Posts Tagged ‘Corey Callahan’

The most anticipated race in decades is on Sun Stakes Saturday!

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

There will be over $2 million on the line this Saturday evening at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on its Sun Stakes Saturday card, but while the races for the three-year-olds will provide exciting contests and help provide early season pecking order, the main focus will be on one event.

The Showdown.

The Clash of the Titans – Always B Miki, Freaky Feet Pete, and Wiggle It Jiggleit – in the $500,000 Ben Franklin FFA Pace Championship, race 11 on the 14-race card Saturday at Pocono, which is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. first post.

Here’s an overview of the evening’s activities, led of course by the Franklin:

$500,000 BEN FRANKLIN FFAP CHAMPIONSHIP (race 11 of 14 – consolation race 7)

Defending Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit got the best of the post draw among the three Indiana-sired winners in the Franklin eliminations – but then again, the other two are not noted for their quick starting speed, although they may need to show some to get the major share of the purse in the Franklin, which became a field of ten when Shamballa and Always At My Place deadheated for third in an elimination.

The four-year-old son of Mr Wiggles, trained by Clyde Francis for George Teague Jr. Inc. and Teague Racing Partnership LLC, shows five “clean” calls of “1” (no parked-out symbols) at the quarter among his charted lines, and being somewhere near the front has been part of driver Montrell Teague’s basic modus operandi as “Wiggle” has won 31 of 38 career starts and $2.630,760 lifetime, including an easy-looking 1:48.1 score in his Franklin elimination (in which he drew over $73,000 of a $76,500 show pool). What might happen after Wiggle It Jiggleit gets the top (if he goes for the lead) makes for the drama of the story.

The five-year-old Always A Virgin stallion (are the last two words an oxymoron?) Always B Miki will start from post seven for driver David Miller, trainer Jimmy Takter, and his ownership of Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable, and Christina Takter. “Miki” has forged much of his reputation as an unstoppable finisher deluxe, with several pace-controlling moves made midrace on the straightaway of a big track. He shows only one “clean 1” at the first split on his lines, in a field of six when he was 1-20* in a Meadowlands race earlier this year, but he also has shown the ability to sit outside and still be razor-sharp in the stretch, as he was at Pocono last week when he was hung the better part of ¾ of a mile, mostly uncovered, and still had strong strides to the wire to equal the 1:47 world record for 5/8-mile tracks, set by Sweet Lou in the Franklin Championship here in 2014. He may face a similar trip on Saturday – but he’s shown he can handle it.

The horse that hung Always B Miki, Mel Mara (driven by Corey Callahan), should be mentioned here, as the seven-year-old Lis Mara stallion, trained by Dylan Davis for Robert Cooper Stables LLC and J&T Silva Stables LLC, drew the rail for the Franklin Championship. But Mel Mara has seldom shown early speed racing recently –which may be a strange thing to say for a horse who’s been ahead at the half in 3 of his last 5 races, but he has been parked at the quarter in all three, making second-quarter moves to the top. “Mel” does not figure to benefit from the “inside geometry” of post one as much as many would.

Freaky Feet Pete was in front most of his Franklin victory, with the son of Rockin Image setting a world record of 1:47.1 for his division in his easiest of triumphs (you heard a lot of “He didn’t look like he was going that fast!” comments after his elim). But again, like Always B Miki, the only raceline he shows with a “clean 1” at the quarter was a 1-20* early-season win at Hoosier. Trace Tetrick, Tim’s brother, who will be putting his 1.000 lifetime UDR at Pocono on the line here (last week was his first visit to the mountain oval) for trainer Larry Rheinheimer and owners Mary Jo and Marty Rheinheimer.

With all these horses of superior and variable mid-race tactics – gathered together in a powerpacked field that collectively has earned $11.8M in their careers and has an average mark of 1:47.4 – the trip, combined with some racing luck, will probably tell the tale in this great free-for-all showdown.

(By the way, Luck Be Withyou, the defending Franklin champ, will be racing in the Consolation this year, from post 1. He won his 2015 elim from post 8 and his final from post nine – and went wire-to-wire, with “clean 1”s, in both contests.)

$500,000 EARL BEAL JR. 3CT CHAMPIONSHIP (race 12 — consolation race 5)

Lost a bit in the uproar about the speedy Franklin elimination show last Saturday was the fact that Southwind Frank, the favorite for the August 8 Hambletonian, suffered only the second loss of his career. The three-year-old son of Muscle Hill, driven by Yannick Gingras for trainer Ron Burke and Southwind Frank Partners, was limbed out most of the first 3/8s before getting the top and went on to fast fractions before getting edged at the end by a game Bar Hopping in 1:52.1. The Beal elim was only “Frank”’s third start of the year, and first since June 4, and he figures to be a bit better this week, although again needing to overcome post seven in a field of nine.

