Connors’ Comments SATURDAY, MARCH 16, 2019 (OPENING NIGHT)


RACE – Welcome back for the 2019 harness racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono … Temperatures were in the mid-30s all evening, with a stretch wind picking up about race 3 (see the fractions) until past midcard … WAR-N-MUNN left and yielded just past the 1/8, stayed tight in the two-hole, came out headstretch and shot right on by. WHAT’S GOIN ON was second-over, gapped 5/8 as the pace quickened and ducked inside ¾, found renewed pace after the winner was gone and got past PERSISTENT THREAT A late for second. The latter hit the front just after the 1/8, rated the half, had nothing left in the lane as the first of ten straight pacesetters to tire. NEXT SUCCESS stayed in under a hold, distant next. FIREBALL was third-over, three-wide on the turn, too far back. GINGER TREE CASH went wide to little avail. BILBO HANOVER took back for a 5-tuck at the 1/8, started first-over 3/8, faded before the ¾. BADIX HANOVER fell back from the 5/8.


SECOND RACESPANISH ART got early position, came first-over going into turn two, grinded gamely and wore down T’S ELECTRIC late. The latter was four-wide towards the first turn and two-wide past the 1/8 for the top, felt pressure from the winner at the ¾, couldn’t hold that one off but did well for second. SKY GUY was three-wide early, crossed over, yielded just past the 1/8 for the pocket, angled out in the lane, fair. MASTER OF PUPPETS was looped and spotted, outside into the lane, fair. Q ROCK sat in and advanced up the inside, so-so late. MAKE IT BIG was third-over behind dull cover, three-wide through the bend but didn’t reach. ADMIRAL spotted fifth, then moved second-over, gapping from past the 5/8. SB IDEAL IN ART had very little in the last ¼.


THIRD RACEPERFECT STICK gapped third-over down the back, got closer as the tempo declined, three-wide with cover on the turn to four-wide headstretch, went by very confidently. DELCREST MASSY took advantage of his post and kept foes three-wide to the ¼ then yielded, back out raw off turn two and fought with the leader, held well for second. GONNA FLY was second-over, three-wide midturn, steadily but outkicked. DYNAMIC EDGE was three-wide to the 3/16, made the lead at the ¼, yielded for the two-hole 3/8, to the Pocono Pike, so-so. PHANTOM RUSTY showed little. BIONESS was three-wide with cover to the 3/16, then briefly three-wide raw to two-wide raw to the lead 3/8, under pressure, faded. OPTIMIST BLUE CHIP left, was taking back to look for a tuck when going offstride 3/16. BROADWAY PROMISE ran just before the start.


FOURTH RACESHOW ME UP found enough speed between horses to go on to the lead 3/16, yielded past the ¼ for the pocket, to the Pocono Pike, made the lead midstretch and held on to get 21YO Mitch Cushing his first victory at the local oval. ASCOT ENCOUNTER A was second-over behind solid cover, three-wide to headstretch, finished steadily. MUSTANG ART couldn’t get around the winner to the first turn and was left out three-deep to the 3/16, made the front past the ¼, set a reasonable pace, came up shy. BETTER BANGBANG moved from midpack at the half and was first-over, held gamely late. SENTENCING MEMO was third-over, gapped, then had a bit on the end. A MAJOR IMPULSE was the innermost of the three leavers, yielded and stayed well-placed, to the deep Pike but not enough. THE OTHER TRIO offered little.


FIFTH RACEWESTERN ALUMNI made the lead then let the two outside leavers go, behind the pocket gapper from the 5/8, outside in a blindswitch to headstretch, split rivals before midstretch then angled inside the pacesetting CC’S DESIRE and finished well to catch that one. The latter was between horses to the lead 3/16, yielded 5/16 but regained 3/8, dealt with the first-over, unlucky to be caught up the inside. BONFIRE BLISS was first-up into turn two, challenged, couldn’t stay with the pacesetter from early stretch. HUGH HEFNER N came all the way up the inside from last, gained in the deep Pocono Pike. RU READY TO ROCK was three-high to the 3/16, made the lead 5/16 then relinquished for the pocket, struggled in same from the 5/8. BEACH BLAST was second-over, gapped early backstretch then got tighter, swung wide but couldn’t get close. MOM’S CROSSROADS was behind gapping cover, finished with pace very wide. THE OTHER PAIR didn’t enter into it.


