Posts Tagged ‘PA Sire Stakes’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

August 12-18, 2017

This past week at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono featured either Pennsylvania Sire Stakes or Stallion Series competition every racing night. It’s always a lot of fun to see these two and three-year-olds going at it for big purses as they try to establish themselves among the stars of their age groups. It’s also a reminder that Labor Day brings the two-year-old Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championships to Pocono. In the meantime, here are the finest performances of the past week via the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: HOLD IT HANOVER

In general, Stallion Series races are reserved for two and three-year-olds that are a notch below Sire Stakes level; that’s reflected in the lower, but still substantial, purses for the Stallion Series races. But, in some cases, the Stallion Series serves as a great location for horses that may have started a bit later in their career than others but are suddenly demonstrating immense talent. That certainly seems to be the case for Hold It Hanover.

This filly didn’t race at age two, and made her debut in Canada this season as a sophomore, picking up one win in eight starts. But things started to transform when she arrived in Pennsylvania in July and joined the barn of trainer Michael Hall. After finishing fourth in her first start at Harrah’s at Philadelphia, Hold It Hanover promptly ripped off three straight victories against non-winners of three fillies and mares. She then came to Pocono on August 8 and beat that same class from an outside post in a career-best 1:51:2.

On Sunday night, she took on the Stallion Series for three-year-old pacing fillies for the first time and the domination continued. As the 2-5 favorite from an outside post in a field of seven, she overwhelmed the field on the front end by 5 ¾ lengths with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike. The winning time of 1:51 was easily the fastest Stallion series time of the night and was comparable to the times of Saturday night’s Sire Stakes winners in the same division. With five wins in a row under her belt, the best way to classify Hold It Hanover is as tough to beat.

Other top pacers this week include: Maxdaddy Blue Chip (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who moved up in class and grinded out a first-over mile for his second straight condition victory on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:50:1; Scotty Lauxmont (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who scored his second consecutive condition win on Sunday night, moving up in class to win in a career-best 1:52:3; and First Class Horse (George Napolitano Jr. Tracy Brainard), whose condition win on Saturday night in 1:50 marked a career-best and the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: RIDGEWAY SPRINGS

One can never tell when the light is going to come on for a struggling horse. In the case of Ridgeway Springs, it looked like he might dwell in darkness all year long. When he arrived at Pocono from The Meadowlands for a non-winners of $6,000 in the last five event on August 6, he was winless this season in 19 races. But the change of scenery must have helped, as the four-year-old gelding, who had just joined the Owen Eiler Jr. barn, made a three-wide back stretch move on his way to a win in a career-best 1:55:2 at 11-1.

On Sunday night, Ridgeway Springs took on a different challenge, battling the non-winners of five for a purse of $16,000. Those are much bigger stakes than what he’s used to seeking, so it was somewhat understandable that he was let go at 13-1 despite the win in his last start. Driver Anthony Napolitano had the gelding ready to roll, however, pushing him to the front early and then settling into the pocket after race favorite Rosesareexplosive grabbed the lead on the front stretch.

Some first-over pressure from Centurion Hanover softened up Rosesareexplosive, all while Ridgeway Springs relaxed in the pocket. In the stretch, Ridgeway Springs uncorked his best move and slid past Rosesareexplosive to win by three-parts of a length. In doing so, he matched his career-best 1:55:2 time from the previous week. After two straight victories at double-digit odds, hope springs anew for this suddenly red-hot trotter.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Up Front Billy (Anthony Napolitano, Mark Ford), who scored a condition win on Saturday night in a brisk 1:53:1; Windsongmusclelady (George Napolitano Jr., Hunter Oakes), a mare who followed up a win at Harrah’s with a victory in Monday night’s featured claiming handicap trot in 1:52:3, a new career-best and the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; and Frac (Anthony Napolitano, Jim Ray), who stepped up the condition ladder to win his second straight on Tuesday night in 1:55.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: CAN I SAY

With Anthony Morgan in the bike, this trotting mare beat a field of boys to win a condition event at 29-1 on Saturday night, paying off $60 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

On Sunday night’s card, which featured some top drivers shipping in for the Stallion Series races, Pocono’s top driver asserted his dominance by winning eight of the 14 races on the program.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: NIFTY NORMAN

Among Norman’s four training victories at Pocono this week were back-to-back Stallion Series wins on Sunday night with sophomore filly pacers Bridge To Tomorrow and Perplexed.

