Posts Tagged ‘Mark Silva’

Sun Stakes Saturday July 1st – When the stars shine SO bright

Monday, June 26th, 2017

The stars will be out in full brilliance this Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, which is proud to host the $2,169,500 Sun Stakes Saturday card, including a collection of four major races: the $500,000 Ben Franklin Championship for pacing free-for-allers, the $500,000 Earl Beal Championship for three-year-old trotters, the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Championship for three-year-old pacing colts, and the $300,000 James Lynch Championship for three-year-old pacing fillies.

The horses earned their way into these Championship by finishing in the top three in their elimination races last Saturday – a couple of highly-regarded horses did not make the cut, but many of those will be racing in the consolation races for the four events throughout the card. The draw for this Saturday’s Championship events was conducted as an open draw – which, as always, helped the chances of some and may be a hindrance to some others. There will be no betting-coupled entries.

The four Championships will be races nine through twelve on Saturday’s 14-race card. Below is a preview of each Championship as they are being held from front to back on the card, followed by the entire field by post with driver and trainer, and then a paragraph on its consolation race.

$300,000 JAMES LYNCH CHAMPIONSHIP for three-year-old pacing fillies – race 9

The three elimination winners all drew in the middle of the gate or inside that, with the two most likely to draw attention, Tequila Monday and Agent Q, starting from posts one and four respectively. The American Ideal filly Tequila Monday, who won her elimination by a nose over Idyllic Beach in the elims’ fastest time of 1:50.4, may again try to go wire-to-wire from the pole as she did last week for driver Brian Sears, trainer Chris Oakes, and owners Susan Oakes and Chuck Pompey. Agent Q also favors speedy tactics, and went wire-to-wire last week in 1:51.1 for driver David Miller and trainer Aaron Lambert; Martin Scharf shares ownership in the Western Terror filly with Rochetti Cassar Racing and Robert Muscara.

Idyllic Beach, last year’s North American divisional champion and just shaded by Tequila Monday in the fastest elim last week, had a major monkey wrench thrown into her plans for victory when she drew the outside post nine; driver Yannick Gingras will need both sulky creativity and racing luck to overcome this tough starting slot.

The $300,000 JAMES LYNCH CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD: 1, Tequila Monday, Brian Sears, Chris Oakes; 2, Big City Betty, Jim Marohn Jr., Steve Salerno; 3, Inverse Hanover, Tim Tetrick, Nifty Norman; 4, Agent Q, David Miller, Aaron Lambert; 5, Brazuca, Corey Callahan, Tom Cancelliere; 6, Bettor’s Up, Doug McNair, Scott Mceneny; 7, Misqued, Steve Smith, John Balzer; 8, Caviart Ally, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley; 9, Idyllic Beach, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter.

$50,000 Lynch Consolation (race 2): Roaring To Go, 2-1 in the elim won by Brazuca, was used in a 26.1 opening quarter and could only manage a dead-heat for fourth; the rail gives her a good chance to race well-placed throughout. The fastest clocking of all the Lynch consolation entrants from last week, 1:51.4 by YS Tallia, will find that fourth-place finisher starting from post five here.

$500,000 MAX C. HEMPT CHAMPIONSHIP for three-year-old pacing colts – race 10

The two superstar colts from the Brian Brown stable – Fear The Dragon and Downbytheseaside – find themselves sharing the headliners’ spotlight with Miso Fast, who halted the 2017 undefeated string of the “Dragon” with a powerful victory last week.

Fear The Dragon had been put on the lead in his elimination, but driver Matt Kakaley got an instantaneous burst from the Roll With Joe colt Miso Fast when he asked him off the second turn, smoking his personal third quarter in 26.2 to open up a big lead, then having enough to come home in 26.4 to post the victory in 1:49.2 for trainer Ron Burke and the ownership of Burke Racing Stable LLC, Our Horse Cents Stables, and J&T Silva Stables LLC. Miso Fast starts from post four Saturday as he tries to put together a repeat performance.

Fear The Dragon, #1 in the North American Top Ten poll of harness horses going into the race, was certainly not disgraced in the mile – in fact, he came his last quarter in 26.2, faster than did Miso Fast, and regained all but 1½ lengths of Miso Fast’s huge advantage. The Dragon Again colt drew the rail in the Hempt Championship for driver David Miller and the Emerald Highlands Farm.

