Posts Tagged ‘Captaintreacherous’

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

Monday, July 7th, 2014

June 27-July 3, 2014       

When we looked forward to Sun Stakes Saturday at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in the early months of the season, we expected most of the fireworks to come from the four major stakes races being contested on the card. Yet for all of the unforgettable, world-record performances that characterized those giant-purse races, it was an 8-year-old Swedish horse with just three starts in the United States under his belt who stole the show from the undercard.

In addition to the $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial pace for 3-year-old fillies, the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial pace for 3-year-olds, the $500,000 Ben Franklin free-for-all pace, and the $500,000 Earl Beal Memorial trot for 3-year-olds, two $100,000 invitationals were added. On the trotting side, Sebastian K, who had swept three starts at the Meadowlands, all in under 1:51, since arriving from Sweden, decided to make the Sun Invitational trot his personal playground.

Trained and driven by Ake Svanstedt, Sebastian K, a $2 million earner in his native country before ever setting foot in the U.S., took off from the outside post and just kept firing. In the stretch, his closest competitor went off stride in a vain attempt to keep up with his pace. At that point, Svanstedt decided to see just what his horse had inside of him.

When he crossed the line in 1:49, it took me a moment up in the announcer’s booth to register what had just happened. While I had anticipated before the race he would give our Pocono track record and the world record for 5/8-mile ovals a run for their money, I did not foresee 1:49, the fastest trot ever. All tracks sizes, all ages, all genders. Nobody ever trotted one mile faster than Sebastian K did on Saturday night.

Considering that none of the aforementioned huge stakes had even been held by that point, the rest of the night easily could have been all anticlimactic. Luckily those other races lived up to their billing, producing three world record performances out of the four and uniformly pulse-pounding excitement.

In the Lynch, Uffizi Hanover was made the betting favorite based on her excellent record and the fact that her post position improved compared to her loss in the eliminations. Yet Fancy Desire, trained by Kevin Carr, proved her love of the Pocono track once again, powering home on the front end in 1:49:2. Pocono’s leading driver George Napolitano Jr. did the driving for his first ever Lynch win.

Next up was the Hempt, which started the world records falling once again. The perpetrator this time was McWicked, a powerhouse colt from the Casie Coleman barn who showed no fatigue after a monster effort in last week’s eliminations. With David Miller in the bike, McWicked took over the race on the front stretch and stymied the field with incredible speed throughout the second half of the race, coming home a winner in 1:47:3, a new world record for 3-year-old colts on a 5/8-mile oval.

No horse has made more of a turnaround in his career of late than Sweet Lou, who seemed to have peaked a few years back but has suddenly caught fire with a vengeance in 2014. Since driver Ron Pierce took over the driving chores, the 5-year-old stallion trained by Ron Burke has been unstoppable with five straight wins, the last of those coming in Saturday night’s Ben Franklin final. Ironically, it wasn’t 2013’s leading lights Captaintreacherous and Folied Again who gave him the biggest problem; it was stablemate Bettor’s Edge, who challenged him in a great stretch duel, with Sweet Lou prevailing in 1:47; fastest ever pacing time achieved on a 5/8-mile oval.

If there has been once tiny complaint about the impeccable record of Father Patrick, the colt who came into Saturday night’s Beal final with wins in 14 of 15 lifetime races, it’s that he lacked one of those jaw-dropping wins that some of the other A-list horses have rifled off in the past. Cross that off the checklist now, because Yannick Gingras cut the colt loose on Saturday night, and the pride of the Jimmy Takter barn responded with, you guessed it, a world record performance for 3-year-old colts on the trot on a 5/8-mile oval.

Overall, there were five world records on the night; in addition to the ones we’ve already mentioned, Wind Of The North picked up the mark for 4-year-old geldings earlier in the night in a condition victory in 1:51. While there is no doubt that we’ll miss having the Breeders Crown this season at Pocono, those year-end races will have to be special to live up to the drama and excitement of Sun Stakes Saturday 2014. And I’m pretty sure that no night of racing will be able to match Saturday’s undercard thanks to Sebastian K.

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

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.

  

Stars ready for Sire Stakes on Saturday

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Harness racing’s “glamour division,” the three-year-old pacing colts, will open the 2014 Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Pennsylvania Sire Stakes season this Saturday night, with four divisions of sophomores contesting the $266,252 event. 

Captaintreacherous, 2013’s Pacer of the Year, opened his 3YO campaign in this same event 52 weeks ago with a victory, and many of this year’s stars in the sophomore colt pacing crop will be seeing early-season action this Saturday at the lightning-fast mountain oval.

 The first division opens the evening’s 15-race card, with Sometimes Said accorded 5-2 early favoritism starting from post two for Hall of Fame driver John Campbell (who must think a lot of the colt trained by his brother Jim, since this is his only Pocono drive of the night; he’ll head right to The Meadowlands afterwards for other stakes competition). Sometimes Said was first or second in 8 of 10 freshman starts, including seconds in his PA Sires Championship and the Breeders Crown, and he started his 2014 campaign in very photogenic style with a 1:51 / 53.2 / 26.2 front-end triumph at Pocono last week. 

Also highly-regarded in the first cut are Tellitlikeitis (3-1, post four, driver Brett Miller), debuting in 2014 for the all-conquering Jimmy Takter barn after a devastating 1:50.1 qualifier in which he paced his own last quarter in 25.2, and Limelight Beach (7-2, post six, David Miller), a double winner in Grand Circuit action at Lexington last year. 

