Posts Tagged ‘Michael Hall’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

August 12-18, 2017

This past week at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono featured either Pennsylvania Sire Stakes or Stallion Series competition every racing night. It’s always a lot of fun to see these two and three-year-olds going at it for big purses as they try to establish themselves among the stars of their age groups. It’s also a reminder that Labor Day brings the two-year-old Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championships to Pocono. In the meantime, here are the finest performances of the past week via the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: HOLD IT HANOVER

In general, Stallion Series races are reserved for two and three-year-olds that are a notch below Sire Stakes level; that’s reflected in the lower, but still substantial, purses for the Stallion Series races. But, in some cases, the Stallion Series serves as a great location for horses that may have started a bit later in their career than others but are suddenly demonstrating immense talent. That certainly seems to be the case for Hold It Hanover.

This filly didn’t race at age two, and made her debut in Canada this season as a sophomore, picking up one win in eight starts. But things started to transform when she arrived in Pennsylvania in July and joined the barn of trainer Michael Hall. After finishing fourth in her first start at Harrah’s at Philadelphia, Hold It Hanover promptly ripped off three straight victories against non-winners of three fillies and mares. She then came to Pocono on August 8 and beat that same class from an outside post in a career-best 1:51:2.

On Sunday night, she took on the Stallion Series for three-year-old pacing fillies for the first time and the domination continued. As the 2-5 favorite from an outside post in a field of seven, she overwhelmed the field on the front end by 5 ¾ lengths with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike. The winning time of 1:51 was easily the fastest Stallion series time of the night and was comparable to the times of Saturday night’s Sire Stakes winners in the same division. With five wins in a row under her belt, the best way to classify Hold It Hanover is as tough to beat.

Other top pacers this week include: Maxdaddy Blue Chip (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who moved up in class and grinded out a first-over mile for his second straight condition victory on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:50:1; Scotty Lauxmont (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who scored his second consecutive condition win on Sunday night, moving up in class to win in a career-best 1:52:3; and First Class Horse (George Napolitano Jr. Tracy Brainard), whose condition win on Saturday night in 1:50 marked a career-best and the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: RIDGEWAY SPRINGS

One can never tell when the light is going to come on for a struggling horse. In the case of Ridgeway Springs, it looked like he might dwell in darkness all year long. When he arrived at Pocono from The Meadowlands for a non-winners of $6,000 in the last five event on August 6, he was winless this season in 19 races. But the change of scenery must have helped, as the four-year-old gelding, who had just joined the Owen Eiler Jr. barn, made a three-wide back stretch move on his way to a win in a career-best 1:55:2 at 11-1.

On Sunday night, Ridgeway Springs took on a different challenge, battling the non-winners of five for a purse of $16,000. Those are much bigger stakes than what he’s used to seeking, so it was somewhat understandable that he was let go at 13-1 despite the win in his last start. Driver Anthony Napolitano had the gelding ready to roll, however, pushing him to the front early and then settling into the pocket after race favorite Rosesareexplosive grabbed the lead on the front stretch.

Some first-over pressure from Centurion Hanover softened up Rosesareexplosive, all while Ridgeway Springs relaxed in the pocket. In the stretch, Ridgeway Springs uncorked his best move and slid past Rosesareexplosive to win by three-parts of a length. In doing so, he matched his career-best 1:55:2 time from the previous week. After two straight victories at double-digit odds, hope springs anew for this suddenly red-hot trotter.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Up Front Billy (Anthony Napolitano, Mark Ford), who scored a condition win on Saturday night in a brisk 1:53:1; Windsongmusclelady (George Napolitano Jr., Hunter Oakes), a mare who followed up a win at Harrah’s with a victory in Monday night’s featured claiming handicap trot in 1:52:3, a new career-best and the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; and Frac (Anthony Napolitano, Jim Ray), who stepped up the condition ladder to win his second straight on Tuesday night in 1:55.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: CAN I SAY

With Anthony Morgan in the bike, this trotting mare beat a field of boys to win a condition event at 29-1 on Saturday night, paying off $60 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

On Sunday night’s card, which featured some top drivers shipping in for the Stallion Series races, Pocono’s top driver asserted his dominance by winning eight of the 14 races on the program.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: NIFTY NORMAN

Among Norman’s four training victories at Pocono this week were back-to-back Stallion Series wins on Sunday night with sophomore filly pacers Bridge To Tomorrow and Perplexed.

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

Freshmen Filly Pacers Race in Pennsylvania All Stars at Pocono

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

July 2, 2013

Driver Corey Callahan and trainer Michael Hall hooked up for a pair of wins in Pennsylvania All Stars action for 2-year-old pacing fillies on Tuesday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. There were five divisions of the races held, with each carrying a purse of $30,000.

