Posts Tagged ‘Josh Green’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

July 30-August 5, 2016

After several weeks of hot, dry weather, Mother Nature brought some rain to the party in Northeastern Pennsylvania this past week. That created sloppy tracks on two of the four racing nights at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, making for some fascinatingly unpredictable racing. In the midst of the on-and-off precipitation, several horses and horsemen handled the less-than-ideal conditions with aplomb, and they’re the ones receiving the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: PANCETTA

Whenever you see that a Standardbred has some sort of variation of the word “pan” in its name, it’s a good bet that the Peter Pan Stables of Ohio were involved in its development. While the names can be quite humorous, the horses with them often are outstanding competitors. Such has proven to be the case with Pancetta, a seven-year-old stallion bred by Peter Pan Stables who has been a handful since arriving at Pocono a few weeks back.

Trained by Matias Ruiz, Pancetta had been splitting time between Harrah’s at Philadelphia and Yonkers before coming to Pocono, with very little success. As a matter of fact, he didn’t even hit the board through his first seven races of the season. But he quickly proved that he loved the Pocono surface, ripping off a victory on July 23 in a $6,000 condition event in a career-best 1:52:1.

On Saturday he had to overcome the double whammy of moving up in class to the $12,500 level and dealing with the far outside #9 post position. Going off at 8-1, Pancetta was undaunted. Driver Anthony Napolitano hustled him to the lead on the front stretch and he held the advantage from that point. Even with the race favorite Rather Swell bearing down him late, the stallion held together for the victory by a length in 1:52:1 in the slop. That makes two straight victories, meaning that the name might be clever, but it’s Pancetta’s game that has really stood out of late.

Other top pacers this week include: Dancin Yankee (George Napolitano Jr., Josh Green), who overcame sloppy conditions on Saturday night to beat a condition field in 1:49:1, the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono; Check’s Commodore (Anthony Napolitano, Rene Allard), who picked up his second straight win over the $15,000 claimers on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:52:2 in the slop; and Lindy’s Nightmare (Brett Miller, Frank Antonacci), a three-year-old filly who returned from Mohawk to win a condition on Tuesday night in 1:52:4, giving her five consecutive victories.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: STONEBRIDGE COMBAT

When humans fail at something, they’re often told to get back on the horse. When horses fail at something, what do they do? While you ponder that existential query, consider the case of Stonebridge Combat, a 3-year-old gelding trained and driven by Chris Ryder who hadn’t known a lot of defeat until a third-place finish on July 24 against the non-winners of five trotters at Pocono. Prior to that he had won three races in a row and five out of six for the year, which was his first in racing after sitting out his 2-year-old campaign.

In that loss in his previous race, Stonebridge Combat set the pace as he had in many of his previous wins, only to cough up the lead late. When he faced the non-winners of five again on Sunday night, Ryder decided to change up the strategy. He allowed Mr Lucky Luke to set the pace early while holding his horse back in the middle of the back. It was only on the back stretch that he set Stonebridge Combat in motion.

Even though he didn’t find any cover to help him toward the front of the pack, Stonebridge Combat pulled up alongside Mr Lucky Luke in the stretch, finally wearing him down to prevail by three-quarters of a length in 1:55:2. It was quite a nice bounce-back performance for the gelding, who has now won six of eight races in his young career.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Can’t I (John Campbell, Bob Stewart), a 2-year-old who now has two straight wins to start his career after a condition win in the slop on Monday night in a career-best 1:57:3; Three Crow Mo (Matt Kakaley, Tony Farina), who scored his second straight victory over the $7,500 claimers on Monday night, winning in 1:57:3 in the slop; and Croquet Rose (Andrew McCarthy, Anette Lorentzon), a mare who overcame an outside post to pick up her second consecutive condition win on Tuesday night, this one coming in a career-best 1:55:3.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SAVANNAH SUNSET

In Sunday night’s final race, this trotting filly won a condition at 46-1 to pay off $95.40 to win and completed a $2,445 Late Daily Double where both winners were driven by Marcus Miller.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ERIC GOODELL

We’re seeing much more of Goodell at Pocono than we have in several years, and we’re seeing him win a lot of races as well, as he picked up driving doubles on Saturday and Sunday.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: GILBERTO GARCIA-HERRERA

Garcia-Herrera has been a steady performer all year long at Pocono, and he kept it up this week with three training wins including a double on Monday 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, April 13th, 2016

April 9-15, 2016

This past racing week at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono was the first in which we raced our normal schedule of four nights per week so far this season. And despite some iffy weather, the action seemed to intensify during the four consecutive evenings of live racing, producing plenty of candidates for the Weekly Awards. So instead of blabbing on and on about them, why don’t we hand them out?

