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WILKES-BARRE PA - The northbound lanes of the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike will be a very busy place just before suppertime this Sunday, as horsemen competing in the big card at Philly in the afternoon will then be making their way 100 miles to The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, for third preliminary round harness racing action in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and Stallion Series for three-year-old trotting fillies. In the fifth race first division, like the other pair worth $55,168, Sonnet Grace has been accorded early favoritism as she starts from post five for trainer Ron Burke and driver Matt Kakaley. The Muscle Massive filly, whose granddam is the great CR Kay Suzie, was victorious in a Sire Stake in her first start of the year, then miscued in a PaSS contest at The Meadows last week. Sonnet Grace will look to bounce back Sunday, with among her opposition Hallintheclouds, who also had a first round Sire Stakes triumph. The tenth race second division will feature the second start of 2019, after a thumping 1:52 victory at The Meadowlands, of the Explosive Matter filly The Ice Dutchess, who was generally regarded as second-best filly in her class last year behind the talented Woodside Charm. A five-time winner with earnings of $424,540 last year, The Ice Dutchess will have to begin from the outside post seven for driver Scott Zeron and trainer Nancy Johansson; three horses who are already Sire Stakes winners this year - Asiago, Jazzy Fashion, and Antonia - may provide formidable opposition. The eleventh race third division features the only double Sire Stakes winner in this group to date, the Possess The Will filly Millies Possesion, who is also undefeated in three career starts for driver Dexter Dunn and trainer Jim Campbell. Like The Ice Dutchess, the unbeaten miss must overcome the outermost starting slot in the seven-horse field; equine difficulty may come from Firedbylindie, a PaSS winner at The Meadows, and Beautiful Sun, a $480,000 yearling , who had three wins and two seconds at two and who makes her seasonal bow tonight. In the Stallion Series competition, the two double winners in the group so far are the morning line favorites in the first and last of four StS sections, which are each going for $20,000. Keystone Abbey will start from post six in the fourth race section for driver George Napolitano Jr. and trainer Chris Beaver; Spring In Paris, 6-fot-7 this year, will be in starting slot number two in the twelfth race for driver Corey Callahan and trainer Steve LeBlanc.   ATTRIBUTION - PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA – Millionaire trotting mare Plunge Blue Chip was impressive in her first official trip behind the gate in her four-year-old season, going wire-to-wire in 1:54.2 in a harness racing qualifier Wednesday morning at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The daughter of Muscle Mass was guided as usual by trainer Åke Svanstedt, and she set fractions of :29.2, :58.4, and 1:27 en route to a 5½ length victory, with a back half of :55.3, and a final quarter of :27.2. Åke Svanstedt Inc. co-owns the talented trotter with Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc. and Tomas Andersson. Last year Plunge Blue Chip turned in three world record performances. Over a mile track she twice trotted in 1:49.4, at The Meadowlands and at The Red Mile, to tie with fellow then-sophomore Impinktoo as the fastest distaff trotter in North America in 2018. At Delaware she tied the divisional world record of Frau Blucher with a 1:53.1 victory. She also won her New York Sire Stakes championship, and her career figures are now 26-17-3-4 for earnings of $1,003,559.   PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA - The A Rocknroll Dance mare Reclamation - foaled in Pennsylvania out of a Swedish-owned mare, sold at Lexington, then starting her career in Ireland and Wales before racing at Harrah's Philly and The Meadowlands - added another location to her already-stuffed harness racing itinerary, coming to The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono for the Tuesday twilight card and promptly winning the $17,500 distaff pacing feature in 1:50.4. Despite 25 days between races, driver Matt Kakaley had no problem moving Reclamation frontward after a :26.4 opener, reaching the half in :54 and the three-quarters in 1:22.3, then finishing strongly to remain 1¼ lengths clear of another well-traveled mare, the New Zealand import American Express N. Reclamation has a 5-4-1-0 record this year and an