Posts Tagged ‘Jenny Melander’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

April 15-21, 2017

Even with only three days of racing last week due to our taking Easter Sunday off, there was a ton of exciting action that took place at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. We saw our first sub-1:50 mile of the meet, the continuation of the Bobby Weiss late closer series, and, in general, some wild and woolly racing. Without further ado, let’s review it all by handing out our Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: MIGRATE BLUE CHIP

Moving up in class is never an easy feat, but this five-year-old stallion from the Ron Burke barn was ready to do just that on Saturday night. After all, he had won back to back starts against the non-winners of five pacing conditioners in his previous two races, putting up times of 1:52:1 and 1:53 in the process. Saturday night’s test came against the non-winners of seven colts, stallions and geldings. The betting public had faith in Migrate Blue Chip though, installing him at 1-9 as the heaviest kind of favorite.

The rest of the field wasn’t about to concede the race to the heavy betting choice. In fact, pacesetting Pan Of Steel was particularly prickly. Each time Migrate Blue Chip attempted to get to the front, Pan Of Steel would dig in his heels and push him back. This left the favorite with an unenviable trip, first-over around two of the race’s three turns.

Despite losing the lead to Pan Of Steel twice, Migrate Blue Chip, under the steady guidance of driver Matt Kakaley, strove onward and finally took over the lead in the stretch. At that point, you might have expected one of the closers to pounce on the tired favorite. But the stallion was having none of it, stretching the lead to two lengths at the line and winning in 1:51:3, a new career-best time. That makes three in a row for a horse who might be ready to take on more experienced pacers on the highest rungs of the condition ladder.

Other top pacers this week include: Orillia Joe (Eric Carlson, Matias Ruiz), who captured Saturday’s $25,000 condition pace in 1:49:4, a new career-best and the fastest time of the young season at Pocono; Dash Of Danger (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who captured his third straight Bobby Weiss win and fourth in a row overall on Monday night, this one coming in a new career mark of 1:51:3; and Hypothetical (Andrew McCarthy, Ross Croghan), a three-year-old colt who picked up his second straight condition win on Tuesday night in 1:53:1.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: DOLCE DUCCI

This 10-year-old gelding from the Norman Morford barn has a knack for rising up with a big mile when you least expect it. He scored his first victory of the season on April 10 at Pocono against the $8,500 condition trotters. Coming off that confidence-builder, he moved up to the $11,000 group on Monday night. He didn’t receive too much attention, however, going off as an 11-1 shot.

As the race progressed, Dolce Ducci seemed to be an afterthought indeed. As Tea Party Politics set the pace, he lolled about near the back of the pack. When Raven Victory took over the lead with a first-over charge on the back stretch, the gelding was sill eighth in the field of nine. He must have been lulling them into a false sense of security, because Dolce Ducci started to boogie around the last turn. At the top of the stretch, driver Tom Jackson guided him four-wide so that he had a clear look at the horses ahead of him and the finish line.

Dolce Ducci then kicked into gear, making up several lengths with a furious move. Raven Victory held on for as long as he could before he finally caved to the charge of the horse coming from behind. Dolce Ducci swept by to win by a length-and-a-half in 1:57:1. Expect another move up in class for this veteran trotter, and expect him to sneak up again if the race breaks his way.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Get To Doin It (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who scored a condition win on Saturday night in the week’s fastest trotting time at Pocono of 1:53:3, which was also a career-best; Hilarious Hero (Matt Kakaley, Jenny Melander), whose Bobby Weiss series victory on Tuesday night in a career-best 1:55 gave him three wins in as many starts this season; and Ooh Rah (Jim Morrill Jr., Kathleen La Montagne), who churned out his second straight Bobby Weiss series victory on Tuesday night in 1:56:1.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ORILLIA JOE

It’s not often that the longest shot of the week comes home in the week’s feature race, but Orillia Joe did just that on Saturday night at 20-1 for a win payout of $42.40 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ERIC GOODELL

It’s been a nice start to the meet for Goodell, and his three victories on Saturday night provided a taste of the success he’s been able to achieve early this season.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: MATIAS RUIZ

Ruiz chalked up a training double on Saturday night, with the highlight coming in Orillia Joe’s surprising victory in the featured pace.

