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WILKES-BARRE PA - Throughout the preliminary events of Bobby Weiss Series for harness racing pacing males at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, the motto has been "The post means the most." And so it continued in the $30,000 series Championship event on Saturday night, as Turbo Hill drew inside his archrival Sports Legend and went on to defeat him by ¾ of a length in a lifetime best 1:51. The pair did not draw in together in the first prelim. In the second, Turbo Hill drew inside Sports Legend and controlled the pace; the reverse was true last week, when Sports Legend prevailed. In the Championship, driver George Napolitano Jr. looked to his right, saw Sports Legend, and gave his horse double-time leaving instructions, controlling the pace and forcing Sports Legend in behind him late in the :27 opener. After a soft :56.1 half, the victorious son of American Ideal hit a higher gear, reaching the three-quarters in 1:23.1, with Sports Legend right on his back, and that one moved outside late on the far turn, auguring for another classic battle. But it's been the pacesetter who's won all of their confrontations, and that trend continued, with Turbo Hill withstanding the game potential pocket rocket by ¾ of a length. Turbo Hill thus righted himself after he lost his six race winning streak last week - he's now 7-for-9 this year, and 9-for-11 lifetime, for trainer Hunter Oakes, and owner Tom Hill, who probably stayed up until 3 a.m. Sunday in his home in England to watch his budding star win again. Team Napolitano / Oakes were the powers behind the veteran Rocknroll Hanover gelding Scott Rocks, a veteran Pocono lover (the nine-year-old took his 1:48 mark here at six), who was a length winner in the $21,500 featured fast-class pace, clocked in 1:50.4. The winner of $862,049, owned by Northfork Racing Stable and Chuck Pompey, raced out to the pocket early, was able to slip out when favored Tiger Thompson N brushed to the lead nearing the ¾, then powered home in classic fashion to withstand the large charge of Mariner Seelster. Hunter Oakes was in the sulky when the American Ideal gelding Hitman Hill equaled his own 1:50.1 clocking, the fastest time of the year at Pocono, in winning a $17,500 pace. The coast-to-coast winner is trained by Hunter's father Chris (Homicide Hunter), while Tom Hill, who shares ownership in the winner of $385,656 with Northfork Racing Stable, may have extended his TV viewing by about 40 minutes After the features, the story of the night was the Allard brothers, driver Simon and trainer Rene, teaming for five victories. Rene, leading trainer here five of the last six years, increased his lead in the 2019 standings, while the quintuple boosted Simon into second in sulky wins this season behind perennial leader George Napolitano Jr. 15 more horses changed homes via the claiming box Saturday, and $246,250 changed hands to acquire those horses; the season totals at Pocono are now 112 claims and $1,894,250 paid via those claims. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA –Cardiff had to go the dreaded “tuck-then-first-over” journey in the $30,000 Bobby Weiss Series Championship for pacing fillies and mares at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Monday, but the Sportswriter harness racing mare showed rare pluck in grinding raw for the last 5/8 and still getting the decision in a lifetime best 1:51.1. Cardiff, who had a first and two seconds in her Weiss prelims, tucked midpack from post eight for driver Simon Allard, as a pair of horses on a three-race win streak, 2-5 favorite Ghostwriter and Girl’s Got Rhythm, argued through a smoking 26.2 quarter, with the latter claiming the top at that point. Cardiff was again on the move under the wire the first time as Girl’s Got Rhythm led the field to the half in 54.4, then cut into the pacesetter’s advantage by the 1:22.3 3/4s, with the chalk lurking in the pocket. Turning for home it looked like the trip was starting to wear on Cardiff, as Ghosttothepost went to the Pocono Pike to try to catch Girl’s Got Rhythm. But Cardiff dug deep into her talent pool and gamely paced on to be 1½ lengths ahead at the wire, with Ghosttothepost next, a neck ahead of Girl’s Got Rhythm. Simon’s brother Rene trains the courageous winner for Allard Racing Inc. and Carmen Carson. Also on the Tuesday card were three $15,000 final preliminary round divisions of the Weiss Series for trotting males, and the Credit Winner four-year-old My Lindy Winner established himself as the likely Weiss Championship favorite by sweeping his three prelims, here scoring in 1:55.3 to reman undefeated in six seasonal starts. Though the Rob Harmon trainee won his other two prelims by six and four lengths, this half length victory over pacesetter Dover Dony may have been the most impressive of the trio, as Jim Morrill Jr. sent the horse uncovered from third at the 5/8, and his trotter responded by gaining into a 28.1 last quarter and finishing a measured winner. The Conway Hall gelding Hammer Creek must like suspense, as he had two wins in the Weiss prelims, but in both victories his winning margin was only a nose, on Tuesday over the wild-charging Livinonthedash in 1:55.3. Eric Carlson came uncovered at the 3/4, went to the lead in the stretch, then withstood the flying Livinonthedash for trainer Kenneth Hess Jr. and owner Richard Ciesielski. Lightfootedlegend, like his stablemate in the Erv Miller barn Livinonthedash, made his first start in the Weiss, and the Mr Cantab gelding broke his maiden in fine style, coming out on the far turn and catching pacesetting Higgs Boson by ¾ of a length in 1:56.3. Marcus Miller guided the four-year-old for the Ervin Miller Stable Inc, Ronald Michelon, and Harvey Eisman. Despite the good performances, the two Weiss debutants for the Millers did not finish in the top nine preliminary pointwinners (although they may make a $15,000 consolation, depending on how many and who declares in). The unofficial top nine pointwinners heading for next Monday’s $30,000 Weiss Championship in this group are: 1. My Lindy Winner, 2. Hammer Creek, 3. Higgs Boson, 4. Chapter And Ruth, 5. Dover Dony, 6. Got No Money Honey, 7. Keystone Thunder, 8. Loving Life, and 9. Teardown This Wall, with Flammable tenth and the pair of Brandywine Battle and London Hanover tied for eleventh in the shaping up of the “AEs” and the consolation PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

