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Homicide Hunter trots to 1:50.1 record at Pocono

August 20, 2016

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The Mr Cantab gelding Homicide Hunter smashed the world record for 4-year-old trotting geldings with a 1:50.1 victory in the $50,000 Sebastian K Invitational Trot on Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. In fact, the only divisional world standard for five-eighths mile tracks that's faster is the 1:49 all-time record, set in the older stallion division – by Sebastian K.
The most potent teaming at Pocono – driver George Napolitano Jr. and trainer Chris Oakes – were the sponsorship behind Homicide Hunter, who spotted third as Wings Of Royalty took the field to the lead in :26.3, then brushed to the top and reached the half after a slight breather in :55.3. After that, it was the rest of the field that was left gasping, as Homicide Hunter went to the three-quarter mark in 1:22.4 and stayed strong to the finish, winning by four lengths while lowering the former divisional standard, co-held by 2015 divisional champ JL Cruze and Wind Of The North, both here at Pocono.
Il Sogno Dream rallied for second up the inside to hit the wire a neck ahead of strong-closing Rose Run Parker behind Homicide Hunter, who also posted the fastest trotting mile of 2016 on all sizes of tracks, one-fifth of a second faster than Resolve posted in a Meadowlands victory.
Homicide Hunter, who dominated the Indiana landscape in 2015 while winning 16 of 18 races and over $475,000, was purchased on July 1 by Crawford Farms Racing, and that purchase looks very astute right now, as Homicide Hunter boosted his bankroll to $655,999, with the prospects of more to come. 
Mel Mara made two early moves in commanding the front end, then held off the late charge of pocketsitter and Pocono-lover Luck Be Withyou to take the $50,000 Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association Invitational in 1:47.2, 2/5 of a second off the divisional world record (and all-time 5/8-mile track best) of 1:47 held by Sweet Lou and Always B Miki.
Corey Callahan left between horses with the seven-year-old son of Lis Mara, with Sunfire Blue Chip to his left and Luck Be Withyou to his right, and initially backed off to third as Luck Be Withyou, winner of the 2013 Breeders Crown Final and 2015 Franklin Final over the local red clay, circled up to the lead. But "Luck" was challenged by Mel Mara, the even-money chalk, past the 25.3 quarter and had the lead well before the 53.3 half, with Dealt A Winner coming first-over, affording Mel Mara no rest to a 1:20 ¾ clocking.
After the first-over tired, Luck Be Withyou pulled outside for the stretch drive and Sunfire Blue Chip went to the Pocono Pike to challenge the leader. But Mel Mara visibly dug in and summoned more when challenged, holding off Luck Be Withyou by a half-length, with Sunfire Blue Chip another length back in third. Dylan Davis trains the winner of $616,214 for Robert Cooper Stables LLC and J&T Silva Stables LLC. (Pocono/PHHA)
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