Racing

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

October 7-13, 2017

It’s pretty difficult to believe that we are in the final quarter of the racing season here at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. (The warm weather is quite deceiving, because it certainly hasn’t seemed like autumn around here.) It will be soon be time to pick out yearend honors at Pocono, but that can wait a bit. For now, let’s be content to find the finest horses of the past week as we hand out the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: SI SEMALU

This seven-year-old gelding from the Bruce Clarke barn has been a solid performer for much of the season both here and at Harrah’s, but he seems to really be peaking here at the tail end of the meet. On September 30, Si Semalu dropped into a $12,500 condition pace and worked out a trip from an outside post, coming up late for a win in 1:50:1 as a 16-1 long shot. The winning time was a new career-best mark.

On Saturday night, he stepped back up into the $14,000 condition group, a class that had given him problems earlier this season. This was a pretty stacked race, with a field that included million-dollar earner Lucan Hanover as the odds-on favorite. Si Semalu got away third from the #7 post as an 8-1 shot with Jim Marohn Jr. in the bike, while Lucan Hanover called the early shots. The pace was quick and the leader was pressured throughout.

On the home stretch, Marohn had room to nudge Si Semalu to the outside. After saving so much energy to that point, he powered home past a tiring Lucan Hanover and held off closer Sports Bettor by three parts of a length. His winning time was 1:50:3, giving him two straight victories with sizzling times and a lot of confidence heading into whatever comes next.

Other top pacers this week include: Unbeamlieveable (Matt Kakaley, Vincent Fusco Jr.), a mare who overcame an outside post and a barn switch to capture her second straight claiming handicap on Monday, getting it done in a career-best 1:52; Motor City Marco (John Kakaley, Travis Alexander), a three-year-old who rolled on the front end on Sunday to his third straight condition victory, picking up the victory in a new career-best of  1:53:3; and Allstar Partner (Anthony Napolitano, Andrew Harris), whose condition victory on Saturday night in a career-best 1:49 represented the fastest pacing time of the past week at Pocono.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: MONEYDONTBUYULOVE

It has been an impressive streak put together of late by this four-year-old gelding from the Rene Allard barn. He came into a condition trot on Sunday night having won his last four consecutive starts. One of those was at Pocono in a non-winners of three condition group on September  5 on a sloppy track in 1:57. There was also a victory at Saratoga and back-to-back scores at Yonkers amassed by Moneydontbuyulove during the hot stretch.

On Sunday night, Moneydontbuyulove faced his toughest test yet, going up against a noon-winners of five class for a purse of $16,000. The fact that he was stepping up didn’t scare off the bettors, who made him a 1-9 favorite in a short field of six. His toughest competition figured to be from Arch Credit, a three-year-old who was coming off a sharp qualifier and sure enough hustled to the lead.

Arch Credit attempted to set nasty enough fractions to shake the favorite, but even getting to the three-quarter mark in 1:24:4 didn’t do the trick, as Moneydontbuyulove stayed attached. In the stretch, it was essentially a two-horse race, and Moneydontbuyulove utilized the passing lane to make his play for the lead. With Simon Allard in the bike, he glided by to beat Arch Credit by 1 ¾ lengths. For the icing on the cake, his fifth straight victory came in a new career mark of 1:54:1.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Catch A Mission (Jim Marohn Jr., Erv Miller), a mare who followed up a win at Harrah’s with one at Pocono in a condition on Sunday night in 1:53:4, which was the fastest trotting time of the week; Silvermass Volo (Mike Simons, Michael Holcman), who rallied from far back for a condition win on Sunday night in 1:54:3; and Stormont Wizard (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who moved up in class to knock off a condition group on Tuesday night in 1:54, which was a new career-best time.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SIBSON

This trotter previously had issues staying on stride, but, with Anthony Napolitano in the bike, he was flat and fast in a condition win on Tuesday night at 33-1, paying $68.80 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JOHN KAKALEY

The veteran driver had just four drives on Sunday night but won with two of them, scoring with pacer Motor City Marco and trotter Swiss Platinum.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: BRUCE CLARKE

The Clarke barn scored three wins on the week, highlighted by a training double on Sunday night and the second straight win by Si Semalu on Saturday night.

