Posts Tagged ‘Colonial Trot’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono announces 2016 live racing schedule

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

Racing on four consecutive nights and a double-header on Kentucky Derby day are included in the 2016 live racing schedule for the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, as announced by Vice-President of Racing Operations, Dale Rapson.

Racing opens at the renowned 5/8 mile oval in Wilkes Barre, PA on Saturday, March 19th, and will continue for the month of March on Tuesday, March 22, Sat., March 26, and Tuesday, March 29.

In April, racing moves to Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday, with Sunday, April 3rd the 1st leg of the Bobby Weiss Late Closing Series for 3 and 4 year olds, named for the beloved former Director of Track Maintenance.  Bobby retired in 2011, and was responsible for the record-breaking track surface that is maintained today.  The series continues throughout April with the finals on May 1st and 3rd.  There will be no live racing on Monday, April 4th.

The prestigious Sun Stakes Saturday is set for Saturday, July 2nd, and will feature the Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial 3-year-old Trot; the James Lynch 3-year-old Filly Pace; the Max Hempt 3-year-old Colt & Gelding Pace; and the Ben Franklin Free For All Pace.  Eliminations will take place on Saturday, June 25th

Saturday, August 20th is the $2.1 million Super Stakes Saturday with the Colonial 3YO Trot; Valley Forge 3YO Filly Pace; and the Battle of the Brandywine 3YO Open Pace.

The newly-created Pennsylvania Classics for 3YO PA-sired pacing colts & geldings will be held on Kentucky Derby Day, May 7th with eliminations the week before.

Also on the celebratory Kentucky Derby is a double-header with two Pocono live race cards.  Post Time for the first card will be at 11 a.m., and the second will be immediately following the 142nd running of the Derby.  In between, there will be the Run for the Roses Hat Review and a huge party on the track apron.  Live racing will immediately follow the second and third legs of the Triple Crown, the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

The first Qualifiers of the season will be Tuesday, March 8th; Wednesday, March 9th; and Wednesday, March 16th.

Post Time for Sunday nights is 7:30p.m., with all other nights 6:30p.m.  In September, October, and November, Monday night Post Time will switch to a 4:30p.m. Post.  The 51st season of live racing concludes on Saturday, November 26th.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

October 24-30, 2015

As we head into the final month of the 2015 racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, it’s fun to look back and contemplate what an assemblage of equine talent we were lucky to see this year. As Pocono has ascended in the past decade to become one of the finest tracks in the country, the world’s top standardbreds often make the track an important part of their racing itineraries.

This past Saturday at Woodbine in Canada, the Breeders Crown races, which Pocono has hosted twice before and which serve as the unofficial yearend championships for harness racing’s various divisions, were held. And several of the big winners also spent a little time at MSPD this year, with varying levels of success.

Four of the twelve Breeders Crown champions from Saturday night raced at Pocono at some point this past year. (Two others, Open pacing champ Always B Miki and 2-year-old pacing colt Boston Red Rocks qualified here but never raced under the lights.) So let’s turn our focus to that quartet of big winners, particularly in the context of their 2015 performances at Pocono.

We start with Pure Country, who added an exclamation point to a wondrous debut racing season with her two-year-old pacing win at the Breeders Crown. The Jimmy Takter trainee has won every one of her ten career starts, so she’s been impossible to beat no matter what tracks she frequents. Still there’s a sentimental connection to Pocono, because it was here that she made her racing debut on June 30 in a Pennsylvania All Stars race.

Needless to say, she won that race. She returned in August to pick up another victory, this time against Pennsylvania Sire Stakes competition. This unbelievable unbeaten streak seems likely to continue into her three-year-old campaign next year, at which point we can only hope she returns to the scene of her introduction to the racing public.

Another Jimmy Takter trainee who made his mark at Pocono before busting onto the larger scene is The Bank. For much of the season, this 3-year-old colt came up short behind his more highly-touted stablemate Pinkman. This included his first Pocono appearance on August 22, when he finished 2nd in the $500,000 Colonial behind a typically brilliant Pinkman performance.

But two weeks later it was The Bank’s turn to take the spotlight in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. With Pinkman not in the field, The Bank went from understudy to star that night, scoring a decisive win in 1:53:1. And maybe that was all the confidence he needed, because he outtrotted his old buddy Pinkman to pull off the upset victory on Saturday.

Wild Honey has had some of the finest moments of her racing career at Pocono oval. The 3-year-old filly won the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship at the track as a 2-year-old in 2014, then defended her title this year with a rallying win. That more than made up for a loss as a 1-9 favorite to Smokin Mambo in a preliminary leg of the Sire Stakes at Pocono in June.

