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WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Sombeachsomewhere mare Lyons River Pride held off foes to both sides during a :27 last quarter to lower her mark to 1:50 while winning the $17,500 feature for harness racing distaff pacers during the Tuesday twilight card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Simon Allard hustled the winner of $331,271 to the lead mid-first turn, with Medusa defending the pocket and forcing favorite Divas Image into the 3-hole. Lyons River Pride took the field through fractions of :26.2, :55, and 1:23, with Divas Image pulling to the outside nearing the last-named marker and Medusa joining that pair in the Pocono Pike through the lane. Any of the three battlers seemed to have a chance, but Lyons River Pride proved the best by a neck over Divas Image, with Medusa just another neck back in third. Simon's brother Rene, the meet's leading trainer, conditions the winner for Geoffrey Lyons Mound. Simon had four winners on the card, three of them his brother's trainees. A $14,000 co-feature for distaff pacers saw the recent Australian import Imprincessgemma A run her U.S. record to 2-for-3 with an authoritative score in 1:51.3, her North American best. George Napolitano Jr. sent the daughter of Village Jolt to the lead after the quarter, then brought her home in :55.2 - :27.1 for trainer Jennifer Bongiorno and the ownership of Joseph Bongiorno, Jennifer Bongiorno Stable, Steve Manzi, and Wish Me Luck Stables. In a $15,000 trot, the Muscle Mass gelding Conman Crown overcame the outermost starting spot to record his second straight victory, here in 1:56.1. Eric Carlson guided the winner as he trotted past pacesetting favorite Trix Are For Kids late to win by a length for trainer Rob Harmon and Pine Hill Stables. From the PHHA / Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Real Desire mare Eclipse Me N won for the fifth time in her last eight starts on the Tuesday twilight card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, defeating a strong group of mares in the $21,500 distaff pacing feature in 1:50.2. After Bettorhaveanother passed the quarter in front in :27.2, Eclipse Me N and driver Simon Allard were up and clambering for command, reaching that spot and getting a relative breather to the :56 half. From there Eclipse Me N hit a much higher gear, stepping home in :54.2 to defeat first-over Diva's Image, the slight 6-5 favorite to the winner's 3-2, by two lengths. The career winner of $292,944 is trained by the meet's leading conditioner, Rene Allard, for Allard Racing Inc., Yves Sarrazin, and Donald Mac Rae. P L Ketchup was able to come out on the "right" side of a photo after finishing second four straight times, three of them by a half-length or less, winning a $15,000 conditioned trot in a lifetime mark of 1:54. The Kadabra gelding used pure speed in accomplishing the task, posting supersonic fractions of :26.3, :55.2, and 1:23.3 in "bottoming" the field out, holding off his nearest challenger, the pocketsitter Trixar, by a neck. Pat Berry drove the winner for trainer Steven Brabrook and owner Jaypaul Hoover. The track's perennial leading driver, George Napolitano Jr., guided five horses past the wire first on the Tuesday card. His brother Anthony accounted for the biggest win price of the night, overcoming post nine with Betabcool N by a nose and returned $50.80 to win to his scattered backers. From the PHHA/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 jbeviglia@hotmail.com. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs      

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Springsteen had his third straight "#1" at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Saturday night, grinding his way past Western Joe to take the $21,500 featured pace in 1:49 and add to a great evening for the brothers Allard. Springsteen, a four-year-old son of Rock N Roll Heaven, was away fourth as Rebellious cut a :27 quarter and the favored (even money vs. Springsteen's 6-5) Western Joe brushed past him to hit the half in :54.3. Springsteen came first-up at the 5/8 and gained on Western Joe to and past the 1:21.4 three-quarters, and he finally pressured his main foe into submission in deep stretch. Western Joe held on well to