Posts Tagged ‘At Press Time’

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

June 21-27, 2014

The Weekly Awards will be taking a two-week hiatus so we can focus on all the excitement of the upcoming Sun Stakes Saturday. This past Saturday Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs hosted the eliminations for four huge stakes races: The James M. Lynch Memorlal (3-year-old pacing fillies), The Max C. Hempt Memorial (3-year-old open pacers), The Earl Beal Jr. Memorial (3-year-old open trotters), and The Ben Franklin (Open pacers).

While some might scoff at the results of the eliminations as being inconclusive, the fact is that it’s really impossible for horses in fields this good to take it easy and expect to make it through to the finals. And any night when a significant percentage of the world’s best horses and horsemen are in attendance deserves our full attention, even if the really huge purses won’t be up on the line until June 28.

So here’s a look at some of the important events from the eliminations:

JAMES M. LYNCH MEMORIAL

This one looks like the most wide-open of the four stakes fields, as just one (Fancy Desire) of the three favorites in the eliminations won, and one (Act Now) didn’t even make the final. Uffizi Hanover, who probably had the best reputation of any of the sophomore fillies coming into the night, started slowly but fought hard to rally for second behind Cinamony just so she could make the final.

That all could mean that Fancy Desire is the one to watch for the final. Trained by Kevin Carr, this filly loves the Pocono surface, winning her last three times at the track. She scored the most decisive elimination victory, pacing away in 1:49 with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike.

MAX C. HEMPT MEMORIAL

The Ron Burke barn will be well-represented in the Hempt final. Two of the three elimination winners came courtesy of Burke: At  Press Time, an 8-1 shot who rallied from a significant deficit in the pocket to win in 1:48:2, and All Bets Off, who avenged his only loss of the season, which came at Pocono in May, by winning his split in 1:48:3. Matt Kakaley drove both winners.

Still, it was Casie Coleman’s trainee McWicked who stamped himself as the favorite. Despite an arduous journey to the lead in his split and scorching fractions, he still managed to pace away and hide late with David Miller driving for a win in 1:48.

EARL BEAL JR. MEMORIAL

I’ve never seen a star horse who seems to expound as little effort as Father Patrick. After winning his elimination without batting an eye in 1:52:4, his record now stands at four-for-four this year with 14 wins in 15 lifetime races. And still there is the nagging feeling that we haven’t seen his best yet, which is a scary thought for the rest of the division.

Maybe the one to beat him this year will be the only one who has ever beaten him. That’s Nuncio, who now is his stablemate in the Jimmy Takter barn. Nuncio stayed perfect by winning his elimination in 1:52:2, two-fifths faster than Father Patrick.

BEN FRANKLIN FREE-FOR-ALL

When he was last at Pocono at the start of May, Sweet Lou went off at 15-1 in an Invitational pace and finished third. Since then, he’s been unbeatable, winning four straight, including a command performance in his Franklin elimination in his return to MSPD. His winning time of 1:47:4 with Ron Pierce in the bike was the fastest of the night.

The other Franklin elimination was billed as the second ever showdown between Captaintreacherous, last year’s champion of everything as a 3-year-old, and Foiled Again, the veteran superstar and earner of over $6 million in his career. Nobody told Domethatagain, driven by Simon Allard for his brother trainer Rene Allard, about the plotline though, and he upset the apple cart with a pocket trip at 29-1.

As you can tell, there are ton of intriguing storylines for the finals. They’ll settle it on the track Saturday night, and it should be something special.

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, June 3rd, 2014

May 17-23, 2014

In this space, we usually hand out the Weekly Awards. But every now and again, we deviate from our formula due to something special taking place at the track. In this case, it was Saturday night’s racing card, which featured the first appearance of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes, a world-record performance, and a young driver who nearly stole the show from everybody.

Regular watchers know just how fantastic the racing is Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs has become over the past few years. But nights like Saturday evening that go a little above and beyond are always special. Let’s take a look at some of the spectacular moments from the night.

If you’ve been to the track enough, you’ll hear the phrase that a horse “needs a start” from handicappers. What it means is that a horse is coming off a long layoff and isn’t expected to perform at its peak the first time back. While that might have been a good rule in the past, I find it to be less and less reliable as time passes.

