Posts Tagged ‘John Barchi’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week in Review

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

May 9-15, 2015

Next week, the action at Pocono really kicks into another gear with our first Sire Stakes action of the season and our first Open pacing and trotting events for the meet. This past week was no slouch though, thanks to Pennsylvania All Stars action and some thrilling overnight racing. Let’s take a look at which horses and horsemen stood above all in the past four racing nights by handing out the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: DYNAMIC YOUTH

It’s good sometimes to have a long memory when you’re trying to handicap a race. Take the case of Dynamic Youth in Saturday night’s condition pace for non-winners of $15,000 in the last five starts. The 6-year-old gelding from the Aaron Lambert barn had won his previous start against lower company in a solid effort in 1:51:1.

Saturday night represented a step up the condition ladder though, and considering he had finished ninth in a lower group at The Meadowlands, the morning line oddsmaker, who shall remain nameless (although his name rhymes with Schmim Schmeviglia), decided to tag him with odds of 6-1. The betting public, however, who likely remembered how many classic miles this one has put together in the past at Pocono, bet him down to a 4-5 favorite.

The fans were right. With George Napolitano Jr. in the bike, Dynamic Youth took charge early and powered through the second half of the mile, keeping his competition at bay for a victory in 1:50:1. Maybe he just needed to be back at his old haunts, or maybe he just needed the backing of the faithful. Whatever the case, Dynamic Youth is back on top of his game with two straight victories, so underestimate him at your own peril.

Other top pacers this week include: Rose Run Quest (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who, even after a barn switch, picked up his third straight condition pacing win on Tuesday night in 1:52:3, which was a new career mark for him; A J Corbelli (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who rolled to his second straight condition win on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:50:3; and Caviart Shelley (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who moved up in class and still won her third straight condition pace on Wednesday night, matching her career mark of 1:51:4 in the process.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: ALI DE VIE

This 5-year-old gelding loves to race at Pocono. Coming into his start on Wednesday night in a $12,500 to $15,000 claiming handicap, he had won four races in a row when he was at the Pocono oval. Sprinkled in that stretch were a pair of struggling performances at Harrah’s at Philadelphia, so maybe the right thing to do would be to keep this one here until somebody knocks him off.

After wins the past two weeks for trainer Rene Allard, Ali De Vie was claimed and joined the barn of Jenny Melander for his start on Wednesday night. Leaving from post position #2 in a field of nine, the gelding sat in fourth early on as Browner Shuttle set the pace. Driver Jim Morrill Jr. waited for an opening and then sent Ali De Vie on a first-over journey on the back stretch.

Although he found no cover to help him out, Ali De Vie corralled Browner Shuttle at the top of the stretch. Once he had the lead, he had to deal with Fall Creek Bandit, who had an excellent trip in the pocket and was coming up the passing lane. But Morrill and Ali De Vie had just enough to hold him off and win it in 1:55:3. That makes three wins in a row overall and five for his last five at Pocono. This horse truly loves this course.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: P L Eureka (George Napolitano Jr., John Barchi), whose claiming handicap victory on Wednesday night in 1:54:2 was his fourth in his last five; Sentry (Larry Stalbaum, Jenny Melander), who snuck up the inside late on Saturday night for an upset win in the week’s top condition trot in 1:54, which matched a career-best; and Picture This (Charlie Norris driver and trainer), who rolled to a condition victory on Tuesday night in 1:53:3, the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: CANE RIDGE

Driver Joe Pavia Jr. worked out a pocket trip for this pacer on Saturday night and he rallied to win a claiming handicap at 45-1, paying out $92.40 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JOE PAVIA JR.

Pavia only recently returned to driving duties, but he made his presence felt on Saturday night with ba pair of victories, including the huge long shot Cane Ridge.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: MARK KESMODEL

Talk about efficiency: Kesmodel sent out three starters at Pocono al week, two on Saturday and one on Wednesday, and every one of the three came back to the barn a winner.

