Posts Tagged ‘Douglas Hamilton’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

October 28-November 3, 2017

As we closed in on the month of November, Northeastern Pennsylvania finally settled into autumn-like weather after an extended benign stretch. It presented interesting challenges to the competitors at The Downs at Mohegan Sun this past racing week, including a steady downpour throughout Sunday night and biting winds on Monday afternoon and evening. Yet even with the adverse conditions, our horses and horsemen and women shined, as evidenced by these outstanding performers who earned Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: ANDREIOS KARDIA

Saturday night’s $20,000 featured condition pace attracted a lot of excellent competitors, as that featured pace usually does. Andreios Kardia was one of the big names, a six-year-old gelding from the Tony Dinges barn who made his bones with excellent work throughout the summer with the toughest pacers at Tioga Downs. He wasted no time at Pocono, winning his first start after the ship on September 30 in 1:50:4. The gelding was sixth in his next race against a brutally rugged field on October 21.

On Saturday night he left from post position #7 in a field of eight at odds of 5-1. Andreios Kardia is not a pacer who likes to fire early, preferring instead to stay back and let others set the pace. This was a race that was made for him, as Parnu Hanover set the pace and was determined to hold it to such an extent that it creating grueling fractions. Andreois Kardia sat well off the pace, and even when he started moving third-over on the back stretch, he seemed like a non-factor, five lengths back at the three-quarter pole.

But Andreios Kardia was hitting his best stride just when everybody else was beginning to falter. Even with driver Jim Marohn Jr. forced to guide him five-wide so he could have racing room in the stretch, the gelding overpowered the pacers in front of him, finally picking off a game Parnu Hanover by a neck in 1:50:1. That makes two wins out of three against competition that would make lesser horses wilt.

Other top pacers this week include: Sneaky Girl (Matt Kakaley, Agostino Abatiello), a three-year-old filly who has now won two straight at Pocono after shipping in from the Midwest, scoring on Monday night in 1:55:4; Pramatic Life (Jim Taggart Jr., Robin DiBenedetto), who picked up his second straight claiming win on Monday with a victory in 1:54:2; and Stirling Escort (Matt Kakaley, Douglas Hamilton), who captured the annual Grey Ghost & Poltergeist Pace for Halloween on Tuesday night in 1:52:3.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: PANANA REPUBLIC

It’s easy at times in the harness racing world to get caught up in the exploits of younger horses and overlook the performances of veterans. That could be why this six-year-old mare was let go as a 2-1 third choice on Sunday night despite coming off a standout win in 1:53:4 and having the post position edge on his top two competitors. Panana Republic, trained by Jennifer Sabot, possessed the #2 post in a non-winners of seven trot with a purse of $18,000.

Her toughest foes figured to be Evelyn, a three-year-old filly from the Ake Svanstedt barn with buckets of class and the fastest win in the field this season, and Catch A Mission, a four-year-old mare trained by Erv Miller without a loss in three tries in 2017. Those two horses were on the far outside to start and watched as Panana Republic muscled her way to the front early. When Catch A Misssion tried to get past on the second turn, Panana Republic, with Simon Allard in the bike, held her position and forced the other mare to go on a speed break.

Evelyn, on the other hand, made a furious charge at the leader late in the mile. But, again, Panana Republic was up to the challenge. She held together and held off Evelyn by a half-length, making it two in a row. Her win came in 1:55:2 in the sloppy, cold conditions that prevailed on Sunday night. This is a mare who is deserving of respect no matter the age or caliber of her foes.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Smalltownthrowdown (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who moved up in class and rallied for a condition victory on Saturday night, his third straight, in a career-best 1:53:4; Weslynn Dancer (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), a three-year-old filly who picked up her second straight condition victory and fourth in her last five when she won on Sunday night in the slop in 1:55:2; and Crosbys Clam Bake (Pat Berry, Randy Bendis), whose condition victory on Saturday night came in 1:53:3, the week’s fastest trotting time at Pocono.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: EL PESCADORO

In the sloppy mess on Sunday night, this gelding glided between the raindrops for a condition trotting victory with Austin Siegelman in the bike at 65-1, paying off $132.20 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JIM MAROHN JR.

