Posts Tagged ‘Clifton Green’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week in Review

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

September 25-October 1, 2015

Now that the month of October is upon us, we have entered the final quarter of the racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. And after an incredible stretch of pleasant weather, we also saw our first sloppy track in quite some time. Nonetheless it was still an interesting, intense week of racing at Pocono. To recap, let’s hand out some Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: LUCK BE WITHYOU

In July of this year, Luck Be Withyou managed one of the most memorable victories of the season at Pocono, overcoming an incredible field of some of the world’s top pacers and an outside post to win the Ben Franklin Pace. It was a sentimental kind of victory for the Pocono faithful, since driver George Napolitano Jr. and trainer Chris Oakes, both Pocono regulars for many years, won this huge race on their home track.

Luck Be Withyou spent much of the rest of the summer months racing at Mohawk in Canada, where he didn’t have quite the same level of success. When he returned to Pocono and the Oakes barn, he did so on September 19 at the $20,000 condition level. Once again he got stuck with the outside post, but he had no problems, rolling on the front end to a four-length win in 1:49:1.

The 4-year-old gelding was back at it in the same group on Saturday night, only this time from the friendly confines of a #3 post position. As the 1-9 favorite, he controlled the pace on the front end. He was briefly challenged late by Fort Knox, but Napolitano was having none of that, coaxing more late out of Luck Be Withyou. Nobody could hang with him in the stretch, and he won by a length-and-a-half in 1:50. It’s nice to see Luck Be Withyou back and at the top of his game at his favorite track.

Other top pacers this week include: Art’s On Fire (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), whose claiming victory on Saturday night in a career-best 1:49:4 was the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono; Preparty (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who moved up in class to score his second straight condition pacing win on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:51:2; and The Summer Wind (Jim Marohn Jr., Gregory White), who won Wednesday night’s featured distaff condition pace as a 24-1 long shot in 1:51.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: BOFFIN

Boffin has experienced the extremes of harness racing his past few times out. Two starts ago in a $24,000 condition trot at Pocono, the 5-year-old gelding from the Anette Lorentzon barn used an excellent trip for a victory in 1:53:4. Last week he tried out on Open trotting group, only to go off stride early in a race in which the mare Daylon Miracle set a record.

On Saturday night Boffin was back at it in the $24,000 condition group with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike. The pace was set by the veteran Proud Moment, who set some daring fractions on the front end. That pace repelled the horses who wanted to come up on the outside, but Boffin once again had the pocket seat as he did two races ago, putting him in prime pouncing position.

Proud Moment, as he has been all year, was game, but he caved at the top of the stretch and Boffin took over. He exploded through the lane and easily held off race favorite Ray Hall by 2 ¼ lengths. What was most impressive was the winning time of 1:51:1, a career-best, fastest of the week and one of the fastest this year at Pocono. Boffin may be riding some ups and downs of late, but he certainly hit a spectacular high on Saturday night.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Mr Candyman (Simon Allard, Clifton Green), who overcame an outside post on Friday night to win his second straight claiming handicap, matching a career mark of 1:55 in the process; Gray N Cloudy (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who chalked up his second straight win over the $11,000 claimers on Friday night, this one in 1:54:1; and My Way The Highway (George Napolitano Jr., Leigh Raymer), a 3-year-old filly who followed up her maiden win by moving up to handle a condition group on Tuesday night in 1:56 in the slop.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: VERDAD

It’s hard to believe a horse of this caliber could ever get away at 50-1, but he did on Saturday night and, with Joe Bongiorno in the bike, won a condition pace to pay off $105.40 for a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

In the midst of another big week, George captured his 300th win of the meet at Pocono, the eighth time he’s managed that feat; no other driver has ever picked up 300 wins in a season at Pocono.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: ANETTE LORENTZON

It seemed like everywhere you turned last week, another Lorentzon trotter was doing damage, as she picked up the big win on Saturday with Boffin and then two more training victories on Tuesday.

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, 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.

 

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

October 3-9, 2014

In the three nights of racing that took place at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs the past week, we witnessed some outstanding performances by experienced veterans. Yet the two victories that stood out among such a distinguished crowd were scored by a pair of three-year-old fillies. We’ll take a look at each of those precocious performers as well as the best of the rest in this edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: CLASSIC CARPET

This filly was unraced as a 2-year-old, which meant she started her racing career this year. She began that career on some small tracks in Canada and started to really find her stride with a romping win on the 5/8-mile oval at Rideau Carlton in August. That’s when she shipped into the U.S. and joined the barn of trainer Ron Burke. She immediately paid dividends with a comfortable win at Harrah’s at Philadelphia by another big margin.

In her first appearance at Pocono on September 30, Classic Carpet faced off against a non-winners of four condition group and dominated as an odds-on favorite in 1:51, a new career-mark. With a three-race winning streak in tow, it was no surprise that she went off against that same condition group on Tuesday night as a 4-5 favorite despite being up against a solid field of young distaff pacers.

With Matt Kakaley doing the driving, Classic Carpet once again made her move to the lead on the front stretch at about the 3/8-mile marker of the race. From that point, nobody posed even a modest threat to her dominance in the race. She coasted to the line 3 ¾ lengths in front of her closest foe in a sharp 1:51:4. She may have started a bit later than most, but this filly is making up for lost time in a big way.

Other top pacers this week include: Wake Up Peter (Tyler Buter, Larry Remmen), who powered to a condition win on Saturday night in 1:50, the fastest time of the week at MSPD; Artache Hanover (Anthony Napolitano, James Eaton), who rallied from the pocket on Saturday night for his second straight condition win, this one coming in 1:52:1; and Cameron Lucky (Jim Morrill Jr., Darren Taneyhill), a mare who picked up her second straight claiming handicap win on Wednesday night, this one in 1:52:1.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: STRUCK BY LINDY

Unlike Classic Carpet, Struck By Lindy did race as a 2-year-old and she turned in a standout season, churning out four wins in just 12 starts and earning over $300,000 in purse. Her prospects for a great sophomore year seemed excellent, but even though she had several in-the-money finishes against good competition, she entered a condition trot on September 27 winless in eleven 2014 races.

On that night, she followed outside cover and rallied for the victory to break the losing streak in a time of 1:54:1. Last Saturday night, the filly from the Nifty Norman barn once again tackled a tough condition group of non-winners of $14,000 in the last five starts. Struck By Lindy doesn’t like to fire early, so the inside post she had might have worked against her as she was shuffled back in the pack. Driver Andrew McCarthy had no choice but to send her first-over on the back stretch to try to get the lead.

Despite having to do all the work herself, the filly still glided on by the leaders. In the stretch, Struck by Lindy powered home to hold off closing Fools Revenue by 1 ½ lengths for the victory in 1:55. That makes two straight and provides further evidence that this talented trotter is regaining the form that made her such a big winner as a 2-year-old.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Black Caviar (Simon Allard, Clifton Green), a filly who rallied for her second straight condition win on Tuesday night, this one in 1:57:1; Not Afraid (Andrew McCarthy, Jimmy Takter), who scored a win in the week’s featured Preferred trot on Saturday night in 1:52:3, easily the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; and Home Front (Ake Svanstedt driver and trainer), who followed up his maiden win last week with a condition victory on Wednesday night in 1:57:3.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: BLACK CAVIAR

As noted in the honorable mention above, this filly’s win with Simon Allard in the bike on Tuesday was her second straight, yet she still got away at 28-1 for a $58 payout on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANDREW MCCARTHY

McCarthy has been on quite a roll in the second half of the season at Pocono, with four wins on Saturday and three more on Tuesday exemplifying his hot streak.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: LARRY REMMEN

Remmen had just two starters in on Saturday night but he got his money’s worth from them as Wake Up Peter and Word Power each scored impressive condition victories.

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.

Wind Of The North and Aslan Win Saturday Night Features at Pocono

Monday, September 29th, 2014

September 27, 2014

Trotter Wind Of The North and Pacer Aslan won the $25,000 featured Preferred races on Saturday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.

The Preferred Trot was named the Fred Yaggi Memorial Trot in honor of a longtime Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission who recently passed away. In that race Wind Of The North (Cantab Hall-Talk To The Wind), a 4-year-old gelding from the Clifton Green barn, used a second-over trip and a strong closing kick to upend favored Classic Martine by a head for the win in 1:52:2 at 10-1. Simon Allard did the driving. Arch Madness finished third.

