Posts Tagged ‘Pennsylvania Stallion Series’

2016 Season Preview

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

2016 Season Preview

Hello again, everyone! It’s wonderful to be back, writing to the Pocono faithful on the eve of another amazing racing season. Once again I’ll be with you in this column every week, giving you the goods on all the finest performances, shocking long shots, and outstanding action taking place at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in this 2016 campaign.

After about four months away, everyone associated with the track is ready to roll on the new meet. And it feels like it’s a case of carrying over momentum, not just from our special 50th anniversary season of 2015, but also from the past decade or so of racing, during which time Pocono has ascended from just another harness track in a field of many to one of the finest racing establishments in all of North America.

It’s a bit hard for me to believe that this will be my ninth season calling the races at the track. I’ve been writing these columns for more than a decade now as well, so I hope people are used to my big yapper and long-winded bloviating by now. And in 2016 I’ll be adding host of the racing show to my duties from the beginning of the season, which should be a blast. With all of the excellent racing to discuss, and with my good buddies in the TV department propping me up, I might just be able to bluff my way through it.

So what does the 2016 racing season have in store for you? Well, for starters, there are some changes in the schedule. We start things off on Saturday March 19 at our normal starting time of 6:30 ET for Race 1. After a few weeks of easing into things, we settle into our normal four-night-a-week slate in April. The difference is that the four nights in question will be Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, and that’s pretty much the schedule we keep right through to closing night, with a few exceptions.

There are some slight post time differences to note as well. Sunday nights will feature a 7:30 ET post time for Race 1. And come the months of September, October and November, our Monday cards will begin at 4:30 ET for a little afternoon racing. Obviously it’s a lot of information to swallow all at once, but rest assured that we’ll be keeping you up to date all season long as need be.

Our schedule will feature our usual combination of outstanding overnight racing and plentiful stakes action. Concerning the stakes, we’ve added once again to the bounty up for grabs for the harness racing’s finest horses. In addition to Sun Stakes Saturday in July, featuring the Hempt, Lynch, Beal, and Ben Franklin, and Super Stakes Saturday in August, when you’ll see the Battle of Brandywine, the Colonial, and the Valley Forge, we’ve added a couple biggies on the first Saturday in May. As part of a day-night dual card on May 7 that sandwiches the simulcast of the Kentucky Derby, Pocono will be hosting a pair of new stakes races: The $500,000 Pennsylvania Classic for 3-year-old pacers and the $300,000 Miss Pennsylvania for 3-year-old filly pacers.

Don’t forget that we’ll also see a steady diet of Pennsylvania Sire Stakes, Pennsylvania All Stars, and Stallion Series races throughout the season. In other words, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a track anywhere putting that kind of money on the line.

It’s predictable then that all that dough brings out a ton of human talent, in terms of owners, trainers, and drivers, to the Pocono oval to get their share of the loot. Our driving colony is as deep as it comes, but there’s no doubt George Napolitano Jr. will have a target on his back after his record-setting 2015 season. Guys like his brother Anthony Napolitano, Simon Allard, Andrew McCarthy, and many others will be trying to take the top spot away. On the training side, Rene Allard and Chris Oakes will return to defend, respectively, their training wins and training percentage titles against an outstanding group of handlers, some who have barns at Pocono, others who will be shipping in their best equine talent.

There will be lots of promotions and events in store throughout the season as well, and we’ll be keeping you up to date on all of it. But now it’s time for the horses to go to the gate and for our 2016 season to be underway. To all our regular fans, I wish you a profitable wagering season. And to all you newcomers, I guarantee you’ll have a fantastic time at the races. The 2016 season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun is about to begin. See you all at the track.

As always, feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.

Tetrick dominates Tuesday PA Stallion Series

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

The “Bionic Man,” driver Tim Tetrick, showed that his parts don’t rust in the rain,  capturing three of the eight divisions of the $160,000 second round of the Pennsylvania Stallion Series for two-year-old trotting fillies Tuesday night, July 21st,  at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono over “off” going (the first five sections on a track rated “sloppy,” the last three on a “good” surface).

Tetrick captured the fastest division, 1:58.3, with Goodtogo Hanover, but it was anything but a laugher over pacesetting LOL Hanover, as the victorious daughter of Explosive Matter-Grammy Hall needed most of the Pocono Pike to rally from the pocket and hang a neck decision on her foe for trainer Bill Zendt, also co-owner with Gary Saul.

All three of Tetrick’s victories came during the “sloppy” portion of the card; he also clicked with Casey T (Madison River-Gia) in 2:00.3 for trainer Todd Rooney, and with the Yankee Glide-Sarafina Hall miss I Luv Blackhawkred, another of the five “pocket rockets” who took Stallion Series glory in 2:00 for trainer Dirk Simpson.

Matching Tetrick in the triple category was sire Andover Hall, with the second-fastest winner, Miss Teszla (out of Filly At Bigs), rallying from the two-hole to win easily for trainer-driver Jimmy Takter in 1:58.4 (gd). “Andover”’s other two winners controlled most of the pace in their victories: Synonymous Hanover (out of Sweetr By The Bone) in 2:00.2 (sy) for trainer/driver Charlie Norris; and Gracie Hanover (out of Gone Lindy), home first in 2:00.4 (gd) for trainer/driver Åke Svanstedt.

