October 6-12, 2018
The countdown is on to the Breeders’ Crown, now just a couple weeks away from taking place at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Based on some of the incredible stakes performances being delivered recently at other tracks around the country, this has the making of one of the most memorable Breeders Crown editions in many years. We can’t wait, but we also don’t want to give short shrift to the excellent overnight action going on each and every racing night at Pocono. With that in mind, let’s hand out some Weekly Awards.
PACER OF THE WEEK: PEMBROKE WILDCAT
Throughout the summer and even into the early part of September, this six-year-old gelding competed against the toughest claimers on the grounds at Pocono. He was often a kind of best-of-the-rest competitor, but that started to change when worked out a pocket trip for a victory in the $30,000-$40,000 claiming handicaps on September 22 in 1:50, a new career-best. The following week, Pembroke Wildcat once again worked out the perfect trip and scored, this time in 1:51.4.
On Saturday night, he once again faced off with the $30,000-$40,000 claiming handicappers, leaving from post position #2 in a field of eight. Pembroke Wildcat was made a 6-5 second choice behind Ideal Kiss at 2-5, even though he had beaten Ideal Kiss in one of his previous two victories. Perhaps bettors were a bit skeptical about the fact that he had need a trip to win the previous two. When Pembroke Wildcat got away mid-pack while Ideal Kiss set the pace, it was time for him to prove that he had another trick up his sleeve.
Driver Anthony Napolitano sent Pembroke Wildcat, trained by Brittany Robertson, on a first-over journey on the back stretch to try and corral the leaders. Once he pulled up even, Pembroke Wildcat flew right on past the defenseless Ideal Kiss and kept right on rolling until he hit the line in front by two lengths in 1:50.1. There shouldn’t be any more lingering doubts about this gelding, because he certainly picked up that third straight victory the hard way.
Other top pacers this week include: Voracity (Eric Carlson, Ron Burke), who moved up in class on Saturday night but still managed his second consecutive condition win in sub-1:50 territory, pacing the mile in 1:49.4; Zero The Hero (George Napolitano Jr., Hunter Oakes), who tore it up on Saturday night for this third straight claiming win, this one coming in 1:49.4; and That Man Of Mine (George Napolitano Jr.,), whose win on Saturday night in a claiming handicap in 1:51.4 gave him five victories in a row, four of which have come at Pocono.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: TWO AM
Sunday night’s featured condition trot with a purse of $21,500 was filled to the brim with trotters who were having excellent seasons. Two AM, a four-year-old gelding trained by Todd Buter, came into the race with four victories on the season, but none quite at the level he was dealing with on Sunday night. Still, he had won his previous race at Pocono on September 29 in 1:53.4, and was a star as a three-year-old, so the move up in class wasn’t completely out of the question.
With Tyler Buter in the bike, Two AM sat back early as the pace was set by Crazshana. Tyler Buter waited for some cover and then sent the gelding second-over once he found that cover on the back stretch in the form of Elysium Lindy. That horse carried Two AM as far as he could go before starting to tire. The same fate befell Crazshana, who started to feel it in the lane as well. That left Prairie Fortune, the 3-2 favorite who was sitting in the pocket, and Two AM, who was revving up out wide.
Two AM may have had the tougher journey, but it didn’t stop him from showing powerful closing kick. In fact, he out-trotted Prairie Fortune and came up a winner by three-parts of a length. His winning time of 1:52.4 was the fastest that anyone trotted at Pocono this past week. With his second straight victory, this time against the toughest trotters on the grounds, Two AM is looking very much like the big earner he was just a year ago.
Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: Mighty Macko (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), a three-year-old filly who scored her second straight condition win on Sunday night, this one in 1:55.3; Silvermass Volo (Eric Carlson, Michael Holcman), who powered to a condition victory on Saturday night in 1:53.3; and Cant U Spell (George Napolitano Jr., Jody Riedel), who moved up in class on Tuesday night to captures his second straight condition trot and get it done in a career-best 1:54.2.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: RAISING KERCKHAERT
It was a memorable maiden victory for this trotter, as he picked up a condition won on Sunday night with Jim Taggart Jr. in the bike at 49-1, paying off $101.40 on a $2 win ticket.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JIM TAGGART JR.
Taggart was the guy you wanted this week if you liked long shots, as he brought home a 49-1 on Sunday night with Raising Kerckheart and then scored at 10-1 with Sneak On Bye on Monday.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: SCOTT DI DOMENICO
Di Domenico always seem to bring in a high percentage of winners at Pocono, and he managed victories with both of his starters on Sunday night.
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.