Up-and-comers impress at Pocono

Wilkes-Barre PA — The temperature rose to the mid-50s on Monday afternoon (Feb. 26) at Pocono Downs at Mohegan Pennsylvania after hovering near freezing during the first three days of the meet, with the fastest trot and pace of the year registered, and both outside of the featured events. Simon Allard won both of those $15,000 contests, one for each gait.

Chef Rocco was put on the lead and was unchallenged late in a 1:56.1 victory. Curtis Salonick photo.

The trotting headliner saw the Walner gelding Chef Rocco win in his second start for owner/trainer Mark Akins and driver Allard. Chef Rocco was put on the lead and was unchallenged late in a 1:56.1 victory.

In the companion feature for pacers, Mikiteen raced in the pocket for Allard behind leader Dark As Night, then caught the front-stepper by the slimmest of margins in 1:54.4. Trainer Cote Keim shares ownership in the Always B Miki gelding along with Gold Pony Racing LLC.

Trainer Nicholas Devita looks like he has a very chancy prospect in the 4-year-old Huntsville gelding Forward Look, who did not race at two or three but who already has two wins in 2024, including a shocking 1:51.2 triumph in a $14,000 pace Monday. Braxten Boyd, a four-time winner on the day, lowered the mark of Forward Look by almost five seconds, getting him to go around early leader Skifromthetop IR in the second panel and then withstanding that rival by a length for David Hamm, Christopher Giaccio, Glenn Phillips, and Devita Racing Stable Inc.

A much more likely wearer of the banner saying ”fastest of his gait this season at Pocono” was the Explosive Matter gelding Chiplosive, with the career earner of $363,762 earning that status in 1:54.2, again for Boyd. Maria Alvarez conditions the pacesetting winner for owner Terrence Smith.

Racing resumes on Saturday afternoon at Pocono, and so do the various Game Of Claims Series for horses eligible to be taken for a certain base-price, which increases after the second and then the third preliminaries. There are six $17,500 divisions of the Game Of Claims event for $25,000 base-tag horses featured on Saturday, and with competitive fields, a rich final, and a new rule saying that a horse must start in all three prelims to get into the final, the action will certainly be hot on the racetrack and at the claiming box.

Free programs for Saturday’s 1 p.m. Pocono card are available at www.phha.org.

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