Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Wallis’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

July 17-23, 2015

Now that we’re in the heart of the 2015 racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, the schedule provides five nights of racing each week. That means that it’s harder than ever to choose who’s deserving of the Weekly Awards, because there are even more candidates from which to select. But we’re going to take a deep dive anyway and come up with the best of the best from the week that was at Pocono.

PACER OF THE WEEK: CAUTION SIGNS

It’s been a lot of fun to chart the ascendancy of this 5-year-old stallion in 2015. On April 16, he finished third in a $12,500 claimer at Yonkers. That’s when he was claimed by owner/trainer Tracy Brainard, who immediately coaxed better efforts from the horse in New York, as he won two of his next three starts. But that was nothing compared to the run of success he’s put together at Pocono. Since arriving at the end of May, Caution Signs has four wins and two places in six races, all while climbing the highest rungs of the condition ladder.

On July 4, he completed his climb by beating Open pacers in 1:48:4, his third straight win. On Saturday night he took on Open company again and a field that was reduced to four by a couple of scratches. Although that might have seemed like an easy assignment, Caution Signs was dealing with a sloppy track. And, as he took the early lead, he was also dealing with a horse in Scott Rocks who sat the pocket and wouldn’t let him get away to a comfortable margin.

In the stretch, Scott Rocks came out of the pocket full of sound and fury looking to upend the even-money favorite. But no horse wins as consistently as Caution Signs has of late without being more than a little game. The stallion, with Joe Pavia Jr. doing the driving, fought hard to hold on to his lead, eventually winning by a neck in 1:49:4, a blistering time considering the sloppy going. Something tells me you wouldn’t be able to get Caution Signs for $12,500 right now, or maybe even five times that, considering his current hot streak.

Other top pacers this week include: Priceless Edition (Anthony Napolitano, Pierre Paradis), an 11-year-old veteran who cranked out his third straight claiming handicap on Friday night, this one coming in 1:54:4; Union Man Hanover (Andrew McCarthy, Tracy Brainard), who moved up his claiming price on Saturday night to $25,000 and still easily scored his third straight victory, this one in 1:51:4 in the slop; and Request For Parole (Anthony Napolitano, Ron Burke), a mare who followed up a win at The Meadowlands with a victory in Friday night’s featured pace in 1:49:2, the fastest time posted at Pocono this past week.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: AUSPICIOUS HANOVER

When I’m making the morning line odds for some of the top condition races on the card at Pocono, it’s always difficult to assign long odds to horses with strong performance backgrounds. There have to be long shots in every race, of course, so I grit my teeth and hope the public sees it the same way. That’s my way of explaining how a horse as solid as Auspicious Hanover could ever get away at 25-1 like he did on Saturday night.

The 4-year-old gelding from the Chris Oakes barn was coming into the condition trot for non-winners of $22,500 in the last five races, which carried the week’s top trotting purse of $24,000, off a 6th-place finish at Saratoga, but that was in an Open Handicap. Prior to that he had ripped off back-to-back wins at middling prices on the 5/8-mile oval at Harrah’s. Yet he was way back in the betting pecking order, with Madewell Hanover the even-money choice.

None of that mattered once the race started. Driver Kevin Wallis urged Auspicious Hanover to the lead at the quarter in a zippy :26:4. He was able to rate things much more reasonably through the middle portion of the race though, so that Auspicious Hanover didn’t just withstand the late pursuit of Madewell Hanover, but he actually lengthened the lead at the line to 2 ¼ lengths with a winning time of 1:54:1 in the slop. The win payout was $53.20 on a $2 ticket, so those who waded through the talented field to find the merits of this talented gelding were definitely rewarded.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Can I Say (Tom Jackson, Douglas Berkeley), a mare who beat the boys in a tough condition race on Saturday night in 1:54:1 in the slop; Demons N Diamonds (Simon Allard, John McDermott), a filly who stepped up in class on Sunday night and ripped off her second straight win, this one in a career-best time of 1:54; and Born To Fight (George Napolitano Jr., Mark Ford), who stepped up in class on Tuesday night to win his second straight condition won, this one coming in 1:55:2 in the slop.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: BLINTZ

This filly made here maiden victory a memorable one on Sunday night, scoring for trainer/driver Bob Krivelin at 55-1, paying off $118 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

On Saturday night we honored George Nap for picking up his 7,000th career victory earlier in the week at Harrah’s, and he reminded us of how he reached that milestone by winning the night’s first three races.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: TRACY BRAINARD

Brainard’s efficiency at Pocono has been off the charts in recent weeks, and two more victories on Saturday continued that torrid training streak.

