Posts Tagged ‘Nancy Johansson’

The stars shine under the Sun in Sun Stakes Saturday eliminations

Monday, June 20th, 2016

What will be the greatest collection of harness racing talent assembled for one card so far in 2016 will gather at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono this Saturday night, June 25th, as the eliminations for the $2M+ Sun Stakes Saturday Championships will be held, seven days before the Championship events.

The Ben Franklin FFA Pace has attracted an overflow field of 22 entrants, including such superstars as Wiggle It Jiggleit, Always B Miki, Freaky Feet Pete, Rockin Ron, and $30,000 supplement Mel Mara, and will be raced in three eliminations, with the top three finishers from each elim coming back for the $500,000 Championship event.

The races for the three-year-olds – the Earl Beal 3C Trot, the Max C. Hempt 3C Pace, and the James Lynch 3F Pace, number their entrants in the teens, which means there will be two eliminations for all three sophomore events, with the top four finishers in each elim joining the faster of the fifth-placed finishers going into their rich Championships, the Beal and Hempt racing for $500,000, the Lynch for $300,000.

On an overall basis, how strong are these fields? Well, take the Franklin: it boasts the defending divisional champion in State Treasurer, PLUS it has the defending Horse of the Year and 3YO champion, Wiggle It Jiggleit, as he makes the stepup to the older ranks. Also, the only possible defending champion in the four stakes, Luck Be Withyou, is in the field.

And each of the events for three-year-olds sees its defending champion from two coming to Pocono: Southwind Frank (3TC), Boston Red Rocks (3PC), and Pure Country (3PC).

In addition: the Top Ten poll reflecting this past weekend’s results has not been completed by “post time” for this release, but six of the top ten horses from the last poll will be at Pocono: Wiggle It Jiggleit (1st), Southwind Frank (3rd), Freaky Feet Pete (4th), Rockin Ron (6th), Always B Miki (8th), and Mel Mara (10th).

Here’s a closer look at the fields for all four sets of eliminations, starting with the one that will likely draw the most attention, the Franklin FFA Pace:

BEN FRANKLIN FFAP (Championship purse $500,000; eliminations this Saturday slotted for races 10-11-12):

In addition to the accomplishments listed above, the 22 Franklin entrants have combined lifetime earnings over $20M (ten of the card’s fourteen millionaires are in the Franklin), and their average lifetime mark is 1:48.2.

The first elimination, race 10, finds returning Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit, who won the Hempt and the Battle of the Brandywine at Pocono last year, drawing post six in a field of eight for driver Montrell Teague, trainer Clyde Francis, and his ownership of George Teague Jr Inc. and Teague Racing Partnership LLC. The four-year-old altered son of Mr Wiggles has won 7 of 10 races so far this year and over $400,000, and has taken his last three outings, including a 1:48.1-26.4 runaway victory in a Graduate leg at Tioga despite broken equipment; the race before that, he set the all-time track record with a 1:47.3 at Philly.

State Treasurer, the reigning Older Male Pacer of the Year, has post five in “Wiggle”’s elimination, but is winless so far in 2016, while Luck Be With You, the defending Franklin champion, is saddled with the outside post eight  – but he won his Franklin elim last year from PP8, and then won the Championship from PP9.

The second elimination features Always B Miki, who has by many been considered the purely-fastest horse of the last two years, with his speed matched only by bad racing fortune, most notably an injury at the end of his three-year-old season. But the five-year-old Always A Virgin stallion has come back in 2016 with three wins and two seconds in five starts, including setting the all-time Canadian record of 1:47.1 in Mohawk’s Gold Cup this past Saturday. David Miller is slated for sulky duty as “Miki” starts from post five for trainer Jimmy Takter and owners Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable, and Christina Takter.

Always B Miki faces several tough foes here, but none that has been more a thorn in his side recently than Mel Mara, starting from post one for driver Corey Callahan. The horse was placed in the care of trainer Dylan Davis almost two months ago, and since then Mel Mara has passed “Miki” in the stretch, only to be outfought on the end by a neck, and then, in Mel Mara’s last race, he held off Always B Miki by two lengths in 1:47, only a tick off the all-time record for speed in a race – reason enough for his connections, Robert Cooper Stables LLC and J&T Silva Stables LLC, to pony up a $30,000 supplemental entry fee to get him in the race. Mel Mara qualified this past Saturday at The Meadowlands, winning in 1:49.2, with a last quarter of 25.4 …

… a last quarter, which, unbelievably, was bettered by third elim likely choice Freaky Feet Pete, as he flew to the wire in 25.3 in a 1:51.2 Hoosier morning session. Freaky Feet Pete, a son of Rockin Image, completes the “Indiana triumvirate” of dominant free-for-allers which includes “Wiggle” and “Miki,” and he may be able to add to his already-burnished credentials as he starts from post one for driver Trace Tetrick, trainer Larry Rhineheimer, and owners Mary Jo Rhineheimer and Marty Rhineheimer.

$30,000 RACE 10 ELIMINATION (PP, horse, listed driver, trainer): 1, Dude’s The Man, Corey Callahan, Jessica Okusko; 2, Always At My Place, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 3, Take It Back Terry, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 4, Ideal Cowboy, Tim Tetrick, Jeff Bamond Jr.; 5, State Treasurer, Tim Tetrick also listed, Dr. Ian Moore; 6, Wiggle It Jiggleit, Montrell Teague, Clyde Francis; 7, Shamballa, Scott Zeron, Rick Zeron; 8, Luck Be Withyou, George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes.

$30,000 RACE 11 ELIMINATION: 1, Mel Mara*, Corey Callahan, Dylan Davis; 2, Melmerby Beach, Marcus Miller, Ettore Annunziata; 3, Mach It So, Tim Tetrick, Jeff Bamond Jr.; 4, Alexa’s Jackpot, George Napolitano Jr., Marty Fine; 5, Always B Miki, David Miller, Jimmy Takter; 6, All Bets Off, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 7, Rockin Ron, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke. (*- $30,000 supplemental nomination.)

$30,000 RACE 12 ELIMINATION: 1, Freaky Feet Pete, Trace Tetrick, Larry Rhineheimer; 2, Limelight Beach, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 3, Cooperstown, George Napolitano Jr., Daniel Renaud; 4, Rock N’ Roll World, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 5, Bushwacker, Eric Carlson, Chris Ryder; 6, Sunfire Blue Chip, Mark MacDonald, Jimmy Takter; 7, In The Arsenal, Brett Miller, Kelvin Harrison.

EARL BEAL 3CT (Championship purse $500,000, Saturday eliminations races 7 and 9):

Most of the attention for the Beal will be drawn by Southwind Frank, last year’s divisional champion and a Breeders Crown winner, and 13-for-14 in his career for trainer Ron Burke and owners Southwind Frank Partners. “Frank” will have two challenges going into Saturday’s race 9 elimination: he hasn’t started since winning the New Jersey Sire Stakes Championship on June 4, and he’ll leave from post eight in the field of nine for driver Yannick Gingras (who does have an early “double call” in the race with Lagerfeld). Speaking of Lagerfeld, he and Love Matters, both two-time winners in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes program this season, look to be “Frank”’s main opposition.

Decorum will be the watchword in the seventh race elim, as three of the potentially-fastest of the nine entrants come into the Beal elim off of breaks in their last star: Dayson, Milligan’s School, and Jack Vernon. All have shown the speed that puts them near the top of their class if they are errorless, and a good time to begin their improved behavior would be right here.

$25,000 7TH RACE ELIMINATION: 1, Brooklyn Hill, David Miller, Jonas Czernyson; 2, Dayson, Jim Morrill Jr., Ron Burke; 3, Milligan’s School, Andy Miller, Julie Miller; 4, Jimmy William, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter; 5, Jack Vernon, Tim Tetrick, Randy Beeckman; 6, Dupree, Åke Svanstedt, Åke Svanstedt; 7, Reigning Moni, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 8, Truemass Volo, Eric Goodell, Doug Hamilton; 9, Hollywood Highway, John Campbell, Staffan Lind.

$25,000 9TH RACE ELIMINATION: 1, Dice Man, Åke Svanstedt, Åke Svanstedt; 2, Love Matters, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter; 3, Trolley, Marcus Miller, Erv Miller; 4, Lagerfeld, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 5, Iron Mine Bucky, George Dennis, Greg Haverstick; 6, Bar Hopping, Tim Tetrick, Jimmy Takter; 7, Promise Delivered, Andrew McCarthy, Staffan Lind; 8, Southwind Frank, Gingras also listed, Ron Burke; 9, Leggs Matter, David Miller, Robert W. Clark.

MAX C. HEMPT 3CP (Championship purse $500,000, Saturday eliminations races 3 and 5):

Betting Line, the winner of last Saturday’s $1M North America Cup at Mohawk, was not eligible to the Hempt, but the horse that finished 2-3 in the Cup, Racing Hill and Control The Moment, will be going at Pocono on Saturday, as will fourth-place Cup finisher Boston Red Rocks, last year’s two-year-old champion, and many of the early stars of the state’s tough Pennsylvania-sired contests. These two eliminations look to be fairly wide-open, as the sophomores try to establish early position behind leader pro tem Betting Line as they travel the path towards the Meadowlands Pace, the Battle of the Brandywine, the Little Brown Jug, and the Breeders Crown. (And remember that last year’s Hempt winner went on to have a pretty good 2015 – his name was Wiggle It Jiggleit.)

$25,000 3RD RACE ELIMINATION: 1, Boston Red Rocks, Tim Tetrick, Steve Elliott; 2, JK Will Power, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 3, More Dragon, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 4, Control The Moment, Randy Waples, Brad Maxwell; 5, American Passport, Brian Sears, Tony Alagna; 6, Western Dynasty, Tim Tetrick also listed, Chris Ryder.

