Posts Tagged ‘Jim Morrill’

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

June 7-13, 2013

This is the time of year at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs when we move to a schedule of five nights per week, meaning that there are more outstanding performances to sift through when choosing the Weekly Awards. This is also the time of year when it seems like not a week goes by without some sort of assault on either a Pocono track record or even a world record. One of those special performances on Saturday night is the obvious choice to kick off our Weekly Awards.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: UNCLE PETER

Harness racing can be a funny sport, because there are certain occasions when a horse’s record doesn’t really have much bearing on the race. Take, for example, Saturday night’s $25,000 Preferred trot, where Uncle Peter came in as the favorite despite having won just once in five tries in 2013. A closer inspection of that record shows that the competition that the 4-year-old stallion from the Jimmy Takter barn had faced so far this season had been top-notch.

Uncle Peter definitely had unfinished business at Pocono, considering that he had raced in Preferred company twice in April and had come up just short. In his return on Saturday night, he decided to put any doubts the Pocono faithful might have had about his credibility to rest by going the biggest mile he could possibly manage.

With Jim Morrill Jr. in the bike, Uncle Peter surged to the front end on the front stretch and romped away from the excellent competition from that point to win by four lengths. The winning time of 1:51:1 was astounding, breaking not just the Pocono mark for 4-year-old stallions on the trot but also the world record for the age group. It was also the third-fastest mile ever trotted at Pocono, proving that Uncle Peter is one of the best trotters around no matter what his win-loss record says.

Other top trotters this week include: Luv Ya Tyler (George Napolitano Jr., Neal Ehrhart), who chugged through the slop on Friday night to his second straight condition victory, this one coming in 1:55:4; Quantum Cashman (Jonathan Drury, Carmen Auciello), who followed up a win in Canada with a claiming handicap victory on Tuesday night in a career-best 1:55:3; and Upfront Billy (George Napolitano Jr., Mark Ford) who now has two straight wins, one at the Meadowlands at one in Wednesday night’s featured condition trot at Pocono in 1:53.

PACER OF THE WEEK: BUCK STOPS HERE

Some horses get on such a hot streak that they find their way to the line even when it doesn’t seem possible. Buck Stops Here is on just such a streak. The mare has really been on that roll all year long, as she came into Wednesday night’s $15,000-$20,000 claiming handicap pace for mares having won six of her last seven races. She was four for her first five since arriving at Pocono, and her last two wins came from the outside post.

The winning streak has been even more impressive for the fact that she’s been claimed in each of her five starts since coming to Pocono. The 5-year-old mare joined the Jason Robinson barn for Wednesday night’s contest, which once again had her dealing with an outside post. George Napolitano Jr. took her to the front early, and Buck Stops Here had to set imposing fractions just to repel the pressure to her outside.

In the stretch, closers came at her on both sides, and it seemed like she was bound to succumb. But Buck Stops Here, riding that outstanding streak, found her way to the line for a win by a nose in 1:52. She was claimed again after the race, and she’ll probably be on the outside should she face the same class again next week. But the way she’s going right now, I know I wouldn’t bet against her.

Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: Jepson Hanover (Andrew McCarthy, PJ Fraley), who rallied late to win Saturday night’s $25,000 Preferred pace in a career-best 1:49:1; Erle Dale N (Andrew McCarthy, Darran Cassar), who made his second start in the U.S. a memorable one on Saturday night, winning a condition pace in a sizzling 1:49, fastest pacing time of the week at MSPD; and Queen Of Royalty (Tyler Buter, Allen Sisco), a mare who won her third straight on Wednesday night in a condition trot in 1:51:3 and moved up in class to do so.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: FRISKY STRIKE

In a rugged claiming handicap trot on Saturday night, this mare came up late to upend the favorites at 37-1 with Anthony Napolitano in the bike, triggering a $76.40 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JOE PAVIA JR.

Pavia had one of his best weeks of the season to date this past week, picking up wins in four racing nights and scoring a driving triple on Sunday.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JASON ROBINSON

He’s been one of our top percentage trainers at Pocono for the past few seasons, and he had an excellent week just past, scoring three training wins.

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.

Uncle Peter Shatters World Record in Win at Pocono

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

June 8, 2013

Another Saturday night, another world comes under assault at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.

This time around, it was the mark for 4-year-old trotting stallions on a 5/8-mile oval that was obliterated by star trotter Uncle Peter in the Preferred trot on Saturday night. The race carried a purse of $25,000.

Uncle Peter (Cantab Hall-Victory Treasure), who was fresh off a second-place finish in the Maxie Lee at Harrah’s, was made the 3-5 favorite from the #5 post in a nine-horse field. The 4-year-old stallion from the Jimmy Takter barn got away mid-pack as the mare Tui set a scorching opening fraction of 26:3. Driver Jim Morrill Jr. set Uncle Peter in motion first-over on the front stretch and he had the lead before the clubhouse turn, hitting the half in 55:1.

