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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


 By Ken Weingartner, USTA — After picking up his first win of the season two weeks ago, Allywag Hanover will travel to Pocono Downs at Mohegan Pennsylvania for Saturday’s $100,000 Always B Miki Invitational Pace, an event the 6-year-old has captured in each of the past two years.

In fact, for his career the Brett Pelling-trained gelding is unbeaten in three races at Pocono, including his world-record-equaling 1:47.2 score in the inaugural Always B Miki in 2021. Overall, he has won 25 of 60 races and earned $1.77 million.

His most recent victory came in a division of the Sam McKee Memorial on Aug. 5 at The Meadowlands, where he defeated Lou’s Pearlman by two lengths in 1:47.2.

On Saturday, Allywag Hanover will leave from post six in a field of eight with Todd McCarthy in the sulky. He is the 3-1 second choice behind post-one-starter Stonebridge Helios at 5-2. Dexter Dunn will drive Stonebridge Helios, the Graduate Series champion, for trainer Ake Svanstedt.

“I was really happy with the way he won on Hambo Day,” McCarthy said about Allywag Hanover. “I feel like that was him sort of getting back to his best. He’s a horse that always seems to tell you when he’s ready to do it. He definitely did that the other day.

“It’s nice to have him back. I’m sure he will be good again on Saturday. It’s a little bit of a tough post, but not terrible, so we should be able to figure out a spot from there.”

Allywag Hanover has been strong on five-eighth-mile tracks such as Pocono in his career, hitting the board in 12 of 13 races, with eight wins and three seconds. Last November, he won the Potomac Pace at five-eighths-mile Rosecroft in a then-world-record 1:46.4.

His career-best win time of 1:46, set last year at Lexington’s Red Mile, is tied for the second fastest in history, behind only Bulldog Hanover’s 1:45.4 record. Allywag Hanover, a son of Captaintreacherous-Anderosa Hanover, is owned by the conglomerate Allywag Stable.

“He’s still very much the same horse (as last year),” McCarthy said. “He’s got a lot of character and is just a really cool horse to work with.”

McCarthy has 10 drives on Sun Stakes Saturday at Pocono. In addition to Allywag Hanover, his starters include Hungry Angel Boy in the $300,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old pacers and Lovedbythemasses in the $100,000 Sebastian K Invitational Trot.

Hungry Angel Boy finished fourth in his most recent start, the Cane Pace, but has hit the board in all but three of his 12 lifetime starts. McCarthy has driven the Tony Alagna-trained colt on nine occasions, notching three wins, three seconds and two thirds. They won a division of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes on July 29 at The Meadowlands and finished second behind Confederate in the Meadowlands Pace.

On Saturday, Hungry Angel Boy will start from post two. He is 4-1 on the morning line, third choice behind Confederate at 2-1 and Christchurch at 3-1.

“I wasn’t disappointed with his run at all (in the Cane Pace),” McCarthy said. “It was a tricky spot (starting from post 11). We went a big mile and I had to be off the rail with him, too, trying to figure out a trip. It’s tough when you get away from 11 and you’re trying to figure out a trip. By the time the first quarter pops up, you’re sometimes a fair way from the leaders and have a lot of ground to make up.

“He’s been clashing with some pretty steep company, but I think he’s got the ability that on the right day he will be popping up and getting his piece for sure. He’s a fun horse. He’s got a lot of gate speed and is beautiful to drive. He can leave out of there as quick as he can and then settle in. When it comes time to go again, he gives you all he’s got.”

McCarthy also has enjoyed success this season with Lovedbythemasses. The 6-year-old gelding has raced eight times this year, registering two wins and two seconds. McCarthy has been in the sulky in three of those races, getting both victories and one of the seconds.

Lovedbythemasses enters the Sebastian K, where he starts from post seven and is 6-1 on the morning line, off a 1:50.3 triumph in the Vincennes on Hambletonian Day. The Jeff Cullipher trainee has won 27 of 75 lifetime races and nearly $750,000.

“I get on pretty good with him,” McCarthy said. “When he’s right, he’s right up with them. He was pretty impressive on Hambo Day. I thought it was a good run, the way he did it. He really accelerated away from them. He seems pretty sharp at the moment.”

Southwind Tyrion, who was beaten by only a half-length in a third-place finish in the John Cashman Memorial on Hambletonian Day, is the 5-2 favorite in the Sebastian K. He will leave from post one with trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt.

Tim Tetrick will drive top Sun Stakes Saturday contenders Confederate (Hempt), Heaven Hanover (Delmonica Hanover), Charleston (James M. Lynch Memorial), and Oh Well (Earl Beal Jr. Memorial). For his thoughts, click here.

Racing begins at 1 p.m. (EDT). For free programs for Pocono Downs, visit the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association website here.

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