Posts Tagged ‘Dean Eckley’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

April 2-8, 2016

Racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono ramped up to three live nights this past week, as Sunday joined the schedule for the first time this year. By next week, we will have reached our four-nights-per-week schedule that will be our standby for the bulk of the meet. In the meantime, the three racing nights this week have given us just enough fodder to hand out 2016’s first edition of the Weekly Awards. Let’s see who takes the initial honors.

PACER OF THE WEEK: KINGS BARNS

This 5-year-old gelding spent the early part of 2016 battling it out at Yonkers with little to show for it. In nine races at the half-mile oval, he could only manage a pair of third-place finishes. In his last start at Yonkers, he switched to the barn of Rene Allard, a fellow who does serious damage at Pocono with all manner of horses.

Thus it was understandable that Kings Barns was favored in his 2016 Pocono debut on March 26 in an $11,000 condition pace, and he delivered on that promise with a front-pacing win with Simon Allard in the bike in a career-best 1:50:3. He moved up slightly to take on a $12,500 condition group on Saturday night, but he was unable to find the early lead for a second straight race. Instead he had to follow cover on the back stretch and make an early three-wide move.

Once the stretch rolled around, the gelding had gathered enough momentum to take aim at the leaders. Simon Allard guided him back to the inside to save ground, and he rolled by the faltering leaders to win in 1:52 by 1 ¾ lengths. That makes back-to-back victories for Kings Barns, who looks positively regal so far this meet at Pocono.

Other top pacers this week include: Whatagamble (George Napolitano Jr., Dean Eckley), who rolled to his second straight win over the $10,000 claimers on Saturday night in 1:53; Options Are Adream (Corey Callahan, Richard Lewis), a 3-year-old colt who is now unbeaten after seven career races, following up six straight wins at Dover with a Bobby Weiss series victory on Sunday night in 1:52:1; and Cooperstown (Anthony Napolitano, Daniel Renaud), whose victory in Sunday night’s featured condition pace in 1:50:1 was his third straight win, two of which have come at Pocono.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SOUTH SIDE HANOVER

This filly from the Todd Schadel barn didn’t do much as a 2-year-old a year ago, failing to break her maiden in 13 races and hitting the board just four times. She came off the layoff to battle a non-winners of one condition distaff group last week. Despite being a 22-1 long shot in the race and leaving from a tough #7 post, she made the lead, gutted it out, and came home a winner in 1:57:1.

In a $15,000 division of the Bobby Weiss series for distaff trotters on Tuesday night, South Side Hanover was assigned the outside #7 post and received a bit more betting attention, going off as the 7-1 second choice. Most of the money went to 1-5 betting favorite Ready Any Time. But it was South Side Hanover who was ready from the getgo, hustling to the front end under before the quarter pole under urging from Todd Schadel to dictate the terms.

At the top of the stretch, South Side Hanover turned back a charge from pocket horse Squeals Of Delight, while the heavy favorite Ready Any Time could only rally for the show. She won by 1 ½ lengths in a new career mark of 1:56:4. From a nondescript maiden to Late Closer series contender in just a couple weeks, this filly is rising fast and it seems like even higher levels are within her reach.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Massacaia (George Napolitano Jr., Jason Robinson), who bounced back from a break in his previous start to score a condition win on Saturday night in 1:55; Extracurricular (Jim Morrill Jr., Lance Hudson), who arrived from Yonkers and fought hard for a condition win in 155; and Daylon Miracle (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), a mare who arrived from Saratoga to dominate in a condition trot in Tuesday night in 1:53, easily the fastest trotting time of the week.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ROCKINTHEPINES

This gelding driven by Marcus Miller started Tuesday night off with a surprising bang, rallying from way back to stun a claiming trotting field at 34-1, paying off $71.60 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: TODD SCHADEL

Schadel zipped to victories in two of the three Bobby Weiss divisions held on Tuesday night for distaff trotters, winning with South Side Hanover and Real Caviar, both of whom he also trains.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: DEAN ECKLEY

Talk about efficient: Eckley sent out only three starters on Saturday night, and every one of them came home a winner for a perfect training evening.

