Sun Stakes eliminations card held at Pocono
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The power-packed Sun Stakes Saturday eliminations card was held Saturday night (June 22) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with the top finishers in their elims advancing to next Saturday (June 29) and the $2,000,000+ Sun Stakes Saturday Championship card. A $30,000 Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS) event for fast-class pacers was also on the Saturday Pocono card.
BEN FRANKLIN FREE-FOR-ALL PACE ELIMINATIONS ($35,000 each; top four from each elimination, with the fifth-place finisher with the most 2019 earnings, advancing to next Saturday's $500,000 Franklin Championship)
Western Fame worked his way to the top, kept first-over favorite Highalator hung out, then went on to withstand pocketsitter This Is The Plan by three-quarters of a length in the first Franklin contest in 1:48.1, equaling the fastest mile of the year on a 5/8-mile track. The son of Western Ideal, an early-season sensation in the Levy Series, was making his first purse start in seven weeks, but set fractions of :26.2, :54.1, and 1:21 for driver Dan Dube, then fired home in :27.1 to raise his seasonal earnings to $466,300 and his lifetime bankroll over $1.5 million for trainer Rene Allard and the ownership of Go Fast Stable, Stephen Klunowski, B & I Stables LLC, and Gil Short. Beckham Z's Tam and Duplicated N were third and fourth to advance to the Championship.
In the second elimination, odds-on favorite and defending Franklin champion McWicked went first-over and got past pacesetter Lather Up on the far turn, but in a rare sight McWicked was passed in the stretch, as Lather Up fought back gamely in the lane and was able to win in 1:50.1. Lather Up made two speed moves during and just past a :26.4 quarter; he then backed off the tempo to :56.1 at the half, but still McWicked was able to gain an advantage on the pacesetter soon past the 1:23.3 three-quarters. But Lather Up, a son of I'm Gorgeous trained by Clyde Francis and owned by Gary and Barbara Iles, dug in deep for more power at driver Montrell Teague's urging and regained the lead, holding a neck advantage at the wire. Springsteen, in the 2018 Lynch winner's seasonal bow, had to back out and go four-wide in the lane, coming on late for second, a half length ahead of McWicked, with Miso Fast and Dorsuduro Hanover claiming the last spots in the Franklin Championship.
EARL BEAL 3YO OPEN TROT ELIMINATIONS ($25,000 each; top four from each elimination, with the fifth-place finisher with the most 2019 earnings, advancing to next Saturday's $500,000 Beal Championship)
Greenshoe continued to prove that he may be harness racing's next superstar as he came uncovered in a :55.2 back half and trotted off effortlessly for a 1:52.3 victory, part of a "Green" sweep of the Beal eliminations for trainer Marcus Melander. The son of Father Patrick (who holds the 1:50.2 divisional world record) got away fourth in early fractions of :27.4 and :57.1, starting up raw near the half for driver Brian Sears and going right past pacesetting Osterc passing the 1:25 three-quarters. Greenshoe won by 3¼ eased-up lengths over 2-3 finishers Osterc and Marseille, with Goes Down Smooth and Reign Of Honor dead-heating for fourth and both going through to next week. Greenshoe remained undefeated after three seasonal starts for Courant Inc., Hans Backe, Lars Granquist, and Morten Langli.
Green Manalishi S was ready to go in his first purse start of 2019, closing for victory in a career best 1:52.1 in the first Beal cut. White Tiger headed right down the road, setting early numbers of :27.1 and :55.4, but he could not handle the first-over move of Summit In Sight past the 1:24.1 three-quarters. Tim Tetrick had Green Manalishi S on that one's back, and gained through the last quarter to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Summit In Sight, with Swandre The Giant, the 7-5 chalk, escaping from the shuffle behind White Tiger to rally for third and Wittyville closing for fourth and advancing. Green Manalishi S, a son of Muscle Hill, now has 6 wins and 5 seconds in 11 lifetime starts for Melander and owners Courant Inc.
MAX C. HEMPT 3YO C&G PACE ELIMINATIONS ($25,000 each; top three from each elimination advancing to next Saturday's $500,000 Hempt Championship)
The first elimination went to the American Ideal colt Shake That House, who set a lifetime mark of 1:49. Driver Brian Sears kept the ¾ brother to stablemate and Breeders Crown winner Split The House just off the early :26 battle between favored (7-5 vs. the winner's 3-2) Aflame Hanover and Air Force Hanover, then brushed past that rival and led to the half in :53.4. Aflame Hanover came back for more past the 5/8 and battled to the 1:21.4 three-quarters, but Shake That House shook off that one's challenge, then withstood Air Force Hanover coming up the Pocono Pike by a length, with Aflame Hanover holding for third. Chris Oakes conditions the winner of 7 of 13 lifetime starts for Crawford Farms Racing, Alan Johnson, and Northfork Racing Stable.