For example, take Saturday night’s Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action for 3-year-old colts and geldings on the pace. In the first split of the night, Tellitlikeitis, a big earner as a 2-year-old for the Jimmy Takter barn, was making his first start since September. Two outstanding qualifiers must have prepared him enough though, because driver Brett Miller positioned him in the pocket and then blew by pacesetter Limelight Beach in the stretch to score in a scorching 1:49:1, the first of many sizzling times achieved on the night.

Ironically, the horse that finished second behind Tellitlikeitis in one of those qualifiers at The Meadowlands was Somestarsomewhere, and he proved to be ready for his close-up as well. With Matt Kakaley in the bike for trainer Ron Burke, the colt, who hadn’t raced since finishing third in the Breeders Crown in October, won a thrilling stretch battle in his Sire Stakes division in 1:50:3.

The other two Sire Stakes winners had good stories as well. At Press Time, another one guided by Burke and Kakaley, bounced back from a 4th-place finish in an overnight race at Pocono in his last start to pull off a 10-1 upset in his division in 1:49:1. And the night’s most dominant performance was turned in by Let’s Drink On It, who arrived from Indiana and rolled to a convincing win in the night’s fastest Sire Stakes time of 1:49. Tyler Smith did the driving for trainer Joe Seekman.

If Smith seems like an unfamiliar name, it’s because the 21-year-old driver, who usually does his racing in Indiana, was making his first appearance at Pocono. And what a debut it was. In addition to the win aboard Let’s Drink On It, Smith also picked up wins aboard McMarvel at 21-1 and Arsenal at 11-1. He had five starts on the night and picked up three victories and a show, and if you bet the horses he drove $2 across the board all night, you would have walked away with a profit of $88.90. The bettors are probably hoping Smith comes back soon; I’m not so sure if the other drivers will be as anxious to see him again.

For all of the drama and excitement of the Sire Stakes, Dancin Yankee had something even better in store for the faithful in the $25,000 Preferred pace. Last seen winning the Van Rose Memorial at Pocono two weeks previous to Saturday night, he returned to action with a performance for the ages. He took the lead with an incredibly fast brush in the front stretch, reaching the half in 52:2 to give an indication that this race could be one for the record books.

The 6-year-old stallion from the Josh Green barn had to fight off a first-over charge from Mach It So on the back stretch, which seemed like it might leave him vulnerable to pocket horse Clear Vision coming home. But driver Brett Miller asked Dancin Yankee for a little more and he gave a lot, holding off Clear Vision by a neck in 1:47:2. Not only was that the fastest time ever posted at Pocono, it matched the speediest time ever recorded on a 5/8-mile oval.

Dancin Yankee’s performance thrilled about everyone in attendance, with the possible exception of Anderlecht. The 9-year-old stallion won the 13th race in an eye-popping 1:48. That time would have set the track record for aged stallions on the pace at the start of the night. But, alas, Dancin Yankee beat him to it with a time that was three-fifths of a second faster.

The moral of the story is that, on a night as stellar as Saturday night at Pocono, even the extraordinary can seem just OK.

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.

 

Seasonal Debuts Highlight Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Action at Pocono

Friday, May 30th, 2014

May 17, 2014

Despite making their first starts of 2014, Tellitlikeitis and Somestarsomewhere delivered stellar winning performances Saturday night in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action for three-year-old colts and geldings on the pace at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. There were four Sire Stakes divisions held on the night, with purses ranging from $66,363 to $66,763.

Tellitlikeitis (Well Said-Kikikatie) was making his first start since November, yet a pocket trip led to a rally in the passing lane for the victory by three-quarters of a length over Limelight Beach. Brett Miller was aboard Tellitlikeitis, the 6-5 second choice, for trainer Jimmy Takter. Seventh Secret finished third, while 3-5 favorite Sometimes Said finished off the board in 5th.

Somestarsomewhere (Somebeachsomewhere-Lovely Assistant) had been laid off since a third in the Breeders Crown at Pocono in October. Yet he went off as the 1-2 favorite in his split and delivered on that promise, taking the lead at the 3/8-mile marker and gamely winning a thrilling stretch battle with half-brother Somewhere In L A by a nose in 1:50:3. Matt Kakaley drove for trainer Ron Burke. Blooming Genius finished third.

