Posts Tagged ‘Swiss Lightning’

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week In Review

Monday, August 11th, 2014

August 1-7, 2014

At this point in the season, it’s typical for 3-year-old horses at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs to be battling against others of their own age in Stallion Series or Sire Stakes action. Yet our two top performers of the week that was at Pocono dared to take on older horses. Not only did they survive, but they thrived. Here are the details of both their exploits and those of the other top performers as we hand out the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: LUCK BE WITHYOU

This 3-year-old colt from the Chris Oakes’ barn started the season in Canada but quickly found a home at Pocono with a condition win on June 28 in 1:50:1. He then battled his way to a 7th in finals of the prestigious Meadowlands Pace before returning for an even more impressive victory in a blistering 1:48 on July 19.

On Saturday night, Luck Be Withyou faced his sternest test yet by going up against the non-winners of $22,500 in the last five races grouping. Among the competitors he would have to face were Meirs Hanover and Bolt The Duer, a pair of veterans as talented and as tested as there are in the sport. If the relative inexperience of Luck Be Withyou was ever going to be a factor, this was the race.

At the top of the stretch, the 3-year-old was staring at the tail of Bolt The Duer, who had set the pace and done so in reasonable fractions. Yet Luck Be With You was ready for the challenge when driver George Napolitano Jr. asked for another gear. He sped by a stunned Bolt The Duer and held off fast-closing E Street Plan for the win in 1:49:2. Even though the time wasn’t as flashy as his previous win, this victory was the best evidence yet of this sophomore’s incredible talent.

Other top pacers this week include: Show Runner (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), a mare whose victory in Friday night’s featured condition pace in a career-best 1:50:3 was her second straight win; Gold Deuce (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), who powered to a win over $10,000 claimers on Saturday night in 1:50:4, a career-best and his third straight win; and Mach It So (Andrew McCarthy, PJ Fraley), who picked up a win in Saturday night’s featured Preferred Handicap pace in 1:48:2, a new career-best and the fastest time posted this week at MSPD.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: REVRAC HARBOUR

This award was probably a little overdue for this 3-year-old colt from the barn of trainer Tony Alagna. From June 3 to July 1, he ripped off four consecutive wins at Pocono, topping out with a back-to-back career-best miles of 1:54:1 in wins over the non-winners of four condition. He traveled to the Meadowlands after that and struggled against some of the top trotters in the country in a pair of stakes races.

Revrac Harbour returned on Tuesday night to face all older horses in a non-winners of $13,000 in the last five starts condition trot. Back at Pocono again, he found his stride quickly by making a move to the front end early in the race. Yet Picture This, the race favorite, lurked behind him in the pocket for much of the mile and enjoyed a much better trip.

In the stretch, Picture This took to the inside passing lane and briefly seemed like he was about to get past. That’s when driver Scott Zeron coaxed just a little extra effort from an already-taxed Revrac Harbour, who dug in and surged back in front in the final strides in 1:55:4 on a sloppy track. That makes it five wins in the last five races he’s started at Pocono, with this maybe the gutsiest yet.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Zooming (Tyler Buter, Amber Buter),who shipped in from New York for a condition win on Saturday in 1:51:4, easily the week’s fastest trotting time; Waldorf Hall (Corey Callahan, Jim Raymer), who churned through the slop for a condition win on Tuesday in 1:53:4; and Swiss Lightning (Anthony Napolitano, Kevin Lare), who ripped off his fourth straight claiming victory on Wednesday night in 1:54:4, matching his career-best in the process.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: RESCUE PLAN

It’s not often George Napolitano Jr., the meet’s leading driver, pilots a long shot, but this condition pacer was at 42-1 when G-Nap steered him to victory on Tuesday night for a $87.60 win payout on a $2 ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

Who else could it be this other than George Nap, considering that he won seven of the thirteen races on the card on Saturday and nearly pulled off a 20-win week.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: CHRISTIE COLLINS

Collins’ barn has been steadily gaining momentum in the summer months, and her trainees picked up three more wins this week, including a double on Friday.

