Posts Tagged ‘Mike Watson’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

April 8-14, 2017

Our first full racing week at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with racing on four straight evenings, coincided with the best stretch of weather that we’ve enjoyed in the early part of the meet. As a result, we are practically inundated with possibilities and candidates for this edition of Weekly Awards. Tough choices had to be made, and here are the results.

PACER OF THE WEEK: NEXT SUCCESS

First horse to three wins on the meet? This four-year-old gelding from the Les Givens barn had a shot at it on Saturday night against a field of $25,000 claiming pacers. He came to Pocono fresh off a win at Rosecroft on March 19, then promptly surprised a condition pacing group at 19-1 in his first effort at MSPD. He followed that up with a $25,000 claiming victory on April 1.

The big thing working against him on Saturday night was his #9 post. To overcome that, driver Jim Morrill Jr. had Next Success, who went off as the 8-5 favorite, charging toward the lead right out of the gate. When he broke stride, it seemed like all hope was lost; even though he quickly caught stride, he still had to retreat to the back of the pack in order to heed the breaking rules. It looked like a lost cause when Morrill set him in motion on the back stretch to try and make up ground.

It helped Next Success that there was a logjam at the front of the field, with nobody able to pull out to a big lead. At the top of the stretch, a wall of horses lined up to chase leader Baggage Claim. Lo and behold, there was Next Success winding up with a five-wide move around the final turn, and he exploded past the field to prevail by a length in 1:53:3. With the last-to-first conquest, he now has three straight victories at Pocono and four in a row overall, and his name couldn’t be more apropos, because we can’t wait to see what his next success will be.

Other top pacers this week: Dash Of Danger (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), whose win at Pocono on Sunday night in 1:51:4, which matched his career best time, gave him three straight victories, two of them coming in Bobby Weiss series action; Mariner Seelster (George Napolitano Jr., Mark Ford), who rallied to win a condition pace on Saturday night in 1:51, which was a new career mark and his second straight win; and V I P Bayama (Eric Carlson, Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who moved up in class on Saturday night to pick up his second straight win, this one coming in a career-best 1:51:2.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: WHAT A PEACH

This five-year-old gelding has been razor sharp since arriving at Pocono at the start of the meet following a victory at Miami Valley in Ohio. He picked up a condition win on Opening Night and followed it up with a heartbreaking loss by a nose behind Charles VII. On April 2 in the $15,000 to $20,000 claiming handicap group, What A Peach hooked up in a stretch duel with the mare Dreamsteeler, who needed a break of stride to finish ahead at the line, meaning What A Peach inherited the win via disqualification.

What A Peach faced the same claiming handicap group on Sunday night, including his old friend Dreamsteeler, who lined up just inside of him in the #3 post in a seven-horse field. As the 3-5 betting favorite, What A Peach, making his first start in the Paul Fusco barn following a claim, grabbed the engine with George Napolitano in the bike. He had to deal with a first-over charge from Chipps Lake on the back stretch, meaning that he expended some extra energy before he would need it in the home stretch.

In the stretch, Dreamsteeler, who had worked out the excellent pocket trip, charged up the passing lane to make a play for the lead. What A Peach, undaunted, battled her stride for stride. In an odd instant replay, Dreamsteeler once again went off stride, only this time What A Peach was still able to get ahead at the line. The victory, in 1:55:1, made it four victories out of five for the gelding as he heads to a new barn following yet another claim.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Andy Ray (Marcus Miller, Jim Campbell), who picked up a condition win on Saturday night in a career-best 1:53:2, which was the fastest of any trotter on the grounds this past week; Sunrise Avenue (Eric Carlson, Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who won her second straight Bobby Weiss series race against distaff trotters on Tuesday night in 1:55:4; and Alexander Hanover (Anthony Napolitano, Mike Watson), who moved up in class to score a second consecutive condition win on Tuesday night, this one in 1:56.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK:  ONE TO DRAW TO

The very first race of the night on Saturday brought a huge upset, as this claiming pacer driven by Marcus Miller lit them up at 31-1 for a $65 payoff to win on a $2 ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY NAPOLITANO

A-Nap had his finest night of the young season on Sunday, scoring four wins, highlighted by a victory aboard 10-1 long shot Itty Bitty in the Bobby Weiss series.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: ANDREW HARRIS

Harris won the featured pace on Saturday night with Casimir Jitterbug and then followed it up with three training wins on Sunday night, including two in the Bobby Weiss series.

