Posts Tagged ‘Jim Mulinix’

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Saturday, September 21st, 2013

September 13-19, 2013

With only about a month until the Breeders Crown on Saturday, October 19 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, it’s as good a time as any to start looking ahead to how some of the top competitors shape up. Because of the increase in the number of stakes races at Pocono, many more of the North America’s best horses have already traveled over the oval this season than at the same point three years ago when the Breeders Crown was last held at MSPD.

With that in mind, we thought we’d take a look at the Top 10 horses in the most recent Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown and see just how well they’ve done this year at Pocono. We’ll count them down in descending order, just like this really good Bob Dylan book I heard about lately.

10. SEVRUGA: This 5-year-old trotting gelding from the Julie Miller barn has won nine of 19 starts this year with earnings of close to $500,000. His first start at Pocono this season was a memorable one, as he ripped off a victory in an Invitational trot in 1:50:3, a new-world record for aged geldings on a 5/8-mile oval. He was upset, however, by Wishing Stone in his last Pocono appearance on Super Stakes Saturday.

9. MAVEN: This 4-year-old trotting gelding is one of the few in the Top 10 who has yet to make an appearance at Pocono in 2013, although fans with longer memories may remember him as a solid performer in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action at the track as a two and three-year-old. Maven’s biggest success this season has been in Canada, where he in unbeaten in four races for trainer Jonas Czernyson.

8. PET ROCK: A four-year-old pacing stallion from the Virgil Morgan Jr. barn, Pet Rock has had an outstanding season once again in 2013 with earnings north of $600,000. But his story at Pocono has been one of near misses. He finished 3rd and 2nd in the Ben Franklin pace elimination and final in June, then came up just short behind A Rocknroll Dance on Super Stakes Saturday.

7. VEGAS VACATION: Most people have conceded the 3-year-old pacing division to Captaintreacherous, but this gelding trained by Casie Coleman pushed the super-horse to the limit in their last meeting on the Pocono oval, finishing just a nose behind him in the slop in the Max Hempt. He’s been building confidence since then, scoring big-money victories at Tioga and Mohawk.

6. A ROCKNROLL DANCE: Trainer Jim Mulinix hopes the old phrase “horses for courses” applies come Breeders Crown time, because the last two starts this 4-year-old pacer had at Pocono were memorable. In 2012, he turned around a floundering season with a win in the Max Hempt Memorial. His lone start here this season was a win on Super Stakes Saturday in 1:47:4, matching the fastest ever at the track.

5. ROYALTY FOR LIFE: As the Hambletonian winner as well as a victor in several other big stakes races, 2013 has been a great year for Royalty For Life, trained by George Ducharme. Except at Pocono. Back in June, the 3-year-old trotter broke stride in both the elimination and the final for the Earl Beal Jr. In August, he got caught up in a speed duel and faded to 7th as the favorite in the Colonial.

4. FATHER PATRICK: The most celebrated 2-year-old in the country, Father Patrick made his trotting debut at Pocono in July in Pennsylvania All Stars action with a seven-length victory. He returned a few weeks later for another easy score in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. With seven wins in eight races so far for trainer Jimmy Takter, you get the feeling he’ll be tough no matter what track hosts him.

3. I LUV THE NITELIFE: With just one loss in 11 races this season, the pride of the Chris Ryder barn has been without a doubt the class of the 3-year-old pacing fillies division. She has been especially fine at Pocono, winning all three of her races here this year. Included among those were big stakes wins in the James Lynch and the Valley Forge, the latter coming in a world record for her age group of 1:48:4.

2. CAPTAINTREACHEROUS: It took a world-record performance from Sunshine Beach to spoil his unbeaten season at Pocono in the Battle of the Brandywine, and even then it was only in a photo finish. Before that, the Captain overcame a treacherous trip, if you will, to win the Hempt in June. Will the 3-year-old  pacing colt from the Tony Alagna barn step up on Breeders Crown day? Time will tell.

1. BEE A MAGICIAN: The number-one horse in the poll is a relative unknown to Pocono fans, since she’s the only one on this list to have never raced at MSPD. The 3-year-old trotting filly from the Nifty Norman barn has done most of her damage in Canada, but she did stop at The Meadowlands this year to win the Hambletonian Oaks as part of her record of twelve wins in twelve races in 2013.

Those are just some of the horses to watch come October at Pocono. With all of that firepower on display, it should be an amazing night.

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

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

September 14-20, 2012

We had only two nights of live racing this past week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, so the Weekly Awards will have to take a little hiatus until next week. Instead, I thought we’d play a little game of “Where Are They Now?”

If you’re like me, you’re fascinated by all those shows which reveal the whereabouts of celebrities from yesteryear who haven’t stayed in the limelight. Only in our case, the celebrities are of the four-legged variety, particularly those horses who won the four major stakes races at Pocono this season.

What this little exercise should show is just how good those four horses are and that their moments in the spotlight at Pocono were indicative of the way that they’ve performed at other tracks around the country. It should also show that the MSPD stakes schedule, with its hefty purses attached, now attracts the best of the best in the harness racing world.

Our first major stakes race of the season, the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Trot for 3-year-olds on June 23, was a coming out party for the amazing Googoo Gaagaa. Up to that point, he had been a regional phenomenon for trainer Richard Hans in his home state of Maryland, but his ridiculous win in 1:50:4 in the Beal seemed to serve notice that he was the best sophomore trotter in the nation.

His skeptics had plenty to crow about when he went off stride in his following starts at Yonkers and The Meadowlands. Hans sent him back to Maryland for a confidence-building win in Maryland, then returned him to the fray to face the best of the best, including Hambletonian champ Market Share, in the Colonial at Harrah’s on August 18. Googoo Gaagaa proved definitively that the Beal was no fluke that day, whipping his competition for a victory in 1:52:1.

