Posts Tagged ‘Sunfire Blue Chip’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

May 6-12, 2017

It was a particularly busy week of racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Due to the doubleheader on Kentucky Derby day, we enjoyed five racing cards in a four-day stretch. That means that we have even more candidates for the Weekly Awards than usual. As it turns out, though, picking the top two horses of the week was an easy matter, as it came down to the winners of the week’s two biggest purses. Here now are the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: BARIMAH A

In Saturday night’s Van Rose Memorial pace, which carried a purse of $50,000, Barimah A, a seven-year-old gelding from the Scott DiDomenico barn, went off at 14-1. This was despite the fact that he won the previous week’s featured pace at Pocono in a career-best 1:50 and despite his drawing the inside post. The betting attention, understandably, went to some of the millionaires in the field, horses like Sunfire Blue Chip, Somewhere in L A and McWicked who were coming in from the rugged early-season races at Yonkers.

The sloppy track did not dissuade the superstars in the field from going for the engine with reckless abandon. Three different horses led in the first three-eighths of a mile, and the fractions created by the speed duel were ruthless: 25:4; 53:1, and 1:20:4. At the top of the stretch Somewhere in L A was on top, Mach It So was hounding him first-over, and favorite Sunfire Blue Chip overcame some tiring cover on the back stretch to rally again in the passing lane.

All of those horses were very close to the blistering pace for much of the mile. The difference for Barimah A was that driver Pat Berry kept him back early, only asking for some kick on the back stretch. As they rounded the final turn, Barimah A was firing on all cylinders, and he eventually outpaced Sunfire Blue Chip in the final strides to get up for the victory by a head. His winning time of 1:50 matched the career-mark he set in the win the previous week, although it was even more impressive this time around because of the sloppy conditions.

Other top pacers this week include: Brickman (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who switched barns and still scored his third straight victory over $25,000 claimers on Saturday night, winning in the slop in 1:53:1; Inspiration View (Jim Marohn Jr., Ron Burke), who moved up the ladder to win a second consecutive condition race on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:52:1 in the slop; and Tempus Seelster (Jim Marohn Jr., Tony Dinges), a mare who picked up her third straight victory, two of which have come at Pocono, with a condition victory on Tuesday night in a career-best 1:50:1.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: OOH RAH

On Tuesday night, the last of the Bobby Weiss late closer series finals was held. In this case, it was the three and four-year-old trotting colts, stallions and geldings going at it for the $30,000 purse. The preliminary legs had seen several horses step up with solid performances, but Ooh Rah, a four-year-old gelding trained by Kathleen La Montagne, stamped himself as the favorite by winning three of his four starts in the series.

In the final, Ooh Rah left from post position #3 in a field of nine as the 3-5 betting favorite. After sitting third early, driver George Napolitano Jr. decided he wanted to be in charge with the favorite. Ooh Rah swooped past Hilarious Hero on the front stretch to take over the lead. Although Uncle Leroy made a first-over brush, the leader never seemed to feel the pressure and was able to cut out the mile at a relatively leisurely pace.

That came into play late, when Hilarious Hero popped out of the pocket in the stretch ready for a fight. Ooh Rah had energy to spare, powering home to hold off Hilarious Hero by a length. The winning time of 1:55 was faster than any horse had been able to post in any of the previous Weiss legs in this group, and it also marked a career-best for Ooh Rah, a deserving and dominant champ of the division.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Tuonoblu Rex (Andy Miller, Julie Miller) who followed up a win at The Meadowlands in his U.S. debut with an easy victory in the slop on Sunday at Pocono over a tough condition field in 1:53:1, easily the fastest trotting time of the week; Andy Ray (Marcus Miller, Jim Campbell), who rallied on Saturday night for a condition win in the slop in 1:57, giving him victories in the last three starts he’s made at Pocono; and Meme Hanover (Charlie Norris trainer and driver), a colt who followed up his maiden victory with a condition win on Monday night in 1:56:1, matching his career-best time.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: OOH DEAR SAM

With Anthony Morgan in the bike, this veteran pacer surprised a field of claimers on Saturday night to the tune of 26-1, paying out $54.80 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JIM MAROHN JR.

Marohn seemed to enjoy the daylight hours on Saturday, winning four out of ten races on the matinee card before returning for another victory on Saturday night.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: TONY DINGES

The Dinges barn was all about efficiency on Tuesday night, sending out three starters and earning victories in every one of those races.

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 stars shine under the Sun in Sun Stakes Saturday eliminations

Monday, June 20th, 2016

What will be the greatest collection of harness racing talent assembled for one card so far in 2016 will gather at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono this Saturday night, June 25th, as the eliminations for the $2M+ Sun Stakes Saturday Championships will be held, seven days before the Championship events.

