Posts Tagged ‘George Napolitano’

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Friday, July 12th, 2013

July 5-11, 2013

I had originally intended this week’s article to only recap the Pennsylvania All Stars races that highlighted Grand Circuit at the week. Yet sometimes things happen at the track that demand attention, and I would say that four consecutive nights of track and world records at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs would definitely qualify as one of those special events that merit a change of plans.

Fans of racing at Pocono know that the track boasts perhaps the fastest racing surface in the country. Just a few weeks ago on Sun Stakes Saturday, the proof of that speed came from the fact that the fastest trot and fastest pace in the history of racing on 5/8-mile ovals both took place at MSPD. That momentum carried over into this week, leaving us all agape at the blistering action that we witnessed.

The explosive action began last Wednesday night, July 3, which was only fitting since a giant fireworks display was scheduled for immediately after the completion of racing. There were five Pennsylvania All Stars races that evening for 2-year-old colts and geldings. Perhaps the most vulnerable record in the Pocono book coming into the week was the 1:56:3 mark of Sand Violent Blu for 2-year-old geldings on the trot. Sure enough, in the very first race of the night, gelding Amped Up Hanover, with Marcus Miller in the bike for John Butenschoen, shattered that mark with a 1:55:4 mile in a win. Later on that same night, Yannick Gingras drove the Steve Schoeffel-trained gelding Ravenclaw to a win in that same record time of 1:55:4.

On Friday night, much of the racing attention was paid to the eight divisions of 2-year-old All Stars races for 2-year-old trotting fillies. While there were some excellent performances in that class, none were able to break into the record book. In a condition trot, however, Summer Indian, driven by Matt Kakaley for trainer Ron Burke, put on a show with a win in 1:51:1. That blasted the 5-year-old Pocono record for 4-year-old trotting geldings of 1:52, set by Macho Lindy back in 2008, which was also the world mark for that age group on a 5/8-mile oval.

Saturday night was our biggest night of Pennsylvania All-Stars action, with 12 straight races featuring 3-year-olds kicking off the card. In a division of the All Stars for 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings, Its Complicated, with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike for trainer Kris Hite, was a powerhouse on the front end and won in 1:52:4. That matched the track and world record for 3-year-old geldings on the trot.

When the All Stars races ended that night, things really started to heat up. First up was Live On, driven by Eric Carlson for trainer Tom Fanning, who matched a world record for 4-year-old geldings on the pace with a mile of 1:48:1 in a romping condition victory. Just a race later, the track record for trotting geldings five years and up was matched, as Zooming, with Jim Morrill Jr. in the bike for trainer Amber Buter, came on for a condition win in 1:51.

On Sunday night, many of the overnight races that got pushed back by all of the Pennsylvania All Stars races were scheduled, which meant that some of our older horses would have their chances to assault the record books. In a $25,000 Preferred trot, Sevruga took his opportunity and did something really special.

The 5-year-old gelding from the Julie Miller barn came into the race with wins in 7 of his 13 races this season, despite the fact that he was up against some of the top trotters on the grounds of each of the different tracks where he competed. Driver Andy Miller pretty much cut Sevruga loose to see what he what he could do, and the results were staggering. The gelding won the race by 5 ½ lengths over an excellent field and tripped the timer in 1:50:3. That matched the world record for fastest mile ever trotted on a 5/8 oval that had been set just eight days previous at Pocono by Uncle Peter. It also established the world mark for aged geldings on the trot.

Those are a lot of broken records in a four-night span. When you count all the marks that fell on Sun Stakes Saturday, almost half of the Pocono record book has changed around in a stretch of a little more than a week. So what gives? Well, you have a perfect storm of incredible talent, in terms of horses and horsemen, making MSPD a destination instead of a stopover, hot weather, and a perfectly manicured track. Suddenly Pocono is like the Bonneville Salt Flats of the harness racing world. Don’t blink or you literally might miss another record being set.

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.

12 Pennsylvania All Stars Races at Pocono on Saturday Night

Monday, July 8th, 2013

July 6, 2013

Grand Circuit Week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs wrapped up with 12 Pennsylanvania All Stars races on a steamy Saturday night. The 3-year-olds took center stage, with four $30,000 divisions of colts and geldings on the pace, three $35,000 divisions of pacing fillies, and five $30,000 divisions of trotting colts and geldings.

