Posts Tagged ‘Darran Cassar’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week in Review

Monday, April 6th, 2015

March 28-April 3, 2015

We’re two weeks into the 2015 racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and we still haven’t seen too much in the way of ideal racing conditions. The six nights of racing have been characterized by rain, wind, cold, and, would you believe it, even snow. Yet in the midst of the ugly weather we’ve already been witness to some outstanding racing and speedy times that flew in the face of the poor conditions. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: HUMILITY

Snow lined the infield as Humility lined up to face a group of non-winners of $10,000 in the last five starts on Tuesday night. The 5-year-old stallion was taking a few steps up in class from his previous race, which was a win at Pocono in a first-over grind in 1:52:2. Trained by Brewer Adams, Humility would need to put together another big mile to hang with the tougher competition.

Early speed in the race came from Always A Diamond, another horse stepping up in class off a big win. Meanwhile China King, the favorite in the race after shipping in from California, had the perfect trip on the pocket. Humility looked like an afterthought when he started a first-over move from fifth on the back stretch, seemingly too far back to compete.

Yet driver Jim Morrill Jr. found a groove on the sloppy track, and when Humility whipped around the final turn three wide, he was in striking distance. Setting his sights on China King, who had taken the lead in the stretch, the stallion hustled by to win by a neck in 1:52:2. Neither a step up in class not a tough trip slowed Humility, who now has wins in each of his first two starts in the meet and might just be ready to move even higher up the Pocono ladder.

Other top pacers this week include: Sparky Mark (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), whose victory in Saturday night’s condition pace came in 1:50:4, the week’s fastest time at Pocono despite freezing temperatures that evening; Majo Just Do It (Simon Allard, Jennifer Sansone), who rolled to a claiming handicap win on Tuesday night, his second straight, in 1:54:4; and Feels Like Magic N (Tom Jackson, Darran Cassar), who rallied for his second straight condition win as a long shot on Saturday night, scoring in a career-best 1:52:3.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SENTRY

One of the things that makes handicapping so hard early in the season is that there are horses shipping in from all over the country to the Pocono oval. It’s difficult to know how a horse will do on the 5/8-mile track, especially when they’re arriving from a track of a different size. In the case of Sentry, that track was Monticello, the half-mile oval in New York where he had won two of his previous three races.

The winning times he posted at Monticello, each over two minutes, might not have looked so hot compared to some of the others in the field. But this 5-year-old stallion from the barn of Jenny Melander once trotted a mile of 1:54 at Pocono, so the precedent was there for a big effort. In a condition trot on Tuesday night, driver Brett Miller sent Sentry behind cover on the outside and then bided his time until the stretch.

When that stretch arrived, Sentry took his shot with a three-wide move and went trotting right on past the leaders. Even on a sloppy track, his winning time of 1:56:2 showed his capability to put up times more in line with the speedy horses at Pocono. And, with three wins in his last four races, this peaking trotter is proving that he’ll be a factor no matter where he chooses to race.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Team Six (Marcus Miller, Erv Miller), who shipped in from the Meadowlands and handled a tough group of condition trotters on Saturday night in 1:55:1; Walk The Walk (David Miller, Chris Ryder), who ripped off his second straight win in the Bobby Weiss series on Tuesday night, conquering a sloppy track in 1:55, a career-best time; and Classic Belisima (David Miller, John Cabot), a mare whose romping victory in the Bobby Weiss series on Wednesday gave her three straight wins and came in the week’s fastest trotting time at Pocono of 1:53:3.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SHADOWS DREAM

This veteran pacer sent the faithful home on Tuesday night scratching their heads, as he rallied out wide late to win a condition at 16-1, paying out $35.60 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JIM MORRILL JR.

Very few drivers have been as successful for as long a period of time as Morrill, who rolled this week to a double on Saturday and four victories on Tuesday.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: BREWER ADAMS

Three victories by Adams’ horses on Tuesday were impressive enough, but they were even more eye-popping considering that not one of those winners was the favorite.

