Posts Tagged ‘Flex the Muscle’

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

June 15-21, 2012

It’s been an incredible week of racing action at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, one that saw superstar colt Googoo Gaagaa break the world record for 3-year-old trotting colts in the eliminations for the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial on Friday night. We’ll be talking about the finals of that great stakes race in next week’s column. Luckily, there are plenty of other worthy candidates for the Weekly Awards from which to choose.


The life of a talented claimer is a transitory one, since a horse that does well in the claiming ranks usually is highly sought after by other horsemen. When a horse switches barns often, it sometimes takes a toll on its performance. By contrast, Ahead Ofthe Curve appears to be getting better every time he has to pack up and move.

He started his travels and his winning streak with a victory in a $12,500 claiming class on May 12 in 1:52. The 6-year-old gelding was promptly claimed and won in the same class two weeks later in 1:51:1, only to be claimed again. On June 2, he moved up to the $15,000 claimers and set a new career mark in 1:50:4 on his way to his third straight victory.

After yet another claim, he joined the Ken Rucker barn and faced his toughest test yet on Sunday night, a $25,000-$30,000 claiming handicap. Driver Eric Carlson has been the one constant for Ahead Ofthe Curve during his travels, and he was there to guide him on Sunday to his fourth straight victory in 1:51:1. Needless to say, he was claimed once more; considering he’s already at the top of the claiming ladder, maybe the gelding can try his luck against the condition pacers, meaning he might even get to unpack.

Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: Great Soul (Brandon Simpson trainer and driver), who used a late rally on Sunday for his second straight claiming win in 1:52:3; Twin B Passion (Jason Bartlett, Andrew Adamczyk), a mare who used a late rally to beat the $10,000 claimers on Wednesday night in 1:52:4, her fourth straight win; and Billmar Scooter (Tyler Buter, Amber Buter), who beat the top mares on the grounds for the second straight week on Tuesday, this time in 1:50:2.


Some horses have the ability to be versatile, showing that they can come from off the pace, sit close to the lead, or gun to the front and still be capable of performing well in all of those circumstances. To be frank, Windsun Galaxie has not been one of those horses since arriving at Pocono from Canada in April. The 5-year-old stallion from the Tyler Raymer barn has hustled to the front in every start and let the chips fall where they may.

Such an aggressive style means that it is incumbent on the driver to rate the pace well. Mark MacDonald, a Canadian import himself, has been masterful at just that skill since taking over the reins for Windsun Galaxie two weeks ago. On June 10, he went gate to wire to beat the non-winners of $25,000 in the last five starts condition trotters, a really rugged group, in a career-best 1:52:4.

On Sunday night he was once again up against the best trotters on the grounds, and he was once again sent right to the front by MacDonald. It was another nice rate job, allowing Windsun Galaxie to fight back when challenged in the stretch by pocket horse Flex The Muscle. The result was a thrilling win by a nose in a photo finish, giving him two straight victories and a spot on top of the mountain for all overnight trotters campaigning at Pocono.

Other top trotter this week include: The Lindy Reserve (Matt Kakaley, Frank Antonacci), who followed up a win at Harrah’s by scoring in a condition trot on Friday at Pocono in 1:54, a new career-best; Fox Valley Smarty (George Napolitano Jr., Thomas Stamper), who came from way back to win a claiming handicap trot in 1:54:3 on Tuesday night, his second straight win and third in his last four; and Keenan (Brian Sears, Larry Remmen), who moved up in class Wednesday night and scored his second straight easy win, this time coming in a career-best 1:53:2.


With one big move on the last turn, this mare piloted by Andrew McCarthy got by a field of claiming handicap pacers on Wednesday night at 13-1, paying off $28.60 to win.


Kakaley was on a nice hot streak the past four racing nights. He had double figure victories for the week, highlighted by a four-bagger on Tuesday night.


Rucker has been a consistently effective trainer at Pocono the last few seasons, and he was at it again this week with three wins, including a double on Sunday.

That’s it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

May 4-10, 2012

It was a mighty busy week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. So busy, in fact, that we needed five racing cards to get it all in, as we held a racing double-header on Kentucky Derby day. This week also witnessed our first two track records of the 2012 meet. Those record-setting horses are the obvious choices to highlight this edition of the Weekly Awards.


Saturday night’s feature race was the Van Rose Memorial, a $50,000 Open event in honor of a local sportswriter whose dedication to the sport of harness racing made him a very special part of the Pocono racing scene. Van would have been extra proud to see the race held in his name, because it produced a new world record mile.

The field was packed to the gills with talent, including million-dollar earner Dial Or Nodial, top Pocono pacers Drop Red and Fred And Ginger, and a pair of dangerous shippers from Yonkers in Melvyn and Flipper J. In the end, it was Special T Rocks, who proved his mettle with back-to-back wins in his previous starts at Harrah’s at Philly, that had the answer when they came to the line.

After following cover on the outside, the gelding trained and driven by Daryl Bier went sweeping by the competition to win by 2 ¾ lengths in 1:48:3. That smashed the track record for 4-year-old pacing geldings, which was previously set by Tivoli Hanover in 1:49:2 all the way back in 2008. It was also a new World Record for the age group on a 5/8-mile oval.

Other top pacers this week include: Honky Tonk Woman (Andrew McCarthy, Jeffrey Webster), a mare who is now 2-for-2 on the season after zipping to a condition win on Friday in 1:52; Dynamic Youth (Andrew McCarthy, Aaron Lambert), who won her second consecutive distaff condition pace on Friday night, overcoming a tough post for a win in 1:52:1; and Medoland Big Cam (Pat Berry, Scott DiDomenico), who stepped up in class to beat the $25,000 claimers on Tuesday night, his second straight win, in 1:52:1.


All of us who read it in high school know that The Iliad was a tale of heroes and courageous deeds. Fox Valley Iliad lived up to his moniker on Friday night with a performance that will have the poets singing at least as long as his new track record holds up.

Fox Valley Iliad, a 4-year-old stallion from the barn of Kimberly Asher, faced off against a tough condition trotting group after just missing in the same class with a furious late move for 2nd on April 27. This time around, driver Tom Jackson sent the stallion to the front to dictate the pace, and by the stretch he had shaken just about everyone in the field.

Pocket horse Pembroke Heat Wave put up a serious challenge in the stretch, but Fox Valley Iliad responded to win by a head, stopping the timer in 1:52:3. The previous track record for 4-year-old stallions on the trot was 1:52:4 by Flex The Muscle, set in 2011. The time also matched a world record for the age and gait on a 5/8-mile oval.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Opinion Hanover (Mike Simons, Clarence Martin Jr.), winner of three consecutive condition trots after his win Wednesday night in 1:55:4; Man About Town (Howard Parker, Jim Raymer), who took a big step up the condition ladder and still handled a tough group on Friday night in 1:54:1 for his second consecutive victory; and Anders Bluestone (George Napolitano Jr., Eric Ell), who shipped in to beat the best trotters on the grounds on Saturday night in 1:53:1, giving the stallion seven wins in eleven races this year.


It didn’t take long for a Friday night wake-up call for the patrons, as driver Eric Carlson led Bond Blue Chip to a claiming pace win in the first race at 37-1, paying off $77.20 on a $2 win ticket.


Pocono’s leading driver in 2011 has been heating up once again of late. He followed up four wins on the Saturday double card with a driving double on Tuesday night.


Burke once again finds himself at the top of the Pocono trainers’ standings. This week was a typically productive one for his barn at MSPD, highlighted by back-to-back winners on Saturday night’s card.

That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at