Wilkes-Barre PA --- Captaintreacherous returning to the races, Royalty For Life coming off a Hambletonian win, the 'Queen' of the pacing fillies, I Luv The Nitelife: virtually all of the leaders in North American harness racing will be at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs this Saturday night, with $2,375,000 on the line during Super Stakes Saturday at the northeast Pennsylvania oval.
The 1-3-4-5-7 horses in the just-released Top 10 poll will be in mountain action Saturday, which features three major stakes for 3-year-olds: the Battle of the Brandywine for pacing colts, the Colonial for trotting colts, and the Valley Forge for pacing fillies. The top moneywinners in each group were seeded by seasonal earnings into three sections, with the colts racing for $500,000-$200,000-$100,000, respectively, and the fillies for $350,000-$150,000-$75,000.
To balance the purse structure between Harrah’s Philadelphia and Pocono, both serviced by the PA Harness Horsemen’s Association, Super Stakes Sunday at Philly became Super Stakes Saturday at Pocono this year. The Colonial was the signature race at the old Liberty Bell racetrack, the Battle of the Brandywine was the top event at that track just over the PA/DE line -- thus Philadelphia using those names -- and thus their appearances at Pocono Saturday night.
Colonial (race 11; consolations races 7 and 3)
It would probably be customary to start an examination of the races with the event containing the #1 rated horse, which would be Captaintreacherous in the Battle. But the Colonial offers several interesting angles that could result in a very competitive and exciting event.
Royalty For Life, second in the Breeders Crown last year, found it hard to find early-season form in 2013, making three breaks in as many opening starts, including two at Pocono, where he first recovered to make the Beal final, but then miscued again. But he has certainly found himself at the right time with four straight victories, including a very dominant straight-heat victory in the prestigious Hambletonian two weeks ago. Brian Sears again has the sulky call as Royalty For Life will have to deal with post eight.
The winner of the Beal Memorial here in June was Corky, a victory which put him in line for a $1 million bonus if he can capture this race and then the Breeders Crown, also at Pocono, on Oct. 19. In good form but not able to handle Royalty For Life in the Hambo, Corky will have positional advantage on that foe as he begins from post six for driver David Miller.
Others in the field include Hambletonian heat winner Spider Blue Chip (post five, Ron Pierce), defending PA Sire Stakes champion Dontyouforgetit (the outside post nine, Yannick Gingras), and 2-2 Hambo finisher Smilin Eli (post four, Tim Tetrick).
And by the way…that horse who beat Royalty For Life in the Breeders Crown last year? His name is Wheeling N Dealin, and he hopes to turn around his season in a Colonial consolation.
Battle of the Brandywine (race 12; consolations races 8 and 4)
Captaintreacherous, undefeated in six 2013 starts, #1 in the polls, and given a spell after sweeping the North America Cup, Pocono’s Hempt Memorial, and the Meadowlands Pace, will be the overwhelming favorite to extend his string to seven in the Battle of the Brandywine, beginning from post four for driver Tim Tetrick. Most horses can only dream about pacing in 1:50.1; Captaintreacherous went that fast in his preparatory qualifier and seems very likely to add to his growing legend, especially with the absence of his two most-persistent foes, Vegas Vacation and Sunfire Blue Chip, 2-3 behind him in the Hempt.
Many of Captaintreacherous’ challengers show fine dimensions of talent: Twilight Bonfire (post six, David Miller) was second in the North America Cup; Odds On Equuleus (eight, Brian Sears) and Sunshine Beach (two, also listed with Sears) were 2-3, respectively, behind him in the Meadowlands Pace; and Mach It So (three, Yannick Gingras) turned his game around during a five-race win skein in Canada. But it’s very, very hard to look past Captaintreacherous in the Battle.
Valley Forge (race 10; consolations races 6 and 2)
I Luv The Nitelife has loved racing in 2013, whether at day or at night; she’s taken eight of nine outings, and has local experience with her Lynch championship in June. She’s shown grit in her last three starts, winning twice by a half-length and once by a nose, and she has a good draw in post two for Tim Tetrick.
The connections of Shebestingin have to be disappointed with shaking the outermost pill in the nine-horse field, for their filly seems at her peak, winning in 1:49 at Tioga last week to equal her divisional world record (which she shares with Economy Terror, who set her mark at Pocono last year). Shebestingin has matured into a handy filly, but she’ll need maximum racing fortune for driver David Miller on Saturday.
The 2012 divisional champion Somwherovrarainbow (post five, Montrell Teague) has regained sharp form on the Pennsylvania circuit, and Jerseylicious (post six, Corey Callahan) has hit the board in 15 of 17 seasonal outings, with eight triumphs, against top-level foes.
The Rest Of The Card
The rest of the card would be the yearly highlight at many other raceways. As Exhibit A, let’s take the fifth race, a $50,000 Invitational Trot, which has the #1 performer in his class at two and three, Market Share; the speedy overachiever Sevruga; Uncle Peter, who earlier this season set a world record over the Pocono surface; $3.9 million career winner Arch Madness, second in the Elitlopp final, plus others.
Or how about race nine, the $50,000 Invitational Pace, which contains nine horses who have all beaten 1:50 this year and have combined career earnings in excess of $10 million, including four career millionaires? Pet Rock, Abelard Hanover, Sweet Lou and Golden Receiver have all banked more than $200,000 in 2013.
Or even the very first race, a $50,000 Invite for pacing mares, with Drop The Ball, Feeling You, and Camille as headliners?
Plus the card is practically a preview of the sophomores who will be contesting the $1,240,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes 3-year-old championship night at The Meadows on Sept. 13.
Complete entries for the card can be found at this link.
Owners urged to make clubhouse reservations now
Owners are encouraged to make Pacers Clubhouse reservations as soon as possible if racing horses on Super Stakes Saturday.
Call the PHHA office at 570.824.1849 with the name of the horse and reservation details.
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