Posts Tagged ‘Gold Cup’

The stars shine under the Sun in Sun Stakes Saturday eliminations

Monday, June 20th, 2016

What will be the greatest collection of harness racing talent assembled for one card so far in 2016 will gather at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono this Saturday night, June 25th, as the eliminations for the $2M+ Sun Stakes Saturday Championships will be held, seven days before the Championship events.

The Ben Franklin FFA Pace has attracted an overflow field of 22 entrants, including such superstars as Wiggle It Jiggleit, Always B Miki, Freaky Feet Pete, Rockin Ron, and $30,000 supplement Mel Mara, and will be raced in three eliminations, with the top three finishers from each elim coming back for the $500,000 Championship event.

The races for the three-year-olds – the Earl Beal 3C Trot, the Max C. Hempt 3C Pace, and the James Lynch 3F Pace, number their entrants in the teens, which means there will be two eliminations for all three sophomore events, with the top four finishers in each elim joining the faster of the fifth-placed finishers going into their rich Championships, the Beal and Hempt racing for $500,000, the Lynch for $300,000.

On an overall basis, how strong are these fields? Well, take the Franklin: it boasts the defending divisional champion in State Treasurer, PLUS it has the defending Horse of the Year and 3YO champion, Wiggle It Jiggleit, as he makes the stepup to the older ranks. Also, the only possible defending champion in the four stakes, Luck Be Withyou, is in the field.

And each of the events for three-year-olds sees its defending champion from two coming to Pocono: Southwind Frank (3TC), Boston Red Rocks (3PC), and Pure Country (3PC).

In addition: the Top Ten poll reflecting this past weekend’s results has not been completed by “post time” for this release, but six of the top ten horses from the last poll will be at Pocono: Wiggle It Jiggleit (1st), Southwind Frank (3rd), Freaky Feet Pete (4th), Rockin Ron (6th), Always B Miki (8th), and Mel Mara (10th).

Here’s a closer look at the fields for all four sets of eliminations, starting with the one that will likely draw the most attention, the Franklin FFA Pace:

BEN FRANKLIN FFAP (Championship purse $500,000; eliminations this Saturday slotted for races 10-11-12):

In addition to the accomplishments listed above, the 22 Franklin entrants have combined lifetime earnings over $20M (ten of the card’s fourteen millionaires are in the Franklin), and their average lifetime mark is 1:48.2.

The first elimination, race 10, finds returning Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit, who won the Hempt and the Battle of the Brandywine at Pocono last year, drawing post six in a field of eight for driver Montrell Teague, trainer Clyde Francis, and his ownership of George Teague Jr Inc. and Teague Racing Partnership LLC. The four-year-old altered son of Mr Wiggles has won 7 of 10 races so far this year and over $400,000, and has taken his last three outings, including a 1:48.1-26.4 runaway victory in a Graduate leg at Tioga despite broken equipment; the race before that, he set the all-time track record with a 1:47.3 at Philly.

State Treasurer, the reigning Older Male Pacer of the Year, has post five in “Wiggle”’s elimination, but is winless so far in 2016, while Luck Be With You, the defending Franklin champion, is saddled with the outside post eight  – but he won his Franklin elim last year from PP8, and then won the Championship from PP9.

The second elimination features Always B Miki, who has by many been considered the purely-fastest horse of the last two years, with his speed matched only by bad racing fortune, most notably an injury at the end of his three-year-old season. But the five-year-old Always A Virgin stallion has come back in 2016 with three wins and two seconds in five starts, including setting the all-time Canadian record of 1:47.1 in Mohawk’s Gold Cup this past Saturday. David Miller is slated for sulky duty as “Miki” starts from post five for trainer Jimmy Takter and owners Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable, and Christina Takter.

