The “Trail” battles move to Pocono Downs on Monday, May 21, with three eligible-loaded Pennsylvania Sires Stakes (PASS) divisions of fillies worth $56,000-plus each. Only one entrant is not allowed for “Oaks” (or main-event) competition. So, these gals will be hunting for the best part of some thickly coated purses.

Division one, early in the card, has seven leaving on the five-eighths oval in the mountains. The only winner so far at three, Winbak Noelle, has the rail; the remainder of the group, though, has other benefits. Megadolce is the top earner with three seconds and will be among the top three bet, while Nixie Volo is a close second with money and is the morning-line (ML) choice. Then, Southwind Angelica gets a ML of 3-1, having finished third twice in two tries.

Our focus for value as a major contender is SMS Princess, who Ave Svanstedt sends to her second start of the season from post 7. Ave’s barn is chock full of eligible colts and fillies and they have been firing boldly so fat and this gal should be worth a shot more than the crowd may support.

Later in the card, the other two PASS splits follow one another. In the second round, undefeated Live Laugh Love will negotiate the mile from post 8. Svanstedt’s Lima Charisma is the sole filly not on target for the August classics, yet she had proven to be competitive among those in the division that are eligible.

But no matter where you look for positive attributes in this field, you are paused to notice the first three-year-old start by Machengo. Her earnings at two dwarf all in this group and if she is ready to go—and she has never proven she was not—then she is the key. Beat her? If she is short due to the rest, her new age or anything unknown about her condition, What A Knockout may offer a good price for an upset. Marcus Melander’s charge has won one in two starts and may have her soph swag in order. She may never beat Machengo again this season, if Machengo is all she has been, but this is the best time to take the shot she may do it.

The nightcap also releases eight into the fray. Two—Basquiat and Top Expectations—debut at three. The most prolific so far this season, with a dozen starts, is Treasure Dreams from post 1. But with only two starts, Lily Stride has earned only a thousand or so less.

Again, an Ake gal, Vivacious Allie, could present a good win price as she puts in a better race than her first effort at three. She can’t be faulted for not hitting the board the first time out; we give that race away to most going into their second and sometimes third event of a new season. So, we’ll take her on top and hope the crowd is more interested in ML favorite Lily Stride and Takter’s Basquiat so we can catch a price.

* * *

Follow Hambletonian Trail action from in this blog on Twitter #Hambo18 and @FrankCotolo in cooperation with the Hambletonian Society.