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There was a time last year when it looked as though Stonebridge Soul would not make it to the races until, perhaps, late in the harness racing season. But the then 2-year-old filly pacer turned the corner in late spring and by the end of her campaign was a Grand Circuit stakes winner. "A very pleasant surprise," co-owner Bob Mondillo said about Stonebridge Soul, who competes in Saturday's (June 29) $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. "We're thrilled with what has happened and where she is in her career. "She's been racing very well. We're going up against the best in the sport. We just hope we hold our own." So far, that has not been a problem. Stonebridge Soul won three of eight races in 2018, including a division of the Bluegrass Stakes, and finished second three times in divisions of Pennsylvania state-bred stakes. This year, she has won two of seven starts and hit the board a total of six times. Her only finish outside the top three came in the Fan Hanover Stakes, where she started from post nine and charged home in the stretch to end up fourth, beaten only three-quarters of a length. The horses to finish ahead of Stonebridge Soul this year can be counted on one hand: Warrawee Ubeaut, Tall Drink Hanover, Treacherous Reign, and Powerful Chris. Warrawee Ubeaut is a returning Dan Patch Award winner (and morning-line favorite in the Lynch at 5-2) while Tall Drink Hanover is a returning O'Brien Award winner. Treacherous Reign won the Fan Hanover and Powerful Chris was a stakes winner in Ontario last season. Stonebridge Soul will start the Lynch from post four with Tim Tetrick driving for trainer Chris Ryder. Last weekend, Stonebridge Soul finished second to the Ron Burke-trained Warrawee Ubeaut in their Lynch elimination. Treacherous Reign was third. Other elimination winners were Odds On St Lucie and Tall Drink Hanover, both from the stable of trainer Tony Alagna (as is Treacherous Reign). "We're just proud to be in the same company, in the same race with them," Mondillo said. "When you're going against those horses, I wouldn't discount anybody in that race, you have to bring your 'A' game. I trust that Chris will have her ready and I trust that Timmy will have her in position to compete. The rest is up to her." Stonebridge Soul is a daughter of Somebeachsomewhere out of the millionaire mare Rock N Soul. She was purchased for $110,000 at the 2017 Lexington Selected Sale and is owned by Mondillo, an investment adviser from Ohio, and Craig Henderson-led Henderson Farms in Illinois. The filly lagged behind her 2-year-old stablemates while training down last year, prompting discussion about delaying her debut until at least later in the season. "I won't say I pleaded with Chris, but it was close, to keep her for another two weeks; just give her those two weeks and see what happens," Mondillo said. "I was saying the words, but I wasn't really believing things would happen in two weeks. Lo and behold, it did. She just seemed to figure it out." Stonebridge Soul qualified twice in June, won her debut in July, and went on to earn $116,790 for the year. Now she will try to pick up her first six-figure win in the Lynch. "She never quits," Mondillo said. "She doesn't know the meaning of quit. Even at the end sometimes when she seems almost trapped, she finds a way to get out and make up ground. "We're excited and looking forward to Saturday night. It should be a fun race, a very competitive race. I'll just keep my fingers crossed and let it unfold. I just think so much of this horse that I think anything could happen with her." After all, it already has. Following is the field for the $300,000 Lynch Memorial. The race is named in honor of James M. Lynch, who served in positions from steward to racing secretary to director of racing to general manager during a career that took him to tracks around the country. He was the director of racing at Pennsylvania's Liberty Bell for all 23 years of its existence. He also was a horse owner and director of the U.S. Trotting Association. He passed away in 2000. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line 1-Warrawee Ubeaut-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke-5/2 2-Zero Tolerance-David Miller-Joe Holloway-4/1 3-Blue Ivy-Tyler Buter-Chris Oakes-15/1 4-Stonebridge Soul-Tim Tetrick-Chris Ryder-10/1 5-Treacherous Reign-Dexter Dunn-Tony Alagna-3/1 6-Odds On St Lucie-Corey Callahan-Tony Alagna-20/1 7-St Somewhere-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke-5/1 8-Philly Hanover-Brian Sears-Ron Coyne Jr.-6/1 9-Tall Drink Hanover-Andy McCarthy-Tony Alagna-12/1   Saturday's card at Pocono also features the $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace for older male pacers, $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers, and $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old trotters. Racing begins at 7 p.m. (EDT). For complete entries, click here.   by Ken Weingartner USTA Media Relations Manager

Harness racing is a fascinating sport, in large part because of its unpredictability. Coming into Sun Stakes Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, we previewed the races and focused on the horses that seemed likely to dominate the action. By the time the dust cleared on Saturday night, only one of the four races went even remotely how all of those previews expected it go. And we weren't alone: The races also flummoxed the betting public, as just one of the four huge stakes races on the card went to a favorite. More than that though, the biggest names on the program, for the most part, struggled, while some new, unsung heroes stepped up in their wake. As we take a look back at the four finals from Saturday while keeping a watchful eye on the horizon and the Breeders Crown at Pocono in October, it all comes back down to a powerful lesson: In this sport, nobody knows anything. $300,000 JAMES M LYNCH MEMORIAL PACE (Three-year-old fillies) The favorite in this race was Sidewalk Dancer, who was coming off a hard-luck loss in the eliminations but stood to enjoy a much better post position in the final. Kissin In The Sand, who had beaten Sidewalk Dancer the week before, was saddled with an outside post this time around. Meanwhile Youaremycandygirl, the defending division champion, seemed ready for a big mile on the front end following her own elimination win. Kissin In The Sand did indeed get the worst of it, parked the entire mile outside of pacesetting Youaremycandygirl. But driver Scott Zeron made the best of it, keeping Kissin In The Sand afloat somehow until she surged past Youaremycandygirl to win it by a neck for trainer Nancy Johansson in a career-best 1:49.3 $500,000 MAX C. HEMPT MEMORIAL PACE (Three-year-olds) Lather Up came into the final looking absolutely unbeatable. Winner of his first seven starts on the year, including a triumph in the lucrative North American Cup and a waltz in the previous week's eliminations, he was bet down to odds-on. For whatever reason, he just never fired, starting in the middle of the pack, stalling out on a first-over attempt, and even eventually going off stride. That didn't stop the others in the field for going after the huge purse with everything they had. Dorsoduro Hanover set a nasty pace, leading to the closers coming into the picture. The best of those closers was Springsteen, overlooked at 15-1 despite an impressive record and despite coming from the Rene Allard barn. With Simon Allard in the bike, he glided around the tiring leaders late to win in a career-best 1:48.3. Glory days, indeed. $500,000 BEN FRANKLIN PACE (Free-For-All) McWicked was attempting to become the first horse in history to win both the Hempt and the Franklin, all the more impressive because of the four years elapsed between his Hempt win as a three-year-old. The pride of the Casie Coleman barn has been stellar this year, even when in defeat, and he conjured up a second-over trip in the final as the 3-5 choice. The one thing that didn't go according to plan for the seven-year-old stallion was a pace that was rather tepid. Under normal circumstances, that would make it difficult for a horse coming from off the pace. But McWicked is good enough to overcome such circumstances. When driver Brian Sears called on him for more, he blitzed the leaders and hustled home for the victory in 1:49.3, securing the Hempt-Franklin Daily Double in the process. $500,000 EARL BEAL JR MEMORIAL TROT (Three-year-olds) This race was billed as one where something had to give. Mission Accepted came in from Ohio to win an elimination and stood four-for-four this year. Six Pack, a New York invader, trumped that with seven straight wins dating to last season. And then there was Manchego, the superstar filly unbeaten after 15 career races and trying to beat the boys. It turned out that they all gave. The late-trotting style of Mission Accepted didn't suit a race where there were soft fractions. Meanwhile Six Pack, who grabbed the early lead, and Manchego, who came first-over, weakened each other. Manchego's winning streak went up in flames when she went off-stride, Six Pack wearied, and Crystal Fashion, driven by Tim Tetrick and trained by Jim Campbell, showed them all how it was done by rallying from the pocket to win in 1:51.4 It was another thrilling Sun Stakes Saturday, even if it didn't turn out as quite expected. The surprising results only make the divisions involved more interesting as we head towards the many more stakes races ahead, both at Pocono and elsewhere. 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 Beviglia, for Pocono Downs

Wilkes-Barre, PA --- Kissin In The Sand raced on the outside for much of the way before rallying in the stretch to get past Youaremycandygirl in deep stretch and win Saturday's (June 30) $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers by a neck in 1:49.3 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Alexa's Power was third. Kissin In The Sand started from post nine and got parked on the outside as Youaremycandygirl got the lead from post two. Youaremycandygirl hit the opening quarter in :26 and then battled with Kissin In The Sand as they reached the half in :53.2 and three-quarters in 1:20.3. As the horses came around the final turn, Kissin In The Sand moved to the pylons behind Youaremycandygirl, but she wasn't finished fighting. After straightening up in the stretch, Kissin In The Sand returned to the outside and was able to pass Youaremycandygirl in the final moments. The time was one-fifth of a second off the stakes record. "How the heck did she win that race?" a smiling trainer Nancy Johansson said as she posed for the win photo. "Nobody wants to sit parked the whole way," winning driver Scott Zeron said. "I felt like I was going against the other best horse in the race and it was a battle between the two of us. "I had a decision in the first turn, I thought maybe I would be able to get in but I felt I was really going to have to wrestle her to do it and Yannick could have stolen the race at that point. I made the decision to go to the front. When I ducked her back in on the last turn she picked the bit back up, which surprised me. When I angled her back over in the lane she really was game." Kissin In The Sand, a daughter of Somebeachsomewhere out of Kiss Me Kate, has won three of five races this year and 10 of 19 in her career. She has earned $495,545 for owners Marvin Katz and Hatfield Stables. Kissin In The Sand went off at odds of 4-1 and paid $10.20 to win. The Lynch Memorial is named in honor of James M. Lynch, who served in positions from steward to racing secretary to director of racing to general manager during a career that took him to tracks around the country. He was the director of racing at Pennsylvania's Liberty Bell for all 23 years of its existence. He also was a horse owner and director of the U.S. Trotting Association. He passed away in 2000. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

