Park Official, Caviart Art sweep Game Of Claims prelims

Wilkes-Barre, PA — Park Official and Caviart Val both swept their respective sets of three $20,000 preliminaries in the Game Of Claims Pacing Series with wins on the Saturday afternoon (March 18) card at Pocono Downs at Mohegan Pennsylvania. Both of them were also claimed for the third straight week — this time for $30,000 each in the progressively-growing tag series — and trainer Jason Brewer, who had gotten both after $27,500 claims the week before, thus lost both streaking horses coming up to the $40,000 championship next Saturday.

Four horses entered Saturday with two preliminary wins under their harnesses, and both Park Official (1:52.3, driver Tyler Buter) and Caviart Val (1:52.4, Matt Kakaley) defeated two-time winners: Bravo Tex N (who was claimed) was third behind Park Official, and Division Bell (who was not claimed) was second behind Caviart Val. None of the other five third-round winners had previously recorded a series victory, with three of them making their debut at this level.

Park Official (left) and Caviart Val (right) completed sweeps of their three preliminary events in the Game Of Claims Series. Curtis Salonick photo.

Trainer Brewer sent out a third winner in the Game Of Claims, Sombodyitreasure (Tyler Buter), whose 1:52.2 win gave Brewer the three fastest winners in the series Saturday. No one claimed Sombodyitreasure; on the downside, with his only other series start resulting in a third-place finish, the pacer may not be among the highest point winners being declared in on Monday morning.

The three series newcomers who won were Benji’s Best (1:54.1, Kakaley), who was claimed, and two who were not claimed, both trained by Darren Taneyhill: Guinness Panic (1:54.1, Anthony Napolitano) and Bellows Binge (1:55.3, Kakaley). The day’s longest-priced horse, 19-1 upsetter Black Chevron N (Anthony Napolitano), rounded out the septet of Game Of Claims winners after finishing fourth in his two prior splits.

Seven claims were entered on Saturday for a total of $210,000, bringing the yearly totals to 72 claims for $1,455,125 in 11 cards. Horses cannot be claimed out of any Game Of Claims finals.

There was also a pair of $18,500 events for the fast-class set. Stop Staring rallied out of the pocket to win the pacing split in 1:53.2 for the meet leaders, driver Kakaley and trainer Travis Alexander, finishing a length ahead of Keystone Steam for Symmetry Stables LLC.

Dandy, who usually raced from behind in earning over $200,000 in his 3-year-old season, followed up on a closing second-place finish in his 2023 debut with a 1:55 front-end victory in the fast-class trot. Driver-owner Jacqueline Ingrassia patiently guided the victorious son of Cantab Hall to the lead past the three-eighths, and from there, the Frank Ingrassia trainee evaded favorite Eurobond by 1-3/4 lengths.

Sunday’s (March 19) 1 p.m. card will contain another final preliminary leg of the Game Of Claims Series, with no fewer than 10 $12,500 divisions of pacing action for horses with a base claiming price of $20,000 for this round. Seeing as P L Leeroy (who is among the entrants) is the only double winner in this bracket so far, there should be hot action on the racetrack and at the claiming box, looking ahead to the group $25,000 final on Sunday, March 26. Program pages for all Pocono races are made available on the PHHA website.

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