World Records In Pocono Elims

Published: June 25, 2016 10:03 pm EDT

Tonight (Saturday, June 25) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, the greatest assemblage of horses in North American harness racing during 2016 (14 millionaires and half the National Top Ten) contested elimination races to qualify for racing on the $2 million Sun Stakes Saturday Championship night a week from tonight (Saturday, July 2).

A fairly strong stretch headwind influenced the racing in several of the big races –- but world record speed still was generated, twice, by what might be one of, if not the, greatest crops of Free-For-All pacers in recent times.

Here are the elimination race results, grouped together by their division:

BEN FRANKLIN - FREE-FOR-ALL PACE ($30,000 for each of three eliminations; $500,000 Championship)

Wiggle It Jiggleit was the 2015 U.S. Harness Horse of the Year, and is ranked #1 in the Top Ten poll. He won his Franklin elimination in 1:48.1.

Which was the slowest elimination. By a full second.

Because world records were set in the other two cuts: first the five-year-old pacing stallion Always B Miki took his Franklin elim in 1:47, equalling Sweet Lou’s all-time world record for 5/8-mile tracks (set in the Franklin Final two years ago) and missing the all-time race record by a single tick, and then Freaky Feet Pete was off by himself much of the other elim and still crossed the wire in 1:47.1, a world record for a four-year-old pacing horse on a 5/8-mile track.

Always B Miki couldn’t have had much of a harder trip, yet still equalled the all-time record for Pocono’s size of oval with unbelievable resilience and heart in the lane. The son of Always A Virgin was moved uncovered past the 5/16th by driver David Miller, after Mel Mara had been hustled by Corey Callahan to the top past the :26 quarter. “Miki” uncorked a frightening brush sans earplugs and looked ready to sail by going to turn two, but he didn’t enter the turn 100 percent smoothly, giving Mel Mara a chance to fight back and hang him to a :53 half and a 1:19.4 three-quarters -– record-promising time territory.

But what looked like it would be a good duel home quickly turned into a route. Always B Miki had just gone :27 and :26.4 quarters uncovered, yet he still had a :27.1 kick home, into what was still a slight breeze, to win by three and three-quarter lengths over second-over All Bets Off (himself a world record setter at Pocono), with Mel Mara a half-length further behind in third after giving his utmost in pursuit of victory.

Always B Miki now has won four of six races and $91,500 (U.S.) this year, and 22 of 41 races and $1,320,076 lifetime. Jimmy Takter has brought the pacer all the way back from injury to the top of his game for owners Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable, and Christina Takter.

Freaky Feet Pete made his East Coast debut a showstopper in his Franklin elim, with driver Trace Tetrick joining brother Tim as a stakes-winner on the night as the four-year-old Rockin Image stallion lowered Pet Rock’s divisional world record by a fifth of a second with his 1:47.1 win, lowering his mark by over a second. Tetrick had “Pete” rolling before the :26.1 quarter, and they posted middle fractions of :53 and 1:20 without any particular pressure. That “pressure” faded even further into the distance in the stretch, as Freaky Feet Pete expanded his final margin to five and three-quarters lengths over longshot Rock N Roll World, with Sunfire Blue Chip coming on for third and making the Franklin Final.

Freaky Feet Pete is now five-for-six in 2016 and an amazing 29-for-33 in his career, with $1,224,050 in his till for trainer Larry Rhineheimer and owners Mary Jo Rhineheimer and Marty Rheinheimer –- and he completed the “Indiana-sired” sweep of the Franklin elims, joined by Always B Miki and ... oh yeah, Wiggle It Jiggleit.

Wiggle It Jiggleit, winner of the Hempt and the Battle of the Brandywine at Pocono last year –- and his only start as a two-year-old -– has now visited Pocono’s Victory Lane three years running after an impressive 1:48.1 victory. His victory was a contested one, at least for the first half, as Montrell Teague and “Wiggle” let Shamballa go just before a :25.4 quarter, and then State Treasurer quickly rushed around both to the lead early in front of the stands. But Teague pressed on with the defending U.S. Horse of the Year, brushing again and taking the lead by the half in :54.

The pair got to the three-quarters in 1:21.1, and through the lane Wiggle It Jiggleit looked well in control, with a :27 kicker keeping State Treasurer at bay by one and a quarter lengths at the finish. Another two and a half lengths back, Always At My Place and Shamballa dead-heated for third, and after a consultation with officials and the rule book, the field for the Franklin Final became 10, as both horses will come back next week. Wiggle It Jiggleit ran his impressive statistics to eight-for-11 this year, 31-for-38 lifetime, with his earnings now at $2,630,760 for trainer Clyde Francis, and his owners, George Teague Jr. Inc. and Teague Racing Partnership LLC.

And in the next, staggering 40 minutes, the conversation changed from “How much do you think he’ll win by next week?” to “You think he’s got enough to win next week?”

EARL BEAL - THREE-YEAR-OLD COLT TROT ($25,000 for each of two eliminations; $500,000 Championship)

The Muscle Hill colt Bar Hopping, driven by Tim Tetrick for Team Takter, shocked Hambletonian favourite Southwind Frank with a 1:52.1 in his Earl Beal elimination, but it took the fastest mile of the year by a sophomore on a five-eighths mile oval, and a huge effort from the impressive winner, to do so.

