Posts Tagged ‘Not Afraid’

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Monday, November 10th, 2014

October 31-November 6, 2014

Well, folks, we have almost reached that point in the racing season at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs when it’s time to sum up all that we’ve seen. Next week we’ll take a look in this space at the top horses of the year and then we’ll follow that up the week after with a wrap-up of the entire 2014 season. For now, let’s take the time to hand out our last set of Weekly Awards for this racing campaign.

PACER OF THE WEEK: MCBOOGIE

This five-year-old gelding has been on a tear lately, turning what was looking like a lost season into the best year of his career. McBoogie had just one win in eight wins when he lined up for a $10,000 claimer on September 17, but he rolled that night to a victory in 1:52:1. After a sluggish 5th-place effort in his follow-up race, he took off with wins in his next three in a row, one of which came in a career-best time of 1:50:4.

In the middle of that streak he moved up from the $10,000 claimers to the $15,000 claimers. He also switched barns, joining trainer Dean Eckley’s stable in the middle of October. On Saturday night he looked to keep his outstanding stretch of races going by taking on the $15,000 claimers as the 2-5 favorite. When he briefly lost the lead around the first turn, driver George Napolitano Jr. sent him right back to the front end with a quick brush.

From there, he held strong, although he eventually faced a stiff challenge from Woodmere Ultimate in the home stretch. McBoogie showed the fortitude that’s been a hallmark of his recent stretch of racing, digging in to hold on by a neck in 1:51:3. That makes four wins in a row and five out of six. This gelding is turning it on when most horses are shutting it down.

Other top pacers include: Ahead Ofthe Curve (Anthony Napolitano, Paul Holzman), who churned his way to his second straight claiming handicap victory, this one in 1:52, on Saturday night; Yagonnakissmeornot (Ron Pierce, Rene Allard), who overcame an outside post to storm her way to victory in Saturday night’s featured Open Handicap for mares in 1:50:1; and Fie Fy Fo (Anthony Napolitano, Chris Oakes), a 2-year-old filly who burned her way to her second straight condition victory on Tuesday night, this one coming in 1:54:1.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: OPENING NIGHT

There were some tough customers in Saturday night’s $35,000 Open Handicap trot. Not Afraid won in Preferred company the last time he was at Pocono, Tirade Hanover had ripped off wins in his last five races, and Backstreet Hanover won her last start against the same class at Harrah’s at Philadelphia. Opening Night, a 6-year-old stallion from the Jim Campbell barn, certainly had raced at the highest  level throughout his career, but he was working his way back into top form heading into Saturday.

Still, a win in condition company two starts previous at Harrah’s was a confidence builder, as was a second behind former Hambletonian winner Market Share in his last race. On Saturday night, he had to overcome the outside #8 post, which, coupled with the fact that he was moving back up in class, is probably why he was an 11-1 shot. Driver Ron Pierce was able to coax some early speed out of him so that he could find a pocket spot early.

In the stretch, Opening Night kicked into high gear once again to win a hard-fought battle to the line, holding off Tirade Hanover for the victory. His winning time of 1:53 was the fastest among all trotters this past week at Pocono. Against a top field and from a demanding post, this stallion showed that class and guts can overcome the toughest of obstacles.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to Upfront Billy (Tyler Buter, Mark Ford), who, with the help of a disqualification, won his second straight condition trot on Tuesday night; Four Starz Speed (Ron Pierce, Rene Allard), who rolled to his third straight victory and fourth in his last five with an easy claiming handicap win on Wednesday night in 1:56; and Proud Moment (Ron Pierce, Rene Allard), who once again conquered Wednesday night’s featured claiming handicap trot, winning his second straight in 1:53:3.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: RESCUE PLAN

This condition pacer with Tyler Buter in the bike was the longest shot on the board at 55-1 in Tuesday’s feature, but he rallied for the win and paid off $113.20 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: RON PIERCE

Pierce had one of his best single nights at Pocono on Saturday when he ripped off five victories, which included wins in both of the night’s $35,000 featured handicaps.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: DEAN ECKLEY

In the second half of the season, Eckley, a relatively new name to the Pocono faithful, has been winning at a high rate, adding two more victories to the ledger on Saturday.

