Posts Tagged ‘Frank Antonacci’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

July 30-August 5, 2016

After several weeks of hot, dry weather, Mother Nature brought some rain to the party in Northeastern Pennsylvania this past week. That created sloppy tracks on two of the four racing nights at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, making for some fascinatingly unpredictable racing. In the midst of the on-and-off precipitation, several horses and horsemen handled the less-than-ideal conditions with aplomb, and they’re the ones receiving the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: PANCETTA

Whenever you see that a Standardbred has some sort of variation of the word “pan” in its name, it’s a good bet that the Peter Pan Stables of Ohio were involved in its development. While the names can be quite humorous, the horses with them often are outstanding competitors. Such has proven to be the case with Pancetta, a seven-year-old stallion bred by Peter Pan Stables who has been a handful since arriving at Pocono a few weeks back.

Trained by Matias Ruiz, Pancetta had been splitting time between Harrah’s at Philadelphia and Yonkers before coming to Pocono, with very little success. As a matter of fact, he didn’t even hit the board through his first seven races of the season. But he quickly proved that he loved the Pocono surface, ripping off a victory on July 23 in a $6,000 condition event in a career-best 1:52:1.

On Saturday he had to overcome the double whammy of moving up in class to the $12,500 level and dealing with the far outside #9 post position. Going off at 8-1, Pancetta was undaunted. Driver Anthony Napolitano hustled him to the lead on the front stretch and he held the advantage from that point. Even with the race favorite Rather Swell bearing down him late, the stallion held together for the victory by a length in 1:52:1 in the slop. That makes two straight victories, meaning that the name might be clever, but it’s Pancetta’s game that has really stood out of late.

Other top pacers this week include: Dancin Yankee (George Napolitano Jr., Josh Green), who overcame sloppy conditions on Saturday night to beat a condition field in 1:49:1, the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono; Check’s Commodore (Anthony Napolitano, Rene Allard), who picked up his second straight win over the $15,000 claimers on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:52:2 in the slop; and Lindy’s Nightmare (Brett Miller, Frank Antonacci), a three-year-old filly who returned from Mohawk to win a condition on Tuesday night in 1:52:4, giving her five consecutive victories.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: STONEBRIDGE COMBAT

When humans fail at something, they’re often told to get back on the horse. When horses fail at something, what do they do? While you ponder that existential query, consider the case of Stonebridge Combat, a 3-year-old gelding trained and driven by Chris Ryder who hadn’t known a lot of defeat until a third-place finish on July 24 against the non-winners of five trotters at Pocono. Prior to that he had won three races in a row and five out of six for the year, which was his first in racing after sitting out his 2-year-old campaign.

In that loss in his previous race, Stonebridge Combat set the pace as he had in many of his previous wins, only to cough up the lead late. When he faced the non-winners of five again on Sunday night, Ryder decided to change up the strategy. He allowed Mr Lucky Luke to set the pace early while holding his horse back in the middle of the back. It was only on the back stretch that he set Stonebridge Combat in motion.

Even though he didn’t find any cover to help him toward the front of the pack, Stonebridge Combat pulled up alongside Mr Lucky Luke in the stretch, finally wearing him down to prevail by three-quarters of a length in 1:55:2. It was quite a nice bounce-back performance for the gelding, who has now won six of eight races in his young career.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Can’t I (John Campbell, Bob Stewart), a 2-year-old who now has two straight wins to start his career after a condition win in the slop on Monday night in a career-best 1:57:3; Three Crow Mo (Matt Kakaley, Tony Farina), who scored his second straight victory over the $7,500 claimers on Monday night, winning in 1:57:3 in the slop; and Croquet Rose (Andrew McCarthy, Anette Lorentzon), a mare who overcame an outside post to pick up her second consecutive condition win on Tuesday night, this one coming in a career-best 1:55:3.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SAVANNAH SUNSET

In Sunday night’s final race, this trotting filly won a condition at 46-1 to pay off $95.40 to win and completed a $2,445 Late Daily Double where both winners were driven by Marcus Miller.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ERIC GOODELL

We’re seeing much more of Goodell at Pocono than we have in several years, and we’re seeing him win a lot of races as well, as he picked up driving doubles on Saturday and Sunday.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: GILBERTO GARCIA-HERRERA

Garcia-Herrera has been a steady performer all year long at Pocono, and he kept it up this week with three training wins including a double on Monday night.

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.

Favorites fall in Stallion Series

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

The chalk took it on the chin Sunday night, June 14th,  at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, as non-favorites won all five divisions of a $100,000 Stallion Series third preliminary legfor sophomore trotting colts.

Driver Matt Kakaley and trainer Frank Antonacci teamed to take two of the five divisions, the first one and the last one held, and in the Stallion opener their horse posted the fastest time of the Sunday stakes, with Mesmerized scoring in 1:53.4. The son of Cantab Hall went wire-to-wire in winning by seven lengths and taking a new mark for owners K R Breeding, Robert Rudolph, Gary Hoffman (these three were also the breeders) and Barry Guariglia.

