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Betting Line Sets World Record

Published: August 20, 2016 9:05 pm ET

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Besides the three races for three-year-olds that should help establish current “pecking rights” within their respective divisions -- the $500,000 Battle of the Brandywine for colt pacers, the $500,000 Colonial for colt trotters, $350,000 Valley Forge for three-year-old filly pacers -- the card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Saturday night was overloaded with further speedy contests, including consolation events for the sophomores and Invitationals for the older set.

Here are recaps from live coverage throughout the night:

BATTLE OF THE BRANDYWINE

$500,000 Battle of the Brandywine

Betting Line extended his win streak to nine in a row and set a world record in the $500,000 Battle of the Brandywine.

Control The Moment charged off the gate from post eight and landed in the pocket spot behind early leader Racing Hill through a :26.1 first quarter, but driver David Miller sent 1-2 favourite Betting Line first over from third to take over command. Betting Line then cruised comfortably on the lead past the half in :53.4 and to three-quarters in 1:20.1, and dominated down the stretch to score the victory in 1:47.2 -- besting the former Casie Coleman trainee McWicked's world record for three-year-old male pacers on a five-eighths-mile track from the 2014 Hempt. Racing Hill chased the winner home four lengths behind with Control The Moment following in third.

“I wasn’t real happy at first with getting away third with Racing Hill up front,” said Coleman. “I wasn’t sure what Brett [Miller with Racing Hill] would do because that horse loves the front and wasn’t sure he might take us more than he did when we came. But :53.4 is pretty good to the half. Betting Line is better off a helmet, but it worked out.

“It’s cold, it’s windy; I was not expecting a mile like that tonight, that’s for sure. I knew he was going to be really good, but with the way it’s cooled off, I didn’t think we would go a world record. He was extremely impressive.”

Coleman co-owns the millionaire Bettors Delight-Heathers Western colt as part of the West Wins Stable with Ross Warriner, as well as partners Christine Calhoun and Mac Nichol.

“Honestly, with all the horses I’ve had, and I’ve said this for a while, I think Betting Line is the best one I’ve had,” said Coleman. “McWicked was a really nice horse. [World champions] Sportswriter and Betterthancheddar were better than what 'Wicked' was. But this horse is showing he’s even better than them.”

$200,000 Consolation I

Dr J Hanover, the impeccably-bred (Somebeachsomewhere-So Perfect) $300,000 yearling, streaked to his fifth straight victory in taking the $200,000 Consolation I in 1:50.1, lowering his mark by over a second and a half. Scott Zeron sent the late-developing colt to the lead well before the :26.1, then let quarter-mover JJ Flynn brush around him to the top in front of the stands, that one putting up middle fractions of :55.2 and 1:23.

Zeron had Dr J Hanover out and on the bit just past mid-turn to go after the pacesetter, with third-inside Safensound Hanover dipping down to the Pocono Pike as JJ Flynn backed off a bit, giving “Dr J” his biggest challenge. But the good Doctor, at 3-1 the third choice here, stayed strong to the wire, winning by a length, with JJ Flynn another one and a half lengths back in third.

Tony Alagna conditions the winner, improving greatly with every start, for Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, John Cancelliere, and Dr J Partners.

$100,000 Consolation II

Nocturnal Bluechip was hustled out of the gate by driver Tim Tetrick, yielded to favoured Spider Man Hanover to sit the pocket, then stormed up the famed Pocono Pike to be an easy winner in the $100,000 Battle Consolation II in 1:51.2.

After opening in :26, Spider Man Hanover got a relative breather on the lead, posting middle fractions of :55.1 and 1:23, but he came up empty in the lane, and Nocturnal Blue Chip stormed up the inside to win by one and a quarter lengths; 35-1 shot Inspiration View, four-wide headstretch and still sixth 100 feet out, was along for second, a half-length ahead of last year’s PA Sire Stakes Championship Ideal Jimmy, who also shot up the Pike.

A son of Bettors Delight, Nocturnal Bluechip was sent off as the 5-2 second choice and delivered his first victory of the season for trainer Mark Steacy, also co-owner with NLG Racing Stable.

COLONIAL TROT

$500,000 Colonial Trot

In a reverse finish of their Hambletonian match-up, Southwind Frank out-duelled Marion Marauder to win the $500,000 Colonial Trot by half a length in 1:52.4.

