May 25-31, 2012
As the month of May comes to a close, the action at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs is so massive that it can no longer be contained by four nights of racing per week. Starting in June, Sunday nights will be added to the schedule for the next three months. That means extra action for the Pocono racing fans, and it also means the Weekly Awards stand to get even more competitive. Here is this week’s edition:
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: TUI
They say that records are made to be broken, but some more records are more vulnerable than others. Anybody who has watched Tui, a four-year-old mare from the barn of Don Wiest, this season knows that she represented a serious threat to the track and world record of 1:53:1 set by Stage Show in 2009. The only problem was that a record can only be set in a victory, and Tui’s rugged competition, mostly older male horses, made a win a difficult prospect.
On Friday night, the mare faced off against a tough condition group which contained six horses with more career earnings than her coming into the race. That didn’t stop the fans from making her the favorite at 3-2, and Anthony Napolitano drove her like she was the one to beat, sending her to the front and letting everybody else try and catch her.
On this night, nobody stood a chance. Tui blew the field away by 2 ¼ lengths and tripped the timer in 1:52:3, giving her a new track record and making her the fastest 4-year-old mare ever on a 5/8-mile oval. If she keeps up at this rate, the aged mares’ record of 1:52:1 will be in her sights in 2013.
Other top trotters this week include: Live Jazz (George Napolitano Jr., Ray Schnittker), who followed up a win at The Meadowlands with a condition win at Pocono on Friday night in a new career-best time of 1:53:4; Hot Shot Blue Chip (Joe Pavia Jr., Jonas Czernyson), whose victory in the week’s featured trot on Saturday night came in 1:52, matching the fastest trotting time posted at Pocono this season; and Keystone Torch (George Napolitano Jr., Pierre Paradis), a Trotter of the Week a few weeks ago who still has winning streak going following his fifth consecutive claiming win on Friday in 1:56:1.
PACER OF THE WEEK: ALL SPIRIT
It’s rare for one of the winners of our major awards to get the trophy after winning a race as a long shot. That’s because, to be considered, they must have performed well in recent weeks, which means that they’re usually considered to be one of the top picks in a particular race.
All Spirit is an exception to that rule. Even though the mare had won her previous two starts, one at Pocono and one at Tioga, going into Tuesday night’s $25,000 featured pace for mares, she still went off at odds of 21-1. That’s probably because she was stepping up in class, but she showed no fear once the gate moved away.
Working from a pocket trip, driver Howard Parker urged All Spirit, trained by Judy Lanpher, to the outside in the stretch and she responded by upending favorite Southwind Jazmin to win by a nose in 1:51:2 on a sloppy track. Long odds or not, this mare is on such a hot streak that she’s a threat to win any race she enters.
Honorable mention on the pacing side this week goes to: Best Around (George Napolitano Jr., Paul Holzman), a mare who scored her second consecutive condition victory on Friday night in 1:51:2; Ol’ Man River (Matt Romano driver and trainer), who moved up in class and scored his second straight condition win on Friday night in 1:50:1, a new career mark; and Natural Woman N (Jason Bartlett, Rene Allard), the 11-year-old mare who won her fourth straight distaff pace on Wednesday night in 1:52:1.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: MAMIE’S JAILBIRD
This filly with Matt Romano on the bike stung a batch of condition trotters on Tuesday night as a 25-1 long shot, which brought in a $53.40 payout on a $2 win ticket.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANDREW MCCARTHY
One of the steadiest drivers at Pocono for the past few seasons, McCarthy had another solid week with six wins, including doubles on Friday and Tuesday.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JASON ROBINSON
After a monster 2011 campaign at Pocono, Robinson is once again one of the top trainers on the grounds, solidifying his standing with three more victories this week.
That’s it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com.
May 25-31, 2012