Posts Tagged ‘Pet Rock’

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Saturday, October 26th, 2013

October 19-25, 2013

The 30th Breeders Crown took place on Saturday at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, and it was everything a racing fan could have possibly hoped for and more. Events as hyped as this rarely live up to their billing, but, if anything, at the end of the night it seemed like no amount of build-up could have prepared the folks who were at Pocono and the thousands all over the world who watched at simulcast sites and on television for what they saw.

Each one of the twelve races deserves an article of their own, so I’ll inevitably have to leave out some of the champions, both of the equine and human variety, that graced our stage. Since those details have been well-reported elsewhere, I thought I’d just give some of my final impressions on the finest single night of racing I’ve ever witnessed.

I had the opportunity to watch all the action from the announcer’s booth, where I called the races in tandem with my buddy Sam McKee of The Meadowlands. It was a good thing there were two of us in the booth, because I don’t think either one of us alone could have handled all that craziness. It seemed that after every race, we would stare at each other mouths agape in either shock or awe at what had just transpired on the track.

With such big money on the line, it made sense that the sport’s finest drivers were entrusted with the reins. Only five different drivers captured victories on the night: Tim Tetrick had three, David Miller, Ron Pierce, and Yannick Gingras had two each, and Brian Sears picked up one. One could say that those are the top five drivers in the sport right now and it would be hard to argue against it. Their choices were almost universally fine on Saturday night, especially Tetrick’s brilliant weaving drive aboard Market Share in the Open Trot.

For all of the brilliance that quintet of drivers displayed throughout, this night was about the horses. The night was marketed on the backs of several superstar horses. For the most part, they all came through, with the exception of  Anndrovette, whose bid for a third straight win in the Open Mares pace came up short in 3rd behind David Miller and Shelliscape.

While most of these big names delivered on their promise, what differed about them was how they accomplished this. Some were simply too good for the rest, like 2-year-old trotter Father Patrick, who dominated his group on the front end, and the sublime Bee A Magician, who stayed unbeaten after 15 starts in her 3-year-old season by beating the sophomore trotting fillies without seeming to break a sweat. I Luv The Nitelife, a 3-year-old pacing filly who lost just once this year in 14 races despite a brutally tough schedule, trailed for much of her race, only to explode in the stretch and leave everybody in the dust.

Yet maybe the two most impressive command performances on the night were two that produced unbearably narrow margins of victory. Captaintreacherous is one of the most celebrated 3-year-old pacers in the history of the sport, but he was out to avenge his only loss this season, a heartbreaking photo finish defeat to Sunshine Beach at Pocono in August. The two hooked up to battle once again in the 3-year-old Colts and Geldings Pace, and for several moments it appeared that Sunshine Beach had the favorite’s number. But what makes the Captain special, as Sam McKee pointed out on race night, is his heart, and he showed every bit of it by digging in to win by a neck.

In the final race of the night, Foiled Again presented a worthy encore to the Captain’s showstopper in the Open Pace. Considering that he’d earned more money that any pacer in North American history coming into the race, anything that the 9-year-old warrior from the Ron Burke barn could give in the final was pure gravy. But one thing that had eluded Foiled Again was the Breeders Crown, so he was all-in for this one.

Driver Yannick Gingras sent Foiled Again to the front past the half-mile marker, but the fractions seemed too steep for him to carry, especially on a sloppy track. Foiled Again gave everything he had to stay on top, only to have a rallying Pet Rock pull up alongside at the line for a photo finish. For a tantalizing minute or so the photo sign stayed up until it disappeared to reveal that Foiled Again was the winner. The normally reserved Gingras gave a euphoric fist pump as the horse returned to the winner’s circle for the perfect exclamation point to the evening.

The Breeders Crown was a simply spectacular event, one that not even the windy and rainy weather could dampen. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the opportunity to call another one, but, as far as I’m concerned, I was just part of the best one ever, so it would be pretty hard to top anyway.

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

Saturday, September 21st, 2013

September 13-19, 2013

With only about a month until the Breeders Crown on Saturday, October 19 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, it’s as good a time as any to start looking ahead to how some of the top competitors shape up. Because of the increase in the number of stakes races at Pocono, many more of the North America’s best horses have already traveled over the oval this season than at the same point three years ago when the Breeders Crown was last held at MSPD.

