Saturday night harness cards cure Derby hangover

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Ted Black

May 7th, 2016

While many thoroughbred racing fans might be emotionally drained after watching the Kentucky Derby Saturday evening, harness racing fans will still have plenty of options to watch and wager on some of the sport's best pacers.

Saturday evening Pocono Downs will offer its second card of the day - the track is currently having an afternoon card - and a trio of races deserve watching.

Nearing the midway point of the evening card Pocono will present the $50,000 Van Rose Invitational for older Pacers and the race came up very tough.

Bit Of A Legend N, hero of the $600,000 George Morton Levy Memorial series final at Yonkers Raceway two weeks ago, will start from post nine on the far outside. This Peter Tritton trainee has won eight of 10 starts since arriving from down under and rates the best horse of any gait in the land right now.

Several spots to his inside is Rockeyed Optimist, who has won two straight and six of eight overall this year for trainee Steve Elliott. Rockeyed Optimist was among the best older horses not eligible to the Levy and his last defeat was to reigning horse of the year, Wiggle It Jiggleit, who won the Levy consolation after dead-heating with Bit Of A Legend N in a Levy prelim.

Take It Back Terry and PH Supercam, who were fifth and fourth, respectively, in the Levy final, will start from posts one and two, respectively, and both appear to have upset possibilities.

Then several races later on the card Pocono will present the $314,000 Miss Pennsylvania final for three-year-old filly pacers.

Although she finished second last week at 1-2 in her elim, Pure Country still merits top billing in this event. Last year she won all 10 of her starts for trainer Jimmy Takter en route to easily being named champion two-year-old filly pacer. She had raced well in two qualifiers before suffering her first career setback last week and certainly has a right to atone tonight.

Several spots to her inside is Darlinonthebeach, who benefited from a pocket trip and upended Pure Country last week. Trained by Nancy Johansson of Jk She'salady fame, Darlinonthebeach has won both of her starts this year and again looms the main threat to Pure Country.

But two others deserve consideration in the Miss Pennsylvania. Call Me Queen Be won her prelim easily in 1:51.3 last weekend for trainer Ross Croghan, while Maryland-bred Newborn Sassy was actually second on the elim won by Darlinonthebeach.

Then one race later the track will offer the $560,000. Pennsylvania Classic for three-year-old pacing colts.

Trainer Ron Burke will send out four uncoupled trainees and three of them drew well and appear to be serious contenders.

Both JK Will Power and Check Six won their elims last week, while Big Top Hanover was second last week and has the rail. Of the group he was the best two-year-old, posting a 4-3-3 slate and $450,000 bankroll from 15 starts.

At Mohawk Raceway in Canada tonight, reigning horse of the year Wiggle It Jiggleit headlines a solid field of seven in the $34,000 Preferred.

Wiggle It Jiggleit has won four of five starts, capped by a handy score in the $100,000 Levy consolation. He had dead-heated for first with Bit Of A Legend N in a Levy prelim.

While Wiggle It Jiggeit looms the odds-on choice here, he is not a cinch in this spot. Nicole Bag has won nine of 15 starts primarily in the top class at Woodbine and Mohawk and has the rail, while reigning Canadian horse State Treasurer makes his second start off a layoff and will definitely be a factor in the lane tonight.