Bar Hopping left strongly for the lead, then forced longshot Promise Delivered to go :26.3 to get the lead; Southwind Frank could have taken a three-tuck, but Yannick Gingras kept last year’s divisional champion on the bit and sent him on to the top early on the front-stretch. The half was reached in :55.4, and the battle became enjoined when Bar Hopping vacated the three-hole at the 11/16th mark to challenge.

Southwind Frank went by the three-quarters in 1:24.2 and still looked in control as they turned for home, but in only his third start of the year and off a 25-day layoff, “Frank” was just, frankly, out-trotted, but remember the last quarter was :27.4, into the wind. But tonight Bar Hopping proved the toughest; in their wake came Trolley and Dice Man.

Bar Hopping was the fourth first-time 2016 winner among the six Sun Stakes Saturday sophomore elims, but like all of that type he too had been thereabouts in top company all year. Christina Takter, Hatfield Stables, Marvin Katz, and Al Libfeld own the game sophomore, now a winner of $147,514.

The Conway Hall gelding Dayson has never been beaten in 14 career starts when he has stayed flat -- but that statement looked ready to go by the boards at head-stretch of the first Beal elimination.

After a contested first quarter of :27.1, Brooklyn Hill brushed in front of the grandstand and posted middle splits of :55.4 and 1:23.4, opening a three-length lead at the three-quarters and carrying that margin around the turn. Dayson had been moved out from fifth by driver Jim Morrill Jr. at the 5/8ths mark, caught cover at 11/16th, but was still five lengths off the leader at the top of the lane...

...and still three down with 200 feet to go...

...but Dayson was flying late, and Brooklyn Hill, despite a big effort, proved a nose less photogenic at the wire, which was reached in 1:52.3, with Truemass Volo coming from way back for third; Reigning Moni was fourth ahead of Hollywood Highway, the faster fifth-place Beal horse. The winner is now four-for-six in 2016 and 11-for-14 in his career for trainer Ron Burke and the partnership of Burke Racing LLC, Our Horse Cents Stable, J&T Silva Stables LLC, and Rossie Smith. The winning clocking was a tick behind Dayson’s career-best, and the season’s record.

MAX C. HEMPT - THREE-YEAR-OLD COLT PACE ($25,000 for each of two eliminations; $500,000 Championship)

The first turn told the tale in the first Hempt elimination, as there was a four-wide scramble for the lead: Control The Moment went three-wide to just past the 1/8th mark to live up to his name; Boston Red Rocks used track geometry to the maximum from the rail, holding the pocket while forcing JK Will Power alongside to tuck third; and American Passport scooted away four-wide, but was unable to clear and broke at the 3/16th.

From there, Control The Moment did just that, getting the quarter in :26.1 and the half in :55.1 after the stretch headwind, then sprinted home in :54.2 -- :27 to hold off a very game Pocono Pike-shooting Boston Red Rocks by a half-length in 1:49.3, with JK Will Power holding third and More Dragon fourth. The time was both a personal-best and the fastest mile of the year by a three-year-old on a 5/8-mile track.

Control The Moment, a son of Well Said, won for the first time in four starts this season, after opening his career with 8 straight triumphs followed by his season-ending loss in the Breeders Crown. But “Control” looks to be in top form at the moment for driver Randy Waples, trainer Brad Maxwell, and the Control The Moment Stable of Philadelphia PA, which contains Maxwell and, as many will have figured from the “Philadelphia,” owner Howard Taylor – who took two of the night’s first three races at Pocono.

In the second Hempt elim, the Roll With Joe colt Racing Hill was “quarter-mover #2,” behind Katies Rocker, brushing to the lead in front of the stands, repulsing a big third quarter bid by Talk Show, and then drawing off in the stretch under a Brett Miller hold in tallying for trainer Tony Alagna and U.K. owner Tom Hill while also winning for the first time this year and raising his earnings to $333,666. The victory was the third for driver Brett Miller in the card’s first five races; finishing behind him were, in order, Katies Rocker, Big Top Hanover, and late inside rusher Western Fame.

No – you didn’t miss reading any fractions or the final time – we’re just recreating the “live experience” for you, as there was a timer malfunction during the race. But the fractions tell the story of the rapidly-developing Racing Hill’s victory: after a quick :26 opener, Racing Hill made the lead well before the :55.2 half, sprinted in :26.3 down the back to turn away Talk Show by the 1:22 three-quarters, then continued on into the head-breeze in :27.1 for a :53.4 back half and a 1:49.1 total package, a new mark and lowering the 40-minute old standard of Control The Moment for fastest three-year-old on the 5/8-mile ovals. Talk Show’s 1:50.2 clocking in finishing fifth earned him a spot in the Hempt Final.

