Posts Tagged ‘Matt Romano’

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Friday, July 19th, 2013

July 12-18, 2013

For the past few weeks in this column, we’ve largely concentrated on some of the outstanding stakes races that have been held recently at the track and the exploits of some of the horses who excelled in those races. With a little break in the stakes schedule at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, it seems like as good a time as any to get back to primarily profiling the overnight horses who battle it out week in and week out at MSPD. That means a return to handing out the Weekly Awards.


Being an effective claiming horse usually means that you’re going to be putting your suitcase down in a new barn practically every week. The best claiming horses can overcome this peripatetic lifestyle and find ways to win regardless of which barn they’re representing, and St Pete Star is one of those horses who have proven recently he can do just that.

St Pete Star, a 9-year-old stallion, started a winning streak on June 23 with a career-best win in 1:49:3 in a $20,000 claimer for the Paul Holzman. He followed that up six nights later by handling that same class once again, this time for the PJ Fraley barn in 1:50:2. He joined the Rene Allard barn in his effort to win his third straight in the same class on Saturday night.

Allard gave the reins to George Napolitano Jr., who sent St Pete Star to the early lead and let him do the rest. He hustled home for the victory as a 3-5 favorite in 1:51, and, for his trouble, he was claimed once again. The new barn knows it has a real commodity on its hands: A horse on such a hot streak that it might not know where he’ll next call home, but it can still find comfort in the familiarity of the Winner’s Circle.

Other top pacers this week include: Keystone Neptune (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), whose victory over the $15,000 claimers on Saturday night in a career-best 1:50:1 was his second straight and his fourth in his last five; Reckless Ric (Anthony Napolitano, Aaron Lambert), whose victory in a condition pace on Saturday night came in 1:49:1, the fastest time of the week at Pocono; and Western Guy (George Napolitano Jr., Peter Pellegrino), who moved up in class on Sunday night and still won his third straight claimer, two of which came at Pocono, this time scoring in 1:51:3.


This mare started a hot streak in chilly spring temperatures in Canada and it hasn’t abated even in the stifling heat of the Northeastern Pennsylvania summer. She came into Pocono off a win at Saratoga on May 17 and promptly won the first three races she started at MSPD to cultivate a four-race winning streak overall.

Her toughest test figured to be on Tuesday night, as she took on a claiming handicap field with claiming prices ranging from $15,000 to $20,000. Considering that she started her streak at Pocono at a claiming price of $7,500, it was evident how far she had moved up in the world during this span of racing. She joined the Lou Pena barn for the race on Tuesday night.

Driver George Napolitano Jr. sent the mare to the front end early, and she was pressured throughout by several competitors. In the stretch, she dug in deep and found a way to sustain for the victory in 1:54:1. That marked the fifth consecutive win for Prismatica and it came in a career-best time. It will be interesting to see if she can move up even further and push that winning streak to new heights in the near future.

Honorable mention on the trotting side includes: DW’s NY Yank (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who burned his way to a condition trotting win on Saturday night in a new career mark of 1:51:3, which was also the fastest time at Pocono this week; C-O To Bluegrass (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who churned his way to his second straight claiming win on Tuesday night, this one in a career-best 1:54:3; and Sarah’s Hall (Matt Romano, Steven Bartholomew), a filly whose upset win in a condition trot on Friday night at 11-1 in a career-best 1:56:1 was her second straight victory.


In a wild finish to a claiming handicap trot on Sunday night, this gelding with Marcus Miller in the bike came flying up on the far outside to win at 28-1, paying off $59.60 for a $2 win ticket.


One of the newer faces in the Pocono driving community, Allard made his biggest impact yet at Pocono this week by picking up driving doubles on Saturday and Tuesday night.


Pena has been a big winner in the past at Pocono, and he’s been at it again of late. This past week he won on four straight racing nights, scoring five training wins in all.

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

Freshman Trotters in PA All Stars at Pocono

Monday, July 8th, 2013

July 3, 2013

Five divisions of Pennsylvania All Stars races were held for two-year-old colts and geldings on the trot on Wednesday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, and a track record fell in the process. The races each carried a purse of $30,000.

