Posts Tagged ‘Neal Erhart’

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Friday, June 13th, 2014

June 7-13, 2014

With a day-night doubleheader on Belmont Stakes day, this past week featured five live racing cards at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Filling up those cards was no problem, as Pocono welcomed a bunch of shippers from other tracks to go up against the holdovers who have already established themselves throughout the first couple months of the meet. This made for a thrilling week of racing, the best performances of which we now honor by handing out the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: STEELHEAD HANOVER

This 5-year-old stallion from the Joe Pavia Jr. barn came into Saturday night’s condition pace for non-winners of $22,500 in the last five starts with wins in two of the three starts he made at Pocono in 2014. In a victory on May 31, Steelhead Hanover benefitted from a comfortable trip which allowed him to stay on the inside for much of the mile before rallying late for a victory in 1:50:2.

When a horse enjoys a trip like that, it’s natural to be skeptical if it can have the same success without that kind of relaxing journey. Add that to the fact that Steelhead Hanover was moving up in class, and he seemed more likely to struggle this time around. Yet Pavia, who also did the driving, attacked early with his stallion, taking the lead and setting imposing fractions.

There was no help for Steelhead Hanover on this night, and he made it clear by his stellar performance that he didn’t need any. He didn’t let up on the front end until he crossed the finish line a length-and-a-half in front of his nearest foe in 1:48:3. That time not only now stands as the fastest of the stallion’s career, but it was faster than anybody else paced this past week at Pocono.

Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: Meirs Hanover (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who moved way up the condition ladder on Saturday night with no sweat, scoring his second straight victory in 1:49:3; Ahead Ofthe Curve (George Napolitano Jr., Paul Holzman), who moved up in class and still managed his third straight claiming victory on Saturday night, beating a field of $20,000 claimers in 1:50:1; and Aracache Hanover (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who won the week’s featured pace, Saturday night’s $25,000 Preferred Handicap, in 1:49.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: LUV YA TYLER

It’s unusual for a horse to win as a significant long shot in consecutive weeks. One of two things usually happens: Either the horse’s performance in his first long shot win is so impressive that it gets a lot more attention at the windows the following week, or, if it is still a long shot the second time around, the law of averages catches up to it and it comes up short.

Somebody should tell that to Luv Ya Tyler, a 7-year-old gelding who had been winless in eight races this year before a claim put him in the barn of trainer Neal Ehrhart. In his first start in the new barn, the gelding went off at 20-1 against a field of $15,000 claimers but rallied for the victory in a career-best 1:54:2.

Once again on Tuesday night, he wasn’t given much of chance at the tote board when he moved up in class to face a $20,000-$25,000 claiming handicap class. All the outside speed in the race eventually wore itself out, leaving room for a closer to steal the race. Luv Ya Tyler, at 19-1 this time around, sat back off the fast fractions early and, with Mike Simons in the bike, came up flying for the victory in 1:54:2, matching that career-best from a week previous. After two straight wins, the odds he’ll need to defy probably won’t be quite so long the next time around.

Other top trotters this week include: Song Of Virtue (Joe Pavia Jr., Jennifer Sabot), a mare who picked up her second straight win over the $7,500 claimers on Saturday morning and did so in a new career-best time of 1:56:2; P L Fantastic (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who burned up the track in a condition win and matched the week’s fastest trotting time on Tuesday night with a victory in 1:53:3; and Revrac Harbour (Scot Zeron, Tony Alagna), who picked up his second straight win at Pocono on Wednesday night, this coming in Stallion Series action in 1:55:4.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ZIP IT LOCK IT

Tyler Buter has been aboard several huge long shots this year, but none was as big a bomber as this pacing mare on Wednesday night at 75-1 for a $158 payout on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: SCOTT ZERON

This newcomer to the Pocono racing wars has been improving as he gets acclimated to his new surroundings, and five combined wins on Tuesday and Wednesday prove he’s becoming a major factor.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: KEVIN CARR

With a win on Sunday and two more victories on Tuesday night, Carr made a significant jump this week in the Pocono training standings.