With that in mind, we thought we’d take a look at the Top 10 horses in the most recent Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown and see just how well they’ve done this year at Pocono. We’ll count them down in descending order, just like this really good Bob Dylan book I heard about lately.

10. SEVRUGA: This 5-year-old trotting gelding from the Julie Miller barn has won nine of 19 starts this year with earnings of close to $500,000. His first start at Pocono this season was a memorable one, as he ripped off a victory in an Invitational trot in 1:50:3, a new-world record for aged geldings on a 5/8-mile oval. He was upset, however, by Wishing Stone in his last Pocono appearance on Super Stakes Saturday.

9. MAVEN: This 4-year-old trotting gelding is one of the few in the Top 10 who has yet to make an appearance at Pocono in 2013, although fans with longer memories may remember him as a solid performer in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action at the track as a two and three-year-old. Maven’s biggest success this season has been in Canada, where he in unbeaten in four races for trainer Jonas Czernyson.

8. PET ROCK: A four-year-old pacing stallion from the Virgil Morgan Jr. barn, Pet Rock has had an outstanding season once again in 2013 with earnings north of $600,000. But his story at Pocono has been one of near misses. He finished 3rd and 2nd in the Ben Franklin pace elimination and final in June, then came up just short behind A Rocknroll Dance on Super Stakes Saturday.

7. VEGAS VACATION: Most people have conceded the 3-year-old pacing division to Captaintreacherous, but this gelding trained by Casie Coleman pushed the super-horse to the limit in their last meeting on the Pocono oval, finishing just a nose behind him in the slop in the Max Hempt. He’s been building confidence since then, scoring big-money victories at Tioga and Mohawk.

6. A ROCKNROLL DANCE: Trainer Jim Mulinix hopes the old phrase “horses for courses” applies come Breeders Crown time, because the last two starts this 4-year-old pacer had at Pocono were memorable. In 2012, he turned around a floundering season with a win in the Max Hempt Memorial. His lone start here this season was a win on Super Stakes Saturday in 1:47:4, matching the fastest ever at the track.

5. ROYALTY FOR LIFE: As the Hambletonian winner as well as a victor in several other big stakes races, 2013 has been a great year for Royalty For Life, trained by George Ducharme. Except at Pocono. Back in June, the 3-year-old trotter broke stride in both the elimination and the final for the Earl Beal Jr. In August, he got caught up in a speed duel and faded to 7th as the favorite in the Colonial.

4. FATHER PATRICK: The most celebrated 2-year-old in the country, Father Patrick made his trotting debut at Pocono in July in Pennsylvania All Stars action with a seven-length victory. He returned a few weeks later for another easy score in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. With seven wins in eight races so far for trainer Jimmy Takter, you get the feeling he’ll be tough no matter what track hosts him.

3. I LUV THE NITELIFE: With just one loss in 11 races this season, the pride of the Chris Ryder barn has been without a doubt the class of the 3-year-old pacing fillies division. She has been especially fine at Pocono, winning all three of her races here this year. Included among those were big stakes wins in the James Lynch and the Valley Forge, the latter coming in a world record for her age group of 1:48:4.

2. CAPTAINTREACHEROUS: It took a world-record performance from Sunshine Beach to spoil his unbeaten season at Pocono in the Battle of the Brandywine, and even then it was only in a photo finish. Before that, the Captain overcame a treacherous trip, if you will, to win the Hempt in June. Will the 3-year-old  pacing colt from the Tony Alagna barn step up on Breeders Crown day? Time will tell.

1. BEE A MAGICIAN: The number-one horse in the poll is a relative unknown to Pocono fans, since she’s the only one on this list to have never raced at MSPD. The 3-year-old trotting filly from the Nifty Norman barn has done most of her damage in Canada, but she did stop at The Meadowlands this year to win the Hambletonian Oaks as part of her record of twelve wins in twelve races in 2013.

Those are just some of the horses to watch come October at Pocono. With all of that firepower on display, it should be an amazing night.

