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Here is the first Week In Review for The Downs at Mohegan Sun. PACER OF THE WEEK: TURBO HILL This five-year-old stallion from the barn of trainer Jennifer Bongiorno came back off the layoff with a strong victory in a $17,500 condition pace in June 27 at Pocono. He was back at it again on Saturday against the same class, leaving from post position #5 in the nine-horse field as the 3-5 betting favorite. It was a contested pace and Turbo Hill found himself in between horses on the first turn, but driver George Napolitano Jr. maneuvered him to a pocket trip behind Soho Lennon. A speed duel raged in front of him, but Turbo Hill bided his time until the stretch when he made his move in the passing lane. Although there were other closers lining up, the favorite took advantage of the positioning and came home a winner by a length in the feature over Declan Seelster. Turbo Hill paced the mile in 1:51:3 for his second straight win against excellent competition on the Pocono oval. Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: Dealt A Winner (George Napolitano Jr., Mark Silva), who scored a condition win on Saturday in 1:49:4, the fastest time of the 2020 meet at Pocono to date; Lespndnitetogeta N (Jordan Stratton, Shane Tritton), whose condition win on Saturday in a career-best 1:50:4 moved his record to two victories in two US races; and Blackwell Ruby IR (Jim Marohn Jr., Robert Cleary), a mare who overcame a four-month layoff to pick up her third straight win at Pocono on Sunday night in a condition pace with a career-best 1:51:2. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: PAT MATTERS Last week this five-year-old mare handled a $14,000 condition trotting group for a win in 1:53:4. Even though she was moving up in class on Saturday to face a $17,200 condition field, she was still made the 1-2 betting favorite in the field of nine. Leaving from post position #5, Pat Matters launched a bid for the lead on the front stretch and took it away from Explosivebreakaway just shy of the clubhouse turn. Driver George Napolitano Jr. was able to gain some separation with Pat Matters on the back stretch. That was crucial, as Stormy Kromer surged late first-over but came up a nose short. In hanging on for the victory, Pat Matters trotted the mile in 1:51:4, a new career-best and the fastest trotting time so far in the 2020 meet at Pocono. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Bella Ava (Matt Kakaley, Jenny Melander), a mare who moved up in class to pick up her second straight condition win on Sunday night, this one coming in 1:55:3; In Range (Tim Tetrick, Marcus Melander), who, in his debut, posted the fastest winning time (1:55:1) out of three divisions of the Pennsylvania All-Stars on Tuesday for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings; and Axios (George Napolitano Jr., Peter Pellegrino), whose victory in a claimer on Tuesday in 1:56 gave him three wins in a row, two of which have occurred at Pocono. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: D'DREAM With Billy Carter in the bike, this mare rallied from out of the clouds on Sunday night for a condition win at 43-1, paying off $88.60 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR George Nap took firm control of the race for most wins in 2020 by a driver on Saturday afternoon with an eight-victory explosion. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: MARCUS MELANDER In three divisions of the Pennsylvania All-Stars races for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings on Monday, Melander has two of the three winners (In Range and Bidensky.) That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs        

We have slowly worked our way into the 2020 season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, racing just two nights a week throughout the month of February, a much earlier start to the season than normal. But the action hit the ground running, in large part due to the Game of Claims series, a fun late closer affair making its debut at Pocono this year. Each weekend in February at Pocono, four different groups of claimers met in preliminary legs with the intent of making the high-stakes finals. They were eligible to be claimed in those preliminaries, with the claiming price rising each week to make it more expensive for owners who wanted to jump in late on a hot horse. The finals took place this past Saturday and Sunday. Let's see who came out on top. CLAIMING PRICE $15,000 to $20,000 (Final Purse $30,000) Royal Heart went off as the 9-5 betting favorite after winning his previous leg. He grabbed a pocket seat early behind second choice Horsing Around, who came in with wins in both of his previous Game of Claims races with front-end speed. But Horsing Around couldn't get away with an easy lead in the Saturday night final, as he was hounded by a first-over effort from Pop's Romeo. Even though Horsing Around fended off that effort, it left him vulnerable in the stretch drive. That's when driver Simon Allard tipped Royal Heart to the outside and he came up strong to win it by a half-length in 1:53:3 over Horsing Around. American Music finished third. Royal Heart moved to two-for-two since joining the Rene Allard barn. CLAIMING PRICE $25,000 to $30,000 (Final Purse $50,000) After winning the first two legs of the series, Trente Deo took last week off after being claimed and joining the barn of trainer William Adamczyk. He went off as the 2-1 second choice in Saturday night's final, with Polak A getting the favorite's attention at 9-5. Driver Jim Morrill Jr. had Trente Deo in motion first-over pretty early in the mile, but that proved to be the right move when he picked up cover from Classy Hill on the back stretch. When the rounded the final turn, Trente Deo shrugged off the cover and came charging up at Polak A, who was setting the pace. Trente Deo blew right past Polak A and then held off late kick from What's Goin On to finish second, with Beach Pro nabbing the show. Trente Deo won by 1 ½ lengths in 1:52:3 to finish a perfect three-for-three in the series. CLAIMING PRICE $7,500 to $11,000 (Purse: $15,000) In his back-to-back wins in preliminary legs, Always B Magic benefitted from inside post positions and pocket trips. For the final on Sunday night, he had to leave from post position #5 in a field of nine, still a good spot but a decidedly different look. Tough Mudder set the pace, while driver George Napolitano Jr. decided on a first-over path for Always B Magic, the even-money favorite, when he couldn't get the pocket. It was by no means an easy journey for Always B Magic, considering he was parked out for two of the three turns. He eventually wore down Tough Mudder, but Naked City came up strong late after the favorite provided his cover. Always B Magic managed to gut it out to win it by a nose for new trainer Susan Marshall, staying perfect in the series with a winning time of 1:55. Naked City just missed in second while Mystery Island picked up the show. CLAIMING PRICE $10,000 to $15,000 (Purse: $20,000) In the preliminary legs of this group, Charger Blue Chip was arguably the top performer, going win, show, win in the three races. Yet he found himself at 9-1 on the odds board in Sunday's final, primarily because he was saddled with the outside #9 post. Driver Jim Marohn Jr. drove him aggressively, sending him early and retaking the lead from Carmens Best on the front stretch. A lot of times a speed duel like that would leave a horse vulnerable to closers. And, indeed, Grandpa Don, the 7-5 favorite, came up with a first-over threat. But Marohn kept summoning up reserves of energy from Charger Blue Chip, leaving Grandpa Don and the rest of the field struggling in his wake. Charger Blue Chip, trained by Marc Mosher, came home a 2 ¼-length winner in 1:54:1, with Grandpa Don second and Carmens Best third. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs          

