Posts Tagged ‘Joe Pavia Jr.’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Monday, April 10th, 2017

April 1-7, 2017

We’re just a few weeks into the racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, but we’re already seeing some horses establishing themselves as ones to watch for the entire meet if they stick around. We’re also getting a good look at how the drivers and trainers’ standings might be shaking out this season. It’s just a small sample size, as they say in baseball, but the first few weeks definitely indicate we are in for one wild ride of a season at Pocono. Here are the Weekly Awards for the week gone by.

PACER OF THE WEEK: CRAFTY MASTER

It’s not very often that we see a horse make the jump from the claiming ranks onto the highest rungs of the condition ladder and have success. Then again, the way things have been going in the first few weeks of the meet for trainer Rene Allard and driver Simon Allard, everything is on the table. So when Crafty Master stepped up to face the featured $15,500 condition pacers on Saturday night, the 6-year-old stallion received respect from the windows and went off as a 9-5 second betting choice.

Crafty Master was coming off back-to-back wins, one in Canada and then on March 25 at Pocono in his first start for the Allard barn against a claiming group. On Saturday night, the stallion sat in the middle of the pack behind a blistering pace set by Lean On You. Simon Allard set him motion first over in the back stretch, but he was unable to corral the lead quickly, meaning that he was parked on the outside all the way around the final turn.

It looked like Ontario Success, the 6-5 favorite who had the excellent pocket trip going behind Lean On You, might be the horse to watch in the stretch. But Crafty Master kept after it despite the extra effort around that last turn. He eventually poked ahead and kept on right on striving until he was 1 ½ lengths ahead of Ontario Success. The winning time for Crafty Master of 1:50:2 was the fastest of the season to date at Pocono and a new career mark, proving that he belongs in the upper echelons of Pocono racing in the early going.

Other top pacers this week include: Next Success (Jim Morrill Jr., Les Givens), who now has three straight wins, the last two at Pocono, after handling a $25,000 claiming field Saturday night in 1:53:1; Dash Of Danger (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), whose victory in the first division of the Bobby Weiss series for pacing colts, stallions and geldings on Sunday night was his second straight at Pocono and came in a new career-best mark of 1:51:4; and Cheap N Easy (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), a mare who moved up the ladder to score her second consecutive win on Tuesday night, this one in 1:53:4.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SWISHNFLICK

It was that kind of week for the Allards; Simon and Rene were in charge of both horses of the week, and those two winners were really just the tip of the iceberg concerning their hot streak at Pocono. Swishnflick, a seven-year-old mare, arrived from Yonkers on March 25, having faced rugged condition competition throughout the early part of the season in New York. She immediately reminded the Pocono faithful of her talent with a front-trotting win in 1:54:1 against a $14,000 condition group.

The mare was back at it on Saturday night, only this time she went up against the $15,500 conditioners and was the only distaff trotter in the field. Leaving from post position #4 in a field of eight as a 5-2 second choice, she immediately settled in behind pacesetting Skates N Plates. The leader was able to get away with relatively soft fractions for the first three-quarters of a mile, meaning that, even from the pocket spot, Swishnflick might have issues rallying.

In the stretch, it was essentially a match race between Skates N Plates and Swishnflick. Simon Allard guided the mare to the inside passing lane, where she found her best stride and powered up past a game Skates N Plates. The mare came across the line a half-length in front in 1:55:4. That gives Swishnflick two straight wins and some serious momentum in the early part of the 2017 campaign.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: ABC Muscles Boy (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), whose condition victory on Saturday night came in 1:54:1, fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; What A Peach (Simon Allard, Frank Kamine), who, with a claiming handicap win on Sunday night, now has three victories in his last four races; and Hot Mess Hanover (Andrew McCarthy, Joe Pavia Jr.), whose Bobby Weiss series win in the distaff trotters class came in 1:56:3, a new career mark and the fastest split of the group on Tuesday night.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: THREEUPTHREEDOWN

Sunday night got off to a wild start, as this gelding driven by Matt Kakaley overcame the #9 post and rallied furiously for a Race 1 condition trotting victory at 55-1, paying off $119.20 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: VICTOR KIRBY

Kirby made the most of his Sunday night appearance, scoring a pair of victories in the Bobby Weiss series with Highalator and Rewind Again, his only two drives of the evening.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: RENE ALLARD

Allard has really asserted his dominance in the early part of the meet, following up a big first week by scoring a combined eight training victories on Saturday and 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

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

October 1-7, 2016

Although the calendar flipped to October, the racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono showed no signs of cooling off with the weather. Even sloppy racing conditions couldn’t slow down the action. As a result, there were plenty of performances worthy of consideration for this edition of the Weekly Awards. We present the best of the best from the week that was to you now.

PACER OF THE WEEK: MICHAEL’S VICTORY

This three-year-old gelding from the barn of Mark Silva showed his talent earlier this season when he ripped off a victory at The Meadowlands in a scorching 1:49:1. He entered his race against the non-winners of five on Sunday night on a high note as well, having beaten the same class in his previous race at Pocono in 1:52:3.