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.

 

Foiled Again passes $5 million mark

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

 Having surpassed the $5 million mark in career earnings thanks to his win in Saturday’s $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, Foiled Again has only two horses ahead of him on the all-time money list: trotters Varenne and Moni Maker.

Does the 9-year-old pacer have another half-million in him to get past those two?

“I think he’s got a lot more than that in him,” driver Yannick Gingras said. “He gives me chills, I can tell you that. What a horse.”

Foiled Again, trained by co-owner Ron Burke, won the Franklin by a nose over Pet Rock in 1:49.2 over a sloppy track at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, notching career victory No. 70 in the process. This year he has won five of 12 starts, including last week’s Franklin elim in a world-record 1:48 mile.

In the Franklin final, Foiled Again raced on the outside much of the mile. He followed the cover of Razzle Dazzle onto the backstretch, but was left first over when Razzle Dazzle took the lead from early pacesetter Modern Legend. Foiled Again was third as the field headed into the stretch, but was able to chase down Razzle Dazzle and hold off Pet Rock.

Pet Rock ended up finishing second and Razzle Dazzle was third.

“I don’t mind first over,” Gingras said. “That’s his trip; he likes that actually. No offense, but Razzle Dazzle, I’ll take my shot. He’s a great horse on his own, but Foiled Again is special. They were pacing pretty good in the second turn and (Razzle Dazzle) got a little bit of a jump, but I figured I’d catch up to him.”

Foiled Again is owned by the Burke Racing Stable, Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, and JJK Stables. He has won $5.17 million in his career, making him the richest pacer in the world. Only trotters Varenne ($5.63 million) and Moni Maker ($5.58 million) earned more money. Both are retired.

Last season, Foiled Again earned $1.20 million, becoming at the age of 8 the oldest pacer to have a million-dollar year. He also was named the sport’s best older male pacer for the second consecutive year by the U.S. Harness Writers Association.

In 2011, at the age of 7, Foiled Again was voted Pacer of the Year. He was the first pacer older than age 4 to ever receive the honor.

For his career, Foiled Again has won 70 of 181 races and finished among the top three a total of 138 times.

“I just want him to get the recognition he deserves,” Gingras said. “A lot of people think he’s a small-track horse, or this and that, and maybe they’re right a little bit, but at the end of the day he’s not the fastest horse but he outlasts every one of them. He’s been through about three different groups of horses, guys that retired or went to stud, and he’s still around and banging and kicking (butt) against some 4-year-olds.”

Gingras has driven Foiled Again in 111 of his 135 starts since joining the stable of trainers Mickey and Ron Burke in July 2008.

“He’s just unbelievable,” Gingras said. “I think every year over the last five years at some point he’s been written off. I wrote him off myself; I picked off of him three weeks ago (to drive Sweet Lou in the Roll With Joe). He’s a very special horse.

“We climbed up at the same time. My career on the Grand Circuit got going four or five years ago, the same as his. He seems like he’s getting better with age and maybe I’m getting better with age. Maybe we’re matched good together.”

Ken Weingartner for Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs

Sun Stakes Saturday Eliminations a record-breaking night!

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

On a dynamic, star-studded Saturday night of eliminations for the $2,000,000 Sun Stakes Saturday Finals at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs a week hence, they saved the best for last. 

And the oldest. And the richest. And the one who set a world record. 

Foiled Again, the nine-year-old evergreen gelding, boosted his lifetime bankroll to $4,920,444 by winning the third of three eliminations for next week’s $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace Final in 1:48 – a world record for older pacing geldings on a 5/8s, lowering by a tick the mark first established by Bettor Sweet and then equaled three weeks ago at Pocono by Camae’s Fella.

 This was win #69 for Foiled Again – and might have been the first where he used the passing lane to post the victory. Let go at 4-1, Foiled Again let Bolt The Duer bolt off the gate to early command, then made a shake-and-bake move to take command approaching the 26.1 quarter. Favored Pet Rock was moved early and took the lead in front of the stands, with Modern Legend up uncovered at the 54.3 half.