That will do it for it 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

Friday, August 1st, 2014

July 18-24, 2014

It’s hard to believe, but we’ve reached the halfway point of the 2014 season at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The first half seemed to speed by as fast as so many of the record-setting horses that have graced the Pocono stage so far this year. We can only hope that the second half holds that same kind of excitement. If the past week of racing is any indication, it surely will. Here are some wonderful performances worthy of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: QUINCY

In the late 70’s and early 80’s, Jack Klugman played a medical examiner named Quincy who always figured out all the crimes that the cops were too dense to solve. But it’s really been no mystery how this horse of the same name has reeled off such an impressive streak of late against the toughest claimers at Pocono. Early speed gives this 4-year-old stallion a great chance to win each and every time he leaves the gate.

His recent stretch of nearly unbeatable racing began with a win over the $20,000 claimers on May 28. He moved up to the $27,500 claimers, the highest claiming price at Pocono, the next time out and won in a dead heat with Giddy UP Blackfly. After a hiccup with a third-place finish in his following start, Quincy reeled off three straight victories in that rugged claiming group, with a career-best mark in 1:49:3 on June 28 the highlight of that series of races.

On Saturday night, it was business as usual as Quincy rejoined the barn of trainer Kevin Lare and powered to the front end early in the race. Driver Anthony Napolitano rated him well, which was important late as both BJ’s Rameau and Machin Music took shots at him in the stretch. But Quincy hung tough to win by a neck in 1:50, making it four in a row and six out of seven. He’s the hottest pacer around, and that case is closed.

Other top pacers this week include: Skitsofrantic (Anthony Napolitano, John Barchi), who won his third straight start and sixth in his last seven with a conquest of the $5,000 claimers on Sunday night in a career-best 1:52; Luck Be Withyou (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), a 3-year-old whose victory against older pacers in a condition on Saturday night came in the week’s fastest time of 1:48; and Mickey Hanover (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who reeled off his third straight win and his second consecutive sub-1:50 mile thanks to a victory on Saturday night in 1:49:2.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SWISS LIGHTNING

This 5-year-old gelding started the year quietly, going winless in his first six races with just one finish in the money. The tide started to turn with a victory over $7,500 claimers on 1:55:2 on June 8. After breaking stride in his next start, he bounced back in his next two with back-to-back wins, the latter coming in a career-best 1:55.

Following a claim that put him in the barn of trainer Marcus Marashian, Swiss Lightning stepped up in class to face the $10,000 claimers on Wednesday night. Not only did he have a tough #7 post in the field of eight, but he had to deal with Frenchmen, a trotter who had won his last start at that claiming price handily and had the inside post.

That didn’t seem to worry driver Scott Zeron, who quickly urged Swiss Lightning to the front end to dictate the pace. Frenchmen lurked in the pocket all the way around, but when the stretch rolled around, it was Swiss Lightning who emerged as the class of the race. He kicked away from his competitors to win by 2 ¾ lengths in 1:54:4, which was a new career-best for the gelding. With that third straight victory, the trotter demonstrated how to move up in class in style.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Hoorayforvacation (George Napolitano Jr.-Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), whose condition victory came on Saturday night came in 1:52:1, which was not only a career-best but was also the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; Highest Peak (Andrew McCarthy-Noel Daley), a filly who followed up a win at Harrah’s with a condition victory at Pocono on Tuesday night in a career-best 1:54:1; and Tamasin Hall (Scott Zeron-Bill Mullin), a mare who beat the boys in Tuesday night’s featured claiming handicap, winning in a career-best 1:54.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: AFTER ALIMONY

With Simon Allard in the bike, this mare finagled a pocket spot out of an outside post and upended a field of claimers on Sunday night at 29-1, paying off $61 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

On Friday night, the meet’s leading driver decided to hog all the glory for a good portion of the night, reeling off six consecutive wins at one point in the card.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JOHN BARCHI

The veteran of the Pocono racing wars is having his finest season in years, as evidenced by four wins this week that included a training double on Sunday.