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.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week in Review

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

October 9-15, 2015

After the last vestiges of summer flickered across the Northeastern Pennsylvania landscape early last week, more typical autumnal weather started to move in at the end of the racing week. Regardless of the weather, cold or hot, sloppy or clear, you can always count on racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun to be of the highest caliber, and this week was no different. To prove it, let’s hand out some Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: FANCY DESIRE

It’s never too late to turn a season around, or at least salvage something positive from it. Consider the example of Fancy Desire, a 4-year-old mare from the barn of trainer Daniel Renaud. As a 3-year-old in 2014, she was outstanding, earning over $300,000. Yet her four-year-old season seemed like a lost cause by comparison; going into her start at Pocono on October 2, she had just two second-place finishes to show for her 21 races with nary a win.

That all changed that night against an excellent $24,000 distaff condition field, as she rallied late with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike to win at 8-1 in 1:52:1 in sloppy conditions. With George Nap unavailable on Friday night, Anthony Napolitano took the assignment aboard Fancy Desire against the same condition, also in the slop. And, changing strategies, A-Nap sent the mare to the front end early.

While the heavy favorite Stacia Hanover labored a bit in the wet conditions, Fancy Desire looked confident on the engine. In the stretch, only Handsoffmycupcake was a threat from the pocket, but she could only get within a length at the line. With a winning time of 1:52:2, Fancy Desire now has two straight victories after her 0-for-21 start to the season. There’s still a month or so left in the Pocono meet and a month more after that till the end of the year, so there’s no telling what kind of damage she’ll do now that she has found her stride.

Other top pacers this week include: Scott Rocks (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), who reeled off his second straight condition win, this one coming in Saturday night’s feature in 1:50:1; Modern Day Clyde (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), who ripped off his third straight claiming victory on Saturday night in 1:52:2; and K Ryan Bluechip (Simon Allard, Joe Pavia Jr.), a three-year-old filly who scored her second straight condition win on Tuesday night, this one in a career-best 1:49:4, and has now won the last four times she’s raced at Pocono.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: GJ PHOTO VICTORY

What a season it has been for this 7-year-old gelding with the mouthful of a name. Going into a $12,500 to $15,000 claiming handicap trot on Friday night, GJ Photo Victory had notched 13 victories in 31 races this year. A good chunk of those victories came right here at Pocono, and, aside from a little mid-season slump, has been a threat to win just about every time he leaves the gate regardless of the competition or the post position.

In recent weeks, GJ Photo Victory has been on fire. He came into Friday night’s race with victories in his last two starts for trainer Dean Eckley. Unlike those last two wins, however, Friday night’s contest saw him shuffled to the middle of the pack early, putting his winning streak in jeopardy. Driver Jim Morrill Jr. decided on a relatively early three-wide move to get the front.

You don’t win as many races as GJ Photo Victory has this year without proving that you can handle a little in-race adversity. As the 2-1 second choice in the race, he worked his way to the front with the wide move and held everyone else at bay from there. The winning time in the slop was 1:56. That makes 14 wins this season, three in a row, and just another example why this horse has to be kept in mind when we hand out the Pocono yearend awards in a few weeks.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Soboro Hanover (Matt Kakaley, Nifty Norman), a 3-year-old gelding who won Tuesday night’s featured condition trot in 1:54:4, giving him two straight victories; Drama Free (Simon Allard, Chris Oakes), who picked up his second straight claiming victory on Friday night, doing so in the slop in a career-best 1:55:1; and Ray Hall (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), whose condition victory on Saturday night came in the week’s fastest trotting time of 1:52:4.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: GLAMMIT

His name may sound like a curse word, but folks were shouting it in celebration after this pacer with Joe Pavia Jr. driving surprised a condition field at 29-1, paying off $61.60 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JOE PAVIA JR.

Joe had his finest night of the season in the slop on Friday night, churning out five wins, of which only one went off as the race favorite.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: ROBERT BRESNAHAN JR.

Bresnahan won with the only two starters he sent out on Saturday night, a pair of New Zealand-breds who paid off at nice odds: Mr Franklin N at 10-1 and Benjamin Banneker N at 9-2.

