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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 jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.   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 jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.   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 jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. 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 jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.   Jim Beviglia

Once again it was a bit of mixed bag weather-wise for the past harness racing week at The Downs at Mohegan Sun. But the good news is that, for the first time all season, we were able to enjoy some big-purse races in something less than a total downpour. Those races included another stellar performance from Highalator in the Great Northeast Open pacing series on Saturday and four divisions of the Pennsylvania All-Stars for three-year-old trotting fillies on Sunday. Let’s take a look at who earned top honors in our Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: SHADOW CAT As a three-year-old in 2018, Shadow Cat battled his way to just over $100,000 in earnings. His four-year-old campaign has been more of the same, especially when he’s been at Pocono. The four-year-old gelding, trained by Jennifer Bongiorno, won here back on April 21. After four unsuccessful starts at Harrah’s and The Meadowlands, Shadow Cat returned on June 2 and put together an impressive victory in a condition pace for winners of four but no more than seven lifetime races, winning in a career-best 1:50:3 in the slop. On Sunday night he faced that same field again in an effort to capture the winner’s share of the $17,000 purse. Only this time around, he had to deal with a much tougher post position, leaving from the #8 spot in a field of nine. But the game plan didn’t change for driver George Napolitano Jr. He made sure that Shadow Cat rumbled towards the front of the pack early. The gelding made the lead as they straightened out on the front stretch for the first time. Shadow Cat received a breather in the second quarter, which readied him for the second half of the mile, where he was an absolute powerhouse. He paced the final two quarters in 54 seconds even, keeping an excellent group of pursuers at bay. The gelding paced home two lengths in front of second-place Youcaniknow, resetting his career-best with a mile of 1:50 and picking up his second straight win overall, his third straight in front of the Pocono faithful. Other top pacers this week include: Sweet Lucy Lou (Andrew McCarthy, Robert Cleary), a three-year-old filly who followed up her maiden win with a condition victory on Monday afternoon in the slop, setting a new career-best of 1:53:4 in the process; Alex Tye (Tyler Buter, Amber Buter), a three-year-old gelding who moved up the condition ladder to win his second straight at Pocono on Sunday night, posting a new career mark of 1:51:4; and Cashendash Hanover (Marcus Miller, Bruce Clarke), who switched barns but still racked up his second straight claiming handicap win on Sunday night, getting it done in 1:52:2. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: MILLIES POSSESSION At this point of the season, most of the three-year-old horses doing the damage in stakes competition are those who have established themselves as two-year-olds as well. That kind of experience usually comes in handy when you’re facing top-flight competition, such as those three-year-old fillies battling it out in Pennsylvania All-Stars action on Sunday night. Yet Millies Possession, unraced as a two-year-old, went off as a 2-5 favorite in her $30,000 All-Stars division on Sunday night. Why was that the case? Well the filly, trained by Jim Campbell, won the first four starts of her career. The last three of those, including a victory at Pocono in her previous start on May 26, came against Pennsylvania Sire Stakes competition. That’s a pretty good record no matter when you start racing. On Sunday night, leaving from post position #2 in a field of seven, Millies Possession started a bit slow, but brushed to the lead by the half-mile marker. It was by no means an easy lead, as she faced outside pressure for most of the second half of the mile. But Millies Possession, with help from driver Dexter Dunn, never seemed to be pressing. She stayed out in front all the way to the line, eventually winning by 1 ½ lengths over Jezzys Legacy in an effortless 1:54:1. Now with five wins in five races, four of them for stakes and the last two at Pocono, Millies Possession is clearly making up for lost time. Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: Asiago (Yannick Gingras, Per Engblom), a filly whose All-Stars win at Pocono on Sunday night in 1:55:3 was her second straight stakes win at the track; Star Studded Cast (Anthony Napolitano, Carmine Fusco), who defeated a claiming handicap group on Monday in the slop in 1:57 for his second straight victory at Pocono; and Lord Cromwell (Marcus Miller, Edward Hart), who moved up in class on Saturday night and managed his second straight  victory, scoring in 1:53:4. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: MARCO BEACH With John Kakaley in the bike, this three-year-old gelding overcame a tough outside post to win a condition pace on Monday in the slop at 30-1, paying off $63.60 on a $2-win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: YANNICK GINGRAS Big races seem to suit Gingras, as he proved on Sunday night when he captured two of the four of divisions of Pennsylvania All-Stars, winning with The Ice Dutchess and Asiago. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: CARMINE FUSCO The Fusco barn has really been heating up in recent weeks, and this past week it produced winners in three of the four racing nights. 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.   Jim Beviglia

What is it about Sunday nights? In a weird coincidence, the last four Sunday night harness racing programs at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono featured a good chunk of the races going off in sloppy conditions. And that means that we've seen a lot of very wet stakes races taking place. That hasn't dampened the action in any way, however, as we've seen some outstanding performances, both in the stakes and the overnight races. Here is a look at the top performers from the week gone by as we hand out the Weekly Awards.   PACER OF THE WEEK: HITMAN HILL Even though he comes from one of the most successful barns on the grounds and was a big earner as a three-year-old last season, this gelding has been a bit underestimated at Pocono this year. He won a pair of $17,500 condition paces earlier in the meet and wasn't favored in either. On Saturday night he faced the $21,500 condition group in the feature and was let go at 7-1. In this case, the long odds were maybe more understandable, because the four-year-old gelding from the Chris Oakes barn finished 7th in the same class a week ago. On Saturday night, Hitman Hill left from post position #3 in a field of six. The favorite was the decorated veteran pacer Rockin Ron, who went off as 6-5 in an effort to add his $1.6 million in career purse money. Rockin Ron grabbed the early lead, but driver Hunter Oakes positioned Hitman Hill in a good spot in the pocket right behind the leader. Meanwhile, Rockin Ron had to deal with a strong first-over charge from Lyons Steel on the back stretch. That speed duel might have softened Rockin Ron up a bit, especially when he had to pace a :26:4 for the third quarter to keep the lead. It all played right into the hands of Hitman Hill, who shook free from the pocket in the home stretch once Lyons Steel faded out of it. Hitman Hill powered home and right past Rockin Ron to win it by a neck. Talk about consistency: All three of his wins in the meet so far at Pocono have come at the same time of 1:50:1 that he posted on Saturday night. Other top pacers this week include: Gallery Opening (Simon Allard, Rene Alllard), who ticked off his second straight claiming handicap victory on Saturday night, getting it done this time in a career-best 1:51; Demi Hill (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), a three-year-old filly who moved up in class on Sunday night and won her second straight, this one in a time of 1:54:1 in the slop; and Reclamation (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who picked up her second straight win against the feature distaff pacers at Pocono on Tuesday in a career-best 1:50, giving her five straight wins overall.   