Posts Tagged ‘Kentucky Derby’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

April 28-May 1, 2018

Next week in this space, we will be profiling all the happenings from our Kentucky Derby evening card, which is filled up with all four finals of the Bobby Weiss late closer series and two divisions of the Van Rose Memorial pace featuring some of the finest aged pacers in the world and kicking off the Great Northeast Open series, which will continue throughout the spring and summer at Harrah’s at Philadelphia as well as at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Here now are the finest performances of the past week at Pocono, highlighted in our Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: STRAWB’S CHIPPIE

Every once in a while, a horse will ship into Pocono with a gaudy record at other tracks and be unable to match that level of success once it reaches the top levels of competition here. Strawb’s Chippie initially looked like she might fall into category. The seven-year-old mare had amassed wins in four of her first five starts on the New York harness circuit to begin 2018. But her first two starts at Pocono in this meet were less distinguished, as she came away with a second and a sixth in two races against the $15,000 to $20,000 claiming handicap pacing mares.

The tide started to turn for Strawb’s Chippie when she joined the Rene Allard barn on April 16. She located her front-pacing stride that had garnered her so much success in New York and ripped off back-to-back wins while leading at every pole with winning times of 1:56.1 in the slop and 1:52.3, the latter a career-best. She joined the Hunter Oakes barn following a claim and took on the same grouping on Monday night from an outside #8 post as a 4-5 betting favorite.

Even though the barn changed, the strategy didn’t for the mare. Driver George Napoitano Jr. cut her loose early to reach the early lead and she played keep-away from there. Despite a solid challenge from Warrawee Qually in the lane, Strawb’s Chippie once again proved her toughness with the lead and came home a half-length winner, this time in 1:52.4. With her third straight victory, those early Pocono struggles now seem like a distant memory.

Other top pacers this week include: Drunken Terror (Anthony Napolitano, Marta Piotrow), who scored his second consecutive claiming handicap win on Saturday night, this one in 1:51.2; We Think Alike (George Napolitano Jr., Brandon Todd), who moved up in class to win a condition pace on Saturday night in 1:52.4, his second straight victory; and Make A Statement A (Anthony Napolitano, Jody Riedel), whose condition win on Tuesday night came in 1:50.4, a new career-mark and tied for fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: GOLDEN SON

In Sunday’s $17,500 featured condition trot, a showdown was looming between Golden Son and Upfront Billy. The former, a five-year-old gelding from the Jenny Melander barn, was coming off a sharp victory at Harrah’s and returning to a class at Pocono where he had a near-miss second on March 24. The latter, a nine-year-old gelding trained by Mark Ford, is the defending Trotter of the Year at Pocono and has already scored two wins in this meet, including a victory in his previous race in 1:52.2, fastest trotting time at Pocono in 2018 so far.

Golden Son, the 2-1 second choice, left from the inside post in a field of nine as a 2-1 second choice. Upfront Billy, the 6-5 favorite, left from the #3 post. It was Upfront Billy who grabbed the early lead, a change in tactics from his earlier victory, when he sat the pocket behind a hot pace. With Upfront Billy doing the work, driver Jim Morrill Jr. was all right with letting Golden Son sit the pocket, knowing he’d likely have a shot at the leader late if he could stay close.

Of course, that meant he would have to outtrot Upfront Billy, who is known for being extremely game late in the race. But when Morrill tipped Golden Son out of the pocket to take dead aim, the gelding responded with powerful late kick, just enough to corral Upfront Billy at the line by a nose in 1:54.1. That gives him two wins in a row, and anytime you can beat the Trotter of the Year at the top of his game, it’s quite an accomplishment.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Such An Angel (George Napolitano Jr., Hunter Oakes), who overwhelmed a condition group on Monday night to win in 1:53.1, the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; Elysium Lindy (Anthony Napolitano, Ron Burke), who shipped in from The Meadowlands to pick up a condition win on Saturday night in 1:55.1; and Chelsees A Winner (George Napolitano Jr., Christie Collins), a mare who moved up in class on Tuesday night to win her second straight condition since arriving from Ohio, this one coming in a career-best 1:55:4.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: MR HAM SANDWICH

Despite having won his last start, this pacer driven by Eric Carlson went off at 43-1 in a condition on Saturday night, a race he promptly won to pay off $88 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: PAT BERRY

Berry always seems to give bettors great value for his wins, as he proved Saturday night by posting a double with horses who went off at 7-1 (A Real Miracle) and 9-2 (Jimmy C R).

