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PACER OF THE WEEK: CLOSING STATEMENT Coming into a $10,000 condition pace on Saturday afternoon, this five-year-old harness racing gelding trained by Randy Bendis had picked up back-to-back victories, one at the Meadows and one at Pocono. Closing Statement was stepping up in class for the race on Saturday. Perhaps that's why he went off at middling odds of 6-1 with the inside post in a field of seven. In the previous two wins, Closing Statement had lived up to his name with come-from-behind efforts. But driver Larry Stalbaum had other ideas on Saturday, sending the gelding to the front and setting nasty fractions. Closing Statement never let up, rolling to a romping victory in 1:49.3, which was a new career-best and the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono. Honorable Mention R Gauwitz Hanover (Kevin Wallis, Kevin Reynolds Jr.), who picked up his second straight claiming win on Sunday night in 1:53.4. Scootnroll (Tyler Buter, John Hallett), who captured Sunday night's feature condition pace in a career-best 1:51.1, giving him wins in eight of his nine career races. Full View (Tyler Buter, Scott Blackler), who scored his second straight condition win on Tuesday afternoon, getting it done in 1:52.4, which matched his career-best. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: MUSCLE M UP The featured $17,200 condition trot on Saturday afternoon was stacked with top competitors. Even though Muscle M Up, a five-year-old stallion trained by Ake Svanstedt, had won a featured trot in his last start at Pocono, he went off as a 5-2 third choice. Early on he sat third while Explosivebreakaway, the 9-5 favorite, set the pace. On the back stretch, driver Anthony Napolitano sent Muscle M Up first-over after Explosivebreakaway. The two hooked up for a great duel, with Muscle M Up eventually wearing down the favorite and getting the better of it. The stallion trotted away at the end to win by two lengths in 1:52.2, which was the fastest trotting time posted at Pocono this past week. Honorable Mention Sylvesteramericait (Mike Simons, Robert Baggitt Jr.) who came in from Harrah's for a condition victory on Saturday in 1:54.1, his second win in his last three races. Winning Legends (Justin Huckabone driver and trainer), whose win at Pocono in a condition on Saturday came in a career-best 1:53.2. Mighty Surf (Mike Simons, Jake Huff), a mare who handled a $20,000 claiming trotting group on Tuesday in 1:56.2 on an off-track. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: MAC ANOVER This one paid a nice price after scoring a condition pacing victory on Saturday with Simon Allard in the bike at 11-1, yielding a $24.80 payback on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: SIMON ALLARD Allard rolled to five wins on Saturday at Pocono, and then arrived late Sunday night to dash off victories in the last three races on the program. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: MARTA PIORTOW The Piotrow barn has been a factor all year long at Pocono, and she continues to roll as the season winds down after earning a training double on Sunday. 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 The Downs                

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Harness racing drivers Simon Allard and Anthony Napolitano had the hot hands at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Saturday afternoon, with Simon bringing in five winners and Anthony just behind him with four. Surprisingly, the crowd did not catch on to the successful drivers, as each only numbered one favorite among their victories. Simon Allard finished just ahead of Anthony Napolitano three times and his brother George once, with Anthony was first in races where George was second three times and another where Simon was second. George did get a winner in the last race on the card and as usual has far and away the highest seasonal total at The Downs. The $17,200 featured trot was won by the Muscle Hill gelding Muscle M Up, driven by Anthony - and in this race the Napolitano "family theme" was continued, as the winner is trained by Ãke Svanstedt, for whom George drove two stakes winners at Philly Friday. Muscle M Up went first-over and still won by two lengths over Scirocco Rob (Allard) in 1:52.2 for Knutsson Trotting Inc.   