enviable 19-11-6-1 lifetime tab, with her earnings of $72,405 sure to be rising nicely in short order for trainer Ron Burke and owners W J Donovan of Delray Beach FL and Donal Murphy of Baltimore ... Ireland. In a $15,000 trot, the Explosive Matter gelding Explosivebreakaway showed some of the talent of his full sister Phaetosive while easily winning in a lifetime best 1:54.2. Driver Tom Jackson moved the winner uncovered off the second turn and utilized the backstretch to go up to the leader and then go by, drawing off with a :28.2 last quarter to be seven lengths clear on the money. Fred Grant conditions the impressive sophomore, who has four wins and three seconds in seven lifetime starts, and he also co-owns him with Janice Rubin, Steve Katz, and Murray Brown. The Credit Winner gelding Such An Angel, who doesn't always put it all together but when he does can be quite devastating, came within a fifth of a second of the fastest local trotting mile of the year with a 1:52.1 victory, 8½ lengths to the good. That time also was within a fifth of the lifetime best of Such An Angel, who's now taken two of his last three and has earned $295,308 for trainer Hunter Oakes and owner Sam Caruso Jr. The only starter to be entered for an optional claiming price in the last race on the last day of the Pocono racing week, Rosy Outlook was haltered for $18,000, bringing the four-day raceweek's total of claiming investment to $419,250, a record for a week here this season; the total of 20 claims tied the weekly mark, now set in each of the last three weeks. For the year, 175 claims have resulted in $3,153,750 changing hands in the pursuit of winning racing stock.   PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

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

WILKES-BARRE PA - Captain Crunch, last year's two-year-old champion, had people asking "What's he going to do when he gets tighter?" after taking his 2019 debut by an effortless 1¾ lengths in a harness racing division of the second preliminary of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for three-year-old pacing colts Sunday at Mohegan Sun Pocono, negotiating a sloppy track in an amazing 1:49.1, last quarter :26. 2018 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion Proof left hard from an outer post to clear to the lead just after the :27 quarter, with Scott Zeron already having given the word to Captain Crunch and the Captaintreacherous colt powering right to the lead before reaching the half in :55.2. Southwind Ozzi, a first-round PaSS winner, made a bold move from fifth to challenge the leader towards the 1:23.1 three-quarters, but then, without a race in 145 days, over off going, Captain Crunch charged home with the powerhouse :26 blitz, with Zeron mostly an interested passenger. Southwind Ozzi, the second choice, held extremely well in second, a length in front of third choice Proof, who also stayed on nicely after the early usage. Though some people have been known to complain about soggy cereal, Captain Crunch has no apparent aversion to moisture, having won the Breeders Crown (here) and the Governor's Cup on sloppy ovals, and now posting this off-track victory, which equaled his lifetime mark and is the fastest mile of the young season by a three-year-old on any size of oval. Nancy Johansson trains the divisional favorite and winner of $645,322 for 3 Brothers Stable, Christina Takter, Rojan Stables, and Caviart Farms. The major challenger to Captain Crunch may emerge to be Workin Ona Mystery, another Captaintreacherous colt who won his first five starts at two, then ended his season after having a horrible trip in his Breeders Crown elimination and not advancing. A 1:50.1 PaSS winner in his 2019 bow, Workin Ona Mystery traveled the sloppy Pocono oval in 1:49.3 to match his lifetime best. Tim Tetrick reserved his colt in fourth as Love Me Some Lou needed most of the :26.4 quarter to make the top. Workin Ona Mystery quickly moved and worked his way to command, but then got a very hard challenge from 40-1 Volley Ball Beach, who recovered from an early miscue to race as a team with the winner to a :54.2 half and got a short backstretch lead before his bid ended just past the 1:21.4 three-quarters. Despite the hard middle half, nobody could get near Workin Ona Mystery late, with Love Me Some Lou 4 3/4 lengths back at the wire. The Brian Brown trainee seems to have recovered well from his one hiccup for owners Diamond Creek Racing, Stambaugh Leeman Stable, Alan Keith, and Wingfield Brothers LLC. The third division of Sire Stakes produced the only non-favorite in the Sires and Stallion Series