WILKES-BARRE PA – The Keystone Endeavor gelding Endeavors Pride, under constant reminders from driver Matt Kakaley to keep to business during the mile, showed gameness in taking the featured $16,000 claiming handicap pace Saturday evening at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.
Endeavors Pride was looped early, and was outside well past the :26.4 opening quarter. The winner did gain command before the :55.4 half, but he soon came under attack from first-over Rockin Rio. Endeavors Pride turned that one back on the far turn, then had enough to withstand a huge closing burst by Outkast Blue Chip, closer to the outside fence than the pylons turning for home, by 1¾ lengths in 1:52.3, with the mercury at 30 degrees. The eight-time seasonal winner is trained by Katie Remmerswaal for Doug and Leslie Berkeley.
Perhaps the most impressive winner of the night was In Secret, who captured the second co-feature in 1:50.4, matching the lifetime best he established two weeks ago. The Bettor’s Delight gelding had a horrible trip early – looped leaving, three-wide around a breaker, finally getting to tuck out of the first turn, then uncovered again into the next bend – but In Spades brushed right around the leader before the 5/8 and had a safe lead the rest of the way, winning under a hold. George Napolitano Jr. guided the sharp winner for owner/trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera.
21-year-old trainer Hunter Oakes was honored as the track’s leading conditioner in the UTR system in trackside ceremonies. The son of well-known trainer Chris Oakes, Hunter saw his horses post excellent numbers of 162-51-27-23-.455 going into the night’s card, putting him ahead of all trainers who average a start per two cards.
Speaking of two cards – that’s all that is left on the 2019 Pocono calendar. The trotters and pacers will go at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, and then next Saturday (7 p.m.), the final card of the local year will be highlighted by a Fan Appreciation Night that features a hooded sweatshirt giveaway while quantities (and size availability) lasts. The leading Driver awards will be given on the closing card, and the Trotter of the Year will be honored.