Posts Tagged ‘Pierre Paradis’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

July 17-23, 2015

Now that we’re in the heart of the 2015 racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, the schedule provides five nights of racing each week. That means that it’s harder than ever to choose who’s deserving of the Weekly Awards, because there are even more candidates from which to select. But we’re going to take a deep dive anyway and come up with the best of the best from the week that was at Pocono.

PACER OF THE WEEK: CAUTION SIGNS

It’s been a lot of fun to chart the ascendancy of this 5-year-old stallion in 2015. On April 16, he finished third in a $12,500 claimer at Yonkers. That’s when he was claimed by owner/trainer Tracy Brainard, who immediately coaxed better efforts from the horse in New York, as he won two of his next three starts. But that was nothing compared to the run of success he’s put together at Pocono. Since arriving at the end of May, Caution Signs has four wins and two places in six races, all while climbing the highest rungs of the condition ladder.

On July 4, he completed his climb by beating Open pacers in 1:48:4, his third straight win. On Saturday night he took on Open company again and a field that was reduced to four by a couple of scratches. Although that might have seemed like an easy assignment, Caution Signs was dealing with a sloppy track. And, as he took the early lead, he was also dealing with a horse in Scott Rocks who sat the pocket and wouldn’t let him get away to a comfortable margin.

In the stretch, Scott Rocks came out of the pocket full of sound and fury looking to upend the even-money favorite. But no horse wins as consistently as Caution Signs has of late without being more than a little game. The stallion, with Joe Pavia Jr. doing the driving, fought hard to hold on to his lead, eventually winning by a neck in 1:49:4, a blistering time considering the sloppy going. Something tells me you wouldn’t be able to get Caution Signs for $12,500 right now, or maybe even five times that, considering his current hot streak.

Other top pacers this week include: Priceless Edition (Anthony Napolitano, Pierre Paradis), an 11-year-old veteran who cranked out his third straight claiming handicap on Friday night, this one coming in 1:54:4; Union Man Hanover (Andrew McCarthy, Tracy Brainard), who moved up his claiming price on Saturday night to $25,000 and still easily scored his third straight victory, this one in 1:51:4 in the slop; and Request For Parole (Anthony Napolitano, Ron Burke), a mare who followed up a win at The Meadowlands with a victory in Friday night’s featured pace in 1:49:2, the fastest time posted at Pocono this past week.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: AUSPICIOUS HANOVER

When I’m making the morning line odds for some of the top condition races on the card at Pocono, it’s always difficult to assign long odds to horses with strong performance backgrounds. There have to be long shots in every race, of course, so I grit my teeth and hope the public sees it the same way. That’s my way of explaining how a horse as solid as Auspicious Hanover could ever get away at 25-1 like he did on Saturday night.

The 4-year-old gelding from the Chris Oakes barn was coming into the condition trot for non-winners of $22,500 in the last five races, which carried the week’s top trotting purse of $24,000, off a 6th-place finish at Saratoga, but that was in an Open Handicap. Prior to that he had ripped off back-to-back wins at middling prices on the 5/8-mile oval at Harrah’s. Yet he was way back in the betting pecking order, with Madewell Hanover the even-money choice.

None of that mattered once the race started. Driver Kevin Wallis urged Auspicious Hanover to the lead at the quarter in a zippy :26:4. He was able to rate things much more reasonably through the middle portion of the race though, so that Auspicious Hanover didn’t just withstand the late pursuit of Madewell Hanover, but he actually lengthened the lead at the line to 2 ¼ lengths with a winning time of 1:54:1 in the slop. The win payout was $53.20 on a $2 ticket, so those who waded through the talented field to find the merits of this talented gelding were definitely rewarded.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Can I Say (Tom Jackson, Douglas Berkeley), a mare who beat the boys in a tough condition race on Saturday night in 1:54:1 in the slop; Demons N Diamonds (Simon Allard, John McDermott), a filly who stepped up in class on Sunday night and ripped off her second straight win, this one in a career-best time of 1:54; and Born To Fight (George Napolitano Jr., Mark Ford), who stepped up in class on Tuesday night to win his second straight condition won, this one coming in 1:55:2 in the slop.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: BLINTZ

This filly made here maiden victory a memorable one on Sunday night, scoring for trainer/driver Bob Krivelin at 55-1, paying off $118 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

On Saturday night we honored George Nap for picking up his 7,000th career victory earlier in the week at Harrah’s, and he reminded us of how he reached that milestone by winning the night’s first three races.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: TRACY BRAINARD

Brainard’s efficiency at Pocono has been off the charts in recent weeks, and two more victories on Saturday continued that torrid training streak.

