Crafty Master, a son of Mister Big, went the fastest mile of the early season at Pocono, tallying in the $15,500 pace in 1:50.2, a new lifetime mark. Though aided by racing behind a fast first half of 54.2, Crafty Master still had to overcome the first-over trip, but he showed his continued top form by drawing off late, winning by 1½ lengths for the ownership of Allard Racing Inc., VIP Internet Stable LLC, and Lynn Denesha.
The other stable winner is … um, was owned outright by Rene. His name is Muscle Beach Boy, whom Rene purchased after six straight wins in upstate New York and brought to the Downs; however, if the gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere is to make it eight straight visits to Victory Lane, it won’t be for the Allards, as he was claimed out of his triumphant race in 1:53.2 at the mountain oval Saturday.
The very first race to take to the red clay oval raced for the highest bounty of the night, as high-level claiming pacers contested an $18,000 purse. The curtainraiser fell to Next Success, who recorded his second straight triumph at The Downs, and his third overall, this week leading at every call and holding off potential pocket rocket Baggage Claim in 1:53.1 for driver Jim Morrill Jr., trainer Les Givens, and the ownership team of Henry Faragalli III, Nanticoke Racing Inc., and Bay Pond Racing Stable.
Incidentally, Next Success’s sire, Veeza, may not be particularly well-known, but few horses are better-bred: he’s by champion sire Western Hanover, and his dam is Margie’s Melody, the dam of the storied Nihilator.
Simon Allard had a two-win lead atop the drivers colony after his fifth sulky success, but no lead is safe at Pocono Downs with George Napolitano Jr. around, and indeed GNap won two races near the end of the card to join Allard as co-leading driver.
Tomorrow night (Sunday), the $750,000 Bobby Weiss Series for developing three- and four-year-olds starts its 2017 program, with the first of four $15,000 preliminary legs for pacers of each sex filling three divisions. The top moneywinners in the Weiss prelims come back in early May to contest $30,000 Weiss Series Championships.