Posts Tagged ‘Mark McDonald’

Sun Stakes Saturday Eliminations Night showcases the best of the best

Monday, June 19th, 2017

The very best trotters and pacers in North American harness racing will be converging on The Downs at Mohegan Sin Pocono the next two Saturdays, with elimination races being held this Saturday in order to qualify horses to participate in the Sun Stakes Saturday supercard on Saturday, July 1.

The $500,000 Franklin Pace for free-for-allers, the $500,000 Hempt Pace for three-year-old colts and geldings, the $500,000 Beal Trot for three-year-olds, and the $300,000 Lynch Pace for three-year-old fillies all drawn sufficient entrants that there will be three eliminations for each event this Saturday night, with the top three finishers in each elim advancing to their rich Championship event on July 1.

Here’s a look at the elimination events for the four big races, starting with the one where a top filly is going to try “the boys”:

EARL BEAL TROT: $500,000 Championship; $25,000 eliminations in races 2, 9, and 14

This may be the case of “saving the best for last,” as super filly Ariana G will test male opposition in the Beal, contributing factors being a lack of top-money events in her division right now and the still-awaited return of top colt Walner, and she will be the next-to-last horse to post parade on Saturday, starting from post six in a field of seven in the 14th and final race.

Ariana G is a daughter of Muscle Hill trained by Jimmy Takter for owners/breeders Marvin Katz and Al Libfield. She was named divisional champion as a two-year-old off the strength of 9 wins in 11 starts, earnings of over $700,000, and a win in the Breeders Crown. This year Ariana G has been perfect in two starts, winning her last race, a New Jersey Sire Stakes final for fillies, in a career-best 1:51.1.

Two state champion colts will square off in the second race elimination, which has eight entrants. Giveitgasandgo, a Yankee Glide ridgling, won the 2016 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship and comes off a PaSS victory in his last start; he’ll begin in post four for driver Corey Callahan and trainer John Butenschoen. Two starting slots to his right will be Long Tom, recent New Jersey Sire Stakes final winner, with the son of Muscle Hill backed by the team of driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Marcus Melander. Rubio (post three, Yannick Gingras for Jimmy Takter) will also get respect off a sharp PaSS win in his 2017 bow.

The state of New York weighs in in the ninth race Beal elimination, as the Credit Winner colt Devious Man comes to the mountain oval off a win Sunday in the Empire Breeders Classic final. Devious Man will be behind slot six in the eight-horse grouping for Team Orange Crush – driver Andy Miller and trainer/wife Julie.

BEAL RACE 2 ELIMINATION (PP, horse, listed driver, trainer): 1, Common Parlance, Jim Marohn Jr., Joseph Skowyra; 2, Snowstorm Hanover, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 3, Rubio, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 4, Giveitgasandgo, Corey Callahan, John Butenschoen; 5, Lucky Matter, David Miller, Christopher Beaver; 6, Long Tom, Tim Tetrick, Marcus Melander; 7, Sortie, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley; 8, President Lindy, Andy Miller, Julie Miller.

BEAL RACE 9 ELIMINATION: 1, Southwind Woody, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 2, Dover Dan, Corey Callahan, John Butenschoen; 3, Don Dream, Brian Sears, Chris Oakes; 4, Andy M, David Miller, Christopher Beaver; 5, Meteoric, Joe Bongiorno, Richard Johnson; 6, Devious Man, Andy Miller, Julie Miller; 7, Perfect Spirit, Yannick Gingras, Åke Svanstedt; 8, King On The Hill, Jim Marohn Jr., Jimmy Takter.

BEAL RACE 14 ELIMINATION: 1, What The Hill, David Miller, Ron Burke; 2. Ei Ei O, Corey Callahan, Richard Hans; 3, Backstage Pass, Mike Simons, Mike Simons; 4, Bill’s Man, Corey Callahan also listed, John Butenschoen; 5, Muscles Jared, Brian Sears, George Ducharme; 6, Ariana G (*filly), Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 7, Moonshiner Hanover, Scott Zeron, Christopher Beaver.

