Posts Tagged ‘Jason Bartlett’

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.

PACER OF THE WEEK: FIRST OF ITSKIND

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.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: MR CANDYMAN

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.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: POINTSMAN

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.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MIKE SIMONS

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.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: CHRIS OAKES

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 jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week in Review

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

June 6-12, 2015

It was bound to happen. As impressive as the times on The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono’s track records page might be, each year several of those records fall by the wayside. It took nearly 2 ½ months for any horse to match or break one of those lofty standards this season, which was a bit surprising considering the caliber of horses we’ve seen so far this year. 2015’s first incursion into the records page came on Saturday night, and the horse that came up big leads us off in this edition of the Weekly Awards.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: FRAU BLUCHER

The crowd was still abuzz following the Triple Crown victory of American Pharaoh early Saturday evening when a pack of Open trotters hit the track to restart Pocono’s harness racing program, which had begun earlier in the afternoon. The 1-2 favorite was Daylon Miracle, a mare fresh off a Preferred win at the Meadows against other distaffers. Frau Blucher, the other mare in the field, got away as the 9-5 second choice, as she was stepping up in class after a condition win in the slop on May 30 in an unhurried 1:55.

Frau Blucher was a superstar as a 2 and 3-year-old for trainer Chris Oakes, earning over $900,000 in those two seasons. Her 4-year-old season included a world record for her age group when she won at Pocono in 1:51:2, but that was just one of two wins she managed all year in just nine races. Her five-year-old season included just one start prior to that May 30 win, and she went off-stride in that one.

But on Saturday night, she showed just how dangerous she could be in top form. Driver George Napolitano Jr. sent her to the front end early and didn’t have much pressure to the half-mile marker, which allowed him to rate her conservatively. Frau Blucher put on a show in the second half of the mile, keeping the pursuit at bay and eventually closing in :27:4 to win by 1 ¼ lengths over Possessed Fashion. The winning time of 1:51:4 matched the track record for aged trotting mares, which had previously been shared by Beatgoeson Hanover and In Your Room. Frau Blucher now joins male trotting superstar Father Patrick as the only horses to occupy two spots on the Pocono track record page.

Other top trotters this week include: Schalom G (George Napolitano Jr., Neal Ehrhart), who moved up in class on Tuesday night to score his second straight condition win, this one in 1:54:4; Rossini (Jason Bartlett, Jim Raymer), who powered to a condition victory on Saturday night in 1:53:1; and Raise The Curtain (Jason Bartlett, Timothy Lancaster), who rallied Wednesday night for his second straight condition win on Wednesday night in a career-best 1:54:1.

PACER OF THE WEEK: BIG BOY DREAMS

The barn of Pocono’s leading trainer Rene Allard never seems to run out of pacers able to compete at the highest levels. Already in 2015 we’ve seen Domethatagain and Sparky Mark take Pacer of the Week honors for their exploits in Open and condition paces at Pocono. Big Boy Dreams had hopes he could join them on Saturday night in a $30,000 Open pace.

This 4-year-old stallion raced once at Pocono in April, finishing a close 3rd in a condition pace. He then went to Canada for two races in the Confederation Cup, finishing 3rd in the big-money final, and followed that up with an Open Handicap victory at Yonkers. On Saturday night, Big Boy Dreams rolled to the front end with Simon Allard in the bike, and when he made it to the half in :55:3 on a night when the wind was helping horses in the front stretch, you knew he was going to be tough to catch.

Big Boy Dreams turned on the jets in the second half of the mile and stayed strong to the finish line. He ended up winning by a length in 1:49:4, a new career-best, over Texican N, giving him two consecutive wins over Open competition. He has a lot of competition in his barn for accolades, but Big Boy Dreams is racing as well as any of his stablemates right now, which is high praise indeed.

