Posts Tagged ‘Saratoga’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

October 7-13, 2017

It’s pretty difficult to believe that we are in the final quarter of the racing season here at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. (The warm weather is quite deceiving, because it certainly hasn’t seemed like autumn around here.) It will be soon be time to pick out yearend honors at Pocono, but that can wait a bit. For now, let’s be content to find the finest horses of the past week as we hand out the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: SI SEMALU

This seven-year-old gelding from the Bruce Clarke barn has been a solid performer for much of the season both here and at Harrah’s, but he seems to really be peaking here at the tail end of the meet. On September 30, Si Semalu dropped into a $12,500 condition pace and worked out a trip from an outside post, coming up late for a win in 1:50:1 as a 16-1 long shot. The winning time was a new career-best mark.

On Saturday night, he stepped back up into the $14,000 condition group, a class that had given him problems earlier this season. This was a pretty stacked race, with a field that included million-dollar earner Lucan Hanover as the odds-on favorite. Si Semalu got away third from the #7 post as an 8-1 shot with Jim Marohn Jr. in the bike, while Lucan Hanover called the early shots. The pace was quick and the leader was pressured throughout.

On the home stretch, Marohn had room to nudge Si Semalu to the outside. After saving so much energy to that point, he powered home past a tiring Lucan Hanover and held off closer Sports Bettor by three parts of a length. His winning time was 1:50:3, giving him two straight victories with sizzling times and a lot of confidence heading into whatever comes next.

Other top pacers this week include: Unbeamlieveable (Matt Kakaley, Vincent Fusco Jr.), a mare who overcame an outside post and a barn switch to capture her second straight claiming handicap on Monday, getting it done in a career-best 1:52; Motor City Marco (John Kakaley, Travis Alexander), a three-year-old who rolled on the front end on Sunday to his third straight condition victory, picking up the victory in a new career-best of  1:53:3; and Allstar Partner (Anthony Napolitano, Andrew Harris), whose condition victory on Saturday night in a career-best 1:49 represented the fastest pacing time of the past week at Pocono.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: MONEYDONTBUYULOVE

It has been an impressive streak put together of late by this four-year-old gelding from the Rene Allard barn. He came into a condition trot on Sunday night having won his last four consecutive starts. One of those was at Pocono in a non-winners of three condition group on September  5 on a sloppy track in 1:57. There was also a victory at Saratoga and back-to-back scores at Yonkers amassed by Moneydontbuyulove during the hot stretch.

On Sunday night, Moneydontbuyulove faced his toughest test yet, going up against a noon-winners of five class for a purse of $16,000. The fact that he was stepping up didn’t scare off the bettors, who made him a 1-9 favorite in a short field of six. His toughest competition figured to be from Arch Credit, a three-year-old who was coming off a sharp qualifier and sure enough hustled to the lead.

Arch Credit attempted to set nasty enough fractions to shake the favorite, but even getting to the three-quarter mark in 1:24:4 didn’t do the trick, as Moneydontbuyulove stayed attached. In the stretch, it was essentially a two-horse race, and Moneydontbuyulove utilized the passing lane to make his play for the lead. With Simon Allard in the bike, he glided by to beat Arch Credit by 1 ¾ lengths. For the icing on the cake, his fifth straight victory came in a new career mark of 1:54:1.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Catch A Mission (Jim Marohn Jr., Erv Miller), a mare who followed up a win at Harrah’s with one at Pocono in a condition on Sunday night in 1:53:4, which was the fastest trotting time of the week; Silvermass Volo (Mike Simons, Michael Holcman), who rallied from far back for a condition win on Sunday night in 1:54:3; and Stormont Wizard (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who moved up in class to knock off a condition group on Tuesday night in 1:54, which was a new career-best time.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SIBSON

This trotter previously had issues staying on stride, but, with Anthony Napolitano in the bike, he was flat and fast in a condition win on Tuesday night at 33-1, paying $68.80 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JOHN KAKALEY

The veteran driver had just four drives on Sunday night but won with two of them, scoring with pacer Motor City Marco and trotter Swiss Platinum.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: BRUCE CLARKE

The Clarke barn scored three wins on the week, highlighted by a training double on Sunday night and the second straight win by Si Semalu on Saturday 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.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

April 2-8, 2016

Racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono ramped up to three live nights this past week, as Sunday joined the schedule for the first time this year. By next week, we will have reached our four-nights-per-week schedule that will be our standby for the bulk of the meet. In the meantime, the three racing nights this week have given us just enough fodder to hand out 2016’s first edition of the Weekly Awards. Let’s see who takes the initial honors.

PACER OF THE WEEK: KINGS BARNS

This 5-year-old gelding spent the early part of 2016 battling it out at Yonkers with little to show for it. In nine races at the half-mile oval, he could only manage a pair of third-place finishes. In his last start at Yonkers, he switched to the barn of Rene Allard, a fellow who does serious damage at Pocono with all manner of horses.

