Posts Tagged ‘Tom Fanning’

Sun Stakes Saturday Eliminations Night showcases the best of the best

Monday, June 19th, 2017

The very best trotters and pacers in North American harness racing will be converging on The Downs at Mohegan Sin Pocono the next two Saturdays, with elimination races being held this Saturday in order to qualify horses to participate in the Sun Stakes Saturday supercard on Saturday, July 1.

The $500,000 Franklin Pace for free-for-allers, the $500,000 Hempt Pace for three-year-old colts and geldings, the $500,000 Beal Trot for three-year-olds, and the $300,000 Lynch Pace for three-year-old fillies all drawn sufficient entrants that there will be three eliminations for each event this Saturday night, with the top three finishers in each elim advancing to their rich Championship event on July 1.

Here’s a look at the elimination events for the four big races, starting with the one where a top filly is going to try “the boys”:

EARL BEAL TROT: $500,000 Championship; $25,000 eliminations in races 2, 9, and 14

This may be the case of “saving the best for last,” as super filly Ariana G will test male opposition in the Beal, contributing factors being a lack of top-money events in her division right now and the still-awaited return of top colt Walner, and she will be the next-to-last horse to post parade on Saturday, starting from post six in a field of seven in the 14th and final race.

Ariana G is a daughter of Muscle Hill trained by Jimmy Takter for owners/breeders Marvin Katz and Al Libfield. She was named divisional champion as a two-year-old off the strength of 9 wins in 11 starts, earnings of over $700,000, and a win in the Breeders Crown. This year Ariana G has been perfect in two starts, winning her last race, a New Jersey Sire Stakes final for fillies, in a career-best 1:51.1.

Two state champion colts will square off in the second race elimination, which has eight entrants. Giveitgasandgo, a Yankee Glide ridgling, won the 2016 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship and comes off a PaSS victory in his last start; he’ll begin in post four for driver Corey Callahan and trainer John Butenschoen. Two starting slots to his right will be Long Tom, recent New Jersey Sire Stakes final winner, with the son of Muscle Hill backed by the team of driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Marcus Melander. Rubio (post three, Yannick Gingras for Jimmy Takter) will also get respect off a sharp PaSS win in his 2017 bow.

The state of New York weighs in in the ninth race Beal elimination, as the Credit Winner colt Devious Man comes to the mountain oval off a win Sunday in the Empire Breeders Classic final. Devious Man will be behind slot six in the eight-horse grouping for Team Orange Crush – driver Andy Miller and trainer/wife Julie.

BEAL RACE 2 ELIMINATION (PP, horse, listed driver, trainer): 1, Common Parlance, Jim Marohn Jr., Joseph Skowyra; 2, Snowstorm Hanover, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 3, Rubio, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 4, Giveitgasandgo, Corey Callahan, John Butenschoen; 5, Lucky Matter, David Miller, Christopher Beaver; 6, Long Tom, Tim Tetrick, Marcus Melander; 7, Sortie, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley; 8, President Lindy, Andy Miller, Julie Miller.

BEAL RACE 9 ELIMINATION: 1, Southwind Woody, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 2, Dover Dan, Corey Callahan, John Butenschoen; 3, Don Dream, Brian Sears, Chris Oakes; 4, Andy M, David Miller, Christopher Beaver; 5, Meteoric, Joe Bongiorno, Richard Johnson; 6, Devious Man, Andy Miller, Julie Miller; 7, Perfect Spirit, Yannick Gingras, Åke Svanstedt; 8, King On The Hill, Jim Marohn Jr., Jimmy Takter.

BEAL RACE 14 ELIMINATION: 1, What The Hill, David Miller, Ron Burke; 2. Ei Ei O, Corey Callahan, Richard Hans; 3, Backstage Pass, Mike Simons, Mike Simons; 4, Bill’s Man, Corey Callahan also listed, John Butenschoen; 5, Muscles Jared, Brian Sears, George Ducharme; 6, Ariana G (*filly), Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 7, Moonshiner Hanover, Scott Zeron, Christopher Beaver.

