Posts Tagged ‘Joann Looney-King’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Monday, September 21st, 2015

September 4-10, 2015

The Pennsylvania Sire Stakes series is one of the highlights of any racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, showcasing some of the best young horses not just in the state, but often in the entire country. The preliminary legs are held throughout the spring and summer, and although they boast pretty big purses themselves, the other lure of these prelims is that horses who wish to reach the state championships need to perform well in them.

On Saturday, September 5, Pocono hosted the 3-year-old championships. Each of the four races held a purse of $350,000, which, in many cases, is the last time these horses will have the chance to go for a score that big. As always seems to be the case on Sire Stakes championships night, we saw a little bit of everything. Here is a look back at the four title races and the horses who can call themselves a state champion.

THREE-YEAR-OLD TROTTING FILLIES

Despite the fact that she was crowned the Hambletonian Oaks champ just two starts ago, Wild Honey went off as a 5-2 second choice on Saturday night in her final. That was partly due to the fact that she was saddled with the outside post in the race, and partly because she showed a worrisome break of stride in her previous start. Livininthefastlane instead went off as an odds-on favorite. But Wild Honey, trained by Jimmy Takter, fought hard to overcome the outside post, making the lead shy of the half despite getting parked around the first turn. Driver Dave Palone opened up a nice lead from there, and a furious rally from Bright Baby Blues came up a length short of Wild Honey, who trotted the mile in 1:53. Adding the 3-year-old title to the 2-year-old crown she won a year ago, the filly went over $1 million in lifetime earnings and set a record for most money earned in two Pennsylvania Sire Stakes campaigns.

THREE-YEAR-OLD PACING FILLIES

Momas Got A Gun, a consistent performer from the Virgil Morgan Jr. barn, was the even-money favorite in this field, but there seemed to be solid choices up and down the lineup. One exception appeared to be Safe From Terror, who, despite being the second-biggest earner in the field in 2015, went off as a 45-1 long shot for trainer Ron Burke. She also had an outside post, and, with the exception of back-to-back wins at the Meadows in the middle of the summer, had slumped since a fast start to the year. Imagine Dragon set the pace in the race, Momas Got A Gun was in a prime pocket spot, and Safe From Terror seemed hopelessly buried on the inside at the back of the back. Yet in the stretch, driver Tim Tetrick found some room for her at the very edge of the pylons, and she uncorked some serious late kick to speed by Momas Got A Gun and pull off the stunning upset by a head in 1:51:3.

THREE-YEAR-OLD TROTTING COLTS AND GELDINGS

It’s easy to be overlooked when you’re a young trotter in the barn of Jimmy Takter, simply because he always has a bunch of great ones for every division. The Bank faced just such a fate for much of the season, overshadowed by Hambletonian champ Pinkman and even Uncle Lasse, another Takter trainee who went off as the favorite on Saturday. The Bank, with the exception of a win in the Dancer at The Meadowlands, had been stuck with a lot of near-misses in big races. But the colt set out to change that in a big way on Saturday night, moving first-over aggressively with Jim Morrill Jr. in the bike to make a up a ton of ground after starting in the middle of the pack. At the top of the stretch, it seemed like anybody’s race, with Uncle Lasse, Wicker Havover, and Honor And Serve all in good position. But it was The Bank who trotted by them all by a length in 1:53:1, earning the signature win of his career.

THREE-YEAR-OLD PACING COLTS AND GELDINGS

Speaking of overshadowed, Wakizashi Hanover knows that feeling well. The gelding from the barn of trainer Joann Looney-King has spent most of the summer battling it out with superstar Wiggle It Jiggleit and often coming up just short. Since his main rival wasn’t a part of Saturday night’s field, it seemed like it was Wakizashi Hanover’s time to shine, and he went off as a 1-9 favorite. Lost For Words set a screaming pace early, trying to pace away and hide from the competition. But driver Tim Tetrick didn’t panic, finding a spot in the pocket for the heavy favorite and staying close to the pacesetter. In the stretch, Wakizashi Hanover was ready to pounce on a tiring Lost for Words. He took over the lead and had to withstand a late challenge from closing My Hero Ron, holding on by a half-length. The winning time of 1:48:1 was the fastest ever in Pennsylvania championship history, a fitting way to close out another scintillating Sire Stakes season at Pocono.

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.

$1.7 Million PA Sire Stakes Championship Night Saturday 9/5/15

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

The richest Sire Stakes Championship series begins Saturday night, September 5th,  at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono will host four $350,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship for three-year-olds. Each of the four divisions will also have a $60,000 Consolation race; the total program on Saturday at Pocono will distribute purses of $1,770,000.

