Wilkes-Barre, PA — The field of seven assembled for Saturday’s (Aug. 17) $30,000 fast-class pacing event in the Great Northeast Open Series at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono is one of the winningest collections of seasoned veterans, with a 43 percent success rate this year and 38 percent lifetime, and three of the most frequent visitors to Victory Lane are the favorites.
Tabbed as the 5-2 morning line favorite from post four is None Bettor A (nine wins in 12 starts this year, 25-for-70 lifetime), with new trainer Andrew Harris selecting the track’s leading driver, George Napolitano Jr., to handle the Bettor’s Delight gelding. None Bettor A had won nine straight races, including a start in this series, before finishing third behind last season’s Horse of the Year McWicked in the Gerrity Memorial at Saratoga in his last start. He draws inside his two main rivals here, but he also has not raced since that July 20 mile at Saratoga.
Starting just to his right is Highalator (10-for-21 this year, 31-for-67 lifetime), with Jenny Bier using regular driver Richard Still behind the son of Somebeachsomewhere. Winner of the Franklin Consolation, the Van Rose Pace, and a leg of this series at The Downs already this year, Highalator is a known lover of the brick-red Pocono surface, as his 13-for-21 lifetime record here attests to. He’s rated at 3-1 in the morning line.
Drawing the outside post seven is the Shadow Play gelding Backstreet Shadow (eight-for-17 this year, 15-for-34 lifetime) for trainer Ron Burke and driver Pat Berry, and his 7-2 early evaluation likely would have been better with a better post position draw. Backstreet Shadow has won his last three races in impressive fashion, staring with a 1:47.4 victory at The Meadowlands, then a 1:48.4 win on Adios Day at The Meadows, and then back to the Jersey miler where on Hambletonian Day he lowered his mark to 1:47.3, with a last quarter of :25.4.
Another longtime Pocono favorite, Scott Rocks (post two, trainer Hunter Oakes, driver Fern Paquet Jr.), would break the $1 million lifetime earnings mark with a first or a second here, appropriate for a horse who has paced in 1:50 or faster at Pocono for six straight years.
Slick Tony, Havefaithinme N, and Beach Boogie are the early mutuel outsiders, but all have shown they can be very competitive with some racing fortune.
The top point earners in the preliminaries of the series earn their way into the Monday (Sept. 9) $100,000 divisional finals at Pocono, to be held at the distance of 1-1/4 miles.
This Great Northeast Series event starts a big racing week at Pocono, with Pennsylvania-sired 2-year-olds in stakes action the following two cards: the pacing colts on Sunday and the trotting fillies on Monday.