WILKES-BARRE PA – Ever since the Game Of Claims Series earlier in the spring, the Pocono Downs at Mohegan Pennsylvania Race Office has been able to keep together multiple divisions of the top claiming handicap trotters, and on Tuesday afternoon two $15,500 sections were featured.
The Wheeling N Dealin gelding Diehard Seelster parlayed a pocket trip into a victory for the second straight week in the faster division, gaining into a :28.2 last quarter for driver Marcus Miller to take an easy victory in a 1:54.4 mile, a tick off the lifetime mark he set last week. However, if Diehard Seelster is to run his winning streak to three, he’ll be doing it for different connections, for the horse was claimed from owner Jerry Zollo and trainer Marc Mosher for his $25,000 tag.
In the other division the Muscle Mass gelding Dart Guy came up with the mile of his life, grinding first-over to the lead and holding off the field in a lifetime best of 1:55.3. You don’t often get 20-1 on driver Matt Kakaley at Pocono, but you did here if you backed the Steven Brabrook-trained trotter, owned by Jaypaul Hoover.
There were also four divisions of the $15,000 “nw 4 races” class for the various gaits and sexes. Two of the races were for trotters, and trainer/driver Åke Svanstedt won both with three-year-old fillies bred on the Continent.
Pure Hope S was certainly impressive in her 2023 debut, making the lead at the quarter and then striding home in :27.3 to lower her mark to 1:54.1. The daughter of Brilliantissime showed she could go with the best fillies last year and reinforced that position with the win for Soderberg Bloodstock LLC. And another competitor in the higher ranks in 2022, Emira Mil IT, followed up on her season-opening Lady Suffolk victory with a triumph in 1:54.4, a new mark for the daughter of Face Time Bourbon, who is owned by Pimpicks Inc.
In the male pace, the Huntsville colt Taste Of Honey needed every bit of a 1:50.4 clocking to catch a stubborn Zeus Hanover by a half-length in the final strides. The sophomore earned a new mark while winning for driver Simon Allard, trainer Ron Burke, and the ownership of Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, J&T Silva Stables LLC, and Phil Collura.
Female pacers were mastered by the So Surreal mare Kay Sage, who bounced back quickly off a sick scratch to use the Pocono Pike as the route to tie her lifetime best of 1:52.4. Braxten Boyd was in the sulky for trainer Bill Mac Kenzie and owner Ted Gewertz.
There was a surprise in a $13,000 “nw2” pace, as Thorn Toad blazed through Open-like fractions of :26.1, :53.3, and 1:20.2. But he could not sustain his advantage; instead, the Artiscape colt Bullville Stephano, sitting snug in the three-hole, tipped wide in the stretch and won handily in 1:49 (yes, “nw2”) for driver Ridge Warren, trainer Steve Crevani, and Crevani Farms. The Pocono surface, as it always has been, continues to be one of the speediest ovals around.
Matt Kakaley and Ridge Warren shared the day’s driving honors with three victories apiece.
Pocono is currently on a four-day schedule, with racing on Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at 6 p.m.; this Sunday, some of the best three-year-old trotting fillies will face off in three divisions of their Pennsylvania All-Stars event. Program pages for all Pocono races are or will be available at https://www.phha.org/downsmsppps.html.