Racing

Shake It Cerry Wins in Pennsylvania All Stars at Pocono

Monday, July 7th, 2014

June 29, 2014

Shake It Cerry bounced back from her first loss of the 2014 season with a victory in a division of the Pennsylvania All Stars on Sunday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. There were three $33,800 divisions of the All Stars races held at Pocono for 3-year-old trotting fillies.

Shake It Cerry (Donato Hanover-Solveig), who was stymied by a world-record performance by Designed To Be in her last start, improved to four-for-five in 2014 with a well-rated victory in 1:54:1. Ron Pierce was aboard the 2013 Breeders Crown champ for trainer Jimmy Takter. Other division winners in the age group on Sunday night were Ocean Love Potion (Yankee Glide-Sole Mate), driven and trained by Ake Svanstedt, who scored her maiden win in 1:54:3; and Lifetime Pursuit (Cantab Hall-Queen Of Grace), driven by Yannick Gingras for trainer Jimmy Takter, who scored in 1:53:3.

There were also four $32,650 divisions of Pennsylvania All Stars Races held at Pocono on Sunday night for 2-year-old colts and geldings on the pace. Tomy Terror (Western Terror-Mib Hanover), a 10-1 shot trained by John Butenschoen and driven by Corey Callahan, posted the fastest winning time of the freshmen with a victory in 1:53:3. Other division winners: Dragon Eddy (Dragon Again-Jaska Hanover), driven by Mike Simons and trained by Butenschoen, in 1:54:3; Trading Up (Somebeachsomewhere-Rita J), driven by Scott Zeron and trained by Tony Alagna, in 1:53:4; and Yankee Bounty (Yankee Cruiser-Bootleg Yankee), driven by Callahan and trained by Kevin Lare, in 1:53:4.

Sun Stakes Saturday the fastest card ever!

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

The great card of racing this past Saturday at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, primarily populated by elimination races for this Saturday’s $2.2M Sun Stakes Saturday, flirted with the divisional world record table on more than one occasion without any new names being set down, but the card as a whole did produce one record – according to the USTA’s Trotting and Pacing Guide, it was the fastest card ever in harness history, with an average win time of 1:49.2 for the 16 races. 

T&P Guide history notes two occasions when a race card’s average win time was 1:49.3 – on Saturday, July 16, 2005 at The Meadowlands, a 13-race card (p. 297, 2013 T&P Guide), and 52 weeks ago to the day at the same track (Saturday, June 22, 2013), when the Sun Stakes Saturday elim card produced the same 1:49.3 average over 14 races (p. 288, 2014 T&P Guide).

 This past Saturday’s 1:49.2 average included two trotting miles – a 1:52.2 by Nuncio and a 1:52.4 by Father Patrick in the two Earl Beal Trot elims. In all, of the 16 races, 11 miles went 1:50 or better; 8 went 1:49 or better; and 3 went in 1:48 or better – and those three came consecutively: Domethatagain upsetting his Ben Franklin Pace elim in 1:48, McWicked taking the fastest of the Max C. Hempt Pace elims in the same time, and then Sweet Lou taking the other Franklin elim in 1:47.4. 

This Saturday’s Sun Stakes Saturday card will include the finals of the Franklin (FFAP), Hempt (3PC), and Beal (3TC), all worth $500,000, plus the $300,000 James Lynch Final (3PF), the $100,000 Sun Invitational trot (which, according to some reports, may actually help the 1:50 count, if you can believe that) and the $100,000 USTA Invitational pace, plus consolation races for the four major races as they fill, plus a strong undercard (this past Saturday’s non-elim races averaged 1:49.3 themselves).

Post time for Saturday’s Sun Stakes Saturday card at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs is set for 6:30 p.m.   If you can’t make it to the races, wager via www.ibetmohegan.com; or stop by any of the 3 OTW locations; East Stroudsburg; Lehigh Valley, or Carbondale.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

June 21-27, 2014

The Weekly Awards will be taking a two-week hiatus so we can focus on all the excitement of the upcoming Sun Stakes Saturday. This past Saturday Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs hosted the eliminations for four huge stakes races: The James M. Lynch Memorlal (3-year-old pacing fillies), The Max C. Hempt Memorial (3-year-old open pacers), The Earl Beal Jr. Memorial (3-year-old open trotters), and The Ben Franklin (Open pacers).

