'Sun Stakes Saturday' Eliminations Set

Published: June 19, 2017 04:22 pm EDT

The very best trotters and pacers in North American harness racing will be converging on The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono the next two Saturdays, as elimination races will be held this Saturday in order to qualify horses to participate in the big Sun Stakes Saturday card that is scheduled for Saturday, July 1.

The $500,000 Franklin Pace for free-for-allers, the $500,000 Hempt Pace for three-year-old colts and geldings, the $500,000 Beal Trot for three-year-olds, and the $300,000 Lynch Pace for three-year-old fillies all drawn sufficient entrants that there will be three eliminations for each event this Saturday night. The top three finishers in each elim will advance to their lucrative championship event on July 1.

Here’s a look at the elimination events for the four big races, starting with the one where a top filly is going to try ‘the boys.’

EARL BEAL TROT: $500,000 Championship; $25,000 eliminations in Races 2, 9, and 14

This may be the case of ‘saving the best for last,’ as the highly-respected filly Ariana G will test male opposition in the Beal – contributing factors being a lack of top-money events in her division right now and the still-awaited return of top colt Walner. Ariana G will be the next-to-last horse to post parade on Saturday, as she will start from Post 6 in a field of seven in the 14th and final race.

Ariana G is a daughter of Muscle Hill trained by Jimmy Takter for owners/breeders Marvin Katz and Al Libfield. She was named divisional champion as a two-year-old off the strength of nine wins in 11 starts, earnings of over $700,000, and a win in the Breeders Crown. This year, Ariana G has been perfect in two starts. She won her last race, a New Jersey Sire Stakes final for fillies, in a career-best 1:51.1.

Two state champion colts will square off in the second-race elimination, which has eight entrants. Giveitgasandgo, a Yankee Glide ridgling, won the 2016 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship and comes off a PaSS victory in his last start. He will start in Post 4 for driver Corey Callahan and trainer John Butenschoen. Two starting slots to his right will be Long Tom, recent New Jersey Sire Stakes final winner. The son of Muscle Hill boasts by the team of driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Marcus Melander. Rubio (PP3, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter) will also get respect off a sharp PaSS win in his 2017 bow.

The State of New York weighs in for the ninth race Beal elimination, as the Credit Winner colt Devious Man will come to the mountain oval off a win this past Sunday in the Empire Breeders Classic final. Devious Man will be behind slot six in the eight-horse grouping for ‘Team Orange Crush’ – driver Andy Miller and trainer/wife Julie.

(PP, horse, driver, trainer, morning line odds)
1, Common Parlance, Jim Marohn Jr., Joseph Skowyra,6-1
2, Snowstorm Hanover, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 12-1
3, Rubio, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 3-1
4, Giveitgasandgo, Corey Callahan, John Butenschoen, 5-2
5, Lucky Matter, David Miller, Christopher Beaver, 15-1
6, Long Tom, Tim Tetrick, Marcus Melander, 4-1
7, Sortie, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley, 9-2
8, President Lindy, Andy Miller, Julie Miller, 10-1

(PP, horse, driver, trainer, morning line odds)
1, Southwind Woody, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 10-1
2, Dover Dan, Corey Callahan, John Butenschoen, 3-1
3, Don Dream, Brian Sears, Chris Oakes, 4-1
4, Andy M, David Miller, Christopher Beaver, 6-1
5, Meteoric, Joe Bongiorno, Richard Johnson, 9-2
6, Devious Man, Andy Miller, Julie Miller, 5-2
7, Perfect Spirit, Yannick Gingras, Åke Svanstedt, 15-1
8, King On The Hill, Jim Marohn Jr., Jimmy Takter, 12-1

(PP, horse, driver, trainer, morning line odds)
1, What The Hill, David Miller, Ron Burke, 3-1
2. Ei Ei O, Matt Kakaley, Richard Hans, 12-1
3, Backstage Pass, Tim Tetrick, Mike Simons, 10-1
4, Bills Man, Corey Callahan, John Butenschoen, 7-2
5, Muscles Jared, Brian Sears, George Ducharme, 5-1
6, Ariana G, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 2-1
7, Moonshiner Hanover, Scott Zeron, Christopher Beaver, 6-1

BEN FRANKLIN PACE: $500,000 Championship; $35,000 eliminations in Races 5, 7, and 11

The two horses likely to attract much attention in the 11th race elimination will be starting at opposite ends of the gate in the seven-horse field. Having received the innermost starting spot is Mel Mara, a son of Lis Mara who is scheduled to be handled by Corey Callahan for trainer Dylan Davis and owners Robert Cooper Stables LLC and J&T Silva Stables LLC. Mel Mara, who has a mark of 1:47, was fourth in the Franklin final last year, and is heading into Saturday’s race off of a 1:48 victory at the Meadowlands Racetrack in which he paced his last quarter in :26.