BEN FRANKLIN PACE: $500,000 Championship; $35,000 eliminations in races 5, 7, and 11

The two horses likely to attract much attention in the 11th race elimination will be starting at opposite ends of the gate in the seven-horse field. Getting the innermost draw is Mel Mara, a son of Lis Mara scheduled to be handled by Corey Callahan for trainer Dylan Davis and owners Robert Cooper Stables LLC and J&T Silva Stables LLC. Mel Mara has a mark of 1:47, was fourth in the Franklin Final last year, and comes off of a 1:48 victory at The Meadowlands in which he paced his last quarter in 26.

The Western Ideal stallion Luck Be Withyou had no luck at the pill shake with the outside draw, but the outer fringes of the starting gate are nothing new to him: he won his 2015 Franklin elim from post eight and then the 2015 Championship from post nine! Also a winner of the 2016 Franklin Consolation and his Breeders Crown event here as a two-year-old, Luck Be Withyou is truly a “horse for the course,” with 15 wins in only 22 starts at Pocono, and over $700G of his $1.3M lifetime bankroll earned locally. George Napolitano Jr. will have sulky duties for trainer Chris Oakes.

The charismatic Freaky Feet Pete, second to Always B Miki in the Franklin Championship last year, will be making his seasonal debut in the seven-horse seventh race elimination, starting from post two for driver Trace Tetrick and trainer Marty Rheinheimer. His prime opposition could come from McWicked, the 2014 Hempt champion, and the razor-sharp Rockeyed Optimist, second to Mel Mara last week.

The fifth race looks the most wide-open of the three Franklin eliminations; if anyone has an advantage, it may be the “home cookin’” of Napolitano and Oakes behind Split The House, who starts in the middle of the field of seven, and who won his last race here at Pocono in 1:48.2 – 27.2.

FRANKLIN RACE 5 ELIMINATION: 1. Dealt A Winner, David Miller, Mark Silva; 2. Check Six, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 3. Boston Red Rocks, Tim Tetrick, Steve Elliott; 4. Split The House, George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes; 5. Soto, Art Stafford Jr., Eric Ell; 6. Dude’s The Man, driver TBA, Jessica Okusko; 7. Shamballa, Scott Zeron, Rick Zeron.

FRANKLIN RACE 7 ELIMINATION: 1. McWicked, David Miller, Casie Coleman; 2. Freaky Feet Pete, Trace Tetrick, Marty Rheinheimer; 3. All Bets Off, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 4. Mach It So, Tim Tetrick, Jeff Bamond Jr.; 5. Keystone Velocity, Simon Allard, Rene Allard; 6. Lyons Snyder, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 7. Rockeyed Optimist, Andy Miller, Steve Elliott.

FRANKLIN RACE 11 ELIMINATION: 1. Mel Mara, Corey Callahan, Dylan Davis; 2. Wakizashi Hanover, Tim Tetrick, Jo Ann Looney-King; 3. Anwar Hanover, Jim Marohn Jr., Frank Kamine; 4. Rockin Ron, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 5. Rock N’ Roll World, Brian Sears, Jeff Cullipher; 6. Sunfire Blue Chip, Mark MacDonald, Jimmy Takter; 7. Luck Be Withyou, George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes.

MAX C. HEMPT PACE: $500,000 Championship; $25,000 eliminations in races 3, 10, and 12

“Fear The Dragon” is not just the name of a three-year-old colt – it’s the watchword of everybody campaigning a high-class sophomore pacer right now. The son of Dragon Again, trained by Brian Brown for the Emerald Highlands Farm, won the “big showdown” this past Saturday in the $730,000 (U.S.) North America Cup, closing strongly to notch a 1:48.4 victory for driver David Miller, and establishing himself as the leader in the sport’s glamour division. In going five-for-five this year, the Dragon has shown he can overcome obstacles in his road: tough posts (he does have PP2 in a field of six here), first-over trips, and even an errant head number thrown to the track that caused him to skip in the stretch of his N.A. Cup elim, but he quickly righted and even won that contest.

Fear The Dragon’s stablemate in the Brian Brown Stable, Downbytheseaside, suffered his first seasonal defeat in finishing third in the North America Cup, but in his defense he was pushed to brutal middle fractions of 52.1 and 1:19.3, the latter the fastest clocking at the ¾ on the continent in 2017. The Somebeachsomewhere colt will look to regain his winning ways as he starts from post five in the seven-horse twelfth race elimination, with Brian Sears driving.