Bar Hopping, who caught Southwind Frank late in posting the upset last week, may have an even more difficult road to hoe on Saturday, as the pillshake was unkind enough to give him the outside in the field of nine for trainer Jimmy Takter and the ownership of Christina Takter, Hatfield Stables, Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. But the son of Muscle Hill will be driven by Tim Tetrick, who showed the best ability to cope “against the odds” on Elim Saturday – of the nine eliminations, seven were won by favorites, and Tetrick drove the other two: Bar Hopping ($24.60) and 3PF Newborn Sassy ($8.20).

If these two get involved in vicious early dueling, there is a horse who has proven he has a wicked closing kick – and he lives right down the shedrow from Southwind Frank. That would be Burke trainee Dayson, an altered son of Conway Hall who has never lost in his career when flat (11 for 14, with three breaks). That pattern looked in serious jeopardy as late as midstretch last week, but driver Jim Morrill Jr. got a furious late kick out of Dayson for a 1:52.3 tally, and from post two he might again be in prime position to “pick up the pieces” for Burke Racing Stable LLC, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables LLC, and Rossie Smith.

$500,000 MAX C. HEMPT 3CP CHAMPIONSHIP (race 10; no consolation – only 13 in elims.)

Racing Hill and Control The Moment were 2-3 behind Hempt non-eligible Betting Hill in the recent $1MC North America Cup at Mohawk, and both followed on their fine showing in Canada by winning their respective Hempt elims. For the Hempt Championship, Racing Hill has the better draw, PP2 vs. PP8, and the Roll With Joe colt, trained by Tony Alagna for owner Tom Hill of the U.K., was the faster elim winner, winning in 1:49.1 under a hold the last 1/16 by driver Brett Miller.

However, few people would be surprised if the Well Said colt Control The Moment gave a giant accounting of himself despite landing behind the 8-ball at the post draw. The Brad Maxwell trainee, owned by the Control The Moment Stable, won in 1:49.3 last week, snapping home in 27 last Saturday to hold off 2015 divisional champion Boston Red Rocks, who has post six in the Hempt Final.

If one were looking for an upsetter in the Hempt, one could make a case for the Art Major gelding Talk Show, who starts in the middle of the field of nine for driver Scott Zeron and trainer Steve Elliott (also the trainer of Boston Red Rocks). The timer malfunctioned during his elim, and it wasn’t until after the race that it was noted that Racing Hill blitzed the third quarter in 26.3 to hold off a spirited challenge from Talk Show – who was four lengths off the lead at the half, meaning he went his third quarter raw in 25.4! Such pure speed, under perfect circumstances, could find Talk Show in the thick of things in the Hempt final.

$300,000 JAMES LYNCH 3FP CHAMPIONSHIP (race 9 – consolation race 6)

Last year’s division champion Pure Country went 10-for-10 in her freshman campaign. This year, largely due to some early-season sickness, the road has not been as easy for the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, owned by Diamond Creek Racing, but as trainer Jimmy Takter notes, “She’s won the two biggest races of the season for her division so far, the Miss Pennsylvania (at Pocono) and the Fan Hanover.” Last week Pure Country showed her grittiness by overcoming a first-over trip to win in 1:50.1 for driver Brett Miller, as she looks to raise her “majors” record to 3 for 3; the two foes who were within a half-length of her at the wire start on either side of her Saturday: Blue Moon Stride, getting post eight after a second, and Darlinonthebeach, in post six after closing for third.

We mentioned Newborn Sassy earlier as one of two non-favorites, both piloted by Tim Tetrick, to win an elim, and on Saturday the Western Ideal miss, trained by co-owner Jo Ann Looney-King for herself and partner CC Racing LLC, will begin from post three off her 1:51.3 elimination tally. I Said Diamonds, that elim’s chalk who came up just short after not having raced in 29 days, certainly has a license to be better off of that race, and will start from post two.

ANOTHER STAR WILL BE AT POCONO SATURDAY

Well-known baseball superstar Pete Rose will be making an appearance at The Downs at Mohegan Sun at Pocono before the evening’s races (and may well stay and bet a few, if his past performances are any indication).

Wristbands to attend the session with Rose will be distributed starting at 1 p.m. in the Racing Lobby. There are a limited number of wrist bands, which will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. The session with Rose will take place between 4 and 6 p.m. Only authorized photos will be signed, and distributed at the event!