 Down the back Pet Rock and Modern Legend dueled to a 1:21.2 ¾ time, a battle they continued around the turn and into the stretch, where surprisingly it was the favorite who gave way first (though not much). But Yannick Gingras, a four-time winner on the night, had pointed Foiled Again to the Pocono Pike passing lane, and the Pike came through (it did an astounding eight times on the 14-race card) and so did the old man, with a new mark in his 180th lifetime start and the new world standard for his division. Modern Legend and Pet Rock also advanced from this field to the Franklin Final.

 Ron Burke conditions the victorious altered son of Dragon Again for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, and JJK Stables.

 One race earlier, Razzle Dazzle scored his first victory since the Levy Final in 1:49, also via the Pocono Pike. Somehow dismissed at 10-1, the Real Desire gelding and driver Brian Sears helped create their own luck early, shutting the pocket behind hardleaving Up The Credit, which left Sweet Lou no hole, after which he soon broke. After splits of 26 and 55, Fred And Ginger took the raw route to challenge by the 1:22.1 3/4s, and five of the field of six were in contention as they turned for home.

 Into the lane, it was Hoosier invader Our Lucky Chip, the longest shot on the board, who swept wide off of cover and into a brief lead—but there were literally only three places from which to win at Pocono Saturday: the pocket (nine times), the lead (four times), and first-over (once), and Razzle Dazzle built quick momentum and scooted up the inside to get the nod for trainer Mark Silva and owner Ira Kristel. Our Lucky Chip and Up The Credit also advanced to the Franklin final.

 The first Franklin elim also saw a pocket rocket the most photogenic, as the Bettor’s Delight 4YO gelding Dynamic Youth wound it up fast late to trip the timer in 1:48.3, equaling the track record for age/sex/gait under the guidance of Andrew McCarthy whiel also posting the best time of the year for his division. Dynamic Youth made Betterthancheddar pay a 25.3 price for quarter command; BTC got a breather to a 54.4 half, then dueled with raw Bettor’s Edge to a 1:21.4 ¾. Clear Vision loomed boldly off cover, but the “Youth” was the most dynamic late, with Clear Vision and “Cheddar” getting advancement to next week’s race behind the Aaron Lambert-trained winner, owned by the Silva Stables, Tucci, and C&G Racing Stable.

 To wrap up the Franklin, these facts: 1) The elim horses who did NOT qualify for the final were Rockincam, Bettor’s Edge, Sapphire City, Golden Receiver, Fred And Ginger, Heston Blue Chip, Sweet Lou, Bolt The Duer, Hurrikane Kingcole, and State Treasurer – winners of $10,000,000+, 2) all three elim winners took lifetime marks; 3) Foiled Again had the largest winning margin, a neck; the other two got the decision by a head; and 4) there are now seven horses who have paced in 1:48 or faster on a 5/8-mile track: recordholder Bolt The Duer at 1:47.4 (he was blocked in the stretch and did not make the final), and six horses at 1:48: four Franklin winners (Artistic Fella, Mister Big, We Will See, and ’12 champ Betterthancheddar, who could still defend his title); Heston Blue Chip (who also missed advancing because of stretch blockage); and now Foiled Again.

 MAX HEMPT (3PC) ELIMINATIONS

 Just when they begin to worry about The Captain, he digs in deep and achieves the victory.

 For the third straight week Captaintreacherous gave his backers some anxious moments, but his 53 back half after a leisurely 55.4 front half was enough for the 1:48.4 front-end triumph. Vegas Vacation, so highly-regarded going into the NA Cup and a little disappointing to some when finishing out of the money, showed that the hype about him was for real – he didn’t pull raw from third until the 5/8, but still he gained into the supersonic last four furlongs to the point that the Captain’s margin of victory was only a neck. Rockin Amadeus was next in line at the wire as Captaintreacherous remained unbeaten after four starts in his 2013 campaign; the Somebeachsomewhere colt is trained by Tony Alagna for Captaintreacherous Racing, and capped a sulky triple for Tim Tetrick.