TROTTER OF THE WEEK: RICH AND MISERABLE This four-year-old gelding trained by Todd Buter faced a $21,500 condition trotting class on Sunday night. Since it was the first race of the night and the heavy rain hadn't yet begun, the race was contested on a track listed in a good condition. The betting attention went to Top Expectations, a mare who had won her first three races of the year at Yonkers. But Rich And Miserable had a three-race winning streak on the line himself, with two of the wins at Yonkers sandwiched around a victory at Pocono against non-winners of seven. On Sunday night, Rich And Miserable left from the outside post in a field of six as a 7-1 shot. Top Expectations grabbed the early lead while Rich And Miserable stayed back in fifth. When he began to move up first-over, it looked like he might get some cover to help him on his move to the front. But that cover never came, forcing driver Tyler Buter to go after the leader. As they rounded the final turn, Top Expectations and Rich And Miserable were locked in an intense battle. That continued through the lane, with neither horse giving way. It appeared that Top Expectations might shrug off her foe late, but Rich And Miserable simply refused to lose. In the final strides, he pulled out in front, wearing down the game Top Expectations to win it by a head. The winning time of 1:52:4 was a new career-best for the gelding and also marked the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono, despite the fact that it occurred on an off-track. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Optimist Blue Chip (Anthony Napolitano, Antonia Storer), who moved up the condition ladder to score his second straight condition win on Saturday night, this one in 1:53:3; Asiago (George Napolitano Jr., Per Engblom), who managed the fastest winning time among three Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for three-year-olds on Sunday Night, scoring in 1:55:2 in the slop; and Keystone Abbey (George Napolitano Jr., Christopher Beaver), who stayed perfect in Stallion Series races this year by winning her third straight on Sunday night in the slop in 1:57:1.   LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: CELEBRITY BIANCA This trotting filly's maiden victory came as a bit of a surprise to the betting public, as she handled a condition field on Monday afternoon at 41-1, paying off $84.40 on a $2-win ticket.   DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ERIC GOODELL Goodell tends to step up when the competition is at its toughest, as evidenced by his five combined wins amidst all the top races on Saturday and Sunday night.   TRAINER OF THE WEEK: MIKE WATSON Watson picked up a pair of training wins with pacers this week, scoring on Saturday night with Wagon Master fresh off a claim and then winning on Tuesday with mare Bye Bye Michelle.   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.   Jim Beviglia

This week's harness racing action at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono contained our first taste of both Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and Pennsylvania Stallion Series action, while the Great Northeast Open series continued as well with the male pacers on Saturday night. There was a little bit of everything for the faithful on tap, including sudden thunderstorms, a dead heat for a win, and, of course, plenty of fantastic performances. Let's take a look at the best of those by handing out the Weekly Awards.   PACER OF THE WEEK: ATTA BOY DAN The hot streak for this 10-year-old gelding began on his way out of the Meadows on April 27 when he finished in a dead heat for the win in a condition pace in 1:51:1. He then came to Pocono and scored in a claiming handicap pace on May 11, winning that one in come-from-behind fashion in 1:51:4. On Saturday night he was at it again in that $30,000 to $40,000 claiming handicap group, only this time he was making his first start for trainer Hunter Oakes after he had been claimed in the previous race. In this race, Atta Boy Dan was saddled with the outside post in a field of seven, which was probably why he was only the 8-5 second choice on the board. Driver Eric Goodell decided he wanted his horse on the lead, and the gelding was able to achieve that with a swooping move around the first turn. On the back stretch, Atta Boy Dan faced down a first-over challenge from 6-5 betting favorite Dancin Hill, which he rebuffed with extreme prejudice. The work from Atta Boy Dan was far from done, as Concur and Boogie Nights, a pair of long shots who had been saving ground, both came charging up to challenge in the stretch. But the veteran answered the call by gutting out the win by 1 ¼ lengths over Concur in 1:51:4. At age ten, a lot of standardbreds are winding down. But Atta Boy Dan is on a blistering stretch right now and is showing no signs of giving his opponents a break and letting up. Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: Rock The Town (George Napolitano Jr., Antonia Storer), who moved up in class to win a claiming handicap pace on Saturday night, his second straight victory since arriving from Delaware, in a career-best 1:50:4; Rodeo Rock (Eric Goodell, Robert Cleary), who tore it up for a victory in the Great Northeast Open pacing series on Saturday night in 1:49, a new career-best and the fastest pacing time of the 2019 Pocono meet to date; and Captain Crunch (Scott Zeron, Nancy Johansson), who returned to start off his three-year-old season at the scene of his Breeders Crown triumph and put on a show in a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes victory on Sunday night, matching a career-best with a 1:49:1 mile in the slop.   TROTTER OF THE WEEK: DI OGGI Sunday night is usually the night when trotters take center stage at Pocono, but this past week, the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and Stallion Series for three-year-old pacers highlighted the action. Still, there were some outstanding trots that would normally have been features, including a condition trot with a purse of #17,500 early in the evening. It was a top field of seven, six of which have been campaigning regularly at Pocono this year with high levels of success. But it was Di Oggi, who had spent most of his time this year at the Meadowlands for trainer Ake Svanstedt, who went off as the 4-5 favorite. He came in on a streak of three second-place finishes, which included his lone start at Pocono this year when he came up short of Tag Up And Go. In this mile, Di Oggi, a five-year-old stallion, left from post position #5 but didn't get away quickly. He was forced to grind away first-over in the sloppy conditions, dueling away with Tyson, who set the pace. After wearing down Tyson, Di Oggi, also driven by Svanstedt, then had to deal with Lucky Colby, a 55-1 long shot who hugged the pylons most of the race and then came on strong late in the mile with a big move. But Di Oggi was up to the test, holding tight to beat Lucky Colby by a neck. His winning time of 1:54:1 was just shy of his career-best and was the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono, despite the fact that it came on a sloppy track. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: CR Blazin Beauty (Anthony Napolitano, Jose Godinez), a mare who beat the boys in a condition trot on Sunday night in 1:55:4 in the off-going; Don (Mike Simons driver and trainer), who captured a tough condition trot on Sunday night in the slop despite it being just his second start of the year, matching a career-best of 1:54:3 in the process; and Explosivebreakaway (Tom Jackson, Fred Grant), who delivered a career-best performance by winning a condition trot on Tuesday in 1:54:2.   LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: MYSTICAL WYNN This trotter came rocketing up the passing lane late with Mike Simons in the bike to win a condition at 35-1, paying off a hefty $73.80 on a $2-win ticket.   DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANDREW McCARTHY McCarthy was on top of his game in his two appearances last week at Pocono, winning five times, including a pair of Stallion Series victories on Sunday night.   TRAINER OF THE WEEK: TONY ALAGNA Alagna seems to always have a deep roster of young talent, and that was proven on Sunday night when his horses took two of the four Stallion Series divisions for three-year-old pacers. 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.     Jim Beviglia

