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"He is a horse that wants to win," Svanstedt said about Six Pack, who is undefeated in three races this year and brings a six-race win streak to his Earl Beal Jr. Memorial elimination Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. "He is a little bit lazy, but he wants to have his head before the other horses." The Earl Beal Jr. Memorial is one of the stepping stones on the road to August's $1.2 million Hambletonian Stakes, the sport's top race for 3-year-old trotters. Svanstedt has trained seven Hambletonian starters, including last year's winner by disqualification Perfect Spirit, and said Six Pack is "the best" he's had heading to the event. "I like everything about him," Svanstedt said. Six Pack is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the second of three eliminations of the Beal. Six Pack and Svanstedt will start from post six in a seven-horse field. Five of Six Pack's foes are eligible to the Hambletonian: Missle Hill, Moosonee, Evaluate, Rich And Miserable, and Fashionwoodchopper. The third elimination features three award-winners and a Breeders Crown champion. Manchego, unbeaten in 14 career races and the lone filly to enter the Beal, is the 2-1 morning-line favorite for trainer Jimmy Takter. She was the Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female trotter in 2017. The elim also includes Dan Patch Award-winning 2-year-old male Fourth Dimension, O'Brien Award-winner Alarm Detector, and Crown winner Fiftydallarbill. Manchego, Fourth Dimension, and Alarm Detector are eligible to the Hambletonian. The remaining Hambletonian hopefuls in the third elimination are Gemologist (another Svanstedt trainee), Crystal Fashion, and Fashion Forever. Jim Campbell's Patent Leather is the 5-2 favorite in the first elimination. The colt is eligible to the Hambletonian, as are division rivals Lawmaker and Tito. Campbell also trains Fashionwoodchopper, Crystal Fashion, and Fashion Forever. The top three finishers from each elimination advance to the $500,000 Beal final on June 30 at Pocono. Saturday's card also features eliminations for the Ben Franklin Pace for older male pacers, Max C. Hempt for 3-year-old pacers and James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers. Six Pack is a Brittany Farms-bred son of Muscle Mass out of Pleasing Lady. He was purchased for $30,000 at the 2016 Lexington Selected Sale and is owned by Ake Svanstedt Inc., Little E LLC, Stall Kalmar FF, and Lars Berg. The horse's family includes 1969 Hambletonian winner Lindy's Pride. Last year, Six Pack had one win and a second in four starts before undergoing throat surgery to correct a breathing issue. The colt returned to action with a second-place finish followed by his six-race win streak, which included the 2017 New York Sire Stakes championship and this year's Empire Breeders Classic. He won the EBC in a career-best 1:51.2, pushing his career earnings to $332,555. "After the surgery he was a different horse," Svanstedt said. "He's raced very good this year. He's raced one second faster every time so his form is coming up. "I hope he can go to the (Beal) final; he should go to the final. His training is good and he had a break for three weeks now after the Empire Breeders. He is feeling good the whole time. He looks good. He is a very big horse, one of the biggest I've ever trained, but he handles the short tracks good and on the big tracks he has picked up the speed good." Svanstedt's other Beal hopeful, Gemologist, has won three of 11 career races and earned $37,478 for owner SRF Stable. He is a Diamond Creek Farm-bred son of Cantab Hall out of Formula Bluestone and was purchased for $130,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale. He battled health issues earlier this season, but enters his Beal elim off a win in a conditioned race at Harrah's Philadelphia. "He is a nice trotter," Svanstedt said. "Last year he was too much colt and not easy to handle. We gelded him and he's a better horse as a gelding." Racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono begins at 7 p.m. (EDT). For Saturday's complete Pocono entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

Coming up in this space next week, we'll be providing all of the results and commentary on the eliminations for Sun Stakes Saturday, with the elims on the 23rd of June and the finals coming up the following Saturday. These races will feature a large majority of the sport's finest performers at this time, so there should be a lot to discuss. In the meantime, two horses who know their way around stakes-level competition are at the top of the heap for this edition of the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: SCOTT ROCKS For the past five years or so, this gelding could be counted on to drop in at Pocono every once in a while to face off against some of the toughest pacers on the grounds, and more often than not he would come out victorious. The difference this year is that his longtime trainer Chris Oakes handed his handling over to his son Hunter. In his first try at Pocono in the 2018 meet on June 9, Scott Rocks, now age eight, came up just short in a $21,500 condition pace behind Boston Red Rocks, who had to pace the fastest mile of the season at Pocono just to beat him. On Saturday night, Scott Rocks was back at it, facing off against a group of $17,500 condition pacers for a slight drop in class. As per usual, Scott Rocks came off the gate well, but others were rushing to the lead as well in the early going and through the front stretch. At one point driver George Napolitano Jr. tipped the gelding to the outside for what would have been a second-over journey around the second turn. But then George decided against it and utilized about a split-second window to tuck Scott Rocks back in at the pylons. Scott Rocks was still sitting third-in as they rounded the final turn, and it looked like there might not be an opening for him to come on late. But the waves of horse flesh parted just in time for him to make a flying rush to the finish line, upending the game pacesetter First Class Horse by a length-and-a-half in 1:48.4, easily the fastest time of the week at Pocono. It was a memorable way to get his first win of the year, and it's a good time for Scott Rocks to be peaking as he heads into the eliminations for the Ben Franklin Pace on the weekend. Other top pacers this week include Maxdaddy Blue Chip (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who came up a winner in Saturday night's featured condition pace in 1:50.1; Unbeamlievable (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who captured Monday night's featured claiming handicap pace for mares in 1:52.1, her second straight win at Pocono and third in a row overall; and No Easy Day (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who followed up a win at Harrah's with a condition win at Pocono on Tuesday night in a new career mark of 1:50.2. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: HOMICIDE HUNTER Like Scott Rocks, Homicide Hunter has been a stalwart in the Chris Oakes barn for many years. Unlike Scott Rocks, however, Chris is still the man in charge of Homicide Hunter, and he has witnessed the six-year-old gelding as he has taken off on one of his characteristic hot streaks in recent weeks. It started when he picked up a win in the Great Northeast Open Series at Pocono on June 3 on a sloppy track in 1:55.3. He went much faster than that the following week at Scioto when he captured the Hill Memorial in a world-record-matching time of 1:50.3. Coming off those two victories, it might have seemed like he would be an overwhelming favorite to win another Great Northeast Open race at Pocono on Sunday night. But one of the horses he was facing, Marion Marauder, came in with a record as much if not more accomplished. Marion Marauder had been scratched sick from the Hill, denying fans an opportunity to see a clash of the titans in that race. But they battled on Saturday night, with Marion Marauder taking the early lead and Homicide Hunter getting parked around turn two before he made the front himself. Although there were seven other top-flight trotters in the field, the showdown between Homicide Hunter and Marion Marauder seemed an inevitability. Indeed, in the stretch, Marion Marauder gathered momentum from the pocket and pulled up right alongside the leader in the passing lane. But Homicide Hunter simply found one more burst of energy and hustled to the line a neck in front in a winning time of 1:52.2. His third straight win wasn't a world record, but it was impressive nonetheless for the caliber of trotter he beat in that stretch duel. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to Joey Pro (Matt Kakaley, John Hallett), who picked up his second straight condition win on Sunday night and did so in a career-best 1:55; Haveitalltogether (Eric Carlson, Andy Miller), who followed up a condition victory with a win against the Pennsylvania All Stars for three-year-old colts and geldings on Sunday night in a career-best 1:53.4; and Lindy's Big Bang (David Miller, Nifty Norman), who posted the fastest time among winners of the Pennsylvania All-Stars for sophomore male trotters on Sunday night with a career-best mile of 1:52.2. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: CARMENS BEST This pacer's first win of the year, with Anthony Napolitano in the bike, proved a surprise, as he beat a bunch of claimers on Saturday night at 20-1, paying off $42 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ERIC CARLSON Carlson's picked up multiple victories three nights in a row this week, highlighted by a surprising win in the Pennsylvania All-Stars with Haveitalltogether. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: NIFTY NORMAN Norman always seems to bring in a high percentage of winners, and he chalked up two more at Pocono this week, including a Pennsylvania All-Stars victory with Lindy's Big Bang 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 Bevigila, for Pocono Downs