Trainer Dylan Davis, who has Mel Mara in the Franklin elims, saw his Every Way Out sweep two eliminations and then the final of the New Jersey Sire Stakes series at The Meadowlands, and he will turn the lines over to Tim Tetrick in hopes of remaining undefeated in 2017 as they begin from post four in the seven-horse elim.

HEMPT RACE 3 ELIMINATION: 1. Blood Line, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 2. Santafe’s Coach, Anthony Napolitano, Leo Iordan; 3. Boogie Shuffle, Scott Zeron, Mark Harder; 4. Every Way Out, Tim Tetrick, Dylan Davis; 5. Air Strike, Corey Callahan, Joe Holloway; 6. Ozone Blue Chip, Brett Miller, Ron Coyne Jr.; 7. Western Joe, Matt Kakaley, Chris Choate.

HEMPT RACE 10 ELIMINATION: 1. Summer Side, Tim Tetrick, Ray Schnittker; 2. Fear The Dragon, David Miller, Brian Brown; 3. Ponderingjacksfame, Brett Miller, Les Givens; 4. Miso Fast, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 5. Pointomygranson, Brett Miller also listed, Chris Ryder; 6. Funknwaffles, Brian Sears, John Butenschoen.

HEMPT RACE 12 ELIMINATION: 1. Eddard Hanover, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 2. Heaven’s Gait, David Miller, Nicholas Devita; 3. Donttellmeagain, Tim Tetrick, Jo Ann Looney-King; 4. Photobombr Hanover, Brett Miller, Tom Fanning; 5. Downbytheseaside, Brian Sears, Brian Brown; 6. Highalator, George Napolitano Jr., Jenny Bier; 7. Talent Soup, Scott Zeron, Bruce Saunders.

JAMES LYNCH PACE: $300,000 Championship; $20,000 eliminations in races 1, 4, and 13

Bettor’s Up defeated Agent Q by a nose in last Saturday’s Fan Hanover final at Mohawk, and the two figure to be slugging it out again as they are matched up in the six-horse race 13 Lynch elimination. Bettor’s Up, who starts from post three for driver Doug McNair and trainer Scott McEneny, has been victorious in half of her 16 career starts, while Agent Q, the 2016 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion who will begin from the rail for driver David Miller and trainer Aaron Lambert, has been first or second in all but one of her 15 career trips behind the gate.

In the first race elimination, a seven-horse field, Tequila Monday and Idyllic Beach look to rebound: they were the favorite and second choice in the Fan Hanover, respectively, but respectively finished third and fourth. They have the advantage of inside starting positions on Saturday: Tequila Monday starts off from the rail for driver Brian Sears and trainer Chris Oakes, while Idyllic Beach, the 2016 North American champion for this division, begins just to her right for driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Jimmy Takter.

Misqued eked out a nose victory in her New Jersey Sire Stakes final on June 2, and perhaps that race will be a better sign for her as she begins from post two in a grouping of six for driver Steve Smith and trainer John Balzer. This Lynch elim appears to be the most wide-open of the event’s trio of races.

LYNCH RACE 1 ELIMINATION: 1. Tequila Monday, Brian Sears, Chris Oakes; 2. Idyllic Beach, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 3. Inverse Hanover, David Miller, Nifty Norman; 4. Kate Is Well Said, Tim Tetrick, Jim Campbell; 5. YS Tallia, Simon Allard, Rene Allard; 6. Pittstop Danika, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 7. V String, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley.

LYNCH RACE 4 ELIMINATION: 1. Brazuca, Corey Callahan, Thomas Cancelliere; 2. Misqued, Steve Smith, John Balzer; 3, Big City Betty, Jim Marohn Jr., Steve Salerno; 4. Gallic Sea, Brian Sears, Jim Campbell; 5. Roaring To Go, Brett Miller, Kevin Lare; 6. Risky Romance, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley.

