Posts Tagged ‘Allan Johnson’

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week In Review

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

October 24-30, 2014

The adage says that speed kills, and nowhere is that more accurate than in the sport of harness racing. Sometimes it pays to be patient and wait for an opportunity to rally in a race, but the most surefire way for a horse to take all the variables out of the equation is to head straight for the front end of the field and go as hard as it can, trusting in its ability to get home above all else. Our top two award winners displayed some serious top-end speed this week. Let’s take a look at their exploits and hand out the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: SPEED AGAIN

It’s always fun to watch a horse improve within the course of a season. When last we saw Speed Again, the 5-year-old gelding from the Ron Burke barn put together an outstanding performance on August 9, scorching a mid-priced condition field in a career-best 1:48:2. Propelled by that big mile, he moved up to face tougher competition in his stint at Harrah’s at Philadelphia.

First he performed well in a trio of races against the winners of over $25,000 grouping at Harrah’s, hitting the board twice and winning once. In his final start there, he stepped up to an Open Handicap group and rolled on the front end to win by two lengths in 1:50:4. His return to Pocono on Saturday would also come in the Open group, against a field that included P H Supercam, a powerhouse who had captured three straight Open Handicaps at Yonkers.

None of that mattered to Speed Again and driver Anthony Napolitano when they powered to the front end right from the first few steps of the race. P H Supercam lurked behind him in the pocket for the whole mile, but Speed Again had an answer for him in the front stretch, holding him off to score by a neck in 1:49. Considering he’s already beating Open fields with consistency, any more improvement by Speed Again would almost be unfair.

Other top pacers include: Lark Seelster (Anthony Napolitano, Luis Collazo), a mare who moved up in class on Tuesday night and scored her second consecutive condition win, this one coming in 1:52:1; McBoogie (George Napolitano Jr., Dean Eckley), who moved up in class and switched barns but still tore up a $15,000 claiming group on Saturday night in 1:52:1 for his third straight win; and I’m Blue Too (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who rallied for a victory in a career-best 1:51:4 in Wednesday night’s Grey Ghost & Poltergeist Pace, Pocono’s annual Halloween-themed race featuring only grey and roan pacers.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: HEZATRAIN

This 5-year-old gelding from the barn of trainer Allan Johnson hit a bit of a bumpy stretch in his season in September and October. After winning five out of seven races to start his campaign, he suffered a streak of four straight races both at Pocono and Saratoga without even hitting the board. He returned to MSPD on October 21 and found his stride against our lowest condition group, rolling to a romping win in a new career-best time of 1:53:3.

Feeling confident once again following that win, Hezatrain moved back up on Tuesday into a condition for non-winners of $8,000 in the last five starts. Once again driver George Napolitano Jr. was determined to hustle the gelding to the front end, but on his effort to get there he encountered some traffic on the first turn and was forced to make an early three-wide move. Even though Hezatrain reached the lead before the front stretch ended, such a tough journey to get there threatened to make him vulnerable.

Those concerns were doused as the race progressed. Hezatrain easily fended off any pressure, lengthening the lead until he was comfortably out in front of the rest. He was able to gear down in the final strides and still beat the rest of the field by a solid four lengths with a winning time of 1:54:3. That’s two straight romps for Hezatrain, a trotter who’s back to his winning ways as the season winds to a close.

Honorable mention on the trotting side includes: Rossini (Howard Parker, Jim Raymer), who dominated a condition field on Saturday night in 1:52:2, a new career-best which matched the fastest of the week at MSPD; Proud Moment (Ron Pierce, Rene Allard), who went a career-best mile of 1:52:2, tied for the fastest trot of the week, to win Tuesday night’s featured claiming handicap trot; and Four Starz Speed (Ron Pierce, Rene Allard), who made it two in a row and three of his last four with a claiming handicap victory on Wednesday night in 1:55.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: LINDY’S FIREWORKS

On a wild Tuesday night full of upsets, this trotting filly topped them all, winning a condition easily with Anthony Napolitano in the bike at 85-1, paying off $172.40 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY NAPOLITANO

Anthony’s finest year at Pocono continued with a –win week, including victories on Saturday with 24-1 shot Salevster Stallion and on Tuesday with 85-1 bomber Lindy’s Fireworks.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: MIKE WATSON

Watson has been threatening to crack the Top 10 of the Pocono training standings all year long, and his pair of victories on Saturday night will certainly help his cause.

