Posts Tagged ‘American Pharoah’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week in Review

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

June 6-12, 2015

It was bound to happen. As impressive as the times on The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono’s track records page might be, each year several of those records fall by the wayside. It took nearly 2 ½ months for any horse to match or break one of those lofty standards this season, which was a bit surprising considering the caliber of horses we’ve seen so far this year. 2015’s first incursion into the records page came on Saturday night, and the horse that came up big leads us off in this edition of the Weekly Awards.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: FRAU BLUCHER

The crowd was still abuzz following the Triple Crown victory of American Pharaoh early Saturday evening when a pack of Open trotters hit the track to restart Pocono’s harness racing program, which had begun earlier in the afternoon. The 1-2 favorite was Daylon Miracle, a mare fresh off a Preferred win at the Meadows against other distaffers. Frau Blucher, the other mare in the field, got away as the 9-5 second choice, as she was stepping up in class after a condition win in the slop on May 30 in an unhurried 1:55.

Frau Blucher was a superstar as a 2 and 3-year-old for trainer Chris Oakes, earning over $900,000 in those two seasons. Her 4-year-old season included a world record for her age group when she won at Pocono in 1:51:2, but that was just one of two wins she managed all year in just nine races. Her five-year-old season included just one start prior to that May 30 win, and she went off-stride in that one.

But on Saturday night, she showed just how dangerous she could be in top form. Driver George Napolitano Jr. sent her to the front end early and didn’t have much pressure to the half-mile marker, which allowed him to rate her conservatively. Frau Blucher put on a show in the second half of the mile, keeping the pursuit at bay and eventually closing in :27:4 to win by 1 ¼ lengths over Possessed Fashion. The winning time of 1:51:4 matched the track record for aged trotting mares, which had previously been shared by Beatgoeson Hanover and In Your Room. Frau Blucher now joins male trotting superstar Father Patrick as the only horses to occupy two spots on the Pocono track record page.

Other top trotters this week include: Schalom G (George Napolitano Jr., Neal Ehrhart), who moved up in class on Tuesday night to score his second straight condition win, this one in 1:54:4; Rossini (Jason Bartlett, Jim Raymer), who powered to a condition victory on Saturday night in 1:53:1; and Raise The Curtain (Jason Bartlett, Timothy Lancaster), who rallied Wednesday night for his second straight condition win on Wednesday night in a career-best 1:54:1.

PACER OF THE WEEK: BIG BOY DREAMS

The barn of Pocono’s leading trainer Rene Allard never seems to run out of pacers able to compete at the highest levels. Already in 2015 we’ve seen Domethatagain and Sparky Mark take Pacer of the Week honors for their exploits in Open and condition paces at Pocono. Big Boy Dreams had hopes he could join them on Saturday night in a $30,000 Open pace.

This 4-year-old stallion raced once at Pocono in April, finishing a close 3rd in a condition pace. He then went to Canada for two races in the Confederation Cup, finishing 3rd in the big-money final, and followed that up with an Open Handicap victory at Yonkers. On Saturday night, Big Boy Dreams rolled to the front end with Simon Allard in the bike, and when he made it to the half in :55:3 on a night when the wind was helping horses in the front stretch, you knew he was going to be tough to catch.

Big Boy Dreams turned on the jets in the second half of the mile and stayed strong to the finish line. He ended up winning by a length in 1:49:4, a new career-best, over Texican N, giving him two consecutive wins over Open competition. He has a lot of competition in his barn for accolades, but Big Boy Dreams is racing as well as any of his stablemates right now, which is high praise indeed.

Honorable mention on the pacing side includes: McKenry (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), a 3-year-old who picked up his second straight condition victory on Tuesday night, this time in a career-best 1:51:4; Caviart Shelley (Jim Morrill Jr., Ron Burke), a mare who ripped off her fifth straight condition win on Wednesday night in a career-best time of 1:50:4; and Cloris Hanover (Tyler Buter, Todd Buter), who won a condition pace against other mares with ease for the second straight week, doing it in a time of 1:51.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: INTERNAL CHECK

This pacing mare, with Jim Morrill Jr. driving, rallied from way back on the outside to upend a claiming handicap field on Wednesday night at 22-1, paying off $47.60 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

This was a typical George Nap week, as he hit double digits in wins over the four racing nights and chalked up five victories against the elite competition on Saturday night.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: KEVIN CARR

Carr’s training average at Pocono has been solid for several years running, and she showed off his wares with back-to-back winners on the card on Sunday night.

