On Saturday night, the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono honoured its 2019 Horse of the Year and Claimer of the Year, who happened to be one and the same horse – the Western Terror 10-year-old gelding Atta Boy Dan.
So far this year at Pocono, Atta Boy Dan has posted a record of 22-13-2-3, with earnings of $151,575. He was all but invincible in the top claiming ranks through most of the summer, taking 10 of 11 starts, and he was claimed out of 14 straight races, an unofficial local record. Peter Pellegrino, training the horse for owner Stephen Larkin as the last of the long line claiming Atta Boy Dan, was among those in the Pocono winner's circle for the ceremonies. Atta Boy Dan is the first horse in recent memory to be a double honour winner for a season.
Funknwaffles made a brush to the lead at the half, fought off pressure, then drew away to a 3-1/2-length victory in the $17,500 featured pace, tallying in 1:50.2. The American Ideal gelding won over Ourlittlegeneral A, who challenged the winner of $952,534 without cover down the backstretch, couldn’t get by him, but did hold for the deuce. Funknwaffles missed less than a length in this class last week from the outside post nine, and the move all the way in to the rail may have made the difference for the veteran, who is trained by Deborah Brunet for Crawford Farms Racing. George Napolitano Jr. drove Funknwaffles, one of four victories he had on the Saturday card at the mountain oval.
Burning Midnight and driver Pat Berry got good racing fortune in taking the $16,000 top claiming handicap pace. The Mach Three gelding was on the move early behind Talent Soup, then got to re-tuck in the pocket behind his cover as the early leader broke and bothered the horse behind him. Talent Soup was joined by first-over Palomar down the back and on the far turn, with Berry able to slip out behind the dueling pair and then catch Palomar by a neck in 1:52 for trainer Lou Pena and the ownership of Joe P Racing LLC.