Also victorious on the evening were the two other winners who used the pocket as their launching pad: Twice A Night (Donato Hanover-Working Girl), who tallied in 2:00.4 (sy) for driver Jackie Ingrassia and trainer Frank Ingrassia; and the Cantab Hall-Keystone Vi Va baby Ki Ki Canolli, who stopped the timer in 2:00.1 (gd) for driver Scott Zeron and trainer Jonas Czernyson.

Eight divisions in first leg PA Stallion Series

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

There were eight divisions of the $160,000 first leg Pennsylvania Stallion Series event Tuesday night, July 14th, at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and — with one small exception — they saved the best for last.

The Dragon Again-Guthrie Hanover baby Griffon Hanover worked hard for the early lead, saw two brush by him in the second quarter, then got a clear shot in the famed Pocono Pike and rallied for the tally in 1:54, fastest of the octet of races. David Miller guided the speedy freshman to the win for trainer Tom Fanning and owners Robert Dathe and Donovan Spamer while completing a siring triple for Dragon Again.

The one dark spot? Griffon Hanover, much to the lament of improvers of the breed everywhere, was the only gelding among the eight winners.

David Miller bookended the Stallion Series action when he took the opening section with the Yankee Cruiser-Ma Foi colt Ginger Tree Cash in 1:55.4. Also with a driving double was Tom Jackson, first with the Well Said-Yankee Scramble colt Yolo Hanover in 1:55.3, then, in the most exciting of the eight stretch drives, picking up the field on the far outside with another son of Dragon Again (out of Western Powerful), Art’s Dragon, in 1:54.4. Dragon Again’s third winner, out of I’m Sassy, was Innit Hanover, first home in 1:55 with Scott Zeron at the lines.

Also with a multiple sire credit was Somebeachsomewhere; his two winners were I’m Some Graduate (out of the $1.3M-winning mare Western Graduate), guided by John Campbell to victory in 1:56, and Beach Ogre (out of Donkeys Can Talk), whose 1:54.4 win for Ray Schnittker was the only non-lifetime best in the competition, as the youngster had previously qualified at The Downs in 1:54.1.

Rounding out the action was Star Of Terror, by Western Terror-Game Bunny, a winner in 1:55.2 for driver Tim Tetrick.

Stallion Series offers big return to bettors on Sunday card

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

For a track with a 47.8% winning favorites rate heading into Sunday’s program, May 17th, The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono offered some tasty win mutuels on well-pedigreed horses in the first three of the four $20,000 divisions of the Pennsylvania Stallion Series for three-year-old pacing colts.

The chalkplayers finally had their moment in the spotlight in the fourth and final division, and even in that event favored Parklane Eagle had a couple of anxious moments before winning in a personal best 1:51 for driver David Miller and trainer Peter Foley. The son of Somebeachsomewhere, owned by Shirley Le Vin, had controlled the early pace with fractions of 26.4 and 55.1, but 47-1 shot Kwik Mac gave the frontstepper something to think about as he got to within a neck at the 1:23.1 3/4s. Parklane Eagle shrugged off that challenge though, and by the wire he had that rival 3¾ lengths in arrears of him.

Hall of Fame driver Miller also brought in the “best bet for the odds” winner of the four, a horse with impeccable connections making his first start of the year for trainer Jim Campbell. Gallic Beach is a son of Somebeachsomewhere out of Western Gallie, whose dam Galleria (herself a champion racemare) has also produced the unlucky Gallie Bythe Sea, a Breeders Crown elimination winner at two and three who through misfortune got to start in neither final. And Gallic Beach was ready right out of the box, setting the pace and blazing home in 54.3 to earn a new speed badge of 1:51.4 for owner/breeder Fashion Farms LLC – and returning a generous $15.40.

Sire Somebeachsomwhere had a third Stallion Series winner in Guantanamo Bay, who overcame the first-over route to hang a head loss on Jo Pa’s Well Said, flying late after coming from sixth at the half, to take a new mark of 1:52 for driver Mike Simons, at 11-1 odds, highest return on the four winners. Trainer Fred Grant, a native of Nova Scotia, conditions the winner for owners from his native province, James Bagnell and Ann Smith.

It’s rare to get 5-1 at Pocono on the track’s eight-time driving champion George Napolitano Jr., and even rarer if “GNap” is teaming with top trainer Chris Oakes. But the backers of the McArdle gelding Mckenry got just such a windfall in his division, as the pacesetting winner got a nontaxing half in 57, then flew home in 55 for “GNap” to hold off “ANap” (his brother Anthony) and hard-charging Angelo J Fra by a half-length, with the 1:52 final package giving each series winner a rewritten speed mark. Mckenry won for Susan Oakes, Conrad Zurich, Hauser Brothers Racing Enterprises, and the Wheelhouse Racing Stable.

The Stallion Series’ four winners reflect the purpose of Pennsylvania’s ”little brother” to the Sire Stakes – it gives a chance for horses not quite yet at the top a chance to race competitively for good money. Parkland Eagle had three lifetime wins coming into his race – which was the exact total of the other three winners combined. But after four miles in 1:52 or better, one of more of the visitors to Victory Lane Sunday at The Downs could be stepping up to battle the “big boys” as they develop.