The Ben Franklin FFA Pace has attracted an overflow field of 22 entrants, including such superstars as Wiggle It Jiggleit, Always B Miki, Freaky Feet Pete, Rockin Ron, and $30,000 supplement Mel Mara, and will be raced in three eliminations, with the top three finishers from each elim coming back for the $500,000 Championship event.

The races for the three-year-olds – the Earl Beal 3C Trot, the Max C. Hempt 3C Pace, and the James Lynch 3F Pace, number their entrants in the teens, which means there will be two eliminations for all three sophomore events, with the top four finishers in each elim joining the faster of the fifth-placed finishers going into their rich Championships, the Beal and Hempt racing for $500,000, the Lynch for $300,000.

On an overall basis, how strong are these fields? Well, take the Franklin: it boasts the defending divisional champion in State Treasurer, PLUS it has the defending Horse of the Year and 3YO champion, Wiggle It Jiggleit, as he makes the stepup to the older ranks. Also, the only possible defending champion in the four stakes, Luck Be Withyou, is in the field.

And each of the events for three-year-olds sees its defending champion from two coming to Pocono: Southwind Frank (3TC), Boston Red Rocks (3PC), and Pure Country (3PC).

In addition: the Top Ten poll reflecting this past weekend’s results has not been completed by “post time” for this release, but six of the top ten horses from the last poll will be at Pocono: Wiggle It Jiggleit (1st), Southwind Frank (3rd), Freaky Feet Pete (4th), Rockin Ron (6th), Always B Miki (8th), and Mel Mara (10th).

Here’s a closer look at the fields for all four sets of eliminations, starting with the one that will likely draw the most attention, the Franklin FFA Pace:

BEN FRANKLIN FFAP (Championship purse $500,000; eliminations this Saturday slotted for races 10-11-12):

In addition to the accomplishments listed above, the 22 Franklin entrants have combined lifetime earnings over $20M (ten of the card’s fourteen millionaires are in the Franklin), and their average lifetime mark is 1:48.2.

The first elimination, race 10, finds returning Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit, who won the Hempt and the Battle of the Brandywine at Pocono last year, drawing post six in a field of eight for driver Montrell Teague, trainer Clyde Francis, and his ownership of George Teague Jr Inc. and Teague Racing Partnership LLC. The four-year-old altered son of Mr Wiggles has won 7 of 10 races so far this year and over $400,000, and has taken his last three outings, including a 1:48.1-26.4 runaway victory in a Graduate leg at Tioga despite broken equipment; the race before that, he set the all-time track record with a 1:47.3 at Philly.

State Treasurer, the reigning Older Male Pacer of the Year, has post five in “Wiggle”’s elimination, but is winless so far in 2016, while Luck Be With You, the defending Franklin champion, is saddled with the outside post eight  – but he won his Franklin elim last year from PP8, and then won the Championship from PP9.

The second elimination features Always B Miki, who has by many been considered the purely-fastest horse of the last two years, with his speed matched only by bad racing fortune, most notably an injury at the end of his three-year-old season. But the five-year-old Always A Virgin stallion has come back in 2016 with three wins and two seconds in five starts, including setting the all-time Canadian record of 1:47.1 in Mohawk’s Gold Cup this past Saturday. David Miller is slated for sulky duty as “Miki” starts from post five for trainer Jimmy Takter and owners Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable, and Christina Takter.

Always B Miki faces several tough foes here, but none that has been more a thorn in his side recently than Mel Mara, starting from post one for driver Corey Callahan. The horse was placed in the care of trainer Dylan Davis almost two months ago, and since then Mel Mara has passed “Miki” in the stretch, only to be outfought on the end by a neck, and then, in Mel Mara’s last race, he held off Always B Miki by two lengths in 1:47, only a tick off the all-time record for speed in a race – reason enough for his connections, Robert Cooper Stables LLC and J&T Silva Stables LLC, to pony up a $30,000 supplemental entry fee to get him in the race. Mel Mara qualified this past Saturday at The Meadowlands, winning in 1:49.2, with a last quarter of 25.4 …

… a last quarter, which, unbelievably, was bettered by third elim likely choice Freaky Feet Pete, as he flew to the wire in 25.3 in a 1:51.2 Hoosier morning session. Freaky Feet Pete, a son of Rockin Image, completes the “Indiana triumvirate” of dominant free-for-allers which includes “Wiggle” and “Miki,” and he may be able to add to his already-burnished credentials as he starts from post one for driver Trace Tetrick, trainer Larry Rhineheimer, and owners Mary Jo Rhineheimer and Marty Rhineheimer.

