CHAMPIONS GALORE ON DISPLAY AT POCONO SATURDAY NIGHT

2012-06-29

The Fates of the Post Position Draw certainly smiled kindly on the likely favorites in three stakes races headlining a 16-race card with over $1,200,000 in purse offerings this Saturday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.
The $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace for older horses, the $300,000 Max Hempt Pace for three-year-old colts, and the $250,000 James Lynch Pace for three-year-old fillies all saw their elimination races this past Saturday produce world-record performances over the lightning-fast Pocono Downs 5/8-mile strip, and those responsible for most of the recordwriting were drawn to the inside by the shake of the numbered pills at Wednesday morning’s draw.
The Franklin field is among the finest one-race gathering of harness horses ever, with the nine sidewheelers combining for lifetime earnings of $12,961,896, with five millionaires, two more with over a half a million to their credit, and the other pair with “only” a bankroll of $400,000+.
Last week’s world recordsetter in this group was Aracache Hanover. The son of PA stallion Dragon Again, trained by Gregg McNair for owners William Switala and James Martin, went perhaps the most impressive mile to date in North America during 2012, tucking from an outer post, then ranging up first-over, and despite that brutal journey staying clear late in 1:48.1, the world standard for older entires and just 1/5 off of the all-time all-age record for 5/8-mile tracks. Tim Tetrick, who has topped the drivers list in earnings for five consecutive years, is scheduled to handle Aracache from post four…
…which will lead some to say, “Where’s George?”, as it was two-time defending Driver of the Year George Brennan who won with Aracache last Saturday. But Brennan has opted to guide Betterthancheddar for the powerful stable of Casey Coleman from post two, and why not – because Brennan completed the Franklin elim double by giving “Cheddar” a perfect trip, then coming on late to win in 1:48.3 for owners Steve Calhoun and the West Wins Stable, edging out …
…We Will See (tonight post five, driver Ron Pierce), who had to traverse the brutal raw trip and still held gamely to the shadow of the wire. A son of the late PA champion sire Western Hanover who is trained by part-owner Sam DePinto for himself, Smith, and the Silva Stables LLC, We Will See is a co-holder of the all-time world record on 5/8-mile tracks and the outright owner of the all-time Pocono Downs record, a 1:48 victory in 2011.
One would be a fool to turn away from one’s barn (from remaining inside post out) Razzle Dazzle (Brian Sears), Meirs Hanover (David Miller), Clear Vision (Matt Kakaley), Rockincam (Jim Morrill Jr.), Foiled Again (Yannick Gingras), and Bettor Sweet (John Campbell), but it is very likely that the three in the above paragraphs will draw the most attention … and perhaps lower that 1:48 record at race’s end.
Sometimes the three-year-old pacing fillies take a backseat to the male rivals, the sport’s “glamour division,” but in the Lynch this is not the case, due to the #1-ranked horse in North America for this year, American Jewel. Trained by Jimmy Takter, who will be inducted into the sport’s Hall of Fame the next day, for Brittany Farms, the Jewel sparkled brightly in a 1:49.2 divisional record-equaling performance in her elim at the end of last week, boosting her earnings lifetime to $1,027,193, and she has the added advantage of the rail Saturday for driver Tim Tetrick.
On her very best race, and with a good trip, Economy Terror might be able to give a solid challenge to the likely chalk. Second behind American Jewel last week, the daughter of PA sire Western Terror (and practically a millionaire herself with her $998,881 bankroll) was the national champion at two and won last season’s PA championship at this very same Pocono track, and will be carrying the hopes of local trainer Chris Oakes and owners Chuck Pompey, Howard Taylor, and Edwin Gold as she starts from the middle of the nine-horse field for driver Brian Sears.
Nine will also face the gate in the Hempt Pace for colts, and the two most likely to be fancied by the gathered will start from posts one and three. The #3 will be Hurricane Kingcole, whose effortless 1:48.1 victory last Saturday set the all-time standard for sophomores over this size oval – and the alert will remember that the all-age all-time record for 5/8’ers is 1:48. Off a roaring 52.4 back half, the “King” is as sharp as can be for driver Tim Tetrick, trainer John McDermott, and the ownership combine of Kuhen, Levy Racing Stable, Klee Cohen Brewer and Gordon, and Hurrikane Racing.
Not far behind on last week’s impressive meter was Bolt The Duer, a lightly-raced colt who has the rail for driver Mark MacDonald, trainer Peter Foley, and All Star Racing Inc. His 1:48.3 time caught the eye of many an onlooker, and he is a colt who seems to have a world of potential.
Sam DePinto, trainer of We Will See in the Franklin, has a major contender in this race as well – I Fought Dalaw, who triumphed in 1:49.3 last time out and retains the services of David Miller as they start from post five.
In all, the sixteen-event extravaganza boasts eight millionaires and 11 others who have topped $500,000 in their careers. Given good weather, the Pocono and world record book may be in for another savaging this Saturday, with the action set to begin at 6:30.
The night has been dubbed “Sun Stakes Saturday,” and only partially because of the brilliance of the horses gathered. While supplies last, Pocono patrons purchasing a program can also pick up a special “Sun Stakes Saturday” beach towel (one per person). And a beach towel isn’t a bad promotional item on a night with this kind of equine star wattage, as the pacer Beach Towel of course was the 1990 Harness Horse of the Year, and would feel right at home amidst the heavyweight horsepower of this card.