WILKES-BARRE PA – Win the Messenger Pace final, a Triple Crown event, with Pleaseletmeknow on Friday night, then come back and win with American Courage in 1:47.4 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Saturday afternoon. Just a routine 19 hours for driver Matt Kakaley, trainer Travis Alexander, and owners Fiddler’s Creek Stables LLC.
Like Pleaseletmeknow a son of American Ideal, American Courage came to town with lofty credentials ($576,372, a recent win in 1:49.4 at Yonkers), and the crowd bet the four-year-old down to 3-5 in the $27,500 featured pace. They might have been worried early as he got away fifth, but ducking proved a good move as Vettel N shot out to the lead in :25.4, then refused to yield to Im Sir Blake A, feature winner here last week, forcing him into the pocket by a :53.2 half.
That left a softened front end for American Courage and driver Matt Kakaley, who zoomed uncovered from fifth while going in :26.1 himself down the back to clear just past the 1:20.3 three-quarters, then finished out in :27.1 to win by 6¼ lengths. The 1:47.4 time was three-fifths off the Pocono standard for four-year-old pacing horses set by Freaky Feet Pete, and just four-fifths off the all-time 1:47 record over a 5/8-mile track, set by Sweet Lou (at Pocono) and Always B Miki (twice at Pocono, once at Scioto).
Kakaley also won the co-featured $17,500 trot with the Swan For All mare Queen Of All, giving her three wins in a row. Queen Of All made two speed moves during early splits of :28 and :57.1, continued to get a breather to the 1:26.2 three-quarters, then had a :28.2 back quarter to defeat Marion Gondolier by a half-length. Lance Hudson conditions the winner of $330,875 for owner William Hartt.
In the end, there wasn’t much at Pocono Saturday that Matt Kakaley didn’t take that wasn’t nailed down. The meet’s leading driver made eight visits to Victory Lane, three for trainer Alexander and three for trainer Darren Taneyhill, who had four successes in all on the day and now is alone atop the trainer’s standings.
Racing will be held on Sunday (5:00), Monday and Tuesday (1:30) throughout the holiday weekend at The Downs. Program pages are or will be available at https://www.phha.org/downsmsppps.html.