Trenton, NJ — American Admiral may not know it, but he is in the midst of trying to prove if he’s ready to fight some bigger harness racing battles down the road. The 3-year-old colt pacer is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in a $15,000 division of Saturday’s (April 20) Bobby Weiss Series at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Since he has only been working with the horse since January, trainer Andrew Harris is unsure of how extensively he will stake him this year. “We’re playing it by ear,” said Harris, who made American Admiral eligible for the Reynolds and Art Rooney Pace. “It all depends on how he continues to mature. If he goes through this series and shows he can go with those type of horses like Turbo Hill, then yeah, we’re going to go that route. As of right now we’re going to play it by ear. We don’t know what we’ve got, we don’t know what the bottom is yet. If he continues to improve maybe we’ve got ourselves a New York Sires Stakes horse that’s got some possibilities. Or maybe we just have an Excelsior Series type horse. We’re kind of using this series to tell us what we’ve got.” The early reviews have been positive. At the recommendation of Harris, American Admiral was purchased by the Flemings (William, Ian and James) for $34,000 at the Standardbred Mixed Sale at Harrisburg in November. He was trained by Tony Alagna last year and had a first, second and third while earning $19,890 in 10 starts. Harris knew nothing about the horse, but thought he would provide the most bang for the buck among those up for sale. “They called me up and said they wanted to have a nice little horse to race for next year,” the trainer said. “There were a lot of horses I thought we might have to over-pay for. This one kind of came in under the radar. I saw he raced at Yonkers and Yonkers is primarily where I race anyway so I thought he might just be in the price range. He ended up going a little cheaper than what I thought I’d have to give for him.” As for what he liked about American Admiral, Harris said, “His breeding was impeccable. He wasn’t overly-sized but he was a little muscle horse and those are the types of horses I kind of like for Yonkers. I didn’t know what to expect. We just kind of got lucky. So far it’s all working out.” It is indeed. American Admiral has hit the board four times in five races, having taken two firsts, a second and third for $19,640 in purse money. After the purchase, Harris put the horse out in the field and never looked at him for six weeks. “I didn’t even jog him,” he said. “I needed to let him grow up and let him mature. If he did have any aches and pains they would heal out in the field. I just let him get freshened up. We just started fresh and started off the chalkboard. We made adjustments to his training as he needed something, but we started with (knowing) nothing. We slowly added certain things here or there but I didn’t know what he had before. I never looked or asked.” Harris brought the horse back on Jan. 1 and began working on him, and then eased him back into racing. He is fairly well behaved in the barn, but “He’s a little stud colt so he lets you know that he’s there. He’s not over rambunctious or anything like that but you have to watch him a little bit. He wants to play but his play is a little aggressive. He’s a nice horse, but you don’t want to get caught sleeping around him.” He is keeping folks wide awake on the track as of late. As American Admiral’s confidence grew, Harris began putting him into play a bit more. The strategy seems to be working, as the horse has won his last two races. “He’s just developing into kind of a nice little horse that I don’t know where his bottom is quite just yet,” he said. “I don’t have super high expectations for the horse but I think he’s going to be a nice little horse. He’s got a big engine and he wants to go. But you have to race him the right way.” Just what way is that? “We try to teach him to stay off the helmet a little bit until it’s time to press the go button,” Harris continued. “He’s just come to the point where we can use him now. He’s ready, he’s tight now. He wasn’t tight when we were starting. I brought him back a little bit slower than I usually do. Now his confidence is right and he looks like a totally different animal. He’s happy and strong. “And every driver that sat on him likes him. George (Napolitano Jr.) sat on him the other night and said ‘Wow, can this thing fly for a piece.’ That’s the type of horse you want. He takes care of himself for the mile right now as long as we don’t over-drive him too early in the race. He’s got as good of a move as anyone in that series.” Harris feels American Admiral is the best horse in his division in the Bobby Weiss, but knows that the final will be a different story. “I think Sports Legend and Turbo Hill are the two horses to beat in the whole series,” Harris said. “We kind of got lucky, we avoided them this week, so it will be interesting to see how we face up against them.” However it comes out will go a long way in determining where the American Admiral fleet ends up next. by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