There was a pair of $14,000 co-features, with Simon Allard guiding the American Ideal Casual Cool gelding to victory in 1:50.1 despite also having to take the grinding uncovered route. Joesstar Of Mia A (A Nap) was a half-length behind the Daniel Renaud trainee, who raised his earnings to $330,009 for the Dune Road Stables LLC. In the trotting co-headliner, area newcomer Justin Huckabone continued to impress with the Winning Mister gelding Winning Legends, who ran his eastern Pennsylvania record for his trainer/driver and owner Jonathan Applebaum to 6-3-2-0 since coming to the area two months ago. Winning Legends won by a neck in a career best 1:53.2 over Broadway Athena (ANap), who charged home from last to come up just shy. Finally, Larry Stalbaum celebrated his first return to Pocono since July 19 and only his second card here since March 9 with a pair of sulky successes. The double included the fastest mile of the day, with Stalbaum and the Somebeachsomewhere gelding Closing Statement blasting down the road under duress in :25.4, :53.4 and 1:20.4, yet still making a decisive closing statement in winning by 6¼ lengths in a lifetime best 1:49.3 for trainer Randy Bendis, co-owner with Pollack Racing LLC. From the PHHA / The Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Pilgrims Tide, who had been first and second in his last two starts at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono but not faring as well in excursions to Yonkers, returned to the mountain oval on Tuesday afternoon and during the last half left his foes in the red dust, going on to a new mark of 1:54.1 in the $12,800 claiming handicap trotting feature. Several horses took a shot at the victorious Muscle Massive gelding during early fractions of :27.2 and :56.3, but none succeeded; from there, Pilgrims Tide was all alone on the lead (except for driver Simon Allard), passing the three-quarters in 1:24.2 and coasting home to a 7½ length victory. Shane Tritton trains the winner of $175,657 for owner Nicholas Catalano.   Another Muscle Massive gelding, the sophomore Focus Pocus, got in a solid prep race for his $25,000 Pennsylvania Fair Sire Stakes Championship this coming Monday at The Meadows, going to the lead and holding off the field in 1:55.4 in a $10,400 trotting contest. First and second in his last two fair starts against all-time PA Fair trot recordholder Manhattanup No Ice and third in a recent Keystone Classic division behind Amigo Volo, Focus Pocus looks in prime form for his owners, trainer Linda Schadel and driver Tony Schadel. Trainer Jim Ray has sent out only 27 starters in 2020, winning four times, but he's a conditioner to watch out for, as a $2 bet on each his charges would have returned a 526% profit. Tied with Tom Wine II as the only trainers with three $50+ horses at the meet, Ray's latest "bomber" was Frac, who came from ninth and last off a hotly-contested pace for driver Kevin Wallis, getting up late to pay $98.60 to his very scattered $2 win backers. Ray co-owns the winner of $259,615 with David Wisser. Anthony Napolitano led all drivers with three victories during the Tuesday afternoon card, giving him thirteen during the present three-day Pocono workweek of Saturday-Sunday-Tuesday. From the PHHA / The Downs  

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Simon Allard, Matt Kakaley, and George Napolitano Jr. each had a harness racing driving triple on the Tuesday afternoon card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and among them they swept the Rainbow Pick 5 bet's races, the last five on the card. Since the biggest win price in the sequence was $14.60 and three were under $6.00, the carryover pool for Rainbow Pick 5, which requires a bettor to have a unique ticket with all five winners to take down the big jackpot, grew to $239,477.19 for Saturday afternoon's card as there were multiple consolation winners. Tuesday's driving triple brought Napolitano's tally for the week at Pocono to seventeen in four cards. "George Nap" has driven exactly 250 winners in the period since July 1 (for comparison, North American leader Aaron Merriman has had 208 in the last three months through the Tuesday afternoon card at The Meadows), and George will be in action on the last day of September tomorrow at Harrah's Philadelphia. With the coming of October, Pocono reduces its basic schedule to three cards a week during the month, with racing starting at 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Tuesdays and 5 p.m. on Sundays. From the PHHA / The Downs

