Captaintreacherous might be known as Captain Courageous after the way he won Saturday's (June 29)$500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old pacers at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Starting from the outermost spot on the gate, Captaintreacherous and driver Tim Tetrick were on the outside for the entire mile -- three wide at points -- but managed to win by a neck over Vegas Vacation in 1:49.2 over a track turned sloppy by heavy rain roughly an hour before the Hempt.
The Hempt was part of a $2 million card dubbed Sun Stakes Saturday at Pocono Downs. Foiled Again won the $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace, while Corky won the $500,000 Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial and I Luv The Nitelife won the $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial.
Captaintreacherous,the defending Pacer of the Year, improved to 5-for-5 this year for trainer Tony Alagna and the ownership group known as Captaintreacherous Racing. The colt has won $808,293 this season and $1.72 million in his career thanks to 13 victoriesin 15 lifetime starts.
"He was tremendous,” Alagna said. "To do what he did over this track the way it isafter the downpour, if that's not a mile in (1):47 then I don't know what is on a good track. To be out as far as he was over this, it's a monster mile.
"I had confidence. When he landed second-over I knew this horse fitness wise was ingreat shape. I told Timmy he's never been better tonight warming up. I told him he was going to be out the whole way, but I still think he'll get the job done.”
In the Hempt,Captaintreacherous raced outside behind the cover of Sunfire Blue Chip and then Word Power before battling through the stretch to pull out the win. Vegas Vacation was a fast-closing second and Sunfire Blue Chip finished third.
"I knew we'd never seen this horse's bottom,” Alagna said. "Tonight off the last turn, here he comes again. I thought Sunfire Blue Chip had a pretty good jump on him up the backside, but this horse does not want to quit. He has the will to win.That's what it takes.
"That's part of being a champion. That's part of what great horses do; they find a way to win.They win.”
I Luv The Nitelife also started from an outside post with Tetrick in the sulky in the Lynch, but was able to get favorable position behind pacesetter Shebestingin before rallying in the stretch for a 1:50 win. Shebestingin finished second and Jerseylicious was third.
"I had a feelingthat one way or another she was going to get where she needed to go,” trainer Chris Ryder said. "She got the right spot and it worked out. He drove her perfect and she's a special horse.”
I Luv TheNitelife has won five of six races this year, including the $384,044 Fan Hanover Stakes on June 15, and nine of 16 starts in her career. The Lynch victory pushed her lifetime earnings to more than $1 million for owners Richard and Joanne Young.
"I saw (Shebestingin) coming and I thought about not letting her go, but I figured she'd carry me there, and she did,” Tetrick said. "My mare exploded when she got out.”
Corky, with David Miller in the bike for trainer Jimmy Takter, won the Beal by one length over Picture This in 1:54.3. Dontyouforgetit, also trained by Takter, finished third.
Smilin Eli, the favorite based on his 4-for-4 career record entering the Beal, started from post nine and was able to get the lead after the opening quarter-mile. He held the advantage until the stretch, but Corky was able to claim the top spot with a first-over effort. Smilin Eli finished fifth.
Corky has won three of seven races this year--with his wins coming consecutively since a second-place finish to Smilin Eli in the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship on June 1. Corky, owned by Christina Takter, John Fielding and Jim Fielding, has won six of 14 career races and never finished worse than third while earning $575,968.
"He's a very laid-back horse,” Takter said. "I always knew he had something deep within him; he's been very consistent. He's coming into himself right. He ended up with some bad luck last year. He got like a thousand warts on his hind legs -- I've never seen anything like it -- and thank you (veterinarian) Patty Hogan. She had to burn them away and it took a whole day for her to do it.
"I think we have a hell of a shot in the future with him. He's been extremely good his last three starts.”
Miller hopes Corky is his horse for August's Hambletonian Stakes.
"He's getting better all the time and tonight's another step closer to it,” Miller said."We'll keep our fingers crossed and hopefully he can hold on another month.”
Times were fast prior to the stakes slate getting underway, with multiple world-record performances on the card. But during the middle of the eighth race, the preferred pace won by Abelard Hanover in 1:48, heavy rain arrived and soaked the track for nearly 20 minutes.
Abelard Hanover's time equaled the fastest mile ever by a gelding pacer on a five-eighths-mile track.
Bolt The Duer, driven by Mark MacDonald for trainer Peter Foley, won the $50,000 Franklin Consolation in 1:47.4, equaling the fastest mile ever paced on a five-eighths track and setting the track record for Pocono Downs.
Beach Memories, driven by Yannick Gingras for trainer Brian Brown, won the $50,000 Hempt Consolation in 1:48.3, equaling the world record for 3-year-old gelding pacers on a five-eighths oval and setting the track record for 3-year-old gelding pacers at Pocono Downs.
All Laid Out, driven by Andrew McCarthy for trainer Noel Daley, won the $50,000 Beal Consolation in 1:53.1.
Earlier on the card, 4-year-old Uncle Peter, trained by Takter, won the preferred handicap trot in 1:50.3, setting the record for the quickest mile ever by a trotter on a five-eighths track. He eclipsed the mark of 1:50.4 set by Googoo Gaagaa a tPocono Downs last year.
"I've been high on him all his life,” Takter said. "To see him go a world record today was an unbelievable feeling.”—By Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications