Posts Tagged ‘Neal Ehrhart’

Opening Night Take 2 for the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

The Standardbred trotters and pacers will begin their 52nd season of pari-mutuel harness racing in northeast Pennsylvania this Tuesday evening, March 21, as The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono will present the first of 135 cards of the sulky sport scheduled for 2017, with Tuesday’s first race marked for 6:30 p.m.

The racing was set to begin on Saturday night the 18th, but two feet of snow at the mountain oval this past Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by high winds that caused considerable drifting in places, put paid to that idea, as for the safety of the horses and horsemen it was imperative to do a thorough job of track preparation, and thus the opener was pushed back until Tuesday.

The highlight of the 2017 Pocono season will come on Saturday, July 1, with the $2 million+ Sun Stakes Saturday card, which annually draws the sport’s best horses over several of the major categories. It was recently announced that Wiggle It Jiggleit, 2015 Harness Horse of the Year at age three and the fierce seasonlong rival of 2016 Harness Horse of the Year Always B Miki, will make his debut for the year in the Franklin Pace elimination races, to be held on Saturday, June 24.

And speaking of Wiggle It Jiggleit – the very first race of the 2017 racing season at Pocono, a $14,000 pace for “non-winners of three races or $30,000 lifetime,” is likely to have as its chalk, starting from post three, a stablemate to “Wiggle,” from the Bergstein/Proximity Award-winning Team Teague of owner George, driver Montrell, and trainer Clyde Francis. This three-year-old Delmarvalous gelding – who is 3 for 4 in his brief career – is named Nine Ways (nine is of course three times three), and his fastest win is in 1:53. (That’s a lot of coincidental numerology.)

The fifth race companion “nw 3” trotting event to the opener finds the sophomore filly Gin’s Tonic drawing the rail as she makes her first start of the year for local trainer Neal Ehrhart. The daughter of Muscle Massive had only one victory at two, but she picked a fine spot to notch it – in a division of the Keystone Classic at The Meadows, where she earned a mark of 1:56.3.

Older campaigners will be spotlighted in a pair of $12,500 events. The ninth race trot finds veterans ABC Muscles Boy and My Love Bi, who both took their 2016 marks of 1:53.3 at Pocono, coming into this race off promising early-season form, while the tenth race mares pace sports no fewer than six distaffs who have won since February 1, all of them in 1:54.1 or better in all kinds of wintry conditions.

Pocono’s all-time driving champion George Napolitano Jr. will be on the scene from opening night, coming up from Florida, where he already has shown himself in “midseason form” with a 27% win rate; his brother Anthony, second in the standings last year, will also have a full driving schedule from the word “go.”

The basic racing schedule at Pocono follows a Saturday through Tuesday basis, with first post at 6:30 except on Sundays, when the action starts an hour later. After Tuesday the 21st, Pocono is scheduled to race on Saturday-Sunday-Tuesday of the “following racing week” (March 25-28), with Mondays joining the mix on April 10.

A press conference/luncheon will be held at the track at 12 noon on Monday, with Pocono officials and horsemen on hand to take part in a preview of what should be a quality season of racing at The Downs. Pocono’s person of contact for media is Jennifer Starr, 570.831.2195.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week in Review

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

June 6-12, 2015

It was bound to happen. As impressive as the times on The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono’s track records page might be, each year several of those records fall by the wayside. It took nearly 2 ½ months for any horse to match or break one of those lofty standards this season, which was a bit surprising considering the caliber of horses we’ve seen so far this year. 2015’s first incursion into the records page came on Saturday night, and the horse that came up big leads us off in this edition of the Weekly Awards.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: FRAU BLUCHER

The crowd was still abuzz following the Triple Crown victory of American Pharaoh early Saturday evening when a pack of Open trotters hit the track to restart Pocono’s harness racing program, which had begun earlier in the afternoon. The 1-2 favorite was Daylon Miracle, a mare fresh off a Preferred win at the Meadows against other distaffers. Frau Blucher, the other mare in the field, got away as the 9-5 second choice, as she was stepping up in class after a condition win in the slop on May 30 in an unhurried 1:55.

Frau Blucher was a superstar as a 2 and 3-year-old for trainer Chris Oakes, earning over $900,000 in those two seasons. Her 4-year-old season included a world record for her age group when she won at Pocono in 1:51:2, but that was just one of two wins she managed all year in just nine races. Her five-year-old season included just one start prior to that May 30 win, and she went off-stride in that one.

But on Saturday night, she showed just how dangerous she could be in top form. Driver George Napolitano Jr. sent her to the front end early and didn’t have much pressure to the half-mile marker, which allowed him to rate her conservatively. Frau Blucher put on a show in the second half of the mile, keeping the pursuit at bay and eventually closing in :27:4 to win by 1 ¼ lengths over Possessed Fashion. The winning time of 1:51:4 matched the track record for aged trotting mares, which had previously been shared by Beatgoeson Hanover and In Your Room. Frau Blucher now joins male trotting superstar Father Patrick as the only horses to occupy two spots on the Pocono track record page.

Other top trotters this week include: Schalom G (George Napolitano Jr., Neal Ehrhart), who moved up in class on Tuesday night to score his second straight condition win, this one in 1:54:4; Rossini (Jason Bartlett, Jim Raymer), who powered to a condition victory on Saturday night in 1:53:1; and Raise The Curtain (Jason Bartlett, Timothy Lancaster), who rallied Wednesday night for his second straight condition win on Wednesday night in a career-best 1:54:1.

PACER OF THE WEEK: BIG BOY DREAMS

The barn of Pocono’s leading trainer Rene Allard never seems to run out of pacers able to compete at the highest levels. Already in 2015 we’ve seen Domethatagain and Sparky Mark take Pacer of the Week honors for their exploits in Open and condition paces at Pocono. Big Boy Dreams had hopes he could join them on Saturday night in a $30,000 Open pace.

This 4-year-old stallion raced once at Pocono in April, finishing a close 3rd in a condition pace. He then went to Canada for two races in the Confederation Cup, finishing 3rd in the big-money final, and followed that up with an Open Handicap victory at Yonkers. On Saturday night, Big Boy Dreams rolled to the front end with Simon Allard in the bike, and when he made it to the half in :55:3 on a night when the wind was helping horses in the front stretch, you knew he was going to be tough to catch.

Big Boy Dreams turned on the jets in the second half of the mile and stayed strong to the finish line. He ended up winning by a length in 1:49:4, a new career-best, over Texican N, giving him two consecutive wins over Open competition. He has a lot of competition in his barn for accolades, but Big Boy Dreams is racing as well as any of his stablemates right now, which is high praise indeed.

Honorable mention on the pacing side includes: McKenry (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), a 3-year-old who picked up his second straight condition victory on Tuesday night, this time in a career-best 1:51:4; Caviart Shelley (Jim Morrill Jr., Ron Burke), a mare who ripped off her fifth straight condition win on Wednesday night in a career-best time of 1:50:4; and Cloris Hanover (Tyler Buter, Todd Buter), who won a condition pace against other mares with ease for the second straight week, doing it in a time of 1:51.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: INTERNAL CHECK

This pacing mare, with Jim Morrill Jr. driving, rallied from way back on the outside to upend a claiming handicap field on Wednesday night at 22-1, paying off $47.60 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

This was a typical George Nap week, as he hit double digits in wins over the four racing nights and chalked up five victories against the elite competition on Saturday night.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: KEVIN CARR

Carr’s training average at Pocono has been solid for several years running, and she showed off his wares with back-to-back winners on the card 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.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

August 22-28, 2014

On Saturday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, we were lucky enough to have two $25,000 Preferred races on the card, one each for the trotters and pacers. As if often the case, those Preferred races, gathering such brilliant talent as they tend to do, produced thrilling outcomes and our three major award-winners for the week. That’s right, I said three. Read on and see how this is possible as we hand out the Weekly Awards.

PACERS OF THE WEEK: MACH IT SO and GOLDEN RECEIVER

There are a lot of close finishes in harness racing, but relatively few dead heats. After all, the chances of two horses travelling the distance of a mile and arriving at the finish line at exactly the same time so that they inseparable when the finish line is viewed in a photo, is pretty rare. It’s always a kick when it happens, but, when it happens between two horses the caliber of Mach It So and Golden Receiver, it’s a special treat.

On Saturday night, those two star pacers were lined up alongside each other in the Preferred pace. Golden Receiver, a former Pacer of the Year at Pocono, came in slumping a bit, but with career earnings of over $2.1 million, he’s always a major threat. Mach It So came in at the top of his game, having won two straight, including a Preferred at Pocono on August 2.

It looked as though it would be the hot horse’s night when Mach It So, driven by Andrew McCarthy for trainer PJ Fraley, took over the lead in the stretch with a huge first-over move. But Golden Receiver, with Simon Allard driving for trainer Jake Huff, suddenly surged on the inside. The two hit the line together and the photo couldn’t separate them, so they shared the victory in 1:49:4. In a bizarre twist, two other horses in the race, Word Power and Big Time Promise, finished in their own dead heat for fifth place. Wacky, wonderful stuff in the week’s featured race.

Other top pacers this week include: Bolt The Duer (Mark MacDonald, Peter Foley), the standout veteran who won his second straight condition pace on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:50; Giveittoemstaight (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), a mare who rolled to her second straight condition win on Friday night and matched her career mark of 1:50:4 in the process; and Flying Cowboy (Andrew McCarthy, Matias Ruiz), whose career-best win in 1:50:4 in a claiming handicap on Wednesday night was his third consecutive victory.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: MAVEN

In the trotting game, fillies of ages two and three usually get the chance to compete against each other a large majority of the time. Once they hit age four though and officially become mares, the opportunities to face their own gender exclusively start to dry out. Some stakes races still dot the schedule, but most tracks don’t offer overnight races for only distaff trotters over age four. That means they have to go up against the boys every once in a while.

For a trotter as talented as Maven, a 5-year-old mare from the Jonas Czernyson barn who has pretty much conquered all comers to this point in her career, such a prospect isn’t all that daunting. Even in a race like Saturday night’s Preferred Handicap trot, which featured some tough veteran male trotters like Not Afraid and Sevruga, the mare raced with extreme confidence.

With Mark MacDonald in the bike, Maven made a huge move on the outside late to take over the lead, holding off Waiting On A Woman by a length for the win. It was just her second victory of the year, coming in a scorching 1:52:3, but it pushed her career earnings up near $1.5 million. There’s a lot more money to be earned by this standout, probably some of it at the expense of her male counterparts.

Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: Amigo Ranger (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), whose condition victory on Tuesday night in 1:52:3 was a career-best and matched the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; Donatomite (Trond Smedshammer trainer and driver), who stayed unbeaten after three career starts as a 2-year-old with a Stallion Series win on Tuesday night in 1:54:4; and Billy Flynn ( Brett Miller, Staffan Lind), a two-year-old who now has six wins in six tries after a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes win on Wednesday night in a career-best 1:55:4.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: G NOTE

This 2-year-old filly made quite an auspicious debut with Andrew McCarthy in the bike, upsetting the field in Tuesday night’s final race at 30-1 to pay off $62.60 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY NAPOLITANO

With driving doubles on Sunday and Tuesday highlighting another fine week at the races, A-Nap became the latest driver to earn 100 victories in the 2014 meet at Pocono.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: NEAL EHRHART

Ehrhart pulled off quite the training double on Tuesday night, scoring first with 14-1 shot Guilford and then adding Fool’s Revenue later in the night at 15-1.

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

Monday, November 4th, 2013

October 25-November 1, 2013

With the Breeders Crown in our rear view and November now upon us, it means that we have officially hit the home stretch of the 2013 season at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Before we can wrap things up, we still have a few more weeks of exciting racing action to finish. This past week there were some excellent performances even with the temperatures dropping. Here are the best of those in the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: HERE WE GO AGAIN

An outstanding field of nine headed to the gate in Saturday night’s featured $25,000 Preferred pace, including several horses who have been on torrid hot steaks. Here We Go Again was one of those horses. He came in off five straight in the money. The 6-year-old gelding from the barn of PJ Fraley had been particularly tough at Pocono, winning back-to-back condition paces in his previous two circuits of the track.

Saturday night was his first try in the Preferred class though, which meant he would be facing the very best pacers on the grounds. Driver Eric Ledford raced him aggressively, setting nasty fractions in the chilly temperatures that seemed destined to catch up with him in the race. Come the stretch, however, he was still winging it.

Things got real tight in the final strides when pocket horse Townslight Hanover, who had been tracking with an excellent trip, came firing. The two pacesetters hit the line together, but it was Here We Go Again who took the photo by a nose. He paced the mile in 1:50, giving him four wins in his last six races and an improving reputation as some of the finest pacers in the East.

Other top pacers include: Easton Bound (Matt Kakaley, Chris Oakes), a fast-improving 3-year-old, who won his second straight condition pace on Friday and third in his last four overall, this one coming in a time of 1:54:1; Keystone Neptune (George Napolitano Jr., Rene Allard), who won his second straight $20,000 claimer, this one in 1:52, giving him five wins in his last eight; and A Sweet Ride (Andrew McCarthy, Aaron Lambert), who chalked up a condition win on Saturday night in 1:49:4, the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: PAULA’S BRADY

This 7-year-old gelding has been one of the most consistent lower-priced trotters at Pocono for much of the meet, and he’s been coming into his best stride of late. He scored back-to-back $10,000 claiming victories in come-from-behind fashion to start off the month of October. In his last race, he started a bit slow, finishing third as an even-money favorite.

He was back at it again on Tuesday night in the same class trying to avenge his loss, this time with Anthony Napolitano in the bike for trainer Scott Osterhout. Paula’s Brady nearly got boxed in on the inside behind the leaders, but Napolitano found him some room behind cover on the outside before the gap closed. He followed that cover until the stretch.

