WILKES-BARRE PA – For the second straight week, the Four Starzzz Shark gelding Epaulette A was victorious in the top-level conditioned pace at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and just as he did last week he posted the fastest clocking of the young season, winning this $21,500 contest in 1:50.4 for a new mark.
Perennial top local driver George Napolitano Jr. had the fast leaver on top by the 1/8 pole, but past the 27.1 quarter, Eddard Hanover made a quick move towards the lead. Epaulette A was having none of that, however, and went a 26.4 second quarter to keep the challenger out at the 54 half, and then shook that one off near the 1:21.4 3/4s.
Earlier in the card the veteran Rocknroll Hanover gelding Rockeyed Optimist showed sharp form that could increase his $680,508 lifetime bankroll dramatically, overcoming the outside post seven while equaling the previous best time of the year at the mountain oval, 1:51.1. Mitchell Cushing left and tucked third early, then sent his charge to the lead in front of the stands, and the classmaster took it from there, well clear of his opposition for trainer Jack Leamon, who shares ownership with Stephen Moss, Joseph Battaglia, and Virginia Berkner.
Once again the Pocono claiming box was a beehive of activity. Five claiming events produced 14 horses who were led back to new barns at the end of their miles, with $231,250 changing hands as stables seek sharp horses in pursuit of the early season money.
Pocono races its first Sunday card at 7 p.m. tomorrow (March 24), with the $1.4M-winning Melady’s Monet handicapped to the outside in a field of six in the $21,500 trotting feature. Melady’s Monet is trained by a horseman who has some previous experience with winners of much racetrack cash – Herman Heitmann, the first trainer of Foiled Again.