It was an extremely busy racing week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Several other nearby tracks went on hiatus recently, so many of the horses from those tracks came to Pocono to keep up their schedules. In fact, both of the horses who captured our top Weekly Awards were shippers from other tracks. Let's hand out those awards and honor all of the other top performers of both the equine and human variety from the week that was at MSPD.
PACER OF THE WEEK: SCOTT ROCKS
One of the most fun divisions all year long at Pocono has been the non-winners of four races pacers, ages three and four years old. These horses are still only a relatively short way into their racing careers but are nonetheless at an age where they start to really come into their best form. Many have performed in tough stakes or racing series, so they are really primed when they come into this group, which usually takes center stage on Wednesday nights.
This past Tuesday night, a great showdown in this class took place between two peaking three-year-olds, Scott Rocks and Cadillac Phil. Both are handled by top trainers and both had recently found solid success at Harrah's after coming down from Canada. In their battle at Pocono, Scott Rocks, who had won his previous start, grabbed the engine, while Cadillac Phil settled In The Pocket. By the time the stretch rolled around, this dynamic duo were the only ones who still had a shot at winning.
The stretch duel was a thriller, with both horses all-out and burning down the track at top speed. Scott Rocks, with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike for trainer, came out on top in a tight finish, pacing the mile in a career-best 1:50:2 in the process. That outstanding race was just one more in a long line of instant classics from this ultra-competitive condition grouping.
Other top pacers this week include: Dynamic Youth (, ), a 4-year-old gelding who captured Saturday night's $25,000 Preferred pace in 1:49:2, the fastest time of the week at Pocono; Rick's Crossroads ( , ), a gelding whose victory over the $10,000 claimers on Saturday night was his second straight win and sixth in his last seven races; and B J's Skye (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), whose romping win in a claiming pace for mares on Wednesday night in 1:51:3 was her third win in a row, with two of those victories at Pocono.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: WORLD CUP
There were some excellent trotters lined up for Saturday night's condition trot for non-winners of $23,500 in the last five starts, a race with a $21,000 purse that was the biggest prize for trotters at Pocono this week. Sand Wyndham had won his last start, Keystone Thomas had conquered two in a row, and Luckycharm Hanover had rolled up victories in three of his last four. Throw in outstanding veteran mare Definitely Mamie, who always races well at Pocono, and you had quite the field.
The horse who was made the favorite at 6-5 was World Cup, a 4-year-old stallion from the barn who hadn't managed quite the recent success as some of the others in the field. What he did have going for him was the level of competition he had recently been facing at Harrah's and Harrington, giving him the kind of class that would toughen up for any kind of race.
On Saturday night, World Cup, within the bike, proved his mettle by powering from behind in the stretch for the victory. His winning time of 1:52:4 was not just the best of his career but it was also the fastest trotting time at Pocono for the week. It also pushed him closer to six figures earned in what has been an outstanding 4-year-old season.
Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Martino (George Napolitano Jr.,), who followed up a win at Harrah's with a condition win on Friday night at Pocono in 1:55:2; Waiting On A Woman ( , ), who returned off a win at Tioga to score a condition victory on Wednesday night in 1:54; and Money On My Mind ( , ), who exploded for a condition victory on Friday night in a sharp 1:53.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ABSOLUTELY MICHAEL
In a claiming pace on Tuesday night, Absolutely Michael, within the bike, overcame an outside post and a tough first-over journey to score at 16-1, paying out $35.60 on a $2 win ticket.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.
The meet's leading driver had 43 drives on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night and he won 19 of them. That's pretty much all you need to know about his amazing week.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JAMES EATON
Eaton trained three winners this week, two on Saturday night and one on Wednesday, with all of them coming in rugged condition paces.
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