AND TO END, THE FIELDS FOR THE “BIG FOUR” ON SUN STAKES SATURDAY (post, horse, driver, trainer):

$300,000 JAMES LYNCH 3FP CHAMPIONSHIP, race 9: 1, JK Fannie, David Miller, Nancy Johansson; 2, I Said Diamonds, Matt Kakaley, Matias Ruiz; 3, Newborn Sassy, Tim Tetrick, Jo Ann Looney-King; 4, Lindwood Beach Girl, Yannick Gingras, Mark Steacy; 5, Skinny Dipper, Andrew McCarthy, Ross Croghan; 6. Darlinonthebeach, David Miller also listed, Nancy Johansson;  7, Pure Country, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter; 8, Blue Moon Stride, McCarthy also listed, Mark Harder; 9. Penpal, driver/trainer Pat Lachance.

$500,000 MAX C. HEMPT 3CP CHAMPIONSHIP, race 10: 1, More Dragon, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 2, Racing Hill, Brett Miller, Tony Alagna; 3, Western Fame, George Napolitano Jr., Jimmy Takter; 4, JK Will Power, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 5, Talk Show, Scott Zeron, Steve Elliott; 6,  Boston Red Rocks, Tim Tetrick, Steve Elliott; 7, Katies Rocker, David Miller, Jim Campbell; 8, Control The Moment, Randy Waples, Brad Maxwell; 9, Big Top Hanover, Gingras also listed, Ron Burke.

$500,000 BEN FRANKLIN FFAP CHAMPIONSHIP, race 11: 1, Mel Mara, Corey Callahan, Dylan Davis; 2, Shamballa, Scott Zeron, Rick Zeron; 3, Wiggle It Jiggleit, Montrell Teague, Clyde Francis; 4, State Treasurer, Tim Tetrick, Dr. Ian Moore; 5, Sunfire Blue Chip, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter; 6, Freaky Feet Pete, Trace Tetrick, Larry Rheinheimer; 7, Always B Miki, David Miller, Jimmy Takter; 8, All Bets Off, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 9, Rock N’ Roll World, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 10 (2T), Always At My Place, Gingras also listed, Ron Burke.

$500,000 EARL BEAL JR. 3CT CHAMPIONSHIP, race 12: 1, Reigning Moni, Scott Zeron, Jimmy Takter; 2, Hollywood Highway, John Campbell, Staffan Lind; 3, Truemass Volo, Eric Goodell, Doug Hamilton; 4, Dayson, Jim Morrill Jr., Ron Burke; 5, Trolley, Marcus Miller, Erv Miller; 6, Brooklyn Hill, David Miller, Jonas Czernyson; 7, Southwind Frank, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 8, Dice Man, driver/trainer Åke Svanstedt; 9, Bar Hopping, Tim Tetrick, Jimmy Takter.

The stars shine under the Sun in Sun Stakes Saturday eliminations

Monday, June 20th, 2016

What will be the greatest collection of harness racing talent assembled for one card so far in 2016 will gather at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono this Saturday night, June 25th, as the eliminations for the $2M+ Sun Stakes Saturday Championships will be held, seven days before the Championship events.

The Ben Franklin FFA Pace has attracted an overflow field of 22 entrants, including such superstars as Wiggle It Jiggleit, Always B Miki, Freaky Feet Pete, Rockin Ron, and $30,000 supplement Mel Mara, and will be raced in three eliminations, with the top three finishers from each elim coming back for the $500,000 Championship event.

The races for the three-year-olds – the Earl Beal 3C Trot, the Max C. Hempt 3C Pace, and the James Lynch 3F Pace, number their entrants in the teens, which means there will be two eliminations for all three sophomore events, with the top four finishers in each elim joining the faster of the fifth-placed finishers going into their rich Championships, the Beal and Hempt racing for $500,000, the Lynch for $300,000.

On an overall basis, how strong are these fields? Well, take the Franklin: it boasts the defending divisional champion in State Treasurer, PLUS it has the defending Horse of the Year and 3YO champion, Wiggle It Jiggleit, as he makes the stepup to the older ranks. Also, the only possible defending champion in the four stakes, Luck Be Withyou, is in the field.

And each of the events for three-year-olds sees its defending champion from two coming to Pocono: Southwind Frank (3TC), Boston Red Rocks (3PC), and Pure Country (3PC).

In addition: the Top Ten poll reflecting this past weekend’s results has not been completed by “post time” for this release, but six of the top ten horses from the last poll will be at Pocono: Wiggle It Jiggleit (1st), Southwind Frank (3rd), Freaky Feet Pete (4th), Rockin Ron (6th), Always B Miki (8th), and Mel Mara (10th).

Here’s a closer look at the fields for all four sets of eliminations, starting with the one that will likely draw the most attention, the Franklin FFA Pace:

BEN FRANKLIN FFAP (Championship purse $500,000; eliminations this Saturday slotted for races 10-11-12):

In addition to the accomplishments listed above, the 22 Franklin entrants have combined lifetime earnings over $20M (ten of the card’s fourteen millionaires are in the Franklin), and their average lifetime mark is 1:48.2.

