Posts Tagged ‘Christie Collins’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

April 28-May 1, 2018

Next week in this space, we will be profiling all the happenings from our Kentucky Derby evening card, which is filled up with all four finals of the Bobby Weiss late closer series and two divisions of the Van Rose Memorial pace featuring some of the finest aged pacers in the world and kicking off the Great Northeast Open series, which will continue throughout the spring and summer at Harrah’s at Philadelphia as well as at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Here now are the finest performances of the past week at Pocono, highlighted in our Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: STRAWB’S CHIPPIE

Every once in a while, a horse will ship into Pocono with a gaudy record at other tracks and be unable to match that level of success once it reaches the top levels of competition here. Strawb’s Chippie initially looked like she might fall into category. The seven-year-old mare had amassed wins in four of her first five starts on the New York harness circuit to begin 2018. But her first two starts at Pocono in this meet were less distinguished, as she came away with a second and a sixth in two races against the $15,000 to $20,000 claiming handicap pacing mares.

The tide started to turn for Strawb’s Chippie when she joined the Rene Allard barn on April 16. She located her front-pacing stride that had garnered her so much success in New York and ripped off back-to-back wins while leading at every pole with winning times of 1:56.1 in the slop and 1:52.3, the latter a career-best. She joined the Hunter Oakes barn following a claim and took on the same grouping on Monday night from an outside #8 post as a 4-5 betting favorite.

Even though the barn changed, the strategy didn’t for the mare. Driver George Napoitano Jr. cut her loose early to reach the early lead and she played keep-away from there. Despite a solid challenge from Warrawee Qually in the lane, Strawb’s Chippie once again proved her toughness with the lead and came home a half-length winner, this time in 1:52.4. With her third straight victory, those early Pocono struggles now seem like a distant memory.

Other top pacers this week include: Drunken Terror (Anthony Napolitano, Marta Piotrow), who scored his second consecutive claiming handicap win on Saturday night, this one in 1:51.2; We Think Alike (George Napolitano Jr., Brandon Todd), who moved up in class to win a condition pace on Saturday night in 1:52.4, his second straight victory; and Make A Statement A (Anthony Napolitano, Jody Riedel), whose condition win on Tuesday night came in 1:50.4, a new career-mark and tied for fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: GOLDEN SON

In Sunday’s $17,500 featured condition trot, a showdown was looming between Golden Son and Upfront Billy. The former, a five-year-old gelding from the Jenny Melander barn, was coming off a sharp victory at Harrah’s and returning to a class at Pocono where he had a near-miss second on March 24. The latter, a nine-year-old gelding trained by Mark Ford, is the defending Trotter of the Year at Pocono and has already scored two wins in this meet, including a victory in his previous race in 1:52.2, fastest trotting time at Pocono in 2018 so far.

Golden Son, the 2-1 second choice, left from the inside post in a field of nine as a 2-1 second choice. Upfront Billy, the 6-5 favorite, left from the #3 post. It was Upfront Billy who grabbed the early lead, a change in tactics from his earlier victory, when he sat the pocket behind a hot pace. With Upfront Billy doing the work, driver Jim Morrill Jr. was all right with letting Golden Son sit the pocket, knowing he’d likely have a shot at the leader late if he could stay close.

Of course, that meant he would have to outtrot Upfront Billy, who is known for being extremely game late in the race. But when Morrill tipped Golden Son out of the pocket to take dead aim, the gelding responded with powerful late kick, just enough to corral Upfront Billy at the line by a nose in 1:54.1. That gives him two wins in a row, and anytime you can beat the Trotter of the Year at the top of his game, it’s quite an accomplishment.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Such An Angel (George Napolitano Jr., Hunter Oakes), who overwhelmed a condition group on Monday night to win in 1:53.1, the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; Elysium Lindy (Anthony Napolitano, Ron Burke), who shipped in from The Meadowlands to pick up a condition win on Saturday night in 1:55.1; and Chelsees A Winner (George Napolitano Jr., Christie Collins), a mare who moved up in class on Tuesday night to win her second straight condition since arriving from Ohio, this one coming in a career-best 1:55:4.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: MR HAM SANDWICH

Despite having won his last start, this pacer driven by Eric Carlson went off at 43-1 in a condition on Saturday night, a race he promptly won to pay off $88 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: PAT BERRY

Berry always seems to give bettors great value for his wins, as he proved Saturday night by posting a double with horses who went off at 7-1 (A Real Miracle) and 9-2 (Jimmy C R).

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: BRANDON TODD

Todd is making the most of his opportunities at Pocono, as was evidenced on Saturday night when he won with two of the three starters he sent out to race.

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.

Winning Fillies return for Bobby Weiss Series

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

Both South Side Hanover and Stirling Debutant are now two-time winners in as many preliminary legs of the Bobby Weiss Series for trotting females after Tuesday, April 12th, at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, but Stirling Debutant was more impressive to the eye as she easily trotted over her field after a fast pace to win in a lifetime best of 1:55.4.