BEN FRANKLIN PACE: $500,000 Championship; $35,000 eliminations in races 5, 7, and 11

The two horses likely to attract much attention in the 11th race elimination will be starting at opposite ends of the gate in the seven-horse field. Getting the innermost draw is Mel Mara, a son of Lis Mara scheduled to be handled by Corey Callahan for trainer Dylan Davis and owners Robert Cooper Stables LLC and J&T Silva Stables LLC. Mel Mara has a mark of 1:47, was fourth in the Franklin Final last year, and comes off of a 1:48 victory at The Meadowlands in which he paced his last quarter in 26.

The Western Ideal stallion Luck Be Withyou had no luck at the pill shake with the outside draw, but the outer fringes of the starting gate are nothing new to him: he won his 2015 Franklin elim from post eight and then the 2015 Championship from post nine! Also a winner of the 2016 Franklin Consolation and his Breeders Crown event here as a two-year-old, Luck Be Withyou is truly a “horse for the course,” with 15 wins in only 22 starts at Pocono, and over $700G of his $1.3M lifetime bankroll earned locally. George Napolitano Jr. will have sulky duties for trainer Chris Oakes.

The charismatic Freaky Feet Pete, second to Always B Miki in the Franklin Championship last year, will be making his seasonal debut in the seven-horse seventh race elimination, starting from post two for driver Trace Tetrick and trainer Marty Rheinheimer. His prime opposition could come from McWicked, the 2014 Hempt champion, and the razor-sharp Rockeyed Optimist, second to Mel Mara last week.

The fifth race looks the most wide-open of the three Franklin eliminations; if anyone has an advantage, it may be the “home cookin’” of Napolitano and Oakes behind Split The House, who starts in the middle of the field of seven, and who won his last race here at Pocono in 1:48.2 – 27.2.

FRANKLIN RACE 5 ELIMINATION: 1. Dealt A Winner, David Miller, Mark Silva; 2. Check Six, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 3. Boston Red Rocks, Tim Tetrick, Steve Elliott; 4. Split The House, George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes; 5. Soto, Art Stafford Jr., Eric Ell; 6. Dude’s The Man, driver TBA, Jessica Okusko; 7. Shamballa, Scott Zeron, Rick Zeron.

FRANKLIN RACE 7 ELIMINATION: 1. McWicked, David Miller, Casie Coleman; 2. Freaky Feet Pete, Trace Tetrick, Marty Rheinheimer; 3. All Bets Off, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 4. Mach It So, Tim Tetrick, Jeff Bamond Jr.; 5. Keystone Velocity, Simon Allard, Rene Allard; 6. Lyons Snyder, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 7. Rockeyed Optimist, Andy Miller, Steve Elliott.

FRANKLIN RACE 11 ELIMINATION: 1. Mel Mara, Corey Callahan, Dylan Davis; 2. Wakizashi Hanover, Tim Tetrick, Jo Ann Looney-King; 3. Anwar Hanover, Jim Marohn Jr., Frank Kamine; 4. Rockin Ron, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 5. Rock N’ Roll World, Brian Sears, Jeff Cullipher; 6. Sunfire Blue Chip, Mark MacDonald, Jimmy Takter; 7. Luck Be Withyou, George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes.

MAX C. HEMPT PACE: $500,000 Championship; $25,000 eliminations in races 3, 10, and 12

“Fear The Dragon” is not just the name of a three-year-old colt – it’s the watchword of everybody campaigning a high-class sophomore pacer right now. The son of Dragon Again, trained by Brian Brown for the Emerald Highlands Farm, won the “big showdown” this past Saturday in the $730,000 (U.S.) North America Cup, closing strongly to notch a 1:48.4 victory for driver David Miller, and establishing himself as the leader in the sport’s glamour division. In going five-for-five this year, the Dragon has shown he can overcome obstacles in his road: tough posts (he does have PP2 in a field of six here), first-over trips, and even an errant head number thrown to the track that caused him to skip in the stretch of his N.A. Cup elim, but he quickly righted and even won that contest.