The other Brown sophomore star, Downbytheseaside, also posted a 1:49.2 clocking in winning his elimination, showing determination with horses charging at him late. Downbytheseaside had his chances hurt a bit when he drew post eight, but he figures to work his way into the mix for “Team Brian”’s other partner, driver Brian Sears, to be inducted into the Hall of Fame the next day.

The $500,000 MAX C. HEMPT CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD: 1, Fear The Dragon, David Miller, Brian Brown; 2, Santafe’s Coach, Anthony Napolitano, Leo Iordan; 3, Funknwaffles, Corey Callahan, John Butenschoen; 4, Miso Fast, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 5, Boogie Shuffle, Scott Zeron, Mark Harder; 6, Ozone Blue Chip, Brett Miller, Ron Coyne Jr.; 7, Donttellmeagain, Tim Tetrick, Jo Ann Looney-King; 8, Downbytheseaside, Brian Sears, Brian Brown; 9, Eddard Hanover, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke.

$75,000 Hempt Consolation (race 7): Every Way Out and Blood Brother were 6-5 and 2-1 respectively in their elimination last week, but both broke stride. Every Way Out will get a chance for redemption in the consolation, starting from post four; that possibility of redemption is extremely low for Blood Brother, as he became the AE1 in the draw and will not race unless there is a scratch in the Championship or the consolation.

$500,000 BEN FRANKLIN CHAMPIONSHIP for free-for-all pacers – race 11:

Two of the Franklin elimination winners, Keystone Velocity and Mel Mara, drew posts one and two, respectively, and a victory would make either one a career millionaire. The other elim winner, Dealt A Winner, was dealt post seven at the pill shake, and he shows only one call in eight racelines better than third at the quarter, meaning he may be staring at a difficult trip for David Miller. (Another numerological shudder for Dealt A Winner: should he triumph, his earnings would stand at $999,290.)

Keystone Velocity went a tick faster than did Mel Mara in winning his elim, 1:48.3 vs. 1:48.4, but Keystone Velocity was rallying off of a 1:20.3 ¾ time put up by Freaky Feet Pete, and just made the lead in the shadow of the wire, while Mel Mara showed a powerful early rush, went to the half in 53 under his own steam, and then drew away in the stretch to a 3½-length victory for driver Corey Callahan. With three wins and a second in four seasonal races, the son of Lis Mara will certainly be one of if not the favorite to win the Franklin jackpot for trainer Dylan Davis and owners Robert Cooper Stables LLC and J&T Silva Stables LLC.

The $500,000 BEN FRANKLIN CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD: 1, Keystone Velocity, Simon Allard, Rene Allard; 2, Mel Mara, Corey Callahan, Dylan Davis; 3, All Bets Off, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 4, Rockin Ron, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 5, Mach It So, Tim Tetrick, Jeff Bamond Jr., 6, Rock N’ Roll World, Brian Sears, Jeff Cullipher; 7, Dealt A Winner, David Miller, Mark Silva; 8, Boston Red Rocks, Tim Tetrick also listed, Steve Elliott; 9, Shamballa, Scott Zeron, Rick Zeron.

$75,000 Franklin consolation (race 8): The two biggest surprises from the elims missing out on the final were McWicked and Freaky Feet Pete. McWicked did not even enter into the consolation event, but Freaky Feet did, though he’ll have to deal with the outside post nine. In his elim, he rolled to the ¾ in 1:20.3 in his seasonal debut before tiring; he certainly can be tighter here.

$500,000 EARL BEAL CHAMPIONSHIP, for three-year-old trotters – race 12

The three Beal elimination winners drew posts one, two, and eight.

The filly got post eight.

Ariana G, a superstar sophomore trotting filly challenging the colts in the Beal, won her elimination race in hand, finishing out her 1:53.4 victory in 27.3 without drawing a labored breath. There may be a labored breath or two required this week from the tough starting slot, although the Muscle Hill filly, who won in 1:51.1 at The Meadowlands two starts ago, must still be rated the favorite to give driver Yannick Gingras his fourth straight win in the Beal (Father Patrick, Pinkman, Southwind Frank) as he steers for trainer Jimmy Takter and the partnership of breeders Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld.

