Grain Of Truth wins Open Handicap Trot at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs

 WILKES-BARRE, PA (September 28, 2010)—Grain Of Truth, who has been the most consistent of the open and open handicap trotters in 2010 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, won Tuesday night’s feature at the five-eighths mile oval.

Grain Of Truth, driven by Tom Jackson and trained by Ray Schnittker, left from the six post and took the six-horse field of open handicap trotters to the first split in 27, half in 56.4 and three-quarters in 1:25.2 before winning in 1:55.

The wire to wire victory was the eight this season for the nine-year-old Self Possessed gelding In 26 starts. Grain Of Truth also has recorded nine second-place finishes and six thirds in amassing more than $172,000 in earnings.

Jackson and Schnittker also combined in the opening race when three-year-old filly trotter Spectacular Bay won in 1:57.3.

Budweiser Clydesdales to perform October 8-9 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs


WILKES-BARRE, PA (September 25, 2010)—The world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales will be performing at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on Friday and Saturday, October 8 and 9.

On both of the above dates, the Budweiser Clydesdales will be on the racetrack prior to the start of the racing programs. Friday’s exhibition is set for 5:30 p.m. while it will be 4 p.m. on Saturday, Breeders Crown Day.

There’s a special Breeders Crown post of 5 p.m. on Saturday (October 9) while it’s 6:30 p.m. Friday (October 8).

No parade is complete without the Budweiser Clydesdales, pulling a red, white and gold beer wagon down a Main Street that has come to life with the cheers and applause of the onlookers.

It was in 1933, shortly after the repeal of Prohibition, when the Clydesdales became part of Anheuser-Busch. August A. Busch Jr. decided to present a hitch of the mighty horses to his father to commemorate the first bottle of post-Prohibition beer brewed in St. Louis.

Today’s Clydesdales are even bigger than their Scottish ancestors. To qualify for the world-famous, eight-horse hitch, a Budweiser Clydesdale must meet certain requirements. Size, color and disposition are the important considerations.

Standing at 18 hands high (about six feet) at the shoulder when fully mature, Budweiser Clydesdales weigh approximately 2,000 pounds. They must be

geldings, bay in color, have four white stockings and blaze of white on the face, as well as a black mane and tail.

A gentle temperament also is important, as hitch horses meet millions of people each year.

The appearance of the Budweiser Clydesdales in Northeastern Pennsylvania is made possible by Northeast Eagle Distributors Inc. of Pittston.

Johnny B Kemp sets New Track Mark at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in prepping for Breeders Crown

 WILKES-BARRE, PA (September 24, 2010)—Johnny B Kemp, a two-year-old Credit Winner colt trained and driven by Jimmy Takter, set a new track mark in winning a Breeders Crown prep race Friday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.

Time of the mile was 1:55.4, bettering the previous record of Here Comes Herbie (Ray Schnittker) July 10 of 2005. That mile went in 1:56.

“My horse was very good,” said Takter. “He never had been in a race with those kind of early fractions.”

The first-half of the mile was controlled by 17-1 longshot Glide To Victory (Tom Jackson) with the opening quarter clicked off in 27 and half in 56.1.

Johnny B Kemp was the new leader at the three-quarter mark that was registered in 1:25.2. The two-year-old colt trotter won by four lengths over Way Back When (Jim Morrill Jr.) with third-place going to Gimme A Good One (Phil Fluet).

All six horses in this field are Breeders Crown eligibles.

“I’m so happy the Breeders Crown is being held here since this racing surface is fantastic,” said Takter.

While Johnny B Kemp was breaking a track mark, Andover The Top, another Breeders Crown eligible, just missed a track record by a fifth of a second in winning the $10,000 trot for two-year-old filly trotters with a time of 1:56.3.

Andover The Top (Dave Palone) had to return to the paddock with broken equipment and refused the gate after returning, causing a recall.

But with the help of outrider Terry Scott, Andover the Top left from the one hole and sat second for the first quarter of the race with Fitness Girl (George Napolitano Jr.) taking the young filly trotters to the opening quarter in 28.1.

Palone got Andover The Top into high gear in the front stretch and became the new leader at the half that was timed in 58.1.

Three-quarters went in 1:27.2 with Andover The Top on top and finished three-quarters of a length over Pilgrims Truffles (Jim Meittinis). Third in this race was Sweet Love (Matt Kakaley).

“She (Andover The Top) got a world of ability,” said Palone in the winner’s circle. She just lost her composure in those other races when she broke stride.