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: BRANDON TODD

Todd is making the most of his opportunities at Pocono, as was evidenced on Saturday night when he won with two of the three starters he sent out to race.

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.

Hats, Harness Racing, and Derby Horses! Kentucky Derby Day is almost here!

Monday, April 16th, 2018

A double header of live harness racing; a hat revue with 5 categories including the “Triple Crown” winning hat;  and a Champagne Brunch are all part of the biggest Kentucky Derby party north of Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May at the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.

Doors open Saturday, May 5th at 10:00 Post for the first of the double-header of live harness racing card is 11:00a.m., and a patio bar will be open just for those early birds!  Pacer’s Clubhouse will host a Champagne Brunch like no other from 10:00am to 3:00pm featuring delectable Southern delicacies and Brunch favorites, by reservation only.  Call 1-888-WIN-IN-PA.  At 5:30pm, a top shelf all-you-can-eat dinner buffet will be featured, also by reservation only.

Ladies can proudly wear their elaborately decorated Kentucky Derby hats for the Run for the Roses Hat Revue sponsored by Spa Sapphire, located in the casino.  All hats must be registered from  3:30pm to 5:15pm in the lobby, and the Revue takes place promptly at 5:30 p.m. in front of the Winner’s Circle with cash prizes and  more!  Five categories will be judged, including “Most Colorful;  “Most Horsie”; “Most Elegant”; “Most Fascinating Fascinator”, and the overall grand prize winner, the “Triple Crown Winner”! The “Most Fashionable Couple” will also be selected.  All prizes will be awarded by a panel of judges.

A photo booth in the lobby will be open at 3:00pm to capture the best moments of the day, with a $1 minimum donation to the Standardbred Retirement Foundation.  For last-minute hats, fascinators, and accessories, stop by the Sapphire Boutique located in the racing lobby, open at 1:00pm.

The Trackside Concession bars, food truck, and the Party Tent open at 3:00PM, and of course, Mint Juleps will be available all day in the official Kentucky Derby 144 souvenir glasses!

Following Kentucky Derby 144 on the jumbo screen, fans can stay and enjoy another exciting live card under the stars.  A stellar card is planned, including the finals of the Bobby Weiss Series for the 3 and 4 year-old trotters and pacers, as well as the Van Rose Memorial Pace for 4 year-olds and up.

As always, parking and admission is free at the racetrack!

The Downs will open for advance wagering on Friday, May 4th at 11:00am.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Announces 2018 Racing Season

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono is pleased to announce our 2018 racing season schedule.  The track in Northeast PA is looking forward to another tremendous season of racing, with the Breeders Crown returning for the third time.

Opening night has been set for Saturday, March 17 at a new Post Time of 7:00pm for all race nights, with the exception of Easter Sunday at 5:00pm and all three Triple Crown nights.  In the month of March, racing continues on Tuesday, March 20th; Saturday, March 24th; Sunday, March 25th; Tuesday, March 27th, and Saturday, March 31st.  Beginning in April, the track will move to its permanent schedule of Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, with no racing on Monday, April 2nd and Monday, September 10th.

Stakes action kicks off in early April with a Late Closing Series, and spring and summer action includes the PA Sire Stakes for 3-year-olds starting in May, as well as the PA All-Stars and PA Stallion Series.  All three continue throughout the season, with the 2-year-olds taking center stage starting in July.  The PA Sire Stakes for 3-year-olds is on Sunday, September 2.   The prestigious $2 million Sun Stakes Saturday is June 30th featuring the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Trot; $500,000 Ben Franklin Free For All Pace; 500,000 Max Hempt Memorial Pace; and the $300,000 James Lynch Memorial Pace.  Eliminations will take place on Saturday, June 23.

