September 21-24, 2019
There is no denying that we are coming into the home stretch at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono for the 2019 harness racing season. Soon we’ll be taking a look at the horses and humans that are deserving of year-end honors. In the meantime, we still have a full schedule of overnight racing taking place each week, providing plenty of candidates for the Weekly Awards.
PACER OF THE WEEK: FEELING CAM LUCKY
His name may signify good fortune, but for most of 2019, this seven-year-old gelding from the barn of trainer Gilberto Garcia-Herrera hasn’t exactly enjoyed much of it. Coming into an $11,000 condition pace on September 14, Feeling Cam Lucky had raced 25 times this year and had hit the board in 15 of those starts. But despite being in contention so often, he was winless coming into that start, this despite racking up 11 wins in 2018.
Feeling Cam Lucky finally rectified that with a rallying win that night in 1:50:4. Given that shot of confidence, the gelding stepped up in class to meet a $12,000 condition pacing group on Saturday night. Leaving from post position #4 in a field of seven at middling odds of 7-2, he flashed excellent early speed to grab the lead. The pace was slowed down for the second panel, but then Feeling Cam Lucky, with George Napolitano Jr. urging him on, provided a burst on the back stretch, ticking off the third quarter in 27 seconds even.
That strategy shook everybody in the field except 21-1 shot Electric Western, who stayed close in the pocket. For a moment as Electric Western surged, it looked like Feeling Cam Lucky might be in line for another hard-luck loss. But the taste of winning he picked up in his previous start seemed to help, as he fought off Electric Western for the victory in 1:50:2 by 1 ¼ lengths. He has a way to go to catch up with his numbers from last year, but Feeling Cam Lucky might be ready for a winning streak now that fortune has started to turn his way.
Other top pacers this week include: Sweet Rock (Eric Carlson, Wayne Givens), who rallied for a victory in Saturday night’s featured condition pace in 1:50:1; Rockin In the Hills (Anthony Napolitano, Jose Godinez), who scored a win in a condition on Saturday night in 1:49:4, a new career-best and the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono; and Don’t Think Twice A (Anthony Napolitano, Andrew Harris), who captured Tuesday night’s featured condition pace for mares in a career-best 1:51:1.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SCIROCCO ROB
Scirocco Rob has been alternating between sizzling miles and breaks of stride of late at Pocono. He came into the $17,500 condition trot on Sunday night with breaks in two of his previous races. Also included in that stretch for the four-year-old gelding was a hard-luck second at the $17,500 level and a victory at the $14,000 level in 1:54:1. Considering the win was in his previous start in Sunday night, it was understandable if some of those bettors who made him an even-money favorite bit their nails while they watched the race.
After all, if Scirocco Rob had followed his recent pattern, he would have gone off-stride. Instead, he started fast, then allowed Whats The Word to speed on by and take the early lead. Throughout the mile, Whats The Word stayed aggressive on the lead, putting up fractions that made it difficult for the rest of the field to stay close without exerting a lot of energy. But Scirocco Rob hung around in his pocket seat, waiting for his moment to move on the leader.
That moment came in the stretch, when driver George Napolitano Jr. tipped him to the outside to go after Whats The Word. The pacesetter was game, but Scirocco Rob, who is trained by Mark Silva, powered past to win it by a half-length in a speedy time of 1:52:1, the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono. Now that he has won two in a row, those worries of inconsistency seem to be in the rear-view for now for this talented gelding.
Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: Lindy’s Big Bang (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who picked up his second straight condition win on Saturday night, scoring in 1:53:1; Inner Peace (George Napolitano Jr., Hunter Oakes), who earned his second straight condition victory on Sunday night with a win in 1:55; and Zooming (Tyler Buter, Amber Buter), the 11-year-old veteran who rallied for a condition win on Tuesday night in 1:54:3.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: BURGUNDY B
This three-year-old filly driven by Eric Carslon snuck up from the pocket to win a condition trot on Monday afternoon at 35-1, paying off $73.40 on a $2 win ticket.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.
The meet’s leading driver seems to be getting stronger as the year progresses, as he rolled to at least four driving wins on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: ROBERT CLEARY
The Cleary barn produced the fastest winning time on Sunday night (with Rebel Rouser) and the featured condition pace winner on Monday night (with Vodka On The Beach.)
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.