Anthony Napolitano placed the Credit Winner mare third behind a streaking Real Caviar, also a winner last week, as the latter posted scalding fractions of 27.2, 56.4, and 1:25.4. Napolitano was able to back out behind the cover over first-over Hot Curry on the far turn, then tipped wide and easily trotted to the fore, winning by a length and a quarter. After going 1 for 25 at ages two and three, Stirling Debutant is now 2-for-2 in 2016 for trainer Christie Collins and owners J M F Racing LLC.

Although trainer/driver Todd Schadel’s Real Caviar tired after that hot pacesetting, his other winner from the first Weiss leg, South Side Hanover, did make a return trip to Victory Lane, tonight winning in 1:57.1. Schadel sent the Cantab Hall filly uncovered at the half, and she trotted a 27.4 third panel to clear to the lead en route posting a length victory. Schadel also co-owns South Side Hanover with Roger Hammer, the pairing behind 2005 Hambletonian winner Vivid Photo.

In the third $15,000 division of Tuesday’s second round action, the Kadabra filly Ready Any Time was ready this evening, also using first-over tactics en route to a 1:59.4 triumph by 1½ lengths. Matt Kakaley was in the filly’s sulky for trainer Nifty Norman and the partnership of Melvin Hartman, Herb Liverman, David Mc Duffee, and Little E LLC.

Rene Allard is still four winners away from becoming the first trainer to achieve 3000 conditioning victories before the age of 30, dividing six starts between The Downs and Yonkers on Tuesday, and doing very well with three seconds and two thirds, but no winners circle appearances. Allard, 29, sends out one horse April 13th, Wednesday, at Harrah’s, and then his magic moment seems likely to arrive over the weekend: he has seven in at Yonkers Thursday April 14th  and nine Friday,April 15th, and then has entrants in every one of the 14 races at Pocono on Saturday in addition to four at Yonkers; if those horses don’t get him to 3000, he’ll have eight more chances at Pocono on Sunday.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week In Review

Monday, August 11th, 2014

August 1-7, 2014

At this point in the season, it’s typical for 3-year-old horses at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs to be battling against others of their own age in Stallion Series or Sire Stakes action. Yet our two top performers of the week that was at Pocono dared to take on older horses. Not only did they survive, but they thrived. Here are the details of both their exploits and those of the other top performers as we hand out the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: LUCK BE WITHYOU

This 3-year-old colt from the Chris Oakes’ barn started the season in Canada but quickly found a home at Pocono with a condition win on June 28 in 1:50:1. He then battled his way to a 7th in finals of the prestigious Meadowlands Pace before returning for an even more impressive victory in a blistering 1:48 on July 19.

On Saturday night, Luck Be Withyou faced his sternest test yet by going up against the non-winners of $22,500 in the last five races grouping. Among the competitors he would have to face were Meirs Hanover and Bolt The Duer, a pair of veterans as talented and as tested as there are in the sport. If the relative inexperience of Luck Be Withyou was ever going to be a factor, this was the race.

At the top of the stretch, the 3-year-old was staring at the tail of Bolt The Duer, who had set the pace and done so in reasonable fractions. Yet Luck Be With You was ready for the challenge when driver George Napolitano Jr. asked for another gear. He sped by a stunned Bolt The Duer and held off fast-closing E Street Plan for the win in 1:49:2. Even though the time wasn’t as flashy as his previous win, this victory was the best evidence yet of this sophomore’s incredible talent.

Other top pacers this week include: Show Runner (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), a mare whose victory in Friday night’s featured condition pace in a career-best 1:50:3 was her second straight win; Gold Deuce (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), who powered to a win over $10,000 claimers on Saturday night in 1:50:4, a career-best and his third straight win; and Mach It So (Andrew McCarthy, PJ Fraley), who picked up a win in Saturday night’s featured Preferred Handicap pace in 1:48:2, a new career-best and the fastest time posted this week at MSPD.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: REVRAC HARBOUR

This award was probably a little overdue for this 3-year-old colt from the barn of trainer Tony Alagna. From June 3 to July 1, he ripped off four consecutive wins at Pocono, topping out with a back-to-back career-best miles of 1:54:1 in wins over the non-winners of four condition. He traveled to the Meadowlands after that and struggled against some of the top trotters in the country in a pair of stakes races.

Revrac Harbour returned on Tuesday night to face all older horses in a non-winners of $13,000 in the last five starts condition trot. Back at Pocono again, he found his stride quickly by making a move to the front end early in the race. Yet Picture This, the race favorite, lurked behind him in the pocket for much of the mile and enjoyed a much better trip.

