Great Northeast Series heats up on Sunday
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This Sunday promises some spectacular racing at the two tracks served by the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association (PHHA), with the Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS) staging a trio of $30,000 events, for open pacers at Harrah’s Philly in the afternoon and for mare open pacers and open trotters at Mohegan Sun Pocono at night.
In the open pacing event at Philly, Rodeo Rock has been installed as a tight 7-2 favorite in a well-matched field of nine which will be the fifth race. The Robert Cleary pupil, to be driven by Andrew McCarthy, is one of only four North American horses to have earned over $200,000 already this year, the bulk of his bankroll coming when finishing second in the $664,000 Levy final at Yonkers.
Starting just to his outside will be Donttellmeagain for trainer Jim King Jr. and driver Tim Tetrick. A state favorite since winning the PA Stallion Series Championship in 2017, Donttellmeagain holds the distinction of being the last horse to win against 2018 Horse of the Year McWicked, and he comes off a 1:49 victory at The Meadowlands.
The two GNOS races at Pocono will come consecutively, in slots ten and eleven. The ladies will come first, with the 1-2 finishers from last week’s first GNOS group for this group, Tequila Monday and Kissininthesand, ready to bump heads again and vie for favoritism. This will be the second start of the year for Kissininthesand (post 1, trainer Nancy Johansson, driver Scott Zeron), last year’s 3-year-old champion, and she might be just that much better with a race under her girth.
But knocking off Tequila Monday (post 6, trainer Chris Oakes, driver Tyler Buter) has never been an easy task throughout that mare’s career, and might be even more hard to bring off this year, as Tequila Monday has started the year with five consecutive victories, and she has shown she can win on, off, or near the pace.
The world’s fastest trotter, Homicide Hunter (1:48.4 at Lexington last year), is entered in the open trotting event, and he returns to the races both for a new stable, the Burke Brigade, and off two fine qualifying wins, the latter a photo victory over 2018 sophomore champion Six Pack. One big obstacle facing Homicide Hunter and driver Yannick Gingras will be the outside starting spot in the field of eighth, but he is still the early favorite.
Guardian Angel AS (post 5, trainer Anette Lorentzon, driver Tim Tetrick) won a Breeders Crown elimination at Pocono last year, and in his seasonal debut last week at The Meadowlands he came from ninth at the three-quarter call to miss less than two lengths. Pappy Go Go, who has two of the four fastest North American trotting miles of the year, a pair of 1:52 wins both here and at Philly, has the advantages of post one and Pocono’s top driver George Napolitano Jr. (Harrah's Philadelphia/Pocono/PHHA)