Posts Tagged ‘The Meadows’

Opening Night Take 2 for the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

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.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

July 16-22, 2016

It’s hard to believe, but we’re nearly at the midway point of the 2016 racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. There’s a lot of great racing from this year already in our rear view, yet we’re entering an extremely busy portion of the season, highlighted by the mega-card on Super Stakes Saturday in August. We’ll be talking about all of that soon enough, but for now let’s put the spotlight on the best of the best from the week that was and hand out our Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: B R FLYING DALI

This four-year-old stallion entered Pocono on a high note with a victory at The Meadows against $5,000 claimers on May 11. After finishing third against $7,500 claimers in his first try at MSPD, he quickly followed that up with a win in that class on May 29. B R Flying Dali was claimed from that race, switching trainers from Mike Palone to Dan Altman in the process, and he promptly moved up for the Altman barn for back-to-back wins against the $10,000 and $12,500 claimers in his next two races.

That meant he was riding a three-race winning streak when he took to the track on Saturday night to once again face off with the $12,500 claimers. Leaving from the #4 post in a field of nine as an even money favorite, B R Flying Dali sat second at the quarter behind a hot pace. Driver Simon Allard guided him to the lead with a quick move on the front stretch and hustled him through a quick third quarter of 27:2 to try to keep the pressure at bay.

In the stretch, B R Flying Dali had to deal with the charges of pocket horse Teranadawn and outside closer Special Terror. But he was up to the challenge, topping Special Terror at the line by a length in 1:52, which matched the career mark he had set in his previous start. That makes four wins in a row, five out of six, and ten overall for the season for B R Flying Dali. Those are impressive stats, and they stand to get even better if this stallion continues his hot streak.

Other top pacers this week include: Dreams Beachboy (Eric Goodell, Chris Oakes), who ripped off his second consecutive condition victory on Sunday night, this one coming in 1:50:3; Bandolito (Sean Bier, Daryl Bier), who scorched a condition group on Saturday for a win in a time of 1:49:2, the fastest pacing mark of the week at Pocono; and Highview Conall (Pat Berry, Scott DiDomenico) who followed up back to back wins at Harrah’s with a victory in a claiming handicap on Saturday night at Pocono in a career-best 1:49:3.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: WILBERFORCE

No two races are ever the same, so it’s a good thing when a horse has the versatility to roll with whatever comes its way on a particular night. It’s also a bonus when a horse’s driver can adjust his game plan depending on the circumstances. Those factors came into play when Wilberforce, a 4-year-old gelding from the Kris Rickert barn, took the track on Sunday night in search of his second consecutive victory over the non-winners of seven condition grouping.

In his previous start on July 10, driver George Napolitano Jr. kept Wilberforce off the pace on the inside, then guided him home when an opening appeared late. The gelding won in a career-best 1:53 by 3 ¾ lengths over Tuscanellie, who was the race favorite but wore down on the front end. On Sunday night, Tuscanellie was again favored at 1-2 with an improved post position, but he watched as Wilberforce changed up tactics and took charge early.

Napolitano took advantage of a small six-horse field by setting tepid fractions on the lead. That meant that Tuscanellie, even though she had the trip, still couldn’t get past Wilberforce in the late going. The gelding held tight to win by 1 ¼ lengths. The winning time of 1:54:4 wasn’t as quick as the previous week, but the bottom line is what mattered. That’s two in a row for Wilberforce, who has proven he can win a couple different ways, a handy talent in this sport.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Tac’s Delight (Jim Marohn Jr., Rene Allard), who moved up in class to win a claiming handicap trot on Sunday night in 1:54:1, earning his second straight victory in the process; J L Cruze (John Campbell, Eric Ell), who coasted to victory in Sunday night’s $25,000 featured condition trot, sharing the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono in the process with a 1:53; and Pounce Hanover (Jim Marohn Jr., Greg White), who rolled to a condition win on Tuesday night in 1:53, a new career mark which matched the week’s fastest trotting time at Pocono.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ARMOR HANOVER

After breaking stride in his previous two starts, this trotter driven by Tom Jackson stayed flat and then some on Saturday night, beating a condition field at 17-1 for a $36.20 payout on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: SCOTT ZERON

As Zeron has become more of a regular presence at Pocono this year, he’s doing more damage, as was the case on Sunday night when he picked up four driving victories.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JIMMY TAKTER

When there are stakes races, you can count on Takter to do some damage, and the results this week at Pocono for him included three Stallion Series wins on Monday and a Sire Stakes victory.