events, as 6-5 "longshot" Wild Wild Western, a Western Ideal colt who was unraced at two but now has posted a 10-6-4-0 scorecard at three after equaling his mark of 1:52. Driver Mike Wilder used the popular frontstretch brush tactic with the Norm Parker trainee after the :26.3 opener, put up middle fractions of :56.1 and 1:24, then had to hold off two late threats to his left, 26-1 Caviart Stetson in second and Semi Tough in third, both a neck back; even money favorite Major Deception was another half-length behind the top trio. Wild Wild Western is owned by Jacobs Creek Racing LLC, Andrew Altobelli, and John Deters. Fastest of the four Stallion Series winners was the Sweet Lou gelding Warrawee Unique, who got the evening off to a fast start by posting a lifetime best of 1:50.2 while doubling his lifetime win total and equaling his division's North American season's record. Warrawee Unique made two moves to control the pace for driver Yannick Gingras, then used identical :27.2 back quarters to win by 2¾ lengths for trainer Ron Burke and the partnership of Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Crawford Farms, and J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby. The Captaintreacherous colt Odds On Boca Raton had the biggest win margin in the Stallion Series competition, coming home first by four lengths in 1:51.1 for driver Andrew McCarthy while like the first winner lowering his mark and doubling his career win total. The Tony Alagna trainee looks to be seriously on the improve for Odds On Racing. The only one of the seven stakes winners who did not beat or lower his mark was U S Captain, but since the Captaintreacherous colt won his first start of the year in 1:50.4 and was racing in sloppy going here, the 1:51.1 final clocking, including :55 - :27.2 back fractions, was quite acceptable. Andrew McCarthy and Tony Alagna combined again with a developing colt, as U S Captain was winless last year but here showed his mettle by withstanding a tough Stienams Beach by ¾ of a length for Brittany Farms LLC, Brad Grant, Joseph Barbera, and U S Captain Racing. The first three Stallion Series winners were all six-figure yearlings with glittering maternal sides; the final StS winner, the Sweet Lou gelding Skip To My Lou, is the only one of the four to have two Stallion Series victories to his 2019 credit. Like every other stakes winner tonight, Skip To My Lou moved to the lead in quarter two, and driver Eric Goodell had things under control through the stretch, with Rockme Rollme good late but not really threatening the half-length winner, who reduced his mark as second to 1:51. Robert Cleary, he of the 40% victory rate, trains the sophomore who has four wins in his last six starts for Royal Wire Products Inc. ATTRIBUTION - PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA - Rodeo Rock posted the fastest clocking of the year at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, 1:49, in winning a $30,000 Great Northeast Open Series for open harness racing pacers on Saturday night. The altered son of Rock N Roll Heaven got away midpack in a field of seven as Tiger Thompson N, winning of the GNOS divisional leg at Philly last week, took the early lead via a :26.2 opener. With the leader applying the brakes, Rodeo Rock and driver Eric Goodell (a three-time winner on the evening) made a quick move at the 3/8 to pass the three horses in front of him, reaching the half in a "leisurely" :55.4. The price of pacing went up dramatically down the back, as suddenly-uncovered favorite Dealt A Winner tried to challenge the leader down the back, but couldn't really menace as Rodeo Rock went his third panel in :26.1 for a 1:22 tripping of the three-quarters timer, then added a :27 kicker to be an easy 1 ¾ length winner at the end while also establishing a new lifetime mark. Tiger Thompson N held on well for second, with 2019's fastest pacer, Sweet Rock (1:48.1), another half length back while bagging the show dough. Rodeo Rock is the third-leading moneywinning horse in North American this year with $264,400, the majority of which was banked in finishing second in the Levy Final on April 20. Trainer Robert Cleary, sending them out at nearly a 40% victory clip, conditions the career winner of $623,055 for Royal Wire Products Inc. In the $21,500 co-featured pace, Soho Wallstreet A and Ballerat Boomerang could not be separated by the photo finish camera at the end of a 1:51.3 mile. The If I Can Dream gelding Ballerat Boomerang put everybody in behind him early, then yielded in front of the stands to the Four Starzzz Shark gelding Soho Wallstreet A. Ballerat Boomerang and