Last week's eliminations for this coming week's Sun Stakes Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono were notable for the way that most of the biggest names were able to sail through to the finals. In many cases, the elimination week can be extremely troublesome for highly-favored horses, but nine of the eleven Sun Stakes elims were won by the favorites, while the other two favorites who came up short did manage to get in by finishing high enough in the order. Although there were some highly-regarded horses who came up short of the finals, the races on Saturday are about as star-studded as fans could have hoped. As we both look back at the elims and preview the finals, you'll note that post position is a big factor heading into this Saturday. A few horses will have to overcome some tough spots to take home the winner's share of the giant purses, while others will benefit from much better posts than they had a week ago. Here's how it all shakes out. Race 9: The James M. Lynch Memorial Pace This $300,000 showcase for three-year-old fillies is distinguished by extremes in terms of the post position draw. Sidewalk Dancer, who actually came up short in her elimination behind Kissin In The Sand, will be the favorite. The reason: She had to deal with an outside post in the elimination, but for the final the Chris Oakes trainee gets the inside post. Meanwhile Kissin In The Sand drew the short straw and will start from the dreaded #9 post. Youaremycandygirl comes in as the defending division champion but has endured an up-and-down year. Although she won her elimination, her front-pacing style really benefitted from soft fractions, fractions she's unlikely to get away with on Saturday night. One to watch who could get you decent odds is the Ron Burke-trained Double A Mint, who was closing fast last week right behind Youaremycandygirl. Race 10: The Max C. Hempt Memorial Pace With $500,000 on the line for three-year-old open pacers, you might expect it to be an incredibly competitive group. But the bottom line is that if Lather Up races like he has throughout this year, he will be tough to beat. Unbeaten this year with a win in the North American Cup as a highlight, he left the pursuit behind late in his elimination. Although Dorsoduro Hanover and Hitman Hill were the other elimination winners, it feels like the one with the best chance of springing the upset is Stay Hungry, a Breeders Crown champion at age two and coming off a third in the elimination despite an awful trip. Springsteen, coming out of the Rene Allard barn, also could be looking to enjoy some glory days on Saturday night, but this is Lather Up's show. He just needs to race to his potential. Race 11: The Ben Franklin Free-For-All Pace On the one hand, McWicked was the easiest winner of Saturday night's three eliminations for the $500,000 showcase for aged pacers, gliding first-over to a comfortable win. But he only had to beat four other pacers in that split, so the task on Saturday night will be considerably more difficult for the favorite. All Bets Off, Sintra, and Filibuster Hanover come out of last week's most competitive race, as All Bets Off won thanks to a DQ of Sintra, who finished first but went inside the pylons to do it. Don't sleep on Filibuster Hanover, who was squeezed in the stretch to suffer his first loss of the year. If the pace gets wild and woolly, which it very well could, Heaven Rocks A, the Aussie invader who came from behind to win his split, could be a major factor, although McWicked also generally comes from off the pace. Race 12: The Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Trot Something has to give in the $500,000 sophomore trotting showcase. Colts Mission Accepted and Six Pack come in undefeated on the year, but the filly Manchego is unbeaten in her career, having passed her first test against the boys in the eliminations, albeit barely over Crystal Fashion. Ake Svanstedt's Six Pack is stuck on the outside, which won't make it easy on his favored style of early speed. The Ohio invader Mission Accepted proved he belonged with a furious rally to win his split. Crystal Fashion must be feeling confident following his near-miss against Manchego, while Patent Leather, Fashion Woodchopper, and Evaluate are all extremely dangerous. If Manchego sustains against this stacked field, it's hard to imagine her losing anytime soon. As you can tell, it should be a thrilling night of racing on Sun Stakes Saturday. Don't miss out on the action. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs  

WILKES-BARRE PA - Here are the fields for Saturday's elimination races to determine the various Championship finalists on June 30's $2,000,000 Sun Stakes Saturday supercard at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Listed are the post position, horse, trainer, driver (in italics if changed at scratch time today), and the morning line odds. The elimination purses are: $35,000 for the Franklin, $25,000 for the Beal and Hempt, and $20,000 for the Lynch. The Championships are $500,000 for the Franklin, Beal, and Hempt, and $300,000 for the Lynch. The top three from each of the three eliminations will return for their Championships except for the Lynch - it has only two eliminations, so the first four and the faster fifth-place horse will come back for the big money. BEAL TROT (3YO OPEN) BEAL ELIMINATION RACE 3 - 1, Patent Leather, trainer Jim Campbell, driver Tim Tetrick, 5-2; 2, Tito, Erv Miller, Marcus Miller, 8-1; 3, Lawmaker, Andrew Harris, Anthony MacDonald, 6-1; 4, Mission Accepted, Jeff Conger, Ryan Stahl, 3-1; 5, Winning Shadow, Jake Huff, David Miller, 12-1; 6, Whats The Word, Rene Allard, Simon Allard, 7-2; 7, Voss Volo, John Butenschoen, Corey Callahan, 9-2. BEAL ELIMINATION RACE 5 - 1, Missle Hill, Tony Alagna, Doug McNair, 5-1; 2, Moosonee, Chris Beaver, Aaron Merriman, 7-2; 3, Evaluate, Marcus Melander, Tim Tetrick, 3-1; 4, Rich And Miserable, Todd Buter, Tyler Buter, 10-1; 5, Fashionwoodchopper, Jim Campbell, David Miller, 6-1; 6, Six Pack, trainer-driver Ã…ke Svanstedt, 2-1; 7, Scirocco Rob, John Butenschoen, Corey Callahan, 12-1. BEAM ELIMINATION RACE 11 - 1, Alarm Detector, Benoit Baillargeon, Trevor Henry, 3-1; 2, Gemologist; trainer-driver Ã…ke Svanstedt, 15-1; 3, Crystal Fashion, Jim Campbell, Tim Tetrick, 4-1; 4, Mississippi Storm, Tom Fanning, David Miller, 12-1; 5, Manchego, Jimmy Takter, Yannick Gingras, 2-1; 6, Fashion Forever, Jim Campbell, Corey Callahan, 10-1; 7, Fiftydallarbill, Bill Crone, Brett Miller, 8-1; 8, Fourth Dimension, Marcus Melander, Brian Sears, 5-1. FRANKLIN PACE (FFA) FRANKLIN ELIM RACE 2 - 1, Easy Lover Hanover, Ben Wallace, Doug McNair, 8-1; 2, Check Six, Ron Burke, Yannick Gingras, 9-2; 3, Missile J, Scott Di Domenico, Matt Kakaley, 6-1; 4, Heaven Rocks A, Ross Croghan, David Miller, 5-2; 5, Western Fame, Jimmy Takter, Andrew McCarthy, 3-1; 6, Split The House, Chris Oakes, George Napolitano Jr., 7-2; 7, Donttellmeagain, Jim King Jr., Tim Tetrick, 12-1. FRANKLIN ELIM RACE 4 - 1, Rockin Ron, Ron Burke, Matt Kakaley, 5-2; 2, Scott Rocks, Hunter Oakes, George Napolitano Jr., 7-2; 3, Waikiki Beach A, Ross Croghan, Scott Zeron, 6-1; 4, McWicked, Casey Coleman, Brian Sears, 2-1; 5, Mach It So, Jeff Bamond Jr., Tim Tetrick, 5-1; 6, Mac's Jackpot, Jeffrey Smith, Brett Miller, 10-1. FRANKLIN RACE 10 - 1, Sintra, David Menary, Jody Jamieson, 3-1; 2, Boogie Shuffle, Mark Harder, David Miller, 8-1; 3, Christen Me N, Jim King Jr., Tim Tetrick, 12-1; 4, All Bets Off, Ron Burke, Matt Kakaley, 7-2; 5, Dealt A Winner, Mark Silva, Brett Miller, 9-2; 6, Filibuster Hanover, Ron Burke, Yannick Gingras, 5-2; 7, Funknwaffles, John Butenschoen, Corey Callahan, 6-1. HEMPT PACE (3YO COLTS) HEMPT ELIM RACE 6 - 1, This Is The Plan, Chris Ryder, Tim Tetrick, 5-1; 2, Daddyofemall, Dan Altmeyer, Mike Wilder, 12-1; 3, Cinnamack, Brian Brown, Scott Zeron, 4-1; 4, Keystone Tenacious, Paul Kelley, Mark MacDonald, 6-1; 5, Dorsoduro Hanover, Ron Burke, Matt Kakaley, 5-2; 6, Springsteen, Rene Allard, Simon Allard, 3-1; 7, Stendahl Hanover, Eddie Sager, Marcus Miller, 20-1; 8, Decoy, Jimmy Takter, David Miller, 10-1; 9, Closing Statement, Joe Holloway, Brian Sears, 15-1. HEMPT ELIM RACE 9 - 1, Whos Better, Brian Brown, Tim Tetrick, 15-1; 2, Sometimesawinner, Rene Allard, Simon Allard, 10-1; 3, Shnitzledosomethin, Dylan Davis, David Miller, 6-1; 4, Hitman Hill, Chris Oakes, Brett Miller, 3-1; 5, I'm A Big Deal, Chris Ryder, George Napolitano Jr., 4-1; 6, Points North, Nifty Norman, Andrew McCarthy, 9-2; 7, Grand Teton, Jimmy Takter, Scott Zeron, 12-1; 8, Stay Hungry, Tony Alagna, Doug McNair, 5-2. HEMPT ELIM RACE 12 - 1, Rock Lights, Katricia Adams, George Napolitano Jr., 15-1; 2, Babes Dig Me, Tony Alagna, Brett Miller, 12-1; 3, Heavenly Sound, Bruce Saunders, Andrew McCarthy. 10-1; 4, Nutcracker Sweet, Jimmy Takter, David Miller, 8-1; 5, Wes Delight, Mark Harder, Corey Callahan, 4-1; 6. Done Well, Brian Brown, Tim Tetrick, 3-1; 7, Lather Up, Clyde Francis, Montrell Teague, 2-1; 8, Courtly Choice, Blake MacIntosh, Mark MacDonald, 5-1. LYNCH PACE (3YO FILLIES) LYNCH ELIM RACE 7 - 1, Carlo's Superstar, Rene Allard, Simon Allard, 12-1; 2, Youaremycandygirl, Ron Burke, Yannick Gingras, 5-2; 3, Alexa's Power, Jim Campbell, Tim Tetrick, 3-1; 4, Double A Mint, Ron Burke, Matt Kakaley, 9-2; 5, Hypnotic Tale, Linda Toscano, David Miller, 4-1; 6, Pass Line Bluechip, Wayne Givens, Montrell Teague, 6-1; 7, Majorsspeciallady, Ron Burke, Brett Miller, 10-1; 8, Ideal Talker, Noel Daley, Andrew McCarthy, 15-1. LYNCH ELIM RACE 8 - 1, Python Blue Chip, Ron Burke, Yannick Gingras, 10-1; 2, I'm Trigger Happy, Tony Osullivan, David Miller, 9-2; 3, Kissin In The Sand, Nancy Johansson, Scott Zeron, 5-2; 4, Solitary, Nick Surick, Marcus Miller, 12-1; 5, Cuts Like A Knife, Bruce Saunders, Tim Tetrick, 15-1; 6, Sansovia Hanover, Ron Burke, Matt Kakaley, 6-1; 7, Serene Stride, Mark Harder, Corey Callahan, 4-1; 8, Sidewalk Dancer, Chris Oakes, Brett Miller, 3-1. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs  