Normally in this space we hand out the Weekly Awards for excellent performances by horses, drivers and trainers at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. I would venture a guess that no one has won more of those awards than driver George Napolitano Jr. Which is why it's only fitting that we take a break from the Weekly Awards to honor George's latest milestone. This past Saturday night, George Nap picked up his 10,000th career driving victory. A lot of times, when we stop and note these milestone wins, it's just about the fact that the driver happens to have landed upon a nice round number. But 10,000 victories represent extremely rarefied air, a total that few drivers could even dream of achieving. For context, only 11 active drivers have done it, while only 18 in the history of the sport of harness racing in North America have reached that plateau. When you think about all of the drivers at all of the tracks through all of the years that the sport has been in existence, you realize that 18 represents only a tiny fraction of all of the men and women who have ever sat in the sulky. So how is it that one comes to such a number? Well, it helps to have longevity, and George has certainly managed that. But you also have to be at the absolute top of your game during the time that you're driving. Many others have raced for as long or even longer than Napolitano and have not approached 10,000 victories. To get there, you have to be winning an extremely high percentage of your races. And George has certainly done that, especially in the state of Pennsylvania. Pocono has always been his main stomping grounds, with just shy of half of those 10,000 wins coming on our oval. He's on his way to his 13th driving championship at the track, including the last eight years running. In that time, Pocono has boasted one of the strongest driving communities in the country. Coming out on top of that group year after year is truly a sign of excellence. George Nap has also done a lot of damage at Harrah's at Philadelphia across the state, winning driving titles there as well. It becomes a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy when you have that kind of talent. He drives so successfully that the owners and trainers want him to drive their horses, meaning that he gets the choice of the best horse flesh. When you put that kind of equine talent together with George's driving skills, it's a winning combination. But that doesn't take into account all of the wins George has earned when the horse he was driving didn't have the best of racing luck. That's why his 10,000th win was so emblematic. It came aboard a horse named Motown N who was made the favorite in a condition pace despite the fact that he was moving up in class. In the race, Motown N was urged to go for the lead by Napolitano as the field came around the first turn. It's a move that George has made a million times, and it usually ends up with his horse in the lead before they hit the 3/8-mile marker of the race. But this time, the early pacesetter, Santafe's Coach, was unwilling to give up the lead. Motown N was parked al the way through the front stretch and only cleared for the lead at the half-mile marker. As someone who has seen a lot of races from up in the announcer's booth over the years, I know that such a trip usually spells trouble. A horse parked around two turns and used hard during that stretch generally struggles to sustain the lead. When Youcaniknow came charging up with a stout first-over charge, it seemed again like it would be too much for Motown N to handle. But one of the things that has characterized Napolitano throughout his amazing career has been his ability to keep horses afloat that might otherwise falter in lesser hands. And this historic race proved to be another example of that. Motown N rebuffed the charge of Youcaniknow and was still out in front at the top of the lane. It was never going to be easy, though, as Motown N still had to weather a late charge by Redbank Blaze A, driven, ironically enough, by George's brother Anthony Napolitano. But there was no denying this horse or this driver in this one. Motown N gutted it out to win by two lengths. Normally, during a stretch drive of a harness race, the television shot tries to widen out to encompass as many of the contending horses as possible. But in this case, the professionals at International Sound, who handle the Pocono TV production so adeptly, took a quick closeup of Motown N as he strived to the finish line. And that closeup showed George Napolitano Jr., all grit and determination, working just as hard as his horse, calling on every last bit of savvy and skill that he has amassed over the years to get the victory. Do that just once in your life and you've accomplished something. Do that 9,999 times more, and you can call yourself as successful as George Napolitano Jr. I think I can speak for all of us here at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono as I pass along my congratulations to George and let him know what an honor it has been to witness his excellence. Here's to many more victories to come. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs                

October is upon us, which means that we have only about a month-and-a-half left of live racing in the 2019 season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The lingering warm weather has helped to keep the action lightning-quick, however. As a matter of fact, we witnessed several sub-1:50 miles on Saturday night. It was another difficult week to narrow down the Weekly Awards candidates, but we gave it a shot anyway. PACER OF THE WEEK: WESTERN JOE Technically, the feature race each night is supposed to be the one that carries the highest purse. On Saturday night, that was the $21,500 condition pace, which was won by veteran standout Scott Rocks. But the field in the $17,500 condition pace that immediately preceded it on the card on Saturday night had a feature feel to it. Five of the nine had earned over six figures a year ago, and many in the field seem well on their way to that threshold this year as well. The even-money favorite was Dealt A Winner, with over $1.2 million in career earnings. Springsteen, winner of the 2018 Max Hempt Pace at Pocono, was the second choice. And Western Joe, a big earner for the past several years and winner of a $14,000 condition pace at Pocono in his previous race, went off as the 3-1 third choice. Dealt A Winner set a hot pace trying to shake off the field, but Western Joe stayed attached to him in the pocket. In the stretch, Dealt A Winner tried to summon up a little bit more oomph to hold on to the victory. But Western Joe, a five-year-old gelding trained by Chris Choate, was way too full of pace to be held back. With driver Pat Berry guiding him home, he powered past Dealt A Winner to pick up the victory in a scorching 1:48:2, faster than any other pacer this week at Pocono. With two straight wins, Western Joe has been a featured performer, even if he wasn't quite in the feature race. Other top pacers this week include: Torrid Bromac N (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who picked up his second straight claiming victory and sixth in his last eight races overall on Saturday night with a victory in 1:51:2; Seel The Deal N (George Napolitano Jr., Jennifer Lappe), who moved up in class on Saturday night to win his second straight condition pace, putting up a career-best time of 1:50:3 in the process; and Outlast Blue Chip (Kevin Wallis, Eddie Sager), who moved up the condition ladder for his second straight win on Saturday night, scoring in 1:51:3. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: PAT MATTERS Sunday night's $21,500 featured condition trot was contested by only six horses. But it seemed like every one of them came in on an impressive streak. The field included Scirocco Rob, who took home Trotter of the Week honors at Pocono last week after winning two straight against the best trotters on the grounds. But Pat Matters, a four-year-old mare trained by Nifty Norman, came in on a pretty impressive two-race winning streak of her one. In the first of those wins, she scored at Harrah's at Philadelphia with a new career-best winning time of 1:52:2. She then matched that time with a victory over the $17,500 condition grouping at Pocono. On Sunday night, she left from post position #5 in the field of six as the 8-5 second choice. Scirocco Rob, who went off as the even-money choice, hustled to the lead early, but Pat Matters, with Eric Goodell doing the driving, found the pocket seat behind him. As they rounded the final turn, it was clear that Pat Matters was itching to be cut loose. Goodell did just that and she moved to the outside, sweeping by Scirocco Rob to take the late lead. But it wasn't easy sailing from there, as Whats The Word and Joey Bats both made strong late plays to take over. But Pat Matters had the final answer, holding off Whats The Word to win it by a half-length. Talk about consistency: Her third straight win came in 1:52:2, the exact winning time of the other two. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Joey Pro (Anthony Napolitano, John Hallett), who moved up in class to win his second straight condition trot since arriving from New York, getting it done in a career-best 1:54:4; TT Conway (Tom Jackson trainer and driver), who rolled to his second straight condition win on Sunday night, this one matching a career-best of 1:56; and Nice Stuff (Marcus Miller, Bucky Angle Jr.), whose condition win on Tuesday was her second in her last three races at Pocono and came in a career-best time of 1:54:1. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ALWAYS AT MY PLACE A million-dollar earner in his career, Always At My Place still was unheralded as he captured a condition pace on Saturday night at 18-1 with Jim Taggart Jr. in the bike for a $38 payout on a $2-win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ERIC CARLSON With a victory on Tuesday afternoon with pacing mare Velocity McSweets, Carlson became the sixth driver to hit the 100-win plateau for the 2019 racing meet at Pocono. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: BOB BAGGITT JR. Baggitt made the most of limited opportunity, picking up a training double on Monday and then adding another win on Tuesday for victories with the only three starters he sent to the gate this past week. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs        

