Racing

Get Derby-fied at the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono!

Monday, April 25th, 2016

A double header of live harness racing, including 2 prestigious races for 3-year-olds; a hat revue; and a Champagne Brunch are all part of the biggest Kentucky Derby party north of Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May!

Doors open Saturday at 9:30am, with the first of the live harness racing card Post Time at 11:00a.m., and a patio bar open just for those early birds!  Pacer’s Clubhouse will host a Champagne Brunch like no other starting at 11:00 a.m., featuring delectable items such as Seared Tenderloin Medallions with Crab Cake Asparagus dressed with Bearnaise; Deep fried turkey with Red Eye Gravy & Spaghetti Squash; Vanilla Bourbon sweet mashed potatoes; and desserts such as chocolate pecan pie and minted cream pie!  Reservations are still being accepted at 570-831-2100.  The dinner seating is currently sold out.

Ladies can proudly wear their elaborately decorated Kentucky Derby hats for the Run for the Roses Hat Revue, sponsored by Spa Sapphire, the salon and spa in the casino.  All hats must be registered between 3:00 and 5:30 p.m. in the lobby, and the Revue takes place at 5:30 p.m. in front of the Winner’s Circle with cash prizes in different categories and one overall winner called the “Triple Crown Winner”!  Spa Sapphire gift cards will also be awarded to runners-up, with a special Couples Spa Package for the Most Fashionable Couple!

A photo booth in the lobby will be open at 3:00pm to capture the best moments of the day, with a $1 minimum donation to the Standardbred Retirement Foundation.  Spa Sapphire and Aveda will also be set up to help the ladies look their best with the “Perfect Lip” touch-up, adjacent to the photo booth, and items such as hats, jewelry, and other accessories will be for sale as well.

Make sure you come with an appetite, because there will be food trucks on the apron starting at 2:00p.m., and of course, Mint Juleps will be available all day in the official Kentucky Derby 142 souvenir glasses!  A jumbo tent will be set up for the fans to kick back and enjoy the day.

Following Kentucky Derby 142 on the jumbo screen, fans can stay and enjoy another exciting live card, including the Pennsylvania Classic 3-year-old colts & geldings; and the Miss Pennsylvania for 3-year-old fillies.

Advance wagering will be available Friday, May 6th starting at 10:00am, as well as a full simulcast of the prestigious Kentucky Oaks day from Churchill Downs.

Winning Fillies return for Bobby Weiss Series

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

Both South Side Hanover and Stirling Debutant are now two-time winners in as many preliminary legs of the Bobby Weiss Series for trotting females after Tuesday, April 12th, at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, but Stirling Debutant was more impressive to the eye as she easily trotted over her field after a fast pace to win in a lifetime best of 1:55.4.

Anthony Napolitano placed the Credit Winner mare third behind a streaking Real Caviar, also a winner last week, as the latter posted scalding fractions of 27.2, 56.4, and 1:25.4. Napolitano was able to back out behind the cover over first-over Hot Curry on the far turn, then tipped wide and easily trotted to the fore, winning by a length and a quarter. After going 1 for 25 at ages two and three, Stirling Debutant is now 2-for-2 in 2016 for trainer Christie Collins and owners J M F Racing LLC.

Although trainer/driver Todd Schadel’s Real Caviar tired after that hot pacesetting, his other winner from the first Weiss leg, South Side Hanover, did make a return trip to Victory Lane, tonight winning in 1:57.1. Schadel sent the Cantab Hall filly uncovered at the half, and she trotted a 27.4 third panel to clear to the lead en route posting a length victory. Schadel also co-owns South Side Hanover with Roger Hammer, the pairing behind 2005 Hambletonian winner Vivid Photo.

In the third $15,000 division of Tuesday’s second round action, the Kadabra filly Ready Any Time was ready this evening, also using first-over tactics en route to a 1:59.4 triumph by 1½ lengths. Matt Kakaley was in the filly’s sulky for trainer Nifty Norman and the partnership of Melvin Hartman, Herb Liverman, David Mc Duffee, and Little E LLC.

Rene Allard is still four winners away from becoming the first trainer to achieve 3000 conditioning victories before the age of 30, dividing six starts between The Downs and Yonkers on Tuesday, and doing very well with three seconds and two thirds, but no winners circle appearances. Allard, 29, sends out one horse April 13th, Wednesday, at Harrah’s, and then his magic moment seems likely to arrive over the weekend: he has seven in at Yonkers Thursday April 14th  and nine Friday,April 15th, and then has entrants in every one of the 14 races at Pocono on Saturday in addition to four at Yonkers; if those horses don’t get him to 3000, he’ll have eight more chances at Pocono on Sunday.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

April 9-15, 2016

This past racing week at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono was the first in which we raced our normal schedule of four nights per week so far this season. And despite some iffy weather, the action seemed to intensify during the four consecutive evenings of live racing, producing plenty of candidates for the Weekly Awards. So instead of blabbing on and on about them, why don’t we hand them out?

