WILKES-BARRE PA – The Game Of Claims Series for the highest two levels of pacers raced their third and final preliminary round on Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and the top contenders for the thrones to be won in the rich Game Of Claims Championships next week were not exactly clarified by the twilight card’s action.
The highest-level horses, going here for a base claiming tag of $30,000 in the weekly-progressive pricing rules of the series, raced two $25,000 preliminaries, with neither winner being claimed. Those winners were Classy Hill, an Art Colony gelding who took the field coast-to-coast in 1:53 for driver George Napolitano Jr. (a five-time winner on the card) in his first start for trainer Dan Maier and owner Ameer Najor, and the longest shot on the board, the Quality Western gelding Mister Indiana, who decisioned the second-longest shot, Half A Billion, in 1:52.3, for driver Matt Kakaley, trainer Michael Posner, and owner Austin Siegelman.
The three $15,000 prelims for horses base-valued at $20,000 Saturday saw a division yield the fastest mile of the year at Pocono, 1:51.1, by the Shadyshark Hanover gelding Horsing Around, who won his second straight for driver Simon Allard, trainer Rene Allard, and the partnership of Allard Racing Inc. and Neal Moase. But here’s the big unknown factor relating to next week – Horsing Around will be departing the Allard barn after being the only Game Of Claims winner on the night to be purchased via the box!
Driver Simon Allard and trainer/owner/brother Rene do get to keep the Royal Art B gelding Royal Heart, who won at first asking for his new connections in 1:54. The third winner in this price group produced the biggest mutuel shock of the night, as Matt Kakaley put the Jereme’s Jet gelding J M Jet Set on the lead and withstood the late chargers in 1:54.3 for trainer Steven Brabrook and owners Rod Lorenzo and Brian Running while paying $53.80.
The listing of the unofficial top nine pointwinners heading into next Saturday’s $30,000 Championship needs though a clarification. Even with losing this week’s fastest winner, Team Allard still has three of the nine highest pointgetters, and series conditions allow for an owner or trainer to have only two entries in the final. So while this is the list of the top nine – Ancle and Horsing Around (tied), Royal Heart*, Cheyenne Reijane, Stirling Escort*, Machine Team, Concur, American Music, and Pop’s Romeo* -- one of the three asterisked competitors, all Allard horses, will if this list is verified not be going. Thus the two tied for tenth now, Drunk On Your Love and Always A Diamond, will certainly have an interest in Monday’s draw for next Saturday’s card of two GOC Championships.
In anticipation of those Championships, nine horses were claimed Saturday for $210,000, bringing the totals for the five-card-long meet to 52 claims aggregating $1,022,800.