With John Campbell barely moving in the sulky behind her through the stretch, Checkmate Time trotted home with the wind in 28 to stop the timer in 1:53.3, a lowering of her mark by 1 2/5 seconds and five lengths clear of Connie Jean, for trainer Dennis A. Laterza and owner Roy Dobbins. Checkmate Time more than fulfilled the promise she showed last year, when she won two NJSS prelims while Ariana G won her only NJSS prelim start, and was 13-10 in the NJSS final to Ariana G’s 3-2, only to suffer an interference break on the lead and finish back, a hard-luck start that finished her 2016 racing.
But will Checkmate Time’s next start possibly be next Tuesday’s $30,000 Weiss Championship, with her having a win in her only prelim start? Read on three paragraphs and see.
Sunrise Avenue, who had won her first two outings in the series only to lose a nose to Connie Jean last week, rebounded nicely Tuesday to equal her mark of 1:55.4, taken two weeks ago in a Weiss prelim, and run her Weiss scorecard to 4-3-1-0. The Kadabra mare made the front past the quarter and set the rest of the pace, withstanding the pocket charge of The Muscle Touch by a length for driver Eric Carlson, trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera, and J M F Racing LLC.
In the other cut, Hot Mess Hanover took her second Weiss triumph with a 1:56.2 effort that saw her lead at every call, with back fractions of 57.3 – 28.3 allowing her to lower her record, taken in her other Weiss victory, a tick. Andrew McCarthy had sulky duty behind the Cantab Hall filly for trainer Joe Pavia Jr. and the ownership group of the Estate of Edmund Smith, Daniel Smith, and James and Daniel Gianuzzi.
So here are the nine Weiss trotting female finalists for next Tuesday’s $30,000 Championship, with high pointearner first and onward: Sunrise Avenue, Hot Mess Hanover, Connie Jean, The Muscle Touch, Abbie’s Celticlass, Talkin Tootsie, Whambamthankumaam, Gin’s Tonic, and … Checkmate Time, who claimed the ninth guaranteed starting spot with her fast victory!
None of the three males who won their first two Weiss prelim starts were able to run their record to 3-for-3 during the three $15,000 divisions of their third round prelim. One section had double winners Hilarious Hero and Ooh Rah, but various pieces of bad luck kept both of that pair from attaining even a 1-2-3 finish; instead, driver Eric Carlson and trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera, also the braintrust behind Weiss trotting mare Sunrise Avenue, got their picture taken with the Explosive Matter sophomore gelding Gustavo Fring, who stormed home from second-over in a personal kicker of 28.1 to defeat Muscle On Fire, on his back, by 1¾ lengths. Gustavo Fring lowered his mark by almost three seconds to 1:54.3 for his trainer, who is also co-owner with Michi Yvette Abday.
Another division had the other double Weiss prelim winner, Bend In The River, but after opening a clear margin early in the stretch that one could not hold off the Muscle Hill four-year-old gelding Tech Titan, who unleashed an explosive last 1/16 in his seasonal bow to win in 1:55.1 and double his lifetime victory total in his 23rd career start. “Mr. Sebastian K,” trainer/driver Åke Svanstedt, visited Pocono’s Victory Lane for the first time this season behind Tech Titan, who won for Knutsson Trotting Inc.
The other Weiss section for the boys did not feature a winner from the first two rounds, but Uncle Leroy, who had had 3-2 finishes, finally stopped knocking on the door and went right in to the winners circle, leading at every call to win in 1:57.1 – 58.1 – 28.3. Andrew McCarthy gained a victory on the male side to match his female triumph with Hot Mess Hanover as the driver teamed with trainer Jeff Gregory and owner Richard McCormick as the braintrust behind the four-year-old altered son of Neely Dunn, who posted his 18th career triumph after much success at the Ohio fairs at two and three.