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

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

October 3-9, 2014

In the three nights of racing that took place at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs the past week, we witnessed some outstanding performances by experienced veterans. Yet the two victories that stood out among such a distinguished crowd were scored by a pair of three-year-old fillies. We’ll take a look at each of those precocious performers as well as the best of the rest in this edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: CLASSIC CARPET

This filly was unraced as a 2-year-old, which meant she started her racing career this year. She began that career on some small tracks in Canada and started to really find her stride with a romping win on the 5/8-mile oval at Rideau Carlton in August. That’s when she shipped into the U.S. and joined the barn of trainer Ron Burke. She immediately paid dividends with a comfortable win at Harrah’s at Philadelphia by another big margin.

In her first appearance at Pocono on September 30, Classic Carpet faced off against a non-winners of four condition group and dominated as an odds-on favorite in 1:51, a new career-mark. With a three-race winning streak in tow, it was no surprise that she went off against that same condition group on Tuesday night as a 4-5 favorite despite being up against a solid field of young distaff pacers.

With Matt Kakaley doing the driving, Classic Carpet once again made her move to the lead on the front stretch at about the 3/8-mile marker of the race. From that point, nobody posed even a modest threat to her dominance in the race. She coasted to the line 3 ¾ lengths in front of her closest foe in a sharp 1:51:4. She may have started a bit later than most, but this filly is making up for lost time in a big way.

Other top pacers this week include: Wake Up Peter (Tyler Buter, Larry Remmen), who powered to a condition win on Saturday night in 1:50, the fastest time of the week at MSPD; Artache Hanover (Anthony Napolitano, James Eaton), who rallied from the pocket on Saturday night for his second straight condition win, this one coming in 1:52:1; and Cameron Lucky (Jim Morrill Jr., Darren Taneyhill), a mare who picked up her second straight claiming handicap win on Wednesday night, this one in 1:52:1.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: STRUCK BY LINDY

Unlike Classic Carpet, Struck By Lindy did race as a 2-year-old and she turned in a standout season, churning out four wins in just 12 starts and earning over $300,000 in purse. Her prospects for a great sophomore year seemed excellent, but even though she had several in-the-money finishes against good competition, she entered a condition trot on September 27 winless in eleven 2014 races.

On that night, she followed outside cover and rallied for the victory to break the losing streak in a time of 1:54:1. Last Saturday night, the filly from the Nifty Norman barn once again tackled a tough condition group of non-winners of $14,000 in the last five starts. Struck By Lindy doesn’t like to fire early, so the inside post she had might have worked against her as she was shuffled back in the pack. Driver Andrew McCarthy had no choice but to send her first-over on the back stretch to try to get the lead.

Despite having to do all the work herself, the filly still glided on by the leaders. In the stretch, Struck by Lindy powered home to hold off closing Fools Revenue by 1 ½ lengths for the victory in 1:55. That makes two straight and provides further evidence that this talented trotter is regaining the form that made her such a big winner as a 2-year-old.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Black Caviar (Simon Allard, Clifton Green), a filly who rallied for her second straight condition win on Tuesday night, this one in 1:57:1; Not Afraid (Andrew McCarthy, Jimmy Takter), who scored a win in the week’s featured Preferred trot on Saturday night in 1:52:3, easily the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; and Home Front (Ake Svanstedt driver and trainer), who followed up his maiden win last week with a condition victory on Wednesday night in 1:57:3.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: BLACK CAVIAR

As noted in the honorable mention above, this filly’s win with Simon Allard in the bike on Tuesday was her second straight, yet she still got away at 28-1 for a $58 payout on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANDREW MCCARTHY

McCarthy has been on quite a roll in the second half of the season at Pocono, with four wins on Saturday and three more on Tuesday exemplifying his hot streak.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: LARRY REMMEN

Remmen had just two starters in on Saturday night but he got his money’s worth from them as Wake Up Peter and Word Power each scored impressive condition 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.

Bigtown Hero Wins in World-Record Fashion at Pocono

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

September 20, 2014

Bigtown Hero set a new world record for aged geldings on the pace in a Preferred Handicap victory on Saturday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The race carried a purse of $25,000.

Leaving from post position #4 in a field of seven as the 8-5 second choice, Bigtown Hero (American Ideal-Art Account), a 6-year-old gelding from the Rene Allard barn, burned his way to the early lead. Driver Ron Pierce decided to cut the gelding loose, creating unforgiving fractions of 26:3, 53:3, and 1:19:4 and a huge lead.

In the stretch, Bigtown Hero started to slow slightly, allowing for wild closing rallies by second-place Aslan and third-place Dancin Yankee, the 4-5 favorite, that came up a half-length short of the winner. The winning time of 1:47:3 shattered the mark of 1:48 for aged geldings on a 5/8-mile oval, which was set by Foiled Again in June of 2013 at Pocono and then matched a week later at the track by Abelard Hanover.