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, July 28th, 2016

July 23-29, 2016

It was hot this week in Northeastern Pennsylvania, but that’s no real news flash, because it was hot just about everywhere in the country as well. I only mention it because the heat didn’t seem to cause any lethargy in the horses competing this past week at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. If anything, we witnessed some of the fastest races at the track in several weeks, with horses routinely putting up career-bests and even coming within shouting distance of world records. Here are some of the best performers this week, via the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: VAGUE TRACES

You never know when you’re going to see a special performance at the track. Vague Traces gave just such a performance on Saturday night. It wasn’t entirely unexpected that this 4-year-old gelding would be good, considering that he went off as the favorite in a field of $14,000 condition pacers. But the extent to which he excelled was what left mouths agape after he cashed in on his promise and scored the victory.

Trained by Ross Croghan, Vague Traces was making his first start at Pocono in 2016. He came in with wins in just two of his 14 races on the year, but they were back-to-back wins at The Meadowlands in June. Coming off a pair of distant finishes against tough company at Yonkers, the gelding didn’t show much in the first half of his first mile at Pocono, sitting an unassuming fourth early. Then driver Andrew McCarthy sent him first-over on the outside, and everything changed.

In a flash Vague Traces blew by everyone in front of him and took the lead prior to the three-quarter pole. But he didn’t stop there, continuing an elongated speed burst that didn’t relent until he crossed the line 7 ¾ lengths ahead of the dumbfounded field. Even more impressively, he tripped the line in 1:48:1, not just a career-best but the fastest at Pocono this week and one of the fastest at the oval this season. Just like that Vague Traces made an impression on the Pocono faithful; let’s see how he handles the tougher competition that’s bound to come.

Other top pacers this week include: Bushwacker (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Ryder), who scored a victory in Saturday night’s $18,000 featured pace in 1:50; Soto (Andrew McCarthy, Eric Ell), a newcomer to the racing wars at Pocono who immediately left his mark with a condition victory on Saturday in a career-best 1:48:4; and Life Is A Beach (Anthony Napolitano, Randy Bendis), who handled Tuesday night’s featured condition pacing mares in 1:52, which matched a career best.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: ARMOR HANOVER

There were several excellent candidates for this honor this week, but this seven-year-old gelding gets the call not just for his last two outstanding performances, but also for how far he’s come in that time. Trained by Douglas Berkeley, Armor Hanover hit rock bottom on July 2 when he went off-stride for a second consecutive race. That meant he’d have to qualify before he could race again. He did just that, winning a qualifier at Monticello on July 6, apparently earning some serious confidence in the process.

In his first race back on July 16, he headed out against a $14,000 condition trotting field as a 17-1 long shot. But driver Tom Jackson drove him aggressively and Armor Hanover responded, holding off Auspicious Hanover by a nose in a thrilling stretch battle to upset in 1:54:3, which was a career-best time.

On Saturday night, he faced off against a $15,500 condition grouping and this time went off at 6-1 with Anthony Napolitano in the bike. With a tremendous back-stretch brush, Armor Hanover left behind the 2-5 favorite Cufflink Hanover. The rest of the field was no match for him either, as he came home six lengths in front. His winning time of 1:52 shattered the career mark he had only just laid down. Armor Hanover has indeed come a long way in a short time, and it will be exciting to see now just where he goes from here.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Tac’s Delight (Jim Marohn Jr., Rene Allard), who handled a $15,000 claiming handicap field in 1:54:1 on Sunday night for his third straight victory; Homicide Hunter (Eric Goodell, Chris Oakes), who captured Sunday night’s $25,000 featured condition pace in 1:51:1, a new career-best, the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono, and only a fifth of a second short of a world record for 4-year-old trotting geldings; and Crazy About Pat (Jim Marohn Jr., Paul Kelley), who shipped in from Yonkers to pick up a condition win on Sunday night in a career-best 1:53:1.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: LARSON HANOVER

This two-year-old trotter’s maiden win on Tuesday night was quite memorable, as he came home a winner at 75-1 to pay out $154.20 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY NAPOLITANO

Returning from an injury that kept him out nearly two months, Napolitano wasted no time getting in the swing of things by ripping off five wins on his first night back Saturday.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JENNY MELANDER

Melander put together an interesting streak this week at Pocono, as she followed up training wins in both halves of the Late Daily Double Monday night with another victory in the opening race on Tuesday.