While some might scoff at the results of the eliminations as being inconclusive, the fact is that it’s really impossible for horses in fields this good to take it easy and expect to make it through to the finals. And any night when a significant percentage of the world’s best horses and horsemen are in attendance deserves our full attention, even if the really huge purses won’t be up on the line until June 28.

So here’s a look at some of the important events from the eliminations:

JAMES M. LYNCH MEMORIAL

This one looks like the most wide-open of the four stakes fields, as just one (Fancy Desire) of the three favorites in the eliminations won, and one (Act Now) didn’t even make the final. Uffizi Hanover, who probably had the best reputation of any of the sophomore fillies coming into the night, started slowly but fought hard to rally for second behind Cinamony just so she could make the final.

That all could mean that Fancy Desire is the one to watch for the final. Trained by Kevin Carr, this filly loves the Pocono surface, winning her last three times at the track. She scored the most decisive elimination victory, pacing away in 1:49 with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike.

MAX C. HEMPT MEMORIAL

The Ron Burke barn will be well-represented in the Hempt final. Two of the three elimination winners came courtesy of Burke: At  Press Time, an 8-1 shot who rallied from a significant deficit in the pocket to win in 1:48:2, and All Bets Off, who avenged his only loss of the season, which came at Pocono in May, by winning his split in 1:48:3. Matt Kakaley drove both winners.

Still, it was Casie Coleman’s trainee McWicked who stamped himself as the favorite. Despite an arduous journey to the lead in his split and scorching fractions, he still managed to pace away and hide late with David Miller driving for a win in 1:48.

EARL BEAL JR. MEMORIAL

I’ve never seen a star horse who seems to expound as little effort as Father Patrick. After winning his elimination without batting an eye in 1:52:4, his record now stands at four-for-four this year with 14 wins in 15 lifetime races. And still there is the nagging feeling that we haven’t seen his best yet, which is a scary thought for the rest of the division.

Maybe the one to beat him this year will be the only one who has ever beaten him. That’s Nuncio, who now is his stablemate in the Jimmy Takter barn. Nuncio stayed perfect by winning his elimination in 1:52:2, two-fifths faster than Father Patrick.

BEN FRANKLIN FREE-FOR-ALL

When he was last at Pocono at the start of May, Sweet Lou went off at 15-1 in an Invitational pace and finished third. Since then, he’s been unbeatable, winning four straight, including a command performance in his Franklin elimination in his return to MSPD. His winning time of 1:47:4 with Ron Pierce in the bike was the fastest of the night.

The other Franklin elimination was billed as the second ever showdown between Captaintreacherous, last year’s champion of everything as a 3-year-old, and Foiled Again, the veteran superstar and earner of over $6 million in his career. Nobody told Domethatagain, driven by Simon Allard for his brother trainer Rene Allard, about the plotline though, and he upset the apple cart with a pocket trip at 29-1.

As you can tell, there are ton of intriguing storylines for the finals. They’ll settle it on the track Saturday night, and it should be something special.

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.

  

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

June 14-20, 2014

We are in the thick of the most exciting time of the season at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Over the next few weekends we’ll be seeing some of the finest standardbreds in the world competing for some huge stakes. We’ve also been blessed with Sire Stakes and Stallion Series races just about every night of late. Through all of that, our overnight races continue to produce outstanding performances. It’s not easy to choose the very best out of such a wealth of talent, but that’s what we’ll try to do as we hand out the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: FATEFUL CHOICE

When a horse is a part of a barn as successful as that of trainer Chris Oakes and it isn’t winning with regularity, it can almost seem like an underachiever. In the case of 4-year-old gelding Fateful Choice, it may just have been a case early this year of running up against top competition while not quite on his best game. The result was just a single win in ten races to start the 2014 season.

A drop down in class on June 3 to the non-winners of $7,000 in the last five starts did the trick though, as Fateful Choice found his confidence and his stride in a big way, blowing the field away by 4 ¼ lengths in 1:49:2, a new career-best. Bouyed by the victory, he moved up to take on a tougher group of non-winners of $12,500 in the last five starts on Saturday night.

Driver Anthony Napolitano stayed aggressive with Fateful Choice, sending him to the front end, then rated him very well to the half. At that point, the gelding was a powerhouse and scorched the dirt on his way to his second sub-1:50 victory, this one coming in 1:49:4. All of a sudden, Fateful Choice has the look of so many other of his stablemates. In other words, he looks awful tough to beat.