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, September 9th, 2014

August 29-September 4, 2014

As we roll into the month of September and summer slowly begins to yield to fall, the action at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs continues at a fever pitch. Next week in this space we’ll be discussing all the exciting action from Pennsylvania Championship Saturday on September 6. This week, as usual, we’ll celebrate the best of racing at Pocono by doling out the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: I LIKE DREAMIN

He may be named after a soft-rock classic by 70’s one-hit wonder Kenny Nolan, but this 5-year-old stallion is anything but mellow on the race track. Trained by Pat LaChance, I Like Dreamin arrived from Yonkers at the start of August and started to find his stride almost immediately at Pocono, finishing second in a tough condition his second time out and then posting an impressive condition win on August 23 in a career-best 1:49:2.

On Saturday night, he stepped up in class to a condition for non-winners of $17,500 in the last five starts for a purse of $18,000. With a tough #7 post in a field of eight, it figured that I Like Dreamin might have a hard time working his way to the front end with his early speed. But driver Tom Jackson took a chance and sent him first over on the front stretch, even taking some air around the clubhouse turn before making the lead just shy of the half.

With fast fractions at every pole, it was distinctly possible that I Like Dreamin might cave. Instead he seemed to freshen up in the home stretch, pacing away from his foes to win by a comfortable 2 ½-length margin in 1:49:3, giving him back-to-back wins in under 1:50 and demonstrating how this pacer has been far more punk rock than easy listening at the track of late.

Other top pacers this week include: Anndrovette (Andrew McCarthy, PJ Fraley), the superstar veteran mare who earned her second straight Preferred Handicap win on Friday night in 1:50:3; Giddy Up Blackfly (Kevin Wallis, Matias Ruiz), who powered to a claiming win on Saturday night in 1:50:2 for his second straight victory and fourth in his last six races; and Mustang Art (Kevin Wallis, James McGuire), who scorched the track on Saturday night for his second straight condition win, this one coming in 1:49.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: MISTERY WOMAN

This mare was a standout as a 3-year-old in 2013, earning nearly $300,000 in just 15 starts. Her four-year-old season started with a lot of rugged competition at the Meadowlands, which she couldn’t quite overcome, failing to hit the board in her first five races of the year. But her first start at Pocono quickly turned things around, as she took advantage of a good trip to rally for a win in a career-best 1:52.

On Saturday night, Mistery Woman, trained by Jonas Czernyson, stepped up into even stiffer competition, taking on the non-winners of $22,500 in the last five starts for a purse of $21,000. With an outside post, it seemed unlikely that the racing luck would fall her way again. Some early speed put her third on the inside early, decent position to strike as long as she didn’t get stuck inside of the outer flow of horses.

Driver Andrew McCarthy stayed patient, resisting the temptation to join the traffic on the outside of the mare. That strategy paid off in the stretch when the outside opened up for a fresh Mistery Woman. With a blinding rush, she zipped by highly regarded veteran trotters Money On My Mind and Sevruga for her second straight win, this one in 1:52:3 as an 11-1 long shot. This mare has found her form at Pocono, so all her competitors better be on top of their game.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: GOLD DEUCE

Despite an outside post in a field of nine, this claiming pacer with Joe Pavia Jr. in the bike uncorked a late move to score on Saturday night at 46-1, paying off $95.20 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANDREW MCCARTHY

A four-win night on Friday started McCarthy off to a big week, culminating with a victory on Wednesday night that gave him 100 wins for the 2014 Pocono meet.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: PJ FRALEY

Fraley had two starters on Friday night and made them count, as Anndrovette won the featured pace for mares and Krispy Apple won a condition in 1:48:4, fastest time of the week at Pocono.

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.

ANNDROVETTE WINS PREFERRED HANDICAP AT POCONO

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Seven powerful mares hit the track for the Preferred Handicap race at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on Friday evening.   

George Napolitano Jr. gunned Show Runner (Little Steven – Peace Runner) out of the gate first, followed by Yagonnakissmeornot (The Panderosa-Artstopper, driven by Simon Allard;  and Anndrovette (Riverboat King – Easy Miss), picking up a new driver in Andrew McCarthy, at odds of 3-5 , went three-wide to soon take over the lead.  Fractions were 26.2; 55.3; 123; and the $3 million-plus mare held on for a gutsy win over the fast-charging Yagonnakissmeornot, flying up the rail at the wire in a final time of 1:50.3.  Arodasi (Western Terror – Do Me Justice) with Kevin Wallis picking up the drive, finished third.   