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, May 4th, 2015

April 25-May 1, 2015

We are already a month into the racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, our 50th campaign in case you haven’t heard. This coming week the action will really get spicy with several rounds of Pennsylvania All Stars races and the Van Rose Memorial Pace highlighting the schedule. As for the week gone by, let’s take a look at the top performers and hand out another edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: SPARKY MARK

One of the biggest stories of the early part of the season at Pocono has been the dominance of the training-driving combo of brothers Rene and Simon Allard. This dynamic duo has been pretty hard to beat on any racing night, but that’s especially been the case on Saturday nights, where they have been winning at a ridiculous pace in the high condition paces as well as the claiming ranks.

Saturday night’s featured condition pace for winners of over $25,000 looked like it would be a showcase for Foiled Again, the sport’s all-time biggest earner with nearly $7 million in the bank at age 11. He was looking for his first win of the season, and this figured to be a spot where he could get it done. But the Allard brothers and their rugged 8-year-old stallion Sparky Mark had other ideas.

Sparky Mark, who had lost his last start in this same class by just a nose to Ideal Matters, didn’t worry about anyone else in the field; he had been facing excellent competition all year long anyway, so the big names of Foiled Again and Bolt The Duer didn’t faze him. When the dust cleared, it was Sparky Mark who came out on top, holding off Luck Be Withyou by a half-length in 1:49:2. That marked the fastest mile of the season to date at Pocono, and it marked the biggest win yet at Pocono in 2015 for Simon and Rene Allard, who just can’t seem to be stopped.

Other top pacers this week include: To Beach His Own (George Napolitano Jr., Marty Fine), who continues to roll against the toughest claimers on the grounds, picking up his third straight win on Saturday night in 1:50:2; Catalea Seelster (George Napolitano Jr., Nicholas Gampietro), who captured Sunday night’s feature for claiming mares in 1:52:3, giving her four straight wins, the last three coming at Pocono; and Ooh Bad Shark (Jim Morrill Jr., William Wiggins), who put together a huge mile to win Wednesday’s featured condition pace for mares, stopping the six-race winning streak of Show Runner and stopping the timer in 1:49:2, a new career-mark and tied for the fastest this season at Pocono.

TROTTER OF THE YEAR: SOCIAL DELIGHT

Sometimes the winning time fails to tell you everything you need to know about a performance. For a good example, take a look at the case of Social Delight. The 4-year-old mare from the barn of trainer Jerry Ray came into Pocono having won two of her previous three starts at Saratoga Harness. In her first try at Pocono, she rolled on the front end in a non-winners of five condition for a win in a career-best 1:54:1.

On Tuesday night she faced the same group from a tough #7 post, but she couldn’t hold the lead early, instead ceding it to Czech It Out. That trotter was able to set very soft fractions to the half-mile marker, giving the impression that she’d be tough to catch. Social Delight would have to win an all-out sprint in the stretch against a fresh horse and do so while coming from behind.

That’s exactly what she did though. Driver Jim Morrill Jr. coaxed something extra out of her and she sped by Czech It Out in the final strides for the victory. That makes it three wins in a row, including two straight at Pocono, and four out five in 2015. And though the winning time of 1:55:3, almost a second-and-a-half slower than her mark from last week, may have said otherwise, this winning effort by Social Delight may have been her finest yet.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Emerald Bling (George Napolitano Jr., Robert Horowitz), a mare who won her second straight condition trot on Tuesday night, this one coming in a career-best 1:57:1; Cadillac Cruiser (Simon Allard, Pierre Paradis), who followed up a claiming win last week with a condition win on Sunday night in 1:55:2; and P L Eureka (George Napolitano Jr., John Barchi), who picked up his third straight handicap victory on Wednesday night in 1:54:3.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: MACK BARON

Staging a furious rally from far back in the pack, this pacer with Matt Kakaley in the bike upset a field of claiming pacers on Sunday night at 36-1, paying off $75.80 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MATT KAKALEY

He’s so steady that you might overlook him, but that would be a mistake considering he had another winning week with three straight racing nights of multiple wins.

TRAINER OF THR WEEK: MARTY FINE

Fine picked up a pair of wins on Saturday night and another on Sunday, and all three of those horses were making his first start in his barn following a claim.

