Day At The Track

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

01:42 AM 11 Sep 2014 NZST
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Billy Flynn, harness racing
Undefeated Billy Flynn and driver Brett Miller
Curtis Salonick Photo

Pennsylvania Championship night is always one to which we look forward at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. All summer long, we get to watch the best young pacers and trotters compete in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action, and only the finest of those get to reach the finals. This year Pocono hosted the 2-year-old championships, four stakes races separated by gender and gait and each carrying a lofty purse of $260,000.

For a little extra spice, the night also included a pair of $50,000 invitational races for older horses, one of which allowed us to honor a standout performer who was taken from us far too soon. That's a lot of action, so let's get right to the performances.

ADIEU TO THE ALMOST SUMMER PACE

Yes, summer is fading from us fast, but 4-year-old stallion Sunfire Blue Chip is just warming up. Up against a field that included seven-figure earners Golden Receiver and Bolt The Duer, Sunfire Blue Chip, with Yannick Gingras in the bike for Jimmy Takter, followed up three straight wins in New York with an overpowering performance on the front end for a 3 ½-length win in 1:49:3.

2-YEAR-OLD PACING FILLIES CHAMPIONSHIP

Gingras continued his big night with a win aboard Southwind Roulette, who came into the night with wins in four of her five lifetime races. She got a challenge in the stretch from her stablemate Kays Dragon Lady, who closed to within a half-length win at the line but couldn't get to Southwind Roulette. She came home in 1:52:3. Trainer Ron Burke produced the top three finishers in this division.

2-YEAR-OLD TROTTING FILLIES CHAMPIONSHIP

Wild Honey had swept the preliminary legs of his group, but the filly had never dealt with a post as far outside as her #7 hole on Saturday night. She had also never lost the lead in that winning streak like she did in the championship to an aggressive move by Speak To Me on the front stretch. Yet Gingras, this time teaming up with Takter, didn't panic and neither did his filly, who retook the lead on the final turn and trotted away to win by two lengths in 1:54:2.

2-YEAR-OLD TROTTING COLTS AND GELDINGS CHAMPIONSHIP

Billy Flynn, named after the character from the hit Broadway and movie musical Chicago, had flashed all that jazz in winning the first six starts of his career. He was only mid-pack early on in Saturday night's final, but once he kicked into gear for driver Brett Miller, there was no stopping him. Trained by Staffan Lind, Billy Flynn, who will looks the horse to beat in this division come Breeders Crown time, rolled away from his competitors to win by 2 ¾ lengths in 1:55:2.

2-YEAR-OLD PACING COLTS AND GELDINGS CHAMPIONSHIP

In the tightest race of the night, Yankee Bounty, unbeaten after six career starts for trainer Burke, faced pressure on the front end, leaving him vulnerable to pocket horse Tomy Terror. Tomy Terror actually briefly took the lead in the stretch, but Gingras, who else, somehow coaxed more out of Yankee Bounty in the final strides to surge past by his foe by a nose in 1:50:3, a new track record for two-year-old pacing geldings on a surface listed in good condition on a rainy night.

THE MODERN FAMILY TROT

Modern Family was an exceptional trotter who came up with big wins against elite competition at several tracks in his career, including some impressive victories at Pocono. Following a race in Canada this summer, he died suddenly, a great tragedy to not just those horsemen who took such wonderful care of him but also to those racing fans who were lucky enough to witness his talent and courage on the track.

This standout trotter was honored on Saturday night with a race that lived up to his lofty standards. At the top of the stretch just about every horse in the top-notch field had a chance still to win. But Gingras, his magic touch on the night impeccable, managed to squeak Wishing Stone, a 7-year-old warrior from the Burke barn, through a small hole in between horses in the stretch for a rallying win of 1:52:4. It was a fitting, poignant end to a spectacular night of racing, one which the spectators, yours truly happily included, won't soon forget.

That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.

by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs

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