July 31-August 6, 2015
As we head into the month of August, all of us at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono are keeping our eyes on the coming weeks, specifically the span from August 14th to the 22nd when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the track with a series of promotions and events on and off the track. Until we get there though, we still have plenty of outstanding racing to enjoy. This week’s action was particularly feisty and fine, as you’ll be able to tell from this edition of the Weekly Awards.
PACER OF THE WEEK: R GAUWITZ HANOVER
Claimers often get an unfortunate and often inaccurate rap that they’re somehow inferior to condition pacers and trotters. Week after week that fallacy is disproven, both by the comparable times between the two types of races and by the fact that several former claimers have moved on to be successful in condition and even Open races. And certainly there has been no horse in any type of race who’s been as impressive as R Gauwitz Hanover, who competes in mid-priced claimers, has been the past few weeks at Pocono.
In his last five races heading into a $15,000 claiming event on Saturday night, R Gauwitz Hanover had three second-place finishes sandwiched around a pair of wins. The 6-year-old gelding had achieved that streak while switching barns three times. On Saturday night, racing for trainer Paul Holzman, he was made the 1-5 favorite, and he had to respond when John’s Polyview aggressively took the lead and burned off sizzling fractions.
Driver George Napolitano Jr. never flinched though, and he began guiding R Gauwitz Hanover closer and closer on the back stretch until he blew by. The gelding didn’t stop until he was eight lengths out in front of the rest for the victory. His winning time of 1:49 was not only his career mark, it was also the fastest mile of the week by anybody at Pocono. Don’t let anyone tell you claimers are somehow a lower class of horse, at least not while R Gauwitz Hanover is there to prove otherwise in such convincing fashion.
Other top pacers this week include: GD Airliner (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who didn’t let a month-and-a-half layoff stop him from picking up his second straight condition victory on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:52; Kiss Of Terror (Simon Allard, Dean Eckley), a 3-year-old who rallied at 10-1 on Sunday night for a condition win, his second straight, in 1:54:1; and Spirit Of Desire (Anthony Napolitano, Timothy Lancaster), who captured Wednesday night’s featured condition pace for mares in 1:52.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: PRAIRIE FORTUNE
This 3-year-old gelding from the barn of trainer Mike Deters just knows his way to the winner’s circle. After a 2-year-old campaign in which he won three of six races, he’s been even tougher to stop in 2015. Other than an upset loss at Tioga, Prairie Fortune has been spotless, winning his other four races while splitting time between Pocono and Tioga.
His last win at Pocono on July 28 came in a career-best time of 1:53:4, but it was with the non-winners of three. Wednesday night figured to be a tougher test as he stepped up to face the non-winners of five. After sitting fourth in the early part of the mile, driver Matt Kakaley started Prairie Fortune in motion on the straightaway of the front stretch and easily reached the lead.
From that point on, nobody was even able to put a scare in the gelding, as he held a comfortable lead which he then extended once they turned for home. Prairie Fortune ended up handling his competition effortlessly by 4 ½ lengths in 1:54:3. That’s what you call moving up in class in style, and it’s what you call a horse that just doesn’t plan on losing anytime soon.
Honorable mention on the trotting side includes: House Of Cash (Joe Pavia Jr., Ron Burke), who captured the week’s featured condition trot on Saturday night in a career-best 1:54; Uriel (Scott Zeron, Luca Derrico), who rallied for a tough condition win on Wednesday night in a career-best 1:53:4, which was the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; and Sonnyforall (Bill Mullin driver and trainer), who picked up a condition win on Wednesday night in 1:56.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: HOUSE OF CASH
This trotter with Joe Pavia Jr. in the bike started Saturday night’s racing off with a band, upsetting a condition field at 24-1 for a $51 payoff on a $2 win ticket.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: AKE SVANSTEDT
He’s an outstanding trainer, but Svanstedt also drives a lot of his winning trainees, like he did on Sunday night when he guided three 2-year-old trotters to their maiden wins in his only three drives of the night.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: DEAN ECKLEY
Eckley has been a name to watch all season long at Pocono, and three more wins this week, including a double on Sunday night, will ensure that continues to be the case.
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.
July 31-August 6, 2015