Posts Tagged ‘Betterthancheddar’

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

November 1-7, 2013

As we have now reached the month of November, it’s time to start looking back on the season that was. While we still have some racing left to go, we would be remiss if out time ran out and we didn’t honor some of the best performers who have graced the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs stage in 2013. This week I’m proud to announce our 2013 Horses of the Year.

Although I had a little bit of input, most of the work in terms of tracking the best performances and making the selections was done by our Racing Marketing Manager Jennifer Starr and Clerk of Course Terri Phalen. It’s a difficult job, because of the sheer amount of great horses we have seen at the Pocono oval this season. These are fine choices though, a quartet of horses who are representative of the exemplary racing product that MSP had to offer in 2013. The envelopes, please.

PACER OF THE YEAR: DYNAMIC YOUTH

This 4-year-old gelding from the Aaron Lambert barn has been a standout at Pocono for a while now, but his 2013 season was one to remember. He made just six starts at MSPD this season, all against top-flight competition, and won four of them. All four of his victories, with his regular Pocono driver Andrew McCarthy aboard, came in times of less than 1:50.

Dynamic Youth delivered some especially eye-opening wins this year. In June, he won elimination for the Ben Franklin pace in a field that included superstar pacers Betterthancheddar, Clear Vision, and Golden Receiver. On October 5, his second of back-to-back wins in the Preferred pacing class came in a scorching time of 1:48:1, which matched a world record for 4-year-old geldings on the pace. No other horse had such consistent success at the top levels at Pocono than this one, which is why Dynamic Youth is deserving of this outstanding honor.

TROTTER OF THE YEAR: BEATGOESON HANOVER

A 5-year-old mare trained by Nifty Norman, Beatgoeson Hanover served notice that she would special at Pocono this season with her very first start of the meet, a condition win back in April 27 that came in 1:52:1, matching a track record for aged trotting mares. She followed that up with a Preferred win the next week.

When she returned to the Preferred trotting class at Pocono in August, she outdid herself with a winning mile of 1:51:4 with Tyler Buter in the bike, which broke not just her own track record but a world record for her age group on a 5/8-mile oval. Add in a respectable 5th place performance in the Breeders Crown finals and another easy Preferred win on October 26 and you can see why this mare gets the nod in this very competitive category.

MARE OF THE YEAR: FEELING YOU

The pride of the Amber Buter barn is without a doubt this gutty 6-year-old mare. Pocono has been just one of her stops this season and she has made the rounds to just about all of the best East Coast tracks. But it was her performance against the best distaff pacers at MSPD that earned her this award.

In five starts in the Preferred Mares pacing class, which is the top of the heap for distaffers at Pocono, Feeling You, with Tyler Buter in the bike, won three times and finished a close second in the other two. Last Friday night may have been her signature victory. Following a disappointing 7th-place finish in the Breeders Crown, she won a Preferred Handicap over a field that included Rocklamation, who finished 2nd in the Breeders Crown, and Drop The Ball, the world record holder in the age group. That victory shows that Feeling You was as good as any pacing mare this season.

CLAIMER OF THE YEAR: ST. PETE STAR

This was probably the toughest category to choose, because there were many claimers who had dominant stretches in their respective divisions. St Pete Star gets the nod for the fact that he put together an impressive record and did so when he was either near or at the very top of the claiming ladder.

Although he tailed off at the end of the season, St Pete Star, a 9-year-old stallion, had an awesome stretch from late April to the middle of August where he won eight of thirteen races and raised his claiming price from $15,000 to $25,000 in the process. He won for five different trainers in that span because he was a popular claiming commodity. At one point he won four in a row and six of seven, with a career-best victory of 1:49:2 in that span. All of those statistics tell you what anybody who saw St Pete Star at the peak of his powers this year would know: That he was the best of the best of the claimers at Pocono in 2013.

Next week we’ll wrap up the season with our final article of the year. Until then, we’ll see at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.

 

Sun Stakes Saturday Eliminations a record-breaking night!

