Pocono Parades Current Division Stars In Stakes Elims—Lather Up Returns; Filly Pacers Purse-Hungry At Yonkers

Profile Picture: Frank Cotolo

June 21st, 2018


The 2018 stakes journey is in full swing as June rolls to an end, and with the debut of two-year-old races adding to the schedule the action multiplies for each sex and gait in every division.

The scene for summer’s opening is the mountains of Pennsylvania, where Pocono Downs offers elims for upcoming soph stakes, while state-bred races sizzle, including those on The Hambletonian Trail. Our sister blog covers the betting opportunities in those groups, including extra blog material where necessary.

More super-wagering contenders emerge in the TwinSpires exclusive horses-to-watch (H2W) list. Explore these possibilities for use in any wagers of your choice. Do your own handicapping and then consider our H2W selections.


Three soph-filly pacing divisions race for more than $56,000 each in New York Sires Stakes (NYSS) action on the longest day of 2018. At Yonkers on June 21, the purses attract state-breds that may race on into champion stakes or accept the huge offerings for the last time.

Division one ($56,833) sends seven fillies to post, led by top-moneymaker Kimberlee from the Ave Svanstedt barn. Looking sharp and probably set to take big support is Tell Me A Joke, who has won half of her six starts. Also in the public’s eye is Checkered Past, on the board 50 percent of her eight starts.

Ross Croghan’s Painted Lady could be overlooked in the close arguments made for the aforementioned three. Painted Lady has collected three wins and a total of seven checks in 11 starts and sits in a great inside launching post to play a major role, if not win this.

Division two and three add a thousand dollars to their purses with eight in each division. Ron Burke presents two contenders here—Let’s Fall In Love from the rail and Pueblo Blue Chip from post 6. The latter has just gotten started at three, having won one of two, a better record than the former also in earnings. They will be favorites. Twin B Peaches should also be in the public’s top choices, with eight starts, good earnings and a high win percentage within those figures.

Jessica Okusko’s Ms Cheesman leaves from post 2 and may wind up with a good price as the public’s third or worse choice. A good mile from Azreal As It Gets at a good price from post 7 should not be a surprise, either.

The NYSS eight in the last division should have the public gathering around Wisdom Tree, whose earnings are double of most foes here in only seven tries and five of those were wins. Presto Blue Chip and Apothic may make up the top three favorites.

Brett Pelling’s offering from the rail may not produce the brand-like support members of his barn used to when he ruled the trainer colony’s stakes contestants but we like the filly Believe In Me. She has won two of six and picked up two minor spots on the board and should improve with the biggest purse of her early soph career thus far on the line. On the rail she threatens to steal the mile.


Stalwart pacers are at it again, this time at Pocono on June 23 with three $35,000 elims to set the field of the Ben Franklin Final the following week. The usual suspects of ‘18 are raring to race in the mountain air for berths.

Division one has seven familiar faces, including the debut this season for Split The House. Burke entered Check Six, who still struggles for his first win this season. Missile J brings his half-mile style of speed to the event and Croghan’s Heaven Rocks A packs a load of international money.

But Western Fame is here and here is perfect, that is, the Pocono oval lends itself so comfortably to this guy’s speed. What’s best is that the crowd often lets him go to post and win at more-than-fair prices. Bank on it again.

The second split has only six big-boy pacers. It is packed with speed and that sets up a scenario we like. Burke’s Rockin Ron has the rail, rich Waikiki Beach A will be winging from post 3 and Mach It So should fire early from post 5 to grab the lead.

Any shuffling or dueling will benefit McWicked, as long as he doesn’t change his recent style and challenge early for the front. Last week, McWicked was, indeed, wicked, late in the Mohawk Gold Cup mile, almost winning with one burst. This is only his fifth race of the season and he can win this, probably at a decent price.

Seven are racing in the last “Ben” elim. On the rail is the tough galoot that beat McWicked last week—Sintra. Even from the rail, he will be hard-pressed pacing against Filibuster Hanover. The five-for-five Burke bruiser has left no prisoners in this division and even from post 6 at Pocono his mile could be lethal. Burke also sends All Bets Off, who should also be afraid.

Still, considering the weight of the wagering, the scenario that benefits Sintra is the one to back. Filibuster Hanover will go off with little return offered and as a key that wins he will eat up any exotic. So, backing up Sintra could be a good deal, even if he goes to post as the second choice. If McWicked wins the second elim, Sintra could be a prime wager. 


Three $25,000 Max Hempt Memorial elims are on the Pocono program June 23, also. Glamour-boy pacers of the first kind are looking for big bucks. Early favorite for the Meadowlands Pace, Burke’s Dorsoduro Hanover, should excite chalk players. He has only lost one of four starts. But keep in mind that other than Lather Up (see elim three), this soph crop has been less than brilliant. There could certainly be improvements this early in the game but such developments are hard to impossible to predict. So, win money will be spread out, including somewhat evenly bet support for the rest.

