October 19-25, 2012
The competition at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs over the past week was a lot of fun to watch. The weather has been cooperating, providing warmer temperatures than usual for this time of the year even when the rains came. As a result, we had a lot of fast times on both the pacing and trotting side of the ledger, giving us a great group of candidates for the Weekly Awards. Check it out below to see who get the honors.
PACER OF THE WEEK: BITTERSWEET CHAMP
Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen several horses stepping up in class in the condition ranks. In general, such a move up the ladder is a bit of a bumpy ride, considering that the competition is much stiffer in the higher classes. As a result, a horse that does move up has to raise its game to a new level to have any chance of picking up a victory.
Bittersweet Champ, a four-year-old gelding from the barn of Welsh trainer Gareth Dowse, was coming off a career-best start in a victory on October 12 in 1:50:3. Buoyed by that big effort, he stepped up into a condition for non-winners of $15,500 in the last five starts on Saturday night, a class against which he had previously come up short in two previous races.
Saturday night was a different story. Driver George Napolitano Jr. found the gelding some live cover on the back stretch. At the top of the lane, Bittersweet Champ blew right by that cover and scored his second straight win. As mentioned before, he needed to raise his game and he did just that, re-setting his career best with a sizzling time of 1:49:4, which matched the fastest pacing time of the week.
Other top pacers this week include: Sonic Raider (George Napolitano Jr., Joseph Karrat), who moved up in class on Saturday night but still captured his third straight claiming win and matched a career-best in the process with a mile of 1:52:2; Four Starzzz King (George Napolitano Jr., Peter Pellegrino), an 11-year-old pacer who picked up his second straight win over the $10,000 claimers on Saturday night in 1:52:1; and Special Dark (Matt Kakaley, Kent Sherman), a mare who picked up her second straight win over the $5,000 claimers on Friday night in 1:54:3.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: PHOTO KING
Sometimes it takes some kind of change for a horse to tap into his true potential. In the case of Photo King, he’s had two pretty significant changes in the past month. He was claimed on September 28 and joined the barn of trainer Bill Mullin, and Mullin brought the 5-year-old gelding to Pocono from Saratoga Harness after the claim.
With a change of scenery and a change of barns, Photo King quickly responded with a claiming handicap win on October 12. That was all his handlers needed to see to step him up to a condition for non-winners of $25,000 in the last five races, one of the toughest groupings on the grounds. To make things more difficult, he had to deal with the #9 post.
Driver George Napolitano Jr. sent Photo King to the front early to get positioning, then allowed him to sit the pocket when the mare Tui went by him early. In the stretch, the five-year-old gelding made a big second move and won a thriller, prevailing in 1:53:2. Not only was that a career-best, it was also the fastest trotting time at Pocono for the week.
Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Sand Wyndham (Joe Pavia Jr., Rene Allard), who stepped up in class to win his second straight condition trot on Saturday night in 1:53:3; Without a Clue (Joe Pavia Jr., Anette Lorentzon), who now has three consecutive wins to start his career following a romping condition victory on Wednesday night in 1:55:3; and Around And Over (Anthony Napolitano, James McGuire), who picked up his second straight gate-to-wire win in condition action on Tuesday night, this one coming in 1:57:2.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: IDEAL DANNY
Ideal Danny had been slumping for a bit, which is why he got away at 37-1 on Friday night in a condition pace, but he pulled off the upset with Eric Carlson in the bike for a $76.80 payout on a $2 win ticket.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JOE PAVIA JR.
Pavia has been picking up steam as the season has rolled on, and this week was indicative of that trend, as he picked up driving doubles on Saturday and Tuesday.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: PETER PELLEGRINO
It’s been a good season at Pocono for the Pellegrino barn, and this week he scored training victories with Four Starzzz King on Saturday and Caviart Spencer on Tuesday.
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.
October 19-25, 2012