Driven by Yannick Gingras, the 6-5 favoured Southwind Frank looped early leaver Sutton after a :27.1 first quarter with the Hambletonian champion Marion Marauder moving first over from fourth as his main rival touched down on the lead. Southwind Frank proceeded to the half in :56.4 and was prompted through three-quarters in 1:24.3 with Marion Marauder looming to the outside. However, Southwind Frank pulled clear when Gingras pulled his earplugs, and despite one last late lunge from Marion Marauder in the stretch, the Ron Burke trainee held on for the victory. Bar Hopping finished one and a half lengths behind in third.

“I was glad to be inside on the [first] turn and save a little ground,” said Gingras after the race. “I wanted to control the race, so I moved to the lead. I got some decent fractions and that definitely didn’t hurt.

“At the half, when [Marion Marauder] came, I would have liked to had him a little further away than first over. But I kicked the plugs on my horse on the backstretch and in the last turn he felt pretty strong trot-wise. In the stretch, there were no anxious moments. It was half a length, but it was a measured half a length.”

The Southwind Frank Partners' Muscle Hill-Flawless Lindy colt is now 17-for-21 in his career with a bankroll topping $1.85 million.

“He was better [tonight]; I don’t know about much better,” said Gingras. “I think he’s a better horse than this even. I just believe in this horse so much and I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Southwind Frank. That just goes to show you how dominant of a horse he is. He still gets the job done.”

$200,000 Consolation I

With three different leaders in the last 50 yards of the $200,000 Consolation II, it wasn’t until the shadow of the wire until the Yankee Glide colt Lagerfeld finally took final control to win by a neck over Iron Mine Bucky in 1:53.2, a personal best, with Hollywood Highway just another half-length back in third.

Iron Mine Bucky was out to the entire :27.4 quarter to get the lead, then hung early challenger Dominion Beach through fast middle splits of :55.2 and 1:23.3, with Hollywood Highway and Lagerfeld, racing 2-3 along the inside behind the duel, moving inside and outside, respectively, for the stretch drive.

Hollywood Highway surged to the lead mid-stretch, but couldn’t sustain his bid, with Iron Mine Bucky fighting back to the front, but Yannick Gingras had enough trotter in the last strides to earn the triumph.

Lagerfeld, who won the 2015 PA Sire Stakes Championship and a 9-2 proposition here, is trained by Jimmy Takter, and with this win he topped the half-million dollar mark career-wise, with his total now at $522,443 for the ownership of Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, and Herb Liverman.

$100,000 Consolation II

Mavens Way surged past stablemate Double L Lindy in the final strides to win the $100,000 Consolation II by a neck in 1:54.1. Lima Cadillac was third.

Driven by trainer Ake Svanstedt, Mavens Way won for the second time in seven races this year and pushed his seasonal earnings to $93,447. The colt is owned by Ake Svanstedt Inc., Mal and Janet Burroughs, T L P Stable, and Esa Hietakangas. The son of Muscle Hill-Doris Deo has won three of 16 lifetime starts and earned $141,724.

Mavens Way, the 9-5 favourite, was sixth in the first half of the race as Lima Cadillac took the field to the marker in :56.4. Mavens Way worked his way to the front heading around the last turn, but went wide and hung in the stretch, allowing Double L Lindy to take the lead on the inside. Mavens Way’s late burst, though, secured the victory.

VALLEY FORGE

$350,000 Valley Forge

Driver David Miller moved Darlinonthebeach to the front early on and she powered to her third straight victory in the $350,000 main event of the Valley Forge.

Moving from an early three-hole during the :26.1 first quarter, 6-5 second choice Darlinonthebeach cleared Blue Moon Stride on top in front of the grandstand with I Said Diamonds left first over and favoured Pure Country tracking the cover. The Nancy Johansson-trained Darlinonthebeach remained strong on the lead through middle splits of :54.4 and 1:21.4 en route to the 1:49.3 triumph. Call Me Queen Be finished second over Blue Moon Stride. Pure Country managed to grab fourth, rallying wide around stalled cover in her return to the filly stakes division after taking on the boys in the Cane and Milstein.

“I was going to wait and see what happened off the gate,” said Miller. “Really, only a couple of them left and I figured I could get the lead pretty easily so I went ahead and moved her right away. She’s settled down quite a bit and lets me do what I need to do with her. She’s been racing great doing that.

“She’s just been very sharp the last three starts and she’s holding her form really good,” noted Miller. “I’ve always had a lot of confidence in her. She just ran into a few hiccups there, but she’s stuck with it, she’s getting through it, and now she’s getting what she deserves.”

White Birch Farm owns and bred the Somebeachsomewhere-Darlins Delight filly, whose career earnings soared over $700,000.