Chester, PA -- On Friday afternoon (Aug. 14), harness racing driver Simon Allard recorded the 4,000th driving win of his career, doing so with Anythingforlove A ($2.10) in the ninth race at Harrah's Philadelphia.   Allard yielded for the pocket with the 8-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven gelding, and the pair drafted Skip To My Lou before reclaiming the lead on the backstretch and holding off a late charge from 23-1 outsider Mr Profeta to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:51. Allard also won with Rock The Town ($23.20) and Diamond Head ($11.20), and his hat trick gave him top honors among all drivers on the 14-race program. The 38-year-old Quebec native has driven almost exclusively in the United States since 2016 and has earned over $39 million in purses. Racing returns to Harrah's Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon (Aug. 16), with a 14-race card featuring two $94,967 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes events for 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings, as well as a $22,990.90 carryover in the fifth-race Jackpot Hi-5. Post time is 12:40 p.m. by James Witherite, for Harrah's Philadelphia

CHESTER, PA - The Betterthancheddar mare Shes Pukka N, despite hard usage in a fast pace, was durable to the wire to take the victory in the $14,400 featured pace for distaffs on Wednesday afternoon at Harrah's Philadelphia in a lifetime best 1:51.1. Simon Allard hustled Shes Pukka N early to get around Wishy Washy Girl, reaching the quarter in :26 even before Abigail Dawn progressed up to challenge. The last-named finally got to the front approaching the second turn, but with race favorite Dont Think Twice A hustling forward, Allard moved the winner outside again at the :55 half time, and quickly sent her to regain the lead. Dont Think Twice A continued a steady grind uncovered to and past a 1:22.1 three-quarters; midturn My Last Bet tipped wide off her cover to loom. But Shes Pukka N made her speed stand up to the wire for trainer Ross Croghan and the ownership of Let It Ride Stables Inc. and Bottom Line Racing LLC. The Kiwi mare now has ten lifetime wins and earnings of $140,563. She's Nun Bettor N also honored the pride of New Zealand pacing mare imports with a 1:52.4 mile despite post eight. George Napolitano Jr. drove the Bettor's Delight mare, second in her first U.S. start and now with two consecutive triumphs, to victory for trainer Kelvin "Red" Harrison and Curtin ANZ Stables. From the PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Even as a certain well-regarded harness racing mare qualified at Dover in what was likely preparation for early season work, two horses who were very prominent in last year's Levy Series action turned in top qualifiers at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Wednesday morning. Western Fame, the 2019 Levy Series winner who would go on to take a Franklin elim and finish third in the Franklin Championship here at Pocono, went straight to the lead for driver Simon Allard and trainer/brother Rene Allard, winning in 1:57.1. A last quarter of :28.4 made the winner of $1,745,185 clear at the wire for Go Fast Stable, Stephen Klunowski, B & I Stables LLC, and Gilbert Short. Later, former Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Champion Ideal Jimmy, a three-time Levy prelim winner last year, put in a sharp 1:53.4 mile on the engine, with a :27.3 last quarter leaving him 8¼ lengths in front of his field for driver Matt Kakaley, trainer Erv Miller, and the Van Witzenburg stable. Also deserving mention are the team of driver Eric Carlson and trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera, who combined on the first three qualifiying winners. Garcia-Herrera sent out a total of eleven horses in the prep races, a few times with two in the same race, and in addition to the three wins he had four second-place finishers and two third-place finishers. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Game Of Claims Series continued on Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with the temperature dropping through the 20s throughout the twilight harness racing card but the contested action featuring hot contests and hot horses. Both winners were claimed out of the $25,000 second preliminary leg for horses this week valued at a base price of $27,500, as horsemen want the right horse ready to take the throne in this group's $50,000 Game of Claims Championship on Saturday the 29th. The only double winner in this Game Of Claims section is the four-year-old Captaintreacherous ridgling Trente Deo, but if he sweeps his prelims, he'll be doing for somebody other than trainer Rene Allard and owners Allard Racing Inc. and Earl Hill Jr. Trente Deo, an engine winner last week for those connections, here rallied from the pocket to post a 1:52.4 victory for driver Simon Allard. Also winning in this company, and also moving to a new stable, is the veteran Pacific Fella gelding Polak A, who came from off the pace to win in 1:52.1 while exceeding $800,000 in earnings for driver Jim Morrill Jr., trainer Darren Taneyhill and owner Eric Prevost (these two having the horse only this one week). Polak A had a second last week and a win here, so like two-time winner Trente Deo