Day At The Track

Great Northeast Finals to attract top performers

01:23 AM 30 Aug 2019 NZST
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WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS) hosts its final 2019 preliminaries this weekend, with $30,000 events at both Pocono (Saturday evening, open pacers) and Philly (Sunday afternoon, open trotters and mare pacers).

This will be the final chance for horses to earn points so that they might be eligible for their $100,000 Great Northeast Open Series Championships, all held at 1¼ miles. These Championships will be held on Monday, September 9, at Pocono on a twilight card that also will feature all eight Pennsylvania Stallion Series Championships.

One of the hottest horses in all of harness racing, Backstreet Shadow, looks to extend his winning string since being acquired by the Burke Brigade to six in Saturday's open pace at Pocono, but he'll have to do it starting from the outside post nine. A winner in GNOS races in his last two starts, Backstreet Shadow currently sits ninth in the standings, and he will need a high finish and little impression by "bubble" horses just beneath him in the point total to make the Championship. He'll be driven by Matt Kakaley this Saturday.

Sitting third and sixth in the standings, and with very solid chances of making the Championship, are respectively Scott Rocks (post five, driver George Napolitano Jr.) and Highalator (post two, driver Richard Still). Both horses have shown a long-term affinity for the Pocono oval, and their connections of course hope from sharp performances from them approaching their GNOS Championships. Horses such as The Wall, Prairie Panther, and Donttellmeagain are on the points "bubble" going into their contests and could earn their way into their Championships.

The GNOS action then shifts 100 miles southward to Philly on Sunday afternoon, where the first of the two events to take to the track will be the open trot. The Burke Brigade holds a solid position heading into this final prelim: Homicide Hunter, the World's Fastest Trotter at 1:48.4, is #1 in the pointstandings as well as the event's defending champion. He bypassed the GNOS race for a 1:53.2 victory against good conditioned foes at Philly on Thursday.

But a nice "backup" GNOS position for the Brigade is the 2017 Horse of the Year, the mare Hannelore Hanover. She succeeded in her only GNOS start this year, and the winner of $2.9M in her career will be starting from post three for driver Yannick Gingras, with a high finish all but assuring her enough points for the Championship.

Hannelore's main competition may come from Rich And Miserable (post two, driver Tyler Buter), who has won 9 of 13 races this season. He's fifth in the standings, including a GNOS victory, and he can get himself a spot in the chase for $100,000 at his home track of Pocono with a good race here.

In the GNOS mares pace, the #1-ranked horse in the current Top Ten polls, Shartin N, is perfect in two GNOS starts this year, high-up in the standings, and to boot she has drawn the rail in a field of seven for trainer Jim King Jr. and driver Tim Tetrick as she goes for her 14th win of the campaign in her 15th start. She will likely be a heavy favorite off of her near-invincible form.

Two of her main rivals, Caviart Ally (driver Andrew McCarthy) and Apple Bottom Jeans (driver Corey Callahan), in contrast have drawn the outside posts six and seven, respectively, but both (especially the latter) have shown world-class speed and are very likely to be forward factors. If the more-established females mix it up a bit too much, Write Me A Song, another Burke horse to be driven by Yannick Gingras from post two, comes in after two straight victories at Yonkers, and figures to be placed right behind the frontsteppers.

The GNOS events are slotted for race ten at Pocono Saturday, with Sunday's action at Philly in race seven (trot) and eleven (mares pace).

From the PHHA, in conjunction with The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and Harrah's Philadelphia racetracks

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