October 12-18, 2012
It’s getting to the point of the season where we here at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs start to think about handing out year-end awards to the horsemen and horses who have performed the best over the course of the 2012 season. I can’t seem to remember a time when it’s been so competitive in all the major categories. This past racing week, a few more competitors stepped up to stake their claims, and several of these can be found in this edition of the Weekly Awards.
PACER OF THE WEEK: DIAMOND STICK PIN
There are a lot of things that handicappers like to key on when looking at a race. Among these, two of the most important are class and post position. If you’ve got a horse who is moving to a better inside post and is dropping down in class, chances are it’s getting a lot of attention at the windows.
By contrast, consider the situation facing Diamond Stick Pin at Pocono on Saturday night. He was moving up in class following career-best mile of 1:50:3 in a win on October 5. He was also moving to the far outside #9 post after having a spot on the inner half in his previous start. Basically, he was moving in the opposite direction from what the handicappers like, but nobody bothered to tell the 6-year-old stallion the odds were against him.
He did have the combination of George Napolitano Jr. and Chris Oakes, Pocono’s leading driver and trainer respectively, in his corner, so that was a big boost. Diamond Stick Pin did the rest, making a huge first-over move on the back stretch to zip by his competition. He romped from there, beating the rest by 4 ¼ lengths and resetting his career mark with a 1:50:2 mile. When a horse is that sharp, class, post position, and the rest don’t really matter too much.
Other top pacers this week include: Hurrikane Kingcole (Daniel Dube, Kevin McDermott), the superstar sophomore pacer who returned to Pocono with a thrilling condition win on Saturday night in 1:49, the fastest pacing time of the week; Sonic Raider (George Napolitano Jr., Ken Rucker), who reeled off his second straight win over the $12,500 claimers on Saturday night, matching a career-best in the process in 1:52:2; and Billmar Scooter (Tyler Buter, Amber Buter), who beat the toughest mares on the grounds for the second straight week on Tuesday night, this time in 1:51:3.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: JUST LIKE LLOYD
It’s not a rule that’s set in stone, but, in the sport of harness racing, claimers don’t usually advance out of the claiming ranks into condition and Open races with much success. At best, they might be able to hang around with the lower condition groups, but owners and trainers hoping for anything much more than that are often brought back to reality.
Just Like Lloyd seemed to be one of this trotters who was bound to be at his best against the claimers, at least at Pocono. The 4-year-old gelding did have a win in Open II company at Tioga, but his victories at MSPD had been limited to the claiming ranks. That didn’t stop him from moving up into our toughest condition group on Saturday night, the winners of over $25,000 lifetime.
Just Like Lloyd, with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike for trainer Rene Allard, put together a great mile as he gunned to an early lead, yielded the lead on the front stretch, then made a second move in the deep stretch to get up for a hard-fought victory in 1:53:2. That makes wins in four of his last seven races, and this last one proves that he can beat even the highest levels of competition with which most claimers couldn’t hope to compete.
Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: All About Justice (Mike Simons, Gail Wrubel), who found his old form and handled a tough condition class on Saturday night on the front end in 1:54:1; Lindy McDreamy (Tyler Buter, Scott Di Domenico), whose condition win on Wednesday night was his third win in his last four races, with this one matching a career-best in 1:55:2; and Ice Machine (George Napolitano Jr., Walter Carroll), who romped in a condition trot on Wednesday night in 1:53, a new career-best and the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ARTSBRED CAMOTION
Long shots were running wild this week, and the biggest bomber of them all was this claiming pacer driven by Matt Kakaley who scored on Saturday night at 47-1 for a $96 win payout on a $2 ticket.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.
The meet’s leading driver dominated again this week, as exemplified by a seven-win explosion on Saturday night that included wins in both the featured pace and the featured trot.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: GAIL WRUBEL
It was a good week for one of Pocono’s most consistent trainers for the past several years, as Gail scored a double on Saturday and then won with 19-1 shot Thomas John N on Tuesday.
That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com.
October 12-18, 2012