Posts Tagged ‘Ron Pierce’

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.

 

World Record Pacer Sweet Lou honored Saturday

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Sweet Lou was honored at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on Saturday night,  a few weeks before his official retirement.  The son of Yankee Cruiser was a fan-favorite at Pocono, and set a World Record on Sun Stakes Saturday in June of 1:47, the fastest time ever on a 5/8 mile track.  He won 10 of 17 starts this year, with those 10 coming consecutively, and all in sub-1:49 fashion.

 

Fans wearing the Sweet Lou souvenir hat, given away earlier in the evening, surrounded the Winner’s Circle, as he jogged the Pocono track for the last time of his illustrious career.  The Winner’s Circle was filled with his connections, including members of the “Burke Brigade”; co-owner Phil Collura; members of Pocono management, and drivers Ron Pierce and Matt Kakaley. 

 

A few tears were shed as Sweet Lou left the Pocono Winner’s Circle for the last time, and the fans broke out in applause and cheers to send him off with a chorus of “Good Luck” for his next few races and his next career.

Opening Night and Yagonnakissmeornot Shine in Pocono Features

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

November 1, 2014

Trotter Opening Night and pacing mare Yagonnakissmeornot won the twin feature Open Handicap races on Saturday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Each of those races carried a purse of $35,000.

In the Open Handicap Trot, Opening Night (Broadway Hall-Rare Elegance), a 6-year-old stallion from the Jim Campbell barn, overcame an outside post to work out a pocket trip and win a four-way battle in the stretch by a nose. Driven by Ron Pierce, Opening Night, an 11-1 shot, held off Tirade Hanover by a nose in 1:53. Whata Donato finished third while 6-5 Not Afraid was just inches back of the winner in fourth.

Pierce also guided the winner of the Open Handicap pace for mares, as Yagonnakissmeornot (The Panderosa-Artstopper), a 5-year-old barn from the Rene Allard barn, continued her brilliant season and atoned for a clunker in her last start at Pocono by gutting out a front-end win as a 6-5 favorite. Despite imposing fractions, Yagonnakissmeornot was able to hold off the first-over charge of Rockaround Sue to win by a neck in 1:50:1, her 13th win of the season. Spirit Of Desire finished third.

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.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

September 19-25, 2014

Racing at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs has geared down somewhat in terms of quantity, as the schedule now features three live nights per week. But the quality hasn’t let down a bit, as evidenced by a Saturday night card that included no pacing miles slower than 1:50:2 and no trotting miles slower than 1:54. We even had a world-record performance, which, of course, stands out among this edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: BIGTOWN HERO

This 6-year-old gelding was struggling with the upper reaches of the pacing ranks when he was last here in June, but he’s been performing well since then at other tracks, winning three of his last five races. The last four of those races came after he switched barns to be trained by Rene Allard, Pocono’s leading trainer, including a come-from-behind win in an Open Handicap in his last race at Yonkers as a 7-1 shot.

His confidence sufficiently boosted, he returned to Pocono to compete on Saturday night in a Preferred Handicap pace for a purse of $25,000. It was a stacked field, including star veteran Golden Receiver and Dancin Yankee, who had owned the oval at Pocono in his previous appearances in 2014. But driver Ron Pierce drove Bigtown Hero as if there were no other horses on the track, sending him to the front for a huge lead as each fraction ticked off proved more impressive than the one before.

In the stretch, Bigtown Hero began to slow ever so slightly. It was a good thing the lead he built up was so substantial, because Dancin Yankee and Aslan came closing at him fast. Pierce urged him home for a half-length victory in a stunning time of 1:47:3. That broke the world record for aged gelding pacers on a 5/8-mile oval, which was set last June at Pocono by Foiled Again and then matched by Abelard Hanover.

Other top pacers this week include: Ring Warrior (Matt Kakaley, Brewer Adams), a colt who followed up four consecutive wins at Ocean Downs with a victory at Pocono in a condition pace on Tuesday night in a career-best 1:54; Cherokee Hunter (Simon Allard, Rene Allard) whose condition win on Tuesday night was his second straight and came in a career-best time of 1:52:1; and Wake Up Peter (Tyler Buter, Larry Remmen), who scorched a condition pacing group on Saturday night in 1:49:2.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SEVRUGA

Not all slumps are created equal. To wit, consider the struggles Sevruga had been having in the summer months. Last year he earned nearly $500,000 facing the best trotters around, and the highlight of his season was a world-record performance at Pocono with a win in 1:50:3. But he had come up empty for three months straight in terms of wins heading into Saturday night’s $25,000 Preferred trot.

In his last three races at Pocono, all against the most rugged trotters on the grounds, Sevruga, a 6-year-old gelding trained by Kevin Carr, had hit the board every time and had lost by just a neck in the last two. On Saturday night, he enjoyed his first quality post position in more than a month and took advantage of it, breezing to the front early with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike.

Things were by no means easy from that point, as Wind Of The North put up a sustained first-over challenge to the lead. But Sevruga had been rated well enough early in the race that he was able to dig deep in the final strides and win by a nose in a rapid 1:52:1. Maybe it wasn’t fair to say that Sevruga was in a slump considering the quality of his competition and the multiple near-misses, but it is fair to say that his losing streak is history and a lengthy winning streak might just be in the offing.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Tui (Anthony Napolitan, Don Wiest), a Pocono fan-favorite mare who scored her first win of the season on Saturday night in a tough condition group in 1:53:1; A Cool Million (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), a mare who moved up her claiming price and won her second straight race on Tuesday night, doing so in a career-best 1:54; and Fortunista (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), a mare who beat the boys in a tough condition group on Saturday night in a career-best 1:53:1.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: TRANSCENDING

An outside post and long odds didn’t bother this veteran pacer as he came from out of the clouds late to shock a condition field on Saturday night at 49-1, paying off an even $100 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: RON PIERCE

Pierce had it grooving on Saturday night, winning four consecutive races on the card, all in gate-to-wire fashion, a streak that culminated with the world-record win by Bigtown Hero.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JOE PAVIA JR.

Joe still does such a great job as a catch driver that his training abilities can sometimes be taken for granted, but a training double on Wednesday night put them front and center.

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.