Other top pacers this week include: Bushwacker (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Ryder), who moved to two-for-two on the season with another impressive condition win on Sunday night, this one coming in 1:51; Colossal Cruiser (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who took a huge step up in class Saturday night to the $20,000 claimers and still picked up his second straight victory, doing so in a career-best 1:50; and Bolt The Duer (Mark MacDonald, Peter Foley), who tuned up in anticipation of the Ben Franklin pace at Pocono by dominating a Preferred group on Saturday night in the week’s fastest time of 1:48:2.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: IL MAGO

This 5-year-old stallion from the Mark Harder barn has been exceptional since arriving at Pocono for a condition trot on June 4. That was just his second start following a layoff of two months, but there was no rust evident whatsoever as he took the lead on the front stretch and then gutted out a tough stretch drive to win by a neck in 1:53:3.

On Tuesday night, Il Mago was back at it against the non-winners of $12,500 in the last five starts once again, albeit this time in a slightly tougher post on the outer half of the field. Andrew McCarthy was still able to fire the stallion out of the gate and reach the front end before the quarter-pole. He was also able to slow the pace down with fractions almost identical to Il Mago’s previous win.

In the stretch, a couple horses drew to within striking distance, but McCarthy called on the afterburners and Il Mago responded. The result was a second straight victory with the same time of 1:53:3 from the previous week. That kind of consistent excellence is the stuff of long winning streaks, so watch out for this talented trotted in the weeks to come even if he moves up in class.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Not Afraid (Jim Morrill Jr., Jimmy Takter), who followed up a win at the Meadowlands with a Preferred win on Saturday night at Pocono in a new career mark of 1:51:4, which was also fastest trotting time of the week at MSPD; Bikini So Teeny (Charlie Norris trainer and driver, who won her second straight on Wednesday night, this one coming in Stallion Series company in a career-best 1:55; and Designed To Be (Brian Sears, Julie Miller), whose Sire Stakes win on Wednesday night matched a world record for 3-year-old trotting fillies on a 5/8-mile oval with a winning time of 1:51:3.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ROYAL ENGAGEMENT

Despite being laid off since a May 2nd victory in California, this mare with Andrew McCarthy in the bike rallied for a claiming pacing win on Sunday night at 23-1 for a $48.40 payout on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANTHHON NAPOLITANO

A-Nap looks poised for his best season ever at Pocono, especially after a week in which he had mutilple wins in three of the four racing nights.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JULIE MILLER

Miller had a wonderful night at the Sire Stakes on Wednesday, sweeping both divisions of the 3-year-old trotting fillies with her trainees Take The Money and Designed To Be.

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.

Designed To Be Matches World Record in Sire Stakes Win at Pocono

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

June 18, 2014

Designed To Be exorcised some demons in a big way by winning a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes race at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on Tuesday night, matching a world record in the process. The race was one of two $98,100 Sire Stakes divisions held at Pocono for three-year-old trotting fillies.

The last time she was at Pocono, Designed To Be (Donato Hanover-Sheer Soul), trained by Julie Miller, broke stride as the heavy favorite in a Breeders Crown elimination race in October. This time around, in just her second start of the year following a Sire Stakes win at Chester in early May, the filly, an 8-5 second choice, had to face off with defending division champ Shake It Cerry. Driver Brian Sears made the lead with Designed To Be on the front stretch and rebuffed the challenge of Shake It Cerry on the final turn. In the stretch, she trotted away from closing Lifetime Pursuit to win by 2 ¾ lengths with Shake It Cerry fading to 3rd. The winning time of 1:51:3 matched the world record for three-year-old trotting fillies on a 5/8-mile track, previously set by Check Me Out at Pocono in 2012.

Trainer Julie Miller was able to claim a sweep of Sire Stakes action on the night, as her filly Take The Money (Donato Hanover-Repititions) took advantage of some racing luck to win her division in 1:52:4. In that split, Cooler Schooner was the heavy favorite and was in command heading into the final turn, but she spun way out wide and lost too much ground to hit the board. Take The Money, the 7-5 second choice with Dave Palone in the bike, inherited the lead from the pocket and toughed it out in the stretch to win by a length over Cantabs Fortune in 1:52:4. Tweet Me picked up the show.