SIXTH RACEEPIC UNION stayed in to the 5/8 then was able to come out behind the cover of WESTERN BAYAMA, left uncovered past the ¾ when that one ducked in the pocket, finished steadily (30.2 last quarter) and got the job done. The latter tucked fourth at the 1/8, started raw 5/8, got to the pocket ¾, went to the Pocono Pike and got a short lead past midstretch, held well. ALL MUSIC made the front at the 1/8 and set the pace, opened four lengths with the wind to the ¾ and had that advantage into the lane, but folded. ALWAYS A DIAMOND was a no-factor best of the rest. BUCKEYE PRESIDENT was three-wide on the far turn and got the last check. JUST MY KINDA GUY never featured. ROCKIN ROGER struggled the last half. ROYAL COURTIER got to the top quickly then yielded for the two-hole, started gapping out before the 5/8.


SEVENTH RACECANT U SPELL showed first nearing turn one but took back to tuck, sat in, gapped early backstretch, tighter ¾, widest headstretch and came from last save the breakers to just be up. MUSCLE FASHION had cover to the ¼ then went up uncovered and challenged the leader, did not take the pocket on the turn, wore down the pacesetter a pylon from the finish but was just nipped in a big mile. FOX VALLEY ILIAD was wide into turn one, on to the lead 3/16, rolled on the lead, tired a little bit very late. BREAK FREE tailed the winner from the 5/16, ducked inside past midturn, tried hard to the line but didn’t have enough. KANDY KORN backed out to third-over, OK late while not threatening. LINDY’S BEST YET was shuffled, angled inside during the stretch but didn’t have a sharp response. PUERTO RICO left, yielded 3/16 for the pocket, gapped out from the 5/8. SMART AS A WHIP spotted midpack past the 1/8, backed out to fourth-over but ran early backstretch. D’S DREAM jumped just before the start.


EIGHTH RACEGALLERY OPENING used the rail to great advantage and sat a pocket trip behind a fast pace, outside late turn, took command early stretch then gamely held off a cavalry charge. WAGON MASTER moved three-wide around the parked-the-mile horse midturn and gained steadily to just miss. ACHILLES BLUE CHIP was right behind WAGON MASTER the last quarter, wider in the lane and closed very strongly. SANATTLE SLEW tucked, sat in, got right to the Pocono Pike, a bit shy. VERDAD sat in and was shuffled, finished willingly deep in the Pike. FOREVERNALWAYS kept a hole shut at the 1/8, came out late turn, gained but didn’t really threaten. SOME GOLD was three-wide to the 1/8 for the lead, had to go a fast half with outside pressure, tired in the last 1/8. IDEAL ROCKY never got close. ZERO THE HERO left between horses, was looped and got a “zero” at every call in a fast pace, tired 5/8.


NINTH RACEJUMPING JAKE alertly filled the pocket at the 1/8, then gave same 3/8 to be able to back to the outside, swept three-wide 11/16 to two-wide past midturn to the lead headstretch, drew clear. LIMA PRO was third-over, ducked to the rail early on the turn and came along the inside to be the distant deuce. WESTERN DELIGHT N had an excess of cover, four-wide headstretch, finishing OK+. SUCHASENSEOFHUMOR was out behind the winenr, left three-wide uncovered on the turn, couldn’t gain in the lane. ARTACHE HANOVER refused to yield under urging from the pole, left behind in the last 1/8. ODYSSEUS BLUE CHIP and R N NATE (who looked to leave but took back) were never in contention.  CRUISERWILLWIN was left out three-wide until almost the 3/8, then was stuck raw two-wide, battled to the ¾ but was left behind on the turn. SONNY THE SHARK was between horses in the early dogfight, was given the pocket 3/8, tired significantly.


