Racing

Stevensville Stars in Stallion Series at Pocono

Friday, May 30th, 2014

May 14, 2014

Stevensville posted the fastest winning time among five divisions of the Stallion Series on Wednesday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The races were for three-year-old colts and geldings on the pace, and each carried a purse of $20,000.

Driven by Tim Tetrick and trained by Ray Schnittker, Stevensville (Somebeachsomewhere-Wild West Show) won his division in 1:50:2. That’s the fastest time posted by a 3-year-old colt on a 5/8-mile oval so far in 2014.

Other Stallion Series winners were: Superficial (Art Official-Lovin A Fool), driven by Ron Pierce and trained by Mike Dowdall, in 1:51:4; War Front (Somebeachsomewhere-Vesta Blue Chip), driven by Ron Pierce and trained by Chris Oakes, in 1:51:3; Heart Felt (Well Said-Btwnyurheartnmine), driven by David Miller and trained by Jim Arledge Jr., in 1:51:3; and Workandplayhard (Western Terror-Slice Of Life), driven by Mike Simons and trained by John Butenschoen, in 1:51:1.

Classic Martine Sets World Record at Pocono

Friday, May 30th, 2014

May 10, 2014

Classic Martine trotted faster than any distaff trotter on a 5/8-mile oval in harness racing history on Saturday night when she rolled to victory in a $25,000 Preferred trot at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.

Classic Martine (Classic Photo-Drinking Days), a 4-year-old mare from the Chris Oakes barn making just her second start of the season after a stellar 2013, left from post position #5 in a field of seven as the 3-5 favorite. The mare sat second early behind Fearless Man before jumping to the lead on the front stretch. She took pressure from Coraggioso first-over for most of the second half of the mile, but, with Simon Allard in the bike, held him off by three-quarters of a length for the victory. Fearless Man finished third.

The winning time of 1:51:2 not only broke the world record of 1:51:4 for her age group, which was set by Maven in a Breeders Crown elimination at Pocono in October, it also broke the all-ages distaff trotting record on a 5/8-mile oval of 1:51:3, shared my Check Me Out and Cooler Schooner.

Classic Martine, owned by Susan Oakes, Conrad Zurich, Earl Gold, and Hauser Brothers Racing Enterprises, is now two-for-two in 2014. It was her 14th career win in just 29 starts, and she pushed her lifetime earnings to $566,224.

In other action on Saturday night at Pocono, Emeritus Maximus (Rocknoll Hanover-Eternity’s Delight) rallied late from far back for a victory in the $25,000 Preferred pace. Driven by Andrew McCarthy for trainer Tom Cancelliere, the 4-year-old gelding got away at 8-1 but corralled even-money favorite All Star Legend in the stretch to win by a neck in 1:49:3a. Eighteen finished third.

 

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Friday, May 30th, 2014

May 3-9, 2014   

On Kentucky Derby day at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, we held our annual doubleheader, bookending thoroughbred’s most famous race with a pair of harness racing cards for the overflow crowd. That means we had even more racing action than usual at Pocono this past week. And that, in turn, means that it was even tougher than usual choosing from among the best performances. Yet that’s what we’ve attempted to do with this edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: DANCIN YANKEE

The feature event on Saturday night and of the entire week at Pocono was The Van Rose Memorial, a $50,000 invitational pace held in honor of the longtime area sportswriter and great friend to the sport of harness racing in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Van certainly would have loved Saturday night’s race, considering the stellar field it contained and the outstanding performance of Dancin Yankee.

Dancin Yankee, a 6-year-old stallion from the Josh Green barn, was fresh off the rugged Levy series at Yonkers, where he finished 5th in the $567,000 final. As the 3-1 second choice in the Rose, he stayed back from a blistering early pace which produced fractions that were unsustainable even for the caliber of pacers in the race. On the back stretch, driver Brett Miller sensed his chance and sent Dancin Yankee first-over to easily take the lead.

From there, he kept extending his advantage until it was just about insurmountable at the top of the stretch. Even with closers like the race favorite Dovuto Hanover attempting to rally, Dancin Yankee stayed strong and came home in front by 3 ¼ lengths, an eye-opening margin considering the quality of the field. Even more impressive was his winning time of 1:49, a new career mark despite the fact that the track had been downgraded to good condition due to rainy weather.

Other top pacers this week include: Codey Shark (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), whose condition victory on Saturday afternoon in 1:52:3 was his third straight; Sky Desperado (Anthony Napolitano, Steve Salerno), who switched barns but still managed his second straight $25,000 claiming win on Saturday night and matched his career-best time of 1:51:1 in the process; and Dealmaker (Ron Pierce, Joseph Poliseno), who picked up his second straight $15,000 claiming win on Wednesday night and did it in a new career-best of 1:50:4.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: HARBOR POINT

There wasn’t an Open or Preferred trot on the schedule this past week at Pocono. Instead, the highest trotting purse of the week was the $21,000 up for grabs in a condition trot on Saturday night pitting non-winners of $27,500 in their last four starts against each other. As a result, the top trotters on the grounds jammed into this field, many either dropping down in class or shipping in from other tracks for the race.

Yet the horse who was made the 3-5 favorite was one who was actually moving up in class. Harbor Point had faced a lower condition field in his previous start but scored in such convincing fashion in a sizzling 1:53:2 that it was impossible for the bettors to ignore him, even in such heady company. Driver Ron Pierce raced him like the best in the field, gunning him to the front end early.