The first elimination, race 10, finds returning Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit, who won the Hempt and the Battle of the Brandywine at Pocono last year, drawing post six in a field of eight for driver Montrell Teague, trainer Clyde Francis, and his ownership of George Teague Jr Inc. and Teague Racing Partnership LLC. The four-year-old altered son of Mr Wiggles has won 7 of 10 races so far this year and over $400,000, and has taken his last three outings, including a 1:48.1-26.4 runaway victory in a Graduate leg at Tioga despite broken equipment; the race before that, he set the all-time track record with a 1:47.3 at Philly.

State Treasurer, the reigning Older Male Pacer of the Year, has post five in “Wiggle”’s elimination, but is winless so far in 2016, while Luck Be With You, the defending Franklin champion, is saddled with the outside post eight  – but he won his Franklin elim last year from PP8, and then won the Championship from PP9.

The second elimination features Always B Miki, who has by many been considered the purely-fastest horse of the last two years, with his speed matched only by bad racing fortune, most notably an injury at the end of his three-year-old season. But the five-year-old Always A Virgin stallion has come back in 2016 with three wins and two seconds in five starts, including setting the all-time Canadian record of 1:47.1 in Mohawk’s Gold Cup this past Saturday. David Miller is slated for sulky duty as “Miki” starts from post five for trainer Jimmy Takter and owners Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable, and Christina Takter.

Always B Miki faces several tough foes here, but none that has been more a thorn in his side recently than Mel Mara, starting from post one for driver Corey Callahan. The horse was placed in the care of trainer Dylan Davis almost two months ago, and since then Mel Mara has passed “Miki” in the stretch, only to be outfought on the end by a neck, and then, in Mel Mara’s last race, he held off Always B Miki by two lengths in 1:47, only a tick off the all-time record for speed in a race – reason enough for his connections, Robert Cooper Stables LLC and J&T Silva Stables LLC, to pony up a $30,000 supplemental entry fee to get him in the race. Mel Mara qualified this past Saturday at The Meadowlands, winning in 1:49.2, with a last quarter of 25.4 …

… a last quarter, which, unbelievably, was bettered by third elim likely choice Freaky Feet Pete, as he flew to the wire in 25.3 in a 1:51.2 Hoosier morning session. Freaky Feet Pete, a son of Rockin Image, completes the “Indiana triumvirate” of dominant free-for-allers which includes “Wiggle” and “Miki,” and he may be able to add to his already-burnished credentials as he starts from post one for driver Trace Tetrick, trainer Larry Rhineheimer, and owners Mary Jo Rhineheimer and Marty Rhineheimer.

$30,000 RACE 10 ELIMINATION (PP, horse, listed driver, trainer): 1, Dude’s The Man, Corey Callahan, Jessica Okusko; 2, Always At My Place, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 3, Take It Back Terry, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 4, Ideal Cowboy, Tim Tetrick, Jeff Bamond Jr.; 5, State Treasurer, Tim Tetrick also listed, Dr. Ian Moore; 6, Wiggle It Jiggleit, Montrell Teague, Clyde Francis; 7, Shamballa, Scott Zeron, Rick Zeron; 8, Luck Be Withyou, George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes.

$30,000 RACE 11 ELIMINATION: 1, Mel Mara*, Corey Callahan, Dylan Davis; 2, Melmerby Beach, Marcus Miller, Ettore Annunziata; 3, Mach It So, Tim Tetrick, Jeff Bamond Jr.; 4, Alexa’s Jackpot, George Napolitano Jr., Marty Fine; 5, Always B Miki, David Miller, Jimmy Takter; 6, All Bets Off, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 7, Rockin Ron, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke. (*- $30,000 supplemental nomination.)

$30,000 RACE 12 ELIMINATION: 1, Freaky Feet Pete, Trace Tetrick, Larry Rhineheimer; 2, Limelight Beach, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 3, Cooperstown, George Napolitano Jr., Daniel Renaud; 4, Rock N’ Roll World, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 5, Bushwacker, Eric Carlson, Chris Ryder; 6, Sunfire Blue Chip, Mark MacDonald, Jimmy Takter; 7, In The Arsenal, Brett Miller, Kelvin Harrison.

EARL BEAL 3CT (Championship purse $500,000, Saturday eliminations races 7 and 9):

Most of the attention for the Beal will be drawn by Southwind Frank, last year’s divisional champion and a Breeders Crown winner, and 13-for-14 in his career for trainer Ron Burke and owners Southwind Frank Partners. “Frank” will have two challenges going into Saturday’s race 9 elimination: he hasn’t started since winning the New Jersey Sire Stakes Championship on June 4, and he’ll leave from post eight in the field of nine for driver Yannick Gingras (who does have an early “double call” in the race with Lagerfeld). Speaking of Lagerfeld, he and Love Matters, both two-time winners in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes program this season, look to be “Frank”’s main opposition.