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

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

October 24-30, 2014

The adage says that speed kills, and nowhere is that more accurate than in the sport of harness racing. Sometimes it pays to be patient and wait for an opportunity to rally in a race, but the most surefire way for a horse to take all the variables out of the equation is to head straight for the front end of the field and go as hard as it can, trusting in its ability to get home above all else. Our top two award winners displayed some serious top-end speed this week. Let’s take a look at their exploits and hand out the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: SPEED AGAIN

It’s always fun to watch a horse improve within the course of a season. When last we saw Speed Again, the 5-year-old gelding from the Ron Burke barn put together an outstanding performance on August 9, scorching a mid-priced condition field in a career-best 1:48:2. Propelled by that big mile, he moved up to face tougher competition in his stint at Harrah’s at Philadelphia.

First he performed well in a trio of races against the winners of over $25,000 grouping at Harrah’s, hitting the board twice and winning once. In his final start there, he stepped up to an Open Handicap group and rolled on the front end to win by two lengths in 1:50:4. His return to Pocono on Saturday would also come in the Open group, against a field that included P H Supercam, a powerhouse who had captured three straight Open Handicaps at Yonkers.

None of that mattered to Speed Again and driver Anthony Napolitano when they powered to the front end right from the first few steps of the race. P H Supercam lurked behind him in the pocket for the whole mile, but Speed Again had an answer for him in the front stretch, holding him off to score by a neck in 1:49. Considering he’s already beating Open fields with consistency, any more improvement by Speed Again would almost be unfair.

Other top pacers include: Lark Seelster (Anthony Napolitano, Luis Collazo), a mare who moved up in class on Tuesday night and scored her second consecutive condition win, this one coming in 1:52:1; McBoogie (George Napolitano Jr., Dean Eckley), who moved up in class and switched barns but still tore up a $15,000 claiming group on Saturday night in 1:52:1 for his third straight win; and I’m Blue Too (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who rallied for a victory in a career-best 1:51:4 in Wednesday night’s Grey Ghost & Poltergeist Pace, Pocono’s annual Halloween-themed race featuring only grey and roan pacers.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: HEZATRAIN

This 5-year-old gelding from the barn of trainer Allan Johnson hit a bit of a bumpy stretch in his season in September and October. After winning five out of seven races to start his campaign, he suffered a streak of four straight races both at Pocono and Saratoga without even hitting the board. He returned to MSPD on October 21 and found his stride against our lowest condition group, rolling to a romping win in a new career-best time of 1:53:3.

Feeling confident once again following that win, Hezatrain moved back up on Tuesday into a condition for non-winners of $8,000 in the last five starts. Once again driver George Napolitano Jr. was determined to hustle the gelding to the front end, but on his effort to get there he encountered some traffic on the first turn and was forced to make an early three-wide move. Even though Hezatrain reached the lead before the front stretch ended, such a tough journey to get there threatened to make him vulnerable.

Those concerns were doused as the race progressed. Hezatrain easily fended off any pressure, lengthening the lead until he was comfortably out in front of the rest. He was able to gear down in the final strides and still beat the rest of the field by a solid four lengths with a winning time of 1:54:3. That’s two straight romps for Hezatrain, a trotter who’s back to his winning ways as the season winds to a close.

Honorable mention on the trotting side includes: Rossini (Howard Parker, Jim Raymer), who dominated a condition field on Saturday night in 1:52:2, a new career-best which matched the fastest of the week at MSPD; Proud Moment (Ron Pierce, Rene Allard), who went a career-best mile of 1:52:2, tied for the fastest trot of the week, to win Tuesday night’s featured claiming handicap trot; and Four Starz Speed (Ron Pierce, Rene Allard), who made it two in a row and three of his last four with a claiming handicap victory on Wednesday night in 1:55.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: LINDY’S FIREWORKS

On a wild Tuesday night full of upsets, this trotting filly topped them all, winning a condition easily with Anthony Napolitano in the bike at 85-1, paying off $172.40 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY NAPOLITANO

Anthony’s finest year at Pocono continued with a –win week, including victories on Saturday with 24-1 shot Salevster Stallion and on Tuesday with 85-1 bomber Lindy’s Fireworks.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: MIKE WATSON

Watson has been threatening to crack the Top 10 of the Pocono training standings all year long, and his pair of victories on Saturday night will certainly help his cause.