The result in the $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial Final at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono today (Sunday) is a result for the Sunshine State. Queensland born horsemen Aaron Lambert and Noel Daley provided the top two finishers with Agent Q defeating Caviart Ally by three lengths in a time of 1:51.0 in the North American three-year-old feature. The mile was covered in 26.1, 29.1, 27.4 and 27.4 seconds. Agent Q, prepared by Lambert and driven by star reinsman David Miller, was the second elect in betting ($1.70) behind Tequila Monday ($1.20) while Caviart Ally driven by Andy McCarthy, a 196-1 longshot, finished second and 14-1 Brazuca was third. Tequila Monday finished 8th. Agent Q, a daughter of Western Terror out of the mare Teenage Paige, has won four of seven races this year and earned $297,931. It was her first win in an open stakes final after second-place finishes in this year’s Fan Hanover Stakes and Lismore Pace and last year’s Breeders Crown and She’s A Great Lady. The setbacks in the Fan Hanover and Breeders Crown were both by a nose. For her career, Agent Q has won seven of 17 races, finished second nine times, and earned $736,635. She is owned by Martin Scharf, Rochetti Cassar Racing, and Robert Muscara. Lambert was born and bred in Queensland and is the son of well-known and respected horseman Jim, who made the move to North America over a decade ago while McCarthy officially began his career in harness in the Sunshine State working for his champion father John. Daley is no stranger to success in North America owing to the deeds of Mr Muscleman, Broad Bahn, Explosive Matter, All Speed Hanover, Cedar Dove, Impressive Kemp, My Little Dragon, Little Miss Dragon, Magic Tonight, Ideal Matters, All Laid Out, Bad Bert, Day In The Life, Memphis Flash, Perfect Son, At Point Blank and E Dee’s Cam among many others.  Both Lambert and McCarthy have combined for considerable success in recent seasons with the likes of Dynamic Youth, Townslight Hanover and Mr Massimo among others. Daley and McCarthy were chasing a feature race victory in the $500,000 Earl Beal Jnr Memorial for the three-year-old trotters later in the program with the richly talented Sortie but unfortunately struck trouble and finished at the rear. The race was won by Devious Man for Andy and Julie Miller in a time of 1:52.4. Devious Man is a colt by Credit Winner. Both Devious Man and Sortie are aiming at the $1 million Hambletonian Stakes on Aug. 5 at the Meadowlands. Chris Barsby

Wilkes-Barre, PA --- Agent Q and driver David Miller made a sustained first-over drive pay off in Saturday's (July 1) $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for harness racing 3-year-old female pacers, taking the lead coming off the final turn and pulling away from the field in the stretch to win by three lengths in 1:51 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Caviart Ally, a 196-1 longshot, finished second and 14-1 Brazuca was third.   Agent Q, the 8-5 second choice behind favorite Tequila Monday, was fourth on the first turn as Idyllic Beach battled with Brazuca for the front. Idyllic Beach got the lead in a :26.1 opening quarter-mile, but it wouldn't be long before Agent Q came calling.   "I expected there would be some horses to leave," Miller said. "In the first turn they were going too hard to try to retake and my mare is pretty game so I took my shot coming first over.   "I felt good (on the final turn). My mare still had a nice hold of me. Yannick (Gingras with Idyllic Beach) had just asked his filly and I was getting to her pretty easy. I thought we were going to be in good shape unless somebody off the back got us. But she raced well. She's very sharp right now."   Agent Q, a daughter of Western Terror out of the mare Teenage Paige, has won four of seven races this year and earned $297,931. It was her first win in an open stakes final after second-place finishes in this year's Fan Hanover Stakes and Lismore Pace and last year's Breeders Crown and She's A Great Lady. The setbacks in the Fan Hanover and Breeders Crown were both by a nose.   For her career, Agent Q has won seven of 17 races, finished second nine times, and earned $736,635. She is owned by Martin Scharf, Rochetti Cassar Racing, and Robert Muscara. She is trained by Aaron Lambert.   Agent Q     James M. Lynch Memorial Consolation   The Western Ideal filly YS Tallia, in the pocket early, looked shuffled out of contention in the $50,000 Lynch consolation as favored Roaring To Go made a big move in the :27.1 third quarter to gain a sizable lead, with gapping two-wide horses forcing YS Tallia to wait for clearance.   The filly was still four lengths out in midstretch, but driver Simon Allard kept after his charge as Roaring To Go tired, and he and YS Tallia crossed the wire first by a half-length in a lifetime mark of 1:51.4 over a track that had just been upgraded to "good." Roaring To Go held on for second, 1-1/2 lengths ahead of the Pocono Pike-using Risky Romance.   YS Tallia, a Rene Allard-trained daughter of Western Ideal out of Bolero Tallia, has won two of seven races this year and earned $41,890 for breeder/owner Yves Sarrazin (the "YS" in YS Tallia). She was unraced at age 2.   YS Tallia     Jerry Connors

Freehold, NJ --- Harness racing trainer Kelvin Harrison knows Lynch Memorial hopeful Concerto is stepping up in class, but he thinks it could be a stepping stone. Unraced at age 2, Concerto has won four of eight races this season as she prepares for Saturday’s eliminations of the James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. All of Concerto’s victories have come in conditioned races, but the filly held her own in one start in state-restricted stakes action and has Harrison looking forward to her future. “It’s just an experience thing with her,” Harrison said. “Each time she races she seems to get a little bit better. I think this is pretty wishful thinking this week going in against these fillies, but eventually I believe she’ll be up to that level.” Concerto competes in the third of three Lynch eliminations. The six-horse field features the top two finishers from last week’s Fan Hanover Stakes --- nose winner Bettor’s Up and runner-up Agent Q, with Agent Q getting the 2-1 nod in morning line favoritism over 5-2 Bettor’s Up. Concerto is 10-1. The first elimination is led by Lismore Pace winner Tequila Monday (2-1) and returning Dan Patch Award winner Idyllic Beach (3-1). In the second elimination, multiple stakes winner Roaring To Go (2-1) and Pennsylvania Stallion Series standout Brazuca (5-2) are the top choices. The top three finishers from each elimination advance to the $300,000 Lynch final July 1 at Pocono. Saturday’s card at Pocono also includes eliminations of the Ben Franklin for older male pacers, Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old trotters, and Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers. Concerto is a daughter of stallion Bettor's Delight out of the Badlands Hanover mare Born Storyteller. The filly is owned by breeder Ron Mario, who also bred and raced Born Storyteller. Born Storyteller won an elimination of the Lynch in 2005 and finished fourth in the final. A year later, she finished second to Burning Point in the Breeders Crown Mare Pace. Concerto’s half-sister Beach Story was third in the 2014 Jugette. Concerto suffered from soreness as a 2-year-old and was turned out. She made her debut in March with a 10th-place finish at the Meadowlands, but since then has finished worse than second only twice. One time was on a sloppy track at Harrah’s Philadelphia, where she went off stride, and the other was a fifth-place finish in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes, where she was beaten by only 1-3/4 lengths. She has two wins and a second in her most recent three starts. “We brought her back late last year and got her ready to race,” Harrison said. “She wasn’t the fastest learner; she was a little aggressive. But she’s settled in good. “When they don’t race at 2 and they have to go against these horses at 3 it’s a little harder for some of them. She raced once in the sire stakes at (Philly) and she was really pretty good and I think she’s improved since then. This is a tall order, but I think she can develop into being this type of filly.” For a look at all the entries for Saturday at Pocono, click here. by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications 

The 2017 schedule for the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono includes four consecutive nights of racing, and a double-header on Kentucky Derby day, according to Vice President of Racing, Dale Rapson.  A total of 134 race nights and 135 cards are planned for the new season.  Racing opens at the renowned 5/8 mile oval in Wilkes Barre, PA on Saturday, March 18th, with limited days of racing in March, including Tuesday, March 21st; Saturday, March 25th, and Tuesday, March 28th.  In April, racing moves to Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday, with Sunday, April 2nd the 1st leg of the Bobby Weiss Late Closing Series for 3 and 4 year olds, named for the beloved former Director of Track Maintenance.  Bobby retired in 2011, and was responsible for the record-breaking track surface that is maintained today.  The series continues throughout April with the finals on May 2nd and 9th.  There will be no live racing on Monday, April 3rd or Sunday, April 16th. The prestigious $2 million Sun Stakes Saturday is set for Saturday, July 1st, and will feature the Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial 3-year-old Trot; the James Lynch 3-year-old Filly Pace; the Max Hempt 3-year-old Colt & Gelding Pace; and the Ben Franklin Free For All Pace.  Eliminations will take place on Saturday, June 24th.  Kentucky Derby day, May 6th, features a double-header with two Pocono live race cards.  Post Time for the first card will be at 11 a.m., and the second will be immediately following the 143rd running of the Derby.  The $50,000 Van Rose Memorial Pace for 4 YO & up will take place on the night card, honoring the late well-known local sportswriter, who was a fixture covering Pocono throughout the years.  In between, there will be the Run for the Roses Hat Review and a huge party on the track apron.  Live racing will immediately follow the second and third legs of the Triple Crown, the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.  Monday, September 4th will be the PA Sire Stakes Championship Finals for the 2YO future superstars with estimated purses of $260,000.  Also on the stakes schedule are the PA All-Stars for 2 & 3YO  in July: and the 3YO PA Stallion Series and PA Sire Stakes starting in May. Post Time for Sunday nights is 7:30p.m., with all other nights 6:30p.m.  In September, October, and November, Monday night Post Time will switch to a 4:30p.m. Post.  The 52nd season of live racing concludes on Saturday, November 25th.  ***Stall applications are now being taken for the 2017 season by calling Luann Reynolds at 570-831-2125.  Special reduced rates are being offered for the new season.  by Jennifer Starr, for Pocono Downs

