Posts Tagged ‘Proud Moment’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono honors the standouts of the season

Friday, November 20th, 2015

As the  50th Anniversary season for the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono winds down, the track in Northeast PA is honoring the standouts of the 2015 season on Wednesday. November 18th, and closing night, Saturday, November 21st.

Wednesday night, the award for the Pacer of the Year was presented to four-year-old Luck Be Withyou.  The stallion from the Chris Oakes barn topped some of the world’s best pacers on July 4th, winning the Ben Franklin Pace in 1:49, going gate-to-wire from an outside post.  He also had a spectacular fall, returning from Canada to chalk up three straight condition wins in September and October.

Trotter of the Year honors went to Proud Moment, who is enjoying his best season ever at age nine, not typical for a trotter. But this is not just any typical trotter!  Six of the wins for the veteran warrior were at Pocono, and when he didn’t visit the Winner’s Circle, he often hit the board in impressive fashion.  He beat claimers and conditioners; did it from the outside and the inside; and won his six races for five different trainers.  The high point of his outstanding year was a three-race winning streak in July and August that included his career-best mile of 1:52.2.

The mare, Kiddie McCardle, was presented with the Mare of the Year honors on Wednesday, as well.  She has performed for several different barns at Pocono this season, picking up eight wins, including a 1:51.1 mile which set a career-mark for her at age seven. She is extremely tough, despite the fact that she’s often faced with brutal post positions in claiming handicaps; she’s been extremely competitive of late since moving over to face condition pacing mares.

The award for Leading Trainer/UTR, was bestowed upon Chris Oakes for the fourth time.  Accompanied by his family and friends, Oakes accepted his award on Wednesday night, and was in the Winner’s Circle as  Luck Be Withyou and Proud Moment were honored.

Closing night, Saturday, November 21st, the Leading Driver; Leading Trainer – Wins; Claimer of the Year; and Three-Year-Old of the Year accept their awards.  It is also a special thank you to the loyal fans with Fan Appreciation Night.  Souvenirs of the 50th Anniversary season will be given out with a coupon from the live racing program starting at 7:00pm.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

November 7-13, 2015

As we approach the close of another racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, it’s time to look back and assess the season that was. All year long in this space we’ve been handing out awards to the top performers of each racing week. Now it’s time to crown season-long achievement by handing out awards to Pocono’s Horses of the Year.

Selecting these horses is never an easy task and it gets harder each year as the racing gets more and more competitive. I collaborated with my buddies Terri Phalen and Jennifer Starr to make the choices, and, although we probably left out horses worthy of acclaim, I think the horses we ultimately selected certainly represent well for this special 50th anniversary season.

So, without further ado, here are the 2015 Pocono Horses of the Year:

3-YEAR-OLD OF THE YEAR: K RYAN BLUE CHIP

This gelding from the Joe Pavia Jr. barn finished fourth on April 8 in a maiden race at MSPD in what was his first start of the 2015 season. As it turns out, it would be the only time he’d have a view of horses crossing the finish line in front of him at Pocono all season. K Ryan Blue Chip raced five more times at Pocono this season and won them all. None of his winning times were slower than 1:51:1, topping out with a career-best 1:50:2 in a September victory.

CLAIMER OF THE YEAR: R GAUWITZ HANOVER

Even before he arrived at Pocono in May, this 6-year-old gelding was already a big winner in 2015, racking up six victories in New York. But it was here that he achieved his greatest success, winning nine of his 14 races at MSPD, all while moving up in class from the $10,000 claimers to the $25,000 claiming handicaps. He won several races from outside posts, had victories for seven different trainers here, and managed a career-best mile of 1:49 as part of his unforgettable 2015 campaign at Pocono.

MARE OF THE YEAR: KIDDIE MCCARDLE

This mare has performed for several different barns at Pocono this season but always finds a way to be a factor. She picked up eight wins this season here, including a 1:51:1 mile which set a career-mark for her at age seven. What’s also been impressive is how, like R Gauwitz Hanover, she’s been such a tough customer despite the fact that she’s often faced with brutal post positions in claiming handicaps. And she’s been competitive of late since moving over to face condition pacing mares.

PACER OF THE YEAR: LUCK BE WITHYOU

This four-year-old stallion had the win of the year at Pocono when he topped some of the world’s best pacers to win the $500,000 Ben Franklin pace on July 4 in 1:49, going gate-to-wire from an outside post to do so. But that win wasn’t a shot in the dark. He also scored in the Franklin elimination the week prior to the main event and then returned from a stint in Canada to rip off three straight condition wins for trainer Chris Oakes in September and October.