Despite all of that, Michael’s Victory went off as a 9-5 second choice. That’s because Tom Hill, a newcomer from the racing wars in Canada, went off as the 1-2 favorite based on some quick times up north. Yet it was Michael’s Victory who proved to be the aggressor, taking the lead away from Settlemoir with a quick brush on the front stretch and opening up a nice advantage on the rest of the field.

Tom Hill took a shot at the leader on the back stretch, but Michael’s Victory was having none of it. He kept up the heat until Tom Hill, struggling to get closer, made a speed break. And Michael’s Victory just kept pouring it on from there. When it was all over, the three-year-old, driven by Simon Allard, was a winner by an impressive 7 ¼ lengths in a zippy time of 1:51. He’ll be graduating from the non-winners of five off this win, and it should be fun to see how he performs at his next step up the racing ladder.

Other top pacers this week include: Keystone Velocity (Simon Allard, Barry Probber), who rolled over an outstanding field in Saturday night’s featured $25,000 handicap pace, matching a career-best of 1:48:2 despite sloppy conditions; Rockin Rambaran (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), who followed up a claiming handicap at Chester with another at Pocono on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:49:4 in the slop; and Yes You Can (Jim Marohn Jr., Tony Dinges), who arrived from Vernon Downs to capture Tuesday night’s feature pace for mares in a career-best 1:50:4.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: WESTSIDE LINDY

One of the things that seems to be true about harness racing perhaps more than other sports is that it often takes just a single victory to ignite a hot streak. In the case of Westside Lindy, a nine-year-old gelding, that victory came at Chester on August 25, which was his first of the season in twelve tries. He quickly followed that up with another win at Chester, whereupon he was claimed for $15,000 and joined the Chris Oakes barn when he shipped to Pocono.

After a second at a claiming price of $20,000 on September 12, he ripped off a victory against the same class two weeks later. On Sunday night he was once again facing off against the $20,000 claimers. As the even-money favorite, he swooped to the front around the first turn under the guidance of driver George Napolitano Jr. From there he held on to the lead without seeming to exert much effort, even as the fractions he posted were swift.

In the stretch, he widened his lead over the rest of the field until he could finally gear down a bit at the end. The veteran gelding still came home 2 ¾ lengths ahead of his closest competitor in a hasty 1:53:2. That winning time not only set a new career mark by almost a second, but it was also the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono. That one victory at Chester really fired up Westside Lindy, to the point where he’s racing better than he ever has before in his solid racing career.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Tweet Me (Mike Simons, Nicholas Devita) a mare who captured Sunday night’s featured $20,000 condition trot in 1:54:2; Star Photo (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), whose victory in a claiming trot on Monday night in 1:55:3 gave him three consecutive wins; and Eyes Cool (Anthony Napolitano, Ake Svanstedt), a two-year-old gelding who picked up his second straight condition victory on Tuesday and did so in a career-best 1:57:1.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: WINDUP WEST

Windup West, a filly pacer driven by Mike Simons, will never forget her maiden win on Sunday night, and neither will her backers since she went off at 50-1 and paid off $108 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

The meet’s leading driver may have picked up his milestone 8,000th career win at Chester last Friday, but George Nap quickly added to that total at Pocono by ripping off five wins on Saturday night.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JOE PAVIA JR.

Now focused on training after an amazing driving career, Pavia oversees a talented barn, as evidenced by wins on Saturday with Pointsman and Monday with Divination, each of whom went off at 7-1.

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.

End of Season Awards continue at the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono

Friday, November 20th, 2015

Only one night remains in the 50th Anniversary season for the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and the track in Northeast PA continues their awards for the standouts of the 2015 season closing night, Saturday, November 21st. The  Leading Driver; Leading Trainer – Wins; Claimer of the Year; and Three-Year-Old of the Year will accept their awards.

The Claimer of the Year for 2015 is the inimitable R Gauwitz Hanover.  Even before he arrived at Pocono in May, he was already a big winner in 2015, racking up six wins in New York.  But it was here that the 6-year-old gelding achieved his greatest success, winning nine of his 14 races at the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, all while moving up in class from the $10,000 claimers to the $25,000 claiming handicaps.  He won several races from outside posts, had victories for seven different trainers at Pocono; and notched a career-best mile of 1:49 as part of his unforgettable 2015 campaign at Pocono.  The track will honor this great gelding with his record number of claims by displaying, in the paddock, his custom-designed blanket with rainbow letters to signify all the different stables.

The 3-Year-old of the Year honor has been bestowed upon K Ryan Bluechip.  The gelding from the Joe Pavia Jr. barn finished fourth on April 8th in a maiden race at Pocono in what was his first start of the 2015 season.  After that, the only view other horses had of him at Pocono for the remainder of the season was his back end.  K Ryan Bluechip raced five more times at Pocono and won them all in impressive fashion, none slower than 1:51.1, and his career-best win of 1:50.2 came in September.

