Posts Tagged ‘Ben Franklin Free-For-All Pace’

Van Rose Memorial and Weiss Finals a Powerhouse of Stars

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

When The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono created the $50,000 Van Rose Memorial Invitational Pace, honoring the late local handicapper and writer, it was said that Rose’s reaction might be “They named a $50,000 race after ME?”

Well, Van, guess what – this year it’s the $100,000 Van Rose Memorial Invitational Pace that will be featured on the evening portion of a Kentucky Derby Day doubleheader this Saturday at The Downs, as 14 entrants resulted in the creation of two $50,000 divisions of the Van Rose Pace.

The credentials these horses are bringing to Pocono on Saturday are simply outstanding. Consider these collective achievements of the fourteen fast pacers:

–Combined lifetime earnings of $13,994,142, or an average of $999,581 per horse; with two $2 million+ winners (Mach It So and Christen Me N) and four additional $1 million winners (Boston Red Rocks, Wakizashi Hanover, Keystone Velocity, and Rockin Ron);

–An average speed mark of 1:48.3;

–Four of the finalists from 2018’s richest race to date, April 21’s $532,000 Levy Final at Yonkers, including the winner, Keystone Velocity, the richest horse of 2018 in North America, out of the barn of local trainer Rene Allard, a successful defender of his 2017 Levy championship, the 2017 Franklin champion at Pocono, and the Older Pacer of the Year last season;

–Four of the Levy Consolation starters, including the winner, Always At My Place, whose 1:47.2 mile here in 2015 still stands as the world record for four-year-old pacing geldings;

–Ten wins in the Levy preliminary legs from among the fields;

–The winner of the recent Whata Baron Series Final at The Meadowlands, Barimah A – who also just happens to be the defending Van Rose Memorial winner!

Here are the fields for the two Rose divisions; morning line and final drivers should be available tomorrow (Tuesday):

5th race — $50,000 Rose Pace division – 1. Boston Red Rocks; 2. Rodeo Romeo; 3. Long Live Rock; 4. Wakizashi Hanover; 5. Always At My Place; 6. Dr J Hanover; 7. Barimah A.

10th race — $50,000 Rose Pace division – 1. Keystone Velocity; 2. Rockin Ron; 3. Super Imposed N; 4. Mach It So; 5. Bettor Memories; 6. Christen Me N; 7. Rockeyed Optimist.

The Saturday evening card at Pocono will also feature the four $30,000 Championships of the Bobby Weiss Series, with the top pointwinners in the four preliminaries earning their way to their respective finals. Here’s a brief overview of those races:

6th race, trotting females: Weiss preliminaries won by entrants: 11; three-time winner and fastest winner, I M Fishin, 1:56; summary in a sentence: After a break in her first prelim, I M Fishin has rattled off three straight on the front end, and is the mare to beat.

8th race, trotting males: Weiss preliminaries, 11; three-time winner, Chas Hanover; fastest winner, Archibald, 1:55.1; summary in a sentence: Archibald has two wins and two breaks; if he can’t mind his manners, there’s a lot of talent waiting to pick up the pieces.

11th race, pacing males: Weiss preliminaries, 10; three-time winner, I Soar Him First; fastest winner, Riggle Wealth, 1:50.3; summary in a sentence: After bad luck in the first two legs, Riggle Wealth has been raced on the front end in his last two and won; may face more speedy pressure here.

12th race, pacing females: Weiss preliminaries: 9; three-time winners: Kimberlee and Sharen Hanover; fastest winner, Sharen Hanover, 1:52.2; summary in a sentence: Kimberlee skipped a week but won all of her Weiss starts; Sharen Hanover has won her last three, and in dominating fashion.