driver Matt Kakaley went to the Pocono Pike and appeared to get a nose advantage midstretch, but the favored Soho Wallstreet A and driver Pat Berry refused to give way and battled back for the tie. Soho Wallstreet A is trained by Scott Di Domenico for owner J G Racing Stable; Ballerat Boomerang is conditioned by Nick Surick for the Engel Stable of IL LLC and the J L Benson Stables Inc. Pocono established a new seasonal record for dollars spent in claiming activity, as $347,750 was laid out for 15 horses who will find new homes, including a Pocono record of $40,000 being paid for Raksmach N for the second straight week. For the meet, $3,082,250 has changes hands as 170 horses have gone home to a different barn or trailer from which they came to the paddock. Perennial Pocono driving leader George Napolitano Jr. brought home four winners on the Saturday night card.   PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS) will have $30,000 events for open-caliber harness racing horses on both gaits this weekend, with the pacers going during a post-Preakness Saturday night program at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and the trotters getting their turn the next afternoon at Harrah's Philadelphia. The three morning line choices in the GNOS pace will be starting in inverse order from the rail in their Pocono event. Sweet Rock (post three, driver Eric Carlson, 5-2) was second to first-leg GNOS winner Highalator in a 1:48.3 mile at The Meadowlands last week; Dealt A Winner (post two, driver George Napolitano Jr., 3-1) was a close fifth in that race as he rounds into top form; and Rodeo Rock (post one, driver Eric Goodell), gets a big improvement in post as he makes his second start since being second in the Levy Final on April 20. Not to be overlooked, but a bit of an outsider in more than one sense of the word, is the winner of last week's GNOS event at Philly, Tiger Thompson N. The import has won four of his last five races, including his last start when he rode a perfect pocket trip to victory in 1:50.3 over a sloppy track. Driver Pat Berry may need more than a bit of racing luck for his "Tiger," as they start from post six in the field of seven, with an early quotation of 9-2. On Sunday afternoon at Philly, the $1.4M winner Melady's Monet has been named the 2-1 morning line choice, beginning from the track's winningest post position, the five-hole, for driver Jordan Stratton. Melady's Monet won the first leg of the GNOS here in 1:52.4, then took last week off, but this 10-year-old has been known to hold his form for long stretches at a time. He'll need to be on his game, because the next two rated rivals are Top Flight Angel (post three, driver Marcus Miller, 5-2) and Homicide Hunter (post one, Yannick Gingras, 7-2). Top Flight Angel comes in from Yonkers and a second behind Philly divisional track record holder Will Take Charge, while Homicide Hunter, the World's Fastest Trotter by virtue of his 1:48.4 win at Lexington last year, couldn't have had worse luck in his 2019 debut last week, tucking in from post eight, then getting stuck inside and never getting into the flow of the race. An improved race is very likely to result from Homicide Hunter on Sunday afternoon. These two classes, plus the mares open pace, will all have a chance to race for GNOS points next Sunday, May 26, at Philly, as the track presents its three showcase $100,000 Invitationals: the Maxie Lee Open Trot, the Commodore Barry Open Pace, and the Betsy Ross Mares Open Pace. To make that day even more thrilling for race fans, there will be Sire Stakes and Stallion Series action for the best Pennsylvania three-year-old pacing colts mixed into the blockbuster card on the 26th.   Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association, in conjunction with The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and Harrah’s Philadelphia racetracks Jerry Connors  

WILKES-BARRE PA - Rockstar Angel A, coming off a wire-to-wire win at Yonkers this past Friday, came right back to win again on Tuesday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, moving to the lead in front of the stands and going on to a 1:54 triumph over a "sloppy" surface. Driver George Napolitano Jr. watched as Keystone Riptide put Betterb Chevron N behind her to the:27 quarter, then was on the move with the "Angel" to get the lead well before the :55.4 half. The winning daughter of Bettor's Delight, who kept her place in the race because of the "eligible at time of entry" rule, got a bit of a breather though going against the wind to the 1:25.1 three-quarters, then sprinted home over the off going in :28.4 (co-fastest last quarter of the night) to have a length advantage at the wire over a closing Bettor's Up, with early combatants Keystone Riptide and Betterb Chevron N another length back in third in a dead-heat. (This was the third consecutive race where there was a dead heat, the previous ones coming for second and fourth.) Rockstar Angel A notched her third victory in her last five starts after triumphing eleven times in 2018, and now has earnings of $345,122. Hunter Oakes conditions the oft-winning mare for Northfork Racing Stable. The Sportswriter mare Write Me A Song was a dominant winner for the second straight time at Pocono, taking the $17,500 co-featured distaff pace in 1:54.2 in the start following her posting the fastest clocking of the year here for mares, 1:50.1. Tyler Buter, a four-time winner on the night, employed similar strategy here as did "George Nap" in winning the feature with Rockstar Angel A: let the other duelers settle, brush to the lead in front of the grandstand, and then maintain control to the wire. Write Me A Song won by 3¼ lengths while running her career record to 13 victories in only 28 starts and $252,527; Lance Hudson conditions the sharp mare for owner William Hartt. The next card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono will be on Saturday night, with the 2019 debut of Captain Crunch, last year's divisional champion, in one of three divisions of a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for three-year-old pacing colts. First race on Saturday at Pocono will be at approximately 7:30 p.m., as soon as the festivities are finished at The Preakness.   PHHA / Pocono

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

WILKES-BARRE PA - 2018 Two-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year Captain Crunch makes his 2019 harness racing debut in the middle of three divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes second preliminary for the glamour division, to be held at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Sunday night in races nine through eleven - and he couldn't have found a more challenging spot in which to open his season. Captain Crunch, a Captaintreacherous colt trained by Nancy Johansson for the 3 Brothers Stables, Christina Takter, the Rojan Stables, and Caviart Farms, won six of ten starts, including the Breeders Crown here at Pocono and the Governor's Cup, en route to divisional honors while winning the most money among baby colts, $616,113, and coming within a fifth of his division's world record by winning in 1:49.1 at Lexington. Prepping for 2019, Captain Crunch has qualifying wins in 1:50.1 and 1:51.2 (the latter on a "good +1" track). The draw was kind to Captain Crunch in one respect, as Scott Zeron will be guiding him from post three in the field of nine (all three divisions have nine starters). But the draw also gave Captain Crunch a real challenge, in that many of the section's top colts, at both two and three, will be lining up against him Sunday. One example would be Proof (post eight, trainer Brian Brown, driver David Miller), second behind Captain Crunch in last year's Breeders Crown, the 2018 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion, and a good second at The Meadows in the Sire Stakes' opening leg in his first start of the year; also in this cut is the horse who conquered Proof in that event in 1:50.4, Southwind Ozzi (post one, trainer Bill MacKenzie, one of four "calls" for driver Tim Tetrick). There's Lyons Night Hawk (post five, trainer Gareth Dowse, Tetrick also listed), who was just edged in 1:50.1 in a PA All-Stars event in his seasonal bow, and Prince Of Tides (post two, trainer Ross Croghan, driver Eric Carlson), 1:49.4 winner of the Wiggle It Jiggleit final at The Meadowlands. But not all of the good horses will be facing Captain Crunch. In the eleventh race third division, two Sire Stakes winners at The Meadows will attract a good deal of attention: Workin On A Mystery (post two, trainer Brian Brown, driver Tim Tetrick), who won the fastest Sires section in 1:50.1, and Love Me Some Lou, undefeated in two starts this year and a 1:50.4 Sires winner, who will have to negotiate the difficult post eight for trainer Tom Cancelliere and driver David Miller. While the ninth race first division may not have horses who have some of the paper credentials of the other two divisions, it has some nice developing horses of its own, including Major Deception (post one, trainer Tony Alagna, driver Tim Tetrick), the easiest kind of winner at Philly over sloppy going in his 2019 return; Wild Wild Western (post two, trainer Norm Parker, driver Mike Wilder), who was second to Workin On A Mystery in the fastest PaSS division at The Meadows; and 2018 PA Fairs champion Aflame Hanover (post eight, trainer Linda Schadel, driver Tony Schadel), who has shown that he can be competitive with the most select of the state's three-year-olds. There will also be four Pennsylvania Stallion Series divisions at Pocono Sunday, including first round StS winners Captain Koine, Skip To My Lou, and Under Paid, plus Captain Panko, the 2018 Stallion Series champion who will be making his 2019 debut. First post for Sunday's 14 race card is set for 7 p.m.   PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA – Tequila Monday was an in-charge repeat winner in the Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS) for mare pacers Sunday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, home in 1:52.1 over a “sloppy +1” track with the mercury hovering around 40. In the companion GNOS contest for open trotters, also worth $30,000, Guardian Angel AS was sharp in his second harness racing outing of the year, winning easily in 1:53.1, with Homicide Hunter never a major factor in his debut for both the year and for the Burke Brigade. Kissininthesand, second after going first-over against Tequila Monday in the GNOS opener last Saturday, was scratched sick here, taking a little of the drama out of the race, but the great 2018 filly champion, even with expected improvement in her second seasonal start, would have had it tough against the razor-sharp winning daughter of American Ideal. The rest of her opposition sure did. Apple Bottom Jeans got her customary flying start even from the outside post seven, with Tequila Monday and Bettor Joy N looped and pressing onward on the first turn. Tequila Monday made the lead nearing the :27 quarter; Bettor Joy N, enjoying her cover until then, went on to get the lead at the three-eighths, backing off the half to :56.1 and the three-quarters in 1:25. However, Bettor Joy N hadn’t raced since the Blue Chip Final on April 20 after her Ohio difficulty, and in the :27.1 sprint home Tequila Monday roared up the famed Pocono Pike, going by easily for a 1¼ lengthvictory. Bettor Joy N held admirably for second, with Apple Bottom Jeans clearing late and coming on for third. Tequila Monday has now won all six of her seasonal races, with earnings of $91,750 this year and $833,462 lifetime, during which she has won 23 of 50 starts. Tyler Buter, who is winning quite more than his share of feature races at Pocono in recent days, had the sulky assignment for trainer Hunter Oakes and the ownership of Northfolk Racing Stable and Chuck Pompey. In the GNOS trotting event, Guardian Angel AS, fourth from the trailing post eleven in his seasonal bow at The Meadowlands after coming from ninth at the ¾, obviously benefited from the outing (the bettors made him the favorite). He let JL Cruze speed away to take the early lead then moved outside to the :27.3 quarter and took command, hanging up middle fractions of :56.4 and 1:25.1, with La Grange A gaining first-over. Guardian Angel AS                                    --Curtis Salonick photo The victorious son of Archangel, though, had plenty left in the tank, sprinting home in :28 to be 3¾ lengths clear for driver Tim Tetrick, with La Grange A and Weslynn Dancer next in line. Homicide Hunter, unraced since winning the Breeders Crown here last October 27, had a wave of trotters leave inside of him from the outside post eight, settled in fourth, and then stayed in rather than go out for a second move after the long layoff. He was shuffled behind a tired horse in the last quarter, finishing sixth. Guardian Angel AS, meanwhile raised his lifetime bankroll to $544,780 with his 17th win in 42 lifetime trips to the gate. A winner in a Breeders Crown elim here last year (he was fourth in the final), the winner is trained by Anette Lorentzon for ACL Stuteri AB and Kjell Johansson. Buter and Tetrick, GNOS winners, were the overall leading drivers of the night: Buter with four wins, Tetrick with three complementing his quartet at Philly earlier in the day, while Buter also grabbed three wins at Tioga Downs. PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Pennsylvania All-Stars harness racing series began its annual run at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Saturday night, with three $30,000 divisions of sophomore pacing males in the spotlight. The first All-Stars division was taken by the heralded and well-bred Sweet Lou colt Blood Money, but only by a nose in 1:50. It was an interesting strategic "chess match" between Scott Zeron, guiding Blood Money, and George