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

On a dynamic, star-studded Saturday night of eliminations for the $2,000,000 Sun Stakes Saturday Finals at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs a week hence, they saved the best for last. 

And the oldest. And the richest. And the one who set a world record. 

Foiled Again, the nine-year-old evergreen gelding, boosted his lifetime bankroll to $4,920,444 by winning the third of three eliminations for next week’s $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace Final in 1:48 – a world record for older pacing geldings on a 5/8s, lowering by a tick the mark first established by Bettor Sweet and then equaled three weeks ago at Pocono by Camae’s Fella.

 This was win #69 for Foiled Again – and might have been the first where he used the passing lane to post the victory. Let go at 4-1, Foiled Again let Bolt The Duer bolt off the gate to early command, then made a shake-and-bake move to take command approaching the 26.1 quarter. Favored Pet Rock was moved early and took the lead in front of the stands, with Modern Legend up uncovered at the 54.3 half.

 Down the back Pet Rock and Modern Legend dueled to a 1:21.2 ¾ time, a battle they continued around the turn and into the stretch, where surprisingly it was the favorite who gave way first (though not much). But Yannick Gingras, a four-time winner on the night, had pointed Foiled Again to the Pocono Pike passing lane, and the Pike came through (it did an astounding eight times on the 14-race card) and so did the old man, with a new mark in his 180th lifetime start and the new world standard for his division. Modern Legend and Pet Rock also advanced from this field to the Franklin Final.

 Ron Burke conditions the victorious altered son of Dragon Again for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, and JJK Stables.

 One race earlier, Razzle Dazzle scored his first victory since the Levy Final in 1:49, also via the Pocono Pike. Somehow dismissed at 10-1, the Real Desire gelding and driver Brian Sears helped create their own luck early, shutting the pocket behind hardleaving Up The Credit, which left Sweet Lou no hole, after which he soon broke. After splits of 26 and 55, Fred And Ginger took the raw route to challenge by the 1:22.1 3/4s, and five of the field of six were in contention as they turned for home.

 Into the lane, it was Hoosier invader Our Lucky Chip, the longest shot on the board, who swept wide off of cover and into a brief lead—but there were literally only three places from which to win at Pocono Saturday: the pocket (nine times), the lead (four times), and first-over (once), and Razzle Dazzle built quick momentum and scooted up the inside to get the nod for trainer Mark Silva and owner Ira Kristel. Our Lucky Chip and Up The Credit also advanced to the Franklin final.

 The first Franklin elim also saw a pocket rocket the most photogenic, as the Bettor’s Delight 4YO gelding Dynamic Youth wound it up fast late to trip the timer in 1:48.3, equaling the track record for age/sex/gait under the guidance of Andrew McCarthy whiel also posting the best time of the year for his division. Dynamic Youth made Betterthancheddar pay a 25.3 price for quarter command; BTC got a breather to a 54.4 half, then dueled with raw Bettor’s Edge to a 1:21.4 ¾. Clear Vision loomed boldly off cover, but the “Youth” was the most dynamic late, with Clear Vision and “Cheddar” getting advancement to next week’s race behind the Aaron Lambert-trained winner, owned by the Silva Stables, Tucci, and C&G Racing Stable.

 To wrap up the Franklin, these facts: 1) The elim horses who did NOT qualify for the final were Rockincam, Bettor’s Edge, Sapphire City, Golden Receiver, Fred And Ginger, Heston Blue Chip, Sweet Lou, Bolt The Duer, Hurrikane Kingcole, and State Treasurer – winners of $10,000,000+, 2) all three elim winners took lifetime marks; 3) Foiled Again had the largest winning margin, a neck; the other two got the decision by a head; and 4) there are now seven horses who have paced in 1:48 or faster on a 5/8-mile track: recordholder Bolt The Duer at 1:47.4 (he was blocked in the stretch and did not make the final), and six horses at 1:48: four Franklin winners (Artistic Fella, Mister Big, We Will See, and ’12 champ Betterthancheddar, who could still defend his title); Heston Blue Chip (who also missed advancing because of stretch blockage); and now Foiled Again.