miss only a half length, winning a photo from the inside-shooting Rebellious for second. After missing a neck to Lather Up in a Franklin elimination in his first start of the year and then finishing within three lengths in the Franklin Championship, Springsteen has put together his current win streak for owners Allard Racing Inc., Bruce Soulsby, Alan Weisenberg, and Kapildeo Singh while boosting his earnings to $594,512. Springsteen was one of six winning drives on the night for Simon Allard, four of them for his brother Rene, the meet's leading trainer, including this one with Springsteen. In the $20,000 claiming handicap pace, the main question wasn't whether Atta Boy Dan would win - he did again, on the front end for driver George Napolitano Jr. in 1:50.1, his third straight and eighth of his last nine - but where he would wind up after the race. It turns out it won't be with trainer Vinnie Fusco Jr. and the P T Stable, for whom he won Saturday, but back with owner Clifford Grundy, who has now claimed him for $40,000 four times in his 11-race streak of being haltered for that top Pocono price. Atta Boy Dan is 15-11-2-1-$123,450 since coming to Pocono on May 11, 14-for-25 in 2019 (tied for second in wins among North American pacers), and a 66-time winner in a career that has seen the 10-year-old accumulate $896,417. From the PHHA/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 atjbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Western Fame, based at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and still the only free-for-all pacer with over $500,000 in earnings this season, has been made the 5-2 favorite for a $30,000 division of the Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS) for fast-class pacers at the mountain track Saturday night. The son of Western Ideal, trained by Pocono's leading conditioner Rene Allard for the partnership of Go Fast Stable, Stephen Klunowski, B & I Stables LLC, and Gil Short, earned the bulk of his 2019 bankroll during the Levy Series at Yonkers, taking the $664,000 Levy Final on April 20. The biggest earner among three career millionaires in the field with a lifetime total of $1,580,320, Western Fame will start from post three for driver Simon Allard, Rene's brother - and the horse needs a big finish if he is to have a good chance of qualifying for his $100,000 GNOS Championship, to be held at 1¼ miles on Monday, September 9 at The Downs. Second choice at 3-1 is the Rocknroll Hanover gelding Scott Rocks, who will begin from post four for driver Tyler Buter and trainer Hunter Oakes. Scott Rocks is a veteran "Pocono lover," having won in 1:50 or less here in each of the last six years, and a win here would give his $965,274 lifetime winnings a further boost towards imminent millionaire status. Drawing the rail for driver George Napolitano Jr. and trainer Joshua Parker is the Big Jim gelding Tiger Thompson N, the leading pointwinner to date in the preliminary rounds. The Kiwi import comes off a 1:49.4 victory at Harrah's Philadelphia in his last start, and he has the speed to be forwardly-placed in the action throughout. Completing the field in morning line order is Prairie Panther (post six, driver Marcus Miller, 9-2), Always At My Place (post seven, driver Eric Carlson, 6-1), Proper One (post five, driver Joe Poliseno, 8-1), and Havefaithinme N (post two, driver Anthony Napolitano, 12-1). The GNOS event is the tenth among Pocono's fourteen races on Saturday, with first post set for 7 p.m. From the PHHA, in conjunction with Mohegan Sun Pocono and Harrah's Philadelphia racetracks

WILKES-BARRE PA - Driver Simon Allard had the hot hands at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on the Memorial Day twilight card, visiting the winners circle five times. Allard is now only two wins behind Anthony Napolitano, 70-68, for second place among local winning harness racing drivers, with Anthony's brother George in his usual spot at the top of the ladder with 97 local successes. Two of Simon's victories came for his brother, trainer Rene Allard, who now has a 49-25 lead over Gilbert Garcia-Herrera in the conditioners' win standings. Although eight favorites were successful on the 14 race card, the average win payout was a healthy $14.79 - helped greatly by the $84.60 victory of Celebrity Bianca for driver Haralabos Giannoulis and trainer Sam Stathis.   PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA - A pair of pacing distaffs with North America-wide reputations - the four-year-old Caviart Ally and the three-year-old Zero Tolerance - both made their 2019 harness racing debuts at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Tuesday, and both were gallant but had to settle for second behind more experienced foes. Caviart Ally was odds-on in the $25,000 mares pacing handicap, and after being looped by Bettorhaveanother early, she worked her way to the lead near the :27.1 quarter. But driver Simon Allard and the Real Desire mare Eclipse Me N, who had won with a breathtaking stretch dash from seventh last week, were soon on the move and got to the lead well before the half, reached in :55.2, and continued in front to and past the 1:23.3 three-quarters. Caviart Ally came out with an 1/8 to go and pursued hard, but Eclipse Me N still had a :27 last quarter in her and held on by ¾ of a length in 1:50.3; Bettorhaveanother was 1¾ lengths further back in third. The victory ran Eclipse Me N's seasonal record to 5-3-1-0, and the Rene Allard trainee, owned by Allard Racing Inc. Yves Sarrazin, and Donald Mac Rae, ran her lifetime earnings to $235,244. Zero Tolerance, second in the Breeders Crown and Three Diamonds last year, looked like an irresistible force at 1-5 in the $17,500 distaff subfeature, but she ran into Pocono's immovable object, driver George Napolitano Jr. David Miller let Zero Tolerance patiently work outside past the :26.4 opener to the lead in front of the stands, but "George Nap" had the Palone Ranger mare Juslikeaqueen winging frontward at that point, and that pair reached the half in :55. The "Queen" and the filly maintained 1-2 position at the 1:22.4 three-quarters, and just when it looked like Zero Tolerance was ready to go by, Napolitano got more out of the 9-1 shot and brought her home a half-length to the good in a lifetime best of 1:51. The game frontstepper, owned and trained by Antonia Storer, now has career winnings of $253,205. The victory with Juslikeaqueen was the sixth of the twilight card for George Napolitano Jr.; Simon Allard had three, and George's brother Anthony added another pair, meaning that eleven of the thirteen winners on Tuesday at Pocono were driven by someone named Napolitano or Allard. Saturday is Kentucky Derby Day, and that also means the traditional doubleheader of racing at The Downs, with first post at 11:00 a.m. for the brunch session and approximately 7:30 p.m. for the post-Derby action. The nighttime racing will be highlighted by the $50,000 Van Rose Memorial Invitational Pace, in which Western Fame, the richest North American harness horse so far this year with $446,300 to his credit, looks to be the likely favorite. PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA - Simon Allard won his third of the four $30,000 Bobby Weiss Series Championships conducted this spring at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, taking Monday's rich finale for trotting males with the 1:54 winner Dover Dony. 70-1 shot Chapter And Ruth (trained by Rene Allard, who had combined with his brother Simon on their two earlier Weiss wins) shot out from PP9 right to the top for harness racing driver Tom Jackson, looping the winning son of Andover Hall, who eventually worked his way to the top before the :27.4 opener. Allard gave his charge a :57.1 breather to the half, then sent the 6-5 second choice through a :27.3 third quarter to try to put separation between himself and 3-5 favorite My Lindy Winner, who was looking for a Weiss sweep. My Lindy Winner came wide off cover late on the final turn for driver Jim Morrill Jr., and Chapter And Ruth popped out from the pocket, but Dover Dony had enough to maintain a length margin to the finish while lowering his mark 3 2/5 seconds. Chapter And Ruth, who had a Weiss prelim win (which ironically is more than the winner could say) showed determination to take second, a neck ahead of My Lindy Winner, who had been undefeated in six seasonal starts. Dover Dony had a 37-2-10-10 record before this final, but he surely picked a good time to become more photogenic for trainer Jordan Derue and owner Anthony Ciuffetelli. In the $15,000 Weiss consolation