PA Stars Aiming For Pocono Stakes

Published: April 21, 2016 12:52 pm EDT

The Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association and Pocono Downs have issued a reminder and information regarding the inaugural Pennsylvania Classic and the Miss Pennsylvania stakes events that will take place at the PA track in the coming weeks.

The stakes are for three-year-old pacers. The eliminations will take place on April 30. The finals will take place on May 7, which is also the day of the Kentucky Derby.

The races are for Pennsylvania-sired horses. The Pennsylvania Classic Pace will offer purses of roughly $500,000 (added). The Miss Pennsylvania Pace, for fillies, will offer purses of roughly $300,000 (added).

The release states that Ideal Jimmy and Pure Country are ‘in line’ to make their seasonal debuts in the eliminations. Both of the horses won their respective Pennsylvania Sire Stakes finals last year.

The eliminations will be drawn this coming Monday. According to the release, ‘the top nine in the elims’ will advance to the finals. The field of the finals will be handed their post positions via an open draw.

Via release, the PHHA and Pocono have taken a closer look at some of the ‘major contenders’ for both races. That analysis appears below.


Ideal Jimmy, from the barn of Erv Miller, won five of ten starts as a freshman, taking a mark of 1:51f, and earned the bulk of his $293G bankroll in capturing his PASS championship. The son of Western Ideal has been second in two preparatory qualifying races, the latter on Wednesday when he missed a neck to the $600G-winning older performer Windsong Jack in 1:52.4, with ‘Jimmy’ pacing his own last quarter in :27.2.

Check Six comes to the PA Classic elims off of a qualifying victory at the Meadowlands last Saturday in a withering 1:52, his own last quarter in :26.2. A son of Somebeachsomewhere, Check Six won four races and almost $120G last year, was third in the PASS championship, and is from the barn of top trainer Ron Burke – and it ‘can’t be’ a major PA stakes race without a Ron Burke horse in it.

JJ Flynn is a Western Ideal colt under the tutelage of trainer Chris Ryder, and he has an advantage that the first two horses mentioned don’t – he has raced three times this year, winning twice, fastest in 1:51.3 this past Tuesday, and in his second-place finish he was beaten a head while race-timed in 1:50.2.


Pure Country was pure perfection in her two-year-old form for U.S. trainer of the year, Jimmy Takter, winning all ten of her starts, including the Breeders Crown, and bankrolling just shy of $690,000. She swept all four legs of her PASS races and the championship, earning the most money ever in a single PASS campaign by any one horse, $286,918. But a funny thing happened to the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere in her initial 2016 qualifier – she was second, although beaten only a nose by a well-bred filly named Blue Moon Stride, coming from off the pace in the 1:54.1 mile with a personal last quarter of :27. At press time, Takter planned to qualify her again at the Meadowlands on Saturday, and then come to Pocono if his filly comes out of the race properly.

Ava N Ella is a daughter of Western Terror who was unraced at two, then won her first two starts at the Meadows for locally-based trainer Linda Schadel. After those victories, she was sold to the famous Bellino family interests, and for new trainer Tony O’Sullivan she has added two more, and comes off a sharp qualifying win at Pocono last week.

Call Me Queen Be, a winner of over $278G at two, was second to Pure Country in both the PASS championship and divisional PASS money earned (over $177,000). She won a qualifier in her return at Pompano Park, and she’s in to qualify at the Meadowlands Saturday – where she can look to her left from PP8 and see her fellow daughter of Somebeachsomewhere and arch nemesis Pure Country right next to her (In fact, half of that ninth race qualifier at M[1] Saturday are Miss Pennsylvania eligibles).

Both the Pennsylvania Classic and Miss Pennsylvania will be raced during the latter portion of a ‘brunch-evening’ doubleheader of action on ‘Derby Day at The Downs.’ The first card will start at 11 a.m. and will end in time to give a break until ‘The Run For The Roses.’ The evening portion of the day’s harness racing will start immediately after the ‘Bluegrass clash.’ The Pennsylvania Classic and Miss Pennsylvania will be joined on the second card by the $50,000 Van Rose Invitational Pace, which honours the memory of the longtime area Standardbred journalist.

(With files from PHHA / Pocono)