Racing

Major Uptrend registers major upset in Weiss Series

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Major Uptrend overcame post eight and snapped the streak of Victory At Last, who had won in the first three legs of the Bobby Weiss Series at The Downs at Mohgean Sun Pocono, by posting a 1:51.3 triumph in one of two $15,000 cuts of the fourth and final preliminary  for male pacers Saturday, April 11th.  In the other division, YS Lotus posted the fastest Weiss clocking all year, 1:50.2, to stamp himself as a major danger in next Saturday’s $30,000 Championship.

Major Uptrend went up to challenge his barnmate in the Ron Burke stable, Victory At Last, past the 27 opener, and from there the altered son of Somebeachsomewhere was in control, stopping the timer in 1:51.3 while 1¾ lengths to the good of Victory At Last, for owner Howard Taylor. It is interesting that driver Matt Kakaley, who had driven Victory At Last to his three previous Weiss wins, choose to go with Major Uptrend, whom he had also won with last week, and the decision proved to be a Weiss wise one.

YS Lotus, whose last six races had taken place in an 18-day span (competing in both Yonkers Sagamore Hill Series and the Weiss), seemed to like this week’s having seven days between starts, as he made an early move to the top and stayed in front, defeating Shadow Margeaux by ¾ of a length. The If I Can Dream gelding earned a new speed badge with the 1:50.2 clocking while winning for driver Simon Allard, trainer/brother Rene, and owner Yves Sarrazin.

In $22,000 overnight events, the Classic Photo gelding Zooming zoomed home from next-to-last at the half to handle the trotters in 1:52.4 for driver George Napolitano Jr., trainer Amber Buter, and owners Steve Oldford, Oldford Farms LLC, and Tyler Buter. On the pacing side driver Jim Morrill Jr. rallied Mustang Art out of the pocket to hang a nose defeat on frontstepping Somethinginthewind in 1:50 (the new “even time” at Pocono?), the Artiscape gelding parading back to Victory Lane for trainer Jim McGuire and owners Max Walton and Greg Papaleo.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week in Review

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

April 4-10, 2015

Even though we’re still in just our first month of racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and the weather conditions have been far less than ideal, the season feels like it’s starting to take shape. This week’s addition of Sundays, making it a four-night racing week, should speed up that process. In the meantime, here is a look at the best horses and horsemen from the past three racing nights as we hand out the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: IDEAL MATTERS

One of the characteristics of this whole season-taking-shape thing we talked out about in the intro paragraph is that certain horses begin to assert themselves as horses from whom we’ll be hearing all year long. And while it may be a bit presumptive to make a judgment based on the small sample size of a couple starts, it sure looks like Ideal Matters is in for a big 2015 at Pocono by the way he’s raced the last few weeks.

On March 21, the 8-year-old gelding from the barn of trainer Gilberto Garcia-Herrera scored his first win of the meet by handling a field of condition pacers in 1:51. On Saturday night, he faced off with essentially the same condition grouping of non-winners $16,500 in the last five races for a purse of $18,000. Leaving from post position #2 in a field of nine, Ideal Matters was quickly sent to the lead by driver George Napolitano Jr., who then watched as Mustang Art hustled by to take over around the first turn.

That’s when Napolitano decided that Ideal Matters was better off leading than in the pocket. The gelding retook the lead quickly on the front stretch, and then powered his way to a big lead. Gearing down in the final strides of the mile, he coasted to a two-length win in 1:50:1, the fastest time of the young season at Pocono. Two straight wins should have Ideal Matters moving up in class, but he’s already established himself as one of the horses to watch in 2015.

Other top pacers this week include: Always Wanna (Jim Morrill Jr., Matias Ruiz), who picked up his second straight win over the $12,500 claimers on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:52:4; Victory At Last (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who won his third straight Bobby Weiss series race against the three and four-year-old colts, stallions and geldings on Saturday night in a career-best 1:52:1; and Show Runner (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), a mare who now has four straight wins to start the season, the last two at Pocono, following her condition victory on Wednesday night in 1:52:2.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: ZOOMING

We’ve talked in this column before how sometimes a horse simply needs a change of scenery to ignite a hot streak. In the case of Zooming, a talented veteran trotter, maybe it was a return to his old haunts that got him going this past week. Before coming to Pocono for Saturday night’s condition trot for non-winners of $17,500 in the last five races, the 7-year-old gelding from the barn of trainer Amber Buter was coming off back-to-back races where he went off-stride.

It was an unusual stretch for a horse pushing $600,000 in career earnings. A lot of those earnings were notched on the Pocono 5/8-mile oval, which is probably why the fans made him a 6-5 favorite in the race despite the recent struggles. As it turned out, he had to earn it in this one, forced as he was to make a tough first-over journey to get to the lead.

The trip didn’t matter, however, as driver George Napolitano Jr. urged Zooming on past the tiring leaders in the home stretch. With a winning time of 1:53:4 in the chilly temperatures, the gelding proved he was back on top of his game. The Pocono surroundings might have spurred the return to form, but Zooming deserves the credit for having that great form in the first place.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: GJ Photo Victory (Jim Morrill Jr., Marcus Marashian), who followed back-to-back wins at The Meadows with a claiming win at Pocono on Wednesday in 1:57:1; JL Cruze (John Campbell, Eric Ell), a gelding with eight wins in ten races at the Meadowlands this season who came to Pocono to coast to victory in a Bobby Weiss race on Tuesday night in 1:54:1; and Dress For Success (Matt Kakaley, Christopher Freck), the mare who rolled to her third straight win in the Bobby Weiss series against the distaff trotters, matching her career-best of 1:55:1 in the process.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: INCOGNITO

Incognito made a last to first rally in Saturday night’s final race with Ronnie Wrenn Jr. in the bike to win a condition pace at 18-1., paying off $39.40 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

George Nap has already carved out space at the top of the driving standings, and he solidified that standing with a five-win night on Tuesday, the first Pocono driver to reach that plateau in 2015.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: RON BURKE

The leader in training wins to this point at Pocono, Burke has been cleaning up in the Bobby Weiss series, scoring three of his four winners this week in those late closer races.

