Wilkes-Barre, PA — Highalator, a son of Somebeachsomewhere who has been a frequent winner at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono whenever his schedule takes him here, bounced back from equipment failure in last week’s first 2021 appearance at the mountain oval to put up a game 1:51 victory in the $15,700 fast-class feature on the Kentucky Derby Day Saturday afternoon card.
Regular pilot Richard Still guided the veteran past Mykindachip to the :27.1 quarter, then got a breather to the half in :56.2. Bill Haley N made a big move at the leader down the backstretch, with Rodeo Rock in cover tow, but Highalator was able to keep the first-over at bay by the 1:23.1 three-quarters, and then withstand the oncoming Rodeo Rock by a length.
Highlator has now won 40 times in 90 trips behind the gate, with Pocono being a large contributor to that high win ratio, as he has won 16 times in 26 career starts here. Trainer Jenny Bier co-owns the winner of $644,834 with Joann Dombeck and Midsize Construction.
Another veteran Pocono lover, the 11-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding Scott Rocks, recorded career victory 69, and sixth in his last eight starts, taking a division of the high-end claiming handicap in 1:51.4 for driver George Napolitano Jr., a three-time winner on the afternoon, and trainer Hunter Oakes, the latter co-owner with Scott Bice.
The other division of the top claimer went to the Mach Three gelding Tullow N, driven by Tyler Buter, to a head victory over Busboy Hanover, whose cover he followed and then came on to win in 1:51.3. David Russo trains the winner for Marissa Russo.
Besides “George Nap,” Gilbert Garcia-Herrera, leading trainer at the meet, recorded a triple with three different drivers. And 2017 World Driving champion James MacDonald, in town because of the Ontario shutdown, made an auspicious debut by guiding the Carmen Auciello-trained Nothing But Muscle to a hard-fought score.
Sunday’s racing at The Downs, which will begin at 5 p.m., will feature a $15,300 pace for distaffs, with the stakes winner Shouldabeenatd trying to add a second straight victory while facing very good opposition here. Program pages will be available at the PHHA website.