 MAX HEMPT (3PC) ELIMINATIONS

 Just when they begin to worry about The Captain, he digs in deep and achieves the victory.

 For the third straight week Captaintreacherous gave his backers some anxious moments, but his 53 back half after a leisurely 55.4 front half was enough for the 1:48.4 front-end triumph. Vegas Vacation, so highly-regarded going into the NA Cup and a little disappointing to some when finishing out of the money, showed that the hype about him was for real – he didn’t pull raw from third until the 5/8, but still he gained into the supersonic last four furlongs to the point that the Captain’s margin of victory was only a neck. Rockin Amadeus was next in line at the wire as Captaintreacherous remained unbeaten after four starts in his 2013 campaign; the Somebeachsomewhere colt is trained by Tony Alagna for Captaintreacherous Racing, and capped a sulky triple for Tim Tetrick.

 The first of the trio of Hempt eliminations saw something no one could recall – a 25.4 third quarter on the board – as Johny Rock (inside) dueled viciously with Word Power (outside) after a 55.2 half to a 1:21.1 three-quarters. Lurking in the pocket was the Rocknroll Hanover colt Emeritus Maximus, and he gave his maximus down the Pike to reduce his mark in 1:48.4 for driver Doug McNair (driving double) and owners Cheap Speed Stable, Alber, Wienick, and Fodera while preceding Captaintreacherous as a Tony Alagna-trained Hempt winner. Johny Rock had enough for second and Word Power enough for third to advance on a week; Lonewolf Currier, who would have been the popular choice if anybody was to pace a sub-26 quarter, proved empty off of cover.

 Also no factor from the “one and one” spot was Wake Up Peter – but the horse in front of him in the outside tier, and raw to boot, Sunfire Blue Chip, was giant in taking the fastest elim in 1:48.3, a ’13 No.Am. best, over Evenin Of Treasure and Martini Hanover. The only winner on the entire Pocono card who was not the pacesetter or pocket horse, the son of American Ideal is owned by Takter, Fielding/Fielding, Brixton Medical AB, and R A W Equine, and gave conditioner Jimmy Takter a pacing victory to add to his two trotting triumphs – as we shall see next.

 EARL BEAL (3TC) ELIMINATIONS

 This division – the Hambletonian division – had its clarity fuzzied instead of sharpened, as early Hambo chalk Smilin Eli won, but the small but mighty Dontyouforgetit clocked in the fastest.

 Dontyouforgetit was in the first elimination and may have had the advantage of a few degrees of warmness in temperature, but he still was impressive to gain from the (what else) pocket into a 55.3 last half to report home first in 1:52.1, a national season’s best and lowering his mark by two seconds. Possessed Fashion, who was able to delay his first-over bid until after the 5/8s, came up big for second, while pacesetter Celebrity Maserati did well in holding for third and Beal advancement. Jimmy Takter trains the son of Cantab Hall for Solveig’s Racing Partners, with Yannick Gingras sulkyside.

 Smilin Eli had to go 26.3 to obtain the early lead from the outside post eight in his elim, but he was equal to the task while remaining undefeated after four starts, halting the timer in 1:52.3. The 3-5 Muscles Yankee colt fended off railsitters Fico (75-1) and Picture This (65-1) for Tim Tetrick, trainer Deshawn Minor, and owner Nicholas Cimino. Jurgen Hanover, 7-7 in 2013 before the race, had the “undesirable” second-over trip and finished fifth, not advancing.

 Trainer Takter had another Beal elim winner in Corky, never off the board in 13 lifetime starts and never behind at any pole in a 1:52.3 victory, with David Miller in the sulky for owners Christina Takter and John and Jim Fielding (owning doubles for all). Giving Muscles Yankee a double siring credit for the Beal, Corky (lowering his mark by over two seconds) defeated Royalty For Life, who made a break quarter-moving, dropped back to last, and was coming fastest of all late (into a 55.2 back half) to save a miracle second, with Crystal Phenom third.