$30,000 RACE 10 ELIMINATION (PP, horse, listed driver, trainer): 1, Dude’s The Man, Corey Callahan, Jessica Okusko; 2, Always At My Place, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 3, Take It Back Terry, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 4, Ideal Cowboy, Tim Tetrick, Jeff Bamond Jr.; 5, State Treasurer, Tim Tetrick also listed, Dr. Ian Moore; 6, Wiggle It Jiggleit, Montrell Teague, Clyde Francis; 7, Shamballa, Scott Zeron, Rick Zeron; 8, Luck Be Withyou, George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes.

$30,000 RACE 11 ELIMINATION: 1, Mel Mara*, Corey Callahan, Dylan Davis; 2, Melmerby Beach, Marcus Miller, Ettore Annunziata; 3, Mach It So, Tim Tetrick, Jeff Bamond Jr.; 4, Alexa’s Jackpot, George Napolitano Jr., Marty Fine; 5, Always B Miki, David Miller, Jimmy Takter; 6, All Bets Off, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 7, Rockin Ron, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke. (*- $30,000 supplemental nomination.)

$30,000 RACE 12 ELIMINATION: 1, Freaky Feet Pete, Trace Tetrick, Larry Rhineheimer; 2, Limelight Beach, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 3, Cooperstown, George Napolitano Jr., Daniel Renaud; 4, Rock N’ Roll World, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 5, Bushwacker, Eric Carlson, Chris Ryder; 6, Sunfire Blue Chip, Mark MacDonald, Jimmy Takter; 7, In The Arsenal, Brett Miller, Kelvin Harrison.

EARL BEAL 3CT (Championship purse $500,000, Saturday eliminations races 7 and 9):

Most of the attention for the Beal will be drawn by Southwind Frank, last year’s divisional champion and a Breeders Crown winner, and 13-for-14 in his career for trainer Ron Burke and owners Southwind Frank Partners. “Frank” will have two challenges going into Saturday’s race 9 elimination: he hasn’t started since winning the New Jersey Sire Stakes Championship on June 4, and he’ll leave from post eight in the field of nine for driver Yannick Gingras (who does have an early “double call” in the race with Lagerfeld). Speaking of Lagerfeld, he and Love Matters, both two-time winners in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes program this season, look to be “Frank”’s main opposition.

Decorum will be the watchword in the seventh race elim, as three of the potentially-fastest of the nine entrants come into the Beal elim off of breaks in their last star: Dayson, Milligan’s School, and Jack Vernon. All have shown the speed that puts them near the top of their class if they are errorless, and a good time to begin their improved behavior would be right here.

$25,000 7TH RACE ELIMINATION: 1, Brooklyn Hill, David Miller, Jonas Czernyson; 2, Dayson, Jim Morrill Jr., Ron Burke; 3, Milligan’s School, Andy Miller, Julie Miller; 4, Jimmy William, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter; 5, Jack Vernon, Tim Tetrick, Randy Beeckman; 6, Dupree, Åke Svanstedt, Åke Svanstedt; 7, Reigning Moni, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 8, Truemass Volo, Eric Goodell, Doug Hamilton; 9, Hollywood Highway, John Campbell, Staffan Lind.

$25,000 9TH RACE ELIMINATION: 1, Dice Man, Åke Svanstedt, Åke Svanstedt; 2, Love Matters, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter; 3, Trolley, Marcus Miller, Erv Miller; 4, Lagerfeld, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 5, Iron Mine Bucky, George Dennis, Greg Haverstick; 6, Bar Hopping, Tim Tetrick, Jimmy Takter; 7, Promise Delivered, Andrew McCarthy, Staffan Lind; 8, Southwind Frank, Gingras also listed, Ron Burke; 9, Leggs Matter, David Miller, Robert W. Clark.

MAX C. HEMPT 3CP (Championship purse $500,000, Saturday eliminations races 3 and 5):

Betting Line, the winner of last Saturday’s $1M North America Cup at Mohawk, was not eligible to the Hempt, but the horse that finished 2-3 in the Cup, Racing Hill and Control The Moment, will be going at Pocono on Saturday, as will fourth-place Cup finisher Boston Red Rocks, last year’s two-year-old champion, and many of the early stars of the state’s tough Pennsylvania-sired contests. These two eliminations look to be fairly wide-open, as the sophomores try to establish early position behind leader pro tem Betting Line as they travel the path towards the Meadowlands Pace, the Battle of the Brandywine, the Little Brown Jug, and the Breeders Crown. (And remember that last year’s Hempt winner went on to have a pretty good 2015 – his name was Wiggle It Jiggleit.)

