Wicked fast eliminations held at Pocono Downs

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Ted Black

June 26th, 2016

Saturday nights eliminations for the Max Hempt, James Lynch and Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial for three-year-olds and Ben Franklin for older pacers produced exceptional clockings that set the stage for four lucrative finals this weekend at Pocono Downs.

In the Max Hempt eliminations for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings, both Control The Moment and Racing Hill lived up to their roles as the odd-on favorites in their respective splits to score in 1:49.3 and 1:49.1, respectively.

Control The Moment notched his first win in four starts this year after winning eight times in nine outings last year. The Well Said colt trained by Brad Maxwell had finished third in the North America Cup final after being used hard through the first half-mile. Boston Red Rocks, fourth in the NA Cup, finished second in a good effort, while American Passport was a nondescript third.

In the second Max Hempt slim, Racing  Hill brushed to command before the half and drew clear late to a three-length score for his first win in five tries this year. This Roll With Joe colt trained by Tony Alagna was second in the NA Cup final and looms as the early favorite for the Hempt final.

In the first of two James Lynch elims, Newborn Sassy left to secure good early position, yielded to favored I Said Diamonds, sat a loose pocket to the half and three-quarters then angled out at the head of the lane and wore down the choice late in 1:51.3.

A three-year-old daughter of Western Ideal trained by Joann Looney-King, Newborn Sassy notched her first win in seven starts this year. I Said Diamonds raced well to finish second, but this split was clearly the weaker of the two.

In the second Lynch, Pure Country lived up to her role as the 1-5 favorite when she overcame a long, first over journey to score in 1:50.1. Last year's two-year-old pacing filly champ trained by Jimmy Takter, Pure Country has won three of six starts this year after winning all 10 of her outings last year and she looms as the solid favorite for this Saturday's final.

Both elims for the Earl Beal Memorial for three-year-old colt trotters were won in similar fashion although not necessarily in expected outcomes.

In the first split, Dayson rebounded from a break as the odds-on choice in the Goodtimes final when he rallied to overhaul Brooklyn Hill in the final strides in 1:52.3. Dayson has won four of six starts for trainer Ron Burke, while Brooklyn Hill has finished second in all three of his starts this year.

In the second Beal elim, Southwind Frank arrived as the future book favorite for the Grade I Hambletonian on August. But his reputation of invincibility suffered a minor setback on Saturday when he was nailed at the wire by Bar Hopping in 1:52.1.

Bar Hopping notched bis first win in five starts this year for Takter, but he will likely still need to play the spoiler role in next week's final. Southwind Frank had been idle for three weeks prior to Saturday's setback - his first in three starts this year and only his second in 15 career outings - and he set the tempo from post eight before being caught on the line. He should be able to redeem himself next week.

Saturday nights three eliminations for the Ben Franklin all lived up to their advanced billing and set the stage for an exceptional final.

In the first elim, reigning horse of the year Wiggle It Jiggleit put away all challengers to prevail by over a length in 1:48.1 for his eighth win in 11 starts this year for trainer George Teague, Jr. Wiggle It Jiggleit has won 31 of 38 lifetime tries and will head into next week's final in peak form.

But in the second elim, Always B Miki perhaps may have stamped himself as the horse to beat when he overcame a long, first over journey to score in 1:47. This Takter trainee was rebuffed by Mel Mara before the half in 53 flat, continued to grind first over in 1:19.4 then drew clear late to his emphatic score, his fourth in six starts this year.

One race later in the third Franklin elim, Freaky Feet Pete brushed to command past the stands the first the first time, maintained an honest tempo for the first three calls then drew clear five lengths the best in 1:47.1. This four-year-old Rockin Image homebred has won five of six starts this year and 29 of 33 career tries and will join Wiggle It Jiggleit and Always B Miki in a potentially epic Ben Franklin final this Saturday night at Pocono Downs.