Always B Miki faces several tough foes here, but none that has been more a thorn in his side recently than Mel Mara, starting from post one for driver Corey Callahan. The horse was placed in the care of trainer Dylan Davis almost two months ago, and since then Mel Mara has passed “Miki” in the stretch, only to be outfought on the end by a neck, and then, in Mel Mara’s last race, he held off Always B Miki by two lengths in 1:47, only a tick off the all-time record for speed in a race – reason enough for his connections, Robert Cooper Stables LLC and J&T Silva Stables LLC, to pony up a $30,000 supplemental entry fee to get him in the race. Mel Mara qualified this past Saturday at The Meadowlands, winning in 1:49.2, with a last quarter of 25.4 …

… a last quarter, which, unbelievably, was bettered by third elim likely choice Freaky Feet Pete, as he flew to the wire in 25.3 in a 1:51.2 Hoosier morning session. Freaky Feet Pete, a son of Rockin Image, completes the “Indiana triumvirate” of dominant free-for-allers which includes “Wiggle” and “Miki,” and he may be able to add to his already-burnished credentials as he starts from post one for driver Trace Tetrick, trainer Larry Rhineheimer, and owners Mary Jo Rhineheimer and Marty Rhineheimer.

$30,000 RACE 10 ELIMINATION (PP, horse, listed driver, trainer): 1, Dude’s The Man, Corey Callahan, Jessica Okusko; 2, Always At My Place, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 3, Take It Back Terry, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 4, Ideal Cowboy, Tim Tetrick, Jeff Bamond Jr.; 5, State Treasurer, Tim Tetrick also listed, Dr. Ian Moore; 6, Wiggle It Jiggleit, Montrell Teague, Clyde Francis; 7, Shamballa, Scott Zeron, Rick Zeron; 8, Luck Be Withyou, George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes.

$30,000 RACE 11 ELIMINATION: 1, Mel Mara*, Corey Callahan, Dylan Davis; 2, Melmerby Beach, Marcus Miller, Ettore Annunziata; 3, Mach It So, Tim Tetrick, Jeff Bamond Jr.; 4, Alexa’s Jackpot, George Napolitano Jr., Marty Fine; 5, Always B Miki, David Miller, Jimmy Takter; 6, All Bets Off, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 7, Rockin Ron, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke. (*- $30,000 supplemental nomination.)

$30,000 RACE 12 ELIMINATION: 1, Freaky Feet Pete, Trace Tetrick, Larry Rhineheimer; 2, Limelight Beach, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 3, Cooperstown, George Napolitano Jr., Daniel Renaud; 4, Rock N’ Roll World, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 5, Bushwacker, Eric Carlson, Chris Ryder; 6, Sunfire Blue Chip, Mark MacDonald, Jimmy Takter; 7, In The Arsenal, Brett Miller, Kelvin Harrison.

EARL BEAL 3CT (Championship purse $500,000, Saturday eliminations races 7 and 9):

Most of the attention for the Beal will be drawn by Southwind Frank, last year’s divisional champion and a Breeders Crown winner, and 13-for-14 in his career for trainer Ron Burke and owners Southwind Frank Partners. “Frank” will have two challenges going into Saturday’s race 9 elimination: he hasn’t started since winning the New Jersey Sire Stakes Championship on June 4, and he’ll leave from post eight in the field of nine for driver Yannick Gingras (who does have an early “double call” in the race with Lagerfeld). Speaking of Lagerfeld, he and Love Matters, both two-time winners in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes program this season, look to be “Frank”’s main opposition.

Decorum will be the watchword in the seventh race elim, as three of the potentially-fastest of the nine entrants come into the Beal elim off of breaks in their last star: Dayson, Milligan’s School, and Jack Vernon. All have shown the speed that puts them near the top of their class if they are errorless, and a good time to begin their improved behavior would be right here.

$25,000 7TH RACE ELIMINATION: 1, Brooklyn Hill, David Miller, Jonas Czernyson; 2, Dayson, Jim Morrill Jr., Ron Burke; 3, Milligan’s School, Andy Miller, Julie Miller; 4, Jimmy William, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter; 5, Jack Vernon, Tim Tetrick, Randy Beeckman; 6, Dupree, Åke Svanstedt, Åke Svanstedt; 7, Reigning Moni, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 8, Truemass Volo, Eric Goodell, Doug Hamilton; 9, Hollywood Highway, John Campbell, Staffan Lind.

$25,000 9TH RACE ELIMINATION: 1, Dice Man, Åke Svanstedt, Åke Svanstedt; 2, Love Matters, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter; 3, Trolley, Marcus Miller, Erv Miller; 4, Lagerfeld, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 5, Iron Mine Bucky, George Dennis, Greg Haverstick; 6, Bar Hopping, Tim Tetrick, Jimmy Takter; 7, Promise Delivered, Andrew McCarthy, Staffan Lind; 8, Southwind Frank, Gingras also listed, Ron Burke; 9, Leggs Matter, David Miller, Robert W. Clark.