Long Tom took his elim in 1:52.3 and may provide the main opposition to Ariana G for driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Marcus Melander, while Perfect Spirit, who scooted up the far inside to post a 23-1 upset in 1:54.1, has already had her trainer Åke Svanstedt read the writing on the wall and list David Miller as his candidate to replace his filly’s driver from last week – Gingras.

The $500,000 EARL BEAL CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD: 1, Long Tom, Tim Tetrick, Marcus Melander; 2, Perfect Spirit, David Miller, Åke Svanstedt; 3, Sortie, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley; 4, Moonshiner Hanover, Scott Zeron, Christopher Beaver; 5, Bill’s Man, Corey Callahan; 6, Lucky Matter, David Miller also listed, Christopher Beaver; 7, Devious Man, Andy Miller, Julie Miller; 8, Ariana G (*filly), Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 9, Dover Dan, Brett Miller, John Butenschoen.

$75,000 Beal consolation (race 5): One of the likely favorites would have been Rubio, who went offstride in his elim, but like Blood Brother, he drew AE1 and will not race unless there is a scratch in either of the Beal events. Giveitgasandgo, the 2016 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion, sat right behind Long Tom much of last week, but could only finish fourth; despite PP8 he should get attention in a balanced grouping.

FINISHING LINES – The sixth race, a $25,000 winners-over handicap pace, is named the Herve Filion Memorial, in honor of the incomparable Hall of Fame sulky wizard and former Pocono regular who passed away last week at age 77 … The first race on the huge Saturday card lists a 6:30 post time.

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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Top horses in North America battle on Super Stakes Saturday

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

The two top-rated horses in 2015 North American harness racing, the three-year-old geldings Pinkman and Wiggle It Jiggleit, will continue their battle for #1 status in the sport this Saturday night during the $2,435,000 Super Stakes Saturday card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, going in consecutive races – first Pinkman in the $500,000 Colonial Trot, and then Wiggle It Jiggleit in the $500,000 Battle of the Brandywine Pace.

The three three-year-old races, which include the $350,000 Valley Forge Pace for fillies, are filled according to 2015 moneywinnings –the nine having the highest seasonal bankrolls are gathered in the “main event” races, with the next nine in order in Consolation I, and the nine after that in Consolation II.

Another high-profile event Saturday is the $100,000 Sebastian K S Invitational Trot, a race which will double as a retirement ceremony for the trans-Atlantic champion who will be honored in special on-track ceremonies before he heads to stallion duties. Ironically, the likely favorite is the Sebastian K S is JL Cruze – the #3-ranked horse in North America, and the one who defeated “Sebastian” by a nose in his only 2015 outing before his retirement.

Here are profiles of the Big Three three-year-old events, followed by a look at the Sebastian K S Trot and other powerful races on the Saturday card:

COLONIAL TROT — $500,000 main event race 11; $200,000 Consolation I race 7; $100,000 Consolation II race 3. Stakes record: 1:52.1, Googoo Gaagaa.

Pinkman, fresh off his two-heat, world recordsetting victory in The Hambletonian, was aided by the draw with post two in the field of nine. Yannick Gingras is listed to drive Pinkman, a son of Explosive Matter who has eight wins and one second in nine seasonal starts, with his mark the 1:51 world record for 3TG in the second heat of the Hambletonian, and his $1,170,965 in 2015 earnings raising his career total to $1,737,625. (By the way, his chief foe in the Hambletonian, the filly Mission Brief, will be racing in Pennsylvania some 27 hours earlier, heading the $174,000 Moni Maker Trot at The Meadows Friday night.)

Pinkman will be find some familiar faces on the track beside him Saturday, as five of the nine Colonial entrants are, like he, part of the trotting superstable of Jimmy Takter. The “other” quartet – Uncle Lasse (PP3, driver David Miller), The Bank (PP6, Takter listing himself), Canepa Hanover (PP8, John Campbell back in the sulky), and French Laundry (PP9, Brett Miller) – are not just “makeweight” entrants either, with combined seasonal earnings of $900,000 among them.

Crazy Wow (PP1, trainer Ron Burke, driver Tim Tetrick) and Wicker Hanover (post five, Noel Daley, Corey Callahan) seem to have the best chance to upset the Takter applecart. Crazy Wow was third in the Beal Final here in June, behind Pinkman and Uncle Lasse, while Wicker Hanover handed Pinkman his only defeat of the year, in the Beal eliminations.

