It's hard to believe that we're already at the end of our first month of harness racing at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.
That means that our stakes season isn’t too far away, and the action has been especially fast and furious of late as if in anticipation of all of those big-time races in the offing. We’ve had some outstanding racing performances in the last week, some of which have made it into this edition of the Weekly Awards.
PACER OF THE WEEK: DINNERATARTSPLACE
This 7-year-old gelding had a relatively modest total of 15 career wins under his belt when he arrived at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs for his first start of the meet on April 20. Still, with career earnings of just shy of $250,000 at that time, it was clear that he had breakout potential for trainer James Eaton.
Dinneratartsplace showed a little bit of that potential in that first Pocono start, doing the yeoman’s work on the front end to handle a tough group of condition pacers in a sharp time of 1:50:3.
Chuffed up by that performance, he stepped up in class on Friday night to face the non-winners of $14,000 pacers. The bettors certainly believed in him with his inside post, making him the 1-2 favorite.
The gelding did not disappoint, taking over on the front stretch, setting some nasty fractions, and then holding off fast-closing BJ’s Bequia by a half-length for a second straight victory. Tyler Buter did the driving. Proving that Dinneratartsplace has really hit peak form, the winning time of 1:50 was the fastest of his career.
Other top pacers this week include: Rockincam (David Miller, Nifty Norman), who won Saturday night’s featured pace in a thrilling stretch duel with Meirs Hanover in 1:49, a new career-best and the first sub-1:50 mile of the 2012 meet at Pocono; The Real Dan (George Napolitano Jr., Martin Noonan), who moved up in class and ran his winning streak to three on Saturday night with a victory over the $12,500 pacers in 1:52:2; and Mud Pie Hanover (George Napolitano Jr., Jason Robinson), who won the week’s featured distaff pace on Wednesday night with a gutty, frontrunning effort in a career-best 1:51.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: MM’S LUCKY BOY
It’s always tricky to gauge how a horse is going to come back after a particularly fast race. On April 20, MM’s Lucky Boy blasted his way to a condition trotting win in 1:53:2.
Not only was it a career best for the 5-year-old gelding from the Erv Miller Barn, it’s also the fastest trotting mile that has been recorded in 2012 at Pocono.
He was back on Friday night to face off against a much tougher group of trotters, and it turned out the trip he had to face was much more rugged as well. Driver Jim Morrill Jr. sent MM’s Lucky Boy first over on the outside early, and had no choice but to go after the lead when cover didn’t materialize.
MM’s Lucky Boy didn’t falter though, pushing hard after the leaders and sustaining once he got the lead to win by a half-length. Even though the winning time was 1:54:1, a bit slower than the previous week, the mile might have been even more impressive because of the trip.
It certainly should serve as a springboard for even bigger efforts as this top trotter looks for more big wins.
Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Beatgoeson Hanover (David Miller, Nifty Norman), a mare who beat the boys in Saturday night’s featured trot of the week in 1:54:3; Keystone Torch (George Napolitano Jr., Jennifer Sabot), whose romping win on Friday night over the $7,500 claimers in 1:57:3 was his second straight; and Opinion Hanover (Mike Simons, Clarence Martin Jr.), who win his second straight on Wednesday despite stepping up the condition latter, getting the victory in a career-best 1:54:4.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: HOME TOWNE JEFF
This newcomer from Chester stunned a group of claiming handicap trotters on Tuesday night with Howard Parker in the bike, scoring at 60-1 for a $125.20 payoff on a $2 win ticker.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MIKE SIMONS
Simons has been a consistent force for a long time at Pocono, and he showed his consistency this week with at least one win in each of the four racing nights.