Posts Tagged ‘Paul Holzman’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week in Review

Monday, August 10th, 2015

July 31-August 6, 2015

As we head into the month of August, all of us at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono are keeping our eyes on the coming weeks, specifically the span from August 14th to the 22nd when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the track with a series of promotions and events on and off the track. Until we get there though, we still have plenty of outstanding racing to enjoy. This week’s action was particularly feisty and fine, as you’ll be able to tell from this edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: R GAUWITZ HANOVER

Claimers often get an unfortunate and often inaccurate rap that they’re somehow inferior to condition pacers and trotters. Week after week that fallacy is disproven, both by the comparable times between the two types of races and by the fact that several former claimers have moved on to be successful in condition and even Open races. And certainly there has been no horse in any type of race who’s been as impressive as R Gauwitz Hanover, who competes in mid-priced claimers, has been the past few weeks at Pocono.

In his last five races heading into a $15,000 claiming event on Saturday night, R Gauwitz Hanover had three second-place finishes sandwiched around a pair of wins. The 6-year-old gelding had achieved that streak while switching barns three times. On Saturday night, racing for trainer Paul Holzman, he was made the 1-5 favorite, and he had to respond when John’s Polyview aggressively took the lead and burned off sizzling fractions.

Driver George Napolitano Jr. never flinched though, and he began guiding R Gauwitz Hanover closer and closer on the back stretch until he blew by. The gelding didn’t stop until he was eight lengths out in front of the rest for the victory. His winning time of 1:49 was not only his career mark, it was also the fastest mile of the week by anybody at Pocono. Don’t let anyone tell you claimers are somehow a lower class of horse, at least not while R Gauwitz Hanover is there to prove otherwise in such convincing fashion.

Other top pacers this week include: GD Airliner (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who didn’t let a month-and-a-half layoff stop him from picking up his second straight condition victory on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:52; Kiss Of Terror (Simon Allard, Dean Eckley), a 3-year-old who rallied at 10-1 on Sunday night for a condition win, his second straight, in 1:54:1; and Spirit Of Desire (Anthony Napolitano, Timothy Lancaster), who captured Wednesday night’s featured condition pace for mares in 1:52.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: PRAIRIE FORTUNE

This 3-year-old gelding from the barn of trainer Mike Deters just knows his way to the winner’s circle. After a 2-year-old campaign in which he won three of six races, he’s been even tougher to stop in 2015. Other than an upset loss at Tioga, Prairie Fortune has been spotless, winning his other four races while splitting time between Pocono and Tioga.

His last win at Pocono on July 28 came in a career-best time of 1:53:4, but it was with the non-winners of three. Wednesday night figured to be a tougher test as he stepped up to face the non-winners of five. After sitting fourth in the early part of the mile, driver Matt Kakaley started Prairie Fortune in motion on the straightaway of the front stretch and easily reached the lead.

From that point on, nobody was even able to put a scare in the gelding, as he held a comfortable lead which he then extended once they turned for home. Prairie Fortune ended up handling his competition effortlessly by 4 ½ lengths in 1:54:3. That’s what you call moving up in class in style, and it’s what you call a horse that just doesn’t plan on losing anytime soon.

Honorable mention on the trotting side includes: House Of Cash (Joe Pavia Jr., Ron Burke), who captured the week’s featured condition trot on Saturday night in a career-best 1:54; Uriel (Scott Zeron, Luca Derrico), who rallied for a tough condition win on Wednesday night in a career-best 1:53:4, which was the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; and Sonnyforall (Bill Mullin driver and trainer), who picked up a condition win on Wednesday night in 1:56.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: HOUSE OF CASH

This trotter with Joe Pavia Jr. in the bike started Saturday night’s racing off with a band, upsetting a condition field at 24-1 for a $51 payoff on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: AKE SVANSTEDT

He’s an outstanding trainer, but Svanstedt also drives a lot of his winning trainees, like he did on Sunday night when he guided three 2-year-old trotters to their maiden wins in his only three drives of the night.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: DEAN ECKLEY

Eckley has been a name to watch all season long at Pocono, and three more wins this week, including a double on Sunday night, will ensure that continues to be the case.