Bigtown Hero, owned by Allard Racing Inc. and Yves Sarrazin, was fresh off an Open Handicap win at Yonkers and now has 9 wins in 27 2014 races. It was his 24th career victory, pushing his lifetime earnings to $187,823.

Earlier in the night at Pocono in a $25,000 Preferred trot, Sevruga (S J’s Caviar-Stunning Lindsey), a 6-year-old gelding from the Kevin Carr, scored his first win since the spring by flashing early speed that held up in the final strides. The 3-5 favorite in a field of six, Sevruga, with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike, led at every pole and dug deep late to hold off Wind Of The North by a nose in 1:52:1. Not Afraid finished third.

PA Sire Stakes Championship Night brings out the best of the Freshman stars

Monday, September 8th, 2014

The best Pennsylvania-sired 2YOs gathered at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on Saturday night for their $1,240,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championships Night. Each of the Championship events went for a $260,000 bounty; all consolations for the Sire Stakes divisions went for purses of $50,000. 

Here’s a recap of the action, division by division, along with a writeup on the two $50,000 Invitationals also scheduled on the blockbuster card. (The track was rated “fast” for the two baby trotter consolations; rain later forced the condition downward to “good.”)

 TWO-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACE 

Southwind Roulette headed a 1-2-3 sweep for trainer Ron Burke by winning her Sire Stakes Championship for two-year-old pacing filllies. She won in 1:52.3 over “good” going to become the richest pacer in one season of Sire Stakes competition, with $269,248 in her races for Keystone State-sired company.

 Southwind Roulette, described as “a very professional filly – she’ll do just what you ask her to do” by driver Yannick Gingras – tucked third early as her Burke stablemates Well Hello There and Kay’s Dragon Lady argued through the 27 quarter, then was moved to the fore past the latter well before the 56.2 half. Southwind Roulette opened up at the 1:24.3 3/4s and had a good-sized lead in the stretch, with Kay’s Dragon Lady closing well late but not really threatening, with Well Hello There salvaging the show. 

The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, owned by Bradley Grant and Howard Taylor, went 4-3-0-1 in her Sires prelims, the three triumphs in her last three starts, and this victory boosted her money total to the record Sire Stakes mark for pacers, ahead of the $245,615 season sophomore filly Charisma Hanover put together last year. 2TC Dontyouforgetit holds the all-time one season record in the Pennsylvania program, with $275,553 in 2012.

 2YO Filly Pace Consolation—Pacesetting Macarena Mama was determined late to hold off inside-shooting Safe From Terror to win this section’s consolation in 1:53.1, a personal best. Corey Callahan was sulkysitting behind the daughter of McArdle for trainer Blake Macintosh, who also co-owns with Susan Hall, Anne Campbell, and Stephen Waldman. 

 TWO-YEAR-OLD FILLY TROT

 A race after the 2PF Championship, driver Yannick Gingras came right back with “another professional filly, a real sweetheart,” Wild Honey, who set a stakes record of 1:54.2 despite the good going, completing a “sweep” of her division — wins in all four legs and the Championship, following in the footsteps of only Coulantine (2004) and Fashion Feline (2009).

 The daughter of Cantab Hall went straight to the front in the 28.1 opener, but in front of the stands Speak To Me made a bold brush and wrested the racetrack away from Wild Honey before the 56.4 half. Gingras seemed unperturbed though, and past the 1:25.1 3/4s he moved Wild Honey out in front of the advancing Jersey Strong and went straight to command, holding off that rival with ease to knock a tick off the stakes record shared by Sand Violent Blu (2011) and Designed To Be (2013). Like the winner a member of the Jimmy Takter barn, Smexi, finished third.

 2YO Filly Trot Consolation—If you need proof that “times have changed” in harness racing, consider this: Pius Soehnlen campaigned the iron-tough FFA trotter Dream Of Glory in the mid-70s, and that horse took a mark of 1:57.2. Tonight Soehnlen as owner won this consolation event with Matter Hatter, a daughter of Explosive Matter who also rallied from far back to tally over Bright Bay Blues for driver David Miller and trainer Jeff Cox. The lifetime for her second lifetime victory? 1:55.2 (when the track was still fast)– two seconds faster than Dream Of Glory’s lifetime mark!   

TWO-YEAR-OLD COLT TROT

 Sire Cantab Hall completed a Championship double, and another horse joined the select club of being a Sire Stakes “sweeper,” when Billy Flynn roared off cover to win in 1:55.2 in the off going for driver Brett Miller and trainer Staffan Lind. 