This Week: Ben Franklin Pace, Earl Beal Jr. Memorial, Max C. Hempt Memorial and James M. Lynch Memorial eliminations, The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Schedule of events: The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono will host four sets of stakes eliminations on Saturday (June 23). There will be three $35,000 eliminations in the Ben Franklin for older pacers; a trio of $25,000 eliminations in the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old trotters and the Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old pacers; and two $20,000 eliminations in the James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old filly pacers. Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link. Last time: Last weekend's Grand Circuit action was highlighted by the $760,000 Pepsi North America Cup for 3-year-old pacers on Saturday (June 16) at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Lather Up captured the Pepsi North America Cup in a time of 1:48.1. Trained by Clyde Francis, Lather Up and driver Montrell Teague powered forward from the beginning and took no prisoners en route to a four length score in 1:48.1. "It's a sensational feeling," said co-owner and breeder Gary Iles. "To come away with a win, it doesn't get any better than this." The win was sweet redemption for trainer Francis and driver Teague after they came up just short in the 2015 edition with Wiggle It Jiggleit. Lather Up fired from post four to the early lead, but was overtaken at the opening quarter (:26.3) by Done Well and driver Tim Tetrick. Teague wasted little time retaking the lead in the second quarter and had his charge showing the way through a :54.1 opening half. "I definitely wanted to retake," said Teague. "(Tetrick) could have went on and taken a bigger fraction for the half but I was trying to go back to the front and back the half down as much as I could." Nutcracker Sweet and driver David Miller were first-up rounding the far turn, supplying cover for a perfectly placed second-over Stay Hungry and driver Doug McNair. Lather Up reached three-quarters in a sizzling 1:21.3 to lead into the lane. Two-hole sitter Done Well and an off-cover Stay Hungry fired their best shot in the stretch, but were no match for the 3-5 mutuel favorite. Lather Up powered home in :26.3 for his biggest victory and sixth win in as many starts this season. Done Well finished second, while Lost In Time and driver Scott Zeron rallied from eighth, placed fourth-over at three-quarters, to grab third. Stay Hungry finished fourth. Owned and bred by Gary and Barbara Iles, Lather Up now holds a career record of 10 wins in 13 starts. The victory increased his seasonal earnings to $458,165 and career earnings to $532,265. Complete recaps of the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2018, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2018 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the past weekend. Drivers: 1. Tim Tetrick - 368; 2. Yannick Gingras - 266; 3. Jordan Stratton - 154; 4. Jason Bartlett - 139; 5. David Miller - 104.5. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 270; 2. Jim King Jr. - 146; 3. Peter Tritton - 122; 4. Jimmy Takter - 112; 5. Richard Banca - 75. Owners: 1. Vonknoblauch Stable - 107; 2. Richard Poillucci - 66; 3t. Burke Racing Stable - 65.9; 3t. Weaver Bruscemi - 65.9; 5. Jo Ann Looney-King - 60. Looking ahead: Next weekend Grand Circuit action will be taking place at four different tracks. Pocono will have the finals for the Ben Franklin (older pacers), Earl Beal Memorial (3-year-old trotters), Max Hempt Memorial (3-year-old pacers) and James Lynch (3-year-old filly pacers); Northfield Park will host the Cleveland Trotting Classic for older trotters; Tioga Downs will offer Tompkins-Geers stakes for 3-year-old colt and filly pacers; and Historic Track will feature Landmark Stakes for 2- and 3-year-olds of both sexes and gaits. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit  

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

Not many male pacers have won Dan Patch awards at ages 2 or 3 and returned to capture another trophy against older horses. The list since 1990 features Artsplace, Jenna's Beach Boy, Gallo Blue Chip, Art Major, and Sweet Lou. All with the exception of Sweet Lou were 4-year-olds when they received their honor as an older horse; Sweet Lou was 5. McWicked, who earned a Dan Patch Award at age 3 in 2014, is hoping to add his name to the list -- at the age of 7. And trainer Casie Coleman says the stallion has never been better. "To see him still going, and going as hard as he is, is awesome; normally right now they're getting a little tired and tailing off," Coleman said. "I honestly think this horse seems stronger than he's ever been yet, which I don't even know how is possible, but he seems like a stronger horse right now." The winner of two of four races this year, McWicked on Saturday heads to The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono for the eliminations of the Ben Franklin Pace for older male pacers. McWicked is in the second of three eliminations on the card, which also features eliminations for the Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers, Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old male trotters, and James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers. McWicked is coming off a second-place finish to Sintra in the Gold Cup at Woodbine Mohawk Park. McWicked got away eighth, 16 lengths off the lead at the quarter-mile point, before pacing his final three-quarters of a mile in 1:18.4 to rally for the runner-up spot. "It was insane the back half he had, but he was just too far back," Coleman said. "He couldn't have raced any better, he was just far out of the race. "Every time we've put him on the track he's raced great." McWicked, owned by Ed James' S S G Stables, won 12 of 23 races at age 3 including the Breeders Crown, Hempt Memorial, Adios, and Progress Pace on his way to $1.47 million in purses. He hit the board a total of 21 times that season and got checks in the North America Cup, Little Brown Jug, Messenger, Milstein Memorial, and Matron. He was winless in a combined 14 races at ages 4 and 5 because of breathing issues and multiple throat surgeries, but bounced back last year with seven victories in 27 races and $560,025. McWicked finished the campaign with four consecutive second-place finishes, including the TVG Series championship, Breeders Crown and Allerage Farms Open Pace and might have been in the mix for his second Dan Patch Award with a win or two in any of them. "He kept being the bridesmaid," Coleman said. "He just had a lot of bad luck with traffic. He was pacing harder than any of them at the wire, he just had some bad luck. But saying that, the horse has made over $2 million, so I guess you can't say it's too bad of luck." For his career, the son of McArdle-Western Sahara has won 24 of 78 starts and $2.37 million. "It's not often that he's off the board," Coleman said. "He usually gives you all he's got and he's usually right there. He's had a lot of first-over journeys where he still gets the job done. He can take any trip you give him. "He's staked in everything all summer long. As long as he's sound and healthy he'll be in all the events and hopefully he can win a couple of them." Coleman credited an offseason layoff in Kentucky, the work of trainer Jim McDonald in preparing McWicked in Florida, and the decision to bypass the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series in March/April as reasons for her horse's early-season success. "Hopefully it pays off for us," Coleman said. "He's been sharp, sound, and healthy. We just hope for a little bit of luck on the weekend." For Saturday's complete Pocono entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

WILKES-BARRE PA - The elimination races for the $2,000,000 Sun Stakes Saturday supercard at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono have been drawn. The elimination races will be conducted this Saturday (June 23), with those advancing to the Championships going for the big money on Saturday, June 30. A tremendous amount of subplots already suggest themselves from the elimination draws: the undefeated filly Manchego taking on the boys in the Beal Trot; arguably the three best colts drawing posts 6-7-8 in the same elimination of the Hempt Pace; Filibuster Hanover again testing older stock as he looks to keep his seasonal tally unbeaten in the Franklin Pace. Here is a brief preview of the four major races, with a listing of the field containing horse, post position, trainer, and probable driver at the end of each section. EARL BEAL 3YO OPEN TROT (this Saturday $25,000 eliminations in races 3, 5, 11; top three advance to June 30's $500,000 Championship) Manchego, perfect in 14 starts thus far in her career, with both her starts in 2018 winning ones at Pocono, will test the boys in this important stepping stone towards the Hambletonian and the rest of the sophomore riches. Manchego has done well in the barrier draw, getting post five, by far the winningest starting slot at Pocono, for trainer Jimmy Takter and driver Yannick Gingras. (It was that team that tried the filly Ariana G in the Beal last year, and she gave a great race but wound up third over an off track in the Championship.) Manchego will have to face champion colts at two from both sides of the border, and here the gate, in this race 11 elim: Alarm Detector, 7 for 9 last year and coming off a third in the Goodtimes Final for trainer Benoit Baillargeon and driver Trevor Henry. He has the inside post; stuck with the outside post eight is Fourth Dimension (trainer Marcus Melander, driver Brian Sears), 8 for 11 in 2017 and second in his recent seasonal bow. New York star Six Pack, undefeated in three seasonal outings including the Empire Breeders Classic final, will go in race 5 from post six in a field of seven for trainer/driver Ã…ke Svanstedt. Two top Pennsylvania horses going against him are Moosonee (post two, trainer Chris Beaver, driver Aaron Merriman), a double stakes winner this year, and Fashionwoodchopper (post five, trainer Jim Campbell, driver David Miller), the 2017 Sire Stakes Champion. The Beal action starts from race 3, with Patent Leather (post one, trainer Jim Campbell, driver Tim Tetrick) back on the track after winning a Pennsylvania All-Stars race in 1:52.3 yesterday (Sunday), just six nights before the Beal elims. Sire Stakes winners in Ohio (Mission Accepted, post four, trainer Jeff Conger, driver Ryan Stahl) and New York (Voss Volo, post seven, trainer John Butenschoen, driver Corey Callahan) certainly figure as contenders. BEAL ELIMINATION RACE 3 - 1, Patent Leather, trainer Jim Campbell, driver Tim Tetrick; 2, Tito, Erv Miller, Marcus Miller; 3, Lawmaker, Andrew Harris, Anthony MacDonald; 4, Mission Accepted, Jeff Conger, Ryan Stahl; 5, Winning Shadow, Jake Huff, Corey Callahan; 6, Whats The Word, trainer Rene Allard, Callahan also listed; 7, Voss Volo, John Butenschoen, Callahan also listed. (A release with late driver changes and morning line odds will be sent out Tuesday afternoon.) BEAL ELIMINATION RACE 5 - 1, Missle Hill, Tony Alagna, Doug McNair; 2, Moosonee, Chris Beaver, Aaron Merriman; 3, Evaluate, Marcus Melander, Tim Tetrick; 4, Rich And Miserable, Todd Buter, Tyler Buter; 5, Fashionwoodchopper, Jim Campbell, David