Thus it was understandable that Kings Barns was favored in his 2016 Pocono debut on March 26 in an $11,000 condition pace, and he delivered on that promise with a front-pacing win with Simon Allard in the bike in a career-best 1:50:3. He moved up slightly to take on a $12,500 condition group on Saturday night, but he was unable to find the early lead for a second straight race. Instead he had to follow cover on the back stretch and make an early three-wide move.

Once the stretch rolled around, the gelding had gathered enough momentum to take aim at the leaders. Simon Allard guided him back to the inside to save ground, and he rolled by the faltering leaders to win in 1:52 by 1 ¾ lengths. That makes back-to-back victories for Kings Barns, who looks positively regal so far this meet at Pocono.

Other top pacers this week include: Whatagamble (George Napolitano Jr., Dean Eckley), who rolled to his second straight win over the $10,000 claimers on Saturday night in 1:53; Options Are Adream (Corey Callahan, Richard Lewis), a 3-year-old colt who is now unbeaten after seven career races, following up six straight wins at Dover with a Bobby Weiss series victory on Sunday night in 1:52:1; and Cooperstown (Anthony Napolitano, Daniel Renaud), whose victory in Sunday night’s featured condition pace in 1:50:1 was his third straight win, two of which have come at Pocono.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SOUTH SIDE HANOVER

This filly from the Todd Schadel barn didn’t do much as a 2-year-old a year ago, failing to break her maiden in 13 races and hitting the board just four times. She came off the layoff to battle a non-winners of one condition distaff group last week. Despite being a 22-1 long shot in the race and leaving from a tough #7 post, she made the lead, gutted it out, and came home a winner in 1:57:1.

In a $15,000 division of the Bobby Weiss series for distaff trotters on Tuesday night, South Side Hanover was assigned the outside #7 post and received a bit more betting attention, going off as the 7-1 second choice. Most of the money went to 1-5 betting favorite Ready Any Time. But it was South Side Hanover who was ready from the getgo, hustling to the front end under before the quarter pole under urging from Todd Schadel to dictate the terms.

At the top of the stretch, South Side Hanover turned back a charge from pocket horse Squeals Of Delight, while the heavy favorite Ready Any Time could only rally for the show. She won by 1 ½ lengths in a new career mark of 1:56:4. From a nondescript maiden to Late Closer series contender in just a couple weeks, this filly is rising fast and it seems like even higher levels are within her reach.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Massacaia (George Napolitano Jr., Jason Robinson), who bounced back from a break in his previous start to score a condition win on Saturday night in 1:55; Extracurricular (Jim Morrill Jr., Lance Hudson), who arrived from Yonkers and fought hard for a condition win in 155; and Daylon Miracle (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), a mare who arrived from Saratoga to dominate in a condition trot in Tuesday night in 1:53, easily the fastest trotting time of the week.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ROCKINTHEPINES

This gelding driven by Marcus Miller started Tuesday night off with a surprising bang, rallying from way back to stun a claiming trotting field at 34-1, paying off $71.60 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: TODD SCHADEL

Schadel zipped to victories in two of the three Bobby Weiss divisions held on Tuesday night for distaff trotters, winning with South Side Hanover and Real Caviar, both of whom he also trains.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: DEAN ECKLEY

Talk about efficient: Eckley sent out only three starters on Saturday night, and every one of them came home a winner for a perfect training evening.

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.

Opening Night Saturday at the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono

Friday, March 18th, 2016

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono opens its 51st season of harness racing on Saturday night, March 19th, with a $15,500 trotting feature and a trio of $14,000 co-features, two on the pace and one on the trot. The card starts off strongly, with the nightly feature slotted for race 2 on the 14-race card, and one of the co-features hitting leadoff for the mountain action, which has a first post at 6:30 p.m.

In the second race conditioned trot, the Holiday Road gelding Its Huw You Know has been accorded 3-1 morning line favoritism by oddsmaker Jim Beviglia despite form that would try the patience of a mother. The Ron Burke-trained gelding has won twice in his last four starts, including a 1:54.2 triumph in his last outing at The Meadowlands, but he has been known to throw the occasional tantrum in a race. His backers will hope for the “good” Its Huw You Know to show up as he starts from post six in a field of eight for driver Jim Morrill Jr., who comes to Pocono red-hot from Buffalo Raceway, sporting an incredible .624 early-season UDR.

In the curtainraiser, a handicapped event for high-level claiming pacers, Cotton Eyed Joe has been tabbed a 3-1 choice despite not having started since the end of the last Pocono meet, on November 21, though he had a good qualifying prep. “Joe” will start from post three in a group of eight, and will be driven by George Napolitano Jr., the track’s all-time leading single-season dashwinning champion with nine, including a record 407 visits to Victory Lane last year.

The other pacing co-feature, race 10, finds Ultimate Beachboy starting from the rail, inside seven foes, as he comes in from Toronto for trainer Rene Allard, who topped the conditioning tables at Pocono last season. Rene’s brother Simon, second to “George Nap” in the driving standings here last year, will guide the “Beachboy,” a $72,000 purchase at The Meadowlands’ January sale, who returns to the track where he took his personal record of 1:48.3, which at the time equaled the world record for three-year-old pacing geldings over a 5/8-mile track.