Billy Flynn raced atypically off the pace tonight, with Walter White on top at the 27.3 quarter, then yielding to Hurrikane Jonny K as that one put up middle splits of 57 and 1:26.1. Piercewave Hanover provided cover from first-over, and when Billy Flynn tipped off that cover, “he was great tonight – he felt great,” noted driver Miller, the colt not showing any of his previous bearing-out tendencies. Off-the-pace tactics proved best in this event, as Honor And Serve and Ralph R closed strongly for second and third, respectively.

 Billy Flynn joins Stormin Normand (2011) as the only freshman colt trotters to notch the “4+1” Sire Stakes  season. Bender Sweden Inc own the emerging star, who is now undefeated in seven starts. 

2YO Colt Trot Consolation –Not many horses break their maiden by missing their divisional world record by 2/5 of a second, but that’s what the Broadway Hall gelding On The Sly did in winning his consolation event in 1:55.2. Hinting at promise with a second, a third, and a fourth in Sires preliminaries, On The Sly finally put it all together, swinging wide from third-over behind contested fractions and overhauling frontstepping Pierre late for driver Brett Miller, trainer Morgan McInnis, and the Revocable Trust of Barbara Boese. The 1:55.2 time over the still-”fast” track was just short of Correctamundo’s world standard, and only a tick shy of the local mark of It Really Matters. 

 TWO-YEAR-OLD COLT PACE 

Billy Flynn and Yankee Bounty are both now seven for seven in their careers, and both completed Sire Stakes “4+1” sweeps.

 That’s where the similarities end. 

Whereas Billy Flynn came off the pace to win easily, Yankee Bounty made an early move to take the lead near the 55.1 half (Dragon Eddy had insisted on the early lead in an astounding 26 before yielding), then fought off a nose-to-nose challenge from Lost For Words by and past the 1:22.2 3/4s. 

Maybe it’s good Yankee Bounty had the practice in winning a hotly-contested duel – because another determined foe soon loomed in the Pocono Pike in the form of Tomy Terror. The two geldings battled on even terms much of the stretch, with Yankee Bounty showing great heart to put his nose over first in 1:50.3 – a Pocono track record for 2PG, and just a tick behind the stakes mark of One More Laugh, whom Yankee Terror now joins in the 2PC Sire Stakes sweeping ranks. 

The victory made Yannick Gingras a three-time SS winner on the card, giving him 10 in his career and moving him to (a distant) second behind Dave Palone (34) on the career list. Two of those victories came for trainer Ron Burke, who recently engineered the new ownership combine of Yankee Bounty Partnership and Frank Chick.  

2YO Colt Pace Consolation—McCito yielded the early lead to favored Talking Points, then came back in the lane to nip that rival late and take a new mark of 1:52. The McArdle gelding, driven by Andrew McCarthy for C&G Racing Stable, comes from the red-hot barn of Aaron Lambert, who seems to be sending out nothing but winners the last couple weeks. 

 INVITATIONALS 

The FFA trot was named the “Modern Family Trot” after the late Pocono-based world-class trotter, with Pocono-based trainer Daryl Bier and the horse’s connections on hand for winners circle ceremonies. 

Modern Family, always a game horse, would have admired the stretch tenacity of his frequent foe Wishing Stone, who raced third on the rail and cleared “about three strides before the wire” according to his driver (with a combination grin/grimace) to edge out Not Afraid in 1:52.4 for Wishing Stone Syndicate. That driver, by the way, was Yannick Gingras, who along with trainer Ron Burke was in Pocono’s winners circle for the fifth time on the night. Wishing Stone also “saved” the 1-5 betting entry, as the more fancied horse, Market Share, made a break early.

 The ”Adieu to the Almost Summer” Pace saw Sunfire Blue Chip make a quarter-move, then say “adieu” to the field with a 26.4 last quarter in driving rain for a 1:49.2 win for driver Yannick Gingras, trainer Jimmy Takter, and the ownership combine of Takter, Fielding, Fielding, Brixton Medical AB and R A W Equine Inc. Perhaps “adieu” was just the right name for a race taken by the son of American Ideal, as the winner of four straight, at four different tracks,  is the early favorite for the $200,000 Prix d’Ete, to be revived as a four-year-old event in two weeks at Hippodrome 3R in Quebec (Gingras’ base before coming Stateside; Takter confirmed that race was on his horse’s schedule.)

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.