The top pointwinners to date in their respective divisions of the Great Northeast Open Series–Diva’s Image among the mare pacers, Homicide Hunter in the open trot–will both be in action at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Sunday in this week’s $30,000 editions of their respective classifications.
Diva’s Image, a daughter of Bettor’s Delight who used a July 1 victory in this event as a springboard to posting a 31-1 victory in the recent Golden Girls final at The Meadowlands, closing from 10th at the stretch call for driver Joe Bongiorno and trainer Jennifer Bongiorno. Diva’s Image will open at 4-1 Sunday as she begins from post six in the eight-horse field.
The two distaffs rated above her in the morning line will line up just to her left – Shartin N from post four for driver Tim Tetrick and Tequila Monday from post five for driver Eric Goodell. Shartin N, who won the Betsy Ross Pace at Harrah's Philadelphia earlier, is the leading moneywinner in North America so far this year with $575,040 in earnings, while Tequila Monday has won in the Great Northeast Series at both ovals, including a 1:49.4 victory last time after going her third quarter in a lightning :26 flat.
Homicide Hunter will be within shouting distance of $1.3 million in career earnings should he live up to his 2-1 morning line favoritism in the open trot contest. A 6-year-old altered son of Mr Cantab trained by Chris Oakes and to be guided by George Napolitano Jr. from post six, Homicide Hunter set a divisional world record of 1:50.1 here at four, and earlier this year tied the mark for older trotting geldings with a 1:50.3, the latter win the second in his current five-race win skein.
If Homicide Hunter is to be upset, logical candidates are Smalltownthrowdown (post two, driver Simon Allard), second three times in as many Great Northeast Series starts and I Know My Chip (post three, driver David Miller), who comes to Pocono off a win in the Open/Invitational class at Hoosier Park.
With these races ending the July action in the Great Northeast Seris, each class has only the four scheduled races in August to earn enough points to be eligible to race in their respective $100,000 championships. Those championships, over the distance of 1-1/4 miles, will be held at Pocono on Sunday, Sept. 2, the same day as the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championships for 3 year olds. (Pocono/PHHA)