That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

September 30-October 6, 2017

While we didn’t quite reach the 90-degree temperatures of the previous week, the weather in Northeastern Pennsylvania still cooperated with an excellent stretch of pleasant autumn weather, giving us four straight fast tracks at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono for the racing week. The action was predictably slick as well, yielding plenty of candidates for the Weekly Awards, the best of which you can find right here.

PACER OF THE WEEK: KING OF THE CROP

Trained by Wayne Short, this six-year-old gelding struggled his way through much of the summer, with many finishes well up the track. In an effort to get him going again, his handlers dropped him to the lowest condition level on September 18, and the gambit worked. King Of The Crop came up first-over for a victory in 1:52:4 that night, and moved back up in class this past Saturday night to face an $11,000 group.

With Tom Jackson in the bike, King Of The Crop left from post position #6 in a field of nine and didn’t garner too much betting attention at 8-1. He sat sixth early on as East Coast Cruiser set a menacing pace. Jackson started the gelding up on the back stretch, and after a quick pass of a tiring horse on the outside he found himself first-over. For a while he was stalled a few lengths back, as it appeared East Coast Cruiser might be able to pace out the clock.

But in the stretch the pacesetter started to feel the burden of the fractions and King Of The Crop began to surge. Despite being on the outside on the last turn he gathered momentum under the guidance of Jackson and took over as the line approached to win it by a head in 1:52:2. Now with two straight wins, King Of The Crop will likely make another move up the condition ladder, but his recent performances suggest he’s ready.

Other top pacers this week include: Si Semalu (Jim Marohn Jr., Bruce Clarke), who overcame an outside post to win a condition pace on Saturday night in 1:50:1, which was a new career-best and the fastest pacing time of this past week at Pocono; Pappy’s Pal (Jim Marohn Jr., Matias Ruiz), who followed up a win at Harrah’s with a victory in Saturday night’s featured condition pace in 1:50:2; and Iwillnotbemached (Simon Allard, Amanda Payson), who switched barns, moved up in class and picked up his second straight claiming win on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:52:4.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SIMEON

They say that revenge is a dish best served cold, but Simeon didn’t have the luxury of waiting long for another chance at his nemesis. The five-year-old gelding from the Toni Freitas barn was an impressive winner on September 18 in the $15,000 to $20,000 claiming handicap trotting group, scoring in 1:55:3. But the following week Simeon was stymied with a fourth-place finish behind Warrawee Onyx, who won his second straight in the class.

On Monday night Simeon was back at it in the same class, and once again he had to deal with Warrawee Onyx, who left as the even money from post position #8 as the even money favorite. Simeon, meanwhile, was let go as the 5-1 second choice. Warrawee Onyx dictated the pace and faced some stiff competition for the lead, but was still on top around the final turn. Simeon, by contrast, sat third on the inside and waited patiently for an opening.

That opening finally arrived around the final turn, which is when driver Jim Marohn Jr. guided Simeon quickly to the outside for a furious charge. Warrawee Onyx was defenseless as Simeon hustled by to win it by 2 ¾ lengths in 1:54:1. That was a career-best time for the gelding, making his revenge pretty sweet, even if it wasn’t all that cold.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Chocouture (Anthony Napolitano, Tom Wine II), who scored a condition win in 1:54:4 on Sunday night, earning a new lifetime mark; Jurgen Hanover (Matt Kakaley, Jenny Bier), who followed up a condition win at Harrington with a victory in 1:55:2 from an outside post on Monday in a claiming handicap ; and Justice Jet (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who handled a condition field on Tuesday night in 1:53:1, which was a new career mark and the fastest of the week at Pocono.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: LEAN ON YOU

This pacer driven by Tom Jackson started Monday off with a surprise for the faithful, winning a condition at 17-1 and paying out $37.80 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY NAPOLITANO

A-Nap had a monster evening on Sunday, ripping off wins on six of the 14 races on the program for one of his finest performances of the season.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: WAYNE SHORT

Short made the most of his training efforts, winning with the lone starter he sent out on both Saturday (King Of The Crop) and Sunday (Moonshine Runner.)