The features on the afternoon card will be $15,000 Weiss Consolations for both groups of trotters (the pacing events did not fill). These races will go as the Late Double on the 10-race card that is scheduled to start at 11 a.m.; after a break for the Derby, the nighttime equine fireworks will be beginning at 7:30 p.m.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Announces 2018 Racing Season

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono is pleased to announce our 2018 racing season schedule.  The track in Northeast PA is looking forward to another tremendous season of racing, with the Breeders Crown returning for the third time.

Opening night has been set for Saturday, March 17 at a new Post Time of 7:00pm for all race nights, with the exception of Easter Sunday at 5:00pm and all three Triple Crown nights.  In the month of March, racing continues on Tuesday, March 20th; Saturday, March 24th; Sunday, March 25th; Tuesday, March 27th, and Saturday, March 31st.  Beginning in April, the track will move to its permanent schedule of Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, with no racing on Monday, April 2nd and Monday, September 10th.

Stakes action kicks off in early April with a Late Closing Series, and spring and summer action includes the PA Sire Stakes for 3-year-olds starting in May, as well as the PA All-Stars and PA Stallion Series.  All three continue throughout the season, with the 2-year-olds taking center stage starting in July.  The PA Sire Stakes for 3-year-olds is on Sunday, September 2.   The prestigious $2 million Sun Stakes Saturday is June 30th featuring the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Trot; $500,000 Ben Franklin Free For All Pace; 500,000 Max Hempt Memorial Pace; and the $300,000 James Lynch Memorial Pace.  Eliminations will take place on Saturday, June 23.

Breeders Crown 2018 is Saturday, October 27th, with eliminations Friday, October 19th and Saturday, October 20th.  According to Dale Rapson, Vice President of Racing Operations, Crown ‘18 promises to be a memorable one with all twelve races in one night.   “We are very excited to bring back the Breeders Crown, and are already planning a great event,” he said.  The track is working closely with the Hambletonian Society and the PHHA on the spectacular night of racing.   “I’m really looking forward to my first Breeders Crown with Pocono,” said Mike Harant, Executive Director of the PHHA, “as well as the entire 2018 racing season.”

A double-header of live racing is once again planned for Kentucky Derby day, Saturday, May 5th, with a first post of 11:00am and the second card approximately 7:30pm.  Racing follows the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes and will also be an approximate Post Time of 7:30pm.

Plenty of fan-friendly events and promotions are in the works for the season, and opening night will be “50/50 Night”.  Fans get $50 in free live racing vouchers when they buy $50, and valid on the live racing racing card that evening, while supplies last.   Fans get a free live program on opening night starting at 5:00pm, also while supplies last.  Additional fun events are planned throughout the season, including celebrity meet-and-greet autograph sessions with several sports stars; giveaway items;  and on Kentucky Derby day, the annual “Run for the Roses Hat Revue” which is the contest for the most fashionable hats in several categories with cash prizes.

In addition, the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono will add the text messaging service for promotional giveaways, as well as updates for fans on upcoming events and big race nights.  Fans can opt in starting in March, and regular message and data rates may apply.

The stables will open for the season on Thursday, March 1st at 7:30am, and the familiar sight of horses training will soon be the first sign of spring and the 53rd year of racing at the Downs.  Qualifying dates have been set for Tuesday, March 6th; Thursday, March 8th; and then every Wednesday thereafter for the remainder of the season.

Sun Stakes Saturday Eliminations a preview of the July 1st stellar card

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

June 24-30, 2017

The preliminaries are out of the way. This Saturday, July 1, the faithful at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono will get to witness the main event. Or events, as the case may be, as Sun Stakes Saturday will feature four races with huge stakes attached to them, pushing the night’s purses well over $2 million total.

This past Saturday, the eliminations were held, and it was an interesting set of races. Drivers on the top horses had to decide how much effort they asked from their charges. On the one hand, a tired horse in the final is no good to anyone. On the other, a horse that’s held back and then doesn’t make the final is a disappointment.

Here is how the eliminations played out, followed by a primer on what to expect on Saturday night. The outcomes may be unknowable until the races are run, but we can say for sure that it will be an exceptional night of racing.