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

Powerhouse Pacing Fillies dominate PA Sire Stakes

Monday, August 10th, 2015

Pure Country put an exclamation point on trainer Jimmy Takter’s Hambletonian/Oaks-winning weekend as she remained undefeated with the easiest of 1:53.2 victories in one of four divisions of the $253,980 third preliminary leg of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for two-year-old pacing fillies on Sunday, August 9th,  at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.

The fabulous filly by Somebeachsomewhere out of Western Montana was directed to the front early by Brett Miller, reaching that station in 28 and then getting a walk to the park with a 58 half. Up came Shesasmokinlady on a big first-over move, and out came the earplugs as Pure Country got to the 3/4 in 1:26, and she then finished in 27.2 under a stretchlong hold by Miller in winning by 2 1/4 lengths. Heelsonthebeach, who had sat second behind the winner through much of the mile but was past by Shesasmokinlady nearing the 3/4, came back in the lane for second, with Shesasmokinlady settling for third.

Pure Country is the only filly to have won in each of the first three Sire Stakes legs, and she is 4-for-4 in purse competition, having started her career here with a PA All-Stars win. She was bred and is owned by Diamond Creek.

Fastest of the four miles was the 1:52.1 hung up by Yankee Moonshine (Yankee Cruiser-Bootleg Yankee), moved early to command by driver Matt Kakaley and then holding off the late charge of Princess Fabulosa by 3/4 of a length while taking a new mark. Ron Burke trains the fast baby for the ownership of Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, Lawrence Karr, and JT45.

In this victory, Yankee Moonshine was the only non-previous Sires winner to tally (she was 2-3 in her earlier prelims), and she was the only winner to have raced for a purse since the July 17 Meadows Sires leg, having won an Arden Downs event on Adios Day. She was the 6-5 second choice behind 4-5 chalk Ivy League (Somebeachsomewhere – See You At Peelers), who was in perfect second-over position when she lost her momentum in the final turn and finished back.

The Well Said-Silkandidamonds filly I Said Diamonds moved to second-place in the divisional pointstandings behind Pure Country by becoming a “pocket rocket” under the handling of David Miller and earning a new speed badge of 1:52.3. The winner now has two triumphs and a second in the Sire Stakes, with Paul Holzman doing the conditioning for owner Omar Beiler, Susan Oakes, and Dennis Coons.

Another two-time Sires winner, and giving Somebeachsomewhere a siring double, is Call Me Queen Be, out of the mare Preppy Party Girl, who also came out of the two-hole, just nipping pacesetting Shezarealideal by a head in 1:52.4. Scott Zeron handled sulky duty for trainer Ross Croghan and owners Dana Parham and the Let It Ride Stables Inc.

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.

Filly trotters take center stage in Stallion and Sire Stakes action

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

PA-sired three-year-old trotting fillies provide the early week features at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, as the misses will compete in second leg action of a $100,000 Stallion Series event on Tuesday, June 16th,  and a $222,867 Sire Stakes contest on Wednesday, June 17th.  All of the races have drawn full fields of nine.

The Stallion Series races will find three of the five first leg winners returning, including two from the ubiquitous, unavoidable Team of Top Trotting, Team Takter. Kirsi Hanover, who won her first Stallion start despite suffering broken equipment, drew the inside in the sixth race fourth division, with Jimmy Takter himself also to drive, while Speak To Me, beginning from post seven in the tenth race last cut, will be handled by Scott Zeron. Manhattan Miss, the other filly looking to make it two straight in the Stallion Series, has the rail for driver Mike Wilder and trainer Marty Wollam in the third race second division; the other Stallion Series races are slotted for races one and four.

