Posts Tagged ‘Mike Wilder’

JK Endofanera and Seventh Secret Win Pocono Cup Divisions

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

May 24, 2014

JK Endofanera and Seventh Secret impressively captured divisions of the Pocono Cup in the Historic Series on Saturday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The Grand Circuit races were for 3-year-old colts and geldings on the pace.

In the $36,162 first division, JK Endofanera (Art Major-Presidential Lady), moved to two-for-two on the season with a victory on the front end by 1 ¾ lengths in 1:49:4, which matched his career-best. Andrew McCarthy did the driving aboard the 1-2 favorite for trainer Ron Burke. Allstar Partner finished second while Best Said picked up the show.

In the $36,912 second division, Seventh Secret (Allamerican Native-Secret Song) staged a furious rally to come up for the win by a head in 1:50:3. Pierce finished second while Stratos Hanover came in a close third. Mike Wilder drove Seventh Secret, a 5-1 second choice, for trainer Dan Altmeyer.

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.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

June 14-20, 2013

What an amazing week of racing we all just witnessed at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. In a year that will see the track host The Breeders Crown in October, we’re already getting a taste of the incendiary action to come. This past week offered Stallion Series races, Pennsylvania Sire Stakes races, and a world record-matching performance. Let’s take a look at it all by passing out the Weekly Awards.


What is it about trainer Jimmy Takter and four-year-old trotting stallions at Pocono? On June 8 in a $25,000 Preferred trot, Takter trainee Uncle Peter delivered a stunning performance in his victory, trotting the mile in 1:51:1. That not only set a track record for the age and gender grouping but it also smashed a world record for the group on a 5/8-mile oval.

Takter was at it again in Saturday night’s Preferred event, only this time he brought in another 4-year-old stallion named Guccio. Guccio had been seasoned against ruggedly tough trotters at The Meadowlands and was made the 2-5 favorite in the race. Takter also did the driving and positioned his horse perfectly behind a speed duel that created unconscious fractions in front of him.

Guccio rolled by his competition in the stretch, ending up 1 ½ lengths out in front of the rest. And what do you think his winning time was? 1:51:1, meaning that he matched the world record that his stablemate just set. I guess the next time you see a Jimmy Takter four-year-old stallion trotting into Pocono, you should watch that timer close to see if another record-breaking performance is in the offing.

Other top trotters this week include: Valley Of Sin (Mike Wilder, John Butenschoen), whose rallying win on Sunday in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action for 3-year-old colts and geldings in a career-best 1:54:1 was his second straight victory at Pocono; Quantum Cashman (Jonathan Drury, Carmen Auciello), who moved up in class to win a claiming handicap trot on Tuesday night in a career-best 1:54:3, his third straight overall and second in a row at Pocono; and Lady Broadway (Jim Morrill Jr., Chris Oakes), a 3-year-old filly who won her third straight, the last two of which have come at Pocono, with a victory in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes competition on Wednesday night in 1:55:2.


Sometimes it takes a change of tactics to get a horse over the hump. In the case of Bet On The Law, a standout performer for trainer/driver Joe Pavia Jr., he had tried gunning out on the lead in his previous two starts in Preferred paces at Pocono, a style that had served him well in lower classes, only to get caught from behind when facing the best pacers on the grounds.

Saturday night’s $25,000 Preferred pace was loaded with big names and lots of up-front speed, so Pavia decided to try something different. He held Bet On The Law back in the field early while others battled for the lead and did all the work. He then wisely caught the cover of Hurrikane Kingcole on the back stretch to get his horse into contention with a minimum of effort.

In the stretch, while others had already used their best strides, Bet On The Law was just finding his. The 4-year-old gelding blew by his cover and everyone else to win by a length. His winning time of 1:48:4 marked a new career-best, but even more important, this talented pacer showed the versatility necessary to win no matter how a race plays out.

Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: Best Ears (Jim Morrill Jr., Rene Allard), who followed up a condition win in his previous race with a victory over $25,000 claimers on Saturday night in a scorching career-best time of 1:49:4; Ideal Matters (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who won for the third time in his last four starts with a conquest of a condition pacing field on Saturday in 1:49:3; and Drop The Ball (Corey Callahan, Ross Croghan), who won Sunday night’s Preferred pace for mares in 1:50.


With Andrew McCarthy in the bike, this claiming pacer spiced up the early Daily Double on Wednesday night with a rallying win at 44-1, paying out $91 on a $2 win ticket.


Kakaley has been on fire for much of the season, but he turned it up with double-figures in wins for the week, including a five-bagger on Tuesday night.


Burke started the week off with three training wins on Friday night and didn’t let up from there, as he has slowly but surely ascended to the top of the Pocono training colony in victories for the meet.