Rene Allard dominated the training wins, picking up his third straight title in that category.  Allard had nearly twice as many victories as his nearest competitor, and he has set the record for the most training wins in a season in Pocono history.

On the driving side, it was a monster season for George Napolitano Jr., who easily won both the driving wins and driving percentage titles.  George Nap broke his own single-season record for wins at Pocono, and he also notched over 400 wins this season.

Saturday is also a special thank you to the loyal fans with Fan Appreciation Night.  Souvenirs of the 50th Anniversary season will be given out to fans with a coupon from the live racing program starting at 7:00pm.

Racing returns March, 2016, and Simulcast is open year-round.

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.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week in Review

Monday, October 12th, 2015

October 2-8, 2015

We are heading into the home stretch of the 2015 racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. October 9 is our last Friday card of the racing season; after that, racing will take place every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday night until the completion of the meet on November 21. But that doesn’t mean that the season is going out gently. On the contrary, this edition of the Weekly Awards will showcase some performances and performers that would be notable no matter what time of year it is.

PACER OF THE WEEK: FIRST OF ITSKIND

After dry weather and fast tracks for almost two months straight at Pocono, the past week or two has brought some rainier nights and sloppy conditions. Some horses, for whatever reason, seem to thrive when the skies open up. Based on evidence from this past week, it seems that you can safely place First Of Itskind, a 4-year-old gelding trained by Brandon Todd, in that category.

On September 29, First Of Itskind faced an $11,000 condition group and a sloppy track. With Marcus Miller in the bike, he uncorked a late move to rally for a win in 1:51:1, which was a career-best even in the slop. He was back at it on Saturday night for his second race in a five-night span, only this time he moved up to face a $16,000 group. But the track was sloopy again, so First Of Itskind must have thought to himself, “I can do this.”

With Dan Rawlings in the bike this time around, Firstofitskind had to grind it out first-over on the outside for much of the second half of the mile. Nonetheless he wore down the favorite Humility, finally taking the lead from the pacesetter in the stretch. He then had to hold off fast-closing Cadillac Phil, which he did by a nose in 1:51:4. Don’t be surprised if you see the connections of First Of Itskind doing a rain dance the next time he’s scheduled to race.

Other top pacers this week include: Mach It So (Andrew McCarthy, Jeffrey Bamond Jr.), the standout five-year-old who followed up big-stakes wins at Mohawk and Harrington with an Open win at Pocono on Saturday night on a good track in 1:49:4, the fastest pacing time of the week; Brees Creek (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), who moved up in class on Saturday night to capture his second straight condition win, this one coming in 1:52 in the off-going; and Frost Damage Blues (Mike Simons, Tom Fanning), a 3-year-old filly who now has seven straight wins to start her career, the last two of which were at Pocono, following a condition win on Wednesday night in 1:51:3.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: MR CANDYMAN

You all know the saying about not fixing something that’s ain’t broke. It certainly seemed like that could have applied to Mr Candyman as he headed out to face a claiming handicap field on Friday night. After all, he had beaten the same class of $7,500-$10,000 claimers in each of his previous two starts, giving him three wins in his last four overall.

In each of those victories, all of which were achieved with Simon Allard in the bike, the 6-year-old gelding sat back off the early pace and trailed all the way into the stretch. That’s when he made his moves for the previous victories. On Friday night as a 1-5 favorite, Allard chose to change the tactics and Mr Candyman was hustled to the lead just shy of the half-mile marker after a first-over move on the front stretch.

Whether Allard wanted to remove the chances of running into traffic somewhere or he just felt that there was no need to hold his horse back, the decision proved to be a winning one. Mr Candyman kept extending his lead until he came home four lengths in front on the sloppy track in 1:55:4. It was his biggest margin of victory in his recent hot streak, proving that this trotter is going to be tough to beat these days no matter how he chooses to conduct his race.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Southwind Warsaw (George Napolitano Jr., Michael Dowdall), whose condition trotting win on Tuesday night in 1:53:1 was not only a career-best time but also the fastest trotting mile of the week at Pocono; Hasty Profitt (Joe Bongiorno, Robert Bongiorno), who stepped up in class on Tuesday night and picked up his second consecutive condition victory, this one in 1:55:3; and Black Broadway (Jason Bartlett, Michael Eaton), a 2-year-old filly who won her second straight to start her career, this one coming in a career-best 156, on Wednesday night.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: POINTSMAN

After several straight near-misses, this gelding trained and driven by Joe Pavia Jr. surprised a bunch of condition pacers on Saturday night at 17-1 for a $37 payout on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MIKE SIMONS

Mike scored a driving double on Friday with mid-priced horses on his way to a four-win week as the longest-tenured driver at Pocono continues to rack up the victories.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: CHRIS OAKES

With training doubles on back-to-back nights, it was a particularly effective week for Chris, one of Pocono’s elite trainers year in and year out.

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.