“I’m pumped and can’t wait until we race in the Breeders Crown here. This is the fastest five-eighths mile track in the world.”

Ultimate Cameron (Morrill Jr.) won the $20,000 open trot for three-year-old filly Breeders Crown eligibles.

Morrill Jr. sat second with this three-year-old Yankee Glide filly before becoming the new leader at the half and winning in 1:55.1.

With earnings of more than $544,000 with the victory, Ultimate Cameron won for the fourth time in nine starts this season after leaving from the one post.

“I’m really happy with the way she raced,” said Bob Stewart, who trains Ultimate Cameron.

“I told Jimmy to race her as easily as he could in getting ready for the Breeders Crown. She performed very well.”

Stewart said his prized filly trotter was sick when she finished eighth in the American National at Balmoral in late August.

Ultimate Cameron was coming off a big 1:57.1 qualifying win over The Red Mile in Lexington, KY.

Cannae Cammie and Ticket To Rock win Open Handicap Fillies and Mares Paces at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs

 WILKES-BARRE, PA (September 22, 2010)—Cannae Cammie and Ticket To Rock, three-year-old pacing fillies, won the open 11 and open 1 handicap paces, respectively, Wednesday night over a sloppy racetrack at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.

Breeders Crown eligible Cannae Cammie, driven by Jim Morrill Jr., had to overcome an early break in the race. She broke stride shortly after the opening panel that was registered in 27.3 with Western Moonlight (George Napolitano Jr.) in the sulky.

But as quickly as she broke Cannae Cammie got into high gear and breezed by the remainder four fillies and mares in the race before the clubhouse turn, getting to the half in 56 seconds and three-quarters in 1:24.2.

The 2-5 favorite was winning for the sixth time in 2010 in 10 starts. Paul Reid trains Cannae Cammie, a Cam’s Card Shark filly.

Western Moonlight was second in this race while third-place went to Ruffle’s Kiss (Joe Pavia Jr.).

Ticket To Rock, trained by Jeffrey Webster and driven by Andrew McCarthy, came first over down the backstretch and won by two lengths over Slimsplace (Morrill Jr.), another Breeders Crown eligible three-year-old filly.

Time of this mile was 1:53 over the off track.

Omen Hanover, the “old lady” in the race at the age of six, took this six-horse field to the first quarter in 27.1, half in 57 and three-quarters in 1:25.2 before finishing third in the race.

Ticket To Rocket has now won eight races in 14 starts this season with a bankroll of almost $200,000.

“The West” Is at his Best With “Crown” Approaching

by Jay Bergman for the Breeders Crown

All records are made to be broken. There maybe no record more at risk than the one for olders pacers on a five-eighths mile track. Given the overwhelming talent pool heading into the October 9 $500,000 Breeders Crown Open event at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, it’s certainly conceivable it will take a world mark to win the race.

The likelihood for elimination races seems genuine with nearly half of the 40 eligibles currently racing at peak level. The presence of red-hot defending Crown champion Won The West would normally be enough to scare off the competition, but that shouldn’t be the case with so many sub-1:50 performers in this year’s class.

Despite a second place finish in Monday’s Quillen final at Harrington, Won The West appears the clear horse to beat when the big boys arrive at Pocono Downs. The six-year-old Pennsylvania-sired son of Western Hanover came from well off the pace to capture the $748,800 Canadian Pacing Derby at Mohawk a few weeks back. Trainer Ron Burke’s charge is well over the $3 million mark in lifetime earnings and appears to be at career peak. What makes Won The West so special in these ranks is his battle-tested approach to the races. Whether he needs to be near the lead or off the pace Won The West is always fighting until the end. Such was the case in the Quillen where he may have gone the best trip an aged-pacer has ever gone on a four turn oval. Parked every step of the way, Won The West actually took the lead into the stretch,  and proved a courageous second to Crown eligible and stablemate Foiled Again in a record-setting 1:50.1 mile. To think he paced in 1:50.2 given the added distance is mind-boggling.

Although he traditionally tends to race from off the pace, Won The West should be quite comfortable over Pocono’s five-eighths track. Owned by Strollin Stable, William Robinson and James Koehler, Won The West is the only older pacer in the field to  go over the $1 million mark in 2010.