$25,000 5TH RACE ELIMINATION: 1, Racing Hill, Brett Miller, Tony Alagna; 2, Tailgunner Hanover, Tim Tetrick, Ray Schnittker; 3, Big Top Hanover, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 4, Katie’s Rocker, David Miller, Jim Campbell; 5, Talk Show, Scott Zeron, Steve Elliott; 6, Western Fame, David Miller also listed, Jimmy Takter; 7, Another Daily Copy, Jim Morrill Jr., Nicholas DeVita.

JAMES LYNCH 3F PACE (Championship purse: $300,000, Saturday eliminations races 6 and 8):

Pure Country was pure perfection as a two-year-old, going undefeated in 10 starts and being named divisional champion. This year, like a typical country song, there have been a few “bumps in the road,” but as trainer Jimmy Takter noted last week, “She’s won the two big races for her group so far” (last Saturday’s $341,640 Fan Hanover Championship at Mohawk, and the $313,800 Miss Pennsylvania Championship here at Pocono). The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, owned by Diamond Creek Racing, is set to have Brett Miller in his accustomed perch in the sulky as the pair start from post three in the nine-horse race eight elimination, with a battle sure to come from Darlinonthebeach, the only horse ever to be favored against Pure Country (in the Miss Pennsylvania final, where she set a lightning pace then tired), and second in the Fan Hanover final.

In the sixth race elim, the Well Said filly I Said Diamonds should draw her fair share of attention from post four, with Matt Kakaley driving for trainer Matias Ruiz and Little Bapa LLC from post four. This “Diamond” was second to Pure Country in the Miss Pennsylvania Championship after winning her elimination, and she also shows 2016 stakes triumphs in the Pennsylvania All-Stars and the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes.

$20,000 6TH RACE ELIMINATION: 1, Shezarealdeal, John Campbell, Ross Croghan; 2, Skinny Dipper, Andrew McCarthy, Ross Croghan; 3, JK Fannie, David Miller, Nancy Johansson; 4, I Said Diamonds, Matt Kakaley, Matias Ruiz; 5, Newborn Sassy, Tim Tetrick, Jo Ann Looney-King; 6, Sail To The Beach, John Campbell also listed, Richard Bilach; 7, Princess Fabulosa, Jim Marohn Jr., Greg White; 8, Terror At Night, Brett Miller, Les Givens; 9, Lindwood Beachgirl, Yannick Gingras, Mark Steacy.

$20,000 8TH RACE ELIMINATION: 1, Kiss Me Onthebeach, John Campbell, Chris Ryder; 2, Yankee Moonshine, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 3, Pure Country, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter; 4, Blue Moon Stride, Andrew McCarthy, Mark Harder; 5, Lyons River Pride, driver TBA, Bruce Goit; 6, Darlinonthebeach, David Miller, Nancy Johansson; 7. Penpal, Pat Lachance, Pat Lachance; 8. Some Fancy Filly, David Miller also listed, Nancy Johansson; 9, Call Me Queen Be, Scott Zeron, Ross Croghan.

ALSO ON THE CARD – a $25,000 winners-over pace in the four-slot, matching Rockeyed Optimist, 18-of-29 the last two years and consistently close against top free-for-allers (including showing a win over Always B Miki in that one’s 2016 bow), and Wakizashi Hanover, a million-dollar winner in his three-year-old form, who was eligible to the Franklin, but is making his 2016 seasonal debut on Saturday. “Wakizashi” adds Lasix as he enters his older form, and trainer Jo Ann Looney-King decided to go into this event rather than throw her pride and joy against the bullyboy FFAers in his bow this season; Tim Tetrick is scheduled for sulky duty behind Wakizashi Hanover from post four in a field of eight, while Rockeyed Optimist starts in post six for driver Brett Miller and trainer Steve Elliott.

First post for this Saturday extravaganza of trotting and pacing prowess is listed at 6:30 p.m.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

May 14-20, 2016

It seems like we are in the middle of a stretch at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono where each week features another brand new batch of huge races. This past week we had the chance to witness the Pennsylvania All-Stars, a series for 3-year-olds from the Keystone State which brought out some of the best sophomore racing talent in the entire nation, lured as they were by the solid $30,000 purses available for each division.

We saw a different class on three consecutive nights. Here are some of the highlights of this batch of Pennsylvania All-Stars races.

SUNDAY: 3-YEAR-OLD PACING COLTS AND GELDINGS

The three divisions held on Sunday night proved that there are many different ways to win a race. In the first split, The Catamount Kid, the even-money favorite after a solid 4th-place finish the previous week in the Pennsylvania Classic, used a pocket trip to come up a winner. Simon Allard did the driving for trainer Carl Jamieson, although it wasn’t easy for The Catamount Kid. It took a career-best mile of 1:51:2 to hold off the extremely game Bully Pulpit by a neck.

