WILKES-BARRE PA – The three $15,000 divisions of the third and final preliminary of the Game Of Claims Trotting Series for $15,000 base-priced horses, held Monday afternoon at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, did absolutely nothing to clarify the picture before next Monday’s $30,000 series Championship.
Two of the three winners, both missing the first prelim, did not qualify for the final – they will be the two AEs based on the points. The third winner was ninth in the standings going into Monday, but he secured third place in the points – yet he was not claimed (in fact, none of Monday’s winners were), while the horses winding up 1-2-4 in the final pointstandings did change hands.
Golden Son is in AE1 position after going the fastest of the three Game Of Claims contests, rallying along the inside for a 1:55 win for driver Jason Bartlett, trainer Kevin Lare, and the Lexington Harness Group LLC. The other winner, Triumphant’s Chip, was giving chasing to frontstepping favorite Namje in the stretch when that one went offstride, and he picked up the pieces in 1:55.3 for driver Matt Kakaley, trainer Travis Alexander, and owner Adam Friedland.
The unofficial leading pointwinners for the Championship are Credit Fraud, Willie B Worthy, Ursis Des Caillons, Adagio De La Tour, Broadway Bruiser, Tyson, Meetmeinthemiddle, Explosive Magic and Campbellini. Broadway Bruiser (a double prelim winner, as was Credit Fraud) and Explosive Magic both chose to bypass the third prelim rather than risk a claim, and they had enough points for the strategy to work.
Amidst all the series action on the Monday card, a standout was the Bar Hopping sophomore trotting ridgling Top Me Off, who won his seasonal debut by 9¼ lengths in 1:54.2 – a clocking which was not only a lifetime best but also equaled the fastest mile by a three-year-old trotter anywhere in North America this year (also in 1:54.2 so far was the colt Really Fast at The Meadowlands). The winner of his Pennsylvania Fair Sire Stakes Championship at two (though this race was technically a “nw 1 p/m race”/maiden), Top Me Off could mature into a national-caliber stakes colt for trainer/driver Todd Schadel, who is also co-owner with his wife Christine along with Rick and Regina Beinhauer.