Posts Tagged ‘Cane Pace’

Top horses in North America battle on Super Stakes Saturday

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

The two top-rated horses in 2015 North American harness racing, the three-year-old geldings Pinkman and Wiggle It Jiggleit, will continue their battle for #1 status in the sport this Saturday night during the $2,435,000 Super Stakes Saturday card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, going in consecutive races – first Pinkman in the $500,000 Colonial Trot, and then Wiggle It Jiggleit in the $500,000 Battle of the Brandywine Pace.

The three three-year-old races, which include the $350,000 Valley Forge Pace for fillies, are filled according to 2015 moneywinnings –the nine having the highest seasonal bankrolls are gathered in the “main event” races, with the next nine in order in Consolation I, and the nine after that in Consolation II.

Another high-profile event Saturday is the $100,000 Sebastian K S Invitational Trot, a race which will double as a retirement ceremony for the trans-Atlantic champion who will be honored in special on-track ceremonies before he heads to stallion duties. Ironically, the likely favorite is the Sebastian K S is JL Cruze – the #3-ranked horse in North America, and the one who defeated “Sebastian” by a nose in his only 2015 outing before his retirement.

Here are profiles of the Big Three three-year-old events, followed by a look at the Sebastian K S Trot and other powerful races on the Saturday card:

COLONIAL TROT — $500,000 main event race 11; $200,000 Consolation I race 7; $100,000 Consolation II race 3. Stakes record: 1:52.1, Googoo Gaagaa.

Pinkman, fresh off his two-heat, world recordsetting victory in The Hambletonian, was aided by the draw with post two in the field of nine. Yannick Gingras is listed to drive Pinkman, a son of Explosive Matter who has eight wins and one second in nine seasonal starts, with his mark the 1:51 world record for 3TG in the second heat of the Hambletonian, and his $1,170,965 in 2015 earnings raising his career total to $1,737,625. (By the way, his chief foe in the Hambletonian, the filly Mission Brief, will be racing in Pennsylvania some 27 hours earlier, heading the $174,000 Moni Maker Trot at The Meadows Friday night.)

Pinkman will be find some familiar faces on the track beside him Saturday, as five of the nine Colonial entrants are, like he, part of the trotting superstable of Jimmy Takter. The “other” quartet – Uncle Lasse (PP3, driver David Miller), The Bank (PP6, Takter listing himself), Canepa Hanover (PP8, John Campbell back in the sulky), and French Laundry (PP9, Brett Miller) – are not just “makeweight” entrants either, with combined seasonal earnings of $900,000 among them.

Crazy Wow (PP1, trainer Ron Burke, driver Tim Tetrick) and Wicker Hanover (post five, Noel Daley, Corey Callahan) seem to have the best chance to upset the Takter applecart. Crazy Wow was third in the Beal Final here in June, behind Pinkman and Uncle Lasse, while Wicker Hanover handed Pinkman his only defeat of the year, in the Beal eliminations.

BATTLE OF THE BRANDYWINE — $500,000 main event race 12; $200,000 Consolation I race 8; $100,000 Consolation II race 4. Stakes record: 1:47.4, Sunshine Beach.

Wiggle It Jiggleit, an altered son of Mr Wiggins, has achieved slightly-higher earnings than Pinkman so far – $1,189,144, while winning 15 of 17 starts and showing speed, maneuverability, and courage. The winner of the Hempt Final here at Pocono early this season, Wiggle It Jiggleit will have driver Montrell Teague alert early, as he will be starting from the rail, and Teague’s job will be to get him to the front at some point without a terrific usage of resources, the fate which befell him in the recent Cane Pace, where he was involved in fractions of 25.4, 52,1, and 1:20.4 before tiring to fourth in the stretch.

The four horses who have finished ahead of Wiggle It Jiggleit in his lifetime (he raced only once at two, winning here) are all in the big Battle. Wazikashi Hanover (PP7, trainer Joanne Looney-King, driver Tim Tetrick, #7 in the North American polls) caught “Wiggle” in the stretch drive of the North America Cup at Mohawk, while the 1-2-3 Cane finishers are also here – in order of that race’s finish, Dealt A Winner (PP9, Mark Silva, David Miller), Artspeak (PP8, Tony Alagna, Scott Zeron), and Dude’s The Man (PP2, Jessica Okusko, Corey Callahan). The “Dude” also won the last big-money race for this division in Pennsylvania, the Adios at The Meadows on August 1.

VALLEY FORGE PACE — $350,000 main event race 10; $150,000 Consolation I race 7; $75.000

Consolation II race 3. Stakes record: 1:48.4, I Luv The Nitelife.

A division desperately looking for a leader after a series of different winners in most of this year’s major events to date may find one emerge from the Valley Forge Pace.

The biggest 2015 bankroll in the collection of nine misses belongs to Bettor Be Steppin, a daughter of Bettor’s Delight who will begin from post four for trainer Joe Holloway and driver Corey Callahan. Over half of the seasonal winnings of Bettor Be Steppin came right at Pocono, when she won a multi-horse close finish to capture the $300,000 Lynch Final, taking her mark of 1:50.4.

In finding other ways to measure this evenly-matched group, the biggest career bankroll belongs to Sassa Hanover ($634,440, PP7, trainer Ron Burke, driver Yannick Gingras), while the fastest speed mark is held by Moonlit Dance (1:49 winning the recent Mistletoe Shalee Final, PP6, trainer Tony OSullivan, driver David Miller). Both of those fillies show solid credentials in their achievements and their connections, and are likely to contribute to this fairly-wide-open affair.