WILKES-BARRE PA - The ABC Garland mare I M Fishin won her third straight harness racing preliminary in the Bobby Weiss Series for trotting mares Tuesday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, taking the fastest of the three $15,000 divisions of the fourth and final prelim in a lifetime best 1:56.1. Anthony Napolitano, the meet's leading driver, moved I M Fishin out of third early to gain command in front of the stands, then powered home with the mare in 57.3 - 28.1 to win by a neck. Via Lattea IT, the white mare, had to settle again for a second - her third in three Weiss starts - while Corrupt was third behind the winner, trained by Jody Riedel for Super Mile LLC. The other two Tuesday Weiss winners both stopped the timer in 1:56.4 to record new marks. The Chapter Seven mare Myrna Myrna also moved to command in the homestretch the first time and went on to a 2¼ length victory for driver George Napolitano Jr., trainer Scott Betts, and owner Timothy Betts, while the Muscle Massive filly One Fine Lady lowered her lifetime tab over three seconds in overcoming a first-over journey for driver Andrew McCarthy and trainer Aaron Lambert, the latter co-owner with Kenneth Tucci and Kenneth Schwartz. In unofficial standings (please check with the Pocono Race Office for the official list) calculated immediately after the races, the top ten pointwinners in the preliminaries, in order, are: I M Fishin, Myrna Myrna, Ms American Muscle, Corrupt, Baby Wants, Miss Ruby, One Fine Lady, Puma Blue Chip, Dewitonemoretime, and Via Lattea IT. The top horses declaring in will race for $30,000 in their Weiss Championship during the evening portion of the doubleheader of racing on Kentucky Derby Saturday, May 4; if enough horses declare in, there will be a $15,000 consolation event held during the afternoon racing that day. Narcian Jewel rallied all the way up the deep Pocono Pike from last at headstretch to take a $14,000 co-feature for pacing distaffs in a lifetime best 1:51.4. The Shadow Play mare laid off a contentious pace, then had the most blast in the last sixteenth to tally for driver Pat Berry, trainer Frank Petrelli, and Wish Me Luck Stables LLC. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - Kimberlee and Sharen Hanover both became three-time winners in the preliminaries of the Bobby Weiss Series for harness racing pacing mares at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Monday, as the track hosted two $15,000 divisions of the fourth and final Weiss preliminary. Kimberlee is 3-for-3 in the Weiss, and 4-for-4 in 2018, after a ¾-length victory in her prelim, which was timed in 1:55. The Rock N Roll Heaven filly won the first Weiss week, skipped the second, and now has victories last week and this. Driver Marcus Miller sent Kimberlee to the lead after the first quarter, and the sophomore came home in 57 to win for trainer Ãke Svanstedt and owners Knutsson Trotting Inc. and Asa Sjoberg. The four-year-old Well Said mare Sharen Hanover, second in the Weiss first round and then entrusted to the care of trainer Rene Allard, remained undefeated in three starts for Rene and driver/brother Simon after posting a crackling 1:52.2 mile, a lifetime mark. The opposition tried to make it hard for "Sharen" as Jewels Forreal refused to let her get the top early, and after she took the pocket Carly Girl came with a quick quarter-move, leaving Sharen Hanover in the undesirable third-inside spot. But the fast distaff patiently awaited the famed Pocono Pike, then showed a big stretch burst to be an easy winner for owner Geoffrey Lyons Mound. Jewels Forreal photoed Carly Girl for major minor honors. In unofficial standings (please check with the Pocono Race Office for the official list) calculated immediately after the races, the top ten pointwinners in the preliminaries, in order, are: Sharen Hanover, Kimberlee, Miss Hill, Line Dancer, Unnreal, Pretty Angel Eyes, Carly Girl, Jewels Forreal, Sweetest Devotion, and Sing Along. The top horses declaring in will race for $30,000 in their Weiss Championship during the evening portion of the doubleheader of racing on Kentucky Derby Saturday, May 4; if enough horses declare in, there will be a $15,000 consolation event held during the afternoon racing that day. The Allard brothers also triumphed in a $14,000 claiming handicap pace for mares, with the Stonebridge Regal mare Strawb's Chippie N posted her second straight wire-to-wire win since being claimed by Team Allard, in this victory lowering her lifetime mark over three seconds to 1:52.3. But there won't be a third straight win from the mare for the ownership of Allard Racing Inc. and Ameer Major - there were four claims in the seven-horse field, including the 1-2-3 finishers. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - Chas Hanover became the only three-time harness racing winner in the Bobby Weiss Series for trotting males at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Sunday, taking his $15,000 divisions of the fourth and final preliminary leg of 1:56.4. Driver George Napolitano Jr and trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera, who also saw their pacing male I Soar Him First get a third prelim Weiss win the previous night, had their Cantab Hall gelding win by a neck over Stormont Manpower, a Weiss winners last week, with two other Weiss victors, Presidente Zette and Perfect Chapter AS, next in line. Chas Hanover stepped home in 57.2 to complete a 1:56.4 mile. Garcia-Herrera is also the outright owner of Chas Hanover, now a four-time winners in five seasonal starts. In the other division of this Weiss fourth round prelim, Law Of Attraction, who had been second in each of his three previous Weiss outings, headed down the road for driver Jim Marohn Jr., stopping the timer in 1:56 with his 1¾ length victory. Trainer Rob Harmon is in charge of the preparation of the Deweycheatumnhowe four-year-old gelding for Harmon Racing Stable LLC, B Kleinberg Racing LLC, and Lawrence Kittenplan. Favored Archibald, who broke in his first leg then won his next two, resorted back to his misbehaving here and finished back. In unofficial standings (please check with the Pocono Race Office for the official list) calculated immediately after the races, the top ten pointwinners in the preliminaries, in order, are: Chas Hanover, (tie) Law Of Attraction and Stormont Manpower, Archibald, Presidente Zette, Meadowbranch Ricky, Photo Bomber, Tougher Than Ever, Perfect Chapter AS, and Higgs Boson. The top horses declaring in will race for $30,000 in their Weiss Championship during the evening portion of the doubleheader of racing on Kentucky Derby Saturday, May 4; if enough horses declare in, there will be a $15,000 consolation event held during the afternoon racing that day. Art Scene, who came within a nose of defeating 2017 Pacer of the Year Downbytheseaside in last year's Messenger Pace, posted the fastest win time of the year in taking a $17,000 conditioned event in 1:49.3, a new mark, going wire-to-wire while winning by 4½ lengths. Simon Allard was in the sulky behind the son of American Ideal for trainer/brother Rene and the ownership that acquired him before this campaign: B&I Stables LLC, Allard Racing Inc., and Donald Mac Rae. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - I Soar Him First became the only competitor to go 3-for-3 in the initial preliminaries of the four harness racing events in the Bobby Weiss Series, taking his $15,000 division of the pacing males sector in 1:51.4 Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. George Napolitano Jr. sent the sophomore So Surreal gelding to the top before the 27.3 quarter, then got a huge breather to the 56.4 half. From there it was "catch me if you can," and with back numbers of 55 - 27.2, nobody could catch I Soar Him First as he won by three lengths in a personal best of 1:51.4 for owner-trainer Gilbert Garcia Herrera. Saturday's other $15,000 third round prelim went to the Foreclosure N four-year-old gelding Riggle Wealth, as he sped to a lifetime mark of 1:50.3. Trapped inside and flying late in the first two weeks, Riggle Wealth and driver Jim Morrill Jr. left no room for bad luck here, getting away fifth off the gate in a six-horse field, but then motoring to the top after traffic settled, posting splits of 27 and 55.1. Coming off the second curve, pocketsitting Otaro Hanover, a winner in his first Weiss start last week and carrying a six race win streak into the contest, helmetbumped Morrill and then went offstride in the close quarters, making the job for Riggle Wealth, who himself had a four race winning streak before he came to Pocono, much easier. The winner hit the ¾ in 1:23 and then tacked on the 27.3 kicker for a 2¼ length victory for trainer Ron Burke and the ownership of Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, and Phil Collura. Heavenly Sound, who had also won his first two Weiss prelims in this section, took the week off. The brothers Napolitano accounted for the $17,500 subfeatures, for older horses. In the trot, Sir John F stormed his third panel in 27.4 in moving to the lead, then held off the horse on his back, Majestic Mistress - driven by Anthony Napolitano - by a half-length while taking a new mark of 1:53.1. The son of Donato Hanover was "George Nap"'s fourth winner of the night, and Sir John F completed a double started by I Soar Him First for owner-trainer Gil Garcia Herrera, who co-owns the trotter with Michi Yvette Abday. "Anthony Nap" visited Victory Lane in the very next race, the subfeature pace, as Chevals Clivesdale, an altered son of The Globe, sat a pocket trip behind $1.6M winner Dancin Yankee, then gained into a 27.2 last quarter to win by a neck in 1:50.3. Jose Godinez conditions the winner for Blindswitch Racing Stable, Good Friends Racing Stable, and Santo Farina. George Napolitano Jr. wound up winning six races on the Saturday Pocono card, three of them for trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera, including with the featured "horse" I Soar Him First.   In fact, the track's top four drivers won the first 13 races on Saturday: Anthony Napolitano (1st) won three, Simon Allard (2nd) two, George Nap (now 3rd) the six, and Jim Morrill Jr. (fourth) two.   The only partycrasher came in the last race, when Austin Siegelman came up the inside with Johnny Q, to the mutuel tune of $54.20. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - Ms American Muscle and I M Fishin became two-time harness racing winners in the Bobby Weiss Series for trotting females at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, capturing their $15,000 divisions of the third preliminary leg at the mountain track over off going on Tuesday. I M Fishin made a break in her first Weiss outing yet recovered for third, and in her next two series starts she has not been catchable. This week Anthony Napolitano sent her to the lead at the 3/16 around Miss Ruby (who had a win-break pattern, opposite to that of the winner), and the ABC Garland mare proved too strong for the opposition, defeating Miss Ruby by four lengths in 1:58.2 over a "good +2" track in mid-30s weather for trainer Jody Riedel and Super Mile LLC. While I M Fishin was a well-supported favorite, the Donato Hanover filly Ms American Muscle caught the crowd by surprise, returning a $39.60 mutuel, the fans more influenced by last week's miscue than by her win two starts ago. This week Marcus Miller kept her third-in, pulled her out at headstretch, and surged by the tired pacesetter Corrupt by a neck in 2:00.2. Jenny Melander conditions the late-charging miss for owner John Devito. In the third Weiss section, Puma Blue Chip broke her maiden in 1:58.2, making a big sweeping move down the backstretch for driver Tom Jackson to move close to pacesetting One Fine Lady, then getting by her late to take a neck decision. The Chapter Seven filly is conditioned by Agostino Abbatiello for the Durazzano Stable. In addition to bringing home the two-time Weiss winners, Anthony Napolitano and Marcus Miller also had the distinction of bringing in $50+ longshots - Pocono's second such "doubling up" in three cards. Body Slam used pocket rocket tactics to take the second for Napolitano at $53.80, while in the ninth Miller brought Heavens Dancer from far back to light up the board at $60.80. And both winners were coming off of victories in their previous starts! PHHA / Pocono      

