Racing

Top horses in North America battle on Super Stakes Saturday

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

The two top-rated horses in 2015 North American harness racing, the three-year-old geldings Pinkman and Wiggle It Jiggleit, will continue their battle for #1 status in the sport this Saturday night during the $2,435,000 Super Stakes Saturday card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, going in consecutive races – first Pinkman in the $500,000 Colonial Trot, and then Wiggle It Jiggleit in the $500,000 Battle of the Brandywine Pace.

The three three-year-old races, which include the $350,000 Valley Forge Pace for fillies, are filled according to 2015 moneywinnings –the nine having the highest seasonal bankrolls are gathered in the “main event” races, with the next nine in order in Consolation I, and the nine after that in Consolation II.

Another high-profile event Saturday is the $100,000 Sebastian K S Invitational Trot, a race which will double as a retirement ceremony for the trans-Atlantic champion who will be honored in special on-track ceremonies before he heads to stallion duties. Ironically, the likely favorite is the Sebastian K S is JL Cruze – the #3-ranked horse in North America, and the one who defeated “Sebastian” by a nose in his only 2015 outing before his retirement.

Here are profiles of the Big Three three-year-old events, followed by a look at the Sebastian K S Trot and other powerful races on the Saturday card:

COLONIAL TROT — $500,000 main event race 11; $200,000 Consolation I race 7; $100,000 Consolation II race 3. Stakes record: 1:52.1, Googoo Gaagaa.

Pinkman, fresh off his two-heat, world recordsetting victory in The Hambletonian, was aided by the draw with post two in the field of nine. Yannick Gingras is listed to drive Pinkman, a son of Explosive Matter who has eight wins and one second in nine seasonal starts, with his mark the 1:51 world record for 3TG in the second heat of the Hambletonian, and his $1,170,965 in 2015 earnings raising his career total to $1,737,625. (By the way, his chief foe in the Hambletonian, the filly Mission Brief, will be racing in Pennsylvania some 27 hours earlier, heading the $174,000 Moni Maker Trot at The Meadows Friday night.)

Pinkman will be find some familiar faces on the track beside him Saturday, as five of the nine Colonial entrants are, like he, part of the trotting superstable of Jimmy Takter. The “other” quartet – Uncle Lasse (PP3, driver David Miller), The Bank (PP6, Takter listing himself), Canepa Hanover (PP8, John Campbell back in the sulky), and French Laundry (PP9, Brett Miller) – are not just “makeweight” entrants either, with combined seasonal earnings of $900,000 among them.

Crazy Wow (PP1, trainer Ron Burke, driver Tim Tetrick) and Wicker Hanover (post five, Noel Daley, Corey Callahan) seem to have the best chance to upset the Takter applecart. Crazy Wow was third in the Beal Final here in June, behind Pinkman and Uncle Lasse, while Wicker Hanover handed Pinkman his only defeat of the year, in the Beal eliminations.

BATTLE OF THE BRANDYWINE — $500,000 main event race 12; $200,000 Consolation I race 8; $100,000 Consolation II race 4. Stakes record: 1:47.4, Sunshine Beach.

Wiggle It Jiggleit, an altered son of Mr Wiggins, has achieved slightly-higher earnings than Pinkman so far – $1,189,144, while winning 15 of 17 starts and showing speed, maneuverability, and courage. The winner of the Hempt Final here at Pocono early this season, Wiggle It Jiggleit will have driver Montrell Teague alert early, as he will be starting from the rail, and Teague’s job will be to get him to the front at some point without a terrific usage of resources, the fate which befell him in the recent Cane Pace, where he was involved in fractions of 25.4, 52,1, and 1:20.4 before tiring to fourth in the stretch.

The four horses who have finished ahead of Wiggle It Jiggleit in his lifetime (he raced only once at two, winning here) are all in the big Battle. Wazikashi Hanover (PP7, trainer Joanne Looney-King, driver Tim Tetrick, #7 in the North American polls) caught “Wiggle” in the stretch drive of the North America Cup at Mohawk, while the 1-2-3 Cane finishers are also here – in order of that race’s finish, Dealt A Winner (PP9, Mark Silva, David Miller), Artspeak (PP8, Tony Alagna, Scott Zeron), and Dude’s The Man (PP2, Jessica Okusko, Corey Callahan). The “Dude” also won the last big-money race for this division in Pennsylvania, the Adios at The Meadows on August 1.