JAMES LYNCH THREE-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACE ($20,000 for each of two eliminations; $300,000 Championship)

Champion filly Pure Country showed her class and toughness in taking the faster of the Lynch eliminations, having to go first-over for 5/8ths against NJSS champion Blue Moon Stride, then both getting by her late and holding off a late rush from her early-season nemesis Darlinonthebeach in 1:50.1. Blue Moon Stride was a neck behind the winner and a neck ahead of “Darlin,” with Penpal closing for fourth and Kiss Me Onthebeach advancing to next week as the faster fifth-place finisher.

Blue Moon Stride worked her way to the top around speedy longshots to pace control at the rapid :26 quarter, with Pure Country starting the outside train raw at the 3/8ths, with Kissmeonthebeach and Darlinonthebeach in tow two-wide. The half was reached in :55.2, which means that Pure Country went her last half in :54.4 (:28 on the tail end) without cover, but 50 feet from the wire she again showed herself an irresistible force (although if you watch driver Brett Miller, handling his fourth winner in the first eight races, earlier in the lane, he seemed to feel he had enough filly in front of him). The late rally of Darlinonthebeach did her credit, as did the game pacesetting effort of Blue Moon Stride, but Pure Country has (at least) temporarily reclaimed the undisputed top peg in her division for trainer Jimmy Takter and Diamond Creek Racing.

Newborn Sassy proved to be a pocket rocket in taking the first Lynch elimination, catching favoured I Said Diamonds in the final strides for a 1:51.3 triumph. The victorious daughter of Western Ideal left strongly three-wide to the early lead for driver Tim Tetrick, with the looped I Said Diamonds making the top near the :27 quarter. The half was rated to :56.1, and the third quarter with the wind was “only” :27.4, for a 1:24 three-quarters clocking -– the last quarter was in :27.3 against the wind, and Newport Sassy came out and finished strongly to catch her rival, who in her defense had been off 29 days, winning by a neck, with JK Fannie missing the win by only a length, and Lindwood Beach overcoming post position nine for fourth.

Newborn Sassy became the third winner in three three-year-old elims on the big Pocono card to be notching her first seasonal victory, although like the two Hempt colt winners, she had been knocking on the door of stakes company in recent starts. Last year, the winner of $301,845 was eight for 10, and she seems to have picked a fine time to pick back up her winning ways for trainer Jo Ann Looney-King, who is also the co-owner with CC Racing LLC.


There was also a $25,000 Winners Over Pace contested on the card, which went to Franklin non-eligible Rockeyed Optimist, an easy winner in 1:48.3. Brett Miller tucked the Rocknroll Hanover gelding in fourth early behind inside leavers after starting from post six in the eight-horse field, then brushed past early leader Scott Rocks (who set the :26.2 quarter), backing off the half to :55.1 into the wind, then smoking to a :26.3 third split to get the three-quarters in 1:21.4 en route to the easy victory. Steve Elliott conditions the Optimist, who is already up to $252,100 in earnings this year for the ownership combine of Anthony Perretti, Virginia Berkner, A&B Stable, and Joseph Battaglia, with his career tally now at $525,755.

(Wakizashi Hanover, a million-dollar earner at three making his four-year-old bow, had the best spot on the racetrack for the first 3/8ths –- right behind Rockeyed Optimist –- and after that the worst spot –- uncovered against him -- and faded in his first race in seven and half months.)

(PHHA / Pocono)



I have to honestly say I was equally impressed with all 3 of the elimination winners. Alwayas B Miki, FFP and WIJI all looked like they had tons left in the tank. It's going to be very tough predicting the winner of this one especially if they all 3 get decent posts. I personally like to see these races on the big tracks like the Meadowlands or WEG tracks where the posts don't play as much of a factor. While I certainly agree that the 3 winners all looked like monsters I would not totally discount a Mel Mara or State Treasurer upsetting the apple cart if the 3 monsters beat each other up. I know it may not be likely but lets not forget what Modern Legend did to the likes of Sweet Lou and Foiled Again in the Canadian Pacing derby. Either way, should be a great race for true fans of harness racing. Unlike the Tbreds who constantly avoid each other, in harness racing these guys lock into battle week after week.

Finally... Now... This... THIS... is what I'm talking about. Three Beasts breathing fire in a battle supreme, the likes of which has not been seen in decades. Magnificent warriors all. May the best horse win! Good luck and safe trip to the gallant participants equine and human alike.

I think you might be right John. But on the straightaways he certainly looks smooth and powerful.Poor Mel Mara... still picking up his parts,cause he raced his gut's out.The BUCKEYE still had TIGHT lines. Trace looked like a runaway also,with a load left. WIJI did what he had too. Should be fresh for the final. Should be an awesome card!

All those horses were just awesome, no matter how you look at it. I don't think at this moment any of these horses connections feel intimidated. With just a few days into the summer, it's a darn good bunch of aged pacers

If Always B Miki doesn't get rough in the 2nd turn and he clears Mel Mara he could have paced in 1:46. If WIJI is going to beat this monster he better have another gear. Also of note, Freaky Feet Pete wasn't bad either.

Simply the best card of racing I've seen in a while. The finals are going to be a "brew ha-ha :) I can't wait.

Have something to say about this? Log in or create an account to post a comment.