Always B Miki shines in Ben Franklin Trainer Jimmy Takter says Always B Miki is a horse that will be long remembered in the future. For now, Takter and the 5-year-old pacer’s connections are more than enjoying the stallion’s present. Always B Miki won his highly anticipated showdown with Wiggle It Jiggleit and Freaky Feet Pete in Saturday’s (July 2) $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Always B Miki defeated Freaky Feet Pete by three-quarters of a length in a stakes- and world-record-equaling 1:47, with Wiggle It Jiggleit finishing third. The time equaled the fastest mile in history on a five-eighths-mile racetrack. Always B Miki, who also won in 1:47 last week at Pocono, shares the record with Sweet Lou. Wiggle It Jiggleit went to the lead off the starting gate, but Freaky Feet Pete left quickly from post six and got to the front following an opening quarter-mile in :25.4. Always B Miki, who started from post seven, was moved to the lead by driver David Miller prior to the halfway point, reached in :53, and then was pressured on the outside by first-over Wiggle It Jiggleit. Always B Miki and Wiggle It Jiggleit battled each other around the final turn, but Always B Miki repelled the challenge before holding off an inside bid from Freaky Feet Pete. “I knew David was going to be aggressive,” Takter said. “We talked about it and he said he wasn’t going to sit and wait for something to happen. He was in it to win it. “The way the race unfolded, he had to work hard. It wasn’t given to him. I knew that Wiggle It (Jiggleit) would come right away. He did the right move. He hoped the :53 (half) would have stung my horse a little bit and then he’d come at him. But I have to say all three of those horses raced a heck of a race. They all raced fantastic.” Wiggle It Jiggleit and Freaky Feet Pete both got warm ovations from the large crowd at Pocono as they made their ways back to the paddock. History’s fastest pacing mile is the 1:46.1 time-trial mark established by Cambest in 1993. The fastest time for a race mile is 1:46.4, which is shared by four horses. “The track is not really as fast as it was last week and it’s a colder evening,” Takter said. “If it was a warm evening, I think they would have gone a second faster. This is not Miki’s favorite (track size). He’s more a big track horse. But he’s handling the small track better and better.” Always B Miki has won five of seven races this year and nine of 11 since returning from injury last October. He is owned by Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable, and Christina Takter. For his career, Always B Miki has won 23 of 42 starts and earned $1.56 million. “He’s one of those horses that people are going to remember for a long, long time,” Takter said. Sent off as the 8-5 second choice behind favorite Wiggle It Jiggleit, Always B Miki paid $5.20, $3.00 and $2.20. Montrell Teague, Wiggle It Jiggleit’s driver, said his trip didn’t work out as he envisioned. “He raced good, it just wasn’t the ideal trip that I thought I was going to get,” Teague said. “Like I said, you can’t go in there with a game plan. It’s a horserace, you never know what’s going to happen. “The biggest surprise was there weren’t as many leavers. I was thinking five of them were going to come out of there, but it was just the main three. (Always B) Miki left the gate good and got his good trip.” Trace Tetrick, the driver of Freaky Feet Pete, was happy with his horse’s effort. “It was a great race,” Tetrick said. “The trip kind of worked out like I thought it would. I was hoping to press and land on the front and control it, or get moved on by either Montrell or David. “David took me as long as I needed to go, I just needed a little longer stretch to beat him.” The Western Ideal 5-year-old stallion Luck Be Withyou continued his career-long love affair with Pocono, taking the $75,000 Ben Franklin consolation in 1:47.4. Luck Be Withyou, who had an outside post in his Franklin elim and couldn’t enter contention, drew the rail for the consolation and would not cede the lead through amazing fractions of :25.4, :52.4, and 1:19.4, then was kept alive through the stretch by Pocono’s leading driver, George Napolitano Jr. while also lowering his lifetime best by a tick. Winner of the 2013 Breeders Crown and the 2015 Franklin championship at Pocono, Luck Be Withyou, conditioned by Chris Oakes when on the local scene, has earned the majority of his $1,195,281 career bankroll over the red clay oval for owner John Craig. Southwind Frank wins Earl Beal, Jr, Memorial Driver Yannick Gingras tucked his whip and breathed a sigh of relief at the wire as he and Southwind Frank won the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial in 1:52.4, part of Sun Stakes Saturday (July 2) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. After coming out of last week's elimination with a virus, Southwind Frank-Gingras' best hope for his first Hambletonian win-was back to his championship form. Last year's divisional champion got away fourth as Hollywood Highway took the lead from post 2. After a break by Hollywood Highway near the quarter pole, reached in :27.3, Southwind Frank took the lead the first time past the grandstand. Southwind Frank led the field through the half in :56.2 and three-quarters in 1:24.4 before holding off stablemate Dayson-who made a break-and coming home in :28 flat to win by 2-1/4 lengths. Trolley was second with Bar Hopping third. Southwind Frank paid $2.40 to win. A son of Muscle Hill out of Flawless Lindy, Southwind Frank is trained by Ron Burke for Southwind Frank Partners. The Gingras-Burke combo narrowly missed their respective first Hambletonian win last year when the filly Mission Brief was edged by Pinkman. "I've been thinking about Hambo since the Peter Haughton last year," said Gingras. "We are aiming for that first Saturday in August. All these starts just build up to that. We want to win them all, but the main goal is Aug. 6." Co-owner Jerry Silva of J&T Stables was part of the Muscle Hill ownership team when he won the 2009 Hambletonian, but is looking forward to another Hambletonian win with this colt. "This is the 'Frank' that we had last year," he said. Mr. Beal, a former owner, trainer and driver who died in 2009, served as president of the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association, where he was instrumental in bringing casino gaming to Pennsylvania racetracks, fought for increased simulcasting opportunities in the Keystone State, and ensured that county fair racing continued in Pennsylvania through tough times. This is the sixth edition of the Beal Memorial, which was won last year by eventual Trotter of the Year Pinkman in 1:51.3. Milligan's School, winner of his first two seasonal efforts but then offstride in his next two, raised his 2016 record to three for five with a $21.80 upset in the $75,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial consolation. Driver Andy Miller and trainer Julie Miller had their son of Yankee Glideon his best behavior and in top form for this event, as he came first-over, then held off Love Matters, who followed his cover, by three-quarters of a length. The final clocking of 1:53.2 lowered his speed badge by a tick for the ownership of Stroy Inc. Racing Hill is much the best in Max Hempt As fireworks popped overhead, Racing Hill made some fireworks of his own in winning the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial final in a rated 1:49, part of Sun Stakes Saturday (July 2) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Sent off as the 3-5 favorite off a 1:49.1 elimination win last week, Racing Hill took the lead from Boston Red Rocks shortly before the quarter in :25.4. Driver Brett Miller then took the son of Roll With Joe – Chasing Ideals through a second quarter in :29. “That’s what makes this colt such a tremendous colt,” said Miller. “He can go very fast and then the next quarter he can go very slow. Being that handy makes him very deadly.” No one was catching Racing Hill tonight, as he led the field to the three-quarters in 1:22 and sprinted home to win by 2-1/2 lengths. JK Will Power was second with Boston Red Rocks third. “I’ve got so much confidence in this colt, and every week he is giving me even more confidence,” said Miller. “Coming down the stretch, I was saying to myself, ‘I don’t even need to pull the earplugs,’ and he’s the kind of colt that when I pull the earplugs, he just takes off. He’s just sharp.” Tony Alagna trains Racing Hill for owner-breeder Tom Hill of the United Kingdom. He now has two wins, three seconds and a third in six starts this year, good for $450,340 in seasonal earnings. Alagna said the colt’s next engagement will be the Meadowlands Pace. “Hopefully we get another shot to go to the Meadowlands on his home track and have some luck there,” he said. Mr. Hempt was the man behind Hempt Farms in Mechanicsburg, Pa., whose horses with the “Keystone” moniker won nearly every major race in the sport. A Hall of Fame inductee in 1980, Mr. Hempt was also a USTA director and president of the Hambletonian Society. He died in 1999 at age 79. Formerly known as the William E. Miller Memorial at Rosecroft Raceway from 1955-1994 and the Joseph B. Banks Memorial from 1995-1999 at Pocono, the Hempt Memorial has been contested since 2000. Wiggle It Jiggleit won last year’s edition in 1:48.2. Pure Country is at her best in James Lynch Pure Country and driver Brett Miller made their way to the front near the midway point and never relinquished the lead from there, winning Saturday’s (July 2) $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers by a half-length over Blue Moon Stride in a stakes-record-equaling 1:49.2 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. I Said Diamonds led the field to the opening quarter-mile in :27, but soon gave up the top spot to Darlinonthebeach. Pure Country was on the move ahead of Blue Moon Stride in the outside flow and made her way to the lead as the group reached the half in :54.2. Darlinonthebeach slowed on the backstretch and did not finish. Pure Country reached three-quarters in 1:22.1 and paced home from there to win for the fourth time in seven starts this season. Blue Moon Stride was followed by Lindwood Beachgirl in third and I Said Diamonds in fourth. It was Pure Country’s third major victory of the campaign, having captured the Miss Pennsylvania and Fan Hanover earlier this year. “She’s just classy,” winning trainer Jimmy Takter said. “Brett didn’t have any other choice than to go forward. I was a little worried. I know (Blue Moon Stride) is a pretty good horse sitting in the back there. We had to work very hard to go to our spot, but I know (Pure Country) is tough to get by.” A daughter of Somebeachsomewhere out of the mare Western Montana, Pure Country has won 14 of 17 career races and earned $1.19 million. She is owned by Diamond Creek Racing. Last year, Pure Country won all 10 of her races and was named the Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female pacer. “She’s getting more professional,” Takter said. “As a 2-year-old it’s a little easier to be a little dominant. There are a lot of good fillies out there. They have to work for every race.” Pure Country, the 7-5 favorite, paid $4.80 to win. Darlinonthebeach’s trainer Nancy Johansson told DRF Harness’ Derick Giwner that her filly suffered from atrial fibrillation. Call Me Queen Be, forced to go :26 to the quarter in her Lynch elimination and understandably tiring, was very strong coming off a fast pace in the $50,000 Lynch Consolation, moving to the lead on the far turn past backstretch brusher Sail To The Beach and going on to a two length triumph, equaling her lifetime mark by stopping the timer in 1:50.3. Scott Zeron handled the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, the 3-5 choice of the large group of fans gathered for the giant card, for trainer Ross Croghan and the ownership of Let It Ride Stables Inc. and Dana Parham. The Lynch Memorial is named in honor of the late James M. Lynch, who did some amateur driving and worked as a groom as a teenager, but made his mark years later as a race official, most notably as the director of racing at Liberty Bell for its entire 23-year existence. Lynch, who passed away in 2000 at the age of 78, also was a horse owner and director of the U.S. Trotting Association. by Ken Weingartner, T J Burkett and PHHA/Pocono Downs

