Day At The Track

A review of Sire Stakes and The Stallion Series

03:11 PM 21 May 2015 NZST
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Rise Up Now
Rise Up Now - Pacer of the week at Pocono Downs

The weather is heating up and so is the harness racing action at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. This past week saw the first appearances of both the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and The Stallion Series, those showcases for younger horses which bring the finest horses and horsemen to the Downs to strut their stuff for big purses. We also saw Open pace and Open trot action on Saturday night for the first time in 2015. It all leads to a jam-packed edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK:  RISE UP NOW

If you follow sports, it's likely you're familiar with the term "meteoric rise." It's often used (maybe overused, to be frank) when an athlete ascends from anonymity to great success in a short period of time. In the case of Rise Up Now, a 3-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding, he's got a name that seems to fit that term, and he's lived up to it and then some this season.

In his 2-year-old season, he picked up just one win in seven races. Yet he started the season off sizzling in overnight races at The Meadows, ripping off three straight victories right away. His next start was on May 9 in Pennsylvania All Stars action at Pocono, a tough test that he passed in stellar fashion by gutting out a win by a nose in a career-best time of 1:50:2.

On Saturday night in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action, Rise Up Now, trained by Brian Brown, was a 2-1 second choice behind Blood Brother, who also won an All Stars race last week and set some nasty fractions on the lead. Driver Simon Allard provided a canny drive for Rise Up Now, sending him first-over on the back before sliding into the pocket behind Blood Brother. In the stretch, Rise Up Now wore down Blood Brother by a length-and-a-half in 1:51:3 on a sloppy track. Five wins in five races while soaring from the lowest condition ranks to Sire Stakes action: I do believe we can freely use that "meteoric rise" term in this case.

Other top pacers this week include: Alexas Jackpot (George Napolitano Jr., Marty Fine), who followed up an Open win at Harrah's at Philadelphia by winning Pocono's first Open pace of the 2015 meet in 1:49:3, which matched a career-best and was fastest of the week at Pocono despite coming on a sloppy track; Catalea Seelster (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), a mare whose victory in a $15,000 claimer on Sunday night in 1:52:3 was her fifth in a row, with the last four of those victories coming at Pocono; and Caviart Shelley (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), a mare who gutted out her fourth consecutive condition win on Wednesday night in 1:51:3, a new career mark.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK:  CLASSIC MARTINE

In the first $30,000 Open trot of the season, a pair of distaffers shared the pre-race spotlight. This was by no means a slight on the male horses in the race, all of whom were accomplished veteran trotters with many big wins and copious earnings to their credit. But Classic Martine and Shake It Cerry are no ordinary mares; they rank among the finest in the world.

In their previous meeting on May 3 at Miami Valley Raceway in Ohio, Classic Martine, the 5-year-old Classic Photo star from the Chris Oakes barn, overcame a #9 post and 15-1 odds to upend heavily favored Shake It Cerry, who struggled to sixth. This time around, Classic Martine got the betting love at 1-5. Driver George Napolitano took her to the front end and rated the pace very well, making it very unlikely that anyone would run her down in the stretch.

Classicality, who had the pocket trip, and Shake It Cerry, who started slow but moved up aggressively around the final turn, both attempted to rally. But Classic Martine never looked worried, keeping a nice margin all the way to the line as she won by 3½ lengths. Her winning time of 1:53:1 was achieved without much urging at all. Right now, it doesn't matter the age or gender facing her, because Classic Martine is going to be a handful for anyone lining up to take her on.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Razor Ramone (Anthony Napolitano, Eric Ell), who arrived from Harrah's and powered his way to a condition win on Saturday night in a career-best 1:53:3; Scorcher Hall (Tom Jackson, Greg White), who moved up in class and racked up his second straight condition won on Tuesday night in 1:55; and It's Not Over (Jim Morrill Jr., Matias Ruiz), who, despite being laid off for two months since a victory in his previous start in California in March, returned strong with a condition win on Tuesday night in a career-best 1:54:1.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK:  MARATHON MAN

When a couple of leaders broke stride late, this trotter with Brandon Simpson in the bike came storming home to win a condition on Tuesday night at 75-1 for a $152.60 payoff on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK:  SCOTT ZERON

Zeron made the most of his lone appearance at Pocono for the week, ripping off four victories on Sunday night, more than any other driver on the card that evening.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK:  BRIAN BROWN

Brown, whose base is in Ohio, continues to win big in Pennsylvania, following up success last week in the Pennsylvania All Stars races with a pair of Sire Stakes winners on Saturday night.

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

Jim Beviglia

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