Honorable mention on the pacing side includes: McKenry (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), a 3-year-old who picked up his second straight condition victory on Tuesday night, this time in a career-best 1:51:4; Caviart Shelley (Jim Morrill Jr., Ron Burke), a mare who ripped off her fifth straight condition win on Wednesday night in a career-best time of 1:50:4; and Cloris Hanover (Tyler Buter, Todd Buter), who won a condition pace against other mares with ease for the second straight week, doing it in a time of 1:51.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: INTERNAL CHECK

This pacing mare, with Jim Morrill Jr. driving, rallied from way back on the outside to upend a claiming handicap field on Wednesday night at 22-1, paying off $47.60 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

This was a typical George Nap week, as he hit double digits in wins over the four racing nights and chalked up five victories against the elite competition on Saturday night.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: KEVIN CARR

Carr’s training average at Pocono has been solid for several years running, and she showed off his wares with back-to-back winners on the card 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 jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.

Live split card on Belmont day yields standouts

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

A specially-formatted 16-race card was featured on Belmont Day, June 6th,  at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with four races held before the historic doings in Elmont NY and then the remainder starting after the big race.

The race attracting the most attention was the tenth race (held in the evening portion), a $30,000 Open pace, and there was “dancin’ in the moonlight” as 2014 Pennsylvania Pacer of the Year Dancin Yankee never looked back in a 1:48.3 victory, going out in 26 and coming home in 26.4 firmly in control. George Napolitano Jr., king of the local driving colony again this year, was named on four horses in the race, and he picked the right one as the son of Yankee Cruiser raised his lifetime earnings harvest over $1.2M for trainer Josh Green and owners Baron Racing Stable and Richard Lombardo.

In the other $30,000 Open pace, Big Boy Dreams marked himself as a 4-year-old to watch as he reduced his mark to 1:49.4 in taking another $30,000 Open pacing contest. The son of If I Can Dream made the front just past the ¼ for driver Simon Allard, set the pace, then rocketed home in 26.4 for his second straight victory after a third-place finish in the Confederation Cup Final. Trainer Rene Allard shares ownership of the winner of over half a million dollars with Robert Hamather and Mary Lou Poliseno.

The ladies were in the spotlight in the last race of the “early” card and the first race of the “later” card.

In the last race held before the Belmont, Blue Chip Matchmaker winner Venus Delight asserted a claim to be the leader of the older female division with a 1:50.2 decision in a $30,000 mares handicap pace, despite not having started since her victory in the Yonkers series final on April 25. But the daughter of Bettor’s Delight and driver Jason Bartlett had to work hard for the top money, rallying out of the pocket to catch perhaps the most-improved horse of 2015, Ooh Bad Shark, to tally by a head after grabbing the lead with about 100 feet to go. The winner, who set a personal mark, is trained by Jeff Bamond Jr. for owners Bamond Racing LLC – who might get a fifth straight older pacing mares yearly title, with Anndrovette having won in the last four seasons.

After American Pharoah won the Belmont and the first thoroughbred Triple Crown in 37 years, the Broadway Hall mare Frau Blucher went 34 4/5 seconds faster in winning, capturing a $30,000 open trot while defeating six males and two females in 1:51.4, 2/5 of a second off her mark and the 4TM world record she set at The Downs last year. Frau Blucher, driven by George Napolitano Jr. for trainer Chris Oakes, made every pole a winning one while raising her career bankroll to $976,932 for owners Hauser Brothers Racing Enterprises LLC and Susan Oakes. (And she’d be over $1M right now but for an inch, as she was deadheated for the win by stablemate Classic Martine in the world record-DH PA Sire Stakes 3TF Championship race in 2013.)

–On this 16-race card, two drivers won ten of the races, and only five drivers in all won: George Napolitano Jr. and Simon Allard both had five victories (four of Allard’s were trained by brother Rene); Jason Bartlett had 3, Anthony Napolitano had 2, and Marcus Miller had 1.