Marohn’s consistency in such a tough driving colony continues to be impressive, and he displayed it again this past week with four straight racing nights of multiple driving wins.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JENNY MELANDER

In a week with a lot of balance among the training community, Melander gets the nod for the convincing victory by her trotter Golden Son in Sunday night’s feature.

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

Friday, August 15th, 2014

August 8-14, 2014

It’s always difficult to pick the best horses in a particular week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs due to the extreme competitiveness of the harness racing action. This week has proved more of a pickle than most because there are a lot of horses on hot streaks who deserve consideration. On Saturday night, for example, six of the thirteen winners picked up at least their second win in a row. I’m not sure if there’s a specific reason for this glut of winning streaks, but I am sure that this is a fine edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: SANDBETWEENURTOES

In Saturday night’s Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action for three-year-old pacing fillies, all eyes were on this powerhouse from the barn of trainer Larry Remmen. It’s been an incredible sophomore season for this filly, especially considering she raced just once as a 2-year-old and finished out of the money. Instead of taking time to get her racing feet wet, she’s come out of the box with seven wins in seven races this year, including a couple Sire Stakes wins and a victory in the $212,500 Mistletoe Shalee at The Meadowlands.

While the field on Saturday was solid, many were fillies who had already come up short behind Sandbetweenurtoes in races this season. Included among those was Allstar Rating, who finished behind the unbeaten filly three times this year. But in her last start, Allstar Rating dominated in the Adioo Volo at The Meadows, giving her the confidence that things might be different this time around when she faced her arch rival.

Sure enough, Allstar Rating made the lead while Sandbetweenurtoes fell much further behind the pace than is her custom. Once she started making her move for her regular driver Brett Miller though, there was no chance of stopping her. She hustled past Allstar Rating to win by a half-length in 1:50, making her eight-for-eight and also solidifying her status as the dominant force in the age group.

Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: Gold Deuce (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), who continues to dominate the lower claiming ranks, winning his fourth straight on Sunday night in 1:52; Speed Again (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who burned up the track in a condition win on Saturday in 1:48:2, fastest time of the week at Pocono; and Crimson Cruiser (Jim Morrill Jr., Douglas Hamilton), who overcame an outside post on Friday night and picked up a claiming win in 1:52:1, his third victory in a row.

TROTTER AND LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: WESTERN CREDIT

It’s rare that our categories overlap and one horse can claim two Weekly Awards in one shot. Yet Western Credit’s recent run has been as unlikely as it has been impressive, more than meriting the embarrassment of riches. This gelding came into his race on August 3 without a win in 21 races in 2014, yet trainer Eric Mollor, who also did the driving that night, had the six-year-old rolling late for an upset win in 1:55:4 at 14-1.

On Tuesday night, Western Credit was at it again, this time with Brett Miller in the bike and stepping up the condition ladder to face the non-winners of $10,000 in the last five races. The fans gave him even less of a chance this time around, putting him at 37-1. Miller sent him first-over early in the mile, which seemed like a tough journey for any horse, let along one with such long odds.

It turned out to be strategic brilliance on Miller’s part, since the sloppy track that night seemed to favor on trip on the outside. Western Credit did the rest, working hard to pick off everyone in front of him before holding off JC’s Jake in the lane to win it in 1:55:1. At those towering odds of 37-1, the gelding paid off $77.80 on a $2 win ticket. Suddenly, that 0-for-21 to start the year is a distant memory. Western Credit is two for his last two and ready to take on all comers.

Other top trotters this week include: Whata Donato (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), a mare whose winning time in a condition on Tuesday night of 1:53:3 was the fastest trot of the week at Pocono despite sloppy conditions; Well Built (Tim Tetrick, Chris Ryder), a 3-year-old who knocked off mostly older horses in a condition victory on Tuesday night in a career-best 1:54:1 in the slop; and Gematria (Tom Jackson, Fred Grant), who picked up her second consecutive win, this one in Stallion Series action on Wednesday night in 1:58:3.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: DAVID MILLER

Miller always steps up his game for stakes or series action and Tuesday night he was at his best, winning three times, including a pair of victories in the Stallion Series.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: MARK FORD

Ford always seems to manage great efficiency with however many horses he enters at Pocono, as he showed on Friday night by picking up a pair of training victories.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Friday, August 1st, 2014

July 25-July 31, 2014

As the month of August dawns, the racing action at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs has reached a fever pitch. Five nights a week, outstanding trotters and pacers, often at the peak of their powers, are tested by some of the fastest action in the country. Drivers, trainers, and owners are also involved in these daily battles, their fires stoked by both their competitive natures and by the lure of the big purses. All of this combines to make the action at this time of year particularly exhilarating. It also makes choosing the Weekly Awards a difficult task, but here we go.

