Posts Tagged ‘Stanhope’

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Friday, June 13th, 2014

May 31-June 6, 2014

The month of June arrived at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs and brought with it some of the most competitive racing we’ve had all year long. We saw a little of everything: Standout performances, stunning long shots, drivers and trainers putting in big efforts, and much, much more. It’s never easy to pick out the very best of such a crowded field, but that’s what we’re here to do by handing out another edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: BJ’S RAMEAU

Like any other athlete, character is often most clearly revealed in a harness racing horse when adversity strikes. In the case of BJ’s Rameau, that adversity came in the midst of an outstanding season as one of the top claiming pacers at Pocono, when, in his first start in the barn of trainer Matias Ruiz on May 17, he finished dead last in a field of nine despite having a lead at the top of the stretch.

That rare clunker of a finish was mitigated somewhat by the fact that he started the race from the outside post, meaning that the lead he captured was extremely hard-fought. Still, the bettors were skeptical enough that in his next start, BJ’s Rameau went off at a tepid 6-1. He responded with a gutty win from the pocket in 1:50:2.

On Saturday night, he was the even-money favorite once again in his usual $25,000-$30,000 claiming handicap group, and he delivered a bravura effort. With Joe Pavia Jr. in the bike, BJ’s Rameau made the lead about 3/8 of a mile into the race and poured it on from there, beating the toughest pacers on the grounds by 5 ¾ lengths and doing so in a career-best 1:49:1, which was the fastest pacing time posted this week at Pocono. Like all the finest horses, this 5-year-old gelding bounced back from his brief bout of adversity stronger than ever.

Other top pacers this week include: Morgan Shark (Simon Allard, Pierre Paradis), who ripped off his third straight claiming win on Saturday night and did so in a career-best 1:50:1; Skitsofrantic (Mark MacDonald, John Barchi), who continues to tear up the lower claiming ranks, winning in 1:53:3 on Sunday night for his fourth consecutive victory; and Stanhope (Anthony Napolitano, Steve Salerno), a three-year-old who won his third straight condition race on Sunday, this one in 1:52:4, despite the fact that he wasn’t favored in any of those starts.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: JOHNHANNIBALSMITH

Fans of 80’s television will recognize this name as being the same as the leader of the A-Team, a guy famous for saying, “I love it when a plan comes together” at the end of every episode. For the trotter of the same name, an 11-year-old gelding from the barn of trainer Gilberto Garcia-Herrera, the plan has been pretty simple. He just goes out and beats everybody he faces.

Coming into Wednesday night’s $12,500 claiming trot, Johnhannibalsmith had made seven starts in 2014 and won six of them. His only loss was by a heartbreaking head to Fortissimo on April 25 at Chester, but he ripped off three more wins in a row following that defeat, two of them coming at Pocono.

On Wednesday night, he upped his claiming price from $10,000 to $12,500 for a new challenge, but the race played out the same when the gelding booked to the front end. With his regular driver George Napolitano Jr. in tow, Johnhannibalsmith led all the way even though he was tested at the end of the mile. That extra effort led him to a career-best time of 1:54:3, meaning that this veteran trotter deserves another victory cigar lit in his honor, just like his television namesake liked to do.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Tamasin Hall (Bill Mullin driver and trainer), a mare who picked up her second straight condition win on Tuesday night, this one in 1:56:3; Bufalino Hanover (Matt Kakaley, Todd Schadel), whose condition win on Tuesday night came in the week’s fastest trotting time of 1:53:3, which was also his career-best; and Truth In Action (Mike Simons, Jenny Melander), who overcame an outside post position to win a claimer on Tuesday night in 1:55:2.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: PSYCHOBABBLE

The filly’s maiden victory on Tuesday night with Tom Jackson in the bike was probably just as memorable for her bettors as it was for her, as she cashed in at 36-1 for a $74.40 payout on a $2 ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JOE PAVIA JR.

