Posts Tagged ‘Scott Rocks’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week in Review

Monday, June 6th, 2016

May 28-June 4, 2016

It’s been a while since we’ve handed out the Weekly Awards in this column. We hit a stretch the past month or so at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono where it seemed like every week featured a different set of stakes races, which obviously needed to be highlighted. This week the stakes races took a breather, allowing our excellent condition and claiming pacers and trotters to take center stage. And, with warm temperatures hitting the track, plenty of candidates stepped up with outstanding performances. So let’s see who took the highest honors at Pocono in the week that was.

PACER OF THE WEEK: SCOTT ROCKS

It’s been a bit of an up-and-down season for Scott Rocks, a 6-year-old stalwart of the Chris Oakes barn. The gelding was a tough customer early in the year at Pompano Park, but then he came up empty in the Levy series at Yonkers. In his two starts at Pocono in the meet leading up to Saturday night, he battled his way to a second and a third against the top condition pacers on the grounds.

On Saturday night, Scott Rocks lined up from post position #6 in a field of eight for an $18,000 condition purse. He went off as the 2-1 second choice, ceding the favorite’s mantle to Bettor’s Edge, earner of over $1.8 million in his career. But driver George Napolitano Jr. wasn’t about to take a back seat to anyone, sending Scott Rocks to the front end. The fractions he set were intense, so much so that it seemed only a matter of time before Bettor’s Edge or somebody else in the field overtook him.

But Scott Rocks kept right on rolling. He finished strong in the lane to hold off Bettor’s Edge by a length-and-a-half. The winning time was an eye-opener, as the gelding tripped the line in 1:48. Not only was that the fastest time of an excellent career to date for Scott Rocks, it was also the fastest of the 2016 season so far at Pocono. Look for this talented gelding to step up in class off that extremely impressive mile in the weeks to come.

Other top pacers this week include: Limelight Beach (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who rallied to capture Saturday night’s featured condition pace in 1:49:4; Mr D’s Dragon (Simon Allard, Staffan Lind), a 3-year-old who picked up his second straight condition win on Monday night, this one coming in 1:55 in the slop; and Check’s Commodore (Matt Kakaley, Tony Kavoleff), whose victory in a condition pace on Monday night in 1:54:4 in sloppy conditions gave three wins and a place in his last four races.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: AGGRESSIVE

For the past few weeks at Pocono, the condition trot with the biggest purse has been scheduled on Sunday nights, giving some of the leading lights of the trotting game a chance to shine. Three weeks ago, Tag Up N Go put together an impressive win in the featured trot, followed the next week by Armor Hanover’s victory in the slop. In both of those races, Aggressive, a 5-year-old gelding trained by Gilberto Garcia-Herrera, had been best of the rest with second-place finishes at nice prices.

On Sunday night in the $18,000 featured condition trot of the week, it appeared as though Aggressive might have to once again take a back seat to a conquering invader. B Yoyo arrived from The Meadowlands with an impressive string of swift times and solid performances and, with the inside post, went off as a 1-2 favorite. When B Yoyo had the lead on the back stretch, it appeared for all the world like he would fulfill his promise.

But Aggressive, perhaps weary of playing second fiddle, had other ideas. With one quick brush he moved from third right past the stunned leader. He then built a big lead that he would pretty much carry all the way home. With George Napolitano Jr. in the bike, the gelding steamed home 3 ¼ lengths ahead of his nearest foe, tripping the line in a career-best time of 1:52:4, which also matched the fastest trotting time of the week. Now that he has a taste for winning, you might see Aggressive doing it a lot more often.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Mr Lover (Anthony Napolitano, Jenny Melander), who moved up in class and captured his second straight condition win on Monday night, this one coming in the slop in 1:56:2; Celebrity Bugatti (Anthony Napolitano, Chris Oakes), who picked up a condition victory in a career-best 1:52:4, which matched the fastest trotting time of the week; and Spicedbourbongirl (Jeff Gregory driver and trainer), a filly who picked up a condition win on Sunday night in a career-best 1:53:4, giving her three victories in her last four races.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: BELLA’S PUNKETT