PACER OF THE WEEK: JINS DRAGON

What a start to the 2016 Pocono meet it’s been for this six-year-old gelding from the Michael Rashkin barn. Considering that Jins Dragon hadn’t done much early in the year at the Meadows, hitting the board just once in seven races without a win, there wasn’t much to suggest that he’d do anything special at MSPD. Yet he quickly ripped off a pair of condition wins when he arrived, the latter coming in a new career mark of 1:50:3.

On Saturday night, Jins Dragon moved into the claiming ranks, where he faced Pocono’s highest-priced claiming handicap grouping. Since Larry Stalbaum, who had driven the gelding to the previous two wins, had another driving commitment in the race, the reins were handed to George Napolitano Jr., the meet’s top pilot so far. And George Nap put Jins Dragon on the lead with a quick swooping maneuver on the first turn.

On the back stretch, the gelding, who went off as an even-money favorite, opened up a comfortable margin on the rest of the six-horse field. That allowed Napolitano to gear him down on the stretch, as Jins Dragon still came home a solid two lengths in front in 1:53 on an off-track listed in good condition. He was unsurprisingly claimed from the race, so we’ll see if he can keep up his winning ways going forward for the new barn.

Other top pacers this week include: Camcruiser Hanover (Jim Morrill Jr., Dale Loney), who romped over a $15,000 claiming class on Saturday night, his second straight win at that price, in 1:54:1; Glammit (Jim Morrill Jr., Daniel Maier), who moved up in class and captured his second straight condition win on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:52:4; and Sweet Talkin Satin (Simon Allard, Josh Green), whose condition win on Tuesday night in 1:50:4 was the fastest pacing mile of the week at Pocono.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: ABC MUSCLES BOY

Moving up in class is never an easy task. But sometimes there are circumstances surrounding a horse which make a step or two up the ladder less daunting than it would otherwise be. Take, for example, the case of ABC Muscles Boy. On Saturday night he moved up from an $11,000 condition class to one with a $14,000 purse.

Normally that would be a recipe for an up-the-track finish. But ABC Muscles Boy, a 5-year-old gelding from the Rene Allard barn, had a few things going for him. For one, he had won his previous start from the #9 post, proving his ability to overcome tough odds. For another, his 2015 season, which included over six figures in earnings and a career-best 1:52:3 mile at Pocono, demonstrated that he had the class to capably handle this group if he was on top of his game.

On Saturday night, ABC Muscles Boy quickly stepped to the front on the first turn. As the 2-1 second choice on the board, he held the lead from that point. Its Payday Friday, the 3-2 race favorite, went off-stride trying to catch him, and ABC Muscles Boy, under urging from Simon Allard, held off the rest to win in 1:55:3. Moving up in class was no sweat for this gelding; as a matter of fact, don’t be surprised if he successfully does it again in the very near future.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Noble Lover (Larry Stalbaum, Kimberly Asher), a mare who moved up in class to win a claiming handicap trot on Sunday night, which was her second straight victory and came in a new career mark of 1:55:3; Stormont Lancelot (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who stepped up in the claiming ranks on Monday night to pick up his second straight victory, this one coming in 1:56:1; and JJ Alex (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who moved up in class and picked up his second straight condition win on Tuesday night, this one in 1:56.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: NOBODY

That’s not the name of a horse; that’s just recognition of the fact that it was a good week for chalk and that no horses at 10-1 or over came up with a win in four nights of racing.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MATT KAKALEY

Kakaley ripped off three straight driving triples from Sunday through Tuesday night, and four of those victories came aboard horses in the Bobby Weiss series.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: RICHARD JOHNSON

Johnson looks set in the Weiss series for three and four-year-old trotting colts, stallions, and geldings after winning two of the four divisions Monday night with Sweet Royalty and Steed.

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.

Fast Times for Second Division Weiss Series Pacers

Monday, April 11th, 2016

Second round action for pacers of both sexes in the Bobby Weiss Series of contests at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono brought some fast times and spirited racing on  Sunday , April 10th.