Pierce did an excellent job rating the speed on the front end, so that Harbor Point was plenty strong enough to hold off any late challengers. Even with the move up in class, the 5-year-old gelding from the Mark Ford barn picked up his second consecutive win in 1:54 on a good track. This trotter is on a roll and seems ready to take on all comers as long as this hot streak persists.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Frenchmen (Simon Allard, Pierre Paradis), who picked up his second straight front-trotting win on Sunday night over the $7,500 claimers, this one coming in a new career mark of 1:56:4; Skyline Road (Jim Morrill Jr., William Mullin), who took a big step up the condition ladder on Wednesday night but still scored his second straight win, this one coming in a career-best 1:53:3; and Affirmed Action (Mike Simons, John Grasso), who went gate-to-wire to win Wednesday night’s featured condition trot in 1:53:4.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: HUMILITY

This pacer had been up the track in his previous two $25,000 claimers, but he reversed that trend on Saturday night with Marcus Miller in the bike at 36-1 for a $74.60 win payout on a $2 ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

George is a candidate to win this award every single week at Pocono. This week he picked up multiple wins in four out of the five racing cards that were held.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: RON BURKE

Burke, as always, is in the hunt to be the top trainer in the Pocono standings, and he helped his cause on Saturday night by scoring three training 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.

Dancin Yankee Dominant in Van Rose Memorial at Pocono

Friday, May 30th, 2014

May 3, 2014       

Dancin Yankee built up a huge lead and coasted home to victory in the $50,000 Van Rose Memorial pace on Saturday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The race is held each year in honor of Van Rose, a longtime Northeastern Pennsylvania sportswriter and chronicler of the Pocono racing wars.

Dancin Yankee (Yankee Cruiser-Dancewiththebest), last seen finishing 5th in the Levy final at Yonkers, left from post position #2 in a field of eight as the 3-1 second choice. The 6-year-old stallion from the Josh Green barn sat 3rd early as a speed duel raged between Golden Receiver and Abelard Hanover on a track listed in good condition after on-and-off rain throughout the evening.

Driver Brett Miller sent Dancin Yankee first over into the clubhouse turn and wrested the lead away heading into the back stretch. The stallion then extended the lead to an insurmountable margin. The home stretch was a foregone conclusion, with Dancin Yankee gliding home to the win in a career-best 1:49, 3 ¼ lengths in front of Bandolito. Sweet Lou rallied for third while Dovuto Hanover, the 9-5 favorite, finished fourth.

Dancin Yankee won for the seventh time in 13 2014 starts. Owned by Baron Racing Stable and Rich Lombardo, he now has 31 lifetime wins and career earnings of $766,422.

Stars ready for Sire Stakes on Saturday

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Harness racing’s “glamour division,” the three-year-old pacing colts, will open the 2014 Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Pennsylvania Sire Stakes season this Saturday night, with four divisions of sophomores contesting the $266,252 event. 

Captaintreacherous, 2013’s Pacer of the Year, opened his 3YO campaign in this same event 52 weeks ago with a victory, and many of this year’s stars in the sophomore colt pacing crop will be seeing early-season action this Saturday at the lightning-fast mountain oval.

 The first division opens the evening’s 15-race card, with Sometimes Said accorded 5-2 early favoritism starting from post two for Hall of Fame driver John Campbell (who must think a lot of the colt trained by his brother Jim, since this is his only Pocono drive of the night; he’ll head right to The Meadowlands afterwards for other stakes competition). Sometimes Said was first or second in 8 of 10 freshman starts, including seconds in his PA Sires Championship and the Breeders Crown, and he started his 2014 campaign in very photogenic style with a 1:51 / 53.2 / 26.2 front-end triumph at Pocono last week. 

Also highly-regarded in the first cut are Tellitlikeitis (3-1, post four, driver Brett Miller), debuting in 2014 for the all-conquering Jimmy Takter barn after a devastating 1:50.1 qualifier in which he paced his own last quarter in 25.2, and Limelight Beach (7-2, post six, David Miller), a double winner in Grand Circuit action at Lexington last year. 

Race 4 will gather the PA colts for the second time, with the early 5-2 chalk being Maxi Bon (post four, driver Dave Palone). Maxi Bon is a late-developing colt, but he showed his promise by winning his seasonal debut in 1:49.4 despite being parked to the half. Cammikey (3-1, post one, Brain Zendt) seems the major danger here after opening his 2014 campaign with five victories, including a 1:51.1 / 26.4 triumph at The Meadows last start. 

Race 6’s third cut finds the early pick to be Somestarsomewhere, at 5-2 from post six for the top team of trainer Ron Burke and driver Matt Kakaley. Somestarsomewhere set a world record of 1:49.4f for 2PC in his Breeders Crown elim last year, then was third in the Crown Championship. This will be his seasonal debut off of three qualifiers. Rated next 3-1 is Somewhere in L A (post four, driver Mark MacDonald, fresh off a win in the Diplomat Series Championship at Woodbine. 

Race 8 rounds out the Sire Stakes action, with McWicked the 5-2 choice off a McWicked 2014 debut at Pocono last Sunday, overcoming post nine and an overland trip to tally in 1:51. Simon Allard will have the sulky duty from post six. Allstar Partner is rated next at 3-1 for driver George Napolitano Jr., but last year’s PA Sire Stakes champ for this division will have to overcome the outside post eight.

 Also on the Pocono card is a super $25,000 Preferred handicap pace, featuring the likes of Dancin Yankee, winner of the Van Rose Memorial here in 1:49 on a good track on Kentucky Derby Day; Emeritus Maximus, gritty as he can be taking last week’s feature here; and Clear Vision, winner of the Levy Consolation. 

Post time for the 15-race card at Pocono on Saturday is slotted for 6:30, though that may be delayed a few minutes dependent on a thoroughbred race in Baltimore immediately previously.