$150,000 Consolation

Graceful Vision took the lead after the opening quarter, fended off a backstretch challenge from favourite Skinny Dipper, and cruised to a five and one-quarter length win in 1:50.3 in the $150,000 Valley Forge Consolation I. Heels On The Beach was second and Marty Party Two was third.

Marcus Miller drove Graceful Vision for his father, trainer and co-owner Erv Miller. The daughter of Yankee Cruiser-Vision Of Grace is also owned by John Koliopoulos. She has won four of 12 races this season and five of 16 lifetime, pushing her career earnings to $114,330.

Graceful Vision was sent off at odds of 7-2. The top four finishers were driven by Millers -- with Brett Miller behind Heels On The Beach, David Miller with Marty Party Two, and Andy Miller with Arrow Hanover.

INVITATIONALS

$50,000 Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association Invitational Pace

Mel Mara made two early moves in commanding the front end, then held off the late charge of pocket-sitter and Pocono-lover Luck Be Withyou to take the $50,000 Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association Invitational in 1:47.2, two-fifths of a second off the divisional world record (and all-time five-eighths-mile track best) of 1:47 held by Sweet Lou and Always B Miki.

Corey Callahan left between horses with the seven-year-old son of Lis Mara, with Sunfire Blue Chip to his left and Luck Be Withyou to his right, and initially backed off to third as Luck Be Withyou, winner of the 2013 Breeders Crown Final and 2015 Franklin Final over the local red clay, circled up to the lead. But “Luck” was challenged by Mel Mara, the even-money chalk, past the :25.3 quarter and had the lead well before the :53.3 half, with Dealt A Winner coming first-over, affording Mel Mara no rest to a 1:20 three-quarter clocking.

After the first-over tired, Luck Be Withyou pulled outside for the stretch drive and Sunfire Blue Chip went to the Pocono Pike to challenge the leader. But Mel Mara visibly dug in and summoned more when challenged, holding off Luck Be Withyou by a half-length, with Sunfire Blue Chip another length back in third.

Dylan Davis trains the winner of over $600,000 for Robert Cooper Stables LLC and J&T Silva Stables LLC.

$50,000 Hanover Shoe Farms Mare Invitational Pace

Devil Child worked her way to the lead at the quarter and went on to an easy front-stepping 1:49.1 victory in the $50,000 Hanover Shoe Farms Mare Invitational Pace.

Hall of Famer David Miller got the daughter of American Ideal, favoured at 3-5, to the front as they passed by the opening pole in :26, posted middle splits of :54.2 and 1:21.2, then drew off in the stretch to win by two and a quarter lengths, with pocket-sitting Sell A Bit N, second-longest shot in the field, holding off Medusa for second by a half-length.

Devil Child, now a winner of two straight and three of her last four, posted both a new lifetime mark and a season’s record with the victory for trainer Chris Oakes -- locked in a three-way battle for Rene Allard and Ron Burke for Pocono supremacy -- and owner Susan Oakes and Crawford Farms while breaking the half-million dollar lifetime plateau.

$50,000 Sebastian K Invitational Trot

The Mr Cantab gelding Homicide Hunter smashed the world record for four-year-old trotting geldings with a 1:50.1 victory in the $50,000 Sebastian K Invitational Trot. In fact, the only divisional world standard for a five-eighth-mile track that’s faster is the 1:49 all-time record, set in the older stallion division – by Sebastian K.

The most potent teaming at Pocono –- driver George Napolitano Jr. and trainer Chris Oakes –- were the sponsorship behind Homicide Hunter, who spotted third as Wings Of Royalty took the field to the lead in :26.3, then brushed to the top and reached the half after a slight breather in :55.3. After that, it was the rest of the field that was left gasping, as Homicide Hunter went to the three-quarters in 1:22.4 and stayed strong to the finish, winning by four lengths while lowering the former divisional standard, co-held by 2015 U.S. divisional champ JL Cruze and Wind Of The North, both here at Pocono. Il Sogno Dream rallied for second up the inside to hit the wire a neck ahead of strong-closing Rose Run Parker behind Homicide Hunter, who also posted the fastest trotting mile of 2016 on all sizes of tracks, one-fifth of a second faster than Resolve posted in a Meadowlands victory.

Homicide Hunter, who dominated the Indiana landscape in 2015 while winning 16 of 18 races and over $475,000, was purchased on July 1 by Crawford Farms Racing, and that purchase looks very astute right now, as Homicide Hunter boosted his bankroll to $655,999, with the prospects of more to come. (Hmmmm … Indiana … Wiggle It Jiggleit, Always B Miki, Freaky Feet Pete … Homicide Hunter?)

(With files from Pocono/PHHA & HRC)


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