This filly with Jim Taggart Jr. in the bike left well in a condition trot on Tuesday night, inherited the lead from a breaking horse, and trotted away late to win at 20-1, paying off $42.80 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

George Nap, who currently is the only driver with over 100 wins in the Pocono meet, had another big week with four wins on Saturday night and three nights out of four with multiple victories.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JONAS CZERNYSON

Czernyson sent out a pair of maiden trotters on Sunday night and by the end of the evening they were maidens no more, as both Sand Grenade and Pick Up The Tab scored their first lifetime 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.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week in Review

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

October 9-15, 2015

After the last vestiges of summer flickered across the Northeastern Pennsylvania landscape early last week, more typical autumnal weather started to move in at the end of the racing week. Regardless of the weather, cold or hot, sloppy or clear, you can always count on racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun to be of the highest caliber, and this week was no different. To prove it, let’s hand out some Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: FANCY DESIRE

It’s never too late to turn a season around, or at least salvage something positive from it. Consider the example of Fancy Desire, a 4-year-old mare from the barn of trainer Daniel Renaud. As a 3-year-old in 2014, she was outstanding, earning over $300,000. Yet her four-year-old season seemed like a lost cause by comparison; going into her start at Pocono on October 2, she had just two second-place finishes to show for her 21 races with nary a win.

That all changed that night against an excellent $24,000 distaff condition field, as she rallied late with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike to win at 8-1 in 1:52:1 in sloppy conditions. With George Nap unavailable on Friday night, Anthony Napolitano took the assignment aboard Fancy Desire against the same condition, also in the slop. And, changing strategies, A-Nap sent the mare to the front end early.

While the heavy favorite Stacia Hanover labored a bit in the wet conditions, Fancy Desire looked confident on the engine. In the stretch, only Handsoffmycupcake was a threat from the pocket, but she could only get within a length at the line. With a winning time of 1:52:2, Fancy Desire now has two straight victories after her 0-for-21 start to the season. There’s still a month or so left in the Pocono meet and a month more after that till the end of the year, so there’s no telling what kind of damage she’ll do now that she has found her stride.

Other top pacers this week include: Scott Rocks (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), who reeled off his second straight condition win, this one coming in Saturday night’s feature in 1:50:1; Modern Day Clyde (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), who ripped off his third straight claiming victory on Saturday night in 1:52:2; and K Ryan Bluechip (Simon Allard, Joe Pavia Jr.), a three-year-old filly who scored her second straight condition win on Tuesday night, this one in a career-best 1:49:4, and has now won the last four times she’s raced at Pocono.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: GJ PHOTO VICTORY

What a season it has been for this 7-year-old gelding with the mouthful of a name. Going into a $12,500 to $15,000 claiming handicap trot on Friday night, GJ Photo Victory had notched 13 victories in 31 races this year. A good chunk of those victories came right here at Pocono, and, aside from a little mid-season slump, has been a threat to win just about every time he leaves the gate regardless of the competition or the post position.

In recent weeks, GJ Photo Victory has been on fire. He came into Friday night’s race with victories in his last two starts for trainer Dean Eckley. Unlike those last two wins, however, Friday night’s contest saw him shuffled to the middle of the pack early, putting his winning streak in jeopardy. Driver Jim Morrill Jr. decided on a relatively early three-wide move to get the front.

You don’t win as many races as GJ Photo Victory has this year without proving that you can handle a little in-race adversity. As the 2-1 second choice in the race, he worked his way to the front with the wide move and held everyone else at bay from there. The winning time in the slop was 1:56. That makes 14 wins this season, three in a row, and just another example why this horse has to be kept in mind when we hand out the Pocono yearend awards in a few weeks.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Soboro Hanover (Matt Kakaley, Nifty Norman), a 3-year-old gelding who won Tuesday night’s featured condition trot in 1:54:4, giving him two straight victories; Drama Free (Simon Allard, Chris Oakes), who picked up his second straight claiming victory on Friday night, doing so in the slop in a career-best 1:55:1; and Ray Hall (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), whose condition victory on Saturday night came in the week’s fastest trotting time of 1:52:4.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: GLAMMIT

His name may sound like a curse word, but folks were shouting it in celebration after this pacer with Joe Pavia Jr. driving surprised a condition field at 29-1, paying off $61.60 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JOE PAVIA JR.

