August 10 to August 16, 2019
This week’s harness racing action at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono was highlighted by stakes action on Sunday night. There were three divisions of Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and four splits of Stallion Series, all for three-year-old filly pacers. It was fun to watch the best in class for that group go at it and there were some sizzling performances, with the Sire Stakes winning effort of Treacherous Reign in 1:49:3 being the fastest of the lot. On top of that, the overnight racing at Pocono was stellar as usual, as you’ll be able to tell from this edition of the Weekly Awards.
PACER OF THE WEEK: SPRINGSTEEN
We have a lot of fun with this horse because of his rocking namesake, but the talent is pretty impressive as well. The highlight of his three-year-old season in 2018 was an upset win in the Max Hempt Memorial Pace at Pocono. Springsteen has been lightly raced this year by his trainer Rene Allard since facing the toughest aged pacers in the Ben Franklin Pace in June. But he came back off a month layoff with a condition victory in the slop on July 28 in 1:51:2.
That victory came against horses roughly his same age. But on Saturday night, the four-year-old stallion had to go up against a $17,500 condition group with several horses that had a few years more of racing experience. Such a race can often trip up younger horses, but Springsteen still was made the even-money favorite leaving from post position in a field of six. He stayed away from an early speed duel, eventually following the cover of Ideal Feeling.
He didn’t stay behind the cover long, as driver Simon Alllard sent him for a quick three-wide move at about the 5/8-mile marker. Springsteen grabbed the advantage and opened up an insurmountable lead. Without any urging in the lane, he coasted home a winner by 2 ¼ lengths over Black Chevron. The winning time was 1:49, the fastest of the week at Pocono. You can have fun with Springsteen’s name, but there is no denying that he brings the game to match it.
Other top pacers this week include: Beach Memories (Anthony Napolitano, Daniel Maier), who won his second straight claiming handicap pace on Saturday night, getting it done in 1:50:1; Tom’s Arockin (George Napolitano Jr., Antonia Storer), who handled a claiming handicap group on Saturday night in 1:50:2 for his second straight victory; and Artful Bliss (Anthony Napolitano, Marta Piotrow), who continued to dominate the $7,500 claiming group with his third straight victory on Monday in 1:54:3.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: THE LAST CHAPTER
This week’s top trotting purse of $17,500 was on the line in a condition on Sunday night. It attracted some excellent competitors, including million-dollar earner Zooming, Tag Up And Go, who was fresh off an Open win at Tioga, and the talented mare Satin Dancer. But it was The Last Chapter, a five-year-old gelding trained by Eddie Hart, who went off as the 3-2 favorite in the field of nine. The gelding came into the race with a break of his stride in his previous start at the Meadowlands, which was a bit of a cause for concern.
Prior to that break, however, he was hitting the board with consistency, and he hoped to regain that form on Sunday night. Leaving from post position #3, The Last Chapter left nothing to chance. Driver David Miller had him leaving alertly and he assumed the lead before the field made the first turn. Miller then did a nice job rating the pace, which was no easy task considering that Annapolis Hall came at the leader aggressively with a first-over move on the back stretch.
The Last Chapter was able to repel that challenge and still led at the top of the lane. But his work was far from done, as Zooming lurked in the pocket ready to pounce. The energy that the leader saved early in the mile came in handy down the stretch. The gelding trotted home powerfully without ever giving Zooming a real chance to get past. The Last Chapter came home a winner by 1 ¼ lengths in 1:53:3, which was the fastest trotting time turned in at Pocono this week.
Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Yuge (George Napolitano Jr., Ed Lohmeyer), who handled a rugged condition field on Sunday night in 1:54:3; Grandma Heidi (Marcus Miller, Erv Miller), a three-year-old filly who picked up her second win in her last three on Monday with a condition victory in a career-best 1:57:4; and Divine Spirit (Eric Carlson, Brett Pelling), who rallied for a condition win on Tuesday in a career-best 1:54.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ROLLIN ABOUT
Overlooked in a claiming pace from a #9 post position, this gelding defied odds of 65-1 on Saturday night to pick up a victory that paid off $140.20 on a $2-win ticket.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.
The meet’s leading driver became the first driver to pick up 200 wins in the 2019 Pocono campaign with the last of his four victories on Saturday night.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: DANIEL MAIER
The Maier barn has been one of the most productive on the grounds at Pocono in recent weeks, and the hits kept coming on Saturday night with a training double.
That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com.