Miller; 6, Six Pack, trainer-driver Ã…ke Svanstedt; 7, Scirocco Rob, John Butenschoen, Corey Callahan. BEAM ELIMINATION RACE 11 - 1, Alarm Detector, Benoit Baillargeon, Trevor Henry; 2, Gemologist; trainer-driver Ã…ke Svanstedt; 3, Crystal Fashion, Jim Campbell, Tim Tetrick; 4, Mississippi Storm, Tom Fanning, David Miller; 5, Manchego, Jimmy Takter, Yannick Gingras; 6, Fashion Forever, Jim Campbell, Corey Callahan; 7, Fiftydallarbill, Bill Crone, Trace Tetrick; 8, Fourth Dimension, Marcus Melander, Brian Sears. MAX C. HEMPT 3YO COLT PACE (this Saturday $25,000 eliminations in races 6, 9, 12; top three advance to June 30's $500,000 Championship) The racing gods left no margin for error in the 12th race elimination of the Hempt. Only the top three horses in the eight-horse elim will advance, and the threesome many would rate as the top trio in the land drew the three outermost slots: Done Well (post six, trainer Brian Brown, driver Tim Tetrick), Lather Up (post seven, trainer Clyde Francis, driver Montrell Teague), and Courtly Choice (post eight, trainer Blake MacIntosh, driver Mark MacDonald). Lather Up, a perfect 6-for-6 this year, will likely emerge as the chalk off his easy win last Saturday in the North America Cup final; a win might not come so easily in this collection. In the race six elim, New York Sire Stakes winners Keystone Tenacious (post four, trainer Paul Kelley, driver Mark MacDonald) and Springsteen (post six, trainer Rene Allard, driver David Miller) will be challenged by fast Ohio Sires winner Cinnamack (post three, trainer Brian Brown, David Miller also listed) and Dorsoduro Hanover (post seven, five, trainer Ron Burke, driver Matt Kakaley), who was the early leader pro tem in this division until getting a horrible trip in his NA Cup elim and not making the final. Race nine sees Stay Hungry trying to rebound from a fourth-place finish in the NA Cup Final after getting a golden second-over trip. To come back to winning ways, he'll have to overcome the outside post eight for trainer Tony Alagna and driver Doug McNair, along with foes such as I'm A Big Deal (post five, trainer Chris Ryder, driver George Napolitano Jr.), an impressive Sire Stakes winner here a couple of starts back. HEMPT ELIM RACE 6 - 1, This Is The Plan, Chris Ryder, Tim Tetrick; 2, Daddyofemall, Dan Altmeyer, Mike Wilder; 3, Cinnamack, Brian Brown, David Miller; 4, Keystone Tenacious, Paul Kelley, Mark MacDonald; 5, Dorsoduro Hanover, Ron Burke, Matt Kakaley; 6, Springsteen, Rene Allard, David Miller also listed; 7, Stendahl Hanover, Eddie Sager, Marcus Miller; 8, Decoy, Jimmy Takter, David Miller also listed; 9, Closing Statement, Joe Holloway, Brian Sears. HEMPT ELIM RACE 9 - 1, Whos Better, Brian Brown, Tim Tetrick; 2, Sometimesawinner, Rene Allard, Simon Allard; 3, Shnitzledosomethin, Dylan Davis, David Miller; 4, Hitman Hill, Chris Oakes, Brett Miller; 5, I'm A Big Deal, Chris Ryder, George Napolitano Jr.; 6, Points North, Nifty Norman, Andrew McCarthy; 7, Grand Teton, Jimmy Takter, Scott Zeron; 8, Stay Hungry, Tony Alagna, Doug McNair. HEMPT ELIM RACE 12 - 1, Rock Lights, Katricia Adams, George Napolitano Jr.; 2, Babes Dig Me, Tony Alagna, Brett Miller; 3, Heavenly Sound, Bruce Saunders, Andrew McCarthy; 4, Nutcracker Sweet, Jimmy Takter, David Miller; 5, Wes Delight, Mark Harder, Corey Callahan; 6. Done Well, Brian Brown, Tim Tetrick; 7, Lather Up, Clyde Francis, Montrell Teague; 8, Courtly Choice, Blake MacIntosh, Mark MacDonald. BEN FRANKLIN FFA PACE (this Saturday $35,000 eliminations in races 2, 4, 10; top three advance to June 30's $500,000 Championship) Filibuster Hanover, who has handled the often-difficult stepup from age three to age four quite well so far, will try to run his seasonal undefeated string to six as he starts from post six in the 10th race Franklin elim for trainer Ron Burke and driver Yannick Gingras. Filibuster has already shown he could handle older company with a win in the Commodore Barry Pace at Philly at the end of May. Sure to attract support is Sintra (post one, trainer David Menary, driver Jody Jamieson) off a 1:48 victory in the Mohawk Gold Cup last week. The horse who finished second to Sintra, McWicked, just might be the most intriguing horse in all of these Franklin elims. Last week he was sixteen lengths out at the quarter, yet rallied to be beaten only 2 3/4 lengths, which calculates to a last 3/4s in 1:18.4 - and three-wide on the far turn! The career winner of more than $2M starts from post four for trainer Casey Coleman and driver Brian Sears in the race 4 elimination. Heaven Rocks A, a champion in Australasia who was second to Filibuster Hanover in the Commodore Barry and then came back to win in 1:50 at Philly, may be getting better and better with each start; in his race 2 elimination, he'll try to sustain his improvement from post four for trainer Ross Croghan and driver David Miller. Western Fame (post five, trainer Jimmy Takter, driver Andrew McCarthy) will draw respect off a 1:49.1 - 26.1 win last week at The Meadowlands. FRANKLIN ELIM RACE 2 - 1, Easy Lover Hanover, Ben Wallace, driver TBA; 2, Check Six, Ron Burke, Yannick Gingras; 3, Missile J, Scott Di Domenico, Tim Tetrick; 4, Heaven Rocks A, Ross Croghan, David Miller; 5, Western Fame, Jimmy Takter, Andrew McCarthy; 6, Split The House, Chris Oakes, George Napolitano Jr.; 7, Donttellmeagain, Jim King Jr., Tim Tetrick also listed. FRANKLIN ELIM RACE 4 - 1, Rockin Ron, Ron Burke, Matt Kakaley; 2, Scott Rocks, Hunter Oakes, George Napolitano Jr.; 3, Waikiki Beach A, Ross Croghan, Scott Zeron; 4, McWicked, Casey Coleman, Brian Sears; 5, Mach It So, Jeff Bamond Jr., Tim Tetrick; 6, Mac's Jackpot, Jeffrey Smith, Andy Miller. FRANKLIN RACE 10 - 1, Sintra, David Menary, Jody Jamieson; 2, Boogie Shuffle, Mark Harder, David Miller; 3, Christen Me N, Jim King Jr., Tim Tetrick; 4, All Bets Off, Ron Burke, Matt Kakaley; 5, Dealt A Winner, Mark Silva, Brett Miller; 6, Filibuster Hanover, Ron Burke, Yannick Gingras; 7, Funknwaffles, John Butenschoen, Corey Callahan. JAMES LYNCH 3YO FILLY PACE (this Saturday $20,000 eliminations in races 7 and 8; top four and the faster fifth-place finisher advance to June 30's $300,000 Championship) The main question to be asked ahead of the Lynch is "Which Youaremycandygirl will show up this week?" The one who won 9 of 11 at two and was divisional champion, or the one who has won only one of three seasonal starts? Trainer Ron Burke has been diligently working to get the most successful answer to that question, as the filly starts in the race 7 elimination from post two for driver Yannick Gingras. Lismore champion Alexa's Power (post three, trainer Jim Campbell, driver Tim Tetrick) and New Jersey Sires final winner Hypnotic Tale (post five, trainer Linda Toscano, driver David Miller) will be among the many seeking out the answer to that puzzle. In the race 8 elim, Kissin In The Sand (post three, trainer Nancy Johansson, driver Scott Zeron) may become the public's choice after a very good second in the Fan Hanover final last Saturday. Two of Pennsylvania's best had the misfortune to draw outside posts in the eight-horse field: Serene Stride (post seven, trainer Mark Harder, driver Tony Hall) and Sidewalk Dancer (post eight, trainer Chris Oakes, driver Brett Miller. LYNCH ELIM RACE 7 - 1, Carlo's Superstar, Rene Allard, Simon Allard; 2, Youaremycandygirl, Ron Burke, Yannick Gingras; 3, Alexa's Power, Jim Campbell, Tim Tetrick; 4, Double A Mint, Ron Burke, Matt Kakaley; 5, Hypnotic Tale, Linda Toscano, David Miller; 6, Pass Line Bluechip, Wayne Givens, driver TBA; 7, Majorsspeciallady, Ron Burke, Brett Miller; 8, Ideal Talker, Noel Daley, Andrew McCarthy. LYNCH ELIM RACE 8 - 1, Python Blue Chip, Ron Burke, Yannick Gingras; 2, I'm Trigger Happy, Tony Osullivan, David Miller; 3, Kissin In The Sand, Nancy Johansson, Scott Zeron; 4, Solitary, Nick Surick, Tim Tetrick; 5, Cuts Like A Knife, Bruce Saunders, Tim Tetrick also listed; 6, Sansovia Hanover, Ron Burke, Matt Kakaley; 7, Serene Stride, Mark Harder, Tony Hall; 8, Sidewalk Dancer, Chris Oakes, Brett Miller. One final note - you won't want to miss the first race, a $30,000 open pace in the Great Northeast Open Series, with two $2M+ winners: Bettors Edge (post one, trainer Jennifer Lappe, driver Scott Zeron), and another Takterite taking on "the boys," Pure Country (post three, driver Yannick Gingras). Add Rockeyed Optimist, Rodeo Romeo and others to the mix, and you have a field with 151 lifetime wins and a combined bankroll of $6.3M, with an average mark of 1:48.4. This curtainraiser at Pocono on Saturday is slated for 7 p.m. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs                

It's always nice when the hype is justified. We've been talking about Sun Stakes Saturday for a while now, and that conversation really ramped after some fascinating harness racing eliminations. What dominated those discussions was the fact that, unlike in past years, there were no horses that simply dwarfed the fields they were scheduled to face. The four stakes races featured on Saturday figured to be extremely competitive. And that's just how it turned out to be. Although the track was listed in fast condition, rain earlier in the afternoon made it a somewhat heavy surface, preventing the times from being too explosive. But the finishes were, for the most part, tight and a little surprising, with only one favorite out of four winning. Let's take a look at how the action unfolded. JAMES M. LYNCH MEMORIAL PACE for three-year-old fillies The betting favorite was Tequila Monday, who had the fastest elimination victory and drew an inside post. But that filly simply never factored into the action, finishing a disappointing eighth. Idyllic Beach was the surprising pace setter from an outside post, but she, and everybody else in the field, had little chance to respond once Agent Q started rolling first-over. After finishing second in a pair of big-money stakes races earlier this season, the filly trained by Aaron Lambert was not going to be denied in this one. With David Miller in the bike, she zipped by the leaders and coasted home by three lengths in front of 99-1 shot Caviart Ally, tripping the line in 1:51, easily the most convincing winner in the four big stakes races on the night. MAX C. HEMPT MEMORIAL PACE for three-year-old pacers The Brian Brown barn is blessed with two special three-year-olds. One of them, Downbytheseaside, was the star of the Hempt eliminations with a stupendous effort for a win. Meanwhile the other, Fear The Dragon, suffered his first loss of the season in his previous start, casting some doubts about his supremacy in the division. In the Hempt final, Downbytheseaside went after the lead from a #8 post, and the