Pocono Downs hosts lucrative Saturday night card

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Ted Black

June 29th, 2018

One week after many of the sport's top pacers and trotters of all ages gathered for numerous elimination races at Pocono Downs, the five-eighths mile oval in Pennsylvania will host a quartet of lucrative stakes finals and several consolation events on a stellar card that will among the themes throughout the summer.

Saturday's second race is the $75,000 Max Hempt Memorial consolation for three-year-old pacing colts and much of the attention will focus on the sophomores who emerged from the elim won by Lather Up. Heavenly Sound, Courtly Choice and Done Well, fourth while first over against the division leader last week after a solid second to him in the $1 million North America Cup final, will garner plenty of support from posts one, four and nine, respectively. Maryland-bred Courtly Choice won the NA Cup consolation in 1:49.2 and is poised to garner another consol.

Then two races later in the $75,000 Ben Franklin Memorial consolation for aged pacers, multi-millionaires Mach It So and Christen Me N will garner ample support from posts one and eight, respectively, while Check Six, Split The House and Missile J will be well backed. Mach It So won last year's William R. Haughton Memorial, while Split The House captured the Breeders Crown Aged Pace. Dealt A Winner was giant at Lexington, while Missile J was very good early in the year before tailing off.

Then three races later in the $75,000 Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial for three-year-old colt trotters, onlookers will be looking for clues in regards to the final. Fashion Forever, Fiftydallarbill and Gemologist all exit the fastest elim won by talented filly, Manchego. Among the sleepers in here is Moosonee, who was buried and shuffled with ample trot through the first seven-eighths and raced well despite missing time. He could be a major player from post eight in this spot.

Of course, the serious action gets under way two races later with the $300,000 James Lynch Memorial final for three-year-old filly pacers. No genuine standout has emerged from this division thus far, but several of these sophomore fillies could eventually garner the Dan Patch award.

Elim winners Kissin In The Sand and Youaremycandygirl prevailed in 1:51.1 and 1:51.3, respectively, but they also got posts nine and posts two, respectively, for this event. Sidewalk Dancer, runner-up to Kissin In The Sand in their elim, was razor sharp in defeat and gets the rail here. Alexa's Power was beaten favorite in her elim after a prolonged first over trip and can improve here and Double A Mint was a sharp second at a big price and could still offer value in this spot.

Then one race later in the $500,000 Max Hempt Memorial final for three-year-old colt pacers, all eyes will be on division leader Lather Up, who has won all seven of his starts this year and prevailed handily in 1:48.1 in the NA Cup two weeks ago. He followed that up by winning his Hempt elim in 1:49, quickest of the three last weekend and will give other elim winners Hitman Hill and Dorsoduro Hanover all they can bargain for despite drawing outside of that pair.

Then one race later in the $500,000 Ben Franklin final for free-for-all pacers, McWicked looms the solid favorite following a sharp, 1:48.3 first over score in his elim. All Bets Off won his elim in 1:48.4 courtesy of the disqualification of Sintra, while Heaven Rocks A won the slowest elim in 1:49.4. Runner-ups Donttellmeagain, Rockin Ron and Filibuster Hanover all raced well in defeat. All Bets Off, Rockin Ron and Filibuster Hanover comprise an uncoupled Ron Burke-trained entry which will have plenty to say about the outcome.

Then one race later in the $500,000 Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial final for three-year-old trotters, much of the attention will likely be on the lone filly in the field - Manchego. Undefeated in three starts this year and 15 overall for trainer Jimmy Takter, Manchego won her elim in 1:52.4, clearly faster than the clockings posted by elim winners Mission Accepted (1:53.2) and Six Pack (1:53.3). Manchego will likely be the odds-on favorite despite post six, but elim runner-ups Crystal Fashion and Patent Leather both have seriously upset possibilities.