There were a total of seven miles in 1:50 or better on the card, topped by Dancin Yankee’s 1:48.3; among the drivers, George Nap had three, and Allard two.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Friday, August 31st, 2012

August 24-30, 2012

As the summer months come to a close, it means we’re also drawing close to the end of stakes season at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. It will end with a flourish with the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championships, featuring some of the best young horses around. Before that, however, some outstanding overnight races took center stage this past week, giving us a bevy of great candidates for the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: MCSOCKS

It’s hard to say why fortunes change for the better for some horses at certain times in their careers. Take the interesting case of McSocks, a 4-year-old pacer who came into the season with a modest record of four wins in 30 races. His 2012 campaign was even less impressive for a while, as he entered the month of August with just one victory in 20 starts.

On August 4, he raced against the $25,000 claiming pacing 4-year-olds, a group against which he had finished 5th and 7th in his previous two races. That’s when the proverbial light came on and he went gate-to-wire for a victory in a career-best 1:51. He promptly followed that up with two more wins in front-running fashion against the very same class.

On Saturday night, he joined the Peter Pellegrino barn in his quest for four straight wins against the class. With Tyler Buter in the bike, McSocks once again gunned to the front end and dared everyone to play catch-up. As his foes neared him in the stretch, he found another gear and kicked away to win easily by 2 ¼ lengths, re-setting his career mark in the process with a mile of 1:50:2. He was claimed again, and the new owners just have to hope that the light doesn’t go off as August ends.

Other top pacers this week include: Fall Toy (Joe Pavia Jr., Paul Holzman), who moved up into a new class and joined a new barn but still scored his second straight win on Saturday by beating the $20,000 claimers in a new career-mark of 1:50:2; Rockincam (Brandon Simpson, Nifty Norman), who won the week’s featured pace on Saturday night with a late move in 1:49, the fastest pace at Pocono this week; and Mr Govianni Fra (Matt Kakaley, Ken Rucker), who took 35 races to get his first career win but now has two in a row after his victory on Sunday in 1:54:3.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: DEFINITELY MAMIE

One of the ways that trots differentiate from paces is that it’s much more common for female horses to compete in the same races with male horses on the trotting side. It’s not a matter of trying to beat the boys so much as it is the best opportunity for mares to make solid money once they move out of the period where they can race for big stakes.

As such, it’s not unusual to see mares like Definitely Mamie take a shot in tough condition trots like the non-winners of $13,000 in the last five grouping that she faced on Sunday night. The five-year-old mare from the Brewer Adams barn has been a very consistent trotter no matter whom she has faced over the past several seasons at Pocono, so she was up for Sunday night’s challenge even though she was considered a  relatively long shot at 9-1.

Driver Joe Pavia Jr. did a nice job of getting a pocket trip for the mare behind the pacesetter. As others faltered, Definitely Mamie revved up for the stretch drive and zipped by to win by a head in 1:53:2, a new career-best. In what has been an excellent career, the victory marked a high point for the mare. She is a force no matter what gender her opponents might be.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Imperial Count (Howard Parker, Nifty Norman), who topped the field in the week’s featured condition trot in 1:53:2, a new career mark for the 4-year-old gelding; Talladega Hanover (George Napolitano Jr., Dan Walski), who arrived from The Meadows to capture a tough condition trot on Sunday night in 1:54:1, fastest time of his career; and Ginger Tree Jimmy (George Napolitano Jr., Steve Salerno), who switched from the conditions to the claimers for a Saturday night in 1:54:1.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: WORTHYS MAGIC

With Greg Merton in the bike, this gelding surprised a group of claiming pacers on Sunday night at 43-1, paying off $88.40 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JASON BARTLETT

Bartlett only makes occasional stops at Pocono, but he often makes his presence felt, as he did on Sunday night by winning the final four races on the card.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: BRIAN BROWN

Brown had a monster night on Tuesday night in Stallion Series action, as his horses won four of the eight divisions held for 2-year-old colts and geldings on the pace.

