Posts Tagged ‘Check Me Out’

$1.7 Million PA Sire Stakes Championship Night Saturday 9/5/15

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

The richest Sire Stakes Championship series begins Saturday night, September 5th,  at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono will host four $350,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship for three-year-olds. Each of the four divisions will also have a $60,000 Consolation race; the total program on Saturday at Pocono will distribute purses of $1,770,000.


$350,000 Championship – race 12

$60,000 Consolation – race 5

Championship record: 1:48.4, McWicked, 2014 (fastest Championship in PA history)

Defending champion from 2YO year: Yankee Bounty

Leading pointwinner in four preliminaries: Lost For Words

Most of the attention in the “glamour division” will be focused on Wakizashi Hanover, already a winner of over $840,000 this year, including the North America Cup Final, and regarded as second-best on the North American scene to the amazing Wiggle It Jiggleit. Wakizashi has driven post five for the Championship, and as usual trainer Joann Looney-King has tapped Tim Tetrick to drive the altered son of Dragon Again for the Tri County Stable of Nova Scotia. The sophomore has experience over the track, winning a Hempt elimination and then finished fourth from a difficult draw, and following that outing up with a second to “Wiggle” in the Battle of the Brandywine.

It’s unusual to see a defending champion and a leading prelim pointswinner regarded as “outsiders” in the field, but Yankee Bounty and Lost For Words, respectively, are not only figurative outsiders, but the literal outsiders as well in the field of eight – Yankee Bounty, starting from post seven for all-time Sire Stakes driving champion Dave Palone,does come off a 1:49.3 win in a Sire Stakes prelim, while Lost For Words (post eight, David Miller) was the only three-time winner in the Sires prelims.


$350,000 Championship – race 11

$60,000 Consolation – race 4

Championship record: 1:52.4, Father Patrick, 2014

Defending champion from 2YO year: Billy Flynn (the only 3YO who did not qualify for these finals)

Leading pointwinner in four preliminaries: Wicker Hanover

Wicker Hanover and Uncle Lasse were both three-time Sires prelim winners. Wicker Hanover, an Explosive Matter colt who has done well on or off the pace, will start from post six for driver Andrew McCarthy, trainer Ross Croghan, and the Christer Haggstorm Racing Stable Inc., while the Donato Hanover colt Uncle Lasse, third in both the Hambletonian Final and the Colonial, drew post two for driver David Miller, trainer Jimmy Takter, and owners Solveig’s Racing Partners and Goran Falk.

A horse conspicuous by his absence is Pinkman, #2 in the prelim pointstandings while achieving three victories, but when he won the Hambletonian trainer Takter chose the Triple Crown road for him, and he goes Saturday night at Yonkers in the Yonkers Trot, the second Crown leg. But even with two recent losses to Crazy Wow, in the Colonial and Yonkers Trot elim, Pinkman likely would have been a big favorite here, and using the “glass is half full” theory, the race is much more competitive this way.


$350,000 Championship – race 10

$60,000 Consolation – race 3

Championship record: 1:49, Economy Terror

Defending champion from 2YO year: Southwind Roulette

Leading pointwinner in four preliminaries: Somewhere Sweet

Perhaps the best testimony to the contentiousness of this division all year, and in theory here Saturday, is the fact that prelim pointleader Somewhere Sweet won only once in the prelims. But the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, trained by Brian Brown for Miller’s Stable, has been a very consistent miss, winning half her ten seasonal starts and never finishing worse than fourth, and she draws the favorable post two for driver David Miller.

There were two two-time prelim winners in this division, but for Saturday they had the misfortune of drawing the two outside spots on the gate: Serious Filly (PP7, also trained by Brown, Tim Tetrick listed) and Safe From Terror (PP8, trainer Ron Burke, also listing Tetrick on the early sheet).


$350,000 Championship – race 9

$60,000 Consolation – race 14

Championship record: 1:51.3, Check Me Out, 2012 (fastest trot Champion ever)

Defending champion from 2YO year: Wild Honey

Leading pointwinner in four preliminaries: Sarcy (not entered), Smokinmombo #2

Last year’s divisional champion Wild Honey has come back sharply in 2015, with a win in the Hambletonian Oaks Final and two Sire Stakes wins. The Cantab Hall filly is likely to be held as the horse to beat despite drawing post eight for driver Dave Palone, trainer Jimmy Takter, and the ownership combine of Takter, Fielding, Liverman, and Fielding.

Jimmy Takter is also the trainer of Sarcy, who was #1 in the prelim points, but that filly has not raced since finishing fifth in the Oaks Final on August 8 and has not won since June 25, so she is not entered in the Championship. But Wild Honey is certainly a fine “backup plan.”

FINISHING LINES – Dave Palone has 38 career wins in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championships, and the driver in second needs a telescope to see him even though winning five Championships last year – Yannick Gingras, with a total of 12. We know Yannick will not duplicate that output in 2015, as he will be driving Pinkman at Yonkers on Saturday. Palone, however, has a call in three of the four Championships, and there are two to-be-resolved double calls in the race he currently is not listed.

