Johnny Z, Mr Wiggles and Sheer Desire won the three elimination races of the Max C. Hempt Memorial Pace at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Saturday afternoon
, May 16.
Sheer Desire, driven by Dave Palone, produced the fastest time of the three elimination races for the three-year-old colts and geldings with a 1:51 clocking over the five-eighths mile oval. Sheer Desire, trained by Ron Burke, was making his second start of the 2009 season.
Johnny Z, piloted by Brian Sears and trained by George Teague Jr., won the opening elimination race with a time of 1:51.2 after a layoff of almost two months.
Mr Wiggles, also trained by Teague Jr., was a 12-1 long shot victor in the second division of the Hempt. Corey Callahan was in the bike and the winner stopped the timer in 1:51.2. Both Johnny Z and Sheer Desire were favourites in their divisions.
Other horses making the $300,140 Hempt finals next Saturday were Arctic Warrior, Gallant Yankee, Lahaye, River Shark, Rustys All In and Upfront Hoosierboy.
Arctic Warrior, driven by David Miller, was second to Johnny Z while Yannick Gingras was third in this race with Gallant Yankee.
River Shark, with Daniel Dube driving, was second to Mr Wiggles with third going to Lahaye, driven by Sears.
Rustys All In, another long shot driven by Callahan, finished second to Sheer Desire while Jim Morrill Jr. and Upfront Hoosierboy were third.
“I moved my horse to the front after Arctic Warrior and Gallant Yankee were used hard getting to the opening quarter in 26 seconds,” said Sears. “My horse felt comfortable on the lead the rest of the way. George (Teague Jr.) always has them fit and ready to go.”
Callahan said his horse caught a break in leaving from the seven post when No. 2 Schoolkids (David Miller) went on that early break, leaving five horses in the race after Magicmaker Hanover was scratched sick.
“I just ended up in a good spot and was first over off the turn,” added Callahan. “The worst I would have been was third over.”
Sheer Desire went wire to wire from the No. 5 post in the final division, getting to the opening panel in 27.1, half in 55.3 and three-quarters in 1:23.1.
Palone said he feels Sheer Desire’s best game is when he follows in a race. “I wanted to control the race and we got away with a 27.1 opening quarter,” he added. “He’s a very fast horse.”
One of the big disappointments in the elimination races was Barber Pole, driven by Tim Tetrick and trained by Teague Jr. Barber Pole, a 1-5 favourite, came into the race looking for three straight in 2009, but didn’t make the finals and never threatened.