$2.2M in purses and a night of events for Sun Stakes Saturday

Saturday, July 4th, the best of the best will land in Northeast PA for the $2,268,000 Sun Stakes Saturday supercard, featuring the $500,000 Championships for the Ben Franklin FFA pace, the Earl Beal Jr. three-year-old colt trot, and the Max C. Hempt three-year-old colt pace, and the $300,000 James Lynch Championship for three-year-old filly pacers.   All four of these events have consolation events, and there are three other Invitationals/Opens on the monster card.

The day begins with a special Meet and Greet with former Buffalo Bills QB Jim Kelly on the Sky Bridge from 4:00-6:00pm.  This is a wristband-only event, with wristbands being distributed at 1:00pm.  Only authorized photos will be signed, and will be available at the signing.

Racing fans can pick up their souvenir Earl Beal Jr. Memorial hat at 8:00pm in the lower Grandstand bar, with a coupon from the live racing program.  Programs are available starting at 5:00pm in the racing lobby.

Breyer Horses will be on hand for the official launch party of the release of the Foiled Again model, which will be for sale during the evening.  A generous portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Standardbred Retirement Foundation, who will also be on hand with a table of information and other items for sale.

Representatives of the US Trotting Association and the Harness Racing Fan Zone will be available to meet up with fans during the evening.

Racing fans are encouraged to bring their appetites because there will be outstanding selections from food trucks What The Fork; Big Belly’s BBQ; Wandering Chef; Doc Popcorn; and Johnny Rockets.

Post Time for this tremendous night of racing gets underway at 6:30pm.

Spend Independence Day Weekend at Mohegan Sun Pocono

Enjoy live music, thrilling gaming promotions, exhilarating horse racing and a celebrity appearanceHot Summer Fun

WILKES-BARRE, PA (June 30, 2015) – It’s nearly time to celebrate Independence Day, and there’s no better way to spend the holiday than with Mohegan Sun Pocono! Join Mohegan Sun Pocono from Wednesday, July 1st through Sunday, July 5th for a fun-filled weekend, including live entertainment, exhilarating horse racing, a sizzling fireworks display and more.

The fun begins on Wednesday, July 1st when Mohegan Sun Pocono kicks off summer with their annual Hot Summer Fun celebration. This year is hotter than ever, with new chances to win every day through August 31st, including thousands in cash prizes, Free Slot Play, two cars, a VIP experience at all three luxurious Mohegan Sun properties and more! Full details on how to play every day can be found at mohegansunpocono.com/HSF.

Start your weekend on Thursday, July 2nd when Mohegan Sun Pocono kicks off NEPA’s version of the wildly successful TV show Lip Sync Battle. Kicking off at 6:00pm at Party on the Patio, six performances will heat up the stage. Local judges will narrow things down to the final two contestants and crowd feedback will determine the weekly winner, so bring your loudest friends and cheer on your favorite “singer!”

Parrotheads unite! At 7:30pm, Mohegan Sun Pocono welcomes ParrotBeach, a Jimmy Buffett tribute band, to Party on the Patio for a free concert*. Get ready to kick up your heels, grab a refreshing cocktail and sing along to your favorite tunes with thousands of other Parrotheads on the track apron. After the show, step inside to the After Party in Breakers and enjoy the music of Gas Station Disco, known for igniting dance floors with their high energy stage show.

Unwind and have a drink at the Terrace with live music from Eddie Appnel on Friday, July 3rd at 6:00pm and Battle of the Bands finalist Nowhere Slow on Saturday, July 4th at 6:00pm. Also on Friday and Saturday night, enjoy a fun night of laughs with Louis Ramey, Mike Spiers and Scott Bruce at Wise Crackers Comedy Club starting at 9:00pm, or dance to live entertainment at Bar Louie and Breakers at 9:30pm.

If it’s harness racing that you’re after, The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono is the place to be this weekend. Starting at 6:30pm on Friday, July 3rd, cheer for your favorite horse from the outdoor grandstand, or enjoy the outstanding view of the track and surrounding mountains while dining at Pacer’s Clubhouse. To commemorate 50 years of harness racing, grab a “Decades of the Downs” tee shirt starting at 8:00pm, then wear your shirt to The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono any Friday in July and get a $10.00 live racing voucher!