 JAMES LYNCH (3PF) ELIMINATIONS

 I Luv The Nitelife, fresh off her Fan Hanover jiggyjog win, snapped into high gear like a veteran campaign when shown racetrack up the prized Pocono Pike to take her Lynch elimination in 1:50.1. Nikki Beach, Charisma Hanover, Somwherovrarainbow (pacesetter in only her second race in 37 days) and Mattie Terror Girl (faster fifth-place finisher) all advanced to the Lynch final behind the victorious Rocknroll Hanover filly driven by Tim Tetrick and trained by Chris Ryder for Richard and Joanne Young.

 Ms Caila J Fra won the other elimination in a national season’s record 1:49.3 in the card’s curtainraiser for driver Simon Allard and trainer Steve Elliott, while also giving the recovering The Fra Stable LLC a boost in sprits. After what you have read before, it will be no surprise to learn that the winning daughter of Western Ideal parlayed a pocket trip to victory – but she was the only winning two-hole tripper to move OUTSIDE for the stretch drive, wearing down Shebestingin late, with Jerseylicious and Authorize also authorized to advance to the Lynch finale.

 

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs readies for Sun Stakes Saturday

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

There are 11 stakes race eliminations on the Saturday card at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, with horses earning their way into competition next Saturday, Sun Stakes Saturday, that will be worth almost $2,000,000 in purses. 

15 three-year-old pacing fillies in the two eliminations for the $300,000 James Lynch Final have bankrolled a combined $3.6M in a little more than one season, and two have beaten 1:50 already this year: I Luv The Nitelife, who won the Fan Hanover Final last week, and Ms Caila J Fra, who defeated “Luv” and another top Lynch contender, Jerseylicious, in a recent NJ Sire Stakes Final. Oh, and there’s Somwherovrarainbow, who is merely defending division champ.

 24 three-year-old trotting colts, less than two months away from the Hambletonian, start their quest for the $1,000,000 PA bonus for winning the Earl Beal Trot, the Colonial, and the Breeders Crown (which will all be at Pocono) by racing three elims for next week’s $500,000 Beal Final. The “hot shooter” in this group, which has collectively earned $3.8M and has 13 entrants who have bettered 1:55 already this season, is Smilin Eli, perfect in three career races, but starting “behind the 8-ball” in his Saturday elim.

 22 of the sport’s “glamour division,” the three-year-old pacing colts, will go at it in three elims before the $500,000 Max Hempt Memorial next week. And right now, in a collective group with $5.1M banked and eight under 1:50 already in 2013, the big focus will be on “The Captain,” Captaintreacherous, last season’s Pacer of the Year who kicked off his 2013 campaign right at Pocono and now returns to town off a triumph in the year’s first seven-figure race, last Saturday $1,000,000 North America Cup Final at Mohawk.

 And that’s just the three-year-olds. There are 20 older horses brought together for elims towards the $500,000 Ben Franklin Final on the Sun Saturday Stakes card, and they just may be the best overall field of horses ever assembled. Their collective accomplishments are mind-boggling:

 $23.9M in career earnings – that’s right, the AVERAGE career bankroll of this field approaches $1.2 million, headed by the sport’s richest-ever pacer, Foiled Again ($4,895,444); an AVERAGE career mark of 1:48.2, with 13 of the 20 already hanging up a sub-1:50 triumph in 2013;

 the defending Franklin champ, Betterthancheddar; the defending 3YO (Heston Blue Chip) and older (Foiled Again) champions; the horse who beat this group most recently, in the Roll With Joe at Tioga, Pet Rock; and the fastest horse ever on a 5/8-mile track, Bolt The Duer (1:47.4f). 

Wow! What a card! 

