Great Northeast Series gets underway Saturday
May 01, 2018
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Saturday marks the inaugural races in the summer-long $1.8 million Great Northeast Open Series for outstanding trotters and pacers.
Co-sponsored by the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association in conjunction with Harrah's Philadelphia and The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono racetracks, the Great Northeast Open Series will give area horsemen and fans a chance to participate in $30,000 races throughout the summer in the Open Pace, Open Trot, and Filly & Mare Pace categories. In the weekly schedule, one track will host the Open Pace, while the other will host the other two events, and then the next week the host sites will be reversed.
Participants throughout the summer will be accumulating points for starting in and finishing high in the competition, with the top point-earners earning their way into a $100,000 Championship event at Pocono on Sunday, Sept. 2, the same night that track hosts the $1 million-plus Pennsylvania Sires Stakes Championships for 3 year olds.
Harrah's Philadelphia will see its only Great Northeast series action on a Saturday as it hosts a special Kentucky Derby Day starting at 12:40, with the Open trot the ninth race and the filly and mare pace immediately following.
In the trotting contest, the entrants include Rock Of Cashel, who won the trot feature at Philly last week; millionaire Melady's Monet; and the very consistent Opulent Yankee. Heading the distaff pacers are Nike Franco N, a headliner mare both Down Under formerly and in North America last year, who makes her 2018 debut here; and the million dollar-winning Darlinonthebeach, who had a very good fourth from a tough spot as she returned to action at the Meadowlands last week.
The traditional Derby Day feature at Pocono, the Van Rose Memorial Pace, will act as the event for Open pacers in the Great Northeast opener, and will be held during the evening portion of the Derby Day doubleheader at the mountain oval Saturday. The Van Rose drew an overflow field of 14, which brings about it being divided into two $50,000 divisions, to be held as races five and 10.
The quality of these horses is shown in the fact that they have earned a nose short of $14 million in their careers, and have an average mark of 1:48.3. Included among the fast bunch is home-based Keystone Velocity, last year's Older Pacer of the Year, recent successful defender of his crown in the Levy final, and winner here of the 2017 Franklin final. Two other recent visitors to Victory Lane include Always At My Place, the Levy consolation winner who set a world record at Pocono three years ago that still stands, and Barimah A, the winner of the 2017 Van Rose Pace who comes in off a triumph in the Whata Baron final. (PHHA/Pocono/Harrah's Philly)