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

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

April 5-11, 2014

Although the weather wasn’t always balmy in the past week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, at least it was dry on live racing nights. That led to our first week of exclusively fast tracks, and, as you might imagine, the action had a little extra spice because of it. There were a lot of thrilling races and some extraordinary performances, the best of which we’ll now honor by handing out the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: DOVUTO HANOVER

Saturday night marked the first time this season that we’ve had a Preferred race on the pacing side, and the $25,000 purse brought out an excellent field of six. Among those, Sparky Mark and Blatantly Good had already established themselves at Pocono with three condition wins between them in the meet, and, with inside posts, figured to be strong contenders. Add in Dovuto Hanover, who came in with wins in two of his last three against tough company at The Meadowlands, and it figured to be quite the battle.

It’s always nice when a race lives up to the expectations. Sparky Mark went out and set the pace, but faced a stiff first-over test from Blatantly Good on the back stretch. Dovuto Hanover, the 4-5 favorite from the Darran Cassar barn, followed the cover of Blatantly Good on the outside before kicking out three-wide on the final turn.

That meant all three horses were in prime spots at the top of the stretch, setting up a thrilling battle. For a moment, it appeared that Sparky Mark would cling to his lead all the way home, as Dovuto Hanover’s momentum seemed to be stilled. Yet driver Tyler Buter coaxed a sudden burst of energy from the favorite, and the 4-year-old gelding came up in the nick of time by a nose in 1:50:4. Great horse, great finish, and a great representation of how the Preferred pacers will compete at Pocono in the upcoming season.

Other top pacers this week include: Drive All Night (Anthony Napolitano, Rene Allard), the veteran pacer who scored his second straight $15,000 claiming victory on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:51:3; Donna Party (Brett Miller-Kent Sherman), a mare who scored her third straight win in a tight claiming handicap battle on Wednesday in 1:53; and Cypress Hill Suds (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), who picked up a win against the $10,000 claiming mares on Wednesday, her second straight victory, in a career-best 1:52:3.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: FIRST AQUA

There hasn’t been a trotter on the Pocono grounds anywhere near as dominant so far in the meet as this seven-year-old gelding. Arriving from Freehold on March 25, he immediately scorched a claiming group by seven lengths in 1:53:3. He followed that up by moving up in class the following week to handle the $20,000-$25,000 claiming handicap group, again by a comfortable margin, in 1:54.

By that time the secret was out, and First Aqua was claimed from that race. He went from one hot trainer (Gilberto Garcia-Herrera) to another (Rene Allard) in the exchange, but he kept George Napolitano Jr. as his driver to face off with that same top claiming group on Wednesday night as a heavy 1-5 favorite.

First Aqua made the same swooping move to take over the lead on the front stretch as he did in his previous two wins. This time out he got a decent challenge from pocket horse Maravich, but he was more than up to that challenge, holding him off to win by a length-and-a-quarter. And although the margin of victory was the smallest of his winning streak, the time of 1:53:2 set a new career mark for First Aqua. That proves he’s still getting better, which is a scary thought for his future competition to entertain.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Smokin Dabra (Brett Miller, Brewer Adams), who rolled on the front end on Tuesday night to his second straight $10,000 claiming victory, this one in 1:54:4; P L Fantastic (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who took a huge step up in class and won his second straight condition trot at Pocono and his third straight overall, posting a winning time of 1:53:1; and My Leap Of Faith (Simon Allard, Brian Seidel), who rallied late for a condition win on Wednesday night in 1:54:4.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: LATE NIGHT JOKE

Driver Andrew McCarthy has a way with the long shots, and he showed it by rallying this claiming pacer to an improbable victory Saturday night at 35-1 for a $73.60 win payout on a $2 ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MARCUS MILLER

Young drivers sometimes struggle to find a place at Pocono, but Miller showed this week that he belongs, scoring driving doubles on Sunday and Tuesday.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: BREWER ADAMS

He’s been a consistent force for several seasons at Pocono, and Adams scored big this week with five training wins, including doubles on Sunday and 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