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

Friday, May 17th, 2013

May 11-May 17, 2013    

We are about to get into the heart of stakes season here at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, as Stallion Series and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes races take place this weekend. This is the part of the season when things get really intense, with the best horses and horsemen invading the Pocono oval in a quest for the big purses. On the threshold of this exciting time, another exciting week of overnight racing went down. Here is the cream of the crop from those races with the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: STEELHEAD HANOVER

Managing a single mile of under 1:50 is quite an accomplishment. Doing it in two consecutive victories is an extremely impressive feat. And overcoming an outside post in the second of those miles is even more eye-popping. Since he accomplished all of these things, it’s no surprise that Steelhead Hanover earns the honors as this week’s top pacer.

The 4-year-old stallion trained and driven by Joe Pavia Jr. opened up on the front end in a condition for non-winners of $11,000 in the last five on April 27 for a victory in 1:49:1. Pavia gave him a week off and then returned him to action last Saturday night against the same class. Only this time Steelhead Hanover was a 7-1 third choice, likely because he was stuck in an outside post.

Pavia was able to get him into a prime spot into the pocket early, and that’s where he stayed as furious fractions were hung up on the board by the leaders in front of him. In the stretch, Steelhead Hanover found his stride and rallied for a tight win in 1:49:4. Can he get three in a row under 1:50? Only his next race will tell, but the way he’s going now, anything is possible.

Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: Mickey Hanover (Joe Pavia Jr., Rene Allard), who followed up a big win at The Meadowlands with a victory in Saturday night’s featured Preferred pace in 1:49:3; Apache Renegade (Andrew McCarthy, Mike Watson), who moved up in class on Saturday night for a win, his second straight overall, over the $12,500 claimers in a career-best 1:51; and Camille (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who won a stretch duel with rival Feeling You in Sunday night’s Preferred pace for mares on 1:51:1.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: AS YA’LL LIKE IT

This mare joined the Amber Buter barn in April and took a shot against the condition trotters in her next two starts, but she could only manage one third-place finish. On May 4 she dropped back into Pocono’s toughest claiming group, the $25,000-$30,000 claiming handicappers, and quickly re-established herself as a force by pouncing late from the pocket for a win in 1:55:1.

In that race she was assigned the outside post because she had the highest claiming price, but, with only six horses in the field, it wasn’t that difficult a proposition. When As Ya’ll Like It took on the same group on Saturday night, her outside post was the #8 hole, meaning that it would be that much tougher to get to the lead in the early going.

Yet the mare made it to the front end quickly, and driver Tyler Buter took advantage of a lack of outside pressure to rate her speed perfectly. As Ya’ll Like It took it from there, getting all the way home in 1:55:4. She was claimed after the race, so we’ll see if the new barn keeps her in the class she’s been dominating or sets her up for even bigger and better things based on her recent outstanding form.

Other top trotters this week include: Berkshire (Jim Morrill Jr., Antonella Galie), who scored his second straight condition trotting victory on Tuesday night in 1:55:2; Celebrity Maserati (Tom Jackson, Susanne Strandqvist), who returned to Pocono following a big stakes win at Freehold and rolled to a condition win on Wednesday night in 1:53; and Tui (Anthony Napolitano, Don Wiest), the standout mare who rolled to her second straight condition trotting win on Wednesday night, this time in 1:53:1.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: HEYTHEREGEORGIEGIRL

This mare had been struggling mightily in search of her maiden win, but driver Ron Pierce coaxed a big effort out of her on Tuesday night to upset the field at 28-1 for a $59 payout on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

It’s no surprise that Napolitano is among the driving leaders at Pocono yet again, and he improved his standing this week with a four-win explosion on Sunday night.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: NICK SURICK

One of the best young trainers in the business made his mark at Pocono this week by scoring three victories, including a double on Sunday 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.