early fractions he set to get the engine were cumbersome. Fear The Dragon, on the other hand, saved ground early, found cover on the back stretch, and was in full gear out wide as the field rounded the final turn. With David Miller in the bike, Fear The Dragon took over the late lead and held off a game charge by Funknwaffles to win by three quarters of a length in 1:49:3, reasserting his dominance in the process. BEN FRNAKLIN PACE for free-for-all pacers This was the night's emotional high point. Although the field was stacked with eight superb aged pacers, the two on the inside garnered the attention. Keystone Velocity, trained by Pocono's leading trainer Rene Allard and driven by Pocono regular Simon Allard, had the inside post and watched as the 3-5 favorite Mel Mara set the pace. Although the fractions were zippy, they weren't the kind that would cause a horse like Mel Mara to falter. But Keystone Velocity remained locked in at the pocket, eventually utilizing the passing lane in the stretch. The stretch provided a classic battle. Mel Mara wasn't giving an inch, but Keystone Velocity was full of firepower on his inside. When the dust cleared, Keystone Velocity added to the incredible season he's been putting together by heading out Mel Mara in 1:48:4. The emotion came from Simon Allard returning the horse to the Winner's Circle while standing in the sulky, aping a classic moment from the career of the late, great Herve Filion. EARL BEAL JR. MEMORIAL for three-year-old trotters All eyes were on the Ariana G, the first filly to ever compete against the boys in the Beal. She went off as the favorite and had to deal with a tough #8 post position. Unable to make the lead early, she took on pacesetting Long Tom, who, like Ariana G, hadn't lost in his first three starts this season, with a first-over charge. It looked for all the world like the top two choices would decide it in a stretch duel. But Devious Man had other ideas. The three-year-old colt trained by Julie Miller suffered his first loss of the season in the eliminations in upset fashion, but he wasn't scared off by the competition in the Beal final, having won a stakes race earlier this season at Vernon that carried a $252,000 purse. Driver Andy Miller settled Devious Man in behind the speed duel between Long Tom and Ariana G. When the field reached the top of the lane, Devious Man had the passing lane all to himself, and he scooted by to beat Long Tom by 1 ¼ lengths in 1:52:4 as a 15-1 bomber. 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

WILKES-BARRE PA - Here are the fields for the four rich Championship races to be held during this weekend's $2,169,500 Sun Stakes Saturday harness racing card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with post, horse name, driver (underlined if changed from yesterday's draw), trainer, and morning line odds.   Race 9 -- The $300,000 JAMES LYNCH CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD: 1, Tequila Monday, Brian Sears, Chris Oakes, 5-2; 2, Big City Betty, Jim Marohn Jr., Steve Salerno, 20-1; 3, Inverse Hanover, Tim Tetrick, Nifty Norman, 10-1; 4, Agent Q, David Miller, Aaron Lambert, 3-1; 5, Brazuca, Corey Callahan, Tom Cancelliere, 5-1; 6, Bettor's Up, Doug McNair, Scott Mceneny, 4-1; 7, Misqued, Steve Smith, John Balzer, 15-1; 8, Caviart Ally, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley, 12-1; 9, Idyllic Beach, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 6-1.   Race 10 -- The $500,000 MAX C. HEMPT CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD: 1, Fear The Dragon, David Miller, Brian Brown, 5-2; 2, Santafe's Coach, Anthony Napolitano, Leo Iordan, 12-1; 3, Funknwaffles, Corey Callahan, John Butenschoen, 5-1; 4, Miso Fast, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 4-1; 5, Boogie Shuffle, Scott Zeron, Mark Harder, 10-1; 6, Ozone Blue Chip, Brett Miller, Ron Coyne Jr., 20-1; 7, Donttellmeagain, Tim Tetrick, Jo Ann Looney-King, 6-1; 8, Downbytheseaside, Brian Sears, Brian Brown, 3-1; 9, Eddard Hanover, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 15-1.   Race 11 -- The $500,000 BEN FRANKLIN CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD: 1, Keystone Velocity, Simon Allard, Rene Allard, 3-1; 2, Mel Mara, Corey Callahan, Dylan Davis, 5-2; 3, All Bets Off, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 4-1; 4, Rockin Ron, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 6-1; 5, Mach It So, Tim Tetrick, Jeff Bamond Jr., 12-1 6, Rock N' Roll World, Brian Sears, Jeff Cullipher, 20-1; 7, Dealt A Winner, David Miller, Mark Silva, 5-1; 8, Boston Red Rocks, Brett Miller, Steve Elliott, 10-1; 9, Shamballa, Scott Zeron, Rick Zeron, 15-1.   Race 12 -- The $500,000 EARL BEAL CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD: 1, Long Tom, Tim Tetrick, Marcus Melander, 3-1; 2, Perfect Spirit, David Miller, Ã…ke Svanstedt, 6-1; 3, Sortie, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley, 10-1; 4, Moonshiner Hanover, Scott Zeron, Christopher Beaver, 12-1; 5, Bill's Man, Corey Callahan, John Butenschoen, 4-1; 6, Lucky Matter, Brian Sears, Christopher Beaver, 20-1; 7, Devious Man, Andy Miller, Julie Miller, 5-1; 8, Ariana G (*filly), Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 5-2; 9, Dover Dan, Brett Miller, John Butenschoen, 15-1.   There will also be consolation races for each of the Big Four races: $75,000 Beal consolation, race 5: Muscles Jared morning line choice; $75,000 Hempt consolation, race 7, Heaven's Gait morning line choice; $75,000 Franklin consolation, race 8, Freaky Feet Pete morning line choice; $50,000 Lynch consolation, race 2: Roaring To Go morning line choice.   FINISHING LINES - And while the hoofbeats of the 3YO and older champions and the roar of the crowd from the previous night will still be faintly echoing, Pocono will host TEN divisions of the first stakes racing for the 2017 two-year-olds, with $30,000 on the line in each event of Pennsylvania All-Stars competition for the most promising of the state's babies. There will be four divisions of colt pacers, in races 1, 3, 12, and 14, and six divisions of colt trotters, in races 2, 4, 5, 8, 11, and 13 ... Post time on Sun Stakes Saturday is 6:30 p.m.; Sunday's card begins one hour later.   PHHA / Pocono

The preliminaries are out of the way. This Saturday, July 1, the faithful at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono will get to witness the main harness racing event. Or events, as the case may be, as Sun Stakes Saturday will feature four races with huge stakes attached to them, pushing the night's purses well over $2 million total. This past Saturday, the eliminations were held, and it was an interesting set of races. Drivers on the top horses had to decide how much effort they asked from their charges. On the one hand, a tired horse in the final is no good to anyone. On the other, a horse that's held back and then doesn't make the final is a disappointment. Here is how the eliminations played out, followed by a primer on what to expect on Saturday night. The outcomes may be unknowable until the races are run, but we can say for sure that it will be an exceptional night of racing. BEN FRANKLIN PACE for aged pacers The only favorite to win out of the three eliminations was Mel Mara, who paced the fastest time of the night on the front end in 1:48:4. There were surprises in the other two divisions. While Freaky Feet Pete faded from the lead in his first start of the year and race favorite McWicked was boxed in, Keystone Velocity, trained by Rene Allard and driven by Simon Allard, both Pocono regulars, rallied for the victory. Dealt A Winner was a convincing winner in the remaining elimination, beating heavy favorite Boston Red Rocks by 3½ lengths. At least Boston Red Rocks is headed to the final; big names like Freaky Feet Pete, Luck Be Withyou, and McWicked all failed to qualify. EARL BEAL JR. MEMORIAL TROT for three-year-old trotters The big news here is that Ariana G, the only filly competing against the male trotters, easily won her split as a 1-9 favorite. Meadowlands invader Long Tom also won as the favorite in his split, meaning that he and Ariana G will compete in the final as 2017 unbeatens, both three-for-three this year. Although Driver Yannick Gingras will likely stick with Ariana G in the final, he also pulled off a surprise in the remaining division with Perfect Spirit, who staged a furious rally on the inside to upend favorite Devious Man at 23-1. MAX C. HEMPT MEMORIAL PACE for three-year-old pacers Fear The Dragon received all the betting attention in his elimination, which was understandable considering he hadn't lost in six races this year and was coming off a win in the North American Cup at Mohawk. But Miso Fast, with Matt Kakaley in the bike for Ron Burke, had other ideas and blitzed Fear The Dragon with a first-over move to win at 11-1. Although Fear The Dragon reaches the final, he goes in knowing that his archrival Downbytheseaside put in perhaps the most impressive performance of the evening. Despite being parked around two turns, the colt trained by Brian Brown battled his way to a victory in a sizzling 1:49:2 with Brain Sears in the bike. The remaining division belonged to the longshots, with 21-1 Santafe's Coach, driven by Pocono regular Anthony Napolitano, picking up a late-kicking win over 29-1 Ozone Blue Chip in second. JAMES M. LYNCH MEMORIAL PACE for three-year-old pacing fillies This was the one set of races where form held, as favorites won all three splits, all on the front end. Tequila Monday, trained by Chris Oakes, bounced back from a disappointing loss in the Fan Hanover Stakes at Mohawk by delivering on the front end in 1:50:4, the fastest of the three winning times from the Lynch eliminations. Meanwhile Bettor's Up, who had pulled off the upset win in the Fan Hanover, settled for second on Saturday night behind Agent Q, the filly she nosed out for the win in Canada. Brazuca, driven by Corey Callahan for trainer Tom Cancelliere, stayed unbeaten in three starts this year with a rock-solid win in her split. What to look for in the finals: BEN FRANKLIN: Mel Mara might be the one to beat but will need a good post for his front-pacing style. He'll have some powerful competition, especially from Keystone Velocity, who is once again showing the form that made him the Levy champion at Yonkers this year. EARL BEAL: Ariana G is far and away the best trotting filly in the land, so she's seeking out the boys for a true challenge. She'll get just that from Long Tom. MAX HEMPT: Will Downbytheseaside be in less than top form after his huge effort on Saturday? Can Fear The Dragon shake off his first loss? Is Miso Fast for real and at the same level as the other two? JAMES LYNCH: Tequila Monday was favored in the Fan Hanover and will have the chance to exact revenge on Bettor's Up and Agent Q, the two fillies who beat her in that race. Meanwhile Brazuca looks for her fourth consecutive win against the toughest competition she's yet faced. 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

