WILKES-BARRE PA – The temperature finally got to 50 degrees on Saturday afternoon, the first day of Spring, at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono – and the Mach Three gelding J M Mandamin was the first horse to post a local 1:50 mile this season in taking the $14,000 fast-class pacing feature.
Driver Joe Bongiorno, teaming yet again with sister/trainer Jennifer Bongiorno, moved the razor-sharp performer from third early, went around early leader Ollie’s Z Tam, and set fractions of :27.1, :55, and 1:22.1. Trente Deo came first-over just past the half, but J M Mandamin proved equal to his challenge and to that of newcomer Paternity Suit A, who came roaring from far back late to get second. The winner took a new lifetime mark with his 1:50 victory, and his immediate future appears very bright for owner Robert Weinstein.
As is usual on Saturday at Pocono, there were many claiming handicap events for the top-priced horses, with the fastest of these miles seeing Wagon Master equal his mark and Proven Desire take a new record with identical times of 1:50.4. As is also usual on Saturday at Pocono, the claiming box proved a popular place to visit, with 17 horses changing hands for $365,000. In the first fourteen cards of the year, 208 claims have resulted in $3,774,375 of transactions.
Jason Bartlett was the winningest horseman on the card, with four driving triumphs. The Bongiornos, Team J&J, posted a triple for the second straight Saturday; joining them were Darren Taneyhill (with three different drivers) in the training column and George Napolitano Jr. among the sulky set.