June 1 to June 7, 2019
This past week at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono featured some of the most extensive stakes action that we’ve seen so far this year. On Saturday and Sunday nights, Pocono hosted Pennsylvania All-Stars, Pennsylvania Sire Stakes, Stallion Series and Great Northeast Open Series races. Even though the weather didn’t quite cooperate (again), the action was still scorching. Let’s take a look at our top performers as we hand out the Weekly Awards.
PACER OF THE WEEK: RECLAMATION
What a streak this four-year-old mare from the Ron Burke barn has put together over the past few months. After finishing second in her first start of the season at the Meadowlands, she ripped off three straight wins there in various condition groups. She then arrived at Pocono and the winning continued. In featured condition paces for mares on May 21 and May 28, she captured victories with winning times of 1:50:4 and 1:50, the latter a career-best.
On Tuesday night, she was at it again in the $17,500 feature. In her previous victories at Pocono, she had shown versatility, winning once on the lead and once in come-from-behind fashion. On Tuesday night while leaving from post position #3 in a field of nine as a 1-9 favorite, Reclamation was sent to the front around the first turn by driver Matt Kakaley. She set honest fractions from there, quick but not out of control, and still held the advantage at the top of the stretch.
As has been the case with most of her victories during this streak, Reclamation didn’t blow anybody away. Both Clear Idea and Sidewalk Dancer came at her late with closing kick. But Reclamation once again stood up to the challenge, holding off Clear Idea to win by a half-length in 1:51:2. This mare simply doesn’t like to lose, as evidenced by her 13 wins in 21 career races. After her Tuesday night triumph, she is clearly at the head of the distaff class at Pocono.
Other top pacers this week include: Demi Hill (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), a filly who picked up her third straight condition won at Pocono in the slop on Sunday night, matching her career-best of 1:51:3 in the process; Beach Boogie (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), whose career-best 1:49:2 mile in a condition victory at Pocono on Saturday night was the fastest time posted this week; and Alii Nui (Marcus Miller, Erv Miller), a three-year-old filly whose victory on Saturday night in Pennsylvania All-Stars action gave hew two straight wins at Pocono, each of which came in 1:51:3, her career mark.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: EXPLOSIVEBREAKAWAY
Sunday night’s action at Pocono was highlighted by three divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for three-year-old trotting colts and geldings, with each race carrying a hefty purse of $56,868. And you could have made the argument that the showcase horse coming into the night in those races was Osterc, the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion at age two and winner of stakes races in his first two starts of 2019 in impressive fashion.
Explosivebreakaway has been impressive as well, just maybe not against the same caliber of competition as Osterc. The three-year-old gelding trained by Fred Grant came into Sunday night with four wins and three second-place finishes in seven career races. He also won a non-winners of five condition at Pocono in his first start of the year by seven lengths on May 21. And, in the Sire Stakes race on Sunday, he found himself nestled in the pocket behind Osterc, who was a 1-2 favorite.
Osterc faced some heat on the front end from first-over Summit In Sight, but the fractions never got away from him. Still, as he rounded the final turn, he made a break of stride. That left Explosivebreakaway and Summit In Sight to battle it out from there. Driver Tom Jackson summoned more energy out of Explosivebreakaway, who trotted away from Summit In Sight to win by 2 ¾ lengths at 9-1. His winning time of 1:54:2 in the slop matched his career-best from his previous race.
Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: Crystal Fashion (Tim Tetrick, Jim Campbell), who handled the field in the Great Northeast Open series with ease on Sunday night, coasting to a comfortable win in the slop in 1:53; Marseille (Ake Svanstedt driver and trainer), who made his maiden win a memorable won, capturing a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes race on Sunday night in 1:53:3, fastest time of the three divisions; and Frankie Mullins (Marcus Miller, Bruce Clarke), who followed up a win at Tioga with a condition victory on Tuesday afternoon at Pocono in 1:54:4, a new lifetime mark.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: BLUE AND BOLD
This trotting gelding used the Stallion Series as the setting for his upset, winning a division on Sunday night with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike at 19-1, paying off $40.40 on a $2-win ticket.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MARCUS MILLER
The stakes competition brought out the best in Marcus this week, as he captured an All-Stars race with Alii Nui and a Stallion Series win with Nextroundsonme at odds of 7-1 and 8-1, respectively.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: ANDREW HARRIS
Harris came up with a couple big victories on the Sunday night program, winning a Sire Stakes with White Tiger and a Stallion Series division with Blue And Bold.
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.