Posts Tagged ‘Harrah’s Philadelphia’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review – End of Season Awards

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

November 4-10, 2017

For the past seven months plus in this column, we’ve been chronicling the exploits of some of the finest horses each week at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Now it’s time to go a little further and highlight the 2017 Horses of the Year.

This is never an easy task, simply because there are so many excellent horses who pass through Pocono, many of whom put up outstanding records along the way. Narrowing down all of those choices from an eight-month season into just four winners means leaving out a lot of worthy competitors. But these choices are what I consider to be the best of the best this season. Let’s take a look.

PACER OF THE YEAR: MAXDADDY BLUE CHIP

After dominating racing at Pompano Park early in the season, this five-year-old gelding made his first appearance at Pocono in August not long after joining the Rene Allard barn. He immediately made his presence felt by ripping off back-to-back wins in tough condition races. And that pretty much set the tone for what we could expect from him in 2017. He raced at Pocono nine times, often in Saturday night features, and won five of those races. He only missed the board in two of those races, and many of his wins broke the 1:50 barrier. If that kind of performance sounds familiar, you might remember that Keystone Velocity, another Rene Allard trainee, put up similar stats in winning Pacer of the Year at Pocono, and now he is one of the top aged pacers in the country. Who knows? Maybe Maxdaddy Blue Chip will follow in his footsteps.

TROTTER OF THE YEAR: UP FRONT BILLY

This seven-year-old gelding trained by Mark Ford has bounced around this year, but whenever he journeys to Pocono, good things to happen. He started out the meet inauspiciously, finishing no better than fourth in his first three races, before picking up a $14,000 condition win on May 6. After about a month in New York, he returned to Pocono and really got cooking, picking up wins in four out of nine races, including a couple for $16,500 purses. Then it was off again, this time to Harrah’s for a couple months. But when he returned for a condition start on October 14, he picked up right where he left off with another solid condition victory. When you combine the amount of time that he has performed here this season, his excellent overall performance with six victories in the meet, and the caliber of the competition he faced, Up Front Billy makes sense as our Trotter of the Year.

CLAIMER OF THE YEAR: POUNCE HANOVER

Sometimes a horse can make such an impact with just one hot streak that it overpowers the deeds of those horses who have been around much longer and put up consistent performances throughout the season. That’s the case with this six-year-old gelding, who made his mark this season at Pocono with a six-race winning streak. That stretch ran from June 5 to July 31, during which time Pounce Hanover had three different trainers and three different drivers. He also raised his claiming price during that time from $10,000 to $20,000. Many of his wins came from far outside posts, which raised the degree of difficulty level considerably. Overall this gelding won seven of his twelve races this season at Pocono, but that unforgettable two-month streak is the reason he stands as the 2017 Pocono Claimer of the Year.

MARE OF THE YEAR – CELEBRITY EVENTSY

Making the transition from three-year-old to four-year-old can be tough for a distaff trotter, because you often go from facing just your own age and gender to battling older, male horses. This four-year-old mare trained by Staffan Lind made that transition this season with aplomb, especially when he was at Pocono. In seven races this year at Pocono, all condition trots and none with a purse lower than $14,000, she put up three wins and three places. In most of those miles, she faced off against more experienced trotters with gaudier career records. Much of her damage was done in May and June, but Celebrity Eventsy returned for one command performance in September, beating the $25,000 winners over trotters. Along the way she also posted a career-best of 1:52:2 on the Pocono oval. Her performance was such that you could also make a case for her as Trotter of the Year, but Mare of the Year will do just fine.

Congratulations to these well-deserving winners. Next week we will wrap up the 2017 season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun in this column.

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.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

October 14-20, 2017

The weather finally got a little bit chilly in the middle of this past racing week at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, but not so much that it had a profound effect on the racing conditions. It was still a fast and frenzied four nights of racing at Pocono. As is so often the case, there were many excellent candidates for the Weekly Awards, so read on and see who gets the honors.

