WILKES-BARRE PA – Four of the eight $20,000 divisions, for horses base-tagged at $27,500 this week, of the second preliminary for the Game Of Claims Pacing Series were repeat winners on Saturday afternoon at Pocono Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Three of the four were claimed both last week and this; the other hasn’t had to make a barn change during the series action.
Over a sloppy track that had seen snow earlier in the day, Caviart Val was the only two-time winner claimed the first week who defeated another first-round winner (Century Fury, third, and also claimed). Caviart Val, timed in 1:55 in the muck, also draws the first spotlight because of his connections – trainer Darren Taneyhill, who won three GOC divisions, and driver Matt Kakaley, who reported home first six times on Saturday and now has 24 wins on the first eight 2023 cards.
Other second-time series winners changing barns again were Bravo Tex N (1:55.1, driver George Napolitano Jr.) and Park Official (1:55.3, Anthony Napolitano). The only double winner to stay put was Division Bell, winning in 1:56.4 for a teaming of “Anthony Nap” and Taneyhill in holding off first-round winner A Bettor Beach.
Taneyhill acquired his third GOC Saturday winner, Frontier Rollo, through the selling box last week, and here the horse posted a 12-1 upset in 1:55.2 while untaken. Other first-time winners in this group were Secrecy (the fastest winner this week in 1:54.2, Kakaley up); the aptly-named Mudville (1:55.4, Marcus Miller); and the only first-time series success who was claimed, Ideal Star N (1:56.4, Simon Allard).
Favorites went 1-for-18 in last week’s three days of Game Of Claims Series action; the crowd had it a little better on Saturday, as three of eight favorites overcame the tricky conditions. A total of eleven horses were claimed for $309,375 Saturday, putting the total selling figure over $1 million early in the meet.
The fast-class feature for pacers was an $18,500 contest taken by the extremely-promising Hemsworth N, a lightly-raced Sweet Lou gelding who overcame the outside post eight with a gritty two-move victory in 1:53 for Kakaley, wearing down the stubborn classmaster Nicholas Beach by a half length. Hemsworth N, trained by Ashley Eldred for 1362313 Ontario LTD, did not get to the races until four, then won 11 of 27 in his native land before coming to the States and going undefeated in three starts last year. The Kiwi just missed in his 2023 bow, then stamped himself as a pacer to watch winning here while raising his earnings to $100,511.
Sunday’s 1 p.m. card features nine $12,500 divisions of the Game Of Claims Series group that will race this week for a $17,500 tag. Program pages for all Pocono races are or will be available at https://www.phha.org/downsmsppps.html.