Posts Tagged ‘Bigtown Hero’

Pennsylvania Classic and Miss Pennsylvania shine on Derby night

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

Ron Burke trainees finished 1-2-3 in the inaugural $561,500 Pennsylvania Classic Final for state-sired three-year-old pacing colts and geldings Saturday night, May 7th, Kentucky Derby night, at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with Check Six going a big mile on the front end to reduce his mark a tick to 1:50.3, while in the companion filly event, the $313,800 Miss Pennsylvania Final, Pure Country bounced back from her first loss in the previous week’s elimination race, going the first-over route and still matching the 1:50.3 clocking of Check Six.

Check Six was three-wide a good part of the first turn, then when The Catamount Kid backed off from between horses, Check Six was sent to the front by driver Yannick Gingras to go around stablemate Big Top Hanover, with the first quarter of 27.2 not too taxing despite the extra real estate. Check Six got a further breather when the half was tripped in 56.1.

The price of pacing went up exponentially down the backstretch when another Burkeite, Check Six’s fellow Classic elim winner JK Will Power, advanced to give a stern first-over challenge. The ¾ was tripped in 1:23.1, and then despite going into a stretch headwind the battling duo still stormed in 27.2, with Check Six holding off JK Will Power, let go at a surprising 12-1, by a neck, with Big Top Hanover another 1¼ lengths back. The Catamount Kid held for fourth, with Lyons Snyder, a slight favorite over the winner with both sent off at 2.10-1, unable to capitalize on second-over position and settling for the last check.

Trainer Ron Burke took home $488,850 of the rich purse in the Classic, while Check Six became the second-largest moneywinner of the year by boosting his 2016 bankroll to $301,250, with his career bankroll for Burke Racing Stables LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, William Switala and James Martin at $416,139.

Yannick Gingras, who drove both elim winners for Burke, picked Check Six for his Classic mount, “but the choice was closer than I would have thought earlier – JK Will Power really showed me a lot last week, and he was big again tonight.” But Check Six came up biggest of all at the finish and took in the glory of winning the first Pennsylvania Classic.

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She’s b-a-a-a-a-a-c-k!

Pure Country, last year’s champion two-year-old filly who suffered her first loss in a Miss Pennsylvania elim in her seasonal debut, looked like a filly who could rank with the greats when she overcame a hard first-over trip to win the Miss PA Final in the same time as Check Six, a new lifetime mark.

Pure Country settled midpack early as Call Me Queen Be went a stinging 25.2 first quarter, then yielded to 4-5 favorite Darlinonthebeach (Pure Country was the 2-1 second choice, the first time she had gone off higher than 3-5 in her career). Darlinonthebeach went on to the half in 53.3, with driver Brett Miller having Pure Country in gear first-over at that point and advancing the length of the backstretch to be right in contention at the 1:21.3 ¾.

Pure Country just kept on advancing the turn, gaining the  lead past the curve’s midpoint, and continued on strongly through the lane, holding off the late rush of second-over I Said Diamonds by 1¼ lengths, with Call Me Queen Be, Newborn Sassy, and I Said Please getting the minor awards in that order; the favored pacesetter Darlinonthebeach tired and finished seventh.

Speaking of her Miss Pennsylvania elim loss, trainer Jimmy Takter noted that “she had been a little sick and I had lost two weeks” of preparation for her 2016 bow. The “real” Pure Country showed up at Pocono Saturday, and the smiles on the faces of Takter and owner Adam Bowden of the Diamond Creek operation were big indeed.

(And yes, both winners were second choices, both won in 1:50.3, and both took new marks. The styles of the two races, though, couldn’t have been more different.)

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In the race before the two Pennsylvania stakes finals, the American Ideal gelding Bigtown Hero, no stranger to extreme speed when at his prime, went the fastest mile in North American harness racing this year, 1:48.1, in an $18,000 pace. Simon drove the Hero like he was the best, and the horse validated his judgement, moving to the lead after a 26.2 opener and then hanging out middle splits of 53.4 and 1:20.3 before holding of the late charge of Aslan to win for Simon’s brother, trainer Rene Allard, and the partnership of Allard Racing Inc and Yves Sarrazin.

Bigtown Hero scores Saturday night feature

Monday, August 31st, 2015

Bigtown Hero, who already has two appearances on the sport’s all-time list of “horse who have hit the 3/4s in 1:20 or better,” missed by a tick becoming the only horse ever with three such appearances, winning the $24,000 featured pace at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Saturday night, August 29th.

Bigtown Hero, an altered son of American Ideal, certainly didn’t have it easy, either — he was outside with cover until favored Bandolito cleared Bushwacker past a 26 opener, then rolled up raw to grab the top early on the second turn, en route to hitting the half in 53.1.