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.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

June 11-17, 2016

If you were looking for the unexpected, it was a good week to watch the races at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Long shots seemed to be coming in every time you turned around, and favorites, with some notable exceptions, had a hard time getting the job done. Weeks like this past one remind everyone just how unpredictable this sport can be. Keep that in mind as we take a look at some of the top equine and human performers and hand out the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: PRICELESS EDITION

Rules have been put in place this season at Pocono that have changed the claiming ranks to some extent. Without getting into the minutiae of those rules changes, the gist of them are that horses that are claimed or have had a lot of recent success at a certain price generally must move up in the ranks. As a result, winning streaks are much harder to come by among claimers. But apparently nobody told that to Priceless Edition, who’s been carving his way through his claiming brethren of late.

The hot streak for this 12-year-old gelding began on May 15. After coming up empty in his first five starts of the year following an excellent 2015, Priceless Edition handled a group of $7,500 claimers in 1:54:2. He followed that up with a place and a win in his next two races, which triggered a move up to the $10,000 claimers for his next race. And he promptly won in that class on June 4.

On Saturday night, he faced off with the $10,000 claimers once again and went off as an even-money favorite. After sitting fourth early, the veteran pacer, under the guidance of driver Andrew McCarthy, swooped to the lead on the front stretch. He never really extended to a big lead, but he kept the pressure at bay and came home strong to win by a length-and-a-quarter in 1:54:1. That makes four wins out of five for Priceless Edition, and, even though he now has to move up again, don’t be surprised if he keeps it rolling.

Other top pacers this week include: Allbeef N Nobull (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who upset the field at 27-1 in Saturday night’s featured $25,000 condition pace, winning in a career-best 1:49:2 that was also the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono; Mr D’s Dragon (Simon Allard, Staffan Lind) a 3-year-old who ripped off his third straight condition win on Tuesday night, this one coming in career-best 1:52:1; and Cracker Coffee (Eric Carlson, Amber Buter), a mare who followed up consecutive wins at Tioga with a victory on Tuesday night at Pocono in the featured pace for mares in a career-best 1:51:2.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SPICEDBOURBONGIRL

This 3-year-old filly from the barn of trainer Jeff Gregory has been outstanding to this point in 2016. After winning just once in nine tries as a freshman in 2015, she came out of the gate firing this year with wins in three of her first four races. Two of those wins came at Pocono, including a career-best mile of 1:53:4 on May 29, and the other was in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes competition at The Meadows.

With that kind of record it was no surprise that she went off as a 3-5 favorite in a condition trot at Pocono for non-winners of five on Sunday night. Gregory also did the driving on this night and moved Spicedbourbongirl to the front with a quarter-pole move. Even though she had put up that impressive 1:53:4 in her previous race, the filly needed much less on this night thanks to a nice rating job by Gregory in the first half of the mile.

The slower pace meant that there were other horses close by late, but Spicedbourbongirl had little trouble holding them off. Even though her winning time of 1:56:3 was nearly three seconds off her previous effort, it was easy to see she had plenty left in the tank had she wanted to push it. With four wins in five races so far in 2016, this filly looks like one of the best in her age group on the regional level, and she might just have the stuff to do some damage on a bigger stage should the opportunity arise.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Explosive Man (Robert Krivelin driver and trainer), whose condition win on Sunday in 1:56:1 was his third straight victory, two of which have come at Pocono; Amicus (George Napolitano Jr., William Mullin), who led just about all the way on Monday night to notch his second straight claiming victory, with this one coming in 1:58; and Quick Deal (Ake Svanstedt driver and trainer), who posted the week’s fastest trotting time at Pocono when he won a condition on Saturday night in 1:53.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: PITTSTOP KIP

Sunday night was a night of long shots, but none were more surprising than this gelding driven by David Miller who scored a claiming handicap win at 40-1, paying off $83.80 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: COREY CALLAHAN

With a Sire Stakes win Sunday night and two Stallion Series scores Monday night, Callahan was the only driver this week to get at least one win in both, and not one of his winners went off at lower than 8-1.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: RON BURKE

The ever-prolific Burke barn produced three winners on Saturday night, including 27-1 bomber Allbeef N Nobull in the $25,000 featured condition pace.

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.

Top horses in North America battle on Super Stakes Saturday

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

The two top-rated horses in 2015 North American harness racing, the three-year-old geldings Pinkman and Wiggle It Jiggleit, will continue their battle for #1 status in the sport this Saturday night during the $2,435,000 Super Stakes Saturday card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, going in consecutive races – first Pinkman in the $500,000 Colonial Trot, and then Wiggle It Jiggleit in the $500,000 Battle of the Brandywine Pace.