PACER OF THE WEEK: GIANT SCULPTURE

Winning streaks are difficult enough to sustain at a single track. Compiling several victories in a row while shipping from track to track is an even tougher task. After all, each track has its own bias that favors a certain style of pacing or trotting, meaning that a horse has to be versatile enough to handle that kind of variety. Giant Sculpture has proven just that kind of versatility in recent weeks.

The 6-year-old gelding picked up the first victory in his recent hot streak at Pocono on July 12, beating a field of $20,000 claimers in a career-best 1:49 with a strong first-over effort. He was claimed from that race and joined the barn of Christie Collins, who brought him to Harrah’s at Chester to knock off a condition field with a late rally in 1:51:3.

On Saturday night, he was back at Pocono facing a $20,000 to $25,000 claiming handicap group. Despite being saddled with the outside post in a field of eight, Giant Sculpture found some cover on the outside to help him advance through the field. In the stretch, he blew by the tiring leaders with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike to win in 1:50:3. Not only has he achieved this three-race streak on two different tracks, he has managed to do it in three different classes. Versatile, varied, and, most importantly, victorious: That’s how Giant Sculpture has been rolling of late.

Other top pacers this week include: Fitz’s Z Tam (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who overcame an outside post to defeat a claiming handicap field on Sunday in 1:51:2, giving him two in a row; Gold Deuce (Joe Pavia Jr., Lou Pena), who won his second straight claimer on Friday night and did so in a career-best 1:51: and Clint Westwood (Anthony Napolitano, Ron Burke), whose condition victory on Saturday night in 1:49:4 gave him four wins in his last five.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: TEAM SIX

This 4-year-old stallion from the Erv Miller barn has been steadily improving throughout the 2014 season, but he has really peaked lately. A conquest of the non-winners of four at Pocono on July 8 gave him his first win of the season. He quickly followed that up with a rallying condition win at Harrah’s in 1:54:1. He then moved up the ladder to face the non-winners of $12,500 the last five starts at Pocono on July 22, putting in a good effort to finish third.

On Tuesday night, he stayed in the same class but didn’t have to face either of the two horses who finished in front of him in the previous start. He did have to face off with Canadian Wildcat, who set the early pace and dug in when Team Six tried to get by on the outside. For two of the three turns, Team Six was parked on the outside, a predicament which usually spells doom for a horse’s chances.

Driver Marcus Miller never panicked though, keeping Team Six right alongside the leader without taxing him too much. In the stretch, Canadian Wildcat finally wore down a bit and Team Six kicked on past for the victory in 1:53:2. That winning time was a career-best despite the tough trip and extra distance, meaning that this stallion should be primed for even better stuff when the racing breaks do even out and go his way down the road.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Political Desire (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), whose victory in a condition trot on Saturday night came in a career-best 1:52:4, which was also the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; Whata Donato (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who notched a career-best mile of 1:53:1 in a condition victory on Tuesday; and Overandovervictory (Marcus Miller, Douglas Hamilton), who shipped in from Tioga for a condition victory on Sunday night in a career-best 1:53:4.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: JACKSONS MINION

He broke stride in his debut, but this 2-year-old trotter driven and trained by Tom Jackson atoned for it his second time out Friday night and won at 28-1, paying off $59.60 to win.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: TOM JACKSON

The veteran of the Pocono racing wars had an interesting week, picking up four victories, all of which came aboard horses scoring their maiden victories.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: RENE ALLARD

It was a monster week for the meet’s leading trainer, as he had two nights of four wins or more and had more victories than all but one driver for the week.

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

Friday, May 30th, 2014

May 10-16, 2014

For the past few years, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs has been the place to be if you wanted to witness world records being set. The combination of top-notch racing and a speedy track surface has torn the record books to shreds. It usually takes nice weather conditions for world records to fall, however, which is probably why the chilly first month-and-a-half of the meet didn’t produce any. But conditions were ripe on Saturday night, and, lo and behold, our first world record of the season fell. That stellar performance highlights the Weekly Awards.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: CLASSIC MARTINE

Trainer Chris Oakes is one of Pocono’s biggest success stories over the years, a local trainer whose horses compete on a national level in some of the biggest races of the country. Classic Martine, a four-year-old mare, is certainly one of those superstar performers. After a stellar 3-year-old season which included a dead heat win the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship with fellow Oakes trainee Frau Blucher, she started 2014 hot as well with a win at The Meadows in Preferred company on April 30.

On Saturday night, she took to the stage in a Preferred trot at Pocono, only this time she was facing the stallions and geldings instead of other mares. Still, she was made the 3-5 favorite based on her impressive history, and driver Brett Miller drove her aggressively and sent her to the lead on the front stretch. From there, she had to deal with relentless first-over pressure from Coraggioso.

That pressure led to sizzling fractions throughout the race, but Classic Martine rose to the challenge, speeding home three-quarters of a length in front of Coraggioso in an unbelievably fast 1:51:2. Not only did that break the world record for 4-year-old trotting mares of 1:51:4, it also set the mark for the fastest trotting time ever achieved by a female trotter on a 5/8-mile oval. That’s not bad for just her second start of the year. Who else wants to see what she can do the rest of the season?

Other top trotters this week include: DWs Jasmine (Jim Morrill Jr., Peter Pellegrino), a mare who moved up in class to the $10,000 claimers on Sunday night and came away with her second straight win in 1:56, matching her career-best time; Ibanez (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who shipped in from The Meadows and captured Tuesday night’s featured claiming handicap in 1:54:2, a new career mark; and Skyline Road (Jim Morrill Jr., Bill Mullin), who moved up in class but still reeled off his third straight condition win on Wednesday night in a career-best time of 1:52:4.

PACER OF THE WEEK: NITRO SEELSTER

Sunday night’s featured condition pace for colts, stallions, and geldings who were non-winners of four races was stacked with shippers from other tracks who had been impressive in their previous starts. When that occurs, sometimes the horses who had already been racing at Pocono are overlooked. Sometimes it’s justified, but other times, as in the case of Nitro Seelster, it’s a mistake.

Despite having won in the same class in his previous start in 1:51:3, the 4-year-old gelding from the barn of trainer Douglas Hamilton was let go at 10-1 odds. But driver Brett Miller drove him with confidence, sending him to the lead around the first turn and burning it up with imposing fractions. All of the talented shippers took their shots, but none could get by.

In the stretch, Nitro Seelster faced a determined bid from Rock Out but held up strong for the victory by three-quarters of a length. Tripping the line in 1:49 was extremely impressive, especially considering that the gelding didn’t start racing until this season, skipping his two and three-year-old campaigns. The bottom line is that this young pacer needs to be considered a force no matter where his composition originates.

Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: Emeritus Maximus (Andrew McCarthy, Thomas Cancelliere), who fired up a late rally to win the week’s featured Preferred pace on Saturday night in 1:49:4; South Pacific (Andrew McCarthy, Thomas Cancelliere), who moved up in class on Tuesday night and scored his second straight victory in 1:51:1, which was the fastest in his career; and Ring Leda (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena),who survived an outside post to score his second straight claiming win on Wednesday night, matching his career-best of 1:51 in the process.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: PAINKILLER

This 3-year-old gelding with Tyler Buter in the bike snuck up the passing lane late on Tuesday night in a condition pace as a 24-1 shot and came home a winner, paying off $51.40 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANDREW MCCARTHY

It seems like McCarthy becomes more of a force every year at Pocono, and he stepped it up this week with driving triples on Saturday and Tuesday.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: CHRIS OAKES

We mentioned Chris’ success with Classic Martine earlier in the article, but it was an all-around outstanding week for his barn, as he scored five training wins at Pocono.

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.