There is no denying that we are coming into the home stretch at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono for the 2019 harness racing season. Soon we'll be taking a look at the horses and humans that are deserving of year-end honors. In the meantime, we still have a full schedule of overnight racing taking place each week, providing plenty of candidates for the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: FEELING CAM LUCKY His name may signify good fortune, but for most of 2019, this seven-year-old gelding from the barn of trainer Gilberto Garcia-Herrera hasn't exactly enjoyed much of it. Coming into an $11,000 condition pace on September 14, Feeling Cam Lucky had raced 25 times this year and had hit the board in 15 of those starts. But despite being in contention so often, he was winless coming into that start, this despite racking up 11 wins in 2018. Feeling Cam Lucky finally rectified that with a rallying win that night in 1:50:4. Given that shot of confidence, the gelding stepped up in class to meet a $12,000 condition pacing group on Saturday night. Leaving from post position #4 in a field of seven at middling odds of 7-2, he flashed excellent early speed to grab the lead. The pace was slowed down for the second panel, but then Feeling Cam Lucky, with George Napolitano Jr. urging him on, provided a burst on the back stretch, ticking off the third quarter in 27 seconds even. That strategy shook everybody in the field except 21-1 shot Electric Western, who stayed close in the pocket. For a moment as Electric Western surged, it looked like Feeling Cam Lucky might be in line for another hard-luck loss. But the taste of winning he picked up in his previous start seemed to help, as he fought off Electric Western for the victory in 1:50:2 by 1 ¼ lengths. He has a way to go to catch up with his numbers from last year, but Feeling Cam Lucky might be ready for a winning streak now that fortune has started to turn his way. Other top pacers this week include: Sweet Rock (Eric Carlson, Wayne Givens), who rallied for a victory in Saturday night's featured condition pace in 1:50:1; Rockin In the Hills (Anthony Napolitano, Jose Godinez), who scored a win in a condition on Saturday night in 1:49:4, a new career-best and the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono; and Don't Think Twice A (Anthony Napolitano, Andrew Harris), who captured Tuesday night's featured condition pace for mares in a career-best 1:51:1. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SCIROCCO ROB Scirocco Rob has been alternating between sizzling miles and breaks of stride of late at Pocono. He came into the $17,500 condition trot on Sunday night with breaks in two of his previous races. Also included in that stretch for the four-year-old gelding was a hard-luck second at the $17,500 level and a victory at the $14,000 level in 1:54:1. Considering the win was in his previous start in Sunday night, it was understandable if some of those bettors who made him an even-money favorite bit their nails while they watched the race. After all, if Scirocco Rob had followed his recent pattern, he would have gone off-stride. Instead, he started fast, then allowed Whats The Word to speed on by and take the early lead. Throughout the mile, Whats The Word stayed aggressive on the lead, putting up fractions that made it difficult for the rest of the field to stay close without exerting a lot of energy. But Scirocco Rob hung around in his pocket seat, waiting for his moment to move on the leader. That moment came in the stretch, when driver George Napolitano Jr. tipped him to the outside to go after Whats The Word. The pacesetter was game, but Scirocco Rob, who is trained by Mark Silva, powered past to win it by a half-length in a speedy time of 1:52:1, the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono. Now that he has won two in a row, those worries of inconsistency seem to be in the rear-view for now for this talented gelding. Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: Lindy's Big Bang (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who picked up his second straight condition win on Saturday night, scoring in 1:53:1; Inner Peace (George Napolitano Jr., Hunter Oakes), who earned his second straight condition victory on Sunday night with a win in 1:55; and Zooming (Tyler Buter, Amber Buter), the 11-year-old veteran who rallied for a condition win on Tuesday night in 1:54:3. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: BURGUNDY B This three-year-old filly driven by Eric Carslon snuck up from the pocket to win a condition trot on Monday afternoon at 35-1, paying off $73.40 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR. The meet's leading driver seems to be getting stronger as the year progresses, as he rolled to at least four driving wins on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: ROBERT CLEARY The Cleary barn produced the fastest winning time on Sunday night (with Rebel Rouser) and the featured condition pace winner on Monday night (with Vodka On The Beach.) That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs        

Normally we would devote this space to the Weekly Awards. But we're going to take a break this week to detail all of the action from an afternoon an early evening of stakes competition at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Not only were the $40,000 finals of the PA Stallion Series held for both two and three-year-old horses, but the $100,000 finals of the Great Northeast Open Series took place. All totaled, there were 11 stakes races on the 14-race program. Here are the results: STALLION SERIES 2-YEAR-OLD FILLY TROT When the 4-5 favorite Next Level Stuff made a break on the first turn, somebody had to step up in this class. Miss Wilia, a 9-1 shot leaving from post #8 in the nine-horse field, did just that. She led gate-to-wire, holding off late charges from Caviart Guilia and Madame Sherry to win it by a head in 1:55:2. Scott Zeron did the driving for trainer Rick Zeron. STALLION SERIES 2-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACE 38-1 long shot Keystone Eureka was game with a first-over charge. But the 6-5 favorite The Party's Rockin was tough as nails on the front end. When challenged, the filly trained by Mark Harder and driven by Tyler Buter responded, holding tight to her lead to get it done by a length in 1:52:4 for her third straight victory. STALLION SERIES 2-YEAR-OLD COLTS AND GELDINGS TROT The 6-5 favorite Town Victor came in with wins in five of his seven races. He sat the pocket trip in the final behind Loyal Fox Hanover, who set imposing fractions but couldn't shake the favorite. In the lane, Matt Kakaley guided Town Victor, trained by Rich Gillock, right past the pacesetter to go away for a two-length win in 1:54:4, a new Stallion Series final mark for male freshman trotters. STALLION SERIES 2-YEAR-OLD COLTS AND GELDINGS PACE Lake Charles, driven by David Miller and trained by Ray Schnittker, was made the 2-1 second choice and set the early pace. The even-money favorite Captain Groovy sat the pocket and pulled to the outside on the last turn hoping to take over. But Lake Charles was having none of it, pulling away for a convincing 3 ½-length victory in 1:51:3, the fastest pace ever in a 2-year-old Stallion Series final. STALLION SERIES 3-YEAR-OLD FILLY TROT Despite leaving from a tough #8 post position, Jezzy's Legacy, the 8-5 betting favorite, was able to hustle to the front at the quarter. After Tyler Buter rated her well, the filly had to stand tall late as Southwind Storm made a three-wide charge at her late. But Jezzy's Legacy, trained by Ray Schnittker, held up for a victory in 1:54:1, matching the fastest ever time by a three-year-old trotting filly in a Stallion Series final. STALLION SERIES 3-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACE Front-end speed had been the order of the day to that point, but Annie Hill, the 6-5 favorite in this final, chose a different tactic. Tyler Buter guided the filly to a second-over journey before a three-wide move in the lane. The Chris Oakes' trainee powered on home past pacesetter Sweet Cherry to win by 1 ¼ lengths in 1:50:4, matching the fastest ever Stallion Series final for the group. STALLION SERIES 3-YEAR-OLD COLTS AND GELDINGS TROT Driver Yannick Gingras had to work Lindy's Crazy Hall early to get the lead from the #8 post. But he then rated the 3-1 second betting choice very well, especially through a relaxed second panel. That paid off late, as Lindy's Crazy Hall fought off the late challenge of betting favorite Kate's Massive to deliver the win by a head in 1:54:3. GREAT NORTHEAST OPEN SERIES MARES PACE The heavy favorite Caviart Ally set the pace in the 1 ¼-mile rest, but five out of the six horses stayed relatively close to her for the entirety of the race. She tried to finish strong, by Bettor's Up, a 14-1 long shot trained by Nick Surick, came on strong at the end of the elongated race as if she was just getting warmed up. Tim Tetrick rallied Bettor's Up to the win in 2:21. GREAT NORTHEAST OPEN SERIES TROT The decorated mare Hannelore Hanover was the heavy favorite and she led most of the way in this final. But Rich And Miserable, who has burst upon the scene for trainer Todd Buter in 2019, stayed attached in the pocket. It came down to a thrilling stretch duel, a duel that was won by Rich And Miserable in the passing lane with Tyler Buter in the bike in 2:24:3. GREAT NORTHEAST OPEN SERIES PACE In the previous two Great Northeast Open finals, the leader had coughed the lead up late. And, with 1-2 favorite Backstreet Shadow lurking behind pacesetter None Bettor A, it looked like the same thing might happen again. But driver George Napolitano Jr. coaxed more out of 5-2 second choice None Bettor A, and the Andrew Harris' trainee held on by in 2:20:1. STALLION SERIES 3-YEAR-OLD COLTS AND GELDINGS PACE Waterway, trained by Tony Alagna and driven by Dexter Dunn, ended the Monday stakes action in thrilling fashion. With a pocket trip behind long shot Seafarer, the 6-1 shot scooted up the passing lane late and was just able to nip Seafarer by a nose. Waterway, who had spent most of the last few months at Yonkers, paced the mile in 1:51. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs              

