07/02/2015 3:27PM

Pocono: Miller time in Sun Stakes finals?

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Derick Giwner
Hall of Famer David Miller drives four contenders in Saturday's Sun Stakes finals at Pocono.

To succeed at the highest levels as a driver in this sport it takes more than actual physical talent. The mark of greatness in steering standardbreds has a lot to do with nerves and ones ability to remain calm when races don’t come off as planned. Veteran driver David Miller has found himself over the years in circumstances that would get ordinary pilots flustered. Miller has managed to deal with pressure in such a casual manner that he hardly gets noticed. Yet looking at his drives in Saturday’s Sun Stakes at Mohegan Sun Pocono, you quickly get the feeling that those calling the shots behind some of the sports stars and future superstars have been watching.

Miller has four solid chances in the $1.8 million spectacular. “I’m happy with the way the draw worked out. They are all in good position,” said Miller of the quartet he will command.

[POCONO DOWNS: Watch the Sun Stakes Finals LIVE on DRF!]

In Divine Caroline, the longest shot of the four, Miller was complimentary if not ecstatic. “She’s not a bad horse,” Miller said, referring to the Joe Holloway-trained filly that landed post five in the $300,000 James Lynch Memorial (race 9). Last year Divine Caroline showed brilliant speed in her early baby races but was a bit flaky and unpredictable when the races took place. “She definitely has matured,” said Miller. “But she still has some quirks.”

The Lynch for 3-year-old pacing fillies is perhaps the most wide-open event of the four as last year’s Horse of the Year JK She’salady didn’t even qualify. Stacia Hanover (post 3) and Sassa Hanover (post 4) are the logical contenders in the field of nine.

Catch-drivers are often faced with decisions that let trainers down. In the case of the $500,000 Max Hempt Memorial, Miller had to make the call whether to drive Betting Exchange, a colt that finished third in the North America Cup, or Lost For Words. He’ll guide Lost For Words from post three.

Did Miller make the call because of past loyalty to trainer Brian Brown in opting for Lost For Words?

“I would say it was more about horseflesh. Lost For Words has more stakes opportunities,” said Miller.

The implication was that Lost For Words could prove to be a very special horse going forward. Miller and the colt had to settle for second behind Wakizashi Hanover in last week’s trial, but that finish didn’t faze his driver.

“He hadn’t raced in three weeks and we were looking to get him into the final,” Miller said. “I tried to leave out of there but had to take him back. He raced very well.”

Lost For Words tasted defeat for only the first time in five starts as a sophomore and you get the sense from speaking with Miller that his expectations are high. But the driver recognizes the pecking order in the final. “I would say that Wiggle It Jiggleit is the horse to beat,” Miller said.

Wiggle It Jiggleit was an easy winner in his elimination last week and has been installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite. Fellow elim winner Artspeak also figures heavily in the outcome.

In State Treasurer, Miller couldn’t have found a better draw starting from post four. The Molson Pace winner has captured four of his last five starts including last week’s thrilling last-to-first victory in an elimination for Saturday’s $500,000 Ben Franklin.

Miller had no intentions of coming from last in the trials. “When (Jim) Morrill left out of there with Dancin Yankee it left me no choice,” said Miller of his decision to race State Treasurer from the back. “I think the fact that there were three lead changes helped a lot. When I tipped him wide on the final turn he was powerful.”

In a division also in search of a leader, State Treasurer can stamp himself as that with a victory in a field that includes the $7 million winner Foiled Again (post 2) and elimination winner Luck Be Withyou (post 9).

The final stakes of the quartet is the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial and Miller drew nicely with Cruzado Dela Noche, one of three elimination winners. The Nancy Johansson-trained son of Muscle Massive landed post two.

“I was very happy with his performance last week,” said Miller. “The last time I drove him before that he was second to Uncle Lasse at The Meadows and he was very good that night.”

Indeed Cruzado Dela Noche came from well off the pace to finish second in that 1:51 4/5 effort by Uncle Lasse and could find himself also looking to close in Saturday’s contest with the Takter-trained tandem of Pinkman (post 1) and Uncle Lasse (post 4) sandwiching him at the start. The Beal field also includes last year’s Peter Haughton winner Centurion ATM (post 3) as well as elimination winner Wicker Hanover (post 6).

First post for the 14-race Sun Stakes card is set for 6:30 p.m.

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