WILKES-BARRE PA – Hambletonian Oaks winner Bella Bellini, making her first start since winning that classic three starts ago, got away last against very tough opposition and made up a little ground but not enough as Big Oil, a son of Father Patrick, sped to a 1:51.3 lifetime best in a $19,300 fast-class trot at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Saturday afternoon.
Big Oil, who set a world record for the fastest trot dead-heat ever when he tied with Real Cool Sam in 1:52.1 at Lexington in 2019, beat that mark by taking control of this race from the start, laying down quick splits of :26.1, :55, and 1:23.1, with Bella Bellini trying to get close uncovered, but coming up short. Andy Miller kept Big Oil burning to the wire to be 1½ lengths clear over the Ms Versatility mare P L Notsonice while going three-fifths of a second faster than the Oaks. Bella Bellini was timed in 1:52.3, just two-fifths behind her Oaks-winning time, off three weeks, on a five-eighth mile track, and uncovered from the outside post against veteran stock .
The card also featured the last of the Pennsylvania All-Stars races for the year, with two $35,000 divisions for three-year-old pacing fillies, ahead of their $253,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship here next Saturday. The winners were horses who parlayed rail trips into checks in the Lynch Memorial Championship last Saturday.
The faster winner was the Sweet Lou filly Chase Lounge who led at every call, then flashed home in :27.2 to hold off pocketsitting Milieu Hanover by a neck in a lifetime best 1:50.4. Just a half-length behind Grace Hill in a Sire Stake two starts ago, Chase Lounge was driven today by Tyler Buter, who along with Jason Bartlett had three wins on the card, for trainer Rollie Mallar and owner William Hartt.
In the other section, the Somebeachsomewhere filly Thebeachiscalling, third in the Lynch, followed early brusher Darby Hanover, went on past that one, and retained control to the wire, besting that rival by 1¼ lengths in 1:51, with a :27.1 last quarter. Matt Kakaley had the driving assignment behind the winner of $283,522 for trainer Chris Ryder and Bella Racing LTD.
Top purse event on the Sunday 5 p.m. card is a $19,300 for top-level distaffs; also, the local summer series of the American Harness Drivers Club amateur group wraps up on Sunday, with a $15,000 Championship and a $9900 consolation. Program pages are available at https://www.phha.org/downsmsppps.html.