PACER OF THE WEEK: JINS DRAGON

What a start to the 2016 Pocono meet it’s been for this six-year-old gelding from the Michael Rashkin barn. Considering that Jins Dragon hadn’t done much early in the year at the Meadows, hitting the board just once in seven races without a win, there wasn’t much to suggest that he’d do anything special at MSPD. Yet he quickly ripped off a pair of condition wins when he arrived, the latter coming in a new career mark of 1:50:3.

On Saturday night, Jins Dragon moved into the claiming ranks, where he faced Pocono’s highest-priced claiming handicap grouping. Since Larry Stalbaum, who had driven the gelding to the previous two wins, had another driving commitment in the race, the reins were handed to George Napolitano Jr., the meet’s top pilot so far. And George Nap put Jins Dragon on the lead with a quick swooping maneuver on the first turn.

On the back stretch, the gelding, who went off as an even-money favorite, opened up a comfortable margin on the rest of the six-horse field. That allowed Napolitano to gear him down on the stretch, as Jins Dragon still came home a solid two lengths in front in 1:53 on an off-track listed in good condition. He was unsurprisingly claimed from the race, so we’ll see if he can keep up his winning ways going forward for the new barn.

Other top pacers this week include: Camcruiser Hanover (Jim Morrill Jr., Dale Loney), who romped over a $15,000 claiming class on Saturday night, his second straight win at that price, in 1:54:1; Glammit (Jim Morrill Jr., Daniel Maier), who moved up in class and captured his second straight condition win on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:52:4; and Sweet Talkin Satin (Simon Allard, Josh Green), whose condition win on Tuesday night in 1:50:4 was the fastest pacing mile of the week at Pocono.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: ABC MUSCLES BOY

Moving up in class is never an easy task. But sometimes there are circumstances surrounding a horse which make a step or two up the ladder less daunting than it would otherwise be. Take, for example, the case of ABC Muscles Boy. On Saturday night he moved up from an $11,000 condition class to one with a $14,000 purse.

Normally that would be a recipe for an up-the-track finish. But ABC Muscles Boy, a 5-year-old gelding from the Rene Allard barn, had a few things going for him. For one, he had won his previous start from the #9 post, proving his ability to overcome tough odds. For another, his 2015 season, which included over six figures in earnings and a career-best 1:52:3 mile at Pocono, demonstrated that he had the class to capably handle this group if he was on top of his game.

On Saturday night, ABC Muscles Boy quickly stepped to the front on the first turn. As the 2-1 second choice on the board, he held the lead from that point. Its Payday Friday, the 3-2 race favorite, went off-stride trying to catch him, and ABC Muscles Boy, under urging from Simon Allard, held off the rest to win in 1:55:3. Moving up in class was no sweat for this gelding; as a matter of fact, don’t be surprised if he successfully does it again in the very near future.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Noble Lover (Larry Stalbaum, Kimberly Asher), a mare who moved up in class to win a claiming handicap trot on Sunday night, which was her second straight victory and came in a new career mark of 1:55:3; Stormont Lancelot (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who stepped up in the claiming ranks on Monday night to pick up his second straight victory, this one coming in 1:56:1; and JJ Alex (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who moved up in class and picked up his second straight condition win on Tuesday night, this one in 1:56.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: NOBODY

That’s not the name of a horse; that’s just recognition of the fact that it was a good week for chalk and that no horses at 10-1 or over came up with a win in four nights of racing.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MATT KAKALEY

Kakaley ripped off three straight driving triples from Sunday through Tuesday night, and four of those victories came aboard horses in the Bobby Weiss series.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: RICHARD JOHNSON

Johnson looks set in the Weiss series for three and four-year-old trotting colts, stallions, and geldings after winning two of the four divisions Monday night with Sweet Royalty and Steed.

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.

Live split card on Belmont day yields standouts

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

A specially-formatted 16-race card was featured on Belmont Day, June 6th,  at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with four races held before the historic doings in Elmont NY and then the remainder starting after the big race.

The race attracting the most attention was the tenth race (held in the evening portion), a $30,000 Open pace, and there was “dancin’ in the moonlight” as 2014 Pennsylvania Pacer of the Year Dancin Yankee never looked back in a 1:48.3 victory, going out in 26 and coming home in 26.4 firmly in control. George Napolitano Jr., king of the local driving colony again this year, was named on four horses in the race, and he picked the right one as the son of Yankee Cruiser raised his lifetime earnings harvest over $1.2M for trainer Josh Green and owners Baron Racing Stable and Richard Lombardo.

In the other $30,000 Open pace, Big Boy Dreams marked himself as a 4-year-old to watch as he reduced his mark to 1:49.4 in taking another $30,000 Open pacing contest. The son of If I Can Dream made the front just past the ¼ for driver Simon Allard, set the pace, then rocketed home in 26.4 for his second straight victory after a third-place finish in the Confederation Cup Final. Trainer Rene Allard shares ownership of the winner of over half a million dollars with Robert Hamather and Mary Lou Poliseno.

