Highalator bounced back from equipment failure in his first 2021 appearance at the mountain oval to put up a game 1:51 victory in the $15,700 fast-class feature on the Kentucky Derby Day Saturday afternoon (May 1) card.
Regular pilot Rick Still guided the son of Somebeachsomewhere past Mykindachip to the :27.1 quarter, then got a breather to the half in :56.2. Bill Haley N made a big move at the leader up the backstretch with Rodeo Rock in tow, but Highalator was able to keep his first-over foe at bay by the 1:23.1 three-quarters and then withstand the oncoming Rodeo Rock by a length.
Highalator has now won 40 times in 90 trips behind the gate, with Pocono being a large contributor to that high win ratio, where he has won 16 times in 26 career starts. Trainer Jenny Bier co-owns the winner of $644,844 with Joann Dombeck and Midsize Construction.
Another veteran Pocono lover, the 11-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding Scott Rocks, recorded his 69th career victory — and sixth in his last eight starts — taking a high-end claiming handicap pace in 1:51.4 for driver George Napolitano Jr. and trainer Hunter Oakes, who shares ownership with Scott Bice.
The other division of the top claimer went to the Mach Three gelding Tullow N, driven by Tyler Buter to a head victory over Busboy Hanover, whose cover he followed and then eclipsed to win in 1:51.3. David Russo trains the winner for Marissa Russo.
In addition to Napolitano, Gilbert Garcia-Herrera, the leading trainer at the meet, recorded a triple – with three different drivers. And 2017 World Driving Champion James MacDonald made an auspicious local debut by guiding the Carmen Auciello-trained Nothing But Muscle to a hard-fought score.
Sunday’s (May 2) racing at The Downs, which will begin at 5 p.m., will feature a $15,300 distaff pace, with the stakes winner Shouldabeenatd seeking a second straight victory while facing very good opposition. Program pages will be available at the PHHA website.