Posts Tagged ‘George Napolitano’

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Friday, May 17th, 2013

May 11-May 17, 2013    

We are about to get into the heart of stakes season here at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, as Stallion Series and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes races take place this weekend. This is the part of the season when things get really intense, with the best horses and horsemen invading the Pocono oval in a quest for the big purses. On the threshold of this exciting time, another exciting week of overnight racing went down. Here is the cream of the crop from those races with the Weekly Awards.


Managing a single mile of under 1:50 is quite an accomplishment. Doing it in two consecutive victories is an extremely impressive feat. And overcoming an outside post in the second of those miles is even more eye-popping. Since he accomplished all of these things, it’s no surprise that Steelhead Hanover earns the honors as this week’s top pacer.

The 4-year-old stallion trained and driven by Joe Pavia Jr. opened up on the front end in a condition for non-winners of $11,000 in the last five on April 27 for a victory in 1:49:1. Pavia gave him a week off and then returned him to action last Saturday night against the same class. Only this time Steelhead Hanover was a 7-1 third choice, likely because he was stuck in an outside post.

Pavia was able to get him into a prime spot into the pocket early, and that’s where he stayed as furious fractions were hung up on the board by the leaders in front of him. In the stretch, Steelhead Hanover found his stride and rallied for a tight win in 1:49:4. Can he get three in a row under 1:50? Only his next race will tell, but the way he’s going now, anything is possible.

Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: Mickey Hanover (Joe Pavia Jr., Rene Allard), who followed up a big win at The Meadowlands with a victory in Saturday night’s featured Preferred pace in 1:49:3; Apache Renegade (Andrew McCarthy, Mike Watson), who moved up in class on Saturday night for a win, his second straight overall, over the $12,500 claimers in a career-best 1:51; and Camille (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who won a stretch duel with rival Feeling You in Sunday night’s Preferred pace for mares on 1:51:1.


This mare joined the Amber Buter barn in April and took a shot against the condition trotters in her next two starts, but she could only manage one third-place finish. On May 4 she dropped back into Pocono’s toughest claiming group, the $25,000-$30,000 claiming handicappers, and quickly re-established herself as a force by pouncing late from the pocket for a win in 1:55:1.

In that race she was assigned the outside post because she had the highest claiming price, but, with only six horses in the field, it wasn’t that difficult a proposition. When As Ya’ll Like It took on the same group on Saturday night, her outside post was the #8 hole, meaning that it would be that much tougher to get to the lead in the early going.

Yet the mare made it to the front end quickly, and driver Tyler Buter took advantage of a lack of outside pressure to rate her speed perfectly. As Ya’ll Like It took it from there, getting all the way home in 1:55:4. She was claimed after the race, so we’ll see if the new barn keeps her in the class she’s been dominating or sets her up for even bigger and better things based on her recent outstanding form.

Other top trotters this week include: Berkshire (Jim Morrill Jr., Antonella Galie), who scored his second straight condition trotting victory on Tuesday night in 1:55:2; Celebrity Maserati (Tom Jackson, Susanne Strandqvist), who returned to Pocono following a big stakes win at Freehold and rolled to a condition win on Wednesday night in 1:53; and Tui (Anthony Napolitano, Don Wiest), the standout mare who rolled to her second straight condition trotting win on Wednesday night, this time in 1:53:1.


This mare had been struggling mightily in search of her maiden win, but driver Ron Pierce coaxed a big effort out of her on Tuesday night to upset the field at 28-1 for a $59 payout on a $2 win ticket.


It’s no surprise that Napolitano is among the driving leaders at Pocono yet again, and he improved his standing this week with a four-win explosion on Sunday night.


One of the best young trainers in the business made his mark at Pocono this week by scoring three victories, including a double on Sunday night.

That will do 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

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

May 4-10, 2013

It was an extremely busy week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, featuring one extra racing card thanks to our Kentucky Derby day doubleheader. With all of that thrilling action, there were plenty of fantastic performances to witness and a bevy of top choices for the Weekly Awards. Those were some tough choices to make, but here are the best of the best from this jam-packed week.


Back before Pocono ascended to one of the top tracks in the nation, it was common for horses that did well here to struggle when they got to the bigger stages. That has all changed in recent years, and no horse exemplifies that transformation any better than Golden Receiver, who was once the best at MSPD but proceeded to be one of the best in the whole country.

