Posts Tagged ‘Amber Buter’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week in Review

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

April 4-10, 2015

Even though we’re still in just our first month of racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and the weather conditions have been far less than ideal, the season feels like it’s starting to take shape. This week’s addition of Sundays, making it a four-night racing week, should speed up that process. In the meantime, here is a look at the best horses and horsemen from the past three racing nights as we hand out the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: IDEAL MATTERS

One of the characteristics of this whole season-taking-shape thing we talked out about in the intro paragraph is that certain horses begin to assert themselves as horses from whom we’ll be hearing all year long. And while it may be a bit presumptive to make a judgment based on the small sample size of a couple starts, it sure looks like Ideal Matters is in for a big 2015 at Pocono by the way he’s raced the last few weeks.

On March 21, the 8-year-old gelding from the barn of trainer Gilberto Garcia-Herrera scored his first win of the meet by handling a field of condition pacers in 1:51. On Saturday night, he faced off with essentially the same condition grouping of non-winners $16,500 in the last five races for a purse of $18,000. Leaving from post position #2 in a field of nine, Ideal Matters was quickly sent to the lead by driver George Napolitano Jr., who then watched as Mustang Art hustled by to take over around the first turn.

That’s when Napolitano decided that Ideal Matters was better off leading than in the pocket. The gelding retook the lead quickly on the front stretch, and then powered his way to a big lead. Gearing down in the final strides of the mile, he coasted to a two-length win in 1:50:1, the fastest time of the young season at Pocono. Two straight wins should have Ideal Matters moving up in class, but he’s already established himself as one of the horses to watch in 2015.

Other top pacers this week include: Always Wanna (Jim Morrill Jr., Matias Ruiz), who picked up his second straight win over the $12,500 claimers on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:52:4; Victory At Last (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who won his third straight Bobby Weiss series race against the three and four-year-old colts, stallions and geldings on Saturday night in a career-best 1:52:1; and Show Runner (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), a mare who now has four straight wins to start the season, the last two at Pocono, following her condition victory on Wednesday night in 1:52:2.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: ZOOMING

We’ve talked in this column before how sometimes a horse simply needs a change of scenery to ignite a hot streak. In the case of Zooming, a talented veteran trotter, maybe it was a return to his old haunts that got him going this past week. Before coming to Pocono for Saturday night’s condition trot for non-winners of $17,500 in the last five races, the 7-year-old gelding from the barn of trainer Amber Buter was coming off back-to-back races where he went off-stride.

It was an unusual stretch for a horse pushing $600,000 in career earnings. A lot of those earnings were notched on the Pocono 5/8-mile oval, which is probably why the fans made him a 6-5 favorite in the race despite the recent struggles. As it turned out, he had to earn it in this one, forced as he was to make a tough first-over journey to get to the lead.

The trip didn’t matter, however, as driver George Napolitano Jr. urged Zooming on past the tiring leaders in the home stretch. With a winning time of 1:53:4 in the chilly temperatures, the gelding proved he was back on top of his game. The Pocono surroundings might have spurred the return to form, but Zooming deserves the credit for having that great form in the first place.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: GJ Photo Victory (Jim Morrill Jr., Marcus Marashian), who followed back-to-back wins at The Meadows with a claiming win at Pocono on Wednesday in 1:57:1; JL Cruze (John Campbell, Eric Ell), a gelding with eight wins in ten races at the Meadowlands this season who came to Pocono to coast to victory in a Bobby Weiss race on Tuesday night in 1:54:1; and Dress For Success (Matt Kakaley, Christopher Freck), the mare who rolled to her third straight win in the Bobby Weiss series against the distaff trotters, matching her career-best of 1:55:1 in the process.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: INCOGNITO

Incognito made a last to first rally in Saturday night’s final race with Ronnie Wrenn Jr. in the bike to win a condition pace at 18-1., paying off $39.40 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

George Nap has already carved out space at the top of the driving standings, and he solidified that standing with a five-win night on Tuesday, the first Pocono driver to reach that plateau in 2015.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: RON BURKE

The leader in training wins to this point at Pocono, Burke has been cleaning up in the Bobby Weiss series, scoring three of his four winners this week in those late closer races.