The ladies were in the spotlight in the last race of the “early” card and the first race of the “later” card.

In the last race held before the Belmont, Blue Chip Matchmaker winner Venus Delight asserted a claim to be the leader of the older female division with a 1:50.2 decision in a $30,000 mares handicap pace, despite not having started since her victory in the Yonkers series final on April 25. But the daughter of Bettor’s Delight and driver Jason Bartlett had to work hard for the top money, rallying out of the pocket to catch perhaps the most-improved horse of 2015, Ooh Bad Shark, to tally by a head after grabbing the lead with about 100 feet to go. The winner, who set a personal mark, is trained by Jeff Bamond Jr. for owners Bamond Racing LLC – who might get a fifth straight older pacing mares yearly title, with Anndrovette having won in the last four seasons.

After American Pharoah won the Belmont and the first thoroughbred Triple Crown in 37 years, the Broadway Hall mare Frau Blucher went 34 4/5 seconds faster in winning, capturing a $30,000 open trot while defeating six males and two females in 1:51.4, 2/5 of a second off her mark and the 4TM world record she set at The Downs last year. Frau Blucher, driven by George Napolitano Jr. for trainer Chris Oakes, made every pole a winning one while raising her career bankroll to $976,932 for owners Hauser Brothers Racing Enterprises LLC and Susan Oakes. (And she’d be over $1M right now but for an inch, as she was deadheated for the win by stablemate Classic Martine in the world record-DH PA Sire Stakes 3TF Championship race in 2013.)

–On this 16-race card, two drivers won ten of the races, and only five drivers in all won: George Napolitano Jr. and Simon Allard both had five victories (four of Allard’s were trained by brother Rene); Jason Bartlett had 3, Anthony Napolitano had 2, and Marcus Miller had 1.

There were a total of seven miles in 1:50 or better on the card, topped by Dancin Yankee’s 1:48.3; among the drivers, George Nap had three, and Allard two.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

November 7-13, 2014    

Choosing the horses of the year at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs used to be a much simpler job. When the racing wasn’t as competitive as it is now, there were usually only a few candidates who would rise above the rest by winning in the same classes week after week, making the choices for the top honors relativeLY easy.

Not anymore. Since Pocono is a destination for the top horses and horsemen in the country, it is extremely difficult for any one horse to dominate a single division. As a result, there are dozens of horses who can make legitimate cases at different times in the year that they are the best of the best at MSPD.

I had a little input into these choices, but most of the research and hard work behind these choices was done by my esteemed colleagues Terri Phalen and Jennifer Starr. It wasn’t easy, but the three winners, in my opinion, are extremely deserving. So, without further ado, here is a look at the 2014 Pocono Horses of the Year.

PACER OF THE YEAR: DANCIN YANKEE

When this six-year-old stallion arrived at Pocono in May, he had already distinguished himself with a big winning streak at Dover and a respectable performance in the Levy series at Yonkers. Trained by Josh Green, he made his presence felt immediately at MSPD with back-to-back wins, including a dominant performance in the $50,000 Van Rose Invitational.

When he returned at the end of June, he was working for the Amber Buter barn. What an auspicious Pocono debut he made for the new connections, winning a $100,000 invitational race with Tyler Buter in the bike in 1:47:2, a winning time which would have broken every record in the book if Sweet Lou hadn’t won the Franklin in 1:47 that same night. Dancin Yankee followed that up with three more no-doubt wins in a row in a Preferred company. Only a monster mile by Bigtown Hero in September kept him from sheer perfection at Pocono for the year, as he finished third to finish with six wins in seven against the very best on the grounds. His success at Pocono was just one part of a brilliant season overall for Dancin Yankee, but it was good enough to capature perhaps the most glamorous year-end award.

TROTTER OF THE YEAR: WIND OF THE NORTH

Wind Of The North, a four-year-old gelding trained by Clifton Green, didn’t waste any time at Pocono in 2014. He picked up a condition win in the season’s first week on his way to wins in four of his five races of the season as he moved up the condition ladder in the spring. That was just his warm-up act, however. On June 28, with David Miller in the bike, he burned his way to a victory in 1:51, setting a new world record for his age group and gender on a 5/8-mile oval in the process.

One thing that Wind Of The North had failed to accomplish in the first half of the season was a win against the Preferred trotters. That all changed when he handled that very group for a victory on September 27. His final tally: ten starts at Pocono in 2014, six wins, two seconds, and a third. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s a Trotter of the Year resume for sure.

