Racing

Bobby Weiss Series action continued Tuesday

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Trotting males and pacing females were featured in first leg action of their divisions of the Bobby Weiss Series Tuesday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with two $15,000 sections for each group contested.

In the first trotting cut Two Hip Dip set the pace, then blasted home in 1:55.4 – 56.2 – 27.1 for driver David Miller and trainer/owner Nick Salenetri. The son of Glidemaster was the slight favorite in a race where two horses were sent off at 4-5 – his co-“odds-on” rival Bourbon Bay was outfooted late for second by Raise The Curtain.

The other diamondgaited division also went to driver David Miller, again on the engine, this time with Walk The Walk. Walk The Walk trotted the trot about five lengths better than anyone else in the field until the shadow of the wire, where he ran the run, but was not in violation of the breaking rules. The son of Muscle Hill, owned by trainer Chris Ryder in partnership with Sidney Korn, Robert Mondillo, and Max Wernick, posted a new personal speed badge of 1:55.1 despite the bobble, with back timings of 56.3 – 28.

Miller and Ryder again teamed in a division of the female Weiss action, using “pocket rocket” tactics into a 28 kicker with the Rocknroll Hanover filly Crescent City to get a nose up in a new mark of 1:54 for Diamond Creek Racing. This event also featured an unusual betting pattern, with three horses at less than 2-1 – the winner was 7-5, place horse Hollyrocker was 9-5, and first-over Caviart Shelly (fourth) was 3-2.

The other distaff division also saw a nose separate the top two, as a daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, Life Is A Beach, maintained an early brush to command to the wire over The Beach Nextdoor in a personal best 1:53.1, with twin 28.1s the last half. Matt Kakaley had sulky duty for trainer Ron Burke and the omnipresent Burke Racing / Weaver Bruscemi partnership.

David Miller and Kakaley had three wins on the card; doubles were recorded by George Napolitano Jr. and, on his birthday, Mike Simons, with the latter win for “The Trot Man” the appropriately-gaited Magnum Kosmos. As opposed to opening night this past Saturday, where the average win mutuel was over $21, 7 of 13 chalks clicked this evening.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Opens 2015 Season

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

March 21, 2015

Sky McFly dominated on the front end to defeat a group of $25,000 claimers and kick off the 2015 racing season on Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The race, the first of the night and the meet, carried a purse of $16,000.

Driven by Matt Kakaley for the Ron Burke barn, Sky McFly (Jereme’s Jet-N’vincible) took over around the first turn and never faced a serious challenge from that point. The 6-year-old gelding, a 2-5 favorite, scored in 1:52:1 by 2 ¼ lengths over Top Gear in second and To Beach His Own in third.

2015 promises to be a special one at Pocono, as it’s the 50th racing campaign for the venerable track in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The track opened in July of 1965.

In other opening night action at Pocono, three $15,000 divisions of the Bobby Weiss Series for three and four-year-old colts and geldings on the pace were held. The winners were: Shadow Margeaux (Shadow Play-Joyeux), a 37-1 long shot driven by Larry Stalbaum and trained by Steve Salerno, in 1:52:4; Mojito Hanover (Well Said-Mary Mattgalane), driven by Marcus Miller and trained by Jim Campbell, in 1:53:1; and Victory At Last (Quik Pulse Mindale-Bidforakiss), driven by Matt Kakaley and trained by Ron Burke, in 1:52:4. And in the night’s $22,000 featured condition pace, Blatantly Best (Cambest-Garish), driven by Jim Morrill Jr. and trained by Larry Remmen, came on late to win in 1:51:3.

Stables open Monday, March 2

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Mohegan Sun Pocono will officially open the stables on Monday, March 2, rather than the planned Sunday, March 1, due to the freezing temperatures and the water supply.

All horsemen are asked to please adjust your schedules to begin arriving on Monday after 8:00am.  The water will be tu

We thank you for your understanding, and look forward to a memorable 50th Anniversary season!

50th Anniversary Racing Schedule for 2015 announced

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

The 50th Anniversary Season of Pocono Downs kicks off Saturday, March 21st, and the season promises exciting stakes action; fun fan events; and an anniversary week celebrating the rich history of the track.

The Bobby Weiss Late Closing Series, named for the former Director of Track Maintenance, opens the meet, with the finals set for April 18-22.

Kentucky Derby Day, May 2th, traditionally a huge celebration of racing and partying, will also boast a double-header with two Pocono live race cards.  Post Time for the first will be at 11 a.m., and the second will be immediately following the 141st running of the Derby.  In between, there will be the Run for the Roses Hat Review; a luscious Champagne Brunch in Pacers Clubhouse; a souvenir photo booth; and Spa Sapphire’s makeup booth.