The duo of Kakaley and Burke also scored a Sire Stakes victory with 10-1 long shot At Press Time (Western Terror-So Right). He was coming off a fourth-place finish in overnight action at Pocono in his previous start, but he found the pocket behind pacesetter Maxi Bon and got by him in the stretch by a length to score in 1:49:1. Cammikey, the 3-5 favorite who came into the race unbeaten in 2014, had to settle for 3rd.

Let’s Drink On It (Art Official-Letmedowneasy) saved the best for last in the final division, pouncing on a hot pace first-over and going away by 2 ¾ lengths to win in 1:49, the night’s fastest Sire Stakes time. Fresh off a win in Indiana, the 1-2 favorite was driven by Tyler Smith for trainer Joe Seekman. Mcwicked was best of the rest in second while Some Playa picked up the show.

Freshman Pacers in Sire Stakes at Pocono

Friday, July 19th, 2013

July 17, 2013

Two-year-old pacing colts and geldings took center stage on Wednesday night at Pocono when they battled it out in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action. There were four divisions held, with purses ranging from $68,752 to $69,153.

In the first division, McWicked (McArdle-Western Sahara) saved ground all the way then shot through an opening on the inside in the stretch to win by 1 ¼ lengths in 1:52. Andy Miller was in the bike for trainer Julie Miller, as McWicked, the 3-1 third choice, won for the second time in three career races. All Star Partner finished second while He’s Got It, who led much of the mile, faded to third.

Let’s Drink On It (Art Official-Letmedowneasy), the 2-5 favorite in the second split, led at every pole with Jim Morrill Jr. in the bike and won by three-quarters of a length in 1:51:4. The colt from the Joe Seekman barn now has two wins in three lifetime starts, with both of those victories coming on the Pocono oval. Cabana Boy Hanover finished second and Seventh Secret picked up the show.

8-5 second choice Limelight Beach (Somebeachsomewhere-Benear) used a pocket trip and a powerful late kick to win the third division by 2 ¼ lengths in 1:53. It was the second straight Sire Stakes win for Limelight Beach, who had David Miller in the bike for trainer Brian Brown. Sometimes Said finished second while At Press Time was third.

In the final Sire Stakes division, Bristol Bay (Somebeachsomewhere-Terri Hall), the 6-1 second choice, used the passing lane to rally for a tight victory by a neck over 1-5 favorite West Matters in 1:53. Matt Kakaley did the driving for trainer Chris Oakes, as Bristol Bay earned his maiden win in his third career start. Spinmeister was third.

Frau Blucher Stars Once Again at Pocono

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

June 30, 2013

Frau Blucher picked up her fourth victory in as many tries this year, highlighting Pennsylvania All Stars action at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on Sunday night. The All Stars races are part of Grand Circuit Week at Pocono.

Frau Blucher (Broadway Hall-My Angel), who had already won three Pennsylvania Sire Stakes races to start her 2013 campaign, continued her dominance with a half-length win over Fashion Athena in one of three $35,000 divisions of All Stars races held for 3-year-old trotting fillies. With Jim Morrill Jr. in the bike for trainer Chris Oakes, Frau Blucher won in 1:53:4.

Morrill and Oakes also hooked up for a win in another 3-year-old filly trotting division of the Pennsylvana All Stars, as Classic Martine (Classic Photo-Drinking Days) scored in 1:53:1. In the final division of that group, Promisemethis (Chip Chip Hooray-Promisemespring), driven by Dan Rawlings and trained by Rick Beinhauer, prevailed in 1:54:2.

There were also six $30,000 All Star divisions of the 2-year-old colts and geldings on the pace held at Pocono. The winners were: All Star Partner (Four Starzzz Shark-Faithful Ideal), driven by Mike Simons and trained by John Butenschoen, in 1:52:4; Jack Attack (Allamerican Native-Pocket Queens), driven by Ron Pierce and trained by Bill Mullin, in 1:53:4; At Press Time (Western Terror-So Right), driven by David Miller and trained by Sam DePinto, in 1:53:4; Stevensville (Somebeachsomewhere-Wild West Show), driven by Simons and trained by Ray Schnittker; Let’s Drink On It (Art Official-Letmedowneasy), driven by Pierce and trained by Joe Seekman, in 1:52; and Cabana Boy Hanover (Somebeachsomewhere-Current Hanover), driven by Matt Kakaley and trained by Oakes, in 1:52:3.