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.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week in Review

Monday, August 10th, 2015

July 31-August 6, 2015

As we head into the month of August, all of us at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono are keeping our eyes on the coming weeks, specifically the span from August 14th to the 22nd when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the track with a series of promotions and events on and off the track. Until we get there though, we still have plenty of outstanding racing to enjoy. This week’s action was particularly feisty and fine, as you’ll be able to tell from this edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: R GAUWITZ HANOVER

Claimers often get an unfortunate and often inaccurate rap that they’re somehow inferior to condition pacers and trotters. Week after week that fallacy is disproven, both by the comparable times between the two types of races and by the fact that several former claimers have moved on to be successful in condition and even Open races. And certainly there has been no horse in any type of race who’s been as impressive as R Gauwitz Hanover, who competes in mid-priced claimers, has been the past few weeks at Pocono.

In his last five races heading into a $15,000 claiming event on Saturday night, R Gauwitz Hanover had three second-place finishes sandwiched around a pair of wins. The 6-year-old gelding had achieved that streak while switching barns three times. On Saturday night, racing for trainer Paul Holzman, he was made the 1-5 favorite, and he had to respond when John’s Polyview aggressively took the lead and burned off sizzling fractions.

Driver George Napolitano Jr. never flinched though, and he began guiding R Gauwitz Hanover closer and closer on the back stretch until he blew by. The gelding didn’t stop until he was eight lengths out in front of the rest for the victory. His winning time of 1:49 was not only his career mark, it was also the fastest mile of the week by anybody at Pocono. Don’t let anyone tell you claimers are somehow a lower class of horse, at least not while R Gauwitz Hanover is there to prove otherwise in such convincing fashion.

Other top pacers this week include: GD Airliner (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who didn’t let a month-and-a-half layoff stop him from picking up his second straight condition victory on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:52; Kiss Of Terror (Simon Allard, Dean Eckley), a 3-year-old who rallied at 10-1 on Sunday night for a condition win, his second straight, in 1:54:1; and Spirit Of Desire (Anthony Napolitano, Timothy Lancaster), who captured Wednesday night’s featured condition pace for mares in 1:52.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: PRAIRIE FORTUNE

This 3-year-old gelding from the barn of trainer Mike Deters just knows his way to the winner’s circle. After a 2-year-old campaign in which he won three of six races, he’s been even tougher to stop in 2015. Other than an upset loss at Tioga, Prairie Fortune has been spotless, winning his other four races while splitting time between Pocono and Tioga.

His last win at Pocono on July 28 came in a career-best time of 1:53:4, but it was with the non-winners of three. Wednesday night figured to be a tougher test as he stepped up to face the non-winners of five. After sitting fourth in the early part of the mile, driver Matt Kakaley started Prairie Fortune in motion on the straightaway of the front stretch and easily reached the lead.

From that point on, nobody was even able to put a scare in the gelding, as he held a comfortable lead which he then extended once they turned for home. Prairie Fortune ended up handling his competition effortlessly by 4 ½ lengths in 1:54:3. That’s what you call moving up in class in style, and it’s what you call a horse that just doesn’t plan on losing anytime soon.

Honorable mention on the trotting side includes: House Of Cash (Joe Pavia Jr., Ron Burke), who captured the week’s featured condition trot on Saturday night in a career-best 1:54; Uriel (Scott Zeron, Luca Derrico), who rallied for a tough condition win on Wednesday night in a career-best 1:53:4, which was the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; and Sonnyforall (Bill Mullin driver and trainer), who picked up a condition win on Wednesday night in 1:56.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: HOUSE OF CASH

This trotter with Joe Pavia Jr. in the bike started Saturday night’s racing off with a band, upsetting a condition field at 24-1 for a $51 payoff on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: AKE SVANSTEDT

He’s an outstanding trainer, but Svanstedt also drives a lot of his winning trainees, like he did on Sunday night when he guided three 2-year-old trotters to their maiden wins in his only three drives of the night.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: DEAN ECKLEY

Eckley has been a name to watch all season long at Pocono, and three more wins this week, including a double on Sunday night, will ensure that continues to be the case.