The winners of Wednesday night’s Pennsylvania All Stars races were: Amped Up Hanover (Explosive Matter-Armbro Amadeus), driven by Marcus Miller and trained by Erv Miller, in 1:55:4; Kapow Hanover (Explosive Matter-Kimberidge Hanover), driven by David Miller and trained by Staffan Lind, in 1:58:3; G Force Hanover (Glidemaster-Gracejean Bluechip), driven by Matt Romano and trained by Clarence Martin Jr., in 200:3; Ravenclaw (Donato Hanover-Pigwidgeon), driven by Yannick Gingras and trained by Steve Schoeffel, in 1:55:4; and Father Patrick (Cantab Hall-Gala Dream), driven by Gingras and trained by Jimmy Takter, in 1:56.

The winning times of 1:55:4 managed by Amped Up Havover and Ravenclaw broke the previous Pocono track record of 1:56:3 for 2-year-old geldings on the trot. That record was set by Money On My Mind in 2011.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Friday, October 5th, 2012

September 28-October 4, 2012

Now that we’ve hit the month of October, both the calendar and the cooler temperatures at night remind us that the racing season at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs is now rounding the final turn on its way into the home stretch. Still, the racing action hasn’t let up one bit, and this week has been a prime example, giving us a host of excellent candidates for the Weekly Awards.


As recently as July 31, Oyster Bay was battling it out for a claiming price of $7,500. A horse’s fortunes can change in an instant, and so they did for this pacer, who started performing well even as he continuously moved up in class. On August 31, he scored against the $12,500 claimers with a win in a career-best 1:51. He followed that up the next week for trainer Jason Robinson with a victory at a $15,000 claiming handicap.

He was claimed from that race to join the Sarita Mosher barn, and he had several things working against him in Saturday night’s $20,000 to $25,000 claiming handicap pace. Not only was he moving up in class, but it was also his first race in three weeks time. The possibility existed that he would be rusty against this top-notch group.

Those doubts started to fade when driver Andrew McCarthy, returning to Pocono last weekend after missing time with an injury, settled the gelding in a good spot in the pocket late. From there, Oyster Bay did the rest, powering home to match that career-best mile in 1:51 as a 10-1 long shot. Let’s see if he can continue to move up that ladder and have the same kind of success as the season winds down.

Other top pacers this week include: Camille (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who arrived after successful stints in Canada and at The Meadows to dominate the Open Handicap  for mares on Tuesday night in 1:50; Bagel Man (Tyler Buter, Amber Buter), who has owned the $10,000 claimers of late, picking up his third straight win in the class on Friday night in 1:52:1; and Razzle Dazzzle (Joe Pavia Jr., Richard Silverman), who, despite a layoff of more than a month, rallied to win the week’s featured condition pace on Saturday night in 1:49:3, matching both his career-best and the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono.


It’s tough for trotters to maintain consistency in the higher classes, simply because the chance that they will go off stride is realistic at any time. Zooming has not only been consistent; he’s been downright overpowering at times this season, specifically when he went off for a career-best win at Pocono earlier in the meet in 1:52:3.

The 4-year-old gelding from the barn of Julie Miller was at it again in a rugged condition trot with a purse of $18,000 on Saturday night. He came into the race trying to atone for his last start, when he made an incredible rally to finish 3rd despite breaking before the start of the race. It was clear that Zooming, if he could stay flat, would be a really tough customer.

Well, he did indeed stay flat, and driver Tyler Buter, after keeping him back from the early pace, sent him barreling by the competition late for the victory. The winning time was 1:52:3, matching that career-best from earlier in the season. Zooming has a name that fits the way he’s been racing of late, as his consistent excellence continues to impress the Pocono faithful.

Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: Zero Boundaries (Mike Simons, William Mullin), who rolled to his third straight win over the $10,000 claimers on Wednesday night in 1:56; M S Heather M (Jim Taggart Jr., Tabitha Teresczuk), a mare who won on Wednesday night, his second straight victory over the $7,500 claimers on an off-track, in 1:57:1; and Pilgrims Chuckie (Matt Romano, Thomas Cancelliere), who surprised the top condition trotters on the grounds on Saturday night at 15-1 in 1:54:1.


