April 14-20, 2018
Well, the good news is we had our first really beautiful night weather-wise for harness racing on the 2018 season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs this past Saturday. The bad news is that it was followed by three more nights of winter-like conditions. Nonetheless, the stubbornly-clinging cold did not dampen the enthusiasm at the track, not when there were so many outstanding performances that we witnessed, the best of which we now honor with the Weekly Awards.
PACER OF THE WEEK: HIGHALATOR
A year ago as a sophomore pacer, Highalator did much of the damage during an 11-win season at Pocono, including dominance of the Bobby Weiss late closer series for male pacers. His 4-year-old season began with him racing in Delaware, and he did well in his first taste of veteran competition, hitting the board in four of seven races with one victory. But his season immediately jumped a notch when he came to Pocono, as he picked up a victory in a $14,000 condition pace on April 7 in 1:51:3.
On Saturday night, the 4-year-old stallion trained by Jenny Bier decided to step up in class to face the featured $17,500 condition pacers. Leaving from position #3 in a field of eight, he was a 7-2 fourth choice, while Bettor’s Edge, earner of over $2 million in his career, went off as the 8-5 favorite in a rugged field. Highalator sat 4th early as Americanprimetime cut out the mile from an inside post. Driver Tyler Buter decided to take a first-over shot with Highalator just prior to the clubhouse turn.
Highalator immediately pulled up alongside Americanprimetime but couldn’t slip past right away. Instead the two stayed locked up around the second turn as well. But instead of fading, Highalator kept after it and eventually wheeled on by to beat the game American Primetime by a head. Not only did he set a career-best with a winning time of 1:49:4, the stallion also became the first to horse to snap the 1:50 barrier at Pocono in 2018.
Other top pacers this week include: Catherinesdiamond (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who overcame a #9 post on Saturday night to win his second straight $10,000 claimer in 1:53:3; Drinkin Again (Jim Morrill Jr, Philip Jasper), who moved up in class to win Sunday night’s featured condition pace in 1:53:2, giving him two straight victories and three in his last four; and Fox Valley Cadet (George Napolitano Jr., Rob Harmon), who picked up his second straight claiming victory on Tuesday night, this one coming in 1:56:1.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: ARCHBALD
This four-year-old gelding from the Fern Paquet Jr. barn had wins early in the year at both Saratoga and Pompano before stopping into Pocono for the Bobby Weiss late closer series for male trotters. In his first try in that group, he made a costly break of stride and finished fourth. On April 8, however, Archbald steered clear of any breaks and overpowered the field to win a spilt in 1:55:3, which was a career-best and the fastest time in that grouping of the Weiss up to that point.
Archbald was back at it on Sunday night in the third leg of the Weiss as a 7-5 favorite leaving from post position #4 in a field of seven. The field included Chas Hanover, who had won the first two legs of the Weiss, but he wasn’t a factor in the race, eventually finishing fourth. Instead the race became a duel between Law Of Attraction, who set the pace, and Archbald, who, with Paquet doing the driving as well, made a first-over move from third on the back stretch.
The two leaders were practically inseparable throughout the back stretch and the final turn. But in the final strides, Archbald finally wore down Law Of Attraction to take over late. He ended up winning by a length in 1:55:1. That winning time reset his career mark and also reset the standard for the male trotters in the Weiss. It’s looking like Archbald might just be the one to beat in that Weiss classification as we get closer to the Finals.
Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: Lightningpedia (Chuck Connor Jr., Janice Connor), who won his second straight condition trot at Pocono to start his career, this one coming on Monday night in 1:59:2 in the slop; Body Slam (Anthony Napolitano, Tom Wine II), who compiled a two-race winning streak over five months at Pocono, with his maiden win last November, and then a condition win on Tuesday night in his first start of 2018 in 1:59:4; and Karets (Marcus Miller, James Cosenza), who moved up in class to capture his second straight condition victory on Tuesday night, this one in 1:56:1.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: CITY HALL
This veteran pacer worked out a pocket trip in a condition pace on Sunday night with Andrew McCarthy in the bike and rallied for a win at 38-1, paying off $79.80 on a $2 win ticket.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ERIC CARLSON
Carlson has been a steady performer at Pocono for several seasons now, so it was fitting that he picked up his 3,000th career victory on Monday night at the track with Call Me Richard.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JOSE GODINEZ
Godinez hasn’t sent out a ton of starters at Pocono but is hitting a high average with the ones who have raced, including a training double on Saturday night.
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.
April 14-20, 2018