It will be a homecoming of sorts when Shark Gesture returns to the Wilkes Barre-five-eighths oval. The seven-year-old by Cams Card Shark began his pari-mutuel career in an overnight in August 2005 with a third place finish at the Downs. Five years and some $2.8 million in earnings later for owners Norman and Gerald Smiley and the TLP Stables, Shark Gesture will be looking for his second Crown title. The Larry and Ray Remmen-trained stallion has nearly matched his incredible 29-start campaign of a year ago with just 11 starts to date this year. First or second in 10 of 11 starts in 2010, Shark Gesture’s only blemish was a uncharacteristic break in stride at headstretch of the Canadian Pacing Derby. The track at Mohawk that night was changing from race to race and it’s conceivable the war horse just didn’t handle one particular spot on the surface.

Driver George Brennan has been along for a great ride during Shark Gesture’s storied career. Though losing in the Crown a year ago, Shark Gesture did capture major victories in the William Haughton and Canadian Pacing Derby in 2009. This year he came back with an authoritative performance to win his second Haughton in 1:48.2.

Shark Gesture hasn’t raced very often over five-eighths mile tracks but he did capture an elimination to the Ben Franklin at Chester in 1:49.1 and then was parked from the start in the $500,000 final securing the lead in early stretch only to be outkicked late by a well-rated Vintage Master.

Shark Gesture has captured the Dan Patch (Hoosier Park), Bettors Delight (Tioga Downs) and Graduate final (Meadowlands) this year.

While Won The West and Shark Gesture have the age and experience, perhaps no performance this year was as impressive for quick speed than Hypnotic Blue Chip’s display in the U.S. Pacing championship on Hambletonian Day. With Jody Jamieson in the bike the son of Art Major literally cut a hole in the wind with a breathtaking speed move. Hypnotic Blue Chip quickly circled heavy favorite Shark Gesture at headstretch and paced home with a :25.4 final quarter finishing his mile in 1:47.2, the fastest mile of 2010.

It’s always a gamble when you pay $325,000 for a racehorse at a mixed sale. Fran Azur took that risk back in January at the Meadowlands sale and then put the four-year-old in the hands of trainer Kevin McDermott.  Early in the season there was certainly some question whether Hypnotic Blue Chip would be able to break into the top echelon. It wasn’t until the Battle of Lake Erie at Northfield Park that the stallion caught everyone’s attention. Facing a solid field that included Won The West, Hypnotic Blue Chip exhibited that extreme speed, blasting to the lead on the backstretch and drawing clear to win by five lengths in an astonishing 1:49.4 mile. A year earlier the colt exhibited much difficulty getting around a half-mile oval, let alone winning.

A post eight draw in the Franklin final gave the stone-closing horse little chance at Chester. Driver Jamieson conceded that he may not have given “Hypnotic” the best drive in a prep leading up to the U.S. Championship but he more than made up for it in the final.

Hypnotic Blue Chip has shown that he belongs with second place finishes in the year’s richest events (Haughton and Canadian Pacing Derby) and with $718,399 in earnings this year has rewarded both his owners and trainers judgment last January. The horse will enter the Crown off a disappointment in the Quillen, but again, post and racing luck took its toll.

Perhaps there is no pacer in the world who has benefited as much from racing over the half-mile oval as Foiled Again has over the last two seasons. Trainer Ron Burke’s charge has won back-to-back George Morton Levy finals at Yonkers and most recently took down the top prize in the $354,000 Bobby Quillen at Harrington in a 1:50.1 performance.

Owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver-Bruscemi LLC and JJK Stables LLC, the five-year-old has earned about $1.5 million since being purchased in mid-2008 for his current connections. With Foiled Again’s  quick early foot, regular pilot Yannick Gingras has been able to work out favorable trips in nearly every start the son of Dragon Again has had to date. Foiled Again has been unable to gain a major victory on the bigger ovals. That of course could change with some racing luck on October 9.

There are plenty of outsiders who could make noise in the Crown Pace. Bettor Sweet, fourth in last year’s Crown at the Meadowlands, finished a strong third in the Canadian Pacing Derby and has shown positive signs including a sub-1:50 mile performance last week at Chester. Blueridge Western, a stablemate of Hypnotic Blue Chip, finished fourth after cutting a solid pace in the Quillen. Lisagain finished fourth in the Canadian Pacing Derby then regained winning form last week at Chester. Andy Miller guided the Erv Miller-trained blueblood to a 1:49.1 effort.

Big Time Ball,  perhaps the best older pacer based at Mohawk and Woodbine could make the trip as well as the extremely fast Steve Elliott-trained Schoolkids. Big Time Ball was scratched from the 2008 Crown with sickness and is still looking for his Crown debut.

The standardbreds speed and courage will be displayed in a major way on October 9 when the Open Pacers go at it in the $500,000 Breeders Crown Open pace at Mohegan Sun Pocono.

That you can bet on.