Proof showed himself to be back in top form in the second Hempt elimination, as the A Rocknroll Dance colt won handily in 1:48.1, equaling the fastest mile of the year on a 5/8-mile track and a lifetime best. Proof was placed third by David Miller as Lyons Nighthawk and Captain Malicious sat 1-2 through fractions of :26.1, :54.1, and 1:21, with Proof in gear before the three-quarter pole and by the leader shortly afterwards, drawing off for a three length win. Brassy Hanover came up the inside to be second, 1¼ lengths ahead of Lyons Night Hawk but not close to Proof, the 2018 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion who is trained by Brian Brown for Diamond Creek Racing and who has now won half his 16 career starts.
Captain Victorious hung Escape The Beach through hard fractions of :26, :53.2, and 1:21.1, then had enough to power off to a two length win in 1:48.3 in the other section. Yannick Gingras knew what he had in the Ron Burke trainee and drove accordingly, and the son of Captaintreacherous was more than equal to the task, holding off pocketsitter Hurrikane Emperor by two lengths, with Highland Beachlover rallying for third. The Captain V Stable owns the winner, who knocked 2 3/5 lengths off his lifetime mark with his first 2019 visit to Victory Lane.
JAMES LYNCH 3YO FILLY PACE ELIMINATIONS ($20,000 each; top three from each elimination advancing to next Saturday's $300,000 Lynch Championship)
Tall Drink Hanover profited from a pocket trip, then closed into a :27 kicker to take her Lynch elim in 1:50, equaling her mark. The daughter of Captaintreacherous left sharply for command, put St Somewhere in behind her, then yielded to the brush of favored Philly Hanover past the :27 quarter. Andrew McCarthy was content to keep "Tall Drink" in the two-hole behind the pacesetter through midsplits of :55.1 and 1:23, then had her in gear coming out of the hole headstretch and paced a big last eighth to pass the leader by a length, with St Somewhere a distant third. A winner of 9 of 15 starts lifetime, the winner is trained by Tony Alagna for Alagna Racing LLC, Marvin Katz, and Riverview Racing LLC.
Alagna came right back in the second elim with Odds On St Lucie, the Sweet Lou miss out of a full sister to Captaintreacherous, who is perfect in two 2019 starts and has won five in a row dating back to last year. Odds On St Lucie and driver Dexter Dunn made two early moves before and after the :27 quarter, then surrendered control to favored Zero Tolerance before the :54.2 half. The winner kept close past the 1:22 three-quarters and through the turn, then used the Pocono Pike to be a winner in 1:49.4, a lifetime mark, finishing a half length clear of 25-1 closer Blue Ivy, with Zero Tolerance lasting for third to advance. Odds On St Lucie is owned by Odds On Racing.
The third Lynch elim featured glamour fillies Warrawee Ubeaut and Treacherous Reign, but it proved to be the slowest of the three, as the fastest 2YO ever, Warrawee Ubeaut, was able to get strolling mid-fractions while Treacherous Reign had to go first-over, then roared home in :26 for a 1:50.2 win. Another daughter of Sweet Lou, Warrawee Ubeaut quarter-moved to the top just past the :27.1 opener, then relaxed under Yannick Gingras' guidance and posted numbers of :56.3 and 1:24.3, the latter split with Treacherous Reign coming uncovered from fourth. Through the stretch pocketsitting Stonebridge Soul proved the biggest threat to the controlling winner, coming up the inside to get within ¾ of a length, with Treacherous Reign holding of Trillions Hanover to advance. Warrawee Ubeaut is trained by Ron Burke for Burke Racing Stable LLC, Phil Collura, J&T Silva– Purnel & Libby, and Weaver Bruscemi LLC.
$30,000 GREAT NORTHEAST OPEN SERIES – open pace
None Bettor A took early command, set the pace, then held off 60-1 shot This Is The Plan in 1:49.2 to take his second Great Northeast Open Series pace and continue his winning streak to seven for trainer Jennifer Bongiorno and the ownership of Joe P Racing LLC and Oldford Racing LLC. Dexter Dunn guided the Bettor's Delight gelding to the lead at the :27 quarter, put up middle times of :55 and 1:22.3, then was threatened up the inside by This Is The Plan but held together gamely by a neck; Courtly Choice, gapping third-inside on the turn, came back on for the show spot.
- PHHA / Pocono