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

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

October 17-23, 2014

It’s hard to believe that we are entering the final month of the 2014 racing season at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. In just a few weeks, we’ll be handing out yearend awards and trying to sum up what has been another wonderful racing meet. But the action hasn’t abated yet, as evidenced by another thrilling week of racing. Let’s take a look at the top performances by handing out the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: TALK STRATEGY

This 4-year-old stallion had been quite a surprise in his previous two starts, winning in come-from-behind fashion at long odds both times. He scored at 9-1 two starts ago and then rallied from last to first to win last week at 11-1. Since he had been racing in a non-winners of five condition with an optional claiming price in those races, he was scooped up for the claiming price after the last start and joined the barn of Chris Oakes.

On Tuesday night, Talk Strategy lined up to attempt a third straight victory against the same class, but he was the second choice behind speedy Southwind Terror. Sure enough, Southwind Terror streaked to the front end and tried to bottom out the field by pacing unconscious fractions. Only he didn’t count on Talk Strategy staying close enough behind him to apply pressure.

As they rounded the final turn, the fractions caught up with Southwind Terror and he went off stride into the infield. Since those top two had separated from the rest, Talk Strategy, with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike, suddenly found himself with a huge lead. He coasted from there to the win, his third straight, with this one coming in a new career-best 1:50:2.

Other top pacers this week include: Regil Elektra (Joe Pavia Jr., Monte Gelrod), who rallied as an 18-1 long shot for a victory in Friday night’s $35,000 Open Handicap for mares, scoring in a career-best 1:50:3; Dedi’s Dragon (Andrew McCarthy, Ron Burke), whose condition victory on Saturday night came in 1:49:4, a career-best and the fastest time of the week at Pocono; and Trevor Win For Us (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), who romped to his second consecutive claiming handicap win on Saturday night in 1:51.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: OVERANDOVERVICTORY

A five-year-old gelding from the barn of trainer Douglas Hamilton, Overandovervictory has been a solid performer in the middle of the condition ranks this season at Pocono. As the campaign nears its close, he seems to just be getting warmed up. On October 11, he put together one of his finest performances of the year with a front-end win in 1:54:3.

On Saturday night, he had a few things working against him in his quest for a second consecutive victory. First, he was moving up to a higher class, the non-winners of $14,000 in the last five starts, after a few months in against a bit lower. Second, he was stuck in the brutal #9 post position, never an easy task against any foes. Hence the long odds on the gelding of 21-1.

Driver Anthony Napolitano was able to coax some early speed out of him, reaching the lead quickly and then sitting in a great spot in the pocket for much of the mile. The only question was whether or not Overandovervictory would have a second move in him. He did, powering home to hold off closing Tag Up And Go by a nose in 1:55. That makes two in a row for a trotter who likely won’t be underestimated again anytime soon.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Miss Wapwallopen (Mike Simons, Gene Daisey Jr.), a mare whose claiming handicap win on Wednesday night in 1:56 was her second straight victory and third in her last four; Home Front (Ake Svanstedt driver and trainer), a colt who ripped off his third consecutive condition victory on Wednesday in 1:57:3; and Hezatrain (George Napolitano Jr., Allan Johnson), who rolled to a condition win on Tuesday night in 1:53:3, a career mark and the fastest trotting time of the week at MSPD.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: RAMBLINGAMBLINMAN

You would have had to be ramblin’ and gamblin’ to take a shot on this one on Wednesday night at 33-1, but John Kakaley guided him home to a condition win for a $69 payout on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

Very few drivers in the history of Pocono have ever achieved 300 wins in a single meet, but George Nap does it year after year, reaching that magic number for 2014 on Saturday night.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: AKE SVANSTEDT

Svanstedt’s training percentage at Pocono has been brilliant all season long, and this week was no different as he churned out four more 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.

Stallion Series Action at Pocono for the Distaff Trotters

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

June 18, 2013

The combination of trainer Virgil Morgan Jr. and driver David Miller scored a pair of wins with the two fastest times in Stallion Series action for three-year-old trotting fillies on Tuesday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. There were five divisions held on the night, each with a purse of $20,000.

The Miller-Morgan combo first scored with Choose Happy (Donato Hanover-Tady Strikes Again), whose winning time of 1:54:3 was a more than a second faster than the previous quickest winning time in the Stallion Series splits. A few starts later, the duo did it again even faster with Choose Happy’s half-sister UF Tady’s Donato (Donato Hanover-Tady’s Comer), who rolled in 1:54:2.

The other fillies winning Stallion Series divisions at Pocono on Wednesday night: Changed It All (Yankee Glide-Rhine River), driven by Jim Morrill Jr. and trained by Michael Hall, in 1:56:2; Bethel Hanover (Donato Hanover-Beignet Hanover), driven by Morrill and trained by Staffan Lind, in 1:57:3; and Shouda Cuda Wuda (SJ’s Caviar-Mink Hanover), driven by Matt Kakaley and trained by Allan Johnson, in 1:56.