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

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

June 7-13, 2013

This is the time of year at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs when we move to a schedule of five nights per week, meaning that there are more outstanding performances to sift through when choosing the Weekly Awards. This is also the time of year when it seems like not a week goes by without some sort of assault on either a Pocono track record or even a world record. One of those special performances on Saturday night is the obvious choice to kick off our Weekly Awards.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: UNCLE PETER

Harness racing can be a funny sport, because there are certain occasions when a horse’s record doesn’t really have much bearing on the race. Take, for example, Saturday night’s $25,000 Preferred trot, where Uncle Peter came in as the favorite despite having won just once in five tries in 2013. A closer inspection of that record shows that the competition that the 4-year-old stallion from the Jimmy Takter barn had faced so far this season had been top-notch.

Uncle Peter definitely had unfinished business at Pocono, considering that he had raced in Preferred company twice in April and had come up just short. In his return on Saturday night, he decided to put any doubts the Pocono faithful might have had about his credibility to rest by going the biggest mile he could possibly manage.

With Jim Morrill Jr. in the bike, Uncle Peter surged to the front end on the front stretch and romped away from the excellent competition from that point to win by four lengths. The winning time of 1:51:1 was astounding, breaking not just the Pocono mark for 4-year-old stallions on the trot but also the world record for the age group. It was also the third-fastest mile ever trotted at Pocono, proving that Uncle Peter is one of the best trotters around no matter what his win-loss record says.

Other top trotters this week include: Luv Ya Tyler (George Napolitano Jr., Neal Ehrhart), who chugged through the slop on Friday night to his second straight condition victory, this one coming in 1:55:4; Quantum Cashman (Jonathan Drury, Carmen Auciello), who followed up a win in Canada with a claiming handicap victory on Tuesday night in a career-best 1:55:3; and Upfront Billy (George Napolitano Jr., Mark Ford) who now has two straight wins, one at the Meadowlands at one in Wednesday night’s featured condition trot at Pocono in 1:53.

PACER OF THE WEEK: BUCK STOPS HERE

Some horses get on such a hot streak that they find their way to the line even when it doesn’t seem possible. Buck Stops Here is on just such a streak. The mare has really been on that roll all year long, as she came into Wednesday night’s $15,000-$20,000 claiming handicap pace for mares having won six of her last seven races. She was four for her first five since arriving at Pocono, and her last two wins came from the outside post.

The winning streak has been even more impressive for the fact that she’s been claimed in each of her five starts since coming to Pocono. The 5-year-old mare joined the Jason Robinson barn for Wednesday night’s contest, which once again had her dealing with an outside post. George Napolitano Jr. took her to the front early, and Buck Stops Here had to set imposing fractions just to repel the pressure to her outside.

In the stretch, closers came at her on both sides, and it seemed like she was bound to succumb. But Buck Stops Here, riding that outstanding streak, found her way to the line for a win by a nose in 1:52. She was claimed again after the race, and she’ll probably be on the outside should she face the same class again next week. But the way she’s going right now, I know I wouldn’t bet against her.

Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: Jepson Hanover (Andrew McCarthy, PJ Fraley), who rallied late to win Saturday night’s $25,000 Preferred pace in a career-best 1:49:1; Erle Dale N (Andrew McCarthy, Darran Cassar), who made his second start in the U.S. a memorable one on Saturday night, winning a condition pace in a sizzling 1:49, fastest pacing time of the week at MSPD; and Queen Of Royalty (Tyler Buter, Allen Sisco), a mare who won her third straight on Wednesday night in a condition trot in 1:51:3 and moved up in class to do so.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: FRISKY STRIKE

In a rugged claiming handicap trot on Saturday night, this mare came up late to upend the favorites at 37-1 with Anthony Napolitano in the bike, triggering a $76.40 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JOE PAVIA JR.

Pavia had one of his best weeks of the season to date this past week, picking up wins in four racing nights and scoring a driving triple on Sunday.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JASON ROBINSON

He’s been one of our top percentage trainers at Pocono for the past few seasons, and he had an excellent week just past, scoring three training wins.