The $100,000 Sebastian K S Trot (race 5) marks the return to the races after a five-week break of the Cinderella story JL Cruze, who started to build a following while winning the Weiss Series here in the spring, and has gone on to win 16 of 18 starts and over $600,000 for trainer Eric Ell, with John Campbell returning from a recent minor injury to guide “JL” from the middle of the nine-horse field. Along the way, JL Cruze has become the third-fastest trotter of all-time, behind only Sebastian K S and Enough Talk (1:49.3 at Colonial) when he won the Graduate Series Final in 1:49.4.

The card kicks off with a bang, as national stars Cinamony, Krispy Apple, Ooh Bad Shark, and Yagonnakissmeornot collide in the $50,000 Hanover Shoe Farms Pace for mares.

The $50,000 U.S. Trotting Association Pace for free-for-allers may turn out to be the national coming-out party for the unheralded Always At My Place (PP2, trainer Ron Burke, driver Matt Kalaley), who goes for his sixth win in a row after missing the world record for 4PG by a tick here last Saturday, stopping the timer in 1:48.1 while pacing his own back half uncovered in 53.1 and winning under a hold.

Post Time for this stellar card is 5:30pm.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

June 29-July 5, 2012

When I first heard that we at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs were going to be hosting not one, not two, but three major stakes races in a single day, I immediately thought back to the last time we had that kind of star-packed card, the 2010 Breeders Crown. While 3 stakes races can’t quite match up to the 12 we had that October night two years ago, the excitement and star power at the track was comparable.

It also helped that the conditions for Sun Stakes Saturday on June 30 were ideal for racing. There was even a track record matched before we got to all the six-figure races, as 5-year-old claimer Hrubys N Luck, trained by Cad Gregory and driven by George Napolitano Jr., paced to a victory in 1:48:2, matching the mark set by Pilgrims Toner for aged pacing geldings back in 2010.

With that sizzling mile as the appetizer, the three-part main course began in Race 8 with the James M. Lynch Memorial, a $250,000 stakes race for 3-year-old pacing fillies. The star attraction in that race was a filly named American Jewel, who came into the race with wins in 11 of her 13 lifetime races. One of those wins came in the Lynch elimination in a world-record matching time of 1:49:2, so it wasn’t too surprising that the gem of the Jimmy Takter barn was made the heaviest kind of favorite at 1-9.

Her foes were out to derail what the bettors thought was inevitable, and, as a result, American Jewel was forced to make a first-over move from the middle of the back on the back stretch. Such moves are treacherous, but this filly is special for a reason. Despite a good fight from pacesetter Economy Terror and a late challenge from Darena Hanover, driver Tim Tetrick was able to coax home American Ideal in 1:49:2, matching her world record time for 3-year-old pacing fillies on a 5/8 oval. I’ve been lucky enough to see some great fillies come through Pocono, including Southwind Tempo and See You At Peelers; American Ideal can go toe to toe with them all.

Remember how I said that a first-over journey can be perilous? 3-5 favorite Hurrikane Kingcole found that out the hard way in the $300,000 Max C. Hempt memorial for 3-year-old pacers. After matching a world record in winning his Hempt elimination the previous week, Hurrikane Kingcole tried to sweep by pacesetter Bolt The Duer on the back stretch in the final, but the leader wasn’t having any of it.

Meanwhile, sitting patiently about two lengths off the lead on the inside was A Rocknroll Dance. After a spectacular 2-year-old season which saw him earn a big chunk of change, this colt from the Jim Mullinix barn struggled early in 2012, winning just one of his first five races. As a result, he was somewhat overlooked at the betting windows and got away at 17-1.

On the final turn, driver Yannick Gingras saw a crack of daylight and wheeled A Rocknroll Dance to the outside. After saving ground the whole mile, he was full of pace and zipped by the tiring leaders to score a thrilling victory in 1:48:3. Some of the racing luck that had frowned on this colt in his earlier starts smiled on him on Saturday, but give him credit for being good enough to take advantage of it.

All that was left after that was the $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace, one of the nation’s premier showcases for older pacing talent being held for the first time ever at Pocono. Talk about a loaded field: Out of nine horses in the field, five had already earned at least a million dollars in their career.

Yet the 6-5 favorite was the youngest of them all, 4-year-old stallion Betterthancheddar. Pocono fans remember him from his win in the Cane Pace last year. His 2012 season heading into the Franklin final was just as impressive, as he had posted wins in four of five against superb competition for trainer Casie Coleman.

Driver George Brennan rolled the dice with Betterthancheddar, sending him on a first-over journey on the front stretch in an attempt to get the lead. We Will See was reluctant to give up his lead, and, as a result, the favorite was used hard before clearing for the lead. In the stretch, We Will See came back at him in the passing lane, but Betterthancheddar showed his mettle by holding off his rival by three-quarters of a length.

When the dust settled and the timer stopped, all in attendance saw what a special mile this was. Betterthancheddar paced the mile in an incredible time of 1:48, which matched the fastest time ever paced on a 5/8-mile oval in the history of the sport.

Such a command performance was truly extraordinary, and yet it was the only fitting way to close out such a memorable night of racing. Maybe it wasn’t 12 stakes races, but Sun Stakes Saturday was pretty spectacular in its own right, and, hopefully, a tradition in the making.

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