June 15-21, 2012
It’s been an incredible week of racing action at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, one that saw superstar colt Googoo Gaagaa break the world record for 3-year-old trotting colts in the eliminations for the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial on Friday night. We’ll be talking about the finals of that great stakes race in next week’s column. Luckily, there are plenty of other worthy candidates for the Weekly Awards from which to choose.
PACER OF THE WEEK: AHEAD OFTHE CURVE
The life of a talented claimer is a transitory one, since a horse that does well in the claiming ranks usually is highly sought after by other horsemen. When a horse switches barns often, it sometimes takes a toll on its performance. By contrast, Ahead Ofthe Curve appears to be getting better every time he has to pack up and move.
He started his travels and his winning streak with a victory in a $12,500 claiming class on May 12 in 1:52. The 6-year-old gelding was promptly claimed and won in the same class two weeks later in 1:51:1, only to be claimed again. On June 2, he moved up to the $15,000 claimers and set a new career mark in 1:50:4 on his way to his third straight victory.
After yet another claim, he joined the Ken Rucker barn and faced his toughest test yet on Sunday night, a $25,000-$30,000 claiming handicap. Driver Eric Carlson has been the one constant for Ahead Ofthe Curve during his travels, and he was there to guide him on Sunday to his fourth straight victory in 1:51:1. Needless to say, he was claimed once more; considering he’s already at the top of the claiming ladder, maybe the gelding can try his luck against the condition pacers, meaning he might even get to unpack.
Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: Great Soul (Brandon Simpson trainer and driver), who used a late rally on Sunday for his second straight claiming win in 1:52:3; Twin B Passion (Jason Bartlett, Andrew Adamczyk), a mare who used a late rally to beat the $10,000 claimers on Wednesday night in 1:52:4, her fourth straight win; and Billmar Scooter (Tyler Buter, Amber Buter), who beat the top mares on the grounds for the second straight week on Tuesday, this time in 1:50:2.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: WINDSUN GALAXIE
Some horses have the ability to be versatile, showing that they can come from off the pace, sit close to the lead, or gun to the front and still be capable of performing well in all of those circumstances. To be frank, Windsun Galaxie has not been one of those horses since arriving at Pocono from Canada in April. The 5-year-old stallion from the Tyler Raymer barn has hustled to the front in every start and let the chips fall where they may.
Such an aggressive style means that it is incumbent on the driver to rate the pace well. Mark MacDonald, a Canadian import himself, has been masterful at just that skill since taking over the reins for Windsun Galaxie two weeks ago. On June 10, he went gate to wire to beat the non-winners of $25,000 in the last five starts condition trotters, a really rugged group, in a career-best 1:52:4.
On Sunday night he was once again up against the best trotters on the grounds, and he was once again sent right to the front by MacDonald. It was another nice rate job, allowing Windsun Galaxie to fight back when challenged in the stretch by pocket horse Flex The Muscle. The result was a thrilling win by a nose in a photo finish, giving him two straight victories and a spot on top of the mountain for all overnight trotters campaigning at Pocono.
Other top trotter this week include: The Lindy Reserve (Matt Kakaley, Frank Antonacci), who followed up a win at Harrah’s by scoring in a condition trot on Friday at Pocono in 1:54, a new career-best; Fox Valley Smarty (George Napolitano Jr., Thomas Stamper), who came from way back to win a claiming handicap trot in 1:54:3 on Tuesday night, his second straight win and third in his last four; and Keenan (Brian Sears, Larry Remmen), who moved up in class Wednesday night and scored his second straight easy win, this time coming in a career-best 1:53:2.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ANOTHER WILD WOMAN
With one big move on the last turn, this mare piloted by Andrew McCarthy got by a field of claiming handicap pacers on Wednesday night at 13-1, paying off $28.60 to win.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MATT KAKALEY
Kakaley was on a nice hot streak the past four racing nights. He had double figure victories for the week, highlighted by a four-bagger on Tuesday night.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: KEN RUCKER
Rucker has been a consistently effective trainer at Pocono the last few seasons, and he was at it again this week with three wins, including a double on Sunday.
That’s it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com.
June 15-21, 2012