Designed To Be Matches World Record in Sire Stakes Win at Pocono

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

June 18, 2014

Designed To Be exorcised some demons in a big way by winning a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes race at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on Tuesday night, matching a world record in the process. The race was one of two $98,100 Sire Stakes divisions held at Pocono for three-year-old trotting fillies.

The last time she was at Pocono, Designed To Be (Donato Hanover-Sheer Soul), trained by Julie Miller, broke stride as the heavy favorite in a Breeders Crown elimination race in October. This time around, in just her second start of the year following a Sire Stakes win at Chester in early May, the filly, an 8-5 second choice, had to face off with defending division champ Shake It Cerry. Driver Brian Sears made the lead with Designed To Be on the front stretch and rebuffed the challenge of Shake It Cerry on the final turn. In the stretch, she trotted away from closing Lifetime Pursuit to win by 2 ¾ lengths with Shake It Cerry fading to 3rd. The winning time of 1:51:3 matched the world record for three-year-old trotting fillies on a 5/8-mile track, previously set by Check Me Out at Pocono in 2012.

Trainer Julie Miller was able to claim a sweep of Sire Stakes action on the night, as her filly Take The Money (Donato Hanover-Repititions) took advantage of some racing luck to win her division in 1:52:4. In that split, Cooler Schooner was the heavy favorite and was in command heading into the final turn, but she spun way out wide and lost too much ground to hit the board. Take The Money, the 7-5 second choice with Dave Palone in the bike, inherited the lead from the pocket and toughed it out in the stretch to win by a length over Cantabs Fortune in 1:52:4. Tweet Me picked up the show.

Classic Martine Sets World Record at Pocono

Friday, May 30th, 2014

May 10, 2014

Classic Martine trotted faster than any distaff trotter on a 5/8-mile oval in harness racing history on Saturday night when she rolled to victory in a $25,000 Preferred trot at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.

Classic Martine (Classic Photo-Drinking Days), a 4-year-old mare from the Chris Oakes barn making just her second start of the season after a stellar 2013, left from post position #5 in a field of seven as the 3-5 favorite. The mare sat second early behind Fearless Man before jumping to the lead on the front stretch. She took pressure from Coraggioso first-over for most of the second half of the mile, but, with Simon Allard in the bike, held him off by three-quarters of a length for the victory. Fearless Man finished third.

The winning time of 1:51:2 not only broke the world record of 1:51:4 for her age group, which was set by Maven in a Breeders Crown elimination at Pocono in October, it also broke the all-ages distaff trotting record on a 5/8-mile oval of 1:51:3, shared my Check Me Out and Cooler Schooner.

Classic Martine, owned by Susan Oakes, Conrad Zurich, Earl Gold, and Hauser Brothers Racing Enterprises, is now two-for-two in 2014. It was her 14th career win in just 29 starts, and she pushed her lifetime earnings to $566,224.

In other action on Saturday night at Pocono, Emeritus Maximus (Rocknoll Hanover-Eternity’s Delight) rallied late from far back for a victory in the $25,000 Preferred pace. Driven by Andrew McCarthy for trainer Tom Cancelliere, the 4-year-old gelding got away at 8-1 but corralled even-money favorite All Star Legend in the stretch to win by a neck in 1:49:3a. Eighteen finished third.


Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

August 31-September 6, 2012

We’re going to put the Weekly Awards on hiatus this week, because I’d like to devote all of the space I have in this column to the thrilling action that took place last Saturday on Pennsylvania Championship night. With four Pennsylvania Sire Stakes races, each with a purse of $200,000 up for grabs, you can bet the action was frenzied, furious, and fast. Very, very fast.

For those of you who might be unaware of how it works, two and three-year-old horses compete all summer long in tracks across the state, amassing points based on their performances in the Sire Stakes preliminary legs. Those horses with the highest point totals them move on the big-money finals, where they get a chance to take home the winner’s share of the huge purse and claim bragging rights as best in the state.

On Saturday night, we at Pocono were honored to host the three-year-old finals, and each one of the four races was memorable in its way, either for a standout performance or a thrilling conclusion.

The action started out with the trotting fillies, where one of the sport’s true superstars had a chance to strut her stuff. Check Me Out, trained by Ray Schnittker, headed into Saturday night’s final with a gaudy record of 22 wins in 26 career races and over $1.63 million dollars in her bank account. Schnittker did the driving as well and had one mission: Send his filly to the front and let her roll.

The result was one of the most mesmerizing performances in Pocono history. Check Me Out powered to the front on the first turn and stayed there all the way home to win by 1 ¼ lengths in 1:51:3. Not only did that race set a track record, it set a world record for a 3-year-old trotting filly on any size track. Considering Pocono is a three turn track and other longer-distance tracks require only two turns, that is an accomplishment that is almost beyond comprehension.

If Check Me Out warmed things up, Economy Terror set the track ablaze in the pacing fillies class. Then again, it shouldn’t have surprised us that this powerhouse from the Chris Oakes barn would be ready to perform on Pennsylvania Championship night. Last year at this time, she came home a winner in the 2-year-old pacing fillies class in world record fashion shortly before she won the Breeders Crown in her division.

