Posts Tagged ‘Arch Madness’

Wind Of The North and Aslan Win Saturday Night Features at Pocono

Monday, September 29th, 2014

September 27, 2014

Trotter Wind Of The North and Pacer Aslan won the $25,000 featured Preferred races on Saturday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.

The Preferred Trot was named the Fred Yaggi Memorial Trot in honor of a longtime Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission who recently passed away. In that race Wind Of The North (Cantab Hall-Talk To The Wind), a 4-year-old gelding from the Clifton Green barn, used a second-over trip and a strong closing kick to upend favored Classic Martine by a head for the win in 1:52:2 at 10-1. Simon Allard did the driving. Arch Madness finished third.

In the Preferred pace, Aslan (Mach Three-Skyview) was overpowering on the front end with Andrew McCarthy in the bike for trainer Tony O’Sullivan. The 5-year-old gelding and 7-5 favorite won by 2 ¾ lengths in 1:50:1. Musselsfrombrussels was best of the rest in second while Golden Receiver picked up the show.

$1.2 Million PA Sire Stakes Championship Night set for Saturday, September 6

Friday, September 5th, 2014

The cream of the crop of this year’s Pennsylvania-sired two-year-old trotters and pacers will gather together this Saturday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs for their $1,240,000 Championships Night program. 

The horses, in both the $260,000 finals and the $50,000 consolations, earned their way into these races by having the highest pointtotals based on finish position in four PaSS preliminaries raced at the state’s tracks over the last two months. 

The four Championship events are slotted for races nine through twelve on Saturday’s 16-race card at Pocono; here’s a look at them in the order they will be conducted: 

TWO-YEAR-OLD PACING FILLIES (stakes record – 1:51.1, Economy Terror, 2007) 

These fillies have been very competitive among themselves, as this is the only of the four divisions that will find no four-time prelim winner looking for a sweep in the Championship. (In fact, there has never been a “sweeper” in the 2PF class since a record of prelim points was started in 2002, a fact which will obviously stay intact in 2014; what’s more, the prelim pointleader has not won the 2PF Championship since Lady Annie in 2007.) 

Aria Hanover (post two, driver Tim Tetrick listed) and Southwind Roulette (post five, Yannick Gingras) figure to be the focal points of attention after showing three wins and a third in their prelims to be tied for the top in this group. Southwind Roulette was third in her first PaSS start, then has taken her last three; among the conquered in her final prelim was … Aria Hanover, who had won three straight going into that event. 

TWO-YEAR-OLD TROTTING FILLIES (stakes record – 1:54.3, Sand Violent Blu, 2011, and Designed To Be, 2013) 

In contrast to their pacing counterparts, two 2TFs have swept their four prelims and their Championship: Coulantine in 2004, and Fashion Feline in 2009. And the leading pointwinner has won their Championship in each of the last three years (the stake speed setters with Frau Blucher in between).  

Looking to add herself the “sweeper” ranks is Wild Honey (post seven, Yannick Gingras). In keeping her record unblemished in the prelims last time out, Wild Honey defeated Gatka Hanover (post eight, Ron Pierce), who had also won her three prelims heretofore, by a half-length. Neither filly will particularly benefit from their outside post draw, making this shape up as a very tough affair.

 TWO-YEAR-OLD TROTTING COLTS (stakes record – 1:54.3, Stormin Normand, 2011) 

In setting this division’s speed mark, Stormin Normand also completed the “Sire Stakes sweep,” the only 2TC to have accomplished the feat. 

Attempting to emulate the “Storm” will be Billy Flynn (post four, Brett Miller), 6 for 6 in his young career. But there are three two-time Sire Stakes prelim winners in this field – Honor And Serve, Lima Pride, and Piercewave Hanover – plus Walter White, a horse who came within a head of Billy Flynn two starts back, so no one is conceding the honors to the unbeaten horse going in.

 TWO-YEAR-OLD PACING COLTS (stakes record – 1:50.2, One More Laugh, 2009) 

Like his colt counterpart on the trotting side, Stormin Normand, One More Laugh became his division’s only sweeper when he set the stakes mark five years back. (The leading prelim pointleader has won the 2PC in three of the last five years, including Allstar Partner last year.)

 Probably set to draw the majority of the focus here is Yankee Bounty (post three, Yannick Gingras), who like Billy Flynn is both 6 for 6 lifetime and unbeaten in the Sires prelims. But also like Billy Flynn, Yankee Bounty had a horse who gave him a scare – Wazikashi Hanover came within a neck of an upset last

time — and again like Billy Flynn, Yankee Bounty faces three opponents with multiple PaSS prelim wins: McArdles Lightning (who had three) along with Dragon Eddy and Lost For Words (two each).


 There will be $50,000 consolations for each of the four Sire Stakes divisions’ horses who came up just shy in trying to earn themselves a place in the final.