BEN FRANKLIN PACE for aged pacers

The only favorite to win out of the three eliminations was Mel Mara, who paced the fastest time of the night on the front end in 1:48:4. There were surprises in the other two divisions. While Freaky Feet Pete faded from the lead in his first start of the year and race favorite McWicked was boxed in, Keystone Velocity, trained by Rene Allard and driven by Simon Allard, both Pocono regulars, rallied for the victory. Dealt A Winner was a convincing winner in the remaining elimination, beating heavy favorite Boston Red Rocks by 3 ½ lengths. At least Boston Red Rocks is headed to the final; big names like Freaky Feet Pete, Luck Be Withyou, and McWicked all failed to qualify.

EARL BEAL JR. MEMORIAL TROT for three-year-old trotters

The big news here is that Ariana G, the only filly competing against the male trotters, easily won her split as a 1-9 favorite. Meadowlands invader Long Tom also won as the favorite in his split, meaning that he and Ariana G will compete in the final as 2017 unbeatens, both three-for-three this year. Although Driver Yannick Gingras will likely stick with Ariana G in the final, he also pulled off a surprise in the remaining division with Perfect Spirit, who staged a furious rally on the inside to upend favorite Devious Man at 23-1.

MAX C. HEMPT MEMORIAL PACE for three-year-old pacers

Fear The Dragon received all the betting attention in his elimination, which was understandable considering he hadn’t lost in six races this year and was coming off a win in the North American Cup at Mohawk. But Miso Fast, with Matt Kakaley in the bike for Ron Burke, had other ideas and blitzed Fear The Dragon with a first-over move to win at 11-1. Although Fear The Dragon reaches the final, he goes in knowing that his archrival Downbytheseaside put in perhaps the most impressive performance of the evening. Despite being parked around two turns, the colt trained by Brian Brown battled his way to a victory in a sizzling 1:49:2 with Brain Sears in the bike. The remaining division belonged to the longshots, with 21-1 Santafe’s Coach, driven by Pocono regular Anthony Napolitano, picking up a late-kicking win over 29-1 Ozone Blue Chip in second.

JAMES M. LYNCH MEMORIAL PACE for three-year-old pacing fillies

This was the one set of races where form held, as favorites won all three splits, all on the front end. Tequila Monday, trained by Chris Oakes, bounced back from a disappointing loss in the Fan Hanover Stakes at Mohawk by delivering on the front end in 1:50:4, the fastest of the three winning times from the Lynch eliminations. Meanwhile Bettor’s Up, who had pulled off the upset win in the Fan Hanover, settled for second on Saturday night behind Agent Q, the filly she nosed out for the win in Canada. Brazuca, driven by Corey Callahan for trainer Tom Cancelliere, stayed unbeaten in three starts this year with a rock-solid win in her split.

What to look for in the finals:

BEN FRANKLIN: Mel Mara might be the one to beat but will need a good post for his front-pacing style. He’ll have some powerful competition, especially from Keystone Velocity, who is once again showing the form that made him the Levy champion at Yonkers this year.

EARL BEAL: Ariana G is far and away the best trotting filly in the land, so she’s seeking out the boys for a true challenge. She’ll get just that from Long Tom.

MAX HEMPT: Will Downbytheseaside be in less than top form after his huge effort on Saturday? Can Fear The Dragon shake off his first loss? Is Miso Fast for real and at the same level as the other two?

JAMES LYNCH: Tequila Monday was favored in the Fan Hanover and will have the chance to exact revenge on Bettor’s Up and Agent Q, the two fillies who beat her in that race. Meanwhile Brazuca looks for her fourth consecutive win against the toughest competition she’s yet faced.

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.