The three three-year-old races, which include the $350,000 Valley Forge Pace for fillies, are filled according to 2015 moneywinnings –the nine having the highest seasonal bankrolls are gathered in the “main event” races, with the next nine in order in Consolation I, and the nine after that in Consolation II.

Another high-profile event Saturday is the $100,000 Sebastian K S Invitational Trot, a race which will double as a retirement ceremony for the trans-Atlantic champion who will be honored in special on-track ceremonies before he heads to stallion duties. Ironically, the likely favorite is the Sebastian K S is JL Cruze – the #3-ranked horse in North America, and the one who defeated “Sebastian” by a nose in his only 2015 outing before his retirement.

Here are profiles of the Big Three three-year-old events, followed by a look at the Sebastian K S Trot and other powerful races on the Saturday card:

COLONIAL TROT — $500,000 main event race 11; $200,000 Consolation I race 7; $100,000 Consolation II race 3. Stakes record: 1:52.1, Googoo Gaagaa.

Pinkman, fresh off his two-heat, world recordsetting victory in The Hambletonian, was aided by the draw with post two in the field of nine. Yannick Gingras is listed to drive Pinkman, a son of Explosive Matter who has eight wins and one second in nine seasonal starts, with his mark the 1:51 world record for 3TG in the second heat of the Hambletonian, and his $1,170,965 in 2015 earnings raising his career total to $1,737,625. (By the way, his chief foe in the Hambletonian, the filly Mission Brief, will be racing in Pennsylvania some 27 hours earlier, heading the $174,000 Moni Maker Trot at The Meadows Friday night.)

Pinkman will be find some familiar faces on the track beside him Saturday, as five of the nine Colonial entrants are, like he, part of the trotting superstable of Jimmy Takter. The “other” quartet – Uncle Lasse (PP3, driver David Miller), The Bank (PP6, Takter listing himself), Canepa Hanover (PP8, John Campbell back in the sulky), and French Laundry (PP9, Brett Miller) – are not just “makeweight” entrants either, with combined seasonal earnings of $900,000 among them.

Crazy Wow (PP1, trainer Ron Burke, driver Tim Tetrick) and Wicker Hanover (post five, Noel Daley, Corey Callahan) seem to have the best chance to upset the Takter applecart. Crazy Wow was third in the Beal Final here in June, behind Pinkman and Uncle Lasse, while Wicker Hanover handed Pinkman his only defeat of the year, in the Beal eliminations.

BATTLE OF THE BRANDYWINE — $500,000 main event race 12; $200,000 Consolation I race 8; $100,000 Consolation II race 4. Stakes record: 1:47.4, Sunshine Beach.

Wiggle It Jiggleit, an altered son of Mr Wiggins, has achieved slightly-higher earnings than Pinkman so far – $1,189,144, while winning 15 of 17 starts and showing speed, maneuverability, and courage. The winner of the Hempt Final here at Pocono early this season, Wiggle It Jiggleit will have driver Montrell Teague alert early, as he will be starting from the rail, and Teague’s job will be to get him to the front at some point without a terrific usage of resources, the fate which befell him in the recent Cane Pace, where he was involved in fractions of 25.4, 52,1, and 1:20.4 before tiring to fourth in the stretch.

The four horses who have finished ahead of Wiggle It Jiggleit in his lifetime (he raced only once at two, winning here) are all in the big Battle. Wazikashi Hanover (PP7, trainer Joanne Looney-King, driver Tim Tetrick, #7 in the North American polls) caught “Wiggle” in the stretch drive of the North America Cup at Mohawk, while the 1-2-3 Cane finishers are also here – in order of that race’s finish, Dealt A Winner (PP9, Mark Silva, David Miller), Artspeak (PP8, Tony Alagna, Scott Zeron), and Dude’s The Man (PP2, Jessica Okusko, Corey Callahan). The “Dude” also won the last big-money race for this division in Pennsylvania, the Adios at The Meadows on August 1.

VALLEY FORGE PACE — $350,000 main event race 10; $150,000 Consolation I race 7; $75.000

Consolation II race 3. Stakes record: 1:48.4, I Luv The Nitelife.

A division desperately looking for a leader after a series of different winners in most of this year’s major events to date may find one emerge from the Valley Forge Pace.

The biggest 2015 bankroll in the collection of nine misses belongs to Bettor Be Steppin, a daughter of Bettor’s Delight who will begin from post four for trainer Joe Holloway and driver Corey Callahan. Over half of the seasonal winnings of Bettor Be Steppin came right at Pocono, when she won a multi-horse close finish to capture the $300,000 Lynch Final, taking her mark of 1:50.4.

