Posts Tagged ‘Keystone Thomas’

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

April 12-18, 2014

Once again the weather was a wild ride this past week in Northeastern Pennsylvania, which obviously affected the racing wars at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. A gorgeous weekend led to the fastest times of the young season, but rain, snow, and bitter cold on Tuesday brought sloppy conditions. Nonetheless, the action stayed thrilling no matter what the track conditions or winning times were. Here is a look at the week’s best performers via another edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: DRIVE ALL NIGHT

It’s always fascinating to watch how excellent horses progress throughout their careers. They will often go through periods at their where they face the top classes, and then almost inevitably start to drop down in class as they age to face competition more suited to their talent level. But there are some that have a tendency to rise to the top of whatever class they inhabit.

Drive All Night certain falls into that category of horses that seem to find a groove no matter the caliber of horses they face. A few years back, he took on the pacers in the highest condition classes and even the Open pacers at Pocono, and he always acquitted himself well. These days the nine-year-old gelding is a denizen of the mid-priced claiming classes, and he has been cleaning up.

He came into Saturday night’s $20,000 claiming event with back-to-back front-pacing victories at Pocono with the $15,000 claimers. The step up in class didn’t bother him a bit, as driver Simon Allard sent the 9-year-old gelding trained by Marty Fine to the front end and guided him to a 2 ¼ length victory in 1:50:4. That gave the veteran 54 lifetime wins, and he’s showing no signs of slowing back down. In fact, with performances like that, he might just be ready to step back up to the face the whippersnappers in those top classes once again.

Other top pacers this week include: Abelard Hanover (Jonathan Roberts, Donald Billings), whose victory in Saturday night’s Preferred pace came in 1:48:4, the fastest time recorded at Pocono so far this season; Its Rock N Roll (Anthony Napolitano, John Barchi), who moved up in class and switched barns Saturday night and still picked up his second straight win at Pocono and his third straight overall, this one coming in a career-best 1:51:3; and American Shuttle (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), a mare who ripped off her second straight claiming win on Sunday night since arriving from Yonkers, matching her career-best of 1:53:3 in the process.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: WIND OF THE NORTH

Saturday night’s condition trot for non-winners of $23,500 in the last five starts felt like an Open considering the high caliber of the horses competing. Some of the standouts in the six-horse field included  Meadowlands shippers Banker Volo and Jurgen Hanover, Imagine Hanover, who was fresh off a late closer sweep at The Meadows, and Money On My Mind, who finished second in Preferred company in his previous start.

With that kind of competition, it’s not surprising that folks were a little skeptical of Wind Of The North, the four-year-old gelding from the Clifton Green barn who was coming off back-to-back condition wins to start his 2014 season. He was moving up in class, so that’s probably why he was let go at 6-1, but this is a trotter who proved last year as a three-year-old he could compete in the toughest classes.

He proved it again and then some on Saturday night. With Mike Simons in the bike, Wind Of The North battled both Money On My Mind and Banker Volo in the stretch before prevailing in exciting fashion. It took his best effort, a career-best 1:53:4, to come out on top, but this third straight victory should go a long way in preventing anyone from underestimating this peaking trotter again.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Definitely Mamie (George Napolitano Jr., Brewer Adams), the accomplished mare who won a tough condition battle on Wednesday night in 1:55:4; Keystone Thomas (Andrew McCarthy, Joe Pavia Jr.), who rolled on the front end to a condition win on Wednesday in 1:55; and Smokin Dabra (Ron Pierce, Marty Fine), who moved up in class in style with a claiming handicap victory on Wednesday in 1:54, his third win in a row.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: WHIRL MONROE

Tuesday night’s sloppy track seemed conducive to long shots, and this condition pacer with Anthony Napolitano in the bike pulled off the night’s biggest shocker at 36-1, paying off $79.80 to win.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MARK MACDONALD

MacDonald has been spending more time at Pocono than ever before, and it’s paying off big dividends, like on Saturday night when he ripped off four victories.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: LOU PENA

Pena is always a major factor at Pocono, and he’s been making his presence felt again in the first few weeks of the 2014 season. On Saturday night, he scored three training wins.

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, October 1st, 2013

September 20-26, 2013

We returned to a full racing schedule this past week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs after a few weeks of an interrupted slate. The action picked up fast and furious from where it left off, producing a plethora of candidates for the Weekly Awards. Without further ado, let’s get right to it and highlight the best of the best of the week that was.

PACER OF THE WEEK: ROCKIN THE HOUSE

Saturday night witnessed the first sloppy track at Pocono in quite some time, but that didn’t stop the powerhouses in the $25,000 Preferred pace from putting on an impressive show. The best of the group appeared to be red hot Chester invader Bestjetyet, but his early break threw the race wide open for the other competitors. Rockin The House proved to be ready for the opportunity.

The 6-year-old gelding from the Ron Burke barn had won his previous start in a rugged condition group in gate-to-wire fashion, but, because of the move up in class, he was only a 9-1 shot on Saturday. Driver Matt Kakaley settled him in the pocket early, but things still looked dire when pacesetter Flem N Em N opened up a nice margin heading into the stretch.