Napolitano Jr. behind Escapetothebeach: Zeron gradually guided Blood Money to the lead past a :26.4 opener, only for Napolitano to brush in front of the stands with his first-time 2019 starter to have the lead before the :55 half. Zeron didn't want to be caught in with his 1-5 shot, so he regained command before the 1:22.3 three-quarters, only to have Escapetothebeach hang right behind him, take the Pocono Pike, and only get beaten by the slightest of margins. Brassy Hanover, ducking inside fading cover on the far turn, rallied up the far inside and missed by only ¾ of a length in third. Blood Money had won his seasonal debut at The Meadowlands in 1:50; this mile was the fastest of the year by a sophomore on a 5/8-mile track, and tied Blood Money with himself as the fastest "glamour division" colt on any size track. Nancy Johansson trains the winner of $372,244 for Diamond Creek Racing. Branquinho, winless at two but a full brother to Huntsville, looks like he may flourish in his sophomore campaign - he's now undefeated in three 2019 starts, following up on a Stallion Series win last week with an All-Stars victory in 1:50.1, his fastest ever. The Somebeachsomewhere colt bypassed an enormous hole mid-first turn and went on to the lead near the :27.2 quarter; favored Lyons Night Hawk also chose to press forward and grabbed the top halfway to the next station, which was reached in :54.4. The chalk had repelled outside competition by the 1:22.4 three-quarters; Branquinho (the 9-5 second choice) would be his major challenger in the lane, and the winner responded sharply when tipped out from the two-hole by Tyler Buter, winning by ¾ of a length for owner/trainer Ray Schnittker (note: Buter and Schnittker share brown-and-gold colors). Somebeachsomewhere picked up a second sire credit when Air Force Hanover, parked a good way for the lead and not getting a breather up front, was still able to draw clear in the lane to take a new mark of 1:50.1. Air Force Hanover and George Napolitano Jr. (who drove five horses to Victory Lane on the card) were still outside past the :26.3 quarter, then ranged up to the lead in the frontstretch towards the :55.2 midway clocking. Aflame Hanover, the 2018 PA Fair champion, forced the winner to go an all-out :26.3 third quarter to keep the lead, and after the challenger started to fade past the 1:22 three-quarters, "George Nap" kept the winner's mind to business as he posted a 2¾ length victory over fast-closing Highlandbeachlover, who was hampered by a nonflowing outer tier. Brian Brown is the conditioner of the four-time career winner for Country Club Acres Inc., Joe Sbrocco, Richard Lombardo, and W. J. Donovan. Pocono's love affair with the claiming box produced a "new track record" on Saturday, as the Mach Three seven-year-old gelding Raksmach N was claimed for $40,000, a record for the mountain oval. A winner of three straight before a very hard-fought third from the outside post eight on Saturday, he leaves owner Mark Akins with a $2400 purse check and a $5000 profit on his haltering of the horse for $35,000 last week, minus the week's training fee; the horse now goes to the Oakes barn and the Northfolk Racing Stable. In all for the night, 12 claims totaled up to $304,500, running the seasonal totals to 147 claims, with $2,642,500 changing hands. Tomorrow night marks the 2019 debut of The World's Fastest Trotter, the locally-based Homicide Hunter, in a $30,000 open trot event in the Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS); Tequila Monday and Kissininthesand seem likely to renew their first-round GNOS rivalry in the $30,000 mares open pace.   ATTRIBUTION - PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

CHESTER PA - This Sunday promises some spectacular racing at the two tracks served by the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association (PHHA), with the Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS) staging a trio of $30,000 events, for open pacers at Harrah's Philly in the afternoon and for mare open pacers and open trotters at Mohegan Sun Pocono at night. In the open hanress racing pacing event at Philly, Rodeo Rock has been installed as a tight 7-2 favorite in a well-matched field of nine which will be the fifth race. The Robert Cleary pupil, to be driven by Andrew McCarthy, is one of only four North American horses to have earned over $200,000 already this year, the bulk of his bankroll coming when finishing second in the $664,000 Levy Final at Yonkers. Starting just to his outside will be Donttellmeagain for trainer Jim King Jr. and driver Tim Tetrick. A state favorite since winning the PA Stallion