WILKES-BARRE PA - Sharen Hanover and Kimberlee both recorded their second victories in the Bobby Weiss Series for harness racing pacing females on Monday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, where earlier in the dank evening Eric Carlson recorded his 3000th driving victory. The Well Said mare Sharen Hanover is now perfect in two starts for the brothers Allard, driver Simon and trainer Rene, as she quarter-moved to command and went on to win her $15,000 division of the series' third preliminary leg. Three lengths clear at the end of a 1:55.3 mile in "sloppy +2" conditions, the mare appears to be peaking at just the right time for owner Geoffrey Mounds. In the other section, the Rock N Roll Hanover filly Kimberlee, who won in the first round and then sat out last week, raced just off a contested pace, then caught the series' only double winner in the first two prelims, Miss Hill, by a half-length in 1:55.4. Marcus Miller was in the sulky behind the winner, now undefeated in three seasonal starts, for trainer Ãke Svanstedt and the ownership of Knutsson Trotting Inc. and Asa Sjoberg. Eric Carlson, starting the night with 2999 career sulky successes, got the wait for his milestone over quickly, guiding Call Me Richard to a safe victory in the night's opener. The 42-year-old Carlson, a Detroit leader before "coming East" some years ago and establishing himself as a talented catch-driver, then wasted no time setting out on the road to 4000, making a big sweeping move with Western Bayama to take the night's eighth event. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - Archibald has stamped himself as the trotter to beat in the Bobby Weiss Series section for diamondgaited males, taking a new mark of 1:55.1 in his $15,000 third preliminary round harness racing action Sunday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The four-year-old altered son of Archangel has had to go first-over in all three of his Weiss starts - the first week he made a break while challenging, while during the second he proved his superiority by reducing his mark to 1:55.3. That number was again lowered on a very cool night Sunday, with trainer/driver Fern Paquet Jr. sitting outside of pacesetting Law Of Attraction, then overpowering that one the last half of the stretch to win by a length for breeder/owner Michael Sherman Jr. Chas Hanover, one of two double winners in previous Weiss contests, could not go with the cover of the winner the last 3/8 and wound up fourth. Perfect Chapter AS, who like Archibald made a break while motoring uncovered in his first series start, atoned for last week's error with a big sweep from the back of the field, winning by four lengths for driver Marcus Miller while reducing his speed standard to 1:56.3. The Chapter Seven four-year-old gelding is trained by Anette Lorentzon for ACL Stuteri AB and Kjell Johannson. The other double Weiss winner in this group, Meadowbranch Ricky, had been able to hold off the late surge of Stormont Manpower last week; on Sunday, Stormont Manpower was a bit closer at headstretch, and he was able to catch the pacesetting "Ricky" by three-quarters of a length while reducing his record to 1:57. Second in his first two series starts, the winning altered son of Kadabra made the third time a charm for driver Andrew McCarthy, trainer Robert Bresnahan Jr., and owner Robert Bresnahan. McCarthy, who had four winners on the card, also led the longshot brigade on Sunday, bringing home City Hall first in the twelfth race while returning $79.80 as a pocket rocket. Two races earlier, Jim Morrill Jr. had used similar tactics with Drinkin Again, getting the nod to the mutuel tune of $51.40. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - Heavenly Sound and I Soar Him First kept their records in the Bobby Weiss Series for pacing males perfect after two starts, each winning one of the $15,000 three divisions of the second preliminary leg of their Weiss competition Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Heavenly Sound was the fastest of Saturday's three winners, ripping off a 1:50.4 clocking that equaled the mark he set at The Meadowlands two starts back. But the Rock N Roll Heaven colt needed every ounce of energy reflected in that time to overcome a first-over trip and catch pacesetting Heartbeat Hill by half a length - probably a little closer than the backers who sent him off at 1-20* might have liked. However, Heavenly Sound did get the job done for driver Tom Jackson, trainer Bruce Saunders, and M&M Harness Racing LLC. The other two first-round Weiss winners clashed in the heat where I Soar Him First quarter-moved to the lead for driver George Napolitano Jr. and went on to tie the 1:52 mark he set in the first leg. Goose Mountain, at a disadvantage in the post draw, could get to only 1¾ lengths behind the winner at the finish as the So Surreal sophomore gelding contains to thrive for owner/trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera. The other Weiss winner Saturday wasn't triumphant here in the first round - but Ostro Hanover had won his previous five starts between Monticello and Yonkers, and here he made it six straight while lowering his mark over three seconds to 1:52.1. Record Machine, three-quarters of a length back of the victorious Betterthancheddar colt, photoed out unlucky favorite Riggle Wealth for second. Frank Yanoti conditions the impressive Pocono newcomer for Twin Bridge Racing. In the $21,500 featured pace for older performers, Highalator raised his career win percentage to 50%, overcoming a first-over journey to just nip pacesetting American Primetime by a head in 1:49.4, fastest mile of the young season at Pocono and a new mark for the winner. Tyler Buter handled the sulky assignment behind the son of Somebeachsomewhere, now a visitor to Victory Lane 15 times in just 30 trips behind the gate, for trainer Jenny Bier, who is also the co-owner with Joann Dombeck. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - The harness racing team of owner Bob Key, trainer Trish Adams, and driver Jim Morrill Jr. accounted for two of the four $15,000 divisions of the second preliminary round of the Bobby Weiss Series for trotting females Tuesday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Baby Wants, a Conway Hall filly, had not won in 14 prior career starts and was up against the heavily-favored Myrna Myrna, the fastest winner in the first prelim, but "Baby" was moved to the lead in front of the stands by Morrill, then stepped home in 1:57.2 to post a half-length decision over the chalk, who came from sixth at the half in another good showing. The other winner for Morrill/Adams/Key was a Deweycheatumnhowe filly, Corrupt, a good-closing third in her Weiss bow, with Morrill here using the same early move tactic that helped Baby Wants while guiding Corrupt to a 1:57.4 triumph, a new mark by over three seconds. Deweycheatumnhowe got a second siring credit, and Anthony Napolitano posted the first of his two Weiss wins on the night, when the four-year-old Dewitonemoretime raced on the engine and held off Ãke Svanstedt's white trotting mare, Via Lattea IT, by a head while equaling her mark of 1:57.3 in her seasonal bow. Scott Betts trains the winner for owners Timothy Betts and Nicholas Catalano. First round winner Miss Ruby made an early break but rallied from last to be third here. Fortunes were reversed in the final Weiss sector: I M Fishin was favored in the first leg but had to settle for third after a good recovery from an early miscue, while Ms American Muscle posted the victory last Tuesday. This week "Ms Muscle" was the victim of a lapse from gait, and I M Fishin was able to go wire-to-wire from "Anthony Nap" despite the outside seven, with the 1:56.3 final clocking lowering her speed tab by just over two seconds. Jody Riedel conditions the victorious ABC Garland mare for Super Mile LLC. Morrill went on to have five winners on the night; Anthony Napolitano wound up with three. That gives each driver 30 wins as they are tied at the top in the early Pocono standings. And since Pocono has raced only 12 cards so far in 2018, that means they are each averaging 2 1/2 winners a card so far -- fancy numbers at anybody's racetrack. The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week in Review April 7-13, 2018 - Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t April supposed to be when the weather starts to turn away from the long, cold winter? It certainly hasn’t done that yet in Northeastern Pennsylvania. We’re nearly a month into the season and I don’t believe we’ve hit the 60-degree mark on a racing night yet this season. Luckily, the racing at Pocono hasn’t been bothered one iota by the chilly temps, as the early weeks have been as fast and furious as ever. On that note, let’s honor the best performances of the past four racing nights with the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: AWESOMENESS With a name like that, this five-year-old gelding trained by Brett Pelling is practically begging people to come up and knock him off his perch. Luckily, Awesomeness has more than enough talent to back up his moniker. He really started to come to the fore in 2017, earning a hefty $164,368 on his campaign. And he hasn’t let up at all this season. Back-to-back wins at The Meadowlands in February and March got him rolling, and a win on March 31 in his Pocono debut in the winners of over $25,000 lifetime feature in 1:51:3 cemented his status. On Saturday night, he was once again facing that tough winners over group, only this time around, the field was even more rugged, with the inclusion of juggernauts from Dover Downs (Major Uptrend) and The Meadowlands (Bettor’s Edge) bringing a lot of class into town with them. But driver Jim Morrill Jr., utilizing the inside post to his advantage, found an early sweet spot in the pocket with Awesomeness, as the fractions were cut out at a blistering pace. In the home stretch, Awesomeness had the room to uncork his late kick in the passing lane as the 3-2 betting favorite. He took over the lead but still had to deal with a big late move from Archangel Three in the lane. He prevailed by a neck, making it two in a row against the toughest pacers on the grounds. His winning time was 1:50:4. Look for this talented pacer to keep living up to that name and to perform as one of the top aged pacers at Pocono and anywhere else he decides to roam. Other top pacers this week include: Sapphire City (Anthony Napolitano, Ron Burke), who moved up in class on Saturday night to take home his second straight condition victory, this one coming in 1:52:4; Miss Hill (Anthony Napolitano, Bruce Clarke), a filly who picked up her second straight Bobby Weiss series win on Monday night and did so in a career-best 1:54; and Charming Hill (Jim Morrill Jr., Marc Mosher), who switched barns to pick up her second straight claiming handicap win over mares on Monday night in 1:55:1. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: CHAS HANOVER Much of the trotting action this past week was dedicated to the second leg of the Bobby Weiss late closer series, including Sunday night’s three divisions for the three and four-year-old colts and geldings. Chas Hanover came into the race looking for his second straight victory in the series and his third straight overall. The three-year-old gelding, trained by Gilberto Garcia-Herrera, had previously scored at Yonkers on March 18 and in the first leg of the Weiss on April 1 in a career-best 1:56:2. In both of those victories, Chas Hanover was lucky enough to draw an inside post, allowing him to work out excellent trips behind pacesetters. On Sunday night, however, he left from post position #6 in a field of seven trotters, meaning that he wouldn’t be afforded the luxury of good position with little effort. Knowing that, driver George Napolitano Jr. gunned him early to the lead, despite getting a challenge for that lead from Church Choir. It wasn’t easy from there, either, as Chas Hanover had to deal with persistent pressure from Golden Attitude, who snuck up behind him around the last turn for some cover before charging up in the stretch. Chas Hanover found a little something more, however, holding off Golden Attitude by a nose in a thrilling duel. His winning time was 1:56:4 for this third victory in a row, as he establishes himself as one to watch throughout the entirety of the Weiss races. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Meadowbranch Ricky (George Napolitano Jr., Jenny Melander), who moved to two-for-two in the Weiss by scoring on Sunday night in 1:56:2; I M Fishin (Anthony Napolitano, Jody Riedel), who picked up a win in the Weiss series for distaff trotters on Tuesday night in 1:56:3, which was the fastest winning time posted of the four divisions that night and a new career-best for filly; and Perfect Stick (George Napolitano Jr., Anette Lorentzon), who scored a condition victory on Sunday night in 1:54:4, which was a new career-best and the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: PERFECT MAVERICK This pacing mare, driven by Ron Cushing, made her first career win a memorable one, scoring a condition victory on Sunday night at 27-1 and paying off $57.40 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JIM MORRILL JR. Morrill is always a force early in the season at Pocono, and this year has been no different, as he picked up four wins on Saturday night and three more on Tuesday. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: KATRICIA ADAMS Adams is looking strong in the Bobby Weiss trotting fillies and mares series after picking up a pair of wins in that class on Tuesday night with Corrupt and Baby Wants. That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - Miss Hill became the only two-time winner in the Bobby Weiss Series for harness racing pacing females on Monday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, taking her $15,000 division of the second preliminary leg of her Weiss Series grouping. Miss Hill's race was probably the toughest of the three, as it matched her with Unnreal, another first leg winner, and Line Dancer, who missed a head last week to Kimberlee (who did not compete Monday). And the first week's form was reflected again on Monday as the finish was Miss Hill, Line Dancer, Unnreal, with the victorious Somebeachsomewhere filly closing into a 55.3 last half to take a new lifetime mark of 1:54. Miss Hill, driven by Anthony Napolitano, is now 2-for-2 for trainer Bruce Clarke, who also co-owns her with Patricia Waldeck and John Coffey. Pretty Angel Eyes had tried the front end in the first Weiss leg and came up shy; this time driver Jim Morrill Jr. had her last at the half, and she came her own back half in 56.4 to record his first career victory in 23 starts, stopping the timer in 1:56. Brandon Todd trains the winner, a Bettor's Delight mare who also made Curtis Lee fans happy, for owners Belrose Standard LLC. "First-time Allard" has become a watchword phrase at Pocono over the last few years, and with the Well Said mare Sharen Hanover going over to the Rene Allard shedrow, she made her barn debut a winning one, lowering her mark to 1:53.2 with a wire-to-wire effort. Rene's brother Simon was in the sulky for owner Geoffrey Lyons Mound as the acquisition scampered home in 55.2. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - George Napolitano Jr., perennially the leading harness racing driver at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, steered Meadowbranch Ricky and Chas Hanover to their second straight victories in the Bobby Weiss Series for trotting males Sunday night at the northeast Pennsylvania oval, while Archibald bounced back from a first-round break to take the third $15,000 division in this Weiss division's second preliminary leg. Both of the "George Nap"-guided diamondgaiters remain undefeated in 2018. The Muscle Massive colt Meadowbranch Ricky raised his seasonal record to 2-for-2 while taking a new mark of 1:56.2 in his division for trainer Jenny Melander and owner Hans Enggren, while the Cantab Hall sophomore gelding Chas Hanover is now unbeaten in three starts for owner-trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera, but he had to work hard to down Golden Attitude by a nose at the end of his 1:56.4 victory. Archibald, who made a good move first-over in the first Weiss leg before losing gait last week, again was saddled with the difficult first-over duty on Sunday. But trainer/driver Fern Paquet Jr. was able to get the victorious Archangel four-year-old gelding to mind his manners this week, and he responded with a lifetime-best 1:55.3 tally, stepping home in 27.4 for owner Michael Sherman Jr. PHHA / Pocono

Hightstown, NJ --- Cozette McAvoy has spent fewer than six years in harness racing, but her involvement in the sport has grown from simply owning horses to also include training and breeding. The 38-year-old McAvoy, a corporate attorney, has won 53 races as a trainer since 2014 and assembled a broodmare band of a dozen horses. She hopes to have two homebred 2-year-olds hit the racetrack later this year. “I’m really happy with it,” McAvoy said, adding about her breeding operation, “I don’t intend to be a huge size. I totally love the movie ‘Secretariat,’ as I’m sure many people do. My dream is a bit of what (Penny Chenery) had. You go out in the morning with your cup of tea and the sun is coming into the barn and you’re peeking in on a horse or two. “I want to always know their names and take time to say hi to them. And they know who I am and I know who they are. Having a smaller operation like that suits me just fine.” So far this year on the racetrack, the Pennsylvania-based McAvoy has seen her stable notch six wins in 42 races this year, with 4-year-old male trotter Presidente Zette leading the way. Presidente Zette, who was unraced at 2 and limited to four starts at 3, has won three of eight races and hit the board a total of six times this season. Last weekend, the stallion won his first-round division of the Bobby Weiss Series for male trotters by a neck over Stormont Power in 1:57.1 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. On Sunday, Presidente Zette is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line in the second of three Weiss divisions. Meadowbranch Ricky, another opening-round winner, is the 5-2 favorite for