Posts Tagged ‘Joe Pavia’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week in Review

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

October 9-15, 2015

After the last vestiges of summer flickered across the Northeastern Pennsylvania landscape early last week, more typical autumnal weather started to move in at the end of the racing week. Regardless of the weather, cold or hot, sloppy or clear, you can always count on racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun to be of the highest caliber, and this week was no different. To prove it, let’s hand out some Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: FANCY DESIRE

It’s never too late to turn a season around, or at least salvage something positive from it. Consider the example of Fancy Desire, a 4-year-old mare from the barn of trainer Daniel Renaud. As a 3-year-old in 2014, she was outstanding, earning over $300,000. Yet her four-year-old season seemed like a lost cause by comparison; going into her start at Pocono on October 2, she had just two second-place finishes to show for her 21 races with nary a win.

That all changed that night against an excellent $24,000 distaff condition field, as she rallied late with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike to win at 8-1 in 1:52:1 in sloppy conditions. With George Nap unavailable on Friday night, Anthony Napolitano took the assignment aboard Fancy Desire against the same condition, also in the slop. And, changing strategies, A-Nap sent the mare to the front end early.

While the heavy favorite Stacia Hanover labored a bit in the wet conditions, Fancy Desire looked confident on the engine. In the stretch, only Handsoffmycupcake was a threat from the pocket, but she could only get within a length at the line. With a winning time of 1:52:2, Fancy Desire now has two straight victories after her 0-for-21 start to the season. There’s still a month or so left in the Pocono meet and a month more after that till the end of the year, so there’s no telling what kind of damage she’ll do now that she has found her stride.

Other top pacers this week include: Scott Rocks (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), who reeled off his second straight condition win, this one coming in Saturday night’s feature in 1:50:1; Modern Day Clyde (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), who ripped off his third straight claiming victory on Saturday night in 1:52:2; and K Ryan Bluechip (Simon Allard, Joe Pavia Jr.), a three-year-old filly who scored her second straight condition win on Tuesday night, this one in a career-best 1:49:4, and has now won the last four times she’s raced at Pocono.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: GJ PHOTO VICTORY

What a season it has been for this 7-year-old gelding with the mouthful of a name. Going into a $12,500 to $15,000 claiming handicap trot on Friday night, GJ Photo Victory had notched 13 victories in 31 races this year. A good chunk of those victories came right here at Pocono, and, aside from a little mid-season slump, has been a threat to win just about every time he leaves the gate regardless of the competition or the post position.

In recent weeks, GJ Photo Victory has been on fire. He came into Friday night’s race with victories in his last two starts for trainer Dean Eckley. Unlike those last two wins, however, Friday night’s contest saw him shuffled to the middle of the pack early, putting his winning streak in jeopardy. Driver Jim Morrill Jr. decided on a relatively early three-wide move to get the front.

You don’t win as many races as GJ Photo Victory has this year without proving that you can handle a little in-race adversity. As the 2-1 second choice in the race, he worked his way to the front with the wide move and held everyone else at bay from there. The winning time in the slop was 1:56. That makes 14 wins this season, three in a row, and just another example why this horse has to be kept in mind when we hand out the Pocono yearend awards in a few weeks.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Soboro Hanover (Matt Kakaley, Nifty Norman), a 3-year-old gelding who won Tuesday night’s featured condition trot in 1:54:4, giving him two straight victories; Drama Free (Simon Allard, Chris Oakes), who picked up his second straight claiming victory on Friday night, doing so in the slop in a career-best 1:55:1; and Ray Hall (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), whose condition victory on Saturday night came in the week’s fastest trotting time of 1:52:4.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: GLAMMIT

His name may sound like a curse word, but folks were shouting it in celebration after this pacer with Joe Pavia Jr. driving surprised a condition field at 29-1, paying off $61.60 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JOE PAVIA JR.

Joe had his finest night of the season in the slop on Friday night, churning out five wins, of which only one went off as the race favorite.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: ROBERT BRESNAHAN JR.

