Posts Tagged ‘Monticello’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

May 13-19, 2017

The good news is that the weather finally seems to be taking a turn for the warmer in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The bad news is that it took a while to get here, meaning that the racing cards on Saturday and Sunday were contested in chilly, rainy, sloppy conditions. But it wasn’t all bad news, at least for the long shots and mid-priced horses who took advantage of the weather situation to upend favorites at a high rate on those two nights. Let’s take a look back at it all by handing out the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: PRINCE PALANI

Sometimes it’s just a matter of a horse finding the right spot before it can succeed. Prince Palani had success early this season with five victories in the first three months of the year. But the Pennsylvania circuit proved rough for him in the month of April, as he raced four times in claimers at Pocono and Harrah’s at Philadelphia without finishing any better than fourth.

Trainer Ty Pena dropped him into a $15,000 claiming group on May 6 and everything changed. With Marcus Miller in the bike that night, he dominated to the tune of a 3 ½ length victory as the favorite in 1:53:2. Since that win was in the slop and since he was once again facing the $15,000 claimers on Saturday night, the six-year-old gelding understandably was bet down to a 6-5 favorite.

Saturday night’s sloppy track was, for the most part, extremely harsh on horses who tried to grab the engine. But Miller went after it with Prince Palani, securing the early lead and daring everyone to play catch-up. Nobody even got close. Prince Palani rolled to another comfortable victory, winning by 2 ¾ lengths over Just Bettor in 1:53. He was claimed from that race and could be moving back up in class next time around, but his confidence will be brimming if he does.

Other top pacers include: All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), the standout veteran who handled the featured condition pacers on Saturday night in 1:51:1 in the slop; Anwar Hanover (Jim Marohn Jr., Frank Kamine), who handled a rugged condition group on Saturday night in 1:54 in the sloppy going; and Melanie’s Sharkette (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), a mare who won Tuesday night’s featured distaff condition pace at 12-1 in a career-best 1:51:2.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: ABBIE’S CELTICLASS

The big test for this mare on Sunday night was to prove that her last victory was no fluke. That previous win for the four-year-old trained by Kenneth Hess Jr. came in the $30,000 finals of the Bobby Weiss series on May 2 as a 47-1 long shot. Driven by Matt Kakaley for the first time that evening, Abbie’s Celticlass came from the clouds to win it in a stunner in a career-best 1:55:2.

On Sunday, she was back at it facing the non-winners of five fillies and mares, and this time around she was made the 8-5 favorite. Once again Kakaley let the mile unfold in front of him with Abbie’s Celticlass, settling fifth in the early going as One Too Many set the pace. Kakaley set her in motion on the front stretch to advance toward the front, but, unlike in the Weiss, she was unable to find any cover to help her out on her journey.

The sloppy track on Sunday night helped her out though, as it was beneficial to those on an outside trip. Abbie’s Celticlass eventually corralled One Too Many with the first over trip at the top of the stretch. She then had to deal with the closers who had much better trips than her, but the mare held off Connie Jean in the final strides to score in 1:57 in the slop. That means the Weiss was no fluke, and it means that this mare has a winning streak going that might be difficult for her foes to break.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Rose Run Parker (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who shipped in from The Meadowlands to capture Sunday evening’s featured condition trot in 1:53:2 in the slop; Spicedbourbongirl (Jeff Gregory trainer and driver), a mare who overcame an outside post and a sloppy track to win a non-winners of seven condition on Sunday night in 1:54:4; and Can I Say (Matt Kakaley, Douglas Berkeley), who followed up a victory at Monticello with a condition win in the slop on Saturday night at Pocono in 1:55:2.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: EPIC RANGER

This trotter sent the faithful home shaking their heads on Tuesday night, winning a condition race at 47-1 with Eric Goodell in the bike to pay off $97.20 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MATT KAKALEY

The rain certainly didn’t bother Kakaley at all, as he led the driving community on both Saturday and Sunday nights with four wins each evening.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: RON BURKE

If Matt Kakaley is racking up driving wins, it usually means that Burke is doing the same on the training side, and sure enough he led all conditioners this week with five 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.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

July 23-29, 2016

It was hot this week in Northeastern Pennsylvania, but that’s no real news flash, because it was hot just about everywhere in the country as well. I only mention it because the heat didn’t seem to cause any lethargy in the horses competing this past week at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. If anything, we witnessed some of the fastest races at the track in several weeks, with horses routinely putting up career-bests and even coming within shouting distance of world records. Here are some of the best performers this week, via the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: VAGUE TRACES

You never know when you’re going to see a special performance at the track. Vague Traces gave just such a performance on Saturday night. It wasn’t entirely unexpected that this 4-year-old gelding would be good, considering that he went off as the favorite in a field of $14,000 condition pacers. But the extent to which he excelled was what left mouths agape after he cashed in on his promise and scored the victory.