 It does seem strange to call a contest an “undercard” event when the field of eight has combined earnings of $12,112,270, especially when the first three horses in the post parade have bankrolled $9,956,663 among them. But this is a special field, for a special race – the $50,000 Modern Family Trot, honoring the recently-deceased free-for-aller who was based with the Daryl Bier stable right at Pocono, and who was competitive with this national group the last two years. Those “first three horses,” by the way, are Wishing Stone, Market Share, and Arch Madness, and when mixed with Sevruga and four other hard-hitters they should give a fit tribute to their fallen fellow competitor.

 There will also be a $50,000 Invitational Pace, the Adieu to the Almost Summer Pace (no doubt if this race were held in the western part of the state, it would be called the Adios to the Almost Summer Pace, but that’s another story). Millionaires Golden Receiver and Bolt The Duer will draw attention here, along with two sharp four-year-olds on three-race winning streaks: Sunfire Blue Chip and Mach It So.

 The first of Saturday’s 16 races is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

Live On Sets World Record at Pocono

Monday, July 8th, 2013

July 6, 2013

Live On set the world record for 4-year-old pacing geldings on a 5/8 oval with a sizzling mile of 1:48:1 in a condition pacing victory on Saturday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The race was for non-winners of $22,000 in the last five starts and carries a purse of $21,000.

Live On (Four Starzzz Shark-Reflect Upon Life), a 4-year-old gelding from the barn of Tom Fanning, left from post position #2 in a field of nine. Driver Eric Carlson sent him to the front end and the gelding didn’t let up until he was five lengths in front of his closest competition on the line. The fractions were 26:3, 54:1, 1:21:2, and 1:48:1.

The previous Pocono track record for that age and gender was 1:48:3, shared by Special T Rocks and Dynamic Youth. The world record for that age group on a 5/8-mile oval was previously 1:48:2, held by Rock’em.

Live On, who won for the fourth time in 14 races this season, is owned by Fly By Night Stables. It was his 10th lifetime victory, giving him career earnings of $149,313.

Later on in the evening at Pocono, Zooming (Classic Photo-Merit Lane) won a condition trot and matched a track record in the process. Zooming, a 5-year-old gelding driven by Jim Morrill Jr. for trainer Amber Buter, won in 1:51, matching the Pocono aged geldings record set originally by the great Arch Madness in 2010.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

June 28-July 4, 2013

All of us on the racing side at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs had been looking forward all season long to Sun Stakes Saturday, an extravaganza of racing featuring four huge stakes races with combined purses of $1.8 million. When it finally arrived last weekend, it was everything we possibly could have hoped for and a ton more.

It featured some surprising results, crazy weather, and incredible, record-smashing performances by horses long before we even got to the stakes portion of the evening. Once those stakes races came around, the fans on hand and watching at home got to witness some of the sport’s finest stars showing just why they’re considered so special.

The stakes races weren’t scheduled until races 9 through 12, but the transcendent performances got underway long before that. In the very first race of the night, a $25,000 Preferred Trot, 4-year-old superstar Uncle Peter out-trotted veteran Arch Madness in a thrilling stretch battle for a win in 1:50:3, the fastest time ever trotted not only at Pocono but at any 5/8-mile oval in the world. Just a few races down the road in the consolation for the Ben Franklin pace, Bolt The Duer became the first pacer in Pocono history to break the 1:48 barrier, winning in an unreal 1:47:4.

In the Max C. Hempt elimination, Beach Memories’ winning time of 1:48:3 set a new Pocono record for 3-year-old geldings on the pace. Perhaps the wildest of the night’s races was the $25,000 Preferred pace. In the midst of the race, the threatening skies finally opened up, drenching a huge crowd watching outside on the track apron and the patio as well as the horses competing in the race. Yet, in the midst of the downpour, Abelard Hanover managed to match a world record for aged pacing geldings on a 5/8-mile oval with a victory in 1:48.

The soaking rain ensured that the track and world records were done for the evening, but, even in the slop, the stakes races proved that the best horses rise to the occasion no matter what the circumstances or obstacles. First came the $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old fillies, a race which featured I Luv The Nitelife, who came in with four wins in five races on the year including a pair of six-figure stakes conquests. The #8 post didn’t scare the filly off from flashing her early speed. She managed to settle in the pocket and power home with a second move in the stretch with Tim Tetrick in the bike. The pride of the Chris Ryder barn picked up the win in 1:50.

The $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial pace is a 3-year-old Open event, which meant that it fell within the province of the sport’s preeminent superstar at this time, Captaintreacherous. The Tony Alagna-trained standout had already won 12 of 14 races in his career, including all four starts in 2013, heading into the race, yet the outside post he drew was a definite headache. Tetrick managed to find Captaintreacherous some cover on the outside though, and he survived a thrilling stretch battle with fast-closing Vegas Vacation. It was the kind of win where a horse just finds a way, like all winners do. Captaintreacherous paced the mile in 1:49:2.