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, November 19th, 2014

November 7-13, 2014    

Choosing the horses of the year at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs used to be a much simpler job. When the racing wasn’t as competitive as it is now, there were usually only a few candidates who would rise above the rest by winning in the same classes week after week, making the choices for the top honors relativeLY easy.

Not anymore. Since Pocono is a destination for the top horses and horsemen in the country, it is extremely difficult for any one horse to dominate a single division. As a result, there are dozens of horses who can make legitimate cases at different times in the year that they are the best of the best at MSPD.

I had a little input into these choices, but most of the research and hard work behind these choices was done by my esteemed colleagues Terri Phalen and Jennifer Starr. It wasn’t easy, but the three winners, in my opinion, are extremely deserving. So, without further ado, here is a look at the 2014 Pocono Horses of the Year.

PACER OF THE YEAR: DANCIN YANKEE

When this six-year-old stallion arrived at Pocono in May, he had already distinguished himself with a big winning streak at Dover and a respectable performance in the Levy series at Yonkers. Trained by Josh Green, he made his presence felt immediately at MSPD with back-to-back wins, including a dominant performance in the $50,000 Van Rose Invitational.

When he returned at the end of June, he was working for the Amber Buter barn. What an auspicious Pocono debut he made for the new connections, winning a $100,000 invitational race with Tyler Buter in the bike in 1:47:2, a winning time which would have broken every record in the book if Sweet Lou hadn’t won the Franklin in 1:47 that same night. Dancin Yankee followed that up with three more no-doubt wins in a row in a Preferred company. Only a monster mile by Bigtown Hero in September kept him from sheer perfection at Pocono for the year, as he finished third to finish with six wins in seven against the very best on the grounds. His success at Pocono was just one part of a brilliant season overall for Dancin Yankee, but it was good enough to capature perhaps the most glamorous year-end award.

TROTTER OF THE YEAR: WIND OF THE NORTH

Wind Of The North, a four-year-old gelding trained by Clifton Green, didn’t waste any time at Pocono in 2014. He picked up a condition win in the season’s first week on his way to wins in four of his five races of the season as he moved up the condition ladder in the spring. That was just his warm-up act, however. On June 28, with David Miller in the bike, he burned his way to a victory in 1:51, setting a new world record for his age group and gender on a 5/8-mile oval in the process.

One thing that Wind Of The North had failed to accomplish in the first half of the season was a win against the Preferred trotters. That all changed when he handled that very group for a victory on September 27. His final tally: ten starts at Pocono in 2014, six wins, two seconds, and a third. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s a Trotter of the Year resume for sure.

CLAIMER OF THE YEAR: B J’S RAMEAU

Do you want to know what was impressive about B J’s Rameau’s season at Pocono? Everything, that’s what. The sheer numbers of it are good enough on their own to warrant Claimer of the Year consideration. In 28 races at Pocono this season, the 5-year-old gelding hit the board 17 times and won 11, including a career-best 1:49:1 mile.

Then consider that all of those victories were against the top rung of the claiming ladder at Pocono. Consider that, as a hot claiming commodity, he won his 11 races for eight different trainers. And finally consider that many of those races were claiming handicaps and BJ’s Rameau, because of his high sale price, was often saddled with the outside post, making his record even more impressive. We’ve had a lot of outstanding claimers this year, but they were all toiling in the wake of this gelding.

Next week in this space we’ll be wrapping up the 2014 season for good as we approach closing night on November 22. We’ll be taking a look back at some of the best moments of the year and we’ll also tell you who won the honors among drivers and trainers in terms of wins and percentage. It’s hard to believe it’s almost over, but the three horses we’ve spotlighted here have given us a whole lot to remember come the offseason.

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, August 26th, 2014

August 15-21, 2014

This week’s racing was filled with the thrilling action we’ve come to expect of Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. And, to spice things up even further, the Pocono faithful witnessed the matching of a track and world record this week. That record-setting performance kicks off our attempt to sum up all of the action at Pocono this week by handing out the Weekly Awards.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: FRAU BLUCHER

This four-year-old mare named after Cloris Leachman’s character in Young Frankenstein had scared up a lot of success in the first two years, earning over $900,000 combined in her two and three-year-old seasons. Yet this standout from the Chris Oakes barn went winless in her first five starts this year, including a second against the non-winners of over $10,000 in the last five starts condition at Pocono on August 12 when she was heavily favored.

