July 20-26, 2019
It was a week of extremes in terms of the weather for racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. On Saturday night, action was delayed due to the intense heat. On Monday, torrential rains caused a delay. But all 56 races scheduled for the four racing cards were eventually run, and, despite the somewhat erratic conditions, the action was excellent throughout. The outstanding efforts put forward by the winners of our Weekly Awards is proof of that.
PACER OF THE WEEK: DIXIE STAR N
This mare didn’t begin her racing career till this year at age four, starting with a couple races overseas in her native New Zealand at the tail end of winter. When Dixie Star N arrived in the United States for trainer Peter Tritton, she was a beaten favorite in her first start at Yonkers. But coming to Pocono seems to have unlocked her potential. She carved out a win and two places in three starts with the non-winners of four fillies and mares in the months of June and July.
On Sunday night, she was back at it against that same class, only this time she would have to deal with a #9 post. She also had to deal with Tequila Party, who was coming off an impressive victory in Canada in her last race and was made the 3-5 favorite. Dixie Star N went off at 18-1, but driver Jim Marohn Jr. made sure she was in the mix by sending her to the early lead. Tequila Party then swooped by to take over around the first turn, leaving Dixie Star N in the pocket.
Tequila Party wasn’t granted an easy lead, as Carousel pestered her first-over for much of the back stretch. The only question was whether or not Dixie Star N would have a second move in her after exerting effort early in the mile. She answered that question with a resounding yes, thundering past the tiring Tequila Party to pick up the win by a half-length in 1:53. Not only was it impressive because of the difficult post and the long odds, but the win also stands out for this rising mare as a new career-best time.
Other top pacers this week include: Western Joe (Pat Berry, Christopher Choate), who captured the featured condition pace on Saturday night in 1:49:2; Hitman Hill (Hunter Oakes, Chris Oakes), who went down the road for a condition win on Saturday night in 1:49, the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono; and Sidewalk Dancer (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), who delivered a win in Tuesday night’s featured condition pace for mares in 1:51.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: ARCH CREDIT
The old “fool me once, fool me twice” credo can be applied to this five-year-old gelding trained by Robin DiBenedetto. On July 15, he rallied with Kyle DiBenedetto in the bike to beat an $11,000 condition trotting field at monster odds of 46-1. He was back at it again just five nights later on Saturday, trying to pick up his second victory in the span of a week. Arch Credit left from the #1 post in a field of seven seeking another conquest of the $11,000 condition trotters.
And, once again, he was overlooked at the betting window, although this time he was a more modest long shot at 11-1. The favorite in this race was P L Icabod, who went off at 6-5. Meanwhile, second choice Dirty Secret found the pocket seat. Arch Credit, meanwhile, sat third-in. As anyone who has ever watched harness racing on a 5/8-mile oval knows, that trip can either be very, very good or very, very bad, depending on how the outer flow develops and how the inside horses in front hang together.
In this case, it couldn’t have worked out any better for Arch Credit. He managed to squeeze through a small window on the inside passing lane and rallied under DiBenedetto’s urging. As the line approached, he was just able to nose out P L Icabod for the victory in 1:55. After two straight wins at double-digit odds, it’s doubtful that Arch Credit will get to fool the bettors a third time. But if he does, you know, based on these past two victories, he’ll relish the opportunity.
Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: Say You Do (Tyler Buter, Todd Buter), who came into Pocono on a four-race winning streak and added to it by winning the Sunday night featured condition trot in 1:52:2; Max (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who churned out his second straight condition victory on Sunday night in 1:54; and Alpha D’urzy (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who moved to two-for-two since arriving from Saratoga with a condition win on Sunday night in a career-best 1:54:3.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: GRAPPLE HANOVER
This gelding driven by Wayne Long overcame a #9 post and a sloppy track to beat a condition trotting field on Monday afternoon at 28-1, paying off $59.20 on a $2-win ticket.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: KEVIN WALLIS
The veteran driver has been picking up the pace in recent weeks at Pocono, and he starred on Monday with a driving double in the sloppy conditions.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: ERV MILLER
Miller was able to train back-to-back winners on the Monday card, with both of the trotters involved, Flippen Creek and Grandma Heidi, getting their maiden victories.
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.