TROTTER OF THE YEAR: PROUD MOMENT

It’s not typical for a trotter to have the best year of his career at age nine, but that’s exactly what this veteran warrior did in 2015. All six of his wins came at Pocono, and when he wasn’t winning, he was often hitting the board. He beat claimers and conditioners, did it from the outside and the inside, and won his six races for five different trainers. The high point of his outstanding year was a three-race winning streak in July and August that included his career-best mile of 1:52:2.

As I said earlier, there were many horses this season deserving of consideration. It’s a testament to just how intense the racing wars at Pocono are that these selections are such a close call, and I have a feeling that the awards races will only get tighter in the years to come.

Next week in this space, we’ll wrap up the 2015 racing season. We’ll take a look at the top drivers and trainers of the year. And we’ll also take a broad look back at what’s been a special anniversary season at Pocono.

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

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

September 25-October 1, 2015

Now that the month of October is upon us, we have entered the final quarter of the racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. And after an incredible stretch of pleasant weather, we also saw our first sloppy track in quite some time. Nonetheless it was still an interesting, intense week of racing at Pocono. To recap, let’s hand out some Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: LUCK BE WITHYOU

In July of this year, Luck Be Withyou managed one of the most memorable victories of the season at Pocono, overcoming an incredible field of some of the world’s top pacers and an outside post to win the Ben Franklin Pace. It was a sentimental kind of victory for the Pocono faithful, since driver George Napolitano Jr. and trainer Chris Oakes, both Pocono regulars for many years, won this huge race on their home track.

Luck Be Withyou spent much of the rest of the summer months racing at Mohawk in Canada, where he didn’t have quite the same level of success. When he returned to Pocono and the Oakes barn, he did so on September 19 at the $20,000 condition level. Once again he got stuck with the outside post, but he had no problems, rolling on the front end to a four-length win in 1:49:1.

The 4-year-old gelding was back at it in the same group on Saturday night, only this time from the friendly confines of a #3 post position. As the 1-9 favorite, he controlled the pace on the front end. He was briefly challenged late by Fort Knox, but Napolitano was having none of that, coaxing more late out of Luck Be Withyou. Nobody could hang with him in the stretch, and he won by a length-and-a-half in 1:50. It’s nice to see Luck Be Withyou back and at the top of his game at his favorite track.

Other top pacers this week include: Art’s On Fire (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), whose claiming victory on Saturday night in a career-best 1:49:4 was the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono; Preparty (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who moved up in class to score his second straight condition pacing win on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:51:2; and The Summer Wind (Jim Marohn Jr., Gregory White), who won Wednesday night’s featured distaff condition pace as a 24-1 long shot in 1:51.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: BOFFIN

Boffin has experienced the extremes of harness racing his past few times out. Two starts ago in a $24,000 condition trot at Pocono, the 5-year-old gelding from the Anette Lorentzon barn used an excellent trip for a victory in 1:53:4. Last week he tried out on Open trotting group, only to go off stride early in a race in which the mare Daylon Miracle set a record.

On Saturday night Boffin was back at it in the $24,000 condition group with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike. The pace was set by the veteran Proud Moment, who set some daring fractions on the front end. That pace repelled the horses who wanted to come up on the outside, but Boffin once again had the pocket seat as he did two races ago, putting him in prime pouncing position.

Proud Moment, as he has been all year, was game, but he caved at the top of the stretch and Boffin took over. He exploded through the lane and easily held off race favorite Ray Hall by 2 ¼ lengths. What was most impressive was the winning time of 1:51:1, a career-best, fastest of the week and one of the fastest this year at Pocono. Boffin may be riding some ups and downs of late, but he certainly hit a spectacular high on Saturday night.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Mr Candyman (Simon Allard, Clifton Green), who overcame an outside post on Friday night to win his second straight claiming handicap, matching a career mark of 1:55 in the process; Gray N Cloudy (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who chalked up his second straight win over the $11,000 claimers on Friday night, this one in 1:54:1; and My Way The Highway (George Napolitano Jr., Leigh Raymer), a 3-year-old filly who followed up her maiden win by moving up to handle a condition group on Tuesday night in 1:56 in the slop.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: VERDAD

It’s hard to believe a horse of this caliber could ever get away at 50-1, but he did on Saturday night and, with Joe Bongiorno in the bike, won a condition pace to pay off $105.40 for a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

In the midst of another big week, George captured his 300th win of the meet at Pocono, the eighth time he’s managed that feat; no other driver has ever picked up 300 wins in a season at Pocono.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: ANETTE LORENTZON

It seemed like everywhere you turned last week, another Lorentzon trotter was doing damage, as she picked up the big win on Saturday with Boffin and then two more training victories on 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.