On Tuesday night, she went up against that same condition group, once again as a solid favorite at 4-5. Only this time around, the mare was ready to show her class and then some. Driver George Napolitano Jr. sent her to the lead with a brush on the front stretch. From there, Frau Blucher kept extending her lead until the rest of the field was a distant memory. She was 8 ¼ lengths in front at the line, with the only suspense at that point being how fast she actually went in the victory.

The timer showed a ridiculous 1:51:2, which matched the world record on a 5/8-mile oval for four-year-old trotting mares. The horse who set that record back in May at Pocono, Classic Martine, is also trained by Chris Oakes. So that proves that the Oakes barn has a whole lot of talent. But it also proves that Frau Blucher is back on top of her game, so elite trotters all over the country best take heed.

Other top trotters this week include: Mistery Woman (Ron Pierce, Jonas Czernyson), a Meadowlands shipper who captured Saturday night’s featured condition pace in a career-best 1:52; DC’s Piggy Bank (Matt Kakaley, Peter Pellegrino), who picked up his second straight claiming win on Sunday night in 1:56:2; and Inside Broadway (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who powered his way to his second straight claiming victory on Wednesday night, this one in a career-best 1:54:2.

PACER OF THE WEEK: LYONS JOHNNY

While there were no track records coming from this 6-year-old gelding, he certainly has impressed since August dawned. Considering that he had slumped to back-to-back seventh-place finishes in his last two starts of July, such rejuvenation seemed extremely unlikely at the time. It took a drop down the condition ladder and a barn change to get him in gear again.

On August 3, his first start in the Amber Buter barn, Lyons Johnny dominated that lower condition group by 4 ¼ lengths in a career-best 1:50:1. Buoyed by that fine effort, he moved back up in class to face the non-winners of $7,000 in the last five races on Tuesday night. Faced with the prospect of an outside post and a tougher field with several horses sporting solid back class, it seemed like a tough test.

With George Napolitano Jr. in the bike, Lyons Johnny aggressively took over the lead with a front stretch move. Although the fractions were quick, he stayed strong up front and sped clear of some late pressure for his second straight win, this one coming in 1:50:3. Another move up in class could be in the near future for this suddenly red-hot pacer.

Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: Victorydazewillwin (Simon Allard, Daniel Munson), who notched his second straight win over the $15,000 claimers on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:50:4; It’s That Time (Anthony Napolitano, Kevin Lare), whose victory in a claiming handicap on Saturday night came in 1:49:2, a new career-best and the fastest pacing time of the week at MSPD; and All Fired Up (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), who sprung from the pocket for his second straight claiming handicap victory on Wednesday night, doing it in a career-best time of 1:51:3.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: GUANTANAMO BAY

2-year-olds are some of the most unpredictable horses, as this freshman pacer with Kevin Wallis in the bike showed on Sunday, winning at 30-1 for a $62.80 payout on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: KEVIN WALLIS

The veteran driver has been finding his rhythm of late at Pocono, as evidenced by four wins this week, two of which came with horses at odds of longer than 15-1.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: TONY ALAGNA

Alagna has won a high percentage of his races this season at Pocono, and Sunday night he picked up wins with two of the three horses he sent to the gate.

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

Monday, August 11th, 2014

August 1-7, 2014

At this point in the season, it’s typical for 3-year-old horses at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs to be battling against others of their own age in Stallion Series or Sire Stakes action. Yet our two top performers of the week that was at Pocono dared to take on older horses. Not only did they survive, but they thrived. Here are the details of both their exploits and those of the other top performers as we hand out the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: LUCK BE WITHYOU

This 3-year-old colt from the Chris Oakes’ barn started the season in Canada but quickly found a home at Pocono with a condition win on June 28 in 1:50:1. He then battled his way to a 7th in finals of the prestigious Meadowlands Pace before returning for an even more impressive victory in a blistering 1:48 on July 19.

