Wilkes-Barre, PA – The Keystone Endeavor gelding Endeavors Pride, under constant reminders from driver Matt Kakaley to keep to business during the mile, showed gameness in taking the featured $16,000 claiming handicap pace Saturday evening (Nov. 9) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.
Endeavors Pride was looped early, and was outside well past the :26.4 opening quarter. The winner did gain command before the :55.4 half, but he soon came under attack from first-over Rockin Rio. Endeavors Pride turned that one back on the far turn, then had enough to withstand a huge closing burst by Outkast Blue Chip, closer to the outside fence than the pylons turning for home, by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:52.3, with the mercury at 30 degrees. The eight-time seasonal winner is trained by Katie Remmerswaal for Doug and Leslie Berkeley.
A “heat wave” came to the track mid-card, with the temperature up to a balmy 32 degrees for the two $14,500 co-featured paces.
The first of the co-features went to the Pocono Pacer of the Year, Atta Boy Dan, who won for the 15th time at Pocono during the meet, for the 18th time during 2019, and for the 70th time during his $937,942-winning career. What was unusual about this victory is that Atta Boy Dan came from dead last in the six-horse field, moving three-wide in the lane and showing his big heart to overhaul 60-1 shot A Real Miracle by three-quarters of a length in 1:52.2. Simon Allard, who tied with Kakaley for night’s honors with four victories, drove the 10-year-old Western Terror gelding for trainer Pete Pellegrino and owner Stephen Larkin.
Perhaps the most impressive winner of the night was In Secret, who captured the second co-feature in 1:50.4, matching the lifetime best he established two weeks ago. The Bettor’s Delight gelding had a horrible trip early – looped leaving, three-wide around a breaker, finally getting to tuck out of the first turn, then uncovered again into the next bend – but In Spades brushed right around the leader before the five-eighths and had a safe lead the rest of the way, winning under a hold. George Napolitano Jr. guided the sharp winner for owner-trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera.
Twenty one-year-old trainer, Hunter Oakes, was honored as the track’s leading conditioner in the UTR system in trackside ceremonies. The son of well-known trainer Chris Oakes, Hunter saw his horses post excellent numbers of 162-51-27-23 .455 going into the night’s card, putting him ahead of all trainers who average a start per two cards.
Speaking of two cards – that’s all that is left on the 2019 Pocono calendar. The trotters and pacers will go at 4 p.m. on Tuesday (Nov. 12), and then next Saturday (Nov. 16) at 7 p.m., the final card of the local year will be highlighted by a Fan Appreciation Night that features a hooded sweatshirt giveaway while quantities (and size availability) lasts. The leading Driver awards will be given on the closing card, and the Trotter of the Year will be honored.