Day At The Track

Mohegan Sun Pocono Week in Review

04:23 AM 22 Jun 2018 NZST
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Scott Rocks, harness racing
Scott Rocks was named the Pacer of the Week at Pocono Downs
Curtis Salonick photo

Coming up in this space next week, we'll be providing all of the results and commentary on the eliminations for Sun Stakes Saturday, with the elims on the 23rd of June and the finals coming up the following Saturday. These races will feature a large majority of the sport's finest performers at this time, so there should be a lot to discuss. In the meantime, two horses who know their way around stakes-level competition are at the top of the heap for this edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: SCOTT ROCKS

For the past five years or so, this gelding could be counted on to drop in at Pocono every once in a while to face off against some of the toughest pacers on the grounds, and more often than not he would come out victorious. The difference this year is that his longtime trainer Chris Oakes handed his handling over to his son Hunter. In his first try at Pocono in the 2018 meet on June 9,

Scott Rocks, now age eight, came up just short in a $21,500 condition pace behind Boston Red Rocks, who had to pace the fastest mile of the season at Pocono just to beat him.

On Saturday night, Scott Rocks was back at it, facing off against a group of $17,500 condition pacers for a slight drop in class. As per usual, Scott Rocks came off the gate well, but others were rushing to the lead as well in the early going and through the front stretch. At one point driver George Napolitano Jr. tipped the gelding to the outside for what would have been a second-over journey around the second turn.

But then George decided against it and utilized about a split-second window to tuck Scott Rocks back in at the pylons.

Scott Rocks was still sitting third-in as they rounded the final turn, and it looked like there might not be an opening for him to come on late. But the waves of horse flesh parted just in time for him to make a flying rush to the finish line, upending the game pacesetter First Class Horse by a length-and-a-half in 1:48.4, easily the fastest time of the week at Pocono.

It was a memorable way to get his first win of the year, and it's a good time for Scott Rocks to be peaking as he heads into the eliminations for the Ben Franklin Pace on the weekend.

Other top pacers this week include Maxdaddy Blue Chip (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who came up a winner in Saturday night's featured condition pace in 1:50.1; Unbeamlievable (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who captured Monday night's featured claiming handicap pace for mares in 1:52.1, her second straight win at Pocono and third in a row overall; and No Easy Day (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who followed up a win at Harrah's with a condition win at Pocono on Tuesday night in a new career mark of 1:50.2.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: HOMICIDE HUNTER

Like Scott Rocks, Homicide Hunter has been a stalwart in the Chris Oakes barn for many years. Unlike Scott Rocks, however, Chris is still the man in charge of Homicide Hunter, and he has witnessed the six-year-old gelding as he has taken off on one of his characteristic hot streaks in recent weeks. It started when he picked up a win in the Great Northeast Open Series at Pocono on June 3 on a sloppy track in 1:55.3.

He went much faster than that the following week at Scioto when he captured the Hill Memorial in a world-record-matching time of 1:50.3.

Coming off those two victories, it might have seemed like he would be an overwhelming favorite to win another Great Northeast Open race at Pocono on Sunday night. But one of the horses he was facing, Marion Marauder, came in with a record as much if not more accomplished. Marion Marauder had been scratched sick from the Hill, denying fans an opportunity to see a clash of the titans in that race.

But they battled on Saturday night, with Marion Marauder taking the early lead and Homicide Hunter getting parked around turn two before he made the front himself.

Although there were seven other top-flight trotters in the field, the showdown between Homicide Hunter and Marion Marauder seemed an inevitability. Indeed, in the stretch, Marion Marauder gathered momentum from the pocket and pulled up right alongside the leader in the passing lane. But Homicide Hunter simply found one more burst of energy and hustled to the line a neck in front in a winning time of 1:52.2.

His third straight win wasn't a world record, but it was impressive nonetheless for the caliber of trotter he beat in that stretch duel.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to Joey Pro (Matt Kakaley, John Hallett), who picked up his second straight condition win on Sunday night and did so in a career-best 1:55; Haveitalltogether (Eric Carlson, Andy Miller), who followed up a condition victory with a win against the Pennsylvania All Stars for three-year-old colts and geldings on Sunday night in a career-best 1:53.4; and Lindy's Big Bang (David Miller, Nifty Norman), who posted the fastest time among winners of the Pennsylvania All-Stars for sophomore male trotters on Sunday night with a career-best mile of 1:52.2.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: CARMENS BEST

This pacer's first win of the year, with Anthony Napolitano in the bike, proved a surprise, as he beat a bunch of claimers on Saturday night at 20-1, paying off $42 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ERIC CARLSON

Carlson's picked up multiple victories three nights in a row this week, highlighted by a surprising win in the Pennsylvania All-Stars with Haveitalltogether.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: NIFTY NORMAN

Norman always seems to bring in a high percentage of winners, and he chalked up two more at Pocono this week, including a Pennsylvania All-Stars victory with Lindy's Big Bang on Sunday night.

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

by Jim Bevigila, for Pocono Downs

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