On Saturday night, Luck Be Withyou faced his sternest test yet by going up against the non-winners of $22,500 in the last five races grouping. Among the competitors he would have to face were Meirs Hanover and Bolt The Duer, a pair of veterans as talented and as tested as there are in the sport. If the relative inexperience of Luck Be Withyou was ever going to be a factor, this was the race.

At the top of the stretch, the 3-year-old was staring at the tail of Bolt The Duer, who had set the pace and done so in reasonable fractions. Yet Luck Be With You was ready for the challenge when driver George Napolitano Jr. asked for another gear. He sped by a stunned Bolt The Duer and held off fast-closing E Street Plan for the win in 1:49:2. Even though the time wasn’t as flashy as his previous win, this victory was the best evidence yet of this sophomore’s incredible talent.

Other top pacers this week include: Show Runner (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), a mare whose victory in Friday night’s featured condition pace in a career-best 1:50:3 was her second straight win; Gold Deuce (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), who powered to a win over $10,000 claimers on Saturday night in 1:50:4, a career-best and his third straight win; and Mach It So (Andrew McCarthy, PJ Fraley), who picked up a win in Saturday night’s featured Preferred Handicap pace in 1:48:2, a new career-best and the fastest time posted this week at MSPD.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: REVRAC HARBOUR

This award was probably a little overdue for this 3-year-old colt from the barn of trainer Tony Alagna. From June 3 to July 1, he ripped off four consecutive wins at Pocono, topping out with a back-to-back career-best miles of 1:54:1 in wins over the non-winners of four condition. He traveled to the Meadowlands after that and struggled against some of the top trotters in the country in a pair of stakes races.

Revrac Harbour returned on Tuesday night to face all older horses in a non-winners of $13,000 in the last five starts condition trot. Back at Pocono again, he found his stride quickly by making a move to the front end early in the race. Yet Picture This, the race favorite, lurked behind him in the pocket for much of the mile and enjoyed a much better trip.

In the stretch, Picture This took to the inside passing lane and briefly seemed like he was about to get past. That’s when driver Scott Zeron coaxed just a little extra effort from an already-taxed Revrac Harbour, who dug in and surged back in front in the final strides in 1:55:4 on a sloppy track. That makes it five wins in the last five races he’s started at Pocono, with this maybe the gutsiest yet.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Zooming (Tyler Buter, Amber Buter),who shipped in from New York for a condition win on Saturday in 1:51:4, easily the week’s fastest trotting time; Waldorf Hall (Corey Callahan, Jim Raymer), who churned through the slop for a condition win on Tuesday in 1:53:4; and Swiss Lightning (Anthony Napolitano, Kevin Lare), who ripped off his fourth straight claiming victory on Wednesday night in 1:54:4, matching his career-best in the process.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: RESCUE PLAN

It’s not often George Napolitano Jr., the meet’s leading driver, pilots a long shot, but this condition pacer was at 42-1 when G-Nap steered him to victory on Tuesday night for a $87.60 win payout on a $2 ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

Who else could it be this other than George Nap, considering that he won seven of the thirteen races on the card on Saturday and nearly pulled off a 20-win week.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: CHRISTIE COLLINS

Collins’ barn has been steadily gaining momentum in the summer months, and her trainees picked up three more wins this week, including a double on Friday.

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

Dancin Yankee Collects Another Win at Pocono

Friday, August 1st, 2014

July 26, 2014

Dancin Yankee earned his sixth win in a row against elite competition with a victory in Saturday night’s featured Preferred Handicap pace at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The race carried the night’s top purse of $25,000.

Dancin Yankee (Yankee Cruiser-Dancewiththebest), a six-year-old stallion trained by Amber Buter, was assigned the outside post in the field of six and was made the 3-5 favorite. He settled fourth early as the lead changed hands three times. Driver Tyler Buter set him in motion on the back stretch and he corralled pacesetting Aracache Hanover at the top of the home stretch. Dancin Yankee then paced away to win by two lengths over Mach It So in 1:48:4. Bolt The Duer finished third.

The six-race winning streak of Dancin Yankee, owned by Rich Lombardo and Baron Racing Stable, includes four straight at Pocono. He now has 14 wins in 21 races this season, 38 lifetime victories, and career earnings of $900,962.