Foiled Again came into the $500,000 Ben Franklin Free-For-All pace sitting at the precipice of a milestone no pacer in history had ever reached: $5 million earned in a career. The 9-year-old vet from the Rob Burke barn was coming off a record-setting win in the Franklin elimination, but his journey to the front in Saturday’s final was a tough first-over jaunt. No matter. Driver Yannick Gingras urged him home in a bang-bang finish to nose out Pet Rock in 1:49:2. Not only did it put him over that $5 million mark in style, it gave him 70 lifetime victories. And the scary thing is that he’s showing no signs of slowing down.

The way the night was going, with all of the biggest names coming up aces in the finals, it seemed like a good omen for Smiling Eli, the even-money favorite in the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial trot who was unbeaten after four career races. Yet the #9 post proved a little too much for him; the effort he expended to get to the front caught up with him in the stretch. That’s when Corky, a 7-1 shot with David Miller in the bike for trainer Jimmy Takter, came rolling by first-over for the win in 1:54:3. That marks three straight wins for Corky, who may be rounding into shape as the top 3-year-old trotter on the planet.

What a night it was. We’ve got much more to come at Pocono in 2013, of course. There’s another jam-packed stakes Saturday coming up in August and The Breeders Crown awaits in October. They’ll be hard-pressed to top Sun Stakes Saturday though, a day when the Pocono faithful saw a little bit of everything and a whole lot of excitement.

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

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

2012 Horses of the Year

As we wind down the 2012 racing season at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, a season which finishes up on Wednesday, November 21, it’s about time to start celebrating some of the outstanding equine performers who have shined for the Pocono faithful this year. In other words, it’s time to honor our horses of the year.

This is a tough task for those of us who do the choosing each and every year, but 2012 has been particularly competitive and, as such, it’s been darn near impossible to distinguish the best from the very, very good. What makes it even more difficult is that so many top horsemen are bringing their horses through Pocono, it’s hard for any horse to sustain consistent success, especially in the highest classes of racing.

Still, it’s fun to look back and recall some of the outstanding horses we’ve seen throughout the campaign, and, after careful deliberation, we came up with four standouts who were just a notch above the rest. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the 2012 MSPD Horses of the Year.


Many horses in the claiming ranks move up and down the ladder until finding a spot that fits them. By contrast, McSocks settled into the $25,000 claiming class for 4-year-olds and just couldn’t be dislodged from the winner’s circle. The gelding won five times in that class at Pocono, including an amazing four-race winning streak in the month of August.  He set his career-mark in one of those races with a 1:50:2 mile. His early speed was simply too hot for most of his foes to handle, and, in typical claiming fashion, McSocks won for four different trainers at Pocono this year, as he scored for Doug Berkeley, Pete Pellegrino, PJ Fraley, and Jason Robinson.


One of Pocono’s fan favorites, this 4-year-old mare from the Don Wiest barn showed off her prodigious talent in 2012. In 20 races this season, she hit the board in 12 and won seven times. All of the wins came with Anthony Napolitano in the bike, as Anthony would usually send Tui to the front and dare everyone else to play catch-up. The mare was fearless, winning at five condition levels racing primarily against male horses. The highlight of her season came back on May 25, when she scorched the Pocono track to the tune of 1:52:3, a new track record for 4-year-old trotting mares.


This 6-year-old stallion proved himself among the finest trotters on the grounds a year ago, but he was even better in 2012. Week in and week out, the pride of the Eric Ell barn went up against the finest trotters on the grounds and always acquitted himself well. He finished in the money in every one of his eight starts at Pocono this season, and each of those starts came in either Open company or in our highest condition group, the winners of over $25,000 lifetime. With George Napolitano Jr. in the bike, Anders Bluestone won three of those races, with the highlight coming when he beat former Breeders Crown champ Arch Madness in October.


I can’t remember a year where the top pacing award went to a mare, but this standout from the Amber Buter made it just about impossible to pick anybody else. She was the closest thing to unbeatable that we witnessed at Pocono this season. The 7-year-old won her first two starts at Pocono after arriving from New York in May. After a fourth and a second in her next two starts, Billmar Scooter reeled off four straight victories against the best mares at the track. To add an exclamation point, she followed it up after a stint at Yonkers with back-to-back wins in the fall. Tallying everything up, she won 8 of her 11 starts at Pocono against extremely stiff competition, certainly an award-worthy performance.

Next week in this column, we’ll be wrapping up the 2012 season by honoring the season’s finest drivers and trainers and recapping some of the year’s most memorable races.

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