Rodeo Romeo quarter-moved to the front and was strong on the engine, taking one $50,000 division of the Van Rose Memorial Pace Saturday, May 5 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, while Rockin Ron never yielded the lead and held off favoured Mach It So in the other division.
Rodeo Romeo, a son of Rocknroll Hanover faced his sternest test of the year in his division of the Van Rose, yet the punters knocked Rodeo Romeo down to 6-5 favouritism. He waited third early as Dr J Hanover worked to get around Wakizashi Hanover by the :26.2 opener, then responded to George Napolitano Jr.’s command and brushed to the front in front of the stands, making the lead easily and hitting the half in :55.
George Napolitano Jr., who won the 2016 edition of the Rose with Luck Be Withyou, accelerated the pace as first-over challenger Boston Red Rocks was seen off by the 1:22.1 three quarters. Dr J Hanover still lurked in the pocket, and Long Live Rock was coming on well late, but Rodeo Romeo kept on rolling and maintained a one-and-one-half length margin to the finish, stopping the timer in 1:49.2 for the fastest clocking of the meet. Dr J Hanover withstood Long Live Rock by a half-length to retain second.
Chris Ryder trains Rodeo Romeo, who took his third race in his last four starts for Oompa’s Farm Inc. and Robert Mondillo.
In the second split of the Van Rose, Rockin Ron was sent to the lead by Anthony Napolitano (from post one, which he inherited when early favourite Keystone Velocity was scratched), forcing Mach It So to take the two-hole well before the :27.3 opener.
Anthony Napolitano gave Rockin Ron a huge breather in quarter two with a :57.1 leaving plenty in Rockin Ron’s tank. Rockin Ron continued quickly and gamely, digging in determinedly when Mach It So dove into the passing lane, but his charge came up a head shy in the 1:50.2 mile.
Ron Burke conditions the Real Desire gelding, who boosted his earnings to $1,136,107 for the familiar trio of Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, and J&T Silva Stables.
The big card also featured four $30,000 Championships in the Bobby Weiss Series, named after the trackman who honed the Pocono surface into one of the world’s most highly-regarded ovals.
The trotting mare Via Lattea IT is a four-legged National Geographic – bred in Italy; owned in two places with similar weather, Sweden and Florida; unraced at two, and raced at three in Sweden; now trained by a Swede now based in America, Åke Svanstedt, and driven in the Championship by a French Canadian, Simon Allard.
Via Lattea IT, a white mare, broke her maiden with a 1:54.4 victory in the Weiss Final. Allard sent the daughter of Gruccione Jet right to the top, then yielded to sit the pocket behind favored I M Fishin. The pocket trip was the key to winning, as Via Lattea IT got by the chalk by a half-length at the line.
Following the trotting the females came their male counterparts, and the Kadabra gelding Stormont Manpower overcame a first-over trip, holding off the horse following his cover, Chas Hanover, to win by a nose in 1:56.4. The favourite Archibald, who got away last, was fourth-over headstretch, struggled to find pacing room in the stretch, but closed furiously after angling wide, settling for third another three-quarter lengths back.
Jim Morrill Jr. obviously made acquaintance with Stormont Manpower quickly, turning his first drive behind the horse on the lines into a nice victory. The winner continued his hot form for trainer Robert Bresnahan Jr. and owner Robert Bresnahan.
Ron Burke won his second-straight race (after Rockin Ron), and Jim Morrill Jr. won his second-straight Weiss drive, as they teamed with the Foreclosure N four-year-old gelding Riggle Wealth when the Championship action switched over to the pacing side.
Riggle Wealth parked Goose Mountain in a :26.3 opener as I Soar Him First kept the pocket tight, and then got a rest on the engine with the parked horse not pressing into the wind nearing the :56.1 half. With the wind and a downshift in gears, the third quarter went in 1:23.3, as Mach N Cheese moved up to second-over position, and in the stretch that foe provided the biggest challenge with a late burst, but Riggle Wealth withstood that challenge by a length.
Unraced at two, Riggle Wealth won his first four starts career, got locked in in his first two Weiss prelims, and now has three-straight wins on the engine. The partnership of Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, and Phil Collura owns the promising latecomer.
Åke Svanstedt completed a sweep of the Weiss Championships for females, and the Rock N Roll Heaven mare Kimberlee again proved her gameness, taking her finale in a new mark of 1:53.
Marcus Miller put the winner on the lead early, forced a tuck from Jewels Forreal before the :26.3 quarter, then braced her for the challenge from Sharen Hanover, winner of three straight, nearing the half.
The two distaffs went at it head-to-head down the backstretch and around the turn, and though Kimberlee forced that foe into submission, Jewels Forreal still lurked from the pocket, and Miller got a game response from his filly to hold on to the wire by a half-length.
Kimberlee has now won all five of her seasonal starts, including three Weiss prelims and the finale, for Knutsson Trotting Inc. and Asa Sjoberg.
(With files from The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono)