocking lowering her speed tab by just over two seconds. Jody Riedel conditions the victorious ABC Garland mare for Super Mile LLC. Morrill went on to have five winners on the night; Anthony Napolitano wound up with three. That gives each driver 30 wins as they are tied at the top in the early Pocono standings. And since Pocono has raced only 12 cards so far in 2018, that means they are each averaging 2 1/2 winners a card so far -- fancy numbers at anybody's racetrack. The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week in Review April 7-13, 2018 - Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t April supposed to be when the weather starts to turn away from the long, cold winter? It certainly hasn’t done that yet in Northeastern Pennsylvania. We’re nearly a month into the season and I don’t believe we’ve hit the 60-degree mark on a racing night yet this season. Luckily, the racing at Pocono hasn’t been bothered one iota by the chilly temps, as the early weeks have been as fast and furious as ever. On that note, let’s honor the best performances of the past four racing nights with the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: AWESOMENESS With a name like that, this five-year-old gelding trained by Brett Pelling is practically begging people to come up and knock him off his perch. Luckily, Awesomeness has more than enough talent to back up his moniker. He really started to come to the fore in 2017, earning a hefty $164,368 on his campaign. And he hasn’t let up at all this season. Back-to-back wins at The Meadowlands in February and March got him rolling, and a win on March 31 in his Pocono debut in the winners of over $25,000 lifetime feature in 1:51:3 cemented his status. On Saturday night, he was once again facing that tough winners over group, only this time around, the field was even more rugged, with the inclusion of juggernauts from Dover Downs (Major Uptrend) and The Meadowlands (Bettor’s Edge) bringing a lot of class into town with them. But driver Jim Morrill Jr., utilizing the inside post to his advantage, found an early sweet spot in the pocket with Awesomeness, as the fractions were cut out at a blistering pace. In the home stretch, Awesomeness had the room to uncork his late kick in the passing lane as the 3-2 betting favorite. He took over the lead but still had to deal with a big late move from Archangel Three in the lane. He prevailed by a neck, making it two in a row against the toughest pacers on the grounds. His winning time was 1:50:4. Look for this talented pacer to keep living up to that name and to perform as one of the top aged pacers at Pocono and anywhere else he decides to roam. Other top pacers this week include: Sapphire City (Anthony Napolitano, Ron Burke), who moved up in class on Saturday night to take home his second straight condition victory, this one coming in 1:52:4; Miss Hill (Anthony Napolitano, Bruce Clarke), a filly who picked up her second straight Bobby Weiss series win on Monday night and did so in a career-best 1:54; and Charming Hill (Jim Morrill Jr., Marc Mosher), who switched barns to pick up her second straight claiming handicap win over mares on Monday night in 1:55:1. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: CHAS HANOVER Much of the trotting action this past week was dedicated to the second leg of the Bobby Weiss late closer series, including Sunday night’s three divisions for the three and four-year-old colts and geldings. Chas Hanover came into the race looking for his second straight victory in the series and his third straight overall. The three-year-old gelding, trained by Gilberto Garcia-Herrera, had previously scored at Yonkers on March 18 and in the first leg of the Weiss on April 1 in a career-best 1:56:2. In both of those victories, Chas Hanover was lucky enough to draw an inside post, allowing him to work out excellent trips behind pacesetters. On Sunday night, however, he left from post position #6 in a field of seven trotters, meaning that he wouldn’t be afforded the luxury of good position with little effort. Knowing that, driver George Napolitano Jr. gunned him early to the lead, despite getting a challenge for that lead from Church Choir. It wasn’t easy from there, either, as Chas Hanover had to deal with persistent pressure from Golden Attitude, who snuck up behind him around the last turn for some cover before charging up in the stretch. Chas Hanover found a little something more, however, holding off Golden Attitude by a nose in a thrilling duel. His winning time was 1:56:4 for this third victory in a row, as he establishes himself as one to watch throughout the entirety of the Weiss races. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Meadowbranch Ricky (George Napolitano Jr., Jenny Melander), who moved to two-for-two in the Weiss by scoring on Sunday night in 1:56:2; I M Fishin (Anthony Napolitano, Jody Riedel), who picked up a win in the Weiss series for distaff trotters on Tuesday night in 1:56:3, which was the fastest winning time posted of the four divisions that night and a new career-best for filly; and Perfect Stick (George Napolitano Jr., Anette Lorentzon), who scored a condition victory on Sunday night in 1:54:4, which was a new career-best and the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: PERFECT MAVERICK This pacing mare, driven by Ron Cushing, made her first career win a memorable one, scoring a condition victory on Sunday night at 27-1 and paying off $57.40 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JIM MORRILL JR. Morrill is always a force early in the season at Pocono, and this year has been no different, as he picked up four wins on Saturday night and three more on Tuesday. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: KATRICIA ADAMS Adams is looking strong in the Bobby Weiss trotting fillies and mares series after picking up a pair of wins in that class on Tuesday night with Corrupt and Baby Wants. That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - Miss Hill became the only two-time winner in the Bobby Weiss Series for harness racing pacing females on Monday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, taking her $15,000 division of the second preliminary leg of her Weiss Series grouping. Miss Hill's race was probably the toughest of the three, as it matched her with Unnreal, another first leg winner, and Line Dancer, who missed a head last week to Kimberlee (who did not compete Monday). And the first week's form was reflected again on Monday as the finish was Miss Hill, Line Dancer, Unnreal, with the victorious Somebeachsomewhere filly closing into a 55.3 last half to take a new lifetime mark of 1:54. Miss Hill, driven by Anthony Napolitano, is now 2-for-2 for trainer Bruce Clarke, who also co-owns her with Patricia Waldeck and John Coffey. Pretty Angel Eyes had tried the front end in the first Weiss leg and came up shy; this time driver Jim Morrill Jr. had her last at the half, and she came her own back half in 56.4 to record his first career victory in 23 starts, stopping the timer in 1:56. Brandon Todd trains the winner, a Bettor's Delight mare who also made Curtis Lee fans happy, for owners Belrose Standard LLC. "First-time Allard" has become a watchword phrase at Pocono over the last few years, and with the Well Said mare Sharen Hanover going over to the Rene Allard shedrow, she made her barn debut a winning one, lowering her mark to 1:53.2 with a wire-to-wire effort. Rene's brother Simon was in the sulky for owner Geoffrey Lyons Mound as the acquisition scampered home in 55.2. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - George Napolitano Jr., perennially the leading harness racing driver at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, steered Meadowbranch Ricky and Chas Hanover to their second straight victories in the Bobby Weiss Series for trotting males Sunday night at the northeast Pennsylvania oval, while Archibald bounced back from a first-round break to take the third $15,000 division in this Weiss division's second preliminary leg. Both of the "George Nap"-guided diamondgaiters remain undefeated in 2018. The Muscle Massive colt Meadowbranch Ricky raised his seasonal record to 2-for-2 while taking a new mark of 1:56.2 in his division for trainer Jenny Melander and owner Hans Enggren, while the Cantab Hall sophomore gelding Chas Hanover is now unbeaten in three starts for owner-trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera, but he had to work hard to down Golden Attitude by a nose at the end of his 1:56.4 victory. Archibald, who made a good move first-over in the first Weiss leg before losing gait last week, again was saddled with the difficult first-over duty on Sunday. But trainer/driver Fern Paquet Jr. was able to get the victorious Archangel four-year-old gelding to mind his manners this week, and he responded with a lifetime-best 1:55.3 tally, stepping home in 27.4 for owner Michael Sherman Jr. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - The pacing males saw their first harness racing action in the Bobby Weiss Series on Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, contesting three $15,000 divisions of the first preliminary round. Fastest of the trio of winners was the So Surreal gelding I Soar Him First, taking a new mark of 1:52 in his second start for owner/trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera. George Napolitano Jr. pointed I Soar Him First right to the top, and indeed the sophomore was seen first at every call, with a back half of 55.4. Also earning a lifetime speed badge was the Roll With Joe four-year-old stallion Goose Mountain, whom Simon Allard brought under the wire first in 1:52.2 while overcoming a tough two-move trip. James Healey owns and trains the developing pacer. The only one of the Weiss winning trio who did not take a new mark was the Rock N Roll Heaven colt Heavenly Sound - largely because he was coming off a 1:50.4 triumph at The Meadowlands. Saturday's win at Pocono gave him two straight, with Tom Jackson moving him to the lead in front of the stands, and the colt also stepping home in 55.4, last quarter 27.2, to get the job done in 1:52.2 for trainer Bruce Saunders and M&M Harness Racing LLC. An excellent $25,000 winners-over pace saw the Mach Three gelding Awesomeness ride the pocket and then the Pocono Pike to paydirt, taking his second straight and fourth in his last six starts, in 1:50.4. Driver Jim Morrill Jr. saw no reason to argue with success, having used the two-hole trip and inside stretch route as a path to Victory Lane last Saturday, and then repeated the feat this week with Awesomeness for trainer Brett Pelling and owner Martin Scharf. FINISHING LINES - After winning the opening race of the night with I Soar Him First ($7.20) in a Weiss division, driver George Napolitano Jr. came right back 18 minutes later with $53.00 shot Naked City, generating a Daily Double worth $500.20. "George Nap" now has more 2018 appearances on the $50+ "Bomber" list (one) than he did in all of 2017 (when his brother Anthony led the local colony in that stat). PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - Driver Mike Simons, known as the "Pocono Trot Man" because of his success rate with horses of the diamondgaited variety, guided two of the three divisional winners in the $15,000 first prelim of the Bobby Weiss Series for trotting distaffs Tuesday night over a sloppy surface at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Myrna Myrna, who had found her form at The Meadows for trainer Scott Betts as 2017 changed to 2018, made her first start in 2½ months a successful one, winning her division in a career best 1:57.4 with Simons sulkysitting. Despite having to go first-over into a 57.3 back half, Myrna Myrna was able to draw away by 2¼ lengths over Girl Crush, who raced well in her career debut. The victorious four-year-old daughter of Chapter Seven looms a major factor in the series for owner Timothy Betts. "The Trot Man" also had to go the uncovered route with the Donato Hanover filly Ms American Muscle, making her 2018 bow, in the second cut, but the raw challenger was able to outmuscle pacesetting Baby Wants home by ¾ of a length while lowering her mark 2 3/5 seconds to 1:59.2 for Simons, trainer Jenny Melander, and owner John Devito. The third section proved a tough stretch battle between a pair of 7-5 shots, pacesetting Miss Ruby and pocket-to-Pocono Pike challenger Via Lattea IT - who not only was making her stateside debut, but also doubled trainer Ã…ke Svanstedt's collection of white horses to two (White Bliss). Via Lattea IT had had five months away from the races before Tuesday's outing, and she just failed to overhaul the Cantab Hall four-year-old mare Miss Ruby by a head at the end of a 1:59.2 mile. Simon Allard was in the sulky behind the winner for trainer Kelvin Harrison and the Spaaaartners (four a's - we double-checked) ownership. In the $14,000 co-feature for distaff pacers, trainer Brianne Good scored her first-ever Pocono victory, and the third of her four-month conditioning career, when driver Jim Taggart Jr. was able to rally the Well Said mare Shutthefrontdoor from last at the half to win in 1:54 and light up the tote board at $51.80. The victorious mare, owned by Guy Beaulieu and Richard Villenueve, came her last half in just a shade over 55 and won going away by two lengths. Jerry Connors