But then again, Wild Honey knows a thing or two about atoning for losses. Last year she was the dominant 2-year-old filly in the division but she broke stride in the Breeders Crown, an unfortunate blemish on an otherwise brilliant season. Her three-year-old year has been brilliant as well, but she was the second choice behind Mission Brief in the Breeders Crown finals on Saturday. This time it was Mission Brief going off stride, leaving Wild Honey to pick up the title that eluded her a year ago.

The example of Divine Caroline, a three-year-old pacing filly from the barn of trainer Joe Holloway, shows how fortunes can change, even within the relatively short span of a racing season. The filly raced at Pocono twice in June. In the James M Lynch Memorial elimination, she finished second. She followed that up the next week by finishing sixth in the final won by Bettor Be Steppin.

But the month of October has belonged to her, with four straight victories. The last of those victories came in the Breeders Crown final on Saturday, as she handled a field that included Bettor Be Steppin and a few others who competed in the Lynch way back when, a complete turnaround from the way it all worked out for her in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

So maybe Divine Caroline doesn’t have the fondest memories of the Pocono oval. By contrast, the Pocono faithful can look back happily at these four champions and know that the road to harness racing immortality went right through their backyard.

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.

Top horses in North America battle on Super Stakes Saturday

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

The two top-rated horses in 2015 North American harness racing, the three-year-old geldings Pinkman and Wiggle It Jiggleit, will continue their battle for #1 status in the sport this Saturday night during the $2,435,000 Super Stakes Saturday card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, going in consecutive races – first Pinkman in the $500,000 Colonial Trot, and then Wiggle It Jiggleit in the $500,000 Battle of the Brandywine Pace.

The three three-year-old races, which include the $350,000 Valley Forge Pace for fillies, are filled according to 2015 moneywinnings –the nine having the highest seasonal bankrolls are gathered in the “main event” races, with the next nine in order in Consolation I, and the nine after that in Consolation II.

Another high-profile event Saturday is the $100,000 Sebastian K S Invitational Trot, a race which will double as a retirement ceremony for the trans-Atlantic champion who will be honored in special on-track ceremonies before he heads to stallion duties. Ironically, the likely favorite is the Sebastian K S is JL Cruze – the #3-ranked horse in North America, and the one who defeated “Sebastian” by a nose in his only 2015 outing before his retirement.

Here are profiles of the Big Three three-year-old events, followed by a look at the Sebastian K S Trot and other powerful races on the Saturday card:

COLONIAL TROT — $500,000 main event race 11; $200,000 Consolation I race 7; $100,000 Consolation II race 3. Stakes record: 1:52.1, Googoo Gaagaa.

Pinkman, fresh off his two-heat, world recordsetting victory in The Hambletonian, was aided by the draw with post two in the field of nine. Yannick Gingras is listed to drive Pinkman, a son of Explosive Matter who has eight wins and one second in nine seasonal starts, with his mark the 1:51 world record for 3TG in the second heat of the Hambletonian, and his $1,170,965 in 2015 earnings raising his career total to $1,737,625. (By the way, his chief foe in the Hambletonian, the filly Mission Brief, will be racing in Pennsylvania some 27 hours earlier, heading the $174,000 Moni Maker Trot at The Meadows Friday night.)

Pinkman will be find some familiar faces on the track beside him Saturday, as five of the nine Colonial entrants are, like he, part of the trotting superstable of Jimmy Takter. The “other” quartet – Uncle Lasse (PP3, driver David Miller), The Bank (PP6, Takter listing himself), Canepa Hanover (PP8, John Campbell back in the sulky), and French Laundry (PP9, Brett Miller) – are not just “makeweight” entrants either, with combined seasonal earnings of $900,000 among them.

Crazy Wow (PP1, trainer Ron Burke, driver Tim Tetrick) and Wicker Hanover (post five, Noel Daley, Corey Callahan) seem to have the best chance to upset the Takter applecart. Crazy Wow was third in the Beal Final here in June, behind Pinkman and Uncle Lasse, while Wicker Hanover handed Pinkman his only defeat of the year, in the Beal eliminations.

BATTLE OF THE BRANDYWINE — $500,000 main event race 12; $200,000 Consolation I race 8; $100,000 Consolation II race 4. Stakes record: 1:47.4, Sunshine Beach.

Wiggle It Jiggleit, an altered son of Mr Wiggins, has achieved slightly-higher earnings than Pinkman so far – $1,189,144, while winning 15 of 17 starts and showing speed, maneuverability, and courage. The winner of the Hempt Final here at Pocono early this season, Wiggle It Jiggleit will have driver Montrell Teague alert early, as he will be starting from the rail, and Teague’s job will be to get him to the front at some point without a terrific usage of resources, the fate which befell him in the recent Cane Pace, where he was involved in fractions of 25.4, 52,1, and 1:20.4 before tiring to fourth in the stretch.

