September 29-October 5, 2018
As we roll into the month of October, it is hard to ignore the fact that, by the end of this month, a dozen division champions will be crowned on October 27 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The Breeders Crown is fast approaching, but we still have some business to conduct at Pocono in the few weeks between now and then. Namely, some more outstanding overnight racing action, such as what transpired these past four racing nights to produces these Weekly Award winners.
PACER OF THE WEEK: ROCKSTAR ANGEL A
This Australian-bred mare has taken a shine to Pocono even since arriving from overseas this past summer. So far all of her victories in the United States has come at the Pocono oval, including a win in her U.S. debut back in July and an impressive victory on September 4 in a $17,000 condition pace in a career-best 1:51. Leading into Sunday night’s featured $21,500 condition pace for mares, Rockstar Angel A had not raced since that September 4 win, a span of almost four weeks.
The fact that there was a possible rust factor and the step up in class may have been why Rockstar Angel A went off as a 3-1 third choice on the board with an inside post in a field of seven. That also could have been a byproduct of the quality of the field, which was led by Bettorhaveanother, winner of the finals of the Great Northeast Open mares pacing series final in her previous race at Pocono. It was indeed Betterhaveanother who set the pace, ceding the lead around the clubhouse turn to 3-2 favorite Penpal.
Meanwhile Rockstar Angel A sat on the inside about four lengths away on the back stretch. Once driver George Napolitano Jr. called on this Chris Oakes trainee around the last turn, she gobbled up the margin. She overtook Penpal and Betterhaveanother and held off fellow closer Don’t Think Twice to win it by a neck. Her winning time was 1:51.2, and Rockstar Angel A now has two straight wins against the very toughest distaffers that Pocono has to offer.
Other top pacers this week include: Pembroke Wildcat (Anthony Napolitano, Brittany Robertson), who picked up his second straight claiming handicap victory against the toughest claimers on the grounds at Pocono on Saturday night, winning this one in 1:51.4: Voracity (Eric Carlson, Ron Burke), who returned from New York to defeat a condition field on Saturday night in 1:49.3, the fastest time at Pocono this past week and a new career mark; and Well Played Out (Tyler Buter, Alex Kavoleff), who rolled to his second straight conditional claiming win on Monday night, getting it done in a career-best 1:52.2.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: TYSON
This five-year-old gelding has been one of the better performers on the trotting side all meet long at Pocono. Trained by Edwin Gannon Jr., Tyson has earned the bulk of his seven victories this year at Pocono. The kicker is that most of those wins have come when he hasn’t been a favorite, with several coming at middle-priced odds. On Sunday night he dropped down into a $17,500 condition group and went off as the 5-2 third choice in a field of seven.
Driver Eric Carlson held Tyson back in the middle of the pack early as Dream Baby Dream, the race favorite, headed for the front. Elysium Lindy set right behind the leader on the inside. As they rounded the final turn, Dream Baby Dream went on a speed break. That was a big break for Tyson, who otherwise might have been hopelessly blocked or had too much ground to make up in the stretch if he had been locked into his third-in journey.
Instead he wound up right behind Elysium Lindy, who had inherited the lead from the breaking horse. In the stretch, Carlson tipped Tyson to the outside and he won a tight stretch duel over Elysium Lindy. The margin was just a head, but the 1:53.4 winning time by the gelding matched the fastest trotting time this past week at Pocono. We are getting closer to yearend awards time at Pocono, and Tyson is a trotter who definitely deserves consideration.
Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Two AM (Tyler Buter, Todd Buter), who dropped down in class to win a condition trot on Saturday night in 1:53.4, matching Tyson for the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; Mandela Blue Chip (Tyler Buter, Alex Kavoleff), who handled a condition field on Monday night in a sharp time of 1:54.1; and Second Sister (Anthony Napolitano, Michael Deters), a mare who snuck in a condition won on Tuesday night in 1:54.3 before rain cancelled the remainder of the card.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SOME GOLD
Nobody saw it coming when this condition pacer driven by Vinny Ginsburg upended the field on Saturday night at stunning odds of 114-1, paying off $230.80 on a $2 win ticket.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: TYLER BUTER
Buter has returned to a more regular driving role this year at Pocono and has been on fire of late, tallying three wins on Saturday night and then four more on the Monday program.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: CHRIS OAKES
The Oakes’ barn had a field day on Sunday night, ripping off five victories out of five starters sent to the gate, including a win in the mares pacing feature with Rockstar Angel.
That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.