As we barrel forward into the month of April, we are still waiting for signs of spring to show up in the weather in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Rest assured, however, the cold weather hasn't had any negative effect on the early-season racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. If anything, the racing action is ripping along as if we were all basking in a heat wave in the middle of summer. That means lots of competition for this edition of the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: WALKS OF LIFE First of all, any horse sort of named after an 80's hit gets my immediate stamp of approval. But this eight-year-old gelding has brought the game to match up with the name. And his success started long before he arrived at Pocono for the beginning of the meet. Racing on the New Jersey circuit, Walks Of Life hit the board in every one of his first eight 2018 races while winning five of them. He didn't waste any time at Pocono either, winning his first two races of the meet in gate-to-wire fashion. After winning at the $12,500 and $15,000 claiming levels, he went back at it against the $15,000 claimers on Saturday night. This time around, he was working for a new barn, going for trainer Toni Freitas after the bulk of his 2018 success came with Vincent Fusco Jr. Even with the barn switch, the Pocono faithful believed in Walks Of Life, making him a 3-5 favorite as he left from post position #1 in a field of eight. When driver Jim Morrill Jr. asked him for a quick burst of speed on the front stretch, he moved to the lead, which is where he loves to operate. From there, the favorite handled a first-over challenge from Mainland Key N, while the pocket tripping Annuity tried to stay close for a final rally. But the rest of the field turned out to be playing for second, as Walks Of Life glided away from the pursuit and ended up winning by 5 ½ convincing lengths in a season-best time of 1:51:2. Now with wins in seven of ten on the year, he also became the first horse to rack up three wins in the Pocono 2018 meet. And, with how great he's been going, he'll probably be tough to beat as he tries to be first to four. Other top pacers this week include: Cowboy Terrier (Eric Carlson, Ron Burke), who scored a condition victory on Saturday night in a sizzling time of 1:50, fastest of both his career and of all pacers on the young 2018 racing season at Pocono; Kimberlee (Jim Marohn Jr., Ake Svanstedt), a filly whose victory on Sunday night in the first leg of the Bobby Weiss late closer series made her two-for-two at Pocono in the meet and came in a career-best 1:53:3; and Charmbro Curiosity (Marcus Miller, Dan Morrissey), who stepped up in claiming price to $10,000 on Saturday night and won his second straight at Pocono, this one coming in 1:53:4. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: TOUR DE LINDY A year ago as a three-year-old, the most memorable win for Tour De Lindy came when trainer Lucas Wallin drove him to a victory at Pocono at some of the longest odds for any winner in the entirety of 2017 at the track. When he returned to Pocono racing on March 27, he came in much more highly-regarded. He had begun the year with back-to-back near-miss second-place finishes at The Meadowlands. With Wallin handing the driving chores off to Marcus Miller, the four-year-old gelding easily handled a tough non-winners of four grouping in 1:55, which marked a new career-best time. On Sunday night, Tour De Lindy stepped up his game to face the non-winners of six group with a purse of $17,000. Leaving from a #6 post in a field of eight, he was made the 1-2 betting favorite in a field of eight. And Miller once again set about putting him out in front of the field with a move to the outside on the race's first turn. With seemingly no sweat, Tour De Lindy stepped past Zagster and grabbed the lead, daring anyone to come and try to catch him. Needless to say, nobody could, nor did anyone really threaten his supremacy in the race. After being rated well by Miller, Tour De Lindy powered home in the lane to win by 2 ¾ lengths over Ataboy Hanover and matched his career-best time of 1:55 from the week before in the process. That time was also the fastest of any trotter on the week at Pocono. Considering how well he's been racing, it will likely be quite a stretch before this gelding is ever again deemed a long shot like he was a year ago. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Ameliosi (Marcus Miller, Jenny Melander), a mare whose victory in a condition group on Saturday night in 1:55:1 gave her four wins in five races on the year; Chas Hanover (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who picked up a win in a division of the Weiss series for male trotters on Sunday night in 1:56:2, the fastest time of the three Weiss divisions for that group; and Myrna Myrna (Mike Simons, Scott Betts), who posted the fastest winning time among three divisions of the Weiss for distaff trotters in the slop on Tuesday night with a 1:57:4 victory, a new career-best. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR This mare rallied from way back in Tuesday night's featured condition pace to win at 24-1 with Jim Taggart Jr. in the bike, paying off $51.80 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MIKE SIMONS Mike looks well-stocked in the distaff trotting Weiss series after scoring victories in two of the three divisions of the first leg held on Tuesday night. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JENNY MELANDER Melander had fun with the trotters at Pocono this week, scoring trotting victories with Ameliosi on Saturday night, Meadowbranch Ricky on Sunday, and Ms American Muscle on Tuesday. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at   Jim Beviglia

Hightstown, NJ --- When he was a teenager, John Devito would hop on a bus with a friend and head to Yonkers and Roosevelt raceways, where he developed a passion for harness racing. Trips to the track these days continue to provide the 54-year-old Queens, N.Y., resident with thrills, but as much more than a fan. Devito, who is in the car wash/express oil change business, owns 20 horses including a handful of homebred trotters. One of those horses, Ms American Muscle, competes Tuesday (April 3) in the first round of the Bobby Weiss Series for 3- and 4-year-old female trotters at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Pocono hosts three divisions of the Weiss for female trotters on Tuesday’s 14-race card. Action begins at 7 p.m., with the Weiss events as races three through five. Ms American Muscle, a 3-year-old making her seasonal debut for trainer Jenny Melander and driver Mike Simons, is 6-1 on the morning line in the second division. Ms American Muscle won her final start of 2017, a conditioned race at Harrah’s Philadelphia, for her first lifetime victory. “Jenny says she should be OK,” Devito said. “There are a lot of horses making their first (seasonal) starts in there. I don’t think she’s in too deep, but you never know. I think she will be OK.” Devito and his late racing partner Rocco Manniello purchased Ms American Muscle’s dam, 2002 Filly World Trotting Derby champion CR Ms American Pie, from Rod Allen and Joseph Palermo III in October 2013. At the time, CR Ms American Pie was in foal to Donato Hanover and the resulting filly was named My Cherry Pie, who was a winner on the Pennsylvania Stallion Series circuit in 2017. Ms American Muscle is My Cherry Pie’s full sister. “We never did it before, so it was just trying something new,” Devito said about breeding. “A lot of times you go to the sales and the yearlings are off the charts. We figured we would take a shot on the breeding end. CR Ms American Pie is an outstanding mare with great bloodlines and she was in foal to Donato. We just took a shot with it.” Devito’s relationship with Allen yielded another result. Devito was introduced to Melander, his trainer for the past several years, by Allen. “They’re all good people,” Devito said. “Jenny is a great trainer, a great person. I feel like I’m in really good hands with her. She’s going to have a lot of success; she’s an extremely hard worker. I’m very happy that I’m with her.” Devito’s successes last year with Melander included Golden Son and Ameliosi, who both won preliminary rounds of the Yonkers Raceway/Standardbred Owners Association of New York Bonus Trot Series and combined for $286,477 in seasonal earnings. In 2016, Roccos Tacos won a division of the Arden Downs. He missed last year because of injury, but is on the comeback trail this season. “I enjoy going to the racetrack and watching the races,” Devito said. “It’s been good to me. “We’re hoping to have a good year. It’s like one of those things, lucky and good. There is always a luck factor. You can breed the best mare to the best stallion and it doesn’t always work out. If you have a little luck on your side, it always helps. It’s always good.” For Tuesday’s complete Pocono entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Easter Sunday harness racing twilight card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono was headlined by events in the first preliminary round of the Bobby Weiss Series for developing younger horses, with three $15,000 divisions for