Much of the racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono this past week took place under less-than-ideal weather conditions, thanks to an unusually cold and rainy stretch of weather from Sunday to Tuesday. That didn't dampen enthusiasm in the least for one of the most exciting weeks of racing we've witnessed this year, as the harness racing action was spiced up with the Great Northeast Open Series and Pennsylvania All-Stars races for three-year-old colts and geldings pacers. Let's take a look at the best of the best as we check out the Weekly Awards.   PACER OF THE WEEK: TEQUILA MONDAY What a year it has been for this five-year-old mare from the Hunter Oakes barn. Tequila Monday came into the $30,000 Great Northeast Open Series race on Sunday night for pacing mares with wins in all five of her races in 2019. Included in those victories was a condition win at Pocono back on April 16. In her previous race, she captured the first leg of the GNO Series with a powerful late move from the pocket at Harrah's at Philadelphia in 1:51.   On Sunday night, she was made the 4-5 betting favorite leaving from post position #4 in a field of seven. And a powerful field it was, including Bettor Joy N, who was hungry for action after a controversial scratch in Ohio, and Percy Blue Chip, Breeders Crown champ at Pocono in 2018. Bettor Joy N hustled past Tequila Monday for the lead on the first turn, and matters looked a little concerning for Tequila Monday when Bettor Joy N was able to get away with relatively soft fractions on the front end.   In the stretch, Tequila Monday had her chance to take on the leader when the passing lane opened up. With Tyler Buter guiding her home, she absolutely exploded past Bettor Joy N, blowing by with ease to win it by 1 ¼ lengths. The winning time of 1:52:1 was impressive considering that the track was slowed by the sloppy conditions. Now 6 for 6 on the year and already having beaten many of the top competitors in her age group, Tequila Monday seems poised for a legendary season.   Other top pacers this week include: Nine Ways (George Napolitano Jr., Antonia Storer), whose third straight condition win on Saturday night came in 1:50, a new career-best and tied for fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono; Maxdaddy Blue Chip (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who moved up in condition to win his second straight on Saturday night, getting it done in 1:50:2; and JM's Delight (Greg Merton driver and trainer), who won his second condition pace in his last three at Pocono with a victory in the slop on Sunday night in 1:54.   TROTTER OF THE WEEK: GUARDIAN ANGEL AS As was the case with the mares, the field for the #30,000 Great Northeast Open Series for trotters on Sunday night was stacked. Homicide Hunter, defending Breeders Crown champ, was making his first start of the year and his debut for the Ron Burke barn. JL Cruze joined Homicide Hunter as one of two million-dollar earners in the field. La Grange A was coming off back-to-back wins at The Meadowlands, while Pappy Go Go had earlier in the season posted the fastest trotting time in the Pocono meet with a 1:52. But it was Guardian Angle AS, leaving from the #5 post in a field of eight, who was made the 3-5 betting favorite. The 5-year-old stallion was coming off a 2018 which saw him earn a robust $243,966. His first start of 2019 was only a fourth-place finish, but considering it came against brutal competition at The Meadowlands and that he had to deal with a second-tier post, it wasn't bad at all. On Sunday night, he made a quick move to the lead on the front stretch with Tim Tetrick in the bike. On the back stretch, La Grange A came flying at the leader first-over. But Guardian Angel AS, trained by Anette Lorentzon, calmly rebuffed that challenge. In the stretch, he effortlessly opened up the lead and ended up coming home a winner by 3 ¾ lengths over La Grange As, with most of the rest of the field was well back. The winner trotted the mile in 1:53:1 in the slop, making it all look ridiculously easy despite the high caliber of the field. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Mass Production (Scott Zeron, Rick Zeron), who managed to match a career-best time of 1:54:4 in a condition win on Sunday night despite the sloppy conditions; Tight Lines (Jeff Gregory driver and trainer), who followed up a condition win at Harrah's with one at Pocono on Sunday night in the slop with a time of 1:54:1; and Sylvesterameicait (Anthony Napolitano, Bob Baggitt Jr.), whose win in a condition on Monday on a sloppy track in 1:55:4 was the fastest trot of the day by almost four seconds.   LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: RED MAPLE LANE Under the guidance of driver Matt Romano, this trotter led every step of the way in a condition on Tuesday afternoon at 31-1, paying off $64.80 on a $2 win ticket.   DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR George Nap just keeps plowing through the competition, extending his lead in the Pocono driving colony with another big week that was highlighted by five wins on Saturday night.   TRAINER OF THE WEEK: ANTONIA STORER Storer has been winning at an impressive rate with limited starters at Pocono, as evidenced by a training double on Saturday night with Nine Ways and Rock The Town.   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.   Jim Beviglia

With the Kentucky Derby taking place this past Saturday and our traditional double-header of racing on that day, The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono hosted five cards of live harness racing instead of the usual four for the week. As if choosing for the Weekly Awards wasn't difficult enough, there are many more possibilities this time around because of the extra races. Let's take a look at who garners the honors for this busy week of harness racing action. PACER OF THE WEEK: HIGHALATOR On Saturday night, Pocono hosted its first big stakes race of the season with the Van Rose Invitational Pace for a purse of $50,000. It was also the first race at Pocono in the Great Northeast Open series, which inaugurated last year to much acclaim and will culminate with big-money finals at the end of the summer. Saturday night's race looked on paper like it would belong to Western Fame, who was coming off a convincing victory in the $500,000 final of the Levy series at Yonkers. But the field was full of top aged pacers, including Highalator, a standout five-year-old stallion from the Jenny Bier barn who always seems to rise to the occasion when he appears at Pocono. He left from the #2 post in a field of nine as the 2-1 second choice, while Western Fame left from the #7 spot at 3-5. Western Fame grabbed the engine while Highalator, with Richard Still in the bike, found the pocket seat early. The key to the race may have been how Western Fame was hounded by long shot The Wall and his first-over bid. In the stretch, the favorite couldn't summon enough to hold off the pursuit. Highalator, on the other hand, began to erupt as soon as the passing lane opened up. He flew home just a neck in front of Bettor Memories, who came out three-wide at the end of the mile with a lot of pace. Highalator paced the mile in 1:49:4 for yet another signature win on the Pocono oval. Other top pacers for the week included: Always At My Place (Anthony Napolitano, Ron Burke), who scored a condition victory on Saturday night in 1:49:1, which is the fastest pacing time of the year to date at Pocono; Dancin Hill (Tyler Buter, Gareth Dowse), who won his third straight race, the last two at Pocono, when he beat a claiming handicap group on Saturday night in a career-best 1:50:4; and Nine Ways (George Napolitano Jr., Antonia Storer), who moved up the condition ladder for his second straight victory on Saturday night, getting it done in a career-best 1:50:1.   