Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

April 5-11, 2014

Although the weather wasn’t always balmy in the past week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, at least it was dry on live racing nights. That led to our first week of exclusively fast tracks, and, as you might imagine, the action had a little extra spice because of it. There were a lot of thrilling races and some extraordinary performances, the best of which we’ll now honor by handing out the Weekly Awards.


Saturday night marked the first time this season that we’ve had a Preferred race on the pacing side, and the $25,000 purse brought out an excellent field of six. Among those, Sparky Mark and Blatantly Good had already established themselves at Pocono with three condition wins between them in the meet, and, with inside posts, figured to be strong contenders. Add in Dovuto Hanover, who came in with wins in two of his last three against tough company at The Meadowlands, and it figured to be quite the battle.

It’s always nice when a race lives up to the expectations. Sparky Mark went out and set the pace, but faced a stiff first-over test from Blatantly Good on the back stretch. Dovuto Hanover, the 4-5 favorite from the Darran Cassar barn, followed the cover of Blatantly Good on the outside before kicking out three-wide on the final turn.

That meant all three horses were in prime spots at the top of the stretch, setting up a thrilling battle. For a moment, it appeared that Sparky Mark would cling to his lead all the way home, as Dovuto Hanover’s momentum seemed to be stilled. Yet driver Tyler Buter coaxed a sudden burst of energy from the favorite, and the 4-year-old gelding came up in the nick of time by a nose in 1:50:4. Great horse, great finish, and a great representation of how the Preferred pacers will compete at Pocono in the upcoming season.

Other top pacers this week include: Drive All Night (Anthony Napolitano, Rene Allard), the veteran pacer who scored his second straight $15,000 claiming victory on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:51:3; Donna Party (Brett Miller-Kent Sherman), a mare who scored her third straight win in a tight claiming handicap battle on Wednesday in 1:53; and Cypress Hill Suds (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), who picked up a win against the $10,000 claiming mares on Wednesday, her second straight victory, in a career-best 1:52:3.


There hasn’t been a trotter on the Pocono grounds anywhere near as dominant so far in the meet as this seven-year-old gelding. Arriving from Freehold on March 25, he immediately scorched a claiming group by seven lengths in 1:53:3. He followed that up by moving up in class the following week to handle the $20,000-$25,000 claiming handicap group, again by a comfortable margin, in 1:54.

By that time the secret was out, and First Aqua was claimed from that race. He went from one hot trainer (Gilberto Garcia-Herrera) to another (Rene Allard) in the exchange, but he kept George Napolitano Jr. as his driver to face off with that same top claiming group on Wednesday night as a heavy 1-5 favorite.

First Aqua made the same swooping move to take over the lead on the front stretch as he did in his previous two wins. This time out he got a decent challenge from pocket horse Maravich, but he was more than up to that challenge, holding him off to win by a length-and-a-quarter. And although the margin of victory was the smallest of his winning streak, the time of 1:53:2 set a new career mark for First Aqua. That proves he’s still getting better, which is a scary thought for his future competition to entertain.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Smokin Dabra (Brett Miller, Brewer Adams), who rolled on the front end on Tuesday night to his second straight $10,000 claiming victory, this one in 1:54:4; P L Fantastic (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who took a huge step up in class and won his second straight condition trot at Pocono and his third straight overall, posting a winning time of 1:53:1; and My Leap Of Faith (Simon Allard, Brian Seidel), who rallied late for a condition win on Wednesday night in 1:54:4.


Driver Andrew McCarthy has a way with the long shots, and he showed it by rallying this claiming pacer to an improbable victory Saturday night at 35-1 for a $73.60 win payout on a $2 ticket.


Young drivers sometimes struggle to find a place at Pocono, but Miller showed this week that he belongs, scoring driving doubles on Sunday and Tuesday.


He’s been a consistent force for several seasons at Pocono, and Adams scored big this week with five training wins, including doubles on Sunday and Tuesday.

That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at

Abelard Hanover Wins Thrilling Feature at Pocono

Monday, April 14th, 2014

April 12, 2014

Abelard Hanover made a second move late to rally for a thrilling victory in Saturday night’s featured Preferred pace at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The race carried a purse of $25,000.

Leaving from post position #6 in a field of eight at 7-1, Abelard Hanover (Rocknroll Hanover-Allamerican Coed), a 6-year-old gelding trained by Donald Billings, gunned to the early lead and set a screaming pace of :25:3 to the quarter-mile marker. Eighteen then pulled the pocket to take the lead back, giving Abelard Hanover cover and a much-needed breather. That pair stayed in those positions in the stretch, when driver Jonathan Roberts coaxed another move from Abelard Hanover in the passing lane to win by a neck over Eighteen in 1:48:4, fastest time of the Pocono 2014 meet so far. Mustang Art finished third.

In other action Saturday night at Pocono, A Stitch In Time and UF Rockin Dragon each won $15,000 divisions of the Bobby Weiss series for three and four-year-old colts, stallions, and geldings on the pace. A Stitch In Time, driven by George Napolitano Jr. and trained by Lou Pena, won his split in a career-best 1:49:4, while UF Rockin Dragon, driven by Mark MacDonald for trainer Mark Ford, picked up his win in 1:51:4.

Heavy Favorites Come Up Empty in Weiss at Pocono

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

April 8, 2014

Miller’s Bird, A And G’s Design, and Prima Dragon all knocked off heavy favorites to win divisions of the Bobby Weiss series on Tuesday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. There were three divisions of the Weiss held for three and four-year-old fillies and mares on the pace, each carrying a purse of $15,000.