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

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

October 10-16, 2014

With a couple of Friday nights added to the racing schedule in October, racing fans at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs have been able to enjoy four nights of live action per week lately. That means a bunch more races than usual featuring excellent performances deserving of consideration for another edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: E STREET PLAN

Some of you may know that in my free time I do a little writing about music, including a recent book about the songs of Bruce Springsteen. And so I have a soft spot in my heart for this 5-year-old gelding whose name is derived from the name of Springsteen’s longtime partners in rock The E Street Band. Lately E Street Plan has been racing like the Boss.

Trained by Gilberto Garcia-Herrera, E Street Plan is on an impressively consistent streak, coming into last Saturday night’s action with five straight in the money including a victory on September 20. Yet Saturday night seemed to be a tough test, considering he was moving up into the non-winners of $23,000 in the last five races, the most rugged condition group at Pocono. To make things even more difficult, he had to journey first-over, a tough trip under any circumstances.

Yet by the top of the stretch, E Street Plan had corralled pacesetting Scott Rocks. In the lane, the closers lining up behind him couldn’t get there in time. Joe Pavia Jr. guided the gelding home by a half-length over I Like Dreamin in 1:49:4, a new career-best and the fastest time of the week at Pocono. With miles like that, it’s fair to say that this Springsteen-honoring horse is in the midst of his glory days.

Other top pacers this week include: Penn Turbo Ted (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), whose victory on Saturday night in 1:52:2 was his third straight against the $10,000 claimers, with two of those victories coming at Pocono; Talk Strategy (Andrew McCarthy, Peter Stratton), whose last-to-first victory on Tuesday night in 1:52:3 gave him two straight upset victories; and Bevel Hanover (Anthony Napolitano, John Barchi), who earned his second straight condition claiming victory on Tuesday night, this one coming in a career-best 1:51:4.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: HE’S LUCKY

This 8-year-old gelding has not only been splitting his time between Pocono and Harrah’s at Chester, but he’s also been moving back and forth between claiming and condition events. All of that change might bother some horses, but He’s Lucky, trained by Kevin Carr, has managed a nice hot streak of late. It began two starts ago with a near-miss second in a condition trot at Pocono, losing by just a neck to Cathy’s Princess.

He followed that up with a victory in a condition trot at Harrah’s in 1:55 on October 2. On Tuesday night, he took on a claiming handicap group in his return to Pocono, with claiming prices ranging from $12,500 to $15,000. Since He’s Lucky was on the high end of that range, he had to start from the far outside post in a nine-horse field, a difficult task even for a horse with the back class he possessed.

Finding no other option with the tough post, driver George Napolitano Jr. sent He’s Lucky on a taxing first-over grind. Making a steady advance through the field, the veteran gelding worked his way past pacesetting Iain’tnomomaluke and held off the pocket horse Fancy Label by 1 ¼ lengths in 1:53:4, a new career-best. No matter the track or the class, He’s Lucky looks awful tough to beat right now.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Waiting On A Woman (Andrew McCarthy, Ron Burke), who put together a powerhouse performance in a condition victory on Saturday night in 1:52:2, a new career-best and easily the fastest trotting time of the week at MSPD; Quantum Cashman (Mike Simons, Gail Wrubel), who won Friday night’s featured claiming handicap trot in a career-best 1:53:3; and Avalicious (Andrew McCarthy, Ron Burke), who picked up a condition win on Saturday night in 1:53:2, a new career-best.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ARTSBRED CAMOTION

This gelding was 8th in the same class a week ago, so his win in a claimer on Wednesday night with Matt Kakaley was a huge surprise at 27-1, paying off $57.40 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: SCOTT ZERON

Zeron only makes occasional appearances at Pocono, but he usually makes his presence felt, such as on Friday night when he picked up three victories.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: PAUL HOLZMAN

Holzman sent out just three starters on Saturday night, but two of them, C C Stormey and Machin Music, came back winners even though neither was the race favorite.