That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.

Former New York Yankee great Don Mattingly stops by the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono is proud to announce an appearance with former New York Yankee great Don Mattingly on Saturday, October 21st.  The legendary former first baseman and coach will be stopping by the track for autographs and photos with his fans from 4:00PM to 6:00PM in the Racing Lobby.

Known as “The Hit Man” and “Donnie Baseball”, Mattingly will be making his first appearance at the track in Northeast PA.

This is a wristband-only event, and wristbands will be distributed starting at 2:00PM with a limited amount available.  Line-up is at 1:00PM. Only authorized photos will be signed, and they will be distributed at the signing.  Fans are welcome to take their own photos with cell phones and cameras.

Live harness racing immediately follows the event with a Post Time of 6:30PM.  Racing continues Sundays at 7:30PM; Mondays at 4:30PM; Tuesday and Saturdays at 6:30PM through November 25th.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

September 2-8, 2017

Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship day, which this year focused on the two-year-olds, was held at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono this past Monday. A lot of times you’ll hear people say that these freshmen horses are stars of the future. But considering these horses were racing for purses of $252,000 for each of the four finals, which culminate the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes series, it’s much more accurate to say that the 32 competitors in the four separate divisions were taking the track for what would likely be, for each, one of the most important races of its career.

Monday’s championships brought some of the finest two-year-old pacing and trotting talent in the country to Pocono in attempt to claim the title of best in the state. The races featured a little bit of everything, including dominant favorites, smart tactical driving, and a stunning long shot. Let’s take a look at how the two-year-old Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championships played out.

TWO-YEAR-OLD FILLY TROTTERS

This shaped up to be the biggest mismatch of the afternoon, and that’s exactly how it played. Manchego, trained by Jimmy Takter, came into Monday’s final with five wins in five career races. The highlight of that stretch came in an easy win in the $330,800 Doherty at The Meadowlands. Leaving as the #1-9 favorite from the #5 hole in the field of eight in the championship, she made the lead as they rounded the first turn by clearing S M S Princess. From there she opened up an insurmountable lead with driver Yannick Gingras never having to lift a finger to ask her for more. Manchego strolled home a winner in an effortless 1:54:2, beating her closest foe Hey Blondie by 4 ¼ lengths and leaving no doubt about who is the class of the freshmen distaff trotters.

TWO-YEAR-OLD COLTS AND GELDINGS PACERS

Pedro Hanover went off as the even-money favorite in the final. The colt trained by Andrew Harris had won his previous two races with a late-kicking style, sitting back in the pack early only to uncork just as other horses were tiring. But the Pocono track was severely favoring horses who left early for the engine on Monday night. So driver Andrew McCarthy decided that Pedro Hanover, who left from post position #7, would follow suit. The colt took the lead away from Dorsoduro Hanover with a move around the first turn and dared everyone else to come and get him. Although the fractions seemed a little steep, Pedro Hanover looked no worse for wear in the lane, holding off fast-closing Hayden Hanover to win it by a length in 1:51, which matched his career-best time.

TWO-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACERS

In their previous start, Rainbow Room had nipped Come See The Show by controlling matters on the front end. Rainbow Room enjoyed the inside post in that victory at Harrah’s, but, in Monday’s final, she was in the #7 post while Come See The Show was a spot to her inside. But driver David Miller didn’t make any changes with Rainbow Room, sending her to the front as the 4-5 favorite. Sure enough, Come See The Show blasted at her on the back stretch, but Rainbow Room rebuffed the challenge. In the home stretch, the filly from the Joe Holloway barn held together, holding off long shot Scuola Hanover to win by a length-and-a-half in 1:52:2. That gave Rainbow Room four victories in a row and five in her six career starts to date.

TWO-YEAR-OLD COLTS AND GELDINGS TROTTERS

After three straight favorites won on the front end, it seemed like that was the order of the evening for the Pennsylvania championships. But that trend ended with a thud in the male trotting division when the 9-5 favorite Whats The Word broke stride at the start. Scirocco Rob set the pace instead, but started to wither under pressure applied by Toast Of Lindy. As Toast Of Lindy took over, Fashionwoodchopper, who had won his previous Sire Stakes race at 15-1 and went off at 38-1 on Monday from an outside post, was following stealthily behind. In the stretch, David Miller spun Fashionwoodchopper off the cover and rallied him for the victory by a length over closing Lawmaker in 1:57. The huge underdog was the second longest shot on the board.