This Week: Ben Franklin Pace, Earl Beal Jr. Memorial, Max C. Hempt Memorial and James M. Lynch Memorial finals, The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; Cleveland Trotting Classic, Northfield Park, Northfield, Ohio; Tompkins-Geers, Tioga Downs, Nichols, N.Y.; Miss Versatility, Mohawk Racetrack, Campbellville, Ontario; and Landmark Stakes, Historic Track, Goshen, N.Y. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit spotlight will once again be on The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono this Saturday night (July 2) as the track will host four lucrative stakes finals in the $500,000 Ben Franklin for older pacers, the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old trotters, the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers and the $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old filly pacers. Also on Saturday, Northfield Park will host the $180,000 Cleveland Trotting Classic for older trotters, while Historic Track will card eight Landmark Stakes for 2- and 3-year-olds of both sexes and gaits. A trio of Friday night (July 1) stakes open the Grand Circuit action this week with the Tompkins-Geers at Tioga Downs and the Miss Versatility at Mohawk. At Tioga, there will be two divisions in the $77,380 Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old male trotters and two divisions in the $55,380 Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old filly trotters. Mohawk will host a pair of C$30,000 divisions in the Miss Versatility for older trotting mares. Complete entries for the U.S. races can be found by clicking on this link. Mohawk entries are available at this link. Last time: Last weekend's Grand Circuit action opened up on Friday night (June 24) at Meadowlands Racetrack with the $200,000 Arthur Cutler Memorial for older trotters. Displaying no ill effects after being away from the races for almost a month, Resolve powered down the road to an easy one length win in the Cutler. Resolve, the even-money favorite, was sent away fast from post seven and had the lead at the quarter in :27.1. Trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt did a masterful job of rating the second fraction, which was timed in a sleepy :30 as they hit the half in :57.1. Obrigado, the 2-1 second choice fresh off wins in the Maxie Lee and Charlie Hill Memorial, vacated the four hole at the seven-sixteenths and grinded his way into contention at three-quarters, which went in 1:25.4. Then Svanstedt hit the gas and Resolve responded with a final quarter of :26.3, leaving Obrigado behind while opening up a safe lead. Flanagan Memory, who went a third-over trip, closed well through the stretch to end up a no-threat second. Obrigado held third. Resolve trotted the mile in 1:52.2 for owner Hans Enggren. Social media was abuzz when Wiggle It Jiggleit captured the first of three $30,000 Ben Franklin eliminations on Saturday (June 25) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, but the horse that many considered to be the star attraction was overshadowed by his two colleagues that triumphed in the two following divisions and establishes a contest in the $500,000 final on Saturday (July 2) that may very well be epic. Wiggle It Jiggleit is the 2015 Harness Horse of the Year, and is the top-ranked horse in the industry poll. Trained by Clyde Francis and owned by George Teague Jr. Inc. and Teague Racing Partnership, the gelding won his Franklin elimination in 1:48.1. Which was the slowest elimination. By a full second. Because world records were set in the other two cuts: first the 5-year-old pacing stallion Always B Miki took his Franklin elimination in 1:47, equaling Sweet Lou's all-time world record for a five-eighths-mile track (set in the Franklin final two years ago) and missing the all-time race record by a single tick, and then Freaky Feet Pete was off by himself much of the other elimination and still crossed the wire in 1:47.1, a world record for a 4-year-old pacing horse on a five-eighths-mile track. Always B Miki now has won four of six races and $91,500 this year, and 22 of 41 races and $1,319,576 lifetime. Jimmy Takter has brought the pacer all the way back from injury to the top of his game for owners Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable, and Christina Takter. Freaky Feet Pete is now five-for-six in 2016 and an amazing 29-for-33 in his career, with $1,224,050 in his till for trainer Larry Rheinheimer and owners Mary Jo Rheinheimer and Marty Rheinheimer and he completed the "Indiana-sired" sweep of the Franklin eliminations. Complete recaps of the weekend races, including the other six Pocono stakes eliminations, are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2016, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farm is the sponsor for the 2016 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the current leaders: Drivers: 1. Jordan Stratton - 191.5; 2. David Miller - 170; 3. Yannick Gingras - 167; 4. Tim Tetrick - 166; 5. Matt Kakaley - 130. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 258; 2. Jeff Bamond Jr. - 170; 3. Peter Tritton - 139.5; 4. Rene Allard - 125; 5. Jimmy Takter - 118. Owners: 1. Harry von Knoblauch - 139.5; 2. Bamond Racing - 112; 3. Burke Racing Stable - 72.6; 4. Weaver Bruscemi - 62.85; 5t. George Teague Jr. Inc. - 51.25; 5t. Teague Racing Partnership - 51.25. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next week at Tioga Downs, Meadowlands Racetrack, and Yonkers Raceway. Tioga will host Tompkins-Geers races for 3-year-old colt and filly pacers; The Meadowlands will host the Graduate Series finals for 4-year-old pacers and trotters, Meadowlands Pace eliminations for 3-year-olds and a Reynolds division for 3-year-old filly trotters; and Yonkers features Lawrence Sheppard eliminations for 2-year-old pacers. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit

After last weekend's three Ben Franklin Pace eliminations produced two of the three fastest miles in harness racing history on a five-eighths-mile track, horsemen and fans are anticipating an extraordinary encore in Saturday's $500,000 final at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Five-year-old stallion Always B Miki won his Franklin elimination in 1:47, equaling Sweet Lou's record for the fastest-ever mile on a five-eighths oval. Freaky Feet Pete followed with a 1:47.1 victory in his elim, setting the record for the fastest mile by a 4-year-old on a five-eighths track. Prior to those two performances, 2015 Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit won his Franklin elimination in 1:48.1. Earlier this season, the 4-year-old gelding posted a 1:47.3 triumph on the five-eighths oval at Harrah's Philadelphia. The Ben Franklin Pace final is the first-ever meeting of all three horses in the same race. The event is part of Pocono's Sun Stakes Saturday, which also includes stakes for 3-year-old pacers and trotters. "As a fan, it's just tremendous," said Mitchel Skolnick, who is one of the owners of the Jimmy Takter-trained Always B Miki. "We wait years for horses like this to come along, and to see the three each at his best, it's special. Hopefully, everyone gets what they're expecting (on Saturday)." History's fastest pacing mile is the 1:46.1 time-trial mark established by Cambest in 1993. The fastest time for a race mile is 1:46.4, which is shared by four horses. Many people believe the record for a race mile --- if not the time-trial clocking --- could fall in the Franklin final. "It's a possibility if it all goes the right way," said Larry Rheinheimer, who bred Freaky Feet Pete and trains the stallion for his wife Mary Jo and son Marty. "But I don't worry about that until afterwards. My goal is to be the first one across the finish line. The time? We'll take that when it comes. I was excited with the (1):47.1 and the 4-year-old record. It will be a good race regardless. I'm excited." Added George Teague Jr., who owns the Clyde Francis-trained Wiggle It Jiggleit, "If it's a night like the other night and the weather is warm with no wind, I think it's possible they can go (1):46 and a piece or thereabouts. It's perfect the way it worked out from the other night's races. They all won, and won in big fashion. "The buildup for this race is great. There's a lot of buzz." Wiggle It Jiggleit, the No. 1-ranked horse in the current Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, has won eight of 11 races this year. He brings a four-race victory streak to the Franklin final, with his triumphs including the Battle of Lake Erie and Dorothy Mullin Invitational. A son of Mr Wiggles-Mozzi Hanover, Wiggle It Jiggleit has won 31 of 38 lifetime races and earned $2.63 million. He has finished worse than second only once in his career. Wiggle It Jiggleit is the Franklin's 5-2 morning line favorite and will start the race from post No. 3 with driver Montrell Teague, the son of George Teague Jr., in the sulky. Wiggle It Jiggleit won his elimination by 1-1/4 lengths. "I'm not going to kid you, I'd rather be 1-9 going for $500,000 than have to race those two horses," the elder Teague said, laughing. "I'd be stupid to say anything differently. But to be a part of this, it's definitely a lot of fun. I'm excited. I'm all pumped up. I love our chances. I still think we have the best horse in the game. I'm sure the other two think they have the best horse in the game, too. Now it's prove-it time." Always B Miki, the No. 2-ranked horse in the sport's poll, has won eight of 10 races since returning to action from injury last October. The son of Always A Virgin-Artstopper has won 22 of 41 career starts and earned $1.31 million. He is owned by Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable, and Christina Takter. In his elimination, Always B Miki raced on the outside for much of the mile, but was able to overtake pacesetter Mel Mara at the top of the stretch and pull away for a 3-3/4 length win. "I don't think I've been more impressed with a horse that I've trained than I was with him in that race," said Jimmy Takter, who will watch Always B Miki and driver David Miller start from post No. 7 in the Franklin final. "I was so proud of him. "Personally, I think this is probably as exciting a race coming up that there ever was. All the drivers have confidence in their horse. They all think they're going to win it. All three raced fantastic last weekend; they all looked great. It's going to be a horserace." Freaky Feet Pete, the fourth-ranked horse in harness racing's Top 10, has won five of six races this year and 29 of 33 lifetime starts. The son of Rockin Image-Skyway Lori has finished worse than third only once in his career and earned $1.22 million. He won his elimination by 5-3/4 lengths and will start the final from post six with regular driver Trace Tetrick. "Pete raced good; I was real happy with him," Rheinheimer said. "He came out of it good, eating good and everything, so we're ready to go. I think it will be a good race. It'll probably come down to whoever gets the breaks and the racing luck." In addition to the "Big Three," the Franklin final includes Canada's 2015 Horse of the Year State Treasurer plus world champions Mel Mara, who defeated Always B Miki earlier this season, and Always At My Place. Add in Shamballa and the 10-horse field features seven horses that have won in 1:48 or faster. Below is the Ben Franklin field followed by the fields for the remaining stakes Saturday at Pocono: $500,000 Ben Franklin (Race 11; estimated post time 9:55 p.m.) PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-ML 1 - Mel Mara - Corey Callahan - Dylan Davis - 6/1 2 - Shamballa - Scott Zeron - Rick Zeron - 8/1 3 - Wiggle It Jiggleit - Montrell Teague - Clyde Francis - 5/2 4 - State Treasurer - Tim Tetrick - Ian Moore - 15/1 5 - Sunfire Blue Chip - Brett Miller - Jimmy Takter - 12/1 6 - Freaky Feet Pete - Trace Tetrick - Larry Rheinheimer - 3/1 7 - Always B Miki - David Miller - Jimmy Takter - 4/1 8 - All Bets Off - Matt Kakaley - Ron Burke - 20/1 9 - Rock N' Roll World - Jim Morrill Jr. - Ron Burke - 30/1 10 - Always At My Place - Yannick Gingras - Ron Burke - 10/1 Always At My Place starts from the second tier $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial (Race 9; estimated post time 9:08 p.m.) PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-ML 1 - JK Fannie - Jim Morrill Jr. - Nancy Johansson - 10/1 2 - I Said Diamonds - Matt Kakaley - Matias Ruiz - 5/1 3 - Newborn Sassy - Tim Tetrick - Jo Ann Looney-King - 4/1 4 - Lindwood Beachgirl - Yannick Gingras - Mark Steacy - 12/1 5 - Skinny Dipper - Scott Zeron - Ross Croghan - 20/1 6 - Darlinonthebeach - David Miller - Nancy Johansson - 3/1 7 - Pure Country - Brett Miller - Jimmy Takter - 5/2 8 - Blue Moon Stride - Andrew McCarthy - Mark Harder - 6/1 9 - Penpal - Pat Lachance - Pat Lachance - 15/1 $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial (Race 10; estimated post time 9:31 p.m.) PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-ML 1 - More Dragon - Jim Morrill Jr. - Ron Burke - 20/1 2 - Racing Hill - Brett Miller - Tony Alagna - 5/2 3 - Western Fame - George Napolitano Jr. - Jimmy Takter - 12/1 4 - JK Will Power - Yannick Gingras - Ron Burke - 6/1 5 - Talk Show - Scott Zeron - Steve Elliott - 8/1 6 - Boston Red Rocks - Tim Tetrick - Steve Elliott - 5/1 7 - Katies Rocker - David Miller - Jim Campbell - 4/1 8 - Control The Moment - Randy Waples - Brad Maxwell - 7/2 9 - Big Top Hanover - Matt Kakaley - Ron Burke - 15/1 $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial (Race 12; estimated post time 10:20 p.m.) PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-ML 1 - Reigning Moni - Scott Zeron - Jimmy Takter - 10/1 2 - Hollywood Highway - John Campbell - Staffan Lind - 15/1 3 - Truemass Volo - Eric Goodell - Douglas Hamilton - 12/1 4 - Dayson - Jim Morrill Jr. - Ron Burke - 3/1 5 - Trolley - Marcus Miller - Erv Miller - 6/1 6 - Brooklyn Hill - David Miller - Jonas Czernyson - 5/1 7 - Southwind Frank - Yannick Gingras - Ron Burke - 5/2 8 - Dice Man - Ake Svanstedt - Ake Svanstedt - 20/1 9 - Bar Hopping - Tim Tetrick - Jimmy Takter - 4/1 by Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications/USTA  