Callahan and Hall first won with Rusty’s Bliss (Four Starzzz Shark-Rusty’s Joy), who scored in 1:54:1. Later in the evening the pair won again with Palm Beach (Somebeachsomewhere-Duncans Artsplace), who won her split in 1:54:1.

Other Pennsylvania All Stars winners on Tuesday night at Pocono were: That Woman Hanover (Somebeachsomewhere-Sub Rosa Hanover), driven by Mike Wilder and trained by Dan Altmeyer, in 1:54; Gallie Bythe Beach (Somebeachsomewhere-Galleria), driven by John Campbell and trained by Jim Campbell, in 1:52; and Sister Stroll (Art Official-So Western), driven by Yannick Gingras and trained by Brian Brown, in 1:54:2.

Stallion Series Action at Pocono for the Distaff Trotters

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

June 18, 2013

The combination of trainer Virgil Morgan Jr. and driver David Miller scored a pair of wins with the two fastest times in Stallion Series action for three-year-old trotting fillies on Tuesday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. There were five divisions held on the night, each with a purse of $20,000.

The Miller-Morgan combo first scored with Choose Happy (Donato Hanover-Tady Strikes Again), whose winning time of 1:54:3 was a more than a second faster than the previous quickest winning time in the Stallion Series splits. A few starts later, the duo did it again even faster with Choose Happy’s half-sister UF Tady’s Donato (Donato Hanover-Tady’s Comer), who rolled in 1:54:2.

The other fillies winning Stallion Series divisions at Pocono on Wednesday night: Changed It All (Yankee Glide-Rhine River), driven by Jim Morrill Jr. and trained by Michael Hall, in 1:56:2; Bethel Hanover (Donato Hanover-Beignet Hanover), driven by Morrill and trained by Staffan Lind, in 1:57:3; and Shouda Cuda Wuda (SJ’s Caviar-Mink Hanover), driven by Matt Kakaley and trained by Allan Johnson, in 1:56.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

May 4-10, 2013

It was an extremely busy week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, featuring one extra racing card thanks to our Kentucky Derby day doubleheader. With all of that thrilling action, there were plenty of fantastic performances to witness and a bevy of top choices for the Weekly Awards. Those were some tough choices to make, but here are the best of the best from this jam-packed week.

PACER OF THE WEEK: GOLDEN RECEIVER

Back before Pocono ascended to one of the top tracks in the nation, it was common for horses that did well here to struggle when they got to the bigger stages. That has all changed in recent years, and no horse exemplifies that transformation any better than Golden Receiver, who was once the best at MSPD but proceeded to be one of the best in the whole country.

Coming off a 2012 season which saw him earn $941,025, he picked up where he left off with six straight victories to start this year before a loss at Harrah’s on April 5. After a month off, he returned to racing at the scene of so many of his greatest triumphs in Saturday night’s $50,000 Van Rose Memorial pace. The fans remembered the 8-year-old gelding from the Mark Harder barn well, making him the 1-5 favorite in a star-studded field.

He didn’t disappoint. Driver George Napolitano Jr. sent him to the front end early, and Golden Receiver did the rest, winning by 1 ¾ lengths in 1:50 without even breaking a sweat. It was a kind of victory lap for the superstar, but, with the Breeders Crown scheduled for Pocono in October, he’ll likely be back to go for an even bigger crowning score at his former home.

Honorable mention on the pacing side includes: Lorrie Please (Eric Carlson, Michael Hall), a mare who won her second straight Preferred distaff pace on Sunday night, rallying for the victory in 1:51; Mustang Art (Andrew McCarthy, James McGuire), who burned it up on the front end in a condition pace for a win in 1:49:3, the fastest time posted at Pocono this week; and Blissful Dreamer (Jim Morrill Jr., Brewer Adams), who won her third straight race at a third different claiming price, this time out on Wednesday night over the $10,000 claiming mares in 1:52:3.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: CLASSIC MARTINE

Sunday night featured the last of the four $30,000 finals for the Bobby Weiss Series, the races which featured some of the best young talent on the grounds over the first month of the season. The last of the groups to take center stage was the assemblage of 3-year-old trotting fillies, and the final was distinguished by the fact that Classic Martine was a prohibitive favorite.

It didn’t take too much in the way of investigation to see why, considering that the filly from the Todd Schadel barn had won her last three starts in the previous legs of the series, beating at one time or another in that stretch every horse that she would face in Sunday’s final. Still, the 1-2 favorite could have had any number of things go wrong, like a break of stride or some bad racing luck, to derail her chances.

Driver Andy Miller took some of the variables out of play by sending Classic Martine to the front end. He then allowed the filly to dictate the pace and expend only as much energy as necessary. In the stretch, she glided home over horses giving all-out efforts to get to her, winning without exerting herself at all in 1:55:3, making this Weiss final look like a foregone conclusion.

