October 5-11, 2019
One of the fun things about the racing action at The Downs at Mohegan Sun is how, year after year, we see a lot of the same horses coming back to perform well. That allows the fans to develop a relationship with these performers over time, a relationship that can really intensify with horses that race effectively to the point where they approach 10 or so years old. Case in point: the horse who leads off the Weekly Awards this week and has been doing damage at Pocono for years and years.
PACER OF THE WEEK: SCOTT ROCKS
It wouldn’t have felt right if we made it through an entire season at Pocono without Scott Rocks capturing Pacer of the Week honors. The nine-year-old gelding has probably won more Saturday night features than any other horse in the track’s history, and he just keeps rolling. He picked up a win in the featured $21,500 condition pace on September 28 in a season-best 1:49:3, and he was right back at it again last Saturday night in that class, leaving from an outside post in a field of six.
Even though he was coming off the win in the same class, and even though he’s proven himself again and again at the Pocono over, Scott Rocks, trained by Hunter Oakes, went off as the 9-5 second choice on the board. The favorite was Western Joe, an equally classy pacer who was coming off two straight wins at Pocono, the previous one in a scorching 1:48:2. It figured to be a showdown between these two, and that’s just what materialized.
Western Joe set the pace after taking the lead from Scott Rocks on the first turn. The fractions that he set were quick but reasonable, but he was never able to open up any kind of margin on Scott Rocks. In the stretch, George Napolitano Jr., who was been the driver for the vast majority of the Pocono wins for Scott Rocks, tipped him to the outside. Scott Rocks nosed out Western Joe in a thrilling stretch duel for the victory in 1:50:2, adding to the incredible record he has forged at his favorite track of all.
Other top pacers this week include: Clarebear (Eric Carlson, Michael Russo), who moved up in class on Tuesday night for her second straight victory at Pocono, this time capturing the featured condition pace for mares in 1:52:1; Burning Midnight (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), who moved up in class for his second straight condition win on Saturday night, getting it done in 1:52:3; and Twin B Tuffenuff (Anthony Napolitano, Ron Burke), who captured his second straight condition pacing win on Sunday night, getting it done in 1:50:1.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: JOEY PRO
This five-year-old gelding has really taken to Pocono since shipping in from New York. He reeled off back-to-back condition wins immediately upon arrival, both from unforgiving #8 post positions. First Joey Pro, trained by John Hallett, handled an $8,500 condition group on the front end to win on September 22 in 1:55:3. He followed it up by beating the $11,000 condition trotters a week later in a new career-best time of 1:54:4, this time using a pocket trip to get it done.
On Sunday night at Pocono, Joey Pro stepped up in class again, this time taking on a $14,000 condition class from the #7 post in a field of eight. Moving up the condition ladder is never easy, but it was especially daunting this time around as the field contained a pair of million-dollar earners in Zooming and DW’s NY Yank. The latter set the pace as the 6-5 favorite, while Joey Pro, at 8-1, found the pocket seat early.
DW’s NY Yank had to endure a strong first-over challenge to his lead from Archibald. Meanwhile, Anthony Napolitano waited patiently for his chance with Joey Pro before finally getting a chance to cut him loose in the passing lane. Joey Pro surged even with DW’s NY Yank and then stepped past, getting up to win by three parts of a length in the process. On top of winning his third straight, he also reset his career mark with a mile of 1:54:3.
Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: TSM Photo Bugger (Fern Paquet Jr., Karen Fread), who churned out his second straight condition win on Sunday night, this one in 1:54:4; Hill Of A Horse (Marcus Miller, Erv Miller), whose condition win on Sunday night in 1:54:3 was a career-best; and Boss Du Fosse (George Napolitano Jr., Mark Silva), who followed up back-to-back wins at Harrah’s at Philadelphia with a claiming handicap victory at Pocono on Saturday night in 1:55:2.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: BUTTER TOFFEE
You might say it was a sweet victory for this trotter trained and driven by Alex Kavoleff, especially at odds of 21-1 on a Monday condition victory for a $2-win payout of $45.20.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.
As the season comes to close, George Nap, well on his way to another Pocono driving title, is intensifying the pace, as evidenced by his eight-win night on Saturday.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: MARK SILVA
Silva enjoyed an excellent weekend at Pocono, following up a training double on Saturday night with another victory on Sunday night in the featured condition trot with Scirocco Rob.
That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com.