$25,000 3RD RACE ELIMINATION: 1, Boston Red Rocks, Tim Tetrick, Steve Elliott; 2, JK Will Power, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 3, More Dragon, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 4, Control The Moment, Randy Waples, Brad Maxwell; 5, American Passport, Brian Sears, Tony Alagna; 6, Western Dynasty, Tim Tetrick also listed, Chris Ryder.

$25,000 5TH RACE ELIMINATION: 1, Racing Hill, Brett Miller, Tony Alagna; 2, Tailgunner Hanover, Tim Tetrick, Ray Schnittker; 3, Big Top Hanover, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 4, Katie’s Rocker, David Miller, Jim Campbell; 5, Talk Show, Scott Zeron, Steve Elliott; 6, Western Fame, David Miller also listed, Jimmy Takter; 7, Another Daily Copy, Jim Morrill Jr., Nicholas DeVita.

JAMES LYNCH 3F PACE (Championship purse: $300,000, Saturday eliminations races 6 and 8):

Pure Country was pure perfection as a two-year-old, going undefeated in 10 starts and being named divisional champion. This year, like a typical country song, there have been a few “bumps in the road,” but as trainer Jimmy Takter noted last week, “She’s won the two big races for her group so far” (last Saturday’s $341,640 Fan Hanover Championship at Mohawk, and the $313,800 Miss Pennsylvania Championship here at Pocono). The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, owned by Diamond Creek Racing, is set to have Brett Miller in his accustomed perch in the sulky as the pair start from post three in the nine-horse race eight elimination, with a battle sure to come from Darlinonthebeach, the only horse ever to be favored against Pure Country (in the Miss Pennsylvania final, where she set a lightning pace then tired), and second in the Fan Hanover final.

In the sixth race elim, the Well Said filly I Said Diamonds should draw her fair share of attention from post four, with Matt Kakaley driving for trainer Matias Ruiz and Little Bapa LLC from post four. This “Diamond” was second to Pure Country in the Miss Pennsylvania Championship after winning her elimination, and she also shows 2016 stakes triumphs in the Pennsylvania All-Stars and the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes.

$20,000 6TH RACE ELIMINATION: 1, Shezarealdeal, John Campbell, Ross Croghan; 2, Skinny Dipper, Andrew McCarthy, Ross Croghan; 3, JK Fannie, David Miller, Nancy Johansson; 4, I Said Diamonds, Matt Kakaley, Matias Ruiz; 5, Newborn Sassy, Tim Tetrick, Jo Ann Looney-King; 6, Sail To The Beach, John Campbell also listed, Richard Bilach; 7, Princess Fabulosa, Jim Marohn Jr., Greg White; 8, Terror At Night, Brett Miller, Les Givens; 9, Lindwood Beachgirl, Yannick Gingras, Mark Steacy.

$20,000 8TH RACE ELIMINATION: 1, Kiss Me Onthebeach, John Campbell, Chris Ryder; 2, Yankee Moonshine, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 3, Pure Country, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter; 4, Blue Moon Stride, Andrew McCarthy, Mark Harder; 5, Lyons River Pride, driver TBA, Bruce Goit; 6, Darlinonthebeach, David Miller, Nancy Johansson; 7. Penpal, Pat Lachance, Pat Lachance; 8. Some Fancy Filly, David Miller also listed, Nancy Johansson; 9, Call Me Queen Be, Scott Zeron, Ross Croghan.

ALSO ON THE CARD – a $25,000 winners-over pace in the four-slot, matching Rockeyed Optimist, 18-of-29 the last two years and consistently close against top free-for-allers (including showing a win over Always B Miki in that one’s 2016 bow), and Wakizashi Hanover, a million-dollar winner in his three-year-old form, who was eligible to the Franklin, but is making his 2016 seasonal debut on Saturday. “Wakizashi” adds Lasix as he enters his older form, and trainer Jo Ann Looney-King decided to go into this event rather than throw her pride and joy against the bullyboy FFAers in his bow this season; Tim Tetrick is scheduled for sulky duty behind Wakizashi Hanover from post four in a field of eight, while Rockeyed Optimist starts in post six for driver Brett Miller and trainer Steve Elliott.

First post for this Saturday extravaganza of trotting and pacing prowess is listed at 6:30 p.m.

PA Sire Stakes Championship Night brings out the best of the Freshman stars

Monday, September 8th, 2014

The best Pennsylvania-sired 2YOs gathered at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on Saturday night for their $1,240,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championships Night. Each of the Championship events went for a $260,000 bounty; all consolations for the Sire Stakes divisions went for purses of $50,000. 