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

Monday, July 21st, 2014

July 11-17, 2014

We are coming out of a particularly busy stretch of stakes races at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, and, as those races dominated the conversation, it necessitated the Weekly Awards taking a bit of a hiatus for the past three weeks. The good news is that the Awards are back, and there is a pile of worthy candidates lining up to make their cases. Let’s see who gets the nods.

PACER OF THE WEEK: SCOTT ROCKS

The barn of trainer Chris Oakes is so full of top performers that it’s easy for an individual horse to get a little bit lost in the shuffle if it isn’t churning out wins with regularity. Such was the case with Scott Rocks, a big earner as a 3-year-old who won just one of his first eight starts in 2014 at age four. The turnaround began with a win in a condition pace on June 3 in 1:50.

After a fourth-place finish in his following start, the hot streak really began. On June 28, Scott Rocks took down the non-winners of $12,500 in the last five starts group in 1:49. The next week, it was the non-winners of $17,500 in the last five starts that felt his wrath, as he rolled home in 1:50:2. On Saturday night, he stepped up into the highest condition group at Pocono, the non-winners of $25,000 in the last five starts, and he made it look easy.

Once again with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike, Scott Rocks made a huge first-over move on the back stretch to pounce on a hot early pace. From there, he poured it on for a three-length victory over the field in a career-best 1:48:3, which was also the fastest pacing time posted at Pocono this past week. With performances like that, Scott Rocks need not be concerned about being overshadowed.

Other top pacers this week include: Quincy (Simon Allard, Marty Fine), who rolled to his third straight victory in the rugged $27,500 claiming pacing group on Saturday night, this time in 1:50:1; Mickey Hanover (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who rumbled to his second straight condition win on Saturday night, scoring in 1:49:4; and Wakizashi Hanover (Corey Callahan, Jim King Jr.), whose Pennsylvania Sire Stakes win on Wednesday night in 1:51 set a new track record for 2-year-old geldings on the pace.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: IBANEZ

Baseball fans will recognize that name as being the same as the longtime slugger Raul Ibanez. His trotting namesake has been a pretty powerful slugger at the track the past few weeks. He joined the Rene Allard barn following a claim in June, then found his stride and his confidence with a solid condition victory on July 8 in 1:53:4.

On Tuesday night, Ibanez heading back into Pocono’s toughest claiming group for the trotters, the $20,000 to $25,000 claiming handicappers, and, to make matters worse, was hamstrung with the outside post in a field of seven. As a fast pace materialized on the front end, driver Corey Callahan patiently kept the 5-year-old gelding near the back of the pack.

Around the final turn, while the leaders started to feel the burden of the pace, Ibanez was just gearing up. Callahan spun him out wide and he went charging by in the final strides for the win in a new career-best time of 1:53:4. You could even say that it was the harness-racing equivalent of a game-winning, pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the ninth, so that name is pretty fitting after all.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Swiss Lightning (Brett Miller-Bill Mullin), whose victory over the $7,500 claimers on Friday night in 1:55, a new career mark, was his second straight win; Harbor Point (Tyler Buter-Mark Ford), who handled a condition field on Saturday night in 1:52:4, which was not only a career-best but also the fastest trotting time at MSPD this week; and Commander K (Matt Kakaley-Douglas Berkeley), who picked up his second straight claiming victory on Wednesday night in 1:54.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: MCARDLES LIGHTNING

Even with a Sire Stakes race in his last start at the Meadows, this 2-year-old pacer shad 25-1 odds for his come-from-behind win in a Sire Stakes at Pocono on Wednesday to pay off $52.20 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MATT KAKALEY

Kakaley has been one of Pocono’s leading lights for several seasons now, so it was only fitting that he picked up his milestone 3,000th victory at the track on Wednesday night.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: MARTY FINE

With one of the best percentages at the track in terms of training winners, Fine continued his excellent season with three more victories, including a double on Saturday 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.