The next division provided a display of how to win from off the pace. As even-money favorite JJ Flynn started to lose grasp of his lead late, it appeared that Settlemoir, who was sitting the excellent pocket trip, had the edge to come up for the win. Yet it was Voltaire, an 11-1 shot guided by Tim Tetrick, who revved it up on the outside out of nowhere to win by a neck in a career-best 1:52:2. Trained by Brian Malone, it was Voltaire’s first win since March.

In the final split, Another Daily Copy provided a master’s class on how to control a field on the front end. The colt from the Nicholas Devita barn was aided in that effort by driver Jim Morrill Jr., who expertly rated the pace so that even 4-5 favorite Fernando Hanover couldn’t get past in the stretch. At 5-1, Another Daily Copy came home a solid winner by 1 ¼ lengths in 1:51:2, his first win of the season and a new career-best.

MONDAY: 3-YEAR-OLD PACING FILLIES

Monday night provided a chance for some of the fillies who came up short in the Miss Pennsylvania a few weeks ago to get a bit of redemption. In the first split, Darlinonthebeach, who had been favored in the Miss Pennsylvania after upsetting Pure Country in the elimination but got caught up in blistering fractions and faded to 7th in the final, nearly had bad racing luck doom her chances in the All-Stars race. She had to check while making a brush to the lead around the clubhouse turn. The Nancy Johansson trainee didn’t panic, gathering her wits about her until called on again by David Miller in the stretch. She rolled by as the 4-5 favorite to win by a neck in 1:51:3, pushing her career earnings over $247,000 in the process.

Next up was I Said Diamonds, who had battled to 2nd in the Miss Pennsylvania final despite a #9 post. She was once again on the outside in the All-Stars race, starting furthest out in the field of seven as the 1-2 favorite. By the end of the first turn she had assumed the lead. At the top of the stretch, with competitors starting to loom behind her, she kicked away from her foes with Matt Kakaley in the bike. Trained by Ron Burke, I Said Diamonds continues to impress; she’s hit the board in every one of her nine starts with five victories and earnings topping $245,000.

In the final split, Yankee Moonshine, who was a huge earner as a 2-year-old but missed the Miss Pennsylvania final after finishing fifth in her elimination race, was favored at 7-5. But she never really fired and finished fourth. Instead it was a newcomer to Pocono named Shesasmokinlady who came in from the Meadows and put together an outstanding performance. Fresh off a win in the slop, the filly trained and driven by Ray Paver worked out a pocket trip behind a sizzling pace and came on to win by a neck in the night’s fastest time of 1:50:4 as an 8-5 second choice.

TUESDAY: 3-YEAR-OLD TROTTING FILLIES

The action for the distaff trotters started out on Tuesday night with a split featuring a pair of horses, Pink Pistol and Ginny Weasley, coming off wins in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action. Synonymous Hanover, a 5-1 shot making her first start of the season, took the lead from Ginny Weasley at the half. Pink Pistol broke stride in her first-over attempt, and Ginny Weasley couldn’t get there from the pocket. Instead Brett Miller guided Synonymous Hanover, trained by Chris Oakes, to the win by 1 ¼ lengths in a career-best 1:56.

In the second split, Lookin Sharp was coming off a 5th-place finish in her season debut and was saddled with a #9 post, so it was understandable that she went off as a 6-1 shot. But the filly from the John Butenschoen was also the big earner in the field as a 2-year-old, and she regained that fine form on this night. With David Miller in the bike, Lookin Sharp grabbed the lead an eight of a mile into the race and never looked back from there, dominating the field in 1:55:2, a new career-best time.

As it turns out, it wouldn’t be a good night for Pennsylvania All-Stars favorites. Although Abbie’s Celticlass, the 4-5 favorite in the final split, fared better than the favorites in the first two divisions, both of whom went off-stride, her first-over effort wasn’t enough to get more than the show. Meanwhile Modern Mercury, a filly trained and driven by Charlie Norris coming off a win at Harrah’s at Philadelphia, stepped into the breach and scored the victory on the front end in 1:56:1, ending an exciting week of Pennsylvania All-Stars action.

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.

Weiss Series kicks off with powerful Pacing performances

Monday, April 4th, 2016

Iwillmakeyousaywow lived up to his name, winning one of five $15,000 divisions of the first round of the Bobby Weiss Series for 3-4YO pacing males in 1:51.4 during the first Sunday card of the season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on April 3.

How does a horse record his 14th career win on March 29 in a series whose entry condition is “non-winners of two pari-mutuel races life as of January 1”? You do it primarily by being a tough horse on the Michigan Fair Circuit at two and three, which Iwillmakeyousaywow was, winning his championship event both seasons without anybody cashing a winning ticket on him through his sophomore final. The son of Manhardt, now four, came east and showed a 1:54 tally at Yonkers, but Sunday he lowered his lifetime mark by over two seconds, rattling off splits of 26.1, 55, and 1:23.1 despite the temperature being one degree above freezing in winning by 8 1/2 lengths for driver Tyler Buter, trainer Todd Buter, and owner Kelly Goodwin and Libby Myers.