Series Championship in 2017, Donttellmeagain holds the distinction of being the last horse to win against 2018 Horse of the Year McWicked, and he comes off a 1:49 victory at The Meadowlands. The two GNOS races at Pocono will come consecutively, in slots ten and eleven. The ladies will come first, with the 1-2 finishers from last week's first GNOS group for this group, Tequila Monday and Kissininthesand, ready to bump heads again and vie for favoritism. This will be the second start of the year for Kissininthesand (post one, trainer Nancy Johansson, driver Scott Zeron), last year's three-year-old champion, and she might be just that much better with a race under her girth. But knocking off Tequila Monday (post six, trainer Chris Oakes, driver Tyler Buter) has never been an easy task throughout that mare's career, and might be even more hard to bring off this year, as Tequila Monday has started the year with five consecutive victories, and she has shown she can win on, off, or near the pace. The World's Fastest Trotter, Homicide Hunter (1:48.4 at Lexington last year), is entered in the open trotting event, and he returns to the races both for a new stable, the Burke Brigade, and off two fine qualifying wins, the latter a photo victory over 2018 sophomore champion Six Pack. One big obstacle facing Homicide Hunter and driver Yannick Gingras will be the outside starting spot in the field of eighth, but he is still the early favorite. Guardian Angel AS (post five, trainer Anette Lorentzon, driver Tim Tetrick) won a Breeders Crown elimination at Pocono last year, and in his seasonal debut last week at The Meadowlands he came from ninth at the three-quarter call to miss less than two lengths. Pappy Go Go, who has two of the four fastest North American trotting miles of the year, a pair of 1:52 wins both here and at Philly, has the advantages of post one and Pocono's top driver George Napolitano Jr. Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association, in conjunction with The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and Harrah's Philadelphia racetracks

WILKES-BARRE PA - His full sister Phaetosive was an impressive harness racing winner in a qualifier on Saturday, and now the Explosive Matter - Phaeton gelding Explosivebreakaway has shown he may be ready for an outstanding year in 2019, winning his first trip behind the gate in 1:56.1 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Wednesday morning. The three-year-old came a pair of :28.2 quarters in the back half to close from sixth and take the triumph. Last year Explosivebreakaway posted a 5-3-2-0 record, winning his last start, a Liberty Bell stake, in 1:57.4. Trainer Erv Miller teamed with driver Atlee Bender to showcase an impressive pair of debuting three-year-olds - Code On The Beach (a Somebeachsomewhere gelding) and Cub Fan (a So Surreal gelding), both of whom crossed the wire first in 1:53.3. PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Bettor's Delight mare Bettor's Up made her debut for Nick Surick a successful one, sweeping wide off cover and taking the $17,500 distaff pacing feature in the Tuesday harness racing twilight at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in 1:51.4. Matt Kakaley guided the winner of $772,254, one of the best of her division in her filly stakes days, into second-over position, then tipped her three-wide approaching headstretch. Bettor's Up, now five, took it from there, pacing strongly through the stretch as the 2-1 favorite to defeat the longest shot on the board, Culinary Delight N, by 1¾ lengths. Trainer Surick got control of the winner after his Nick Surick Stable LLC acquired her after her last start. The sun shined bright on my old Wilkes-Barre home just before the $14,000 co-featured distaff pace after cloudiness and some rain, and the Sportswriter mare Write Me A Song wrote herself a new mark of 1:50.1 in going wire-to-wire. Driver Tyler Buter took control from the pole from the outset with Write Me A Song, hustling the winner of $243,777 through fractions of :26.2, :54.1, and 1:22.1 en route to a 2½ length victory for trainer Lance Hudson and owner William S. Hartt. There will be plenty of great racing the next two cards at Pocono, with the Pennsylvania All-Stars for three-year-old colt pacers going in three divisions on Saturday, and then $30,000 contests in the Great Northeast Open Series for open trotters and open mare pacers topping a fantastic Sunday night offering. PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

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

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