Breeders Crown 2018 is Saturday, October 27th, with eliminations Friday, October 19th and Saturday, October 20th.  According to Dale Rapson, Vice President of Racing Operations, Crown ‘18 promises to be a memorable one with all twelve races in one night.   “We are very excited to bring back the Breeders Crown, and are already planning a great event,” he said.  The track is working closely with the Hambletonian Society and the PHHA on the spectacular night of racing.   “I’m really looking forward to my first Breeders Crown with Pocono,” said Mike Harant, Executive Director of the PHHA, “as well as the entire 2018 racing season.”

A double-header of live racing is once again planned for Kentucky Derby day, Saturday, May 5th, with a first post of 11:00am and the second card approximately 7:30pm.  Racing follows the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes and will also be an approximate Post Time of 7:30pm.

Plenty of fan-friendly events and promotions are in the works for the season, and opening night will be “50/50 Night”.  Fans get $50 in free live racing vouchers when they buy $50, and valid on the live racing racing card that evening, while supplies last.   Fans get a free live program on opening night starting at 5:00pm, also while supplies last.  Additional fun events are planned throughout the season, including celebrity meet-and-greet autograph sessions with several sports stars; giveaway items;  and on Kentucky Derby day, the annual “Run for the Roses Hat Revue” which is the contest for the most fashionable hats in several categories with cash prizes.

In addition, the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono will add the text messaging service for promotional giveaways, as well as updates for fans on upcoming events and big race nights.  Fans can opt in starting in March, and regular message and data rates may apply.

The stables will open for the season on Thursday, March 1st at 7:30am, and the familiar sight of horses training will soon be the first sign of spring and the 53rd year of racing at the Downs.  Qualifying dates have been set for Tuesday, March 6th; Thursday, March 8th; and then every Wednesday thereafter for the remainder of the season.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

May 6-12, 2017

It was a particularly busy week of racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Due to the doubleheader on Kentucky Derby day, we enjoyed five racing cards in a four-day stretch. That means that we have even more candidates for the Weekly Awards than usual. As it turns out, though, picking the top two horses of the week was an easy matter, as it came down to the winners of the week’s two biggest purses. Here now are the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: BARIMAH A

In Saturday night’s Van Rose Memorial pace, which carried a purse of $50,000, Barimah A, a seven-year-old gelding from the Scott DiDomenico barn, went off at 14-1. This was despite the fact that he won the previous week’s featured pace at Pocono in a career-best 1:50 and despite his drawing the inside post. The betting attention, understandably, went to some of the millionaires in the field, horses like Sunfire Blue Chip, Somewhere in L A and McWicked who were coming in from the rugged early-season races at Yonkers.

The sloppy track did not dissuade the superstars in the field from going for the engine with reckless abandon. Three different horses led in the first three-eighths of a mile, and the fractions created by the speed duel were ruthless: 25:4; 53:1, and 1:20:4. At the top of the stretch Somewhere in L A was on top, Mach It So was hounding him first-over, and favorite Sunfire Blue Chip overcame some tiring cover on the back stretch to rally again in the passing lane.

All of those horses were very close to the blistering pace for much of the mile. The difference for Barimah A was that driver Pat Berry kept him back early, only asking for some kick on the back stretch. As they rounded the final turn, Barimah A was firing on all cylinders, and he eventually outpaced Sunfire Blue Chip in the final strides to get up for the victory by a head. His winning time of 1:50 matched the career-mark he set in the win the previous week, although it was even more impressive this time around because of the sloppy conditions.

