Racing

Dead Heat in Pocono Feature

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

August 23, 2014

Mach It So and Golden Receiver raced to a dead heat for the win in Saturday night’s featured Preferred pace at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The race carried a purse of $25,000.

Mach It So (Mach Three-Beach Dancer), driven by Andrew McCarthy for trainer PJ Fraley, appeared to have the race wrapped up when he kicked his cover at the top of the stretch and scooted to the lead. But Golden Receiver (Village Jove-Royal Gold), driven by Simon Allard for trainer Jake Huff, found another gear in the passing lane late and rallied to pull dead even with Mach It So as they crossed the line in 1:49:4. Clint Westwood finished third, while, in a racing oddity, Word Power and Big Time Promise were Inseparable at the line for fifth place, making it the rare harness race with two separate dead heats.

In other action on Saturday night, Maven (Glidemaster-M Stewart), the only mare up against the field of boys in the $25,000 Preferred Handicap trot, powered up first over to corral a hot pace and score by a length in 1:52:3. Trained by Jonas Czernyson and driven by Mark MacDonald, Maven, the 5-2 second choice in a field of eight, won for the second time this year and 27th in her career, pushing her lifetime earnings to $1,481,796. Waiting On A Woman finished second wile 6-5 favorite Sevruga settled for 3rd.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

August 15-21, 2014

This week’s racing was filled with the thrilling action we’ve come to expect of Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. And, to spice things up even further, the Pocono faithful witnessed the matching of a track and world record this week. That record-setting performance kicks off our attempt to sum up all of the action at Pocono this week by handing out the Weekly Awards.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: FRAU BLUCHER

This four-year-old mare named after Cloris Leachman’s character in Young Frankenstein had scared up a lot of success in the first two years, earning over $900,000 combined in her two and three-year-old seasons. Yet this standout from the Chris Oakes barn went winless in her first five starts this year, including a second against the non-winners of over $10,000 in the last five starts condition at Pocono on August 12 when she was heavily favored.

On Tuesday night, she went up against that same condition group, once again as a solid favorite at 4-5. Only this time around, the mare was ready to show her class and then some. Driver George Napolitano Jr. sent her to the lead with a brush on the front stretch. From there, Frau Blucher kept extending her lead until the rest of the field was a distant memory. She was 8 ¼ lengths in front at the line, with the only suspense at that point being how fast she actually went in the victory.

The timer showed a ridiculous 1:51:2, which matched the world record on a 5/8-mile oval for four-year-old trotting mares. The horse who set that record back in May at Pocono, Classic Martine, is also trained by Chris Oakes. So that proves that the Oakes barn has a whole lot of talent. But it also proves that Frau Blucher is back on top of her game, so elite trotters all over the country best take heed.

Other top trotters this week include: Mistery Woman (Ron Pierce, Jonas Czernyson), a Meadowlands shipper who captured Saturday night’s featured condition pace in a career-best 1:52; DC’s Piggy Bank (Matt Kakaley, Peter Pellegrino), who picked up his second straight claiming win on Sunday night in 1:56:2; and Inside Broadway (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who powered his way to his second straight claiming victory on Wednesday night, this one in a career-best 1:54:2.

PACER OF THE WEEK: LYONS JOHNNY

While there were no track records coming from this 6-year-old gelding, he certainly has impressed since August dawned. Considering that he had slumped to back-to-back seventh-place finishes in his last two starts of July, such rejuvenation seemed extremely unlikely at the time. It took a drop down the condition ladder and a barn change to get him in gear again.

On August 3, his first start in the Amber Buter barn, Lyons Johnny dominated that lower condition group by 4 ¼ lengths in a career-best 1:50:1. Buoyed by that fine effort, he moved back up in class to face the non-winners of $7,000 in the last five races on Tuesday night. Faced with the prospect of an outside post and a tougher field with several horses sporting solid back class, it seemed like a tough test.

With George Napolitano Jr. in the bike, Lyons Johnny aggressively took over the lead with a front stretch move. Although the fractions were quick, he stayed strong up front and sped clear of some late pressure for his second straight win, this one coming in 1:50:3. Another move up in class could be in the near future for this suddenly red-hot pacer.

Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: Victorydazewillwin (Simon Allard, Daniel Munson), who notched his second straight win over the $15,000 claimers on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:50:4; It’s That Time (Anthony Napolitano, Kevin Lare), whose victory in a claiming handicap on Saturday night came in 1:49:2, a new career-best and the fastest pacing time of the week at MSPD; and All Fired Up (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), who sprung from the pocket for his second straight claiming handicap victory on Wednesday night, doing it in a career-best time of 1:51:3.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: GUANTANAMO BAY

2-year-olds are some of the most unpredictable horses, as this freshman pacer with Kevin Wallis in the bike showed on Sunday, winning at 30-1 for a $62.80 payout on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: KEVIN WALLIS

The veteran driver has been finding his rhythm of late at Pocono, as evidenced by four wins this week, two of which came with horses at odds of longer than 15-1.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: TONY ALAGNA

Alagna has won a high percentage of his races this season at Pocono, and Sunday night he picked up wins with two of the three horses he sent to the gate.

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.

Frau Blucher Matches World Record in Win at Pocono

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

August 19, 2014

Frau Blucher made her first win of the 2014 season a memorable one by matching a world record for her age group on Tuesday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.

A huge earner at age two and three for trainer Chris Oakes, Frau Blucher (Broadway Hall-My Angel) was winless in her first five starts as a four-year-old heading into Tuesday night’s condition trot for non-winners of $10,001 in the past five races, which carried a purse of $13,000. Leaving from post position #2 in a field of nine as the 4-5 favorite, Frau Blucher, with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike, took over the lead on the front stretch and opened up from there. The mare ended up 8 ¼ lengths in front of the field in a winning time of 1:51:4, which matched the world record for 4-year-old trotting mares on a 5/8-mile oval, set back in May at Pocono by Classic Martine, another Oakes trainee.

