Posts Tagged ‘Opening Night’

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.

 

Opening Night and Yagonnakissmeornot Shine in Pocono Features

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

November 1, 2014

Trotter Opening Night and pacing mare Yagonnakissmeornot won the twin feature Open Handicap races on Saturday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Each of those races carried a purse of $35,000.

In the Open Handicap Trot, Opening Night (Broadway Hall-Rare Elegance), a 6-year-old stallion from the Jim Campbell barn, overcame an outside post to work out a pocket trip and win a four-way battle in the stretch by a nose. Driven by Ron Pierce, Opening Night, an 11-1 shot, held off Tirade Hanover by a nose in 1:53. Whata Donato finished third while 6-5 Not Afraid was just inches back of the winner in fourth.

Pierce also guided the winner of the Open Handicap pace for mares, as Yagonnakissmeornot (The Panderosa-Artstopper), a 5-year-old barn from the Rene Allard barn, continued her brilliant season and atoned for a clunker in her last start at Pocono by gutting out a front-end win as a 6-5 favorite. Despite imposing fractions, Yagonnakissmeornot was able to hold off the first-over charge of Rockaround Sue to win by a neck in 1:50:1, her 13th win of the season. Spirit Of Desire finished third.

Guccio Matches World Record in Preferred Trot at Pocono

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

June 15, 2013

What is it about trainer Jimmy Takter and 4-year-old trotting stallions at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs?

A week ago, Uncle Peter set a new track and world record for the age group with a win in the featured trot. On Saturday night at Pocono, Takter brought in Guccio and he matched the feat with his own $25,000 Preferred trot victory in the same record time of 1:51:1.

Guccio, a 4-year-old stallion seasoned by tough trots at The Meadowlands, was made the 2-5 favorite in a field of nine. Takter, who also drove the stallion, kept him back in fifth early as lead-shuffling between Lightning Storm and Opening Night created blistering fractions. Takter got Guccio moving first over on the back stretch. At the top of the lane, he had corralled leader Opening Night and wore him down for a 1 ½ length victory in that record-setting time of 1:51:1. Opening Night finished second while Keystone Thomas picked up the show.

It was also a career mark for Guccio, who is owned by Christina Takter, John Fielding, Jim Fielding, Goran Falk, and Brixton Medical. The win was his second of the season and 7th lifetime, while his career earnings jumped to $899,333.

In Saturday night’s $25,000 Preferred pace at Pocono, Bet On The Law might have been overlooked in a field that included stakes veteran Hurrikane Kingcole, Ron Burke trainee Escape The News, and Aussie invader Erle Dale N. As a 5-1 fourth choice in a field of seven, Bet On The Law stayed back off the early pace, choosing only to move when Hurrikane Kingcole came first-over on the back stretch to give him cover. That was a change of tactics by trainer/driver Joe Pavia Jr., one that paid off when the 4-year-old gelding spun off his cover and rallied to win by a length in a career-best 1:48:4. Hurrikane Kingcole had to settle for second while Musselsfrombrussels picked up the show.

Bet On The Law, owned by Steven Held, Joe Barbera, AGC Stables, and Dijo Racing, won for the sixth time in a dozen 2013 races. It was his  11th career victory and pushed his lifetime earnings to $313,249.

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.