Anndrovette, trained by P J. Fraley, now has six wins for the season. 

 In an earlier race on the card, Krispy Apple (Western Ideal-Apple Krisp) picked up her first win of the season in dominating fashion and posted a new lifetime mark of 1:48.4.  The mare is also trained by P J Fraley, and was also  driven to victory by Andrew McCarthy.   

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

August 15-21, 2014

This week’s racing was filled with the thrilling action we’ve come to expect of Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. And, to spice things up even further, the Pocono faithful witnessed the matching of a track and world record this week. That record-setting performance kicks off our attempt to sum up all of the action at Pocono this week by handing out the Weekly Awards.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: FRAU BLUCHER

This four-year-old mare named after Cloris Leachman’s character in Young Frankenstein had scared up a lot of success in the first two years, earning over $900,000 combined in her two and three-year-old seasons. Yet this standout from the Chris Oakes barn went winless in her first five starts this year, including a second against the non-winners of over $10,000 in the last five starts condition at Pocono on August 12 when she was heavily favored.

On Tuesday night, she went up against that same condition group, once again as a solid favorite at 4-5. Only this time around, the mare was ready to show her class and then some. Driver George Napolitano Jr. sent her to the lead with a brush on the front stretch. From there, Frau Blucher kept extending her lead until the rest of the field was a distant memory. She was 8 ¼ lengths in front at the line, with the only suspense at that point being how fast she actually went in the victory.

The timer showed a ridiculous 1:51:2, which matched the world record on a 5/8-mile oval for four-year-old trotting mares. The horse who set that record back in May at Pocono, Classic Martine, is also trained by Chris Oakes. So that proves that the Oakes barn has a whole lot of talent. But it also proves that Frau Blucher is back on top of her game, so elite trotters all over the country best take heed.

Other top trotters this week include: Mistery Woman (Ron Pierce, Jonas Czernyson), a Meadowlands shipper who captured Saturday night’s featured condition pace in a career-best 1:52; DC’s Piggy Bank (Matt Kakaley, Peter Pellegrino), who picked up his second straight claiming win on Sunday night in 1:56:2; and Inside Broadway (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who powered his way to his second straight claiming victory on Wednesday night, this one in a career-best 1:54:2.

PACER OF THE WEEK: LYONS JOHNNY

While there were no track records coming from this 6-year-old gelding, he certainly has impressed since August dawned. Considering that he had slumped to back-to-back seventh-place finishes in his last two starts of July, such rejuvenation seemed extremely unlikely at the time. It took a drop down the condition ladder and a barn change to get him in gear again.

On August 3, his first start in the Amber Buter barn, Lyons Johnny dominated that lower condition group by 4 ¼ lengths in a career-best 1:50:1. Buoyed by that fine effort, he moved back up in class to face the non-winners of $7,000 in the last five races on Tuesday night. Faced with the prospect of an outside post and a tougher field with several horses sporting solid back class, it seemed like a tough test.

With George Napolitano Jr. in the bike, Lyons Johnny aggressively took over the lead with a front stretch move. Although the fractions were quick, he stayed strong up front and sped clear of some late pressure for his second straight win, this one coming in 1:50:3. Another move up in class could be in the near future for this suddenly red-hot pacer.

Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: Victorydazewillwin (Simon Allard, Daniel Munson), who notched his second straight win over the $15,000 claimers on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:50:4; It’s That Time (Anthony Napolitano, Kevin Lare), whose victory in a claiming handicap on Saturday night came in 1:49:2, a new career-best and the fastest pacing time of the week at MSPD; and All Fired Up (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), who sprung from the pocket for his second straight claiming handicap victory on Wednesday night, doing it in a career-best time of 1:51:3.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: GUANTANAMO BAY

2-year-olds are some of the most unpredictable horses, as this freshman pacer with Kevin Wallis in the bike showed on Sunday, winning at 30-1 for a $62.80 payout on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: KEVIN WALLIS

The veteran driver has been finding his rhythm of late at Pocono, as evidenced by four wins this week, two of which came with horses at odds of longer than 15-1.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: TONY ALAGNA

Alagna has won a high percentage of his races this season at Pocono, and Sunday night he picked up wins with two of the three horses he sent to the gate.