Decorum will be the watchword in the seventh race elim, as three of the potentially-fastest of the nine entrants come into the Beal elim off of breaks in their last star: Dayson, Milligan’s School, and Jack Vernon. All have shown the speed that puts them near the top of their class if they are errorless, and a good time to begin their improved behavior would be right here.

$25,000 7TH RACE ELIMINATION: 1, Brooklyn Hill, David Miller, Jonas Czernyson; 2, Dayson, Jim Morrill Jr., Ron Burke; 3, Milligan’s School, Andy Miller, Julie Miller; 4, Jimmy William, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter; 5, Jack Vernon, Tim Tetrick, Randy Beeckman; 6, Dupree, Åke Svanstedt, Åke Svanstedt; 7, Reigning Moni, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 8, Truemass Volo, Eric Goodell, Doug Hamilton; 9, Hollywood Highway, John Campbell, Staffan Lind.

$25,000 9TH RACE ELIMINATION: 1, Dice Man, Åke Svanstedt, Åke Svanstedt; 2, Love Matters, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter; 3, Trolley, Marcus Miller, Erv Miller; 4, Lagerfeld, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 5, Iron Mine Bucky, George Dennis, Greg Haverstick; 6, Bar Hopping, Tim Tetrick, Jimmy Takter; 7, Promise Delivered, Andrew McCarthy, Staffan Lind; 8, Southwind Frank, Gingras also listed, Ron Burke; 9, Leggs Matter, David Miller, Robert W. Clark.

MAX C. HEMPT 3CP (Championship purse $500,000, Saturday eliminations races 3 and 5):

Betting Line, the winner of last Saturday’s $1M North America Cup at Mohawk, was not eligible to the Hempt, but the horse that finished 2-3 in the Cup, Racing Hill and Control The Moment, will be going at Pocono on Saturday, as will fourth-place Cup finisher Boston Red Rocks, last year’s two-year-old champion, and many of the early stars of the state’s tough Pennsylvania-sired contests. These two eliminations look to be fairly wide-open, as the sophomores try to establish early position behind leader pro tem Betting Line as they travel the path towards the Meadowlands Pace, the Battle of the Brandywine, the Little Brown Jug, and the Breeders Crown. (And remember that last year’s Hempt winner went on to have a pretty good 2015 – his name was Wiggle It Jiggleit.)

$25,000 3RD RACE ELIMINATION: 1, Boston Red Rocks, Tim Tetrick, Steve Elliott; 2, JK Will Power, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 3, More Dragon, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 4, Control The Moment, Randy Waples, Brad Maxwell; 5, American Passport, Brian Sears, Tony Alagna; 6, Western Dynasty, Tim Tetrick also listed, Chris Ryder.

$25,000 5TH RACE ELIMINATION: 1, Racing Hill, Brett Miller, Tony Alagna; 2, Tailgunner Hanover, Tim Tetrick, Ray Schnittker; 3, Big Top Hanover, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 4, Katie’s Rocker, David Miller, Jim Campbell; 5, Talk Show, Scott Zeron, Steve Elliott; 6, Western Fame, David Miller also listed, Jimmy Takter; 7, Another Daily Copy, Jim Morrill Jr., Nicholas DeVita.

JAMES LYNCH 3F PACE (Championship purse: $300,000, Saturday eliminations races 6 and 8):

Pure Country was pure perfection as a two-year-old, going undefeated in 10 starts and being named divisional champion. This year, like a typical country song, there have been a few “bumps in the road,” but as trainer Jimmy Takter noted last week, “She’s won the two big races for her group so far” (last Saturday’s $341,640 Fan Hanover Championship at Mohawk, and the $313,800 Miss Pennsylvania Championship here at Pocono). The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, owned by Diamond Creek Racing, is set to have Brett Miller in his accustomed perch in the sulky as the pair start from post three in the nine-horse race eight elimination, with a battle sure to come from Darlinonthebeach, the only horse ever to be favored against Pure Country (in the Miss Pennsylvania final, where she set a lightning pace then tired), and second in the Fan Hanover final.

In the sixth race elim, the Well Said filly I Said Diamonds should draw her fair share of attention from post four, with Matt Kakaley driving for trainer Matias Ruiz and Little Bapa LLC from post four. This “Diamond” was second to Pure Country in the Miss Pennsylvania Championship after winning her elimination, and she also shows 2016 stakes triumphs in the Pennsylvania All-Stars and the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes.

