April 13-19, 2013
The first few weeks at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs have featured some exciting young horses competing in the Bobby Weiss Series. The preliminary legs are just about over, and next week in this space we’ll be taking a look at who came out triumphant in the big-money finals. In the meantime, another outstanding week of racing has produced some excellent candidates for the Weekly Awards.
PACER OF THE WEEK: GO BOTH WAYS
Last Saturday night’s racing was typically sharp at Pocono, with race after race featuring fast times by the winners. The fastest of all those winning times came from Go Both Ways, who put up a mile of 1:50:1. Not only was that the fastest of the night and the best in the 9-year-old gelding’s excellent career, but it was also the fastest posted at Pocono all week long.
The interesting thing about the mile by Go Both Ways is that it came in a $20,000 claiming event. While that is a solid grouping with many excellent competitors, there are higher claiming classes at Pocono, not to mention the condition races which are stocked with horses that go blistering times each and every week.
But nobody told Go Both Ways, who hails from the barn of Michael Hall, that he was supposed to be on a middling level. With Jim Morrill Jr. in the bike, he took the early lead, set scorching fractions, and paced away and hid from the field. Considering that the Dover shipper came in winless, it’s safe to say that he loved the Pocono oval and, with a time like that, he can hang with any class of pacers.
Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: Star Keeper (Jim Morrill Jr., Doug Berkeley), a mare who won her third straight claiming handicap on Wednesday night in 1:52:4; Naughtytiltheend (Marcus Miller, Erv Miller), who moved up in class to score her second straight condition win on Wednesday night in 1:52; and Passion Starlet (George Napolitano Jr., Peter Pellegrino), who won her second straight $5,000 claimer at Pocono on Wednesday night in a career-best 1:54:2 and now has five victories in her last six races.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: MODERN FAMILY
You’ll often hear handicappers using the term “needs a start.” What they mean is that the horse needs one race to get itself acclimated to racing before it can be expected to perform at a top level. This term is generally used to describe a horse coming off a layoff, but it can also refer to a horse who is new to its surroundings.
Modern Family was a powerhouse early in the season, picking up wins at Dover, Harrah’s, and the Meadowlands. In his first start at Pocono on April 6, he rallied late but came up short by two lengths in a Preferred Handicap trot behind Tall Cotton. On Saturday night in the same class, trainer/driver Daryl Bier had a chance for revenge in the same class against Tall Cotton and a stellar field.
Bier had to be patient as Modern Family got shuffled back on the inside as the lead changed hands a few times. The 4-year-old stallion managed to slip to the outside in the stretch and he staged a furious rally to get up to win by a nose in 1:52:2. Not only was it his career-best, it was also the fastest trotting time at Pocono this season. He may have needed a start at Pocono, but with his confidence building after this great win, he just might not stop.
Other top trotters this week include: Permanent Joy (Brandon Simpson, Robert Krivelin), who used a thrilling stretch move to come from behind for a win in Tuesday night’s featured trot in 1:55:3, a new career mark; Bloomfieldcantifly (Jim Morrill Jr., Bill Mullin), who continued her excellent early part of the meet with a condition win on Tuesday in a career-best 1:55:1; and Definitely Mamie (Jim Morrill Jr., Brewer Adams), who overcame the far outside post for a gutsy condition win in the Wednesday night feature in 1:53:2, which matched the mare’s career-best time.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: MIDAS BLUE CHIP
In a claiming handicap pace on Saturday night, Midas Blue Chip got away at 36-1, and driver Tyler Buter rallied the gelding four-wide in the stretch for the win and a $74.60 payout on a $2 win ticket.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: DARYL BIER
Bier had just two drives on Saturday night, but Modern Family won in the week’s fastest trotting time, and St Lads Zoom Zoom scored in the second-fastest pacing time. Bier trains both horses as well.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: MICHAEL HALL
It’s been an excellent start to the season for Hall, a relative newcomer to Pocono. This week he picked up three wins including a training double on Sunday 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.
April 13-19, 2013