The past week's racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono was highlighted by a mandatory Rainbow Pick 5 payout, which awarded winning tickets at over $1,200 a pop Sunday night. It will be fun to see how high the Rainbow rises as it starts up again and rolls through the rest of the season at Pocono. As usual, we saw some outstanding performances over the past four racing programs, and we highlight the best of those now by handing out the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: TEXICAN N This 11-year-old gelding has been a stalwart performer throughout his career. In fact, he's not that far off from having a million dollars in purse money. Where once he was a top Open and condition performer, these days he plies his trade in the claiming ranks and recently has found the old fastball for trainer Brittany Robertson. After a few near-misses, Texican N scored a win in a $20,000 to $25,000 claiming handicap on August 17, utilizing a pocket trip for the 1:51:2 score. On Saturday night, Texican N was back at it against the same claiming class, this time leaving from post position #3 and doing so as the 2-1 favorite. Texican N left early for the lead, but then watched as Beach Memories moved past him on the first turn. In the previous start, the gelding sat in the pocket behind Beach Memories and prevailed late. But this time around, driver Matt Kakaley urged the veteran on for a quick retake of the lead on the front stretch. The move seemed to take the stuffing out of Beach Memories, who wasn't a threat from there. Texican N had to deal with other horses in the field making a late play, but he was up to the challenge. He ended up coming home a winner by 1 ¾ lengths over King Harvest in a sharp winning time of 1:50:4. And, with the win on Saturday night, he proved that he could still dominate the proceedings rather than just relying on a trip to win. Other top pacers this week include: Torrid Bromac N (Pat Berry, Traci Berry), who won his second straight $15,000 claimer on Saturday night and fourth out of five overall in 1:51; Daamericansky (Marcus Miller, Mark Silva), who rolled to his second condition win in his last three races on Sunday and did so in a new career-best time of 1:49:3; and Lady Dela Renta A (Anthony Napolitano, Jose Godinez), who moved up in class for her second straight win at Pocono on Tuesday night, this time capturing the night's featured condition pace for mares in a new career-best time of 1:49:2. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SATIN DANCER Winning a Sunday night featured trot at Pocono these days is quite an accomplishment. It doesn't seem to matter the condition or the purse; the field always seemed to be stacked from inside to outside with top competitors, making it like a gauntlet for anyone brave enough to tackle it. This past Sunday night's edition, a condition with a purse of $17,500, was no different. Moving up in class to face a group like that is a tough task, but that's just what Satin Dancer was undertaking. The five-year-old mare trained by Travis Alexander was coming off a victory in her previous start at Pocono at the $14,000 level in 1:54:3. In the Sunday night tilt she was the 4-1 fourth choice on the board, leaving from post position #4 in a field of eight. And, as in her previous start, she left in a hurry, grabbing the lead after a brief speed duel with 2-1 favorite Two AM. From there, driver Dexter Dunn was able to rate the pace favorably because no first-over challenger came along to speed his horse up. As they hit the top of the stretch, only Two AM was still hanging around with a chance to derail the mare. But she closed out the mile as powerfully as she began it, keeping Two AM at bay to win it by a length as the only distaff horse in the entire field. Not only did Satin Dancer conquer the feature with her second straight win, but she also did it in 1:53, which matched her career-best mile in the process. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Lionbacker Kidd (Marcus Miller, Bucky Angle Jr.), who picked up his second straight condition win on Sunday night, scoring in 1:55:3; Broadway Mojo (George Napolitano Jr., Brandon Presto), who followed up a win at the Meadows with a claiming handicap victory at Pocono on Sunday night in 1:55:1; and Amador (Marcus Miller, Joseph King), whose upset win at Pocono in a condition trot on Sunday night in 1:54:2 gave him two straight victories, with the previous one coming at Harrah's at Philadelphia. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: MACH WEST Despite a romping win at Tioga in his previous start, this pacer driven by Anthony Napolitano got away at 33-1 in a condition on Sunday night and won it to pay off $68.80 on a $2-win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANDY MILLER Miller had a blast on the Labor Day card, coming up with winners in four of the day's dozen races, cashing in with a favorite every time. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JULIE MILLER You might have guessed from above that Monday was also a big day for Julie, as she went a perfect four-for-four on the day with her trainees. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs        

The month of August is winding down and the stakes racing continues at a hot and heavy pace at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. And it seems that whenever those stakes races take place, top horsemen and horsewomen also bring some of their best overnight horses to Pocono as well, spicing up those races. Let's take a look at all that transpired in the past racing week at Pocono and hand out some Weekly Awards along the way. PACER OF THE WEEK: REBEL ROUSER Early in the year, it was shaping up to be a monster season for this five-year-old gelding. Rebel Rouser came out of the gate in 2019 on top of his game with wins in seven out of ten races, all within the first four months of the year. But an injury sidelined him from April until August, stunting his formidable momentum. In his first start back at Yonkers on August 5, he went off as a heavy favorite and led until late but then broke stride, which sent him back to qualifiers. When he returned to action on August 18 at Pocono, he was met with some skepticism from the bettors, going off at 6-1 as he faced a field of winners of four to seven condition pacers. But he found his old form in a big way, going gate to wire from an outside post for a victory on a sloppy track in a career-best 1:51. The bandwagon was full when he faced the same class on Sunday night at Pocono, as Rebel Rouser went off as a 3-5 favorite with an inside post in a field of eight. Even though track conditions were ideal this time around, driver Yannick Gingras didn't have to ask the gelding for nearly as much speed in the early going as was the case the previous week. Nobody challenged Rebel Rouser as he coasted to the half in just 57 seconds. That left him with plenty in the tank late when challenged by pocket horse Daamericansky, and Rebel Rouser, trained by Bob Cleary, held him off by a neck for his second straight win at Pocono, this one coming in 1:53:1. Other top pacers this week include: Photobombr Hanover (Simon Allard, Tom Fanning), who followed up a win at Harrah's with a condition victory on Saturday night at Pocono in 1:51:2; Torrid Bromac (Pat Berry, Ted Sulseki), whose claiming win on Saturday night in a career-best 1:50:4 gave him victories in three of his last four races; and Artful Bliss (Anthony Napolitano, Marta Piotrow), who rolled to his fourth straight $7,500 claiming victory on Monday afternoon, winning in 1:52:2. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: RAINBOWINTHEWEST Hailing from the barn of trainer Robert Rougeaux III, this four-year-old mare spent a lot of the season at The Meadows, and made it up as high as the Open Handicap level. Her first try at Pocono was a respectable third-place finish in a $14,000 condition trot. She dropped down a notch the following week and picked up a solid win as a heavy favorite in 1:54 at the $12,500 level, posting a career-best time in the process. Feeling confident off that win, Rainbowinthewest jumped back up in class again to the $14,000 condition trotters on Sunday night. The big difference this time around was, after having the inside #1 post in her previous two journeys at Pocono, she was saddled with the outside post in a field of eight on Sunday night. That, along with the move back up in class, was probably why she was let go at odds of 9-1, well behind the 3-5 favorite Tag Up And Go. Driver Marcus Miller, unconcerned by the odds or the post, sent Rainbowinthewest flying to the front in the early part of the mile. Tag Up And Go came at her with a strong first-over move, while Bucketlist Hanover, getting a garden trip, took aim on the inside late. But the mare had an answer for them all, gutting out the final strides to win a tight one. She managed the mile in 1:54:1 this time around, giving her two straight impressive condition victories on the Pocono oval. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Eurobond (Andy Miller, Julie Miller), who followed up a win at Harrah's with a condition victory at Pocono on Sunday night, posting the week's fastest trotting time of 1:51:3 in the process; Beyond Kronos (Tim Tetrick, Jim Campbell), whose Stallion Series win over other two-year-old trotting colts and geldings was his third straight and came in the fastest stakes time (1:54:4) of the night; and High Blue (George Napolitano Jr., Joe Pavia Jr.), who rattled off his second straight claiming handicap win on Tuesday and did so in 1:54:2, matching a career-best time. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: FASHION WINNER With Marcus Miller in the bike, this trotter rallied for a condition victory on the Monday afternoon program at 26-1, paying out $55.60 on a $2-win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: SIMON ALLARD Simon went on a tear on Saturday, winning six out of the 14 races on the card, with only of those victories coming aboard a betting favorite. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JIM CAMPBELL Campbell's impressive contingent of two-year-old trotters include Sunday night Stallion Series winner Beyond Kronos and Sire Stakes winner Real Cool Sam, who remained unbeaten after seven races. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs      