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

Monday, June 6th, 2016

May 28-June 4, 2016

It’s been a while since we’ve handed out the Weekly Awards in this column. We hit a stretch the past month or so at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono where it seemed like every week featured a different set of stakes races, which obviously needed to be highlighted. This week the stakes races took a breather, allowing our excellent condition and claiming pacers and trotters to take center stage. And, with warm temperatures hitting the track, plenty of candidates stepped up with outstanding performances. So let’s see who took the highest honors at Pocono in the week that was.

PACER OF THE WEEK: SCOTT ROCKS

It’s been a bit of an up-and-down season for Scott Rocks, a 6-year-old stalwart of the Chris Oakes barn. The gelding was a tough customer early in the year at Pompano Park, but then he came up empty in the Levy series at Yonkers. In his two starts at Pocono in the meet leading up to Saturday night, he battled his way to a second and a third against the top condition pacers on the grounds.

On Saturday night, Scott Rocks lined up from post position #6 in a field of eight for an $18,000 condition purse. He went off as the 2-1 second choice, ceding the favorite’s mantle to Bettor’s Edge, earner of over $1.8 million in his career. But driver George Napolitano Jr. wasn’t about to take a back seat to anyone, sending Scott Rocks to the front end. The fractions he set were intense, so much so that it seemed only a matter of time before Bettor’s Edge or somebody else in the field overtook him.

But Scott Rocks kept right on rolling. He finished strong in the lane to hold off Bettor’s Edge by a length-and-a-half. The winning time was an eye-opener, as the gelding tripped the line in 1:48. Not only was that the fastest time of an excellent career to date for Scott Rocks, it was also the fastest of the 2016 season so far at Pocono. Look for this talented gelding to step up in class off that extremely impressive mile in the weeks to come.

Other top pacers this week include: Limelight Beach (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who rallied to capture Saturday night’s featured condition pace in 1:49:4; Mr D’s Dragon (Simon Allard, Staffan Lind), a 3-year-old who picked up his second straight condition win on Monday night, this one coming in 1:55 in the slop; and Check’s Commodore (Matt Kakaley, Tony Kavoleff), whose victory in a condition pace on Monday night in 1:54:4 in sloppy conditions gave three wins and a place in his last four races.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: AGGRESSIVE

For the past few weeks at Pocono, the condition trot with the biggest purse has been scheduled on Sunday nights, giving some of the leading lights of the trotting game a chance to shine. Three weeks ago, Tag Up N Go put together an impressive win in the featured trot, followed the next week by Armor Hanover’s victory in the slop. In both of those races, Aggressive, a 5-year-old gelding trained by Gilberto Garcia-Herrera, had been best of the rest with second-place finishes at nice prices.

On Sunday night in the $18,000 featured condition trot of the week, it appeared as though Aggressive might have to once again take a back seat to a conquering invader. B Yoyo arrived from The Meadowlands with an impressive string of swift times and solid performances and, with the inside post, went off as a 1-2 favorite. When B Yoyo had the lead on the back stretch, it appeared for all the world like he would fulfill his promise.

But Aggressive, perhaps weary of playing second fiddle, had other ideas. With one quick brush he moved from third right past the stunned leader. He then built a big lead that he would pretty much carry all the way home. With George Napolitano Jr. in the bike, the gelding steamed home 3 ¼ lengths ahead of his nearest foe, tripping the line in a career-best time of 1:52:4, which also matched the fastest trotting time of the week. Now that he has a taste for winning, you might see Aggressive doing it a lot more often.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Mr Lover (Anthony Napolitano, Jenny Melander), who moved up in class and captured his second straight condition win on Monday night, this one coming in the slop in 1:56:2; Celebrity Bugatti (Anthony Napolitano, Chris Oakes), who picked up a condition victory in a career-best 1:52:4, which matched the fastest trotting time of the week; and Spicedbourbongirl (Jeff Gregory driver and trainer), a filly who picked up a condition win on Sunday night in a career-best 1:53:4, giving her three victories in her last four races.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: BELLA’S PUNKETT

This filly with Jim Taggart Jr. in the bike left well in a condition trot on Tuesday night, inherited the lead from a breaking horse, and trotted away late to win at 20-1, paying off $42.80 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

George Nap, who currently is the only driver with over 100 wins in the Pocono meet, had another big week with four wins on Saturday night and three nights out of four with multiple victories.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JONAS CZERNYSON

Czernyson sent out a pair of maiden trotters on Sunday night and by the end of the evening they were maidens no more, as both Sand Grenade and Pick Up The Tab scored their first lifetime victories.