The four horses who have finished ahead of Wiggle It Jiggleit in his lifetime (he raced only once at two, winning here) are all in the big Battle. Wazikashi Hanover (PP7, trainer Joanne Looney-King, driver Tim Tetrick, #7 in the North American polls) caught “Wiggle” in the stretch drive of the North America Cup at Mohawk, while the 1-2-3 Cane finishers are also here – in order of that race’s finish, Dealt A Winner (PP9, Mark Silva, David Miller), Artspeak (PP8, Tony Alagna, Scott Zeron), and Dude’s The Man (PP2, Jessica Okusko, Corey Callahan). The “Dude” also won the last big-money race for this division in Pennsylvania, the Adios at The Meadows on August 1.

VALLEY FORGE PACE — $350,000 main event race 10; $150,000 Consolation I race 7; $75.000

Consolation II race 3. Stakes record: 1:48.4, I Luv The Nitelife.

A division desperately looking for a leader after a series of different winners in most of this year’s major events to date may find one emerge from the Valley Forge Pace.

The biggest 2015 bankroll in the collection of nine misses belongs to Bettor Be Steppin, a daughter of Bettor’s Delight who will begin from post four for trainer Joe Holloway and driver Corey Callahan. Over half of the seasonal winnings of Bettor Be Steppin came right at Pocono, when she won a multi-horse close finish to capture the $300,000 Lynch Final, taking her mark of 1:50.4.

In finding other ways to measure this evenly-matched group, the biggest career bankroll belongs to Sassa Hanover ($634,440, PP7, trainer Ron Burke, driver Yannick Gingras), while the fastest speed mark is held by Moonlit Dance (1:49 winning the recent Mistletoe Shalee Final, PP6, trainer Tony OSullivan, driver David Miller). Both of those fillies show solid credentials in their achievements and their connections, and are likely to contribute to this fairly-wide-open affair.

OTHER BIG RACES SATURDAY

The $100,000 Sebastian K S Trot (race 5) marks the return to the races after a five-week break of the Cinderella story JL Cruze, who started to build a following while winning the Weiss Series here in the spring, and has gone on to win 16 of 18 starts and over $600,000 for trainer Eric Ell, with John Campbell returning from a recent minor injury to guide “JL” from the middle of the nine-horse field. Along the way, JL Cruze has become the third-fastest trotter of all-time, behind only Sebastian K S and Enough Talk (1:49.3 at Colonial) when he won the Graduate Series Final in 1:49.4.

The card kicks off with a bang, as national stars Cinamony, Krispy Apple, Ooh Bad Shark, and Yagonnakissmeornot collide in the $50,000 Hanover Shoe Farms Pace for mares.

The $50,000 U.S. Trotting Association Pace for free-for-allers may turn out to be the national coming-out party for the unheralded Always At My Place (PP2, trainer Ron Burke, driver Matt Kalaley), who goes for his sixth win in a row after missing the world record for 4PG by a tick here last Saturday, stopping the timer in 1:48.1 while pacing his own back half uncovered in 53.1 and winning under a hold.

Post Time for this stellar card is 5:30pm.

50th Anniversary Week is here!

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

The 50th Anniversary festivities continue at Pocono Downs, with everyone looking forward to an exciting weekend of tremendous racing and events.

Friday, August 21, racing will kick off with a special Post Time of 5:30pm, and the “Legends Race” will start off the night.  The race will feature familiar names such as Bill Popfinger; Don Wiest; Jim Williard; Bill Mullin, Syl King Jr.; Eddie Nickle; and Joe Antonelli.  There  will also be a special Winner’s Circle trophy presention by Pocono’s first leading driver, J.D. Dennis, Sr., and Gene Daisey, who drove in 1965 as well.  Horsemen from the past to the present are all invited into the Circle for the presentation and a group photo.  After the 10th race, Wilkes Barre Mayor Thomas M. Leighton will present a proclamation honoring the track for their 50th anniversary and their contribution to the community.

Immediately following the races on Friday night, there will be a free concert on the apron with a Tribute to Motown featuring The Fellas; and a Tribute to the Supremes, featuring Encorz.  The time for the concert will be approximately 9:30pm.  A $1 Coors Light draft drink special will be at the track apron bars only for the concert fans.  After the concert, fans with the coupon from the live racing program can grab their “Decades of the Downs” 1965  t-shirts on the apron, while supplies last.

Saturday afternoon, August 22, former manager and Major League baseball player Pete Rose drops in for pictures and autographs in the racing lobby from 4:00pm to 6:00pm. This is a wristband-only event, and wristbands are available starting at 1:00pm in the lobby.  Authorized photos will be signed, and are available at the event.