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Roll With Joe mare Obvious Blue Chip, a winner despite being parked the mile at Saratoga on Friday, came right back to triumph in the $14,000 distaff pacing feature on the Tuesday twilight card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Simon Allard got away third with the career winner of $511,324, then quarter-moved to command and did not get too taxing a middle half. This moderation left Obvious Blue Chip with plenty in the tank for the last quarter, which she stepped in :26.2 while taking a new mark of 1:50 flat, 1¼ lengths ahead of a game pocketsitting Shes Pukka N. Simon's brother Rene, the leading trainer at The Downs, conditions the winner for NLG Racing Stable and Stephen Klunowski. Simon Allard and George Napolitano Jr. each drove four winners on the Tuesday Pocono card. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs   Pocono Downs Week In Review This past week at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono was filled with stakes action once again. We featured both Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and Stallion Series action for two-year-old pacing colts and geldings (Sunday) and two-year-old trotting fillies (Monday.) In addition, we enjoyed another round of the Great Northeast Open series on Saturday night, this time with the Open pacers taking a center stage. A busy week to be sure, and one that provides us with many candidates for this edition of the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: AFLAME HANOVER This three-year-old colt from the barn of Linda Schadel has been tearing it up of late in condition paces. And that’s understandable, considering the kind of competition he faced earlier in the year. Facing extremely long odds in both the North America Cup in Canada and the Max Hempt Memorial Pace at Pocono, Aflame Hanover snuck in for fourth-place finishes in both, managing to get his handlers pretty substantial payback in the process. When he returned to overnight racing, he was ready to flex his muscle. First up was a victory at Pocono on July 29 over non-winners of two. Then he headed over to Harrah’s at Philadelphia for a victory over non-winners of three. His quest for three in a row brought him back to Pocono on Sunday night, where he went off as the 3-5 favorite in a field of eight non-winners of four for a purse of $15,000. Leaving from post position #2, Aflame Hanover swooped Rickybobbyinthehaus to take the lead on the first turn. From there, there were really no anxious moments. Driver Andrew McCarthy rated the pace at a solid level, so that Aflame Hanover didn’t overexert himself but also so that nobody could put a real challenge to him with a first-over move. In the home stretch, the colt solidified his lead, holding off the closing A Bettor Beach to pick up the win by 2 ¼ lengths. The winning time of 1:51:2 on a track listed in good condition was a new career-mark for Aflame Hanover, who just keeps getting stronger each time out. Other top pacers this week include: T’s Electric (Tyler Buter, Emily Bost) who picked up his third straight claiming handicap win on Sunday night, getting it done in the slop in 1:53:4; Backstreet Shadow (Pat Berry, Ron Burke), who followed up three wins in a row elsewhere by shipping in and capturing Saturday night’s division of the Great Northeast Open Series pace in 1:49:2 in the slop; and Derecho (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who moved up in class to win his second straight condition pace on Saturday night, this one in 1:52:4 in the sloppy conditions. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: VERY VERY FAST Whoever named this trotter must have had a very good premonition of what was to come in his racing career. Now aged 10, Very Very Fast has shown no signs of slowing down. In fact, back on July 14 at Pocono, the gelding set a career-best with at Pocono with a win in 1:52:2. A few weeks later, he stepped up into the $21,500 condition trotting group and managed another victory, this one in 1:53:2. Last week he very nearly missed capturing an Open Handicap trot at Tioga, finishing second from an outside post. He returned to Pocono on Sunday night to once again face off with the $21,500 condition trotters. And it was a stout field he faced. In fact, despite all his recent success at Pocono, Very Very Fast went off as a 7-2 third choice. Leaving from post position #2 in a field of eight, he was sent immediately to the front end by driver Tim Tetrick in the sloppy conditions. Even though he was rated well, however, the 6-5 favorite Scirocco Rob seemed to be a major threat as he lurked in the pocket for much of the mile. In the stretch, Tetrick asked Very Very Fast for more juice and the veteran provided it. When Scirocco Rob tried to respond, he went off-stride. There was still the matter of Pappy Go Go, who was closing very well out three-wide in the lane. But Very Very Fast held him off to win it by a half-length, posting a mile of 1:54 in the off-going. That gives him three top-flight condition wins at Pocono in a little more than a month’s time, once again living up to that speedy name of his. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Bill’s Man (Corey Callahan, John Butenschoen), who followed up a win at Tioga with a condition victory on Sunday night in 1:54:1; Zlatan (Tim Tetrick, Vincent Fusco Jr.) who shipped in to pick up a tough condition win on Sunday night in 1:55:4; and Sister Sledge (Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke), the budding superstar two-year-old filly who stayed unbeaten in her career after five races with a Sire Stakes win on Monday in 1:56:1. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SHARP ACTION MONEY There were a lot of live long-shot winners this week, but this pacer driven by Tom Jackson topped them all, winning a condition on Saturday night at 44-1 for a $91.80 payout on a $2 wager. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MATT KAKALEY Kakaley loved the stakes action on Sunday night with two wins apiece in the Sire Stakes and Stallion Series, with one of the Sire Stakes victories coming aboard 44-1 long shot Tell Them Lou. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: PER ENGBLOM During Monday’s stakes action for two-year-old trotting fillies, Engblom managed a Stallion series victory with Rebecca Clark and a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes win with Queen Of The Hill. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs

This week's harness racing action at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono was highlighted by stakes action on Sunday night. There were three divisions of Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and four splits of Stallion Series, all for three-year-old filly pacers. It was fun to watch the best in class for that group go at it and there were some sizzling performances, with the Sire Stakes winning effort of Treacherous Reign in 1:49:3 being the fastest of the lot. On top of that, the overnight racing at Pocono was stellar as usual, as you'll be able to tell from this edition of the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: SPRINGSTEEN We have a lot of fun with this horse because of his rocking namesake, but the talent is pretty impressive as well. The highlight of his three-year-old season in 2018 was an upset win in the Max Hempt Memorial Pace at Pocono. Springsteen has been lightly raced this year by his trainer Rene Allard since facing the toughest aged pacers in the Ben Franklin Pace in June. But he came back off a month layoff with a condition victory in the slop on July 28 in 1:51:2. That victory came against horses roughly his same age. But on Saturday night, the four-year-old stallion had to go up against a $17,500 condition group with several horses that had a few years more of racing experience. Such a race can often trip up younger horses, but Springsteen still was made the even-money favorite leaving from post position in a field of six. He stayed away from an early speed duel, eventually following the cover of Ideal Feeling. He didn't stay behind the cover long, as driver Simon Alllard sent him for a quick three-wide move at about the 5/8-mile marker. Springsteen grabbed the advantage and opened up an insurmountable lead. Without any urging in the lane, he coasted home a winner by 2 ¼ lengths over Black Chevron. The winning time was 1:49, the fastest of the week at Pocono. You can have fun with Springsteen's name, but there is no denying that he brings the game to match it. Other top pacers this week include: Beach Memories (Anthony Napolitano, Daniel Maier), who won his second straight claiming handicap pace on Saturday night, getting it done in 1:50:1; Tom's Arockin (George Napolitano Jr., Antonia Storer), who handled a claiming handicap group on Saturday night in 1:50:2 for his second straight victory; and Artful Bliss (Anthony Napolitano, Marta Piotrow), who continued to dominate the $7,500 claiming group with his third straight victory on Monday in 1:54:3. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: THE LAST CHAPTER This week's top trotting purse of $17,500 was on the line in a condition on Sunday night. It attracted some excellent competitors, including million-dollar earner Zooming, Tag Up And Go, who was fresh off an Open win at Tioga, and the talented mare Satin Dancer. But it was Chapter Seven, a five-year-old gelding trained by Eddie Hart, who went off as the 3-2 favorite in the field of nine. The gelding came into the race with a break of his stride in his previous start at the Meadowlands, which was a bit of a cause for concern. Prior to that break, however, he was hitting the board with consistency, and he hoped to regain that form on Sunday night. Leaving from post position #3, Chapter Seven left nothing to chance. Driver David Miller had him leaving alertly and he assumed the lead before the field made the first turn. Miller then did a nice job rating the pace, which was no easy task considering that Annapolis Hall came at the leader aggressively with a first-over move on the back stretch. Chapter Seven was able to repel that challenge and still led at the top of the lane. But his work was far from done, as Zooming lurked in the pocket ready to pounce. The energy that the leader saved early in the mile came in handy down the stretch. The gelding trotted home powerfully without ever giving Zooming a real chance to get past. Chapter Seven came home a winner by 1 ¼ lengths in 1:53:3, which was the fastest trotting time turned in at Pocono this week. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Yuge (George Napolitano Jr., Ed Lohmeyer), who handled a rugged condition field on Sunday night in 1:54:3; Grandma Heidi (Marcus Miller, Erv Miller), a three-year-old filly who picked up her second win in her last three on Monday with a condition victory in a career-best 1:57:4; and Divine Spirit (Eric Carlson, Brett Pelling), who rallied for a condition win on Tuesday in a career-best 1:54. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ROLLIN ABOUT Overlooked in a claiming pace from a #9 post position, this gelding defied odds of 65-1 on Saturday night to pick up a victory that paid off $140.20 on a $2-win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR. The meet's leading driver became the first driver to pick up 200 wins in the 2019 Pocono campaign with the last of his four victories on Saturday night. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: DANIEL MAIER The Maier barn has been one of the most productive on the grounds at Pocono in recent weeks, and the hits kept coming on Saturday night with a training double. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs        

