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Rodeo Romeo, Rockin Ron score in Rose splits

May 06, 2018

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Rodeo Romeo quarter-moved to the front and was strong on the engine, throwing successive 27.1 quarters coming home to take one $50,000 division of the Van Rose Memorial Pace Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, while in the other Rockin Ron never yielded the lead and held off favored Mach It So in the sprint home.

Rodeo Romeo, a son of Rocknroll Hanover faced his sternest test of the year in his division of the Van Rose, yet the punters knocked Rodeo Romeo down to 6-5 favoritism. He waited third early as Dr J Hanover worked hard to get around Wakizashi Hanover by the 26.2 opener, then responded to George Napolitano Jr.’s command and brushed to the front in front of the stands, making the lead easily and hitting the half in 55 

"George Nap," who won the 2016 edition of the Rose with Luck Be Withyou, is known for his "rate-then-sprint" tactics in the middle of the race, and indeed as the field entered the backstretch the pedal went to the medal, as the first-over challenge of Boston Red Rocks was seen off by the 1:22.1 3/4s. Dr J Hanover still lurked in the pocket, and Long Live Rock was coming on well late, but Rodeo Romeo kept on rolling and maintained a 1½ length margin to the finish while filling his hopples into a headwind, stopping the timer in 1:49.2 for the fastest clocking of the meet. Dr J Hanover withstood Long Live Rock by a half-length to retain second 

Trainer Chris Ryder has found the key to Rodeo Romeo, who took his third race in his last four starts for Oompa’s Farm Inc. and Robert Mondillo.

In the second split of the race honoring the memory of the veteran local sportswriter and handicapper, Rockin Ron was sent right to the lead by Anthony Napolitano (from post one, which he inherited when early favorite Keystone Velocity was scratched), forcing brother George to take the two-hole with the race chalk Mach It So well before the 27.3 opener.

"Rate-then-sprint" is also a tactic known to Anthony as well as his brother, as "ANap" gave Rockin Ron a huge breather in quarter two even considering the headwind, with 57.1 leaving plenty in Rockin Ron’s tank. Then came "sprint," as in 53.1 the last half, with Rockin Ron continuing on quickly and gamely, digging in determinedly when Mach It So as expected materialized in the famed Pocono Pike, but the latetr’s powerful charge came up a head shy in the 1:50.2 mile.

Ron Burke conditions the Real Desire gelding, who boosted his earnings to $1,136,107 for the familiar trio of Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, and J&T Silva Stables

The big card also featured four $30,000 Championships in the Bobby Weiss Series, named after the trackman who honed the Pocono surface into one of the world’s most highly-regarded ovals.

The trotting mare Via Lattea IT is a vour-legged National Geographic – bred in Italy; owned in two places with similar weather, Sweden and Florida; unraced at two, and raced at three in Sweden; now trained by a Swede now based in America, Åke Svanstedt, and driven in the Championship by a French Canadian, Simon Allard 

Oh, did we mention she is white?

Quite the colorful story, and one with a happy ending here, as Via Lattea IT broke her maiden with a 1:54.4 victory in the Weiss Final. Allard sent the daughter of Gruccione Jet right to the top, then yielded to sit the pocket behind favored I M Fishin. I M Fishin had won her last three, but with kinder fractions; Via Lattea IT had lost by a head, head, and neck in her three Weiss starts, but here the pocket trip was the key to winning, as Via Lattea IT got by the chalk by a half-length.

Following the trotting the females came their male counterparts, and in an exciting finish the Kadabra gelding Stormont Manpower overcame a first-over trip, holding off the horse following his cover, Chas Hanover, to win by a nose in 1:56.4. The favorite Archibald, who got away last, was fourth-over headstretch, had to make a decision whether to swing way wide or try finding a stretch hole, chose the latter – his discovery of a path behind Chas Hanover, though, came inside 100 feet of the wire, and he closed furiously after angling wide but had to settle for third, another ¾ of a length back.

Jim Morrill Jr. obviously made acquaintance with Stormont Manpower quickly, turning his first drive behind the horse on the lines into a nice victory. The winner, 4-1-3-0 in the Weiss prelims, continued his hot form for trainer Robert Bresnahan Jr. and owner Robert Bresnahan.

Ron Burke won his second straight race (after Rockin Ron), and Jim Morrill Jr. won his second straight Weiss drive, as they teamed with the Foreclosure N four-year-old gelding Riggle Wealth when the Championship action switched over to the pacing side.  Riggle Wealth forced Goose Mountain to take the mountain air in a 26.3 opener as I Soar Him First kept the pocket tight, and then got a rest on the engine with the parked horse not pressing into the wind nearing the 56.1 half. With the wind and a downshift in gears, the third quarter went 27.2, as Mach N Cheese moved up to second-over position, and in the stretch that foe would provide the biggest challenge with a nice late burst, but Riggle Wealth withstood that challenge by a length.

Unraced at two, Riggle Wealth won his first four career starts, got locked in in his first two Weiss prelims, and now has three straight wins on the engine. The partnership of Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, and Phil Collura owns the promising latecomer.

Åke Svanstedt completed a sweep of the Weiss Championships for females, and the Rock N Roll Heaven again proved her gameness, taking her finale in a new mark of 1:53. Marcus Miller put the winner on the lead early, forced a tuck from Jewels Forreal before the 26.3 quarter, then braced her for the challenge from Sharen Hanover, winner of three straight, nearing the half.

The two distaffs went at it head-to-head down the backstretch and around the turn, and though Kimberlee forced that foe into submission, Jewels Forreal still lurked from the pocket, and Miller got a game response from his filly to hold on to the wire by a half-length.

Kimberlee has now won all five of her seasonal starts, including three Weiss prelims and the finale, for Knutsson Trotting Inc. and Asa Sjoberg. Perhaps the toughness of Kimberlee is best reflected in this fact – in her five triumphs, the COMBINED winning margin has been 1½ lengths!

During the afternoon part of the Derby Day doubleheader at The Downs, Total Diva and Golden Attitude (two horses with mismatched names) took lifetime marks in winning $15,000 consolation trot for the Weiss (the pacing events did not fill). The Donato Hanover mare Total Diva went coast-to-coast in 1:57.1, while the Conway Hall gelding Golden Attitude also used the front end to lower his mark to 1:57.2. (PHHA/Pocono)

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