Driver Simon Allard, sulkysitting for trainer/brother/Pocono leader Rene, opened up lengths on Bandolito down the backstretch, with Bushwacker taking other crack outside, but both were well-behind when the timer tripped at 1:20.1 with a quarter to ago. Bandolito ate fractionally into the winner’s lead late, but was still shy of him by 3/4 of a length at the finish, with Quick Jolt coming from the clouds for third, a half length behind Bandolito and a length ahead of Bushwacker.

Allard Racing Inc. and Yves Sarrazin own the speed merchant, who hit the 3/4 in 1:19.4 last September 20 here en route to taking his mark of 1:47.3, and then on November 8 posted the fastest half (52.2) and 3/4s (1:19.1) in 5/8-mile track history before tiring in a race where Mach It So beat State Treasurer in 1:48. Both of these miles were also at Pocono.

Also at Pocono Saturday were a pair of $24,000 trots. Wind Of The North, an altered son of Cantab Hall who equaled a division world record of 1:51 here last year, needed only 1:53.3 Saturday to report home first for trainer Daryl Bier, co-owner with Joann Dombeck; in the other division the Andover Hall filly Sistas, 3-for-3 in Stallion Series competition, handled a big class rise, a predominantly male field, and a predominantly older field in 1:55 for driver George Napolitano Jr., trainer Chris Oakes, and owners Albert and Michelle Crawford. (Napolitano, who had 100 wins in July, won three times here Saturday to put him at 98 for August, with sessions at both Philly and Pocono tomorrow possibly letting him achieve a rare “consecutive double century” of winners; the win with Sistas was also his 500th of 2015).

Sun Stakes Saturday Eliminations June 27th a star-studded night

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Most of the stars in 2015’s early-season harness firmament will be gathered at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono this Saturday night, June 27th,  with 3YO pacers of both sexes, 3YO trotting colts, and FFA pacers looking to earn spots in the $1.8M “Sun Stakes Saturday” Championship events of their divisional stakes a week from Saturday (July 4). Here’s an early look at each of the four groups of horses competing in this Saturday’s eliminations:

BEN FRANKLIN FREE-FOR-ALL PACE

(two $30,000 eliminations in races 7 and 9, with the top four plus fastest fifth-place horse returning for the $500,000 Championship)

The first Franklin elim is headed by the richest horse in the history of harness racing, Foiled Again, who will be leaving from the middle of the nine-horse field for trainer Ron Burke and driver Yannick Gingras. The evergreen 11YO went over $7M in career earnings in winning the Battle Of Lake Erie on June 12, and of course few will forget his 2013 Pocono campaign, winning the elimination and final of both the Franklin and the Breeders Crown, taking his lifetime mark of 1:48 in the Franklin elim.

The biggest threat to Foiled Again may be Domethatagain, who won the $529,000 Levy Final at Yonkers in April, and who produced a $60 shocker in the Franklin elims last year by nosing out Captaintreacherous  over his “home track” of Pocono. Trained by Rene Allard, Domethatagain will start from post six, with Tim Tetrick the early listing for sulky duty, and he will coupled in the wagering with his Allard barnmate Big Boy Dreams (PP3, driver Brian Sears).

In the second Franklin elim, any number of angles could play out:

–There is the Ron Burke stable coupled entry of Clear Vision (PP4, Brett Miller) and Bettor’s Edge (PP6, Matt Kakaley), who between them have won over $3.85M in their careers;

–There are the last two Pennsylvania Horses of the Year for outstanding performances in Open overnights, Dynamic Youth (2013, PP7, Andrew McCarthy) and Dancin Yankee (2014, PP8, Brett Miller also listed);

–There is another sharp Rene Allard trainee, Bigtown Hero (PP2, brother Simon Allard driving), who has won three straight, and who had half of North America’s 1:20-or-less clockings to the ¾ last year, both of them here at Pocono;

–And there is State Treasurer, recent winner of the Gold Cup at Mohawk and the Molson Pace at London, but who will have to translate his Canadian form to local success after starting from the outermost post nine for driver David Miller.

EARL BEAL JR. 3YO COLT TROT

(three $25,000 eliminations in races 3, 5, and 12, with the top three coming back for the $500,000 Championship)

In the first Beal elim, Habitat (PP3, driver Jim Morrill Jr.) will look to be carrying on his fine 2015 form, with wins in the Dexter Cup and two New York Sire Stakes. Just to his right in the field of six will be Cruzado Dela Noche (David Miller), who was second, beaten only a half-length by Uncle Lasse in a 1:51.4 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes contest at The Meadows at the end of last month.