BATTLE OF THE BRANDYWINE — $500,000 main event race 12; $200,000 Consolation I race 8; $100,000 Consolation II race 4. Stakes record: 1:47.4, Sunshine Beach.

Wiggle It Jiggleit, an altered son of Mr Wiggins, has achieved slightly-higher earnings than Pinkman so far – $1,189,144, while winning 15 of 17 starts and showing speed, maneuverability, and courage. The winner of the Hempt Final here at Pocono early this season, Wiggle It Jiggleit will have driver Montrell Teague alert early, as he will be starting from the rail, and Teague’s job will be to get him to the front at some point without a terrific usage of resources, the fate which befell him in the recent Cane Pace, where he was involved in fractions of 25.4, 52,1, and 1:20.4 before tiring to fourth in the stretch.

The four horses who have finished ahead of Wiggle It Jiggleit in his lifetime (he raced only once at two, winning here) are all in the big Battle. Wazikashi Hanover (PP7, trainer Joanne Looney-King, driver Tim Tetrick, #7 in the North American polls) caught “Wiggle” in the stretch drive of the North America Cup at Mohawk, while the 1-2-3 Cane finishers are also here – in order of that race’s finish, Dealt A Winner (PP9, Mark Silva, David Miller), Artspeak (PP8, Tony Alagna, Scott Zeron), and Dude’s The Man (PP2, Jessica Okusko, Corey Callahan). The “Dude” also won the last big-money race for this division in Pennsylvania, the Adios at The Meadows on August 1.

VALLEY FORGE PACE — $350,000 main event race 10; $150,000 Consolation I race 7; $75.000

Consolation II race 3. Stakes record: 1:48.4, I Luv The Nitelife.

A division desperately looking for a leader after a series of different winners in most of this year’s major events to date may find one emerge from the Valley Forge Pace.

The biggest 2015 bankroll in the collection of nine misses belongs to Bettor Be Steppin, a daughter of Bettor’s Delight who will begin from post four for trainer Joe Holloway and driver Corey Callahan. Over half of the seasonal winnings of Bettor Be Steppin came right at Pocono, when she won a multi-horse close finish to capture the $300,000 Lynch Final, taking her mark of 1:50.4.

In finding other ways to measure this evenly-matched group, the biggest career bankroll belongs to Sassa Hanover ($634,440, PP7, trainer Ron Burke, driver Yannick Gingras), while the fastest speed mark is held by Moonlit Dance (1:49 winning the recent Mistletoe Shalee Final, PP6, trainer Tony OSullivan, driver David Miller). Both of those fillies show solid credentials in their achievements and their connections, and are likely to contribute to this fairly-wide-open affair.

OTHER BIG RACES SATURDAY

The $100,000 Sebastian K S Trot (race 5) marks the return to the races after a five-week break of the Cinderella story JL Cruze, who started to build a following while winning the Weiss Series here in the spring, and has gone on to win 16 of 18 starts and over $600,000 for trainer Eric Ell, with John Campbell returning from a recent minor injury to guide “JL” from the middle of the nine-horse field. Along the way, JL Cruze has become the third-fastest trotter of all-time, behind only Sebastian K S and Enough Talk (1:49.3 at Colonial) when he won the Graduate Series Final in 1:49.4.

The card kicks off with a bang, as national stars Cinamony, Krispy Apple, Ooh Bad Shark, and Yagonnakissmeornot collide in the $50,000 Hanover Shoe Farms Pace for mares.

The $50,000 U.S. Trotting Association Pace for free-for-allers may turn out to be the national coming-out party for the unheralded Always At My Place (PP2, trainer Ron Burke, driver Matt Kalaley), who goes for his sixth win in a row after missing the world record for 4PG by a tick here last Saturday, stopping the timer in 1:48.1 while pacing his own back half uncovered in 53.1 and winning under a hold.