PACER OF THE WEEK: DOREL

When a horse steps up its game and pulls off a performance that is much better than any other that it had previously managed, it’s easy to assume that said performance was a fluke. Dorel probably had some people thinking that about him as he prepared to take on a non-winners of five pacing group on Sunday night. In his previous race, the three-year-old gelding trained by Chris Ryder tore up a condition claiming group from a #8 post at 10-1, going gate-to-wire for a career-best win in 1:50:4.

The field was tougher on Sunday night, including an impressive sophomore shipper named Daiymir. That colt was the even-money favorite and assumed control of the early lead, but needed a blistering 25:4 opening quarter to get there. Dorel, who went off as a 9-2 third choice from post position #4 in a field of eight, settled for the pocket spot, which turned out to be the right place to be.

On the back stretch, Daiymir started to labor and driver Anthony Napolitano quickly guided Dorel around him and into the lead. For the last quarter mile, the gelding dug deep and had to endure a late-closing threat from Crossfirehurricane. He held tight to win by three parts of a length in 1:52:4. One great win could be a fluke, but two excellent performances in a row is starting to look like a trend for this rising star.

Other top pacers this week include: Regalanthropist (Matt Kakaley, Bruce Clarke), who switched barns and moved up in class but still managed a victory in a claiming handicap on Saturday night in 1:51:4; About The Benjamins (Matt Kakaley, Daniel Renaud), who captured his third consecutive win against the $7,500 claimers on Monday night, with this one coming in 1:55; and When Sharks Fly (Jim Marshall III, Donna Marshall), a mare who moved up the condition ladder on Tuesday night and scored her second straight win, this time in the distaff feature in 1:51:4.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SOUTHWIND WARSAW

Anytime a horse reaches double figures in the win totals in a calendar year, it’s an impressive accomplishment. Southwind Warsaw, an eight-year-old gelding trained by Lou Pena, stood on the precipice of that achievement when he faced off against a $10,000 to $12,500 claiming handicap field to start off the racing action on Monday afternoon.

In an eight-horse field, Southwind Warsaw left from post position #6 as a 1-9 favorite. The heavy betting attention was understandable, as the gelding was coming off a 3 ½ length win the previous week in the same class in front-trotting fashion. Once again driver Anthony Napolitano was aggressive with the favorite, sending him to the front end early in the mile. From that point it was just a matter of keeping the fractions under control while not allowing any pressure to rankle his horse.

Napolitano handled that task expertly, and Southwind Warsaw did the rest, lengthening the lead steadily until no one else was in the picture. He coasted home effortlessly 6 ½ lengths in front in 1:54:1. Not only was that his second straight victory, but it was put him at the ten-win marker for the season with a couple months to spare. Who knows? If he stays in this kind of groove and keeps after it into the winter months, he might threaten 15 wins for the year.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Skates N Plates (Anthony Napolitano, Andrew Harris), whose condition victory on Saturday night came in 1:53, the fastest trotting time posted this past week at Pocono; Checkmate Time (Donald Dupont, Marie Dupont), who followed up a win at Harrah’s win with a victory on Sunday night at Pocono in 1:56; and Up Front Billy (George Napolitano Jr., Mark Ford), who returned from Harrah’s for a condition victory on Saturday night in 1:54:2.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: DECISION DAY

This 2-year-old pacer’s maiden win on Sunday night is not one either he or his backers will forget, as he rallied with Eric Carlson in the bike to win at 60-1, paying off $124.40 to win on a $2 ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MATT KAKALEY

Kakaley amassed double figures in the win column this past week and, on both Monday and Tuesday, ripped off three wins in a row at one point on the program.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: ROB HARMON

Harmon wasted no time making an impact at Pocono on Sunday night, as he scored training victories in two of the evening’s first three races.

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.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

October 7-13, 2017

It’s pretty difficult to believe that we are in the final quarter of the racing season here at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. (The warm weather is quite deceiving, because it certainly hasn’t seemed like autumn around here.) It will be soon be time to pick out yearend honors at Pocono, but that can wait a bit. For now, let’s be content to find the finest horses of the past week as we hand out the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: SI SEMALU

This seven-year-old gelding from the Bruce Clarke barn has been a solid performer for much of the season both here and at Harrah’s, but he seems to really be peaking here at the tail end of the meet. On September 30, Si Semalu dropped into a $12,500 condition pace and worked out a trip from an outside post, coming up late for a win in 1:50:1 as a 16-1 long shot. The winning time was a new career-best mark.

On Saturday night, he stepped back up into the $14,000 condition group, a class that had given him problems earlier this season. This was a pretty stacked race, with a field that included million-dollar earner Lucan Hanover as the odds-on favorite. Si Semalu got away third from the #7 post as an 8-1 shot with Jim Marohn Jr. in the bike, while Lucan Hanover called the early shots. The pace was quick and the leader was pressured throughout.

On the home stretch, Marohn had room to nudge Si Semalu to the outside. After saving so much energy to that point, he powered home past a tiring Lucan Hanover and held off closer Sports Bettor by three parts of a length. His winning time was 1:50:3, giving him two straight victories with sizzling times and a lot of confidence heading into whatever comes next.

Other top pacers this week include: Unbeamlieveable (Matt Kakaley, Vincent Fusco Jr.), a mare who overcame an outside post and a barn switch to capture her second straight claiming handicap on Monday, getting it done in a career-best 1:52; Motor City Marco (John Kakaley, Travis Alexander), a three-year-old who rolled on the front end on Sunday to his third straight condition victory, picking up the victory in a new career-best of  1:53:3; and Allstar Partner (Anthony Napolitano, Andrew Harris), whose condition victory on Saturday night in a career-best 1:49 represented the fastest pacing time of the past week at Pocono.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: MONEYDONTBUYULOVE

It has been an impressive streak put together of late by this four-year-old gelding from the Rene Allard barn. He came into a condition trot on Sunday night having won his last four consecutive starts. One of those was at Pocono in a non-winners of three condition group on September  5 on a sloppy track in 1:57. There was also a victory at Saratoga and back-to-back scores at Yonkers amassed by Moneydontbuyulove during the hot stretch.

On Sunday night, Moneydontbuyulove faced his toughest test yet, going up against a noon-winners of five class for a purse of $16,000. The fact that he was stepping up didn’t scare off the bettors, who made him a 1-9 favorite in a short field of six. His toughest competition figured to be from Arch Credit, a three-year-old who was coming off a sharp qualifier and sure enough hustled to the lead.

Arch Credit attempted to set nasty enough fractions to shake the favorite, but even getting to the three-quarter mark in 1:24:4 didn’t do the trick, as Moneydontbuyulove stayed attached. In the stretch, it was essentially a two-horse race, and Moneydontbuyulove utilized the passing lane to make his play for the lead. With Simon Allard in the bike, he glided by to beat Arch Credit by 1 ¾ lengths. For the icing on the cake, his fifth straight victory came in a new career mark of 1:54:1.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Catch A Mission (Jim Marohn Jr., Erv Miller), a mare who followed up a win at Harrah’s with one at Pocono in a condition on Sunday night in 1:53:4, which was the fastest trotting time of the week; Silvermass Volo (Mike Simons, Michael Holcman), who rallied from far back for a condition win on Sunday night in 1:54:3; and Stormont Wizard (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who moved up in class to knock off a condition group on Tuesday night in 1:54, which was a new career-best time.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SIBSON

This trotter previously had issues staying on stride, but, with Anthony Napolitano in the bike, he was flat and fast in a condition win on Tuesday night at 33-1, paying $68.80 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JOHN KAKALEY

The veteran driver had just four drives on Sunday night but won with two of them, scoring with pacer Motor City Marco and trotter Swiss Platinum.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: BRUCE CLARKE

The Clarke barn scored three wins on the week, highlighted by a training double on Sunday night and the second straight win by Si Semalu on Saturday 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.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

September 30-October 6, 2017

While we didn’t quite reach the 90-degree temperatures of the previous week, the weather in Northeastern Pennsylvania still cooperated with an excellent stretch of pleasant autumn weather, giving us four straight fast tracks at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono for the racing week. The action was predictably slick as well, yielding plenty of candidates for the Weekly Awards, the best of which you can find right here.

PACER OF THE WEEK: KING OF THE CROP

Trained by Wayne Short, this six-year-old gelding struggled his way through much of the summer, with many finishes well up the track. In an effort to get him going again, his handlers dropped him to the lowest condition level on September 18, and the gambit worked. King Of The Crop came up first-over for a victory in 1:52:4 that night, and moved back up in class this past Saturday night to face an $11,000 group.

With Tom Jackson in the bike, King Of The Crop left from post position #6 in a field of nine and didn’t garner too much betting attention at 8-1. He sat sixth early on as East Coast Cruiser set a menacing pace. Jackson started the gelding up on the back stretch, and after a quick pass of a tiring horse on the outside he found himself first-over. For a while he was stalled a few lengths back, as it appeared East Coast Cruiser might be able to pace out the clock.

But in the stretch the pacesetter started to feel the burden of the fractions and King Of The Crop began to surge. Despite being on the outside on the last turn he gathered momentum under the guidance of Jackson and took over as the line approached to win it by a head in 1:52:2. Now with two straight wins, King Of The Crop will likely make another move up the condition ladder, but his recent performances suggest he’s ready.

Other top pacers this week include: Si Semalu (Jim Marohn Jr., Bruce Clarke), who overcame an outside post to win a condition pace on Saturday night in 1:50:1, which was a new career-best and the fastest pacing time of this past week at Pocono; Pappy’s Pal (Jim Marohn Jr., Matias Ruiz), who followed up a win at Harrah’s with a victory in Saturday night’s featured condition pace in 1:50:2; and Iwillnotbemached (Simon Allard, Amanda Payson), who switched barns, moved up in class and picked up his second straight claiming win on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:52:4.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SIMEON

They say that revenge is a dish best served cold, but Simeon didn’t have the luxury of waiting long for another chance at his nemesis. The five-year-old gelding from the Toni Freitas barn was an impressive winner on September 18 in the $15,000 to $20,000 claiming handicap trotting group, scoring in 1:55:3. But the following week Simeon was stymied with a fourth-place finish behind Warrawee Onyx, who won his second straight in the class.

On Monday night Simeon was back at it in the same class, and once again he had to deal with Warrawee Onyx, who left as the even money from post position #8 as the even money favorite. Simeon, meanwhile, was let go as the 5-1 second choice. Warrawee Onyx dictated the pace and faced some stiff competition for the lead, but was still on top around the final turn. Simeon, by contrast, sat third on the inside and waited patiently for an opening.

That opening finally arrived around the final turn, which is when driver Jim Marohn Jr. guided Simeon quickly to the outside for a furious charge. Warrawee Onyx was defenseless as Simeon hustled by to win it by 2 ¾ lengths in 1:54:1. That was a career-best time for the gelding, making his revenge pretty sweet, even if it wasn’t all that cold.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Chocouture (Anthony Napolitano, Tom Wine II), who scored a condition win in 1:54:4 on Sunday night, earning a new lifetime mark; Jurgen Hanover (Matt Kakaley, Jenny Bier), who followed up a condition win at Harrington with a victory in 1:55:2 from an outside post on Monday in a claiming handicap ; and Justice Jet (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who handled a condition field on Tuesday night in 1:53:1, which was a new career mark and the fastest of the week at Pocono.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: LEAN ON YOU

This pacer driven by Tom Jackson started Monday off with a surprise for the faithful, winning a condition at 17-1 and paying out $37.80 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY NAPOLITANO

A-Nap had a monster evening on Sunday, ripping off wins on six of the 14 races on the program for one of his finest performances of the season.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: WAYNE SHORT

Short made the most of his training efforts, winning with the lone starter he sent out on both Saturday (King Of The Crop) and Sunday (Moonshine Runner.)

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.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

September 2-8, 2017

Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship day, which this year focused on the two-year-olds, was held at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono this past Monday. A lot of times you’ll hear people say that these freshmen horses are stars of the future. But considering these horses were racing for purses of $252,000 for each of the four finals, which culminate the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes series, it’s much more accurate to say that the 32 competitors in the four separate divisions were taking the track for what would likely be, for each, one of the most important races of its career.

Monday’s championships brought some of the finest two-year-old pacing and trotting talent in the country to Pocono in attempt to claim the title of best in the state. The races featured a little bit of everything, including dominant favorites, smart tactical driving, and a stunning long shot. Let’s take a look at how the two-year-old Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championships played out.

TWO-YEAR-OLD FILLY TROTTERS

This shaped up to be the biggest mismatch of the afternoon, and that’s exactly how it played. Manchego, trained by Jimmy Takter, came into Monday’s final with five wins in five career races. The highlight of that stretch came in an easy win in the $330,800 Doherty at The Meadowlands. Leaving as the #1-9 favorite from the #5 hole in the field of eight in the championship, she made the lead as they rounded the first turn by clearing S M S Princess. From there she opened up an insurmountable lead with driver Yannick Gingras never having to lift a finger to ask her for more. Manchego strolled home a winner in an effortless 1:54:2, beating her closest foe Hey Blondie by 4 ¼ lengths and leaving no doubt about who is the class of the freshmen distaff trotters.

TWO-YEAR-OLD COLTS AND GELDINGS PACERS

Pedro Hanover went off as the even-money favorite in the final. The colt trained by Andrew Harris had won his previous two races with a late-kicking style, sitting back in the pack early only to uncork just as other horses were tiring. But the Pocono track was severely favoring horses who left early for the engine on Monday night. So driver Andrew McCarthy decided that Pedro Hanover, who left from post position #7, would follow suit. The colt took the lead away from Dorsoduro Hanover with a move around the first turn and dared everyone else to come and get him. Although the fractions seemed a little steep, Pedro Hanover looked no worse for wear in the lane, holding off fast-closing Hayden Hanover to win it by a length in 1:51, which matched his career-best time.

TWO-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACERS

In their previous start, Rainbow Room had nipped Come See The Show by controlling matters on the front end. Rainbow Room enjoyed the inside post in that victory at Harrah’s, but, in Monday’s final, she was in the #7 post while Come See The Show was a spot to her inside. But driver David Miller didn’t make any changes with Rainbow Room, sending her to the front as the 4-5 favorite. Sure enough, Come See The Show blasted at her on the back stretch, but Rainbow Room rebuffed the challenge. In the home stretch, the filly from the Joe Holloway barn held together, holding off long shot Scuola Hanover to win by a length-and-a-half in 1:52:2. That gave Rainbow Room four victories in a row and five in her six career starts to date.

TWO-YEAR-OLD COLTS AND GELDINGS TROTTERS

After three straight favorites won on the front end, it seemed like that was the order of the evening for the Pennsylvania championships. But that trend ended with a thud in the male trotting division when the 9-5 favorite Whats The Word broke stride at the start. Scirocco Rob set the pace instead, but started to wither under pressure applied by Toast Of Lindy. As Toast Of Lindy took over, Fashionwoodchopper, who had won his previous Sire Stakes race at 15-1 and went off at 38-1 on Monday from an outside post, was following stealthily behind. In the stretch, David Miller spun Fashionwoodchopper off the cover and rallied him for the victory by a length over closing Lawmaker in 1:57. The huge underdog was the second longest shot on the board.

With that big upset, so ended the championships and the Sire Stakes portion of the 2017 schedule at Pocono. After that fantastic finish, we can’t wait for it to get started all over again next season.

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.