The second Beal cut will find the most attention on Pinkman (PP5 in a seven-horse field, Brett Miller), 2014 national champion and Breeders Crown winner, and undefeated in 2015, winning a Sire Stakes at each of three of Pennsylvania’s racetracks. Just for good measure, he’ll be coupled in the betting with his Jimmy Takter barnmate Whom Shall I Fear (PP4, Yannick Gingras), the full brother to Pastor Stephen and Father Patrick.

Also to be respected in this division are two recent double Sire Stakes winners, New Jersey’s Guess Whos Back (PP3, Brian Sears) and Pennsylvania’s Wicker Hanover (PP7, Andrew McCarthy).

In the third elimination of the Beal, the current Kings of New York (Crazy Wow) and Pennsylvania (Uncle Lasse) will clash. Crazy Wow (PP2, Yannick Gingras) comes off an open-length score in the Empire Breeders Classic at Vernon, and has shown the ability to repair a mistake with breathtaking speed. Uncle Lasse, saddled with the outside post six for driver Brett Miller, has been to many eyes nearly as impressive in the PA Sires as his Takter stablemate Pinkman, going 3 for 3 and with that 1:51.4 triumph at The Meadows.

MAX C. HEMPT 3YO COLT PACE

(three $25,000 eliminations in races 6, 8, and 10, with the top three coming back for the $500,000 Championship)

The first elim for “the glamour division” matches up last year’s divisional champion Artspeak and his closest 2014 challenger In The Arsenal. Artspeak, starting from post six for driver Scott Zeron, has had four good starts in 2015, although after winning his first two starts in NJSS competition, he “only” had a 2-5 slate in the North American Cup, but in both cases he did not have the easiest of trips. In The Arsenal had opened his year with four straight wins, including an NA Cup elim, before finishing fourth in the final; here he may have a slight positional advantage as he begins from post four in the field of nine, with Brian Sears listed to drive.

The middle Hempt heat has at its center (literally, as he begins from post five) the speedy Wiggle It Jiggleit. The colt had shown amazing speed in taking his lone start of 2014 and all 10 of his 2015 starts prior to the NA Cup Final, but cutting a searing pace of 25.1, 53.3, and 1:21 proved just a bit too much, although he held gamely to miss by only ¾ of a length to Wakizashi Hanover in a sterling 1:48.

Wakizashi Hanover, who will begin from post four in a field of eight for driver Tim Tetrick in the third elimination, had tipped his hand with a strong 4-3-1-0 opening to this year’s campaign in Pennsylvania, and then conquered all in Toronto, coming from behind to take his elim and then being a successful pocket rocket in the Final. He’ll face a major challenge here from Lost For Words (David Miller), undefeated in four 2015 starts and winning thrice in the Pa Sires; his challenges will be a three-week vacation and post seven.

JAMES LYNCH 3YO FILLY PACE

(three $20,000 eliminations in races 4, 11, and 13, with the top three coming back for the $300,000 Championship)

The first elim for the Lynch features the 2-3 finishers in the $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Championship for this division, with Stacia Hanover, who missed a neck in finishing second, returning with first-time Lasix as she begins from PP6 in the seven-horse assemblage for driver Scott Zeron, while Wicked Little Minx (PP4, Brett Miller) was only a length from taking it all in the Jersey finale.

Wicked Little Minx is trained by Nancy Johansson, the daughter of Jimmy Takter, and Johansson also conditions the main horse of interest in the second elimination, JK She’salady (PP1 in a field of eight, Tim Tetrick). The “Lady” was undefeated in a 12-race campaign to become the first 2PF to be elected Harness Horse of the Year, but this race represents her first possible crossroads, since she comes off a

4-5 pair of starts in the Fan Hanover at Mohawk the last two weeks. Sassa Hanover (PP4, Yannick Gingras), a Fan Hanover elim winner, and The Show Returns (PP6, John Campbell), second in the Fan Hanover final, should provide challenging competition.

Two horses from the huge barn of Ron Burke, uncoupled in the betting because of separate ownership, will get their fair share of attention in the third Lynch elim. Southwind Roulette, named co-Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Horse of the Year in 2014, starts from post two for Matt Kakaley after two seconds and a third, beaten a total of 1¼ lengths, in recent Pennsylvania stakes competition, while Happiness (PP5 in the seven-horse field, Yannick Gingras), shows a New Jersey Sires win, and was fourth in the NJSS final.

The first race on the monstrous, in quality and quantity (16 races), Saturday card at Pocono is 6:30 p.m.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

November 7-13, 2014    

Choosing the horses of the year at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs used to be a much simpler job. When the racing wasn’t as competitive as it is now, there were usually only a few candidates who would rise above the rest by winning in the same classes week after week, making the choices for the top honors relativeLY easy.

