Highalator Captures Final GNOS Prelim
Highalator showed sharp early speed to earn a fine pocket trip behind favored Backstreet Shadow, then caught that rival by three-quarter lengths to win the $30,000 final preliminary in the Great Northeast Open Series (GNOS) for top-level pacers Saturday night (Aug. 31) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in 1:48.2.
Driver Richard Still capitalized on his post advantage to Backstreet Shadow, who was looking for his sixth straight win but starting from the outside post nine. Still sped Highalator away from the gate, putting Scott Rocks in behind him and releasing Backstreet Shadow only after a :26.1 first quarter. Backstreet Shadow rolled to the half in :54 and then paced to three-quarters in 1:21.1 to keep the first-over bid of Prairie Panther at a safe distance.
In early stretch Still pulled Highalator to the outside and wore down Backstreet Shadow before deep stretch. Scott Rocks came up the Pocono Pike to get third, ahead of Prairie Panther.
Highalator now has earnings of $537,099 for trainer Jenny Bier, who is co-owner of the son of Somebeachsomewhere with Joann Dombeck and Midsize Construction Inc. The pacer certainly has winning ways: he’s taken 11 of 23 starts in 2019, 32 of 69 outings overall and 14 of his 23 career starts at Pocono.
The GNOS will have its three $100,000 Championships during a twilight card on Monday, Sept. 9, a card which will also include all eight Pennsylvania Stallion Series Championships.
Atta Boy Dan just keeps rolling along. The ten-year-old gelded son of Western Terror won his fourth straight, and ninth of his last ten, when taking the $20,000 claiming handicap pace. Atta Boy Dan was forced to work very hard for this victory; he was put into the pocket in a :25.4 opener, moved to the lead heading to a :53.3 half and then going to the three-quarters in 1:21.2.
In the stretch Rock The Town, who had pressured the winner earlier, came in the Pocono Pike but was a half-length shy in the 1:49.3 mile. First-up Benjis Best finished another neck back in third and deep Pikeshooter Pembroke Wildcat just another neck behind in fourth. George Napolitano Jr. held the dead-game veteran together for trainer Mike Watson and owner Cliff Grundy, enabling him to top $900,000 in career earnings with his 67th winner's circle picture and his 15th victory of the year, tied for second for North American honors.
A new dimension to the Atta Boy Dan story came after the race, where it was announced that he had been claimed for $40,000. That in itself is nothing new–this was the 12th straight race out of which Atta Boy Dan had been taken for $40,000 (his fourth leaving of Grundy / Watson). But the people who claimed the horse are Meadows-based, and their trainer has started his last 40 horses at the western PA track; the last one he started at Pocono was claimed away.