for the male trotting set, the sophomore Yankee Glide gelding Raceace set a North American season's record of 1:54.3 for his division while lowering his mark nearly three seconds. Matt Kakaley put his horse on the lead in his fourth lifetime start, and the even money favorite stepped home in :56.1 - :27.4 to keep 6-5 shot Omaha Omaha away by a head at the wire for trainer Nifty Norman and the All Laid Out Stable Inc. PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA - Team Allard has now taken both $30,000 Bobby Weiss Series Championships conducted so far at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, adding another distaff harness racing victory to pacer Cardiff's yesterday with a recent acquisition, the trotter Town Hall Justice, who lowered her mark by three seconds to 1:53.4 despite a track that was downgraded to "good" after midcard rain. The victorious Justice Hall mare forced a 27.2 quarter before yielding to Run Lindy Run, then came out soon after her opponent tripped the timer in 56.2 at the half. Simon Allard got his charge to the lead late on the backstretch, with the two favorites Fade Into You (two-time prelim winner) and Spring In Paris (three-time prelim winner) on her heels at and past the 1:24.2 3/4s. Despite the presence of the heavyweights on her tail, Town Hall Justice was more than equal to the challenge, proving a length better than Fade Into You, with Spring In Paris another 1½ lengths back. Owned by Simon's brother, trainer Rene Allard, Town Hall Justice had been 1-for-33 lifetime before going to her current home - for whom she is now 2-for-2. In this Weiss division's $15,000 consolation, the Kadabra mare Northern Dream took a new mark of 1:57.4 in an exciting finish that saw five horses within ¾ of a length at the wire. Northern Dream, trained by Michael Rashkin for owner Timothy Betts, was sent three-wide late on the backstretch by driver George Napolitano Jr., got to two-wide midturn, and just was able to nose out pacesetting favorite Critical Hanover in the last step. It's seldom at Pocono that a horse who's seventh, 3-plus lengths out, and four-wide at headstretch looks like a winner, but Eclipse Me N had the look of eagles at the 7/8 in the $21,500 fast-class mares pace, and she produced an 1/8 somewhere in the vicinity of 13 to be a going-away two length winner in 1:51. The Allard brothers again were the team behind the talented Real Desire mare, who has earnings of $224,744 for Allard Racing Inc., Yves Sarrazin, and Donald Mac Rae. FINISHING LINES - The world's fastest trotter, Homicide Hunter (1:48.4), will be out to qualify tomorrow morning (Wednesday) at Pocono. George Napolitano Jr. is set for sulky duty for trainer Chris Oakes, just as the pair teamed to win their Breeders Crown event at the mountain oval last year. Homicide Hunter will start from post six in race six.   PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Charmed Life boosted her lifetime earnings to $1,445,137 in winning the $17,500 featured harness racing trot at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in 1:53.2 on Sunday night, and she did it in an unusual fashion for the mountain oval - she picked up the entire field from last. Driver Simon Allard, sulkysitting for brother/Pocono top trainer Rene, had drawn the outside post seven after a scratch, and was in no hurry with the veteran daughter of Majestic Son until down the backstretch, when he made a power three-wide move around stalled cover. Charmed Life had drawn within a length of the battling front duo, leader Crosbys Clam Bake and uncovered Silvermass Volo, by the top of the stretch, and she have enough kick in reserve to drew clear by 1¾ lengths over Crosbys Clam Bake, with Silvermass Volo another length back in third behind the winner, who is owned by Allard Racing Inc., Yves Sarrazin, and VIP Internet Stable LLC. There was a trio of $17,000 co-features on the Sunday card, and Pocono's top driver George Napolitano Jr. won both of the paces among the six victorious horses he guided on the evening. Mink Pink, sitting third on the rail entering the final turn, found a hole and Napolitano swung her wide in the distaff pace, with the American Ideal filly charging home swiftly to win by ¾ of a length in 1:52.1 for trainer Chris Oakes and Crawford Farms