$20,000 6TH RACE ELIMINATION: 1, Shezarealdeal, John Campbell, Ross Croghan; 2, Skinny Dipper, Andrew McCarthy, Ross Croghan; 3, JK Fannie, David Miller, Nancy Johansson; 4, I Said Diamonds, Matt Kakaley, Matias Ruiz; 5, Newborn Sassy, Tim Tetrick, Jo Ann Looney-King; 6, Sail To The Beach, John Campbell also listed, Richard Bilach; 7, Princess Fabulosa, Jim Marohn Jr., Greg White; 8, Terror At Night, Brett Miller, Les Givens; 9, Lindwood Beachgirl, Yannick Gingras, Mark Steacy.

$20,000 8TH RACE ELIMINATION: 1, Kiss Me Onthebeach, John Campbell, Chris Ryder; 2, Yankee Moonshine, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 3, Pure Country, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter; 4, Blue Moon Stride, Andrew McCarthy, Mark Harder; 5, Lyons River Pride, driver TBA, Bruce Goit; 6, Darlinonthebeach, David Miller, Nancy Johansson; 7. Penpal, Pat Lachance, Pat Lachance; 8. Some Fancy Filly, David Miller also listed, Nancy Johansson; 9, Call Me Queen Be, Scott Zeron, Ross Croghan.

ALSO ON THE CARD – a $25,000 winners-over pace in the four-slot, matching Rockeyed Optimist, 18-of-29 the last two years and consistently close against top free-for-allers (including showing a win over Always B Miki in that one’s 2016 bow), and Wakizashi Hanover, a million-dollar winner in his three-year-old form, who was eligible to the Franklin, but is making his 2016 seasonal debut on Saturday. “Wakizashi” adds Lasix as he enters his older form, and trainer Jo Ann Looney-King decided to go into this event rather than throw her pride and joy against the bullyboy FFAers in his bow this season; Tim Tetrick is scheduled for sulky duty behind Wakizashi Hanover from post four in a field of eight, while Rockeyed Optimist starts in post six for driver Brett Miller and trainer Steve Elliott.

First post for this Saturday extravaganza of trotting and pacing prowess is listed at 6:30 p.m.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

June 11-17, 2016

If you were looking for the unexpected, it was a good week to watch the races at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Long shots seemed to be coming in every time you turned around, and favorites, with some notable exceptions, had a hard time getting the job done. Weeks like this past one remind everyone just how unpredictable this sport can be. Keep that in mind as we take a look at some of the top equine and human performers and hand out the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: PRICELESS EDITION

Rules have been put in place this season at Pocono that have changed the claiming ranks to some extent. Without getting into the minutiae of those rules changes, the gist of them are that horses that are claimed or have had a lot of recent success at a certain price generally must move up in the ranks. As a result, winning streaks are much harder to come by among claimers. But apparently nobody told that to Priceless Edition, who’s been carving his way through his claiming brethren of late.

The hot streak for this 12-year-old gelding began on May 15. After coming up empty in his first five starts of the year following an excellent 2015, Priceless Edition handled a group of $7,500 claimers in 1:54:2. He followed that up with a place and a win in his next two races, which triggered a move up to the $10,000 claimers for his next race. And he promptly won in that class on June 4.

On Saturday night, he faced off with the $10,000 claimers once again and went off as an even-money favorite. After sitting fourth early, the veteran pacer, under the guidance of driver Andrew McCarthy, swooped to the lead on the front stretch. He never really extended to a big lead, but he kept the pressure at bay and came home strong to win by a length-and-a-quarter in 1:54:1. That makes four wins out of five for Priceless Edition, and, even though he now has to move up again, don’t be surprised if he keeps it rolling.

Other top pacers this week include: Allbeef N Nobull (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who upset the field at 27-1 in Saturday night’s featured $25,000 condition pace, winning in a career-best 1:49:2 that was also the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono; Mr D’s Dragon (Simon Allard, Staffan Lind) a 3-year-old who ripped off his third straight condition win on Tuesday night, this one coming in career-best 1:52:1; and Cracker Coffee (Eric Carlson, Amber Buter), a mare who followed up consecutive wins at Tioga with a victory on Tuesday night at Pocono in the featured pace for mares in a career-best 1:51:2.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SPICEDBOURBONGIRL

This 3-year-old filly from the barn of trainer Jeff Gregory has been outstanding to this point in 2016. After winning just once in nine tries as a freshman in 2015, she came out of the gate firing this year with wins in three of her first four races. Two of those wins came at Pocono, including a career-best mile of 1:53:4 on May 29, and the other was in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes competition at The Meadows.

With that kind of record it was no surprise that she went off as a 3-5 favorite in a condition trot at Pocono for non-winners of five on Sunday night. Gregory also did the driving on this night and moved Spicedbourbongirl to the front with a quarter-pole move. Even though she had put up that impressive 1:53:4 in her previous race, the filly needed much less on this night thanks to a nice rating job by Gregory in the first half of the mile.