WILKES-BARRE PA - The stars will be out in full brilliance this Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, which is proud to host the $2,169,500 Sun Stakes Saturday card, including a collection of four major races: the $500,000 Ben Franklin Championship for pacing free-for-allers, the $500,000 Earl Beal Championship for three-year-old trotters, the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Championship for three-year-old pacing colts, and the $300,000 James Lynch Championship for three-year-old pacing fillies.   The horses earned their way into these Championship by finishing in the top three in their elimination races last Saturday - a couple of highly-regarded horses did not make the cut, but many of those will be racing in the consolation races for the four events throughout the card. The draw for this Saturday's Championship events was conducted as an open draw - which, as always, helped the chances of some and may be a hindrance to some others. There will be no betting-coupled entries.   The four Championships will be races nine through twelve on Saturday's 14-race card. Below is a preview of each Championship as they are being held from front to back on the card, followed by the entire field by post with driver and trainer, and then a paragraph on its consolation race.   $300,000 JAMES LYNCH CHAMPIONSHIP for three-year-old pacing fillies - race 9   The three elimination winners all drew in the middle of the gate or inside that, with the two most likely to draw attention, Tequila Monday and Agent Q, starting from posts one and four respectively. The American Ideal filly Tequila Monday, who won her elimination by a nose over Idyllic Beach in the elims' fastest time of 1:50.4, may again try to go wire-to-wire from the pole as she did last week for driver Brian Sears, trainer Chris Oakes, and owners Susan Oakes and Chuck Pompey. Agent Q also favors speedy tactics, and went wire-to-wire last week in 1:51.1 for driver David Miller and trainer Aaron Lambert; Martin Scharf shares ownership in the Western Terror filly with Rochetti Cassar Racing and Robert Muscara.   Idyllic Beach, last year's North American divisional champion and just shaded by Tequila Monday in the fastest elim last week, had a major monkey wrench thrown into her plans for victory when she drew the outside post nine; driver Yannick Gingras will need both sulky creativity and racing luck to overcome this tough starting slot.   The $300,000 JAMES LYNCH CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD: 1, Tequila Monday, Brian Sears, Chris Oakes; 2, Big City Betty, Jim Marohn Jr., Steve Salerno; 3, Inverse Hanover, Tim Tetrick, Nifty Norman; 4, Agent Q, David Miller, Aaron Lambert; 5, Brazuca, Corey Callahan, Tom Cancelliere; 6, Bettor's Up, Doug McNair, Scott Mceneny; 7, Misqued, Steve Smith, John Balzer; 8, Caviart Ally, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley; 9, Idyllic Beach, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter.   $50,000 Lynch Consolation (race 2): Roaring To Go, 2-1 in the elim won by Brazuca, was used in a 26.1 opening quarter and could only manage a dead-heat for fourth; the rail gives her a good chance to race well-placed throughout. The fastest clocking of all the Lynch consolation entrants from last week, 1:51.4 by YS Tallia, will find that fourth-place finisher starting from post five here.   $500,000 MAX C. HEMPT CHAMPIONSHIP for three-year-old pacing colts - race 10   The two superstar colts from the Brian Brown stable - Fear The Dragon and Downbytheseaside - find themselves sharing the headliners' spotlight with Miso Fast, who halted the 2017 undefeated string of the "Dragon" with a powerful victory last week.   Fear The Dragon had been put on the lead in his elimination, but driver Matt Kakaley got an instantaneous burst from the Roll With Joe colt Miso Fast when he asked him off the second turn, smoking his personal third quarter in 26.2 to open up a big lead, then having enough to come home in 26.4 to post the victory in 1:49.2 for trainer Ron Burke and the ownership of Burke Racing Stable LLC, Our Horse Cents Stables, and J&T Silva Stables LLC. Miso Fast starts from post four Saturday as he tries to put together a repeat performance.   Fear The Dragon, #1 in the North American Top Ten poll of harness horses going into the race, was certainly not disgraced in the mile - in fact, he came his last quarter in 26.2, faster than did Miso Fast, and regained all but 1½ lengths of Miso Fast's huge advantage. The Dragon Again colt drew the rail in the Hempt Championship for driver David Miller and the Emerald Highlands Farm.   The other Brown sophomore star, Downbytheseaside, also posted a 1:49.2 clocking in winning his elimination, showing determination with horses charging at him late. Downbytheseaside had his chances hurt a bit when he drew post eight, but he figures to work his way into the mix for "Team Brian"'s other partner, driver Brian Sears, to be inducted into the Hall of Fame the next day.   The $500,000 MAX C. HEMPT CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD: 1, Fear The Dragon, David Miller, Brian Brown; 2, Santafe's Coach, Anthony Napolitano, Leo Iordan; 3, Funknwaffles, Corey Callahan, John Butenschoen; 4, Miso Fast, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 5, Boogie Shuffle, Scott Zeron, Mark Harder; 6, Ozone Blue Chip, Brett Miller, Ron Coyne Jr.; 7, Donttellmeagain, Tim Tetrick, Jo Ann Looney-King; 8, Downbytheseaside, Brian Sears, Brian Brown; 9, Eddard Hanover, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke.   $75,000 Hempt Consolation (race 7): Every Way Out and Blood Brother were 6-5 and 2-1 respectively in their elimination last week, but both broke stride. Every Way Out will get a chance for redemption in the consolation, starting from post four; that possibility of redemption is extremely low for Blood Brother, as he became the AE1 in the draw and will not race unless there is a scratch in the Championship or the consolation.   $500,000 BEN FRANKLIN CHAMPIONSHIP for free-for-all pacers - race 11:   Two of the Franklin elimination winners, Keystone Velocity and Mel Mara, drew posts one and two, respectively, and a victory would make either one a career millionaire. The other elim winner, Dealt A Winner, was dealt post seven at the pill shake, and he shows only one call in eight racelines better than third at the quarter, meaning he may be staring at a difficult trip for David Miller. (Another numerological shudder for Dealt A Winner: should he triumph, his earnings would stand at $999,290.)   Keystone Velocity went a tick faster than did Mel Mara in winning his elim, 1:48.3 vs. 1:48.4, but Keystone Velocity was rallying off of a 1:20.3 ¾ time put up by Freaky Feet Pete, and just made the lead in the shadow of the wire, while Mel Mara showed a powerful early rush, went to the half in 53 under his own steam, and then drew away in the stretch to a 3½-length victory for driver Corey Callahan. With three wins and a second in four seasonal races, the son of Lis Mara will certainly be one of if not the favorite to win the Franklin jackpot for trainer Dylan Davis and owners Robert Cooper Stables LLC and J&T Silva Stables LLC.   The $500,000 BEN FRANKLIN CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD: 1, Keystone Velocity, Simon Allard, Rene Allard; 2, Mel Mara, Corey Callahan, Dylan Davis; 3, All Bets Off, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 4, Rockin Ron, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 5, Mach It So, Tim Tetrick, Jeff Bamond Jr., 6, Rock N' Roll World, Brian Sears, Jeff Cullipher; 7, Dealt A Winner, David Miller, Mark Silva; 8, Boston Red Rocks, Tim Tetrick also listed, Steve Elliott; 9, Shamballa, Scott Zeron, Rick Zeron.   $75,000 Franklin consolation (race 8): The two biggest surprises from the elims missing out on the final were McWicked and Freaky Feet Pete. McWicked did not even enter into the consolation event, but Freaky Feet did, though he'll have to deal with the outside post nine. In his elim, he rolled to the ¾ in 1:20.3 in his seasonal debut before tiring; he certainly can be tighter here.   $500,000 EARL BEAL CHAMPIONSHIP, for three-year-old trotters - race 12   The three Beal elimination winners drew posts one, two, and eight.   The filly got post eight.   Ariana G, a superstar sophomore trotting filly challenging the colts in the Beal, won her elimination race in hand, finishing out her 1:53.4 victory in 27.3 without drawing a labored breath. There may be a labored breath or two required this week from the tough starting slot, although the Muscle Hill filly, who won in 1:51.1 at The Meadowlands two starts ago, must still be rated the favorite to give driver Yannick Gingras his fourth straight win in the Beal (Father Patrick, Pinkman, Southwind Frank) as he steers for trainer Jimmy Takter and the partnership of breeders Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld.   Long Tom took his elim in 1:52.3 and may provide the main opposition to Ariana G for driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Marcus Melander, while Perfect Spirit, who scooted up the far inside to post a 23-1 upset in 1:54.1, has already had her trainer Ã…ke Svanstedt read the writing on the wall and list David Miller as his candidate to replace his filly's driver from last week - Gingras.   The $500,000 EARL BEAL CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD: 1, Long Tom, Tim Tetrick, Marcus Melander; 2, Perfect Spirit, David Miller, Ã…ke Svanstedt; 3, Sortie, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley; 4, Moonshiner Hanover, Scott Zeron, Christopher Beaver; 5, Bill's Man, Corey Callahan; 6, Lucky Matter, David Miller also listed, Christopher Beaver; 7, Devious Man, Andy Miller, Julie Miller; 8, Ariana G (*filly), Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 9, Dover Dan, Brett Miller, John Butenschoen.   $75,000 Beal consolation (race 5): One of the likely favorites would have been Rubio, who went offstride in his elim, but like Blood Brother, he drew AE1 and will not race unless there is a scratch in either of the Beal events. Giveitgasandgo, the 2016 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion, sat right behind Long Tom much of last week, but could only finish fourth; despite PP8 he should get attention in a balanced grouping.   FINISHING LINES - The sixth race, a $25,000 winners-over handicap pace, is named the Herve Filion Memorial, in honor of the incomparable Hall of Fame sulky wizard and former Pocono regular who passed away last week at age 77 ... The first race on the huge Saturday card lists a 6:30 post time.   From the PHHA at  Pocono Downs