VALLEY FORGE PACE — $350,000 main event race 10; $150,000 Consolation I race 7; $75.000

Consolation II race 3. Stakes record: 1:48.4, I Luv The Nitelife.

A division desperately looking for a leader after a series of different winners in most of this year’s major events to date may find one emerge from the Valley Forge Pace.

The biggest 2015 bankroll in the collection of nine misses belongs to Bettor Be Steppin, a daughter of Bettor’s Delight who will begin from post four for trainer Joe Holloway and driver Corey Callahan. Over half of the seasonal winnings of Bettor Be Steppin came right at Pocono, when she won a multi-horse close finish to capture the $300,000 Lynch Final, taking her mark of 1:50.4.

In finding other ways to measure this evenly-matched group, the biggest career bankroll belongs to Sassa Hanover ($634,440, PP7, trainer Ron Burke, driver Yannick Gingras), while the fastest speed mark is held by Moonlit Dance (1:49 winning the recent Mistletoe Shalee Final, PP6, trainer Tony OSullivan, driver David Miller). Both of those fillies show solid credentials in their achievements and their connections, and are likely to contribute to this fairly-wide-open affair.

OTHER BIG RACES SATURDAY

The $100,000 Sebastian K S Trot (race 5) marks the return to the races after a five-week break of the Cinderella story JL Cruze, who started to build a following while winning the Weiss Series here in the spring, and has gone on to win 16 of 18 starts and over $600,000 for trainer Eric Ell, with John Campbell returning from a recent minor injury to guide “JL” from the middle of the nine-horse field. Along the way, JL Cruze has become the third-fastest trotter of all-time, behind only Sebastian K S and Enough Talk (1:49.3 at Colonial) when he won the Graduate Series Final in 1:49.4.

The card kicks off with a bang, as national stars Cinamony, Krispy Apple, Ooh Bad Shark, and Yagonnakissmeornot collide in the $50,000 Hanover Shoe Farms Pace for mares.

The $50,000 U.S. Trotting Association Pace for free-for-allers may turn out to be the national coming-out party for the unheralded Always At My Place (PP2, trainer Ron Burke, driver Matt Kalaley), who goes for his sixth win in a row after missing the world record for 4PG by a tick here last Saturday, stopping the timer in 1:48.1 while pacing his own back half uncovered in 53.1 and winning under a hold.

Post Time for this stellar card is 5:30pm.

50th Anniversary Week is here!

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

The 50th Anniversary festivities continue at Pocono Downs, with everyone looking forward to an exciting weekend of tremendous racing and events.

Friday, August 21, racing will kick off with a special Post Time of 5:30pm, and the “Legends Race” will start off the night.  The race will feature familiar names such as Bill Popfinger; Don Wiest; Jim Williard; Bill Mullin, Syl King Jr.; Eddie Nickle; and Joe Antonelli.  There  will also be a special Winner’s Circle trophy presention by Pocono’s first leading driver, J.D. Dennis, Sr., and Gene Daisey, who drove in 1965 as well.  Horsemen from the past to the present are all invited into the Circle for the presentation and a group photo.  After the 10th race, Wilkes Barre Mayor Thomas M. Leighton will present a proclamation honoring the track for their 50th anniversary and their contribution to the community.

Immediately following the races on Friday night, there will be a free concert on the apron with a Tribute to Motown featuring The Fellas; and a Tribute to the Supremes, featuring Encorz.  The time for the concert will be approximately 9:30pm.  A $1 Coors Light draft drink special will be at the track apron bars only for the concert fans.  After the concert, fans with the coupon from the live racing program can grab their “Decades of the Downs” 1965  t-shirts on the apron, while supplies last.

Saturday afternoon, August 22, former manager and Major League baseball player Pete Rose drops in for pictures and autographs in the racing lobby from 4:00pm to 6:00pm. This is a wristband-only event, and wristbands are available starting at 1:00pm in the lobby.  Authorized photos will be signed, and are available at the event.