As we head into the month of August, the realization that the 2019 racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun has reached the back stretch might have dawned on you. Not that there has been any letdown in terms of the racing action, of course. But it is interesting how time flies when you're watching top-notch competition week in and week out. This week was more of the same, as you'll be able to tell from this edition of the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: BENJI'S BEST It seems like each and every week at Pocono we see a different claimer burst onto the scene with a huge mile. Last week it was Benji's Best, a five-year-old gelding who came into a $20,000 to $25,000 claiming handicap pace on July 20 without a win and left it with a 15 ½ length victory in a career-best 1:50. He had shown signs leading into that race with back-to-back second-place finishes. But winning by the biggest margin of any horse all meet was something nobody saw coming, especially because he wasn't even favored in that race. Needless to say, he was favored when he returned to action to face that same class on Saturday night. Even with the dreaded #9 post, Benji's Best was made the 8-5 betting choice. Whereas he had won for the Rene Allard barn in his previous start, following the claim he was representing trainer Jennifer Bongiorno on Saturday. With Hunter Oakes doing the driving, Benji's Best surged to the lead with a swooping move past Paprike Blue Chip on the paddock turn. On the back stretch, the favorite had to deal with first-over pressure from Rockin Rio. But it didn't seem to bother him when they turned for home, as he kicked away from the pursuit. Benji's Best came home a winner in 1:50:2, another quick time. His margin was a more modest but still impressive 3 ½ lengths over second-place Paprike Blue Chip. After going so long winless this year, this gelding seems to have decided he likes the feel of winning, so much so that it's easy to see him doing it again real soon. Other top pacers this week include: Jereme's General (George Napolitano Jr., Daniel Maier), who captured his second straight claiming handicap on Saturday night in 1:51:1; Atta Boy Dan (George Napolitano Jr., Brittany Robertson), who continued his dominance in the highest claiming group at Pocono with a fifth consecutive victory on Saturday night, this one in 1:49:3; and Ideal Rocky (Anthony Napolitano, Joe Pavia Jr.), who moved up in class on Monday to win his second straight condition pace, this one in 1:52. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SAY YOU DO The Todd Buter barn has been producing some outstanding trotters for several years now, and 2019 has been a banner year by any standard for his trainees. Earlier this year, we saw Rich And Miserable put together a long winning streak on the Pocono grounds. Lately the one getting the attention has been Say You Do, a four-year-old gelding on an impressive streak of his own. He came into the featured $21,500 condition trot on Sunday night with five straight victories. Included in that stretch were three straight wins at The Meadowlands, an Open Handicap score at Tioga, and a victory at Pocono against the same group on July 21. Up against a short field of five on Sunday night, Say You Do went off as a 3-5 favorite from post position #2. Although his win the previous week at Pocono had come with a late rally, driver Tyler Buter decided he wanted the favorite to dictate matters and this one, and Say You Do took over the lead on the first turn. The fractions were rated well on a sloppy track, with Say You Do keeping under control even as Fashion Creditor pulled up alongside him at the three-quarter pole with a first-over move. At the top of the stretch, Tyler Buter just had to ask Say You Do for a little more and he responded, giving a quick burst of speed to secure his lead and coming home in front by 1 ½ in 1:54:3 on the sloppy grounds. That makes six in a row for Say You Do, a stellar run of wins even for a barn that is getting used to such stretches. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Lindy's Big Bang (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who won his second straight condition race on Sunday night, getting it done in 1:54:1; Silvermass Volo (Eric Carlson, Michael Holcman), who moved up in class to pick up his second straight condition win on Sunday night, scoring in the slop in 1:56:1; and Flippen Creek (Marcus Miller, Erv Miller), who followed up his maiden victory last week at Pocono with another condition win on Monday, this one coming in a new career-best time of 1:57:1. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: MIDWAY ISLAND In Saturday night's featured condition pace, this gelding with Kevin Wallis in the bike pulled off a stunner at 40-1, paying off $82.40 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY NAPOLITANO A-Nap continues to enjoy what has probably been his finest meet ever at Pocono, and he kept it rolling by churning out five wins on the Saturday night program. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: BRETT PELLING Pelling picked up pacing wins on back-to-back nights at Pocono this week, scoring with Yeahnah on Sunday and then with two-year-old filly and first-time starter Alexis's Beach on Monday. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs        

It was a week of extremes in terms of the weather for harness racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. On Saturday night, action was delayed due to the intense heat. On Monday, torrential rains caused a delay. But all 56 races scheduled for the four racing cards were eventually run, and, despite the somewhat erratic conditions, the action was excellent throughout. The outstanding efforts put forward by the winners of our Weekly Awards is proof of that. PACER OF THE WEEK: DIXIE STAR N This mare didn't begin her racing career till this year at age four, starting with a couple races overseas in her native New Zealand at the tail end of winter. When Dixie Star N arrived in the United States for trainer Peter Tritton, she was a beaten favorite in her first start at Yonkers. But coming to Pocono seems to have unlocked her potential. She carved out a win and two places in three starts with the non-winners of four fillies and mares in the months of June and July. On Sunday night, she was back at it against that same class, only this time she would have to deal with a #9 post. She also had to deal with Tequila Party, who was coming off an impressive victory in Canada in her last race and was made the 3-5 favorite. Dixie Star N went off at 18-1, but driver Jim Marohn Jr. made sure she was in the mix by sending her to the early lead. Tequila Party then swooped by to take over around the first turn, leaving Dixie Star N in the pocket. Tequila Party wasn't granted an easy lead, as Carousel pestered her first-over for much of the back stretch. The only question was whether or not Dixie Star N would have a second move in her after exerting effort early in the mile. She answered that question with a resounding yes, thundering past the tiring Tequila Party to pick up the win by a half-length in 1:53. Not only was it impressive because of the difficult post and the long odds, but the win also stands out for this rising mare as a new career-best time. Other top pacers this week include: Western Joe (Pat Berry, Christopher Choate), who captured the featured condition pace on Saturday night in 1:49:2; Hitman Hill (Hunter Oakes, Chris Oakes), who went down the road for a condition win on Saturday night in 1:49, the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono; and Sidewalk Dancer (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), who delivered a win in Tuesday night's featured condition pace for mares in 1:51.   TROTTER OF THE WEEK: ARCH CREDIT The old "fool me once, fool me twice" credo can be applied to this five-year-old gelding trained by Robin DiBenedetto. On July 15, he rallied with Kyle DiBenedetto in the bike to beat an $11,000 condition trotting field at monster odds of 46-1. He was back at it again just five nights later on Saturday, trying to pick up his second victory in the span of a week. Arch Credit left from the #1 post in a field of seven seeking another conquest of the $11,000 condition trotters. And, once again, he was overlooked at the betting window, although this time he was a more modest long shot at 11-1. The favorite in this race was P L Icabod, who went off at 6-5. Meanwhile, second choice Dirty Secret found the pocket seat. Arch Credit, meanwhile, sat third-in. As anyone who has ever watched harness racing on a 5/8-mile oval knows, that trip can either be very, very good or very, very bad, depending on how the outer flow develops and how the inside horses in front hang together. In this case, it couldn't have worked out any better for Arch Credit. He managed to squeeze through a small window on the inside passing lane and rallied under DiBenedetto's urging. As the line approached, he was just able to nose out P L Icabod for the victory in 1:55. After two straight wins at double-digit odds, it's doubtful that Arch Credit will get to fool the bettors a third time. But if he does, you know, based on these past two victories, he'll relish the opportunity. Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: Say You Do (Tyler Buter, Todd Buter), who came into Pocono on a four-race winning streak and added to it by winning the Sunday night featured condition trot in 1:52:2; Max (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who churned out his second straight condition victory on Sunday night in 1:54; and Alpha D'urzy (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who moved to two-for-two since arriving from Saratoga with a condition win on Sunday night in a career-best 1:54:3.   LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: GRAPPLE HANOVER This gelding driven by Wayne Long overcame a #9 post and a sloppy track to beat a condition trotting field on Monday afternoon at 28-1, paying off $59.20 on a $2-win ticket.   DRIVER OF THE WEEK: KEVIN WALLIS The veteran driver has been picking up the pace in recent weeks at Pocono, and he starred on Monday with a driving double in the sloppy conditions.   TRAINER OF THE WEEK: ERV MILLER Miller was able to train back-to-back winners on the Monday card, with both of the trotters involved, Flippen Creek and Grandma Heidi, getting their maiden victories.   That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at   Jim Beviglia