Other top trotters include: As Ya’ll Like It (Tyler Buter, Amber Buter), who trotted away and hid for a claiming handicap victory on Saturday night in 1:55:1; Sand Wyndham (Joe Pavia Jr., Rene Allard), who made a late rally to win Tuesday night’s featured condition trot in 1:54; and Tui (Anthony Napolitano, Don Wiest), who rolled to an easy win in Wednesday night’s featured condition trot, scoring in a quick 1:53:2 despite sloppy conditions.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: TWIN B FLIRT

Saturday’s very first race of the morning on the special racing card woke the patrons up quickly, as driver Marcus Miller guided this condition pacer to a win at 32-1 for a $66 payout on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MATT KAKALEY

Matt had one of his best weeks of the season to date, including a monster weekend with eight wins in two days and a five-bagger on Sunday night.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: PJ FRALEY

With three wins on Saturday night’s program and then two more on Tuesday night, Fraley continued what has been an extremely hot start to the Pocono meet.

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

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

April 27-May 3, 2013

We start every year at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs with a fresh Track Records page at the back of the program showing off some of the finest performances ever at the track. And every year, by the end of the season, that page looks drastically different after a fresh batch of competitors hits the track and breaks or matches a bunch of those records. Our first interloper on the Track Records page for 2013 highlights this week’s edition of the Weekly Awards

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: BEATGOESON HANOVER

This mare from the barn of Nifty Norman has had a distinguished career, earning close to $1 million in her lifetime, so she was certainly capable of a big effort. The down side was that she came into Saturday night’s condition pace for non-winners of $22,500 in the last five races without a win in her first four tries this season, although that was excusable considering the tough foes she had been facing at the Meadowlands.

On Saturday night, she had Ron Pierce in the bike, and Pierce decided he would be aggressive with the mare, sending her first over on the front stretch to take the lead by the half-mile marker. The fractions Beatgoeson Hanover laid down were unforgiving, which prevented any outside pressure from getting by her.

That kind of up-front speed often leaves a horse vulnerable in the stretch, but this mare was not to be denied. Pierce urged her home 1 ¼ lengths in front of Dontgetinhisway in a stunning time of 1:52:1. That matched the track record for trotting mares aged four years old and up, a mark originally set by Brighten Up in 2010. It won’t be the first time we see a track record in jeopardy this season, but it was still a thrilling effort by this marvelous mare.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Defiant Donato (Matt Kakaley, Jim Campbell), an impressive young filly with three straight wins to start her career after a rallying victory in a condition trot on Wednesday in a career-best 1:55:1; Fool’s Revenue (Jim Morrill Jr., William Mullin), who moved up in class to beat the $12,500 claimers on Tuesday night in 1:55:3, his second straight victory; and In Your Room (Mike Simons, Gail Wrubel), a mare who stepped up in class on Tuesday night but still rolled to her second straight condition win in 1:54:2.

PACER OF THE WEEK: ST LADS ZOOM ZOOM

Trainer and driver Daryl Bier only makes cameo appearances at MSPD, and he usually only makes the trip if he has a serious contender who can do some damage on the Pocono oval. As a result, he usually has a pretty excellent percentage of winners, and St Lads Zoom has been particularly tough to stop in the early parts of the meet.

The 4-year-old gelding was saddled with tough outside post positions in his first two starts at Pocono, but he acquitted himself well with a third and a win in those races. On Saturday night, he got a much better look at it with a #3 post position in a field of eight, but he also was moving up in class into a rugged non-winners of $24,000 the last five starts condition pace.

The good post allowed Bier to get St Lads Zoom Zoom in solid position in the pocket. In the stretch, the gelding did the rest, powering home for the victory in a thrilling stretch drive over favored Meirs Hanover in 1:51:2. St Lads Zoom Zoom has now won six of his nine races this season, just another efficient and effective performer from the Bier barn.

Other top pacers this week include: Pence Hanover (Andrew McCarthy, Aaron Lambert), who won the season’s first Preferred pace on Saturday night with front-end speed in a career-best 1:49:4; Mr Perseverance (Ron Pierce, Rene Allard), who moved up his claiming price to $25,000 yet still captured his second straight victory on Saturday night, this time in a career-best 1:50:3; and Lorrie Please (Eric Carlson, Michael Hall), a mare who captured the featured distaff pace on Sunday night with a gutsy effort in the stretch in 1:50:2, a new career-best.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: WESTERN CHURCHILL

The #9 post position didn’t scare away this gelding driven by John Campbell in a condition pace on Saturday night, as he won at 35-1 for a win payout of $72.80.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: RON PIERCE

Pierce has been making more frequent appearances at Pocono and has been lethal. Consider the monster night he had on Saturday night when he notched seven wins.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: RENE ALLARD

Allard has been one of the hottest trainers on the grounds early in the season, and this week was no different, as he scored three wins including a double on Saturday night.

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.