COLT PACERS

$350,000 Championship – race 12

$60,000 Consolation – race 5

Championship record: 1:48.4, McWicked, 2014 (fastest Championship in PA history)

Defending champion from 2YO year: Yankee Bounty

Leading pointwinner in four preliminaries: Lost For Words

Most of the attention in the “glamour division” will be focused on Wakizashi Hanover, already a winner of over $840,000 this year, including the North America Cup Final, and regarded as second-best on the North American scene to the amazing Wiggle It Jiggleit. Wakizashi has driven post five for the Championship, and as usual trainer Joann Looney-King has tapped Tim Tetrick to drive the altered son of Dragon Again for the Tri County Stable of Nova Scotia. The sophomore has experience over the track, winning a Hempt elimination and then finished fourth from a difficult draw, and following that outing up with a second to “Wiggle” in the Battle of the Brandywine.

It’s unusual to see a defending champion and a leading prelim pointswinner regarded as “outsiders” in the field, but Yankee Bounty and Lost For Words, respectively, are not only figurative outsiders, but the literal outsiders as well in the field of eight – Yankee Bounty, starting from post seven for all-time Sire Stakes driving champion Dave Palone,does come off a 1:49.3 win in a Sire Stakes prelim, while Lost For Words (post eight, David Miller) was the only three-time winner in the Sires prelims.

COLT TROTTERS

$350,000 Championship – race 11

$60,000 Consolation – race 4

Championship record: 1:52.4, Father Patrick, 2014

Defending champion from 2YO year: Billy Flynn (the only 3YO who did not qualify for these finals)

Leading pointwinner in four preliminaries: Wicker Hanover

Wicker Hanover and Uncle Lasse were both three-time Sires prelim winners. Wicker Hanover, an Explosive Matter colt who has done well on or off the pace, will start from post six for driver Andrew McCarthy, trainer Ross Croghan, and the Christer Haggstorm Racing Stable Inc., while the Donato Hanover colt Uncle Lasse, third in both the Hambletonian Final and the Colonial, drew post two for driver David Miller, trainer Jimmy Takter, and owners Solveig’s Racing Partners and Goran Falk.

A horse conspicuous by his absence is Pinkman, #2 in the prelim pointstandings while achieving three victories, but when he won the Hambletonian trainer Takter chose the Triple Crown road for him, and he goes Saturday night at Yonkers in the Yonkers Trot, the second Crown leg. But even with two recent losses to Crazy Wow, in the Colonial and Yonkers Trot elim, Pinkman likely would have been a big favorite here, and using the “glass is half full” theory, the race is much more competitive this way.

FILLY PACERS

$350,000 Championship – race 10

$60,000 Consolation – race 3

Championship record: 1:49, Economy Terror

Defending champion from 2YO year: Southwind Roulette

Leading pointwinner in four preliminaries: Somewhere Sweet

Perhaps the best testimony to the contentiousness of this division all year, and in theory here Saturday, is the fact that prelim pointleader Somewhere Sweet won only once in the prelims. But the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, trained by Brian Brown for Miller’s Stable, has been a very consistent miss, winning half her ten seasonal starts and never finishing worse than fourth, and she draws the favorable post two for driver David Miller.

There were two two-time prelim winners in this division, but for Saturday they had the misfortune of drawing the two outside spots on the gate: Serious Filly (PP7, also trained by Brown, Tim Tetrick listed) and Safe From Terror (PP8, trainer Ron Burke, also listing Tetrick on the early sheet).

FILLY TROTTERS

$350,000 Championship – race 9

$60,000 Consolation – race 14

Championship record: 1:51.3, Check Me Out, 2012 (fastest trot Champion ever)

Defending champion from 2YO year: Wild Honey

Leading pointwinner in four preliminaries: Sarcy (not entered), Smokinmombo #2

Last year’s divisional champion Wild Honey has come back sharply in 2015, with a win in the Hambletonian Oaks Final and two Sire Stakes wins. The Cantab Hall filly is likely to be held as the horse to beat despite drawing post eight for driver Dave Palone, trainer Jimmy Takter, and the ownership combine of Takter, Fielding, Liverman, and Fielding.

Jimmy Takter is also the trainer of Sarcy, who was #1 in the prelim points, but that filly has not raced since finishing fifth in the Oaks Final on August 8 and has not won since June 25, so she is not entered in the Championship. But Wild Honey is certainly a fine “backup plan.”

FINISHING LINES – Dave Palone has 38 career wins in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championships, and the driver in second needs a telescope to see him even though winning five Championships last year – Yannick Gingras, with a total of 12. We know Yannick will not duplicate that output in 2015, as he will be driving Pinkman at Yonkers on Saturday. Palone, however, has a call in three of the four Championships, and there are two to-be-resolved double calls in the race he currently is not listed.

