Stakes highlight Saturday and Sunday cards

Profile Picture: Ted Black

Ted Black

May 3rd, 2016

While thoroughbred racing fans are already eagerly looking forward to this Saturday's Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, standardbred fans have already given a glimpse to a pair stakes races at Pocono Downs that night and one at The Meadowlands on Sunday afternoon.

Although it may not earn top billing on the Saturday card at Pocono Downs, the $50,000 Van Rose Invitational includes many of the best older pacers in training. Recent George Morton Levy series final hero Bit Of A Legend N, a winner eight times in 10 starts this year for trainer Peter Tritton, will start from post nine against Levy finalists Take It Back Terry and PH Supercam, while Rockeyed Optimist, perhaps the best older pacer who was not among the Levy noms, joins the fray in a race that may require the winner to record a sub-1:48 clocking.

Several races later the three-year-old filly pacers will be on display in the $314,000 Miss Pennsylvania Final. Darlinonthebeach arrives having won both of her starts this year, including an upset tally over the previously undefeated Pure Country. Call Me Queen Be won her only outing this spring, as has I Said Diamonds. Save The Treasure arrives with a 2-2-0 slate from four starts and looms a serious contender in this event.

Then one race later the three-year-old colt pacers will take center stage in the $560,000 Pennsylvania Classic. Trainer Ron Burke will be represented by a quartet of sophomores, including Big Top Hanover, JK Will Power, Check Six and Manhattan Beach, while trainer Chris Ryder will send out Western Dynasty, JL Flynn and Duke of  Delray.

Then on Sunday afternoon, the Meadowlands will kick off its Mother's Day card with the $150,000 Mack Lobell Elitlopp Playoff for older trotters seeking to earn a berth in Europe's most prestigious race for trotters. Defending aged trotting champion JL Cruze (John Campbell) has won all three of his starts this year for trainer Eric Ell and gets the rail in a top-flight group that also includes Bee A Magician (Brian Sears), Shake It Cerry, Wind Of The North, Gural Hanover and Crazy Wow, who makes his four-year-old debut in this event.