Post Time for this stellar card is 5:30pm.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Friday, August 30th, 2013

August 23-29, 2013

The kids are going back to school, real football is about to be played, and my tan, what there was of it, has long since faded. That can only mean that the summer months are winding down and, as Bob Seger once sang, autumn’s closin’ in. Still, there is no let-up whatsoever in the racing action at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, as was evident in the racing week just gone past. So let’s celebrate the finest performers of the last four racing nights by handing out the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: BLISSFULL DREAMER

It’s difficult to sustain a long winning streak in the sport of harness racing, even for a horse who stays in the same class. That’s because staying in the same class doesn’t necessarily mean facing the same field week after week, as hot horses could be moving up from lower classes while horses used to facing tougher competition might be dropping down. Add to that the vagaries of post position week to week, racing luck, and the simple possibility of an off week, and you can see why a four-race winning streak like the one Blissfull Dreamer was riding heading into her race on Friday night is such an achievement.

Blissfull Dreamer has been sharp all year long as a 4-year-old mare, coming into her battle with the $12,500 distaff claimers on Friday with victories in 11 of 24 races on the season. She has shown the ability to come from off the pace in past races, but, with an inside post on Friday, she was sent to the lead early on by driver Ron Pierce to control the pace.

Her fifth straight victory wasn’t destined to be an easy win, however, as long shot Fire In The Night made a strong move in the stretch. Blissfull Dreamer, trained by Rene Allard, had the ultimate answer though, digging in late to win by a neck in 1:53:1. That makes it five in a row, the longest winning streak at Pocono this season, one that shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

Other top pacers this week: Ultimate Beachboy (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who won a showdown with fellow Super Stakes Saturday winner Jonny Rock by a nose in Saturday night’s featured condition pace in 1:50; Rick’s Crossroads (Matt Kakaley, Brewer Adams), whose victory over a field of $10,000 claimers on Saturday night in 1:51:3 was his third straight at Pocono and fourth in a row overall; and Power Pach Hanover (Andy Miller, John Cancelliere), a 3-year-old filly who now has three wins in a row at Pocono after her condition victory on Tuesday night in 1:50:4.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: FLASHBACKS

This 4-year-old stallion from the Wendy Chellis barn fell into a bit of a rut when he arrived from Tioga in June, struggling to make much of a mark against the tougher condition trotters on the grounds. The light switched on when he dropped down into a condition for non-winners of $11,000 in the last five races on August 9. As a 9-1 shot he made a strong first over move and scored an upset win in a career-best 1:53:1.

Flashbacks was back at it again on Friday night in the same class, yet he was still given a tepid chance from the fans as a 7-2 third choice. This time around driver Drew Chellis decided to send his trotter to the front early, reaching the quarter in a rapid time which seemed to augur trouble for Flashbacks if he couldn’t pace himself a little better.

But Drew Chellis rated the horse masterfully through the middle portion of the race, conserving energy for the stretch drive. In the stretch, Flashbacks was still itching to go, and he powered home for a second consecutive win, this one in 1:54:3. With two straight impressive wins, this trotter with a name that suggests a dive back into the past is definitely looking ahead to a bright future.

Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: From Above (Andrew McCarthy, Mark Silva), who won the week’s featured condition trot on Saturday night in 1:54; Ballet Slippers (Andy Miller, Julie Miller), a filly who now has three straight wins, the last two coming at Pocono, after a condition victory on Friday night in 1:57:1; and Bloomfieldcantifly (Anthony Napolitano, Rene Allard), a mare who ripped off her second straight claiming handicap win on Tuesday night, this one coming in 1:56:1.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: FLIGHT EXEC

Despite back-to-back wins coming into the race, Flight Exec, with Kevin Wallis driving, was a 23-1 shot when he upended a field of $25,000 claimers on Saturday nightand paid out $48.20 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY NAPOLITANO

Anthony has been a steady presence in the drivers’ standings all year long, but he’s really been picking up the pace of late, as evidenced by a driving triple on Tuesday night.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: TONY ALAGNA

Alagna sent a pair of 2-year-olds to the gate on Tuesday night, and both Status Quo and Some Playa, came away with convincing victories.

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.

Sun Stakes Saturday Eliminations a record-breaking night!

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

On a dynamic, star-studded Saturday night of eliminations for the $2,000,000 Sun Stakes Saturday Finals at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs a week hence, they saved the best for last. 

And the oldest. And the richest. And the one who set a world record. 

Foiled Again, the nine-year-old evergreen gelding, boosted his lifetime bankroll to $4,920,444 by winning the third of three eliminations for next week’s $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace Final in 1:48 – a world record for older pacing geldings on a 5/8s, lowering by a tick the mark first established by Bettor Sweet and then equaled three weeks ago at Pocono by Camae’s Fella.