Frau Blucher, owned by Hauser Brothers Racing, Susan Oakes, and Matt Tudisco, won for the 14th time in 34 career races, pushing her lifetime earnings to $924,117 in the process.

Gatka Hanover Knocks Off Unbeaten Speak To Me at Pocono

Friday, August 15th, 2014

August 13, 2014

Gatka Hanover defeated previously unbeaten Speak To Me to highlight Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action on Wednesday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. There were four $67,347 Sire Stakes divisions held for two-year-old trotting fillies.

Speak To Me came into her division having won her first four races in convincing fashion. But on Wednesday night, it was Gatka Hanover (Muscle Massive-Girlie Tough), trained by Ron Burke and driven by Matt Kakaley, who pounced from the pocket to defeat Speak To Me by 1 ½ lengths in 1:56:1. Gatka Hanover now has four wins in six lifetime starts, including three Sire Stakes victories without a loss.

The other Sire Stakes winners on Wednesday night at Pocono: Wild Honey (Cantab Hall-U Wanna Lindy), driven by Yannick Gingras and trained by Jimmy Takter, who won her third straight Sire Stakes race in 1:55, fastest Stakes time of the night; Jersey Strong (Muscle Massive-Vacation’s Over), driven by Tim Tetrick and trained by Mark Harder, whose convincing win in 1:56:2 was her third in as many tries at the Pocono oval; and Sweet Thing (Chocolatier-Berdine Hanover), driven by Charlie Norris and trained by Homer Hochstetler, who worked hard on the front end to keep off all comers for her second Sire Stakes win in 1:56.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Friday, August 15th, 2014

August 8-14, 2014

It’s always difficult to pick the best horses in a particular week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs due to the extreme competitiveness of the harness racing action. This week has proved more of a pickle than most because there are a lot of horses on hot streaks who deserve consideration. On Saturday night, for example, six of the thirteen winners picked up at least their second win in a row. I’m not sure if there’s a specific reason for this glut of winning streaks, but I am sure that this is a fine edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: SANDBETWEENURTOES

In Saturday night’s Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action for three-year-old pacing fillies, all eyes were on this powerhouse from the barn of trainer Larry Remmen. It’s been an incredible sophomore season for this filly, especially considering she raced just once as a 2-year-old and finished out of the money. Instead of taking time to get her racing feet wet, she’s come out of the box with seven wins in seven races this year, including a couple Sire Stakes wins and a victory in the $212,500 Mistletoe Shalee at The Meadowlands.

While the field on Saturday was solid, many were fillies who had already come up short behind Sandbetweenurtoes in races this season. Included among those was Allstar Rating, who finished behind the unbeaten filly three times this year. But in her last start, Allstar Rating dominated in the Adioo Volo at The Meadows, giving her the confidence that things might be different this time around when she faced her arch rival.

Sure enough, Allstar Rating made the lead while Sandbetweenurtoes fell much further behind the pace than is her custom. Once she started making her move for her regular driver Brett Miller though, there was no chance of stopping her. She hustled past Allstar Rating to win by a half-length in 1:50, making her eight-for-eight and also solidifying her status as the dominant force in the age group.

Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: Gold Deuce (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), who continues to dominate the lower claiming ranks, winning his fourth straight on Sunday night in 1:52; Speed Again (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who burned up the track in a condition win on Saturday in 1:48:2, fastest time of the week at Pocono; and Crimson Cruiser (Jim Morrill Jr., Douglas Hamilton), who overcame an outside post on Friday night and picked up a claiming win in 1:52:1, his third victory in a row.

TROTTER AND LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: WESTERN CREDIT

It’s rare that our categories overlap and one horse can claim two Weekly Awards in one shot. Yet Western Credit’s recent run has been as unlikely as it has been impressive, more than meriting the embarrassment of riches. This gelding came into his race on August 3 without a win in 21 races in 2014, yet trainer Eric Mollor, who also did the driving that night, had the six-year-old rolling late for an upset win in 1:55:4 at 14-1.

On Tuesday night, Western Credit was at it again, this time with Brett Miller in the bike and stepping up the condition ladder to face the non-winners of $10,000 in the last five races. The fans gave him even less of a chance this time around, putting him at 37-1. Miller sent him first-over early in the mile, which seemed like a tough journey for any horse, let along one with such long odds.

It turned out to be strategic brilliance on Miller’s part, since the sloppy track that night seemed to favor on trip on the outside. Western Credit did the rest, working hard to pick off everyone in front of him before holding off JC’s Jake in the lane to win it in 1:55:1. At those towering odds of 37-1, the gelding paid off $77.80 on a $2 win ticket. Suddenly, that 0-for-21 to start the year is a distant memory. Western Credit is two for his last two and ready to take on all comers.

Other top trotters this week include: Whata Donato (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), a mare whose winning time in a condition on Tuesday night of 1:53:3 was the fastest trot of the week at Pocono despite sloppy conditions; Well Built (Tim Tetrick, Chris Ryder), a 3-year-old who knocked off mostly older horses in a condition victory on Tuesday night in a career-best 1:54:1 in the slop; and Gematria (Tom Jackson, Fred Grant), who picked up her second consecutive win, this one in Stallion Series action on Wednesday night in 1:58:3.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: DAVID MILLER

Miller always steps up his game for stakes or series action and Tuesday night he was at his best, winning three times, including a pair of victories in the Stallion Series.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: MARK FORD

Ford always seems to manage great efficiency with however many horses he enters at Pocono, as he showed on Friday night by picking up a pair of training victories.