Then the action shifts to the famous 5/8 mile oval with the $2.3 million Super Stakes Saturday.  Representative Eddie Day Pashinski of the 121st Legislative District in Luzerne County will perform the National Anthem to kick off this tremendous night of racing,  featuring the Battle of the Brandywine; the Colonial Trot; and the Valley Forge Pace, plus two consolations of each.  Also featured on this prestigious night of racing is the Sebastian K Invitational Trot, named after the fastest trotter of all time.  The famed trotter will also be honored with a special retirement ceremony after the 4th race on the card, featuring owner Michael Knuttson; driver/trainer, Ake Svanstedt and Bernie Noren; along with James Simpson from Hanover Shoe Farms.  Special collectible Sebastian K color photos will be available for fans after the ceremony.  A special 50th Anniversary souvenir beer mug will be given away to fans with the coupon from the live racing program starting at 9:00pm at the Trackside Concession area on the apron.  Programs are on sale starting at 5:00pm.

The Hanover Shoe Farms Mares Invitational Pace and the USTA Invitational Pace have also been added to this stellar card of racing, with a purse of $50,000 to each.

Immediately following the races, at approximately 10:30pm,  will be a spectacular fireworks display featuring music of all five decades from 1960’s to the present.  Fans are encouraged to arrive early for a good spot on the apron.

Plenty of food will be available on the apron both Friday and Saturday with food trucks Dominic’s; Big Belly BBQ; Johnny Rockets; and Doc Popcorn ready to go with something for everyone’s appetite.  The Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame will be on hand with items for sale as well.

In the racing lobby both Friday and Saturday will be a special display of memorabilia from the past 50 years for fans to enjoy.  Included are old photos; trophies; programs, and more.

As always, parking and admission are free at the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and valet parking is also free.

50th Anniversary of Racing week a huge celebration!

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

On July 15, 1965, the $7 million Pocono Downs opened its doors in Northeast Pennsylvania. Thousands of fans were on hand as Satin Queen was the first to cross the Finish Line on that sultry summer night.

50 years later, 42 tracks have come and gone, but Pocono Downs, now renamed the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, continues to host World-record racing from March to November each year.  From August 15-22, the track will honor the past and look ahead to the future with a week of events for the fans to celebrate and honor the rich history and tremendous racing.

A week-long celebration kicks off on Saturday, August 15 with the World-renowned Budweiser Clydesdales making an appearance, and fans may have their photo taken from 6:00pm to 7:30pm on the track apron.  A wristband is necessary, and will be distributed at 4:00pm on the Sky Bridge  The photo is $5, and all proceeds will be donated to Marley’s Mission, a charity that provides equine-based therapy free of charge to children and their families who have experienced trauma.  The Budweiser Clydesdales hitch will promenade on the track during live racing Saturday night, as well as the night before.

On Tuesday, August 18 and Wednesday, August 19, fans can enjoy live racing and Pocono is “rolling back the prices” to 1965 on soft drinks, hot dogs, popcorn, and soft drinks.

The weekend will be full of exciting events, with a special Post Time of 5:30pm on both Friday and Saturday nights.  On Friday, August 21, the night will kick off with a special “Legends Race”, featuring drivers from the past 50 years competing in a thrilling race; Immediately following the races, fans can enjoy a special “Tribute to Motown” free concert featuring The Fellas and Encorz, two tremendous groups who will be performing on the track apron.

Saturday, August 22 starts off with an exciting guest dropping by to celebrate the anniversary!  Former Major League Baseball player and manager Pete Rose will be on hand for autographs and photos from 4:00pm to 6:00pm in the Racing lobby.  This is a wristband-only event, and wristbands will be distributed starting at 1:00pm.  Authorized photos only will be signed, and they are available at the special signing.

Then the action shifts back to the track with a special Post Time of 5:30pm for the return of the $2.3 million Super Stakes Saturday, with the 3 Year-Old Colonial Trot; the 3 Year-Old Valley Forge Filly Pace; and the 3 Year Old Battle of the Brandywine Open Pace, plus two consolations of each.  Amid the tremendous racing on that night will be the 50th Anniversary Souvenir Beer Mug giveaway, which will take place from 9:00pm to 10:30pm with the coupon from the live racing racing program.  The special commemorative program will be on sale starting at 5:00pm in the Racing lobby.

Immediately following the stellar Super Stakes Saturday card will be a spectacular fireworks display to cap the tremendous week of events.  The approximate start time is 10:30pm.

Fans are reminded that the souvenir book “The Golden Era of Pocono Downs” will be available through the remainder of the season, and can be purchased at the Program stand.  This commemorative book takes a look back at 50 years of racing, events, and statistics, and contains photos of the past and present.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono is truly honored to be celebrating this milestone, and looks forward to a terrific week of fan-friendly events and outstanding racing.  For more information on the anniversary celebration, follow us on Twitter @DownsAtMSP, #pcd50; and keep checking back for updates in the Racing section of www.mohegansunpocono.com.