Fear The Dragon’s stablemate in the Brian Brown Stable, Downbytheseaside, suffered his first seasonal defeat in finishing third in the North America Cup, but in his defense he was pushed to brutal middle fractions of 52.1 and 1:19.3, the latter the fastest clocking at the ¾ on the continent in 2017. The Somebeachsomewhere colt will look to regain his winning ways as he starts from post five in the seven-horse twelfth race elimination, with Brian Sears driving.

Trainer Dylan Davis, who has Mel Mara in the Franklin elims, saw his Every Way Out sweep two eliminations and then the final of the New Jersey Sire Stakes series at The Meadowlands, and he will turn the lines over to Tim Tetrick in hopes of remaining undefeated in 2017 as they begin from post four in the seven-horse elim.

HEMPT RACE 3 ELIMINATION: 1. Blood Line, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 2. Santafe’s Coach, Anthony Napolitano, Leo Iordan; 3. Boogie Shuffle, Scott Zeron, Mark Harder; 4. Every Way Out, Tim Tetrick, Dylan Davis; 5. Air Strike, Corey Callahan, Joe Holloway; 6. Ozone Blue Chip, Brett Miller, Ron Coyne Jr.; 7. Western Joe, Matt Kakaley, Chris Choate.

HEMPT RACE 10 ELIMINATION: 1. Summer Side, Tim Tetrick, Ray Schnittker; 2. Fear The Dragon, David Miller, Brian Brown; 3. Ponderingjacksfame, Brett Miller, Les Givens; 4. Miso Fast, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 5. Pointomygranson, Brett Miller also listed, Chris Ryder; 6. Funknwaffles, Brian Sears, John Butenschoen.

HEMPT RACE 12 ELIMINATION: 1. Eddard Hanover, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 2. Heaven’s Gait, David Miller, Nicholas Devita; 3. Donttellmeagain, Tim Tetrick, Jo Ann Looney-King; 4. Photobombr Hanover, Brett Miller, Tom Fanning; 5. Downbytheseaside, Brian Sears, Brian Brown; 6. Highalator, George Napolitano Jr., Jenny Bier; 7. Talent Soup, Scott Zeron, Bruce Saunders.

JAMES LYNCH PACE: $300,000 Championship; $20,000 eliminations in races 1, 4, and 13

Bettor’s Up defeated Agent Q by a nose in last Saturday’s Fan Hanover final at Mohawk, and the two figure to be slugging it out again as they are matched up in the six-horse race 13 Lynch elimination. Bettor’s Up, who starts from post three for driver Doug McNair and trainer Scott McEneny, has been victorious in half of her 16 career starts, while Agent Q, the 2016 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion who will begin from the rail for driver David Miller and trainer Aaron Lambert, has been first or second in all but one of her 15 career trips behind the gate.

In the first race elimination, a seven-horse field, Tequila Monday and Idyllic Beach look to rebound: they were the favorite and second choice in the Fan Hanover, respectively, but respectively finished third and fourth. They have the advantage of inside starting positions on Saturday: Tequila Monday starts off from the rail for driver Brian Sears and trainer Chris Oakes, while Idyllic Beach, the 2016 North American champion for this division, begins just to her right for driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Jimmy Takter.

Misqued eked out a nose victory in her New Jersey Sire Stakes final on June 2, and perhaps that race will be a better sign for her as she begins from post two in a grouping of six for driver Steve Smith and trainer John Balzer. This Lynch elim appears to be the most wide-open of the event’s trio of races.

LYNCH RACE 1 ELIMINATION: 1. Tequila Monday, Brian Sears, Chris Oakes; 2. Idyllic Beach, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 3. Inverse Hanover, David Miller, Nifty Norman; 4. Kate Is Well Said, Tim Tetrick, Jim Campbell; 5. YS Tallia, Simon Allard, Rene Allard; 6. Pittstop Danika, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 7. V String, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley.

LYNCH RACE 4 ELIMINATION: 1. Brazuca, Corey Callahan, Thomas Cancelliere; 2. Misqued, Steve Smith, John Balzer; 3, Big City Betty, Jim Marohn Jr., Steve Salerno; 4. Gallic Sea, Brian Sears, Jim Campbell; 5. Roaring To Go, Brett Miller, Kevin Lare; 6. Risky Romance, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley.

