Stars Out For Final Northeast Prelims

Published: August 29, 2019 02:34 pm EDT

The Great Northeast Open Series hosts its final 2019 preliminaries this weekend, with $30,000 events at both The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and Harrah's Philadelphia.

One of the hottest horses in all of harness racing, Backstreet Shadow, looks to extend his winning string since being acquired by the Burke Brigade to six in Saturday’s (Aug. 31) Open Pace at Pocono, but he’ll have to do it starting from the outside post nine. A winner in Great Northeast races in his last two starts, Backstreet Shadow currently sits ninth in the standings and will be driven by Matt Kakaley this Saturday.

Sitting third and sixth in the standings are Scott Rocks (post five, driver George Napolitano Jr.) and Highalator (post two, driver Richard Still). Both horses have shown a long-term affinity for the Pocono oval. Horses such as The Wall, Prairie Panther, and Donttellmeagain are on the points “bubble” going into their contests and could earn their way into the final.

The Great Northeast action then shifts 100 miles southward to Harrah's Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon (Sept. 1), where the first of the two events to take to the track will be the Open Trot. The Burke Brigade holds a solid position heading into this final prelim: World record holder Homicide Hunter is not only the event's defending champion, but he leads in this season's standings as well. He bypassed the Great Northeast race for a 1:53.2 victory against good conditioned foes at Philadelphia on Thursday.

Burke however will send 2017 Horse of the Year, mare Hannelore Hanover, to the gate in Sunday's trot. She succeeded in her only Great Northeast start this year, and the winner of $2.9 million in her career will be starting from post three for driver Yannick Gingras.

Hannelore Hanover’s main competition may come from Rich And Miserable (post two, driver Tyler Buter), who has won nine of 13 races this season. He’s fifth in the standings, including a series victory.

In the Great Northeast Mares Pace, the top-ranked horse in the current Top 10 polls, Shartin N, is perfect in two Great Northeast starts this year and has drawn the rail in a field of seven for trainer Jim King Jr. and driver Tim Tetrick She will likely be a heavy favourite off of her near-invincible form, going for her 14th win of the campaign in her 15th start.

Two of her main rivals, Caviart Ally (Andy McCarthy) and Apple Bottom Jeans (Corey Callahan), in contrast have drawn the outside posts six and seven, respectively, but both are likely to be forward factors. Write Me A Song, another Burke horse to be driven by Gingras from post two, comes in after two straight victories at Yonkers, and figures to be placed right behind the front-steppers.

The Great Northeast events are slotted for race 10 at Pocono Saturday, with Sunday’s action at Philly in race seven (trot) and 11 (mares pace).

(with files from the PHHA, Pocono and Harrah's Philadelphia)

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