MAX C. HEMPT 3CP (Championship purse $500,000, Saturday eliminations races 3 and 5):

Betting Line, the winner of last Saturday’s $1M North America Cup at Mohawk, was not eligible to the Hempt, but the horse that finished 2-3 in the Cup, Racing Hill and Control The Moment, will be going at Pocono on Saturday, as will fourth-place Cup finisher Boston Red Rocks, last year’s two-year-old champion, and many of the early stars of the state’s tough Pennsylvania-sired contests. These two eliminations look to be fairly wide-open, as the sophomores try to establish early position behind leader pro tem Betting Line as they travel the path towards the Meadowlands Pace, the Battle of the Brandywine, the Little Brown Jug, and the Breeders Crown. (And remember that last year’s Hempt winner went on to have a pretty good 2015 – his name was Wiggle It Jiggleit.)

$25,000 3RD RACE ELIMINATION: 1, Boston Red Rocks, Tim Tetrick, Steve Elliott; 2, JK Will Power, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 3, More Dragon, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 4, Control The Moment, Randy Waples, Brad Maxwell; 5, American Passport, Brian Sears, Tony Alagna; 6, Western Dynasty, Tim Tetrick also listed, Chris Ryder.

$25,000 5TH RACE ELIMINATION: 1, Racing Hill, Brett Miller, Tony Alagna; 2, Tailgunner Hanover, Tim Tetrick, Ray Schnittker; 3, Big Top Hanover, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 4, Katie’s Rocker, David Miller, Jim Campbell; 5, Talk Show, Scott Zeron, Steve Elliott; 6, Western Fame, David Miller also listed, Jimmy Takter; 7, Another Daily Copy, Jim Morrill Jr., Nicholas DeVita.

JAMES LYNCH 3F PACE (Championship purse: $300,000, Saturday eliminations races 6 and 8):

Pure Country was pure perfection as a two-year-old, going undefeated in 10 starts and being named divisional champion. This year, like a typical country song, there have been a few “bumps in the road,” but as trainer Jimmy Takter noted last week, “She’s won the two big races for her group so far” (last Saturday’s $341,640 Fan Hanover Championship at Mohawk, and the $313,800 Miss Pennsylvania Championship here at Pocono). The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, owned by Diamond Creek Racing, is set to have Brett Miller in his accustomed perch in the sulky as the pair start from post three in the nine-horse race eight elimination, with a battle sure to come from Darlinonthebeach, the only horse ever to be favored against Pure Country (in the Miss Pennsylvania final, where she set a lightning pace then tired), and second in the Fan Hanover final.

In the sixth race elim, the Well Said filly I Said Diamonds should draw her fair share of attention from post four, with Matt Kakaley driving for trainer Matias Ruiz and Little Bapa LLC from post four. This “Diamond” was second to Pure Country in the Miss Pennsylvania Championship after winning her elimination, and she also shows 2016 stakes triumphs in the Pennsylvania All-Stars and the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes.

$20,000 6TH RACE ELIMINATION: 1, Shezarealdeal, John Campbell, Ross Croghan; 2, Skinny Dipper, Andrew McCarthy, Ross Croghan; 3, JK Fannie, David Miller, Nancy Johansson; 4, I Said Diamonds, Matt Kakaley, Matias Ruiz; 5, Newborn Sassy, Tim Tetrick, Jo Ann Looney-King; 6, Sail To The Beach, John Campbell also listed, Richard Bilach; 7, Princess Fabulosa, Jim Marohn Jr., Greg White; 8, Terror At Night, Brett Miller, Les Givens; 9, Lindwood Beachgirl, Yannick Gingras, Mark Steacy.

$20,000 8TH RACE ELIMINATION: 1, Kiss Me Onthebeach, John Campbell, Chris Ryder; 2, Yankee Moonshine, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 3, Pure Country, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter; 4, Blue Moon Stride, Andrew McCarthy, Mark Harder; 5, Lyons River Pride, driver TBA, Bruce Goit; 6, Darlinonthebeach, David Miller, Nancy Johansson; 7. Penpal, Pat Lachance, Pat Lachance; 8. Some Fancy Filly, David Miller also listed, Nancy Johansson; 9, Call Me Queen Be, Scott Zeron, Ross Croghan.