The slower pace meant that there were other horses close by late, but Spicedbourbongirl had little trouble holding them off. Even though her winning time of 1:56:3 was nearly three seconds off her previous effort, it was easy to see she had plenty left in the tank had she wanted to push it. With four wins in five races so far in 2016, this filly looks like one of the best in her age group on the regional level, and she might just have the stuff to do some damage on a bigger stage should the opportunity arise.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Explosive Man (Robert Krivelin driver and trainer), whose condition win on Sunday in 1:56:1 was his third straight victory, two of which have come at Pocono; Amicus (George Napolitano Jr., William Mullin), who led just about all the way on Monday night to notch his second straight claiming victory, with this one coming in 1:58; and Quick Deal (Ake Svanstedt driver and trainer), who posted the week’s fastest trotting time at Pocono when he won a condition on Saturday night in 1:53.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: PITTSTOP KIP

Sunday night was a night of long shots, but none were more surprising than this gelding driven by David Miller who scored a claiming handicap win at 40-1, paying off $83.80 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: COREY CALLAHAN

With a Sire Stakes win Sunday night and two Stallion Series scores Monday night, Callahan was the only driver this week to get at least one win in both, and not one of his winners went off at lower than 8-1.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: RON BURKE

The ever-prolific Burke barn produced three winners on Saturday night, including 27-1 bomber Allbeef N Nobull in the $25,000 featured condition pace.

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.

Van Rose Memorial highlights Derby Day card

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

The Van Rose Memorial Pace on Saturday night, Kentucky Derby night, was another terrific addition to the trophy case of the pnenomenal Luck Be Withyou.

Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono resume of Luck Be Withyou:

2013 – Breeders Crown winner at two at the Northeast PA oval.

2014 – Took his lifetime mark of 1:48 here.

2015 – Franklin Final winner despite post nine and Pocono Pacer of the Year.

2016 – Van Rose Invitational winner in 1:48.4 in only his second start of the year.

Luck Be Withyou, a five-year-old son of Western Ideal who LOVES The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, came out of the pocket behind a blistering pace set by JK Endofanera to win the $50,000 Rose invitational by a neck. “Luck” left strongly to get the garden spot behind JK Endofanera, who whistled to the quarter in 25.4, rated the half against the wind to a fairly-moderate 54.3, then tacked on a 26.2 third quarter (52.3 in the odd-numbered quarters) to open a clear lead at and past the 1:21 ¾.

But George Napolitano Jr., the Downs’ all-time leading driver, got “Luck” narrowing the gap into the stretch, with P H Supercam, the only other horse connected to the front, swinging three-wide as the winner vacated the pocket. Luck Be Withyou drove down the center of the track and picked up JK Endofanera late to win by a neck, with P H Supercam just another neck back in third. Rockeyed Optimist, the favorite from post six, was away sixth and had nonflowing cover, and only able to rally for fourth; Levy hero Bit Of A Legend N, stuck with the outside post nine, was also thwarted by the speedburners inside him, took back, raced fourth-over, and could do no better than sixth.

“The two of us get together on this track pretty well,” understated Napolitano, who also noted, “And this was only second start after a long layoff” (before his 2016 debut last week, he had last raced at Balmoral on November 7). Chris Oakes is the horse’s regular conditioner when he is racing in the area, and John Craig saw his veteran raise his lifetime bankroll to $1,138,781 with the fastest mile of the year at Pocono, taken with the mercury in the low 50’s and with a decent stretch headwind.

Three $30,000 divisions of a Pennsylvania All-Stars event for state-bred three-year-old trotting colts and geldings were featured on the afternoon portion of the Pocono doubleheader, with some sophomores who had been flying “just under the radar” at two taking advantages of breaks by the divisional favorites and getting their 2016 stakes seasons off to a fast start.

In the opening cut, Tyson picked a good time to break his maiden, in control of the situation for the last half in a 1:55.4 mile, last quarter 28.3 for driver Corey Callahan, trainer Trond Smedshammer, and the ownership combine of the Purple Haze Stables LLC, American Viking Racing Stable, Anderson Farms, and Marc Goldberg. The altered son of Donato Hanover stayed steady throughout the mile while his main rivals kept knocking themselves out of competition – first 2-5 chalk Love Matters, then quick-leaving Pilgrims Tide (6-1), and finally pocketsitting Hollywood Highway (7-1), who had yielded command to 9-2 second choice Tyson and his move in front of the stands the first time. Tyson went on to an easy 2¼ length win over Edinburgh, with Will Self rallying for a distant third.

