Posts Tagged ‘James M. Lynch’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

October 24-30, 2015

As we head into the final month of the 2015 racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, it’s fun to look back and contemplate what an assemblage of equine talent we were lucky to see this year. As Pocono has ascended in the past decade to become one of the finest tracks in the country, the world’s top standardbreds often make the track an important part of their racing itineraries.

This past Saturday at Woodbine in Canada, the Breeders Crown races, which Pocono has hosted twice before and which serve as the unofficial yearend championships for harness racing’s various divisions, were held. And several of the big winners also spent a little time at MSPD this year, with varying levels of success.

Four of the twelve Breeders Crown champions from Saturday night raced at Pocono at some point this past year. (Two others, Open pacing champ Always B Miki and 2-year-old pacing colt Boston Red Rocks qualified here but never raced under the lights.) So let’s turn our focus to that quartet of big winners, particularly in the context of their 2015 performances at Pocono.

We start with Pure Country, who added an exclamation point to a wondrous debut racing season with her two-year-old pacing win at the Breeders Crown. The Jimmy Takter trainee has won every one of her ten career starts, so she’s been impossible to beat no matter what tracks she frequents. Still there’s a sentimental connection to Pocono, because it was here that she made her racing debut on June 30 in a Pennsylvania All Stars race.

Needless to say, she won that race. She returned in August to pick up another victory, this time against Pennsylvania Sire Stakes competition. This unbelievable unbeaten streak seems likely to continue into her three-year-old campaign next year, at which point we can only hope she returns to the scene of her introduction to the racing public.

Another Jimmy Takter trainee who made his mark at Pocono before busting onto the larger scene is The Bank. For much of the season, this 3-year-old colt came up short behind his more highly-touted stablemate Pinkman. This included his first Pocono appearance on August 22, when he finished 2nd in the $500,000 Colonial behind a typically brilliant Pinkman performance.

But two weeks later it was The Bank’s turn to take the spotlight in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. With Pinkman not in the field, The Bank went from understudy to star that night, scoring a decisive win in 1:53:1. And maybe that was all the confidence he needed, because he outtrotted his old buddy Pinkman to pull off the upset victory on Saturday.

Wild Honey has had some of the finest moments of her racing career at Pocono oval. The 3-year-old filly won the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship at the track as a 2-year-old in 2014, then defended her title this year with a rallying win. That more than made up for a loss as a 1-9 favorite to Smokin Mambo in a preliminary leg of the Sire Stakes at Pocono in June.

But then again, Wild Honey knows a thing or two about atoning for losses. Last year she was the dominant 2-year-old filly in the division but she broke stride in the Breeders Crown, an unfortunate blemish on an otherwise brilliant season. Her three-year-old year has been brilliant as well, but she was the second choice behind Mission Brief in the Breeders Crown finals on Saturday. This time it was Mission Brief going off stride, leaving Wild Honey to pick up the title that eluded her a year ago.

The example of Divine Caroline, a three-year-old pacing filly from the barn of trainer Joe Holloway, shows how fortunes can change, even within the relatively short span of a racing season. The filly raced at Pocono twice in June. In the James M Lynch Memorial elimination, she finished second. She followed that up the next week by finishing sixth in the final won by Bettor Be Steppin.

But the month of October has belonged to her, with four straight victories. The last of those victories came in the Breeders Crown final on Saturday, as she handled a field that included Bettor Be Steppin and a few others who competed in the Lynch way back when, a complete turnaround from the way it all worked out for her in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

So maybe Divine Caroline doesn’t have the fondest memories of the Pocono oval. By contrast, the Pocono faithful can look back happily at these four champions and know that the road to harness racing immortality went right through their backyard.

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.

Record-setting Night of Stakes at Pocono

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

June 30, 2012

Favorites, long shots, world records: Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs’s inaugural Sun Stakes Saturday had a bit of everything for harness racing fans.

The favorites delivering world records were American Jewel in the $250,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old pacing fillies and Betterthancheddar in the $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace, which was held at Pocono for the first time. A Rocknroll Dance filled the long shot’s role, winning the $300,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old pacers at odds of 17-1.

In the Lynch, American Jewel was made the 1-9 betting favorite, but the race didn’t turn into the walkover that the odds might have suggested. Leaving from post position #1 in the field of nine, the super filly from the Jimmy Takter barn sat back off the blistering opening quarter of 25:3 set by Shelliscape. Economy Terror took the lead on the front stretch and took the field to the half in 54:1, while driver Tim Tetrick held American Jewel back in 4th.

On the back stretch, the filly by American Ideal began her charge first-over, coming up even with Economy Terror at the three-quarter pole in 1:22:1. American Jewel wore down the leader in the stretch and then held off hard-charging Darena Hanover to win by a length-and-a-half in 1:49:2, matching the world record time for 3-year-old pacing fillies on a 5/8-mile oval that she also managed in last week’s elimination. Economy Terror finished 3rd.

The win gives American Ideal 12 wins and 2 seconds in 14 career starts, an amazing record that has earned her $1,152,193 in her young career. She is owned by Brittany Farms of Kentucky.

Next up was the Hempt, where Hurrkane Kingcole was made the heavy 3-5 favorite off his record-setting mile in last week’s eliminations. A Rocknroll Dance left from post position #8 in the nine-horse field and driver Yannick Gingras aggressively sent the colt from the Jim Mulinix barn early, settling him in the pocket behind early leader Allstar Legend, who tripped the quarter-mile timer in 26:2. The lead changed hands on the front stretch when Bolt The Duer brushed from 3rd to the front, hitting the half in 54:2.

Hurrikane Kingcole made his move first-over on the back, but Bolt The Duer gamely fought him off for the lead, hitting three-quarters in 1:21:1. Gingras’ patient drive paid off on the final turn when the ground-saving A Rocknroll Dance was able to find daylight three-wide. In the stretch, A Rocknroll Dance swept by Bolt The Duer and Allstar Legend to win by a neck in 1:48:3. The two also-rans finished in a dead heat for the second spot.

The win ends a string of bad racing luck for A Rockroll Dance, who earned $863,325 in a stellar 2-year-old campaign but had won just once in five tries in 2012 coming into the Hempt final. The son of Rocknroll Hanover now has 9 victories in 17 lifetime starts and his career earnings jump into seven figures at $1,064,750.

Rounding out the night of big stakes races was the Franklin, where Betterthancheddar left from the #3 post as a 6-5 favorite in a field of nine. The colt sat 3rd early as his rival We Will see gunned to the lead in 26 seconds even. The fireworks began on the front stretch, when George Brennan cut Betterthancheddar loose first-over. The stallion struggled to clear We Will See until finally getting by at the half-mile mark in a scorching 52:4.

Despite receiving outside pressure from Aracache Hanover on the back stretch, Betterthancheddar was able to get the slightest breather, hitting the three-quarter mark at 1:20:4. In the stretch, We Will See came at him again, but the 4-year-old trained by Casie Coleman responded to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:48, matching the fastest time ever paced on a 5/8-mile oval by any age. Aracache Hanover finished a game 3rd.

Sired by Bettor’s Delight, Betterthancheddar has now won five of six in 2012 and 15 of 24 lifetime races. He also broke into the million-dollar club with the high-stakes win, as his career total now sits at $1,132,383.