April 13-19, 2019
We enjoyed quite the busy week of racing action at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. High winds and slanting rains, Bobby Weiss Series action heating up, the fastest pacing time of the young season, and a 70-1 shot winning: All of it was part of the rich tapestry. Let’s take a look back at all the wildness by handing out some Weekly Awards.
PACER OF THE WEEK: TURBO HILL
In the three-and-four-year-old male pacers division of the Bobby Weiss series, it’s hard to argue against this one as the class of the group. Yet he faced a situation on Saturday night where he wasn’t favored in one of the races in the series. Hard to believe, considering that he came into the race on a five-race winning streak, two of which came at Pocono, and with a career record of seven wins in eight races for trainer and driver Hunter Oakes.
Granted, Turbo Hill was a pretty prohibitive second choice at 4-5. Yet Sports Legend, who had won of three of four coming in, including a division of the Weiss in the first leg of the series, went off as the 3-5 choice. Leaving from post position #3 in a field of seven, it was Turbo Hill who got the jump, taking the lead over Sports Legend on the front stretch. And, with no pressure on the outside, Oakes was able to rate the pace in his horse’s favor.
At the top of the stretch, the race was pretty much a two-horse dance between the top two choices. Even though Sports Legend was attached to Turbo Hill at the top of the stretch, he couldn’t gain through the lane. Instead, Turbo Hill, a four-year-old stallion, solidified his lead and came home a winner in a swift 1:51:2, 1 ¼ lengths in front of Sports Legend. These two might meet again in the final a few weeks hence, but, for now, Turbo Hill owns bragging rights.
Other top pacers this week include: Hitman Hill (Hunter Oakes, Chris Oakes), who tore it up for a condition victory on Saturday night in 1:50:1, the fastest pacing time of the season to date at Pocono; Soho Wallstreet A (Pat Berry, Scott DiDomenico), who handled a top field in Saturday night’s featured condition pace in 1:50:3; and Major Bucks (Anthony Napolitano, William Adamczyk), who rose up the condition ladder to score his second straight win on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:51:3.
TROTTEER OF THE WEEK: HANKS TANK
Sunday night brought our first off-track of the season. Heavy winds battered the horses and slanting rain poured over the track, making it a night that wasn’t for the faint of heart. It also benefitted those who were able to get to the early lead, as horses coming from off the pace struggled to make up ground all night long. Hanks Tank, therefore, didn’t seem to mind the conditions at all, as they very much suited his racing style.
A six-year-old gelding trained by Rob Harmon, Hanks Tank was coming off a win in his previous start on April 7 in 1:55:3. He won that race on the front end, and, with Jim Morrill Jr. in the bike, attempted the same kind of trip on Sunday night as he moved up in class to face the $11,000 condition group. The gelding went off as the 9-2 second choice, but he was the one sitting on the engine after winning an early speed duel with Very Very Fast.
Hanks Tank then opened up a sizable advantage on the back stretch, as the rest of the field labored to get close to him. When the stretch arrived, Morrill no longer had to ask anything of his horse, and Hanks Tank was able to coast home a comfortable two-length victor. His second straight win came in a time of 1:56, which wasn’t bad at all considering the sloppy track. Hanks Tank seems built for the weather, whatever it might be, when his form is as fine as it is right now.
Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Fire’N Woodshed (Eric Carlson, Kerry Welty), who moved to two-for-two in his career by winning a second straight condition win at Pocono on Monday, matching his debut’s winning time of 1:56:3 in the process; Tyson (Andrew McCarthy, Edwin Gannon Jr.), who picked up his first win of the year in Sunday night’s featured condition trot, posting a 1:55:1 mile in the slop; and Thisguyisonfire (Andrew McCarthy, Christopher Lakata), who followed up a win at Chester by scoring a condition victory on Sunday night in 1:54:3 in the slop.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: LEAN ON YOU
This condition pacer avoided trouble caused by a breaking horse in front of him on Saturday night and, with Jim Taggart Jr. in the bike, won at 70-1, paying off $143.40 for a $2 win ticket.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: SIMON ALLARD
Simon is once again perched high in the drivers’ standings at Pocono, and this week was a big one for him, with multiple wins on each card and a four-bagger on Monday.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JOSE GODINEZ
Godinez wasted no time getting in the groove on Monday afternoon, sweeping the early Daily Double with pacers Don’tcallmefrancis and Hot Seat.
That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com.