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

Friday, August 1st, 2014

July 18-24, 2014

It’s hard to believe, but we’ve reached the halfway point of the 2014 season at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The first half seemed to speed by as fast as so many of the record-setting horses that have graced the Pocono stage so far this year. We can only hope that the second half holds that same kind of excitement. If the past week of racing is any indication, it surely will. Here are some wonderful performances worthy of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: QUINCY

In the late 70’s and early 80’s, Jack Klugman played a medical examiner named Quincy who always figured out all the crimes that the cops were too dense to solve. But it’s really been no mystery how this horse of the same name has reeled off such an impressive streak of late against the toughest claimers at Pocono. Early speed gives this 4-year-old stallion a great chance to win each and every time he leaves the gate.

His recent stretch of nearly unbeatable racing began with a win over the $20,000 claimers on May 28. He moved up to the $27,500 claimers, the highest claiming price at Pocono, the next time out and won in a dead heat with Giddy UP Blackfly. After a hiccup with a third-place finish in his following start, Quincy reeled off three straight victories in that rugged claiming group, with a career-best mark in 1:49:3 on June 28 the highlight of that series of races.

On Saturday night, it was business as usual as Quincy rejoined the barn of trainer Kevin Lare and powered to the front end early in the race. Driver Anthony Napolitano rated him well, which was important late as both BJ’s Rameau and Machin Music took shots at him in the stretch. But Quincy hung tough to win by a neck in 1:50, making it four in a row and six out of seven. He’s the hottest pacer around, and that case is closed.

Other top pacers this week include: Skitsofrantic (Anthony Napolitano, John Barchi), who won his third straight start and sixth in his last seven with a conquest of the $5,000 claimers on Sunday night in a career-best 1:52; Luck Be Withyou (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), a 3-year-old whose victory against older pacers in a condition on Saturday night came in the week’s fastest time of 1:48; and Mickey Hanover (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who reeled off his third straight win and his second consecutive sub-1:50 mile thanks to a victory on Saturday night in 1:49:2.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SWISS LIGHTNING

This 5-year-old gelding started the year quietly, going winless in his first six races with just one finish in the money. The tide started to turn with a victory over $7,500 claimers on 1:55:2 on June 8. After breaking stride in his next start, he bounced back in his next two with back-to-back wins, the latter coming in a career-best 1:55.

Following a claim that put him in the barn of trainer Marcus Marashian, Swiss Lightning stepped up in class to face the $10,000 claimers on Wednesday night. Not only did he have a tough #7 post in the field of eight, but he had to deal with Frenchmen, a trotter who had won his last start at that claiming price handily and had the inside post.

That didn’t seem to worry driver Scott Zeron, who quickly urged Swiss Lightning to the front end to dictate the pace. Frenchmen lurked in the pocket all the way around, but when the stretch rolled around, it was Swiss Lightning who emerged as the class of the race. He kicked away from his competitors to win by 2 ¾ lengths in 1:54:4, which was a new career-best for the gelding. With that third straight victory, the trotter demonstrated how to move up in class in style.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Hoorayforvacation (George Napolitano Jr.-Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), whose condition victory came on Saturday night came in 1:52:1, which was not only a career-best but was also the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; Highest Peak (Andrew McCarthy-Noel Daley), a filly who followed up a win at Harrah’s with a condition victory at Pocono on Tuesday night in a career-best 1:54:1; and Tamasin Hall (Scott Zeron-Bill Mullin), a mare who beat the boys in Tuesday night’s featured claiming handicap, winning in a career-best 1:54.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: AFTER ALIMONY

With Simon Allard in the bike, this mare finagled a pocket spot out of an outside post and upended a field of claimers on Sunday night at 29-1, paying off $61 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

On Friday night, the meet’s leading driver decided to hog all the glory for a good portion of the night, reeling off six consecutive wins at one point in the card.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JOHN BARCHI

The veteran of the Pocono racing wars is having his finest season in years, as evidenced by four wins this week that included a training double on Sunday.