3-YEAR-OLD TROTTING COLTS AND GELDINGS

Brew Master (Glidemaster-Dance Girl Dance), the 8-5 favorite with Dave Palone in the bike for trainer Marcus Marashian, hung on to win by a neck over Maxamillus in the first division in a career-best 1:54:2. Rossini picked up the show. The gate-to-wire victory was the second straight for Brew Master, with his last coming on a sloppy track at The Meadows.

Aperfectyankee (Yankee Glide-Asixpackfromperfect) glided up first-over and won going away by three lengths in a career-best 1:53:1 in the second division. Broadway Prince finished second while pacesetter Major Athens faded to third. 8-5 favorite Tigress’s Legacy went off-stride early. Trained and driven by Jim Oscarsson, Aperfectyankee, the third choice at 7-2, bounced back from a break in his last race for his second win of the season.

A blistering early pace set it up for Bluto (Donato Hanover-Blur) to come from off the pace and rally for a tight victory by a head over 7-5 favorite Smoother Ride in a career-best 1:52:4. Jimmy Takter trains and drives Bluto, who went off as the 7-2 third choice and won for the second time this year in six tries. Classicality picked up the show.

The fourth division produced a performance that matched a Pocono track record and a world record for 3-year-old trotting geldings. It’s Complicated (SJ’s Caviar-Madame Volo), the 5-1 third choice, was a powerhouse on the front end for driver George Napolitano Jr. and trainer Kris Hite, winning by 1 ¼ lengths over even-money favorite High Bridge. Cantab Abs was third. The winning time by It’s Complicated of 1:52:4 matches the Pocono mark and the world record on a 5/8 oval by sophomore geldings, which was set by I’m The Answer in 2011.

All Laid Out (Yankee Glide-Adelaide Hall), who was fresh off a big upset win in the Earl Beal Jr. consolation trot in his last start, followed it up with a romping win in All Stars action as the 6-5 favorite in the fifth division. With Dave Palone in the bike for trainer Noel Daley, the colt sat off a hot pace and pounced late to win going away by 5 ¾ lengths in 1:53. Sailer Eddie finished second and Boffin picked up the show.

3-YEAR-OLD PACING FILLIES

In the first division, Dave Palone gunned Power Pack Hanover (Somebeachsomewhere-Panned Out), the 5-2 second choice from the Tom Cancelliere barn, to the front end and the filly went all the way for a 2 ½-length victory in a career-best 1:50:2. Handsoffmycupcake was best of the rest in second while Offintothesunset grabbed the show. It was the first win in two tries this year for Power Pack Hanover and just her third lifetime in five career races.

A stretch duel between the top two choices was the highlight of the second split, with 9-5 second choice Icommandmyspirit (Dragon Again-Artists Flower) holiding off 7-5 favorite Carols Desire by a neck in a career-best 1:51:1. Champagne Tonight was third. Jim Morrill did the driving aboard Icommandmyspirit for trainer Ross Croghan, as the filly won for the fifth time in her last six races.

Once she took over on the front stretch, 1-9 favorite Somwherovrarainbow (Somebeachsomewhere-Rainbow Bloe) fought off all comers in the third division and won by 1 ½ lengths in 1:51, a new career mark. Sweet Lady Jane finished second while South Pacific grabbed third. Driven by Montrell Teague and trained by George Teague Jr., Somwherovrarainbow now has three wins this season, with the other two coming in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action.

3-YEAR-OLD PACING COLTS AND GELDINGS

In the first division of this group, 2-1 second choice Net Ten Eom (Somebeachsomewhere-Glowing Report) set bruising fractions after taking over the lead on the front stretch but held tough late to win by two lengths in 1:49:2, a new career-best. Big Time Promise came up short in second, just his second loss in nine races this season, while The Pan Poobah finished 3rd. George Napolitano Jr. drove Net Ten Eom for trainer Richard Silverman, as the colt picked up his third consecutive win, all at different tracks.

Some Kinda Beach (Somebeachsomewhere-Art’s Fantasy) didn’t disappoint as the 1-5 favorite in the second division, leading much of the way and powering home the second half of the mile after a great rate job by driver Marcus Miller in the first half. The colt from the Erv Miller barn ended up winning by 1 ¼ lengths in a career-best 1:51 for his sixth win in ten races this season. Here Comes Swifty finished second while Shock It To Em picked up the show.

