August 30-September 5, 2013
August may be in the rear-view mirror, but it went out with a bang at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. A track record fell on Friday night and a world record went by the books on Saturday night. It was quite a week of racing, and it’s no surprise that those two record-setters end up with the most honored positions in this edition of the Weekly Awards.
PACER OF THE WEEK: LIGHTNING PAIGE
If anyone seemed poised to break a record in Friday night’s $21,000 featured pace for mares who were non-winners of $24,000 in the last five races, Southwind Jazmin was the one. In the very same class a week earlier, the 5-year-old mare completely dominated with a two-length win in 1:49:3, and the margin and time could have been more impressive had she been kept to task. It’s no wonder that she was the 2-5 favorite at race time.
One of the horses that she beat the previous start was Lightning Paige, a 4-year-old mare from the Steve Elliott barn. She was a non-threatening third in that race, and she found herself in the pocket chasing the heavy favorite throughout the race. Even with fast fractions, it seemed like the only thing up for debate was whether or not Southwind Jazmin would challenge a track record.
Yet Lightning Paige had other ideas. Driver Andrew McCarthy urged her on through the stretch as she blitzed by the favorite to win by a neck. To add insult to injury, Lightning Paige’s winning time of 1:49 even broke the track record for 4-year-old pacing mares. The previous mark of 1:49:2 was held by, you guessed it, Southwind Jazmin, who set it a year ago. That’s what you call a double whammy. Here’s hoping these two star distaffers face off again in an exciting budding rivalry.
Other top pacers this week include: Caviart Spencer (George Napolitano Jr., Eddie Sager), whose victory on Friday night over the $7,500 claimers gave him three straight victories and came in a career-best 1:52; Light Up The Sky (George Napolitano Jr., Marty Fine), who switched barns and still came up with his second straight win against the toughest claimers on the grounds Saturday night, this one in a career mark of 1:49; and Mustang Art (Kevin Wallis, James McGuire), a veteran pacer who put on a show on the front end on Saturday night with a mile of 1:48:3, best of his career and fastest this week at Pocono.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: BEATGOESON HANOVER
One of my little rules for writing this column is that I try to spread the wealth around in giving these awards. When a horse wins Pacer or Trotter of the Week once during a season, I usually disqualify them from winning it again. For Beatgoeson Hanover, I broke the rules, simply because it’s unusual for a horse to crash the record books twice in the same season.
Back in April, Beatgoeson Hanover, a five-year-old mare trained by Nifty Norman, matched a track record for aged trotting mares with a scintillating victory in 1:52:1. Yet on Saturday night in a Preferred trot with a $25,000 purse, Beatgoeson Hanover could only go off as a 3-1 second choice, because DW’s NY Yank, who also set a track record at Pocono earlier this season as a 4-year-old gelding, was the heavy favorite. Beatgoeson Hanover sat the pocket trip behind the favorite, who surprisingly caved in at the top of the stretch under pressure from the first-over move from Real Babe.
Driver Tyler Buter made a nifty move by swinging Beatgoeson Hanover out wide to elude her tiring cover and gather momentum for a rally. The mare did the rest, zipping by Real Babe to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:51:4. Not only did that reset her track mark, but it also set the world record for aged mares trotting on a five-eighths-mile oval. Maybe we bent the rules a little bit by handing out this award, but that performance was worth it.
Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Must Be Psychic (Anthony Napolitano, Scott Osterhout), who won his second straight claimer on Tuesday night, this one coming in a career-best 1:55:1 despite a move up in class; Hoorayforvacation (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who scored a victory in Tuesday night’s featured claiming handicap trot in a career-best 1:53:4; and Raven De Vie (Matt Kakaley, Chris Ryder), who followed up his maiden win with another condition victory on Wednesday night in 1:56:1.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: WEST RIVER VICTORY
On Tuesday night with Mike Simons doing the driving, this trotter utilized a pcoket trip to rally for a victory over a $12,500 claiming class at 17-1 for a $37 win payout on a $2 win ticket.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANDREW MCCARTHY
McCarthy gets a lot of acclaim at Pocono for his ability to bring in long shots, but this week he was winning with every kind of horse, as evidenced by multiple driving victories on all four racing nights.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: MARTY FINE
Part of the Canadian invasion of horsemen who have really made their mark on the 2013 season at Pocono, Fine stayed hot with a three-win week, including a double on Saturday.
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.
August 30-September 5, 2013