April 6-12, 2019
Our second full week of racing for the 2019 season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono witnessed the Bobby Weiss late closer series getting into full gear. For the next month or so, three and four-year-old horses of varying genders and gaits will be battling it out to make the finals of that series, which go for a hefty purse. One of those Weiss horses actually grabs Trotter of the Week honors this week, which you’ll discover as you read on for this edition of the Weekly Awards.
PACER OF THE WEEK: GILLYS BOY
In Saturday night’s featured condition pace, with a purse of $21,500, this five-year-old gelding trained by Ron Burke went off as a 6-1 third choice despite coming in on a two-race winning streak. That was probably because those two wins, one at the Meadowlands and one at Pocono on March 16 in 1:52:2, both came against slightly lesser competition. Many of the other horses in the field on Saturday night were either veterans of the class or were coming from similarly stiff competition at other venues.
Gillys Boy, as he did in those two wins in a row, shot out of the gate quickly, grabbing the lead from post position #5 in the field of nine. But unlike those previous two starts, the gelding had to cede the lead to someone else. Stars Align A, the even-money favorite, swooped by him as they rounded the first turn. Gillys Boy had to play the waiting game, taking his chance that he’d be able to outpace the favorite in the lane.
When they came to top of the stretch, it was still Stars Align A and Gillys Boy sitting first and second, respectively. That’s when driver Anthony Napolitano called on a little bit more from Gillys Boy and he stormed past the favorite to win it by a half-length in 1:50:3. That makes three straight wins, with the latest win coming in a career-best time against the toughest competition on the grounds, meaning Gillys Boy has been the man so far in the Pocono meet.
Other top pacers this week include: Havefaithinme N (Jim Morrill Jr., Jose Godinez), who scored a condition victory on Saturday night in 1:50:2, a new career-best and the fastest pacing time at Pocono so far in 2019; River Runs Deep (Anthony Napolitano, Marta Piotrow), who switched barns and moved up in class but still scored his third claiming win in a row on Saturday night, scoring in 1:53; and Turbo Hill (Hunter Oakes driver and trainer), who pushed his winning streak to five, two of which have come at Pocono, after handling a division of the Bobby Weiss series for male pacers on Saturday night in 1:54:2.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: MY LINDY WINNER
You can’t hold it against a horse if the competition against it isn’t up to snuff on a given week. That was the case for My Lindy Winner in his race on Sunday night. Considering that it was the first leg of the Bobby Weiss series for male trotters, you might have expected a pretty competitive group. But the way the draw worked out, he ended up with one of the softest fields against him. Since he was probably the divisional favorite to start, that meant he would be the heavy favorite.
After all, My Lindy Winner, a four-year-old stallion trained by Rob Harmon, came into the race on a three-race winning streak, with each victory more impressive than the one before. His streak started with a win at the Meadowlands, then continued when he posted a career-best mile in a condition victory at Pocono in 1:55:1. On March 28, he overcame an early break of stride to gut out a win at Yonkers. All of those took a lot more effort than he would need on Sunday night.
Facing just four other competitors after two horses were scratched, My Lindy Winner, a 1-9 favorite with Jim Morrill Jr. in the bike, quickly grabbed the lead past the quarter-pole. From there, he was never threatened, coasting to a six-length victory in an unhurried 1:57. The competition will almost certainly be tougher from this point forward. But My Lindy Winner is racing with such confidence right now that it might not matter who is up against him.
Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: Starsaboveallerage (Anthony Napolitano, Allen Sisco), who scored a condition trotting win on Sunday night in 1:54:4, the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; Archway (George Napolitano Jr, Aaron Lambert), who followed up his maiden victory at Freehold with an easy condition victory on Monday afternoon in a career-best 1:56:4; and Spring In Paris (Andrew McCarthy, Steven LeBlanc), whose victory in 1:57:4 in the second leg of the Bobby Weiss series for distaff trotters on Tuesday was her second straight in the series and her third in a row to start the season.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ONE MORE MIRACLE
Maybe “miracle” is too strong a word, but this pacer driven by Billy Mann certainly conjured up a surprise with a victory in a claimer on Sunday night at 14-1, paying off $31.80 on a $2 win ticket.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JIM MORRILL JR
Morrill doesn’t usually stick around for the whole meet at Pocono, but he does damage while he’s here, as evidenced by three straight cards of multiple driving victories this past week.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: MARTA PIOTROW
Piotrow made the most of her two starts on Saturday night, winning with claimers River Runs Deep and JK Pridenjoy, both of whom were brand new to her barn.
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.