Posts Tagged ‘Colonial’

$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.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs readies for Sun Stakes Saturday

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

There are 11 stakes race eliminations on the Saturday card at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, with horses earning their way into competition next Saturday, Sun Stakes Saturday, that will be worth almost $2,000,000 in purses. 

15 three-year-old pacing fillies in the two eliminations for the $300,000 James Lynch Final have bankrolled a combined $3.6M in a little more than one season, and two have beaten 1:50 already this year: I Luv The Nitelife, who won the Fan Hanover Final last week, and Ms Caila J Fra, who defeated “Luv” and another top Lynch contender, Jerseylicious, in a recent NJ Sire Stakes Final. Oh, and there’s Somwherovrarainbow, who is merely defending division champ.

 24 three-year-old trotting colts, less than two months away from the Hambletonian, start their quest for the $1,000,000 PA bonus for winning the Earl Beal Trot, the Colonial, and the Breeders Crown (which will all be at Pocono) by racing three elims for next week’s $500,000 Beal Final. The “hot shooter” in this group, which has collectively earned $3.8M and has 13 entrants who have bettered 1:55 already this season, is Smilin Eli, perfect in three career races, but starting “behind the 8-ball” in his Saturday elim.

 22 of the sport’s “glamour division,” the three-year-old pacing colts, will go at it in three elims before the $500,000 Max Hempt Memorial next week. And right now, in a collective group with $5.1M banked and eight under 1:50 already in 2013, the big focus will be on “The Captain,” Captaintreacherous, last season’s Pacer of the Year who kicked off his 2013 campaign right at Pocono and now returns to town off a triumph in the year’s first seven-figure race, last Saturday $1,000,000 North America Cup Final at Mohawk.

 And that’s just the three-year-olds. There are 20 older horses brought together for elims towards the $500,000 Ben Franklin Final on the Sun Saturday Stakes card, and they just may be the best overall field of horses ever assembled. Their collective accomplishments are mind-boggling:

 $23.9M in career earnings – that’s right, the AVERAGE career bankroll of this field approaches $1.2 million, headed by the sport’s richest-ever pacer, Foiled Again ($4,895,444); an AVERAGE career mark of 1:48.2, with 13 of the 20 already hanging up a sub-1:50 triumph in 2013;

 the defending Franklin champ, Betterthancheddar; the defending 3YO (Heston Blue Chip) and older (Foiled Again) champions; the horse who beat this group most recently, in the Roll With Joe at Tioga, Pet Rock; and the fastest horse ever on a 5/8-mile track, Bolt The Duer (1:47.4f). 

Wow! What a card! 

The first of Saturday’s 14 races at Pocono is set to go at 6:30 p.m. The Lynch fillies are in races 1 and 5; the Beal trotters are in races 2, 6, and 9; Hempt colts are slated for action in the 3rd, 7th, and 10th; and the free-for-all monsters will go in races 8, 11, and 12.

 You just don’t like harness racing if you’re not anxious to see this card’s action unfold, and to see who earns spots for the $2,000,000 Sun Stakes Saturday card a week later.

Gerry Connors for Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs



Friday, January 4th, 2013

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs is getting ready for what will be their biggest season ever with the addition of three big races for late summer. 

In addition to the Breeders Crown, scheduled for Saturday, October 19th; and the Ben Franklin, Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial Trot, the Max Hempt, and the James Lynch set for June; the track in Northeast PA is proud to add the prestigious Super Stakes races from Harrah’s Philadelphia to their stakes schedule. The Colonial; Battle of Brandywine; and the Valley Forge will take their spot two weeks after the Hambletonian on Saturday, August 17th.  

The decision to change the schedule, which will see these races alternate between Harrah’s Philadelphia and Pocono from year to year, was made by the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association, which controls the stakes schedules at both tracks. According to PHHA President Sam Beegle,  the move will make it easier to keep the purse account in check. 