Western Ideal horse Luck Be Withyou had no luck at the pill shake with the outside draw, but the outer fringes of the starting gate are nothing new to him. He won his 2015 Franklin elim from Post 8 and then the 2015 championship from Post 9. Also a winner of the 2016 Franklin Consolation and his Breeders Crown event at Pocono as a two-year-old, Luck Be Withyou is truly a ‘horse for the course,’ with 15 wins in only 22 starts at Pocono, and over $700,000 of his $1.3 million lifetime bankroll earned locally. George Napolitano Jr. will have sulky duties for trainer Chris Oakes.

The charismatic Freaky Feet Pete, second to Always B Miki in the Franklin championship last year, will make his seasonal debut in the seven-horse seventh-race elimination and will start from Post 2 for driver Trace Tetrick and trainer Marty Rheinheimer. His prime opposition could come from McWicked, the 2014 Hempt champion, and the razor-sharp Rockeyed Optimist, who was second to Mel Mara last week.

The fifth race looks like it is the most wide open of the three Franklin eliminations. If anyone has an advantage, it may be the ‘home cookin’ of Napolitano and Oakes behind Split The House, who will start in the middle of the field of seven, and who won his last race at Pocono in 1:48.2.

(PP, horse, listed driver, trainer, morning line odds)
1. Dealt A Winner, David Miller, Mark Silva, 9-2
2. Check Six, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 7-2
3. Boston Red Rocks, Tim Tetrick, Steve Elliott, 5-2
4. Split The House, George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes, 3-1
5. Soto, Matt Kakaley, Eric Ell, 8-1
6. Dudes The Man, Corey Callahan, Jessica Okusko, 12-1
7. Shamballa, Scott Zeron, Rick Zeron, 6-1

(PP, horse, listed driver, trainer)
1. McWicked, David Miller, Casie Coleman, 5-2
2. Freaky Feet Pete, Trace Tetrick, Marty Rheinheimer, 7-2
3. All Bets Off, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 3-1
4. Mach It So, Tim Tetrick, Jeff Bamond Jr., 8-1
5. Keystone Velocity, Simon Allard, Rene Allard, 6-1
6. Lyons Snyder, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 12-1
7. Rockeyed Optimist, Andy Miller, Steve Elliott, 9-2

(PP, horse, driver, trainer, morning line odds)
1. Mel Mara, Corey Callahan, Dylan Davis, 2-1
2. Wakizashi Hanover, Tim Tetrick, Jo Ann Looney-King, 10-1
3. Anwar Hanover, Jim Marohn Jr., Frank Kamine, 12-1
4. Rockin Ron, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 7-2
5. Rock N Roll World, Brian Sears, Jeff Cullipher, 5-1
6. Sunfire Blue Chip, David Miller, Jimmy Takter, 6-1
7. Luck Be Withyou, George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes, 3-1

MAX C. HEMPT PACE: $500,000 Championship; $25,000 eliminations in Races 3, 10, and 12

Fear The Dragon’ is not just the name of a three-year-old colt – it’s the watchword of everybody campaigning a high-class sophomore pacer right now. The son of Dragon Again, trained by Brian Brown for the Emerald Highlands Farm, won the ‘big showdown’ this past Saturday in the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup. He closed strongly and notched a 1:48.4 victory for driver David Miller – and established himself as the leader in the sport’s ‘glamour boy’ division. In going five-for-five this year, the Dragon has shown he can overcome obstacles in his road: tough posts (he will have Post 2 in a field of six at Pocono on Saturday), first-over trips, and even an errant head number thrown to the track that caused him to skip in the stretch of his NA Cup elim, but he quickly righted and even won that contest.

Fear The Dragon’s stablemate in the Brian Brown Stable, Downbytheseaside, suffered his first seasonal defeat in finishing third in the North America Cup, but in his defense he was pushed to brutal middle fractions of :52.1 and 1:19.3, the latter the fastest clocking at the three-quarters pole on the continent in 2017. The Somebeachsomewhere colt will look to regain his winning ways and will start from Post 5 in the seven-horse twelfth-race elimination with Brian Sears driving.

Trainer Dylan Davis, who has Mel Mara in the Franklin elims, saw his Every Way Out sweep two eliminations and then the final of the New Jersey Sire Stakes series at the Meadowlands, and he will turn the lines over to Tim Tetrick in hopes of remaining undefeated in 2017. The duo will begin from Post 4 in the seven-horse elim.