The $2 million Sun Stakes Saturday is set for July 4th, with the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Trot; the Ben Franklin Free For All Pace; Max Hempt Memorial; and the James Lynch Memorial contested on this prestigious night of racing.  Eliminations are set for June 27th.

Super Stakes Saturday returns to Pocono on anniversary night, August 22, with nearly $2.1 million in purses and the Colonial; the Battle of the Brandywine; and the Valley Forge, along with two consolations for each.  Other festivities are planned for the anniversary, to be announced soon.

Racing in the month of March will be Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday, with Sundays added April through June; Fridays jump in the mix in July, August, and September; and from mid-October through closing on November 21, racing nights will be Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. The schedule is at http://mohegansunpocono.com/racing/schedules.html.

A 50th Anniversary Souvenir Book will be on sale starting March 21st, featuring a look back at 50 years of racing; events; and photos from Pocono Downs.  The book is $3 and is available at the Program desk.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

2014 Season Review

Turkeys wearing camouflage. Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel 24 hours a day. My light cool sweatpants replaced by my warm heavy sweatpants.

All these signs, including the bitingly cold weather, make it clear the winter is just about upon us. And that means that another racing season at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs is just about to wrap up. Luckily for all those who follow Pocono racing, it has been a marvelous season, one that witnessed is share of superstar performances, incredible finishes, and shocking long shots. About the only constants from night to night were the uniformly competitive and exciting races.

In 2014, we were graced, as usual, by the presence of some of the finest drivers and trainers in the country. Some familiar faces to Pocono fans took home the highest honors for the season. On the training side, Rene Allard and Chris Oakes repeated as the leaders in training wins and training percentage, respectively. And George Napolitano Jr. continued his incredible run atop the leaderboard among the drivers, sweeping the titles for driving wins and percentage with plenty of room to spare in both categories.

Yet those three men were really only just a part of the story in terms of the driving and training community. Four other drivers (Simon Allard, Matt Kakaley, Andrew McCarthy, and Anthony Napolitano) besides George Nap managed 100 wins in the Pocono meet, while a dozen picked up at least fifty. On the training side, five men (Allard, Oakes, Ron Burke, Lou Pena, Gilberto Garcia-Herrera) churned out at least 50 victories. Balance was the name of the game with the trainers and drivers, as more and more of the top horsemen in North America made Pocono a regular part of their racing schedule.

Of course, what really makes Pocono racing such a special entity is the quality of the horses who come to race. Last week in this space we honored our horses of the year, but there were so many wonderful equine performers who made their way to MSPD that it was impossible to honor them all, even with over thirty sets of Weekly Award and honorable mentions given out by yours truly in 2014.

One easy way to check the impact of a particular season is to look at the track records page in the beginning of the program. You’ll notice that a big portion of the dates on that page indicate that those records were set here this year. In all, there were twelve records either set or matched at Pocono this season, with the vast majority of those going for world records on a 5/8-mile oval. And who can forget that in 2014, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs hosted the fastest pace ever on a 5/8-mile oval (a scorching 1:47 by Sweet Lou) and the fastest trot at any track size anywhere (an incredible 1:49 by Sebastian K.)

As I said above, there are really too many memorable moments to squeeze into this humble little retrospective. One of the neat things about harness racing is that every single night, it seems like something happens that you’ve never seen before. And you never know when that unpredictable bolt out of the blue will happen. It might happen in the feature race with the finest horses on the grounds, but it can also happen with maiden trotters. As the caliber of racing has continued its steady uphill climb at Pocono, these special moments seem to take place more and more often.

We’ve spent this time looking back, but before we call it a season, we should think about what’s to come in 2015. It will be an extremely special campaign at Pocono, as it marks the 50th season of racing at the track. In addition to the usual schedule of thrilling stakes races and competitive overnight races, 2015 is going to feel like one big celebration.

For the fans who have been with us for many of those 50 years, next season will probably feel pretty special, a milestone at the track. As someone who has worked at Pocono for 17 years, I feel really honored to be playing a small part of it. Even as we put another incredible season to bed, it’s hard to feel anything but anticipation for what’s to come.

As always, I’d like to thank everyone who checked out my articles this past year or tuned in to my race calls, and thanks to all of my wonderful co-workers in the racing department who do such amazing work night in and night out.

I hope everyone has a wonderful winter and Happy Holidays. We’ll see you at the track in 2015.

If you have any questions or concerns over the break, feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.