A world record for 1¼ miles on a 5/8-mile track was broken in last year’s inaugural edition of the Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS) Championships, and this coming Monday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, the world record at both gaits for the elongated distance, twice around the Pocono 5/8-mile oval, may be in jeopardy in this season’s three $100,000 Championships.
It was Homicide Hunter who lowered the record on the trot to 2:22.2 in winning his GNOS Championship, and the World’s Fastest Trotter returns to Pocono Monday for trainer Ron Burke and Crawford Farms Racing. The gelded son of Mr Cantab starts from post six in a field of seven in the eleventh race, with David Miller driving. 2019 has not been as kind to the Homicide Hunter as last year, when he went 1:48.4 at Lexington to become the fastest-ever at his gait, but the veteran does have a GNOS victory and looked good against lesser foes last time out, so he may be on a bounceback.
The horse to beat in the GNOS starts just outside of him, and is a stablemate – 2017 Horse of the Year Hannelore Hanover, owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Frank Baldachino, and J&T Silva Stables, and to be driven by Yannick Gingras. The daughter of Swan For All has won half of her eight seasonal starts, has beaten 1:51 twice, and was undefeated in two GNOS starts, including setting a Philly track record of 1:52 in winning the final prelim.
The pacing record for 1¼ miles is 2:19.4 (it is not kept separate by sex), and it appears to be under greater threat from the open pacers division, race twelve. The field is replete with high-percentage winners, one being Highalator (post seven, trainer Jenny Bier, driver Richard Still), 11-for-23 in 2019, who won three GNOS prelims, including last week’s, and is the year’s co-fastest horse on a 5/8-mile track over the mile in 1:48. A fellow three-time GNOS winner is None Bettor A (post eight, trainer Andrew Harris, driver George Napolitano Jr. listed), who is 10-for-14 this season, won nine in a row earlier in the year, and controlled a good Open field at Yonkers last time out.
Add in Backstreet Hanover, who lost a five-race winning streak last time out, and Prairie Panther, each of them a winner in half of their twenty seasonal starts, and you have many fast horses who know the way to get to the winners circle – it should be fascinating to see which one in the full field of nine will be able to work out the winning trip.
The #1-ranked harness horse, pacing mare Shartin N, is sticking to her intermittent racing pattern, so she is not in the mare pacing Championship (a race where she had a rough trip and faded last year). One distaff who will not regret her absence is the Bettor’s Delight mare Caviart Ally, who is having an excellent season in the shadow of the superstar – in fact, Caviart Ally has not lost a race that Shartin N did not win since “Ally”’s seasonal debut on April 30. She has given Shartin N some notable battles, and she may be in controlling position from post two in the tenth race field of seven for driver Andrew McCarthy, trainer Brett Pelling, and Caviart Farms.
Eclipse Me N, the horse who beat Caviart Ally in her 2019 bow, is still going strong over four months later, and she’ll have the “home field advantage” Monday in that she is trained by Rene Allard, leading trainer at Pocono; Rene’s brother Simon will be driving from post three.
In addition to these three outstanding races for the more seasoned performers, the Monday card will also feature eight $40,000 Championship events for Pennsylvania Stallion Series high preliminary pointwinners. Those races will be featured in a separate release.
Post time for the first of fourteen races at Pocono on Monday is 4 p.m.