Bresnahan won with the only two starters he sent out on Saturday night, a pair of New Zealand-breds who paid off at nice odds: Mr Franklin N at 10-1 and Benjamin Banneker N at 9-2.

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.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

June 14-20, 2013

What an amazing week of racing we all just witnessed at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. In a year that will see the track host The Breeders Crown in October, we’re already getting a taste of the incendiary action to come. This past week offered Stallion Series races, Pennsylvania Sire Stakes races, and a world record-matching performance. Let’s take a look at it all by passing out the Weekly Awards.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: GUCCIO

What is it about trainer Jimmy Takter and four-year-old trotting stallions at Pocono? On June 8 in a $25,000 Preferred trot, Takter trainee Uncle Peter delivered a stunning performance in his victory, trotting the mile in 1:51:1. That not only set a track record for the age and gender grouping but it also smashed a world record for the group on a 5/8-mile oval.

Takter was at it again in Saturday night’s Preferred event, only this time he brought in another 4-year-old stallion named Guccio. Guccio had been seasoned against ruggedly tough trotters at The Meadowlands and was made the 2-5 favorite in the race. Takter also did the driving and positioned his horse perfectly behind a speed duel that created unconscious fractions in front of him.

Guccio rolled by his competition in the stretch, ending up 1 ½ lengths out in front of the rest. And what do you think his winning time was? 1:51:1, meaning that he matched the world record that his stablemate just set. I guess the next time you see a Jimmy Takter four-year-old stallion trotting into Pocono, you should watch that timer close to see if another record-breaking performance is in the offing.

Other top trotters this week include: Valley Of Sin (Mike Wilder, John Butenschoen), whose rallying win on Sunday in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action for 3-year-old colts and geldings in a career-best 1:54:1 was his second straight victory at Pocono; Quantum Cashman (Jonathan Drury, Carmen Auciello), who moved up in class to win a claiming handicap trot on Tuesday night in a career-best 1:54:3, his third straight overall and second in a row at Pocono; and Lady Broadway (Jim Morrill Jr., Chris Oakes), a 3-year-old filly who won her third straight, the last two of which have come at Pocono, with a victory in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes competition on Wednesday night in 1:55:2.

PACER OF THE WEEK: BET ON THE LAW

Sometimes it takes a change of tactics to get a horse over the hump. In the case of Bet On The Law, a standout performer for trainer/driver Joe Pavia Jr., he had tried gunning out on the lead in his previous two starts in Preferred paces at Pocono, a style that had served him well in lower classes, only to get caught from behind when facing the best pacers on the grounds.

Saturday night’s $25,000 Preferred pace was loaded with big names and lots of up-front speed, so Pavia decided to try something different. He held Bet On The Law back in the field early while others battled for the lead and did all the work. He then wisely caught the cover of Hurrikane Kingcole on the back stretch to get his horse into contention with a minimum of effort.

In the stretch, while others had already used their best strides, Bet On The Law was just finding his. The 4-year-old gelding blew by his cover and everyone else to win by a length. His winning time of 1:48:4 marked a new career-best, but even more important, this talented pacer showed the versatility necessary to win no matter how a race plays out.

Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: Best Ears (Jim Morrill Jr., Rene Allard), who followed up a condition win in his previous race with a victory over $25,000 claimers on Saturday night in a scorching career-best time of 1:49:4; Ideal Matters (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who won for the third time in his last four starts with a conquest of a condition pacing field on Saturday in 1:49:3; and Drop The Ball (Corey Callahan, Ross Croghan), who won Sunday night’s Preferred pace for mares in 1:50.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: CAGE FIGHTER

With Andrew McCarthy in the bike, this claiming pacer spiced up the early Daily Double on Wednesday night with a rallying win at 44-1, paying out $91 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MATT KAKALEY

Kakaley has been on fire for much of the season, but he turned it up with double-figures in wins for the week, including a five-bagger on Tuesday night.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: RON BURKE

Burke started the week off with three training wins on Friday night and didn’t let up from there, as he has slowly but surely ascended to the top of the Pocono training colony in victories for the meet.

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.

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.

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.

 

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.