June 11-17, 2016
If you were looking for the unexpected, it was a good week to watch the races at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Long shots seemed to be coming in every time you turned around, and favorites, with some notable exceptions, had a hard time getting the job done. Weeks like this past one remind everyone just how unpredictable this sport can be. Keep that in mind as we take a look at some of the top equine and human performers and hand out the Weekly Awards.
PACER OF THE WEEK: PRICELESS EDITION
Rules have been put in place this season at Pocono that have changed the claiming ranks to some extent. Without getting into the minutiae of those rules changes, the gist of them are that horses that are claimed or have had a lot of recent success at a certain price generally must move up in the ranks. As a result, winning streaks are much harder to come by among claimers. But apparently nobody told that to Priceless Edition, who’s been carving his way through his claiming brethren of late.
The hot streak for this 12-year-old gelding began on May 15. After coming up empty in his first five starts of the year following an excellent 2015, Priceless Edition handled a group of $7,500 claimers in 1:54:2. He followed that up with a place and a win in his next two races, which triggered a move up to the $10,000 claimers for his next race. And he promptly won in that class on June 4.
On Saturday night, he faced off with the $10,000 claimers once again and went off as an even-money favorite. After sitting fourth early, the veteran pacer, under the guidance of driver Andrew McCarthy, swooped to the lead on the front stretch. He never really extended to a big lead, but he kept the pressure at bay and came home strong to win by a length-and-a-quarter in 1:54:1. That makes four wins out of five for Priceless Edition, and, even though he now has to move up again, don’t be surprised if he keeps it rolling.
Other top pacers this week include: Allbeef N Nobull (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who upset the field at 27-1 in Saturday night’s featured $25,000 condition pace, winning in a career-best 1:49:2 that was also the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono; Mr D’s Dragon (Simon Allard, Staffan Lind) a 3-year-old who ripped off his third straight condition win on Tuesday night, this one coming in career-best 1:52:1; and Cracker Coffee (Eric Carlson, Amber Buter), a mare who followed up consecutive wins at Tioga with a victory on Tuesday night at Pocono in the featured pace for mares in a career-best 1:51:2.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SPICEDBOURBONGIRL
This 3-year-old filly from the barn of trainer Jeff Gregory has been outstanding to this point in 2016. After winning just once in nine tries as a freshman in 2015, she came out of the gate firing this year with wins in three of her first four races. Two of those wins came at Pocono, including a career-best mile of 1:53:4 on May 29, and the other was in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes competition at The Meadows.
With that kind of record it was no surprise that she went off as a 3-5 favorite in a condition trot at Pocono for non-winners of five on Sunday night. Gregory also did the driving on this night and moved Spicedbourbongirl to the front with a quarter-pole move. Even though she had put up that impressive 1:53:4 in her previous race, the filly needed much less on this night thanks to a nice rating job by Gregory in the first half of the mile.
The slower pace meant that there were other horses close by late, but Spicedbourbongirl had little trouble holding them off. Even though her winning time of 1:56:3 was nearly three seconds off her previous effort, it was easy to see she had plenty left in the tank had she wanted to push it. With four wins in five races so far in 2016, this filly looks like one of the best in her age group on the regional level, and she might just have the stuff to do some damage on a bigger stage should the opportunity arise.
Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Explosive Man (Robert Krivelin driver and trainer), whose condition win on Sunday in 1:56:1 was his third straight victory, two of which have come at Pocono; Amicus (George Napolitano Jr., William Mullin), who led just about all the way on Monday night to notch his second straight claiming victory, with this one coming in 1:58; and Quick Deal (Ake Svanstedt driver and trainer), who posted the week’s fastest trotting time at Pocono when he won a condition on Saturday night in 1:53.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: PITTSTOP KIP
Sunday night was a night of long shots, but none were more surprising than this gelding driven by David Miller who scored a claiming handicap win at 40-1, paying off $83.80 on a $2 win ticket.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: COREY CALLAHAN
With a Sire Stakes win Sunday night and two Stallion Series scores Monday night, Callahan was the only driver this week to get at least one win in both, and not one of his winners went off at lower than 8-1.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: RON BURKE
The ever-prolific Burke barn produced three winners on Saturday night, including 27-1 bomber Allbeef N Nobull in the $25,000 featured condition pace.
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 11-17, 2016