Get to The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono early on Saturday, July 4th, as former Buffalo Bills Quarterback Jim Kelly will be signing autographs and taking photos on the Sky Bridge from 4:00pm to 6:00pm. Kelly, known as the greatest quarterback in Buffalo Bills history, led his team to four consecutive Super Bowls and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002 in his first year of eligibility. Bracelets will be distributed starting at 1:00pm; only authorized photos will be signed and distributed at the event.

The $2 Million Sun Stakes Saturday Championship is set for Saturday, July 4th starting at 6:30pm, with the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Trot, the Ben Franklin Free-For-All Pace, the Max Hempt Memorial Pace and the James Lynch Memorial Pace being contested on this prestigious night of harness racing. Then at 8:00pm, pick up your complimentary Earl Beal Jr. official hat in the Lower Grandstand.

Finally, on Sunday, July 5th, end your holiday weekend with a bang, with a fireworks extravaganza scheduled for approximately 9:30pm**. Free and open to all ages, the fireworks will immediately follow an action-packed night of harness racing which starts at 6:30pm.

For more information on happenings at Mohegan Sun Pocono over Independence Day weekend and beyond, visit their website.

Gambling problem? Call 1.800.GAMBLER.

*In inclement weather the ParrotBeach show may be moved indoors. ** Fireworks rain date is Monday, July 6th.

ABOUT MOHEGAN SUN POCONO:

Mohegan Sun Pocono, owned by the Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut, is one of the most distinctive and spectacular entertainment, gaming, shopping and dining destinations in Pennsylvania. Situated on 400 acres in Plains, Pennsylvania, Mohegan Sun Pocono features a 238-room hotel with on-site spa and adjacent 20,000 square-foot Convention Center. It is currently home to 82,000 square feet of gaming space including 91 live table games, 2,300 slot machines and electronic table games, a variety of dining and shopping options, nightlife, entertainment and live harness racing. Mohegan Sun Pocono is within easy access of New York, Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware. More information is available by calling 1.888.WIN.IN.PA (1.888.946.4672) or visiting our website. Connect with us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, download our app and view us on YouTube.

Stakes action for two-year-old PA Sired kicks off

Stakes action for two-year-old Pennsylvania-sired horses kicked off Sunday, June 28th,  at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with six divisions of a $180,000 event for trotting colts and geldings.

The fastest winner was Trolley, who set the pace and came home in 57.2 to win by a head over pocketsitting Earn And Burn in 1:56.1. Both of the top two finishers were sons of Donato Hanover, and Trolley is out of the Duke Of York-Conch mare Lakeside Bride, so it was a royal pedigree battle to the wire (Earn And Burn is out of a full sister to millionaire Dejambro), with Trolley the winner for conductor Marcus Miller, trainer Erv Miller, and the ownership of Paymaq Racing, Leland Mathias, Greg Gillis, and Louis Willinger.

Longtime prominent Pennsylvania horsemen Bob Key had a pair of homebred winners, including one who was the longest shot on the board in his race and who won under unusual circumstances. Treasure Keys K (Encore Encore) was sitting third behind pacesetting Milligan’s School and pocketsitting Truemass Volo when those two got tangled up on the final turn, inheriting the lead and going on to win for trainer/driver Charlie Norris in 1:59.2.

Key’s other winner was Boyz N Guitars, a Muscle Massive colt who came his own back half in 57.4 uncovered to catch the leader, Dominus Hanover, and tally in 1:58.3 for Hall Of Fame driver John Campbell and trainer Chuck Sylvester.

Donato Hanover had another siring credit in the All-Stars, Sliding Home, who is out of the 2010 Hambo Oaks-winning mare Bar Slide. Sliding Home quarter-moved to command and came home with twin 29.3 quarters to win easily in 2:00 for driver Corey Callahan, trainer Jonas Czernyson, and the Consus Racing Stable – and be the only “chalk” to prevail in the six races.