Miller’s Bird (McArdle-Bunting), with David Miller in the bike for trainer Alexander Rice Jr., pounced from the pocket to beat odds-on favorite R Journey Together in 1:55:3. A And G’s Design (Allamerican Native-Colorado Creek), driven by Simon Allard and trained by Rene Allard, also utilized a pocket trip to dump 1-5 shot Stucklikeglue in 1:54:4. In the final Weiss split, Prima Dragon (Dragon Again-Zacharysprimadonna), with Brett Miller doing the driving for trainer Mike Dowdall, grinded first-over to upend favored Envious Hanover in 1:52:1.

Sixteen Mikes and Ray Hall Sweep Prelims of Weiss at Pocono

Monday, April 7th, 2014

April 6, 2014

Sixteen Mikes and Ray Hall completed sweeps of the preliminary legs of the Bobby Weiss series to highlight action on Sunday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. There were three divisions held of the third leg of the Weiss Series for three and four-year-old colts, stallions, and geldings on the trot, each of which carried a purse of $15,000.

Sixteen Mikes (American Mike-Sweetsixteenkarets), driven by Mike Simons and trained by Gail Wrubel, pounced from the pocket in his split to move to three-for-three in the series with a win in a career-best 1:55:1. Ray Hall (Justice Hall-Comebyrail), with Tim Tetrick in the bike for trainer Mark Harder, completed his sweep with a big move on the last turn to set his career mark of 1:54.

In the final division, Mustodian (Muscles Yankee-Madison County), driven by Matt Kakaley and trained by Kent Sherman, rallied in the final strides to score in a career-best 1:55:3.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Friday, April 4th, 2014

March 29-April 4, 2014  

We saw a little bit of everything this past week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. There was persistent rain on Saturday night, a wintry mix that made a real mess on Sunday night, and then, finally, some springlike weather on Tuesday and Wednesday. The one constant was excellent racing the entire week through, which we’re about to highlight with our Weekly Awards.


Saturday night marked the beginning of our second week of racing, which meant that horses that won their first time out in the meet would get a chance to establish themselves as more than just one-week wonders. One of those horses was Blatantly Good, a 10-year-old stallion from the barn of trainer PJ Fraley, whose first start of the ’14 campaign at Pocono resulted in a sizzling condition victory in 1:49:4.

Coming off that, he moved up a notch in the condition wars on Saturday night to face off with a group of non-winners of $20,000 in the last five starts. As if the tough foes he was facing in the race weren’t enough of a collective obstacle, he also had to deal with seriously sloppy racing conditions that made it a tough night for favorites on the whole.

Several horses battled for the early lead, leaving Blatantly Good far back in the back. But driver Brett Miller never panicked and brought him to the outside to begin picking off horses on the back stretch. With one sweeping move around the final turn, the standout stallion blew by his competition on his way to a win going away. The winning time of 1:53:4 was obviously affected by the track condition, but it was nonetheless another impressive victory for this stellar veteran.

Other top pacers this week include: Donna Party (Brett Miller, Kent Sherman), who stepped up to a tougher group of claiming handicap mares on Wednesday night and still won her second straight, this one coming in 1:52:3; So Take That (Tyler Buter, William Adamczyk), who moved to two-for-two on the meet with a first-over grind to victory in 1:52:2 on Saturday night against our highest claiming group; and Leaveumlady (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), a mare who won her second straight condition on Wednesday, stepping up in class for the victory in a career-best 1:51:1.


This 5-year-old mare from the barn of trainer William Bercury had an incredible hot streak earlier this season at The Meadows. In February and March, she rolled to four consecutive victories. Those races were all against her own gender, however, which might have led to some skepticism about her chances when she faced the toughest male trotters at Pocono.

On March 22 at MSPD, she took on Modern Family, one of the top older trotters in the country, and battled him all the way before coming up just short in 3rd. Without that star in Saturday night’s $25,000 Preferred Handicap field at Pocono, the fans were on board Daylon Miracle, making her the even-money favorite. It was just a matter of going out and delivering.

It wasn’t easy, as the mare had to grind it out first-over to get by Tober, the race pacesetter. In the stretch, Coraggioso, who had been placed perfectly in the pocket, closed to try to steal the win. But Daylon Miracle answered the challenge, digging in for the victory by three-quarters of a length. The winning time of 1:56:1, skewed by the sloppy track, doesn’t reflect the outstanding effort of this distinguished distaffer.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Extracurricular (Simon Allard, Marty Fine), who delivered a thrilling condition win on Wednesday night, his second straight, and matched a career-best of 1:54:3 in the process; First Aqua (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who moved up in class to beat the top claiming handicap group on the grounds in 1:54, giving him two straight impressive wins to start the meet; and Wind Of The North (Mike Simons, Clifton Green), who moved to two-for-two on the meet with a condition in on Wednesday night in 1:54:2.


In a $20,000 claimer on Saturday night, this gelding, with Tyler Buter in the bike, came swooping through the slop in the stretch for a win at 30-1, paying off $62.80 on a $2 win ticket.


Miller is making Pocono his permanent home so far in the meet, and it’s paying off. On Saturday night, he had his best night yet by reeling off four victories.


Adamczyk sent out just two horses on Saturday night, but they were both winners, one of whom was out long shot of the week, Cee Pee Panic.

That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at