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

Monday, November 10th, 2014

October 31-November 6, 2014

Well, folks, we have almost reached that point in the racing season at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs when it’s time to sum up all that we’ve seen. Next week we’ll take a look in this space at the top horses of the year and then we’ll follow that up the week after with a wrap-up of the entire 2014 season. For now, let’s take the time to hand out our last set of Weekly Awards for this racing campaign.

PACER OF THE WEEK: MCBOOGIE

This five-year-old gelding has been on a tear lately, turning what was looking like a lost season into the best year of his career. McBoogie had just one win in eight wins when he lined up for a $10,000 claimer on September 17, but he rolled that night to a victory in 1:52:1. After a sluggish 5th-place effort in his follow-up race, he took off with wins in his next three in a row, one of which came in a career-best time of 1:50:4.

In the middle of that streak he moved up from the $10,000 claimers to the $15,000 claimers. He also switched barns, joining trainer Dean Eckley’s stable in the middle of October. On Saturday night he looked to keep his outstanding stretch of races going by taking on the $15,000 claimers as the 2-5 favorite. When he briefly lost the lead around the first turn, driver George Napolitano Jr. sent him right back to the front end with a quick brush.

From there, he held strong, although he eventually faced a stiff challenge from Woodmere Ultimate in the home stretch. McBoogie showed the fortitude that’s been a hallmark of his recent stretch of racing, digging in to hold on by a neck in 1:51:3. That makes four wins in a row and five out of six. This gelding is turning it on when most horses are shutting it down.

Other top pacers include: Ahead Ofthe Curve (Anthony Napolitano, Paul Holzman), who churned his way to his second straight claiming handicap victory, this one in 1:52, on Saturday night; Yagonnakissmeornot (Ron Pierce, Rene Allard), who overcame an outside post to storm her way to victory in Saturday night’s featured Open Handicap for mares in 1:50:1; and Fie Fy Fo (Anthony Napolitano, Chris Oakes), a 2-year-old filly who burned her way to her second straight condition victory on Tuesday night, this one coming in 1:54:1.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: OPENING NIGHT

There were some tough customers in Saturday night’s $35,000 Open Handicap trot. Not Afraid won in Preferred company the last time he was at Pocono, Tirade Hanover had ripped off wins in his last five races, and Backstreet Hanover won her last start against the same class at Harrah’s at Philadelphia. Opening Night, a 6-year-old stallion from the Jim Campbell barn, certainly had raced at the highest  level throughout his career, but he was working his way back into top form heading into Saturday.

Still, a win in condition company two starts previous at Harrah’s was a confidence builder, as was a second behind former Hambletonian winner Market Share in his last race. On Saturday night, he had to overcome the outside #8 post, which, coupled with the fact that he was moving back up in class, is probably why he was an 11-1 shot. Driver Ron Pierce was able to coax some early speed out of him so that he could find a pocket spot early.

In the stretch, Opening Night kicked into high gear once again to win a hard-fought battle to the line, holding off Tirade Hanover for the victory. His winning time of 1:53 was the fastest among all trotters this past week at Pocono. Against a top field and from a demanding post, this stallion showed that class and guts can overcome the toughest of obstacles.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to Upfront Billy (Tyler Buter, Mark Ford), who, with the help of a disqualification, won his second straight condition trot on Tuesday night; Four Starz Speed (Ron Pierce, Rene Allard), who rolled to his third straight victory and fourth in his last five with an easy claiming handicap win on Wednesday night in 1:56; and Proud Moment (Ron Pierce, Rene Allard), who once again conquered Wednesday night’s featured claiming handicap trot, winning his second straight in 1:53:3.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: RESCUE PLAN

This condition pacer with Tyler Buter in the bike was the longest shot on the board at 55-1 in Tuesday’s feature, but he rallied for the win and paid off $113.20 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: RON PIERCE

Pierce had one of his best single nights at Pocono on Saturday when he ripped off five victories, which included wins in both of the night’s $35,000 featured handicaps.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: DEAN ECKLEY

In the second half of the season, Eckley, a relatively new name to the Pocono faithful, has been winning at a high rate, adding two more victories to the ledger on Saturday.