Here’s a recap of the action, division by division, along with a writeup on the two $50,000 Invitationals also scheduled on the blockbuster card. (The track was rated “fast” for the two baby trotter consolations; rain later forced the condition downward to “good.”)

 TWO-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACE 

Southwind Roulette headed a 1-2-3 sweep for trainer Ron Burke by winning her Sire Stakes Championship for two-year-old pacing filllies. She won in 1:52.3 over “good” going to become the richest pacer in one season of Sire Stakes competition, with $269,248 in her races for Keystone State-sired company.

 Southwind Roulette, described as “a very professional filly – she’ll do just what you ask her to do” by driver Yannick Gingras – tucked third early as her Burke stablemates Well Hello There and Kay’s Dragon Lady argued through the 27 quarter, then was moved to the fore past the latter well before the 56.2 half. Southwind Roulette opened up at the 1:24.3 3/4s and had a good-sized lead in the stretch, with Kay’s Dragon Lady closing well late but not really threatening, with Well Hello There salvaging the show. 

The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, owned by Bradley Grant and Howard Taylor, went 4-3-0-1 in her Sires prelims, the three triumphs in her last three starts, and this victory boosted her money total to the record Sire Stakes mark for pacers, ahead of the $245,615 season sophomore filly Charisma Hanover put together last year. 2TC Dontyouforgetit holds the all-time one season record in the Pennsylvania program, with $275,553 in 2012.

 2YO Filly Pace Consolation—Pacesetting Macarena Mama was determined late to hold off inside-shooting Safe From Terror to win this section’s consolation in 1:53.1, a personal best. Corey Callahan was sulkysitting behind the daughter of McArdle for trainer Blake Macintosh, who also co-owns with Susan Hall, Anne Campbell, and Stephen Waldman. 

 TWO-YEAR-OLD FILLY TROT

 A race after the 2PF Championship, driver Yannick Gingras came right back with “another professional filly, a real sweetheart,” Wild Honey, who set a stakes record of 1:54.2 despite the good going, completing a “sweep” of her division — wins in all four legs and the Championship, following in the footsteps of only Coulantine (2004) and Fashion Feline (2009).

 The daughter of Cantab Hall went straight to the front in the 28.1 opener, but in front of the stands Speak To Me made a bold brush and wrested the racetrack away from Wild Honey before the 56.4 half. Gingras seemed unperturbed though, and past the 1:25.1 3/4s he moved Wild Honey out in front of the advancing Jersey Strong and went straight to command, holding off that rival with ease to knock a tick off the stakes record shared by Sand Violent Blu (2011) and Designed To Be (2013). Like the winner a member of the Jimmy Takter barn, Smexi, finished third.

 2YO Filly Trot Consolation—If you need proof that “times have changed” in harness racing, consider this: Pius Soehnlen campaigned the iron-tough FFA trotter Dream Of Glory in the mid-70s, and that horse took a mark of 1:57.2. Tonight Soehnlen as owner won this consolation event with Matter Hatter, a daughter of Explosive Matter who also rallied from far back to tally over Bright Bay Blues for driver David Miller and trainer Jeff Cox. The lifetime for her second lifetime victory? 1:55.2 (when the track was still fast)– two seconds faster than Dream Of Glory’s lifetime mark!   

TWO-YEAR-OLD COLT TROT

 Sire Cantab Hall completed a Championship double, and another horse joined the select club of being a Sire Stakes “sweeper,” when Billy Flynn roared off cover to win in 1:55.2 in the off going for driver Brett Miller and trainer Staffan Lind. 

Billy Flynn raced atypically off the pace tonight, with Walter White on top at the 27.3 quarter, then yielding to Hurrikane Jonny K as that one put up middle splits of 57 and 1:26.1. Piercewave Hanover provided cover from first-over, and when Billy Flynn tipped off that cover, “he was great tonight – he felt great,” noted driver Miller, the colt not showing any of his previous bearing-out tendencies. Off-the-pace tactics proved best in this event, as Honor And Serve and Ralph R closed strongly for second and third, respectively.

 Billy Flynn joins Stormin Normand (2011) as the only freshman colt trotters to notch the “4+1” Sire Stakes  season. Bender Sweden Inc own the emerging star, who is now undefeated in seven starts. 