both trotting males and pacing females. In the trot action, all-time Pocono leading driver George Napolitano Jr. emerged victorious in the first two sections. Meadowbranch Ricky led off the card, and his 2018 campaign, by taking a 1:57.2 victory, moving to command after the quarter and going on to post a new lifetime best. The Muscle Massive sophomore colt is trained by Jenny Melander for owner Hans Enggren. Napolitano placed the Cantab Hall gelding Chas Hanover on the back of heavily favored pacesetter Law Of Attraction in the next division, then rallied the three-year-old to post a half-length upset triumph, lowering his mark to 1:56.2. Chas Hanover is now 2-for-2 since entering the barn of trainer/owner Gilbert Garcia-Herrera. The Muscle Hill four-year-old stallion Presidente Zette continued a recent run of fine form while taking the third cut for males in 1:57.1. Jim Pantaleano handled sulky duties behind the three-time seasonal winner for owner-trainer Cozette McAvoy, overcoming a first-over trip to post a neck decision over Stormont Manpower. In the pacing action for distaffs, the Rock N Roll Heaven filly Kimberlee was well-driven by Jim Marohn Jr. to take the fastest cut in 1:53.3, a personal best. Marohn hustled Kimberlee, trained by Ãke Svanstedt for Kuntsson Trotting Inc. and Asa Sbojerg, away swiftly to take a bit of early sting out of favored Line Dancer, then had a great view as the chalk and first-over Carly Girl had a tough second-half duel. Ducking to the Pocono Pike, Kimberlee was along in deep stretch to post a head decision, with Carly Girl missing the big money by only a neck. Also taking a new personal speed badge in Weiss female action was the Somebeachsomewhere filly Miss Hill, who made a first start of the year a winning one in 1:54.4. Miss Hill stepped home in 56.3 under the guidance of Anthony Napolitano, the early leader in the 2018 Pocono drivers dash table, for new trainer Bruce Clarke, also co-owner with Patricia Waldeck and John Coffey. Unnreal, a sophomore daughter of Real Artist, stamped herself as one to watch in Weiss action as she shook off the effects of a 25-day layoff and a first-over trip to hold off the horse who tailed her, Sweetest Devotion, by a neck in 1:55.1. Simon Allard guided the Pocono debutante for trainer John Wagenhoffer and Beaver Creek Farm LTD. FINISHING LINES - The Downs had its first 2018 foray into 1:50 Territory Saturday ... however, it did not come in the featured $25,000 pace, but a race later, in a $14,000 contest. The Somebeachsomewhere gelding Cowboy Terrier, out of the Dan Patch Award-winning broodmare Wild West Show and thus a full brother to Huntsville, sat just off a scorching (26, 53, 1:20.3) pace, then moved wide and drew clear in the lane, taking a lifetime mark of 1:50 at age 8 for driver Eric Carlson, trainer Ron Burke, and owner Howard Taylor. Racing continues on Tuesday at Pocono, with first round action in the Weiss Series for the female trotting set going in three $15,000 divisions. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - The stretch headwind / backstretch tailwind was a major factor during the Saturday night harness racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and so was the Mach Three gelding Awesomeness, who won the season's first $25,000 handicap pace in 1:51.3. The stiff breeze was helping leavers - as one was quickly reminded when The Wayfaring Man, Awesomeness, and Texas Terror N had little between them from one- to three-wide, respectively, in a corking 25.4 quarter. Awesomeness finally cleared to the top off the first turn, only in turn to let Texas Terror N, limbed on the wide side during the hard opener, go by to command nearing the 3/8. The half was reached in 55, but soon thereafter Texas Terror N had to be back in high gear, as Blow A Cloud N blew up uncovered to challenge to a 1:22.1 ¾ clocking, with Awesomeness able to keep the hole closed behind the pacesetter. Texas Terror N had his ground very gamely in the lane, but Awesomeness reeled him in inch by inch from the Pocono Pike to get the final advantage by a neck. Jim Morrill Jr. had his fourth sulky success of the night behind the new member of the $250,000+ Club, who is trained by Brett Pelling for owner Martin Scharf. Pocono will go at a special holiday 5 p.m. post time tomorrow, Easter Sunday, with opening round action in the $800,000 (est.) Weiss Pacing Series for the trotting males and pacing females sectors heading the racing action. PHHA / Pocono

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