The Saturday (June 30) program at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono featured nearly $2 million in stakes action, including the $500,000 finals of the Max C. Hempt Memorial, Ben Franklin and Earl Beal Jr. Memorial and the $300,000 James Lynch Memorial.
Kissin In The Sand raced on the outside for much of the way before rallying in the stretch to get past Youaremycandygirl in $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for three-year-old female pacers by a neck in 1:49.3.
Kissin In The Sand started from post nine and got parked on the outside as Youaremycandygirl got the lead from post two. Youaremycandygirl hit the opening quarter in :26 and then battled with Kissin In The Sand as they reached the half in :53.2 and three-quarters in 1:20.3.
As the horses came around the final turn, Kissin In The Sand moved to the pylons behind Youaremycandygirl, but she wasn’t finished fighting. After straightening up in the stretch, Kissin In The Sand returned to the outside and was able to pass Youaremycandygirl in the final moments. The time was one-fifth of a second off the stakes record.
“How the heck did she win that race?” a smiling trainer Nancy Johansson said as she posed for the win photo.
“Nobody wants to sit parked the whole way,” winning driver Scott Zeron said. “I felt like I was going against the other best horse in the race and it was a battle between the two of us.
“I had a decision in the first turn, I thought maybe I would be able to get in but I felt I was really going to have to wrestle her to do it and Yannick could have stolen the race at that point. I made the decision to go to the front. When I ducked her back in on the last turn she picked the bit back up, which surprised me. When I angled her back over in the lane she really was game.”
Kissin In The Sand, a daughter of Somebeachsomewhere out of Kiss Me Kate, has won three of five races this year and 10 of 19 in her career. She has earned $495,545 for owners Marvin Katz and Hatfield Stables.
Kissin In The Sand went off at odds of 4-1 and paid $10.20 to win.
Springsteen rocked to a 15-1 upset in the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for three-year-old male pacers, where favourite Lather Up went off stride and suffered his first loss in eight starts this year.
Springsteen and driver Simon Allard used a three-wide move at three-quarters and overcame Nutcracker Sweet by a head to win in 1:48.3. Hitman Hill finished third.
Stay Hungry led the field to the first quarter in :26 before giving the top spot to Dorsoduro Hanover by the half-mile point, which was reached in :53.1. Lather Up, the North America Cup champion, made a first-over move on the backstretch but was unable to get to the front, leaving Springsteen to make a three-wide move as the group hit three-quarters in 1:20.2.
In the stretch, Nutcracker Sweet moved to the inside and got the lead, but was unable to hold off Springsteen. Lather Up, who was roughly gaited going around the first turn, went off stride as he came off the final turn and was seventh-placed-eighth in the field of nine.
“All I worry about is my horse being nice and relaxed,” Allard said. “He’s always so angry and wants to go fast. The fact they were going real fast to the half, I never had to grab into him and he was nice and relaxed. Whenever we can tip him whenever he wants to go, that’s the thing to do.
“We didn’t know how good of a three-year-old he was going to be. We went through a little bit of a problem with him tying up but right now everything is back good. He’s ready for a good summer I guess.”
Springsteen is a son of Rock N Roll Heaven out of American Charm. He has won two of five races this year and five of 19 in his career, good for earnings of $479,423. The colt is owned by Allard Racing, Bruce Soulsby, Alan Weisenberg, and Kapildeo Singh.
Springsteen paid $32.60 to win.
McWicked, perfectly-placed second-over, swung three-wide late on the far turn and had an overwhelming late kick to come up a 1:49.3 winner while taking the $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace Final.
The Ron Burke-trained threesome of Filibuster Hanover, Rockin Ron, and All Bets Off got away 1-2-3 by the :26.2 first panel, with McWicked fourth early. As the outer tier formed early, it looked like McWicked and driver Brian Sears might have to come first-over, but past the three-eighths All Bets Off pulled from third, giving cover which helped McWicked’s chances.
The middle splits were pedestrian, :55 and 1:22.2, with All Bets Off continuing his grind against pacesetting Filibuster Hanover, and Mcwicked readying to mount a wide charge.
That charge commenced near the top of the stretch, and when McWicked started his kick, the only thing in doubt was the winning margin, which was one-and-one-half lengths over Rockin Ron, who parlayed prime pocket position for place; 99-1 Macs Jackpot also used an inside trip to get a high finish, coming home third, just nipped for second.
“It was good that I had sort of a ’slow second-over’ trip, going up towards the front,” Sears said post-race, confident in the stretch strength of the son of McArdle-Western Sahara, who also won the 2014 Hempt in a stakes record of 1:47.3 which still stands.