Coming off a 2012 season which saw him earn $941,025, he picked up where he left off with six straight victories to start this year before a loss at Harrah’s on April 5. After a month off, he returned to racing at the scene of so many of his greatest triumphs in Saturday night’s $50,000 Van Rose Memorial pace. The fans remembered the 8-year-old gelding from the Mark Harder barn well, making him the 1-5 favorite in a star-studded field.

He didn’t disappoint. Driver George Napolitano Jr. sent him to the front end early, and Golden Receiver did the rest, winning by 1 ¾ lengths in 1:50 without even breaking a sweat. It was a kind of victory lap for the superstar, but, with the Breeders Crown scheduled for Pocono in October, he’ll likely be back to go for an even bigger crowning score at his former home.

Honorable mention on the pacing side includes: Lorrie Please (Eric Carlson, Michael Hall), a mare who won her second straight Preferred distaff pace on Sunday night, rallying for the victory in 1:51; Mustang Art (Andrew McCarthy, James McGuire), who burned it up on the front end in a condition pace for a win in 1:49:3, the fastest time posted at Pocono this week; and Blissful Dreamer (Jim Morrill Jr., Brewer Adams), who won her third straight race at a third different claiming price, this time out on Wednesday night over the $10,000 claiming mares in 1:52:3.


Sunday night featured the last of the four $30,000 finals for the Bobby Weiss Series, the races which featured some of the best young talent on the grounds over the first month of the season. The last of the groups to take center stage was the assemblage of 3-year-old trotting fillies, and the final was distinguished by the fact that Classic Martine was a prohibitive favorite.

It didn’t take too much in the way of investigation to see why, considering that the filly from the Todd Schadel barn had won her last three starts in the previous legs of the series, beating at one time or another in that stretch every horse that she would face in Sunday’s final. Still, the 1-2 favorite could have had any number of things go wrong, like a break of stride or some bad racing luck, to derail her chances.

Driver Andy Miller took some of the variables out of play by sending Classic Martine to the front end. He then allowed the filly to dictate the pace and expend only as much energy as necessary. In the stretch, she glided home over horses giving all-out efforts to get to her, winning without exerting herself at all in 1:55:3, making this Weiss final look like a foregone conclusion.

Other top trotters include: As Ya’ll Like It (Tyler Buter, Amber Buter), who trotted away and hid for a claiming handicap victory on Saturday night in 1:55:1; Sand Wyndham (Joe Pavia Jr., Rene Allard), who made a late rally to win Tuesday night’s featured condition trot in 1:54; and Tui (Anthony Napolitano, Don Wiest), who rolled to an easy win in Wednesday night’s featured condition trot, scoring in a quick 1:53:2 despite sloppy conditions.


Saturday’s very first race of the morning on the special racing card woke the patrons up quickly, as driver Marcus Miller guided this condition pacer to a win at 32-1 for a $66 payout on a $2 win ticket.


Matt had one of his best weeks of the season to date, including a monster weekend with eight wins in two days and a five-bagger on Sunday night.


With three wins on Saturday night’s program and then two more on Tuesday night, Fraley continued what has been an extremely hot start to the Pocono meet.

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

Golden Receiver Wins Van Rose Memorial Pace at Pocono

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

May 4, 2013

Golden Receiver returned to his former haunts to pick up a big victory in the Van Rose Memorial Pace on Saturday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The race carried a purse of $50,000.

Golden Receiver (Village Jove-Royal Gold), who used to campaign at Pocono before becoming one of the nation’s preeminent pacers, left from post position #2 in a field of six as the heavy 1-5 favorite. He sat third early as Sparky Mark cut out the opening quarter, but driver George Napolitano Jr. set him in motion on the front stretch to take the lead before the clubhouse turn. From there, Golden Receiver held the rest of the field at bay, winning by 1 ¾ lengths in 1:50. Sparky Mark finished second while Fred And Ginger picked up the show.

The win gives Golden Receiver, an 8-year-old gelding owned by Nina Simmonds and Our Horse Cents Stable and trained by Mark Harder, seven victories in eight races this season, as he bounced back after a month layoff following his only loss of 2013. He now has 56 career wins and lifetime earnings of $1,763,908.

The Van Rose Memorial is held each year at Pocono in honor of Van Rose, a longtime sportswriter and friend of harness racing in Northeastern Pennsylvania who passed away in 2011.

Twincreeks Jesse Captures Weiss Final at Pocono

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

April 20, 2013

Twincreeks Jesse put forth a tremendous effort on the front end to capture the final of the Bobby Weiss Series for 3-year-old colts and geldings on the pace on Saturday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The race carried a purse of $30,000.