With that kind of history, driver Dave Palone knew that he needed just to get the filly to the lead and then let her do the rest. After setting scorching fractions to the top of the stretch, Economy Terror kicked away from her foes to a romping five-length victory over some of the best fillies in the country. The winning time of 1:49 was, you guessed it, a new world record for any 3-year-old filly on a 5/8-mile oval. Now that’s how you defend a title.

The male half of the championship races didn’t produce any world records, but they did produce great finishes and deserving winners. In the 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings division, My MVP was the even-money favorite, and driver Mike LaChance drove him like one by sending him to the front. Yet it wasn’t an easy lead, as he had to work hard to clear and then faced a first-over challenge from Solvato.

Watching it all from the pocket was Magic Tonight, a colt from the Noel Daley barn. The patience of driver Eric Goodell paid off, as Magic Tonight got his chance in the stretch and snuck past the tiring favorite for the victory by a half-length in 1:54.

All that was left was the 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings, and Sweet Lou had the racing history that suggested that he would defend his title much like Economy Terror did earlier in the night. Dapper Dude had some other ideas.  The colt from the Bob McIntosh barn had been performing pretty well himself in the 2012 season, and he raced unafraid against the heavy favorite.

Give credit to driver Jim Morrill Jr., who did some nifty weaving in and out of traffic to get Dapper Dude perched right behind Sweet Lou at the top of the stretch. From there, it was no contest, as Dapper Dude blew by to win going away by 3 ½ lengths in 1:49.

It was a fitting end to a great night of harness racing at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, and yet another example of why nothing tops the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes in terms of racing excitement.

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


Records Shattered on PA Sire Stakes Championship Night

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

WILKES-BARRE PA — Check Me Out obliterated the world record for 3YO trotting fillies on a 5/8-mile track when she cruised to a 1:51.3 victory in her $200,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship Saturday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, the highlight of Championship Night for the state-sired sophomores.

The daughter of Donato Hanover reached the lead nearing the 1/4 from post six for trainer/driver Ray Schnittker and put up splits of 27.3, 55.2, and 1:23 while looking comfortable and confident. Superstar Hanover maintained valiant contact from the pocket, and Maven started her patented grind at the 5/8, but neither could approach the winner of $2.7 million, with the final clocking breaking the world record shared by Hidden Viggorish (in a PaSS final) and Holier Than Thou (set at Pocono earlier this year) by an amazing 1 3/5 seconds. Maven was up for second late over Superstar Hanover.

“She was good at the gate, and once we made the top I was very confident,” noted Schnittker, co-owner with Charles Iannazzo, after the race. “Very strong throughout,” he continued, adding that her next start would be at Lexington.

The Western Terror filly Economy Terror set a world record in winning her pacing fillies Championship last year, held at Pocono, and the return to “home cookin’” (trainer Chris Oakes is based at the mountain track) provided “déjà vu all over again” – another world record, this time in 1:49, a tick better than place finisher’s Big McDeal’s seven-week-old mark, and the fastest PA Sire Stakes Championship ever (spoiler alert: tied by Dapper Dude two races later.)

After a contentious 25.4 opener, “Super Sire Stakes Finals driver” Dave Palone (he’s won 25 the last 10+ years; his nearest competitor has 7) guided his filly to the command position, and later spoke of the middle splits of 54 and 1:21.3 as “actually a good breather for her.” The afterburners kicked in approaching headstretch, however, as Economy Terror opened wide daylight to become only the fifth 2YO-3YO Sire Stakes “repeater” in modern times (all fillies, and all but one pacers). Chuck Pompey, Howard Taylor, and Ed Gold saw their 2011 divisional champion surpass $1.2 million in earnings.

Dapper Dude, just a half-length off in the North America Cup, easily caught defending champion Sweet Lou in the stretch while taking the colt pace in 1:49 – a personal mark, and equaling the newly-minted mark of Economy Terror as the quickest in Sire Stakes Championship history.

Sweet Lou got to the half in a mild 55, but then was forced to pace a 26.1 backside to keep out first-over Easy Again – a speed which allowed driver Jim Morrill Jr. to drop the second-over “Dude” into a gaping pocket nearing the 3/4. With the breather around the turn, Dapper Dude easily picked up Sweet Lou late, with DD’s earnings now over $550,000 for trainer Bob McIntosh, co-owner with Al McIntosh Holdings Inc.

An alert drive by Eric Goodell was the key to the victory of Magic Tonight as the Andover Hall colt notched the other trotting event in 1:54, a stakes record. Goodell left for the top and yielded, then made another move when he saw favored My MVP forward-bound and yielded for the 2-hole behind the chalk. The Pocono Pike then provided the passage to victory for Magic Tonight, a tough second to Hambo winner Market Share at Vernon last week, as he pushed his earnings over $430,000 for trainer Noel Daley and owner Adam Victor & Son LLC. Magic Tonight was also the only outright preliminary pointleader to take a Championship (Economy Terror was co-leader in her section).