WILKES-BARRE PA – Driver Mark MacDonald won both of the $15,300 feature races at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Tuesday afternoon, and with the pacer Gray Dragon having gotten a lot of “ink” in recent weeks, we’ll lead with the trotter Can’t Say No, a game 1:55.4 winner and a horse with his own interesting back story.
MacDonald let two foes go by early, then got the Explosive Matter four-year-old underway midway through turn one, claiming the top not much past the :27.4 quarter, then backing off the half to :57.4 and the three-quarters in 1:26.4. Can’t Say No had too much in the tank left in the dash to the line, winning by three parts of a length over Banzai As, who carried on gamely despite broken equipment.
As for Gray Dragon, the four-year-old son of Dragon Again won his fifth consecutive start over the Pocono oval, the last four of them in this company (his opposition will be glad to hear he won himself out of this class with the Tuesday triumph). He followed the cover of Mankat past a :26.2 opener, then went past the foe going towards the second turn before the :54.2 half. The field narrowed in a bit nearing the 1:22.4 three-quarters and through the far turn, then MacDonald made a simple request for more speed and his pacer responded impressively, with his :27.3 kicker completing a 1:50.2 mile. John Butenschoen trains the winner of $202,217 for Emerald Highlands Farm.
Gray Dragon, though, wasn’t even the fastest gray winner on the card; that distinction goes to the Somebeachsomewhere sophomore colt Somewhereinverona, who caught favored pacesetter Gamblin Mo to win by a length in 1:49.4 in a $13,500 subclass. Gamblin Mo, who won a PA All-Stars event here earlier and has two seconds in Sire Stakes company, went right down the road with hot fractions of :27, :54.2, and 1:22, but Anthony Napolitano pulled the pocket at headstretch with Somewhereinverona and guided the pacer to a new race mark by over three seconds for trainer Blake MacIntosh, who also co-owns with Petitpas Stables LTD, Ozzie Mackay, and Gilles Landry.