The co-featured trot, race 6, affords 5-2 favoritism to the $770,000+-winner Zooming, who drops in class after battling Open competition at Yonkers and Saratoga. George Napolitano Jr. has been picked to guide Zooming as the pair starts from post seven in a field of nine.

Pocono opens its season racing on Saturdays and Tuesdays in March; it will add Sundays (with a new 7:30 post time as opposed to the “usual” 6:30 start) on April 3 and Mondays on April 11. That Saturday through Tuesday schedule will be the basic format at The Downs through the spring and summer, with special event days accompanying the three races of the Thoroughbred Triple Crown.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week in Review

Friday, November 6th, 2015

October 31-November 6, 2015

This will be our last article this year that features our Weekly Awards. With only two weeks left in the 2015 racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, we’ll close it out the next few weeks by looking back on the season gone past. But, before we do, let’s make these count and hand out the awards to the best of the best in the week that was at Pocono.

PACER OF THE WEEK: PREPARTY

It makes sense that our last Pacer of the Week award goes to a horse from the barn of trainer Rene Allard, since his horses have dominated this column space for most of the season. Yet this particular Allard trainee would have seemed an unlikely choice for these honors a few months back. Preparty, a 4-year-old gelding, had a stretch of three races in August and September at Pocono in which he finished no better than seventh.

On September 18, he returned from a third-place finish at Saratoga to face our $8,500 condition pacers. That’s the lowest level of condition action at the track, so Preparty needed to step up with these or run the risk of an even more prolonged slump. A gate-to-wire win seemed that night reinvigorated him, and he came into Saturday night’s featured $20,000 condition pace having won three out of four, all while moving significantly up the condition ladder from that earlier nadir.

On Saturday night as the even-money favorite, the gelding found a perfect pocket spot as a speed duel raged in front of him. In the stretch, driver Simon Allard guided Preparty into the inside passing lane. From there he overtook Rockin Rumble, a game long shot who battled all the way on the outside only to come up short by a nose. With the victory in 1:52, Preparty now has won two straight and four out of five, and those down times seem like a distant memory.

Other top pacers this week include: Mickey Hanover (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who is now two-for-two at Pocono since returning from New York after a condition win on Saturday night in 1:51; Mr Massimo (George Napolitano Jr., Kevin Reynolds), who continued his late-season torrid streak by moving up in class to win his fourth straight claimer on Saturday night, this one in 1:50:4; and Scandalicious (Marcus Miller, Scott DiDomenico), who captured Wednesday night’s featured distaff condition pace in 1:52:2.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SOMEBODY AS

If you’ve watched any harness racing at all at Pocono over the last two months, you’ve probably noticed that symbol AS showing up at the end of the names of a lot of winning trotters. It’s an abbreviation for an ownership group based in Kentucky who generally uses trainer Anette Lorentzon to condition their horses, usually with outstanding results.

Somebody AS, a 6-year-old gelding, has climbed the highest of these trotters in the Pocono condition ranks. After spending a lot of time this year in Ohio, he shipped in for a $20,000 condition trot on October 3 and pulled off an upset win in the slop in 1:54:4 as a 10-1 shot. He then moved up in class to face the $24,000 condition pacers, acquitting himself well with back-to-back thirds.

On Saturday night, he dropped back down to the $20,000 level. Driver George Napolitano Jr. sent Somebody AS to the front and set nasty fractions, losing the pursuit behind him in the process. Somebody AS ended up seven lengths in front of the rest at the line, trotting the mile in a career-best 1:52:2, the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono by a wide margin and a very impressive number considering the chilly temperatures. Bottom line: when you see that AS name, don’t sleep on the horse’s chances in that particular race.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Code Bon (Simon Allard, Ake Svanstedt), a 3-year-old colt who followed up a win at Lexington with a condition victory on Tuesday night at Pocono in 1:53:2; Musical Rhythm (Marcus Miller, Tony Alagna), a 3-year-old colt who rallied from far back early to score in Tuesday night’s featured condition trot in a career-best 1:56; and Vimy Ridge (Howard Parker, Bill Mullin), who dominated a claiming handicap group on Wednesday night in a career-best 1:53, picking up his second straight victory in the process.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: HOPE FOR BADLANDS

In a condition pace on Tuesday night, this gelding with Andrew McCarthy blew by his competitors late as a 38-1 long shot to pay off a hefty $79.80 on a $2 win ticket.

In lieu of driver and trainer of the week awards this week, I’d like to take a moment to salute our entire community of drivers and trainers. The balance among the drivers and trainers community has been incredible all year long. Tuesday night was typical: 10 different drivers won at least one race and the 16 victories on the care were divvied up among 15 different trainers. It’s never been as competitive at Pocono, and the ladies and gentlemen doing the driving and training are a big reason why. Nice job, folks.

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

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.