Sun Stakes Saturday July 1st – When the stars shine SO bright

Monday, June 26th, 2017

The stars will be out in full brilliance this Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, which is proud to host the $2,169,500 Sun Stakes Saturday card, including a collection of four major races: the $500,000 Ben Franklin Championship for pacing free-for-allers, the $500,000 Earl Beal Championship for three-year-old trotters, the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Championship for three-year-old pacing colts, and the $300,000 James Lynch Championship for three-year-old pacing fillies.

The horses earned their way into these Championship by finishing in the top three in their elimination races last Saturday – a couple of highly-regarded horses did not make the cut, but many of those will be racing in the consolation races for the four events throughout the card. The draw for this Saturday’s Championship events was conducted as an open draw – which, as always, helped the chances of some and may be a hindrance to some others. There will be no betting-coupled entries.

The four Championships will be races nine through twelve on Saturday’s 14-race card. Below is a preview of each Championship as they are being held from front to back on the card, followed by the entire field by post with driver and trainer, and then a paragraph on its consolation race.

$300,000 JAMES LYNCH CHAMPIONSHIP for three-year-old pacing fillies – race 9

The three elimination winners all drew in the middle of the gate or inside that, with the two most likely to draw attention, Tequila Monday and Agent Q, starting from posts one and four respectively. The American Ideal filly Tequila Monday, who won her elimination by a nose over Idyllic Beach in the elims’ fastest time of 1:50.4, may again try to go wire-to-wire from the pole as she did last week for driver Brian Sears, trainer Chris Oakes, and owners Susan Oakes and Chuck Pompey. Agent Q also favors speedy tactics, and went wire-to-wire last week in 1:51.1 for driver David Miller and trainer Aaron Lambert; Martin Scharf shares ownership in the Western Terror filly with Rochetti Cassar Racing and Robert Muscara.

Idyllic Beach, last year’s North American divisional champion and just shaded by Tequila Monday in the fastest elim last week, had a major monkey wrench thrown into her plans for victory when she drew the outside post nine; driver Yannick Gingras will need both sulky creativity and racing luck to overcome this tough starting slot.

The $300,000 JAMES LYNCH CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD: 1, Tequila Monday, Brian Sears, Chris Oakes; 2, Big City Betty, Jim Marohn Jr., Steve Salerno; 3, Inverse Hanover, Tim Tetrick, Nifty Norman; 4, Agent Q, David Miller, Aaron Lambert; 5, Brazuca, Corey Callahan, Tom Cancelliere; 6, Bettor’s Up, Doug McNair, Scott Mceneny; 7, Misqued, Steve Smith, John Balzer; 8, Caviart Ally, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley; 9, Idyllic Beach, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter.

$50,000 Lynch Consolation (race 2): Roaring To Go, 2-1 in the elim won by Brazuca, was used in a 26.1 opening quarter and could only manage a dead-heat for fourth; the rail gives her a good chance to race well-placed throughout. The fastest clocking of all the Lynch consolation entrants from last week, 1:51.4 by YS Tallia, will find that fourth-place finisher starting from post five here.

$500,000 MAX C. HEMPT CHAMPIONSHIP for three-year-old pacing colts – race 10

The two superstar colts from the Brian Brown stable – Fear The Dragon and Downbytheseaside – find themselves sharing the headliners’ spotlight with Miso Fast, who halted the 2017 undefeated string of the “Dragon” with a powerful victory last week.

Fear The Dragon had been put on the lead in his elimination, but driver Matt Kakaley got an instantaneous burst from the Roll With Joe colt Miso Fast when he asked him off the second turn, smoking his personal third quarter in 26.2 to open up a big lead, then having enough to come home in 26.4 to post the victory in 1:49.2 for trainer Ron Burke and the ownership of Burke Racing Stable LLC, Our Horse Cents Stables, and J&T Silva Stables LLC. Miso Fast starts from post four Saturday as he tries to put together a repeat performance.

