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Pocono Hosts Sophomore Pacing Colts

Published: May 11, 2019 11:19 pm ET

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The Pennsylvania All-Stars series began its annual run at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Saturday night, May 11, with three $30,000 divisions of sophomore pacing males in the spotlight.

The first All-Stars division was taken by the heralded and well-bred Sweet Lou colt Blood Money (19-1), but only by a nose in 1:50.

Driver Scott Zeron gradually guided Blood Money to the lead past a :26.4 opener, but Napolitano Jr. soon brushed by in front of the stands with his first-time 2019 starter to have the lead before the :55 half. Zeron didn’t want to get stuck inside with his 1-5 shot, so he took outside and regained command before the 1:22.3 three-quarters only to have Escapetothebeach hang right behind him for the stretch drive. Escapetothebeach dove to the Pocono Pike and lost by the slightest of margins. Brassy Hanover, ducking inside fading cover on the far turn, rallied up the far inside and missed by only three-quarter lengths in third.

Blood Money had won his seasonal debut at The Meadowlands in 1:50. His win was the fastest of the year by a sophomore on a five-eighths-mile track and matched his own national season's standard. Nancy Johansson trains the winner of $372,244 for Diamond Creek Racing.

Branquinho, winless at two but a full brother to Huntsville, looks like he may flourish in his sophomore campaign. He’s now undefeated in three starts this year, following up on a Stallion Series win last week with an All-Stars victory in 1:50.1, his fastest ever.

The Somebeachsomewhere colt bypassed an enormous hole mid-first turn and went on to the lead near the :27.2 quarter. Favoured Lyons Night Hawk (40-1) also chose to press forward and grabbed the top halfway to the next station, which was reached in :54.4. The chalk had repelled outside competition by the 1:22.4 three-quarters while Branquinho, the 9-5 second choice, waited from the pocket for the stretch. Driver Tyler Buter tipped out of the two hole into the stretch to win by three-quarter lengths for owner-trainer Ray Schnittker.

Somebeachsomewhere picked up a second sire credit when Air Force Hanover (35-1), parked a good way for the lead and not getting a breather up front, was still able to draw clear in the lane to take a new mark of 1:50.1.

Air Force Hanover and George Napolitano Jr. (who drove five horses to Victory Lane on the card) were still outside past the :26.3 quarter, then ranged to the lead in the frontstretch towards the :55.2 midpoint. Aflame Hanover (65-1), the 2018 PA Fair champion, forced the winner to go an all-out :26.3 third quarter to keep the lead. After the challenger started to fade past the 1:22 three-quarters, Napolitano Jr. kept the winner’s mind to business as he posted a two-and-three-quarter length victory over fast-closing Highlandbeachlover, hampered by a non-flowing outer tier. Brian Brown is the conditioner of the four-time career winner for Country Club Acres Inc., Joe Sbrocco, Richard Lombardo, and W. J. Donovan.

Pocono’s love affair with the claiming box produced a “new track record” on Saturday, as the Mach Three seven-year-old gelding Raksmach N was claimed for $40,000, a record for the mountain oval. A winner of three straight before a very hard-fought third from the outside post eight on Saturday, he leaves owner Mark Akins and heads to the Oakes barn and the Northfolk Racing Stable. In all for the night, 12 claims totaled up to $304,500, running the seasonal totals to 147 claims, with $2,642,500 changing hands.

Tomorrow night marks the 2019 debut of the world’s fastest trotter, the locally-based Homicide Hunter, in a $30,000 open-trot event in the Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS); Tequila Monday and Kissin In The Sand seem likely to renew their first-round GNOS rivalry in the $30,000 mares open pace.

(with files from PHHA)

The odds tagged to North America Cup-eligible horses came from the 2019 Trot Magazine Spring Book, which can be viewed here.

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