Joe proved this week that he is still a force in the sulky when he takes on enough drives, posting back-to-back three-win nights on Saturday and Sunday night.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: FRED GRANT

Grant pulled off a unique training double on Tuesday night, as each of his winners, trotter Psychobabble and pacer Somenicebeach, earned their maiden 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.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

May 24-30, 2014

It was another extraordinary week of harness racing at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, one that featured a world record performance and some exciting Grand Circuit races. But the two horses that won the major honors this week are a pair of veterans who appear to be peaking at a time when most others are either winding down their careers or already retired. Let’s take a look at their exploits as we hand out the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: ANDERLECHT

While it’s not unusual for a nine-year-old pacer to be winning races, most of those veterans do so in the lower claiming ranks. Since arriving from Yonkers, this stallion has taken on some top-flight condition pacers and showed them how it’s done. On May 17, he absolutely blitzed a group of non-winners of $15,000 in the last five races with a monster mile of 1:48, which would have been a track record were it not of Dancin Yankee beating him to the punch a few races earlier with a 1:47:2 mile.

After a mile like that, it was obvious that he would be the favorite facing the same condition group on Saturday night. Yet the concern for Anderlecht, trained by JD Lewis, was that the ripping time from the previous week would leave him a bit winded this time out. When Getitoffyourchest made an aggressive move past him on the back stretch, it looked like maybe those fears would be realized.

Driver Simon Allard didn’t panic though, biding his time until the stretch when he cut loose Anderlecht for another move. He rallied past Getitoffyourchest to win by a 1 ½ lengths, posting another scorching winning time of 1:49:1. Can this veteran move up in class off these two wins and beat even more accomplished pacers? Based on these performances, it seems like horses of all ages and classes should be wary.

Other top pacers this week include: Somwherovrarainbow (Tim Tetrick, Joe Holloway), whose win in a Preferred pace for mares on Sunday night came in 1:48, the fastest time ever posted by a female pacer on a 5/8-mile oval; Stanhope (Anthony Napolitano, Steve Salerno), who moved up in class to win his second straight condition pace on Sunday night, this one coming in 1:51:4; and Ella’s Twin (George Napolitano Jr., John Barchi), a mare who churned her way to her third straight claiming win on Wednesday night, this one in 1:54:3.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: CHERRY TREE NICOLE

For a trotter to be a consistent winner week after week, it generally has to have a decent amount of getaway speed. Being close to the early lead takes a lot of variables out of a race, so the horses that can fire out of the gate well every race usually give themselves a good chance to win. Cherry Tree Nicole has virtually no leaving speed, yet the mare has been one of the most consistent winners since arriving from California in April.

The pattern for her races has been pretty much identical. She tends to start slowly, out-pacing just a couple horses in the large field around the first turn. On the back stretch, the mare starts to make steady advancement, and, in the stretch, she blows by everyone. That strategy led her to victories in three of her first four races at Pocono. Tuesday night was a tougher test because she was moving up in class to the $10,000 claimers. Plus, she was switching barns, racing for the first time under the banner of trainer Steve Salerno.

Yet for all the changes, the results turned out to be strikingly similar. Cherry Tree Nicole, an eight-year-old mare with an impressive 65 career wins coming into the race, started in her usual lethargic way. When it counted though, driver Matt Kakaley had her in gear, and she coasted by the tiring leaders for a win in 1:57:2. Who said you can’t come from off the pace and win consistently? This gritty mare will have none of that nonsense.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Stitch In Time (Tyler Buter, Amber Buter), who captured Tuesday night’s featured condition trot with a flying rally in a career-best 1:54:4; A Crown For Lindy (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who picked up his second straight claiming win on Wednesday night with a victory in 1:55; and Broadway Socks (Dan Rawlings, David Wade), who followed up a Stallion Series win at The Meadows with a victory here on Sunday night against other three-year-old fillies in the Historic Series, posting a career-best 1:55 in the process.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: PRINT IT

After winning at 22-1 on April 26, this 12-year-old pacer did it again on Saturday night with Tyler Buter in the bike, defeating a claiming group at 32-1 for a $66 payout on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: TYLER BUTER

One of a seemingly endless cadre of excellent drivers plying their trade at Pocono, Buter was hot this week, racking up five wins including a three-bagger on Saturday.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: STEVE SALERNO

Year in and year out, Salerno is a force at Pocono, and he’s been picking up steam of late, including a training double on Sunday night and three wins for the week.

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.