The Artspeak gelding Bipbopnallie appeared to have a daunting task in front of him in the second half of the $17,000 10th race featured pace on Tuesday afternoon (Oct. 12) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, as he was fifth, eight lengths behind... the fourth-place horse.
Still 9-3/4 lengths off the lead at the three-quarters, Bipbopnallie was swung wide by driver George Napolitano and managed to be along in 1:51.3 in a five-across-the-wire finish.
Actor Hanover flew away from the start to get the lead, then rebuffed a move from pocket-sitting Rollin In New York past a :26.4 quarter. Actor Hanover did not refuse a challenge from the next horse to come up – Hurrikane Emperor, who took his mark of 1:47 in the 2020 Graduate Final, but who was making his first start in 13 months – and that one rolled on to the lead before the :54.1 half, with Actor Hanover, Rollin In New York, and Mankat still attached by the 1:21.4 three-quarters.
Through the lane, Hurrikane Emperor clung gamely to the lead, with Actor Hanover and Mankat challenging to his inside and Rollin In New York threatening outside of him. Suddenly, Bipbopnallie entered the fray late, and his closing kick allowed him to get a head ahead of Hurrikane Emperor, who decisioned Rollin In New York for second. Actor Hanover and rail-shooting Mikibytheseaside got the last two cheques in that order, and Mankat and Bettor Not Talk were within 1-1/2 lengths of the rallying victor, but got no payday.
The winner is trained by Steve LeBlanc for LeBlanc Racing Inc., Count Da Money Stable, and William Lutz Jr.
For winning driver Napolitano, the victory helped him on his March towards $100 million, as the horses he has driven in his career have now earned $99,979,677.
There were also two divisions of the feature class for trotters; both produced impressive winners who came from behind after a slow pace. The faster winner was the Explosive Matter gelding Baldaquin, who hadn’t raced for 35 days, but who responded to a move from the pocket to the Pocono Pike by driver Marcus Miller (three wins on the day, one behind Tyler Buter) and went by in a few strides to win in 1:56.1, gaining into the :56.3 last half. Trained by Louise Pepin for owner Steven Bryden, Baldaquin has won four of his last five starts – amazingly, all in this class – but now the five-time winner in 10 seasonal outings will have to test better, as he has worked his way out of this company in both wins and earnings.
The Cantab Hall sophomore gelding Dagon Hanover had to go up first-over after a dawdling half in the other trotting headliner, but he proved equal to the challenge, holding off favoured Worthy Of Honor in 1:57.3. Mark MacDonald got the driving assignment from trainer Todd Buter as the youngster won for Lynette Buter, William and Carol Fuhs, and James Marion.
And then if that weren’t enough excitement for one day, in the last race, the Southwind Frank sophomore filly Spit And Vinegar was angled wide in the lane by driver Jim Pantaleano and was up on the money by a head. The Pocono maintenance people will have until Saturday to reinforce the toteboard after Spit And Vinegar lit up the win payoff at $214.80, biggest price of the season at The Downs.