In finding other ways to measure this evenly-matched group, the biggest career bankroll belongs to Sassa Hanover ($634,440, PP7, trainer Ron Burke, driver Yannick Gingras), while the fastest speed mark is held by Moonlit Dance (1:49 winning the recent Mistletoe Shalee Final, PP6, trainer Tony OSullivan, driver David Miller). Both of those fillies show solid credentials in their achievements and their connections, and are likely to contribute to this fairly-wide-open affair.

OTHER BIG RACES SATURDAY

The $100,000 Sebastian K S Trot (race 5) marks the return to the races after a five-week break of the Cinderella story JL Cruze, who started to build a following while winning the Weiss Series here in the spring, and has gone on to win 16 of 18 starts and over $600,000 for trainer Eric Ell, with John Campbell returning from a recent minor injury to guide “JL” from the middle of the nine-horse field. Along the way, JL Cruze has become the third-fastest trotter of all-time, behind only Sebastian K S and Enough Talk (1:49.3 at Colonial) when he won the Graduate Series Final in 1:49.4.

The card kicks off with a bang, as national stars Cinamony, Krispy Apple, Ooh Bad Shark, and Yagonnakissmeornot collide in the $50,000 Hanover Shoe Farms Pace for mares.

The $50,000 U.S. Trotting Association Pace for free-for-allers may turn out to be the national coming-out party for the unheralded Always At My Place (PP2, trainer Ron Burke, driver Matt Kalaley), who goes for his sixth win in a row after missing the world record for 4PG by a tick here last Saturday, stopping the timer in 1:48.1 while pacing his own back half uncovered in 53.1 and winning under a hold.

Post Time for this stellar card is 5:30pm.

Sun Stakes Saturday Eliminations June 27th a star-studded night

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Most of the stars in 2015’s early-season harness firmament will be gathered at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono this Saturday night, June 27th,  with 3YO pacers of both sexes, 3YO trotting colts, and FFA pacers looking to earn spots in the $1.8M “Sun Stakes Saturday” Championship events of their divisional stakes a week from Saturday (July 4). Here’s an early look at each of the four groups of horses competing in this Saturday’s eliminations:

BEN FRANKLIN FREE-FOR-ALL PACE

(two $30,000 eliminations in races 7 and 9, with the top four plus fastest fifth-place horse returning for the $500,000 Championship)

The first Franklin elim is headed by the richest horse in the history of harness racing, Foiled Again, who will be leaving from the middle of the nine-horse field for trainer Ron Burke and driver Yannick Gingras. The evergreen 11YO went over $7M in career earnings in winning the Battle Of Lake Erie on June 12, and of course few will forget his 2013 Pocono campaign, winning the elimination and final of both the Franklin and the Breeders Crown, taking his lifetime mark of 1:48 in the Franklin elim.

The biggest threat to Foiled Again may be Domethatagain, who won the $529,000 Levy Final at Yonkers in April, and who produced a $60 shocker in the Franklin elims last year by nosing out Captaintreacherous  over his “home track” of Pocono. Trained by Rene Allard, Domethatagain will start from post six, with Tim Tetrick the early listing for sulky duty, and he will coupled in the wagering with his Allard barnmate Big Boy Dreams (PP3, driver Brian Sears).

In the second Franklin elim, any number of angles could play out:

–There is the Ron Burke stable coupled entry of Clear Vision (PP4, Brett Miller) and Bettor’s Edge (PP6, Matt Kakaley), who between them have won over $3.85M in their careers;

–There are the last two Pennsylvania Horses of the Year for outstanding performances in Open overnights, Dynamic Youth (2013, PP7, Andrew McCarthy) and Dancin Yankee (2014, PP8, Brett Miller also listed);

–There is another sharp Rene Allard trainee, Bigtown Hero (PP2, brother Simon Allard driving), who has won three straight, and who had half of North America’s 1:20-or-less clockings to the ¾ last year, both of them here at Pocono;

–And there is State Treasurer, recent winner of the Gold Cup at Mohawk and the Molson Pace at London, but who will have to translate his Canadian form to local success after starting from the outermost post nine for driver David Miller.

EARL BEAL JR. 3YO COLT TROT

(three $25,000 eliminations in races 3, 5, and 12, with the top three coming back for the $500,000 Championship)

In the first Beal elim, Habitat (PP3, driver Jim Morrill Jr.) will look to be carrying on his fine 2015 form, with wins in the Dexter Cup and two New York Sire Stakes. Just to his right in the field of six will be Cruzado Dela Noche (David Miller), who was second, beaten only a half-length by Uncle Lasse in a 1:51.4 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes contest at The Meadows at the end of last month.

