After a highly-successful first month of operation, the Great Northeast Open Series begins its June action with a first – two fields of trotters – joining the pacing mares at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Sunday night, while the male pacers going to the gate at Harrah’s Philadelphia to start the GNOS action that afternoon.
Recent Down Under import Heaven Rocks A looks to change his luck – and maybe his ability to maximize his talent – as the favourite at Philly against the male pacers. The Rock N Roll Heaven gelding surged late to miss by a neck in his first series start, then last week, in the $150,000 Commodore Barry Pace (which counted for GNOS points), he was a hard-charging second to Filibuster Hanover, undefeated his year and #3 in the national polls, while bearing out. David Miller will have the steer Sunday for trainer Ross Croghan as the pair starts from post four in race eight.
The trotters will go postward at Pocono in races eight and ten. The first division has the two favourites to the inner part of the gate -- Opulent Yankee (driver Andy Miller, post two) and Smalltownthrowdown (Simon Allard, post one) – while in the second division Sutton (also Andy Miller from post two), who was second behind #1-rated Hannelore Hanover in a GNOS event last week, faces Classicality (Marcus Miller, post one), coming to town after three straight wins at The Meadows, and Homicide Hunter (George Napolitano Jr., post five), making his second start of the year, among other talented foes.
In the mares pacers, the inside horses are once more highly-regarded: Tequila Monday (Brian Sears, post one) comes to the mountain oval of a sweeping 1:52 victory over the top mares at Yonkers, while Divas Image (Andy Miller from post two yet again) looks to continue to be the “overachiever” in her division, with a second and two thirds in the GNOS to date.
The GNOS continues every week at Philly and Pocono throughout the end of August, with the open pacers at one track and the other two groups at the other, and the schedules flipping tracks every week. The top point earners will be eligible to go for $100,000 over 1-1/4 miles on Sunday, September 2 at Pocono, the same day the track hosts the $1 million Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championships for three-year-olds.
(PHHA / Pocono)