Rockin The House had something left to give in the lane though, while Flem N Em N began to falter. As they approached the line, Rockin The House went past and prevailed by a half-length. That made it two wins in a row and three in the last five for the gelding, who scorched the slop to the tune of a 1:50:2 winning time.

Other top pacers this week include: Competition Cam (Tyler Buter, Richard Banca), who stepped up in class to handle the toughest pacers on the grounds on Saturday night with a rallying win in 1:51:4, giving him three victories in a row; First Impression (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who, despite moving up his claiming price and switching barns, chalked up his third win in a row on Saturday night, this one in 1:53:1 in the slop; and Lotsa Chrome (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), whose rallying win in Tuesday night’s condition pace came in 1:50:1, fastest time of the week at Pocono.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: KEYSTONE THOMAS

When Keystone Thomas arrived at Pocono earlier in the meet, he was immediately slotted against the very best trotters on the grounds and was maybe a tad overmatched. Thus began a process of his handlers moving him from class to class in an effort to find the right spot for him to compete. That process seems to have reached its fruition the last few weeks.

Trained and driven by Joe Pavia Jr., the gelding parlayed a pocket trip into a victory in 1:54:2 on September 6. On Saturday night, he moved up in class into a condition for non-winners of $19,000 in the last five races and got away at 5-1. Pavia was the aggressor nonetheless, putting Keystone Thomas in front early and holding tight.

Things did indeed get tight, but the 7-year-old gelding dug deep and held off all comers. Pavia guided him across the line in 1:55:3, a rock-solid time considering the lousy racing conditions. With wins in two races in a row, this talented veteran appears to have finally found his stride, meaning that he might be able to advance even higher to continue an already-impressive season.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Quantum Lightning (George Napolitano, Bill Mullin), who stepped up in class to the $10,000 claimers on Tuesday and earned his second straight win at Pocono, this one coming in 1:56; Judith (Anthony Napolitano driver and trainer), a mare whose win over the $7,500 claimers on Friday night in 1:56:2 was her second straight in that class; and Wind Of The North (Matt Kakaley, Clifton Green), who scored a win over an excellent condition field on Saturday night in 1:55:1 in the slop.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: EXCEL NINE

He got a break when the horse that crossed the line first was disqualified for interference, meaning this condition pacer driven by Matt Romano inherited a victory Saturday night at 29-1, paying off $60 to win.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MATT KAKALEY

Kakaley is currently experiencing one of the hottest stretches of his season. He followed up four victories on Saturday night with six more winners on Tuesday.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: PIERRE PARADIS

Pierre has been a productive member of the training community at Pocono for many years, and this week he added two more wins to the ledger, including a 21-1 shot on Wednesday with ER Mr T.

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.

Guccio Matches World Record in Preferred Trot at Pocono

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

June 15, 2013

What is it about trainer Jimmy Takter and 4-year-old trotting stallions at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs?

A week ago, Uncle Peter set a new track and world record for the age group with a win in the featured trot. On Saturday night at Pocono, Takter brought in Guccio and he matched the feat with his own $25,000 Preferred trot victory in the same record time of 1:51:1.

Guccio, a 4-year-old stallion seasoned by tough trots at The Meadowlands, was made the 2-5 favorite in a field of nine. Takter, who also drove the stallion, kept him back in fifth early as lead-shuffling between Lightning Storm and Opening Night created blistering fractions. Takter got Guccio moving first over on the back stretch. At the top of the lane, he had corralled leader Opening Night and wore him down for a 1 ½ length victory in that record-setting time of 1:51:1. Opening Night finished second while Keystone Thomas picked up the show.

It was also a career mark for Guccio, who is owned by Christina Takter, John Fielding, Jim Fielding, Goran Falk, and Brixton Medical. The win was his second of the season and 7th lifetime, while his career earnings jumped to $899,333.

In Saturday night’s $25,000 Preferred pace at Pocono, Bet On The Law might have been overlooked in a field that included stakes veteran Hurrikane Kingcole, Ron Burke trainee Escape The News, and Aussie invader Erle Dale N. As a 5-1 fourth choice in a field of seven, Bet On The Law stayed back off the early pace, choosing only to move when Hurrikane Kingcole came first-over on the back stretch to give him cover. That was a change of tactics by trainer/driver Joe Pavia Jr., one that paid off when the 4-year-old gelding spun off his cover and rallied to win by a length in a career-best 1:48:4. Hurrikane Kingcole had to settle for second while Musselsfrombrussels picked up the show.

Bet On The Law, owned by Steven Held, Joe Barbera, AGC Stables, and Dijo Racing, won for the sixth time in a dozen 2013 races. It was his  11th career victory and pushed his lifetime earnings to $313,249.

Uncle Peter Shatters World Record in Win at Pocono

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

June 8, 2013

Another Saturday night, another world comes under assault at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.

This time around, it was the mark for 4-year-old trotting stallions on a 5/8-mile oval that was obliterated by star trotter Uncle Peter in the Preferred trot on Saturday night. The race carried a purse of $25,000.