ALSO ON THE CARD – a $25,000 winners-over pace in the four-slot, matching Rockeyed Optimist, 18-of-29 the last two years and consistently close against top free-for-allers (including showing a win over Always B Miki in that one’s 2016 bow), and Wakizashi Hanover, a million-dollar winner in his three-year-old form, who was eligible to the Franklin, but is making his 2016 seasonal debut on Saturday. “Wakizashi” adds Lasix as he enters his older form, and trainer Jo Ann Looney-King decided to go into this event rather than throw her pride and joy against the bullyboy FFAers in his bow this season; Tim Tetrick is scheduled for sulky duty behind Wakizashi Hanover from post four in a field of eight, while Rockeyed Optimist starts in post six for driver Brett Miller and trainer Steve Elliott.

First post for this Saturday extravaganza of trotting and pacing prowess is listed at 6:30 p.m.

Sun Stakes Saturday Eliminations June 27th a star-studded night

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Most of the stars in 2015’s early-season harness firmament will be gathered at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono this Saturday night, June 27th,  with 3YO pacers of both sexes, 3YO trotting colts, and FFA pacers looking to earn spots in the $1.8M “Sun Stakes Saturday” Championship events of their divisional stakes a week from Saturday (July 4). Here’s an early look at each of the four groups of horses competing in this Saturday’s eliminations:

BEN FRANKLIN FREE-FOR-ALL PACE

(two $30,000 eliminations in races 7 and 9, with the top four plus fastest fifth-place horse returning for the $500,000 Championship)

The first Franklin elim is headed by the richest horse in the history of harness racing, Foiled Again, who will be leaving from the middle of the nine-horse field for trainer Ron Burke and driver Yannick Gingras. The evergreen 11YO went over $7M in career earnings in winning the Battle Of Lake Erie on June 12, and of course few will forget his 2013 Pocono campaign, winning the elimination and final of both the Franklin and the Breeders Crown, taking his lifetime mark of 1:48 in the Franklin elim.

The biggest threat to Foiled Again may be Domethatagain, who won the $529,000 Levy Final at Yonkers in April, and who produced a $60 shocker in the Franklin elims last year by nosing out Captaintreacherous  over his “home track” of Pocono. Trained by Rene Allard, Domethatagain will start from post six, with Tim Tetrick the early listing for sulky duty, and he will coupled in the wagering with his Allard barnmate Big Boy Dreams (PP3, driver Brian Sears).

In the second Franklin elim, any number of angles could play out:

–There is the Ron Burke stable coupled entry of Clear Vision (PP4, Brett Miller) and Bettor’s Edge (PP6, Matt Kakaley), who between them have won over $3.85M in their careers;

–There are the last two Pennsylvania Horses of the Year for outstanding performances in Open overnights, Dynamic Youth (2013, PP7, Andrew McCarthy) and Dancin Yankee (2014, PP8, Brett Miller also listed);

–There is another sharp Rene Allard trainee, Bigtown Hero (PP2, brother Simon Allard driving), who has won three straight, and who had half of North America’s 1:20-or-less clockings to the ¾ last year, both of them here at Pocono;

–And there is State Treasurer, recent winner of the Gold Cup at Mohawk and the Molson Pace at London, but who will have to translate his Canadian form to local success after starting from the outermost post nine for driver David Miller.

EARL BEAL JR. 3YO COLT TROT

(three $25,000 eliminations in races 3, 5, and 12, with the top three coming back for the $500,000 Championship)

In the first Beal elim, Habitat (PP3, driver Jim Morrill Jr.) will look to be carrying on his fine 2015 form, with wins in the Dexter Cup and two New York Sire Stakes. Just to his right in the field of six will be Cruzado Dela Noche (David Miller), who was second, beaten only a half-length by Uncle Lasse in a 1:51.4 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes contest at The Meadows at the end of last month.

The second Beal cut will find the most attention on Pinkman (PP5 in a seven-horse field, Brett Miller), 2014 national champion and Breeders Crown winner, and undefeated in 2015, winning a Sire Stakes at each of three of Pennsylvania’s racetracks. Just for good measure, he’ll be coupled in the betting with his Jimmy Takter barnmate Whom Shall I Fear (PP4, Yannick Gingras), the full brother to Pastor Stephen and Father Patrick.