2YO Colt Trot Consolation –Not many horses break their maiden by missing their divisional world record by 2/5 of a second, but that’s what the Broadway Hall gelding On The Sly did in winning his consolation event in 1:55.2. Hinting at promise with a second, a third, and a fourth in Sires preliminaries, On The Sly finally put it all together, swinging wide from third-over behind contested fractions and overhauling frontstepping Pierre late for driver Brett Miller, trainer Morgan McInnis, and the Revocable Trust of Barbara Boese. The 1:55.2 time over the still-”fast” track was just short of Correctamundo’s world standard, and only a tick shy of the local mark of It Really Matters. 

 TWO-YEAR-OLD COLT PACE 

Billy Flynn and Yankee Bounty are both now seven for seven in their careers, and both completed Sire Stakes “4+1” sweeps.

 That’s where the similarities end. 

Whereas Billy Flynn came off the pace to win easily, Yankee Bounty made an early move to take the lead near the 55.1 half (Dragon Eddy had insisted on the early lead in an astounding 26 before yielding), then fought off a nose-to-nose challenge from Lost For Words by and past the 1:22.2 3/4s. 

Maybe it’s good Yankee Bounty had the practice in winning a hotly-contested duel – because another determined foe soon loomed in the Pocono Pike in the form of Tomy Terror. The two geldings battled on even terms much of the stretch, with Yankee Bounty showing great heart to put his nose over first in 1:50.3 – a Pocono track record for 2PG, and just a tick behind the stakes mark of One More Laugh, whom Yankee Terror now joins in the 2PC Sire Stakes sweeping ranks. 

The victory made Yannick Gingras a three-time SS winner on the card, giving him 10 in his career and moving him to (a distant) second behind Dave Palone (34) on the career list. Two of those victories came for trainer Ron Burke, who recently engineered the new ownership combine of Yankee Bounty Partnership and Frank Chick.  

2YO Colt Pace Consolation—McCito yielded the early lead to favored Talking Points, then came back in the lane to nip that rival late and take a new mark of 1:52. The McArdle gelding, driven by Andrew McCarthy for C&G Racing Stable, comes from the red-hot barn of Aaron Lambert, who seems to be sending out nothing but winners the last couple weeks. 

 INVITATIONALS 

The FFA trot was named the “Modern Family Trot” after the late Pocono-based world-class trotter, with Pocono-based trainer Daryl Bier and the horse’s connections on hand for winners circle ceremonies. 

Modern Family, always a game horse, would have admired the stretch tenacity of his frequent foe Wishing Stone, who raced third on the rail and cleared “about three strides before the wire” according to his driver (with a combination grin/grimace) to edge out Not Afraid in 1:52.4 for Wishing Stone Syndicate. That driver, by the way, was Yannick Gingras, who along with trainer Ron Burke was in Pocono’s winners circle for the fifth time on the night. Wishing Stone also “saved” the 1-5 betting entry, as the more fancied horse, Market Share, made a break early.

 The ”Adieu to the Almost Summer” Pace saw Sunfire Blue Chip make a quarter-move, then say “adieu” to the field with a 26.4 last quarter in driving rain for a 1:49.2 win for driver Yannick Gingras, trainer Jimmy Takter, and the ownership combine of Takter, Fielding, Fielding, Brixton Medical AB and R A W Equine Inc. Perhaps “adieu” was just the right name for a race taken by the son of American Ideal, as the winner of four straight, at four different tracks,  is the early favorite for the $200,000 Prix d’Ete, to be revived as a four-year-old event in two weeks at Hippodrome 3R in Quebec (Gingras’ base before coming Stateside; Takter confirmed that race was on his horse’s schedule.)

$1.2 Million PA Sire Stakes Championship Night set for Saturday, September 6

Friday, September 5th, 2014

The cream of the crop of this year’s Pennsylvania-sired two-year-old trotters and pacers will gather together this Saturday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs for their $1,240,000 Championships Night program. 

The horses, in both the $260,000 finals and the $50,000 consolations, earned their way into these races by having the highest pointtotals based on finish position in four PaSS preliminaries raced at the state’s tracks over the last two months. 

The four Championship events are slotted for races nine through twelve on Saturday’s 16-race card at Pocono; here’s a look at them in the order they will be conducted: 

TWO-YEAR-OLD PACING FILLIES (stakes record – 1:51.1, Economy Terror, 2007) 

These fillies have been very competitive among themselves, as this is the only of the four divisions that will find no four-time prelim winner looking for a sweep in the Championship. (In fact, there has never been a “sweeper” in the 2PF class since a record of prelim points was started in 2002, a fact which will obviously stay intact in 2014; what’s more, the prelim pointleader has not won the 2PF Championship since Lady Annie in 2007.) 