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono's Rainbow Pick 5 carryover is now at $31,281.89 going into the harness racing Sun Stakes Saturday eliminations night, June 24th. The wager is 20 cents, and is on races 10 through 14, which includes eliminations for the James Lynch Memorial; Max Hempt Memorial; Ben Franklin Free-For-All; and the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Trot. Saturday's Post Time is 6:30PM. Sun Stakes Saturday, with $2 million in purses, is July 1st. Jennifer Starr Racing Marketing Manager Racing Operations

Next week in this space we'll be detailing all of the harness racing action from the Sun Stakes eliminations, which take place on Saturday night, June 24. On that night, the sport's superstars will be congregating at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono to battle it out in an effort to reach the high-stakes finals the following week. In the meantime, we witnessed an excellent four nights of racing just past, the best of which will be highlighted now in the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: ONE TO DRAW TO For the second straight week, this award goes to a claimer on an impressive winning streak. Last week, it was Tell Us More, who, by the way, added another win on Saturday night to make it five in a row. This week the honors go to One To Draw To, a five-year-old gelding who came into Saturday night's $25,000 claiming pace for four and five-year-olds with two consecutive wins in that class in front-pacing fashion. Hot claimers are subject to switch barns, and One To Draw To was indeed claimed from his victory on June 10, leaving the Rene Allard barn and joining Steve Salerno's contingent of racers. His first start for the new barn looked a lot like the previous two for the old barn. Leaving from post position #1 in a field of nine as a 7-5 favorite, the gelding quickly took control of the pace with Anthony Napolitano doing the driving. The fractions he set were merciless, even faster than he had in his previous two victories. Anyone hoping that those quick early times would lead to a late comeuppance had another thing coming. Despite pressure from Next Success, a formidable presence who won this award earlier in the meet, One To Draw To held string through the lane, winning by 1 ¾ lengths. The winning time was a real eye-popper, as the gelding came home in 1:49:3, a new career-mark and the fastest pacing time laid down this past week at Pocono. Other top pacers include: Baby Kitty (Simon Allard, Eric Foster), who moved up the condition ladder to win his second straight at Pocono on Saturday night, this one coming in a career-best 1:50:1; Art Of Illusion (Jim Marohn Jr., James Guagliardo), who scored his second straight victory over the $15,000 claimers on Saturday night, doing so in a career-best 1:50:4; and Deerfield Beach (Corey Callahan, Dylan Davis), whose victory on Sunday night in a condition pace on a sloppy track in 1:51:4 gave the three-year-old gelding wins in four of his last five races. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: TIRADE HANOVER This seven-year-old gelding trained by Rene Allard has put together an accomplished career, with earnings pushing near $800,000. But he had been in a little bit of a slump until managing a big effort from the #9 post to win a condition trot on June 5 in 1:54:4. That proved to be the impetus for a step up in class, as Saturday night Tirade Hanover jumped up a couple notches on the condition ladder to face off against a $14,000 group. Although he won his previous start on the front end, Tirade Hanover raced toward the back of the back early on this time around. It proved to be a good choice by driver Simon Allard, because a raging speed duel between Madhatter Bluechip and Armor Hanover created unsustainable fractions. Allard chose a three-wide path on the back stretch for his charge, and the horse picked off the foes in front of him until he took the lead rounding the final turn. In the stretch, Tirade Hanover had to deal with a late move from 3-5 favorite Wilberforce, but he proved ready for the challenge, holding him off by a length for the win. His winning time of 1:53:1 was a personal best for the 2017 season to date, and he also provided nice value for his backers at 5-1. With a two-race winning streak that was achieved with two extremely different strategies, Tirade Hanover has proven to be as versatile as he is quick. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Top Dollar (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who ripped off his second straight condition win on Saturday night, achieving a new career-best time of 1:53:1 in the process; Treviso (Charlie Norris driver and trainer), who stayed a perfect four-for-four in 2017 with a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes win against other three-year-old fillies on Sunday night in 1:54:2; and Overdraft Volo (Andy Miller, Julie Miller), a filly who followed up a Sire Stakes win at Chester with another at Pocono Sunday night, getting it done in a career-best 1:54:3. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ABOUT THE BENJAMINS With Marcus Miller in the bike, this condition pacer sprung a surprise on Sunday night with a rallying win at 16-1, paying off $34.20 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MARCUS MILLER Miller not only scored wins on every racing night this past week and had multiple victories on three of those nights for his best stretch of the meet thus far. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: DOUG HAMILTON Monday was a good night at the Stallion Series for three-year-old trotting fillies for the Hamilton barn, as Itsgoodtobequeen won at 13-1 and Out Of Luck picked up a victory at 10-1. 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

WILKES-BARRE PA - The following is a listing of the harness racing contestants in Saturday's elimination races for The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono's $2M Sun Stakes Saturday, to take place on July 1. The listing contains this Saturday's three elimination races for each of the four rich Championships of July 1, as noted in each heading; the top three finishers in each elim will progress on to their Championship. Listed are the post position, horse, driver (underlined if changed at today's scratch time), and trainer, with the morning line odds added on.   EARL BEAL TROT: $500,000 Championship; $25,000 eliminations in races 2, 9, and 14   BEAL RACE 2 ELIMINATION (PP, horse, listed driver, trainer): 1, Common Parlance, Jim Marohn Jr., Joseph Skowyra, 6-1; 2, Snowstorm Hanover, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 12-1; 3, Rubio, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 3-1; 4, Giveitgasandgo, Corey Callahan, John Butenschoen, 5-2; 5, Lucky Matter, David Miller, Christopher Beaver, 15-1; 6, Long Tom, Tim Tetrick, Marcus Melander, 4-1; 7, Sortie, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley, 9-2; 8, President Lindy, Andy Miller, Julie Miller, 10-1.   BEAL RACE 9 ELIMINATION: 1, Southwind Woody, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 10-1; 2, Dover Dan, Corey Callahan, John Butenschoen, 3-1; 3, Don Dream, Brian Sears, Chris Oakes, 4-1; 4, Andy M, David Miller, Christopher Beaver, 6-1; 5, Meteoric, Joe Bongiorno, Richard Johnson, 9-2; 6, Devious Man, Andy Miller, Julie Miller, 5-2; 7, Perfect Spirit, Yannick Gingras, Ã…ke Svanstedt, 15-1; 8, King On The Hill, Jim Marohn Jr., Jimmy Takter, 12-1.   BEAL RACE 14 ELIMINATION: 1, What The Hill, David Miller, Ron Burke, 3-1; 2. Ei Ei O, Matt Kakaley, Richard Hans, 12-1; 3, Backstage Pass, Tim Tetrick, Mike Simons, 10-1; 4, Bill's Man, Corey Callahan, John Butenschoen, 7-2; 5, Muscles Jared, Brian Sears, George Ducharme, 5-1; 6, Ariana G (*filly), Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 2-1; 7, Moonshiner Hanover, Scott Zeron, Christopher Beaver, 6-1.     BEN FRANKLIN PACE: $500,000 Championship; $35,000 eliminations in races 5, 7, and 11   FRANKLIN RACE 5 ELIMINATION: 1. Dealt A Winner, David Miller, Mark Silva, 9-2; 2. Check Six, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 7-2; 3. Boston Red Rocks, Tim Tetrick, Steve Elliott, 5-2; 4. Split The House, George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes, 3-1; 5. Soto, Matt Kakaley, Eric Ell, 8-1; 6. Dude's The Man, Corey Callahan, Jessica Okusko, 12-1; 7. Shamballa, Scott Zeron, Rick Zeron, 6-1.   FRANKLIN RACE 7 ELIMINATION: 1. McWicked, David Miller, Casie Coleman, 5-2; 2. Freaky Feet Pete, Trace Tetrick, Marty Rheinheimer, 7-2; 3. All Bets Off, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 3-1; 4. Mach It So, Tim Tetrick, Jeff Bamond Jr., 8-1; 5. Keystone Velocity, Simon Allard, Rene Allard, 6-1; 6. Lyons Snyder, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 12-1; 7. Rockeyed Optimist, Andy Miller, Steve Elliott, 9-2.   FRANKLIN RACE 11 ELIMINATION: 1. Mel Mara, Corey Callahan, Dylan Davis, 2-1; 2. Wakizashi Hanover, Tim Tetrick, Jo Ann Looney-King, 10-1; 3. Anwar Hanover, Jim Marohn Jr., Frank Kamine, 12-1; 4. Rockin Ron, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 7-2; 5. Rock N' Roll World, Brian Sears, Jeff Cullipher, 5-1; 6. Sunfire Blue Chip, David Miller, Jimmy Takter, 6-1; 7. Luck Be Withyou, George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes, 3-1.     MAX C. HEMPT PACE: $500,000 Championship; $25,000 eliminations in races 3, 10, and 12   HEMPT RACE 3 ELIMINATION: 1. Blood Line, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 3-1; 2. Santafe's Coach, Anthony Napolitano, Leo Iordan, 12-1; 3. Boogie Shuffle, Scott Zeron, Mark Harder, 5-1; 4. Every Way Out, Tim Tetrick, Dylan Davis, 2-1; 5. Air Strike, Corey Callahan, Joe Holloway, 10-1; 6. Ozone Blue Chip, Brett Miller, Ron Coyne Jr., 6-1; 7. Western Joe, Matt Kakaley, Chris Choate. 7-2.   HEMPT RACE 10 ELIMINATION: 1. Summer Side, Tim Tetrick, Ray Schnittker, 7-2; 2. Fear The Dragon, David Miller, Brian Brown, 8-5; 3. Ponderingjacksfame, George Napolitano Jr., Les Givens, 10-1; 4. Miso Fast, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 5-1; 5. Pointomygranson, Brett Miller, Chris Ryder, 6-1; 6. Funknwaffles, Brian Sears, John Butenschoen, 4-1.   HEMPT RACE 12 ELIMINATION: 1. Eddard Hanover, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 9-2; 2. Heaven's Gait, David Miller, Nicholas Devita, 3-1; 3. Donttellmeagain, Tim Tetrick, Jo Ann Looney-King, 7-2; 4. Photobombr Hanover, Brett Miller, Tom Fanning, 8-1; 5. Downbytheseaside, Brian Sears, Brian Brown, 5-2; 6. Highalator, George Napolitano Jr., Jenny Bier, 6-1; 7. Talent Soup, Scott Zeron, Bruce Saunders, 12-1.     