July 27-August 2, 2012
We only had two nights of racing this past week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. That fact makes doing a Weekly Awards pretty impossible, since there aren’t that many candidates and a pretty small sample size from which to choose.
The reason for the short racing week was an 80’s-themed weekend at the track featuring some of the artists who populated the music charts in that wild and woolly decade. With that in mind, I thought I’d use this column to take a look back at some of the memorable performances from the first half of the racing season this week, and, since I’m a child of the 80’s myself, I thought I’d give them an 80’s music flair.
THE “WHAT ABOUT ME” AWARD: IT’SABOUTTIME
The song was a rather melodramatic ballad from the Australian one-hit wonders Moving Pictures that had some success back in ’82. You can’t blame It’sabouttime, a pacer from the Linda Kakaley barn, for asking the same question. After all he won a $5,000 claimer on July 1 at hefty odds of 42-1. Two weeks later, he moved up in class to the $10,000 claimers, and bettors overlooked him again to the tune of 33-1. He won that race as well. Two huge long-shot victories in the span of three weeks for this pacer means that the only ones asking, “What about me?” were the people who bet on him as they lined up to collect their big winnings at the teller windows.
THE “YOU DROPPED A BOMB ON ME” AWARD: CELEBRITY SCANDAL
One of the funkiest songs of the 80’s was this ’82 smash by The Gap Band which came complete with bottle-rocket sound effects. In racing, a bomber is another name for a long shot, and there was no bigger long shot on a June Wednesday night that Celebrity Scandal in a condition pace to close out the card. The tote board read 99-1, but, in actuality, he went off at a staggering 185-1. In the stretch, however, Mike Simons guided the pacer home to a monster upset, paying off at $373.20 for a $2 win ticket, the biggest win price I’ve seen in my 15 years at Pocono.
THE “ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST” AWARD: BILLMAR SCOOTER
Queen was one of the few successful bands in the 70’s that were able to parlay that into hit records in the 80’s, kicking off the decade with this monster smash that crossed all kinds of genres. It’s been the theme song for the mare Billmar Scooter, who has spent all of her time this year at Pocono facing the finest pacing mares on the grounds. Eight times she has gone out against the winners of over $25,000 lifetime mares, and she has won six of those races. Trained by Amber Buter and driven by Tyler Buter, this excellent pacer is certainly an early favorite for Mare of the Year honors with such an outstanding record in place.
THE “DON’T YOU (FORGET ABOUT ME)” AWARD: A ROCKNROLL DANCE
This song by Simple Minds was immortalized in the 1985 John Hughes classic film, The Breakfast Club. Speaking of immortalized, A Rocknroll Dance seemed on his way to racing stardom after a brilliant 2-year-old season in 2011. But he was struggling a bit this season coming into the Max Hempt Memorial in July, Pocono’s richest race for 3-year-old pacers. As a result, he got away at 17-1, yet driver Yannick Gingras rallied the colt from the Jim Mulinix barn home for the upset win in the Hempt. Following that up with a win in the prestigious Meadowlands Pace, A Rocknroll Dance has proven that forgetting about him isn’t a smart move.
THE “SHE’S A BEAUTY” AWARD: AMERICAN JEWEL
We have seen some outstanding filly pacers make their way through Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs over the past several years, including Southwind Tempo and See You At Peelers, to name a few. Few have been quite so deserving of this award named after a classic by The Tubes. This superstar from the Jimmy Takter barn swept through the James Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old pacing fillies, winning both the elimination and the final, with Tim Tetrick in the bike for each, in identical world-record times.
THE “ONCE IN A LIFETIME” AWARD: GOOGOO GAAGAA
The refrain from this New Wave smash by The Talking Heads is “Same as it ever was.” Well, nothing will ever be the same at Pocono after Googoo Gaagaa’s appearance here for the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old trotters. In a virtuoso, dare I say once-in-a-lifetime performance, he won the Beal in a ridiculous time of 1:50:4, the fastest time ever trotted by any age on a 5/8-mile oval. Corey Callahan did the driving for trainer Richard Hans. While Googoo Gaagaa has since struggled with keeping stride in his subsequent start, nobody can ever take away what he did that Saturday night.
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 27-August 2, 2012