Trained by Ross Croghan, Vague Traces was making his first start at Pocono in 2016. He came in with wins in just two of his 14 races on the year, but they were back-to-back wins at The Meadowlands in June. Coming off a pair of distant finishes against tough company at Yonkers, the gelding didn’t show much in the first half of his first mile at Pocono, sitting an unassuming fourth early. Then driver Andrew McCarthy sent him first-over on the outside, and everything changed.

In a flash Vague Traces blew by everyone in front of him and took the lead prior to the three-quarter pole. But he didn’t stop there, continuing an elongated speed burst that didn’t relent until he crossed the line 7 ¾ lengths ahead of the dumbfounded field. Even more impressively, he tripped the line in 1:48:1, not just a career-best but the fastest at Pocono this week and one of the fastest at the oval this season. Just like that Vague Traces made an impression on the Pocono faithful; let’s see how he handles the tougher competition that’s bound to come.

Other top pacers this week include: Bushwacker (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Ryder), who scored a victory in Saturday night’s $18,000 featured pace in 1:50; Soto (Andrew McCarthy, Eric Ell), a newcomer to the racing wars at Pocono who immediately left his mark with a condition victory on Saturday in a career-best 1:48:4; and Life Is A Beach (Anthony Napolitano, Randy Bendis), who handled Tuesday night’s featured condition pacing mares in 1:52, which matched a career best.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: ARMOR HANOVER

There were several excellent candidates for this honor this week, but this seven-year-old gelding gets the call not just for his last two outstanding performances, but also for how far he’s come in that time. Trained by Douglas Berkeley, Armor Hanover hit rock bottom on July 2 when he went off-stride for a second consecutive race. That meant he’d have to qualify before he could race again. He did just that, winning a qualifier at Monticello on July 6, apparently earning some serious confidence in the process.

In his first race back on July 16, he headed out against a $14,000 condition trotting field as a 17-1 long shot. But driver Tom Jackson drove him aggressively and Armor Hanover responded, holding off Auspicious Hanover by a nose in a thrilling stretch battle to upset in 1:54:3, which was a career-best time.

On Saturday night, he faced off against a $15,500 condition grouping and this time went off at 6-1 with Anthony Napolitano in the bike. With a tremendous back-stretch brush, Armor Hanover left behind the 2-5 favorite Cufflink Hanover. The rest of the field was no match for him either, as he came home six lengths in front. His winning time of 1:52 shattered the career mark he had only just laid down. Armor Hanover has indeed come a long way in a short time, and it will be exciting to see now just where he goes from here.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Tac’s Delight (Jim Marohn Jr., Rene Allard), who handled a $15,000 claiming handicap field in 1:54:1 on Sunday night for his third straight victory; Homicide Hunter (Eric Goodell, Chris Oakes), who captured Sunday night’s $25,000 featured condition pace in 1:51:1, a new career-best, the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono, and only a fifth of a second short of a world record for 4-year-old trotting geldings; and Crazy About Pat (Jim Marohn Jr., Paul Kelley), who shipped in from Yonkers to pick up a condition win on Sunday night in a career-best 1:53:1.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: LARSON HANOVER

This two-year-old trotter’s maiden win on Tuesday night was quite memorable, as he came home a winner at 75-1 to pay out $154.20 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY NAPOLITANO

Returning from an injury that kept him out nearly two months, Napolitano wasted no time getting in the swing of things by ripping off five wins on his first night back Saturday.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JENNY MELANDER

Melander put together an interesting streak this week at Pocono, as she followed up training wins in both halves of the Late Daily Double Monday night with another victory in the opening race on Tuesday.