 This was win #69 for Foiled Again – and might have been the first where he used the passing lane to post the victory. Let go at 4-1, Foiled Again let Bolt The Duer bolt off the gate to early command, then made a shake-and-bake move to take command approaching the 26.1 quarter. Favored Pet Rock was moved early and took the lead in front of the stands, with Modern Legend up uncovered at the 54.3 half.

 Down the back Pet Rock and Modern Legend dueled to a 1:21.2 ¾ time, a battle they continued around the turn and into the stretch, where surprisingly it was the favorite who gave way first (though not much). But Yannick Gingras, a four-time winner on the night, had pointed Foiled Again to the Pocono Pike passing lane, and the Pike came through (it did an astounding eight times on the 14-race card) and so did the old man, with a new mark in his 180th lifetime start and the new world standard for his division. Modern Legend and Pet Rock also advanced from this field to the Franklin Final.

 Ron Burke conditions the victorious altered son of Dragon Again for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, and JJK Stables.

 One race earlier, Razzle Dazzle scored his first victory since the Levy Final in 1:49, also via the Pocono Pike. Somehow dismissed at 10-1, the Real Desire gelding and driver Brian Sears helped create their own luck early, shutting the pocket behind hardleaving Up The Credit, which left Sweet Lou no hole, after which he soon broke. After splits of 26 and 55, Fred And Ginger took the raw route to challenge by the 1:22.1 3/4s, and five of the field of six were in contention as they turned for home.

 Into the lane, it was Hoosier invader Our Lucky Chip, the longest shot on the board, who swept wide off of cover and into a brief lead—but there were literally only three places from which to win at Pocono Saturday: the pocket (nine times), the lead (four times), and first-over (once), and Razzle Dazzle built quick momentum and scooted up the inside to get the nod for trainer Mark Silva and owner Ira Kristel. Our Lucky Chip and Up The Credit also advanced to the Franklin final.

 The first Franklin elim also saw a pocket rocket the most photogenic, as the Bettor’s Delight 4YO gelding Dynamic Youth wound it up fast late to trip the timer in 1:48.3, equaling the track record for age/sex/gait under the guidance of Andrew McCarthy whiel also posting the best time of the year for his division. Dynamic Youth made Betterthancheddar pay a 25.3 price for quarter command; BTC got a breather to a 54.4 half, then dueled with raw Bettor’s Edge to a 1:21.4 ¾. Clear Vision loomed boldly off cover, but the “Youth” was the most dynamic late, with Clear Vision and “Cheddar” getting advancement to next week’s race behind the Aaron Lambert-trained winner, owned by the Silva Stables, Tucci, and C&G Racing Stable.

 To wrap up the Franklin, these facts: 1) The elim horses who did NOT qualify for the final were Rockincam, Bettor’s Edge, Sapphire City, Golden Receiver, Fred And Ginger, Heston Blue Chip, Sweet Lou, Bolt The Duer, Hurrikane Kingcole, and State Treasurer – winners of $10,000,000+, 2) all three elim winners took lifetime marks; 3) Foiled Again had the largest winning margin, a neck; the other two got the decision by a head; and 4) there are now seven horses who have paced in 1:48 or faster on a 5/8-mile track: recordholder Bolt The Duer at 1:47.4 (he was blocked in the stretch and did not make the final), and six horses at 1:48: four Franklin winners (Artistic Fella, Mister Big, We Will See, and ’12 champ Betterthancheddar, who could still defend his title); Heston Blue Chip (who also missed advancing because of stretch blockage); and now Foiled Again.

 MAX HEMPT (3PC) ELIMINATIONS

 Just when they begin to worry about The Captain, he digs in deep and achieves the victory.

 For the third straight week Captaintreacherous gave his backers some anxious moments, but his 53 back half after a leisurely 55.4 front half was enough for the 1:48.4 front-end triumph. Vegas Vacation, so highly-regarded going into the NA Cup and a little disappointing to some when finishing out of the money, showed that the hype about him was for real – he didn’t pull raw from third until the 5/8, but still he gained into the supersonic last four furlongs to the point that the Captain’s margin of victory was only a neck. Rockin Amadeus was next in line at the wire as Captaintreacherous remained unbeaten after four starts in his 2013 campaign; the Somebeachsomewhere colt is trained by Tony Alagna for Captaintreacherous Racing, and capped a sulky triple for Tim Tetrick.