 Good Day Mate (Christian Cullen-Stienam’s Place) parlayed an excellent trip behind a speed duel to a late-kicking victory in the third division, as he rallied to win by a neck over 6-5 favorite Dedi’s Dragon in 1:49:3. Varadero Hanover came on for the show. Jim Morrill Jr. drove Good Day Mate for trainer Chris Oakes, as the 3-year-old colt picked up his second win of the season as the 9-5 second choice.

In the final division, Ultimate Beach Boy (Somebeachsomewhere-Ultimate Bet), the 8-5 second choice, powered home from the pocket to win by a length in 1:50:4. George Napolitano Jr. was in the bike for trainer Don Swick, as Ultimate Beach Boy won for the third time this season. John’s Polyview finished second while 4-5 favorite Fateful Choice faded late to third.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

June 14-20, 2013

What an amazing week of racing we all just witnessed at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. In a year that will see the track host The Breeders Crown in October, we’re already getting a taste of the incendiary action to come. This past week offered Stallion Series races, Pennsylvania Sire Stakes races, and a world record-matching performance. Let’s take a look at it all by passing out the Weekly Awards.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: GUCCIO

What is it about trainer Jimmy Takter and four-year-old trotting stallions at Pocono? On June 8 in a $25,000 Preferred trot, Takter trainee Uncle Peter delivered a stunning performance in his victory, trotting the mile in 1:51:1. That not only set a track record for the age and gender grouping but it also smashed a world record for the group on a 5/8-mile oval.

Takter was at it again in Saturday night’s Preferred event, only this time he brought in another 4-year-old stallion named Guccio. Guccio had been seasoned against ruggedly tough trotters at The Meadowlands and was made the 2-5 favorite in the race. Takter also did the driving and positioned his horse perfectly behind a speed duel that created unconscious fractions in front of him.

Guccio rolled by his competition in the stretch, ending up 1 ½ lengths out in front of the rest. And what do you think his winning time was? 1:51:1, meaning that he matched the world record that his stablemate just set. I guess the next time you see a Jimmy Takter four-year-old stallion trotting into Pocono, you should watch that timer close to see if another record-breaking performance is in the offing.

Other top trotters this week include: Valley Of Sin (Mike Wilder, John Butenschoen), whose rallying win on Sunday in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action for 3-year-old colts and geldings in a career-best 1:54:1 was his second straight victory at Pocono; Quantum Cashman (Jonathan Drury, Carmen Auciello), who moved up in class to win a claiming handicap trot on Tuesday night in a career-best 1:54:3, his third straight overall and second in a row at Pocono; and Lady Broadway (Jim Morrill Jr., Chris Oakes), a 3-year-old filly who won her third straight, the last two of which have come at Pocono, with a victory in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes competition on Wednesday night in 1:55:2.

PACER OF THE WEEK: BET ON THE LAW

Sometimes it takes a change of tactics to get a horse over the hump. In the case of Bet On The Law, a standout performer for trainer/driver Joe Pavia Jr., he had tried gunning out on the lead in his previous two starts in Preferred paces at Pocono, a style that had served him well in lower classes, only to get caught from behind when facing the best pacers on the grounds.

Saturday night’s $25,000 Preferred pace was loaded with big names and lots of up-front speed, so Pavia decided to try something different. He held Bet On The Law back in the field early while others battled for the lead and did all the work. He then wisely caught the cover of Hurrikane Kingcole on the back stretch to get his horse into contention with a minimum of effort.

In the stretch, while others had already used their best strides, Bet On The Law was just finding his. The 4-year-old gelding blew by his cover and everyone else to win by a length. His winning time of 1:48:4 marked a new career-best, but even more important, this talented pacer showed the versatility necessary to win no matter how a race plays out.

Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: Best Ears (Jim Morrill Jr., Rene Allard), who followed up a condition win in his previous race with a victory over $25,000 claimers on Saturday night in a scorching career-best time of 1:49:4; Ideal Matters (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who won for the third time in his last four starts with a conquest of a condition pacing field on Saturday in 1:49:3; and Drop The Ball (Corey Callahan, Ross Croghan), who won Sunday night’s Preferred pace for mares in 1:50.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: CAGE FIGHTER

With Andrew McCarthy in the bike, this claiming pacer spiced up the early Daily Double on Wednesday night with a rallying win at 44-1, paying out $91 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MATT KAKALEY

Kakaley has been on fire for much of the season, but he turned it up with double-figures in wins for the week, including a five-bagger on Tuesday night.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: RON BURKE

Burke started the week off with three training wins on Friday night and didn’t let up from there, as he has slowly but surely ascended to the top of the Pocono training colony in victories for the meet.

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.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

May 25-31, 2013

There were only three racing nights in the week that was at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, and yet we were overflowing with standout performances in that span. In just a week, Pocono will be switching to a schedule of five nights per week, which means that it’s going to be even harder each week to decide who might be the best among the pacers and trotters competing at the track. With that in mind, here is the latest edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: C’MON BUZZ OFF

One of the most competitive classes at Pocono has been the $25,000 claimers for four and five-year-old pacers. It’s been hard for any single horse to gather up any momentum in the class due to the extreme competitiveness of the group, but C’Mon Buzz Off has been able to manage the feat. In fact, he came into Saturday night’s race having won three of his last four starts with his powerful, front-pacing style.

Such early speed usually favors a horse with an inside post position, but C’Mon Buzz Off had to deal with an extreme outside post on Saturday when he drew the #9 hole. In his first start for the Chris Oakes barn, the 4-year-old stallion didn’t change his style at all, as driver Jim Morrill Jr. sent him hurtling to the front end despite the outside post.

Once C’Mon Buzz Off stepped to the front end, his muscle memory took care of the rest. He held a solid group of claimers at bay and scored the win in 1:51:2, giving him three straight victories and four wins in his last five. He’ll be joining a new barn for his next start, but it doesn’t seem to matter what barn or post position this pacer is dealing with these days. He’s going to be hard to beat in any scenario.

Other top pacers this week include: Verdad (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who rumbled to his second straight high condition win on Saturday night and did so in a new career-best time of 1:50:1; Annieswesterncard (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who won the week’s featured Preferred pace on Saturday night in 1:49, which was a new career-mark and the fastest time posted at MSPD this week; and Duel Cheeks (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), a mare who took a significant jump in class on Wednesday night and still scored her second consecutive win, this one coming in 1:51:4.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: CLARISSA HALL

There hasn’t been a trotter any more consistent than this 6-year-old mare. Since she arrived from Freehold at the start of April, she has hit the board in five straight races at Pocono, including three straight wins heading into her $10,000 to $12,500 claiming handicap on Tuesday night.

Clarissa Hall has managed to move up in class during the winning streak, which began in the $7,500 claimers. In addition, she has done it despite changing barns for each and every one of those wins. Tuesday night was her first time in the Chris Oakes barn. Early on, driver George Napolitano Jr. settled her in the pocket, but a slow pace by the leader meant that a bunch of horses were close up in the stretch, making for a congested rush to the finish.

With horses on all sides of her, Clarissa Hall stayed strong to the line and came out on top in a tight finish in 1:58:1 on the sloppy track. Not only is that her fourth straight victory, but she also continued a streak of being in the money in every one of her 14 starts this season. She was claimed from the race; her next barn can rest assured knowing it is getting one tough trotter.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Blomkvist (Jim Morrill Jr., Chris Oakes), who powered his way to a victory against the highest-priced claiming handicappers on the grounds on Saturday night in 1:54:1, which is a new career-best; Lightning Storm (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), whose victory in a condition trot on Saturday night came in a career-best 1:53:2; and Keystone Thomas (Andrew McCarthy, Joe Pavia Jr.), who won Wednesday night’s featured condition trot in 1:53:1, a new career-best and the fastest trotting time at Pocono this week.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: DAVE PANLONE

Using a pocket trip, this condition pacer surprised the faithful in the very first race on Tuesday night, rallying for the win at 17-1 in the slop for a win payout of $37.40 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MIKE SIMONS

Year after year, Simons, a Pocono fixture, keeps delivering the goods. He’s been at it again in 2013, and he rolled through the slop on Tuesday night with three victories on the card.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: CHRIS OAKES

The Oakes barn is a factor on the national level, but Chris saves plenty of ammunition for his home track, as evidenced by a four-win night on Saturday and six wins overall this week.

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