WILKES-BARRE PA – The first two-year-old qualifying races of the season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Wednesday morning found most of the sex/gait divisions dominated by one particular barn per section. Ray Schnittker won both of the three events for pacing colts in which he had a horse, while on the filly side Chuck Connor Jr. and Charlie Norris won both paces and both trots, respectively. In the trotting colt ranks, Schnittker and Norris each had a winner.
Fastest, and perhaps most impressive, of all the baby winners was Cigars And Port, a So Surreal colt out of Sweet On Art, whose first foal, Wild West Show, has produced Huntsville and two other $500G winners in Cowboy Terrier and Stevensville. Schnittker, who drove all of his winning trainees, put Cigars And Port on the lead, got to the half in 1:00.4, then buzzed him home in 55.3 to win all alone in 1:56.2, not much short of being two seconds faster than any other freshman yet reported on a 5/8-mile track. Schnittker owns the precocious colt with Nolamaura Racing, Ted Gewertz, and Steven Arnold.
The faster of the Chuck Connor Jr. freshman pacing fillies was the Heston Blue Chip – Paper Cut miss Chili Pepper, a clear winner for her trainer/driver and owner Janice Connor in 1:58.1 – :57.2 - :28.2. Just a tick behind was the Sunshine Beach – Oceans Motion filly Robmotion Blue Chip, owned by Janice Connor, Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc., and Robert Lovell, whose 1:58.2 tally featured closing numbers of :57.1- :28.1.
Schnittker notched his third colt win of the day when the action shifted back to trotters, guiding the Explosive Matter – Fifty Shades colt Can’t Say No to a 2:03.4 victory with a:29.4 rally out of the pocket. Trainer/driver Charlie Norris then brought out the Chapter Seven – Amity’s Lalabye miss Sing Me A Lalabye, who went to the lead past the quarter and finished out in 2:02.4 - :29.4.
Norris had seven of the ten fillies entered in the two-year-old filly trots – and finished 1-2-3 in one and 1-2-3-4 in the other. The faster winner for Norris beat the times posted by “the boys,” as Mizzy Brenda K, by Donato Hanover out of owner Bob Key’s “foundation mare” Winning Missbrenda (dam of millionaires Win Missy B and Winning Mister), showed good front-end speed in a 2:02.1 triumph, equaling the season’s mark for the division. The other winner for Team Norris was the Conway Hall – Rucoucou distaff Sweet Sofie T, home in 2:03.1.