July 20-26, 2012
The racing action at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs has reached a fever pitch. This 2012 season had produced the fastest times and some of the best performances in track history. As a result, it’s getting harder and harder to pick out the very best of the best each week. We’ll give it a shot anyway with this edition of the Weekly Awards.
PACER OF THE WEEK: SPLENDID KISSER
Winning streaks in the sport of harness racing are hard to come by. Not only does a horse have to be on top of its game, but it also has to avoid difficult trips that make winning a tough proposition. It’s even tougher to sustain a winning streak when a horse in moving up in class along the way. That’s why Splendid Kisser’s recent streak needs to be honored.
Splendid Kisser, an 8-year-old gelding from the barn of Chris Oakes, has been outstanding all season long, but he really got rolling with a win against the $10,000 claimers on June 30. He followed that up in rapid succession with wins in the $12,500 and $20,000 claiming classes, each time as a heavy favorite, each time in dominant front-running style.
On Saturday night, the gelding faced the $20,000 claimers but this time had to do it from the dreaded #9 post, which is usually bad news for horses with early speed. For Splendid Kisser, it was no sweat. He once again rolled to the front, and, with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike, held off the challenge of the pocket horse to win by a length in a speedy 1:50:2. That’s four wins in four weeks in three different classes for Splendid Kisser, a claimer whom you just don’t want to face right about now.
Other top pacers this week include: Bettors Glass (Andrew McCarthy, Scott Di Domenico), who followed up a win at Harrah’s with a monster mile in a victory at Pocono at Saturday night in 1:48:4, the fastest pacing time of the week; Pair A Dice (Tyler Buter, Paul Holzman), who won his second straight on Saturday night at the top of our claiming ladder and matched a career-best in the process with a mile of 1:50:1; and Breakheart Pass (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who won her second straight on Tuesday night against the toughest distaff condition pacers on the grounds, this time in 1:50:3.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: ANDERS BLUESTONE
It looked for all the world like this award would belong to Sevruga, a powerful 4-year-old who had been beating everyone in his path in the past few months at Pocono. One of those horses who had come up short against him was Anders Bluestone, finishing second to Sevruga in his last two tries.
Yet Anders Bluestone’s record coming into Sunday night’s featured trot for winners of over $25,000 lifetime was no joke, with 8 wins in 16 tries and $139,800 in the bank this year alone. Driver George Napolitano Jr. decided try a different tactic and send the 6-year-old stallion from the barn of Eric Ell to the front and make Sevruga do the coming from behind for a change.
The strategy worked like charm. Thanks to an expert rate job by Napolitano, Anders Bluestone was still extremely sharp in the latter part of the mile, finishing strong to win by a half-length in 1:52:4. Sevruga will likely have his chance to win this award, but Anders Bluestone won this battle in what is shaping up as a tremendous trotting rivalry at Pocono.
Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Zooming (Andy Miller, Julie Miller), who arrived from The Meadowlands and smoked a condition trotting group on Sunday night in 1:52:3, a new career-mark and the fastest trotting time of the week; Mr Mcrail (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who won two straight at The Meadows and then added to the streak with a claiming handicap win at Pocono on Sunday night in 1:54; and Idadazzle (Matt Kakaley, David Duspiva), whose claiming win in 1:56:3 on Tuesday night was his third straight and 11th victory this year.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: CITY RIDGE
Coming in from The Meadows, this trotter came up flying late with Mike Simons in the bike to upset a field of $10,000 claimers on Tuesday night at 32-1, paying off $67.60 on a $2 win ticket.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MATT ROMANO
A longtime fan favorite at Pocono, Matt picked up his 2,500 career victory in memorable fashion Saturday night, staging a furious rally aboard Amillionpennies, a horse he also trains.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: BREWER ADAMS
Adams has been a major player in the training wars all season long at Pocono. He scored a double on Saturday night to continue his excellent year.
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.
July 20-26, 2012