06/21/2012 2:10PM

Pocono Downs: Bakin on the Beach just starting to get hot


Trainer Mark Harder has a sleeper for the Hempt eliminations at Mohegan Sun at Pocono this Saturday night and you can bet that there are many in the field hoping that Bakin on the Beach doesn’t awaken anytime soon. The Pennsylvania-sired son of McArdle could emerge as a force in the 3-year-old crop.

“He was a good horse last year. I really thought he would make $100,000,” said Harder. “Looking back I kind of wished we had gelded him before he started to race as a 2-year-old. We got behind and then had to play catch up.”

Well this year Bakin on the Beach appears to have caught up rather quickly. Despite the disappointment of 2011, Harder is happy and believes the best is ahead.

For those who have no idea who this horse is, he broke the 1:50 barrier June 15 in a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes at Harrah’s Philadelphia. Coming from off the pace he scored in a $79,684 division in 1:49 4/5. That effort was more than two seconds faster than his previous mark and the victory just the third in 17 career trips to post.

Harder was optimistic entering the Hempt that the race could come up a little light. “I thought with the kind of heats they had to go in the North America Cup elimination and final that some of those colts might be tired,” he said.

Harder paid $25,000 for the colt at the Lexington Select sale in the fall of 2010 and said that co-owner and mate from Down Under Bruce Soulsby pointed the colt out to him. “He told me that the mare had been bred to Ohio stallions and done well,” said Harder. The dam Elizabeth Street produced three $100,000 plus winners from her first four foals by Ohio stallions Falcons Icon, Nobleland Sam, and Towners Big Guy.

Bakin on the Beach is the 5-2 morning line favorite in the first of three $25,000 Hempt eliminations on Saturday, race 5 on the 16-race card.

Hurrikane King Cole is favored in the second Hempt division (race 10) and supplemental entry Allstar Legend, fresh off a blowout 1:48 2/5 victory in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes, was rated the favorite in the third stanza (race 13). He’ll face Rooney runner-up Bolt the Duer as well as A Rocknroll Dance.

Two elimination races are scheduled for the Ben Franklin for the leading aged pacers in North America. The Harder-trained Golden Receiver, one of the top performers this season, landed post 9 in the $50,000 elimination heat, race 9 on the program. This split appears to be top heavy with prime contenders, including the second-richest active pacer in North America Foiled Again. Also in this division are last year’s 3-year-old Breeders Crown winner Betterthancheddar, Dan Patch Invitational winner Rockincam, $2.1 million winner We Will See, and the richest active pacer, Won The West, who has earnings approaching $4 million lifetime.

The Ron Burke-trained Clear Vision, a recent winner of the Bettors Delight in 1:48 2/5 at Tioga Downs, is the favorite in the first Franklin elimination heat, race 7 on the program. He’ll start from post 4 with Matt Kakaley in the bike. Bettor Sweet, last year’s Breeders Crown champion, landed post 7 in this division.

Pocono fans will be in for a treat with a rematch of last week’s Fan Hanover expected in a division of the James Lynch trials for 3-year-old filly pacers. World champion American Jewel was supplemented by owner Brittany Farms for the race and landed post 4 in the 11th race, the second $20,000 heat. Fresh off her spectacular 1:48 2/5 effort in the Fan Hanover at Mohawk last Saturday, the daughter of American Ideal looks to continue her winning form. Economy Terror, who chased American Jewel in vain in both the Fan Hanover elimination and final, drew the rail in this division and may be more engaged in the early pace this time around.

Only 13 fillies entered the Lynch and in the first $20,000 elimination Major Look is the 2-1 morning line favorite. This Art Major-sired filly is undefeated in three trips to post as a sophomore, including a sensational 1:50 mile posted at Vernon Downs where she defeated American Jewel. Jeff Gregory will handle the favorite from post 2 in the evening’s third race.

Saturday’s feature on the stakes-packed program is the $500,000 Earl Beal Memorial for 3-year-old trotting colts. Elimination winner Googoo Gaagaa is the favorite, but driver Dave Palone, who will handle Stormin Normand, believes he’s got a great chance.

“My horse can leave the gate well,” Palone said. “I think in order to win at Pocono you have to be up near the lead.”

Palone obviously has great respect for morning-line favorite Googoo Gaagaa as well as Uncle Peter. “I drove Uncle Peter for Jimmy [trainer Jimmy Takter] in the Breeders Crown last year and I know he’s a good colt. But my horse is pretty talented as well,” said Palone.

The Beal is race 12 on the program, with first post scheduled for 6:30 p.m.