Other top pacers this week include: Brickman (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who switched barns and still scored his third straight victory over $25,000 claimers on Saturday night, winning in the slop in 1:53:1; Inspiration View (Jim Marohn Jr., Ron Burke), who moved up the ladder to win a second consecutive condition race on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:52:1 in the slop; and Tempus Seelster (Jim Marohn Jr., Tony Dinges), a mare who picked up her third straight victory, two of which have come at Pocono, with a condition victory on Tuesday night in a career-best 1:50:1.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: OOH RAH

On Tuesday night, the last of the Bobby Weiss late closer series finals was held. In this case, it was the three and four-year-old trotting colts, stallions and geldings going at it for the $30,000 purse. The preliminary legs had seen several horses step up with solid performances, but Ooh Rah, a four-year-old gelding trained by Kathleen La Montagne, stamped himself as the favorite by winning three of his four starts in the series.

In the final, Ooh Rah left from post position #3 in a field of nine as the 3-5 betting favorite. After sitting third early, driver George Napolitano Jr. decided he wanted to be in charge with the favorite. Ooh Rah swooped past Hilarious Hero on the front stretch to take over the lead. Although Uncle Leroy made a first-over brush, the leader never seemed to feel the pressure and was able to cut out the mile at a relatively leisurely pace.

That came into play late, when Hilarious Hero popped out of the pocket in the stretch ready for a fight. Ooh Rah had energy to spare, powering home to hold off Hilarious Hero by a length. The winning time of 1:55 was faster than any horse had been able to post in any of the previous Weiss legs in this group, and it also marked a career-best for Ooh Rah, a deserving and dominant champ of the division.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Tuonoblu Rex (Andy Miller, Julie Miller) who followed up a win at The Meadowlands in his U.S. debut with an easy victory in the slop on Sunday at Pocono over a tough condition field in 1:53:1, easily the fastest trotting time of the week; Andy Ray (Marcus Miller, Jim Campbell), who rallied on Saturday night for a condition win in the slop in 1:57, giving him victories in the last three starts he’s made at Pocono; and Meme Hanover (Charlie Norris trainer and driver), a colt who followed up his maiden victory with a condition win on Monday night in 1:56:1, matching his career-best time.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: OOH DEAR SAM

With Anthony Morgan in the bike, this veteran pacer surprised a field of claimers on Saturday night to the tune of 26-1, paying out $54.80 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JIM MAROHN JR.

Marohn seemed to enjoy the daylight hours on Saturday, winning four out of ten races on the matinee card before returning for another victory on Saturday night.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: TONY DINGES

The Dinges barn was all about efficiency on Tuesday night, sending out three starters and earning victories in every one of those races.

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 music; a QB; and the second jewel of the Triple Crown!

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

All eyes are on Churchill Downs this week, and the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono’s party for Kentucky Derby 143 will be the biggest and the best, but plans are already taking shape for the second jewel of the prestigious Triple Crown.  Preakness weekend will be full of excitement!

The betting windows will open bright and early at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 20th with Post Time for Pimlico at 10:30 a.m.    Pacer’s Clubhouse will open at 4:00 p.m., by reservation only, 1-888-WIN-IN-PA.

Outside on the apron, the Black-Eyed Susans and other beverages will be flowing, and fans can enjoy a free concert featuring Encorz and The Fellas with a Tribute to Soultown. The concert is from 4:00PM to 6:00PM. 

Fans can watch the Preakness on the jumbo screen or in simulcast, and live harness racing action starts at 7:30PM.

Sunday, May 21st will be exciting for football fans!  Former San Francisco 49ers and Notre Dame QB Joe Montana stops by for a meet and greet in the racing lobby from 5:00PM to 6:30PM.  This is a wristband-only event, and they will be distributed at 1:00PM, while they last.  Only authorized photos will be signed and will be distributed at the event, as well.  A professional photographer will be on hand and photos will be posted on the Facebook page of Mohegan Sun Pocono.

For all racing events, follow us on Twitter @DownsATMSP.

Racing continues Sunday with a Post Time of 7:30PM; and Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday with Post Time 6:30PM.