Except, maybe Decoy. Takter’s pacer had no luck drawing post 8 but this is the colt that deserves some support for improvement. Besides, the 8 hole will allow us to have better-than-fair odds to win.

“Max” elim two sends eight to the gate and a few already known sophs are involved. Stay Hungry, the most popular, gets post 8 but he will still get plenty of action. Shnitzledosomethin got a lot of early praise and is here for his fourth race as a soph, ready to be backed well, we think. Hitman Hill has not turned any heads—yet. But Chris Oakes’ gelding was six for seven at two and it would be no surprise if he raced much better than he did in Canada last week. This is his fifth soph effort and if he shows some of that frosh spunk of his he could win and at a big price. 

Elim three brings back the North America Cup winner and current rage of the pace, Lather Up. He is looking for his seventh-straight win and even from post 7 he will be bet to smithereens. His foes here were beaten in the “Cup” elim and final, so your choice scenarios are three: he loses from a speed battle or an unpredicted bad trip (in which he may still make the final); he is a key for any and all exotics with unlikely contenders; he is nipped and finishes second by nature of another colt’s opportune trip.

Were we to take any of those seriously we would go for the third scenario and once again take Nutcracker Sweet to do the nipping.


Alexa’s Power will be the favorite in the first of two $20,000 James Lynch elims for the glamour-gal pacers on the Pocono card June 23. Coming into stakes play as a threat is Pass Line Bluechip who has only been off the board twice in 11 starts at three. As well, Youaremycandygirl will try to bounce back from her disappointing return to the races after being crowned the top prospect for sophomores this season. Burke sends her out along with Majorsspeciallady, who has also faced early-season struggles.

We have been watching Linda Toscano’s Hypnotic Tale since the season began and have not been wrong keeping a close eye on her. She has four wins for six starts and is in a good spot here to further her reputation. Certainly with “candygirl” and “Alexa” in here, Hypnotic Tale could offer a worthy win reward.

The second “Lynch” elim has a focus—Serene Stride. She has won six of seven and may receive most of the win support. Kissin In The Sand is off to a good start and draws well, so there will be money behind her. From post 8 comes Sidewalk Dancer, who is doing well but gets weighted with the far-out post.

This could be a winning mile for the price on I’m Trigger Happy. Not having as strong a profile as the others mentioned could be good for those of us shying from the obvious.

H2W Legend

Review our choices and follow the wagering at the prescribed track. These are possible contenders we have judged from reviewing races. The horses’ names are listed beneath the name of the track after the date they will be racing. The race in which they are entered (R and race number) follows. If a + is in front of a horse’s name it means it is appearing on the list for the second (and last) time because it failed to win the first time it appeared. An “ae” signals the horse is entered on the also-eligible list. If a horse is listed twice, refer to the entries on the night of the race since a horse may enter in more than one race. Types of wagering on any of the H2W listed horses are based on your judgment. If you have any questions, email us at TwinSpires.


6/22/18, Hot Cakes R8
6/23/18, AFF Bigdaddy R3; Steuben Patriot R6

6/25/18, +Big Place R9

6/21/18, Along Cam Jane R8
6/23/18, Bucklegirl Babette R7
6/24/18, Fox Valley Gemini R6

6/21/18, +Heart Of The Ocean R3; Do Work Son R12; +Locamotion Fred R13
6/22/18, Voom Or Bang R11
6/23/18, +Mshindi R3

6/23/18, +Awesomeness R10

6/23/18, +Ready Any Time R1
6/25/18, I Am The Danger R7

6/21/18, +Ex Hanover R3; Gradabra R8
6/23/18, +Kendell Seelster R6; +Jimmy Freight R9

6/21/18, Queens Lonely Earl R7

6/22/18, Abida Hanover R2; The Land Shark R7
6/23/18, Smart Flight R2; Playbook R5; Faith Prevails R6

6/24/18, KJ Charlie R2; +Our Jerry Lee R4

6/21/18, +Andover The Cash R9
6/22/18, Icommandmyspirit R6; Sneaky Girl R9
6/24/18, Guardian Angel AS R3; World Class Duke R7

6/21/18, +Massive Lightning R5
6/22/18, Fuzzy Sweater R4; Sgt Grit R8

6/24/18, Sir Bradford R1; +Hey Livvy R6

Running Aces
6/23/18, Barbosa R6
6/24/18, Frenchkissmebaby R3; Tame The Dice R4; +Becky Badger Baby R4; +Pridecrest R10; Al-mar Reba Babe R10

6/21/18, +Arts Dancing Devil R8
6/22/18, +Southwind Blizzard R9

6/21/18, McHeartbreaker R6; Fiesta Baran R8
6/23/18, Thunders Toy R9
6/24/18, +Cherry Crown Jewel R2; Im A King R6

6/22/18, +Loreens Ruffian R3
6/23/18, +Lyons Snyder R7

6/23/18, +Raylon Givens R2

6/22/18, +Muscles Jared R10; Ex Crown R12

6/22/18, Mateo R3; Lovineveryminute R7