August 23-29, 2013
The kids are going back to school, real football is about to be played, and my tan, what there was of it, has long since faded. That can only mean that the summer months are winding down and, as Bob Seger once sang, autumn’s closin’ in. Still, there is no let-up whatsoever in the racing action at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, as was evident in the racing week just gone past. So let’s celebrate the finest performers of the last four racing nights by handing out the Weekly Awards.
PACER OF THE WEEK: BLISSFULL DREAMER
It’s difficult to sustain a long winning streak in the sport of harness racing, even for a horse who stays in the same class. That’s because staying in the same class doesn’t necessarily mean facing the same field week after week, as hot horses could be moving up from lower classes while horses used to facing tougher competition might be dropping down. Add to that the vagaries of post position week to week, racing luck, and the simple possibility of an off week, and you can see why a four-race winning streak like the one Blissfull Dreamer was riding heading into her race on Friday night is such an achievement.
Blissfull Dreamer has been sharp all year long as a 4-year-old mare, coming into her battle with the $12,500 distaff claimers on Friday with victories in 11 of 24 races on the season. She has shown the ability to come from off the pace in past races, but, with an inside post on Friday, she was sent to the lead early on by driver Ron Pierce to control the pace.
Her fifth straight victory wasn’t destined to be an easy win, however, as long shot Fire In The Night made a strong move in the stretch. Blissfull Dreamer, trained by Rene Allard, had the ultimate answer though, digging in late to win by a neck in 1:53:1. That makes it five in a row, the longest winning streak at Pocono this season, one that shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
Other top pacers this week: Ultimate Beachboy (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who won a showdown with fellow Super Stakes Saturday winner Jonny Rock by a nose in Saturday night’s featured condition pace in 1:50; Rick’s Crossroads (Matt Kakaley, Brewer Adams), whose victory over a field of $10,000 claimers on Saturday night in 1:51:3 was his third straight at Pocono and fourth in a row overall; and Power Pach Hanover (Andy Miller, John Cancelliere), a 3-year-old filly who now has three wins in a row at Pocono after her condition victory on Tuesday night in 1:50:4.
TROTTER OF THE WEEK: FLASHBACKS
This 4-year-old stallion from the Wendy Chellis barn fell into a bit of a rut when he arrived from Tioga in June, struggling to make much of a mark against the tougher condition trotters on the grounds. The light switched on when he dropped down into a condition for non-winners of $11,000 in the last five races on August 9. As a 9-1 shot he made a strong first over move and scored an upset win in a career-best 1:53:1.
Flashbacks was back at it again on Friday night in the same class, yet he was still given a tepid chance from the fans as a 7-2 third choice. This time around driver Drew Chellis decided to send his trotter to the front early, reaching the quarter in a rapid time which seemed to augur trouble for Flashbacks if he couldn’t pace himself a little better.
But Drew Chellis rated the horse masterfully through the middle portion of the race, conserving energy for the stretch drive. In the stretch, Flashbacks was still itching to go, and he powered home for a second consecutive win, this one in 1:54:3. With two straight impressive wins, this trotter with a name that suggests a dive back into the past is definitely looking ahead to a bright future.
Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: From Above (Andrew McCarthy, Mark Silva), who won the week’s featured condition trot on Saturday night in 1:54; Ballet Slippers (Andy Miller, Julie Miller), a filly who now has three straight wins, the last two coming at Pocono, after a condition victory on Friday night in 1:57:1; and Bloomfieldcantifly (Anthony Napolitano, Rene Allard), a mare who ripped off her second straight claiming handicap win on Tuesday night, this one coming in 1:56:1.
LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: FLIGHT EXEC
Despite back-to-back wins coming into the race, Flight Exec, with Kevin Wallis driving, was a 23-1 shot when he upended a field of $25,000 claimers on Saturday nightand paid out $48.20 on a $2 win ticket.
DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY NAPOLITANO
Anthony has been a steady presence in the drivers’ standings all year long, but he’s really been picking up the pace of late, as evidenced by a driving triple on Tuesday night.
TRAINER OF THE WEEK: TONY ALAGNA
Alagna sent a pair of 2-year-olds to the gate on Tuesday night, and both Status Quo and Some Playa, came away with convincing victories.
That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com.