Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review


August 24-30, 2012
As the summer months come to a close, it means we’re also drawing close to the end of stakes season at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. It will end with a flourish with the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championships, featuring some of the best young horses around. Before that, however, some outstanding overnight races took center stage this past week, giving us a bevy of great candidates for the Weekly Awards.
It’s hard to say why fortunes change for the better for some horses at certain times in their careers. Take the interesting case of McSocks, a 4-year-old pacer who came into the season with a modest record of four wins in 30 races. His 2012 campaign was even less impressive for a while, as he entered the month of August with just one victory in 20 starts.
On August 4, he raced against the $25,000 claiming pacing 4-year-olds, a group against which he had finished 5th and 7th in his previous two races. That’s when the proverbial light came on and he went gate-to-wire for a victory in a career-best 1:51. He promptly followed that up with two more wins in front-running fashion against the very same class.
On Saturday night, he joined the Peter Pellegrino barn in his quest for four straight wins against the class. With Tyler Buter in the bike, McSocks once again gunned to the front end and dared everyone to play catch-up. As his foes neared him in the stretch, he found another gear and kicked away to win easily by 2 ¼ lengths, re-setting his career mark in the process with a mile of 1:50:2. He was claimed again, and the new owners just have to hope that the light doesn’t go off as August ends.
Other top pacers this week include: Fall Toy (Joe Pavia Jr., Paul Holzman), who moved up into a new class and joined a new barn but still scored his second straight win on Saturday by beating the $20,000 claimers in a new career-mark of 1:50:2; Rockincam (Brandon Simpson, Nifty Norman), who won the week’s featured pace on Saturday night with a late move in 1:49, the fastest pace at Pocono this week; and Mr Govianni Fra (Matt Kakaley, Ken Rucker), who took 35 races to get his first career win but now has two in a row after his victory on Sunday in 1:54:3.
One of the ways that trots differentiate from paces is that it’s much more common for female horses to compete in the same races with male horses on the trotting side. It’s not a matter of trying to beat the boys so much as it is the best opportunity for mares to make solid money once they move out of the period where they can race for big stakes.
As such, it’s not unusual to see mares like Definitely Mamie take a shot in tough condition trots like the non-winners of $13,000 in the last five grouping that she faced on Sunday night. The five-year-old mare from the Brewer Adams barn has been a very consistent trotter no matter whom she has faced over the past several seasons at Pocono, so she was up for Sunday night’s challenge even though she was considered a  relatively long shot at 9-1.
Driver Joe Pavia Jr. did a nice job of getting a pocket trip for the mare behind the pacesetter. As others faltered, Definitely Mamie revved up for the stretch drive and zipped by to win by a head in 1:53:2, a new career-best. In what has been an excellent career, the victory marked a high point for the mare. She is a force no matter what gender her opponents might be.
Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Imperial Count (Howard Parker, Nifty Norman), who topped the field in the week’s featured condition trot in 1:53:2, a new career mark for the 4-year-old gelding; Talladega Hanover (George Napolitano Jr., Dan Walski), who arrived from The Meadows to capture a tough condition trot on Sunday night in 1:54:1, fastest time of his career; and Ginger Tree Jimmy (George Napolitano Jr., Steve Salerno), who switched from the conditions to the claimers for a Saturday night in 1:54:1.
With Greg Merton in the bike, this gelding surprised a group of claiming pacers on Sunday night at 43-1, paying off $88.40 on a $2 win ticket.
Bartlett only makes occasional stops at Pocono, but he often makes his presence felt, as he did on Sunday night by winning the final four races on the card.
Brown had a monster night on Tuesday night in Stallion Series action, as his horses won four of the eight divisions held for 2-year-old colts and geldings on the pace.
That will do it for this week, but feel free to e-mail me at