by Frank Carulli
May 14, 2018
After a month of preliminary heats to separate contenders from pretenders in the Bobby Weiss claiming series at Pocono Downs, all four $30,000 finals were decided by less than a length.
The resumes of Via Lattea It and Kimberlee varied greatly, but both mares won for trainer Ake Svanstedt. Via Lattea It ($8.80, Simon Alard) rode the pocket and caught odds-on favorite I M Fishin for her first career victory in the Weiss final for 3- and 4-year-old trotters by 3/4 of a length in 1:54.4. Kimberlee ($3.60, Marcus Miller) paced to victory in all three of her prelim heats, then she repelled three challenges in the finals to prevail by a head on the front end in 1:53.
Jim Morrill Jr. piloted both winners in the colts and geldings divisions. Trotter Stormont Manpower ($11.20) was flushed out of third before the half-mile mark, dueled outside of longshot Photo Bomber into the stretch and dug in for a nose victory in 1:56.4 over three-time prelim winner Chas Hanover. Pacer Riggle Wealth ($3) was used early to make the lead and held off a late charge by Mach N Cheese to prevail by 3/4 of a length in 1:51.2.
MIAMI VALLEY MEET CLOSES WITH A RUSH
Miami Valley Raceway's fifth and most successful season closed with a pair of memorable Grand Circuit stakes performances earlier this month.
Barn Girl (Aaron Merriman) sustained a first-over bid to win the $81,600 Miami Valley Distaff for older trotting mares in a lifetime-best 1:52.4. That's saying alot, considering she is now 48-for-96 in her career.
Not to be outdone, Shartin N (Tim Tetrick) won the $102,000 Sam "Chip" Noble Memorial Pace in a stakes-record 1:49.3 for her ninth win in 11 starts this year.
Sam Noble, an Ohio Harness Racing Hall of Fame trainer, would have been proud of his son, Dan, who drove 176 winners over 87 race cards to lead the Miami Valley standings and rank sixth in North America.
Kyle Ater won a photo finish over Nicole Stewart, 39-38 wins, to be crowned leading trainer with a UTR of .304 and a stable that accumulated more than a half million in earnings.
Miami Valley awarded a record $14 million in purses and enjoyed its highest average daily handle since it opened in 2014.
MONSTER PAYOUTS AT NORTHFIELD, HOOSIER
Royal Player sprung a 179-1 upset for trainer-driver Luke Ebersole May 9 at Northfield Park and triggered a track record $13,142 exacta payout with 71-1 longshot Dundee Dan finishing second. Howbouta Big Guy broke stride as the 2-to-5 favorite to help fuel the monster payout.
That same night at Hoosier Park, Crystal Ice (Sam Widger) paid $120 to win, Nothing But Muscle finished second at 105-1 and Tucky's Jack was fourth at 71-1, triggering a $36,479 superfecta. Two races later, one bettor took down the $17,048 trifecta pool when Northern Skyway ($66.60, Doug Rideout) won and J S Peyton ran third at 133-1.