WILKES-BARRE PA - There will be over $2 million on the line this Saturday evening at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on its harness racing Super Stakes Saturday harness racing card, but while the races for the three-year-olds will provide exciting contests and help provide early season pecking order, the main focus will be on one event.   The Showdown.   The Clash of the Titans - Always B Miki, Freaky Feet Pete, and Wiggle It Jiggleit - in the $500,000 Ben Franklin FFA Pace Championship, race 11 on the 14-race card Saturday at Pocono, which is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. first post.   Here's an overview of the evening's activities, led of course by the Franklin:   $500,000 BEN FRANKLIN FFAP CHAMPIONSHIP (race 11 of 14 - consolation race 7)   Defending Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit got the best of the post draw among the three Indiana-sired winners in the Franklin eliminations - but then again, the other two are not noted for their quick starting speed, although they may need to show some to get the major share of the purse in the Franklin, which became a field of ten when Shamballa and Always At My Place deadheated for third in an elimination.   The four-year-old son of Mr Wiggles, trained by Clyde Francis for George Teague Jr. Inc. and Teague Racing Partnership LLC, shows five "clean" calls of "1" (no parked-out symbols) at the quarter among his charted lines, and being somewhere near the front has been part of driver Montrell Teague's basic modus operandi as "Wiggle" has won 31 of 38 career starts and $2.630,760 lifetime, including an easy-looking 1:48.1 score in his Franklin elimination (in which he drew over $73,000 of a $76,500 show pool). What might happen after Wiggle It Jiggleit gets the top (if he goes for the lead) makes for the drama of the story.   The five-year-old Always A Virgin stallion (are the last two words an oxymoron?) Always B Miki will start from post seven for driver David Miller, trainer Jimmy Takter, and his ownership of Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable, and Christina Takter. "Miki" has forged much of his reputation as an unstoppable finisher deluxe, with several pace-controlling moves made midrace on the straightaway of a big track. He shows only one "clean 1" at the first split on his lines, in a field of six when he was 1-20* in a Meadowlands race earlier this year, but he also has shown the ability to sit outside and still be razor-sharp in the stretch, as he was at Pocono last week when he was hung the better part of ¾ of a mile, mostly uncovered, and still had strong strides to the wire to equal the 1:47 world record for 5/8-mile tracks, set by Sweet Lou in the Franklin Championship here in 2014. He may face a similar trip on Saturday - but he's shown he can handle it.   The horse that hung Always B Miki, Mel Mara (driven by Corey Callahan), should be mentioned here, as the seven-year-old Lis Mara stallion, trained by Dylan Davis for Robert Cooper Stables LLC and J&T Silva Stables LLC, drew the rail for the Franklin Championship. But Mel Mara has seldom shown early speed racing recently -which may be a strange thing to say for a horse who's been ahead at the half in 3 of his last 5 races, but he has been parked at the quarter in all three, making second-quarter moves to the top. "Mel" does not figure to benefit from the "inside geometry" of post one as much as many would.   Freaky Feet Pete was in front most of his Franklin victory, with the son of Rockin Image setting a world record of 1:47.1 for his division in his easiest of triumphs (you heard a lot of "He didn't look like he was going that fast!" comments after his elim). But again, like Always B Miki, the only raceline he shows with a "clean 1" at the quarter was a 1-20* early-season win at Hoosier. Trace Tetrick, Tim's brother, who will be putting his 1.000 lifetime UDR at Pocono on the line here (last week was his first visit to the mountain oval) for trainer Larry Rheinheimer and owners Mary Jo and Marty Rheinheimer.   With all these horses of superior and variable mid-race tactics - gathered together in a powerpacked field that collectively has earned $11.8M in their careers and has an average mark of 1:47.4 - the trip, combined with some racing luck, will probably tell the tale in this great free-for-all showdown.   (By the way, Luck Be Withyou, the defending Franklin champ, will be racing in the Consolation this year, from post 1. He won his 2015 elim from post 8 and his final from post nine - and went wire-to-wire, with "clean 1"s, in both contests.)   $500,000 EARL BEAL JR. 3CT CHAMPIONSHIP (race 12 -- consolation race 5)   Lost a bit in the uproar about the speedy Franklin elimination show last Saturday was the fact that Southwind Frank, the favorite for the August 8 Hambletonian, suffered only the second loss of his career. The three-year-old son of Muscle Hill, driven by Yannick Gingras for trainer Ron Burke and Southwind Frank Partners, was limbed out most of the first 3/8s before getting the top and went on to fast fractions before getting edged at the end by a game Bar Hopping in 1:52.1. The Beal elim was only "Frank"'s third start of the year, and first since June 4, and he figures to be a bit better this week, although again needing to overcome post seven in a field of nine.   Bar Hopping, who caught Southwind Frank late in posting the upset last week, may have an even more difficult road to hoe on Saturday, as the pillshake was unkind enough to give him the outside in the field of nine for trainer Jimmy Takter and the ownership of Christina Takter, Hatfield Stables, Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. But the son of Muscle Hill will be driven by Tim Tetrick, who showed the best ability to cope "against the odds" on Elim Saturday - of the nine eliminations, seven were won by favorites, and Tetrick drove the other two: Bar Hopping ($24.60) and 3PF Newborn Sassy ($8.20).   If these two get involved in vicious early dueling, there is a horse who has proven he has a wicked closing kick - and he lives right down the shedrow from Southwind Frank. That would be Burke trainee Dayson, an altered son of Conway Hall who has never lost in his career when flat (11 for 14, with three breaks). That pattern looked in serious jeopardy as late as midstretch last week, but driver Jim Morrill Jr. got a furious late kick out of Dayson for a 1:52.3 tally, and from post two he might again be in prime position to "pick up the pieces" for Burke Racing Stable LLC, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables LLC, and Rossie Smith.   $500,000 MAX C. HEMPT 3CP CHAMPIONSHIP (race 10; no consolation - only 13 in elims.)   Racing Hill and Control The Moment were 2-3 behind Hempt non-eligible Betting Hill in the recent $1MC North America Cup at Mohawk, and both followed on their fine showing in Canada by winning their respective Hempt elims. For the Hempt Championship, Racing Hill has the better draw, PP2 vs. PP8, and the Roll With Joe colt, trained by Tony Alagna for owner Tom Hill of the U.K., was the faster elim winner, winning in 1:49.1 under a hold the last 1/16 by driver Brett Miller.   However, few people would be surprised if the Well Said colt Control The Moment gave a giant accounting of himself despite landing behind the 8-ball at the post draw. The Brad Maxwell trainee, owned by the Control The Moment Stable, won in 1:49.3 last week, snapping home in 27 last Saturday to hold off 2015 divisional champion Boston Red Rocks, who has post six in the Hempt Final.   If one were looking for an upsetter in the Hempt, one could make a case for the Art Major gelding Talk Show, who starts in the middle of the field of nine for driver Scott Zeron and trainer Steve Elliott (also the trainer of Boston Red Rocks). The timer malfunctioned during his elim, and it wasn't until after the race that it was noted that Racing Hill blitzed the third quarter in 26.3 to hold off a spirited challenge from Talk Show - who was four lengths off the lead at the half, meaning he went his third quarter raw in 25.4! Such pure speed, under perfect circumstances, could find Talk Show in the thick of things in the Hempt final.   $300,000 JAMES LYNCH 3FP CHAMPIONSHIP (race 9 - consolation race 6)   Last year's division champion Pure Country went 10-for-10 in her freshman campaign. This year, largely due to some early-season sickness, the road has not been as easy for the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, owned by Diamond Creek Racing, but as trainer Jimmy Takter notes, "She's won the two biggest races of the season for her division so far, the Miss Pennsylvania (at Pocono) and the Fan Hanover." Last week Pure Country showed her grittiness by overcoming a first-over trip to win in 1:50.1 for driver Brett Miller, as she looks to raise her "majors" record to 3 for 3; the two foes who were within a half-length of her at the wire start on either side of her Saturday: Blue Moon Stride, getting post eight after a second, and Darlinonthebeach, in post six after closing for third.   We mentioned Newborn Sassy earlier as one of two non-favorites, both piloted by Tim Tetrick, to win an elim, and on Saturday the Western Ideal miss, trained by co-owner Jo Ann Looney-King for herself and partner CC Racing LLC, will begin from post three off her 1:51.3 elimination tally. I Said Diamonds, that elim's chalk who came up just short after not having raced in 29 days, certainly has a license to be better off of that race, and will start from post two.   ANOTHER STAR WILL BE AT POCONO SATURDAY   Well-known baseball superstar Pete Rose will be making an appearance at The Downs at Mohegan Sun at Pocono before the evening's races (and may well stay and bet a few, if his past performances are any indication).   Wristbands to attend the session with Rose will be distributed starting at 1 p.m. in the Racing Lobby. There are a limited number of wrist bands, which will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. The session with Rose will take place between 4 and 6 p.m. Only authorized photos will be distributed.     AND TO END, THE FIELDS FOR THE "BIG FOUR" ON SUN STAKES SATURDAY (post, horse, driver, trainer):   $300,000 JAMES LYNCH 3FP CHAMPIONSHIP, race 9:   1, JK Fannie, David Miller, Nancy Johansson;   2, I Said Diamonds, Matt Kakaley, Matias Ruiz;   3, Newborn Sassy, Tim Tetrick, Jo Ann Looney-King;   4, Lindwood Beach Girl, Yannick Gingras, Mark Steacy;   5, Skinny Dipper, Andrew McCarthy, Ross Croghan;   6. Darlinonthebeach, David Miller also listed, Nancy Johansson;   7, Pure Country, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter;   8, Blue Moon Stride, McCarthy also listed, Mark Harder;   9. Penpal, driver/trainer Pat Lachance.   $500,000 MAX C. HEMPT 3CP CHAMPIONSHIP, race 10:   1, More Dragon, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke;   2, Racing Hill, Brett Miller, Tony Alagna;   3, Western Fame, George Napolitano Jr., Jimmy Takter;   4, JK Will Power, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke;   5, Talk Show, Scott Zeron, Steve Elliott;   6, Boston Red Rocks, Tim Tetrick, Steve Elliott;   7, Katies Rocker, David Miller, Jim Campbell;   8, Control The Moment, Randy Waples, Brad Maxwell;   9, Big Top Hanover, Gingras also listed, Ron Burke.   $500,000 BEN FRANKLIN FFAP CHAMPIONSHIP, race 11:   1, Mel Mara, Corey Callahan, Dylan Davis;   2, Shamballa, Scott Zeron, Rick Zeron;   3, Wiggle It Jiggleit, Montrell Teague, Clyde Francis;   4, State Treasurer, Tim Tetrick, Dr. Ian Moore;   5, Sunfire Blue Chip, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter;   6, Freaky Feet Pete, Trace Tetrick, Larry Rheinheimer;   7, Always B Miki, David Miller, Jimmy Takter;   8, All Bets Off, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke;   9, Rock N' Roll World, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke;   10 (2T), Always At My Place, Gingras also listed, Ron Burke.   $500,000 EARL BEAL JR. 3CT CHAMPIONSHIP, race 12:   1, Reigning Moni, Scott Zeron, Jimmy Takter;   2, Hollywood Highway, John Campbell, Staffan Lind;   3, Truemass Volo, Eric Goodell, Doug Hamilton;   4, Dayson, Jim Morrill Jr., Ron Burke;   5, Trolley, Marcus Miller, Erv Miller;   6, Brooklyn Hill, David Miller, Jonas Czernyson;   7, Southwind Frank, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke;   8, Dice Man, driver/trainer Ãke Svanstedt;   9, Bar Hopping, Tim Tetrick, Jimmy Takter.   There will be a release sent out shortly after noon tomorrow, with any scratches, final driver changes, and morning line odds.   PHHA / Pocono          