In Wednesday’s Sire Stakes action, Trotting Team Ubiquitous had two of the four first leg winners, and Takter has them both back in at Pocono. Sarcy will be out first of the pair in the ninth race second division, with Yannick Gingras down to drive, but she will be facing the two non-Takter winners at The Meadows: Livininthefastlane (post five, driver Andy Miller for trainer/wife Julie), the fastest of the four winners in western PA at 1:53, and Magic Marker, who will begin from post seven for driver David Miller and trainer Nifty Norman.

The other Sires winner to date, Wild Honey, begins from post four for Takter and Gingras in the tenth race third division. Wild Honey was rated by many as the second-best filly nationally in 2014 behind the brilliant but mercurial Mission Brief, and she will look to add to her impressive record of 11 wins in 13 career starts.

In the seventh race first division, Takter may again have a favorite in Smexi, who was a neck behind Livininthefastlane in the first leg and has since taken a division of the Curries And Ives Filly stake. But driver Corey Callahan will have to overcome both the outermost post nine and Blessings Counted (post eight, driver Dan Rawlings for trainer Rick Beinhauer), also second, to Magic Marker, in the first Sire Stakes round.

Both nights feature 14-race cards beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Live split card on Belmont day yields standouts

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

A specially-formatted 16-race card was featured on Belmont Day, June 6th,  at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with four races held before the historic doings in Elmont NY and then the remainder starting after the big race.

The race attracting the most attention was the tenth race (held in the evening portion), a $30,000 Open pace, and there was “dancin’ in the moonlight” as 2014 Pennsylvania Pacer of the Year Dancin Yankee never looked back in a 1:48.3 victory, going out in 26 and coming home in 26.4 firmly in control. George Napolitano Jr., king of the local driving colony again this year, was named on four horses in the race, and he picked the right one as the son of Yankee Cruiser raised his lifetime earnings harvest over $1.2M for trainer Josh Green and owners Baron Racing Stable and Richard Lombardo.

In the other $30,000 Open pace, Big Boy Dreams marked himself as a 4-year-old to watch as he reduced his mark to 1:49.4 in taking another $30,000 Open pacing contest. The son of If I Can Dream made the front just past the ¼ for driver Simon Allard, set the pace, then rocketed home in 26.4 for his second straight victory after a third-place finish in the Confederation Cup Final. Trainer Rene Allard shares ownership of the winner of over half a million dollars with Robert Hamather and Mary Lou Poliseno.

The ladies were in the spotlight in the last race of the “early” card and the first race of the “later” card.

In the last race held before the Belmont, Blue Chip Matchmaker winner Venus Delight asserted a claim to be the leader of the older female division with a 1:50.2 decision in a $30,000 mares handicap pace, despite not having started since her victory in the Yonkers series final on April 25. But the daughter of Bettor’s Delight and driver Jason Bartlett had to work hard for the top money, rallying out of the pocket to catch perhaps the most-improved horse of 2015, Ooh Bad Shark, to tally by a head after grabbing the lead with about 100 feet to go. The winner, who set a personal mark, is trained by Jeff Bamond Jr. for owners Bamond Racing LLC – who might get a fifth straight older pacing mares yearly title, with Anndrovette having won in the last four seasons.

After American Pharoah won the Belmont and the first thoroughbred Triple Crown in 37 years, the Broadway Hall mare Frau Blucher went 34 4/5 seconds faster in winning, capturing a $30,000 open trot while defeating six males and two females in 1:51.4, 2/5 of a second off her mark and the 4TM world record she set at The Downs last year. Frau Blucher, driven by George Napolitano Jr. for trainer Chris Oakes, made every pole a winning one while raising her career bankroll to $976,932 for owners Hauser Brothers Racing Enterprises LLC and Susan Oakes. (And she’d be over $1M right now but for an inch, as she was deadheated for the win by stablemate Classic Martine in the world record-DH PA Sire Stakes 3TF Championship race in 2013.)

–On this 16-race card, two drivers won ten of the races, and only five drivers in all won: George Napolitano Jr. and Simon Allard both had five victories (four of Allard’s were trained by brother Rene); Jason Bartlett had 3, Anthony Napolitano had 2, and Marcus Miller had 1.

There were a total of seven miles in 1:50 or better on the card, topped by Dancin Yankee’s 1:48.3; among the drivers, George Nap had three, and Allard two.