In the stretch, Picture This took to the inside passing lane and briefly seemed like he was about to get past. That’s when driver Scott Zeron coaxed just a little extra effort from an already-taxed Revrac Harbour, who dug in and surged back in front in the final strides in 1:55:4 on a sloppy track. That makes it five wins in the last five races he’s started at Pocono, with this maybe the gutsiest yet.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Zooming (Tyler Buter, Amber Buter),who shipped in from New York for a condition win on Saturday in 1:51:4, easily the week’s fastest trotting time; Waldorf Hall (Corey Callahan, Jim Raymer), who churned through the slop for a condition win on Tuesday in 1:53:4; and Swiss Lightning (Anthony Napolitano, Kevin Lare), who ripped off his fourth straight claiming victory on Wednesday night in 1:54:4, matching his career-best in the process.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: RESCUE PLAN

It’s not often George Napolitano Jr., the meet’s leading driver, pilots a long shot, but this condition pacer was at 42-1 when G-Nap steered him to victory on Tuesday night for a $87.60 win payout on a $2 ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

Who else could it be this other than George Nap, considering that he won seven of the thirteen races on the card on Saturday and nearly pulled off a 20-win week.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: CHRISTIE COLLINS

Collins’ barn has been steadily gaining momentum in the summer months, and her trainees picked up three more wins this week, including a double on Friday.

That will do it for it 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

Friday, August 1st, 2014

July 25-July 31, 2014

As the month of August dawns, the racing action at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs has reached a fever pitch. Five nights a week, outstanding trotters and pacers, often at the peak of their powers, are tested by some of the fastest action in the country. Drivers, trainers, and owners are also involved in these daily battles, their fires stoked by both their competitive natures and by the lure of the big purses. All of this combines to make the action at this time of year particularly exhilarating. It also makes choosing the Weekly Awards a difficult task, but here we go.

PACER OF THE WEEK: GIANT SCULPTURE

Winning streaks are difficult enough to sustain at a single track. Compiling several victories in a row while shipping from track to track is an even tougher task. After all, each track has its own bias that favors a certain style of pacing or trotting, meaning that a horse has to be versatile enough to handle that kind of variety. Giant Sculpture has proven just that kind of versatility in recent weeks.

The 6-year-old gelding picked up the first victory in his recent hot streak at Pocono on July 12, beating a field of $20,000 claimers in a career-best 1:49 with a strong first-over effort. He was claimed from that race and joined the barn of Christie Collins, who brought him to Harrah’s at Chester to knock off a condition field with a late rally in 1:51:3.

On Saturday night, he was back at Pocono facing a $20,000 to $25,000 claiming handicap group. Despite being saddled with the outside post in a field of eight, Giant Sculpture found some cover on the outside to help him advance through the field. In the stretch, he blew by the tiring leaders with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike to win in 1:50:3. Not only has he achieved this three-race streak on two different tracks, he has managed to do it in three different classes. Versatile, varied, and, most importantly, victorious: That’s how Giant Sculpture has been rolling of late.

Other top pacers this week include: Fitz’s Z Tam (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who overcame an outside post to defeat a claiming handicap field on Sunday in 1:51:2, giving him two in a row; Gold Deuce (Joe Pavia Jr., Lou Pena), who won his second straight claimer on Friday night and did so in a career-best 1:51: and Clint Westwood (Anthony Napolitano, Ron Burke), whose condition victory on Saturday night in 1:49:4 gave him four wins in his last five.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: TEAM SIX

This 4-year-old stallion from the Erv Miller barn has been steadily improving throughout the 2014 season, but he has really peaked lately. A conquest of the non-winners of four at Pocono on July 8 gave him his first win of the season. He quickly followed that up with a rallying condition win at Harrah’s in 1:54:1. He then moved up the ladder to face the non-winners of $12,500 the last five starts at Pocono on July 22, putting in a good effort to finish third.

On Tuesday night, he stayed in the same class but didn’t have to face either of the two horses who finished in front of him in the previous start. He did have to face off with Canadian Wildcat, who set the early pace and dug in when Team Six tried to get by on the outside. For two of the three turns, Team Six was parked on the outside, a predicament which usually spells doom for a horse’s chances.

Driver Marcus Miller never panicked though, keeping Team Six right alongside the leader without taxing him too much. In the stretch, Canadian Wildcat finally wore down a bit and Team Six kicked on past for the victory in 1:53:2. That winning time was a career-best despite the tough trip and extra distance, meaning that this stallion should be primed for even better stuff when the racing breaks do even out and go his way down the road.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Political Desire (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), whose victory in a condition trot on Saturday night came in a career-best 1:52:4, which was also the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; Whata Donato (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who notched a career-best mile of 1:53:1 in a condition victory on Tuesday; and Overandovervictory (Marcus Miller, Douglas Hamilton), who shipped in from Tioga for a condition victory on Sunday night in a career-best 1:53:4.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: JACKSONS MINION

He broke stride in his debut, but this 2-year-old trotter driven and trained by Tom Jackson atoned for it his second time out Friday night and won at 28-1, paying off $59.60 to win.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: TOM JACKSON

The veteran of the Pocono racing wars had an interesting week, picking up four victories, all of which came aboard horses scoring their maiden victories.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: RENE ALLARD

It was a monster week for the meet’s leading trainer, as he had two nights of four wins or more and had more victories than all but one driver for the week.

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.