Twincreeks Jesse (Real Artist-Happy Ginny), who left from post position #3 in a field of eight as the 9-5 second choice, got away well and sat second early behind Deep Sea Hanover. Driver George Napoiltano Jr. wanted to control matters though, so he sent the 3-year-old gelding owned and trained by Ann DePietro to the lead on the front stretch. When the outside pressure wasn’t able to get to him, Twincreeks Jesse had to hold off a late second move from Deep Sea Hanover to win by a neck in 1:51:4. Lets Rock Together picked up the show.

Twincreeks Jesse notched his third consecutive win and fourth in seven tries this year. He now has five lifetime victories and career earnings of $50,440.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

April 13-19, 2013

The first few weeks at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs have featured some exciting young horses competing in the Bobby Weiss Series. The preliminary legs are just about over, and next week in this space we’ll be taking a look at who came out triumphant in the big-money finals. In the meantime, another outstanding week of racing has produced some excellent candidates for the Weekly Awards.


Last Saturday night’s racing was typically sharp at Pocono, with race after race featuring fast times by the winners. The fastest of all those winning times came from Go Both Ways, who put up a mile of 1:50:1. Not only was that the fastest of the night and the best in the 9-year-old gelding’s excellent career, but it was also the fastest posted at Pocono all week long.

The interesting thing about the mile by Go Both Ways is that it came in a $20,000 claiming event. While that is a solid grouping with many excellent competitors, there are higher claiming classes at Pocono, not to mention the condition races which are stocked with horses that go blistering times each and every week.

But nobody told Go Both Ways, who hails from the barn of Michael Hall, that he was supposed to be on a middling level. With Jim Morrill Jr. in the bike, he took the early lead, set scorching fractions, and paced away and hid from the field. Considering that the Dover shipper came in winless, it’s safe to say that he loved the Pocono oval and, with a time like that, he can hang with any class of pacers.

Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: Star Keeper (Jim Morrill Jr., Doug Berkeley), a mare who won her third straight claiming handicap on Wednesday night in 1:52:4; Naughtytiltheend (Marcus Miller, Erv Miller), who moved up in class to score her second straight condition win on Wednesday night in 1:52; and Passion Starlet (George Napolitano Jr., Peter Pellegrino), who won her second straight $5,000 claimer at Pocono on Wednesday night in a career-best 1:54:2 and now has five victories in her last six races.


You’ll often hear handicappers using the term “needs a start.” What they mean is that the horse needs one race to get itself acclimated to racing before it can be expected to perform at a top level. This term is generally used to describe a horse coming off a layoff, but it can also refer to a horse who is new to its surroundings.

Modern Family was a powerhouse early in the season, picking up wins at Dover, Harrah’s, and the Meadowlands. In his first start at Pocono on April 6, he rallied late but came up short by two lengths in a Preferred Handicap trot behind Tall Cotton. On Saturday night in the same class, trainer/driver Daryl Bier had a chance for revenge in the same class against Tall Cotton and a stellar field.

Bier had to be patient as Modern Family got shuffled back on the inside as the lead changed hands a few times. The 4-year-old stallion managed to slip to the outside in the stretch and he staged a furious rally to get up to win by a nose in 1:52:2. Not only was it his career-best, it was also the fastest trotting time at Pocono this season. He may have needed a start at Pocono, but with his confidence building after this great win, he just might not stop.

Other top trotters this week include: Permanent Joy (Brandon Simpson, Robert Krivelin), who used a thrilling stretch move to come from behind for a win in Tuesday night’s featured trot in 1:55:3, a new career mark; Bloomfieldcantifly (Jim Morrill Jr., Bill Mullin), who continued her excellent early part of the meet with a condition win on Tuesday in a career-best 1:55:1; and Definitely Mamie (Jim Morrill Jr., Brewer Adams), who overcame the far outside post for a gutsy condition win in the Wednesday night  feature in 1:53:2, which matched the mare’s career-best time.


In a claiming handicap pace on Saturday night, Midas Blue Chip got away at 36-1, and driver Tyler Buter rallied the gelding four-wide in the stretch for the win and a $74.60 payout on a $2 win ticket.


Bier had just two drives on Saturday night, but Modern Family won in the week’s fastest trotting time, and St Lads Zoom Zoom scored in the second-fastest pacing time. Bier trains both horses as well.


It’s been an excellent start to the season for Hall, a relative newcomer to Pocono. This week he picked up three wins including a training double on Sunday night.

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