With that big upset, so ended the championships and the Sire Stakes portion of the 2017 schedule at Pocono. After that fantastic finish, we can’t wait for it to get started all over again next season.

That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

August 26-September 1, 2017

This is usually the space where we hand out Weekly Awards, but I thought I’d take a break from that this week to address a recent phenomenon at the track. That phenomenon is Rainbow Pick 5 Fever!

For those who might have missed it, here’s the gist of it. The Rainbow Pick 5 is a wager that requires a bettor to pick the winners of five consecutive races. But that’s not all. If there are multiple winning tickets on a given night, the winners share in a small percentage of the pool. The remainder of the pool carries over to the next night, and that can continue indefinitely until there is a single winning ticket.

Well, it looked like the wager might carry on infinitely instead of indefinitely at Pocono over the past few months, as night after racing night the Pick 5 was hit by multiple tickets instead of just one. The jackpot skyrocketed to $230,534.56 in the meantime, so it was decided to freeze it for a few weeks and give everyone a shot for a piece of that overflowing pie. On Sunday night, September 3, there will be a mandatory payout of that jackpot, meaning that even multiple winning tickets will get to share in the entirety of that huge sum of money instead of just a portion of it.

Think about it: Say the pool rises to $250,000 (after the 15 percent track takeout) or so on Sunday night with all of the betting action and, at the end of the night, there are ten winning tickets. That would mean those ten would pocket $25,000 apiece. Considering that they would have received a fraction of that without the mandatory payout, it’s easy to understand why this event Sunday night is such a big deal.

You might say, “That’s all good and fine, but picking the winner of one race is hard enough. Picking five in a row is like hitting the lottery.” But the Rainbow Pick 5 allows you to make picks for just twenty cents apiece. That means for a two-dollar wager, you can play ten different combinations of winners for the five races.

And that’s where the strategy that makes this wager so fascinating comes into play. If you come with the idea in your head that you’re going to spend a little money to give yourself the best possible chance to win, you still have to decide how to spread that money around. For example, you might find a race within the Pick 5 where you think a horse in the field is a can’t-miss winner. In that case, you might make him your only pick from that race, which would allow you to pick maybe six, seven or even all the horses from another race.

On the other hand, you might prefer to hedge your bets in each of the Pick 5 races, playing multiple horses in each race. Just remember that each horse you include in your ticket drives up the price of your wager a little bit. But what if the horse that you leave out at the last minute is the one who comes in as a long shot and would have separated your ticket from all the other bettors out there?

Again, that’s the kind of “what if” that makes the Rainbow Pick 5 so addictive. I don’t wager on the races at Pocono. I’m not forbidden to do so by any rules, but I made the choice that I wouldn’t while calling the races so that I would remain objective at all times. But I have been filling out a hypothetical Pick 5 ticket each night just to see how I would do. And what I’ve learned is that it takes a pretty good-sized wager, maybe a minimum of $40, to give yourself a chance that’s more than just a dart throw. Otherwise you have to be absolutely dead-on with your handicapping and hope that no long shots spoil the party, which, over the span of five races, is a distinct possibility.

Doing it that way, I’ve been able to hit the Rainbow Pick 5 with my pretend tickets about one out of every four racing nights. It’s not the best percentage, but, considering the amount of money on the line, I’d take those odds in a heartbeat.

Maybe you have your own strategy for the Pick 5. Or maybe you’ll just pick your favorite numbers or names and let Lady Luck work her magic. Again, what makes this wager such a cool deal is that there’s no one way to approach it.

We’re expecting Sunday night September 3rd to be a big night at the track, as bettors of all stripes will be lining up to take a portion of that lucrative payout home with them. However it turns out, there’s no doubt that the Rainbow Pick 5 has spiced up what has already been a thrilling racing meet at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.

That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.