Options Are Adream visited the winner’s circle for the seventh time in his life after a 1:52.1 mile in another cut, but the answer to “How’d he do that given the series conditions?” is easier – he was unraced at two, but this year at three he is making up for lost time. The altered son of If I Can Dream had won six in a row at Dover, but wasn’t accorded favoritism upon coming to the Downs, going off as the 2-1 second choice to 7-5 chalk Rollaroundtheworld, who had won his only previous start in 1:52.3 at The Meadowlands. Something had to give in the battle of the two undefeated horses, and Options Are Adream used a 27.1 third quarter to brush to the lead and then fend off his main foe by a half-length for driver Corey Callahan, picking up the last-minute catch-drive;  trainer Richard Lewis, and owners David Banks and Layfield Horses LLC.

In another highly-anticipated battle, the Bettor’s Delight sophomore gelding Bettor Memories, coming off a 1:52 Meadowlands win, got the early jump on recent 1:52.4 Downs winner Settlemoir after leaving from a better post, and then kept him at bay in a 56.1 back half to win by 1¾ lengths in 1:52.4. Scott Zeron sulkysat for trainer Nifty Norman and owner Gus Dovi.

The Sportswriter four-year-old gelding Maxdaddy Blue Chip won a qualifier at Philadelphia on Tuesday, and that was a winning formula to have him ready for his seasonal bow five days later, as he brushed to the lead early then held off favored Sentencing Memo in 1:52.2 for driver Brett Miller, trainer Keith Armer, and the Fred Monteleone Stable LLC.

Midnight Lightning, coming off three checkgetting efforts in the Sagamore Hills Series at Yonkers, didn’t let a first-over trip bother him as he won easily in the last cut for males in 1:52.2. Matt Kakaley handled driving duties behind the four-year-old Camluck gelding for trainer Shaun Vallee, who is also co-owner with D P V Racing Stable.

There were also four $15,000 first prelim events for the female Weiss counterparts, and driver David Miller came out of the box hot, winning the first two divisions – one with 24-1 shot, and the other a 2-5 favorite.

In the first race of the night, Miller posted the big upset with Some Fancy Filly, proving the strongest in the last eighth to take a maiden mark of 1:53.2 by a half length over the favored Mystery Writer. Speaking of mysteries, how a daughter of Somebeachsomewhere out of a two-year-old divisional champion (Fancy Filly), trained by the only conditioner to guide a baby pacing filly to Horse of the Year honors (Nancy Johansson with JK She’salady) could pay $50, even in her sophomore seasonal bow, is puzzling, but her backers are happy with their return, and the winner’s owners, Courant A B, now have a filly pacing back to her pedigree.

Miller took the next cut in a more conventional manner, sending the Bettor’s Delight filly Southwind Tango to the lead in the second quarter and rolling home with the chalk from there to take a race mark of 1:54.4. Trainer Chris Ryder saw his own filly make a satisfying 2016 debut.

A first-time starter also reported home in 1:53.2 in upset fashion in another Weiss female cut, as the Dragon Again filly Candy Corn Hanover proved a sweet treat to her scattered 15-1 backers, rallying to win by a nose over favored Albany Girl for driver Matt Kakaley, trainer Travis Alexander, and the Fiddler’s Creek Stables LLC.

The final female cut saw favored Winners Over get sire Bettor’s Delight a third siring credit in Weiss competition Sunday, being the “last horse to the top” at the 3/8 and then fending off a good challenge by Pandaman Sea in the last 1/8 to lower her speed badge to 1:53.4. Mike Simons guided the victorious filly for trainer Michael Sinclair and owner Brianne Good, and hinted she may eventually wind up in the lofty class whose name she bears.

The stars shine at Sun Stakes Saturday Eliminations

Monday, June 29th, 2015

The racing conditions were not pleasant – cool and rainy, the latter making the track “sloppy” – but the horses seeking places in four Championship races on Sun Stakes Saturday, July 4th,  overcame the challenging conditions to earn their spots for the big showdowns seven days hence at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.  The eliminations were held Saturday, June 27th.

BEN FRANKLIN ELIMINATIONS (FFAP)

Two for $30,000; top four plus fastest fifth-place horse return for $500,000 Championship

5YO+ FFA pacing division leader State Treasurer, last most of the way and coming from eighth nearing headstretch, stormed home with a wicked last 1/16 that picked up the entire field in his 1:50.3 elim. Driver David Miller sent the son of Real Desire five-wide in the lane and let his horse do the rest, getting up by a neck over a very durable Dynamic Youth, who was overland for 7 of the race’s 8 furlongs, with Clear Vision and Mach It So taking third and fourth behind the winner, trained by Dr. Ian Moore for owners Sally and Paul Macdonald.