Race 4 will gather the PA colts for the second time, with the early 5-2 chalk being Maxi Bon (post four, driver Dave Palone). Maxi Bon is a late-developing colt, but he showed his promise by winning his seasonal debut in 1:49.4 despite being parked to the half. Cammikey (3-1, post one, Brain Zendt) seems the major danger here after opening his 2014 campaign with five victories, including a 1:51.1 / 26.4 triumph at The Meadows last start. 

Race 6’s third cut finds the early pick to be Somestarsomewhere, at 5-2 from post six for the top team of trainer Ron Burke and driver Matt Kakaley. Somestarsomewhere set a world record of 1:49.4f for 2PC in his Breeders Crown elim last year, then was third in the Crown Championship. This will be his seasonal debut off of three qualifiers. Rated next 3-1 is Somewhere in L A (post four, driver Mark MacDonald, fresh off a win in the Diplomat Series Championship at Woodbine. 

Race 8 rounds out the Sire Stakes action, with McWicked the 5-2 choice off a McWicked 2014 debut at Pocono last Sunday, overcoming post nine and an overland trip to tally in 1:51. Simon Allard will have the sulky duty from post six. Allstar Partner is rated next at 3-1 for driver George Napolitano Jr., but last year’s PA Sire Stakes champ for this division will have to overcome the outside post eight.

 Also on the Pocono card is a super $25,000 Preferred handicap pace, featuring the likes of Dancin Yankee, winner of the Van Rose Memorial here in 1:49 on a good track on Kentucky Derby Day; Emeritus Maximus, gritty as he can be taking last week’s feature here; and Clear Vision, winner of the Levy Consolation. 

Post time for the 15-race card at Pocono on Saturday is slotted for 6:30, though that may be delayed a few minutes dependent on a thoroughbred race in Baltimore immediately previously.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Saturday, October 26th, 2013

October 19-25, 2013

The 30th Breeders Crown took place on Saturday at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, and it was everything a racing fan could have possibly hoped for and more. Events as hyped as this rarely live up to their billing, but, if anything, at the end of the night it seemed like no amount of build-up could have prepared the folks who were at Pocono and the thousands all over the world who watched at simulcast sites and on television for what they saw.

Each one of the twelve races deserves an article of their own, so I’ll inevitably have to leave out some of the champions, both of the equine and human variety, that graced our stage. Since those details have been well-reported elsewhere, I thought I’d just give some of my final impressions on the finest single night of racing I’ve ever witnessed.

I had the opportunity to watch all the action from the announcer’s booth, where I called the races in tandem with my buddy Sam McKee of The Meadowlands. It was a good thing there were two of us in the booth, because I don’t think either one of us alone could have handled all that craziness. It seemed that after every race, we would stare at each other mouths agape in either shock or awe at what had just transpired on the track.

With such big money on the line, it made sense that the sport’s finest drivers were entrusted with the reins. Only five different drivers captured victories on the night: Tim Tetrick had three, David Miller, Ron Pierce, and Yannick Gingras had two each, and Brian Sears picked up one. One could say that those are the top five drivers in the sport right now and it would be hard to argue against it. Their choices were almost universally fine on Saturday night, especially Tetrick’s brilliant weaving drive aboard Market Share in the Open Trot.

For all of the brilliance that quintet of drivers displayed throughout, this night was about the horses. The night was marketed on the backs of several superstar horses. For the most part, they all came through, with the exception of  Anndrovette, whose bid for a third straight win in the Open Mares pace came up short in 3rd behind David Miller and Shelliscape.

While most of these big names delivered on their promise, what differed about them was how they accomplished this. Some were simply too good for the rest, like 2-year-old trotter Father Patrick, who dominated his group on the front end, and the sublime Bee A Magician, who stayed unbeaten after 15 starts in her 3-year-old season by beating the sophomore trotting fillies without seeming to break a sweat. I Luv The Nitelife, a 3-year-old pacing filly who lost just once this year in 14 races despite a brutally tough schedule, trailed for much of her race, only to explode in the stretch and leave everybody in the dust.

Yet maybe the two most impressive command performances on the night were two that produced unbearably narrow margins of victory. Captaintreacherous is one of the most celebrated 3-year-old pacers in the history of the sport, but he was out to avenge his only loss this season, a heartbreaking photo finish defeat to Sunshine Beach at Pocono in August. The two hooked up to battle once again in the 3-year-old Colts and Geldings Pace, and for several moments it appeared that Sunshine Beach had the favorite’s number. But what makes the Captain special, as Sam McKee pointed out on race night, is his heart, and he showed every bit of it by digging in to win by a neck.

In the final race of the night, Foiled Again presented a worthy encore to the Captain’s showstopper in the Open Pace. Considering that he’d earned more money that any pacer in North American history coming into the race, anything that the 9-year-old warrior from the Ron Burke barn could give in the final was pure gravy. But one thing that had eluded Foiled Again was the Breeders Crown, so he was all-in for this one.

Driver Yannick Gingras sent Foiled Again to the front past the half-mile marker, but the fractions seemed too steep for him to carry, especially on a sloppy track. Foiled Again gave everything he had to stay on top, only to have a rallying Pet Rock pull up alongside at the line for a photo finish. For a tantalizing minute or so the photo sign stayed up until it disappeared to reveal that Foiled Again was the winner. The normally reserved Gingras gave a euphoric fist pump as the horse returned to the winner’s circle for the perfect exclamation point to the evening.

The Breeders Crown was a simply spectacular event, one that not even the windy and rainy weather could dampen. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the opportunity to call another one, but, as far as I’m concerned, I was just part of the best one ever, so it would be pretty hard to top anyway.

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.