It was an exciting three-way battle for the win in the closing moments. At times Paula’s Brady seemed like he was going to come up just a bit short. But Napolitano coaxed just enough out of him as the line approached for a razor-thin victory in 1:56. That gives him three wins in his last four races, quite the hot stretch for this veteran trotter as the season winds down.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Affirmed Action (Mike Simons, John Grasso), whose condition victory on Friday night came in the week’s fastest trotting time of 1:53:4; Schalom G (George Napolitano Jr., Neal Ehrhart), who captured a tough condition trot on Saturday night in 1:55; and Southwind Warsaw (Matt Kakaley, Brewer Adams), who scored a victory in Tuesday night’s featured claiming handicap trot in a career-best 1:54:1.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: TAYLOR C

Despite going off at 31-1, this claiming pacer with Anthony Napolitano in the bike made a couple of speed moves on Friday night and came up a winner for a $65.20 win payout.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ERIC LEDFORD

Ledford doesn’t stop in at Pocono very often, but he might want to be a more frequent visitor after picking up three victories for trainer PJ Fraley on Saturday night.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: PAUL HOLZMAN

Another solid performer from the deep Pocono training community, Holzman had a good week  with single wins on Friday and 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.

 

 

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

May 11-17, 2012

The action at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs has been great all season long, but the last few weeks have been particularly fine, highlighted by the first track records of the season. With the first Sire Stakes of the season in the offing, the racing is bound to get even hotter in the weeks to come. In the meantime, let’s dive into this edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: TRANSCENDING

This 8-year-old stallion from the Ron Burke barn has been a top performer for several years. Consistency is the name of his game, as he has hit the board in more than half of his 156 career starts, most of which came against the finest pacing competition at Pocono and other Eastern tracks. His effort Saturday night, however, is one that will stand out in his illustrious career.

Facing an excellent field of condition pacers, Transcending worked out an excellent trip behind a raging speed duel between American Rage and Mickey Hanover. As the fractions got faster and faster, Matt Kakaley sat tight with the stallion, waiting for his opportunity to explode.

That opportunity came in the stretch, as he battled American Rage through the lane right to the finish line. When the dust cleared, Transcending was on top by a nose in a ridiculous time in 1:48:2. That was not only his new career-best, but it matched the Pocono track mark for aged stallions on the pace, previously set by Vlos in October of 2010.

Other top pacers this week include: Hurrikane Scotty J (Joe Pavia Jr., Chris Oakes), who stepped up in class on Saturday night to conquer the $20,000 claimers, his third straight win, in a new career-best time of 1:51:1; Fearlesss Diablo (Andrew McCarthy, Dylan Davis), who kept his winning streak alive after returning from Harrah’s with a condition victory on Saturday night, his third straight, in 1:51:3; and Billmar Scooter (Tyler Buter, Amber Buter), who beat the best mares on the grounds for a second straight week on Tuesday in 1:51.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: KEYSTONE TORCH

Many times in this column, the Pacers and Trotters of the Week come from the highest ranks of the conditions and claimers. Every once in a while, a horse from some of the more modest ranks puts together a string of racing that just can’t be ignored. Such is the excellent stretch of racing that Keystone Torch has assembled the past month.

Even at age 11, this gelding has been impossible to beat in the $7,500 claimers since arriving at Pocono from Harrah’s. He reeled off three straight wins for trainer Jennifer Sabot as soon as he hit the MSPD racing surface, only to be claimed following his win on May 4. That meant that Friday night he was heading to a gate for a new trainer, Chris Oakes.

None of that mattered once the gate sped away and Keystone Torch got to the front end. Nobody could get to him and driver George Napolitano Jr., and he coasted to the victory by 1 ¼ lengths in 1:57:1. That makes 4 in a row for the veteran, the longest winning streak at Pocono so far in the 2012 meet.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Fox Valley Iliad (Tom Jackson, Kimberly Asher), who, after winning Trotter of the Week honors for setting a track record last week, went even faster in his victory in the week’s featured trot on Saturday night, setting a mark of 1:52, which is a new world record for 4-year-old stallions on the trot; Marion Miss Julie (Eric Carlson, Neal Ehrhart), who switched barns and had to deal with the far outside post but still scored his second straight claiming handicap win on Saturday night in 1:54:3; and Bayside Volo (Matt Kakaley, Chris Oakes), who once again moved up in class and switched barns but still won his third straight on Tuesday night in 1:54:4.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: LOCO FOR COCOA

He’s got a great name, and the colt had the game to match on Tuesday night, picking up his maiden win with John Kakaley in the bike at 26-1, paying off $54.60 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ERIC CARLSON

It seems like every year a new driver breaks into the Pocono driving colony and makes a splash. Carlson seems to be fitting that bill for 2012 after five driving wins last weekend.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: CHRIS OAKES

Once again, Oakes is among the best trainers at Pocono. He’s been red hot early in the season, and he knocked out a training double on Saturday night on his way to a five-win week.

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.