TROTTER OF THE WEEK: TWO AM With the exception of a break of stride on April 14, this five-year-old gelding from the Todd Buter barn has been a consistent threat at Pocono in the 2019 meet. He has hit the board in three of four races here, peaking with a condition victory in a $21,500 featured condition trot on April 21 in 1:53:2. He returned to action in the $17,500 condition feature on Sunday night following a 6th place finish at the Meadowlands in his previous start. Leaving from post position #2 in a field of eight, Two AM, who went off as the 1-2 favorite, sat back and let others battle for the early lead on the sloppy track. After some jockeying for position, Truemass Volo grabbed the engine, while Two AM idled in fifth in the early portion of the race. But driver Tyler Buter didn't allow him to sit there for very long, sending him in motion first-over as the field headed into the clubhouse turn. Buter didn't wait around for cover, urging Two AM to engage Truemass Volo with his first-over move. He corralled the leader around the final turn and then left him, and the rest of the field, behind in the stretch. Despite being parked around two turns, the gelding still was out-trotting everybody in the lane, coming to the line a 3 ¼-length winner over Truemass Volo in 1:54:3, a time which was especially impressive considering the sloppy conditions. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Tiger's Too Good (Anthony Napolitano, Pete Pellegrino), whose condition victory on Sunday night in the slop in 1:57 gave him two consecutive victories; Rich And Miserable (Tyler Buter, Todd Buter), who followed up a win at Yonkers with a condition win at Pocono on Sunday night in the slop in 1:56:2; and Karets (George Napolitano Jr., James Cosenza), who powered to a condition win on Monday in 1:53:4, the fastest trotting time posted this week at Pocono.   LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SHADY CITY A flying rally in the passing lane gave this condition pacer driven by Larry Stalbaum a victory on Saturday night at 24-1, good for a $51.40 payout on a $2 win ticket.   DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY NAPOLITANO A-Nap certainly enjoyed the double-header schedule on Saturday, as he picked up four driving victories in both the afternoon and evening cards.   TRAINER OF THE WEEK: TODD BUTER The Buter barn seems to have an endless supply of excellent trotters of all ages, as evidenced by Todd's wins with Two AM and Rich And Miserable on Sunday night. 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.    Jim Beviglia

April 27-May 3, 2019 We are really starting to enter the heart of the harness racing stakes season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. In the past week, the last two finals of the Bobby Weiss series took place, and those two winners highlight this edition of the Weekly Awards. Not only will Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action be heating up in the next few weeks, but the Van Rose Memorial Pace on Saturday night will kick off the Great Northeast Open series. So much going on, but first let's take a look back at those Weiss finals. PACER OF THE WEEK: TURBO HILL The past few weeks of the Bobby Weiss series in the three and four-year-old colts, stallions and geldings pacing division set up an interesting rivalry between Turbo Hill and Sports Legend. Turbo Hill won a showdown between the two on April 13, and looked like the class of the division at that point. But then Sports Legend came back the following week and not only beat Turbo Hill, but did so handily by 7 ½ lengths. While there were others in the field with excellent credentials, Saturday night's final figured to come down to the two rivals. Turbo Hill, a four-year-old stallion, left from post position #5 in the nine-horse field as the 3-5 favorite, while Sports Legend was right next to him in post #6 as an 8-5 second choice. In the previous meetings, the horse who grabbed the lead was the one who came out on top, so it boded well for Turbo Hill that he jumped out to the engine in this one. It also boded well when George Napolitano Jr., taking over as driver of Turbo Hill from trainer Hunter Oakes, was able to get away with a soft second panel of :29:1. While Sports Legend stayed close in the pocket, he wasn't able to get past in the all-out duel in the stretch. The well-rated Turbo Hill was able to finish strong for the victory in a career-best 1:51, holding off Sports Legend by three parts of a length to avenge what was only the second loss of his career. Other top pacers this week include: Hitman Hill (Hunter Oakes, Chris Oakes), who scored a condition victory on Saturday night in 1:50:1, matching the mark that he set a few weeks back as the fastest pacing time posted so far this meet at Pocono; Scott Rocks (George Napolitano Jr., Hunter Oakes), who scored his second straight condition victory by moving up in class on Saturday night to win in 1:50:4; and Eclipse Me N (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who won the Mares feature on Tuesday for the second straight week, this time getting it done in 1:50:3.   TROTTER OF THE WEEK: DOVER DONY The finals of a racing series can often take on a different aspect than all the preliminary legs. In the Weiss series for three and four-year-old colts, stallions and geldings trotters, most of the preliminary legs contained short fields. In that atmosphere, My Lindy Winner seemed unbeatable, winning three straight, mostly with authority. Only in the final leg was he pushed to the hilt by Dover Dony, who nearly went gate-to-wire, only to lose to My Lindy Winner by a half-length. On Monday night in the final, there was a full field of nine. My Lindy Winner left from post position #7 in a field of nine. As a horse without great speed in the opening quarter, he laid back and settled fifth early on. But Dover Dony, a four-year-old stallion trained by Jordan Derue, came out flying from post #6 and grabbed the lead from Chapter And Ruth at the eighth-mile marker. Driver Simon Allard than rated the pace well and allowed Dover Dony to rest in the front stretch before kicking it up several notches on the back stretch and opening up the lead. My Lindy Winner, having to make up more ground than usual, was still well behind on the back stretch, finally kicking into gear with a three-wide move on the final turn. But by that time the margin was too wide and Dover Dony was too game. He powered home a length in front of Chapter And Ruth, with My Lindy Winner another quarter-length back in the third. Dover Dony blazed to a career-best mile of 1:54 as a 6-5 second choice, while Allard completed an amazing run as driver of there of this year's four Weiss series champions. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Tag Up And Go (Marcus Miller, Rob Harmon), who followed up a win at Chester with a victory in Sunday night's featured condition trot in 1:56:4 in the slop; Very Very Fast (Simon Allard, Bob Bresnahan Jr.), who stepped up in condition to score his second straight win on Sunday night, getting it done in the slop in 1:58:2; and Such An Angel (George Napolitano Jr., Hunter Oakes, who powered to a condition victory on Tuesday in 1:53:0, the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono.   LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: NEW IDENTITY   After spending the entirety of 2018 without a victory, this condition trotter won his first start this year with Anthony Napolitano in the bike at 27-1, paying off $56.40 on a $2-win ticket.   DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MATT KAKALEY   Whenever he makes an appearance at Pocono, you can expect Kakaley to do some damage, as he proved with a combined seven wins on Sunday and Monday night.   TRAINER OF THE WEEK: RAY SCHNITTKER   Schnittker sent out a trip of three-year-old pacing colts on Sunday and Monday night, all of them making their first start of the year, and every one of the three came back a winner.   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