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, September 6th, 2013

August 30-September 5, 2013

August may be in the rear-view mirror, but it went out with a bang at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. A track record fell on Friday night and a world record went by the books on Saturday night. It was quite a week of racing, and it’s no surprise that those two record-setters end up with the most honored positions in this edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: LIGHTNING PAIGE

If anyone seemed poised to break a record in Friday night’s $21,000 featured pace for mares who were non-winners of $24,000 in the last five races, Southwind Jazmin was the one. In the very same class a week earlier, the 5-year-old mare completely dominated with a two-length win in 1:49:3, and the margin and time could have been more impressive had she been kept to task. It’s no wonder that she was the 2-5 favorite at race time.

One of the horses that she beat the previous start was Lightning Paige, a 4-year-old mare from the Steve Elliott barn. She was a non-threatening third in that race, and she found herself in the pocket chasing the heavy favorite throughout the race. Even with fast fractions, it seemed like the only thing up for debate was whether or not Southwind Jazmin would challenge a track record.

Yet Lightning Paige had other ideas. Driver Andrew McCarthy urged her on through the stretch as she blitzed by the favorite to win by a neck. To add insult to injury, Lightning Paige’s winning time of 1:49 even broke the track record for 4-year-old pacing mares. The previous mark of 1:49:2 was held by, you guessed it, Southwind Jazmin, who set it a year ago. That’s what you call a double whammy. Here’s hoping these two star distaffers face off again in an exciting budding rivalry.

Other top pacers this week include: Caviart Spencer (George Napolitano Jr., Eddie Sager), whose victory on Friday night over the $7,500 claimers gave him three straight victories and came in a career-best 1:52; Light Up The Sky (George Napolitano Jr., Marty Fine), who switched barns and still came up with his second straight win against the toughest claimers on the grounds Saturday night, this one in a career mark of 1:49; and Mustang Art (Kevin Wallis, James McGuire), a veteran pacer who put on a show on the front end on Saturday night with a mile of 1:48:3, best of his career and fastest this week at Pocono.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: BEATGOESON HANOVER

One of my little rules for writing this column is that I try to spread the wealth around in giving these awards. When a horse wins Pacer or Trotter of the Week once during a season, I usually disqualify them from winning it again. For Beatgoeson Hanover, I broke the rules, simply because it’s unusual for a horse to crash the record books twice in the same season.

Back in April, Beatgoeson Hanover, a five-year-old mare trained by Nifty Norman, matched a track record for aged trotting mares with a scintillating victory in 1:52:1. Yet on Saturday night in a Preferred trot with a $25,000 purse, Beatgoeson Hanover could only go off as a 3-1 second choice, because DW’s NY Yank, who also set a track record at Pocono earlier this season as a 4-year-old gelding, was the heavy favorite. Beatgoeson Hanover sat the pocket trip behind the favorite, who surprisingly caved in at the top of the stretch under pressure from the first-over move from Real Babe.

Driver Tyler Buter made a nifty move by swinging Beatgoeson Hanover out wide to elude her tiring cover and gather momentum for a rally. The mare did the rest, zipping by Real Babe to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:51:4. Not only did that reset her track mark, but it also set the world record for aged mares trotting on a five-eighths-mile oval. Maybe we bent the rules a little bit by handing out this award, but that performance was worth it.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Must Be Psychic (Anthony Napolitano, Scott Osterhout), who won his second straight claimer on Tuesday night, this one coming in a career-best 1:55:1 despite a move up in class; Hoorayforvacation (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who scored a victory in Tuesday night’s featured claiming handicap trot in a career-best 1:53:4; and Raven De Vie (Matt Kakaley, Chris Ryder), who followed up his maiden win with another condition victory on Wednesday night in 1:56:1.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: WEST RIVER VICTORY

On Tuesday night with Mike Simons doing the driving, this trotter utilized a pcoket trip to rally for a victory over a $12,500 claiming class at 17-1 for a $37 win payout on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANDREW MCCARTHY

McCarthy gets a lot of acclaim at Pocono for his ability to bring in long shots, but this week he was winning with every kind of horse, as evidenced by multiple driving victories on all four racing nights.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: MARTY FINE

Part of the Canadian invasion of horsemen who have really made their mark on the 2013 season at Pocono, Fine stayed hot with a three-win week, including a double on Saturday.

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.