Racing

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

March 30-April 5, 2013

There were only three nights of racing this past week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, since there was no live card on Easter Sunday. Luckily, those three nights were jam-packed with stellar performances, giving us no shortage of candidates for the Weekly Awards. Let’s take a look at the best of the best in the week that was at MSPD.

PACER OF THE WEEK: RIVER SHARK

With the Breeders Crown scheduled at Pocono, we anticipated that we’d be seeing some of the finest pacers and trotters in the country getting the lay of the land at the track throughout the season. Apparently, the talent parade has already begun, as 7-year-old pacer River Shark proved with his outstanding effort on Saturday night.

The gelding from the Mark Ford barn came into Saturday night’s $18,000 condition pace with 33 wins under his belt and over $1 million in his bank account. Coming off tough races at the Meadowlands and Yonkers, River Shark was made the odds-on favorite with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike, but the other competitors in the tough field weren’t about to cede an easy win to him. Several horses took shots at him on the front end only to get rebuffed with extreme prejudice.

He faced his toughest challenge in the stretch, as pocket horse Take It Back Terry shot up the passing lane after an excellent trip to that point. River Shark dug deep for one more burst of speed and came up a winner in 1:51. Expect to see more of that from this excellent pacer, and expect to see a lot more star performances at Pocono throughout the season.

Other top pacers this week include: Move On (Jim Morrill Jr., Dennis Walsh), who doubled his claiming price on Saturday night to score his second consecutive win, this time beating the $10,000 claimers in a career-best 1:52:1; Shebestingin (Jim Morrill Jr., Joe Holloway), whose victory in 1:52:3 in the Bobby Weiss Series for 3-year-old fillies on Tuesday kept her unbeaten after four career starts; and Happy Hour Honey (Jim Morrill Jr., Kent Sherman), a mare who scored her second straight victory over the $10,000 claimers on Wednesday night in 1:54:1.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: IMPERIAL COUNT

There are times in the sport of harness racing when a horse is just so bound and determined to come up with the win that no manner of obstacle can derail it from that victory. When you add in excellent talent, you’ve got a winning combination, one that Imperial Count possessed in the week’s featured preferred trot, which carried a purse of $25,000, on Saturday night.

Imperial Count, a five-year-old stallion from the barn of Nifty Norman, got away a bit slow in the race, which was just his second start of the season. Driver Tyler Buter set him in motion on the back stretch behind two other horses, but problems arose when the horse that was first in line on the outside went off-stride.

Buter had no other choice but to send Imperial Count out wide around the final turn to avoid the breaking horse, but still the gelding found enough momentum to track down pacesetting Photo King by a half-length for the win in 1:54:2. Like we said, combine effort with talent and it’s often too tough to stop.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Pembroke Heat Wave (George Napolitano Jr., Mark Ford), who shipped in from Harrah’s for a victory in a condition trot on Tuesday night in 1:55:4; Berkshire (Jim Morrill Jr., Antonella Galie), who scored his first win of the season on Tuesday over a rugged condition group in a career-best 1:55:3; and Maximum Credit (George Napolitano Jr., Paul Kennedy), who won his third straight race overall and his second in a row in the Bobby Weiss Series for 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings, scoring on Wednesday night in 1:58:1.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ONE LINE GUY

This first-time starter was facing a field of more experienced trotters in his debut on Tuesday night, but he scored with Andrew McCarthy at 18-1 for a $38 payoff on a $2 bet.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JIM MORRILL JR.

Morrill is off to a blistering start in the early part of the Pocono meet, and the highlight came on Wednesday night when he ripped off five consecutive wins on the card.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: MARK FORD

Ford is one of the early leaders in the trainers’ standings, and he had another solid week, including a training double on Tuesday night with wins in consecutive races on the program.

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

Imperial Count Rallies for Preferred Trot Win at Pocono

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

March 30, 2013

Imperial Count overcame a wide final turn to stage a furious rally and win Saturday night’s featured Preferred Trot at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The race carried a purse of $25,000.

Leaving from post position #6 in a field of seven as the 3-2 second betting choice, Imperial Count (Angus Hall-Miss Imperial) sat sixth in the early going as Photo King cut out the fractions. Driver Tyler Buter set him the 5-year-old stallion from the barn of trainer Nifty Norman in motion on the back stretch third over, but the first-over horse, The Evictor, went off-stride entering the final turn. Imperial Count, even after taking the turn wide to avoid the breaking horse, still had enough momentum to chase down Photo King and beat him by a half-length at the line in 1:54:2. Magic Tonight finished 3rd.

Imperial Count, owned by Neven Botica of Australia, won for the first time in two starts in 2013. It was his 14th career victory and gave him lifetime earnings of $584,973.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review March 23-28, 2013

Friday, March 29th, 2013

Opening week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs is officially in the books, and it was a great four nights of racing. Although Mother Nature hasn’t yet cooperated with better racing temperatures, at least there were fast tracks all week long. That allowed for some sizzling racing regardless of the weather. With that in mind, let’s not waste any more time. We’re handing out 2013’s first edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: SILENT SWING

We’ve got a bunch of official records detailing the fastest times in the history of Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs as separated by age and gender; they can be found in our racing program. We don’t keep official records on the best performances on Opening Night, but I’ve been watching the live races now for more than fifteen years, and I can guarantee that no one has ever been better on the first night of the season than Silent Swing was on Saturday night.

