June 8-14, 2019
Once again it was a bit of mixed bag weather-wise for the past racing week at The Downs at Mohegan Sun. But the good news is that, for the first time all season, we were able to enjoy some big-purse races in something less than a total downpour. Those races included another stellar performance from Highalator in the Great Northeast Open pacing series on Saturday and four divisions of the Pennsylvania All-Stars for three-year-old trotting fillies on Sunday. Let’s take a look at who earned top honors in our Weekly Awards.
PACER OF THE WEEK: SHADOW CAT
As a three-year-old in 2018, Shadow Cat battled his way to just over $100,000 in earnings. His four-year-old campaign has been more of the same, especially when he’s been at Pocono. The four-year-old gelding, trained by Jennifer Bongiorno, won here back on April 21. After four unsuccessful starts at Harrah’s and The Meadowlands, Shadow Cat returned on June 2 and put together an impressive victory in a condition pace for winners of four but no more than seven lifetime races, winning in a career-best 1:50:3 in the slop.
On Sunday night he faced that same field again in an effort to capture the winner’s share of the $17,000 purse. Only this time around, he had to deal with a much tougher post position, leaving from the #8 spot in a field of nine. But the game plan didn’t change for driver George Napolitano Jr. He made sure that Shadow Cat rumbled towards the front of the pack early. The gelding made the lead as they straightened out on the front stretch for the first time.
Shadow Cat received a breather in the second quarter, which readied him for the second half of the mile, where he was an absolute powerhouse. He paced the final two quarters in 54 seconds even, keeping an excellent group of pursuers at bay. The gelding paced home two lengths in front of second-place Youcaniknow, resetting his career-best with a mile of 1:50 and picking up his second straight win overall, his third straight in front of the Pocono faithful.
Other top pacers this week include: Sweet Lucy Lou (Andrew McCarthy, Robert Cleary), a three-year-old filly who followed up her maiden win with a condition victory on Monday afternoon in the slop, setting a new career-best of 1:53:4 in the process; Alex Tye (Tyler Buter, Amber Buter), a three-year-old gelding who moved up the condition ladder to win his second straight at Pocono on Sunday night, posting a new career mark of 1:51:4; and Cashendash Hanover (Marcus Miller, Bruce Clarke), who switched barns but still racked up his second straight claiming handicap win on Sunday night, getting it done in 1:52:2.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: MILLIES POSSESSION
At this point of the season, most of the three-year-old horses doing the damage in stakes competition are those who have established themselves as two-year-olds as well. That kind of experience usually comes in handy when you’re facing top-flight competition, such as those three-year-old fillies battling it out in Pennsylvania All-Stars action on Sunday night. Yet Millies Possession, unraced as a two-year-old, went off as a 2-5 favorite in her $30,000 All-Stars division on Sunday night.
Why was that the case? Well the filly, trained by Jim Campbell, won the first four starts of her career. The last three of those, including a victory at Pocono in her previous start on May 26, came against Pennsylvania Sire Stakes competition. That’s a pretty good record no matter when you start racing. On Sunday night, leaving from post position #2 in a field of seven, Millies Possession started a bit slow, but brushed to the lead by the half-mile marker.
It was by no means an easy lead, as she faced outside pressure for most of the second half of the mile. But Millies Possession, with help from driver Dexter Dunn, never seemed to be pressing. She stayed out in front all the way to the line, eventually winning by 1 ½ lengths over Jezzys Legacy in an effortless 1:54:1. Now with five wins in five races, four of them for stakes and the last two at Pocono, Millies Possession is clearly making up for lost time.
Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: Asiago (Yannick Gingras, Per Engblom), a filly whose All-Stars win at Pocono on Sunday night in 1:55:3 was her second straight stakes win at the track; Star Studded Cast (Anthony Napolitano, Carmine Fusco), who defeated a claiming handicap group on Monday in the slop in 1:57 for his second straight victory at Pocono; and Lord Cromwell (Marcus Miller, Edward Hart), who moved up in class on Saturday night and managed his second straight victory, scoring in 1:53:4.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: MARCO BEACH
With John Kakaley in the bike, this three-year-old gelding overcame a tough outside post to win a condition pace on Monday in the slop at 30-1, paying off $63.60 on a $2-win ticket.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: YANNICK GINGRAS
Big races seem to suit Gingras, as he proved on Sunday night when he captured two of the four of divisions of Pennsylvania All-Stars, winning with The Ice Dutchess and Asiago.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: CARMINE FUSCO
The Fusco barn has really been heating up in recent weeks, and this past week it produced winners in three of the four racing nights.
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.