"I felt good in January, and that part hasn't changed," Teague said with a grin Saturday (July 4) after watching Wiggle It Jiggleit capture the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers at the harness racing meeting at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono by 1-1/2 lengths over Artspeak in 1:48.2. "He doesn't disappoint. Even in his loss, I wasn't jumping off the bandwagon. He's a good horse. I still think he's one of the best 3-year-olds I've ever had." Wiggle It Jiggleit has won 13 of 14 career races for owner Teague, trainer Clyde Francis and driver Montrell Teague. His only loss came June 20 in the North America Cup, where he was defeated by Wakizashi Hanover by three-quarters of a length. On Saturday in the Hempt, Wiggle It Jiggleit took the lead following a :26 opening quarter-mile, fought off a first-over challenge from Pierce Hanover on the backstretch, and then pulled away down the stretch. Artspeak finished second, followed by In The Arsenal and Wakizashi Hanover. "When he cleared to the front I knew he had a pretty good shot at it," Francis said. "Wakizashi has a big kick on the end of it but he wasn't making up much ground. Halfway down the lane nobody got close to him and I knew they weren't going to catch him then." Montrell Teague, who won the Hempt in 2011 with Custard The Dragon, was taking nothing for granted. "I was looking everywhere; I was looking for anybody," he said. "I saw Timmy (Tetrick with Wakizashi Hanover) pull three wide and that's when I popped the earplugs and stepped on the gas because I know how good his horse is coming off cover." Wiggle It Jiggleit, a son of Mr Wiggles-Mozzi Hanover, gave George Teague Jr. his fourth Hempt trophy. He trained Custard The Dragon as well as 2009 winner Johnny Z and 2008 champ Badlands Nitro. The gelding's next assignment will be the Meadowlands Pace. With the triumph, Wiggle It Jiggleit pushed his career earnings to $607,242. But the most important thing for Teague was the two people with whom he is sharing the ride. "Montrell and Clyde Francis are the best part for me," Teague said, adding about Francis, "We're like brothers. He works his (butt) off." Wiggle It Jiggleit  Luck Be Withyou overcomes post nine in Franklin triumph                               The $500,000 Ben Franklin free for all pace turned out to be as thrilling as a front-end win can be as Luck Be Withyou held on by the shortest of noses over Domethatagain in 1:49 on Saturday (July 4) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Domethatagain, driven by Simon Allard, left from the rail off the gate, but Luck Be Withyou and George Napolitano Jr. took command before the turn from post nine. Luck Be Withyou led through a quarter in :26.2 and the half in :55, which were favorable fractions in the eyes of the 4-year-old horse's owner, John Craig. "I didn't think it was so bad when it was :26.2, because he got the lead in :26 last week in the slop, with a half in :53 and change," he said. "When I saw :55 at the half, I said 'There are good horses back there like Foiled Again and State Treasurer and they are going to come at him. I hope he has enough.'" Luck Be Withyou kept on chugging through three-quarters in 1:21.4. He was a length clear at the top of the stretch, with only Domethatagain coming at him up the rail. It took a long look at the photo before Luck Be Withyou was declared the winner, with favored State Treasurer third. Luck Be Withyou paid $10 to win as the public's second choice. "He had just enough," Craig said with a grin. "It's hard to explain to people the adrenaline rush you get when you see a race like that." Luck Be Withyou, by Western Ideal-Trim Hanover, is trained by Chris Oakes, who got some credit from his owner. "All the credit goes to those who work on the horse," he said. "I just watch and pay the bills." Luck Be Withyou Pinkman bounces back to win Beal in world record score                                           Pinkman rebounded from his first loss of the year by posting a gate-to-wire win in Saturday's (July 4) $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old male trotters, holding off stablemate Uncle Lasse by a head in a world-record 1:51.3 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Pinkman, last year's Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter, and driver Yannick Gingras got the lead with a :27.1 opening quarter-mile and then controlled the race from there, going to the half in :56.2. Centurion ATM made a first-over bid on the backstretch, getting within a head of the leader, but was unable to get to the front. In the stretch, the Jimmy Takter-trained Pinkman held off Uncle Lasse to his inside to post his fourth victory in five starts this season. Pinkman's time was the fastest-ever mile by a 3-year-old gelding trotter on a five-eighths-mile track. Crazy Wow finished third followed by Centurion ATM. Last week, Pinkman finished second to Wicker Hanover in his Beal elimination and was found to be sick. "I can't complain about the trip, the fractions, everything went his way," Gingras said about Pinkman's performance in the Beal final. "He's got that intimidating speed; he can leave the gate so good. Last week leaving the gate I knew he wasn't quite right because he didn't leave the gate like he did today. Usually the first couple steps he just snaps right out. "Today he was back to himself and I don't even think he's a hundred percent. I'd say last week he was 50 or 60 percent and he was probably like 90 today. I think Jimmy can get him even better than this." For his career, Pinkman has won 10 of 13 races and earned $924,300 for owners Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland, and Herb Liverman. "I saw him open up at like 5-1 (odds) tonight and Crazy Wow was 3-5 or something," Gingras said. "They've got to start giving him credit. He doesn't do it flashy, he does it the way he did it today, but he gets it done. He's a winner." Pinkman  Bettor Be Steppin wins wild Lynch Memorial  What was a wide-open race on paper became a wide-open finish as Bettor Be Steppin and Corey Callahan got up to win the $300,000 James Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old pacing fillies Saturday night (July 4) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in 1:50.4. The race was heated from the start as The Show Returns gunned to the lead from post nine for driver Tim Tetrick. Favored Stacia Hanover (Scott Zeron) cleared to the lead in a first quarter in :26, with the outer flow setting up going to the half. Bettor Be Steppin wasn't a part of that forward flow, however, as she was shuffled back to last. According to her connections, stablemate Divine Caroline (David Miller) was getting the better trip "At the half I thought we were dead," said trainer Joe Holloway. "She was fourth on the rail, fourth or fifth, just totally boxed. Divine Caroline was on the outside, loaded with pace, so I was hoping to see her go. I was trying to watch them both and at the half I thought the only shot I had was Divine Caroline." Wicked Little Minx (Brett Miller), a 50-1 longshot, came first-over with Sassa Hanover (Yannick Gingras) third-over through a half in a swift :54.1. They paced through three-quarters in 1:21.4 before the leaders began to struggle and the closers came closing. Momas Got A Gun (Jim Morrill Jr.) was sitting third on the rail and somehow found room inside. She stuck a head in front before Single Me (Brian Sears) and Bettor Be Steppin came from way out. From the far outside, Bettor Be Steppin stuck a nose in front of Single Me at the wire. Momas Got A Gun finished third by a neck. The win was the fourth in seven starts this year for Bettor Be Steppin. She paid $33.60 to win. The 1-7 exacta paid $895.60 and the 1-7-6 trifecta paid $10,958.10. "This was a good horse last year," said Ted Gewertz, who co-owns the Bettor's Delight-Two Steppin' Sally filly with Val D'Or Farms and Rojan Stables. "She was having a little trouble earlier in the year. [2014 Horse of the Year] JK She'salady didn't make the final, so that helped." Bettor Be Steppin T.J. Burkett and Ken Weingartner / U.S. Trotting Association  