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 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 10-16, 2014

With a couple of Friday nights added to the racing schedule in October, racing fans at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs have been able to enjoy four nights of live action per week lately. That means a bunch more races than usual featuring excellent performances deserving of consideration for another edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: E STREET PLAN

Some of you may know that in my free time I do a little writing about music, including a recent book about the songs of Bruce Springsteen. And so I have a soft spot in my heart for this 5-year-old gelding whose name is derived from the name of Springsteen’s longtime partners in rock The E Street Band. Lately E Street Plan has been racing like the Boss.

Trained by Gilberto Garcia-Herrera, E Street Plan is on an impressively consistent streak, coming into last Saturday night’s action with five straight in the money including a victory on September 20. Yet Saturday night seemed to be a tough test, considering he was moving up into the non-winners of $23,000 in the last five races, the most rugged condition group at Pocono. To make things even more difficult, he had to journey first-over, a tough trip under any circumstances.

Yet by the top of the stretch, E Street Plan had corralled pacesetting Scott Rocks. In the lane, the closers lining up behind him couldn’t get there in time. Joe Pavia Jr. guided the gelding home by a half-length over I Like Dreamin in 1:49:4, a new career-best and the fastest time of the week at Pocono. With miles like that, it’s fair to say that this Springsteen-honoring horse is in the midst of his glory days.

Other top pacers this week include: Penn Turbo Ted (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), whose victory on Saturday night in 1:52:2 was his third straight against the $10,000 claimers, with two of those victories coming at Pocono; Talk Strategy (Andrew McCarthy, Peter Stratton), whose last-to-first victory on Tuesday night in 1:52:3 gave him two straight upset victories; and Bevel Hanover (Anthony Napolitano, John Barchi), who earned his second straight condition claiming victory on Tuesday night, this one coming in a career-best 1:51:4.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: HE’S LUCKY

This 8-year-old gelding has not only been splitting his time between Pocono and Harrah’s at Chester, but he’s also been moving back and forth between claiming and condition events. All of that change might bother some horses, but He’s Lucky, trained by Kevin Carr, has managed a nice hot streak of late. It began two starts ago with a near-miss second in a condition trot at Pocono, losing by just a neck to Cathy’s Princess.

He followed that up with a victory in a condition trot at Harrah’s in 1:55 on October 2. On Tuesday night, he took on a claiming handicap group in his return to Pocono, with claiming prices ranging from $12,500 to $15,000. Since He’s Lucky was on the high end of that range, he had to start from the far outside post in a nine-horse field, a difficult task even for a horse with the back class he possessed.

Finding no other option with the tough post, driver George Napolitano Jr. sent He’s Lucky on a taxing first-over grind. Making a steady advance through the field, the veteran gelding worked his way past pacesetting Iain’tnomomaluke and held off the pocket horse Fancy Label by 1 ¼ lengths in 1:53:4, a new career-best. No matter the track or the class, He’s Lucky looks awful tough to beat right now.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Waiting On A Woman (Andrew McCarthy, Ron Burke), who put together a powerhouse performance in a condition victory on Saturday night in 1:52:2, a new career-best and easily the fastest trotting time of the week at MSPD; Quantum Cashman (Mike Simons, Gail Wrubel), who won Friday night’s featured claiming handicap trot in a career-best 1:53:3; and Avalicious (Andrew McCarthy, Ron Burke), who picked up a condition win on Saturday night in 1:53:2, a new career-best.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ARTSBRED CAMOTION

This gelding was 8th in the same class a week ago, so his win in a claimer on Wednesday night with Matt Kakaley was a huge surprise at 27-1, paying off $57.40 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: SCOTT ZERON

Zeron only makes occasional appearances at Pocono, but he usually makes his presence felt, such as on Friday night when he picked up three victories.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: PAUL HOLZMAN

Holzman sent out just three starters on Saturday night, but two of them, C C Stormey and Machin Music, came back winners even though neither was the race favorite.

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, 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

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.