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.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week in Review

Monday, April 6th, 2015

March 28-April 3, 2015

We’re two weeks into the 2015 racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and we still haven’t seen too much in the way of ideal racing conditions. The six nights of racing have been characterized by rain, wind, cold, and, would you believe it, even snow. Yet in the midst of the ugly weather we’ve already been witness to some outstanding racing and speedy times that flew in the face of the poor conditions. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: HUMILITY

Snow lined the infield as Humility lined up to face a group of non-winners of $10,000 in the last five starts on Tuesday night. The 5-year-old stallion was taking a few steps up in class from his previous race, which was a win at Pocono in a first-over grind in 1:52:2. Trained by Brewer Adams, Humility would need to put together another big mile to hang with the tougher competition.

Early speed in the race came from Always A Diamond, another horse stepping up in class off a big win. Meanwhile China King, the favorite in the race after shipping in from California, had the perfect trip on the pocket. Humility looked like an afterthought when he started a first-over move from fifth on the back stretch, seemingly too far back to compete.

Yet driver Jim Morrill Jr. found a groove on the sloppy track, and when Humility whipped around the final turn three wide, he was in striking distance. Setting his sights on China King, who had taken the lead in the stretch, the stallion hustled by to win by a neck in 1:52:2. Neither a step up in class not a tough trip slowed Humility, who now has wins in each of his first two starts in the meet and might just be ready to move even higher up the Pocono ladder.

Other top pacers this week include: Sparky Mark (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), whose victory in Saturday night’s condition pace came in 1:50:4, the week’s fastest time at Pocono despite freezing temperatures that evening; Majo Just Do It (Simon Allard, Jennifer Sansone), who rolled to a claiming handicap win on Tuesday night, his second straight, in 1:54:4; and Feels Like Magic N (Tom Jackson, Darran Cassar), who rallied for his second straight condition win as a long shot on Saturday night, scoring in a career-best 1:52:3.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SENTRY

One of the things that makes handicapping so hard early in the season is that there are horses shipping in from all over the country to the Pocono oval. It’s difficult to know how a horse will do on the 5/8-mile track, especially when they’re arriving from a track of a different size. In the case of Sentry, that track was Monticello, the half-mile oval in New York where he had won two of his previous three races.

The winning times he posted at Monticello, each over two minutes, might not have looked so hot compared to some of the others in the field. But this 5-year-old stallion from the barn of Jenny Melander once trotted a mile of 1:54 at Pocono, so the precedent was there for a big effort. In a condition trot on Tuesday night, driver Brett Miller sent Sentry behind cover on the outside and then bided his time until the stretch.

When that stretch arrived, Sentry took his shot with a three-wide move and went trotting right on past the leaders. Even on a sloppy track, his winning time of 1:56:2 showed his capability to put up times more in line with the speedy horses at Pocono. And, with three wins in his last four races, this peaking trotter is proving that he’ll be a factor no matter where he chooses to race.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Team Six (Marcus Miller, Erv Miller), who shipped in from the Meadowlands and handled a tough group of condition trotters on Saturday night in 1:55:1; Walk The Walk (David Miller, Chris Ryder), who ripped off his second straight win in the Bobby Weiss series on Tuesday night, conquering a sloppy track in 1:55, a career-best time; and Classic Belisima (David Miller, John Cabot), a mare whose romping victory in the Bobby Weiss series on Wednesday gave her three straight wins and came in the week’s fastest trotting time at Pocono of 1:53:3.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SHADOWS DREAM

This veteran pacer sent the faithful home on Tuesday night scratching their heads, as he rallied out wide late to win a condition at 16-1, paying out $35.60 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JIM MORRILL JR.

Very few drivers have been as successful for as long a period of time as Morrill, who rolled this week to a double on Saturday and four victories on Tuesday.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: BREWER ADAMS

Three victories by Adams’ horses on Tuesday were impressive enough, but they were even more eye-popping considering that not one of those winners was the favorite.

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 March 23-28, 2013

Friday, March 29th, 2013

Opening week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs is officially in the books, and it was a great four nights of racing. Although Mother Nature hasn’t yet cooperated with better racing temperatures, at least there were fast tracks all week long. That allowed for some sizzling racing regardless of the weather. With that in mind, let’s not waste any more time. We’re handing out 2013’s first edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: SILENT SWING

We’ve got a bunch of official records detailing the fastest times in the history of Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs as separated by age and gender; they can be found in our racing program. We don’t keep official records on the best performances on Opening Night, but I’ve been watching the live races now for more than fifteen years, and I can guarantee that no one has ever been better on the first night of the season than Silent Swing was on Saturday night.