That will do it for this week, but feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Friday, August 24th, 2012

August 17-23, 2012

Each week I hand out the Weekly Awards for the racing at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, and each week it gets harder and harder to narrow it down to just a few select horses and horsemen. That’s a testament to how competitive the racing has been this season. This week was typically tough to make my selections, but I gave it a shot anyway, knowing that some worthy horses, drivers, and trainers are going to be left out.

PACER OF THE WEEK: TOUCH THE ROCK

One of the most difficult feats for a horse to accomplish in the sport of harness racing is to come back strong after a peak performance. Such was the daunting task before Touch The Rock, a five-year-old gelding from the barn of James Eaton. The gelding was coming off a condition win on August 4 in 1:49:2, a sizzling time that was a new career-best.

To make things even tougher, Touch The Rock moved up into a tougher condition group on Saturday night and had to deal with the #7 post position, not exactly prime real estate. In the past, the gelding has had difficulty stringing together good races, but he was ready to turn the page this week.

Driver Tyler Buter kept him away from a sizzling early pace before setting him in motion on the outside on the back stretch. Spinning wide off cover to go four-wide in the stretch, Touch The Rock grooved right past the leaders in the lane to get the win in 1:49:4, becoming that rare horse at Pocono to win back-to-back races in sub-1:50 times.

Other top pacers this week include: Grandstand Hitter (Ron Pierce, Douglas Berkeley), who continued his amazing climb up the claiming ladder with a victory on Saturday night, his fourth straight, in 1:51:1; Townslight Hanover (Andrew McCarthy, Aaron Lambert), who came flying late to win Saturday night’s feature pace in 1:48:4, a new career-best, fastest time of the week, and just one-fifth of a second off a track record for 4-year-old geldings; and Mcsocks (George Napolitano Jr., Jason Robinson), who ripped off his third straight gate-to-wire win over the $25,000 claimers on Saturday night, this one in 1:51:1.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: OPENING NIGHT

It’s always interesting to see how a horse that was decorated as an underclassman does when it moves up to face older horses exclusively. Opening Night had a marvelous 3-year-old season, earning in excess of $540,000, much of it coming in stakes competition against his own age. His 4-year-old campaign hasn’t been quite as lucrative, but he has been rounding into form of late.

The stallion showed his mettle earlier in the season with back-to-back wins at Pocono and Harrah’s, and he was trying to pick up his second straight victory at MSPD on Sunday night after a nice condition win on August 12. This time around though, Opening Night, trained by Jim Campbell, had to face off with the toughest trotters on the grounds in the week’s featured trot for $25,000.

Going for big stakes is nothing new for this trotter, so Opening Night was more than ready for this tough assignment. Benefitting from an excellent trip in the pocket, the stallion waited until driver Matt Kakaley urged him by his foes in the stretch for the victory in 1:53:3. It seems like this trotter is adjusting to life as an upperclassman quite nicely.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Emily Do (Tyler Buter, Bill MacKenzie), a mare who jumped up in class and scored her second straight claiming win on Sunday night in 1:56:1; Zooming (Jason Bartlett, Erv Miller), who dominated a condition group on Sunday night for a victory in 1:53, the fastest trotting time of the week; and Idadazzle (Joe Pavia Jr., Gareth Dowse), whose claiming victory on Tuesday night in 1:57 was his second straight and 14th win of the season.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: TATTLE TELL TEEN

In one of our biggest shockers this season, Tattle Tell Teen, with Howard Parker in the pike, rallied from way back for a condition pacing win on Friday night at 95-1 for a $193.20 payout on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ERIC CARLSON

Carlson has really found his groove in his first season at Pocono, and he showed his comfort level by ripping off a combined seven wins on Friday and Saturday night.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: NEAL EHRHART

Ehrhart has been a factor at Pocono for several seasons now; his training double on Friday night highlighted a week that included three wins overall.

That will do it for this week. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.