 The first of the trio of Hempt eliminations saw something no one could recall – a 25.4 third quarter on the board – as Johny Rock (inside) dueled viciously with Word Power (outside) after a 55.2 half to a 1:21.1 three-quarters. Lurking in the pocket was the Rocknroll Hanover colt Emeritus Maximus, and he gave his maximus down the Pike to reduce his mark in 1:48.4 for driver Doug McNair (driving double) and owners Cheap Speed Stable, Alber, Wienick, and Fodera while preceding Captaintreacherous as a Tony Alagna-trained Hempt winner. Johny Rock had enough for second and Word Power enough for third to advance on a week; Lonewolf Currier, who would have been the popular choice if anybody was to pace a sub-26 quarter, proved empty off of cover.

 Also no factor from the “one and one” spot was Wake Up Peter – but the horse in front of him in the outside tier, and raw to boot, Sunfire Blue Chip, was giant in taking the fastest elim in 1:48.3, a ’13 No.Am. best, over Evenin Of Treasure and Martini Hanover. The only winner on the entire Pocono card who was not the pacesetter or pocket horse, the son of American Ideal is owned by Takter, Fielding/Fielding, Brixton Medical AB, and R A W Equine, and gave conditioner Jimmy Takter a pacing victory to add to his two trotting triumphs – as we shall see next.

 EARL BEAL (3TC) ELIMINATIONS

 This division – the Hambletonian division – had its clarity fuzzied instead of sharpened, as early Hambo chalk Smilin Eli won, but the small but mighty Dontyouforgetit clocked in the fastest.

 Dontyouforgetit was in the first elimination and may have had the advantage of a few degrees of warmness in temperature, but he still was impressive to gain from the (what else) pocket into a 55.3 last half to report home first in 1:52.1, a national season’s best and lowering his mark by two seconds. Possessed Fashion, who was able to delay his first-over bid until after the 5/8s, came up big for second, while pacesetter Celebrity Maserati did well in holding for third and Beal advancement. Jimmy Takter trains the son of Cantab Hall for Solveig’s Racing Partners, with Yannick Gingras sulkyside.

 Smilin Eli had to go 26.3 to obtain the early lead from the outside post eight in his elim, but he was equal to the task while remaining undefeated after four starts, halting the timer in 1:52.3. The 3-5 Muscles Yankee colt fended off railsitters Fico (75-1) and Picture This (65-1) for Tim Tetrick, trainer Deshawn Minor, and owner Nicholas Cimino. Jurgen Hanover, 7-7 in 2013 before the race, had the “undesirable” second-over trip and finished fifth, not advancing.

 Trainer Takter had another Beal elim winner in Corky, never off the board in 13 lifetime starts and never behind at any pole in a 1:52.3 victory, with David Miller in the sulky for owners Christina Takter and John and Jim Fielding (owning doubles for all). Giving Muscles Yankee a double siring credit for the Beal, Corky (lowering his mark by over two seconds) defeated Royalty For Life, who made a break quarter-moving, dropped back to last, and was coming fastest of all late (into a 55.2 back half) to save a miracle second, with Crystal Phenom third.

 JAMES LYNCH (3PF) ELIMINATIONS

 I Luv The Nitelife, fresh off her Fan Hanover jiggyjog win, snapped into high gear like a veteran campaign when shown racetrack up the prized Pocono Pike to take her Lynch elimination in 1:50.1. Nikki Beach, Charisma Hanover, Somwherovrarainbow (pacesetter in only her second race in 37 days) and Mattie Terror Girl (faster fifth-place finisher) all advanced to the Lynch final behind the victorious Rocknroll Hanover filly driven by Tim Tetrick and trained by Chris Ryder for Richard and Joanne Young.

 Ms Caila J Fra won the other elimination in a national season’s record 1:49.3 in the card’s curtainraiser for driver Simon Allard and trainer Steve Elliott, while also giving the recovering The Fra Stable LLC a boost in sprits. After what you have read before, it will be no surprise to learn that the winning daughter of Western Ideal parlayed a pocket trip to victory – but she was the only winning two-hole tripper to move OUTSIDE for the stretch drive, wearing down Shebestingin late, with Jerseylicious and Authorize also authorized to advance to the Lynch finale.