Fear The Dragon, #1 in the North American Top Ten poll of harness horses going into the race, was certainly not disgraced in the mile – in fact, he came his last quarter in 26.2, faster than did Miso Fast, and regained all but 1½ lengths of Miso Fast’s huge advantage. The Dragon Again colt drew the rail in the Hempt Championship for driver David Miller and the Emerald Highlands Farm.

The other Brown sophomore star, Downbytheseaside, also posted a 1:49.2 clocking in winning his elimination, showing determination with horses charging at him late. Downbytheseaside had his chances hurt a bit when he drew post eight, but he figures to work his way into the mix for “Team Brian”’s other partner, driver Brian Sears, to be inducted into the Hall of Fame the next day.

The $500,000 MAX C. HEMPT CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD: 1, Fear The Dragon, David Miller, Brian Brown; 2, Santafe’s Coach, Anthony Napolitano, Leo Iordan; 3, Funknwaffles, Corey Callahan, John Butenschoen; 4, Miso Fast, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 5, Boogie Shuffle, Scott Zeron, Mark Harder; 6, Ozone Blue Chip, Brett Miller, Ron Coyne Jr.; 7, Donttellmeagain, Tim Tetrick, Jo Ann Looney-King; 8, Downbytheseaside, Brian Sears, Brian Brown; 9, Eddard Hanover, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke.

$75,000 Hempt Consolation (race 7): Every Way Out and Blood Brother were 6-5 and 2-1 respectively in their elimination last week, but both broke stride. Every Way Out will get a chance for redemption in the consolation, starting from post four; that possibility of redemption is extremely low for Blood Brother, as he became the AE1 in the draw and will not race unless there is a scratch in the Championship or the consolation.

$500,000 BEN FRANKLIN CHAMPIONSHIP for free-for-all pacers – race 11:

Two of the Franklin elimination winners, Keystone Velocity and Mel Mara, drew posts one and two, respectively, and a victory would make either one a career millionaire. The other elim winner, Dealt A Winner, was dealt post seven at the pill shake, and he shows only one call in eight racelines better than third at the quarter, meaning he may be staring at a difficult trip for David Miller. (Another numerological shudder for Dealt A Winner: should he triumph, his earnings would stand at $999,290.)

Keystone Velocity went a tick faster than did Mel Mara in winning his elim, 1:48.3 vs. 1:48.4, but Keystone Velocity was rallying off of a 1:20.3 ¾ time put up by Freaky Feet Pete, and just made the lead in the shadow of the wire, while Mel Mara showed a powerful early rush, went to the half in 53 under his own steam, and then drew away in the stretch to a 3½-length victory for driver Corey Callahan. With three wins and a second in four seasonal races, the son of Lis Mara will certainly be one of if not the favorite to win the Franklin jackpot for trainer Dylan Davis and owners Robert Cooper Stables LLC and J&T Silva Stables LLC.

The $500,000 BEN FRANKLIN CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD: 1, Keystone Velocity, Simon Allard, Rene Allard; 2, Mel Mara, Corey Callahan, Dylan Davis; 3, All Bets Off, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 4, Rockin Ron, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 5, Mach It So, Tim Tetrick, Jeff Bamond Jr., 6, Rock N’ Roll World, Brian Sears, Jeff Cullipher; 7, Dealt A Winner, David Miller, Mark Silva; 8, Boston Red Rocks, Tim Tetrick also listed, Steve Elliott; 9, Shamballa, Scott Zeron, Rick Zeron.

$75,000 Franklin consolation (race 8): The two biggest surprises from the elims missing out on the final were McWicked and Freaky Feet Pete. McWicked did not even enter into the consolation event, but Freaky Feet did, though he’ll have to deal with the outside post nine. In his elim, he rolled to the ¾ in 1:20.3 in his seasonal debut before tiring; he certainly can be tighter here.

$500,000 EARL BEAL CHAMPIONSHIP, for three-year-old trotters – race 12

The three Beal elimination winners drew posts one, two, and eight.