The first division for males had end-to-end action, with Settlemoir leaving to the top and Iwillmakeyousaywow, the fastest winner at 1:51.4 last week, having to go three-wide well past the 1/8 and two-wide past the scorching 26 opener to take command, keeping the lead through middle splits of 54.1 and 1:22.2.

But underway from midpack was the Camluck gelding Midnight Lightning, who had been reserved off that swift pace, and the battle between two of the first-round winners became joined as Midnight struck on the far turn and into the stretch, finally wearing down the game Iwillmakeyousaywow, gallant in defeat, by a head in 1:51, with Settlemoir, who had swung wide in the stretch, missing taking the whole shebang by a half-length while moving fastest of all at the wire.

Matt Kakaley guided the four-year-old Midnight Lightning to a new mark by a full second in the hard-fought triumph for trainer Shaun Vallee, co-owner with D P V Racing Stable.

Driver Corey Callahan took the other two Weiss divisions for “the boys,” using fast last quarters to guide sophomore geldings back to Victory Lane. In the first, Options Are Adream kept his record unblemished in eight career starts, going to the lead off the first turn and then coming home in 27 flat to turn back early leader Rollaroundtheworld in 1:52. The son of If I Can Dream joined Midnight Lightning as a two-time winner in the Weiss for trainer Dick Lewis and owners David Banks and Layfield Horses LLC.

Callahan and Sentencing Memo came home even faster in the other Weiss male division, sprinting home in 55.1 – 26.4 to defeat first leg winner Maxdaddy Blue Chip while equaling his career best of 1:52. The son of Western Terror used a more favorable draw this week to turn the tables on his conqueror of seven days previous for trainer Eric Foster and owner Arty Foster.

In the four divisions of the female sector, the only division that matched two first-round Weiss winner saw Candy Corn Hanover remained undefeated in her two-start career, sitting second-over while first-up Southwind Tango, the other winner last week, battled pacesetter Nip’s Beach Girl through a 27.4 third quarter, then rolled by them both late in 1:52.3, reducing her mark by 4/5 of a second. The Dragon Again filly was again handled by Anthony Napolitano for trainer Travis Alexander and the Fiddler’s Creek Stables LLC.

Candy Corn Hanover paid $32.80 in her debut victory, but the fans caught on quickly and she paid only $4.80 tonight. Similarly, Some Fancy Filly went from a $50 win mutuel last week to a $3.20 for $2 proposition in her Weiss cut, and she too made it two straight in the series while lowering her mark 2/5 of a second to 1:53. David Miller, who added two winners at The Downs to the five he brought home at Harrah’s Philadelphia in the afternoon, was sulkysitting behind the Somebeachsomewhere-Fancy Filly filly for trainer Nancy Johansson of JK She’salady fame and owners Courant A B.

Mystery Writer, who had to settle for second last week behind Some Fancy Filly, bounced back to record her sixth win of the year in another division for the females, going out in 26.4 then coming home in 56.3 – 28 and needing every bit of her 1:54.2 clocking to withstand American Image by the shortest of margins. Jim Morrill Jr. drove the Sportswriter mare for trainer Kevin Lare and owner Frank Chick.

The final Weiss cuts for the ladies saw the Somebeachsomewhere filly Albany Girl parlay a pocket trip to a career-best win in 1:55 while winning an exciting three-way stretch duel with Winners Over and Q T Pie Hanover. Brett Miller got the sulky call from trainer Jimmy Takter as Albany Girl won for owners Christina Takter, John Fielding, and Joe Sbrocco.

Saturdays in April and “Fashion At The Track” in Pacer’s Clubhouse

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Women and horse racing DO go together!  Who says you can’t be fashionable while cheering on your favorite horse?  The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, along with Spa Sapphire, is presenting their first “Fashion At The Track” night in Pacer’s Clubhouse on Saturday, April 9th.  Starting at 7:00p.m., those dining at the restaurant overlooking the historic 5/8 mile track will be treated to table-side fashion shows featuring the latest and hottest in sportswear; jewelry; and even hats and Fascinators, as the Kentucky Derby is just weeks away.

Models from Spa Sapphire will casually walk around Pacer’s, and guests can enjoy the fashions while they dine on Clubhouse specialties such as Chicken Parmagiana; Fish and Chips; Loaded French fries; French Onion Soup; as well as specialty sandwiches; all while watching and wagering on exciting harness racing.

Items will be available for purchase that evening from Spa Sapphire’s display tables.

“Fashion At The Track” continues each Saturday evening in April.

Reservations are required for dining in Pacer’s Clubhouse, and can be secured by calling 1-888-WIN-IN-PA.