Day At The Track

Tickets punched for the $350,000 Championship

06:21 PM 16 Aug 2015 NZST
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Imagine Dragon
Imagine Dragon lowered her mark a tick to 1:51.1 for trainer Frank Antonacci
Curtis Salonick Photo
WILKES-BARRE PA - Imagine Dragon and Momas Got A Gun both punched their tickets to the $350,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship for harness racing three-year-old pacing fillies on September 5 with strong victories in $191,609 fourth and final round preliminary action Saturday at The Downs.
 
Imagine Dragon lowered her mark a tick to 1:51.1 for trainer Frank Antonacci and Lindy Farms of Connecticut in taking the first division. Driver Scott Zeron had three pieces of luck with the daughter of Dragon Again, and the first two did not augur well: he had to tuck third early, and he had to rethink a quarter-move when pacesetter Better Said showed no sign of wanting to give up the lead. But his third piece of luck was good - for victory: pocketsitting Triple V Hanover moved outside for the drive, and Zeron was able to guide Imagine Dragon to the famed Pocono Pike, winning easily late with a strong finishing kick. 31-1 Doll Fins, the longest shot on the board, shot through deep in the Pike for second, 1½ lengths behind the winner and a neck ahead of favored Better Said. Safe From Terror, one of two horses with two prelim wins coming to tonight (the other, Serious Filly, was absent here), was photoed out of third, and Triple V Hanover completed the checkgetters.
 
Momas Got A Gun had not raced at the mountain oval since July 4, where she had a stretch lead and missed just a neck in the $300,000 Lynch Final. Saturday the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere was on the right side of a neck decision, as she made two moves to control the pace, coming her last half in 54.2 to stop the timer in 1:50.1, a national season's mark and a personal best. Somewhere Sweet came at the winner late directly to her left, but Jim Morrill Jr. kept his filly going to win by a neck for trainer Virgil Morgan Jr. and Albertan owner Geoffrey Martin. Slight betting favorite Doctor Terror, first-over here, was 1¼ lengths further back in third; Well Hello There and Southwind Roulette, the defending divisional Champion, getting the last two paydays.
 
The official pointstandings are tabulated by the PA Harness Racing Commission, with money earned in the prelims used as a tiebreaker if the need arises, but an initial tabulation after tonight's two races showed the following: the eight spots available for the Championship were earned by Safe From Terror (88 points on a 35-25-15-10-8-5-4-2-1 basis), Imagine Dragon and Somewhere Sweet (tied at 85), Serious Filly (78), Momas Got A Gun and Storm Point (tied at 73), Arts Jem (60), and Southwind Roulette (58); spots in a 9-horse $60,000 Consolation were earned by Doctor Terror (56), Better Said (48), Triple V Hanover (47), Doll Fins (42), Deli Beach (32), Seeking Nirvana (27), Ginger Tree Alexis and Macarena Mama (tied at 25), and Well Hello There (24).
 
(Again, these are unofficial numbers; also, the race of participation depends on who drops in: if one declares in for Saturday, one declares for both races as eligible - you can't refuse the Championship for the Consolation, and those with fewer points, if declared, may make the Consolation if horses listed above don't drop in.
 
In the $30,000 Open pace, the Always A Virgin 4YO gelding Always At My Place came with a 1/5 of a second of the divisional world record when he won in 1:48.1, just off Mach It So's world and track record, stamping himself as a force to be reckoned with on a national level. Winning for the fifth time in succession, Always At My Place did it despite taking the first-over route, pacing his back half in an incredible 53.1 to tally for driver Matt Kakaley, trainer Ron Burke, and the owning partnership of Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, Lawrence Karr, and Phillip Collura while taking a new mark and equaling Rockeyed Optimist's season's record.
 
FINISHING LINES - A reminder for those planning to attend or watch the $2M+ Super Stakes Saturday card next week are reminded that the first race is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., as there is a giant fireworks show planned for after the races.
 
PHHA / Pocono
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