Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review
April 20-26, 2012
Last week, we highlighted the first two finals of the Bobby Weiss late closer series in this space. This week we can tell you about the last of those $30,000 finals, this time out for the 3 and 4-year-old trotters. As a matter of fact, the winner of that race was an easy choice to lead off this edition of the Weekly Awards. Let’s take a look.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: UPFRONTSTRIKESGOLD
One of the toughest things for a horse to accomplish in the sport of harness racing is to win when saddled with a first-over trip. What that means, for those who might not be familiar with the term, is that the horse, preferring not to get caught behind horses on the inside, moves to the outside and must provide all the momentum on its own without any cover in front to pull it along. In addition, the outside trip means the horse must travel a little extra distance around the turns.
Yet some horses thrive with such trips, and Upfrontstrikesgold seems to be one of them. A product of trainer Mark Ford’s barn, this gelding won the first two legs of the Weiss series despite having to make things happen with an outside trip. In the final, he had to do the same, beginning his first over move on the front stretch with more than half the race still in front of him.
Even with that long journey, he pulled even at the three-quarter mile marker, eventually wearing down the leader to win by 1 ¼ lengths in a new career-best time of 1:54:3. Tyler Buter did the driving for Upfrontstrikesgold, who completed the sweep and now has five wins in just seven starts in the 2012 season to date.
Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Lolique (Jim Morrill Jr., John Wagner), the veteran gelding who scored in the week’s featured condition trot on Saturday night in 1:54:4; Tameka Seelster (Mike Simons, Dennis Walsh), a mare who moved up in class for her second straight claiming win on Tuesday in 1:57:2; and MM’s Lucky Boy (Jim Morrill Jr., Erv Miller), who scorched the track for a condition win on Friday night in 1:53:2, the fastest trotting mile of the 2012 meet to date.
PACER OF THE WEEK: FORECLOSURE N
The cold and wet weather brought us our first sloppy track of the season on Saturday night, and, as is so often the case when the racing surface softens, many of the horses with early speed struggled to get home in the stretch. That didn’t seem to bode well for Foreclosure N, who was coming off a win in his 2012 debut the previous week.
This classy 4-year-old earned over $200,000 in each of his first two racing seasons, but taking on a rugged condition group from the outside post seemed like a tough task. Driver Jim Morrill Jr. didn’t seem worried though, aggressively sending his charge to the front end and daring everybody else to come and get him.
In the stretch, when closers lined up behind him, Foreclosure N found another gear and kicked away from his foes to win by 1 ¾ lengths in 1:51:2, the fastest time anyone managed on the sloppy track all night. Now 2-for-2 and having proven he can handle the top of the condition ranks, it should be fun to watch what lies ahead for this superstar from the Chris Ryder barn in weeks to come.
Other top pacers this week include: Fred And Ginger (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who pounced from the pocket to win the week’s featured winners of over $25,000 pace on Saturday night in 1:51:4; Dinneratartsplace (Tyler Buter, James Eaton), who sizzled to a condition win on Friday night in 1:50:3, the fastest time any pacer achieved all week; and Odds On Aventure (Tyler Buter, Scot DiDomenico), who stepped up again and won her fourth consecutive race on Tuesday, beating the highest condition group for mares in a career-best 1:51:1.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: CELEBRITY HALL
Making just his second career start, this young trotter, with Andrew McCarthy driving, opened some eyes in Tuesday night’s opening race with a come-from-behind win at 29-1, paying off $61.20 to win.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: TYLER BUTER
Buter continued the solid start to the season with a breakout week, earning multiple wins in three of the four racing nights to solidify his standing in the Top 5 of the drivers colony.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: CHRISTOPHER BANKS
Banks, a newcomer to Pocono, scored with Donttellmewhattodo on Friday and I Scoot For Cash on Saturday, neither of whom were favored to win.
That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review