Racing

Regil Elektra Upsets in Pocono Friday Feature

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

October 17, 2014

Regil Elektra rallied from far back early to pull off a major upset in the featured Open Handicap pace for mares on Friday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The race carried the night’s top purse of $35,000.

Leaving from post position #3 in a field of eight, Regil Elektra (Mach Three-Top Time Notcher), a 4-year-old mare from the barn of trainer Monte Gelrod, got away seventh as a battle for the lead produced devastating early fractions. Driver Joe Pavia Jr. set the mare in motion third-over on the back stretch as the outer flow moved up on tiring pacesetter Drop The Ball.

In the stretch, Regil Elektra spun out four wide and powered home in a career-best 1:50:3, holding off fellow long shot Spirit Of Desire by three-quarters of a length. Camille finished third, while Yagonnakissmeornot, the 2-1 favorite fresh off big wins at in Ohio and Kentucky, struggled to seventh.

Regil Elektra, owned by Fred Monteleone Stables, won for the fifth time in 23 2014 races. It was her 17th career victory, pushing her lifetime earnings to $356,191.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

October 10-16, 2014

With a couple of Friday nights added to the racing schedule in October, racing fans at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs have been able to enjoy four nights of live action per week lately. That means a bunch more races than usual featuring excellent performances deserving of consideration for another edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: E STREET PLAN

Some of you may know that in my free time I do a little writing about music, including a recent book about the songs of Bruce Springsteen. And so I have a soft spot in my heart for this 5-year-old gelding whose name is derived from the name of Springsteen’s longtime partners in rock The E Street Band. Lately E Street Plan has been racing like the Boss.

Trained by Gilberto Garcia-Herrera, E Street Plan is on an impressively consistent streak, coming into last Saturday night’s action with five straight in the money including a victory on September 20. Yet Saturday night seemed to be a tough test, considering he was moving up into the non-winners of $23,000 in the last five races, the most rugged condition group at Pocono. To make things even more difficult, he had to journey first-over, a tough trip under any circumstances.

Yet by the top of the stretch, E Street Plan had corralled pacesetting Scott Rocks. In the lane, the closers lining up behind him couldn’t get there in time. Joe Pavia Jr. guided the gelding home by a half-length over I Like Dreamin in 1:49:4, a new career-best and the fastest time of the week at Pocono. With miles like that, it’s fair to say that this Springsteen-honoring horse is in the midst of his glory days.

Other top pacers this week include: Penn Turbo Ted (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), whose victory on Saturday night in 1:52:2 was his third straight against the $10,000 claimers, with two of those victories coming at Pocono; Talk Strategy (Andrew McCarthy, Peter Stratton), whose last-to-first victory on Tuesday night in 1:52:3 gave him two straight upset victories; and Bevel Hanover (Anthony Napolitano, John Barchi), who earned his second straight condition claiming victory on Tuesday night, this one coming in a career-best 1:51:4.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: HE’S LUCKY

This 8-year-old gelding has not only been splitting his time between Pocono and Harrah’s at Chester, but he’s also been moving back and forth between claiming and condition events. All of that change might bother some horses, but He’s Lucky, trained by Kevin Carr, has managed a nice hot streak of late. It began two starts ago with a near-miss second in a condition trot at Pocono, losing by just a neck to Cathy’s Princess.

He followed that up with a victory in a condition trot at Harrah’s in 1:55 on October 2. On Tuesday night, he took on a claiming handicap group in his return to Pocono, with claiming prices ranging from $12,500 to $15,000. Since He’s Lucky was on the high end of that range, he had to start from the far outside post in a nine-horse field, a difficult task even for a horse with the back class he possessed.

Finding no other option with the tough post, driver George Napolitano Jr. sent He’s Lucky on a taxing first-over grind. Making a steady advance through the field, the veteran gelding worked his way past pacesetting Iain’tnomomaluke and held off the pocket horse Fancy Label by 1 ¼ lengths in 1:53:4, a new career-best. No matter the track or the class, He’s Lucky looks awful tough to beat right now.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Waiting On A Woman (Andrew McCarthy, Ron Burke), who put together a powerhouse performance in a condition victory on Saturday night in 1:52:2, a new career-best and easily the fastest trotting time of the week at MSPD; Quantum Cashman (Mike Simons, Gail Wrubel), who won Friday night’s featured claiming handicap trot in a career-best 1:53:3; and Avalicious (Andrew McCarthy, Ron Burke), who picked up a condition win on Saturday night in 1:53:2, a new career-best.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ARTSBRED CAMOTION

This gelding was 8th in the same class a week ago, so his win in a claimer on Wednesday night with Matt Kakaley was a huge surprise at 27-1, paying off $57.40 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: SCOTT ZERON

Zeron only makes occasional appearances at Pocono, but he usually makes his presence felt, such as on Friday night when he picked up three victories.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: PAUL HOLZMAN

Holzman sent out just three starters on Saturday night, but two of them, C C Stormey and Machin Music, came back winners even though neither was the race favorite.