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.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week in Review

Monday, May 4th, 2015

April 25-May 1, 2015

We are already a month into the racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, our 50th campaign in case you haven’t heard. This coming week the action will really get spicy with several rounds of Pennsylvania All Stars races and the Van Rose Memorial Pace highlighting the schedule. As for the week gone by, let’s take a look at the top performers and hand out another edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: SPARKY MARK

One of the biggest stories of the early part of the season at Pocono has been the dominance of the training-driving combo of brothers Rene and Simon Allard. This dynamic duo has been pretty hard to beat on any racing night, but that’s especially been the case on Saturday nights, where they have been winning at a ridiculous pace in the high condition paces as well as the claiming ranks.

Saturday night’s featured condition pace for winners of over $25,000 looked like it would be a showcase for Foiled Again, the sport’s all-time biggest earner with nearly $7 million in the bank at age 11. He was looking for his first win of the season, and this figured to be a spot where he could get it done. But the Allard brothers and their rugged 8-year-old stallion Sparky Mark had other ideas.

Sparky Mark, who had lost his last start in this same class by just a nose to Ideal Matters, didn’t worry about anyone else in the field; he had been facing excellent competition all year long anyway, so the big names of Foiled Again and Bolt The Duer didn’t faze him. When the dust cleared, it was Sparky Mark who came out on top, holding off Luck Be Withyou by a half-length in 1:49:2. That marked the fastest mile of the season to date at Pocono, and it marked the biggest win yet at Pocono in 2015 for Simon and Rene Allard, who just can’t seem to be stopped.

Other top pacers this week include: To Beach His Own (George Napolitano Jr., Marty Fine), who continues to roll against the toughest claimers on the grounds, picking up his third straight win on Saturday night in 1:50:2; Catalea Seelster (George Napolitano Jr., Nicholas Gampietro), who captured Sunday night’s feature for claiming mares in 1:52:3, giving her four straight wins, the last three coming at Pocono; and Ooh Bad Shark (Jim Morrill Jr., William Wiggins), who put together a huge mile to win Wednesday’s featured condition pace for mares, stopping the six-race winning streak of Show Runner and stopping the timer in 1:49:2, a new career-mark and tied for the fastest this season at Pocono.

TROTTER OF THE YEAR: SOCIAL DELIGHT

Sometimes the winning time fails to tell you everything you need to know about a performance. For a good example, take a look at the case of Social Delight. The 4-year-old mare from the barn of trainer Jerry Ray came into Pocono having won two of her previous three starts at Saratoga Harness. In her first try at Pocono, she rolled on the front end in a non-winners of five condition for a win in a career-best 1:54:1.

On Tuesday night she faced the same group from a tough #7 post, but she couldn’t hold the lead early, instead ceding it to Czech It Out. That trotter was able to set very soft fractions to the half-mile marker, giving the impression that she’d be tough to catch. Social Delight would have to win an all-out sprint in the stretch against a fresh horse and do so while coming from behind.

That’s exactly what she did though. Driver Jim Morrill Jr. coaxed something extra out of her and she sped by Czech It Out in the final strides for the victory. That makes it three wins in a row, including two straight at Pocono, and four out five in 2015. And though the winning time of 1:55:3, almost a second-and-a-half slower than her mark from last week, may have said otherwise, this winning effort by Social Delight may have been her finest yet.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Emerald Bling (George Napolitano Jr., Robert Horowitz), a mare who won her second straight condition trot on Tuesday night, this one coming in a career-best 1:57:1; Cadillac Cruiser (Simon Allard, Pierre Paradis), who followed up a claiming win last week with a condition win on Sunday night in 1:55:2; and P L Eureka (George Napolitano Jr., John Barchi), who picked up his third straight handicap victory on Wednesday night in 1:54:3.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: MACK BARON

Staging a furious rally from far back in the pack, this pacer with Matt Kakaley in the bike upset a field of claiming pacers on Sunday night at 36-1, paying off $75.80 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MATT KAKALEY

He’s so steady that you might overlook him, but that would be a mistake considering he had another winning week with three straight racing nights of multiple wins.

TRAINER OF THR WEEK: MARTY FINE

Fine picked up a pair of wins on Saturday night and another on Sunday, and all three of those horses were making his first start in his barn following a claim.

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

May 31-June 6, 2014

The month of June arrived at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs and brought with it some of the most competitive racing we’ve had all year long. We saw a little of everything: Standout performances, stunning long shots, drivers and trainers putting in big efforts, and much, much more. It’s never easy to pick out the very best of such a crowded field, but that’s what we’re here to do by handing out another edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: BJ’S RAMEAU

Like any other athlete, character is often most clearly revealed in a harness racing horse when adversity strikes. In the case of BJ’s Rameau, that adversity came in the midst of an outstanding season as one of the top claiming pacers at Pocono, when, in his first start in the barn of trainer Matias Ruiz on May 17, he finished dead last in a field of nine despite having a lead at the top of the stretch.

That rare clunker of a finish was mitigated somewhat by the fact that he started the race from the outside post, meaning that the lead he captured was extremely hard-fought. Still, the bettors were skeptical enough that in his next start, BJ’s Rameau went off at a tepid 6-1. He responded with a gutty win from the pocket in 1:50:2.

On Saturday night, he was the even-money favorite once again in his usual $25,000-$30,000 claiming handicap group, and he delivered a bravura effort. With Joe Pavia Jr. in the bike, BJ’s Rameau made the lead about 3/8 of a mile into the race and poured it on from there, beating the toughest pacers on the grounds by 5 ¾ lengths and doing so in a career-best 1:49:1, which was the fastest pacing time posted this week at Pocono. Like all the finest horses, this 5-year-old gelding bounced back from his brief bout of adversity stronger than ever.

Other top pacers this week include: Morgan Shark (Simon Allard, Pierre Paradis), who ripped off his third straight claiming win on Saturday night and did so in a career-best 1:50:1; Skitsofrantic (Mark MacDonald, John Barchi), who continues to tear up the lower claiming ranks, winning in 1:53:3 on Sunday night for his fourth consecutive victory; and Stanhope (Anthony Napolitano, Steve Salerno), a three-year-old who won his third straight condition race on Sunday, this one in 1:52:4, despite the fact that he wasn’t favored in any of those starts.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: JOHNHANNIBALSMITH

Fans of 80’s television will recognize this name as being the same as the leader of the A-Team, a guy famous for saying, “I love it when a plan comes together” at the end of every episode. For the trotter of the same name, an 11-year-old gelding from the barn of trainer Gilberto Garcia-Herrera, the plan has been pretty simple. He just goes out and beats everybody he faces.

Coming into Wednesday night’s $12,500 claiming trot, Johnhannibalsmith had made seven starts in 2014 and won six of them. His only loss was by a heartbreaking head to Fortissimo on April 25 at Chester, but he ripped off three more wins in a row following that defeat, two of them coming at Pocono.

On Wednesday night, he upped his claiming price from $10,000 to $12,500 for a new challenge, but the race played out the same when the gelding booked to the front end. With his regular driver George Napolitano Jr. in tow, Johnhannibalsmith led all the way even though he was tested at the end of the mile. That extra effort led him to a career-best time of 1:54:3, meaning that this veteran trotter deserves another victory cigar lit in his honor, just like his television namesake liked to do.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Tamasin Hall (Bill Mullin driver and trainer), a mare who picked up her second straight condition win on Tuesday night, this one in 1:56:3; Bufalino Hanover (Matt Kakaley, Todd Schadel), whose condition win on Tuesday night came in the week’s fastest trotting time of 1:53:3, which was also his career-best; and Truth In Action (Mike Simons, Jenny Melander), who overcame an outside post position to win a claimer on Tuesday night in 1:55:2.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: PSYCHOBABBLE

The filly’s maiden victory on Tuesday night with Tom Jackson in the bike was probably just as memorable for her bettors as it was for her, as she cashed in at 36-1 for a $74.40 payout on a $2 ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JOE PAVIA JR.