Kakaley also tallied with another Antonacci trainee, the Cantab Hall gelding Paging Doctorlindy, who has now made two house calls to the winners circle in but three starts in 1:57.2, a personal best. The good Doctor was up by a neck after a pocket trip for the Lindy Racing Stable (also the breeder), Elizabeth Caldwell, and repeat winning owner Robert Rudolph.

Two winners took maiden victories in the Sunday Stallion competition. They were the Yankee Glide colt Pierre, making every pole a winning one in 1:55.2 for driver Rick Zeron, trainer Jonas Czernyson, and the Consus Racing Stable Inc., and Colbert, giving Cantab Hall a third siring credit with a 1:55 victory for trainer/driver Åke Svanstedt and owners Courant A B and Knutson Trotting Inc.

The other section went to the Explosive Matter gelding Jacksons Minion, exploding out of the pocket to win by open lengths in a personal best of 1:55.4 for driver/trainer/namesake/part-owner Tom Jackson and fellow owners Howard and Judy Taylor.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Friday, July 20th, 2012

July 13-19, 2012

We have had such a bushelful of big-time stakes races of late at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs that I’ve devoted much of the space in these columns to those races. All the while, our overnight racing has raged on with the same intensity it has displayed all season. With that in mind, let’s turn the focus back on those races this week and get back to handing out our Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: DYNAMIC YOUTH

It’s seems like we can’t go more than a few nights without another track record falling. On Saturday night, it was one of our longest-standing records in this era of speed at Pocono that went by the wayside, courtesy of 3-year-old pacing gelding Dynamic Youth. The gelding loves Pocono, as evidenced by his two straight wins to start his season here in the spring.

Following that success, trainer Aaron Lambert took him to his home state of New York, where Dynamic Youth hit the board often but couldn’t break through in Sire Stakes competition. Back at Pocono, he faced all older horses in a tough condition for non-winners of $15,000 in the last three starts. Driver Andrew McCarthy wisely kept him off a blistering pace early, but, as the race progressed, the gelding started to pick off horses.

In the stretch, only Amillionpennies stood in his way, and Dynamic Youth blew by him to win by 1 ¾ lengths. His winning time for the mile, a scorching 1:49:2, broke the record for 3-year-old geldings on the pace of 1:49:4 that was set by Goddess’s Justin way back in 2008. Maybe this record-breaker will stick around Pocono a bit longer this time.

Other top pacers this week include: Hrubys N Luck (George Napolitano Jr., Cad Gregory), who jumped in class on Saturday to win a condition pace, his third straight victory, in 1:50; Splendid Kisses (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), who stepped up all the way to the $20,000 claimers and still picked up his third straight easy win on Saturday night in 1:51:3; and Kel’s Return (George Napolitano Jr., Pierre Paradis), who won his third straight and sixth in his last seven with a claiming victory on Tuesday night in 1:52:3.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: HE’S SPOOKY

Moving up in class is always a treacherous bit of business in harness racing, especially at the top rungs of the competitive ladder. Yet He’s Spooky was determined to move into our top condition class of winners of over $25,000 lifetime on Sunday night and do so in style.

The 5-year-old stallion from the Frank Antonacci barn made his first appearance at Pocono on July 8 after arriving from Canada and promptly beat a tough condition group in a career-best 1:52:2. In that start, he had an excellent trip, but, on Sunday night, driver Matt Kakaley sent him right to the front and dared everyone to play catch-up.

Each time a competitor would make a tentative move to the outside to challenge, He’s Spooky would pick up the pace and dissuade them. In the stretch, there was nobody close enough to make a serious move and the gelding rolled to a three-length win in 1:53:1. He’s Spooky made moving up in class seem so easy that everybody might want to do it.

Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: Wingbat (Matt Kakaley, Antonino Gristina), a mare who reeled off her second straight condition victory on Friday night, this one in 1:54:4; H And M’s Hit (Matt Kakaley, David Duspiva), who moved up in class and won a condition on Friday night, his second straight victory, in 1:54; and Holier Than Thou (Yannick Gingras, Jonas Czernyson), whose victory in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes competition on Wednesday night came in a time of 1:53:1, which broke the track record and matched the world record for 3-year-old fillies on the trot.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: IT’SABOUTTIME

Just a few weeks after winning at 42-1, this pacer with John Kakaley in the bike stunned a group of $10,000 claimers on Sunday night with a win at 33-1, paying off $69.80 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: YANNICK GINGRAS

Gingras captured two of the three big-purse divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes held on Wednesday night, continuing his excellence in the most lucrative races at Pocono.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: AARON LAMBERT

Lambert had an impressive training double on Saturday night. In addition to the track record he scored with Dynamic Youth, he also had the night’s featured pace winner in Townslight Hanover at 19-1.

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, 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.

PACER OF THE WEEK: AHEAD OFTHE CURVE

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.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: WINDSUN GALAXIE

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.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ANOTHER WILD WOMAN

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.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MATT KAKALEY

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.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: KEN RUCKER

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 jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.