Aria Hanover (post two, driver Tim Tetrick listed) and Southwind Roulette (post five, Yannick Gingras) figure to be the focal points of attention after showing three wins and a third in their prelims to be tied for the top in this group. Southwind Roulette was third in her first PaSS start, then has taken her last three; among the conquered in her final prelim was … Aria Hanover, who had won three straight going into that event. 

TWO-YEAR-OLD TROTTING FILLIES (stakes record – 1:54.3, Sand Violent Blu, 2011, and Designed To Be, 2013) 

In contrast to their pacing counterparts, two 2TFs have swept their four prelims and their Championship: Coulantine in 2004, and Fashion Feline in 2009. And the leading pointwinner has won their Championship in each of the last three years (the stake speed setters with Frau Blucher in between).  

Looking to add herself the “sweeper” ranks is Wild Honey (post seven, Yannick Gingras). In keeping her record unblemished in the prelims last time out, Wild Honey defeated Gatka Hanover (post eight, Ron Pierce), who had also won her three prelims heretofore, by a half-length. Neither filly will particularly benefit from their outside post draw, making this shape up as a very tough affair.

 TWO-YEAR-OLD TROTTING COLTS (stakes record – 1:54.3, Stormin Normand, 2011) 

In setting this division’s speed mark, Stormin Normand also completed the “Sire Stakes sweep,” the only 2TC to have accomplished the feat. 

Attempting to emulate the “Storm” will be Billy Flynn (post four, Brett Miller), 6 for 6 in his young career. But there are three two-time Sire Stakes prelim winners in this field – Honor And Serve, Lima Pride, and Piercewave Hanover – plus Walter White, a horse who came within a head of Billy Flynn two starts back, so no one is conceding the honors to the unbeaten horse going in.

 TWO-YEAR-OLD PACING COLTS (stakes record – 1:50.2, One More Laugh, 2009) 

Like his colt counterpart on the trotting side, Stormin Normand, One More Laugh became his division’s only sweeper when he set the stakes mark five years back. (The leading prelim pointleader has won the 2PC in three of the last five years, including Allstar Partner last year.)

 Probably set to draw the majority of the focus here is Yankee Bounty (post three, Yannick Gingras), who like Billy Flynn is both 6 for 6 lifetime and unbeaten in the Sires prelims. But also like Billy Flynn, Yankee Bounty had a horse who gave him a scare – Wazikashi Hanover came within a neck of an upset last

time — and again like Billy Flynn, Yankee Bounty faces three opponents with multiple PaSS prelim wins: McArdles Lightning (who had three) along with Dragon Eddy and Lost For Words (two each).

 THE UNDERCARD

 There will be $50,000 consolations for each of the four Sire Stakes divisions’ horses who came up just shy in trying to earn themselves a place in the final.

 It does seem strange to call a contest an “undercard” event when the field of eight has combined earnings of $12,112,270, especially when the first three horses in the post parade have bankrolled $9,956,663 among them. But this is a special field, for a special race – the $50,000 Modern Family Trot, honoring the recently-deceased free-for-aller who was based with the Daryl Bier stable right at Pocono, and who was competitive with this national group the last two years. Those “first three horses,” by the way, are Wishing Stone, Market Share, and Arch Madness, and when mixed with Sevruga and four other hard-hitters they should give a fit tribute to their fallen fellow competitor.

 There will also be a $50,000 Invitational Pace, the Adieu to the Almost Summer Pace (no doubt if this race were held in the western part of the state, it would be called the Adios to the Almost Summer Pace, but that’s another story). Millionaires Golden Receiver and Bolt The Duer will draw attention here, along with two sharp four-year-olds on three-race winning streaks: Sunfire Blue Chip and Mach It So.

 The first of Saturday’s 16 races is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

Sun Stakes Saturday wows with record-breaking racing

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Captaintreacherous might be known as Captain Courageous after the way he won Saturday’s (June 29) $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old pacers at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.

Starting from the outermost spot on the gate, Captaintreacherous and driver Tim Tetrick were on the outside for the entire mile — three wide at points — but managed to win by a neck over Vegas Vacation in 1:49.2 over a track turned sloppy by heavy rain roughly an hour before the Hempt.

Captaintreacherous, the defending Pacer of the Year, improved to 5-for-5 this year for trainer Tony Alagna and the ownership group known as Captaintreacherous Racing. The colt has won $808,293 this season and $1.72 million in his career thanks to 13 victories in 15 lifetime starts.

“He was tremendous,” Alagna said. “To do what he did over this track the way it is after the downpour, if that’s not a mile in (1):47 then I don’t know what is on a good track. To be out as far as he was over this, it’s a monster mile.