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.

 

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

October 3-9, 2014

In the three nights of racing that took place at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs the past week, we witnessed some outstanding performances by experienced veterans. Yet the two victories that stood out among such a distinguished crowd were scored by a pair of three-year-old fillies. We’ll take a look at each of those precocious performers as well as the best of the rest in this edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: CLASSIC CARPET

This filly was unraced as a 2-year-old, which meant she started her racing career this year. She began that career on some small tracks in Canada and started to really find her stride with a romping win on the 5/8-mile oval at Rideau Carlton in August. That’s when she shipped into the U.S. and joined the barn of trainer Ron Burke. She immediately paid dividends with a comfortable win at Harrah’s at Philadelphia by another big margin.

In her first appearance at Pocono on September 30, Classic Carpet faced off against a non-winners of four condition group and dominated as an odds-on favorite in 1:51, a new career-mark. With a three-race winning streak in tow, it was no surprise that she went off against that same condition group on Tuesday night as a 4-5 favorite despite being up against a solid field of young distaff pacers.

With Matt Kakaley doing the driving, Classic Carpet once again made her move to the lead on the front stretch at about the 3/8-mile marker of the race. From that point, nobody posed even a modest threat to her dominance in the race. She coasted to the line 3 ¾ lengths in front of her closest foe in a sharp 1:51:4. She may have started a bit later than most, but this filly is making up for lost time in a big way.

Other top pacers this week include: Wake Up Peter (Tyler Buter, Larry Remmen), who powered to a condition win on Saturday night in 1:50, the fastest time of the week at MSPD; Artache Hanover (Anthony Napolitano, James Eaton), who rallied from the pocket on Saturday night for his second straight condition win, this one coming in 1:52:1; and Cameron Lucky (Jim Morrill Jr., Darren Taneyhill), a mare who picked up her second straight claiming handicap win on Wednesday night, this one in 1:52:1.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: STRUCK BY LINDY

Unlike Classic Carpet, Struck By Lindy did race as a 2-year-old and she turned in a standout season, churning out four wins in just 12 starts and earning over $300,000 in purse. Her prospects for a great sophomore year seemed excellent, but even though she had several in-the-money finishes against good competition, she entered a condition trot on September 27 winless in eleven 2014 races.

On that night, she followed outside cover and rallied for the victory to break the losing streak in a time of 1:54:1. Last Saturday night, the filly from the Nifty Norman barn once again tackled a tough condition group of non-winners of $14,000 in the last five starts. Struck By Lindy doesn’t like to fire early, so the inside post she had might have worked against her as she was shuffled back in the pack. Driver Andrew McCarthy had no choice but to send her first-over on the back stretch to try to get the lead.

Despite having to do all the work herself, the filly still glided on by the leaders. In the stretch, Struck by Lindy powered home to hold off closing Fools Revenue by 1 ½ lengths for the victory in 1:55. That makes two straight and provides further evidence that this talented trotter is regaining the form that made her such a big winner as a 2-year-old.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Black Caviar (Simon Allard, Clifton Green), a filly who rallied for her second straight condition win on Tuesday night, this one in 1:57:1; Not Afraid (Andrew McCarthy, Jimmy Takter), who scored a win in the week’s featured Preferred trot on Saturday night in 1:52:3, easily the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; and Home Front (Ake Svanstedt driver and trainer), who followed up his maiden win last week with a condition victory on Wednesday night in 1:57:3.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: BLACK CAVIAR

As noted in the honorable mention above, this filly’s win with Simon Allard in the bike on Tuesday was her second straight, yet she still got away at 28-1 for a $58 payout on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANDREW MCCARTHY

McCarthy has been on quite a roll in the second half of the season at Pocono, with four wins on Saturday and three more on Tuesday exemplifying his hot streak.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: LARRY REMMEN

Remmen had just two starters in on Saturday night but he got his money’s worth from them as Wake Up Peter and Word Power each scored impressive condition victories.

