Posts Tagged ‘Sparky Mark’

Sparky Mark’s Saturday feature win marks second straight

Monday, July 27th, 2015

After adroitly avoiding an offstride Ontario Success early in the backstretch, Sparky Mark, driven by Simon Allard, went on to his second straight victory at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, taking the $24,000 featured pace at the mountain oval on Saturday, July 25,  in 1:50.

Ontario Success had put up early numbers of 26.2 and 55.3, with Sparky Mark on his back. Driver Anthony Napolitano kicked out the horse’s earplugs coming off the second turn, but the pacer misreacted and went offstride, moving to the outside as Napolitano looked for clearance and hollered out about his problem. Allard and Joe Pavia Jr., guiding first-over Blatantly Best, reacted well in concert with Napolitano, with Allard going inside the runner and Pavia going wide as Napolitano kept his offstride charge between the pair.

From there, Sparky Mark had it relatively easy, storming home in 54.1-27 individually to win by 2 1/4 lengths over Blatantly Best, who was able to retuck in the pocket after the trouble. The son of Astreos, trained by Simon’s brother Rene, continues to get closer and closer to a seven-figure lifetime bankroll, with his lifetime total now at $953,556.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week in Review

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

June 6-12, 2015

It was bound to happen. As impressive as the times on The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono’s track records page might be, each year several of those records fall by the wayside. It took nearly 2 ½ months for any horse to match or break one of those lofty standards this season, which was a bit surprising considering the caliber of horses we’ve seen so far this year. 2015’s first incursion into the records page came on Saturday night, and the horse that came up big leads us off in this edition of the Weekly Awards.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: FRAU BLUCHER

The crowd was still abuzz following the Triple Crown victory of American Pharaoh early Saturday evening when a pack of Open trotters hit the track to restart Pocono’s harness racing program, which had begun earlier in the afternoon. The 1-2 favorite was Daylon Miracle, a mare fresh off a Preferred win at the Meadows against other distaffers. Frau Blucher, the other mare in the field, got away as the 9-5 second choice, as she was stepping up in class after a condition win in the slop on May 30 in an unhurried 1:55.

Frau Blucher was a superstar as a 2 and 3-year-old for trainer Chris Oakes, earning over $900,000 in those two seasons. Her 4-year-old season included a world record for her age group when she won at Pocono in 1:51:2, but that was just one of two wins she managed all year in just nine races. Her five-year-old season included just one start prior to that May 30 win, and she went off-stride in that one.

But on Saturday night, she showed just how dangerous she could be in top form. Driver George Napolitano Jr. sent her to the front end early and didn’t have much pressure to the half-mile marker, which allowed him to rate her conservatively. Frau Blucher put on a show in the second half of the mile, keeping the pursuit at bay and eventually closing in :27:4 to win by 1 ¼ lengths over Possessed Fashion. The winning time of 1:51:4 matched the track record for aged trotting mares, which had previously been shared by Beatgoeson Hanover and In Your Room. Frau Blucher now joins male trotting superstar Father Patrick as the only horses to occupy two spots on the Pocono track record page.

Other top trotters this week include: Schalom G (George Napolitano Jr., Neal Ehrhart), who moved up in class on Tuesday night to score his second straight condition win, this one in 1:54:4; Rossini (Jason Bartlett, Jim Raymer), who powered to a condition victory on Saturday night in 1:53:1; and Raise The Curtain (Jason Bartlett, Timothy Lancaster), who rallied Wednesday night for his second straight condition win on Wednesday night in a career-best 1:54:1.

PACER OF THE WEEK: BIG BOY DREAMS

The barn of Pocono’s leading trainer Rene Allard never seems to run out of pacers able to compete at the highest levels. Already in 2015 we’ve seen Domethatagain and Sparky Mark take Pacer of the Week honors for their exploits in Open and condition paces at Pocono. Big Boy Dreams had hopes he could join them on Saturday night in a $30,000 Open pace.

This 4-year-old stallion raced once at Pocono in April, finishing a close 3rd in a condition pace. He then went to Canada for two races in the Confederation Cup, finishing 3rd in the big-money final, and followed that up with an Open Handicap victory at Yonkers. On Saturday night, Big Boy Dreams rolled to the front end with Simon Allard in the bike, and when he made it to the half in :55:3 on a night when the wind was helping horses in the front stretch, you knew he was going to be tough to catch.

Big Boy Dreams turned on the jets in the second half of the mile and stayed strong to the finish line. He ended up winning by a length in 1:49:4, a new career-best, over Texican N, giving him two consecutive wins over Open competition. He has a lot of competition in his barn for accolades, but Big Boy Dreams is racing as well as any of his stablemates right now, which is high praise indeed.

Honorable mention on the pacing side includes: McKenry (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), a 3-year-old who picked up his second straight condition victory on Tuesday night, this time in a career-best 1:51:4; Caviart Shelley (Jim Morrill Jr., Ron Burke), a mare who ripped off her fifth straight condition win on Wednesday night in a career-best time of 1:50:4; and Cloris Hanover (Tyler Buter, Todd Buter), who won a condition pace against other mares with ease for the second straight week, doing it in a time of 1:51.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: INTERNAL CHECK

This pacing mare, with Jim Morrill Jr. driving, rallied from way back on the outside to upend a claiming handicap field on Wednesday night at 22-1, paying off $47.60 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

This was a typical George Nap week, as he hit double digits in wins over the four racing nights and chalked up five victories against the elite competition on Saturday night.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: KEVIN CARR

Carr’s training average at Pocono has been solid for several years running, and she showed off his wares with back-to-back winners on the card on Sunday 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

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.

PACER OF THE WEEK: SPARKY MARK

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.

TROTTER OF THE YEAR: SOCIAL DELIGHT

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.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: MACK BARON

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.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MATT KAKALEY

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.

