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Oakes Stable Continues Unique Streak

Published: November 19, 2016 10:55 pm ET

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In the last five Saturdays at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, the $18,000 claiming handicap pace for horses valued at $25,000 to $30,000 has been taken by four different horses: Terror Time A, Rockin Rambaran, double winner Freeneasy Hanover, and this week Pappys Pal. The amazing thing about this high-class array of high-tagged horses? They have all been trained by Chris Oakes and driven by George Napolitano Jr.

Last week, trainer Oakes and owner Hunter Oakes claimed Pappys Pal for $25,000, probably knowing that their Freeneasy Hanover was likely to be plucked out of the same race for the same price. For this week’s match-up, Pappys Pal went from post six to post three, while Freeneasy Hanover went from post three to post seven, and this positional change, along with the hot hands of Oakes/Napolitano, probably caused the crowd to make Pappys Pal Saturday’s favourite.

Pappys Pal, a Cams Card Shark gelding, took advantage of his inside positioning, forcing a late first turn tuck, then stinging Freeneasy Hanover (this week guided by George’s brother Anthony) past a :26 quarter, which was wind-aided, before surrendering the lead. Pappys Pal and “GNap” sat contentedly behind the leader through middle splits of :54.4 and 1:22.3, then came out headstretch and paced through the strong wind to take the lead 100 feet out and win by a neck over “Freeneasy” in 1:52.

If Oakes is to continue his streak in the top claimers during next Saturday’s season-ending card, it won’t be with Pappys Pal -- and it is hoped the horse did not unpack too much under the Oakes shedrow -- for he was claimed by trainer Rene Allard... but the streak might continue powered by Freeneasy Hanover, who was re-claimed by Oakes here!

The track was “fast,” the temperature was 49 degrees, and no moisture had yet fallen when Pappys Pal won; the skies were starting to leak, but it was still 49 degrees and “fast,” when ABC Muscles Boy also used pocket rocket tactics to win the evening’s featured trot, a $15,500 conditioned event, in 1:53.3. Simon Allard rallied the ABC Garland gelding to take a one and a quarter-length decision over fast-closing Fashion Creditor for trainer/brother Rene and the ownership combine of Allard Racing Inc. and Earl Hill Jr.

By the time the $20,000 conditioned pacing feature rolled around, conditions had really deteriorated: 34 degrees, and a “sloppy +2” surface. But the 10-year-old Western Hanover gelding Clear Vision didn’t earn over $2.5 million in his 197 career starts by insisting on perfect conditions; he just wanted a pocket trip, which seemed to be the key to winning Pocono features on Saturday. From there, Clear Vision was able to get home first ahead of Theartofconfusion A by half a length for driver Anthony Napolitano, trainer Ron Burke, and the ownership of Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, The Panhellenic Stable Corp., and James Koran.

(With files from PHHA/Pocono)

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