Even though he was dropping down in class on Friday night, this claimer got away at 34-1 with Matt Kakaley in the bike and upset a group of claimers to pay off $71.60 on a $2 win ticket.


In an amazing display of hot driving, Kakaley won six consecutive races on Friday night’s card, on his way to a week with double figures in the win column.


Scotty D started the year at Pocono hot and has picked up the pace again recently. Among his two winners this week was Bettors Glass, who matched the fastest pacing time of the week with a 1:49:3.

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

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

July 20-26, 2012

The racing action at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs has reached a fever pitch. This 2012 season had produced the fastest times and some of the best performances in track history. As a result, it’s getting harder and harder to pick out the very best of the best each week. We’ll give it a shot anyway with this edition of the Weekly Awards.


Winning streaks in the sport of harness racing are hard to come by. Not only does a horse have to be on top of its game, but it also has to avoid difficult trips that make winning a tough proposition. It’s even tougher to sustain a winning streak when a horse in moving up in class along the way. That’s why Splendid Kisser’s recent streak needs to be honored.

Splendid Kisser, an 8-year-old gelding from the barn of Chris Oakes, has been outstanding all season long, but he really got rolling with a win against the $10,000 claimers on June 30. He followed that up in rapid succession with wins in the $12,500 and $20,000 claiming classes, each time as a heavy favorite, each time in dominant front-running style.

On Saturday night, the gelding faced the $20,000 claimers but this time had to do it from the dreaded #9 post, which is usually bad news for horses with early speed.  For Splendid Kisser, it was no sweat. He once again rolled to the front, and, with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike, held off the challenge of the pocket horse to win by a length in a speedy 1:50:2. That’s four wins in four weeks in three different classes for Splendid Kisser, a claimer whom you just don’t want to face right about now.

Other top pacers this week include: Bettors Glass (Andrew McCarthy, Scott Di Domenico), who followed up a win at Harrah’s with a monster mile in a victory at Pocono at Saturday night in 1:48:4, the fastest pacing time of the week; Pair A Dice (Tyler Buter, Paul Holzman), who won his second straight on Saturday night at the top of our claiming ladder and matched a career-best in the process with a mile of 1:50:1; and Breakheart Pass (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who won her second straight on Tuesday night against the toughest distaff condition pacers on the grounds, this time in 1:50:3.


It looked for all the world like this award would belong to Sevruga, a powerful 4-year-old who had been beating everyone in his path in the past few months at Pocono. One of those horses who had come up short against him was Anders Bluestone, finishing second to Sevruga in his last two tries.

Yet Anders Bluestone’s record coming into Sunday night’s featured trot for winners of over $25,000 lifetime was no joke, with 8 wins in 16 tries and $139,800 in the bank this year alone. Driver George Napolitano Jr. decided try a different tactic and send the 6-year-old stallion from the barn of Eric Ell to the front and make Sevruga do the coming from behind for a change.

The strategy worked like charm. Thanks to an expert rate job by Napolitano, Anders Bluestone was still extremely sharp in the latter part of the mile, finishing strong to win by a half-length in 1:52:4. Sevruga will likely have his chance to win this award, but Anders Bluestone won this battle in what is shaping up as a tremendous trotting rivalry at Pocono.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Zooming (Andy Miller, Julie Miller), who arrived from The Meadowlands and smoked a condition trotting group on Sunday night in 1:52:3, a new career-mark and the fastest trotting time of the week; Mr Mcrail (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who won two straight at The Meadows and then added to the streak with a claiming handicap win at Pocono on Sunday night in 1:54; and Idadazzle (Matt Kakaley, David Duspiva), whose claiming win in 1:56:3 on Tuesday night was his third straight and 11th victory this year.


Coming in from The Meadows, this trotter came up flying late with Mike Simons in the bike to upset a field of $10,000 claimers on Tuesday night at 32-1, paying off $67.60 on a $2 win ticket.


A longtime fan favorite at Pocono, Matt picked up his 2,500 career victory in memorable fashion Saturday night, staging a furious rally aboard Amillionpennies, a horse he also trains.


Adams has been a major player in the training wars all season long at Pocono. He scored a double on Saturday night to continue his excellent year.

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