LYNCH RACE 13 ELIMINATION: 1. Agent Q, David Miller, Aaron Lambert; 2. Hail Damage Blues, Mike Simons, Tom Fanning; 3. Bettor’s Up, Doug McNair, Scott McEneny; 4. Caviart Ally, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley; 5. Concerto, Andrew McCarthy also listed, Kelvin Harrison; 6. Miss Jones, Corey Callahan, Joe Holloway.

THE UNDERCARD: A $25,000 winners-over pace in race 8, with a field of eight with combined earnings of $3.8M and an average lifetime mark of 1:49, and a $22,500 “nw22500L5” pace where the field of nine has amassed over $2.4M in earnings and an average speed badge of 1:50. (Six horses in each race took their marks at Pocono.)

First post for this first-rate Sun Stakes Saturday elimination night card, with action literally from beginning to end, is listed for 6:30 p.m.

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The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week in Review

Monday, October 12th, 2015

October 2-8, 2015

We are heading into the home stretch of the 2015 racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. October 9 is our last Friday card of the racing season; after that, racing will take place every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday night until the completion of the meet on November 21. But that doesn’t mean that the season is going out gently. On the contrary, this edition of the Weekly Awards will showcase some performances and performers that would be notable no matter what time of year it is.

PACER OF THE WEEK: FIRST OF ITSKIND

After dry weather and fast tracks for almost two months straight at Pocono, the past week or two has brought some rainier nights and sloppy conditions. Some horses, for whatever reason, seem to thrive when the skies open up. Based on evidence from this past week, it seems that you can safely place First Of Itskind, a 4-year-old gelding trained by Brandon Todd, in that category.

On September 29, First Of Itskind faced an $11,000 condition group and a sloppy track. With Marcus Miller in the bike, he uncorked a late move to rally for a win in 1:51:1, which was a career-best even in the slop. He was back at it on Saturday night for his second race in a five-night span, only this time he moved up to face a $16,000 group. But the track was sloopy again, so First Of Itskind must have thought to himself, “I can do this.”

With Dan Rawlings in the bike this time around, Firstofitskind had to grind it out first-over on the outside for much of the second half of the mile. Nonetheless he wore down the favorite Humility, finally taking the lead from the pacesetter in the stretch. He then had to hold off fast-closing Cadillac Phil, which he did by a nose in 1:51:4. Don’t be surprised if you see the connections of First Of Itskind doing a rain dance the next time he’s scheduled to race.

Other top pacers this week include: Mach It So (Andrew McCarthy, Jeffrey Bamond Jr.), the standout five-year-old who followed up big-stakes wins at Mohawk and Harrington with an Open win at Pocono on Saturday night on a good track in 1:49:4, the fastest pacing time of the week; Brees Creek (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), who moved up in class on Saturday night to capture his second straight condition win, this one coming in 1:52 in the off-going; and Frost Damage Blues (Mike Simons, Tom Fanning), a 3-year-old filly who now has seven straight wins to start her career, the last two of which were at Pocono, following a condition win on Wednesday night in 1:51:3.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: MR CANDYMAN

You all know the saying about not fixing something that’s ain’t broke. It certainly seemed like that could have applied to Mr Candyman as he headed out to face a claiming handicap field on Friday night. After all, he had beaten the same class of $7,500-$10,000 claimers in each of his previous two starts, giving him three wins in his last four overall.

In each of those victories, all of which were achieved with Simon Allard in the bike, the 6-year-old gelding sat back off the early pace and trailed all the way into the stretch. That’s when he made his moves for the previous victories. On Friday night as a 1-5 favorite, Allard chose to change the tactics and Mr Candyman was hustled to the lead just shy of the half-mile marker after a first-over move on the front stretch.

