Trainer Ron Burke and driver Matt Kakaley teamed up to win two of the three $25,000 elimination divisions of the Max Hempt Memorial for three-year-old colt pacers at Pocono Downs Saturday.
The first division saw Kakaley leave and get a perfect trip with 8-1 long shot At Press Time. They were following pacesetter Limelight Beach (David Miller), who was pressured early by Mattamerican (George Napolitano, Jr.) to the half mile in :54.2 after an opening quarter mile in a blazing :25.4.
In the backstretch Corey Callahan moved three-wide with race favorite Always B Miki, figuring as most did, that they could clear to the lead with ease but that was not happening and then Always B Miki interfered with horses which upset the field.
After the three-quarters in 1:21 it was a two-horse race to the wire but At Press Time has such great cover he came on to win by one length over Limelight Beach in a lifetime best 1:48.2. Always B Miki was third but placed fifth and thus out of the final. Allstar Partner (Tim Tetrick) was placed third to make the final.
“They were going pretty good up front,” Said Matt Kakaley, “The first quarter was in :25.4. We had won here before in a sire stakes in 1:49. He kinda of surprised me in 1:48.2. He is as good as any in here.”
Sired by Western Terror, it was the fifth win this year for At Press Time. He is owned by the Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi and paid $18.40 to win.
All Bets Off and Kakaley also got a dream two-hole trip in his division and one by one and one-quarter lengths in 1:48.3. Cammikey (Brian Zendt) was second with first-over Sometimes Said (John Campbell) third.
Doo Wop Hanover and driver Brian Sears shot out of the starting gate like a canon and cut early fractions of :25.2, :53.1 and 1:20.3 and looked really good until the top of the stretch.
It was then that Kakaley sent All Bets Off to the passing lane and they shot up the rail to victory lane.
“I just wanted to put my horse up close,” Matt Kakaley said of All Bets Off, “Brian (Sears) was rolling along up front and I was kinda worried around the last turn because Brian’s horse was all done. When I got him to the passing lane he just exploded. He really wasn’t supposed to win as Brian’s horse just stopped.
“It’s not a tough decision on who I will drive in the final next week,” Kakaley said, “All Bets Off. It was an easy decision to make.”
The final division saw driver Dave Miller and McWicked put on a “wicked” display of speed and ability.
With Bushwacker (Ron Pierce) leaving hard for the lead with Stevensville (Tim Tetrick) on his back, there was no place to go but to the front for McWicked. After the opening panel in :26.1, Miller had to press McWicked on only to get stung by Piere and Bushwacker to the half in :53.1.
But once on top the race was history as McWicked opened up on the field and won by five and three-quarter lengths in 1:48. His time was just one-fifth of a second off of the world record. Bushwacker held for second with Stevensville third to round out the finalists.
“He really impressed me tonight very much,” said David Miller on McWicked. “I was a little worried before the half but he got to the lead. I tried to give him a rest up the backside but once we got to the top of the stretch he took off when I asked him. He is just awesome. It’s a tough race next week. I hope we get a good draw and hope things work our way.”
Trained by Casie Coleman for the S S G Stables of North Boston, NY, it was the third win this season for McWicked and a lifetime mark for the son of McArtle who paid 2.40 to win.
By Steve Wolf and Brian McEvoy, for Harnesslink.com