Also to be respected in this division are two recent double Sire Stakes winners, New Jersey’s Guess Whos Back (PP3, Brian Sears) and Pennsylvania’s Wicker Hanover (PP7, Andrew McCarthy).

In the third elimination of the Beal, the current Kings of New York (Crazy Wow) and Pennsylvania (Uncle Lasse) will clash. Crazy Wow (PP2, Yannick Gingras) comes off an open-length score in the Empire Breeders Classic at Vernon, and has shown the ability to repair a mistake with breathtaking speed. Uncle Lasse, saddled with the outside post six for driver Brett Miller, has been to many eyes nearly as impressive in the PA Sires as his Takter stablemate Pinkman, going 3 for 3 and with that 1:51.4 triumph at The Meadows.

MAX C. HEMPT 3YO COLT PACE

(three $25,000 eliminations in races 6, 8, and 10, with the top three coming back for the $500,000 Championship)

The first elim for “the glamour division” matches up last year’s divisional champion Artspeak and his closest 2014 challenger In The Arsenal. Artspeak, starting from post six for driver Scott Zeron, has had four good starts in 2015, although after winning his first two starts in NJSS competition, he “only” had a 2-5 slate in the North American Cup, but in both cases he did not have the easiest of trips. In The Arsenal had opened his year with four straight wins, including an NA Cup elim, before finishing fourth in the final; here he may have a slight positional advantage as he begins from post four in the field of nine, with Brian Sears listed to drive.

The middle Hempt heat has at its center (literally, as he begins from post five) the speedy Wiggle It Jiggleit. The colt had shown amazing speed in taking his lone start of 2014 and all 10 of his 2015 starts prior to the NA Cup Final, but cutting a searing pace of 25.1, 53.3, and 1:21 proved just a bit too much, although he held gamely to miss by only ¾ of a length to Wakizashi Hanover in a sterling 1:48.

Wakizashi Hanover, who will begin from post four in a field of eight for driver Tim Tetrick in the third elimination, had tipped his hand with a strong 4-3-1-0 opening to this year’s campaign in Pennsylvania, and then conquered all in Toronto, coming from behind to take his elim and then being a successful pocket rocket in the Final. He’ll face a major challenge here from Lost For Words (David Miller), undefeated in four 2015 starts and winning thrice in the Pa Sires; his challenges will be a three-week vacation and post seven.

JAMES LYNCH 3YO FILLY PACE

(three $20,000 eliminations in races 4, 11, and 13, with the top three coming back for the $300,000 Championship)

The first elim for the Lynch features the 2-3 finishers in the $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Championship for this division, with Stacia Hanover, who missed a neck in finishing second, returning with first-time Lasix as she begins from PP6 in the seven-horse assemblage for driver Scott Zeron, while Wicked Little Minx (PP4, Brett Miller) was only a length from taking it all in the Jersey finale.

Wicked Little Minx is trained by Nancy Johansson, the daughter of Jimmy Takter, and Johansson also conditions the main horse of interest in the second elimination, JK She’salady (PP1 in a field of eight, Tim Tetrick). The “Lady” was undefeated in a 12-race campaign to become the first 2PF to be elected Harness Horse of the Year, but this race represents her first possible crossroads, since she comes off a

4-5 pair of starts in the Fan Hanover at Mohawk the last two weeks. Sassa Hanover (PP4, Yannick Gingras), a Fan Hanover elim winner, and The Show Returns (PP6, John Campbell), second in the Fan Hanover final, should provide challenging competition.

Two horses from the huge barn of Ron Burke, uncoupled in the betting because of separate ownership, will get their fair share of attention in the third Lynch elim. Southwind Roulette, named co-Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Horse of the Year in 2014, starts from post two for Matt Kakaley after two seconds and a third, beaten a total of 1¼ lengths, in recent Pennsylvania stakes competition, while Happiness (PP5 in the seven-horse field, Yannick Gingras), shows a New Jersey Sires win, and was fourth in the NJSS final.

The first race on the monstrous, in quality and quantity (16 races), Saturday card at Pocono is 6:30 p.m.