 The first of the trio of Hempt eliminations saw something no one could recall – a 25.4 third quarter on the board – as Johny Rock (inside) dueled viciously with Word Power (outside) after a 55.2 half to a 1:21.1 three-quarters. Lurking in the pocket was the Rocknroll Hanover colt Emeritus Maximus, and he gave his maximus down the Pike to reduce his mark in 1:48.4 for driver Doug McNair (driving double) and owners Cheap Speed Stable, Alber, Wienick, and Fodera while preceding Captaintreacherous as a Tony Alagna-trained Hempt winner. Johny Rock had enough for second and Word Power enough for third to advance on a week; Lonewolf Currier, who would have been the popular choice if anybody was to pace a sub-26 quarter, proved empty off of cover.

 Also no factor from the “one and one” spot was Wake Up Peter – but the horse in front of him in the outside tier, and raw to boot, Sunfire Blue Chip, was giant in taking the fastest elim in 1:48.3, a ’13 No.Am. best, over Evenin Of Treasure and Martini Hanover. The only winner on the entire Pocono card who was not the pacesetter or pocket horse, the son of American Ideal is owned by Takter, Fielding/Fielding, Brixton Medical AB, and R A W Equine, and gave conditioner Jimmy Takter a pacing victory to add to his two trotting triumphs – as we shall see next.

 EARL BEAL (3TC) ELIMINATIONS

 This division – the Hambletonian division – had its clarity fuzzied instead of sharpened, as early Hambo chalk Smilin Eli won, but the small but mighty Dontyouforgetit clocked in the fastest.

 Dontyouforgetit was in the first elimination and may have had the advantage of a few degrees of warmness in temperature, but he still was impressive to gain from the (what else) pocket into a 55.3 last half to report home first in 1:52.1, a national season’s best and lowering his mark by two seconds. Possessed Fashion, who was able to delay his first-over bid until after the 5/8s, came up big for second, while pacesetter Celebrity Maserati did well in holding for third and Beal advancement. Jimmy Takter trains the son of Cantab Hall for Solveig’s Racing Partners, with Yannick Gingras sulkyside.

 Smilin Eli had to go 26.3 to obtain the early lead from the outside post eight in his elim, but he was equal to the task while remaining undefeated after four starts, halting the timer in 1:52.3. The 3-5 Muscles Yankee colt fended off railsitters Fico (75-1) and Picture This (65-1) for Tim Tetrick, trainer Deshawn Minor, and owner Nicholas Cimino. Jurgen Hanover, 7-7 in 2013 before the race, had the “undesirable” second-over trip and finished fifth, not advancing.

 Trainer Takter had another Beal elim winner in Corky, never off the board in 13 lifetime starts and never behind at any pole in a 1:52.3 victory, with David Miller in the sulky for owners Christina Takter and John and Jim Fielding (owning doubles for all). Giving Muscles Yankee a double siring credit for the Beal, Corky (lowering his mark by over two seconds) defeated Royalty For Life, who made a break quarter-moving, dropped back to last, and was coming fastest of all late (into a 55.2 back half) to save a miracle second, with Crystal Phenom third.

 JAMES LYNCH (3PF) ELIMINATIONS

 I Luv The Nitelife, fresh off her Fan Hanover jiggyjog win, snapped into high gear like a veteran campaign when shown racetrack up the prized Pocono Pike to take her Lynch elimination in 1:50.1. Nikki Beach, Charisma Hanover, Somwherovrarainbow (pacesetter in only her second race in 37 days) and Mattie Terror Girl (faster fifth-place finisher) all advanced to the Lynch final behind the victorious Rocknroll Hanover filly driven by Tim Tetrick and trained by Chris Ryder for Richard and Joanne Young.

 Ms Caila J Fra won the other elimination in a national season’s record 1:49.3 in the card’s curtainraiser for driver Simon Allard and trainer Steve Elliott, while also giving the recovering The Fra Stable LLC a boost in sprits. After what you have read before, it will be no surprise to learn that the winning daughter of Western Ideal parlayed a pocket trip to victory – but she was the only winning two-hole tripper to move OUTSIDE for the stretch drive, wearing down Shebestingin late, with Jerseylicious and Authorize also authorized to advance to the Lynch finale.