On the back stretch, Uncle Peter gained separation and reached three-quarters in 1:22:4. Even with second-choice Undercover Strike sneaking up behind him into the pocket, the favorite had no trouble in the stretch, kicking away to win by four full lengths. Undercover Strike finished second while Keystone Thomas picked up the show. The winning time of 1:51:1 smashed the track record for 4-year-old stallions on the trot of 1:52, set last May by Fox Valley Iliad, and that mark was also the world record for the age group on any 5/8-mile oval.

Uncle Peter, owned by Christina Takter, John Fielding, Jim Fielding, and Goran Falk, has been in the money in every one of his six starts this year with two wins. The victory was the 10th of his career and pushed his lifetime earnings to $770,154.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

May 25-31, 2013

There were only three racing nights in the week that was at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, and yet we were overflowing with standout performances in that span. In just a week, Pocono will be switching to a schedule of five nights per week, which means that it’s going to be even harder each week to decide who might be the best among the pacers and trotters competing at the track. With that in mind, here is the latest edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: C’MON BUZZ OFF

One of the most competitive classes at Pocono has been the $25,000 claimers for four and five-year-old pacers. It’s been hard for any single horse to gather up any momentum in the class due to the extreme competitiveness of the group, but C’Mon Buzz Off has been able to manage the feat. In fact, he came into Saturday night’s race having won three of his last four starts with his powerful, front-pacing style.

Such early speed usually favors a horse with an inside post position, but C’Mon Buzz Off had to deal with an extreme outside post on Saturday when he drew the #9 hole. In his first start for the Chris Oakes barn, the 4-year-old stallion didn’t change his style at all, as driver Jim Morrill Jr. sent him hurtling to the front end despite the outside post.

Once C’Mon Buzz Off stepped to the front end, his muscle memory took care of the rest. He held a solid group of claimers at bay and scored the win in 1:51:2, giving him three straight victories and four wins in his last five. He’ll be joining a new barn for his next start, but it doesn’t seem to matter what barn or post position this pacer is dealing with these days. He’s going to be hard to beat in any scenario.

Other top pacers this week include: Verdad (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who rumbled to his second straight high condition win on Saturday night and did so in a new career-best time of 1:50:1; Annieswesterncard (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who won the week’s featured Preferred pace on Saturday night in 1:49, which was a new career-mark and the fastest time posted at MSPD this week; and Duel Cheeks (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), a mare who took a significant jump in class on Wednesday night and still scored her second consecutive win, this one coming in 1:51:4.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: CLARISSA HALL

There hasn’t been a trotter any more consistent than this 6-year-old mare. Since she arrived from Freehold at the start of April, she has hit the board in five straight races at Pocono, including three straight wins heading into her $10,000 to $12,500 claiming handicap on Tuesday night.

Clarissa Hall has managed to move up in class during the winning streak, which began in the $7,500 claimers. In addition, she has done it despite changing barns for each and every one of those wins. Tuesday night was her first time in the Chris Oakes barn. Early on, driver George Napolitano Jr. settled her in the pocket, but a slow pace by the leader meant that a bunch of horses were close up in the stretch, making for a congested rush to the finish.

With horses on all sides of her, Clarissa Hall stayed strong to the line and came out on top in a tight finish in 1:58:1 on the sloppy track. Not only is that her fourth straight victory, but she also continued a streak of being in the money in every one of her 14 starts this season. She was claimed from the race; her next barn can rest assured knowing it is getting one tough trotter.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Blomkvist (Jim Morrill Jr., Chris Oakes), who powered his way to a victory against the highest-priced claiming handicappers on the grounds on Saturday night in 1:54:1, which is a new career-best; Lightning Storm (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), whose victory in a condition trot on Saturday night came in a career-best 1:53:2; and Keystone Thomas (Andrew McCarthy, Joe Pavia Jr.), who won Wednesday night’s featured condition trot in 1:53:1, a new career-best and the fastest trotting time at Pocono this week.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: DAVE PANLONE

Using a pocket trip, this condition pacer surprised the faithful in the very first race on Tuesday night, rallying for the win at 17-1 in the slop for a win payout of $37.40 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MIKE SIMONS

Year after year, Simons, a Pocono fixture, keeps delivering the goods. He’s been at it again in 2013, and he rolled through the slop on Tuesday night with three victories on the card.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: CHRIS OAKES

The Oakes barn is a factor on the national level, but Chris saves plenty of ammunition for his home track, as evidenced by a four-win night on Saturday and six wins overall this week.

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

 

Pence Hanover Wins Saturday Night Feature at Pocono

Monday, May 20th, 2013

May 18, 2013

Pence Hanover relied on a pocket trip and powerful late kick to pick up a win in Saturday night’s featured Preferred pace at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The race carried the night’s top purse of $25,000.

Leaving from post position #4 in a field of eight as the 9-2 third betting choice, Pence Hanover (Western Hanover-Popcorn Penny), a 7-year-old gelding from the Aaron Lambert barn, was able to sit the pocket behind pacesetter Meirs Hanover. Even though the fractions weren’t too taxing, driver Andrew McCarthy was able to urge Pence Hanover to a rallying stretch win in the final strides over Meirs Hanover in 1:50:2. Here We Go Again picked up the show.

