Posts Tagged ‘Larry Stalbaum’

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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Opens 2015 Season

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

March 21, 2015

Sky McFly dominated on the front end to defeat a group of $25,000 claimers and kick off the 2015 racing season on Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The race, the first of the night and the meet, carried a purse of $16,000.

Driven by Matt Kakaley for the Ron Burke barn, Sky McFly (Jereme’s Jet-N’vincible) took over around the first turn and never faced a serious challenge from that point. The 6-year-old gelding, a 2-5 favorite, scored in 1:52:1 by 2 ¼ lengths over Top Gear in second and To Beach His Own in third.

2015 promises to be a special one at Pocono, as it’s the 50th racing campaign for the venerable track in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The track opened in July of 1965.

In other opening night action at Pocono, three $15,000 divisions of the Bobby Weiss Series for three and four-year-old colts and geldings on the pace were held. The winners were: Shadow Margeaux (Shadow Play-Joyeux), a 37-1 long shot driven by Larry Stalbaum and trained by Steve Salerno, in 1:52:4; Mojito Hanover (Well Said-Mary Mattgalane), driven by Marcus Miller and trained by Jim Campbell, in 1:53:1; and Victory At Last (Quik Pulse Mindale-Bidforakiss), driven by Matt Kakaley and trained by Ron Burke, in 1:52:4. And in the night’s $22,000 featured condition pace, Blatantly Best (Cambest-Garish), driven by Jim Morrill Jr. and trained by Larry Remmen, came on late to win in 1:51:3.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

June 8-14, 2012

Over the next several weeks, some of the finest horses in the country will be stopping at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs as our stakes season begins in earnest. As if anticipation, the overnight horses on the grounds have ramped up their performances. On Saturday night alone, there were four miles of under 1:50; back in the day, we wouldn’t have four miles under 1:50 all season. It’s been a particularly competitive battle for the Weekly Awards. Let’s see who comes out on top.


This four-year-old gelding has found his stride in the 2012 season, tripling his career earnings with his performance this year. He arrived at Pocono in May to race against the $25,000 claiming class, winning against that group in his second MSPD start in a career-best 1:49:4. He was claimed from that race and joined the barn of trainer Cad Gregory.

Gregory and his new connections decided to try Rockin Glass against the condition pacers, and he showed he was up to the test with a victory on June 2 in 1:50:4. For Saturday night’s races, he stepped up into the non-winners of $25,000 condition, one of the toughest groupings on the grounds. With George Napolitano Jr. in the bike, the gelding found himself chasing some sizzling fractions.

In the stretch, Rockin Glass made his move out wide, blowing by his competition in a blistering 1:49:2. Not only was that a new career-best for the gelding, it was also the fastest time posted on the Pocono oval last week. With 9 wins in 19 races this season, this is one pacer who is loving his 2012 season, and there’s still a lot of racing to go.

Other top pacers this week include: White Liar (Eric Carlson, Erv Miller), a three-year-old colt who scored his third consecutive condition victory on Friday night, doing so in a career-best time of 1:50:4; Touch Of Steel (Matt Kakaley, Linda Kakaley), who moved up into the $12,500 claiming ranks on Saturday night from the $10 claimers and notched his third straight win, this one coming in 1:52:1; and Twin B Passion (Matt Romano, Andrew Adamczyk), a mare who moved up in class but still scored her third straight claiming win on Wednesday in 1:53:4.


This 9-year-old gelding is still trotting at an extremely high level. The pride of the Santo Zuzolo barn, Spice It Up Lindy returned to the Pocono racing wars on Sunday night after a highly successful stint at Tioga Downs, where he won back-to-back starts including an Open on June 2.

Considering that he had set a career-mark of 1:53 at Pocono in a race in 2011 and has had several solid wins here in the past, Spice it Up Lindy was a well-known commodity in the condition field he faced on Sunday night. Driver Tom Jackson sent him to the front end early and dared everyone else in the field to play catch-up with him.

Several took their shots, but none could get it done. Spice It Up Lindy powered home to win by a length-and-a-half. His sizzling time of 1:52:4 set a new career mark and also matched the fastest trotting time at MSPD last week. The gelding made it known has is back at Pocono, and all other trotters must take notice.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Windsun Galaxie (Mark MacDonald, Tyler Raymer), who led gate-to-wire to win the week’s featured trot on Sunday night in 1:52:4, a new career mark; All Munky Business (Jim Morrill Jr., Jean Drolet), who followed up a win at the Meadowlands with a condition victory at Pocono on Wednesday night in a career-best 1:55:1; and Sonny McDreamee (Larry Stalbaum, Celine Harvey), who captured Wednesday night’s featured condition trot in a sizzling, career-best mile of 1:53.


Despite a tough first-over trip, this trotter with David Ingraham in the bike surprised a field of condition trotters on Tuesday night at 24-1, paying off $51.40 on a $2 win ticket.


George had a huge week, including a six-win night on Saturday, making him the first driver in the Pocono colony to go over the 100-win mark for the 2012 meet.


Harmon just started training once again at Pocono recently, but he has quickly made his presence felt. This week he picked up wins on three out of five racing nights.

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

Fox Valley Iliad Hits Pocono Record Books for Second Straight Week

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

May 12, 2012

A week after setting a track record at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, Fox Valley Iliad improved his time in winning the $25,000 featured trot at Pocono on Saturday night, setting a world record in the process.

Last Friday, Fox Valley Iliad, a Vaporize stallion hailing from the Kimberly Asher barn, set a Pocono track record for 4-year-old stallions on the trot by winning a condition in 1:52:3. In Saturday night’s feature for winners of over $25,000 lifetime, the stallion left from the inside post in a field of six as the 6-5 favorite and allowed Lolique to grab the engine and set the quarter-mile mark of 27:1.

Like last week, driver Tom Jackson set Fox Valley Iliad in motion on the front stretch, sending him to the front at the 3/8-mile mark. He then clicked off sizzling middle panels of 55:3 at the half and 1:23:1 at three-quarters, gaining some separation from his foes. Monsignor Flan made a belated closing move in the stretch but came up a half-length short of Fox Valley Iliad. Lolique finished 3rd.

Fox Valley Iliad’s winning time was 1:52, which not only reset his Pocono track record for 4-year-old stallions on the trot, but it also set a world record for the age group on a 5/8-mile oval. Owned by Larry Stalbaum and Mike Sorentino, the stallion now has 4 wins in 7 starts this year and 11 victories lifetime with career earnings of $135,103.

Fox Valley Iliad wasn’t the only one muscling his way into the Pocono record books on Saturday night. Transcending matched the track record for aged stallions on the pace with a 1:48:2 mile in a victory in the non-winners of $25,000 the last five starts condition. Using a pocket trip and the passing lane, Transcending, an 8-year-old stallion trained by Ron Burke and driven by Matt Kakaley, won by a nose in a three-way photo over American Rage and Real Flight. He matched the Pocono mark set by Vlos back in 2010.