TRAINER OF THR WEEK: MARTY FINE

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 jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.

YS Lotus brilliant in Weiss Final

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

To modify the old adage, call him whatever you want, as long as you call him to the winners circle.

YS Lotus, without a space between the first two letters of his name but whom The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono broadcaster George Anthony insists should be called as if there were a space – after all, his owner is Yves Sarrazin – was brilliant Saturday night, April 19th,  in taking the $30,000 Bobby Weiss Series Championship for male pacers at the mountain oval in 1:49.3.

The altered son of If I Can Dream had first acquired a reputation for his ironsidedness, racing six times in 18 days between the Weiss and the Sagamore Hill Series at Yonkers. Before last week’s final Weiss prelim he had had a full week off, and he took a new mark of 1:50.2; with another 7-day rest, he lowered that mark by 4/5 of a second Satuday.

Victory At Last and Shadow Margeaux engaged in a bitter duel for the front end in a 26 opener, with YS Lotus five lengths off them early in third, but driver Simon Allard had the winner rolling in front of the stands, hitting the half in 54. Favored Major Uptrend, impressive winner of his only two Weiss starts, came first-up down the backstretch, but “YS” and Allard kept distance between them past the 1:21.1 ¾s and all the way to the finish, winning by 2¼ lengths. Trainer Rene Allard sent out not only the winner but also Vance Bayama (driver Mike Simons), who claimed third after a troubled trip.

In the $25,000 winners-over pacing feature, Ideal Matters was a “pocket rocket,” winning by a nose in 1:50 for driver George Napolitano Jr. and owner/trainer Gil Garcia-Herrera. Favored Sparky Mark just missed with his late rally, while pacesetter Mustang Art held well for third, beaten a length, after cutting fractions of 26.3, 53.4, and 1:22.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week in Review

Monday, April 6th, 2015

March 28-April 3, 2015

We’re two weeks into the 2015 racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and we still haven’t seen too much in the way of ideal racing conditions. The six nights of racing have been characterized by rain, wind, cold, and, would you believe it, even snow. Yet in the midst of the ugly weather we’ve already been witness to some outstanding racing and speedy times that flew in the face of the poor conditions. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: HUMILITY

Snow lined the infield as Humility lined up to face a group of non-winners of $10,000 in the last five starts on Tuesday night. The 5-year-old stallion was taking a few steps up in class from his previous race, which was a win at Pocono in a first-over grind in 1:52:2. Trained by Brewer Adams, Humility would need to put together another big mile to hang with the tougher competition.

Early speed in the race came from Always A Diamond, another horse stepping up in class off a big win. Meanwhile China King, the favorite in the race after shipping in from California, had the perfect trip on the pocket. Humility looked like an afterthought when he started a first-over move from fifth on the back stretch, seemingly too far back to compete.

Yet driver Jim Morrill Jr. found a groove on the sloppy track, and when Humility whipped around the final turn three wide, he was in striking distance. Setting his sights on China King, who had taken the lead in the stretch, the stallion hustled by to win by a neck in 1:52:2. Neither a step up in class not a tough trip slowed Humility, who now has wins in each of his first two starts in the meet and might just be ready to move even higher up the Pocono ladder.

Other top pacers this week include: Sparky Mark (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), whose victory in Saturday night’s condition pace came in 1:50:4, the week’s fastest time at Pocono despite freezing temperatures that evening; Majo Just Do It (Simon Allard, Jennifer Sansone), who rolled to a claiming handicap win on Tuesday night, his second straight, in 1:54:4; and Feels Like Magic N (Tom Jackson, Darran Cassar), who rallied for his second straight condition win as a long shot on Saturday night, scoring in a career-best 1:52:3.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SENTRY

One of the things that makes handicapping so hard early in the season is that there are horses shipping in from all over the country to the Pocono oval. It’s difficult to know how a horse will do on the 5/8-mile track, especially when they’re arriving from a track of a different size. In the case of Sentry, that track was Monticello, the half-mile oval in New York where he had won two of his previous three races.

The winning times he posted at Monticello, each over two minutes, might not have looked so hot compared to some of the others in the field. But this 5-year-old stallion from the barn of Jenny Melander once trotted a mile of 1:54 at Pocono, so the precedent was there for a big effort. In a condition trot on Tuesday night, driver Brett Miller sent Sentry behind cover on the outside and then bided his time until the stretch.

When that stretch arrived, Sentry took his shot with a three-wide move and went trotting right on past the leaders. Even on a sloppy track, his winning time of 1:56:2 showed his capability to put up times more in line with the speedy horses at Pocono. And, with three wins in his last four races, this peaking trotter is proving that he’ll be a factor no matter where he chooses to race.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Team Six (Marcus Miller, Erv Miller), who shipped in from the Meadowlands and handled a tough group of condition trotters on Saturday night in 1:55:1; Walk The Walk (David Miller, Chris Ryder), who ripped off his second straight win in the Bobby Weiss series on Tuesday night, conquering a sloppy track in 1:55, a career-best time; and Classic Belisima (David Miller, John Cabot), a mare whose romping victory in the Bobby Weiss series on Wednesday gave her three straight wins and came in the week’s fastest trotting time at Pocono of 1:53:3.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SHADOWS DREAM

This veteran pacer sent the faithful home on Tuesday night scratching their heads, as he rallied out wide late to win a condition at 16-1, paying out $35.60 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JIM MORRILL JR.

Very few drivers have been as successful for as long a period of time as Morrill, who rolled this week to a double on Saturday and four victories on Tuesday.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: BREWER ADAMS

Three victories by Adams’ horses on Tuesday were impressive enough, but they were even more eye-popping considering that not one of those winners was the favorite.

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.