PA Sire Stakes action shines on Preakness night

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Trainer Brian Brown, trainer of 2014 divisional and Jugette champion Color’s A Virgin and a resident of Delaware OH, may be having himself a two-day party late this September at the famed half-miler, as he already has five different Pennsylvania Sire Stakes-winning three-year-old pacing horses, three fillies and now the two colts who continued the hot trainer’s winning ways Saturday night, May 16th, at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, being among the four winners in the $226,168 first leg of their Sires action.

As the track turned “sloppy” for the fifth race Sires division (Pocono is about 150 miles northeast of Baltimore as the crow flies, and the Preakness rain started about two hours before the storms hit northeast PA), Rise Up Now remained undefeated in five outings this year, tucking in the pocket down the back and then catching leader Blood Brother in the stretch to post a 1½-length 1:51.3 over a newly-christened “sloppy” track. Blood Brother had snapped off splits of 26.1, 55.3, and 1:22.2, but the 53 usage in the odd-numbered quarters did not allow him to hold off the Somewheresomebeach gelding and driver Simon Allard, who piloted the Brown trainee for King McNamara of Florida, the only non-Buckeye in the ownership group which includes the Strollin Stable, William Robinson, and Country Club Acres.

Brown is now two-for-two seasonally with the Well Said colt Lost For Words, who reclaimed the lead down the backstretch, opened up four lengths turning for home, then held off the late charge of the game little Allbeef N Nobull to win by 1½ lengths in 1:51.4 in the night’s second division, when the track was still “fast.” Lost For Words, a finalist in both the Governors Cup and Breeders Crown last year, was driven by Jim Morrill Jr. for the three Ohioans who share in Rise Up Now’s ownership and another Buckeye, Richard Lombardo.

For years Brown has done very well in the Pennsylvania program, but this year his numbers are only slightly short of unbelievable. He’s perfect in five Pocono starts, and at The Meadows he sports a 13-9-3-0 tally, for a Keystone State total of 18-14-3-0 – which produces a mind-boggling state UTR of .870!

McArdles Lightning teamed with driver Anthony Napolitano to post a 6-1 upset in taking the first division, coming from last at the half in the seven-horse field and blitzing his own back two quarters in 54.2 to equal his lifetime mark of 1:51. Steve Elliott conditions the McArdle ridgling (double thoroughbred Triple Crown racewinner American Pharoah is also a ridgling) for the Lightning Stable.

In the final Sires heat, Wazikashi Hanover was a pocket rocket in catching last year’s 2YO Sires champion, Yankee Bounty, by 1¼ lengths, with the time on the sloppy track 1:52. Yankee Bounty overcame the outside “eight-ball” to post splits of 27, 57, and 1:24.4, but “Wazikashi,” a Dragon Again gelding, was relentless and gained into the 27.1 kicker for trainer Joann Looney-King and the Tri County Stable. Driver Jim Morrill Jr. joined trainer Brown as a double winner in the Sires races.

Gallie Bythe Beach Stays Unbeaten in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Action at Pocono

Monday, August 12th, 2013

August 7, 2013

Gallie Bythe Beach continued her impressive career-opening winning streak with a hard-fought victory to highlight Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action on Wednesday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. There were four Sire Stakes races held for 2-year-old fillies on the pace, with purses ranging from $68,333 to $68,734.

Gallie Bythe Beach (Somebeachsomewhere-Galleria), who came into Wednesday night’s action with wins in each of her first four lifetime starts, took to the front end around the first turn and was still there at the end by a head after a tough stretch battle. John Campbell drove Gallie Bythe Beach, the 1-5 favorite, for Jim Campbell as the filly won in 1:52:4. Southwind Silence made it close late with a furious inside rally, while Beach Body finished third.

In other Sire Stakes action, Stucklikeglue (Dragon Again-Ruth Plumsted) picked up a memorable maiden victory with a pylon-skimming ride to zip by the leaders late. Matt Kakaley did the driving for trainer Ron Burke, as Stucklikeglue turned her sixth lifetime start into her first career win by a half-length in 1:53:1 at 7-1. Sister Stroll finished second while 6-5 favorite Rusty’s Bliss faded to third after leading most of the way.

Extra Desire (Art Official-R Burning Desire) continued the trend of maidens surprising in the Sire Stakes with a late-kicking victory in the second division at 12-1. Tyler Buter was in the bike for trainer Paul Kennedy as Extra Desire scored in her third career start in 1:52:4. Bahama Blue finished second while One Jazzy Lady picked up the show. The 4-5 favorite Put On A Display coughed up the lead late and finished fifth.

Tyra (McArdle-Perrilla) used front-pacing speed to capture the final division comfortably by 2 ¾ lengths in 1:52:4. With Tim Tetrick in the bike for trainer Joann Looney-King, Tyra, the 8-5 second choice, went all the way on the front end for her third victory in just four career races. 6-5 favorite Also Encouraging had to settle for best of the rest while Quick Thrill came on for third.