Joe had his finest night of the season in the slop on Friday night, churning out five wins, of which only one went off as the race favorite.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: ROBERT BRESNAHAN JR.

Bresnahan won with the only two starters he sent out on Saturday night, a pair of New Zealand-breds who paid off at nice odds: Mr Franklin N at 10-1 and Benjamin Banneker N at 9-2.

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.

Oakes & Napolitano team sweep Saturday features

Monday, October 12th, 2015

Driver George Napolitano Jr. and trainer Chris Oakes combined for a sweep of the pacing features Saturday night, October 1oth,  at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with Scott Rocks a pocket rocket in taking the $26,000 pace in 1:50.1 and Luck Be Withyou controlling the pace to report home first in 1:49.1 in a $24,000 event.

Napolitano left hard with Scott Rocks, an altered son of Rocknroll Hanover, forcing a pocket tuck from Lonewolf Currier, then surrendering the front to the brushing Bushwacker past the 27.1 opener. Bushwacker continued on the engine with middle fractions of 54.4 and 1:22.4, and held gamely through the drive, but “George Nap” guided Scott Rocks to the famed “Pocono Pike” passing lane, and wore down the frontstepper by midstretch, posting a neck triumph for the ownership of Susan Oakes and Chuck Pompey; Major Uptrend charged hard late to be a close third.

Luck Be Withyou continued to show his affinity for the Pocono red clay surface, having won the 2013 Breeders Crown two-year-old colt pace and the 2015 Ben Franklin Final against top-level competition. The son of Western Ideal then had a dull patch of form, enabling him to drop down in class, and Saturday he took his third straight win on the comeback trail, moving to the front after Somethinginthewind blew to the quarter in 26, putting up 54.1 and 1:21.4 middle splits, and staying strong with a 27.2 last quarter, winning by 2 1/2 lengths for owner John Craig.

In a $24,000 trot, Ray Hall, who ascended to the top levels during the Weiss Series in the spring of 2014, showed that he might prove a worthy rival to his 2015 “successor,” JL Cruze, ringing up his second win in three starts since being acquired by Team Allard (driver Simon and trainer/brother Rene, also co-owner with Giselle Hebert). The Justice Hall gelding stayed off a wild early duel (25.4, 53.4) between Somebody As and Modest Prince, moved up to a great second-over spot by the 1:23 3/4 marker, then easily outtrotted his rivals home, tallying by 1 1/2 lengths over deep Pikeshooter Doc’s Tebow in 1:52.4.

Pocono now shifts to a 3-night-a-week live schedule, with the trotters and pacers under the lights on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays until the meet’s end on November 21.

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.

Napolitano firmly atop driver standings

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

George Napolitano Jr., solidifying his leader atop the drivers standings at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, took both $25,000 features this Saturday night, with pacer Bandolito and trotter Frau Blucher justifying their odds-on status by scoring over a track rerated to “sloppy” after midcard rains.

Bandolito was moved to the front by “George Nap” after the 26.4 opener in his contest, put up a midway split of 54.1, and saw first-over Scott Rocks coming to him towards the 1:21.1 3/4s. In the stretch Scott Rocks was gaining throughout, but Bandolito, a son of Ponder, was kept alive to win by a head in 1:49.2 in the off going. Trainer/owner Daryl Bier will be happy to receive the news as he probably did not watch the race live, since post time was at 3:20 a.m. in Sweden, where Bier is preparing Wind Of The North for Sunday’s Elitloppet.

Napolitano completed the chalk feature double by guiding the world champion Broadway Hall mare Frau Blucher to a 1:55 win in the off going. Frau Blucher let the field settle, was moved by Napolitano to the lead after the first turn, “stole” a 58 first half, and then powered home in 57 to tally easily for trainer Chris Oakes and the ownership combine of Susan Oakes and Hauser Brothers Racing Enterprises LLC.

Any potential the features had to produce a really fast mile was washed out by the midevening rain, but to show the speed potential the track had at card’s start: three of the first six races featured an opening quarter of less than 26 seconds, and one of 26 flat.