LYNCH RACE 13 ELIMINATION: 1. Agent Q, David Miller, Aaron Lambert; 2. Hail Damage Blues, Mike Simons, Tom Fanning; 3. Bettor’s Up, Doug McNair, Scott McEneny; 4. Caviart Ally, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley; 5. Concerto, Andrew McCarthy also listed, Kelvin Harrison; 6. Miss Jones, Corey Callahan, Joe Holloway.

THE UNDERCARD: A $25,000 winners-over pace in race 8, with a field of eight with combined earnings of $3.8M and an average lifetime mark of 1:49, and a $22,500 “nw22500L5” pace where the field of nine has amassed over $2.4M in earnings and an average speed badge of 1:50. (Six horses in each race took their marks at Pocono.)

First post for this first-rate Sun Stakes Saturday elimination night card, with action literally from beginning to end, is listed for 6:30 p.m.

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Pennsylvania All-Stars action heats up Mother’s Day card

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Delaware OH resident Brian Brown is the defending training titleholder in the Jugette, having won last year with divisional champion Color’s A Virgin – and he’s giving every sign that he’s looking to take his second straight come September 23.

In a 3PF Pennsylvania Sire Stakes at The Meadows last week, Brown sent out winner Serious Filly along with second-place finishers Somewhere Sweet and Triple V Hanover. So for Sunday, May 10th, in the $128,000 Pennsylvania All-Stars divisional event at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Brown decides to keep out Serious Filly but enter the other two – and those fillies accounted for half the four All-Stars divisions, with both handled for Brown by Hall of Famer David Miller, the all-time leading driver at Delaware.

First up was Somewhere Sweet, like her stablemate a daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, whom Miller rallied from the pocket into a 55 back half to take a head decision over pacesetting Southwind Roulette, last year’s Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion, in 1:52, a new mark, for Miller’s Stable Inc. of Kentucky.

Then it was Triple V Hanover’s turn, and that filly tucked, brushed to the lead by the 55 half, and went on to win by 1¼ lengths in 1:50.3, also a personal best and by far the fastest of the four All-Stars divisions. King Mcnamara of FL and the Strollin Stable of OH, part of the partnership behind Brown’s All-Star colt winner Rise Up Now last night, share ownership in the victorious miss with Buckeye Donald Robinson.

Doctor Terror, who made a break in the Sire Stakes last week, atoned this week from the outermost post seven in her cut, making the lead past the quarter and coming home in 55 to win by a neck over Storm Point, a Sires winner last week, while lowering her personal best to 1:52.3. The daughter of Western Terror is owned by two Ontarians, trainer Blake Macintosh and Stuart Macintosh, and had another “Mac” in her corner — driver Mark Macdonald.

In the other divisions Arts Jem, beaten a neck by Serious Filly last week, enjoyed the lack of Brown competition, rallying quickly deep in the Pocono Pike, two inside the pacesetter, to edge Macarena Mama, in the Pike to her right, in a mark of 1:52.1. The Art Official miss stepped her personal back half in 54.3 to win for trainer Jim King Jr. and two Lincoln Staters, driver Tim Tetrick and the CC Racing LLC of Ray Kusinski.

CHAMPIONS GALORE ON DISPLAY AT POCONO SATURDAY NIGHT

Friday, June 29th, 2012

The Fates of the Post Position Draw certainly smiled kindly on the likely favorites in three stakes races headlining a 16-race card with over $1,200,000 in purse offerings this Saturday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.

The $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace for older horses, the $300,000 Max Hempt Pace for three-year-old colts, and the $250,000 James Lynch Pace for three-year-old fillies all saw their elimination races this past Saturday produce world-record performances over the lightning-fast Pocono Downs 5/8-mile strip, and those responsible for most of the recordwriting were drawn to the inside by the shake of the numbered pills at Wednesday morning’s draw.

The Franklin field is among the finest one-race gathering of harness horses ever, with the nine sidewheelers combining for lifetime earnings of $12,961,896, with five millionaires, two more with over a half a million to their credit, and the other pair with “only” a bankroll of $400,000+.