((PP, horse, driver, trainer, morning line odds)
1. Blood Line, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 3-1
2. Santafes Coach, Anthony Napolitano, Leo Iordan, 12-1
3. Boogie Shuffle, Scott Zeron, Mark Harder, 5-1
4. Every Way Out, Tim Tetrick, Dylan Davis, 2-1
5. Air Strike, Corey Callahan, Joe Holloway, 10-1
6. Ozone Blue Chip, Brett Miller, Ron Coyne Jr., 6-1
7. Western Joe, Matt Kakaley, Chris Choate, 7-2

(PP, horse, driver, trainer, morning line odds)
1. Summer Side, Tim Tetrick, Ray Schnittker, 7-2
2. Fear The Dragon, David Miller, Brian Brown, 8-5
3. Ponderingjacksfame, George Napolitano, Les Givens,10-1
4. Miso Fast, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 5-1
5. Pointomygranson, Brett Miller, Chris Ryder, 6-1
6. Funknwaffles, Brian Sears, John Butenschoen, 4-1

(PP, horse, driver, trainer, morning line odds)
1. Eddard Hanover, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 9-2
2. Heavens Gait, David Miller, Nicholas Devita, 3-1
3. Donttellmeagain, Tim Tetrick, Jo Ann Looney-King, 7-2
4. Photobombr Hanover, Brett Miller, Tom Fanning, 8-1
5. Downbytheseaside, Brian Sears, Brian Brown, 5-2
6. Highalator, George Napolitano Jr., Jenny Bier, 6-1
7. Talent Soup, Scott Zeron, Bruce Saunders, 12-1

JAMES LYNCH PACE: $300,000 Championship; $20,000 eliminations in Races 1, 4, and 13

Bettors Up defeated Agent Q by a nose in last Saturday’s Fan Hanover final at Mohawk, and the two figure to be slugging it out again as they are matched up in the six-horse Race 13 Lynch elimination. Bettors Up, who will start from Post 3 for driver Doug McNair and trainer Scott McEneny, has been victorious in half of her 16 career starts, while Agent Q, the 2016 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion who will begin from the rail for driver David Miller and trainer Aaron Lambert, has been first or second in all but one of her 15 career trips behind the gate.

In the first-race elimination, a seven-horse field, Tequila Monday and Idyllic Beach will look to rebound; they were the favourite and second choice in the Fan Hanover, respectively, but respectively finished third and fourth. They will have the advantage of inside starting positions on Saturday: Tequila Monday will start off from the rail for driver Brian Sears and trainer Chris Oakes, while Idyllic Beach, the 2016 North American champion for this division, will begin just to her right for driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Jimmy Takter.

Misqued eked out a nose victory in her New Jersey Sire Stakes final on June 2, and perhaps that race will be a better sign for her as she will begin from Post 2 in a grouping of six for driver Steve Smith and trainer John Balzer. This Lynch elim appears to be the most wide-open of the event’s trio of races.

(PP, horse, driver, trainer, morning line odds)
1. Tequila Monday, Brian Sears, Chris Oakes, 2-1
2. Idyllic Beach, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 3-1
3. Inverse Hanover, David Miller, Nifty Norman, 7-2
4. Kate Is Well Said, Tim Tetrick, Jim Campbell, 6-1
5. YS Tallia, Simon Allard, Rene Allard, 10-1
6. Pittstop Danika, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 5-1
7. V String, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley, 12-1

(PP, horse, driver, trainer, morning line odds)
1. Brazuca, Corey Callahan, Thomas Cancelliere, 5-2
2. Misqued, Steve Smith, John Balzer, 7-2
3, Big City Betty, Jim Marohn Jr., Steve Salerno, 6-1
4. Gallic Sea, Brian Sears, Jim Campbell, 5-1
5. Roaring To Go, Brett Miller, Kevin Lare, 2-1
6. Risky Romance, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley, 10-1

(PP, horse, driver, trainer, morning line odds)
1. Agent Q, David Miller, Aaron Lambert, 2-1
2. Hail Damage Blues, Tim Tetrick, Tom Fanning, 6-1
3. Bettors Up, Doug McNair, Scott McEneny, 5-2
4. Caviart Ally, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley, 7-2
5. Concerto, Yannick Gingras, Kelvin Harrison, 10-1
6. Miss Jones, Corey Callahan, Joe Holloway, 5-1


A $25,000 winners-over pace in Race 8, with a field of eight with combined earnings of $3.8 million and an average lifetime mark of 1:49, and a $22,500 ‘nw22500L5’ pace where the field of nine has amassed over $2.4 million in earnings and an average speed badge of 1:50 (six horses in each race took their marks at Pocono).

First post for the Sun Stakes Saturday elimination card, with action literally from beginning to end, is 6:30 p.m.

(PHHA / Pocono)

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