TENTH RACEURBAN RENEWAL spotted fourth at the 1/8, lagged the front three until nearing the 5/8 then in gear, blew right by on the turn and won for fun. RAKSMACH N tailed the winner, enough for second. POLAK A left for the early lead, carried a brusher to the 3/8 then yielded for the pocket, shuffled a little when that one gave way midturn then outside, couldn’t reach for the deuce. NINE WAYS took the early pocket at the 1/8, inside, to the Pocono Pike, so-so. WESTERN HILL had to go five-wide in the lane and finished well. BLOW A CLOUD N was third-over, not enough. VICTORY AT LAST sat in, not clear in the lane. RUFFLE UP moved before the ¼ to the lead before the 3/8, no answer for the winner past the ¾.


ELEVENTH RACEEPAULETTE A went on and controlled the pace, got an easy half, under hard pressure from SOHO WALLSTREET A but stayed true to the line. The latter quickly tucked third, cane raw nearing the second bend, grinded, briefly took the pocket on the turn then out again for the drive, gamely but not quite enough. ARCHANGEL THREE got in fifth at the 3/16, then was second-over, gapped ¾, just held third over MARINER SEELSTER. The latter stayed in, came out in a blindswitch before headstretch, charged through strongly between horses from midstretch. MAXDADDY BLUE CHIP had to go four-wide 7/8 as cover didn’t keep flowing, not a late factor. SEVENS HOPE A was pinned in but didn’t have too much once clear. WAIKIKI BEACH A left well from the rail, rethought a move frontward at the 3/16, started gapping in the pocket 3/8. BONDI HANOVER was last at every call.


TWELFTH RACEGILLYS BOY was away quickly four-wide and on top well before the 1/8, got a second quarter breather, then had speed and determination in turning back ROCKEYED OPTIMIST. The latter left and secured the two-hole, went to the Pocono Pike, just missed in a good outing. TULLOW N was three-wide early and looped, went in third past the 1/8, stayed in, to the deep Pike, not enough. BEYOND DELIGHT was uncovered from seventh at the 3/8, didn’t put much pressure on the leader but held his ground well. BRUCE’S MAGIC had to stack very wide and had some pace at the wire. CITY HALL and O’ SUNDLAND both gapped down the backstretch. OUTRAJUS BLUE CHIP backed out to second-over on the second turn, went three-wide 11/16 but was empty.


THIRTEENTH RACEMACHIAVELLI was quickly on top, pushed an early brusher then yielded for the two-hole, to the Pocono Pike and went on by easily. DELIGHTFUL OFFER N was second-over, three-wide late turn, just up for the deuce in a four-way picture. SWEET BEACH quarter-moved but was left out the length of the frontstretch before making the top, got second half pressure and could not sustain. OOH BAD BOY sat in and was shuffled, slow to clear upper stretch then knifed between horses well. MIDWAY ISLAND made the pocket 3/16, to the deep Pike, not enough. SHADY CITY had an excess of cover, launched three-wide before the ¾, was gaining late as the tempo slowed. SWEET TALKIN SATIN gapped third-over. DULL ROAR was fourth-over, blindswitched, never prominent. CYAMACH N went first-over at the half, pressured the leader until the 7/8, then tired.


FOURTEENTH RACE – The early fractions went on the board as 25.4 and 55.4; they were corrected to 27.2 and 57 … BORDER CONTROL A spotted third then quarter-moved, maintained firm control to the wire. SHINOBU HANOVER retucked fourth down the back, angled out past early stretch and was rapidly cutting into the winner’s margin. TRACK MASTER D weaved in-out-in in quarter three, then came up the Pocono Pike, flattened slightly. RUFO made the lead into turn one, yielded to sit the pocket, little left in the stretch. IDEAL TYSON A found himself behind flailing cover off the second turn, went in then came out again to the ¾ but was not a factor. PRETTY BOY HILL came through well for the pocket, was uncovered into the second turn, started to fall back before the ¾. CORNER CON ARTIST was far back. FEEL THE NEED A got in fourth 3/16, was second-over to the second turn but immediately gapped badly. PAPRIKE BLUE CHIP broke coming off the second turn.