Over the past month we've been enjoying the Bobby Weiss harness racing series at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Well, the preliminary legs of the series have come to an end and the finals have begun taking place, each for a purse of $30,000. Two of those finals are still to come, but the winners of the two Bobby Weiss championship races held this past week earn the distinction of Horses of the Week in this edition of the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: CARDIFF In the Bobby Weiss final on Monday for pacing fillies and mares, Cardiff, despite a win and two places in the Series, was an 11-1 shot. That's because most of the betting attention went to Ghosttothepost and Girl's Got Rhythm, who entered the final a perfect 5 for 5 between in them in the previous legs. Cardiff, as a matter of fact, had come up short behind Ghosttothepost in her previous two races, so it was understandable perhaps that the Rene Allard trainee was somewhat overlooked at the windows. Girl's Got Rhythm was the aggressor in the final, bolting out to the engine despite having the #9 post and setting nasty fractions. Ghosttothepost, who went off as the 2-5 favorite, settled in the pocket. As for Cardiff, who left from post #8, he sat mid-pack early. But driver Simon Allard didn't allow him to dawdle for long, sending him first-over after the leader before he reached the clubhouse turn. He was still parked out as they rounded the final turn and hadn't yet corralled Girl's Got Rhythm. In the stretch, Cardiff found another burst of energy while Girl's Got Rhythm struggled to stay afloat and Ghosttothepost took his shot in the passing lane. Despite having the inferior trip, Cardiff outpaced the other two and came out on top by a length-and-a-half over Ghosttothepost, with Girl's Got Rhythm settling for 3rd. When it counted, Cardiff came up with a career-best 1:51:1 mile, all the more impressive for the tough journey he needed to take and the tough competition he needed to overcome. Other top pacers this week include: Soho Wallstreet A (Pat Berry, Scott DiDomenico), who captured his second straight Saturday night condition feature with a win this past weekend in 1:50:2, which was also the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono; Bunkndunk (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who switched barns and captured his second straight claiming win on Saturday night, this one in 1:51:4; and Pennys Dragon (Matt Kakaley, Sean Smithpeters), a three-year-old filly who pulled off her second straight upset condition victory on Monday, winning in a career-best 1:53:4.   TROTTER OF THE WEEK: TOWN HALL JUSTICE On Tuesday, it was time for the fillies and mares trotting division of the Weiss series to contest their final, and the top two choices on the board were Fade Into You, winner of two of three preliminary legs, and Spring In Paris, who swept the three preliminaries. Town Hall Justice wasn't close in her first two legs of the series, but then picked up a confidence-building win in the final preliminary in 1:56:4 heading into the final. That win coincided with her joining the Rene Allard barn, and you know from above that Rene and brother Simon Allard won with Cardiff in the first Weiss final in upset fashion. In this mile, Town Hall Justice found the pocket after leaving from post position #3 in the nine-horse field. The four-year-mare watched as Run Lindy Run cut out the first half-mile in fast fractions, then quickly grabbed the lead at the top of the back stretch. From there both Fade Into You and Spring In Paris took their best shots at the leader. But Town Hall Justice, at 7-1, finished strong, holding off Fade Into You by a length, with Spring In Paris back in 3rd. The mare shattered her previous career-best in 1:53:4, and scored at a nice price of 7-1. 2 for 2 since hooking up with the Allards, Town Hall Justice looks poised for a completer career rejuvenation. Meanwhile, Simon and Rene Allard solidified their reputations as guys who step up their games for the biggest races. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Two AM (Tyler Buter, Todd Buter), who captured the Sunday night featured condition trot in 1:53:2, which stood up as the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; Quincy Blue Chip (Jim Morrill Jr., Gareth Dowse) who came out firing in her first start of the year on Sunday night, winning a condition trot in a career-best 1:53:4, which was the fastest trotting time put up by a three-year-old filly in all of North America this year; and Hill Of A Horse (Marcus Miller, Erv Miller), who overcame a #9 post to score his second straight condition win on Tuesday, this one coming in 1:54:2.   LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: A BETTOR BEACH This pacer made his maiden victory an unforgettable one, scoring on Monday with Matt Kakaley driving at 42-1, paying off $86.20 on a $2 win ticket.   DRIVER OF THE WEEK: TYLER BUTER Tyler Buter didn't rest on his laurels after scoring his 3,000th career win aboard Daddy Let Me Drive on Sunday night, instead winning two more that evening, including the feature with Two AM.   TRAINER OF THE WEEK: RENE ALLARD Not only did he win both of the Weiss finals, but the perennial Pocono leading trainer also took over the lead in the training wins standings for 2019 with six victories on the 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 jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.   Jim Beviglia

We enjoyed quite the busy week of harness racing action at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. High winds and slanting rains, Bobby Weiss Series action heating up, the fastest pacing time of the young season, and a 70-1 shot winning: All of it was part of the rich tapestry. Let's take a look back at all the wildness by handing out some Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: TURBO HILL In the three-and-four-year-old male pacers division of the Bobby Weiss series, it's hard to argue against this one as the class of the group. Yet he faced a situation on Saturday night where he wasn't favored in one of the races in the series. Hard to believe, considering that he came into the race on a five-race winning streak, two of which came at Pocono, and with a career record of seven wins in eight races for trainer and driver Hunter Oakes. Granted, Turbo Hill was a pretty prohibitive second choice at 4-5. Yet Sports Legend, who had won of three of four coming in, including a division of the Weiss in the first leg of the series, went off as the 3-5 choice. Leaving from post position #3 in a field of seven, it was Turbo Hill who got the jump, taking the lead over Sports Legend on the front stretch. And, with no pressure on the outside, Oakes was able to rate the pace in his horse's favor. At the top of the stretch, the race was pretty much a two-horse dance between the top two choices. Even though Sports Legend was attached to Turbo Hill at the top of the stretch, he couldn't gain through the lane. Instead, Turbo Hill, a four-year-old stallion, solidified his lead and came home a winner in a swift 1:51:2, 1 ¼ lengths in front of Sports Legend. These two might meet again in the final a few weeks hence, but, for now, Turbo Hill owns bragging rights. Other top pacers this week include: Hitman Hill (Hunter Oakes, Chris Oakes), who tore it up for a condition victory on Saturday night in 1:50:1, the fastest pacing time of the season to date at Pocono; Soho Wallstreet A (Pat Berry, Scott DiDomenico), who handled a top field in Saturday night's featured condition pace in 1:50:3; and Major Bucks (Anthony Napolitano, William Adamczyk), who rose up the condition ladder to score his second straight win on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:51:3.   