Then the action shifts to the famous 5/8 mile oval with the $2.3 million Super Stakes Saturday.  Representative Eddie Day Pashinski of the 121st Legislative District in Luzerne County will perform the National Anthem to kick off this tremendous night of racing,  featuring the Battle of the Brandywine; the Colonial Trot; and the Valley Forge Pace, plus two consolations of each.  Also featured on this prestigious night of racing is the Sebastian K Invitational Trot, named after the fastest trotter of all time.  The famed trotter will also be honored with a special retirement ceremony after the 4th race on the card, featuring owner Michael Knuttson; driver/trainer, Ake Svanstedt and Bernie Noren; along with James Simpson from Hanover Shoe Farms.  Special collectible Sebastian K color photos will be available for fans after the ceremony.  A special 50th Anniversary souvenir beer mug will be given away to fans with the coupon from the live racing program starting at 9:00pm at the Trackside Concession area on the apron.  Programs are on sale starting at 5:00pm.

The Hanover Shoe Farms Mares Invitational Pace and the USTA Invitational Pace have also been added to this stellar card of racing, with a purse of $50,000 to each.

Immediately following the races, at approximately 10:30pm,  will be a spectacular fireworks display featuring music of all five decades from 1960’s to the present.  Fans are encouraged to arrive early for a good spot on the apron.

Plenty of food will be available on the apron both Friday and Saturday with food trucks Dominic’s; Big Belly BBQ; Johnny Rockets; and Doc Popcorn ready to go with something for everyone’s appetite.  The Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame will be on hand with items for sale as well.

In the racing lobby both Friday and Saturday will be a special display of memorabilia from the past 50 years for fans to enjoy.  Included are old photos; trophies; programs, and more.

As always, parking and admission are free at the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and valet parking is also free.

Kick Off The 50th Anniversary Celebration of The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

On Friday, August 14th, The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono kicks off a week-long celebration of its Golden Anniversary. Events include:

50 years of racing

Friday, August 14th
Live harness racing at 6:30pm, with a special appearance by the world-renowned Budweiser Clydesdales.

Saturday, August 15th
Meet and have your photo taken with the Budweiser Clydesdales from 6:00pm – 7:30pm*, then an action-packed night of live harness racing kicks off at 6:30pm.
*This is a wristband-only event. Wristbands will be distributed at 4:00pm on the Sky Bridge. Photos are a $5 donation to Marley’s Mission, an organization that provides free equine-based therapy to children and their families that have experienced trauma.

Sunday, August 16th
Live harness racing begins at 6:30pm

Tuesday, August 18th and Wednesday, August 19th
We’re rolling back the prices on hot dogs, popcorn, soda and programs! Pick up a copy of The Golden Era of Pocono Downs souvenir book for only $3.00 and relive the glory of our last fifty years, including exclusive photos, statistics, special events and more. Then kick back and enjoy a breathtaking view of NEPA scenery and a night of exciting racing with a post time of 6:30pm.

Friday, August 21st
The night begins with a special post time of 5:30pm with the Legends Race, featuring drivers from the past fifty years in a thrilling competition, with a percentage of their purse donated to their favorite charity. Immediately after live racing, enjoy a free concert on the track apron featuring The Fellas, a tribute to Motown, and Encorz, a tribute to The Supremes. Stay cool with $1.00 Coors Light drafts from 9:00pm to 11:00pm at the trackside concession bar. Don’t forget to pick up a live racing program for your coupon for a free Decades of the Downs tee shirt, available after the concerts.

Saturday, August 22nd
Kick off your night with special guest Pete Rose, who will be dropping by from 4:00pm to 6:00pm to sign autographs and take photos with the crowd in the racing lobby*. Starting at 5:00pm, pick up your copy of the racing program for a coupon for a commemorative 50th Anniversary beer mug. Then at 5:30pm, the action shifts back to the track for the return of the $2.3 Million Super Stakes Saturday, with nearly $2.1 million in purses featuring the Colonial and the Battle of the Brandywine and Valley Forge, along with two consolations for each. Immediately following the stellar racing card at approximately 10:45pm, enjoy a spectacular fireworks display to cap a tremendous week of events.
*Wristbands will be distributed at 1:00pm. Only authorized photos will be signed and will be distributed.

