June 6-12, 2015
It was bound to happen. As impressive as the times on The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono’s track records page might be, each year several of those records fall by the wayside. It took nearly 2 ½ months for any horse to match or break one of those lofty standards this season, which was a bit surprising considering the caliber of horses we’ve seen so far this year. 2015’s first incursion into the records page came on Saturday night, and the horse that came up big leads us off in this edition of the Weekly Awards.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: FRAU BLUCHER
The crowd was still abuzz following the Triple Crown victory of American Pharaoh early Saturday evening when a pack of Open trotters hit the track to restart Pocono’s harness racing program, which had begun earlier in the afternoon. The 1-2 favorite was Daylon Miracle, a mare fresh off a Preferred win at the Meadows against other distaffers. Frau Blucher, the other mare in the field, got away as the 9-5 second choice, as she was stepping up in class after a condition win in the slop on May 30 in an unhurried 1:55.
Frau Blucher was a superstar as a 2 and 3-year-old for trainer Chris Oakes, earning over $900,000 in those two seasons. Her 4-year-old season included a world record for her age group when she won at Pocono in 1:51:2, but that was just one of two wins she managed all year in just nine races. Her five-year-old season included just one start prior to that May 30 win, and she went off-stride in that one.
But on Saturday night, she showed just how dangerous she could be in top form. Driver George Napolitano Jr. sent her to the front end early and didn’t have much pressure to the half-mile marker, which allowed him to rate her conservatively. Frau Blucher put on a show in the second half of the mile, keeping the pursuit at bay and eventually closing in :27:4 to win by 1 ¼ lengths over Possessed Fashion. The winning time of 1:51:4 matched the track record for aged trotting mares, which had previously been shared by Beatgoeson Hanover and In Your Room. Frau Blucher now joins male trotting superstar Father Patrick as the only horses to occupy two spots on the Pocono track record page.
Other top trotters this week include: Schalom G (George Napolitano Jr., Neal Ehrhart), who moved up in class on Tuesday night to score his second straight condition win, this one in 1:54:4; Rossini (Jason Bartlett, Jim Raymer), who powered to a condition victory on Saturday night in 1:53:1; and Raise The Curtain (Jason Bartlett, Timothy Lancaster), who rallied Wednesday night for his second straight condition win on Wednesday night in a career-best 1:54:1.
PACER OF THE WEEK: BIG BOY DREAMS
The barn of Pocono’s leading trainer Rene Allard never seems to run out of pacers able to compete at the highest levels. Already in 2015 we’ve seen Domethatagain and Sparky Mark take Pacer of the Week honors for their exploits in Open and condition paces at Pocono. Big Boy Dreams had hopes he could join them on Saturday night in a $30,000 Open pace.
This 4-year-old stallion raced once at Pocono in April, finishing a close 3rd in a condition pace. He then went to Canada for two races in the Confederation Cup, finishing 3rd in the big-money final, and followed that up with an Open Handicap victory at Yonkers. On Saturday night, Big Boy Dreams rolled to the front end with Simon Allard in the bike, and when he made it to the half in :55:3 on a night when the wind was helping horses in the front stretch, you knew he was going to be tough to catch.
Big Boy Dreams turned on the jets in the second half of the mile and stayed strong to the finish line. He ended up winning by a length in 1:49:4, a new career-best, over Texican N, giving him two consecutive wins over Open competition. He has a lot of competition in his barn for accolades, but Big Boy Dreams is racing as well as any of his stablemates right now, which is high praise indeed.
Honorable mention on the pacing side includes: McKenry (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), a 3-year-old who picked up his second straight condition victory on Tuesday night, this time in a career-best 1:51:4; Caviart Shelley (Jim Morrill Jr., Ron Burke), a mare who ripped off her fifth straight condition win on Wednesday night in a career-best time of 1:50:4; and Cloris Hanover (Tyler Buter, Todd Buter), who won a condition pace against other mares with ease for the second straight week, doing it in a time of 1:51.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: INTERNAL CHECK
This pacing mare, with Jim Morrill Jr. driving, rallied from way back on the outside to upend a claiming handicap field on Wednesday night at 22-1, paying off $47.60 on a $2 win ticket.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.
This was a typical George Nap week, as he hit double digits in wins over the four racing nights and chalked up five victories against the elite competition on Saturday night.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: KEVIN CARR
Carr’s training average at Pocono has been solid for several years running, and she showed off his wares with back-to-back winners on the card 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 email@example.com.
June 6-12, 2015