The 11-year-old gelding from the barn of Mark Ford had some help in his standout performance from Drumfire A, who gunned to the early lead and set blistering fractions. That allowed Slient Swing to stay tucked in the pocket and have energy left for the stretch drive.

At that point, driver George Napolitano Jr. gunned Silent Swing right past the defenseless Drumfire A and won going away in 1:49:4, an incredible time considering the frigid temperatures. I have a feeling that scorching mile is going to be a harbinger of the faast times to come in the upcoming season at Pocono.

Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: Jerseylicious (Corey Callahan, Wayne Givens), whose romping victory in the first leg of the Bobby Weiss Series for 3-year-old pacing fillies on Tuesday night followed four consecutive wins at Dover to start the season; Gallant Major (Mike Simons, Gail Wrubel), who followed up a win ay Yonkers on Saturday night with a victory over the $25,000 claimers in 1:54:2; and Betterthanlynx (George Napolitano Jr., Peter Pellegrino), who now has three straight wins after shipping in from Monticello and knocking off a field of claiming handicap pacers on Sunday night in 1:52:4.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: PHOTO KING

The featured condition trot of the week came on Saturday night and carried a purse of $21,000. There were some rugged trotters in that group, with all eight horses in the field having earned well over six figures in their careers.

Photo King, a six-year-old gelding from the Bill Mullin barn, got seasoning early this year facing tough trotters at The Meadowlands. He entered Saturday night’s race as the 5-2 second choice behind 3-2 favorite Spice it Up Lindy and had a tough #7 post position. Come race time though, he was up to all challenges.

The gelding, with Jim Morrill Jr. in the bike, fought hard through a contested stretch drive and came up with a gutsy victory in 1:55, matching the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono. Now with three wins in eight starts this season, Photo King seems poised for a huge campaign at MSPD.

Other top trotters this week include: Sand Wyndham (Joe Pavia Jr., Rene Allard), who followed up a win at Saratoga with a condition win on Sunday night in 1:55:2; Keepin The Chips (Matt Kakaley, Brooke Vermett), a gelding whose win at Pocono on Sunday night in 1:56 came on the heels of win at Chester in his last start; and As Ya’ll Like It (Tyler Buter, Chris Oakes), who opened up racing on Wednesday night with a powerful winning performance in a claiming handicap in a career-best 1:55.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SAND SUMMERFIELD

A pocket trip helped this pacer driven by Marcus Miller to the upset of an excellent condition pacing field on Saturday night at 24-1, paying out $50 for a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: TYLER BUTER

Not only did Tyler get off to a sizzling start to the 2013 meet at Pocono with a big first week, he also scored his milestone 2,000th lifetime driving win on Wednesday night aboard Zooming.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: AMBER BUTER

The first week was all about the Buters at Pocono. While Tyler has been a driving dynamo, Amber finds herself near the top of the trainers’ standings in the early going.

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.

Grey Ghost and Poltergeist Pace

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

 

The Grey Ghosts come to Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs!  

Live harness racing at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs will be strangely eerie on Saturday, October 29th as the harness track in Northeast PA hosts a special “Grey Ghost and Poltergeist Pace” for grey or roan horses. 

The field is set with seven ghostly greys entered for the race, which is the third on the card.  Monticello’s “Little Grey Jug”  winner Trigger Finger ships in to try the Pocono oval after setting a 1:53.4 track record in the 21st edition of that race on September 20th.  He’ll be joined by Jaguar Jet, who finished third in that race at Monticello. 

John Nason’s Gray Bomber makes the trip from Plainridge Racecourse to take on Pocono favorites Gotta Love Him, trained by Cindy Weitoish; Woe’s Jet Filly, the lone mare in the race, trained by Alex Kavoleff;  and the Eric Mollar-trained I’m So Blue.  Rounding out the field is Sham’s Big Guy, trained by Jason Robinson.   

The winning horse will be presented with his or her trophy by children in costume, and  a scary and spookily decorated Winner’s Circle will set the mood for the race.  Jennifer Starr, Pocono’s Racing Marketing Manager,  is a huge fan of the grey horses, and jumped right in to plan the event and tie it in to Halloween weekend. 

 ***According to the U.S. Trotting Association, the governing body of harness racing, less than five percent of all harness horses are grey in color.  The most famous was the former world champion trotter and Hambletonian winner, Greyhound.