TROTTEER OF THE WEEK: HANKS TANK Sunday night brought our first off-track of the season. Heavy winds battered the horses and slanting rain poured over the track, making it a night that wasn't for the faint of heart. It also benefitted those who were able to get to the early lead, as horses coming from off the pace struggled to make up ground all night long. Hanks Tank, therefore, didn't seem to mind the conditions at all, as they very much suited his racing style. A six-year-old gelding trained by Rob Harmon, Hanks Tank was coming off a win in his previous start on April 7 in 1:55:3. He won that race on the front end, and, with Jim Morrill Jr. in the bike, attempted the same kind of trip on Sunday night as he moved up in class to face the $11,000 condition group. The gelding went off as the 9-2 second choice, but he was the one sitting on the engine after winning an early speed duel with Very Very Fast. Hanks Tank then opened up a sizable advantage on the back stretch, as the rest of the field labored to get close to him. When the stretch arrived, Morrill no longer had to ask anything of his horse, and Hanks Tank was able to coast home a comfortable two-length victor. His second straight win came in a time of 1:56, which wasn't bad at all considering the sloppy track. Hanks Tank seems built for the weather, whatever it might be, when his form is as fine as it is right now. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Fire'N Woodshed (Eric Carlson, Kerry Welty), who moved to two-for-two in his career by winning a second straight condition win at Pocono on Monday, matching his debut's winning time of 1:56:3 in the process; Tyson (Andrew McCarthy, Edwin Gannon Jr.), who picked up his first win of the year in Sunday night's featured condition trot, posting a 1:55:1 mile in the slop; and Thisguyisonfire (Andrew McCarthy, Christopher Lakata), who followed up a win at Chester by scoring a condition victory on Sunday night in 1:54:3 in the slop.   LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: LEAN ON YOU This condition pacer avoided trouble caused by a breaking horse in front of him on Saturday night and, with Jim Taggart Jr. in the bike, won at 70-1, paying off $143.40 for a $2 win ticket.   DRIVER OF THE WEEK: SIMON ALLARD Simon is once again perched high in the drivers' standings at Pocono, and this week was a big one for him, with multiple wins on each card and a four-bagger on Monday.   TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JOSE GODINEZ Godinez wasted no time getting in the groove on Monday afternoon, sweeping the early Daily Double with pacers Don'tcallmefrancis and Hot Seat. 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.   Jim Beviglia

Our second full week of harness racing for the 2019 season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono witnessed the Bobby Weiss late closer series getting into full gear. For the next month or so, three and four-year-old horses of varying genders and gaits will be battling it out to make the finals of that series, which go for a hefty purse. One of those Weiss horses actually grabs Trotter of the Week honors this week, which you'll discover as you read on for this edition of the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: GILLYS BOY In Saturday night's featured condition pace, with a purse of $21,500, this five-year-old gelding trained by Ron Burke went off as a 6-1 third choice despite coming in on a two-race winning streak. That was probably because those two wins, one at the Meadowlands and one at Pocono on March 16 in 1:52:2, both came against slightly lesser competition. Many of the other horses in the field on Saturday night were either veterans of the class or were coming from similarly stiff competition at other venues. Gillys Boy, as he did in those two wins in a row, shot out of the gate quickly, grabbing the lead from post position #5 in the field of nine. But unlike those previous two starts, the gelding had to cede the lead to someone else. Stars Align A, the even-money favorite, swooped by him as they rounded the first turn. Gillys Boy had to play the waiting game, taking his chance that he'd be able to outpace the favorite in the lane. When they came to top of the stretch, it was still Stars Align A and Gillys Boy sitting first and second, respectively. That's when driver Anthony Napolitano called on a little bit more from Gillys Boy and he stormed past the favorite to win it by a half-length in 1:50:3. That makes three straight wins, with the latest win coming in a career-best time against the toughest competition on the grounds, meaning Gillys Boy has been the man so far in the Pocono meet. Other top pacers this week include: Havefaithinme N (Jim Morrill Jr., Jose Godinez), who scored a condition victory on Saturday night in 1:50:2, a new career-best and the fastest pacing time at Pocono so far in 2019; River Runs Deep (Anthony Napolitano, Marta Piotrow), who switched barns and moved up in class but still scored his third claiming win in a row on Saturday night, scoring in 1:53; and Turbo Hill (Hunter Oakes driver and trainer), who pushed his winning streak to five, two of which have come at Pocono, after handling a division of the Bobby Weiss series for male pacers on Saturday night in 1:54:2.   TROTTER OF THE WEEK: MY LINDY WINNER You can't hold it against a horse if the competition against it isn't up to snuff on a given week. That was the case for My Lindy Winner in his race on Sunday night. Considering that it was the first leg of the Bobby Weiss series for male trotters, you might have expected a pretty competitive group. But the way the draw worked out, he ended up with one of the softest fields against him. Since he was probably the divisional favorite to start, that meant he would be the heavy favorite. After all, My Lindy Winner, a four-year-old stallion trained by Rob Harmon, came into the race on a three-race winning streak, with each victory more impressive than the one before. His streak started with a win at the Meadowlands, then continued when he posted a career-best mile in a condition victory at Pocono in 1:55:1. On March 28, he overcame an early break of stride to gut out a win at Yonkers. All of those took a lot more effort than he would need on Sunday night. Facing just four other competitors after two horses were scratched, My Lindy Winner, a 1-9 favorite with Jim Morrill Jr. in the bike, quickly grabbed the lead past the quarter-pole. From there, he was never threatened, coasting to a six-length victory in an unhurried 1:57. The competition will almost certainly be tougher from this point forward. But My Lindy Winner is racing with such confidence right now that it might not matter who is up against him. Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: Starsaboveallerage (Anthony Napolitano, Allen Sisco), who scored a condition trotting win on Sunday night in 1:54:4, the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; Archway (George Napolitano Jr, Aaron Lambert), who followed up his maiden victory at Freehold with an easy condition victory on Monday afternoon in a career-best 1:56:4; and Spring In Paris (Andrew McCarthy, Steven LeBlanc), whose victory in 1:57:4 in the second leg of the Bobby Weiss series for distaff trotters on Tuesday was her second straight in the series and her third in a row to start the season.   LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ONE MORE MIRACLE Maybe "miracle" is too strong a word, but this pacer driven by Billy Mann certainly conjured up a surprise with a victory in a claimer on Sunday night at 14-1, paying off $31.80 on a $2 win ticket.   DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JIM MORRILL JR Morrill doesn't usually stick around for the whole meet at Pocono, but he does damage while he's here, as evidenced by three straight cards of multiple driving victories this past week.   TRAINER OF THE WEEK: MARTA PIOTROW   Piotrow made the most of her two starts on Saturday night, winning with claimers River Runs Deep and JK Pridenjoy, both of whom were brand new to her barn. 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.   Jim Beviglia  