Corey Callahan had the only driving double in the Sunday stakes, as he also went to Victory Lane with Hititoutofthepark after an eventful trip – away sixth and parked every step until the 5/8, where his 27.4 individual third split powered him off to a three length win in 1:57.3. The impressive son of Yankee Glide, a full brother to All-Stars 3YO winner and Beal finalist Boots N Chains, is trained by John Butenschoen for the Give It A Shot Stable, Kurt Welling, and the VIP Internet Stable LLC.

The other All-Stars section went to Regina and Rick Beinhauer’s homebred Major Matter, who made every pole a winning one in 1:58.3. The altered son of Explosive Matter stepped home in 58.3 with Rick Beinhauer, who also is the trainer, in the sulky.

All-Stars action for babies continues this coming week, with pacing fillies on Tuesday, trotting fillies on Wednesday, and pacing colts on the first Friday night card of the year at Pocono – the day before the $2M Sun Saturday Stakes Championships.

The stars shine at Sun Stakes Saturday Eliminations

The racing conditions were not pleasant – cool and rainy, the latter making the track “sloppy” – but the horses seeking places in four Championship races on Sun Stakes Saturday, July 4th,  overcame the challenging conditions to earn their spots for the big showdowns seven days hence at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.  The eliminations were held Saturday, June 27th.

BEN FRANKLIN ELIMINATIONS (FFAP)

Two for $30,000; top four plus fastest fifth-place horse return for $500,000 Championship

5YO+ FFA pacing division leader State Treasurer, last most of the way and coming from eighth nearing headstretch, stormed home with a wicked last 1/16 that picked up the entire field in his 1:50.3 elim. Driver David Miller sent the son of Real Desire five-wide in the lane and let his horse do the rest, getting up by a neck over a very durable Dynamic Youth, who was overland for 7 of the race’s 8 furlongs, with Clear Vision and Mach It So taking third and fourth behind the winner, trained by Dr. Ian Moore for owners Sally and Paul Macdonald.

Long-memoried fans who recalled that Luck Be With You won the 2013 2PC Breeders Crown Championship here at Pocono over a sloppy track were rewarded with 6-1 win odds Saturday, as the son of Western Ideal went coast-to-coast in 1:50. “Luck” eliminated luck by laying down fractions of 26, 53.4, and 1:22 in staying safe by 1¾ lengths over 8-5 favorite Vegas Vacation, who had to rally four-wide on the final turn. Captive Audience, last at the ¾, did a masterful bob-and-weave in the lane to be up for a DH3 with Pocono Pike-shooting Domethatagain; Foiled Again, the $7 Million Dollar Man, was fifth after having to travel the last turn three-wide, with his 1:50.2 clocking earning him the last Franklin spot. Luck Be With You’s driver and trainer, George Napolitano Jr. and Chris Oakes respectively, have combined for many an engine victory at Pocono; if they can win next week, neither they nor owner John Craig will be fussy about the path the horse travels.

Brittany Farms bred both Franklin elim winners and was a partner breeder in Artspeak, giving them a temporary tie with Hanover Shoe Farms in breeding three winners (Cruzado Dela Noche, Stacia Hanover, and Wicker Hanover), but then Hanover “reclaimed the lead” with Wakizashi Hanover in the tenth race.

EARL BEAL JR. ELIMINATIONS (3CT)

Three for $25,000; top three return for $500,000 Championship

Uncle Lasse, “not the favorite at 4-5” (how often do you see that phrase?), just caught 3-5* Crazy Wow in the shadow of the wire to take an exciting Beal elim in 1:54. The son of Donato Hanover, trained by Jimmy Takter, sat the pocket, got out behind Crazy Wow as that one raced up uncovered to go to the lead on the far turn, then inexorably gained on his game rival to be along by a head, with Shoot The Thrill another two lengths back in third. Uncle Lasse is undefeated in four seasonal starts for the interlocking owner/breeder combine of Solveig’s Racing Partners/ Solveig’s Breeders.