On June 30, we witnessed one of the sport’s true superstars as 3-year-old filly pacer American Jewel rolled in the final of the James Lynch Memorial stakes. That put her career record at 12 wins in 14 tries, meaning the filly didn’t know much about defeat. She would find out in her next three starts, hitting the board in consecutive stakes races at The Meadowlands, Tioga, and Harrah’s, but failing to pick up a victory in any of those tough battles.

When you’re a filly with as much talent as American Jewel, the near-misses just aren’t going to cut it. That’s why trainer Jimmy Takter had to be pleased when she righted herself with a win in her last start in Canada in the Simcoe stakes. With that win in tow, she appears to be in prime shape for the upcoming Breeders Crown.

When A Rocknroll Dance headed into the Max Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old pacers at Pocono on June 30, he was in the midst of a slump. As a result, despite an outstanding 2-year-old campaign in 2011, the colt from the Jim Mulinix barn went off as a 17-1 shot. He found his stride that day, however, buzzing by the leaders late to pull off the upset.

Buoyed by his win in the Hempt, the colt has since moved into the upper echelon of 3-year-old pacers in the country. A win in the prestigious Meadowlands Pace solidified that standing, and his victory in the Battle of the Brandywine at Harrah’s in August was one of the signature performances of the racing season.

Has there been a better pacer in the country this year than the amazing Betterthancheddar? Trained by Casie Coleman, the 4-year-old put together a thrilling, front-pacing win in the Ben Franklin free-for-all pace at Pocono on June 30, matching the track’s fastest ever pacing time with a mile of 1:48. Coleman then took him back to Canada for three straight victories.

Betterthancheddar was upset by the great Foiled Again in the Canadian Derby at Mohawk, but he quickly bounced back to beat that horse and other top pacers in the Bobby Quiller Memorial at Harrington on September 17. He has legitimate Horse of the Year aspirations.

So, as you can see, the horses that have made their mark at Pocono have gone on to perform with excellence at their subsequent destinations. Maybe we shouldn’t be asking, “Where are they now?” after all. Maybe the proper question is, “What will they do next?”

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

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

July 27-August 2, 2012

We only had two nights of racing this past week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. That fact makes doing a Weekly Awards pretty impossible, since there aren’t that many candidates and a pretty small sample size from which to choose.

The reason for the short racing week was an 80’s-themed weekend at the track featuring some of the artists who populated the music charts in that wild and woolly decade. With that in mind, I thought I’d use this column to take a look back at some of the memorable performances from the first half of the racing season this week, and, since I’m a child of the 80’s myself, I thought I’d give them an 80’s music flair.


The song was a rather melodramatic ballad from the Australian one-hit wonders Moving Pictures that had some success back in ’82. You can’t blame It’sabouttime, a pacer from the Linda Kakaley barn, for asking the same question. After all he won a $5,000 claimer on July 1 at hefty odds of 42-1. Two weeks later, he moved up in class to the $10,000 claimers, and bettors overlooked him again to the tune of 33-1. He won that race as well. Two huge long-shot victories in the span of three weeks for this pacer means that the only ones asking, “What about me?” were the people who bet on him as they lined up to collect their big winnings at the teller windows.


One of the funkiest songs of the 80’s was this ’82 smash by The Gap Band which came complete with bottle-rocket sound effects. In racing, a bomber is another name for a long shot, and there was no bigger long shot on a June Wednesday night that Celebrity Scandal in a condition pace to close out the card.  The tote board read 99-1, but, in actuality, he went off at a staggering 185-1. In the stretch, however, Mike Simons guided the pacer home to a monster upset, paying off at $373.20 for a $2 win ticket, the biggest win price I’ve seen in my 15 years at Pocono.


Queen was one of the few successful bands in the 70’s that were able to parlay that into hit records in the 80’s, kicking off the decade with this monster smash that crossed all kinds of genres. It’s been the theme song for the mare Billmar Scooter, who has spent all of her time this year at Pocono facing the finest pacing mares on the grounds. Eight times she has gone out against the winners of over $25,000 lifetime mares, and she has won six of those races. Trained by Amber Buter and driven by Tyler Buter, this excellent pacer is certainly an early favorite for Mare of the Year honors with such an outstanding record in place.


This song by Simple Minds was immortalized in the 1985 John Hughes classic film, The Breakfast Club. Speaking of immortalized, A Rocknroll Dance seemed on his way to racing stardom after a brilliant 2-year-old season in 2011. But he was struggling a bit this season coming into the Max Hempt Memorial in July, Pocono’s richest race for 3-year-old pacers. As a result, he got away at 17-1, yet driver Yannick Gingras rallied the colt from the Jim Mulinix barn home for the upset win in the Hempt. Following that up with a win in the prestigious Meadowlands Pace, A Rocknroll Dance has proven that forgetting about him isn’t a smart move.


We have seen some outstanding filly pacers make their way through Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs over the past several years, including Southwind Tempo and See You At Peelers, to name a few. Few have been quite so deserving of this award named after a classic by The Tubes. This superstar from the Jimmy Takter barn swept through the James Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old pacing fillies, winning both the elimination and the final, with Tim Tetrick in the bike for each, in identical world-record times.


The refrain from this New Wave smash by The Talking Heads is “Same as it ever was.” Well, nothing will ever be the same at Pocono after Googoo Gaagaa’s appearance here for the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old trotters. In a virtuoso, dare I say once-in-a-lifetime performance, he won the Beal in a ridiculous time of 1:50:4, the fastest time ever trotted by any age on a 5/8-mile oval. Corey Callahan did the driving for trainer Richard Hans. While Googoo Gaagaa has since struggled with keeping stride in his subsequent start, nobody can ever take away what he did that Saturday night.

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