Long-memoried fans who recalled that Luck Be With You won the 2013 2PC Breeders Crown Championship here at Pocono over a sloppy track were rewarded with 6-1 win odds Saturday, as the son of Western Ideal went coast-to-coast in 1:50. “Luck” eliminated luck by laying down fractions of 26, 53.4, and 1:22 in staying safe by 1¾ lengths over 8-5 favorite Vegas Vacation, who had to rally four-wide on the final turn. Captive Audience, last at the ¾, did a masterful bob-and-weave in the lane to be up for a DH3 with Pocono Pike-shooting Domethatagain; Foiled Again, the $7 Million Dollar Man, was fifth after having to travel the last turn three-wide, with his 1:50.2 clocking earning him the last Franklin spot. Luck Be With You’s driver and trainer, George Napolitano Jr. and Chris Oakes respectively, have combined for many an engine victory at Pocono; if they can win next week, neither they nor owner John Craig will be fussy about the path the horse travels.

Brittany Farms bred both Franklin elim winners and was a partner breeder in Artspeak, giving them a temporary tie with Hanover Shoe Farms in breeding three winners (Cruzado Dela Noche, Stacia Hanover, and Wicker Hanover), but then Hanover “reclaimed the lead” with Wakizashi Hanover in the tenth race.

EARL BEAL JR. ELIMINATIONS (3CT)

Three for $25,000; top three return for $500,000 Championship

Uncle Lasse, “not the favorite at 4-5” (how often do you see that phrase?), just caught 3-5* Crazy Wow in the shadow of the wire to take an exciting Beal elim in 1:54. The son of Donato Hanover, trained by Jimmy Takter, sat the pocket, got out behind Crazy Wow as that one raced up uncovered to go to the lead on the far turn, then inexorably gained on his game rival to be along by a head, with Shoot The Thrill another two lengths back in third. Uncle Lasse is undefeated in four seasonal starts for the interlocking owner/breeder combine of Solveig’s Racing Partners/ Solveig’s Breeders.

The Explosive Matter colt Wicker Hanover ($35.20), a double PA Sires winner but yet to prove himself at the highest level, exploded in the last 1/8 to catch 2014 champion Pinkman, heretofore undefeated this year, by a half -length in 1:54.1. Pinkman was sent to the lead early and cut a reasonable pace in the off going, but Wicker Hanover, who had to pause past midturn as his cover Donatomite was the third of the race’s three breakers, regathered and overpowered the champ late for driver Andrew McCarthy, trainer Noel Daley, and owner Christer Haggstrom Racing Stable Inc. Centurion ATM also qualified for the Beal Final, 1 1/2 lengths behind Pinkman and a half-length in front of Pinkman’s stablemate Whom Shall I Fear (the coupled betting entry going down at 1-9*).

A fast pace, and the early break of 2-5 favorite Habitat, helped set up the Muscle Massive colt Cruzado Dela Noche to sweep the field into the far turn and draw off to a 2¼-length victory in 1:53.3 over the two longest shots in the field, Southwind Mozart and Boots N Chains. Cruzado Dela Noche, only a half-length behind Uncle Lasse in a PA Sires event two starts back, took a new lifetime mark with the triumph for driver David Miller, trainer Nancy Johansson, and owner Courant A B as the 3-1 second choice.

MAX C. HEMPT ELIMINATIONS (3CP)

Three for $25,000; top three return for $500,000 Championship

Artspeak set an evenly-rated pace, looked to be threatened at headstretch, but responded gamely late to withstand Pocono Pike challenger In The Arsenal for a 1:50 triumph. The son of Western Ideal, 2YO champion and now 11 for 15 lifetime, made the lead just before the 27 first quarter, and got the middle splits in 55.1 and 1:22.3. But around the final turn first-over Pierce Hanover made a menacing move, and the 8-5 In The Arsenal had been literally breathing down the neck of 3-5* Artspeak’s driver Scott Zeron (winner of half of the first four elim winners). In The Arsenal took a pair of fumbly steps entering the Pike, but then found high gear, and Pierce Hanover just wouldn’t go away, but Artspeak showed his class to dig down and preserve a head margin at the wire, with ”Pierce” only another ¾ of a length behind and also advancing. Artspeak is trained by Tony Alagna for owners Brittany Farms (also co-breeder), Marvin Katz, Joe Sbrocco and the In The Gym Partners.

Wiggle It Jiggleit bounced back nicely after his first career loss, making a move in front of the stands to the front nearing the 5/8 and going on to an in-hand 4 length victory for driver Montrell Teague in 1:50.1. 67-1 National Seelster had the good fortune of the 1-20*’s cover for a quarter-mile, then the bad luck to be left raw, but he fought home gamely to beat early pacesetter Betting Exchange by a neck for the place. The winning altered son of Mr Wiggles is now 12-for-13; Clyde Francis handles the training for George Teague Jr Inc.

Wakizashi Hanover completed a Hempt elim sweep for favorites, rallying in the Pocono Pike to catch Lost For Words by 1½ lengths in 1:50.4. The victorious Dragon Again gelding was three-wide much of a 26.4 opener before making the top, but Lost For Words came from seventh at the quarter with a bold move that carried him to the top past the 55.1 half. Past the 1:22.4 3/4s, the main question seemed to be if there would be a pocket rocket or a sustaining pacesetter, and “Wakizashi” answered the question with his crisp rally, while in his defense Lost For Words, well-clear of third-place A Bettor Hat, had not raced in three weeks, and figureesto be tighter next week. But this, like in the North America Cup Final, was the night for Wakizashi Hanover, who was guided by Tim Tetrick for trainer Joanne Looney-King and the Tri-County Stable (the second straight winner, after State Treasurer, with Maritime connections, and giving Hanover a fourth breeding credit.