CLAIMER OF THE YEAR: B J’S RAMEAU

Do you want to know what was impressive about B J’s Rameau’s season at Pocono? Everything, that’s what. The sheer numbers of it are good enough on their own to warrant Claimer of the Year consideration. In 28 races at Pocono this season, the 5-year-old gelding hit the board 17 times and won 11, including a career-best 1:49:1 mile.

Then consider that all of those victories were against the top rung of the claiming ladder at Pocono. Consider that, as a hot claiming commodity, he won his 11 races for eight different trainers. And finally consider that many of those races were claiming handicaps and BJ’s Rameau, because of his high sale price, was often saddled with the outside post, making his record even more impressive. We’ve had a lot of outstanding claimers this year, but they were all toiling in the wake of this gelding.

Next week in this space we’ll be wrapping up the 2014 season for good as we approach closing night on November 22. We’ll be taking a look back at some of the best moments of the year and we’ll also tell you who won the honors among drivers and trainers in terms of wins and percentage. It’s hard to believe it’s almost over, but the three horses we’ve spotlighted here have given us a whole lot to remember come the offseason.

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

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

May 17-23, 2014

In this space, we usually hand out the Weekly Awards. But every now and again, we deviate from our formula due to something special taking place at the track. In this case, it was Saturday night’s racing card, which featured the first appearance of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes, a world-record performance, and a young driver who nearly stole the show from everybody.

Regular watchers know just how fantastic the racing is Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs has become over the past few years. But nights like Saturday evening that go a little above and beyond are always special. Let’s take a look at some of the spectacular moments from the night.

If you’ve been to the track enough, you’ll hear the phrase that a horse “needs a start” from handicappers. What it means is that a horse is coming off a long layoff and isn’t expected to perform at its peak the first time back. While that might have been a good rule in the past, I find it to be less and less reliable as time passes.

For example, take Saturday night’s Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action for 3-year-old colts and geldings on the pace. In the first split of the night, Tellitlikeitis, a big earner as a 2-year-old for the Jimmy Takter barn, was making his first start since September. Two outstanding qualifiers must have prepared him enough though, because driver Brett Miller positioned him in the pocket and then blew by pacesetter Limelight Beach in the stretch to score in a scorching 1:49:1, the first of many sizzling times achieved on the night.

Ironically, the horse that finished second behind Tellitlikeitis in one of those qualifiers at The Meadowlands was Somestarsomewhere, and he proved to be ready for his close-up as well. With Matt Kakaley in the bike for trainer Ron Burke, the colt, who hadn’t raced since finishing third in the Breeders Crown in October, won a thrilling stretch battle in his Sire Stakes division in 1:50:3.

The other two Sire Stakes winners had good stories as well. At Press Time, another one guided by Burke and Kakaley, bounced back from a 4th-place finish in an overnight race at Pocono in his last start to pull off a 10-1 upset in his division in 1:49:1. And the night’s most dominant performance was turned in by Let’s Drink On It, who arrived from Indiana and rolled to a convincing win in the night’s fastest Sire Stakes time of 1:49. Tyler Smith did the driving for trainer Joe Seekman.

If Smith seems like an unfamiliar name, it’s because the 21-year-old driver, who usually does his racing in Indiana, was making his first appearance at Pocono. And what a debut it was. In addition to the win aboard Let’s Drink On It, Smith also picked up wins aboard McMarvel at 21-1 and Arsenal at 11-1. He had five starts on the night and picked up three victories and a show, and if you bet the horses he drove $2 across the board all night, you would have walked away with a profit of $88.90. The bettors are probably hoping Smith comes back soon; I’m not so sure if the other drivers will be as anxious to see him again.

For all of the drama and excitement of the Sire Stakes, Dancin Yankee had something even better in store for the faithful in the $25,000 Preferred pace. Last seen winning the Van Rose Memorial at Pocono two weeks previous to Saturday night, he returned to action with a performance for the ages. He took the lead with an incredibly fast brush in the front stretch, reaching the half in 52:2 to give an indication that this race could be one for the record books.

The 6-year-old stallion from the Josh Green barn had to fight off a first-over charge from Mach It So on the back stretch, which seemed like it might leave him vulnerable to pocket horse Clear Vision coming home. But driver Brett Miller asked Dancin Yankee for a little more and he gave a lot, holding off Clear Vision by a neck in 1:47:2. Not only was that the fastest time ever posted at Pocono, it matched the speediest time ever recorded on a 5/8-mile oval.

Dancin Yankee’s performance thrilled about everyone in attendance, with the possible exception of Anderlecht. The 9-year-old stallion won the 13th race in an eye-popping 1:48. That time would have set the track record for aged stallions on the pace at the start of the night. But, alas, Dancin Yankee beat him to it with a time that was three-fifths of a second faster.

The moral of the story is that, on a night as stellar as Saturday night at Pocono, even the extraordinary can seem just OK.

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.