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, November 4th, 2014

October 24-30, 2014

The adage says that speed kills, and nowhere is that more accurate than in the sport of harness racing. Sometimes it pays to be patient and wait for an opportunity to rally in a race, but the most surefire way for a horse to take all the variables out of the equation is to head straight for the front end of the field and go as hard as it can, trusting in its ability to get home above all else. Our top two award winners displayed some serious top-end speed this week. Let’s take a look at their exploits and hand out the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: SPEED AGAIN

It’s always fun to watch a horse improve within the course of a season. When last we saw Speed Again, the 5-year-old gelding from the Ron Burke barn put together an outstanding performance on August 9, scorching a mid-priced condition field in a career-best 1:48:2. Propelled by that big mile, he moved up to face tougher competition in his stint at Harrah’s at Philadelphia.

First he performed well in a trio of races against the winners of over $25,000 grouping at Harrah’s, hitting the board twice and winning once. In his final start there, he stepped up to an Open Handicap group and rolled on the front end to win by two lengths in 1:50:4. His return to Pocono on Saturday would also come in the Open group, against a field that included P H Supercam, a powerhouse who had captured three straight Open Handicaps at Yonkers.

None of that mattered to Speed Again and driver Anthony Napolitano when they powered to the front end right from the first few steps of the race. P H Supercam lurked behind him in the pocket for the whole mile, but Speed Again had an answer for him in the front stretch, holding him off to score by a neck in 1:49. Considering he’s already beating Open fields with consistency, any more improvement by Speed Again would almost be unfair.

Other top pacers include: Lark Seelster (Anthony Napolitano, Luis Collazo), a mare who moved up in class on Tuesday night and scored her second consecutive condition win, this one coming in 1:52:1; McBoogie (George Napolitano Jr., Dean Eckley), who moved up in class and switched barns but still tore up a $15,000 claiming group on Saturday night in 1:52:1 for his third straight win; and I’m Blue Too (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who rallied for a victory in a career-best 1:51:4 in Wednesday night’s Grey Ghost & Poltergeist Pace, Pocono’s annual Halloween-themed race featuring only grey and roan pacers.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: HEZATRAIN

This 5-year-old gelding from the barn of trainer Allan Johnson hit a bit of a bumpy stretch in his season in September and October. After winning five out of seven races to start his campaign, he suffered a streak of four straight races both at Pocono and Saratoga without even hitting the board. He returned to MSPD on October 21 and found his stride against our lowest condition group, rolling to a romping win in a new career-best time of 1:53:3.

Feeling confident once again following that win, Hezatrain moved back up on Tuesday into a condition for non-winners of $8,000 in the last five starts. Once again driver George Napolitano Jr. was determined to hustle the gelding to the front end, but on his effort to get there he encountered some traffic on the first turn and was forced to make an early three-wide move. Even though Hezatrain reached the lead before the front stretch ended, such a tough journey to get there threatened to make him vulnerable.

Those concerns were doused as the race progressed. Hezatrain easily fended off any pressure, lengthening the lead until he was comfortably out in front of the rest. He was able to gear down in the final strides and still beat the rest of the field by a solid four lengths with a winning time of 1:54:3. That’s two straight romps for Hezatrain, a trotter who’s back to his winning ways as the season winds to a close.

Honorable mention on the trotting side includes: Rossini (Howard Parker, Jim Raymer), who dominated a condition field on Saturday night in 1:52:2, a new career-best which matched the fastest of the week at MSPD; Proud Moment (Ron Pierce, Rene Allard), who went a career-best mile of 1:52:2, tied for the fastest trot of the week, to win Tuesday night’s featured claiming handicap trot; and Four Starz Speed (Ron Pierce, Rene Allard), who made it two in a row and three of his last four with a claiming handicap victory on Wednesday night in 1:55.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: LINDY’S FIREWORKS

On a wild Tuesday night full of upsets, this trotting filly topped them all, winning a condition easily with Anthony Napolitano in the bike at 85-1, paying off $172.40 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY NAPOLITANO

Anthony’s finest year at Pocono continued with a –win week, including victories on Saturday with 24-1 shot Salevster Stallion and on Tuesday with 85-1 bomber Lindy’s Fireworks.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: MIKE WATSON

Watson has been threatening to crack the Top 10 of the Pocono training standings all year long, and his pair of victories on Saturday night will certainly help his cause.

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.