Racing. Napolitano, who has a frontracing style that usually works effectively at Pocono, also took the division for males from off the pace, and about as far off the pace as you can - last at the half after starting from the rail. But the Bettor's Delight gelding Bellows Binge had the necessary late step to catch 25-1 pacesetter Uffizi by a neck while stopping the timer in 1:52.3 for trainer Dirk Simpson and the ownership of Peter Karras and the Dirk Simpson Stable Inc. Lest anybody thinks that the Pocono oval had been totally converted from the speedfavoring track it had been on the Saturdays of Breeders Crown competition, a frontrunner did win the co-featured trot, which also fell to trainer Chris Oakes, but a different driving Napolitano - Anthony, who put a new mark of 1:53.1 on the Chapter Seven filly Eunice. "ANap" and Eunice controlled the pace and the sophomore won by almost seven lengths, her third straight triumph for Crawford Farms Racing (another feature doubler), Northfork Racing Stable, and the T L P Stable. And if anybody is trying to read the political tea leaves before the next Pocono card on Election Day Tuesday evening (the track is dark on Monday in November), we note the victory of Make America Great, a son of So Surreal, who took a maiden event. From the PHHA / Pocono Downs

George Napolitano Jr. has won more races than any driver in the history of The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, but it was a second-place finish at his home oval that proved to be a winner in terms of punching Napolitano's ticket to his first Breeders Crown final. Napolitano guided Stella Jane to a runner-up finish behind undefeated Woodside Charm in their Breeders Crown elimination last week to advance to Saturday's $600,000 championship for 2-year-old filly trotters at Pocono. Napolitano, who has won 11 driving titles at Pocono, drove Stella Jane for owner Crawford Farms Racing and trainer John Butenschoen. Crawford Farms also bred the filly, a daughter of Crazed out of Naughty Nana. The 52-year-old Napolitano, a New York native who splits his time between Pennsylvania and Florida, has won 9,360 races in his career, ranking 21st in North American harness racing history, and was the North American dash champion in 2010 when he won 748 times. All 12 Breeders Crown championships, with $6.4 million in total purses, will be raced Saturday at Pocono. Post time is 5:30 p.m. (EDT) for the first race. "It's going to be exciting," Napolitano said. "I thought (Stella Jane's elimination) was amazing. I was totally satisfied. She's an awesome little horse to drive and she's got a great trainer and great owners." Stella Jane has won two of 11 races and hit the board in eight of her most recent nine starts. Napolitano has driven the filly twice, winning a division of the Simpson Stakes on Sept. 27 at Harrah's Philadelphia. "The Crawfords have had luck with the horses that they own with George," Butenschoen said. "He won with Stella Jane at (Philly) so I said let's put him up. It's his home track and maybe we can get some karma going. I guess it worked." Napolitano has won more than 500 races in nine consecutive years, including this year. He is on his way to another driving title at Pocono, which would be his seventh in a row, and is battling with Tim Tetrick for his fifth consecutive title at Harrah's Philadelphia. "I kind of stayed local," Napolitano said. "I made an agreement with myself years ago and I'm happy with doing it this way, with this place, (Philly) and Pompano. That's good enough for me. "I think it's a pretty big accomplishment doing the two tracks, here and (Philly). It's a tough grind, but we're getting it done. It's a matter of having great people around you. Trainers that it would take forever to mention keep on consistently putting me back on horses. That is the difference right there. I have a lot of great owners that love me and I love them. It's an awesome journey." So will Napolitano have a home-track advantage in the Breeders Crown? "I think you've got to have a good horse," he said with a smile. "That's the biggest advantage." * * * * * Napolitano won't be the only Breeders Crown newcomer driving in the 2-year-old filly trot. Bob McClure, Verlin Yoder, and Simon Allard also will be appearing on championship night for the first