JAMES LYNCH PACE: $300,000 Championship; $20,000 eliminations in races 1, 4, and 13   LYNCH RACE 1 ELIMINATION: 1. Tequila Monday, Brian Sears, Chris Oakes, 2-1; 2. Idyllic Beach, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 3-1; 3. Inverse Hanover, David Miller, Nifty Norman, 7-2; 4. Kate Is Well Said, Tim Tetrick, Jim Campbell, 6-1; 5. YS Tallia, Simon Allard, Rene Allard, 10-1; 6. Pittstop Danika, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 5-1; 7. V String, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley, 12-1.   LYNCH RACE 4 ELIMINATION: 1. Brazuca, Corey Callahan, Thomas Cancelliere, 5-2; 2. Misqued, Steve Smith, John Balzer, 7-2; 3, Big City Betty, Jim Marohn Jr., Steve Salerno, 6-1; 4. Gallic Sea, Brian Sears, Jim Campbell, 5-1; 5. Roaring To Go, Brett Miller, Kevin Lare, 2-1; 6. Risky Romance, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley, 10-1.   LYNCH RACE 13 ELIMINATION: 1. Agent Q, David Miller, Aaron Lambert, 2-1; 2. Hail Damage Blues, Tim Tetrick, Tom Fanning, 6-1; 3. Bettor's Up, Doug McNair, Scott McEneny, 5-2; 4. Caviart Ally, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley, 7-2; 5. Concerto, Yannick Gingras, Kelvin Harrison, 10-1; 6. Miss Jones, Corey Callahan, Joe Holloway, 5-1.   Sun Stakes Saturday Eliminations and Finals Saturday, June 24th, the very best of the best trotters and pacers in North America will descend upon the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in Northeast PA for the Sun Stakes Saturday eliminations.  The star power for this night is dazzling! There will be three eliminations of each for the $500,000 Ben Franklin Free-For-All Pace; the $500,000 Max Hempt Memorial Pace for three-year-old colts and geldings; the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Trot for three-year-olds; and the $300,000 James Lynch Memorial Pace for three-year-old fillies.  The top three finishers from each advance to the rich championship finals on Saturday, July 1st with over $2 million in purses on this prestigious night. On Saturday, July 1st, Sun Stakes Saturday, the day begins with a special Meet and Greet with former college basketball coach Bobby Knight in the Racing Lobby from 5:00PM to 6:30PM.  This is a wristband-only event, with wristbands being distributed at 1:00pm.  Only authorized photos will be signed, and will be available at the signing.  A professional photographer will be on hand to capture photos, which will be displayed on the casino Facebook page after the event.  Also on July 1st, the first 300 fans will receive a souvenir laptop bag sponsored by the Standardbred Breeders Association of Pennsylvania and the Downs.  Coupon is required and in the live racing program, available starting at 5:30PM.  Redemption is between 9:00PM and 10:00Pm in the lower Grandstand bar.  The promotion is one per fan, while supplies last with their Racing Rewards card. Post Time for both nights is 6:30PM, with plenty of seating on the apron and patio,  as well as free parking and free admission.  Dining in Pacer’s Clubhouse is by reservation only and can be secured by calling 1-888-WIN-IN-PA. Racing for the track in Northeast PA continues on Sunday nights at 7:30PM; and Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday at 6:30PM.   PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - The very best trotters and pacers in North American harness racing will be converging on The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono the next two Saturdays, with elimination races being held this Saturday in order to qualify horses to participate in the Sun Stakes Saturday supercard on Saturday, July 1.   The $500,000 Franklin Pace for free-for-allers, the $500,000 Hempt Pace for three-year-old colts and geldings, the $500,000 Beal Trot for three-year-olds, and the $300,000 Lynch Pace for three-year-old fillies all drawn sufficient entrants that there will be three eliminations for each event this Saturday night, with the top three finishers in each elim advancing to their rich Championship event on July 1.   Here's a look at the elimination events for the four big races, starting with the one where a top filly is going to try "the boys":   EARL BEAL TROT: $500,000 Championship; $25,000 eliminations in races 2, 9, and 14   This may be the case of "saving the best for last," as super filly Ariana G will test male opposition in the Beal, contributing factors being a lack of top-money events in her division right now and the still-awaited return of top colt Walner, and she will be the next-to-last horse to post parade on Saturday, starting from post six in a field of seven in the 14th and final race.   Ariana G is a daughter of Muscle Hill trained by Jimmy Takter for owners/breeders Marvin Katz and Al Libfield. She was named divisional champion as a two-year-old off the strength of 9 wins in 11 starts, earnings of over $700,000, and a win in the Breeders Crown. This year Ariana G has been perfect in two starts, winning her last race, a New Jersey Sire Stakes final for fillies, in a career-best 1:51.1.   Two state champion colts will square off in the second race elimination, which has eight entrants. Giveitgasandgo, a Yankee Glide ridgling, won the 2016 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship and comes off a PaSS victory in his last start; he'll begin in post four for driver Corey Callahan and trainer John Butenschoen. Two starting slots to his right will be Long Tom, recent New Jersey Sire Stakes final winner, with the son of Muscle Hill backed by the team of driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Marcus Melander. Rubio (post three, Yannick Gingras for Jimmy Takter) will also get respect off a sharp PaSS win in his 2017 bow.   The state of New York weighs in in the ninth race Beal elimination, as the Credit Winner colt Devious Man comes to the mountain oval off a win Sunday in the Empire Breeders Classic final. Devious Man will be behind slot six in the eight-horse grouping for Team Orange Crush - driver Andy Miller and trainer/wife Julie.   BEAL RACE 2 ELIMINATION (PP, horse, listed driver, trainer): 1, Common Parlance, Jim Marohn Jr., Joseph Skowyra; 2, Snowstorm Hanover, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 3, Rubio, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 4, Giveitgasandgo, Corey Callahan, John Butenschoen; 5, Lucky Matter, David Miller, Christopher Beaver; 6, Long Tom, Tim Tetrick, Marcus Melander; 7, Sortie, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley; 8, President Lindy, Andy Miller, Julie Miller.   BEAL RACE 9 ELIMINATION: 1, Southwind Woody, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 2, Dover Dan, Corey Callahan, John Butenschoen; 3, Don Dream, Brian Sears, Chris Oakes; 4, Andy M, David Miller, Christopher Beaver; 5, Meteoric, Joe Bongiorno, Richard Johnson; 6, Devious Man, Andy Miller, Julie Miller; 7, Perfect Spirit, Yannick Gingras, Ã…ke Svanstedt; 8, King On The Hill, Jim Marohn Jr., Jimmy Takter.   BEAL RACE 14 ELIMINATION: 1, What The Hill, David Miller, Ron Burke; 2. Ei Ei O, Corey Callahan, Richard Hans; 3, Backstage Pass, Mike Simons, Mike Simons; 4, Bill's Man, Corey Callahan also listed, John Butenschoen; 5, Muscles Jared, Brian Sears, George Ducharme; 6, Ariana G (*filly), Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 7, Moonshiner Hanover, Scott Zeron, Christopher Beaver.   BEN FRANKLIN PACE: $500,000 Championship; $35,000 eliminations in races 5, 7, and 11   The two horses likely to attract much attention in the 11th race elimination will be starting at opposite ends of the gate in the seven-horse field. Getting the innermost draw is Mel Mara, a son of Lis Mara scheduled to be handled by Corey Callahan for trainer Dylan Davis and owners Robert Cooper Stables LLC and J&T Silva Stables LLC. Mel Mara has a mark of 1:47, was fourth in the Franklin Final last year, and comes off of a 1:48 victory at The Meadowlands in which he paced his last quarter in 26.   The Western Ideal stallion Luck Be Withyou had no luck at the pill shake with the outside draw, but the outer fringes of the starting gate are nothing new to him: he won his 2015 Franklin elim from post eight and then the 2015 Championship from post nine! Also a winner of the 2016 Franklin Consolation and his Breeders Crown event here as a two-year-old, Luck Be Withyou is truly a "horse for the course," with 15 wins in only 22 starts at Pocono, and over $700G of his $1.3M lifetime bankroll earned locally. George Napolitano Jr. will have sulky duties for trainer Chris Oakes.   The charismatic Freaky Feet Pete, second to Always B Miki in the Franklin Championship last year, will be making his seasonal debut in the seven-horse seventh race elimination, starting from post two for driver Trace Tetrick and trainer Marty Rheinheimer. His prime opposition could come from McWicked, the 2014 Hempt champion, and the razor-sharp Rockeyed Optimist, second to Mel Mara last week.   The fifth race looks the most wide-open of the three Franklin eliminations; if anyone has an advantage, it may be the "home cookin'" of Napolitano and Oakes behind Split The House, who starts in the middle of the field of seven, and who won his last race here at Pocono in 1:48.2 - 27.2.   FRANKLIN RACE 5 ELIMINATION: 1. Dealt A Winner, David Miller, Mark Silva; 2. Check Six, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 3. Boston Red Rocks, Tim Tetrick, Steve Elliott; 4. Split The House, George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes; 5. Soto, Art Stafford Jr., Eric Ell; 6. Dude's The Man, driver TBA, Jessica Okusko; 7. Shamballa, Scott Zeron, Rick Zeron.   FRANKLIN RACE 7 ELIMINATION: 1. McWicked, David Miller, Casie Coleman; 2. Freaky Feet Pete, Trace Tetrick, Marty Rheinheimer; 3. All Bets Off, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 4. Mach It So, Tim Tetrick, Jeff Bamond Jr.; 5. Keystone Velocity, Simon Allard, Rene Allard; 6. Lyons Snyder, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 7. Rockeyed Optimist, Andy Miller, Steve Elliott.   FRANKLIN RACE 11 ELIMINATION: 1. Mel Mara, Corey Callahan, Dylan Davis; 2. Wakizashi Hanover, Tim Tetrick, Jo Ann Looney-King; 3. Anwar Hanover, Jim Marohn Jr., Frank Kamine; 4. Rockin Ron, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 5. Rock N' Roll World, Brian Sears, Jeff Cullipher; 6. Sunfire Blue Chip, Mark MacDonald, Jimmy Takter; 7. Luck Be Withyou, George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes.   