JAMES LYNCH ELIMINATIONS (3FP)

Three for $20,000; top three return for $300,000 Championship

The middle and perhaps “featured” Lynch elim was supposed to be another matchup of 2014 Harness Horse of the Year JK She’salady and Sassa Hanover – but nobody told The Show Returns. The second-place finisher in the Fan Hanover despite PP10 at 113-1 was backed down to 9-2 locally, and she rallied for a strong two length victory in 1:51.3. The winning daughter of Rocknroll Hanover shot to the top for John Campbell, yielded to a midrace brush from slight favorite “JK” to sit the pocket, then slipped out on the far turn when Sassa Hanover challenged and went to the lead headstretch. Campbell tipped her wide and went by “Sassa” late, with Single Me third and JK She’salady fading to fifth. Chris Ryder trains the winner for Richard and Joanne Young, whose I Luv The Nitelife set the divisional world record for “f” tracks, 1:48.4, right here.

Stacia Hanover, returning to the races with Lasix after a month layoff, came back sharp for trainer Steve Elliott, making the lead past the 1/8 and going on to a 1¾-length victory for driver Scott Zeron while earning a new speed badge of 1:51.3. Bettor Be Steppin photoed out Wicked Little Minx for second, with both qualifying for the Championship along with the winner, who is owned by David Van Dusen and Michael Cimaglio and was the even-money chalk.

Momas Got A Gun dueled with favored Divine Caroline through the last 3/16, then went past her in deep stretch to take her elim by a half-length in a new mark of 1:51.3. The Somebeachsomewhere filly, making her second move of the race a winning one, was driven by Brett Miller for trainer Virgil Morgan Jr. and owner Geoffrey Martin.  Deli Beach, over 10 lengths out at the half behind a bad gapper, rallied for third and advancement.

FINISHING LINES – Brett Miller, David Miller, and Scott Zeron all had stakes driving doubles; eleven different trainers won the eleven eliminations….As mentioned Hanover had a 4-3 breeders edge over Brittany in a great night for both, while in the siring ranks Western Ideal was the only stud with more than one winning offspring: Stacia Hanover, Artspeak, and Luck Be With You.

Sun Stakes Saturday Eliminations June 27th a star-studded night

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Most of the stars in 2015’s early-season harness firmament will be gathered at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono this Saturday night, June 27th,  with 3YO pacers of both sexes, 3YO trotting colts, and FFA pacers looking to earn spots in the $1.8M “Sun Stakes Saturday” Championship events of their divisional stakes a week from Saturday (July 4). Here’s an early look at each of the four groups of horses competing in this Saturday’s eliminations:

BEN FRANKLIN FREE-FOR-ALL PACE

(two $30,000 eliminations in races 7 and 9, with the top four plus fastest fifth-place horse returning for the $500,000 Championship)

The first Franklin elim is headed by the richest horse in the history of harness racing, Foiled Again, who will be leaving from the middle of the nine-horse field for trainer Ron Burke and driver Yannick Gingras. The evergreen 11YO went over $7M in career earnings in winning the Battle Of Lake Erie on June 12, and of course few will forget his 2013 Pocono campaign, winning the elimination and final of both the Franklin and the Breeders Crown, taking his lifetime mark of 1:48 in the Franklin elim.

The biggest threat to Foiled Again may be Domethatagain, who won the $529,000 Levy Final at Yonkers in April, and who produced a $60 shocker in the Franklin elims last year by nosing out Captaintreacherous  over his “home track” of Pocono. Trained by Rene Allard, Domethatagain will start from post six, with Tim Tetrick the early listing for sulky duty, and he will coupled in the wagering with his Allard barnmate Big Boy Dreams (PP3, driver Brian Sears).

In the second Franklin elim, any number of angles could play out:

–There is the Ron Burke stable coupled entry of Clear Vision (PP4, Brett Miller) and Bettor’s Edge (PP6, Matt Kakaley), who between them have won over $3.85M in their careers;

–There are the last two Pennsylvania Horses of the Year for outstanding performances in Open overnights, Dynamic Youth (2013, PP7, Andrew McCarthy) and Dancin Yankee (2014, PP8, Brett Miller also listed);

–There is another sharp Rene Allard trainee, Bigtown Hero (PP2, brother Simon Allard driving), who has won three straight, and who had half of North America’s 1:20-or-less clockings to the ¾ last year, both of them here at Pocono;

–And there is State Treasurer, recent winner of the Gold Cup at Mohawk and the Molson Pace at London, but who will have to translate his Canadian form to local success after starting from the outermost post nine for driver David Miller.

