March 28-April 3, 2015
We’re two weeks into the 2015 racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and we still haven’t seen too much in the way of ideal racing conditions. The six nights of racing have been characterized by rain, wind, cold, and, would you believe it, even snow. Yet in the midst of the ugly weather we’ve already been witness to some outstanding racing and speedy times that flew in the face of the poor conditions. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Weekly Awards.
PACER OF THE WEEK: HUMILITY
Snow lined the infield as Humility lined up to face a group of non-winners of $10,000 in the last five starts on Tuesday night. The 5-year-old stallion was taking a few steps up in class from his previous race, which was a win at Pocono in a first-over grind in 1:52:2. Trained by Brewer Adams, Humility would need to put together another big mile to hang with the tougher competition.
Early speed in the race came from Always A Diamond, another horse stepping up in class off a big win. Meanwhile China King, the favorite in the race after shipping in from California, had the perfect trip on the pocket. Humility looked like an afterthought when he started a first-over move from fifth on the back stretch, seemingly too far back to compete.
Yet driver Jim Morrill Jr. found a groove on the sloppy track, and when Humility whipped around the final turn three wide, he was in striking distance. Setting his sights on China King, who had taken the lead in the stretch, the stallion hustled by to win by a neck in 1:52:2. Neither a step up in class not a tough trip slowed Humility, who now has wins in each of his first two starts in the meet and might just be ready to move even higher up the Pocono ladder.
Other top pacers this week include: Sparky Mark (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), whose victory in Saturday night’s condition pace came in 1:50:4, the week’s fastest time at Pocono despite freezing temperatures that evening; Majo Just Do It (Simon Allard, Jennifer Sansone), who rolled to a claiming handicap win on Tuesday night, his second straight, in 1:54:4; and Feels Like Magic N (Tom Jackson, Darran Cassar), who rallied for his second straight condition win as a long shot on Saturday night, scoring in a career-best 1:52:3.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SENTRY
One of the things that makes handicapping so hard early in the season is that there are horses shipping in from all over the country to the Pocono oval. It’s difficult to know how a horse will do on the 5/8-mile track, especially when they’re arriving from a track of a different size. In the case of Sentry, that track was Monticello, the half-mile oval in New York where he had won two of his previous three races.
The winning times he posted at Monticello, each over two minutes, might not have looked so hot compared to some of the others in the field. But this 5-year-old stallion from the barn of Jenny Melander once trotted a mile of 1:54 at Pocono, so the precedent was there for a big effort. In a condition trot on Tuesday night, driver Brett Miller sent Sentry behind cover on the outside and then bided his time until the stretch.
When that stretch arrived, Sentry took his shot with a three-wide move and went trotting right on past the leaders. Even on a sloppy track, his winning time of 1:56:2 showed his capability to put up times more in line with the speedy horses at Pocono. And, with three wins in his last four races, this peaking trotter is proving that he’ll be a factor no matter where he chooses to race.
Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Team Six (Marcus Miller, Erv Miller), who shipped in from the Meadowlands and handled a tough group of condition trotters on Saturday night in 1:55:1; Walk The Walk (David Miller, Chris Ryder), who ripped off his second straight win in the Bobby Weiss series on Tuesday night, conquering a sloppy track in 1:55, a career-best time; and Classic Belisima (David Miller, John Cabot), a mare whose romping victory in the Bobby Weiss series on Wednesday gave her three straight wins and came in the week’s fastest trotting time at Pocono of 1:53:3.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SHADOWS DREAM
This veteran pacer sent the faithful home on Tuesday night scratching their heads, as he rallied out wide late to win a condition at 16-1, paying out $35.60 on a $2 win ticket.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JIM MORRILL JR.
Very few drivers have been as successful for as long a period of time as Morrill, who rolled this week to a double on Saturday and four victories on Tuesday.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: BREWER ADAMS
Three victories by Adams’ horses on Tuesday were impressive enough, but they were even more eye-popping considering that not one of those winners was the favorite.
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.
March 28-April 3, 2015