WILKES-BARRE PA – Casual Cool took care of business as the favorite in the $17,500 pacing feature at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Saturday afternoon, while in the $17,500 trotting headliner, Focus Pocus went the mile of his life to win a three-horse photo at 16-1.
Casual Cool, an altered son of American Ideal trained by Daniel Renaud for Dune Road Stables LLC, left the gate very quickly to grab the lead from post seven for driver Jim Pantaleano, getting to the quarter in :27.2 and the half in :55.1. Going past the half, however, Bettor Memories came with a big uncovered move, going his own third split in :26.2 to take a small advantage before the 1:22.2 three-quarters. But Casual Cool wouldn’t let his opponent cross over to the rail, and the two were at each other to the wire, with the chalk edging his tenacious rival by a neck to raise his lifetime bankroll to $583,810.
Focus Pocus also left with high speed in the trot headliner, reaching the quarter even faster than did the top pacers, :27.1, and kept going on under George Napolitano Jr.’s handling, discouraging the pocketsitting stakes mare Weslynn Quest from making a move to the top. Focus Pocus continued setting the pace through midsplits of :56 and 1:24.1, with heavy favorite Eurobond starting to move up uncovered, then getting the cover of Weslynn Quest as that one moved out into the far turn.
They fanned out three-across through the stretch – and they were actually much wider than that as the pacesetter drifted out – with Focus Pocus winning the tightest of photos over Weslynn Quest and Eurobond. Trainer Jeff Cullipher, co-owner with Pollack Racing LLC, then had to sweat out an inquiry into the stretch racing, but no placement was made, and Focus Pocus reduced his mark, with the Muscle Massive gelding now with $191,258 on his card.
A second 1:50 mile came in a division of the $16,500 top claiming handicap pace, as the Shadow Play gelding The Dark Shadow powered by uncovered late on the backstretch and went on to an overwhelming victory while equaling his 1:50 lifetime mark for driver Matt Kakaley, trainer Jennifer Bongiorno, and owner Robert Weinstein.
George Napolitano Jr. captured four races on the Saturday program, narrowing double winner Matt Kakaley’s lead at the top of the Pocono standings to 228-226.
Racing resumes at the mountain oval on Monday at 1:30 p.m., with a $17,000 pace for developing females the top attraction. Program pages for all Pocono races are or will be available at https://www.phha.org/downsmsppps.html.