In a career of continuing stardom, McWicked, now seven, boosted his earnings to $2,646,362 in only 80 career starts. The Franklin champion is owned by the S S G Stables of North Boston, N.Y., and was the only favorite in the night's four major races.
Crystal Fashion won the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for three-year-old trotters following a battle between Manchego and leader Six Pack before getting room in the stretch to power to a half-length victory over Six Pack in 1:51.4. Lawmaker finished third.
Manchego, the lone filly in the race and 3-5 favourite, went off stride coming around the final turn and finished ninth. It was her first loss in her 16-start career.
Six Pack was three-wide around the first turn, a head back in third place, as the field reached the first quarter in :26.2. He grabbed the lead soon thereafter and hit the half in :55.4. Manchego, who was on the outside from the start, worked her way first-over to alongside the leader by three-quarters in 1:23.1, but was unable to get in front.
Crystal Fashion was third coming around the final turn, but moved to the outside in the stretch after Manchego went off stride.
“I just wanted to get up close,” winning driver Tim Tetrick said. “My horse likes to leave the gate and sit close and get a good trip. If he gets room late, he likes to trot. He got by a good horse and we got the job done.”
Said winning trainer Jim Campbell, “Timmy gave him a perfect trip and he responded well and dug in when he had to.”
Crystal Fashion, a son of Cantab Hall out of Window Willow owned by Fashion Farms, has won three of six races this year and seven of 18 in his career. The gelding, who is eligible to August’s $1.2 million Hambletonian, has earned $471,537.
Sent off at odds of 9-2, Crystal Fashion paid $11.40 to win.
Courtly Choice catapulted off a fast pace to annihilate his competition in the $75,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial Consolation, winning by open lengths in 1:48.4.
Sent the 3/5 favourite, driver David Miller positioned Courtly Choice in fourth while Done Well battled for the front with Im A Big Deal and Stendahl Hanover. Following a :25.3 opening quarter, Done Well circled to the front and paced to the half in :53.2.
Courtly Choice moved first over approaching the backstretch while Points North attempted to track cover second over. The Blake MacIntosh trainee swiftly took command and began opening a margin on Done Well passing three-quarters in 1:21.1. Through the stretch, Courtly Choice remained under wraps while the lot chased for second, with Heavenly Sound claiming the runner-up spot from Keystone Tenacious.
Owned by Hutt Racing Stable, Mac And Heim Stables, Daniel Plouffe and Touch Stone Farms, Courtly Choice, by Art Major out of the Camtastic mare Lady Ashlee Ann, won his fourth race in six starts this year and his sixth in 18 overall, collecting $148,596 in earnings. He paid $3.40 to win.
Sitting off a duel for the front, Split The House angled wide into the stretch and powered to a 14-1 upset in the $75,000 Ben Franklin Consolation, overtaking passing-lane challenger Boogie Shuffle in 1:49.
Boogie Shuffle launched for the top with Mach It So getting away second before pulling off the rail to circle to the lead through a :26.4 opening quarter. Dealt A Winner, pacing third, edged first over as Check Six gained ground to the outside moving towards the half, timed in :55.
Dealt A Winner and Mach It So matched strides to three-quarters while Check Six retreated from second over, leaving a seam for Split The House to shoot through following a 1:21.1 third-quarter. Driver Brian Sears tipped Split The House to the center of the track into the stretch and lunged to the lead while Boogie Shuffle, off a pocket trip, rallied to take second while Dealt A Winner held third.
Trained by Chris Oakes for owner Crawford Farms Racing, Split The House, a six-year-old gelding by Rocknroll Hanover out of the Camluck mare Shake That Junk, won his 13th race in 32 starts, compiling $643,833 in earnings. He returned $31.20 to win.
Moving to the lead past the quarter, odds-on choice Fiftydallarbill took the $75,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Consolation over Moosonee in 1:52.1.
Moosonee rushed to the lead heading into the first turn while Fitydallarbill unhurriedly progressed to the front following a :28 opening quarter. Unchallenged through splits of :56.3 and 1:25, Fiftydallarbill and Moosonee gained separation from Scirocco Rob chasing in third and battled for the top spot through the stretch, with Moosonee shooting through the passing lane after the leader. Fiftydallarbill held off Moosonee while Scirocco Bob held third.
Owned by John Barnard, Fiftydallarbill, by Swan For All out of the Royal Troubador mare Cr Dixie Chick, won his third race in six starts this season and his 10th in 23 overall, earning $553,247. Trained by William Crone and driven by Brett Miller, he paid $2.20 to win.
(With files from the USTA and PHHA)