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, May 19th, 2015

May 9-15, 2015

Next week, the action at Pocono really kicks into another gear with our first Sire Stakes action of the season and our first Open pacing and trotting events for the meet. This past week was no slouch though, thanks to Pennsylvania All Stars action and some thrilling overnight racing. Let’s take a look at which horses and horsemen stood above all in the past four racing nights by handing out the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: DYNAMIC YOUTH

It’s good sometimes to have a long memory when you’re trying to handicap a race. Take the case of Dynamic Youth in Saturday night’s condition pace for non-winners of $15,000 in the last five starts. The 6-year-old gelding from the Aaron Lambert barn had won his previous start against lower company in a solid effort in 1:51:1.

Saturday night represented a step up the condition ladder though, and considering he had finished ninth in a lower group at The Meadowlands, the morning line oddsmaker, who shall remain nameless (although his name rhymes with Schmim Schmeviglia), decided to tag him with odds of 6-1. The betting public, however, who likely remembered how many classic miles this one has put together in the past at Pocono, bet him down to a 4-5 favorite.

The fans were right. With George Napolitano Jr. in the bike, Dynamic Youth took charge early and powered through the second half of the mile, keeping his competition at bay for a victory in 1:50:1. Maybe he just needed to be back at his old haunts, or maybe he just needed the backing of the faithful. Whatever the case, Dynamic Youth is back on top of his game with two straight victories, so underestimate him at your own peril.

Other top pacers this week include: Rose Run Quest (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who, even after a barn switch, picked up his third straight condition pacing win on Tuesday night in 1:52:3, which was a new career mark for him; A J Corbelli (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who rolled to his second straight condition win on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:50:3; and Caviart Shelley (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who moved up in class and still won her third straight condition pace on Wednesday night, matching her career mark of 1:51:4 in the process.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: ALI DE VIE

This 5-year-old gelding loves to race at Pocono. Coming into his start on Wednesday night in a $12,500 to $15,000 claiming handicap, he had won four races in a row when he was at the Pocono oval. Sprinkled in that stretch were a pair of struggling performances at Harrah’s at Philadelphia, so maybe the right thing to do would be to keep this one here until somebody knocks him off.

After wins the past two weeks for trainer Rene Allard, Ali De Vie was claimed and joined the barn of Jenny Melander for his start on Wednesday night. Leaving from post position #2 in a field of nine, the gelding sat in fourth early on as Browner Shuttle set the pace. Driver Jim Morrill Jr. waited for an opening and then sent Ali De Vie on a first-over journey on the back stretch.

Although he found no cover to help him out, Ali De Vie corralled Browner Shuttle at the top of the stretch. Once he had the lead, he had to deal with Fall Creek Bandit, who had an excellent trip in the pocket and was coming up the passing lane. But Morrill and Ali De Vie had just enough to hold him off and win it in 1:55:3. That makes three wins in a row overall and five for his last five at Pocono. This horse truly loves this course.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: P L Eureka (George Napolitano Jr., John Barchi), whose claiming handicap victory on Wednesday night in 1:54:2 was his fourth in his last five; Sentry (Larry Stalbaum, Jenny Melander), who snuck up the inside late on Saturday night for an upset win in the week’s top condition trot in 1:54, which matched a career-best; and Picture This (Charlie Norris driver and trainer), who rolled to a condition victory on Tuesday night in 1:53:3, the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: CANE RIDGE

Driver Joe Pavia Jr. worked out a pocket trip for this pacer on Saturday night and he rallied to win a claiming handicap at 45-1, paying out $92.40 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JOE PAVIA JR.

Pavia only recently returned to driving duties, but he made his presence felt on Saturday night with ba pair of victories, including the huge long shot Cane Ridge.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: MARK KESMODEL

Talk about efficiency: Kesmodel sent out three starters at Pocono al week, two on Saturday and one on Wednesday, and every one of the three came back to the barn a winner.

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

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.

PACER OF THE WEEK: HUMILITY

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.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SENTRY

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.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SHADOWS DREAM

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.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JIM MORRILL JR.

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.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: BREWER ADAMS

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 jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.