09/03/2015 2:34PM

Pocono: Wakizashi Hanover a PASS Championship win from millionaire status

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Wakizashi Hanover is the 2-1 morning line favorite in the 3-year-old PASS final.

The best of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes program will go to post Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Leading the brigade of the best sophomores from the state will be Wakizashi Hanover. The North America Cup winner cut his teeth proverbially as a freshman in the Quaker State and returns for the sophomore championship as a likely odds-on choice to capture the $350,000 event for 3-year-old colts and geldings.

Trainer Joann Looney-King has nothing but high praise for the gelding and the program. “It was a good program to give him a start,” said Looney-King. “He was a bit green as a 2-year-old. There was a race at The Meadows where he got to the front and was all by himself and just waited.”

The learning experience did the son of The Panderosa a world of good and his maturity into a top flight 3-year-old is evident not just on the track but off according to Looney-King.

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“There was a long time where you had to train him around other horses,” Looney-King said. “Now he’s able to train alone.”

Whether on or off the racetrack, the results have been most impressive this year for Wakizashi Hanover. A winner in seven of his 13 sophomore starts, he will go over the $1 million mark in earnings with a victory in Saturday’s 12th race Championship.

Wakizashi Hanover’s presence means that leading driver Tim Tetrick will be in the bike, foregoing opportunities on the same evening both at Yonkers and Mohawk in order to drive a very special horse. The pair will start from post five in a field that includes three from the Burke stable and a duo from trainer Brian Brown.

Post positions have been unkind in the last few starts for Wakizashi Hanover, but you won’t hear a peep from Looney-King on the subject. A third-generation horsewoman, she understands completely about racing luck and is grateful to be training a horse of this caliber.

As for Saturday’s competition, the Brown-trained tandem of Rise Up Now and Lost For Words will be bookends at the starting gate with the former starting from the pole and the latter landing post eight. Lost For Words is clearly the stronger of the two, but the post could be a challenge even with David Miller in the bike.

From the Burke triplet, Yankee Bounty and My Hero Ron enter the final off impressive victories at The Meadows last week. The 1:49 3/5 score by Yankee Bounty was just his first trip to the winner’s circle this year after winning eight of 10 as a juvenile. My Hero Ron went a tick faster in his Pennsylvania Sire Stakes score last week. Yankee Bounty drew post seven and My Hero Ron landed the two-hole in Saturday’s final.

The sophomore championships are part of a 16-race program at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Saturday night with four $350,000 divisional races spanning races nine through 12. First post is 6:30 p.m.