July 12-18, 2013
For the past few weeks in this column, we’ve largely concentrated on some of the outstanding stakes races that have been held recently at the track and the exploits of some of the horses who excelled in those races. With a little break in the stakes schedule at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, it seems like as good a time as any to get back to primarily profiling the overnight horses who battle it out week in and week out at MSPD. That means a return to handing out the Weekly Awards.
PACER OF THE WEEK: ST PETE STAR
Being an effective claiming horse usually means that you’re going to be putting your suitcase down in a new barn practically every week. The best claiming horses can overcome this peripatetic lifestyle and find ways to win regardless of which barn they’re representing, and St Pete Star is one of those horses who have proven recently he can do just that.
St Pete Star, a 9-year-old stallion, started a winning streak on June 23 with a career-best win in 1:49:3 in a $20,000 claimer for the Paul Holzman. He followed that up six nights later by handling that same class once again, this time for the PJ Fraley barn in 1:50:2. He joined the Rene Allard barn in his effort to win his third straight in the same class on Saturday night.
Allard gave the reins to George Napolitano Jr., who sent St Pete Star to the early lead and let him do the rest. He hustled home for the victory as a 3-5 favorite in 1:51, and, for his trouble, he was claimed once again. The new barn knows it has a real commodity on its hands: A horse on such a hot streak that it might not know where he’ll next call home, but it can still find comfort in the familiarity of the Winner’s Circle.
Other top pacers this week include: Keystone Neptune (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), whose victory over the $15,000 claimers on Saturday night in a career-best 1:50:1 was his second straight and his fourth in his last five; Reckless Ric (Anthony Napolitano, Aaron Lambert), whose victory in a condition pace on Saturday night came in 1:49:1, the fastest time of the week at Pocono; and Western Guy (George Napolitano Jr., Peter Pellegrino), who moved up in class on Sunday night and still won his third straight claimer, two of which came at Pocono, this time scoring in 1:51:3.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: PRISMATICA
This mare started a hot streak in chilly spring temperatures in Canada and it hasn’t abated even in the stifling heat of the Northeastern Pennsylvania summer. She came into Pocono off a win at Saratoga on May 17 and promptly won the first three races she started at MSPD to cultivate a four-race winning streak overall.
Her toughest test figured to be on Tuesday night, as she took on a claiming handicap field with claiming prices ranging from $15,000 to $20,000. Considering that she started her streak at Pocono at a claiming price of $7,500, it was evident how far she had moved up in the world during this span of racing. She joined the Lou Pena barn for the race on Tuesday night.
Driver George Napolitano Jr. sent the mare to the front end early, and she was pressured throughout by several competitors. In the stretch, she dug in deep and found a way to sustain for the victory in 1:54:1. That marked the fifth consecutive win for Prismatica and it came in a career-best time. It will be interesting to see if she can move up even further and push that winning streak to new heights in the near future.
Honorable mention on the trotting side includes: DW’s NY Yank (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who burned his way to a condition trotting win on Saturday night in a new career mark of 1:51:3, which was also the fastest time at Pocono this week; C-O To Bluegrass (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who churned his way to his second straight claiming win on Tuesday night, this one in a career-best 1:54:3; and Sarah’s Hall (Matt Romano, Steven Bartholomew), a filly whose upset win in a condition trot on Friday night at 11-1 in a career-best 1:56:1 was her second straight victory.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SCHALOM G
In a wild finish to a claiming handicap trot on Sunday night, this gelding with Marcus Miller in the bike came flying up on the far outside to win at 28-1, paying off $59.60 for a $2 win ticket.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: SIMON ALLARD
One of the newer faces in the Pocono driving community, Allard made his biggest impact yet at Pocono this week by picking up driving doubles on Saturday and Tuesday night.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: LOU PENA
Pena has been a big winner in the past at Pocono, and he’s been at it again of late. This past week he won on four straight racing nights, scoring five training wins in all.
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.
July 12-18, 2013