Joe proved this week that he is still a force in the sulky when he takes on enough drives, posting back-to-back three-win nights on Saturday and Sunday night.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: FRED GRANT

Grant pulled off a unique training double on Tuesday night, as each of his winners, trotter Psychobabble and pacer Somenicebeach, earned their maiden victories.

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, May 30th, 2014

May 3-9, 2014   

On Kentucky Derby day at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, we held our annual doubleheader, bookending thoroughbred’s most famous race with a pair of harness racing cards for the overflow crowd. That means we had even more racing action than usual at Pocono this past week. And that, in turn, means that it was even tougher than usual choosing from among the best performances. Yet that’s what we’ve attempted to do with this edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: DANCIN YANKEE

The feature event on Saturday night and of the entire week at Pocono was The Van Rose Memorial, a $50,000 invitational pace held in honor of the longtime area sportswriter and great friend to the sport of harness racing in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Van certainly would have loved Saturday night’s race, considering the stellar field it contained and the outstanding performance of Dancin Yankee.

Dancin Yankee, a 6-year-old stallion from the Josh Green barn, was fresh off the rugged Levy series at Yonkers, where he finished 5th in the $567,000 final. As the 3-1 second choice in the Rose, he stayed back from a blistering early pace which produced fractions that were unsustainable even for the caliber of pacers in the race. On the back stretch, driver Brett Miller sensed his chance and sent Dancin Yankee first-over to easily take the lead.

From there, he kept extending his advantage until it was just about insurmountable at the top of the stretch. Even with closers like the race favorite Dovuto Hanover attempting to rally, Dancin Yankee stayed strong and came home in front by 3 ¼ lengths, an eye-opening margin considering the quality of the field. Even more impressive was his winning time of 1:49, a new career mark despite the fact that the track had been downgraded to good condition due to rainy weather.

Other top pacers this week include: Codey Shark (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), whose condition victory on Saturday afternoon in 1:52:3 was his third straight; Sky Desperado (Anthony Napolitano, Steve Salerno), who switched barns but still managed his second straight $25,000 claiming win on Saturday night and matched his career-best time of 1:51:1 in the process; and Dealmaker (Ron Pierce, Joseph Poliseno), who picked up his second straight $15,000 claiming win on Wednesday night and did it in a new career-best of 1:50:4.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: HARBOR POINT

There wasn’t an Open or Preferred trot on the schedule this past week at Pocono. Instead, the highest trotting purse of the week was the $21,000 up for grabs in a condition trot on Saturday night pitting non-winners of $27,500 in their last four starts against each other. As a result, the top trotters on the grounds jammed into this field, many either dropping down in class or shipping in from other tracks for the race.

Yet the horse who was made the 3-5 favorite was one who was actually moving up in class. Harbor Point had faced a lower condition field in his previous start but scored in such convincing fashion in a sizzling 1:53:2 that it was impossible for the bettors to ignore him, even in such heady company. Driver Ron Pierce raced him like the best in the field, gunning him to the front end early.

Pierce did an excellent job rating the speed on the front end, so that Harbor Point was plenty strong enough to hold off any late challengers. Even with the move up in class, the 5-year-old gelding from the Mark Ford barn picked up his second consecutive win in 1:54 on a good track. This trotter is on a roll and seems ready to take on all comers as long as this hot streak persists.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Frenchmen (Simon Allard, Pierre Paradis), who picked up his second straight front-trotting win on Sunday night over the $7,500 claimers, this one coming in a new career mark of 1:56:4; Skyline Road (Jim Morrill Jr., William Mullin), who took a big step up the condition ladder on Wednesday night but still scored his second straight win, this one coming in a career-best 1:53:3; and Affirmed Action (Mike Simons, John Grasso), who went gate-to-wire to win Wednesday night’s featured condition trot in 1:53:4.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: HUMILITY

This pacer had been up the track in his previous two $25,000 claimers, but he reversed that trend on Saturday night with Marcus Miller in the bike at 36-1 for a $74.60 win payout on a $2 ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

George is a candidate to win this award every single week at Pocono. This week he picked up multiple wins in four out of the five racing cards that were held.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: RON BURKE

Burke, as always, is in the hunt to be the top trainer in the Pocono standings, and he helped his cause on Saturday night by scoring three training victories.

