WILKES-BARRE PA – After five $7500 divisions of the third and final preliminary leg of the Game Of Claims Pacing Series for $7500 base-tag pacers Monday afternoon at Pocono Downs at Mohegan Pennsylvania, there was only one horse who won twice in the prelims, Believeinthespirit.
The Art Major gelding took his first series start, got too far behind from an outside post last week, but here was able to pace up raw and take a length decision over Soho Wallstreet A in 1:55.1 under Anthony Napolitano’s handling. Trainer Crit Walsh co-owns the veteran with Lily Cimino, and they escaped the afternoon bringing their double visitor to Victory Lane back to the barn with them.
Walsh, “ANap,” and Lily Cimino had another GOC winner, this one in partnership with Just Enough LLC, in Pack Your Bags, whom they claimed last week and who promptly won for them in 1:55.3. Pack Your Bags also was not claimed – in fact, although five horses were claimed Monday, none of them were winners on the day.
Simon Allard drove two first-time starters at this GOC level to victory, with neither likely to earn a starting spot next Monday’s $15,000 final since participation in the series is rewarded each start. This seems especially unfortunate for Don’t Get Shocked, who recently won upon joining the Jody Dunning barn at Rosecroft, and then was tons the best against his GOC opposition. To put his 1:52.4 time (a new mark) in perspective, the fastest mile Saturday for $25,000-based horses was 1:52.2, and for $15,000-based horses Sunday was 1:53.4.
Allard’s other winner was Three Ways N, who dropped from a higher series level and posted a 1:55.1 success. The other Monday cut was won by Bettor’s Western (driver George Napolitano Jr.), who added a 1:55 victory to previous thirds in the series, and seems a good proposition to qualify for the Championship.
The Game Of Claims Championships will be the highlight of the upcoming three-day racing week at Pocono during 1 p.m. cards on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. The Saturday card will feature a $40,000 final for the success stories for the base-$25,000 tag in their preliminaries; also on the Saturday card is a $25,000 pace for the fast-class set. Program pages for all Pocono races are or will be available at https://www.phha.org/downsmsppps.html.