MAX C. HEMPT PACE: $500,000 Championship; $25,000 eliminations in races 3, 10, and 12   "Fear The Dragon" is not just the name of a three-year-old colt - it's the watchword of everybody campaigning a high-class sophomore pacer right now. The son of Dragon Again, trained by Brian Brown for the Emerald Highlands Farm, won the "big showdown" this past Saturday in the $730,000 (U.S.) North America Cup, closing strongly to notch a 1:48.4 victory for driver David Miller, and establishing himself as the leader in the sport's glamour division. In going five-for-five this year, the Dragon has shown he can overcome obstacles in his road: tough posts (he does have PP2 in a field of six here), first-over trips, and even an errant head number thrown to the track that caused him to skip in the stretch of his N.A. Cup elim, but he quickly righted and even won that contest.   Fear The Dragon's stablemate in the Brian Brown Stable, Downbytheseaside, suffered his first seasonal defeat in finishing third in the North America Cup, but in his defense he was pushed to brutal middle fractions of 52.1 and 1:19.3, the latter the fastest clocking at the ¾ on the continent in 2017. The Somebeachsomewhere colt will look to regain his winning ways as he starts from post five in the seven-horse twelfth race elimination, with Brian Sears driving.   Trainer Dylan Davis, who has Mel Mara in the Franklin elims, saw his Every Way Out sweep two eliminations and then the final of the New Jersey Sire Stakes series at The Meadowlands, and he will turn the lines over to Tim Tetrick in hopes of remaining undefeated in 2017 as they begin from post four in the seven-horse elim.   HEMPT RACE 3 ELIMINATION: 1. Blood Line, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 2. Santafe's Coach, Anthony Napolitano, Leo Iordan; 3. Boogie Shuffle, Scott Zeron, Mark Harder; 4. Every Way Out, Tim Tetrick, Dylan Davis; 5. Air Strike, Corey Callahan, Joe Holloway; 6. Ozone Blue Chip, Brett Miller, Ron Coyne Jr.; 7. Western Joe, Matt Kakaley, Chris Choate.   HEMPT RACE 10 ELIMINATION: 1. Summer Side, Tim Tetrick, Ray Schnittker; 2. Fear The Dragon, David Miller, Brian Brown; 3. Ponderingjacksfame, Brett Miller, Les Givens; 4. Miso Fast, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 5. Pointomygranson, Brett Miller also listed, Chris Ryder; 6. Funknwaffles, Brian Sears, John Butenschoen.   HEMPT RACE 12 ELIMINATION: 1. Eddard Hanover, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 2. Heaven's Gait, David Miller, Nicholas Devita; 3. Donttellmeagain, Tim Tetrick, Jo Ann Looney-King; 4. Photobombr Hanover, Brett Miller, Tom Fanning; 5. Downbytheseaside, Brian Sears, Brian Brown; 6. Highalator, George Napolitano Jr., Jenny Bier; 7. Talent Soup, Scott Zeron, Bruce Saunders.   JAMES LYNCH PACE: $300,000 Championship; $20,000 eliminations in races 1, 4, and 13   Bettor's Up defeated Agent Q by a nose in last Saturday's Fan Hanover final at Mohawk, and the two figure to be slugging it out again as they are matched up in the six-horse race 13 Lynch elimination. Bettor's Up, who starts from post three for driver Doug McNair and trainer Scott McEneny, has been victorious in half of her 16 career starts, while Agent Q, the 2016 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion who will begin from the rail for driver David Miller and trainer Aaron Lambert, has been first or second in all but one of her 15 career trips behind the gate.   In the first race elimination, a seven-horse field, Tequila Monday and Idyllic Beach look to rebound: they were the favorite and second choice in the Fan Hanover, respectively, but respectively finished third and fourth. They have the advantage of inside starting positions on Saturday: Tequila Monday starts off from the rail for driver Brian Sears and trainer Chris Oakes, while Idyllic Beach, the 2016 North American champion for this division, begins just to her right for driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Jimmy Takter.   Misqued eked out a nose victory in her New Jersey Sire Stakes final on June 2, and perhaps that race will be a better sign for her as she begins from post two in a grouping of six for driver Steve Smith and trainer John Balzer. This Lynch elim appears to be the most wide-open of the event's trio of races.   LYNCH RACE 1 ELIMINATION: 1. Tequila Monday, Brian Sears, Chris Oakes; 2. Idyllic Beach, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 3. Inverse Hanover, David Miller, Nifty Norman; 4. Kate Is Well Said, Tim Tetrick, Jim Campbell; 5. YS Tallia, Simon Allard, Rene Allard; 6. Pittstop Danika, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 7. V String, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley.   LYNCH RACE 4 ELIMINATION: 1. Brazuca, Corey Callahan, Thomas Cancelliere; 2. Misqued, Steve Smith, John Balzer; 3, Big City Betty, Jim Marohn Jr., Steve Salerno; 4. Gallic Sea, Brian Sears, Jim Campbell; 5. Roaring To Go, Brett Miller, Kevin Lare; 6. Risky Romance, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley.   LYNCH RACE 13 ELIMINATION: 1. Agent Q, David Miller, Aaron Lambert; 2. Hail Damage Blues, Mike Simons, Tom Fanning; 3. Bettor's Up, Doug McNair, Scott McEneny; 4. Caviart Ally, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley; 5. Concerto, Andrew McCarthy also listed, Kelvin Harrison; 6. Miss Jones, Corey Callahan, Joe Holloway.   THE UNDERCARD: A $25,000 winners-over pace in race 8, with a field of eight with combined earnings of $3.8M and an average lifetime mark of 1:49, and a $22,500 "nw22500L5" pace where the field of nine has amassed over $2.4M in earnings and an average speed badge of 1:50. (Six horses in each race took their marks at Pocono.)   First post for this first-rate Sun Stakes Saturday elimination night card, with action literally from beginning to end, is listed for 6:30 p.m.   PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA -- The Standardbred trotters and pacers will begin their 52nd season of pari-mutuel harness racing in northeast Pennsylvania this Tuesday evening, March 21, as The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono will present the first of 135 cards of the sulky sport scheduled for 2017, with Tuesday's first race marked for 6:30 p.m.   The racing was set to begin on Saturday night the 18th, but two feet of snow at the mountain oval this past Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by high winds that caused considerable drifting in places, put paid to that idea, as for the safety of the horses and horsemen it was imperative to do a thorough job of track preparation, and thus the opener was pushed back until Tuesday.   The highlight of the 2017 Pocono season will come on Saturday, July 1, with the $2 million+ Sun Stakes Saturday card, which annually draws the sport's best horses over several of the major categories. It was recently announced that Wiggle It Jiggleit, 2015 Harness Horse of the Year at age three and the fierce seasonlong rival of 2016 Harness Horse of the Year Always B Miki, will make his debut for the year in the Franklin Pace elimination races, to be held on Saturday, June 24.   And speaking of Wiggle It Jiggleit - the very first race of the 2017 racing season at Pocono, a $14,000 pace for "non-winners of three races or $30,000 lifetime," is likely to have as its chalk, starting from post three, a stablemate to "Wiggle," from the Bergstein/Proximity Award-winning Team Teague of owner George, driver Montrell, and trainer Clyde Francis. This three-year-old Delmarvalous gelding - who is 3 for 4 in his brief career - is named Nine Ways (nine is of course three times three), and his fastest win is in 1:53. (That's a lot of coincidental numerology.)   The fifth race companion "nw 3" trotting event to the opener finds the sophomore filly Gin's Tonic drawing the rail as she makes her first start of the year for local trainer Neal Ehrhart. The daughter of Muscle Massive had only one victory at two, but she picked a fine spot to notch it - in a division of the Keystone Classic at The Meadows, where she earned a mark of 1:56.3.   Older campaigners will be spotlighted in a pair of $12,500 events. The ninth race trot finds veterans ABC Muscles Boy and My Love Bi, who both took their 2016 marks of 1:53.3 at Pocono, coming into this race off promising early-season form, while the tenth race mares pace sports no fewer than six distaffs who have won since February 1, all of them in 1:54.1 or better in all kinds of wintry conditions.   Pocono's all-time driving champion George Napolitano Jr. will be on the scene from opening night, coming up from Florida, where he already has shown himself in "midseason form" with a 27% win rate; his brother Anthony, second in the standings last year, will also have a full driving schedule from the word "go."   The basic racing schedule at Pocono follows a Saturday through Tuesday basis, with first post at 6:30 except on Sundays, when the action starts an hour later. After Tuesday the 21st, Pocono is scheduled to race on Saturday-Sunday-Tuesday of the "following racing week" (March 25-28), with Mondays joining the mix on April 10.   A press conference/luncheon will be held at the track at 12 noon on Monday, with Pocono officials and horsemen on hand to take part in a preview of what should be a quality season of racing at The Downs. Pocono's person of contact for media is Jennifer Starr, 570.831.2195.   From the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association

With his world record tying performance and after defeating Wiggle It Jiggleit and Freaky Feet Pete, Always B Miki has moved into the #1 position in the Hambeltonian Society/Breeders Crown Top Ten Poll. With 30 of the 35 first place votes, Always B Miki's 1:47 scorcher at Pocono Downs Sunday night in the $500,000 Ben Franklin Final. Wiggle It Jiggleit, who was third in the big race, has been leading the Top Ten Poll since it started, is now in second place with five first place votes. Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 7 – 7/5/2016 Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Always B Miki (30) 5ph 7-5-2-0 $341,500 345 2 2 Wiggle It Jiggleit (5) 4pg 12-8-3-1 $502,265 316 1 3 Betting Line 3pc 6-5-1-0 $492,030 212 3 4 Pure Country 3pf 7-4-1-2 $506,762 197 5 5 Freaky Feet Pete 4ph 7-5-1-1 $233,326 195 4 6 Southwind Frank 3tc 4-3-1-0 $318,750 184 6 7 Hannelore Hanover 4tm 9-8-1-0 $224,505 104 8 8 Resolve 5th 5-1-2-0 $258,273 84 7 9 Racing Hill 3pc 6-2-3-1 $450,340 78 -- 10 Obrigado 6tg 7-4-1-2 $362,050 50 -- Also: Bit Of A Legend N (43); Bee A Magician (28); Maestro Blue Chip (27); Rockeyed Optimist (20); Mel Mara (9); Check Six, Control The Moment (6); Rockin Ron (4); All Bets Off, Lady Shadow, Magnum J, Missile J (3); Luck Be Withyou (2); Caprice Hill, Sports Column, Yagonnakissmeornot (1).

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