Pence Hanover, owned by Carl Cito Jr., won for the fifth time in 14 2013 starts. The victory was the 25th of his career and pushed his lifetime earnings to $257,955.

Saturday night’s racing at Pocono also featured eight $20,000 divisions of The Stallion Series for 3-year-old colts and geldings on the pace. The first of those divisions was the fastest of the night, as Matt Kakaley guided the Ron Burke trainee The Pan Poobah (The Panderosa-Pandalay Bay) to a scorching win in 1:50:4.

Kakaley would crank out four Stallion Series wins on the night at Pocono, including two with Burke and two more for trainer Ron Potter. He won again with Burke with UF Dragons Cruiser in 1:53:3. With Potter, he scored with Ilikeitrealhot in 1:51:2 and My One True Desire in 1:52:3.

Driver Jim Morrill Jr. and Chris Oakes connected on a pair of Stallion Series winners: Big Time Promise in 1:52:4 and Shock It To Em in 1:52. Morrill added a third win aboard Moonliteonthebeach for trainer Eddie Hart in 1:51:3. The other Stallion Series split was captured by Some Kinda Beach and the father-son team of driver Marcus Miller and trainer Erv Miller in 1:52.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Friday, May 17th, 2013

May 11-May 17, 2013    

We are about to get into the heart of stakes season here at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, as Stallion Series and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes races take place this weekend. This is the part of the season when things get really intense, with the best horses and horsemen invading the Pocono oval in a quest for the big purses. On the threshold of this exciting time, another exciting week of overnight racing went down. Here is the cream of the crop from those races with the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: STEELHEAD HANOVER

Managing a single mile of under 1:50 is quite an accomplishment. Doing it in two consecutive victories is an extremely impressive feat. And overcoming an outside post in the second of those miles is even more eye-popping. Since he accomplished all of these things, it’s no surprise that Steelhead Hanover earns the honors as this week’s top pacer.

The 4-year-old stallion trained and driven by Joe Pavia Jr. opened up on the front end in a condition for non-winners of $11,000 in the last five on April 27 for a victory in 1:49:1. Pavia gave him a week off and then returned him to action last Saturday night against the same class. Only this time Steelhead Hanover was a 7-1 third choice, likely because he was stuck in an outside post.

Pavia was able to get him into a prime spot into the pocket early, and that’s where he stayed as furious fractions were hung up on the board by the leaders in front of him. In the stretch, Steelhead Hanover found his stride and rallied for a tight win in 1:49:4. Can he get three in a row under 1:50? Only his next race will tell, but the way he’s going now, anything is possible.

Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: Mickey Hanover (Joe Pavia Jr., Rene Allard), who followed up a big win at The Meadowlands with a victory in Saturday night’s featured Preferred pace in 1:49:3; Apache Renegade (Andrew McCarthy, Mike Watson), who moved up in class on Saturday night for a win, his second straight overall, over the $12,500 claimers in a career-best 1:51; and Camille (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who won a stretch duel with rival Feeling You in Sunday night’s Preferred pace for mares on 1:51:1.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: AS YA’LL LIKE IT

This mare joined the Amber Buter barn in April and took a shot against the condition trotters in her next two starts, but she could only manage one third-place finish. On May 4 she dropped back into Pocono’s toughest claiming group, the $25,000-$30,000 claiming handicappers, and quickly re-established herself as a force by pouncing late from the pocket for a win in 1:55:1.

In that race she was assigned the outside post because she had the highest claiming price, but, with only six horses in the field, it wasn’t that difficult a proposition. When As Ya’ll Like It took on the same group on Saturday night, her outside post was the #8 hole, meaning that it would be that much tougher to get to the lead in the early going.

Yet the mare made it to the front end quickly, and driver Tyler Buter took advantage of a lack of outside pressure to rate her speed perfectly. As Ya’ll Like It took it from there, getting all the way home in 1:55:4. She was claimed after the race, so we’ll see if the new barn keeps her in the class she’s been dominating or sets her up for even bigger and better things based on her recent outstanding form.

Other top trotters this week include: Berkshire (Jim Morrill Jr., Antonella Galie), who scored his second straight condition trotting victory on Tuesday night in 1:55:2; Celebrity Maserati (Tom Jackson, Susanne Strandqvist), who returned to Pocono following a big stakes win at Freehold and rolled to a condition win on Wednesday night in 1:53; and Tui (Anthony Napolitano, Don Wiest), the standout mare who rolled to her second straight condition trotting win on Wednesday night, this time in 1:53:1.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: HEYTHEREGEORGIEGIRL

This mare had been struggling mightily in search of her maiden win, but driver Ron Pierce coaxed a big effort out of her on Tuesday night to upset the field at 28-1 for a $59 payout on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

It’s no surprise that Napolitano is among the driving leaders at Pocono yet again, and he improved his standing this week with a four-win explosion on Sunday night.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: NICK SURICK

One of the best young trainers in the business made his mark at Pocono this week by scoring three victories, including a double 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.