Louisville, KY --- Like most of us, he has a very specific outlook on life and throughout the duration of Stacia Hanover’s career harness racing trainer Steve Elliott has adhered to his primary philosophy. “It’s the same whether it walks on two legs or four,” he said. “The colts you can bull them down a little bit, but not the fillies. You need to let them do what they want to do, because if you don’t they will make you pay for it. There’s just no sense in fighting with any woman. All you can do is say, ‘Thank you honey’ then try again the next day.” That’s why if Stacia Hanover decides to buck and generally just be high maintenance while being harnessed for her $20,000 James Lynch Memorial elimination at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Saturday (June 27) the filly will most certainly have her way. Once she is prepared for her mile, Scott Zeron will guide her to the sixth spot on the gate in the evening’s fourth race where she is the 7-2 morning line third selection behind Nancy Johansson's Wicked Little Minx (5-2) and Joe Holloway’s Bettor Be Steppin (3-1). “It’s been a battle with her, but Scott has done a great job with teaching her how to race,” Elliott said. “She just wanted to go 100 mph and would not relax in a hole, but now she is much more comfortable racing that way. We’ll see what we have this weekend. The goal is to have a nice, consistent horse that goes on next year. I think she has the ability to do just that.” Stacia Hanover is a daughter of Western Ideal and the Art Major mare Stolly Up Bluechip. She is the second foal out of her dam and a half-sister to Seashell Hanover (Somebeachsomewhere, p,3,1:51.4f, $99,245). Owned by David Van Dusen and Michael Cimaglio, Stacia Hanover was a $35,000 yearling purchase at the 2013 Standardbred Horse Sale. She definitely showed promise as a 2-year-old as one of her three triumphs was in the $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes final. From five starts she amassed earnings of $94,225 and a mark of 1:53.4. “She is a tiny thing,” Elliott said. “We stopped on her last year because she was sick and then I tried to qualify her when I should not have. She just was not over that illness. That is when I realized my mistake and figured we would just get her ready for this year. She is still very small, but she is much stronger.” The filly returned to work this season with her fourth visit to the winner’s circle after reigning victorious by a head in a $15,500 non-winners contest on April 24 at the Meadowlands. She was then fourth in a $16,000 event under similar conditions, but her last quarter was in :26. Her next three races resulted in second place finishes in a pair of New Jersey Sire Stake legs and the $100,000 final. The Show Returns is the filly who beat Stacia Hanover by a neck in the NJSS final and showed her performance at 40-1 odds that day was no fluke as she finished second in the $387,990 Fan Hanover final on June 20 at Mohawk. “We are just being patient and taking our time with her,” Elliott said about Stacia Hanover. “TheWestern Ideals seem to improve as they get older so that is also what we are keeping in mind. The owners are having fun and bringing people to the races to see her. They are happy and the situation with this filly is what harness racing is really all about as people are enjoying themselves with friends as well as family.” Although, Van Dusen and Cimaglio are reveling in their filly’s accomplishments they were a little shocked at the balance on the stakes sheet after Elliott plotted her course for 2015. “They were like, ‘Geez, when did you get so high on her?’” Elliott said. “Those stakes payments can really put things in perspective, but with each race she improves as she continues to learn. We have to give her the opportunity to prove herself. I think she belongs and that she will be worth the wait. There is an old saying, ‘If you don’t wait on them, they will make you wait.’ I’m just fortunate I have owners like this that allow me to have patience with a horse like her.” by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent 

WILKES-BARRE PA - Most of the stars in 2015's early-season harness racing firmament will be gathered at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono this Saturday night, with 3YO pacers of both sexes, 3YO trotting colts, and FFA pacers looking to earn spots in the $1.8M "Sun Stakes Saturday" Championship events of their divisional stakes a week from Saturday (July 4). Here's an early look at each of the four groups of horses competing in this Saturday's eliminations:   BEN FRANKLIN FREE-FOR-ALL PACE   (two $30,000 eliminations in races 7 and 9, with the top four plus fastest fifth-place horse returning for the $500,000 Championship)   The first Franklin elim is headed by the richest horse in the history of harness racing, Foiled Again, who will be leaving from the middle of the nine-horse field for trainer Ron Burke and driver Yannick Gingras. The evergreen 11YO went over $7M in career earnings in winning the Battle Of Lake Erie on June 12, and of course few will forget his 2013 Pocono campaign, winning the elimination and final of both the Franklin and the Breeders Crown, taking his lifetime mark of 1:48 in the Franklin elim.   The biggest threat to Foiled Again may be Domethatagain, who won the $529,000 Levy Final at Yonkers in April, and who produced a $60 shocker in the Franklin elims last year by nosing out Captaintreacherous over his "home track" of Pocono. Trained by Rene Allard, Domethatagain will start from post six, with Tim Tetrick the early listing for sulky duty, and he will coupled in the wagering with his Allard barnmate Big Boy Dreams (PP3, driver Brian Sears).   In the second Franklin elim, any number of angles could play out:   --There is the Ron Burke stable coupled entry of Clear Vision (PP4, Brett Miller) and Bettor's Edge (PP6, Matt Kakaley), who between them have won over $3.85M in their careers;   --There are the last two Pennsylvania Horses of the Year for outstanding performances in Open overnights, Dynamic Youth (2013, PP7, Andrew McCarthy) and Dancin Yankee (2014, PP8, Brett Miller also listed);   --There is another sharp Rene Allard trainee, Bigtown Hero (PP2, brother Simon Allard driving), who has won three straight, and who had half of North America's 1:20-or-less clockings to the ¾ last year, both of them here at Pocono;   --And there is State Treasurer, recent winner of the Gold Cup at Mohawk and the Molson Pace at London, but who will have to translate his Canadian form to local success after starting from the outermost post nine for driver David Miller.   EARL BEAL JR. 3YO COLT TROT   (three $25,000 eliminations in races 3, 5, and 12, with the top three coming back for the $500,000 Championship)   In the first Beal elim, Habitat (PP3, driver Jim Morrill Jr.) will look to be carrying on his fine 2015 form, with wins in the Dexter Cup and two New York Sire Stakes. Just to his right in the field of six will be Cruzado Dela Noche (David Miller), who was second, beaten only a half-length by Uncle Lasse in a 1:51.4 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes contest at The Meadows at the end of last month.   The second Beal cut will find the most attention on Pinkman (PP5 in a seven-horse field, Brett Miller), 2014 national champion and Breeders Crown winner, and undefeated in 2015, winning a Sire Stakes at each of three of Pennsylvania's racetracks. Just for good measure, he'll be coupled in the betting with his Jimmy Takter barnmate Whom Shall I Fear (PP4, Yannick Gingras), the full brother to Pastor Stephen and Father Patrick.   Also to be respected in this division are two recent double Sire Stakes winners, New Jersey's Guess Whos Back (PP3, Brian Sears) and Pennsylvania's Wicker Hanover (PP7, Andrew McCarthy).   In the third elimination of the Beal, the current Kings of New York (Crazy Wow) and Pennsylvania (Uncle Lasse) will clash. Crazy Wow (PP2, Yannick Gingras) comes off an open-length score in the Empire Breeders Classic at Vernon, and has shown the ability to repair a mistake with breathtaking speed. Uncle Lasse, saddled with the outside post six for driver Brett Miller, has been to many eyes nearly as impressive in the PA Sires as his Takter stablemate Pinkman, going 3 for 3 and with that 1:51.4 triumph at The Meadows.   MAX C. HEMPT 3YO COLT PACE   (three $25,000 eliminations in races 6, 8, and 10, with the top three coming back for the $500,000 Championship)   The first elim for "the glamour division" matches up last year's divisional champion Artspeak and his closest 2014 challenger In The Arsenal. Artspeak, starting from post six for driver Scott Zeron, has had four good starts in 2015, although after winning his first two starts in NJSS competition, he "only" had a 2-5 slate in the North American Cup, but in both cases he did not have the easiest of trips. In The Arsenal had opened his year with four straight wins, including an NA Cup elim, before finishing fourth in the final; here he may have a slight positional advantage as he begins from post four in the field of nine, with Brian Sears listed to drive.   The middle Hempt heat has at its center (literally, as he begins from post five) the speedy Wiggle It Jiggleit. The colt had shown amazing speed in taking his lone start of 2014 and all 10 of his 2015 starts prior to the NA Cup Final, but cutting a searing pace of 25.1, 53.3, and 1:21 proved just a bit too much, although he held gamely to miss by only ¾ of a length to Wakizashi Hanover in a sterling 1:48.   Wakizashi Hanover, who will begin from post four in a field of eight for driver Tim Tetrick in the third elimination, had tipped his hand with a strong 4-3-1-0 opening to this year's campaign in Pennsylvania, and then conquered all in Toronto, coming from behind to take his elim and then being a successful pocket rocket in the Final. He'll face a major challenge here from Lost For Words (David Miller), undefeated in four 2015 starts and winning thrice in the Pa Sires; his challenges will be a three-week vacation and post seven.   JAMES LYNCH 3YO FILLY PACE   (three $20,000 eliminations in races 4, 11, and 13, with the top three coming back for the $300,000 Championship)   The first elim for the Lynch features the 2-3 finishers in the $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Championship for this division, with Stacia Hanover, who missed a neck in finishing second, returning with first-time Lasix as she begins from PP6 in the seven-horse assemblage for driver Scott Zeron, while Wicked Little Minx (PP4, Brett Miller) was only a length from taking it all in the Jersey finale.   Wicked Little Minx is trained by Nancy Johansson, the daughter of Jimmy Takter, and Johansson also conditions the main horse of interest in the second elimination, JK She'salady (PP1 in a field of eight, Tim Tetrick). The "Lady" was undefeated in a 12-race campaign to become the first 2PF to be elected Harness Horse of the Year, but this race represents her first possible crossroads, since she comes off a 4-5 pair of starts in the Fan Hanover at Mohawk the last two weeks. Sassa Hanover (PP4, Yannick Gingras), a Fan Hanover elim winner, and The Show Returns (PP6, John Campbell), second in the Fan Hanover final, should provide challenging competition.   Two horses from the huge barn of Ron Burke, uncoupled in the betting because of separate ownership, will get their fair share of attention in the third Lynch elim. Southwind Roulette, named co-Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Horse of the Year in 2014, starts from post two for Matt Kakaley after two seconds and a third, beaten a total of 1¼ lengths, in recent Pennsylvania stakes competition, while Happiness (PP5 in the seven-horse field, Yannick Gingras), shows a New Jersey Sires win, and was fourth in the NJSS final.   The first race on the monstrous, in quality and quantity (16 races), Saturday card at Pocono is 6:30 p.m.   PHHA / Pocono

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