August 22-28, 2014
On Saturday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, we were lucky enough to have two $25,000 Preferred races on the card, one each for the trotters and pacers. As if often the case, those Preferred races, gathering such brilliant talent as they tend to do, produced thrilling outcomes and our three major award-winners for the week. That’s right, I said three. Read on and see how this is possible as we hand out the Weekly Awards.
PACERS OF THE WEEK: MACH IT SO and GOLDEN RECEIVER
There are a lot of close finishes in harness racing, but relatively few dead heats. After all, the chances of two horses travelling the distance of a mile and arriving at the finish line at exactly the same time so that they inseparable when the finish line is viewed in a photo, is pretty rare. It’s always a kick when it happens, but, when it happens between two horses the caliber of Mach It So and Golden Receiver, it’s a special treat.
On Saturday night, those two star pacers were lined up alongside each other in the Preferred pace. Golden Receiver, a former Pacer of the Year at Pocono, came in slumping a bit, but with career earnings of over $2.1 million, he’s always a major threat. Mach It So came in at the top of his game, having won two straight, including a Preferred at Pocono on August 2.
It looked as though it would be the hot horse’s night when Mach It So, driven by Andrew McCarthy for trainer PJ Fraley, took over the lead in the stretch with a huge first-over move. But Golden Receiver, with Simon Allard driving for trainer Jake Huff, suddenly surged on the inside. The two hit the line together and the photo couldn’t separate them, so they shared the victory in 1:49:4. In a bizarre twist, two other horses in the race, Word Power and Big Time Promise, finished in their own dead heat for fifth place. Wacky, wonderful stuff in the week’s featured race.
Other top pacers this week include: Bolt The Duer (Mark MacDonald, Peter Foley), the standout veteran who won his second straight condition pace on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:50; Giveittoemstaight (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), a mare who rolled to her second straight condition win on Friday night and matched her career mark of 1:50:4 in the process; and Flying Cowboy (Andrew McCarthy, Matias Ruiz), whose career-best win in 1:50:4 in a claiming handicap on Wednesday night was his third consecutive victory.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: MAVEN
In the trotting game, fillies of ages two and three usually get the chance to compete against each other a large majority of the time. Once they hit age four though and officially become mares, the opportunities to face their own gender exclusively start to dry out. Some stakes races still dot the schedule, but most tracks don’t offer overnight races for only distaff trotters over age four. That means they have to go up against the boys every once in a while.
For a trotter as talented as Maven, a 5-year-old mare from the Jonas Czernyson barn who has pretty much conquered all comers to this point in her career, such a prospect isn’t all that daunting. Even in a race like Saturday night’s Preferred Handicap trot, which featured some tough veteran male trotters like Not Afraid and Sevruga, the mare raced with extreme confidence.
With Mark MacDonald in the bike, Maven made a huge move on the outside late to take over the lead, holding off Waiting On A Woman by a length for the win. It was just her second victory of the year, coming in a scorching 1:52:3, but it pushed her career earnings up near $1.5 million. There’s a lot more money to be earned by this standout, probably some of it at the expense of her male counterparts.
Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: Amigo Ranger (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), whose condition victory on Tuesday night in 1:52:3 was a career-best and matched the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; Donatomite (Trond Smedshammer trainer and driver), who stayed unbeaten after three career starts as a 2-year-old with a Stallion Series win on Tuesday night in 1:54:4; and Billy Flynn ( Brett Miller, Staffan Lind), a two-year-old who now has six wins in six tries after a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes win on Wednesday night in a career-best 1:55:4.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: G NOTE
This 2-year-old filly made quite an auspicious debut with Andrew McCarthy in the bike, upsetting the field in Tuesday night’s final race at 30-1 to pay off $62.60 on a $2 win ticket.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY NAPOLITANO
With driving doubles on Sunday and Tuesday highlighting another fine week at the races, A-Nap became the latest driver to earn 100 victories in the 2014 meet at Pocono.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: NEAL EHRHART
Ehrhart pulled off quite the training double on Tuesday night, scoring first with 14-1 shot Guilford and then adding Fool’s Revenue later in the night at 15-1.
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 22-28, 2014