time. All three drove elimination winners. McClure, a 28-year-old Canadian, piloted Champagne Jane to victory in her elimination. Champaign Jane is owned by Serge Godin's Determination stable and trained by Luc Blais. McClure is third in wins and purses in Canada this year. He led Canada in wins in 2017 and 2016 and was third in 2015. "For the last four or five years I just drove the small tracks in Ontario," McClure said. "I moved to Woodbine Entertainment Group last December and it snowballed from there. A lot of good stables have picked me up. That makes all the difference in the world." Champagne Jane, by Holiday Road out of Dicent No, broke her maiden with her elimination win. She has hit the board a total of seven times and entered the Breeders Crown off a second-place finish in the Ontario Sire Stakes championship for 2-year-old filly trotters. "She's been getting better every week," McClure said. "She's been battling some health issues, so the colder weather helps and Luc's got her healthy. She's always showed ability, she just lacked that last step. She seems to have found it at the right time." McClure, who has 2,207 career wins, also won a Breeders Crown elimination with Paula Wellwood-trained 2-year-old male trotter Smart As Hill. "It's been a lot of fun," McClure said. "Hopefully it stays fun." Yoder is the owner-trainer-driver of Woodside Charm, who is a perfect 6-for-6 heading into the Breeders Crown final and won her elimination by 12-1/2 lengths over Stella Jane. "We did what we had to do," Yoder said. "She's an absolute professional. We don't know how or why, but we're enjoying the moment. "It's pretty cool," he added about appearing in the final. "It probably won't sink in until we get there. It's going to be a pretty neat experience." Allard drove When Dovescry, by Muscle Hill out of Cedar Dove, to a win in her elimination. She has won four of six races and never been worse than third. She is owned by Go Fast Stable, Yves Sarrazin, Kapildeo Singh, and Lawrence Dumain. Rene Allard is the trainer. She won her elimination in gate-to-wire fashion after coming from off the pace in all but one other race. "We were very patient with her, trying to teach her the right things, to come from the back," Simon Allard said. "We didn't really want to teach her to leave because we knew that she would have done that very easily. "We were very confident she had explosive speed and knew all along she was a great filly." Following is the draw for the $600,000 Breeders Crown final for 2-year-old filly trotters. Elimination winners drew for post one through five in an order determined by lot. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer 1-When Dovescry-Simon Allard-Rene Allard 2-Woodside Charm-Verlin Yoder-Verlin Yoder 3-Champagne Jane-Bob McClure-Luc Blais 4-Cloud Nine Fashion-Tim Tetrick-Jim Campbell 5-Special Honor-Andy Miller-Julie Miller 6-Whispering Oaks-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter 7-Miss You Kelly-Tim Tetrick-Bruce Lauer 8-The Ice Dutchess-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter 9-Stella Jane-George Napolitano Jr.-John Butenschoen by Ken Weingartner, for the Breeders Crown

CHESTER, PA - The Somebeachsomewhere mare Dr J's Kiss, sixth at the ¾ pole, swung four-wide at the head of the stretch and went right on by in taking the $17,000 featured distaff pace on Wednesday at Harrah's Philadelphia in 1:52.4. Driver Simon Allard, guiding the Joe Pavia Jr. trainee for the first time, followed third-over in a 27.1 backstretch flow that took its toll on both pacesetting favorite Jewels Forreal and first-over Dolphin Island, then swung three-wide behind second-over Rob Them Blind in the middle of the far turn and wider yet off the final curve. Rob Them Blind made the lead in the stretch but couldn't withstand the late rush of Dr J's Kiss, as she won by a length while breaking the six-figure barrier in lifetime earnings for co-owners Pavia, Steven Held, and Dr. Bridgette Jablonsky. The Muscle Mass sophomore gelding Yuge, three-wide most of the first bend and not on top until coming off that bend, maintained control through the rest of the mile to win the day's $16,000 top trot in 1:55.3. Yuge raised his lifetime bankroll to $127,969 for trainer Ed Lohmeyer, co-owner with Ed Lohmeyer Jr. and Dr. Patty Hogan, completing a win for veterinarians in both the Wednesday Philly features. As for driver George Napolitano Jr., the win was one of three on the day for him, including the card's only two favorites - in the first race and the last race. Racing resumes tomorrow at 12:25 p.m., but Philly's Friday card will begin at 6:30 p.m. After the usual Sunday action beginning at 2:05 p.m., there will be a special live card on Columbus Day, Monday, October 8 at 12:25 p.m., with over $200,000 in stakes action in the John Simpson Sr. series, with three-year-old colts of both gaits each contesting three divisions. From the PHHA/Harrah's Philadelphia  

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Real Desire mare Eclipse Me N continued to show that she has the winning knack as she was victorious in the $17,500 mares pacing harness racing feature on Tuesday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Driver Simon Allard, sulkysitting for trainer/brother Rene, worked out a fine second-over trip with Eclipse Me N, coming her own last half in 54.4 to be a length clear of pocketsitter Monica Gallagher at the end of the 1:51 journey. A winner of four of her last seven starts and an eight-time winner in 2018 for owners Allard Racing Inc., Yves Sarrazin, and Donald Mac Rae, Eclipse Me N now has earnings of $84,460 for the season and $167,619 lifetime. George Napolitano Jr. guided home six winners on the Tuesday card at Pocono, giving him 18 for the four-day racing week here (4 1/2 a night average). Combining his Pocono wins with a five-bagger at Philly Friday and a triple there Sunday, Napolitano had 26 victories over a five-day period, which now puts him ahead of Dan Noble for third place in North America behind Aaron Merriman and Ron Wrenn Jr. His sixth winner on Tuesday, Critical Mass in the last race, was a pari-mutuel shocker, returning $50.00 for a $2 ticket; earlier George had guided Colorful Jamie to a $25.80 tally. If a fan had bet $2 to win on each  of "George Nap"'s fourteen Tuesday drives, the fan would have received a $90.00 return -- a profit of 221%. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Stars Align A was able to steal off to a big lead by going in 26.4 down the backstretch in the $21,500 pacing feature Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, then held together to fend off the late-charging Music Is Art to win by ¾ of a length in a personal best 1:50.4 The victorious son of Art Major took advantage of post two in the field of seven and went to the front, where he was joined by his fellow 8-5 shot Bettor's Edge nearing the 26.3 quarter. Bettor's Edge went on to work up to command in front of the stands, but he took the second turn badly and slowed drastically, forcing the entire field around him just past the 55.4 half. Driver Simon Allard got Stars Align A in high gear quickly past the trouble and to the lead, then tried to put as much distance as possible between his horse and the field, and had an advantage of four lengths at the 1:22.3 3/4s. That lead shrunk on the far turn and through the stretch, with Music Is Art leading the charge, but Stars Align A had enough left to raise his U.S. win percentage to 50% after a pair of starts after going 15-for-29 (52%) before his recent importation. Simon's brother Rene conditions the winner of $152,313 for Allard Racing Inc., Yves Sarrazin, Bruce Soulsby, and Alan Weisenberg. Rene Allard is Pocono's leading trainer; his driving counterpart, George Napolitano Jr., continued his incredible form on Saturday nights with eight victories on the card, including one with the American Ideal gelding Ideal Kiss in 1:50 to take the $20,000 claiming handicap pace co-feature. "George Nap" pointed Ideal Kiss towards the top, as he has in all of his four starts for trainer Hunter Oakes and the Northfork Racing Stable, and the pacer again showed "1"s all the way across his charted line, winning by 2¾ lengths. Since being claimed by Oakes/Northfolk on August 11, Ideal Kiss has earned $40,000 by winning the high-level Pocono claim four starts in a row. He now has overall yearly earnings of $90,930, garnered mostly in his nine seasonal victories, and a $175,630 career bankroll. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs  

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