WILKES-BARRE PA – On a night not kind to favorites most of the way, 7-1 shot Hitman Hill caught 6-5 favorite Rockin Ron in the final strides for a neck win in 1:50.1 in the $21,500 featured pace Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.
Hitman Hill did some of the work to undo the favorite, forcing him to remain two-wide for 3/16 before clearing to the lead before a brutal :25.3 opener. Rockin Ron got a breather against the wind to a :55.2 half, but at that point Lyons Steel was streaking up uncovered, forcing Rockin Ron to reengage top gear, with Hitman Hill first loose in the pocket then tightening up late in the backstretch.
In a contentious $17,500 co-featured pace, Hunter Oakes was again a winner, this time as trainer, as Turbo Hill took a new mark of 1:49.4 for driver Eric Goodell. Stung to a :25.4 quarter, the victorious son of American Ideal yielded to Midway Island halfway to the :54.3 midpoint, then watched as the pacesetter fought with Rootin Tootin, who came uncovered from last to challenge the leader nearing the 1:22.1 three-quarters. Those two continued their battle, and then Goodell could dip Hitman Hill to the Pocono Pike, where he showed enough kick to win by a neck over Rootin Tootin, who held stoutly despite the rough trip and bearing out, with Midway Island another half length back in third. Tom Hill is also the owner of Turbo Hill, a winner eight times in twelve seasonal starts and ten of fourteen lifetime.
When Atta Boy Dan was claimed for $40,000 out of the night’s first race, he joined Raksmach N (who’s been haltered for that tag twice) as the most expensive claim ever in Pocono history. A few races later, Rock The Town also changed barns after a payment of $40,000, earning himself a line in this particular section of the local record books. Both of tonight’s big claims had to start from the outermost post in the claiming handicap events, were both favored despite the draw, and both were in the hunt in their races only to come up shy late after big efforts.
In total for the night, “only” nine horses were claimed, but their total value was $276,250 (over $30,000 a claim – serious money for serious horses), bringing the meet figures to 184 claims for $3,430,000.
Anthony Napolitano guided four horses to victory on the Saturday night card.
On Sunday, three-year-old trotting fillies will be featured at Pocono, with three divisions of Sire Stakes, including the undefeated Millies Possesion and the 2019 debutante The Ice Dutchess, and four division of Stallion Series action.