The 11-year-old gelding from the barn of Mark Ford had some help in his standout performance from Drumfire A, who gunned to the early lead and set blistering fractions. That allowed Slient Swing to stay tucked in the pocket and have energy left for the stretch drive.

At that point, driver George Napolitano Jr. gunned Silent Swing right past the defenseless Drumfire A and won going away in 1:49:4, an incredible time considering the frigid temperatures. I have a feeling that scorching mile is going to be a harbinger of the faast times to come in the upcoming season at Pocono.

Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: Jerseylicious (Corey Callahan, Wayne Givens), whose romping victory in the first leg of the Bobby Weiss Series for 3-year-old pacing fillies on Tuesday night followed four consecutive wins at Dover to start the season; Gallant Major (Mike Simons, Gail Wrubel), who followed up a win ay Yonkers on Saturday night with a victory over the $25,000 claimers in 1:54:2; and Betterthanlynx (George Napolitano Jr., Peter Pellegrino), who now has three straight wins after shipping in from Monticello and knocking off a field of claiming handicap pacers on Sunday night in 1:52:4.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: PHOTO KING

The featured condition trot of the week came on Saturday night and carried a purse of $21,000. There were some rugged trotters in that group, with all eight horses in the field having earned well over six figures in their careers.

Photo King, a six-year-old gelding from the Bill Mullin barn, got seasoning early this year facing tough trotters at The Meadowlands. He entered Saturday night’s race as the 5-2 second choice behind 3-2 favorite Spice it Up Lindy and had a tough #7 post position. Come race time though, he was up to all challenges.

The gelding, with Jim Morrill Jr. in the bike, fought hard through a contested stretch drive and came up with a gutsy victory in 1:55, matching the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono. Now with three wins in eight starts this season, Photo King seems poised for a huge campaign at MSPD.

Other top trotters this week include: Sand Wyndham (Joe Pavia Jr., Rene Allard), who followed up a win at Saratoga with a condition win on Sunday night in 1:55:2; Keepin The Chips (Matt Kakaley, Brooke Vermett), a gelding whose win at Pocono on Sunday night in 1:56 came on the heels of win at Chester in his last start; and As Ya’ll Like It (Tyler Buter, Chris Oakes), who opened up racing on Wednesday night with a powerful winning performance in a claiming handicap in a career-best 1:55.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SAND SUMMERFIELD

A pocket trip helped this pacer driven by Marcus Miller to the upset of an excellent condition pacing field on Saturday night at 24-1, paying out $50 for a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: TYLER BUTER

Not only did Tyler get off to a sizzling start to the 2013 meet at Pocono with a big first week, he also scored his milestone 2,000th lifetime driving win on Wednesday night aboard Zooming.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: AMBER BUTER

The first week was all about the Buters at Pocono. While Tyler has been a driving dynamo, Amber finds herself near the top of the trainers’ standings in the early going.

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.

Sophomore Trotters on Display in Weiss Series at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs

Friday, March 29th, 2013

March 27, 2013

Daggett, Jurgen Hanover, and Maximum Credit scored wins in the first leg of the Bobby Weiss Series for 3-year-old colts and geldings on the trot on Wednesday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The races each carried a purse of $15,000.

Daggett (Chocolatier-Elena Victory), with Marcus Miller in the bike for John Butenschoen, parlayed a pocket trip into a victory in the first split, scoring in 1:58:2. In the second division, Jurgen Hanover (Credit Winner-Yassi Hanover) romped to win in 1:56:1, the fastest of the times in the first leg of the series. David Miller did the driving for trainer Donna Marshall. The final split was captured by Maximum Credit (Credit Winner-Marjorie Hall), as George Napolitano Jr. drove him to a frontrunning win for trainer Paul Kennedy in 1:58:2.

Bobby Weiss Series Continues at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Jerseylicious Stays Unbeaten in Weiss at Pocono

March 26, 2013

Budding 3-year-old filly star Jerseylicious continued her unbeaten string to start the season by winning a division of the Bobby Weiss Series at Pocono. There were three divisions held on Tuesday night at Pocono for 3-year-old fillies, with each carrying a purse of $15,000.

With Corey Callahan in the bike for trainer Wayne Givens, Jerseylicious (Western Ideal-Jet Laag N) led every step of the way in her heat for a five-length win in 1:54:4. The filly had previously won four straight at Dover Downs to start her 2013 campaign.

The other two Weiss divisions were captured by Ideal Ginny (Western Ideal-Armbro Nectarine), who was driven by Marcus Miller for trainer Erv Miller, in 1:53:2, and O Narutac Rockette (Rocknroll Hanover-Cam For Life), driven by Corey Callahan for trainer Dylan Davis, in 1:53:1.