The filly got post eight.

Ariana G, a superstar sophomore trotting filly challenging the colts in the Beal, won her elimination race in hand, finishing out her 1:53.4 victory in 27.3 without drawing a labored breath. There may be a labored breath or two required this week from the tough starting slot, although the Muscle Hill filly, who won in 1:51.1 at The Meadowlands two starts ago, must still be rated the favorite to give driver Yannick Gingras his fourth straight win in the Beal (Father Patrick, Pinkman, Southwind Frank) as he steers for trainer Jimmy Takter and the partnership of breeders Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld.

Long Tom took his elim in 1:52.3 and may provide the main opposition to Ariana G for driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Marcus Melander, while Perfect Spirit, who scooted up the far inside to post a 23-1 upset in 1:54.1, has already had her trainer Åke Svanstedt read the writing on the wall and list David Miller as his candidate to replace his filly’s driver from last week – Gingras.

The $500,000 EARL BEAL CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD: 1, Long Tom, Tim Tetrick, Marcus Melander; 2, Perfect Spirit, David Miller, Åke Svanstedt; 3, Sortie, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley; 4, Moonshiner Hanover, Scott Zeron, Christopher Beaver; 5, Bill’s Man, Corey Callahan; 6, Lucky Matter, David Miller also listed, Christopher Beaver; 7, Devious Man, Andy Miller, Julie Miller; 8, Ariana G (*filly), Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 9, Dover Dan, Brett Miller, John Butenschoen.

$75,000 Beal consolation (race 5): One of the likely favorites would have been Rubio, who went offstride in his elim, but like Blood Brother, he drew AE1 and will not race unless there is a scratch in either of the Beal events. Giveitgasandgo, the 2016 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion, sat right behind Long Tom much of last week, but could only finish fourth; despite PP8 he should get attention in a balanced grouping.

FINISHING LINES – The sixth race, a $25,000 winners-over handicap pace, is named the Herve Filion Memorial, in honor of the incomparable Hall of Fame sulky wizard and former Pocono regular who passed away last week at age 77 … The first race on the huge Saturday card lists a 6:30 post time.

Sun Stakes Saturday presents Bobby Knight

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

Saturday, June 24th, the very best of the best trotters and pacers in North America will descend upon the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in Northeast PA for the Sun Stakes Saturday eliminations.  The star power for this night is dazzling!

There will be three eliminations of each for the $500,000 Ben Franklin Free-For-All Pace; the $500,000 Max Hempt Memorial Pace for three-year-old colts and geldings; the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Trot for three-year-olds; and the $300,000 James Lynch Memorial Pace for three-year-old fillies.  The top three finishers from each advance to the rich championship finals on Saturday, July 1st with over $2 million in purses on this prestigious night.

On Saturday, July 1st, Sun Stakes Saturday, the day begins with a special Meet and Greet with former college basketball coach Bobby Knight in the Racing Lobby from 5:00PM to 6:30PM.  This is a wristband-only event, with wristbands being distributed at 1:00pm.  Only authorized photos will be signed, and will be available at the signing.  A professional photographer will be on hand to capture photos, which will be displayed on the casino Facebook page after the event.

Also on July 1st, the first 300 fans will receive a souvenir laptop bag sponsored by the Standardbred Breeders Association of Pennsylvania and the Downs.  Coupon is required and in the live racing program, available starting at 5:30PM.  Redemption is between 9:00PM and 10:00Pm in the lower Grandstand bar.  The promotion is one per fan, while supplies last with their Racing Rewards card.

Post Time for both nights is 6:30PM, with plenty of seating on the apron and patio,  as well as free parking and free admission.  Dining in Pacer’s Clubhouse is by reservation only and can be secured by calling 1-888-WIN-IN-PA.

Racing for the track in Northeast PA continues on Sunday nights at 7:30PM; and Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday at 6:30PM.