he is likely to make their Championship and may be eyed by several stables, even though the base price of claiming for this group goes up to $30,000 in next week's last preliminary. There were three divisions of the second preliminary round for the Game Of Claims group valued at a $17,500 base price Saturday, and the rail proved the common launching pad for the three victors of the $15,000 races. Simon and Rene Allard combined to take two of the cuts: with Horsing Around, who had been claimed in the first prelim, the Shadyshark Hanover gelding winning for Allard Racing Inc and Neal Moase in 1:53.2; and with the Roll With Joe gelding Stirling Escort, picture-perfect in tallying for A-1 Racing in 1:54.3. Neither Allard winner was claimed this time, but the winner of the other cut, the Make My Day gelding Ancle, is changing hands for the second straight week after becoming the only two-time Game Of Claims winner in this price class. Jim Morrill Jr. guided Ancle to victory in 1:53.3 for trainer James Guagliardo and owner Steven Celinsky. In all, six horses were claimed for $105,000 at this level with an eye towards the group's February 29 $30,000 Championship, bringing the night's total barnchangers to a dozen, with $278,775 changing hands. In the $17,500 top conditioned pace, last year's Pocono Pacer of the Year and the winningest harness horse in the United States with nineteen, the eleven-year-old Western Terror gelding Atta Boy Dan, joined the repeat series victors as the only two-time winners at the meet with a 1:51.3 victory. Tyler Buter kept the greybeard just off a wicked :25.4 opening duel, brushed to the lead, and then the pair won as they pleased for trainer Peter Pellegrino and owner Stephen Larkin. The victory was the 74th in Atta Boy Dan's career, and he now sports a bankroll of $982,752. Driver Jim Morrill Jr. visited Victory Lane four times Saturday, giving him ten triumphs after three days in the young Pocono season. The PHHA and the Pocono community extends its sympathies to trainer Andrew Harris, to his two daughters, and to the extended family upon hearing that Andrew's wife Amanda passed away at age 34 after a long and courageous battle with breast cancer. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE. PA - The Big Jim sophomore colt Bronx Seelster, fresh off racing in his Breeders Crown harness racing final, went to the top against mostly older foes in the $17,500 feature at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs Saturday night, then responded gamely to post a 1:50.3 victory in 40-degree temperatures. Simon Allard, who had three victories on the night, hustled the sophomore to the top before the :26.2 initial split, then got him to the half in :55.1 and the three-quarters in 1:23.2 without too much pressure. In the stretch, though, Twin B Tuffenuff ducked in from the pocket to the Pocono Pike and menaced in midstretch, but Bronx Seelster dug in and held a neck advantage at the wire. The pacer is now campaigned by Allard Racing Inc., Bruce Soulsby, Alan Weisenberg, and Dr. Stephen Klunowski, who acquired him before his Breeders Crown elimination. Bronx Seelster is trained by Rene Allard, who was recognized during the card for being the winningest trainer at Pocono in 2019, a feat which now gives him six of the last seven local titles. The 32-year-old native of Quebec ranks third among North American trainers in the seasonal victory category. Keystone Steam joined an early-forming two-wide tier, went three-wide down the backstretch and went back to two-wide on the far turn, then was just along over the pacesetting Tom's Arockin in 1:51.3 in the $16,000 claiming handicap pace co-feature. The gelded son of Bettor's Delight, who won by a half-length, got the job done for trainer James Guagliardo, owner Steven Cetinsky, and driver George Napolitano Jr., who also won with Pocono's Pacer of the Year Atta Boy Dan on the card among his five wins on the night. The Great Britain-bred Hasty Hall gelding Matticulous GB remained undefeated in three starts on this side of the Atlantic, and he took his lifetime record to 21-17-4-0 with a 1:51.1 victory in a $14,000 pace. Matt Kakaley put the Ron Burke trainee, owned by Brett Thompson, on the lead going to the quarter and was unstoppable - literally: after coming home in :27, Matticulous GB and Kakaley "came back" and sailed right past the winners circle and in the general direction of the paddock. Pocono now will next race on Tuesday, as the track will alternate Saturday and Tuesday programs until the meet's closing night of Saturday, November 16. From the PHHA / Pocono Downs

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

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