With his two qualifying victories at Pocono before opening his 2011 campaign, One More Laugh, 2009 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Horse of the Year, and Meadowlands Pace conqueror of 2010 Harness Racing Horse of the Year Rock N Roll Heaven, has raised his percentage of staying flat in the area of his 'special' Pocono 'trouble spot' to over 50 percent in all lifetime trips behind Bob Moran's starting gate.
For as-yet-undetermined reasons, One More Laugh has had major difficulty maintaining his composure along the Pocono backstretch, just past the starting line/5-8th pole. Four times in his career One More Laugh has gone offstride within a 50-foot area of his trouble spot. And they weren't minor races either-- the Reynolds and a Pennsylvania Sire Stake at two, and the Hempt final and the Breeders Crown final last year. Perhaps more amazingly, One More Laugh repaired his mistake in the PA Sire Stake on August 28, 2009, coming from last to pace home first!
-- 3 for 3 in Pocono qualifiers: 6-11-09, 4-7-11 (track sloppy), and 4-14-11, all between 10:30 a.m. and 12:10 p.m.
-- That time of day listing might have relevance according to some, as they think perhaps One More Laugh is "seeing" something in that same area, perhaps a shadow or a reflected light. (I have stood in that exact spot and looked down the track at Pocono, and I saw nothing, but I'm not as smart/sensitive as a horse.) Here are selected facts from his PcD parii-mutuelraces that may or may not explain the "Pocono jinx":
7-15-09, 5:03 p.m., Reynolds, broke at the start and was far back, second lifetime start, sloppy track.8-28-09, 6:48 p.m., PA Sire Stakes, broke at the start but still came back and won, sloppy track.5-15-10, 5:47 p.m., Hempt elim, flat and won handily.5-22-10, 9:37 p.m., Hempt final, broke at the start, recovered and was first-over when he broke past the five-eighths, far back.10-2-10, 6:52 p.m., Breeders Crown elimination, flat and won safely.10-9-10, 10:38 p.m., Breeders Crown final, broke first-over past five-eighths and was far back (but semi-responsible forgoing 1:19.4 to the three-quarters for the first sub-1:20 three-quarter-pole time on a five-eighths-mile track).
Trainer Ray Schnittker reportedly has not figured out what bothers One More Laugh at that particular point at Pocono, and if you can figure out from the data above, 1. you're awfully clever and2. please go tell Mr. Schnittker.
by Jerry Connors, for the Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission