With the Breeders Crown in our rear view and November now upon us, it means that we have officially hit the home stretch of the 2013 season at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Before we can wrap things up, we still have a few more weeks of exciting racing action to finish. This past week there were some excellent performances even with the temperatures dropping. Here are the best of those in the Weekly Awards.
PACER OF THE WEEK: HERE WE GO AGAIN
An outstanding field of nine headed to the gate in Saturday night’s featured $25,000 Preferred pace, including several horses who have been on torrid hot steaks. Here We Go Again was one of those horses. He came in off five straight in the money. The 6-year-old gelding from the barn of PJ Fraley had been particularly tough at Pocono, winning back-to-back condition paces in his previous two circuits of the track.
Saturday night was his first try in the Preferred class though, which meant he would be facing the very best pacers on the grounds. Driver Eric Ledford raced him aggressively, setting nasty fractions in the chilly temperatures that seemed destined to catch up with him in the race. Come the stretch, however, he was still winging it.
Things got real tight in the final strides when pocket horse Townslight Hanover, who had been tracking with an excellent trip, came firing. The two pacesetters hit the line together, but it was Here We Go Again who took the photo by a nose. He paced the mile in 1:50, giving him four wins in his last six races and an improving reputation as some of the finest pacers in the East.
Other top pacers include: Easton Bound (Matt Kakaley, Chris Oakes), a fast-improving 3-year-old, who won his second straight condition pace on Friday and third in his last four overall, this one coming in a time of 1:54:1; Keystone Neptune (George Napolitano Jr., Rene Allard), who won his second straight $20,000 claimer, this one in 1:52, giving him five wins in his last eight; and A Sweet Ride (Andrew McCarthy, Aaron Lambert), who chalked up a condition win on Saturday night in 1:49:4, the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: PAULA’S BRADY
This 7-year-old gelding has been one of the most consistent lower-priced trotters at Pocono for much of the meet, and he’s been coming into his best stride of late. He scored back-to-back $10,000 claiming victories in come-from-behind fashion to start off the month of October. In his last race, he started a bit slow, finishing third as an even-money favorite.
He was back at it again on Tuesday night in the same class trying to avenge his loss, this time with Anthony Napolitano in the bike for trainer Scott Osterhout. Paula’s Brady nearly got boxed in on the inside behind the leaders, but Napolitano found him some room behind cover on the outside before the gap closed. He followed that cover until the stretch.
It was an exciting three-way battle for the win in the closing moments. At times Paula’s Brady seemed like he was going to come up just a bit short. But Napolitano coaxed just enough out of him as the line approached for a razor-thin victory in 1:56. That gives him three wins in his last four races, quite the hot stretch for this veteran trotter as the season winds down.
Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Affirmed Action (Mike Simons, John Grasso), whose condition victory on Friday night came in the week’s fastest trotting time of 1:53:4; Schalom G (George Napolitano Jr., Neal Ehrhart), who captured a tough condition trot on Saturday night in 1:55; and Southwind Warsaw (Matt Kakaley, Brewer Adams), who scored a victory in Tuesday night’s featured claiming handicap trot in a career-best 1:54:1.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: TAYLOR C
Despite going off at 31-1, this claiming pacer with Anthony Napolitano in the bike made a couple of speed moves on Friday night and came up a winner for a $65.20 win payout.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ERIC LEDFORD
Ledford doesn’t stop in at Pocono very often, but he might want to be a more frequent visitor after picking up three victories for trainer PJ Fraley on Saturday night.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: PAUL HOLZMAN
Another solid performer from the deep Pocono training community, Holzman had a good week with single wins on Friday and Tuesday.
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
by Jim Bevigila for Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs