WILKES-BARRE PA – The fields for the elimination races for Sun Stakes Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono have been drawn, with the top finishers in the eliminations this Saturday coming back in a week to compete in the $500,000 Ben Franklin Free-For-All Pace, the $500,000 Earl Beal Three-Year-Old Trot, the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Three-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pace, and the $300,000 James Lynch Three-Year-Old Filly Pace.
There are three eliminations for both of the sophomore pacing events, with the top three coming back for the big money a week hence. In the Beal Trot and the Franklin Pace, there are two eliminations, with the top four finishers plus the fifth-place finisher with the highest 2019 earnings taking places in the Championship events.
Here’s a look at the horses in the eliminations of each of the four Sun Stakes Saturday events.
McWicked, 2018’s Harness Horse of the Year, the defending Franklin champion and the winner of last season’s Breeders Crown right here at Pocono, heads the free-for-all contingent. A winner of $3,918,456, the son of McArdle won his 2019 debut, then came back for a creditable third after taking four weeks off last Saturday, and is quite likely to be tighter for this Saturday’s action. He’ll start from post three in the eight-horse tenth race elimination, with Brian Sears driving for trainer Casie Coleman and the S S G Stables.
Springsteen makes his 2019 debut from post one for the brother team of trainer Rene and driver Simon Allard; he won the Hempt Pace during last year’s Sun Stakes Saturday card. Starting between Springsteen and McWicked is Lather Up, a top performer when minding his manners for driver Montrell Teague and trainer Clyde Francis.
In the eighth race first Franklin elimination, Highalator comes back to Pocono on a five-race winning streak. A son of Somebeachsomewhere owned by trainer Jenny Bier in partnership with Joann Dombeck and Midsize Construction Inc., Highalator, as fierce a stretch competitor as has been seen at Pocono in a long time, will look to raise his lifetime tally at the mountain oval to 13 wins in 20 starts as he begins from post four in the nine-horse field for driver Richard Still.
Western Fame, who ran roughshod through the Levy Series and has earned $448,800 already this year, comes back to the races after a month-and-a-half freshening, and he’ll start from post two for trainer Rene Allard and driver Daniel Dube.
EARL BEAL THREE-YEAR-OLD TROT ($25,000 eliminations in races 2 and 12)
The Father Patrick colt Greenshoe, who has stamped himself the early favorite for The Hambletonian, is at the front of the class of the trotters assembling for the Beal off three astounding lines – a 1:51.2 win in a New Jersey Sire Stakes at The Meadowlands on May 17, a 1:50.2 triumph in the NJSS final two weeks later, and then a 1:52 qualifier here at Pocono on June 12. The Marcus Melander trainee, owned by Courant Inc., Hans Backe, Lars Granqvist, and Morten Langli, will begin from post five in the twelfth race second elimination for driver Brian Sears.
The biggest threat to Greenshoe could come from Osterc, the 2018 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion who is 3-for-4 to start this year, including two PaSS prelims and the Dexter Cup. He’ll go from post four for trainer Per Engblom, with Yannick Gingras listed as driver.
In the second race first Beal elim, the Muscle Hill colt Green Manalishi S, another from the potent stable of Marcus Melander, makes his seasonal debut from post five, with Tim Tetrick scheduled to drive for owners Courant Inc. Green Manalishi S was five times first and five times second in ten starts as a freshman, earning $510,557.
White Tiger, who equaled the 5/8-mile track world record for freshman geldings with a 1:55 win here last year, figures competitive here for trainer Andrew Harris and driver David Miller as he begins from post three. White Tiger opened his season with two wins before falling victim to broken equipment in his latest outing.
MAX C. HEMPT THREE-YEAR-OLD COLT&GELDING PACE ($25,000 eliminations in races 1, 4, and 7)
Proof, the 2018 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion, will draw his share of attention in the fourth race second Hempt elimination. The A Rocknroll Dance colt, trained by Brian Brown for Diamond Creek Racing, got his first 2019 win in his fourth start last time out, but he had been competitive in Sire Stakes event before the breakthrough win. David Miller is listed to guide Proof from post three.
Starting from the rail in the first race first elimination is another 2018 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion – Aflame Hanover, whose 1:51.4 triumph in the PA Fair SS Championship was the fastest final victory of all-time, even quicker than any three-year-old. The Russell Hanover gelding, a “local product” trained by Linda Schadel and co-owned by her and her husband Tony, comes off a fourth in the North America Cup Final, and Andrew McCarthy has gotten along well with the sophomore since taking over driving duties two races ago.
In the seventh race third elimination, there are stakes winners from Delaware (Goldberg), New Jersey and Kentucky (Hurrikane Emperor), along with recent sub-1:50 overnight winners in Lyons JohnnyJnr and Captain Trevor. A handicapper could make a good case for many of the horses in this competitive field.
JAMES LYNCH THREE-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACE ($20,000 eliminations in races 3, 5, and 11)
One of the surer bets on Sun Stakes Saturday elimination night is that there will be a great deal of attention on the eleventh race third Lynch elimination, as Warrawee Beauty and Treacherous Reign have at each other again after the latter beat the former by a nose in a thrilling Fan Hanover final in Ontario last weekend.
The Sweet Lou filly Warrawee Beauty, the fastest two-year-old of all-time at 1:48.3 and last year’s divisional champ, will be out for revenge from the rail in the seven-horse field for driver Yannick Gingras, trainer Ron Burke, and owners Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Phil Collura, and J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby. The Captaintreacherous miss Treacherous Reign, undefeated in four starts this year, begins from post three for driver Dexter Dunn, trainer Tony Alagna, and the combine of Alagna Racing LLC, Big Als Stables, Let It Ride Stables Inc., and Mr. Dana Parham.
Another daughter of Captaintreacherous, Philly Hanover, will be handled by Dexter Dunn from post two in the third race first Lynch elim. The Ron Coyne trainee, owned by Ron Coyne Stables Inc. and Blair Corbeil, has four wins and a second in five starts this year, the second coming to Warrawee Beauty, and she is a double PaSS winner
Zero Tolerance has had zero tolerance for her New York Sire Stakes rivals this year, winning her three NYSS starts by a combined 16¾ lengths. The job may not be as easy in the fifth race second Lynch elim, but the Heston Blue Chip filly is the likely favorite beginning from post four for driver David Miller, trainer Joe Holloway, and the ownership of Val D’Or Farms and Ted Gewertz.
The gigantic Saturday Pocono card also has a $30,000 Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS) pace as race nine, with the two inside starting slots to be filled by Courtly Choice, who has carried his three-year-old form over to his present age four, and None Bettor A, the imported upstart who earned his sixth straight victory in the Battle Of Lake Erie on June 8. Both already have GNOS wins to their credit.
First post for this Saturday’s 14-race card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono is scheduled for 7 p.m.