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

June 7-13, 2013

This is the time of year at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs when we move to a schedule of five nights per week, meaning that there are more outstanding performances to sift through when choosing the Weekly Awards. This is also the time of year when it seems like not a week goes by without some sort of assault on either a Pocono track record or even a world record. One of those special performances on Saturday night is the obvious choice to kick off our Weekly Awards.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: UNCLE PETER

Harness racing can be a funny sport, because there are certain occasions when a horse’s record doesn’t really have much bearing on the race. Take, for example, Saturday night’s $25,000 Preferred trot, where Uncle Peter came in as the favorite despite having won just once in five tries in 2013. A closer inspection of that record shows that the competition that the 4-year-old stallion from the Jimmy Takter barn had faced so far this season had been top-notch.

Uncle Peter definitely had unfinished business at Pocono, considering that he had raced in Preferred company twice in April and had come up just short. In his return on Saturday night, he decided to put any doubts the Pocono faithful might have had about his credibility to rest by going the biggest mile he could possibly manage.

With Jim Morrill Jr. in the bike, Uncle Peter surged to the front end on the front stretch and romped away from the excellent competition from that point to win by four lengths. The winning time of 1:51:1 was astounding, breaking not just the Pocono mark for 4-year-old stallions on the trot but also the world record for the age group. It was also the third-fastest mile ever trotted at Pocono, proving that Uncle Peter is one of the best trotters around no matter what his win-loss record says.

Other top trotters this week include: Luv Ya Tyler (George Napolitano Jr., Neal Ehrhart), who chugged through the slop on Friday night to his second straight condition victory, this one coming in 1:55:4; Quantum Cashman (Jonathan Drury, Carmen Auciello), who followed up a win in Canada with a claiming handicap victory on Tuesday night in a career-best 1:55:3; and Upfront Billy (George Napolitano Jr., Mark Ford) who now has two straight wins, one at the Meadowlands at one in Wednesday night’s featured condition trot at Pocono in 1:53.

PACER OF THE WEEK: BUCK STOPS HERE

Some horses get on such a hot streak that they find their way to the line even when it doesn’t seem possible. Buck Stops Here is on just such a streak. The mare has really been on that roll all year long, as she came into Wednesday night’s $15,000-$20,000 claiming handicap pace for mares having won six of her last seven races. She was four for her first five since arriving at Pocono, and her last two wins came from the outside post.

The winning streak has been even more impressive for the fact that she’s been claimed in each of her five starts since coming to Pocono. The 5-year-old mare joined the Jason Robinson barn for Wednesday night’s contest, which once again had her dealing with an outside post. George Napolitano Jr. took her to the front early, and Buck Stops Here had to set imposing fractions just to repel the pressure to her outside.

In the stretch, closers came at her on both sides, and it seemed like she was bound to succumb. But Buck Stops Here, riding that outstanding streak, found her way to the line for a win by a nose in 1:52. She was claimed again after the race, and she’ll probably be on the outside should she face the same class again next week. But the way she’s going right now, I know I wouldn’t bet against her.

Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: Jepson Hanover (Andrew McCarthy, PJ Fraley), who rallied late to win Saturday night’s $25,000 Preferred pace in a career-best 1:49:1; Erle Dale N (Andrew McCarthy, Darran Cassar), who made his second start in the U.S. a memorable one on Saturday night, winning a condition pace in a sizzling 1:49, fastest pacing time of the week at MSPD; and Queen Of Royalty (Tyler Buter, Allen Sisco), a mare who won her third straight on Wednesday night in a condition trot in 1:51:3 and moved up in class to do so.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: FRISKY STRIKE

In a rugged claiming handicap trot on Saturday night, this mare came up late to upend the favorites at 37-1 with Anthony Napolitano in the bike, triggering a $76.40 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JOE PAVIA JR.

Pavia had one of his best weeks of the season to date this past week, picking up wins in four racing nights and scoring a driving triple on Sunday.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JASON ROBINSON

He’s been one of our top percentage trainers at Pocono for the past few seasons, and he had an excellent week just past, scoring 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.