For more details, visit mohegansunpocono.com/racing/50th-anniversary.

For questions or media coverage, please contact Jennifer Starr, Racing Marketing Manager, at jstarr@mohegansunpocono.com or 570.831.2195.

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.

The World Renowned Budweiser Clydesdales arrive for 50th Anniversary Celebration

Monday, August 10th, 2015

The World Renowned Budweiser Clydesdales have arrived at the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono to help celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the track.  The full 10-horse hitch arrived at the stables Monday afternoon, and were unloaded by the full team that travels with the magnificent horses.*

The track is honored to have the Clydesdales on Friday and Saturday evening, August 14 and 15,  as the hitch will go around the World-Record 5/8 mile track during the races.

On Saturday. August 15, a special event will take place from 6:00pm to 7:30pm on the track apron, with the entire hitch posing for photos.  Each photo is a $5 donation to Marley’s Mission, a non-profit organization that provides equine-based therapy free of charge to children, and their families, who have experienced trauma. This is a wristband-only event, and they will be distributed at 4:00pm on the Sky Bridge in a limited amount.  After the photo session, the horses will once again promenade around the famed 5/8 mile oval.

For a complete list of 50th Anniversary events, go to the racing page at http://mohegansunpocono.com/racing/50th-anniversary.html,  and follow the track on Twitter @DownsAtMSP.

Powerhouse Pacing Fillies dominate PA Sire Stakes

Monday, August 10th, 2015

Pure Country put an exclamation point on trainer Jimmy Takter’s Hambletonian/Oaks-winning weekend as she remained undefeated with the easiest of 1:53.2 victories in one of four divisions of the $253,980 third preliminary leg of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for two-year-old pacing fillies on Sunday, August 9th,  at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.

The fabulous filly by Somebeachsomewhere out of Western Montana was directed to the front early by Brett Miller, reaching that station in 28 and then getting a walk to the park with a 58 half. Up came Shesasmokinlady on a big first-over move, and out came the earplugs as Pure Country got to the 3/4 in 1:26, and she then finished in 27.2 under a stretchlong hold by Miller in winning by 2 1/4 lengths. Heelsonthebeach, who had sat second behind the winner through much of the mile but was past by Shesasmokinlady nearing the 3/4, came back in the lane for second, with Shesasmokinlady settling for third.

Pure Country is the only filly to have won in each of the first three Sire Stakes legs, and she is 4-for-4 in purse competition, having started her career here with a PA All-Stars win. She was bred and is owned by Diamond Creek.

Fastest of the four miles was the 1:52.1 hung up by Yankee Moonshine (Yankee Cruiser-Bootleg Yankee), moved early to command by driver Matt Kakaley and then holding off the late charge of Princess Fabulosa by 3/4 of a length while taking a new mark. Ron Burke trains the fast baby for the ownership of Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, Lawrence Karr, and JT45.

In this victory, Yankee Moonshine was the only non-previous Sires winner to tally (she was 2-3 in her earlier prelims), and she was the only winner to have raced for a purse since the July 17 Meadows Sires leg, having won an Arden Downs event on Adios Day. She was the 6-5 second choice behind 4-5 chalk Ivy League (Somebeachsomewhere – See You At Peelers), who was in perfect second-over position when she lost her momentum in the final turn and finished back.

The Well Said-Silkandidamonds filly I Said Diamonds moved to second-place in the divisional pointstandings behind Pure Country by becoming a “pocket rocket” under the handling of David Miller and earning a new speed badge of 1:52.3. The winner now has two triumphs and a second in the Sire Stakes, with Paul Holzman doing the conditioning for owner Omar Beiler, Susan Oakes, and Dennis Coons.

Another two-time Sires winner, and giving Somebeachsomewhere a siring double, is Call Me Queen Be, out of the mare Preppy Party Girl, who also came out of the two-hole, just nipping pacesetting Shezarealideal by a head in 1:52.4. Scott Zeron handled sulky duty for trainer Ross Croghan and owners Dana Parham and the Let It Ride Stables Inc.