Mikkeli Hanover, named after the Finnish countryside oval where Varenne once set the world standard for 5/8-mile tracks, might have a little ways to go to come close to the talent level of that one, but according to driver Yannick Gingras, he’s still a little green, and yet he was able to lower his mark three seconds by winning his division by a length in 1:56.3. The Andover Hall colt, the 7-1 third choice, made a second move to go to the lead past the 5/8, then benefited when favorite Massive Clout, who had followed him down the back and had retucked in the pocket behind him, made a break on the far turn, leaving Mikkeli with a 4 to 5 length lead late on the turn. Second choice Granite State and Marion Gondolier came on with late bids, but they had to settle for minor honors behind Mikkeli Hanover, who is trained by Ron Burke for his Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Crawford Farms LLC, and Panhellenic Stable Corporation.

The third division was also the fastest, and it produced a second All-Stars winner for driver “Captain” Corey Callahan in 14-1 shot Hititoutofthepark, who worked to the lead at the ¼, shook off the first-over challenge of favored Make Or Miss (that colt eventually broke), and then staved off potential rocket rocket Lagerfeld by a head in 1:55, lowering his lifetime best by a tick, with Cloud Nine Hanover third. The Yankee Glide ridgling, a five-time winner at two, is conditioned by John Butenschoen for owners Give It A Shot Stable, Kurt Welling, and VIP Internet Stable LLC.

Fast Times for Second Division Weiss Series Pacers

Monday, April 11th, 2016

Second round action for pacers of both sexes in the Bobby Weiss Series of contests at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono brought some fast times and spirited racing on  Sunday , April 10th.

The first division for males had end-to-end action, with Settlemoir leaving to the top and Iwillmakeyousaywow, the fastest winner at 1:51.4 last week, having to go three-wide well past the 1/8 and two-wide past the scorching 26 opener to take command, keeping the lead through middle splits of 54.1 and 1:22.2.

But underway from midpack was the Camluck gelding Midnight Lightning, who had been reserved off that swift pace, and the battle between two of the first-round winners became joined as Midnight struck on the far turn and into the stretch, finally wearing down the game Iwillmakeyousaywow, gallant in defeat, by a head in 1:51, with Settlemoir, who had swung wide in the stretch, missing taking the whole shebang by a half-length while moving fastest of all at the wire.

Matt Kakaley guided the four-year-old Midnight Lightning to a new mark by a full second in the hard-fought triumph for trainer Shaun Vallee, co-owner with D P V Racing Stable.

Driver Corey Callahan took the other two Weiss divisions for “the boys,” using fast last quarters to guide sophomore geldings back to Victory Lane. In the first, Options Are Adream kept his record unblemished in eight career starts, going to the lead off the first turn and then coming home in 27 flat to turn back early leader Rollaroundtheworld in 1:52. The son of If I Can Dream joined Midnight Lightning as a two-time winner in the Weiss for trainer Dick Lewis and owners David Banks and Layfield Horses LLC.

Callahan and Sentencing Memo came home even faster in the other Weiss male division, sprinting home in 55.1 – 26.4 to defeat first leg winner Maxdaddy Blue Chip while equaling his career best of 1:52. The son of Western Terror used a more favorable draw this week to turn the tables on his conqueror of seven days previous for trainer Eric Foster and owner Arty Foster.

In the four divisions of the female sector, the only division that matched two first-round Weiss winner saw Candy Corn Hanover remained undefeated in her two-start career, sitting second-over while first-up Southwind Tango, the other winner last week, battled pacesetter Nip’s Beach Girl through a 27.4 third quarter, then rolled by them both late in 1:52.3, reducing her mark by 4/5 of a second. The Dragon Again filly was again handled by Anthony Napolitano for trainer Travis Alexander and the Fiddler’s Creek Stables LLC.

Candy Corn Hanover paid $32.80 in her debut victory, but the fans caught on quickly and she paid only $4.80 tonight. Similarly, Some Fancy Filly went from a $50 win mutuel last week to a $3.20 for $2 proposition in her Weiss cut, and she too made it two straight in the series while lowering her mark 2/5 of a second to 1:53. David Miller, who added two winners at The Downs to the five he brought home at Harrah’s Philadelphia in the afternoon, was sulkysitting behind the Somebeachsomewhere-Fancy Filly filly for trainer Nancy Johansson of JK She’salady fame and owners Courant A B.

Mystery Writer, who had to settle for second last week behind Some Fancy Filly, bounced back to record her sixth win of the year in another division for the females, going out in 26.4 then coming home in 56.3 – 28 and needing every bit of her 1:54.2 clocking to withstand American Image by the shortest of margins. Jim Morrill Jr. drove the Sportswriter mare for trainer Kevin Lare and owner Frank Chick.

The final Weiss cuts for the ladies saw the Somebeachsomewhere filly Albany Girl parlay a pocket trip to a career-best win in 1:55 while winning an exciting three-way stretch duel with Winners Over and Q T Pie Hanover. Brett Miller got the sulky call from trainer Jimmy Takter as Albany Girl won for owners Christina Takter, John Fielding, and Joe Sbrocco.