The Explosive Matter colt Wicker Hanover ($35.20), a double PA Sires winner but yet to prove himself at the highest level, exploded in the last 1/8 to catch 2014 champion Pinkman, heretofore undefeated this year, by a half -length in 1:54.1. Pinkman was sent to the lead early and cut a reasonable pace in the off going, but Wicker Hanover, who had to pause past midturn as his cover Donatomite was the third of the race’s three breakers, regathered and overpowered the champ late for driver Andrew McCarthy, trainer Noel Daley, and owner Christer Haggstrom Racing Stable Inc. Centurion ATM also qualified for the Beal Final, 1 1/2 lengths behind Pinkman and a half-length in front of Pinkman’s stablemate Whom Shall I Fear (the coupled betting entry going down at 1-9*).

A fast pace, and the early break of 2-5 favorite Habitat, helped set up the Muscle Massive colt Cruzado Dela Noche to sweep the field into the far turn and draw off to a 2¼-length victory in 1:53.3 over the two longest shots in the field, Southwind Mozart and Boots N Chains. Cruzado Dela Noche, only a half-length behind Uncle Lasse in a PA Sires event two starts back, took a new lifetime mark with the triumph for driver David Miller, trainer Nancy Johansson, and owner Courant A B as the 3-1 second choice.

MAX C. HEMPT ELIMINATIONS (3CP)

Three for $25,000; top three return for $500,000 Championship

Artspeak set an evenly-rated pace, looked to be threatened at headstretch, but responded gamely late to withstand Pocono Pike challenger In The Arsenal for a 1:50 triumph. The son of Western Ideal, 2YO champion and now 11 for 15 lifetime, made the lead just before the 27 first quarter, and got the middle splits in 55.1 and 1:22.3. But around the final turn first-over Pierce Hanover made a menacing move, and the 8-5 In The Arsenal had been literally breathing down the neck of 3-5* Artspeak’s driver Scott Zeron (winner of half of the first four elim winners). In The Arsenal took a pair of fumbly steps entering the Pike, but then found high gear, and Pierce Hanover just wouldn’t go away, but Artspeak showed his class to dig down and preserve a head margin at the wire, with ”Pierce” only another ¾ of a length behind and also advancing. Artspeak is trained by Tony Alagna for owners Brittany Farms (also co-breeder), Marvin Katz, Joe Sbrocco and the In The Gym Partners.

Wiggle It Jiggleit bounced back nicely after his first career loss, making a move in front of the stands to the front nearing the 5/8 and going on to an in-hand 4 length victory for driver Montrell Teague in 1:50.1. 67-1 National Seelster had the good fortune of the 1-20*’s cover for a quarter-mile, then the bad luck to be left raw, but he fought home gamely to beat early pacesetter Betting Exchange by a neck for the place. The winning altered son of Mr Wiggles is now 12-for-13; Clyde Francis handles the training for George Teague Jr Inc.

Wakizashi Hanover completed a Hempt elim sweep for favorites, rallying in the Pocono Pike to catch Lost For Words by 1½ lengths in 1:50.4. The victorious Dragon Again gelding was three-wide much of a 26.4 opener before making the top, but Lost For Words came from seventh at the quarter with a bold move that carried him to the top past the 55.1 half. Past the 1:22.4 3/4s, the main question seemed to be if there would be a pocket rocket or a sustaining pacesetter, and “Wakizashi” answered the question with his crisp rally, while in his defense Lost For Words, well-clear of third-place A Bettor Hat, had not raced in three weeks, and figureesto be tighter next week. But this, like in the North America Cup Final, was the night for Wakizashi Hanover, who was guided by Tim Tetrick for trainer Joanne Looney-King and the Tri-County Stable (the second straight winner, after State Treasurer, with Maritime connections, and giving Hanover a fourth breeding credit.

