WILKES-BARRE PA – The Royal Millennium gelding Prairie Panther worked out a second-over trip from second-last, then pounced on the leaders through the lane to record a 1:50 victory in a $30,000 event in the Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS) for fast-class pacers Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.
Marcus Miller followed the cover of Proper One with the winner as favored Western Fame, who had taken the lead after a :26 opener, posted middle splits of :54.4 and 1:22. When the first-over faltered on the turn, Miller swung Prairie Panther wide, and he finished in overdrive to defeat Scott Rocks, who had utilized the Pocono Pike, by a half-length, with Western Fame third and series pointleader Tiger Thompson N fourth.
Michael Deters, co-owner with Laurie Lee Poulin, trains the winner of more than half (31 for 61) of his lifetime starts. This was the first seasonal GNOS outing for Prairie Panther, but the points he won tonight, combined with a couple more high finishes before the GNOS prelims end the weekend of September 1, could get him a ranking high enough to qualify for the $100,000 GNOS divisional Championship at 1¼ miles here on Monday, September 9.
Benji’s Best ran his winning streak to three, and stopped Atta Boy Dan’s at five, in grinding past the pacesetting favorite while equaling his lifetime mark of 1:50 in the $20,000 claiming handicap pace. The Roll With Joe gelding stepped up to the top local claiming level here and was a 1¼ length winner for driver Anthony Napolitano and trainer Daniel Maier, the latter co-owner with Ameer Najor. After being claimed three straight races, Benji’s Best will remain with Team Maier/Najor another week.
Though defeated on Saturday, Atta Boy Dan retained his popularity at the claiming box, being taken for $40,000 for his eighth straight start, for a track record $40,000 the ninth time during the meet, and bought for a tag in eleven of his twelve starts since coming in from The Meadows. He now goes to the barn of trainer Antonia Storer for the third time this meet. Rock The Town, who finished third in the co-feature and who had been claimed for $40,000 in his last six races, gets to stay with trainer Pierre Paradis and owner Karen Taylor another week.