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.

Dress For Success remains undefeated in Weiss

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Dress For Success remained undefeated in Bobby Weiss Series competition with an easy victory in one of two $15,000 divisions of the third leg for trotting females Wednesday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono; in the other cut, Passing Jetta finds herself moving in the right direction after posting successive third, second, and now first-place finishes in her Weiss outings.

The Infinitif mare Dress For Success had little trouble taking her third straight Weiss win, leading at every call while tying her lifetime mark of 1:55.1, first set last week. The heaviest of favorites at 1-20* odds, the Christopher Freck-trained mare was driven by Matt Kakaley for owners Stacey Ruddick and Denis Dennis.

The chalk also held sway in Wednesday’s other Weiss action, but just barely, as the Lear Jetta mare Passing Jetta rallied out of the pocket to hang a head defeat on pacesetter Fashion Zoomalot in 1:57.1.

Jim Morrill Jr. handled sulky duties for Passing Jetta, trainer Robert Bresnahan Jr., and owner J L Sadowsky LLC.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono will be adding Sunday racing to its 2015 regular menu beginning this Sunday, April 12. The trotters and pacers will be going to the gate weekly on Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, with the first race each night scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

Favorites prevail as Weiss Series action headlines Tuesday Pocono card

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Four of the first five winners at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Tuesday night, April 7th, paid the 5 cents to a dollar legal minimum profit in winning, including three visitors to Victory Lane during $15,000 third round series action of the Bobby Weiss Series – with the quartet tallying by a combined 21 lengths.

The trotting males were up first, and two Meadowlands invader took all the money, both pari-mutuel and purse. First up was the Crazed gelding JL Cruze, who has already bankrolled $133,000+ this year winning three series at the Jersey oval and racking up an effortless 12¼-length score in his mountain debut for trainer Eric Ell and driver John Campbell. The winner tripped the timer in 1:54.1 over a sloppy surface after making every pole a winning one for owners Ken Wood, William Dittmar Jr., and Stephen Iaquinta.

Opulent Yankee, who has caused the “2” in JL Cruze’s 11-9-2-0 season’s record, was next up, and he was 3½ lengths to the good at the end of his 1:54.2 triumph. Team Orange Crush, driver Andy and trainer Julie Miller, guide the fortunes of the Muscles Yankee gelding for Little E LLC, Arthur Geiger, Jason Settlemoir, and David Stolz.

In the first of two pacing mare divisions, the Burke / Weaver Bruscemi entry took all the money and finished 1-2, as Donttellruss got her first Weiss win in two starts, turning back Allthatjazz De Vie, who was successful in her initial series outing, in 1:53.3. Burke Racing and Weaver Bruscemi share ownership of the Andrew McCarthy-driven  winning daughter of Panspacificflight with Lawrence Karr and Frank Baldachino.

In the second distaff sidewheelers cut, a Burke entry was also favored, but they had to settle for second and third behind the only two-time Weiss winner in this section, the Somewheresomebeach mare The Beach NextDoor, taking a new mark of 1:53 under the guidance of Jim Morrill Jr. The winner’s dam is named On The Choo Choo, and those are the tactics Morrill successfully employed for trainer Brewer Adams and the partnership of Adams Racing LLC and Brian Clark.

The fourth 1-20* horse, in the card’s opener, was the well-regarded altered son of The Panderosa, Heavenly Knox, who made short work of his assignment in a personal best of 1:51.3. Triumphant in the Walter Russell Series Final at The Meadows in his last start, Heavenly Knox is now 8 for 9 lifetime, with driver David Miller and trainer Mark Ford entrusted with the care of the winner by new owners George and Rose Bonomo.

The four “sureshots” attracted plenty of money “underneath” as well, as $60,000 to show among all but JL Cruze; his race had no show betting, so over $20,000 went into the place pool on him.

(But all is not chalk in the Pocono pari-mutuels: Hall of Famer John Campbell paid $25.60 to win in a race on the card, and he finished third, beaten a length, at 75-1 in another.)

Burke and Kakaley sweep Weiss divisions

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Trainer Ron Burke and driver Matt Kakaley swept both $15,000 divisions of the third leg of the Bobby Weiss Series for pacing males Saturday night, April 4th, at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with Victory At Last now 3-for-3 in the series and Major Uptrend making his initial Weiss start a winning one.

After winning by a head in the first two legs, the Quik Star Mindale gelding Victory At Last had it relatively easy in the third, coming out of the pocket and gaining into a 55.4 final half to defeat Shadow Margeaux, the only other previous Weiss winner in his division, by ¾ of a length while taking a new mark of 1:52.1 for Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC.

Major Uptrend, a big factor in the winter series at The Meadowlands, had made breaks in his last two outings, in the Sagamore Hill Series at Yonkers, and the switch to the more spacious oval proved a good tonic for the altered son of Somebeachsomewhere and Tricky Tooshie, who won over $1M on the racetrack. The Major marched to the lead past the ¼, then threw twin 27.4 splits on the end of his mile to complete the handy triumph in 1:51.3 for owner Howard Taylor, defeating four previous Weiss division winners, including second-place YS Lotus, making his sixth start in 18 days (racing in the Sagamore and Weiss three straight weeks).

One other interesting note: both winners sold at Harrisburg as yearlings – Major Uptrend for $177,000, Victory At Last for $7500.