Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review


March 30-April 5, 2013
There were only three nights of racing this past week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, since there was no live card on Easter Sunday. Luckily, those three nights were jam-packed with stellar performances, giving us no shortage of candidates for the Weekly Awards. Let’s take a look at the best of the best in the week that was at MSPD.
With the Breeders Crown scheduled at Pocono, we anticipated that we’d be seeing some of the finest pacers and trotters in the country getting the lay of the land at the track throughout the season. Apparently, the talent parade has already begun, as 7-year-old pacer River Shark proved with his outstanding effort on Saturday night.
The gelding from the Mark Ford barn came into Saturday night’s $18,000 condition pace with 33 wins under his belt and over $1 million in his bank account. Coming off tough races at the Meadowlands and Yonkers, River Shark was made the odds-on favorite with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike, but the other competitors in the tough field weren’t about to cede an easy win to him. Several horses took shots at him on the front end only to get rebuffed with extreme prejudice.
He faced his toughest challenge in the stretch, as pocket horse Take It Back Terry shot up the passing lane after an excellent trip to that point. River Shark dug deep for one more burst of speed and came up a winner in 1:51. Expect to see more of that from this excellent pacer, and expect to see a lot more star performances at Pocono throughout the season.
Other top pacers this week include: Move On (Jim Morrill Jr., Dennis Walsh), who doubled his claiming price on Saturday night to score his second consecutive win, this time beating the $10,000 claimers in a career-best 1:52:1; Shebestingin (Jim Morrill Jr., Joe Holloway), whose victory in 1:52:3 in the Bobby Weiss Series for 3-year-old fillies on Tuesday kept her unbeaten after four career starts; and Happy Hour Honey (Jim Morrill Jr., Kent Sherman), a mare who scored her second straight victory over the $10,000 claimers on Wednesday night in 1:54:1.
There are times in the sport of harness racing when a horse is just so bound and determined to come up with the win that no manner of obstacle can derail it from that victory. When you add in excellent talent, you’ve got a winning combination, one that Imperial Count possessed in the week’s featured preferred trot, which carried a purse of $25,000, on Saturday night.
Imperial Count, a five-year-old stallion from the barn of Nifty Norman, got away a bit slow in the race, which was just his second start of the season. Driver Tyler Buter set him in motion on the back stretch behind two other horses, but problems arose when the horse that was first in line on the outside went off-stride.
Buter had no other choice but to send Imperial Count out wide around the final turn to avoid the breaking horse, but still the gelding found enough momentum to track down pacesetting Photo King by a half-length for the win in 1:54:2. Like we said, combine effort with talent and it’s often too tough to stop.
Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Pembroke Heat Wave (George Napolitano Jr., Mark Ford), who shipped in from Harrah’s for a victory in a condition trot on Tuesday night in 1:55:4; Berkshire (Jim Morrill Jr., Antonella Galie), who scored his first win of the season on Tuesday over a rugged condition group in a career-best 1:55:3; and Maximum Credit (George Napolitano Jr., Paul Kennedy), who won his third straight race overall and his second in a row in the Bobby Weiss Series for 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings, scoring on Wednesday night in 1:58:1.
This first-time starter was facing a field of more experienced trotters in his debut on Tuesday night, but he scored with Andrew McCarthy at 18-1 for a $38 payoff on a $2 bet.
Morrill is off to a blistering start in the early part of the Pocono meet, and the highlight came on Wednesday night when he ripped off five consecutive wins on the card.
Ford is one of the early leaders in the trainers’ standings, and he had another solid week, including a training double on Tuesday night with wins in consecutive races on the program.
That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at