The first of Saturday’s 14 races at Pocono is set to go at 6:30 p.m. The Lynch fillies are in races 1 and 5; the Beal trotters are in races 2, 6, and 9; Hempt colts are slated for action in the 3rd, 7th, and 10th; and the free-for-all monsters will go in races 8, 11, and 12.

 You just don’t like harness racing if you’re not anxious to see this card’s action unfold, and to see who earns spots for the $2,000,000 Sun Stakes Saturday card a week later.

Gerry Connors for Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs

 

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

2012 Season Review

Well, racing fans, we’ve come to that point in the year where we wrap things up at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The season closes out on Wednesday night, November 21 with the 140th racing night of the campaign. After that, MSPD racing goes on hiatus until March of 2013.

Since we are so near the end, it’s time to put on a bow on this season by looking back at some of the memorable performances that Pocono racing fans have witnessed over the past 7 ½ months. We talked about the horses of the year a week ago in this column. Let’s take a little time now to honor the top drivers and trainers from this outstanding season just about gone by.

On the driving side, it was another stellar season for George Napolitano Jr. who rocketed back to the top of the standings in driving wins. George also was in a battle for the UDRS title, a percentage akin to a baseball batting average measuring driving efficiency, with Jim Morrill Jr., and that race might even come down to the final night.

George Nap was not the only driver to have success this season however, as our balanced racing community at Pocono produced eight men with over 100 wins in the meet. Those eight drivers were mixed evenly between veterans like Napolitano, Morrill, Mike Simons, and Joe Pavia Jr. and younger pilots who have already established themselves as forces like Matt Kakaley, Tyler Buter, Andrew McCarthy, and Eric Carlson. Carlson accomplished the feat in his first ever year at MSPD.

On the training side, Chris Oakes once again dominated the proceedings. He held a huge advantage in training UDRS all season long, and he pulled away from Ron Burke for the training wins crown in the season’s final weeks. In addition to Oakes and Burke, there have been a number of trainers celebrating excellent seasons in 2012. The other trainers rounding out the Top 10 in victories in 2012: Kent Sherman, Erv Miller, Amber Buter, Jason Robinson, Rene Allard, Paul Holzman, Brewer Adams, and Mark Ford.

2012 also was a great year for track records, proving once again that the competition keeps getting better and faster at Pocono. Out of 24 categories which separate horses by age, gait, and gender, 13 records were set in 2012. In other words, more than half of the existing records fell by the wayside.

Our two most prestigious records, fastest pace and fastest trot for all ages and genders, came under assault in 2012, not surprisingly in the two biggest stakes races held all season at Pocono. Betterthancheddar captured the Ben Franklin pace in 1:48, matching the all-time pacing mark set a season ago by We Will See. On that same June day in the Earl Beal Memorial trot, Googoo Gaagaa put together a ridiculous performance for a victory in 1:50:4, the fastest mile ever trotted, not just at Pocono, but on any 5/8-mile oval.

In addition to those two amazing records, Economy Terror managed a feat that will be hard to match. After setting the track mark for two-year-old placing fillies at the Pennsylvania Championships in 2011, she came back as a 3-year-old and defended her state title, once again breaking a track record in the process. That makes Economy Terror, the pride of the Oakes’ barn, the only horse to have two records on the Pocono ledger.

Those were just a few examples of what has been another tremendous season of racing at MSPD. Even as we come to one meet’s completion, it’s hard not to look forward to what’s ahead in 2013. That’s because the Breeders Crown, harness racing’s year-end championship races, will once again be hosted by Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.

We hosted the Breeders Crown for the first time back in 2010, and it was such a ringing success that we all hoped that it wouldn’t be too long before it returned. We are honored to be the location for the best of the best in harness racing, who will duke it out for bragging rights and hundreds of thousands of dollars in purse money.

In the meantime, it’s time to put the 2012 season to bed. It has once again been an honor to call the races for the Pocono faithful, and, as always, I’ve enjoyed writing these columns to highlight the very best of the racing at our track. There are too many co-workers to thank for all their efforts in bringing racing to you all; suffice it to say they all have harder jobs than me and they do them splendidly to make sure the racing product at Pocono is the best in the country.