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

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

September 20-26, 2013

We returned to a full racing schedule this past week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs after a few weeks of an interrupted slate. The action picked up fast and furious from where it left off, producing a plethora of candidates for the Weekly Awards. Without further ado, let’s get right to it and highlight the best of the best of the week that was.

PACER OF THE WEEK: ROCKIN THE HOUSE

Saturday night witnessed the first sloppy track at Pocono in quite some time, but that didn’t stop the powerhouses in the $25,000 Preferred pace from putting on an impressive show. The best of the group appeared to be red hot Chester invader Bestjetyet, but his early break threw the race wide open for the other competitors. Rockin The House proved to be ready for the opportunity.

The 6-year-old gelding from the Ron Burke barn had won his previous start in a rugged condition group in gate-to-wire fashion, but, because of the move up in class, he was only a 9-1 shot on Saturday. Driver Matt Kakaley settled him in the pocket early, but things still looked dire when pacesetter Flem N Em N opened up a nice margin heading into the stretch.

Rockin The House had something left to give in the lane though, while Flem N Em N began to falter. As they approached the line, Rockin The House went past and prevailed by a half-length. That made it two wins in a row and three in the last five for the gelding, who scorched the slop to the tune of a 1:50:2 winning time.

Other top pacers this week include: Competition Cam (Tyler Buter, Richard Banca), who stepped up in class to handle the toughest pacers on the grounds on Saturday night with a rallying win in 1:51:4, giving him three victories in a row; First Impression (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who, despite moving up his claiming price and switching barns, chalked up his third win in a row on Saturday night, this one in 1:53:1 in the slop; and Lotsa Chrome (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), whose rallying win in Tuesday night’s condition pace came in 1:50:1, fastest time of the week at Pocono.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: KEYSTONE THOMAS

When Keystone Thomas arrived at Pocono earlier in the meet, he was immediately slotted against the very best trotters on the grounds and was maybe a tad overmatched. Thus began a process of his handlers moving him from class to class in an effort to find the right spot for him to compete. That process seems to have reached its fruition the last few weeks.

Trained and driven by Joe Pavia Jr., the gelding parlayed a pocket trip into a victory in 1:54:2 on September 6. On Saturday night, he moved up in class into a condition for non-winners of $19,000 in the last five races and got away at 5-1. Pavia was the aggressor nonetheless, putting Keystone Thomas in front early and holding tight.

Things did indeed get tight, but the 7-year-old gelding dug deep and held off all comers. Pavia guided him across the line in 1:55:3, a rock-solid time considering the lousy racing conditions. With wins in two races in a row, this talented veteran appears to have finally found his stride, meaning that he might be able to advance even higher to continue an already-impressive season.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Quantum Lightning (George Napolitano, Bill Mullin), who stepped up in class to the $10,000 claimers on Tuesday and earned his second straight win at Pocono, this one coming in 1:56; Judith (Anthony Napolitano driver and trainer), a mare whose win over the $7,500 claimers on Friday night in 1:56:2 was her second straight in that class; and Wind Of The North (Matt Kakaley, Clifton Green), who scored a win over an excellent condition field on Saturday night in 1:55:1 in the slop.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: EXCEL NINE

He got a break when the horse that crossed the line first was disqualified for interference, meaning this condition pacer driven by Matt Romano inherited a victory Saturday night at 29-1, paying off $60 to win.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MATT KAKALEY

Kakaley is currently experiencing one of the hottest stretches of his season. He followed up four victories on Saturday night with six more winners on Tuesday.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: PIERRE PARADIS

Pierre has been a productive member of the training community at Pocono for many years, and this week he added two more wins to the ledger, including a 21-1 shot on Wednesday with ER Mr T.

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.