Not anymore. Since Pocono is a destination for the top horses and horsemen in the country, it is extremely difficult for any one horse to dominate a single division. As a result, there are dozens of horses who can make legitimate cases at different times in the year that they are the best of the best at MSPD.

I had a little input into these choices, but most of the research and hard work behind these choices was done by my esteemed colleagues Terri Phalen and Jennifer Starr. It wasn’t easy, but the three winners, in my opinion, are extremely deserving. So, without further ado, here is a look at the 2014 Pocono Horses of the Year.

PACER OF THE YEAR: DANCIN YANKEE

When this six-year-old stallion arrived at Pocono in May, he had already distinguished himself with a big winning streak at Dover and a respectable performance in the Levy series at Yonkers. Trained by Josh Green, he made his presence felt immediately at MSPD with back-to-back wins, including a dominant performance in the $50,000 Van Rose Invitational.

When he returned at the end of June, he was working for the Amber Buter barn. What an auspicious Pocono debut he made for the new connections, winning a $100,000 invitational race with Tyler Buter in the bike in 1:47:2, a winning time which would have broken every record in the book if Sweet Lou hadn’t won the Franklin in 1:47 that same night. Dancin Yankee followed that up with three more no-doubt wins in a row in a Preferred company. Only a monster mile by Bigtown Hero in September kept him from sheer perfection at Pocono for the year, as he finished third to finish with six wins in seven against the very best on the grounds. His success at Pocono was just one part of a brilliant season overall for Dancin Yankee, but it was good enough to capature perhaps the most glamorous year-end award.

TROTTER OF THE YEAR: WIND OF THE NORTH

Wind Of The North, a four-year-old gelding trained by Clifton Green, didn’t waste any time at Pocono in 2014. He picked up a condition win in the season’s first week on his way to wins in four of his five races of the season as he moved up the condition ladder in the spring. That was just his warm-up act, however. On June 28, with David Miller in the bike, he burned his way to a victory in 1:51, setting a new world record for his age group and gender on a 5/8-mile oval in the process.

One thing that Wind Of The North had failed to accomplish in the first half of the season was a win against the Preferred trotters. That all changed when he handled that very group for a victory on September 27. His final tally: ten starts at Pocono in 2014, six wins, two seconds, and a third. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s a Trotter of the Year resume for sure.

CLAIMER OF THE YEAR: B J’S RAMEAU

Do you want to know what was impressive about B J’s Rameau’s season at Pocono? Everything, that’s what. The sheer numbers of it are good enough on their own to warrant Claimer of the Year consideration. In 28 races at Pocono this season, the 5-year-old gelding hit the board 17 times and won 11, including a career-best 1:49:1 mile.

Then consider that all of those victories were against the top rung of the claiming ladder at Pocono. Consider that, as a hot claiming commodity, he won his 11 races for eight different trainers. And finally consider that many of those races were claiming handicaps and BJ’s Rameau, because of his high sale price, was often saddled with the outside post, making his record even more impressive. We’ve had a lot of outstanding claimers this year, but they were all toiling in the wake of this gelding.

Next week in this space we’ll be wrapping up the 2014 season for good as we approach closing night on November 22. We’ll be taking a look back at some of the best moments of the year and we’ll also tell you who won the honors among drivers and trainers in terms of wins and percentage. It’s hard to believe it’s almost over, but the three horses we’ve spotlighted here have given us a whole lot to remember come the offseason.

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.

 

Mach It So Shatters World Record in Open Handicap Pace at Pocono

Monday, November 10th, 2014

November 8, 2014

Mach It So rallied from the pocket to win Saturday night’s featured $35,000 Open Handicap pace at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs and did so in world-record time.

Leaving from post position #4 in a field of six as a 7-1 shot, Mach it So (Mach Three-Beach Dancer), a 4-year-old gelding from the PJ Fraley barn, left well for driver Andrew McCarthy and then sat the pocket as Bigtown Hero cut out blistering fractions of :25:2, :52:2, and 1:19:1. Those numbers proved unsustainable for the 4-5 favorite, and Mach It So rallied in the stretch through the inside passing lane to hold off State Treasurer by a half-length. Wake Up Peter finished 3rd.

The winning time of 1:48 broke the world record for four-year-old pacing geldings on a 5/8-mile oval of 1:48:1, which was set in July of 2013 at Pocono by Live On and matched later in the year at the track by Dynamic Youth.

Owned by Bamond Racing, Mach It So won for the eighth time in 21 races in 2014. It was his 18th career victory and pushed his lifetime earnings to $601,039.