MacDonald Sweeps Pocono Features

Published: June 15, 2021 07:50 pm EDT

Driver Mark MacDonald won both of the $15,300 feature races at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Tuesday afternoon (June 15) with pacer Gray Dragon and trotter Cant Say No, the latter a game 1:55.4 winner and a horse with his own interesting back story.

MacDonald let two foes go by early, then got the Explosive Matter four-year-old underway midway through turn one and claimed the top not much past the :27.4 quarter. He then backed the half to :57.4 and the three-quarters in 1:26.4. Cant Say No had too much in the tank left in the dash to the line, winning by three parts of a length over Banzai As, who carried on gamely despite broken equipment.

As a two-year-old, Cant Say No was three for four including wins in a PA All-Stars contest and a Sire Stakes race, with the only horse to finish ahead of him the divisional champion and world-record setter Real Cool Sam. But after his start on Aug. 29, 2019, Cant Say No did not return to competition until April 6, 2021 after gradually regaining racing shape for trainer Ray Schnittker, who co-owns with Steven Arnold, Arden Homestead Stable and Fred Hertrich III.

In his last eight starts, Cant Say No suffered interference once, and otherwise has posted three wins and four seconds – with the margin of defeat in those losses a grand total of three quarters of a length, repaying the confidence his connections showed in him.

As for Gray Dragon, the four-year-old son of Dragon Again won his fifth-consecutive start over the Pocono oval, the last four of them in this company (his opposition will be glad to hear he won himself out of this class with the Tuesday win). He followed the cover of Mankat past a :26.2 opener, then went past the foe going towards the second turn before the :54.2 half. The field narrowed a bit nearing the 1:22.4 three-quarters and through the far turn, then MacDonald made a simple request for more speed and his pacer responded impressively, with his :27.3 kicker completing a 1:50.2 mile. John Butenschoen trains the winner of $202,217 for Emerald Highlands Farm.

Gray Dragon, though, wasn’t even the fastest gray winner on the card; that distinction goes to the Somebeachsomewhere sophomore colt Somewhereinverona, who caught favoured pacesetter Gamblin Mo to win by a length in 1:49.4 in a $13,500 subclass. Gamblin Mo, who won a PA All-Stars event here earlier and has two seconds in Sire Stakes company, went right down the road with hot fractions of :27, :54.2, and 1:22, but Anthony Napolitano pulled the pocket at headstretch with Somewhereinverona and guided the pacer to a race mark by over three seconds for trainer Blake MacIntosh, who also co-owns with Petitpas Stables Ltd., Ozzie Mackay and Gilles Landry.

(PHHA / Pocono)

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