In the Preferred pace, Aslan (Mach Three-Skyview) was overpowering on the front end with Andrew McCarthy in the bike for trainer Tony O’Sullivan. The 5-year-old gelding and 7-5 favorite won by 2 ¾ lengths in 1:50:1. Musselsfrombrussels was best of the rest in second while Golden Receiver picked up the show.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

April 12-18, 2014

Once again the weather was a wild ride this past week in Northeastern Pennsylvania, which obviously affected the racing wars at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. A gorgeous weekend led to the fastest times of the young season, but rain, snow, and bitter cold on Tuesday brought sloppy conditions. Nonetheless, the action stayed thrilling no matter what the track conditions or winning times were. Here is a look at the week’s best performers via another edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: DRIVE ALL NIGHT

It’s always fascinating to watch how excellent horses progress throughout their careers. They will often go through periods at their where they face the top classes, and then almost inevitably start to drop down in class as they age to face competition more suited to their talent level. But there are some that have a tendency to rise to the top of whatever class they inhabit.

Drive All Night certain falls into that category of horses that seem to find a groove no matter the caliber of horses they face. A few years back, he took on the pacers in the highest condition classes and even the Open pacers at Pocono, and he always acquitted himself well. These days the nine-year-old gelding is a denizen of the mid-priced claiming classes, and he has been cleaning up.

He came into Saturday night’s $20,000 claiming event with back-to-back front-pacing victories at Pocono with the $15,000 claimers. The step up in class didn’t bother him a bit, as driver Simon Allard sent the 9-year-old gelding trained by Marty Fine to the front end and guided him to a 2 ¼ length victory in 1:50:4. That gave the veteran 54 lifetime wins, and he’s showing no signs of slowing back down. In fact, with performances like that, he might just be ready to step back up to the face the whippersnappers in those top classes once again.

Other top pacers this week include: Abelard Hanover (Jonathan Roberts, Donald Billings), whose victory in Saturday night’s Preferred pace came in 1:48:4, the fastest time recorded at Pocono so far this season; Its Rock N Roll (Anthony Napolitano, John Barchi), who moved up in class and switched barns Saturday night and still picked up his second straight win at Pocono and his third straight overall, this one coming in a career-best 1:51:3; and American Shuttle (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), a mare who ripped off her second straight claiming win on Sunday night since arriving from Yonkers, matching her career-best of 1:53:3 in the process.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: WIND OF THE NORTH

Saturday night’s condition trot for non-winners of $23,500 in the last five starts felt like an Open considering the high caliber of the horses competing. Some of the standouts in the six-horse field included  Meadowlands shippers Banker Volo and Jurgen Hanover, Imagine Hanover, who was fresh off a late closer sweep at The Meadows, and Money On My Mind, who finished second in Preferred company in his previous start.

With that kind of competition, it’s not surprising that folks were a little skeptical of Wind Of The North, the four-year-old gelding from the Clifton Green barn who was coming off back-to-back condition wins to start his 2014 season. He was moving up in class, so that’s probably why he was let go at 6-1, but this is a trotter who proved last year as a three-year-old he could compete in the toughest classes.

He proved it again and then some on Saturday night. With Mike Simons in the bike, Wind Of The North battled both Money On My Mind and Banker Volo in the stretch before prevailing in exciting fashion. It took his best effort, a career-best 1:53:4, to come out on top, but this third straight victory should go a long way in preventing anyone from underestimating this peaking trotter again.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Definitely Mamie (George Napolitano Jr., Brewer Adams), the accomplished mare who won a tough condition battle on Wednesday night in 1:55:4; Keystone Thomas (Andrew McCarthy, Joe Pavia Jr.), who rolled on the front end to a condition win on Wednesday in 1:55; and Smokin Dabra (Ron Pierce, Marty Fine), who moved up in class in style with a claiming handicap victory on Wednesday in 1:54, his third win in a row.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: WHIRL MONROE

Tuesday night’s sloppy track seemed conducive to long shots, and this condition pacer with Anthony Napolitano in the bike pulled off the night’s biggest shocker at 36-1, paying off $79.80 to win.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MARK MACDONALD

MacDonald has been spending more time at Pocono than ever before, and it’s paying off big dividends, like on Saturday night when he ripped off four victories.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: LOU PENA

Pena is always a major factor at Pocono, and he’s been making his presence felt again in the first few weeks of the 2014 season. On Saturday night, he scored three training wins.

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.