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

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

October 24-30, 2014

The adage says that speed kills, and nowhere is that more accurate than in the sport of harness racing. Sometimes it pays to be patient and wait for an opportunity to rally in a race, but the most surefire way for a horse to take all the variables out of the equation is to head straight for the front end of the field and go as hard as it can, trusting in its ability to get home above all else. Our top two award winners displayed some serious top-end speed this week. Let’s take a look at their exploits and hand out the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: SPEED AGAIN

It’s always fun to watch a horse improve within the course of a season. When last we saw Speed Again, the 5-year-old gelding from the Ron Burke barn put together an outstanding performance on August 9, scorching a mid-priced condition field in a career-best 1:48:2. Propelled by that big mile, he moved up to face tougher competition in his stint at Harrah’s at Philadelphia.

First he performed well in a trio of races against the winners of over $25,000 grouping at Harrah’s, hitting the board twice and winning once. In his final start there, he stepped up to an Open Handicap group and rolled on the front end to win by two lengths in 1:50:4. His return to Pocono on Saturday would also come in the Open group, against a field that included P H Supercam, a powerhouse who had captured three straight Open Handicaps at Yonkers.

None of that mattered to Speed Again and driver Anthony Napolitano when they powered to the front end right from the first few steps of the race. P H Supercam lurked behind him in the pocket for the whole mile, but Speed Again had an answer for him in the front stretch, holding him off to score by a neck in 1:49. Considering he’s already beating Open fields with consistency, any more improvement by Speed Again would almost be unfair.

Other top pacers include: Lark Seelster (Anthony Napolitano, Luis Collazo), a mare who moved up in class on Tuesday night and scored her second consecutive condition win, this one coming in 1:52:1; McBoogie (George Napolitano Jr., Dean Eckley), who moved up in class and switched barns but still tore up a $15,000 claiming group on Saturday night in 1:52:1 for his third straight win; and I’m Blue Too (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who rallied for a victory in a career-best 1:51:4 in Wednesday night’s Grey Ghost & Poltergeist Pace, Pocono’s annual Halloween-themed race featuring only grey and roan pacers.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: HEZATRAIN

This 5-year-old gelding from the barn of trainer Allan Johnson hit a bit of a bumpy stretch in his season in September and October. After winning five out of seven races to start his campaign, he suffered a streak of four straight races both at Pocono and Saratoga without even hitting the board. He returned to MSPD on October 21 and found his stride against our lowest condition group, rolling to a romping win in a new career-best time of 1:53:3.

Feeling confident once again following that win, Hezatrain moved back up on Tuesday into a condition for non-winners of $8,000 in the last five starts. Once again driver George Napolitano Jr. was determined to hustle the gelding to the front end, but on his effort to get there he encountered some traffic on the first turn and was forced to make an early three-wide move. Even though Hezatrain reached the lead before the front stretch ended, such a tough journey to get there threatened to make him vulnerable.

Those concerns were doused as the race progressed. Hezatrain easily fended off any pressure, lengthening the lead until he was comfortably out in front of the rest. He was able to gear down in the final strides and still beat the rest of the field by a solid four lengths with a winning time of 1:54:3. That’s two straight romps for Hezatrain, a trotter who’s back to his winning ways as the season winds to a close.

Honorable mention on the trotting side includes: Rossini (Howard Parker, Jim Raymer), who dominated a condition field on Saturday night in 1:52:2, a new career-best which matched the fastest of the week at MSPD; Proud Moment (Ron Pierce, Rene Allard), who went a career-best mile of 1:52:2, tied for the fastest trot of the week, to win Tuesday night’s featured claiming handicap trot; and Four Starz Speed (Ron Pierce, Rene Allard), who made it two in a row and three of his last four with a claiming handicap victory on Wednesday night in 1:55.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: LINDY’S FIREWORKS

On a wild Tuesday night full of upsets, this trotting filly topped them all, winning a condition easily with Anthony Napolitano in the bike at 85-1, paying off $172.40 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY NAPOLITANO

Anthony’s finest year at Pocono continued with a –win week, including victories on Saturday with 24-1 shot Salevster Stallion and on Tuesday with 85-1 bomber Lindy’s Fireworks.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: MIKE WATSON

Watson has been threatening to crack the Top 10 of the Pocono training standings all year long, and his pair of victories on Saturday night will certainly help his cause.

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.