WILKES-BARRE PA – The Game Of Claims Series continued on Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with the temperature dropping through the 20s throughout the twilight card but the contested action featuring hot contests and hot horses.
Both winners were claimed out of the $25,000 second preliminary leg for horses this week valued at a base price of $27,500, as horsemen want the right horse ready to take the throne in this group’s $50,000 Game of Claims Championship on Saturday the 29th.
Also winning in this company, and also moving to a new stable, is the veteran Pacific Fella gelding Polak A, who came from off the pace to win in 1:52.1 while exceeding $800,000 in earnings for driver Jim Morrill Jr., trainer Darren Taneyhill and owner Eric Prevost (these two having the horse only this one week). Polak A had a second last week and a win here, so like two-time winner Trente Deo he is likely to make their Championship and may be eyed by several stables, even though the base price of claiming for this group goes up to $30,000 in next week’s last preliminary.
There were three divisions of the second preliminary round for the Game Of Claims group valued at a $17,500 base price Saturday, and the rail proved the common launching pad for the three victors of the $15,000 races. Simon and Rene Allard combined to take two of the cuts: with Horsing Around, who had been claimed in the first prelim, the Shadyshark Hanover gelding winning for Allard Racing Inc and Neal Moase in 1:53.2; and with the Roll With Joe gelding Stirling Escort, picture-perfect in tallying for A-1 Racing in 1:54.3.
Neither Allard winner was claimed this time, but the winner of the other cut, the Make My Day gelding Ancle, is changing hands for the second straight week after becoming the only two-time Game Of Claims winner in this price class. Jim Morrill Jr. guided Ancle to victory in 1:53.3 for trainer James Guagliardo and owner Steven Celinsky. In all, six horses were claimed for $105,000 at this level with an eye towards the group’s February 29 $30,000 Championship, bringing the night’s total barnchangers to a dozen, with $278,775 changing hands.
In the $17,500 top conditioned pace, last year’s Pocono Pacer of the Year and the winningest harness horse in the United States with nineteen, the eleven-year-old Western Terror gelding Atta Boy Dan, joined the repeat series victors as the only two-time winners at the meet with a 1:51.3 victory. Tyler Buter kept the greybeard just off a wicked :25.4 opening duel, brushed to the lead, and then the pair won as they pleased for trainer Peter Pellegrino and owner Stephen Larkin. The victory was the 74th in Atta Boy Dan’s career, and he now sports a bankroll of $982,752.
Driver Jim Morrill Jr. visited Victory Lane four times Saturday, giving him ten triumphs after three days in the young Pocono season.
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The PHHA and the Pocono community extends its sympathies to trainer Andrew Harris, to his two daughters, and to the extended family upon hearing that Andrew’s wife Amanda passed away at age 34 after a long and courageous battle with breast cancer.