July 16-22, 2016
It’s hard to believe, but we’re nearly at the midway point of the 2016 racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. There’s a lot of great racing from this year already in our rear view, yet we’re entering an extremely busy portion of the season, highlighted by the mega-card on Super Stakes Saturday in August. We’ll be talking about all of that soon enough, but for now let’s put the spotlight on the best of the best from the week that was and hand out our Weekly Awards.
PACER OF THE WEEK: B R FLYING DALI
This four-year-old stallion entered Pocono on a high note with a victory at The Meadows against $5,000 claimers on May 11. After finishing third against $7,500 claimers in his first try at MSPD, he quickly followed that up with a win in that class on May 29. B R Flying Dali was claimed from that race, switching trainers from Mike Palone to Dan Altman in the process, and he promptly moved up for the Altman barn for back-to-back wins against the $10,000 and $12,500 claimers in his next two races.
That meant he was riding a three-race winning streak when he took to the track on Saturday night to once again face off with the $12,500 claimers. Leaving from the #4 post in a field of nine as an even money favorite, B R Flying Dali sat second at the quarter behind a hot pace. Driver Simon Allard guided him to the lead with a quick move on the front stretch and hustled him through a quick third quarter of 27:2 to try to keep the pressure at bay.
In the stretch, B R Flying Dali had to deal with the charges of pocket horse Teranadawn and outside closer Special Terror. But he was up to the challenge, topping Special Terror at the line by a length in 1:52, which matched the career mark he had set in his previous start. That makes four wins in a row, five out of six, and ten overall for the season for B R Flying Dali. Those are impressive stats, and they stand to get even better if this stallion continues his hot streak.
Other top pacers this week include: Dreams Beachboy (Eric Goodell, Chris Oakes), who ripped off his second consecutive condition victory on Sunday night, this one coming in 1:50:3; Bandolito (Sean Bier, Daryl Bier), who scorched a condition group on Saturday for a win in a time of 1:49:2, the fastest pacing mark of the week at Pocono; and Highview Conall (Pat Berry, Scott DiDomenico) who followed up back to back wins at Harrah’s with a victory in a claiming handicap on Saturday night at Pocono in a career-best 1:49:3.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: WILBERFORCE
No two races are ever the same, so it’s a good thing when a horse has the versatility to roll with whatever comes its way on a particular night. It’s also a bonus when a horse’s driver can adjust his game plan depending on the circumstances. Those factors came into play when Wilberforce, a 4-year-old gelding from the Kris Rickert barn, took the track on Sunday night in search of his second consecutive victory over the non-winners of seven condition grouping.
In his previous start on July 10, driver George Napolitano Jr. kept Wilberforce off the pace on the inside, then guided him home when an opening appeared late. The gelding won in a career-best 1:53 by 3 ¾ lengths over Tuscanellie, who was the race favorite but wore down on the front end. On Sunday night, Tuscanellie was again favored at 1-2 with an improved post position, but he watched as Wilberforce changed up tactics and took charge early.
Napolitano took advantage of a small six-horse field by setting tepid fractions on the lead. That meant that Tuscanellie, even though she had the trip, still couldn’t get past Wilberforce in the late going. The gelding held tight to win by 1 ¼ lengths. The winning time of 1:54:4 wasn’t as quick as the previous week, but the bottom line is what mattered. That’s two in a row for Wilberforce, who has proven he can win a couple different ways, a handy talent in this sport.
Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Tac’s Delight (Jim Marohn Jr., Rene Allard), who moved up in class to win a claiming handicap trot on Sunday night in 1:54:1, earning his second straight victory in the process; J L Cruze (John Campbell, Eric Ell), who coasted to victory in Sunday night’s $25,000 featured condition trot, sharing the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono in the process with a 1:53; and Pounce Hanover (Jim Marohn Jr., Greg White), who rolled to a condition win on Tuesday night in 1:53, a new career mark which matched the week’s fastest trotting time at Pocono.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ARMOR HANOVER
After breaking stride in his previous two starts, this trotter driven by Tom Jackson stayed flat and then some on Saturday night, beating a condition field at 17-1 for a $36.20 payout on a $2 win ticket.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: SCOTT ZERON
As Zeron has become more of a regular presence at Pocono this year, he’s doing more damage, as was the case on Sunday night when he picked up four driving victories.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JIMMY TAKTER
When there are stakes races, you can count on Takter to do some damage, and the results this week at Pocono for him included three Stallion Series wins on Monday and a Sire Stakes victory.
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 16-22, 2016