Last week’s world recordsetter in this group was Aracache Hanover. The son of PA stallion Dragon Again, trained by Gregg McNair for owners William Switala and James Martin, went perhaps the most impressive mile to date in North America during 2012, tucking from an outer post, then ranging up first-over, and despite that brutal journey staying clear late in 1:48.1, the world standard for older entires and just 1/5 off of the all-time all-age record for 5/8-mile tracks. Tim Tetrick, who has topped the drivers list in earnings for five consecutive years, is scheduled to handle Aracache from post four…

…which will lead some to say, “Where’s George?”, as it was two-time defending Driver of the Year George Brennan who won with Aracache last Saturday. But Brennan has opted to guide Betterthancheddar for the powerful stable of Casey Coleman from post two, and why not – because Brennan completed the Franklin elim double by giving “Cheddar” a perfect trip, then coming on late to win in 1:48.3 for owners Steve Calhoun and the West Wins Stable, edging out …

…We Will See (tonight post five, driver Ron Pierce), who had to traverse the brutal raw trip and still held gamely to the shadow of the wire. A son of the late PA champion sire Western Hanover who is trained by part-owner Sam DePinto for himself, Smith, and the Silva Stables LLC, We Will See is a co-holder of the all-time world record on 5/8-mile tracks and the outright owner of the all-time Pocono Downs record, a 1:48 victory in 2011.

One would be a fool to turn away from one’s barn (from remaining inside post out) Razzle Dazzle (Brian Sears), Meirs Hanover (David Miller), Clear Vision (Matt Kakaley), Rockincam (Jim Morrill Jr.), Foiled Again (Yannick Gingras), and Bettor Sweet (John Campbell), but it is very likely that the three in the above paragraphs will draw the most attention … and perhaps lower that 1:48 record at race’s end.

Sometimes the three-year-old pacing fillies take a backseat to the male rivals, the sport’s “glamour division,” but in the Lynch this is not the case, due to the #1-ranked horse in North America for this year, American Jewel. Trained by Jimmy Takter, who will be inducted into the sport’s Hall of Fame the next day, for Brittany Farms, the Jewel sparkled brightly in a 1:49.2 divisional record-equaling performance in her elim at the end of last week, boosting her earnings lifetime to $1,027,193, and she has the added advantage of the rail Saturday for driver Tim Tetrick.

On her very best race, and with a good trip, Economy Terror might be able to give a solid challenge to the likely chalk. Second behind American Jewel last week, the daughter of PA sire Western Terror (and practically a millionaire herself with her $998,881 bankroll) was the national champion at two and won last season’s PA championship at this very same Pocono track, and will be carrying the hopes of local trainer Chris Oakes and owners Chuck Pompey, Howard Taylor, and Edwin Gold as she starts from the middle of the nine-horse field for driver Brian Sears.

Nine will also face the gate in the Hempt Pace for colts, and the two most likely to be fancied by the gathered will start from posts one and three. The #3 will be Hurricane Kingcole, whose effortless 1:48.1 victory last Saturday set the all-time standard for sophomores over this size oval – and the alert will remember that the all-age all-time record for 5/8’ers is 1:48. Off a roaring 52.4 back half, the “King” is as sharp as can be for driver Tim Tetrick, trainer John McDermott, and the ownership combine of Kuhen, Levy Racing Stable, Klee Cohen Brewer and Gordon, and Hurrikane Racing.

Not far behind on last week’s impressive meter was Bolt The Duer, a lightly-raced colt who has the rail for driver Mark MacDonald, trainer Peter Foley, and All Star Racing Inc. His 1:48.3 time caught the eye of many an onlooker, and he is a colt who seems to have a world of potential.

Sam DePinto, trainer of We Will See in the Franklin, has a major contender in this race as well – I Fought Dalaw, who triumphed in 1:49.3 last time out and retains the services of David Miller as they start from post five.

In all, the sixteen-event extravaganza boasts eight millionaires and 11 others who have topped $500,000 in their careers. Given good weather, the Pocono and world record book may be in for another savaging this Saturday, with the action set to begin at 6:30.

The night has been dubbed “Sun Stakes Saturday,” and only partially because of the brilliance of the horses gathered. While supplies last, Pocono patrons purchasing a program can also pick up a special “Sun Stakes Saturday” beach towel (one per person). And a beach towel isn’t a bad promotional item on a night with this kind of equine star wattage, as the pacer Beach Towel of course was the 1990 Harness Horse of the Year, and would feel right at home amidst the heavyweight horsepower of this card.