The Weekly Awards returns after a bit of a hiatus to our coverage of the harness racing action at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. While we took a break from chronicling the overnight action to put a focus on some big stakes races at Pocono, there were many outstanding performances that might have made the cut. We’re back to it this week, with many horses deserving of the honors but only a precious few lucky enough to be awarded them. PACER OF THE WEEK: SLIPIN SKIP If you think that claimers are somehow inferior to condition pacers and trotters, you need to watch the action a little bit more closely. It’s not uncommon at Pocono for claimers to put up times that would actually be comparable with Open competition. Such was the effort put together on Saturday night by Slipin Skip, a five-year-old gelding new to the Hunter Oakes barn following a claim from his previous start. Since arriving at Pocono on June 23, Slipin Skip had won two of his three races with identical winning times of 1:50:4. His lone loss in that span came when he moved up into the $30,000 to $40,000 claiming handicap pacing group, a hard-luck second by a neck. He moved back up into that class on Saturday night and went off as a 2-5 favorite from post position #4 in a field of nine. Driver Dave Palone was aggressive with the favorite, sending him after the lead in a spirited three-way battle on the first turn. Slipin Skip was able to win that duel. The fractions that he set from that point were not for the faint of heart. Yet he wasn’t able to shale Rock The Town, who came into the race having won three of his las four in the same class. It came down to Slipin Skip and Rock The Town, with Slipin Skip holding up well in the lane to win it by a length. The winning time of 1:48:4 was not just a career-best, but it was also the fastest time by anyone at the track over the past racing week, yet another impressive notch in the belt of Slipin Skip on his own and of Pocono claimers as a whole. Other top pacers this week included: Duel In The Sun (George Napolitano Jr., Hunter Oakes), who rolled to his third straight claiming victory on Sunday night, getting it done in 1:51:3; Always At My Place (Jim Morrill Jr., Ron Burke), the decorated veteran making his way back up the condition ladder after scoring his second straight win on Saturday night, this one in 1:50; and Blue Ivy (Tyler Buter, Chris Oakes), a three-year-old filly who captured her second straight condition pace on Sunday night, winning in 1:50:4. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: NOBLE PRIZE The nature of the victory that Noble Prize managed in his previous race on July 8 didn’t engender much confidence from the bettors at Pocono. In that race, he made a first-over move just as the pacesetter pretty much stopped on the back stretch. Noble Prize built a big lead, which he held onto for the win at 20-1 in 1:55. Maybe that’s why he was let go at 8-1 odds on Monday, despite the fact that he was facing a field very similar to the one he just beat in a $15,000 to $20,000 claiming handicap. Leaving from post position #6 in a field of nine with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike, Noble Prize, a five-year-old gelding trained by Lou Pena, sat back early while the 4-5 favorite High Blue set the pace. Once again Napolitano decided on a first-over trip for his horse, only this time the leader did not falter. Instead, High Blue stood his ground on the back stretch as Noble Prize battled with him. To win this one, Noble Prize would have to earn it without any help from a faltering horse. And, as it turns out, that’s just what he did. High Blue finally relented in ths stretch, while Noble Prize handily held off any pursuit from the closers to pick up the victory by a 1 ¼ over Keystone Sergeant. His winning time of 1:54:4 was a career-best, making the triumph even more special. Those who have believed in Noble Prize the last few weeks are likely counting their winnings right now. My guess is he’ll have a lot more folks on his bandwagon next time around. Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: Such An Angel (Matt Kakaley, Hunter Oakes), who scored a win in Sunday night’s featured condition trot in 1:51:3, a new career-best which matched the fastest trotting time posted at Pocono this season; Very Very Fast (Tim Tetrick, Jennifer Bongiorno), who lived up to his name with a condition won on Sunday night in a career-best 1:52:2; and Let’a Be Honest (Simon Allard, Lou Pena), who followed up a win at Harrah’s with a claiming handicap victory on Tuesday afternoon at Pocono in 1:56:1. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ARCH CREDIT Nobody saw this gelding coming in a condition trot on Monday’s card, but, with Kyle Di Benedetto in the bike, he upset the field at 46-1 to pay off $95.80 on a $2 wager. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JIM MORRILL JR. Jim made the most out of his one-off appearance on Saturday night at Pocono, leading all drivers with five victories out of 14 on the program. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: RON BURKE Burke flexed his training muscle during Pennsylvania All-Stars action this week, as his trainees won five of the eight total divisions held for two-year-old pacers on the weekend. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at   Jim Beviglia

Expectations are a funny thing. They can put you in a mindset where you can only see a few possible outcomes for some upcoming event, when, in actuality, life has a funny way of showing us that anything can happen at any time. That is certainly true in the world of high-stakes harness racing, where unpredictability is built into the sport because of the dependence on animals to repeat performances week after week against other top-notch competitors all trying to do the same thing. After watching the eliminations for the 2019 edition of Sun Stakes Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, I thought I had a pretty good feel for what would transpire. But I can't say that any of the four Finals this past Saturday worked out anything like what I would have expected, other than the fact that they were all as exciting as could be predicted. I clearly wasn't alone in my confusion, as none of the four races was won by a favorite, and the odds for the winners got progressively longer as the night went on. Let's take a look back at what transpired and try to pick apart how the unexpected became commonplace on this star-studded night of racing. THE JAMES M. LYNCH MEMORIAL PACE FOR THREE-YEAR-OLD PACING FILLIES: What We Expected To Happen: A showdown between Treacherous Reign and Warrawee Ubeaut, two fillies who have been going back and forth at each other in a battle for divisional supremacy. What Actually Happened: Well, in this case, we weren't all that far off, because there was indeed a showdown between Warrawee Ubeaut and Treacherous Reign, the top two choices in the race. But that showdown occurred too early and for too long a chunk of the mile, leaving both a bit weary in the lane. That left the 3-1 third choice Stonebridge Soul in perfect position in the pocket. Driver Tim Tetrick guided the Chris Ryder trainee up the passing lane for the victory by three-quarters of a length in 1:49:3, providing the first indication that the pocket was going to be the place to be on this night. THE MAX C. HEMPT MEMORIAL PACE FOR THREE-YEAR-OLD PACERS What We Expected To Happen: Proof, with a much better post position than the other two elimination winners, would build on his outstanding career-best mile in the eliminations and dominate. What Actually Happened: Proof did indeed go off with 1-5 expectations, but wasn't on his game after starting slow, eventually finishing sixth. Meanwhile, Captain Victorious tried to double on his elim win with another gutsy front-pacing effort. But he couldn't shake Shake That House, trained by Chris Oakes, who has a shelf full of huge stakes victories at Pocono. From the pocket, Shake That House, with Brian Sears in the bike, erupted late for a two-length win in a career-best 1:49:2, paying off handsomely for his backers with 8-1 odds. THE BEN FRANKLIN PACE FOR FREE-FOR-ALL PACERS What We Expected To Happen: A three-way donnybrook between Western Fame, McWicked, and Lather Up that would produce a definitive aged pacing group standout. What Actually Happened: Lather Up continued to be haunted by clunkers during the biggest nights at Pocono, starting slowly and eventually breaking stride. McWicked battled first over but could never get even with the leader. Western Fame, who went off as the favorite, set that pace, but was pressured enough by McWicked that he labored in the lane. Which left This Is The Plan, winless in 2019 coming into the race, ready for his closeup. The Ron Burke trainee came flying from the pocket with Yannick Gingras driving to win at 12-1 in 1:48:2. THE EARL BEAL JR. MEMORIAL TROT What We Expected To Happen: A coronation for Greenshoe, the colt who many thought could only lose if he broke stride (and even then, many wondered if it would matter.) What Actually Happened: Trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt didn't get the memo apparently, because he fired out from an outside post with 55-1 shot Marseille as if the outcome was still up in the air. Greenshoe, meanwhile, got away a bit lethargically, in much the same manner as he did in the elimination. The difference on this night was that he was beaten to the punch in the outer flow, meaning that he couldn't glide up to his liking. Once he finally did shake free, it was too late to catch the well-rated Marseille, the stunning winner in 1:52:3. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at   Jim Beviglia

We're taking a two-week break from handing out the harness racing Weekly Awards in this space to talk instead about Sun Stakes Saturday. The finals are coming up this coming Saturday, June 29, with nearly $2 million on the line in the four championship races. But before they could have the chance of competing for those monumental purses, some of the top horses in the sport took to the track on Saturday in the eliminations to qualify for the finals. The weather was perfect, the track and times were fast, and the results weren't always predictable. Other than Highalator coming up short in the Ben Franklin elimination, the biggest names all managed to make it through to the finals, meaning that Saturday's races should be stellar. Let's take a look at how the eliminations played out in terms of both the top performers and those that could be sneaking under the radar heading into the high-stakes finals. Max C. Hempt Memorial Pace (Three-year-old Open pacers) Coming into the night, this was the most wide-open of the four championship races, and Saturday night really didn't provide too much clarity. Proof probably goes into Saturday as the favorite barring a really unfavorable post position; his win in 1:48:1 was an age-group best this year and he won't have to face Captain Crunch, winner of the last four races where Proof was an also-ran. But Chris Oakes knows a thing or two about training stakes winners at Pocono, and Shake That House looked sharp in his elimination victory on Saturday night. Meanwhile, Ron Burke's Captain Victorious survived a hellacious speed duel for his own career-best performance in the final elimination of the night. All three are peaking at the right time, while the other qualifiers for the final all need to step up their games to be considered as upset candidates. James M. Lynch Memorial Pace (Three-year-old filly pacers) For a while it was the Tony Alagna show in the Lynch on Saturday night. Although neither Tall Drink Hanover or Odds On St Lucie were favored, they dumped odds-on favorites (Philly Hanover and Zero Tolerance) in the eliminations. Those latter two horses both got through, as did Chris Oakes' fast-improving Blue Ivy, who nearly upended Odds On St Lucie at 25-1. But Alagna couldn't make it a clean sweep, as his trainee Treacherous Reign came up short of defending Breeders Crown champ Warrawee Ubeaut in the final elimination, a reversal of fortune from the Fan Havover in Canada where Treacherous Reign pulled off the upset. Still, you might not be able to glean too much from that elim, since Warrawee Ubeaut was able to get away with soft fractions that likely won't be part of the picture in the final when everyone is going all-out. Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Trot (Three-year-old trotters) Only two divisions here, which meant it was easier for horses to make the final. That didn't stop the first race from being a donnybrook, with White Tiger setting an unsustainable pace before faltering. The beneficiary was Green Manalishi S, no worse than 2nd in 10 races as a freshman but making his first start of the year. No rust here, as he used a second-over trip to win in 1:52:1. Race favorite Swandre The Giant did well to escape from the pocket behind the fading White Tiger to get third and punch his ticket. Marcus Melander trains Green Manalishi A, but the focus was on the trotter he had lying in wait in the second split, Greenshoe. After dusting a pair of stakes fields at The Big M in ridiculous times to start the season, Greenshoe was a 1-9 choice in the elim. When defending Pennsylvania champ Osterc got away with a :57:1 opening half, upset possibilities seemed real. Then Greenshoe glided by without so much as a grunt of effort, winning by another wide margin. Even with a stacked field on Saturday, another 1-9 sendoff for this budding legend isn't out of the question. Ben Franklin (Free-for-all pace) We talked about the disappointment for Highalator, as Levy champ Western Fame, trained by Pocono's top conditioner Rene Allard, avenged an earlier loss at the track with a rock-solid effort in 1:48:1. He was coming off a month-and-a-half layoff, but the batteries appeared fully recharged after the long grind of the Levy. Ron Burke's This is The Plan put up a nice effort as a long shot, finishing just three parts of a length back, recapturing some of the form he flashed last year at age three. The second split was star-studded, to say the least. Lather Up underperformed last year at Pocono to mar an otherwise stellar sophomore season, but he atoned somewhat on Saturday night. After Montrell Teague rated the pace to his liking, the four-year-old watched aged pacing legend McWicked take the lead from him late, only to grab it back for the win. McWicked is safe, finishing third, while Allard trainee Springsteen, the defending Hempt champ, nearly nipped Lather Up late despite it being his first start of the season. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at Jim Beviglia

For the next two weeks at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, we'll be talking a lot about the upcoming Sun Stakes. The eliminations take place on Saturday night, June 22, while the harness racing finals take center stage on the following Saturday the 29th. Those races should provide a ton of fireworks. Then again, our overnight horses have been doing a good job supplying the excitement lately, as this week's edition of the Weekly Awards should clearly demonstrate.   PACER OF THE WEEK: HEARTBEAT HILL In his previous start at Pocono on June 8, this four-year-old gelding from the Bruce Clarke barn wasn't given much of a chance in an $11,000 condition group. But thanks to a wily drive from Marcus Miller and some strong late kick, he came from behind to win at 12-1 while setting a career-mark in the process with his winning time of 1:50:3. On Saturday night, he decided to step up his game, taking on a $12,500 condition field this time around. The favorite in the race at 6-5 was Stormont Czar, who was dropping down in class and had the inside post. Once again, Heartbeat Hill didn't get much love, this time let go at 6-1 from a #5 post in a field of eight. But this time around, the game plan changed. Miller was aggressive in sending Heartbeat Hill after the lead, and once the horse made the engine, he set some imposing fractions. Meanwhile, Stormont Czar looked to be a major threat as he came up first over. It wasn't easy for Heartbeat Hill to shake Stormont Czar, as the favorite surged again in the lane after switching to the inside. But Heartbeat Hill had every answer, as Miller guided him home to a two-length victory in 1:51, with Stormont Czar fading to third behind fast-closing Rockin In the Hills in second. With two straight victories, Heartbeat Hill certainly looks like a contender going forward, even if he isn't yet getting bet like one. Other top pacers this week include: Rebellious (Tyler Buter, Michael Deters) who scorched a condition field with a victory on Saturday night in 1:49:2, a new career-best and the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono; Baby Kitty (Eric Carlson, Eric Foster), who picked up his second straight condition win on Sunday night, this time in 1:52 in the slop; and Vorst (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garacia-Herrera), who won Tuesday night's featured condition pace for mares in 1:51:3, a new career-best.   TROTTER OF THE WEEK: STAR STUDDED CAST This eight-year-old gelding has put together a solid season overall, coming into Monday afternoon's $15,000 to $20,000 claiming handicap trot with five wins in 15 races. His recent stretch has been particularly hot. It started with a win on June in an optional $15,000 claimer with a pocket trip in 1:56:2. He followed that up by proving he could get it done from a tough post with speed, winning a claiming handicap in 1:57 in the slop. Star Studded Cast won both of those races while being trained by Carmine Fusco and driven by Anthony Napolitano. After a claim, however, Hunter Oakes took over on Monday, handling both driving and training duties as Star Studded Cast lined up on the outside of a field of eight. Like his previous two races, he wasn't favored, going off as a 7-2 favorite behind Hank's Tank, a horse he had beaten both times in his winning streak. Oakes stayed aggressive with the horse, sending him to the front end and then retaking the lead on the front stretch after briefly ceding control. From there it was just a matter of Star Studded Cast playing keep away, which he did with no problems whatsoever. He pushed away from the pursuit late to pick up the victory in 1:55:1 by two lengths over Shivered. This gelding seems to be peaking right now, overcoming both tough post positions and barn switches in his three-race winning streak. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Optimist Blue Chip (Anthony Napolitano, Antonia Storer), who captured Saturday night's featured condition trot in a career-best 1:53:1; Lindsey's Pride (Marcus Miller, Erv Miller), who beat a condition field on Saturday night in a career-best 1:54:3 in his first start of the season; and Do You Wanna Dance (Corey Callahan, John Butenschoen), a filly who won the first two-year-old race of the season at Pocono with a victory on Tuesday in 1:59:3.   LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: CAN'T SAY NO Two-year-olds can be unpredictable, and this freshman driven by Ray Schnittker proved it by winning a condition trot in his debut on Tuesday with a win at 38-1, paying off $78.60 on a $2-win ticket.   DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ERIC CARLSON Carlson was a consistent threat this past week, scoring at least one win on all four racing nights and picking up doubles on three of the four.   TRAINER OF THE WEEK: BRUCE CLARKE Clarke found the hills, or the Hills as the case may be, very prosperous this week, winning with Heartbeat Hill on Saturday and Sapphire Hill on Tuesday.   That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at   Jim Beviglia

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