Homicide Hunter, already No. 1 in the point standings in the Great Northeast Open Series division for trotters, marked himself as the horse to beat in his $100,000 final next Sunday with an authoritative 1:51.4 triumph in the $30,000 final preliminary on Sunday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.
The altered son of Cantab Hall has achieved much success racing on the lead, but on Sunday he looked strong coming off the pace, a trait which may help him at the GNOS final distance of 1 1/4 miles.
Driver George Napolitano Jr., posting his 17th victory of a memorable Friday-Saturday-Sunday driving weekend, spotted the winner of $1,305,427 early, then put him in second-over position. When Napolitano tipped him three wide late on the far turn, the on-the-bit trotter surged forward to win by 2-1/2 lengths over 95-1 shot Tight Lines, who also had good late kick. But nobody was in the league of Homicide Hunter, who is trained by Chris Oakes for Crawford Farms Racing.
The top 10 open trotters in the GNOS preliminaries were 1. Homicide Hunter, 2. Smalltownthrowdown, 3. Lagerfeld, 4. Broadway Donna, 5. Melady's Monet, 6. Marion Marauder, 7. Sutton, 8. Muscle Diamond, 9. (tie) Guardian Angel AS and Will Take Charge. Since some of the top ten have qualified for the Maple Leaf Trot final next week in Canada, the connections of those on the bubble (such as Tight Lines, 11th in the standings) will likely enter and then await with hope the results of the draw for Sunday's card, which takes place Tuesday, Aug. 28.
The Great Northeast Open Series finals, with open pacers and mare pacers in the other two GNOS categories, going for $100,000 and all at 1 1/4 miles, will be joined by the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes finals for 3 year olds, along with their consolations, on a $1.5 million card that must not be missed next Sunday at The Downs.
There were $21,500 sub-features held for trotters and mare pacers on Sunday.
In the trot, the Majestic Son mare Charmed Life did an unusual thing at Pocono -- she came from third-over to win -- swinging four wide into the stretch and just catching pacesetting Dayson by a neck in 1:53.4. Simon Allard got a big late effort out of the winner of $1,408,882 to achieve the triumph for trainer Rene Allard and the partnership of Allard Racing Inc., Yves Sarrazin, and VIP Internet Stable.
In the mares pace, the Mach Three mare Windsun Glory posted her third win in her last five starts, this one in 1:51.1. The class-dropping winner of $306,898 briefly settled third before the quarter, then was out and moving off the first turn for driver Matt Kakaley to the lead just past the three-eighths and went on strongly, with Penpal firing late but coming up 1-1/2 lengths shy. Ron Burke conditions the winner for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, J&T Silva Stables and Lawrence Karr. (Pocono/PHHA)