JAMES LYNCH ELIMINATIONS (3FP)

Three for $20,000; top three return for $300,000 Championship

The middle and perhaps “featured” Lynch elim was supposed to be another matchup of 2014 Harness Horse of the Year JK She’salady and Sassa Hanover – but nobody told The Show Returns. The second-place finisher in the Fan Hanover despite PP10 at 113-1 was backed down to 9-2 locally, and she rallied for a strong two length victory in 1:51.3. The winning daughter of Rocknroll Hanover shot to the top for John Campbell, yielded to a midrace brush from slight favorite “JK” to sit the pocket, then slipped out on the far turn when Sassa Hanover challenged and went to the lead headstretch. Campbell tipped her wide and went by “Sassa” late, with Single Me third and JK She’salady fading to fifth. Chris Ryder trains the winner for Richard and Joanne Young, whose I Luv The Nitelife set the divisional world record for “f” tracks, 1:48.4, right here.

Stacia Hanover, returning to the races with Lasix after a month layoff, came back sharp for trainer Steve Elliott, making the lead past the 1/8 and going on to a 1¾-length victory for driver Scott Zeron while earning a new speed badge of 1:51.3. Bettor Be Steppin photoed out Wicked Little Minx for second, with both qualifying for the Championship along with the winner, who is owned by David Van Dusen and Michael Cimaglio and was the even-money chalk.

Momas Got A Gun dueled with favored Divine Caroline through the last 3/16, then went past her in deep stretch to take her elim by a half-length in a new mark of 1:51.3. The Somebeachsomewhere filly, making her second move of the race a winning one, was driven by Brett Miller for trainer Virgil Morgan Jr. and owner Geoffrey Martin.  Deli Beach, over 10 lengths out at the half behind a bad gapper, rallied for third and advancement.

FINISHING LINES – Brett Miller, David Miller, and Scott Zeron all had stakes driving doubles; eleven different trainers won the eleven eliminations….As mentioned Hanover had a 4-3 breeders edge over Brittany in a great night for both, while in the siring ranks Western Ideal was the only stud with more than one winning offspring: Stacia Hanover, Artspeak, and Luck Be With You.

Freshman Pacers take center stage Tuesday with PA All-Stars

There will be a tremendous amount of great horses and great racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono between June 27th, Saturday’s,  eliminations and next Saturday’s $1.8M worth of four Championships on Sun Stakes Saturday (July 4). But the stakes spotlight will not go dark in the four cards in between at the mountain oval, as Pennsylvania All-Stars action for two-year-olds will be featured on each of the four cards in between.

The Pennsylvania All-Stars, for state-sired horses, have traditionally been gathered in a 10-day period in proximity to the Fourth of July until this year, when the crowding of the stakes schedule suggested moving the 3YO events to May, to give eligibles some stakes competition before the Grand Circuit events got in high gear. The 2YO races are staying in their usual spot, which has been the introduction of many future stars to the sport in recent years. Trotting colts are featured on Sunday, June 28; pacing fillies two days after that; trotting fillies the next day; and then the pacing colts on Friday, July 3, as Pocono expands to a five-card-a-week schedule during summer’s “prime time.”

On June 28th, the trotting colts are divided into six divisions of a $180,000 event. There are already sixteen “winners” in the races, mostly in qualifiers/non-purse baby races, although one has won a pari-mutuel race and one a Fair Sire Stakes at Bloomsburg. Of these, seven already have winning lines timed in 2:00 or faster.

Two of the youngsters, the Donato Hanover colt Mr Right and the Cantab Hall gelding Alexander Hanover, have already taken a win in 1:57.3f. Mr Right earned his record in a June 12 non-purse baby event at Pocono for trainer Leigh Raymer, and was made the 2-5 favorite in a June 21 local overnight, but his uncovered move in that event was resisted by Alexander Hanover, who went wire-to-wire for trainer Bill Popfinger.

On  June 30th, Tuesday, five divisions of freshman pacing fillies will answer the starter’s call in $150,000 worth of competition. 19 of these babies already have wins, again mostly in 2YO-restricted events, with 16 already having broken the 2:00 barrier.

The fastest of the group to date is the Somebeachsomewhere miss Pure Country, who took a Meadowlands qualifier in 1:54.4 – 26.4 for trainer Jimmy Takter, who is also rumored to be good with the occasional trotter. A daughter of Yankee Cruiser, Danika P, has won in pari-mutuel competition, a Meadows overnight in 1:55.4f for trainer Ron Burke. (Takter and Burke – together again.)