 Ron Battoni, Executive Director of the PHHA, also cited the recent renovations to the racing apron to Pocono as a plus.  “They put $300,000 last year into the apron to level it.  They can put tables and tents, as well as outdoor vendors and betting windows.”  

At a press conference for the Breeders Crown last fall, Sam Beegle announced a bonus of $1 million if the same horse wins the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Trot; the Colonial Trot; and the Breeders Crown 3-Year-Old Trot.  

Racing opens for the 48th season at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on Saturday, March 23rd, and continues until November 16th.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

September 14-20, 2012

We had only two nights of live racing this past week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, so the Weekly Awards will have to take a little hiatus until next week. Instead, I thought we’d play a little game of “Where Are They Now?”

If you’re like me, you’re fascinated by all those shows which reveal the whereabouts of celebrities from yesteryear who haven’t stayed in the limelight. Only in our case, the celebrities are of the four-legged variety, particularly those horses who won the four major stakes races at Pocono this season.

What this little exercise should show is just how good those four horses are and that their moments in the spotlight at Pocono were indicative of the way that they’ve performed at other tracks around the country. It should also show that the MSPD stakes schedule, with its hefty purses attached, now attracts the best of the best in the harness racing world.

Our first major stakes race of the season, the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Trot for 3-year-olds on June 23, was a coming out party for the amazing Googoo Gaagaa. Up to that point, he had been a regional phenomenon for trainer Richard Hans in his home state of Maryland, but his ridiculous win in 1:50:4 in the Beal seemed to serve notice that he was the best sophomore trotter in the nation.

His skeptics had plenty to crow about when he went off stride in his following starts at Yonkers and The Meadowlands. Hans sent him back to Maryland for a confidence-building win in Maryland, then returned him to the fray to face the best of the best, including Hambletonian champ Market Share, in the Colonial at Harrah’s on August 18. Googoo Gaagaa proved definitively that the Beal was no fluke that day, whipping his competition for a victory in 1:52:1.

On June 30, we witnessed one of the sport’s true superstars as 3-year-old filly pacer American Jewel rolled in the final of the James Lynch Memorial stakes. That put her career record at 12 wins in 14 tries, meaning the filly didn’t know much about defeat. She would find out in her next three starts, hitting the board in consecutive stakes races at The Meadowlands, Tioga, and Harrah’s, but failing to pick up a victory in any of those tough battles.

When you’re a filly with as much talent as American Jewel, the near-misses just aren’t going to cut it. That’s why trainer Jimmy Takter had to be pleased when she righted herself with a win in her last start in Canada in the Simcoe stakes. With that win in tow, she appears to be in prime shape for the upcoming Breeders Crown.

When A Rocknroll Dance headed into the Max Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old pacers at Pocono on June 30, he was in the midst of a slump. As a result, despite an outstanding 2-year-old campaign in 2011, the colt from the Jim Mulinix barn went off as a 17-1 shot. He found his stride that day, however, buzzing by the leaders late to pull off the upset.

Buoyed by his win in the Hempt, the colt has since moved into the upper echelon of 3-year-old pacers in the country. A win in the prestigious Meadowlands Pace solidified that standing, and his victory in the Battle of the Brandywine at Harrah’s in August was one of the signature performances of the racing season.

Has there been a better pacer in the country this year than the amazing Betterthancheddar? Trained by Casie Coleman, the 4-year-old put together a thrilling, front-pacing win in the Ben Franklin free-for-all pace at Pocono on June 30, matching the track’s fastest ever pacing time with a mile of 1:48. Coleman then took him back to Canada for three straight victories.

Betterthancheddar was upset by the great Foiled Again in the Canadian Derby at Mohawk, but he quickly bounced back to beat that horse and other top pacers in the Bobby Quiller Memorial at Harrington on September 17. He has legitimate Horse of the Year aspirations.

So, as you can see, the horses that have made their mark at Pocono have gone on to perform with excellence at their subsequent destinations. Maybe we shouldn’t be asking, “Where are they now?” after all. Maybe the proper question is, “What will they do next?”

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