Finally, I’d like to thank our fans, the most loyal and knowledgeable around, for their continued support of MSPD racing. I hope you all have a wonderful winter, and I look forward to seeing you all again for what should be an amazing 2013 meet.

Until then, that will do it for this year, but, after a little time off, 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

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

September 14-20, 2012

We had only two nights of live racing this past week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, so the Weekly Awards will have to take a little hiatus until next week. Instead, I thought we’d play a little game of “Where Are They Now?”

If you’re like me, you’re fascinated by all those shows which reveal the whereabouts of celebrities from yesteryear who haven’t stayed in the limelight. Only in our case, the celebrities are of the four-legged variety, particularly those horses who won the four major stakes races at Pocono this season.

What this little exercise should show is just how good those four horses are and that their moments in the spotlight at Pocono were indicative of the way that they’ve performed at other tracks around the country. It should also show that the MSPD stakes schedule, with its hefty purses attached, now attracts the best of the best in the harness racing world.

Our first major stakes race of the season, the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Trot for 3-year-olds on June 23, was a coming out party for the amazing Googoo Gaagaa. Up to that point, he had been a regional phenomenon for trainer Richard Hans in his home state of Maryland, but his ridiculous win in 1:50:4 in the Beal seemed to serve notice that he was the best sophomore trotter in the nation.

His skeptics had plenty to crow about when he went off stride in his following starts at Yonkers and The Meadowlands. Hans sent him back to Maryland for a confidence-building win in Maryland, then returned him to the fray to face the best of the best, including Hambletonian champ Market Share, in the Colonial at Harrah’s on August 18. Googoo Gaagaa proved definitively that the Beal was no fluke that day, whipping his competition for a victory in 1:52:1.

On June 30, we witnessed one of the sport’s true superstars as 3-year-old filly pacer American Jewel rolled in the final of the James Lynch Memorial stakes. That put her career record at 12 wins in 14 tries, meaning the filly didn’t know much about defeat. She would find out in her next three starts, hitting the board in consecutive stakes races at The Meadowlands, Tioga, and Harrah’s, but failing to pick up a victory in any of those tough battles.

When you’re a filly with as much talent as American Jewel, the near-misses just aren’t going to cut it. That’s why trainer Jimmy Takter had to be pleased when she righted herself with a win in her last start in Canada in the Simcoe stakes. With that win in tow, she appears to be in prime shape for the upcoming Breeders Crown.

When A Rocknroll Dance headed into the Max Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old pacers at Pocono on June 30, he was in the midst of a slump. As a result, despite an outstanding 2-year-old campaign in 2011, the colt from the Jim Mulinix barn went off as a 17-1 shot. He found his stride that day, however, buzzing by the leaders late to pull off the upset.

Buoyed by his win in the Hempt, the colt has since moved into the upper echelon of 3-year-old pacers in the country. A win in the prestigious Meadowlands Pace solidified that standing, and his victory in the Battle of the Brandywine at Harrah’s in August was one of the signature performances of the racing season.

Has there been a better pacer in the country this year than the amazing Betterthancheddar? Trained by Casie Coleman, the 4-year-old put together a thrilling, front-pacing win in the Ben Franklin free-for-all pace at Pocono on June 30, matching the track’s fastest ever pacing time with a mile of 1:48. Coleman then took him back to Canada for three straight victories.

Betterthancheddar was upset by the great Foiled Again in the Canadian Derby at Mohawk, but he quickly bounced back to beat that horse and other top pacers in the Bobby Quiller Memorial at Harrington on September 17. He has legitimate Horse of the Year aspirations.

So, as you can see, the horses that have made their mark at Pocono have gone on to perform with excellence at their subsequent destinations. Maybe we shouldn’t be asking, “Where are they now?” after all. Maybe the proper question is, “What will they do next?”

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