EARL BEAL JR. 3YO COLT TROT

(three $25,000 eliminations in races 3, 5, and 12, with the top three coming back for the $500,000 Championship)

In the first Beal elim, Habitat (PP3, driver Jim Morrill Jr.) will look to be carrying on his fine 2015 form, with wins in the Dexter Cup and two New York Sire Stakes. Just to his right in the field of six will be Cruzado Dela Noche (David Miller), who was second, beaten only a half-length by Uncle Lasse in a 1:51.4 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes contest at The Meadows at the end of last month.

The second Beal cut will find the most attention on Pinkman (PP5 in a seven-horse field, Brett Miller), 2014 national champion and Breeders Crown winner, and undefeated in 2015, winning a Sire Stakes at each of three of Pennsylvania’s racetracks. Just for good measure, he’ll be coupled in the betting with his Jimmy Takter barnmate Whom Shall I Fear (PP4, Yannick Gingras), the full brother to Pastor Stephen and Father Patrick.

Also to be respected in this division are two recent double Sire Stakes winners, New Jersey’s Guess Whos Back (PP3, Brian Sears) and Pennsylvania’s Wicker Hanover (PP7, Andrew McCarthy).

In the third elimination of the Beal, the current Kings of New York (Crazy Wow) and Pennsylvania (Uncle Lasse) will clash. Crazy Wow (PP2, Yannick Gingras) comes off an open-length score in the Empire Breeders Classic at Vernon, and has shown the ability to repair a mistake with breathtaking speed. Uncle Lasse, saddled with the outside post six for driver Brett Miller, has been to many eyes nearly as impressive in the PA Sires as his Takter stablemate Pinkman, going 3 for 3 and with that 1:51.4 triumph at The Meadows.

MAX C. HEMPT 3YO COLT PACE

(three $25,000 eliminations in races 6, 8, and 10, with the top three coming back for the $500,000 Championship)

The first elim for “the glamour division” matches up last year’s divisional champion Artspeak and his closest 2014 challenger In The Arsenal. Artspeak, starting from post six for driver Scott Zeron, has had four good starts in 2015, although after winning his first two starts in NJSS competition, he “only” had a 2-5 slate in the North American Cup, but in both cases he did not have the easiest of trips. In The Arsenal had opened his year with four straight wins, including an NA Cup elim, before finishing fourth in the final; here he may have a slight positional advantage as he begins from post four in the field of nine, with Brian Sears listed to drive.

The middle Hempt heat has at its center (literally, as he begins from post five) the speedy Wiggle It Jiggleit. The colt had shown amazing speed in taking his lone start of 2014 and all 10 of his 2015 starts prior to the NA Cup Final, but cutting a searing pace of 25.1, 53.3, and 1:21 proved just a bit too much, although he held gamely to miss by only ¾ of a length to Wakizashi Hanover in a sterling 1:48.

Wakizashi Hanover, who will begin from post four in a field of eight for driver Tim Tetrick in the third elimination, had tipped his hand with a strong 4-3-1-0 opening to this year’s campaign in Pennsylvania, and then conquered all in Toronto, coming from behind to take his elim and then being a successful pocket rocket in the Final. He’ll face a major challenge here from Lost For Words (David Miller), undefeated in four 2015 starts and winning thrice in the Pa Sires; his challenges will be a three-week vacation and post seven.

JAMES LYNCH 3YO FILLY PACE

(three $20,000 eliminations in races 4, 11, and 13, with the top three coming back for the $300,000 Championship)

The first elim for the Lynch features the 2-3 finishers in the $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Championship for this division, with Stacia Hanover, who missed a neck in finishing second, returning with first-time Lasix as she begins from PP6 in the seven-horse assemblage for driver Scott Zeron, while Wicked Little Minx (PP4, Brett Miller) was only a length from taking it all in the Jersey finale.

Wicked Little Minx is trained by Nancy Johansson, the daughter of Jimmy Takter, and Johansson also conditions the main horse of interest in the second elimination, JK She’salady (PP1 in a field of eight, Tim Tetrick). The “Lady” was undefeated in a 12-race campaign to become the first 2PF to be elected Harness Horse of the Year, but this race represents her first possible crossroads, since she comes off a

4-5 pair of starts in the Fan Hanover at Mohawk the last two weeks. Sassa Hanover (PP4, Yannick Gingras), a Fan Hanover elim winner, and The Show Returns (PP6, John Campbell), second in the Fan Hanover final, should provide challenging competition.

Two horses from the huge barn of Ron Burke, uncoupled in the betting because of separate ownership, will get their fair share of attention in the third Lynch elim. Southwind Roulette, named co-Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Horse of the Year in 2014, starts from post two for Matt Kakaley after two seconds and a third, beaten a total of 1¼ lengths, in recent Pennsylvania stakes competition, while Happiness (PP5 in the seven-horse field, Yannick Gingras), shows a New Jersey Sires win, and was fourth in the NJSS final.

The first race on the monstrous, in quality and quantity (16 races), Saturday card at Pocono is 6:30 p.m.