May 11-17, 2019
Much of the racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono this past week took place under less-than-ideal weather conditions, thanks to an unusually cold and rainy stretch of weather from Sunday to Tuesday. That didn’t dampen enthusiasm in the least for one of the most exciting weeks of racing we’ve witnessed this year, as the action was spiced up with the Great Northeast Open Series and Pennsylvania All-Stars races for three-year-old colts and geldings pacers. Let’s take a look at the best of the best as we check out the Weekly Awards.
PACER OF THE WEEK: TEQUILA MONDAY
What a year it has been for this five-year-old mare from the Hunter Oakes barn. Tequila Monday came into the $30,000 Great Northeast Open Series race on Sunday night for pacing mares with wins in all five of her races in 2019. Included in those victories was a condition win at Pocono back on April 16. In her previous race, she captured the first leg of the GNO Series with a powerful late move from the pocket at Harrah’s at Philadelphia in 1:51.
On Sunday night, she was made the 4-5 betting favorite leaving from post position #4 in a field of seven. And a powerful field it was, including Bettor Joy N, who was hungry for action after a controversial scratch in Ohio, and Percy Blue Chip, Breeders Crown champ at Pocono in 2018. Bettor Joy N hustled past Tequila Monday for the lead on the first turn, and matters looked a little concerning for Tequila Monday when Bettor Joy N was able to get away with relatively soft fractions on the front end.
In the stretch, Tequila Monday had her chance to take on the leader when the passing lane opened up. With Tyler Buter guiding her home, she absolutely exploded past Bettor Joy N, blowing by with ease to win it by 1 ¼ lengths. The winning time of 1:52:1 was impressive considering that the track was slowed by the sloppy conditions. Now 6 for 6 on the year and already having beaten many of the top competitors in her age group, Tequila Monday seems poised for a legendary season.
Other top pacers this week include: Nine Ways (George Napolitano Jr., Antonia Storer), whose third straight condition win on Saturday night came in 1:50, a new career-best and tied for fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono; Maxdaddy Blue Chip (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who moved up in condition to win his second straight on Saturday night, getting it done in 1:50:2; and JM’s Delight (Greg Merton driver and trainer), who won his second condition pace in his last three at Pocono with a victory in the slop on Sunday night in 1:54.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: GUARDIAN ANGEL AS
As was the case with the mares, the field for the #30,000 Great Northeast Open Series for trotters on Sunday night was stacked. Homicide Hunter, defending Breeders Crown champ, was making his first start of the year and his debut for the Ron Burke barn. JL Cruze joined Homicide Hunter as one of two million-dollar earners in the field. La Grange A was coming off back-to-back wins at The Meadowlands, while Pappy Go Go had earlier in the season posted the fastest trotting time in the Pocono meet with a 1:52.
But it was Guardian Angle AS, leaving from the #5 post in a field of eight, who was made the 3-5 betting favorite. The 5-year-old stallion was coming off a 2018 which saw him earn a robust $243,966. His first start of 2019 was only a fourth-place finish, but considering it came against brutal competition at The Meadowlands and that he had to deal with a second-tier post, it wasn’t bad at all. On Sunday night, he made a quick move to the lead on the front stretch with Tim Tetrick in the bike.
On the back stretch, La Grange A came flying at the leader first-over. But Guardian Angel AS, trained by Anette Lorentzon, calmly rebuffed that challenge. In the stretch, he effortlessly opened up the lead and ended up coming home a winner by 3 ¾ lengths over La Grange As, with most of the rest of the field was well back. The winner trotted the mile in 1:53:1 in the slop, making it all look ridiculously easy despite the high caliber of the field.
Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Mass Production (Scott Zeron, Rick Zeron), who managed to match a career-best time of 1:54:4 in a condition win on Sunday night despite the sloppy conditions; Tight Lines (Jeff Gregory driver and trainer), who followed up a condition win at Harrah’s with one at Pocono on Sunday night in the slop with a time of 1:54:1; and Sylvesterameicait (Anthony Napolitano, Bob Baggitt Jr.), whose win in a condition on Monday on a sloppy track in 1:55:4 was the fastest trot of the day by almost four seconds.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: RED MAPLE LANE
Under the guidance of driver Matt Romano, this trotter led every step of the way in a condition on Tuesday afternoon at 31-1, paying off $64.80 on a $2 win ticket.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR
George Nap just keeps plowing through the competition, extending his lead in the Pocono driving colony with another big week that was highlighted by five wins on Saturday night.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: ANTONIA STORER
Storer has been winning at an impressive rate with limited starters at Pocono, as evidenced by a training double on Saturday night with Nine Ways and Rock The Town.
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.