May 18-24, 2019
This week’s action at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono contained our first taste of both Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and Pennsylvania Stallion Series action, while the Great Northeast Open series continued as well with the male pacers on Saturday night. There was a little bit of everything for the faithful on tap, including sudden thunderstorms, a dead heat for a win, and, of course, plenty of fantastic performances. Let’s take a look at the best of those by handing out the Weekly Awards.
PACER OF THE WEEK: ATTA BOY DAN
The hot streak for this 10-year-old gelding began on his way out of the Meadows on April 27 when he finished in a dead heat for the win in a condition pace in 1:51:1. He then came to Pocono and scored in a claiming handicap pace on May 11, winning that one in come-from-behind fashion in 1:51:4. On Saturday night he was at it again in that $30,000 to $40,000 claiming handicap group, only this time he was making his first start for trainer Hunter Oakes after he had been claimed in the previous race.
In this race, Atta Boy Dan was saddled with the outside post in a field of seven, which was probably why he was only the 8-5 second choice on the board. Driver Eric Goodell decided he wanted his horse on the lead, and the gelding was able to achieve that with a swooping move around the first turn. On the back stretch, Atta Boy Dan faced down a first-over challenge from 6-5 betting favorite Dancin Hill, which he rebuffed with extreme prejudice.
The work from Atta Boy Dan was far from done, as Concur and Boogie Nights, a pair of long shots who had been saving ground, both came charging up to challenge in the stretch. But the veteran answered the call by gutting out the win by 1 ¼ lengths over Concur in 1:51:4. At age ten, a lot of standardbreds are winding down. But Atta Boy Dan is on a blistering stretch right now and is showing no signs of giving his opponents a break and letting up.
Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: Rock The Town (George Napolitano Jr., Antonia Storer), who moved up in class to win a claiming handicap pace on Saturday night, his second straight victory since arriving from Delaware, in a career-best 1:50:4; Rodeo Rock (Eric Goodell, Robert Cleary), who tore it up for a victory in the Great Northeast Open pacing series on Saturday night in 1:49, a new career-best and the fastest pacing time of the 2019 Pocono meet to date; and Captain Crunch (Scott Zeron, Nancy Johansson), who returned to start off his three-year-old season at the scene of his Breeders Crown triumph and put on a show in a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes victory on Sunday night, matching a career-best with a 1:49:1 mile in the slop.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: DI OGGI
Sunday night is usually the night when trotters take center stage at Pocono, but this past week, the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and Stallion Series for three-year-old pacers highlighted the action. Still, there were some outstanding trots that would normally have been features, including a condition trot with a purse of #17,500 early in the evening. It was a top field of seven, six of which have been campaigning regularly at Pocono this year with high levels of success.
But it was Di Oggi, who had spent most of his time this year at the Meadowlands for trainer Ake Svanstedt, who went off as the 4-5 favorite. He came in on a streak of three second-place finishes, which included his lone start at Pocono this year when he came up short of Tag Up And Go. In this mile, Di Oggi, a five-year-old stallion, left from post position #5 but didn’t get away quickly. He was forced to grind away first-over in the sloppy conditions, dueling away with Tyson, who set the pace.
After wearing down Tyson, Di Oggi, also driven by Svanstedt, then had to deal with Lucky Colby, a 55-1 long shot who hugged the pylons most of the race and then came on strong late in the mile with a big move. But Di Oggi was up to the test, holding tight to beat Lucky Colby by a neck. His winning time of 1:54:1 was just shy of his career-best and was the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono, despite the fact that it came on a sloppy track.
Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: CR Blazin Beauty (Anthony Napolitano, Jose Godinez), a mare who beat the boys in a condition trot on Sunday night in 1:55:4 in the off-going; Don (Mike Simons driver and trainer), who captured a tough condition trot on Sunday night in the slop despite it being just his second start of the year, matching a career-best of 1:54:3 in the process; and Explosivebreakaway (Tom Jackson, Fred Grant), who delivered a career-best performance by winning a condition trot on Tuesday in 1:54:2.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: MYSTICAL WYNN
This trotter came rocketing up the passing lane late with Mike Simons in the bike to win a condition at 35-1, paying off a hefty $73.80 on a $2-win ticket.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANDREW McCARTHY
McCarthy was on top of his game in his two appearances last week at Pocono, winning five times, including a pair of Stallion Series victories on Sunday night.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: TONY ALAGNA
Alagna seems to always have a deep roster of young talent, and that was proven on Sunday night when his horses took two of the four Stallion Series divisions for three-year-old pacers.
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.