06/23/2015 1:03PM

Pocono: Sun Stakes lure stars of the sport

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Derick Giwner
Pinkman looks to stay unbeaten in Saturday's Earl Beal, Jr. eliminations.

Eleven elimination races featuring some of the best pacing and trotting talent in North America will take place on Saturday evening at Pocono Downs. The lineup includes last year’s Horse of the Year, the all-time leader in earnings and quite a few Hambletonian hopefuls.

The most interesting race on the night could be the second of three eliminations (race 5) of the Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old trotters. Last year’s 2-year-old colt champion, Pinkman, heads the field from post five with Yannick Gingras expected to drive. He’ll face-off against the erratic but talented Guess Whos Back (post 3), who has already won in 1:52 4/5 this year. Also signed up is Centurion ATM, the Peter Haughton Memorial winner at the Meadowlands on Hambletonian Day last August.

Other standout trotters of the 19 scheduled to compete in the three eliminations include:

Uncle Lasse – 3 for 3 in 2015 with a 1:51 4/5 best winning time at The Meadows.

Crazy Wow – 3 for 4 in 2015 with a mark of 1:51 1/5 taken at Vernon Downs.

Habitat – 3 for 5 in 2015 and a career earner of $710,698

The first of three Max Hempt Memorial eliminations for 3-year-old pacers (race 6) sports a marquee match-up of In The Arsenal and Artspeak. The pair is coming off somewhat disappointing fourth and fifth-place finishes, respectively, in the $1 million North America Cup last Saturday at Mohawk. In The Arsenal has post four with Brian Sears driving while Artspeak drew post six with Scott Zeron.

Heading the second split, race 8 on the 16-race card, is NA Cup runner-up Wiggle It Jiggleit. The Montrell Teague-driven gelding seems likely to be the prohibitive favorite while looking to make amends for the first defeat of his 12-race career. Starting from post five, his main competition figures to be Cup third-place finisher Betting Exchange from post one.

The leader of the prestigious pacing colt division, NA Cup winner Wakizashi Hanover, starts from post four in the final division, race 10 on the card. A winner of five races in six starts this year, Tim Tetrick will drive the near $600,000 career earner for trainer Joann Looney-King.

One of the biggest names in the sport for the last decade, Foiled Again, headlines the first of two 9-horse Ben Franklin eliminations (race 7) for older pacers. The sports only $7 million winner picked up his first victory of the year in the Battle of Lake Erie at Northfield Park on June 12. Gingras will drive from post five.

The second Franklin (race 9) became a wide open race when State Treasurer drew the dreaded outside, post nine in the field. Clear Vision and Bettor’s Edge, a Ron Burke-trained coupling could assume the roll of favoritism in a field that also includes the speedy Big Town Hero and Dancin Yankee.

Three-year-old pacing fillies take the spotlight in a trifecta of eliminations for the James Lynch Memorial. Horse of the Year JK She’salady and driver Tim Tetrick will look to rebound off two poor efforts in the Fan Hanover north of the border. She tackles fellow divisional standout Sassa Hanover and surprise second-place finisher in the Fan Hanover, The Show Returns. JK She’salady has the post edge from the rail, while Sassa Hanover and The Show Returns start from posts four and six, respectively.

The top three finishers in each Beal and Hempt elimination return for a $500,000 final on July 4. The $350,000 Lynch will also consist of the first three finishers in each elim. The first four finishers in each Ben Franklin elim, plus the fastest fifth-place competitor will reach the $500,000 final.

Post time for the Saturday card is 6:30 p.m.