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

Friday, June 13th, 2014

May 31-June 6, 2014

The month of June arrived at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs and brought with it some of the most competitive racing we’ve had all year long. We saw a little of everything: Standout performances, stunning long shots, drivers and trainers putting in big efforts, and much, much more. It’s never easy to pick out the very best of such a crowded field, but that’s what we’re here to do by handing out another edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: BJ’S RAMEAU

Like any other athlete, character is often most clearly revealed in a harness racing horse when adversity strikes. In the case of BJ’s Rameau, that adversity came in the midst of an outstanding season as one of the top claiming pacers at Pocono, when, in his first start in the barn of trainer Matias Ruiz on May 17, he finished dead last in a field of nine despite having a lead at the top of the stretch.

That rare clunker of a finish was mitigated somewhat by the fact that he started the race from the outside post, meaning that the lead he captured was extremely hard-fought. Still, the bettors were skeptical enough that in his next start, BJ’s Rameau went off at a tepid 6-1. He responded with a gutty win from the pocket in 1:50:2.

On Saturday night, he was the even-money favorite once again in his usual $25,000-$30,000 claiming handicap group, and he delivered a bravura effort. With Joe Pavia Jr. in the bike, BJ’s Rameau made the lead about 3/8 of a mile into the race and poured it on from there, beating the toughest pacers on the grounds by 5 ¾ lengths and doing so in a career-best 1:49:1, which was the fastest pacing time posted this week at Pocono. Like all the finest horses, this 5-year-old gelding bounced back from his brief bout of adversity stronger than ever.

Other top pacers this week include: Morgan Shark (Simon Allard, Pierre Paradis), who ripped off his third straight claiming win on Saturday night and did so in a career-best 1:50:1; Skitsofrantic (Mark MacDonald, John Barchi), who continues to tear up the lower claiming ranks, winning in 1:53:3 on Sunday night for his fourth consecutive victory; and Stanhope (Anthony Napolitano, Steve Salerno), a three-year-old who won his third straight condition race on Sunday, this one in 1:52:4, despite the fact that he wasn’t favored in any of those starts.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: JOHNHANNIBALSMITH

Fans of 80’s television will recognize this name as being the same as the leader of the A-Team, a guy famous for saying, “I love it when a plan comes together” at the end of every episode. For the trotter of the same name, an 11-year-old gelding from the barn of trainer Gilberto Garcia-Herrera, the plan has been pretty simple. He just goes out and beats everybody he faces.

Coming into Wednesday night’s $12,500 claiming trot, Johnhannibalsmith had made seven starts in 2014 and won six of them. His only loss was by a heartbreaking head to Fortissimo on April 25 at Chester, but he ripped off three more wins in a row following that defeat, two of them coming at Pocono.

On Wednesday night, he upped his claiming price from $10,000 to $12,500 for a new challenge, but the race played out the same when the gelding booked to the front end. With his regular driver George Napolitano Jr. in tow, Johnhannibalsmith led all the way even though he was tested at the end of the mile. That extra effort led him to a career-best time of 1:54:3, meaning that this veteran trotter deserves another victory cigar lit in his honor, just like his television namesake liked to do.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Tamasin Hall (Bill Mullin driver and trainer), a mare who picked up her second straight condition win on Tuesday night, this one in 1:56:3; Bufalino Hanover (Matt Kakaley, Todd Schadel), whose condition win on Tuesday night came in the week’s fastest trotting time of 1:53:3, which was also his career-best; and Truth In Action (Mike Simons, Jenny Melander), who overcame an outside post position to win a claimer on Tuesday night in 1:55:2.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: PSYCHOBABBLE

The filly’s maiden victory on Tuesday night with Tom Jackson in the bike was probably just as memorable for her bettors as it was for her, as she cashed in at 36-1 for a $74.40 payout on a $2 ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JOE PAVIA JR.

Joe proved this week that he is still a force in the sulky when he takes on enough drives, posting back-to-back three-win nights on Saturday and Sunday night.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: FRED GRANT

Grant pulled off a unique training double on Tuesday night, as each of his winners, trotter Psychobabble and pacer Somenicebeach, earned their maiden victories.

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.