WILKES-BARRE PA – On Higher Ground shipped in from Yonkers to Pocono Downs at Mohegan Pennsylvania and promptly won the $25,000 Preferred trot on Saturday afternoon in 1:51.4, a new mark and the fastest trotting mile of the year at The Downs.
Driver Jason Bartlett kept the Cassis gelding in third early as P L Notsonice took the lead away from favorite Rich And Miserable after a battle to a :27 quarter, with the mare carrying on to the half in :55.4. On Higher Ground was full of trot when Bartlett moved him outside down the backstretch, grinded to the leader by the 1:24.1 three-quarters, then drew away from that one by six lengths with a :27.3 last quarter; Rich And Miserable had to settle for third.
Jennifer Bongiorno trains the fast winner of $416,539 lifetime for owner Robert Weinstein.
In the $18,500 co-featured trot, Robbie Pev was able to sustain his frontstepping advantage to the wire, taking a new mark of 1:53.1. The Bar Hopping gelding made the top before a :27.2 opener, then had plenty of midrace pressure from the favored Dandy, who had to come a long way uncovered during splits of :56.2 and 1:24.1. Robbie Pev opened a brief clear lead early stretch and then held off second-over Share The Wealth by three-quarters of a length, with Dandy continuing on for third. Robbie Pev was driven by Tyler Buter for trainer Jill Roland and owner Bernard O’Brien.
There was also an $18,500 event for pacers, with Luckbewithalex, already the author of three sub-1:50 miles at the meet against lesser foes, stepped up in class and gamely held off favorite Da Delightful in 1:50. Jack’s Legend N made the front by the :26.4 quarter, with Da Delightful and Luckbewithalex both on the move behind him; Da Delightful first claimed the top, with Luckbewithalex then going past that one by the :55.3 half. Odds On Osiris posted a serious uncovered threat to the 1:23 three-quarters, but in the stretch the two second quarter movers were the main fighters; Luckbewithalex held off his inside foe by a nose for driver Anthony Napolitano, trainer Lance Hudson, and owner William Hartt.
Fastest winner on the card was RIP Wheeler, a Rockin Image gelding who impressed while taking a $17,000 pace in 1:49.4 for driver Matt Kakaley (top sulkysmith of the day with three successes), trainer Hunter Oakes, and owners Thaddeus Wier, Donald Mac Rae, and Stephen Klunowski.
Sunday’s 6 p.m. card will feature four divisions of the second leg of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for three-year-old colt pacers, plus five complementary sections of that group’s Stallion Series. All four of the first round Sire Stakes winners – Annapolis Hanover, Bamboozler, Fulton, and Ken Hanover – are set for action on Sunday at the mountain oval, building up their pointtotals as they eye their September $250,000 Sire Stakes Championship. Program pages for all Pocono races are or will be available at https://www.phha.org/downsmsppps.html.