“I had confidence. When he landed second over I knew this horse fitness wise was in great shape. I told Timmy he’s never been better tonight warming up. I told him he was going to be out the whole way, but I still think he’ll get the job done.”

Captaintreacherous’ performance was part of a $2 million card dubbed Sun Stakes Saturday at Pocono Downs. Foiled Again won the $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace for older male pacers, becoming the first pacer to surpass $5 million in lifetime earnings, while Corky won the $500,000 Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old trotters and I Luv The Nitelife won the $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old filly pacers.

In the Hempt, Captaintreacherous raced outside behind the cover of Sunfire Blue Chip and then Word Power before battling through the stretch to pull out the win. Vegas Vacation was a fast-closing second and Sunfire Blue Chip finished third.

“I knew we’d never seen this horse’s bottom,” Alagna said. “Tonight off the last turn, here he comes again. I thought Sunfire Blue Chip had a pretty good jump on him up the backside, but this horse does not want to quit. He has the will to win. That’s what it takes.

“That’s part of being a champion. That’s part of what great horses do; they find a way to win. They win.”

I Luv The Nitelife also started from an outside post with Tetrick in the sulky in the Lynch, but was able to get favorable position behind pacesetter Shebestingin before rallying in the stretch for a 1:50 win. Shebestingin finished second and Jerseylicious was third.

“I had a feeling that one way or another she was going to get where she needed to go,” trainer Chris Ryder said. “She got the right spot and it worked out. He drove her perfect and she’s a special horse.”

I Luv The Nitelife has won five of six races this year, including the $384,044 Fan Hanover Stakes on June 15, and nine of 16 starts in her career. The Lynch victory pushed her lifetime earnings to more than $1 million for owners Richard and Joanne Young.

“I saw (Shebestingin) coming and I thought about not letting her go, but I figured she’d carry me there, and she did,” Tetrick said. “My mare exploded when she got out.”

Corky, with David Miller in the bike for trainer Jimmy Takter, won the Beal by one length over Picture This in 1:54.3. Dontyouforgetit, also trained by Takter, finished third.

Smilin Eli, the favorite based on his 4-for-4 career record entering the Beal, started from post nine and was able to get the lead after the opening quarter-mile. He held the advantage until the stretch, but Corky was able to claim the top spot with a first-over effort. Smilin Eli finished fifth.

Corky has won three of seven races this year — with his wins coming consecutively since a second-place finish to Smilin Eli in the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship on June 1. Corky, owned by Christina Takter, John Fielding and Jim Fielding, has won six of 14 career races and never finished worse than third while earning $575,968.

“He’s a very laid-back horse,” Takter said. “I always knew he had something deep within him; he’s been very consistent. He’s coming into himself right. He ended up with some bad luck last year. He got like a thousand warts on his hind legs — I’ve never seen anything like it — and thank you (veterinarian) Patty Hogan. She had to burn them away and it took a whole day for her to do it.

“I think we have a hell of a shot in the future with him. He’s been extremely good his last three starts.”

Miller hopes Corky is his horse for August’s Hambletonian Stakes.

“He’s getting better all the time and tonight’s another step closer to it,” Miller said. “We’ll keep our fingers crossed and hopefully he can hold on another month.”

Times were fast prior to the stakes slate getting underway, with multiple world-record performances on the card. But during the middle of the eighth race, the preferred pace won by Abelard Hanover in 1:48, heavy rain arrived and soaked the track for nearly 20 minutes.

Abelard Hanover’s time equaled the fastest mile ever by a gelding pacer on a five-eighths-mile track.

Bolt The Duer, driven by Mark MacDonald for trainer Peter Foley, won the $50,000 Franklin Consolation in 1:47.4, equaling the fastest mile ever paced on a five-eighths track and setting the track record for Pocono Downs.

Beach Memories, driven by Yannick Gingras for trainer Brian Brown, won the $50,000 Hempt Consolation in 1:48.3, equaling the world record for 3-year-old gelding pacers on a five-eighths oval and setting the track record for 3-year-old gelding pacers at Pocono Downs.

All Laid Out, driven by Andrew McCarthy for trainer Noel Daley, won the $50,000 Beal Consolation in 1:53.1.

Earlier on the card, 4-year-old Uncle Peter, trained by Takter, won the preferred handicap trot in 1:50.3, setting the record for the quickest mile ever by a trotter on a five-eighths track. He eclipsed the mark of 1:50.4 set by Googoo Gaagaa at Pocono Downs last year.

“I’ve been high on him all his life,” Takter said. “To see him go a world record today was an unbelievable feeling.”

Ken Weingartner for Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs