Posts Tagged ‘Humility’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week in Review

Monday, October 12th, 2015

October 2-8, 2015

We are heading into the home stretch of the 2015 racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. October 9 is our last Friday card of the racing season; after that, racing will take place every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday night until the completion of the meet on November 21. But that doesn’t mean that the season is going out gently. On the contrary, this edition of the Weekly Awards will showcase some performances and performers that would be notable no matter what time of year it is.


After dry weather and fast tracks for almost two months straight at Pocono, the past week or two has brought some rainier nights and sloppy conditions. Some horses, for whatever reason, seem to thrive when the skies open up. Based on evidence from this past week, it seems that you can safely place First Of Itskind, a 4-year-old gelding trained by Brandon Todd, in that category.

On September 29, First Of Itskind faced an $11,000 condition group and a sloppy track. With Marcus Miller in the bike, he uncorked a late move to rally for a win in 1:51:1, which was a career-best even in the slop. He was back at it on Saturday night for his second race in a five-night span, only this time he moved up to face a $16,000 group. But the track was sloopy again, so First Of Itskind must have thought to himself, “I can do this.”

With Dan Rawlings in the bike this time around, Firstofitskind had to grind it out first-over on the outside for much of the second half of the mile. Nonetheless he wore down the favorite Humility, finally taking the lead from the pacesetter in the stretch. He then had to hold off fast-closing Cadillac Phil, which he did by a nose in 1:51:4. Don’t be surprised if you see the connections of First Of Itskind doing a rain dance the next time he’s scheduled to race.

Other top pacers this week include: Mach It So (Andrew McCarthy, Jeffrey Bamond Jr.), the standout five-year-old who followed up big-stakes wins at Mohawk and Harrington with an Open win at Pocono on Saturday night on a good track in 1:49:4, the fastest pacing time of the week; Brees Creek (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), who moved up in class on Saturday night to capture his second straight condition win, this one coming in 1:52 in the off-going; and Frost Damage Blues (Mike Simons, Tom Fanning), a 3-year-old filly who now has seven straight wins to start her career, the last two of which were at Pocono, following a condition win on Wednesday night in 1:51:3.


You all know the saying about not fixing something that’s ain’t broke. It certainly seemed like that could have applied to Mr Candyman as he headed out to face a claiming handicap field on Friday night. After all, he had beaten the same class of $7,500-$10,000 claimers in each of his previous two starts, giving him three wins in his last four overall.

In each of those victories, all of which were achieved with Simon Allard in the bike, the 6-year-old gelding sat back off the early pace and trailed all the way into the stretch. That’s when he made his moves for the previous victories. On Friday night as a 1-5 favorite, Allard chose to change the tactics and Mr Candyman was hustled to the lead just shy of the half-mile marker after a first-over move on the front stretch.

Whether Allard wanted to remove the chances of running into traffic somewhere or he just felt that there was no need to hold his horse back, the decision proved to be a winning one. Mr Candyman kept extending his lead until he came home four lengths in front on the sloppy track in 1:55:4. It was his biggest margin of victory in his recent hot streak, proving that this trotter is going to be tough to beat these days no matter how he chooses to conduct his race.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Southwind Warsaw (George Napolitano Jr., Michael Dowdall), whose condition trotting win on Tuesday night in 1:53:1 was not only a career-best time but also the fastest trotting mile of the week at Pocono; Hasty Profitt (Joe Bongiorno, Robert Bongiorno), who stepped up in class on Tuesday night and picked up his second consecutive condition victory, this one in 1:55:3; and Black Broadway (Jason Bartlett, Michael Eaton), a 2-year-old filly who won her second straight to start her career, this one coming in a career-best 156, on Wednesday night.


After several straight near-misses, this gelding trained and driven by Joe Pavia Jr. surprised a bunch of condition pacers on Saturday night at 17-1 for a $37 payout on a $2 win ticket.


Mike scored a driving double on Friday with mid-priced horses on his way to a four-win week as the longest-tenured driver at Pocono continues to rack up the victories.


With training doubles on back-to-back nights, it was a particularly effective week for Chris, one of Pocono’s elite trainers year in and year out.

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

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week in Review

Monday, April 6th, 2015

March 28-April 3, 2015

We’re two weeks into the 2015 racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and we still haven’t seen too much in the way of ideal racing conditions. The six nights of racing have been characterized by rain, wind, cold, and, would you believe it, even snow. Yet in the midst of the ugly weather we’ve already been witness to some outstanding racing and speedy times that flew in the face of the poor conditions. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Weekly Awards.


Snow lined the infield as Humility lined up to face a group of non-winners of $10,000 in the last five starts on Tuesday night. The 5-year-old stallion was taking a few steps up in class from his previous race, which was a win at Pocono in a first-over grind in 1:52:2. Trained by Brewer Adams, Humility would need to put together another big mile to hang with the tougher competition.

Early speed in the race came from Always A Diamond, another horse stepping up in class off a big win. Meanwhile China King, the favorite in the race after shipping in from California, had the perfect trip on the pocket. Humility looked like an afterthought when he started a first-over move from fifth on the back stretch, seemingly too far back to compete.

Yet driver Jim Morrill Jr. found a groove on the sloppy track, and when Humility whipped around the final turn three wide, he was in striking distance. Setting his sights on China King, who had taken the lead in the stretch, the stallion hustled by to win by a neck in 1:52:2. Neither a step up in class not a tough trip slowed Humility, who now has wins in each of his first two starts in the meet and might just be ready to move even higher up the Pocono ladder.

Other top pacers this week include: Sparky Mark (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), whose victory in Saturday night’s condition pace came in 1:50:4, the week’s fastest time at Pocono despite freezing temperatures that evening; Majo Just Do It (Simon Allard, Jennifer Sansone), who rolled to a claiming handicap win on Tuesday night, his second straight, in 1:54:4; and Feels Like Magic N (Tom Jackson, Darran Cassar), who rallied for his second straight condition win as a long shot on Saturday night, scoring in a career-best 1:52:3.


One of the things that makes handicapping so hard early in the season is that there are horses shipping in from all over the country to the Pocono oval. It’s difficult to know how a horse will do on the 5/8-mile track, especially when they’re arriving from a track of a different size. In the case of Sentry, that track was Monticello, the half-mile oval in New York where he had won two of his previous three races.

The winning times he posted at Monticello, each over two minutes, might not have looked so hot compared to some of the others in the field. But this 5-year-old stallion from the barn of Jenny Melander once trotted a mile of 1:54 at Pocono, so the precedent was there for a big effort. In a condition trot on Tuesday night, driver Brett Miller sent Sentry behind cover on the outside and then bided his time until the stretch.

When that stretch arrived, Sentry took his shot with a three-wide move and went trotting right on past the leaders. Even on a sloppy track, his winning time of 1:56:2 showed his capability to put up times more in line with the speedy horses at Pocono. And, with three wins in his last four races, this peaking trotter is proving that he’ll be a factor no matter where he chooses to race.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Team Six (Marcus Miller, Erv Miller), who shipped in from the Meadowlands and handled a tough group of condition trotters on Saturday night in 1:55:1; Walk The Walk (David Miller, Chris Ryder), who ripped off his second straight win in the Bobby Weiss series on Tuesday night, conquering a sloppy track in 1:55, a career-best time; and Classic Belisima (David Miller, John Cabot), a mare whose romping victory in the Bobby Weiss series on Wednesday gave her three straight wins and came in the week’s fastest trotting time at Pocono of 1:53:3.


This veteran pacer sent the faithful home on Tuesday night scratching their heads, as he rallied out wide late to win a condition at 16-1, paying out $35.60 on a $2 win ticket.


Very few drivers have been as successful for as long a period of time as Morrill, who rolled this week to a double on Saturday and four victories on Tuesday.


Three victories by Adams’ horses on Tuesday were impressive enough, but they were even more eye-popping considering that not one of those winners was the favorite.

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

Friday, May 30th, 2014

May 3-9, 2014   

On Kentucky Derby day at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, we held our annual doubleheader, bookending thoroughbred’s most famous race with a pair of harness racing cards for the overflow crowd. That means we had even more racing action than usual at Pocono this past week. And that, in turn, means that it was even tougher than usual choosing from among the best performances. Yet that’s what we’ve attempted to do with this edition of the Weekly Awards.


The feature event on Saturday night and of the entire week at Pocono was The Van Rose Memorial, a $50,000 invitational pace held in honor of the longtime area sportswriter and great friend to the sport of harness racing in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Van certainly would have loved Saturday night’s race, considering the stellar field it contained and the outstanding performance of Dancin Yankee.

Dancin Yankee, a 6-year-old stallion from the Josh Green barn, was fresh off the rugged Levy series at Yonkers, where he finished 5th in the $567,000 final. As the 3-1 second choice in the Rose, he stayed back from a blistering early pace which produced fractions that were unsustainable even for the caliber of pacers in the race. On the back stretch, driver Brett Miller sensed his chance and sent Dancin Yankee first-over to easily take the lead.

From there, he kept extending his advantage until it was just about insurmountable at the top of the stretch. Even with closers like the race favorite Dovuto Hanover attempting to rally, Dancin Yankee stayed strong and came home in front by 3 ¼ lengths, an eye-opening margin considering the quality of the field. Even more impressive was his winning time of 1:49, a new career mark despite the fact that the track had been downgraded to good condition due to rainy weather.

Other top pacers this week include: Codey Shark (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), whose condition victory on Saturday afternoon in 1:52:3 was his third straight; Sky Desperado (Anthony Napolitano, Steve Salerno), who switched barns but still managed his second straight $25,000 claiming win on Saturday night and matched his career-best time of 1:51:1 in the process; and Dealmaker (Ron Pierce, Joseph Poliseno), who picked up his second straight $15,000 claiming win on Wednesday night and did it in a new career-best of 1:50:4.


There wasn’t an Open or Preferred trot on the schedule this past week at Pocono. Instead, the highest trotting purse of the week was the $21,000 up for grabs in a condition trot on Saturday night pitting non-winners of $27,500 in their last four starts against each other. As a result, the top trotters on the grounds jammed into this field, many either dropping down in class or shipping in from other tracks for the race.

Yet the horse who was made the 3-5 favorite was one who was actually moving up in class. Harbor Point had faced a lower condition field in his previous start but scored in such convincing fashion in a sizzling 1:53:2 that it was impossible for the bettors to ignore him, even in such heady company. Driver Ron Pierce raced him like the best in the field, gunning him to the front end early.

Pierce did an excellent job rating the speed on the front end, so that Harbor Point was plenty strong enough to hold off any late challengers. Even with the move up in class, the 5-year-old gelding from the Mark Ford barn picked up his second consecutive win in 1:54 on a good track. This trotter is on a roll and seems ready to take on all comers as long as this hot streak persists.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Frenchmen (Simon Allard, Pierre Paradis), who picked up his second straight front-trotting win on Sunday night over the $7,500 claimers, this one coming in a new career mark of 1:56:4; Skyline Road (Jim Morrill Jr., William Mullin), who took a big step up the condition ladder on Wednesday night but still scored his second straight win, this one coming in a career-best 1:53:3; and Affirmed Action (Mike Simons, John Grasso), who went gate-to-wire to win Wednesday night’s featured condition trot in 1:53:4.


This pacer had been up the track in his previous two $25,000 claimers, but he reversed that trend on Saturday night with Marcus Miller in the bike at 36-1 for a $74.60 win payout on a $2 ticket.


George is a candidate to win this award every single week at Pocono. This week he picked up multiple wins in four out of the five racing cards that were held.


Burke, as always, is in the hunt to be the top trainer in the Pocono standings, and he helped his cause on Saturday night by scoring three training victories.

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