Posts Tagged ‘Saratoga Harness’

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

October 19-25, 2012

The competition at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs over the past week was a lot of fun to watch. The weather has been cooperating, providing warmer temperatures than usual for this time of the year even when the rains came. As a result, we had a lot of fast times on both the pacing and trotting side of the ledger, giving us a great group of candidates for the Weekly Awards. Check it out below to see who get the honors.


Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen several horses stepping up in class in the condition ranks. In general, such a move up the ladder is a bit of a bumpy ride, considering that the competition is much stiffer in the higher classes. As a result, a horse that does move up has to raise its game to a new level to have any chance of picking up a victory.

Bittersweet Champ, a four-year-old gelding from the barn of Welsh trainer Gareth Dowse, was coming off a career-best start in a victory on October 12 in 1:50:3. Buoyed by that big effort, he stepped up into a condition for non-winners of $15,500 in the last five starts on Saturday night, a class against which he had previously come up short in two previous races.

Saturday night was a different story. Driver George Napolitano Jr. found the gelding some live cover on the back stretch. At the top of the lane, Bittersweet Champ blew right by that cover and scored his second straight win. As mentioned before, he needed to raise his game and he did just that, re-setting his career best with a sizzling time of 1:49:4, which matched the fastest pacing time of the week.

Other top pacers this week include: Sonic Raider (George Napolitano Jr., Joseph Karrat), who moved up in class on Saturday night but still captured his third straight claiming win and matched a career-best in the process with a mile of 1:52:2; Four Starzzz King (George Napolitano Jr., Peter Pellegrino), an 11-year-old pacer who picked up his second straight win over the $10,000 claimers on Saturday night in 1:52:1; and Special Dark (Matt Kakaley, Kent Sherman), a mare who picked up her second straight win over the $5,000 claimers on Friday night in 1:54:3.


Sometimes it takes some kind of change for a horse to tap into his true potential. In the case of Photo King, he’s had two pretty significant changes in the past month. He was claimed on September 28 and joined the barn of trainer Bill Mullin, and Mullin brought the 5-year-old gelding to Pocono from Saratoga Harness after the claim.

With a change of scenery and a change of barns, Photo King quickly responded with a claiming handicap win on October 12. That was all his handlers needed to see to step him up to a condition for non-winners of $25,000 in the last five races, one of the toughest groupings on the grounds. To make things more difficult, he had to deal with the #9 post.

Driver George Napolitano Jr. sent Photo King to the front early to get positioning, then allowed him to sit the pocket when the mare Tui went by him early. In the stretch, the five-year-old gelding made a big second move and won a thriller, prevailing in 1:53:2. Not only was that a career-best, it was also the fastest trotting time at Pocono for the week.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Sand Wyndham (Joe Pavia Jr., Rene Allard), who stepped up in class to win his second straight condition trot on Saturday night in 1:53:3; Without a Clue (Joe Pavia Jr., Anette Lorentzon), who now has three consecutive wins to start his career following a romping condition victory on Wednesday night in 1:55:3; and Around And Over (Anthony Napolitano, James McGuire), who picked up his second straight gate-to-wire win in condition action on Tuesday night, this one coming in 1:57:2.


Ideal Danny had been slumping for a bit, which is why he got away at 37-1 on Friday night in a condition pace, but he pulled off the upset with Eric Carlson in the bike for a $76.80 payout on a $2 win ticket.


Pavia has been picking up steam as the season has rolled on, and this week was indicative of that trend, as he picked up driving doubles on Saturday and Tuesday.


It’s been a good season at Pocono for the Pellegrino barn, and this week he scored training victories with Four Starzzz King on Saturday and Caviart Spencer on Tuesday.

That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at