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.

Live split card on Belmont day yields standouts

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

A specially-formatted 16-race card was featured on Belmont Day, June 6th,  at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with four races held before the historic doings in Elmont NY and then the remainder starting after the big race.

The race attracting the most attention was the tenth race (held in the evening portion), a $30,000 Open pace, and there was “dancin’ in the moonlight” as 2014 Pennsylvania Pacer of the Year Dancin Yankee never looked back in a 1:48.3 victory, going out in 26 and coming home in 26.4 firmly in control. George Napolitano Jr., king of the local driving colony again this year, was named on four horses in the race, and he picked the right one as the son of Yankee Cruiser raised his lifetime earnings harvest over $1.2M for trainer Josh Green and owners Baron Racing Stable and Richard Lombardo.

In the other $30,000 Open pace, Big Boy Dreams marked himself as a 4-year-old to watch as he reduced his mark to 1:49.4 in taking another $30,000 Open pacing contest. The son of If I Can Dream made the front just past the ¼ for driver Simon Allard, set the pace, then rocketed home in 26.4 for his second straight victory after a third-place finish in the Confederation Cup Final. Trainer Rene Allard shares ownership of the winner of over half a million dollars with Robert Hamather and Mary Lou Poliseno.

The ladies were in the spotlight in the last race of the “early” card and the first race of the “later” card.

In the last race held before the Belmont, Blue Chip Matchmaker winner Venus Delight asserted a claim to be the leader of the older female division with a 1:50.2 decision in a $30,000 mares handicap pace, despite not having started since her victory in the Yonkers series final on April 25. But the daughter of Bettor’s Delight and driver Jason Bartlett had to work hard for the top money, rallying out of the pocket to catch perhaps the most-improved horse of 2015, Ooh Bad Shark, to tally by a head after grabbing the lead with about 100 feet to go. The winner, who set a personal mark, is trained by Jeff Bamond Jr. for owners Bamond Racing LLC – who might get a fifth straight older pacing mares yearly title, with Anndrovette having won in the last four seasons.

After American Pharoah won the Belmont and the first thoroughbred Triple Crown in 37 years, the Broadway Hall mare Frau Blucher went 34 4/5 seconds faster in winning, capturing a $30,000 open trot while defeating six males and two females in 1:51.4, 2/5 of a second off her mark and the 4TM world record she set at The Downs last year. Frau Blucher, driven by George Napolitano Jr. for trainer Chris Oakes, made every pole a winning one while raising her career bankroll to $976,932 for owners Hauser Brothers Racing Enterprises LLC and Susan Oakes. (And she’d be over $1M right now but for an inch, as she was deadheated for the win by stablemate Classic Martine in the world record-DH PA Sire Stakes 3TF Championship race in 2013.)

–On this 16-race card, two drivers won ten of the races, and only five drivers in all won: George Napolitano Jr. and Simon Allard both had five victories (four of Allard’s were trained by brother Rene); Jason Bartlett had 3, Anthony Napolitano had 2, and Marcus Miller had 1.

There were a total of seven miles in 1:50 or better on the card, topped by Dancin Yankee’s 1:48.3; among the drivers, George Nap had three, and Allard two.

A Belmont Stakes day fit for a Pharoah!

Friday, June 5th, 2015

As the nation waits for American Pharoah to hit the track for the 147th Belmont Stakes, the party at the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono will be in full swing!

The huge celebration gets underway at 2:00pm with all patio bars and trackside concession bars opening for the day.  The Downs is planning an early Post Time of 3:30pm with four races, and continuing with 12 more after the Belmont; in anticipation of the great card, a special promo for the fans will take place at 2:00pm.  The first 250 fans with a Racing Rewards card and valid ID will receive a $10 live racing wager good for races 5-16, with an approximate Post Time of 7:15pm.  (One per fan, while supplies last.)

Food trucks will be scattered throughout the apron, with the popular What The Fork; Wandering Chef; Doc Popcorn; and Johnny Rockets all opening at 3:00pm with dozens of food items available to fans.

Don’t forget to grab a Belmont Breeze, the official drink of the 3rd jewel of the Triple Crown, in a souvenir glass, available at all racing bars!

There will be plenty of seats on the apron for fans to watch the races on the jumbo screen, as well as inside the spacious simulcast room.