The second Beal cut will find the most attention on Pinkman (PP5 in a seven-horse field, Brett Miller), 2014 national champion and Breeders Crown winner, and undefeated in 2015, winning a Sire Stakes at each of three of Pennsylvania’s racetracks. Just for good measure, he’ll be coupled in the betting with his Jimmy Takter barnmate Whom Shall I Fear (PP4, Yannick Gingras), the full brother to Pastor Stephen and Father Patrick.

Also to be respected in this division are two recent double Sire Stakes winners, New Jersey’s Guess Whos Back (PP3, Brian Sears) and Pennsylvania’s Wicker Hanover (PP7, Andrew McCarthy).

In the third elimination of the Beal, the current Kings of New York (Crazy Wow) and Pennsylvania (Uncle Lasse) will clash. Crazy Wow (PP2, Yannick Gingras) comes off an open-length score in the Empire Breeders Classic at Vernon, and has shown the ability to repair a mistake with breathtaking speed. Uncle Lasse, saddled with the outside post six for driver Brett Miller, has been to many eyes nearly as impressive in the PA Sires as his Takter stablemate Pinkman, going 3 for 3 and with that 1:51.4 triumph at The Meadows.

MAX C. HEMPT 3YO COLT PACE

(three $25,000 eliminations in races 6, 8, and 10, with the top three coming back for the $500,000 Championship)

The first elim for “the glamour division” matches up last year’s divisional champion Artspeak and his closest 2014 challenger In The Arsenal. Artspeak, starting from post six for driver Scott Zeron, has had four good starts in 2015, although after winning his first two starts in NJSS competition, he “only” had a 2-5 slate in the North American Cup, but in both cases he did not have the easiest of trips. In The Arsenal had opened his year with four straight wins, including an NA Cup elim, before finishing fourth in the final; here he may have a slight positional advantage as he begins from post four in the field of nine, with Brian Sears listed to drive.

The middle Hempt heat has at its center (literally, as he begins from post five) the speedy Wiggle It Jiggleit. The colt had shown amazing speed in taking his lone start of 2014 and all 10 of his 2015 starts prior to the NA Cup Final, but cutting a searing pace of 25.1, 53.3, and 1:21 proved just a bit too much, although he held gamely to miss by only ¾ of a length to Wakizashi Hanover in a sterling 1:48.

Wakizashi Hanover, who will begin from post four in a field of eight for driver Tim Tetrick in the third elimination, had tipped his hand with a strong 4-3-1-0 opening to this year’s campaign in Pennsylvania, and then conquered all in Toronto, coming from behind to take his elim and then being a successful pocket rocket in the Final. He’ll face a major challenge here from Lost For Words (David Miller), undefeated in four 2015 starts and winning thrice in the Pa Sires; his challenges will be a three-week vacation and post seven.

JAMES LYNCH 3YO FILLY PACE

(three $20,000 eliminations in races 4, 11, and 13, with the top three coming back for the $300,000 Championship)

The first elim for the Lynch features the 2-3 finishers in the $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Championship for this division, with Stacia Hanover, who missed a neck in finishing second, returning with first-time Lasix as she begins from PP6 in the seven-horse assemblage for driver Scott Zeron, while Wicked Little Minx (PP4, Brett Miller) was only a length from taking it all in the Jersey finale.

Wicked Little Minx is trained by Nancy Johansson, the daughter of Jimmy Takter, and Johansson also conditions the main horse of interest in the second elimination, JK She’salady (PP1 in a field of eight, Tim Tetrick). The “Lady” was undefeated in a 12-race campaign to become the first 2PF to be elected Harness Horse of the Year, but this race represents her first possible crossroads, since she comes off a

4-5 pair of starts in the Fan Hanover at Mohawk the last two weeks. Sassa Hanover (PP4, Yannick Gingras), a Fan Hanover elim winner, and The Show Returns (PP6, John Campbell), second in the Fan Hanover final, should provide challenging competition.

Two horses from the huge barn of Ron Burke, uncoupled in the betting because of separate ownership, will get their fair share of attention in the third Lynch elim. Southwind Roulette, named co-Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Horse of the Year in 2014, starts from post two for Matt Kakaley after two seconds and a third, beaten a total of 1¼ lengths, in recent Pennsylvania stakes competition, while Happiness (PP5 in the seven-horse field, Yannick Gingras), shows a New Jersey Sires win, and was fourth in the NJSS final.

The first race on the monstrous, in quality and quantity (16 races), Saturday card at Pocono is 6:30 p.m.