Uncle Peter (Cantab Hall-Victory Treasure), who was fresh off a second-place finish in the Maxie Lee at Harrah’s, was made the 3-5 favorite from the #5 post in a nine-horse field. The 4-year-old stallion from the Jimmy Takter barn got away mid-pack as the mare Tui set a scorching opening fraction of 26:3. Driver Jim Morrill Jr. set Uncle Peter in motion first-over on the front stretch and he had the lead before the clubhouse turn, hitting the half in 55:1.

On the back stretch, Uncle Peter gained separation and reached three-quarters in 1:22:4. Even with second-choice Undercover Strike sneaking up behind him into the pocket, the favorite had no trouble in the stretch, kicking away to win by four full lengths. Undercover Strike finished second while Keystone Thomas picked up the show. The winning time of 1:51:1 smashed the track record for 4-year-old stallions on the trot of 1:52, set last May by Fox Valley Iliad, and that mark was also the world record for the age group on any 5/8-mile oval.

Uncle Peter, owned by Christina Takter, John Fielding, Jim Fielding, and Goran Falk, has been in the money in every one of his six starts this year with two wins. The victory was the 10th of his career and pushed his lifetime earnings to $770,154.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

May 25-31, 2013

There were only three racing nights in the week that was at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, and yet we were overflowing with standout performances in that span. In just a week, Pocono will be switching to a schedule of five nights per week, which means that it’s going to be even harder each week to decide who might be the best among the pacers and trotters competing at the track. With that in mind, here is the latest edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: C’MON BUZZ OFF

One of the most competitive classes at Pocono has been the $25,000 claimers for four and five-year-old pacers. It’s been hard for any single horse to gather up any momentum in the class due to the extreme competitiveness of the group, but C’Mon Buzz Off has been able to manage the feat. In fact, he came into Saturday night’s race having won three of his last four starts with his powerful, front-pacing style.

Such early speed usually favors a horse with an inside post position, but C’Mon Buzz Off had to deal with an extreme outside post on Saturday when he drew the #9 hole. In his first start for the Chris Oakes barn, the 4-year-old stallion didn’t change his style at all, as driver Jim Morrill Jr. sent him hurtling to the front end despite the outside post.

Once C’Mon Buzz Off stepped to the front end, his muscle memory took care of the rest. He held a solid group of claimers at bay and scored the win in 1:51:2, giving him three straight victories and four wins in his last five. He’ll be joining a new barn for his next start, but it doesn’t seem to matter what barn or post position this pacer is dealing with these days. He’s going to be hard to beat in any scenario.

Other top pacers this week include: Verdad (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who rumbled to his second straight high condition win on Saturday night and did so in a new career-best time of 1:50:1; Annieswesterncard (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who won the week’s featured Preferred pace on Saturday night in 1:49, which was a new career-mark and the fastest time posted at MSPD this week; and Duel Cheeks (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), a mare who took a significant jump in class on Wednesday night and still scored her second consecutive win, this one coming in 1:51:4.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: CLARISSA HALL

There hasn’t been a trotter any more consistent than this 6-year-old mare. Since she arrived from Freehold at the start of April, she has hit the board in five straight races at Pocono, including three straight wins heading into her $10,000 to $12,500 claiming handicap on Tuesday night.

Clarissa Hall has managed to move up in class during the winning streak, which began in the $7,500 claimers. In addition, she has done it despite changing barns for each and every one of those wins. Tuesday night was her first time in the Chris Oakes barn. Early on, driver George Napolitano Jr. settled her in the pocket, but a slow pace by the leader meant that a bunch of horses were close up in the stretch, making for a congested rush to the finish.

With horses on all sides of her, Clarissa Hall stayed strong to the line and came out on top in a tight finish in 1:58:1 on the sloppy track. Not only is that her fourth straight victory, but she also continued a streak of being in the money in every one of her 14 starts this season. She was claimed from the race; her next barn can rest assured knowing it is getting one tough trotter.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Blomkvist (Jim Morrill Jr., Chris Oakes), who powered his way to a victory against the highest-priced claiming handicappers on the grounds on Saturday night in 1:54:1, which is a new career-best; Lightning Storm (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), whose victory in a condition trot on Saturday night came in a career-best 1:53:2; and Keystone Thomas (Andrew McCarthy, Joe Pavia Jr.), who won Wednesday night’s featured condition trot in 1:53:1, a new career-best and the fastest trotting time at Pocono this week.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: DAVE PANLONE

Using a pocket trip, this condition pacer surprised the faithful in the very first race on Tuesday night, rallying for the win at 17-1 in the slop for a win payout of $37.40 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MIKE SIMONS

Year after year, Simons, a Pocono fixture, keeps delivering the goods. He’s been at it again in 2013, and he rolled through the slop on Tuesday night with three victories on the card.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: CHRIS OAKES

The Oakes barn is a factor on the national level, but Chris saves plenty of ammunition for his home track, as evidenced by a four-win night on Saturday and six wins overall this week.

That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@moheganpocono.com.