Racing continues Sunday evening, as well, with a Post Time of 6:30pm.

American Pharoah jockey Victor Espinoza at Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono

Sunday, May 24th, 2015

Triple Crown fever is striking everywhere, and anticipation is high for American Pharoah’s bid on Saturday, June 6th with the Belmont Stakes.

With a big celebration planned for Belmont Stakes Saturday, the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono is excited to announce that jockey Victor Espinoza will be appearing for autographs and photos on Tuesday, June 2 from 3:30pm to 5:00pm in the Racing Lobby.  This is a wristband-only event, and fans may obtain their wristband starting at 1:00pm, with a very limited amount available.

Only the authorized photo, which will be distributed at the signing, will be autographed, and a professional photographer will be on hand for photos, which will then be posted on the Mohegan Sun Pocono Facebook page for sharing.

Belmont Stakes Saturday will be a huge party, with live harness racing at 3:30pm until 5:00pm, and 12 additional races immediately following the 147th Belmont Stakes.  Food trucks; the “Belmont Breeze” in souvenir glasses; and plenty of bars with ice cold beverages will be on the apron for the fans to enjoy in anticipation of post time and history in the making.  American Pharoah merchandise will be for sale on the apron as well.

Victor Espinoza has won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes  three times, riding War Emblem in 2002; California Chrome in 2014; and American Pharoah this year.  As of this date, he is the first jockey in history to enter the Belmont Stakes with a third opportunity to win the Triple Crown.

PA Sire Stakes action shines on Preakness night

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Trainer Brian Brown, trainer of 2014 divisional and Jugette champion Color’s A Virgin and a resident of Delaware OH, may be having himself a two-day party late this September at the famed half-miler, as he already has five different Pennsylvania Sire Stakes-winning three-year-old pacing horses, three fillies and now the two colts who continued the hot trainer’s winning ways Saturday night, May 16th, at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, being among the four winners in the $226,168 first leg of their Sires action.

As the track turned “sloppy” for the fifth race Sires division (Pocono is about 150 miles northeast of Baltimore as the crow flies, and the Preakness rain started about two hours before the storms hit northeast PA), Rise Up Now remained undefeated in five outings this year, tucking in the pocket down the back and then catching leader Blood Brother in the stretch to post a 1½-length 1:51.3 over a newly-christened “sloppy” track. Blood Brother had snapped off splits of 26.1, 55.3, and 1:22.2, but the 53 usage in the odd-numbered quarters did not allow him to hold off the Somewheresomebeach gelding and driver Simon Allard, who piloted the Brown trainee for King McNamara of Florida, the only non-Buckeye in the ownership group which includes the Strollin Stable, William Robinson, and Country Club Acres.

Brown is now two-for-two seasonally with the Well Said colt Lost For Words, who reclaimed the lead down the backstretch, opened up four lengths turning for home, then held off the late charge of the game little Allbeef N Nobull to win by 1½ lengths in 1:51.4 in the night’s second division, when the track was still “fast.” Lost For Words, a finalist in both the Governors Cup and Breeders Crown last year, was driven by Jim Morrill Jr. for the three Ohioans who share in Rise Up Now’s ownership and another Buckeye, Richard Lombardo.

For years Brown has done very well in the Pennsylvania program, but this year his numbers are only slightly short of unbelievable. He’s perfect in five Pocono starts, and at The Meadows he sports a 13-9-3-0 tally, for a Keystone State total of 18-14-3-0 – which produces a mind-boggling state UTR of .870!

McArdles Lightning teamed with driver Anthony Napolitano to post a 6-1 upset in taking the first division, coming from last at the half in the seven-horse field and blitzing his own back two quarters in 54.2 to equal his lifetime mark of 1:51. Steve Elliott conditions the McArdle ridgling (double thoroughbred Triple Crown racewinner American Pharoah is also a ridgling) for the Lightning Stable.

In the final Sires heat, Wazikashi Hanover was a pocket rocket in catching last year’s 2YO Sires champion, Yankee Bounty, by 1¼ lengths, with the time on the sloppy track 1:52. Yankee Bounty overcame the outside “eight-ball” to post splits of 27, 57, and 1:24.4, but “Wazikashi,” a Dragon Again gelding, was relentless and gained into the 27.1 kicker for trainer Joann Looney-King and the Tri County Stable. Driver Jim Morrill Jr. joined trainer Brown as a double winner in the Sires races.