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

Monday, October 15th, 2012

October 5-11, 2012

Most of the verbiage spent in this column relates to the fine four-legged performers at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, the horses whose incredible exploits leave us slack-jawed in disbelief night after night. Yet racing fans know that these performances wouldn’t be possible without the skills of the drivers who take the lines each night and attempt to guide their charges to victory.

That’s why we’re giving the Weekly Awards the week off to devote the article to the exploits of these drivers, particularly those that took place in Saturday night’s The Battle of Pennsylvania Driving Challenge. It’s one of our favorite events of the season at Pocono because it really does shine the spotlight on the drivers, allowing them to compete against each other for bragging rights.

The event also is the source of a friendly inter-track rivalry, as the Challenge incorporates not just Pocono drivers, but also drivers from fellow Pennsylvania track The Meadows. Nine drivers were chosen to compete this year. From Pocono: George Napolitano Jr., Matt Kakaley, Tom Jackson, Tyler Buter, and Joe Pavia Jr. From The Meadows: Mike Wilder, Tony Hall, Aaron Merriman, and Brett Miller, who won the event a year ago.

Here’s how it worked: Each of the nine drivers were randomly assigned to a horse in each of the nine selected races, with the exception of one race each where a driver got to pick whatever horse he wanted out of the nine-horse field to drive. This set-up allowed some strategy to come into play as well as a little luck in terms of drivers perhaps getting favorable post positions or stuck with several long shots or the like, although that luck tends to even itself out over the course of a competition such as this.

What was interesting was that only three of the nine races were won by drivers who had the selection in the race, meaning that the strategy often went out the window. Of course, at a track as competitive as Pocono, it’s typical for just about every horse in a given race to have a shot and for favorites to be cannon fodder, so it really was anybody’s ballgame.

Yet one man seems to have a knack for this whole deal, and that’s Brett Miller. To be successful in the Challenge, you have to not only win races, but you have to be consistently near the top in the order of finish. Since 50 points were awarded for first place, 25 were second, and so on down until just a single point was awarded for last place, it placed a premium on having not just wins, but also plenty of seconds and thirds.

Miller set the tone in the very first race aboard trotter Boiler Bob The QB, winning easily to quickly stake himself to first place in the Challenge. From there, he finished third, second, first, third, and second in the Challenge’s next five races, the consistently solid finishes giving him a huge lead that would be tough for any of the other helmsmen to surmount.

That’s not to say there weren’t other drivers who made things happen. George Napolitano Jr. and Aaron Merriman joined Miller as the only two drivers to pick up a pair of wins in the Challenge. Napolitano also had the longest shot to win in the event, picking up a victory aboard 9-1 shot Sonic Raider in a claiming trot. Tyler Buter, Mike Wilder, and Matt Kakaley also scored wins in the Challenge.

In the last race, Miller still had a pretty significant lead, yet Napolitano and Wilder still had mathematical chances to pull the rug out from under him. They each needed a win, but Kakaley won aboard Oyster Bay instead. That meant that it’s two titles in a row for Miller, which, even when you consider some of the luck that comes into play, is still a pretty impressive achievement.

The Challenge doesn’t prove anything about whether or not certain drivers are better than others. On another night, with different horses and draws, the results might have been quite different. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s a great chance to honor these drivers with their own night. By the way, they also deserve applause for donating a portion of their winnings for the event to Marley’s Mission.

These guys are out there each race making split-second decisions which are often second-guessed, even as their ability to prevent potentially awful accidents with horses trotting and pacing in such close proximity to each other is always taken for granted. Not just the nine drivers in the Challenge, but every guy or gal around the country who sits in the bike behind a standardbred deserves the utmost appreciation of both their skills and their courage.

Such appreciation is what The Battle of Pennsylvania Driving Challenge truly fosters, and it’s why we here at Pocono are really proud to have it as part of our racing season.

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

Miller Defends Pennsylvania Driving Challenge Title

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

October 6, 2012

Brett Miller won the night’s very first race and never looked back on his way to winning his second straight Battle of PA Driving Challenge on Saturday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The event featured drivers from Pocono and The Meadows.

The nine drivers were awarded points based on the performances of their horses in nine select races on the card. Drivers were randomly assigned horses throughout the Challenge while being allowed one race each in which they could choose a single horse.

One of four drivers representing The Meadows, Miller won the opening race in the Challenge aboard Boiler Bob The QB to take the lead. He then solidified his advantage by finishing no worse than 3rd in the first six races in the challenge, adding another victory aboard April Sunshine. He finished with 184 points. Pocono’s George Napolitano Jr. finished 2nd with 145 points and two wins, while Mike Wilder from The Meadows was 3rd with 135 points and one victory.

The other drivers who participated: For Pocono, Tyler Buter (132 points, one win), Matt Kakaley (92 points, one win), Joe Pavia Jr. (66 points), and Tom Jackson (44 points); for The Meadows, Aaron Merriman (129 points, two wins) and Tony Hall (63 points.)