WILKES-BARRE PA – Special Way was the Breeders Crown champion and voted the two-year-old trotting filly of the year in 2022, and she’s undefeated in three starts this year. And yet there is still a question if Special Way is even the best filly – in Åke Svanstedt’s barn.
The cause of doubt is the Southwind Frank filly Bond, who won the PA Sires Final, Kindergarten Final, and Goldsmith Maid Final last year; in her seasonal debut at Pocono Downs at Mohegan Pennsylvania Sunday evening, she cleared to the lead from post eight before the first turn, rated the pace, then sprinted home in :26.4 for a powerful victory in 1:52.3, equaling her mark. Her victory came in one of three $30,000 divisions of her Pennsylvania All-Stars event.
Railee Something had her share of backers – she was sent off at 1-1 vs. Bond’s 4-5 off three wins to start the year – but she was outfooted away from post six by her rival’s instant acceleration, settling for the pocket through soft fractions of :28, :56.4, and 1:25.4. Railee Something pulled out of the pocket midturn, came her own last quarter in :26.4 -- and despite the giant effort of her own, lost a little stretch ground to the winner, who was a length to the good at the finish for trainer/driver Svanstedt (via Åke Svanstedt Inc.) and co-owners Little E LLC and L. Berg Inc.
Angelpedia rang up a lifetime best of 1:53.2 in winning her All-Stars division for driver Mike Wilder, trainer Dan Altmeyer, and owners Gil Short and Ross Stables LLC. The Cantab Hall filly was in front before the :27.4 initial fraction, got a breather to a :57.1 half then sped up the three-quarters to 1:25.3, keeping the accelerator down through a :27.4 final split in winning by 4¼ lengths.
Heavy favorite Fashion Annie got her first victory of the year by taking the other All-Stars split in 1:54.4. After a :28 opener, the Donato Hanover filly was hard used to reach a crowded front end by the :56.4 half. Fashion Annie hit the three-quarters in 1:25.2, then looked in control to the wire with a two length final margin for driver Tim Tetrick, trainer Jim Campbell, and Fashion Farms LLC.
The American Harness Drivers Club made its first Pocono appearance of 2023 in two $11,000 contests. The faster winner was the CR Royal Flush gelding Willy Walton, with owner/driver James Slendorn going to the top early with the heavy favorite and never surrendering the lead, staying safe with a :28.4 last quarter to stop the timer at 1:57 with the Chris Height trainee.
The other section saw 2022 Amateur Driver of the Year Tony Beltrami come up the inside to win an exciting four-horse stretch duel with the Bar Hopping gelding Lindy’s Booze Cruz in 1:58.2. The Paul Fusco trainee is owned by Elite Harness Racing LLC.
Racing continues at Pocono on Monday and Tuesday, with a 1 p.m. post time. Program pages for all Pocono races are or will be available at https://www.phha.org/downsmsppps.html.