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.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

September 19-25, 2014

Racing at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs has geared down somewhat in terms of quantity, as the schedule now features three live nights per week. But the quality hasn’t let down a bit, as evidenced by a Saturday night card that included no pacing miles slower than 1:50:2 and no trotting miles slower than 1:54. We even had a world-record performance, which, of course, stands out among this edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: BIGTOWN HERO

This 6-year-old gelding was struggling with the upper reaches of the pacing ranks when he was last here in June, but he’s been performing well since then at other tracks, winning three of his last five races. The last four of those races came after he switched barns to be trained by Rene Allard, Pocono’s leading trainer, including a come-from-behind win in an Open Handicap in his last race at Yonkers as a 7-1 shot.

His confidence sufficiently boosted, he returned to Pocono to compete on Saturday night in a Preferred Handicap pace for a purse of $25,000. It was a stacked field, including star veteran Golden Receiver and Dancin Yankee, who had owned the oval at Pocono in his previous appearances in 2014. But driver Ron Pierce drove Bigtown Hero as if there were no other horses on the track, sending him to the front for a huge lead as each fraction ticked off proved more impressive than the one before.

In the stretch, Bigtown Hero began to slow ever so slightly. It was a good thing the lead he built up was so substantial, because Dancin Yankee and Aslan came closing at him fast. Pierce urged him home for a half-length victory in a stunning time of 1:47:3. That broke the world record for aged gelding pacers on a 5/8-mile oval, which was set last June at Pocono by Foiled Again and then matched by Abelard Hanover.

Other top pacers this week include: Ring Warrior (Matt Kakaley, Brewer Adams), a colt who followed up four consecutive wins at Ocean Downs with a victory at Pocono in a condition pace on Tuesday night in a career-best 1:54; Cherokee Hunter (Simon Allard, Rene Allard) whose condition win on Tuesday night was his second straight and came in a career-best time of 1:52:1; and Wake Up Peter (Tyler Buter, Larry Remmen), who scorched a condition pacing group on Saturday night in 1:49:2.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SEVRUGA

Not all slumps are created equal. To wit, consider the struggles Sevruga had been having in the summer months. Last year he earned nearly $500,000 facing the best trotters around, and the highlight of his season was a world-record performance at Pocono with a win in 1:50:3. But he had come up empty for three months straight in terms of wins heading into Saturday night’s $25,000 Preferred trot.

In his last three races at Pocono, all against the most rugged trotters on the grounds, Sevruga, a 6-year-old gelding trained by Kevin Carr, had hit the board every time and had lost by just a neck in the last two. On Saturday night, he enjoyed his first quality post position in more than a month and took advantage of it, breezing to the front early with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike.

Things were by no means easy from that point, as Wind Of The North put up a sustained first-over challenge to the lead. But Sevruga had been rated well enough early in the race that he was able to dig deep in the final strides and win by a nose in a rapid 1:52:1. Maybe it wasn’t fair to say that Sevruga was in a slump considering the quality of his competition and the multiple near-misses, but it is fair to say that his losing streak is history and a lengthy winning streak might just be in the offing.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Tui (Anthony Napolitan, Don Wiest), a Pocono fan-favorite mare who scored her first win of the season on Saturday night in a tough condition group in 1:53:1; A Cool Million (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), a mare who moved up her claiming price and won her second straight race on Tuesday night, doing so in a career-best 1:54; and Fortunista (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), a mare who beat the boys in a tough condition group on Saturday night in a career-best 1:53:1.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: TRANSCENDING

An outside post and long odds didn’t bother this veteran pacer as he came from out of the clouds late to shock a condition field on Saturday night at 49-1, paying off an even $100 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: RON PIERCE

Pierce had it grooving on Saturday night, winning four consecutive races on the card, all in gate-to-wire fashion, a streak that culminated with the world-record win by Bigtown Hero.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JOE PAVIA JR.

Joe still does such a great job as a catch driver that his training abilities can sometimes be taken for granted, but a training double on Wednesday night put them front and center.

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.

Wind Of The North and Aslan Win Saturday Night Features at Pocono

Monday, September 29th, 2014

September 27, 2014

Trotter Wind Of The North and Pacer Aslan won the $25,000 featured Preferred races on Saturday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.

The Preferred Trot was named the Fred Yaggi Memorial Trot in honor of a longtime Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission who recently passed away. In that race Wind Of The North (Cantab Hall-Talk To The Wind), a 4-year-old gelding from the Clifton Green barn, used a second-over trip and a strong closing kick to upend favored Classic Martine by a head for the win in 1:52:2 at 10-1. Simon Allard did the driving. Arch Madness finished third.

In the Preferred pace, Aslan (Mach Three-Skyview) was overpowering on the front end with Andrew McCarthy in the bike for trainer Tony O’Sullivan. The 5-year-old gelding and 7-5 favorite won by 2 ¾ lengths in 1:50:1. Musselsfrombrussels was best of the rest in second while Golden Receiver picked up the show.