WILKES-BARRE PA – The two $15,300 features at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Tuesday afternoon each produced an exciting multi-horse close finish, with the pace seeing $97.20 bomber Reigning Deo up by a nose in the last stride in 1:51.2, and the trot finding King Alphonso ($3.40) also getting up by a nose in the final step in 1:53.4.
The pacing contest saw five lead changes in a race where the main pack consisted of six horses (a seventh made a break): Im A Gigolo N was first to the top, with first Bettorbuckleup and then favored Blank Stare starting moves near the :27.3 quarter and then completing them, with the chalk on top before the :55.3 half. Tell Them Lou moved up and provided cover to Reigning Deo to the 1:23.1 three-quarters and beyond; Bettorbuckleup came up the Pocono Pike and got a short late lead, but Reigning Deo kept coming and got the nod on the money while taking a new mark. Tell Them Lou was only another neck back, and a neck ahead of fourth-place Im A Gigolo N.
On the trot, King Alphonso atypically raced from well behind as Can’t Say No made two pace-controlling moves and posted fractions of :26.4, :56.1, and 1:24.3, passing the last-named station as a stern challenge from first-up Yankee Girlfriend carried her to a small lead but not the inside as King Alphonso followed her cover.
Can’t Say No fought back to reclaim the lead in the stretch, but driver Jim Pantaleano had the victorious son of Muscle Hill moving well, reaching the wire first a nose to the good as the unlucky Can’t Say No finished second for the fourth straight time, three of them by a head or less; Yankee Girlfriend missed taking the big end of the purse herself by only a head. King Alphonso won his second straight for trainer Christen Pantaleano and owner Matthew Morrison.
The two-year-olds make their first appearance this year at The Downs during Wednesday morning’s qualifying session, with four races divided by gait and sex.
The next racing at The Downs will be on Saturday at 12:30, with a $86,772.47 Rainbow Pick 5 carryover pool; Sunday’s 5:00 p.m. will feature two divisions of the third preliminary of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for three-year-old trotting fillies. Anoka Hanover, the 2020 Dan Patch awardwinner who equaled the Philly divisional track record of 1:52.3 but followed that up with a subpar performance in the slop at The Meadows, takes on double Sires winner You Ato Dream in one division, while the second cut has a number of 2020 titlewinners: Canadian champion Donna Soprano; Breeders Crown champion Lady Chaos; Sire Stakes champion Flawless Country; and Stallion Series champion Love Muffin, who is already a double PaSS winner this year. The program pages for these cards will be available at https://www.phha.org/downsmsppps.html.