trainer Jenny Melander. Racing begins at 7 p.m. and the Weiss divisions are races three through five on the 14-race card. “You can see from the race times and the past performances of the horses that are racing in the series that he fits in quite well,” McAvoy said about Presidente Zette. “He seems to be one of the top horses entered in the series, so I’ve got high hopes for him.” McAvoy bought Presidente Zette under the name Southwind Magnum for $12,000 at the 2015 Lexington Selected Sale. He is by Muscle Hill out of Missymae Bluestone and a full brother to Southwind Mozart, who was second in the 2015 Yonkers Trot and later a winner in Europe. He also is a half-brother to New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Southwind Cocoa and his full brother Mission Hill (formerly Southwind Bugz) sold for $335,000 last fall in Lexington. “I was not expecting to bid on him,” McAvoy said. “I was thinking he was going to be a high-priced yearling. He ended up being one of the most inexpensive yearlings I bought. I was very surprised at that. I’m thrilled to have Presidente considering how it easily could have not been me as the owner.” Presidente Zette missed his 2-year-old campaign because of surgery to remove bone fragments and got a late start to his 3-year-old season, but is making up for lost time. “He’s great,” McAvoy said. “Like many ungelded horses, I think sometimes they’re a little more interested in chasing things than racing things. It can be an exercise in patience. But he’s certainly putting it all together now. I’ve been really happy with him. “He’s a sweetheart, even though he’s a stud. You can fuss with him in the stall and pet him and feed him treats. When you ask him to go, he will really grab ahold of you and go. He’s really, really powerful and really nicely gaited.” Given his inexperience, McAvoy did not stake Presidente Zette to any events this year. But given his pedigree, McAvoy is anxious to see how the stallion develops. “We’re going to take it one race at a time and go from there,” McAvoy said. “The more he shows, the more we’re willing to give him other chances at harder things. It’s a matter of letting the horse tell us when he’s ready to take the next step. “I think anybody that has a well-bred stallion is hopeful the horse will eventually mature enough to really have a nice record and win some money. Obviously, not having anything huge at (ages) 2 or 3 is a typical of the normal stallion profile. But I have a growing broodmare band of my own, so we’ll just play it by ear and see what happens.” If nothing else, maybe one morning in the future McAvoy will be enjoying a cup of tea, peeking in on one of his sons or daughters, and saying hi. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Hightstown, NJ --- When he was a teenager, John Devito would hop on a bus with a friend and head to Yonkers and Roosevelt raceways, where he developed a passion for harness racing. Trips to the track these days continue to provide the 54-year-old Queens, N.Y., resident with thrills, but as much more than a fan. Devito, who is in the car wash/express oil change business, owns 20 horses including a handful of homebred trotters. One of those horses, Ms American Muscle, competes Tuesday (April 3) in the first round of the Bobby Weiss Series for 3- and 4-year-old female trotters at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Pocono hosts three divisions of the Weiss for female trotters on Tuesday’s 14-race card. Action begins at 7 p.m., with the Weiss events as races three through five. Ms American Muscle, a 3-year-old making her seasonal debut for trainer Jenny Melander and driver Mike Simons, is 6-1 on the morning line in the second division. Ms American Muscle won her final start of 2017, a conditioned race at Harrah’s Philadelphia, for her first lifetime victory. “Jenny says she should be OK,” Devito said. “There are a lot of horses making their first (seasonal) starts in there. I don’t think she’s in too deep, but you never know. I think she will be OK.” Devito and his late racing partner Rocco Manniello purchased Ms American Muscle’s dam, 2002 Filly World Trotting Derby champion CR Ms American Pie, from Rod Allen and Joseph Palermo III in October 2013. At the time, CR Ms American Pie was in foal to Donato Hanover and the resulting filly was named My Cherry Pie, who was a winner on the Pennsylvania Stallion Series circuit in 2017. Ms American Muscle is My Cherry Pie’s full sister. “We never did it before, so it was just trying something new,” Devito said about breeding. “A lot of times you go to the sales and the yearlings are off the charts. We figured we would take a shot on the breeding end. CR Ms American Pie is an outstanding mare with great bloodlines and she was in foal to Donato. We just took a shot with it.” Devito’s relationship with Allen yielded another result. Devito was introduced to Melander, his trainer for the past several years, by Allen. “They’re all good people,” Devito said. “Jenny is a great trainer, a great person. I feel like I’m in really good hands with her. She’s going to have a lot of success; she’s an extremely hard worker. I’m very happy that I’m with her.” Devito’s successes last year with Melander included Golden Son and Ameliosi, who both won preliminary rounds of the Yonkers Raceway/Standardbred Owners Association of New York Bonus Trot Series and combined for $286,477 in seasonal earnings. In 2016, Roccos Tacos won a division of the Arden Downs. He missed last year because of injury, but is on the comeback trail this season. “I enjoy going to the racetrack and watching the races,” Devito said. “It’s been good to me. “We’re hoping to have a good year. It’s like one of those things, lucky and good. There is always a luck factor. You can breed the best mare to the best stallion and it doesn’t always work out. If you have a little luck on your side, it always helps. It’s always good.” For Tuesday’s complete Pocono entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

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