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

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Friday, August 24th, 2012

August 17-23, 2012

Each week I hand out the Weekly Awards for the racing at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, and each week it gets harder and harder to narrow it down to just a few select horses and horsemen. That’s a testament to how competitive the racing has been this season. This week was typically tough to make my selections, but I gave it a shot anyway, knowing that some worthy horses, drivers, and trainers are going to be left out.

PACER OF THE WEEK: TOUCH THE ROCK

One of the most difficult feats for a horse to accomplish in the sport of harness racing is to come back strong after a peak performance. Such was the daunting task before Touch The Rock, a five-year-old gelding from the barn of James Eaton. The gelding was coming off a condition win on August 4 in 1:49:2, a sizzling time that was a new career-best.

To make things even tougher, Touch The Rock moved up into a tougher condition group on Saturday night and had to deal with the #7 post position, not exactly prime real estate. In the past, the gelding has had difficulty stringing together good races, but he was ready to turn the page this week.

Driver Tyler Buter kept him away from a sizzling early pace before setting him in motion on the outside on the back stretch. Spinning wide off cover to go four-wide in the stretch, Touch The Rock grooved right past the leaders in the lane to get the win in 1:49:4, becoming that rare horse at Pocono to win back-to-back races in sub-1:50 times.

Other top pacers this week include: Grandstand Hitter (Ron Pierce, Douglas Berkeley), who continued his amazing climb up the claiming ladder with a victory on Saturday night, his fourth straight, in 1:51:1; Townslight Hanover (Andrew McCarthy, Aaron Lambert), who came flying late to win Saturday night’s feature pace in 1:48:4, a new career-best, fastest time of the week, and just one-fifth of a second off a track record for 4-year-old geldings; and Mcsocks (George Napolitano Jr., Jason Robinson), who ripped off his third straight gate-to-wire win over the $25,000 claimers on Saturday night, this one in 1:51:1.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: OPENING NIGHT

It’s always interesting to see how a horse that was decorated as an underclassman does when it moves up to face older horses exclusively. Opening Night had a marvelous 3-year-old season, earning in excess of $540,000, much of it coming in stakes competition against his own age. His 4-year-old campaign hasn’t been quite as lucrative, but he has been rounding into form of late.

The stallion showed his mettle earlier in the season with back-to-back wins at Pocono and Harrah’s, and he was trying to pick up his second straight victory at MSPD on Sunday night after a nice condition win on August 12. This time around though, Opening Night, trained by Jim Campbell, had to face off with the toughest trotters on the grounds in the week’s featured trot for $25,000.

Going for big stakes is nothing new for this trotter, so Opening Night was more than ready for this tough assignment. Benefitting from an excellent trip in the pocket, the stallion waited until driver Matt Kakaley urged him by his foes in the stretch for the victory in 1:53:3. It seems like this trotter is adjusting to life as an upperclassman quite nicely.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Emily Do (Tyler Buter, Bill MacKenzie), a mare who jumped up in class and scored her second straight claiming win on Sunday night in 1:56:1; Zooming (Jason Bartlett, Erv Miller), who dominated a condition group on Sunday night for a victory in 1:53, the fastest trotting time of the week; and Idadazzle (Joe Pavia Jr., Gareth Dowse), whose claiming victory on Tuesday night in 1:57 was his second straight and 14th win of the season.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: TATTLE TELL TEEN

In one of our biggest shockers this season, Tattle Tell Teen, with Howard Parker in the pike, rallied from way back for a condition pacing win on Friday night at 95-1 for a $193.20 payout on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ERIC CARLSON

Carlson has really found his groove in his first season at Pocono, and he showed his comfort level by ripping off a combined seven wins on Friday and Saturday night.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: NEAL EHRHART

Ehrhart has been a factor at Pocono for several seasons now; his training double on Friday night highlighted a week that included three wins overall.

That will do it for this week. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.