March 30-April 5, 2019 Now that we are finally up and running four racing days/nights a week, we can hand out our first edition of the Weekly Awards. Apologies to Epaulette A, whose pacing performances surely would have garnered an award or two in the first two weeks of harness racing when we were still on a partial schedule here at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. But we're on full-go now, so let's hand out those awards to some deserving honorees. PACER OF THE WEEK: ROCKEYED OPTIMIST We saw a year ago how McWicked, a horse who had largely fallen off the radar, returned to his former glory with a stellar season. Rockeyed Optimist might not reach those heights, but his career arc is travelling a similar path. Once one of the fastest pacers in the game, the right-year-old gelding was lightly raced and didn't do much in 2017, winning just two out of 14 races. But he seems to be coming back to something near his old form, having already matched his 2018 win total the past few weeks. On March 23, he fired out to an early lead and scored a victory in a $12,500 condition pace at Pocono in 1:51:1. On Saturday might, the Jake Leamon trainee left from post position #3 in a field of eight. Even though he was stepping up a couple notches to the $17,500 level, he still went off as the 2-5 favorite. Fans remember what this horse can do, and they bet him as such. Rockeyed Optimist hardly had an easy time of it. After swooping to the lead around the first turn, he was nicely rated by driver Mitchell Cushing. That rate job was important, because Black Chevron provided a stern challenge with a strong first-over move. But the veteran proved up to the task late, holding off Black Chevron by three-quarters of a length in 1:52:1. It should be fun to watch just how close he gets to his former self before this hot stretch is complete. Other top pacers this week include: River Runs Deep (Jim Morrill Jr, Peter Pellegrino), who moved up in class Saturday night to capture his second straight claiming race, this one in a career-best time of 1:52:4; A And C Artist (George Napolitano Jr, Matthew Adamczyk), who captured his second straight claimer on Sunday night in 1:55:1; and Eddard Hanover (Anthony Napolitano, Ron Burke), winner of Saturday night's featured condition pace in 1:53:1.   TROTTER OF THE WEEK: PAPPY GO GO Pappy Go Go had to be burning with anger following his race at Pocono on March 23. In that race, he nearly went gate-to-wire from a #9 post in a $14,000 condition trot. But the effort it took to get to the lead seemed to get the better of him, as he was handled in the stretch, ending up second. On Saturday night, he faced off against the same group, this time from a #2 post. And the results were markedly different, as he put on one of the most impressive trotting performances of 2019. In the race Saturday, Pappy Go Go settled third early while Maximuscle cut out an aggressive pace. On the back stretch, driver George Napolitano Jr. tipped Pappy Go Go to the outside on the back stretch, and 1-5 race favorite went by Maximuscle in a flash. But he didn't stop there. The five-year-old gelding kept opening up the lead and quickening the pace until the rest of the field was flailing behind him. From there, it was only a matter of how much the margin would be and how fast the final time. The answers were eye-popping: Pappy Go Go, trained by Andrew Harris came home 12 ¾ lengths in front, the largest margin at Pocono so far in the meet, while his winning time of 1:52 was not only a career best and the tops at Pocono in the meet, but it was also the fastest trot posted this year in North America. I guess you could say that Pappy Go Go took out his frustration in very productive fashion. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Muscle Fashion (Jim Morrill Jr., Antonella Galie), who scored his second straight condition win on Sunday night, getting it done in 1:56:1; Winning Shadow (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who won Sunday night's featured condition trot in 1:55:1; and Run Lindy Run (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who posted the fastest time among winners in the distaff trotting group of the Bobby Weiss series on Tuesday with a victory in 1:56:4.   LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: BASS PLAYER This claiming pacer struck all the right notes on Saturday night, springing an upset with Eric Carlson in the bike at 26-1, paying off $55.80 to win on a $2 win ticket.   DRIVER OF THE WEEK: TYLER BUTER Buter is off to an excellent start to begin the 2019 meet, picking off where he left off at the end of last year, and he chalked up a multiple wins on Sunday and Monday to show his prowess.   TRAINER OF THE WEEK: ROB HARMON Harmon followed up a pair of training wins on Sunday night with a victory on Monday with 20-1 shot Carson Hill. 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.   Jim Beviglia

The countdown is on to the Breeders' Crown, now just a couple weeks away from taking place at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Based on some of the incredible stakes performances being delivered recently at other tracks around the country, this has the making of one of the most memorable Breeders Crown editions in many years. We can't wait, but we also don't want to give short shrift to the excellent overnight action going on each and every racing night at Pocono. With that in mind, let's hand out some Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: PEMBROKE WILDCAT Throughout the summer and even into the early part of September, this six-year-old gelding competed against the toughest claimers on the grounds at Pocono. He was often a kind of best-of-the-rest competitor, but that started to change when worked out a pocket trip for a victory in the $30,000-$40,000 claiming handicaps on September 22 in 1:50, a new career-best. The following week, Pembroke Wildcat once again worked out the perfect trip and scored, this time in 1:51.4. On Saturday night, he once again faced off with the $30,000-$40,000 claiming handicappers, leaving from post position #2 in a field of eight. Pembroke Wildcat was made a 6-5 second choice behind Ideal Kiss at 2-5, even though he had beaten Ideal Kiss in one of his previous two victories. Perhaps bettors were a bit skeptical about the fact that he had need a trip to win the previous two. When Pembroke Wildcat got away mid-pack while Ideal Kiss set the pace, it was time for him to prove that he had another trick up his sleeve. Driver Anthony Napolitano sent Pembroke Wildcat, trained by Brittany Robertson, on a first-over journey on the back stretch to try and corral the leaders. Once he pulled up even, Pembroke Wildcat flew right on past the defenseless Ideal Kiss and kept right on rolling until he hit the line in front by two lengths in 1:50.1. There shouldn't be any more lingering doubts about this gelding, because he certainly picked up that third straight victory the hard way. Other top pacers this week include: Voracity (Eric Carlson, Ron Burke), who moved up in class on Saturday night but still managed his second consecutive condition win in sub-1:50 territory, pacing the mile in 1:49.4; Zero The Hero (George Napolitano Jr., Hunter Oakes), who tore it up on Saturday night for this third straight claiming win, this one coming in 1:49.4; and That Man Of Mine (George Napolitano Jr.,), whose win on Saturday night in a claiming handicap in 1:51.4 gave him five victories in a row, four of which have come at Pocono. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: TWO AM Sunday night's featured condition trot with a purse of $21,500 was filled to the brim with trotters who were having excellent seasons. Two AM, a four-year-old gelding trained by Todd Buter, came into the race with four victories on the season, but none quite at the level he was dealing with on Sunday night. Still, he had won his previous race at Pocono on September 29 in 1:53.4, and was a star as a three-year-old, so the move up in class wasn't completely out of the question. With Tyler Buter in the bike, Two AM sat back early as the pace was set by Crazshana. Tyler Buter waited for some cover and then sent the gelding second-over once he found that cover on the back stretch in the form of Elysium Lindy. That horse carried Two AM as far as he could go before starting to tire. The same fate befell Crazshana, who started to feel it in the lane as well. That left Prairie Fortune, the 3-2 favorite who was sitting in the pocket, and Two AM, who was revving up out wide. Two AM may have had the tougher journey, but it didn't stop him from showing powerful closing kick. In fact, he out-trotted Prairie Fortune and came up a winner by three-parts of a length. His winning time of 1:52.4 was the fastest that anyone trotted at Pocono this past week. With his second straight victory, this time against the toughest trotters on the grounds, Two AM is looking very much like the big earner he was just a year ago. Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: Mighty Macko (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), a three-year-old filly who scored her second straight condition win on Sunday night, this one in 1:55.3; Silvermass Volo (Eric Carlson, Michael Holcman), who powered to a condition victory on Saturday night in 1:53.3; and Cant U Spell (George Napolitano Jr., Jody Riedel), who moved up in class on Tuesday night to captures his second straight condition trot and get it done in a career-best 1:54.2. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: RAISING KERCKHAERT It was a memorable maiden victory for this trotter, as he picked up a condition won on Sunday night with Jim Taggart Jr. in the bike at 49-1, paying off $101.40 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JIM TAGGART JR. Taggart was the guy you wanted this week if you liked long shots, as he brought home a 49-1 on Sunday night with Raising Kerckheart and then scored at 10-1 with Sneak On Bye on Monday. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: SCOTT DI DOMENICO Di Domenico always seem to bring in a high percentage of winners at Pocono, and he managed victories with both of his starters on Sunday night. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs  

As we roll into the month of October, it is hard to ignore the fact that, by the end of this month, a dozen division champions will be crowned on October 27 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The Breeders Crown is fast approaching, but we still have some business to conduct at Pocono in the few weeks between now and then. Namely, some more outstanding overnight racing action, such as what transpired these past four racing nights to produces these Weekly Award winners. PACER OF THE WEEK: ROCKSTAR ANGEL A This Australian-bred mare has taken a shine to Pocono even since arriving from overseas this past summer. So far all of her victories in the United States has come at the Pocono oval, including a win in her U.S. debut back in July and an impressive victory on September 4 in a $17,000 condition pace in a career-best 1:51. Leading into Sunday night's featured $21,500 condition pace for mares, Rockstar Angel A had not raced since that September 4 win, a span of almost four weeks. The fact that there was a possible rust factor and the step up in class may have been why Rockstar Angel A went off as a 3-1 third choice on the board with an inside post in a field of seven. That also could have been a byproduct of the quality of the field, which was led by Bettorhaveanother, winner of the finals of the Great Northeast Open mares pacing series final in her previous race at Pocono. It was indeed Betterhaveanother who set the pace, ceding the lead around the clubhouse turn to 3-2 favorite Penpal. Meanwhile Rockstar Angel A sat on the inside about four lengths away on the back stretch. Once driver George Napolitano Jr. called on this Chris Oakes trainee around the last turn, she gobbled up the margin. She overtook Penpal and Betterhaveanother and held off fellow closer Don't Think Twice to win it by a neck. Her winning time was 1:51.2, and Rockstar Angel A now has two straight wins against the very toughest distaffers that Pocono has to offer. Other top pacers this week include: Pembroke Wildcat (Anthony Napolitano, Brittany Robertson), who picked up his second straight claiming handicap victory against the toughest claimers on the grounds at Pocono on Saturday night, winning this one in 1:51.4: Voracity (Eric Carlson, Ron Burke), who returned from New York to defeat a condition field on Saturday night in 1:49.3, the fastest time at Pocono this past week and a new career mark; and Well Played Out (Tyler Buter, Alex Kavoleff), who rolled to his second straight conditional claiming win on Monday night, getting it done in a career-best 1:52.2. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: TYSON This five-year-old gelding has been one of the better performers on the trotting side all meet long at Pocono. Trained by Edwin Gannon Jr., Tyson has earned the bulk of his seven victories this year at Pocono. The kicker is that most of those wins have come when he hasn't been a favorite, with several coming at middle-priced odds. On Sunday night he dropped down into a $17,500 condition group and went off as the 5-2 third choice in a field of seven. Driver Eric Carlson held Tyson back in the middle of the pack early as Dream Baby Dream, the race favorite, headed for the front. Elysium Lindy set right behind the leader on the inside. As they rounded the final turn, Dream Baby Dream went on a speed break. That was a big break for Tyson, who otherwise might have been hopelessly blocked or had too much ground to make up in the stretch if he had been locked into his third-in journey. Instead he wound up right behind Elysium Lindy, who had inherited the lead from the breaking horse. In the stretch, Carlson tipped Tyson to the outside and he won a tight stretch duel over Elysium Lindy. The margin was just a head, but the 1:53.4 winning time by the gelding matched the fastest trotting time this past week at Pocono. We are getting closer to yearend awards time at Pocono, and Tyson is a trotter who definitely deserves consideration. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Two AM (Tyler Buter, Todd Buter), who dropped down in class to win a condition trot on Saturday night in 1:53.4, matching Tyson for the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; Mandela Blue Chip (Tyler Buter, Alex Kavoleff), who handled a condition field on Monday night in a sharp time of 1:54.1; and Second Sister (Anthony Napolitano, Michael Deters), a mare who snuck in a condition won on Tuesday night in 1:54.3 before rain cancelled the remainder of the card. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SOME GOLD Nobody saw it coming when this condition pacer driven by Vinny Ginsburg upended the field on Saturday night at stunning odds of 114-1, paying off $230.80 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: TYLER BUTER Buter has returned to a more regular driving role this year at Pocono and has been on fire of late, tallying three wins on Saturday night and then four more on the Monday program. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: CHRIS OAKES The Oakes' barn had a field day on Sunday night, ripping off five victories out of five starters sent to the gate, including a win in the mares pacing feature with Rockstar Angel. 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  

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