Whether Allard wanted to remove the chances of running into traffic somewhere or he just felt that there was no need to hold his horse back, the decision proved to be a winning one. Mr Candyman kept extending his lead until he came home four lengths in front on the sloppy track in 1:55:4. It was his biggest margin of victory in his recent hot streak, proving that this trotter is going to be tough to beat these days no matter how he chooses to conduct his race.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Southwind Warsaw (George Napolitano Jr., Michael Dowdall), whose condition trotting win on Tuesday night in 1:53:1 was not only a career-best time but also the fastest trotting mile of the week at Pocono; Hasty Profitt (Joe Bongiorno, Robert Bongiorno), who stepped up in class on Tuesday night and picked up his second consecutive condition victory, this one in 1:55:3; and Black Broadway (Jason Bartlett, Michael Eaton), a 2-year-old filly who won her second straight to start her career, this one coming in a career-best 156, on Wednesday night.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: POINTSMAN

After several straight near-misses, this gelding trained and driven by Joe Pavia Jr. surprised a bunch of condition pacers on Saturday night at 17-1 for a $37 payout on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MIKE SIMONS

Mike scored a driving double on Friday with mid-priced horses on his way to a four-win week as the longest-tenured driver at Pocono continues to rack up the victories.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: CHRIS OAKES

With training doubles on back-to-back nights, it was a particularly effective week for Chris, one of Pocono’s elite trainers year in and year out.

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

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

September 18-24, 2015

Lest anyone think that the racing action at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono has slowed up a bit as summer makes its transition into fall, this past week’s excitement should definitively put that theory to rest. Four nights of action produced times as quick as any we witnessed in the heart of summer. We even had a world record performance to really push this week over the edge. That performance, needless to say, kicks off our Weekly Awards.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: DAYLON MIRACLE

In the $30,000 Open Handicap trot on Saturday night, Wind Of The North was assigned the outside post in the nine-horse field, meaning that he conceivably should have been the one that stood a notch above the rest of the field. But it was the mare Daylon Miracle who went off as the even-money favorite from post position #7.

Maybe the betting faithful saw a horse on top of her game after a close 3rd in a $100,000 race at Pocono and a sharp condition win at Yonkers in her previous two starts. Or maybe they realized that her human companions, trainer Rene Allard and driver Simon Allard, were in the midst of a monster night. In any case, Daylon Miracle rewarded the bettor’s faith, taking the lead on the front stretch and trotting away to hide.

She kicked away from her pursuit to cross the line 7 ½ lengths in front of the best trotters on the grounds. The winning time of 1:50:3 revealed just why Daylon Miracle was so far out in front, as it broke the world record for aged trotting mares on a 5/8-mile oval. Only Sebastian K and Father Patrick, two all-time greats, have ever trotted faster at Pocono than what Daylon Miracle achieved on Saturday night.

Other top trotters this week include: Extracurricular (Simon Allard, Rene Allard) whose victory in Tuesday night’s featured condition trot was his second straight and came in a career-best 1:53; Racer X (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), who now has three straight wins, two of which were at Pocono, following a victory Friday night in a career best 1:53:3; and Cantabs Fortune (George Napolitano Jr., Kevin Carr), a mare who moved up in class on Tuesday night to score her second straight condition win, this one coming in 1:55.

PACER OF THE WEEK: BUGGER BRUISER

This four-year-old gelding from the barn of trainer of Carmen Auciello has spent his time in 2015 bouncing back and forth amidst Pennsylvania, New York and Canada. In his previous start before going toe-to-toe with a $13,000 condition group at Pocono on Saturday night, he overcame an outside post to win at Tioga by a neck in 1:52:1.

Although that winning time might have seemed modest next to some of the speedsters in Saturday night’s race, Bugger Bruiser also had a 1:49:1 win at Mohawk to his credit in 2015. He needed that speed early to find the pocket seat behind Mustang Art, a classy Pocono veteran who made the front end and tried to scare off the rest of the field by setting intimidating fractions.

Those fractions didn’t frighten Bugger Bruiser, who stayed close behind Mustang Art as the leader dealt with pressure on the outside. At the top of the stretch, driver Simon Allard tipped Bugger Bruiser to the outside and the gelding pounced, blowing by the pacesetter to win by two lengths in a sizzling 1:50. With two straight wins, this precocious pacer appears ready to step up and take on even tougher foes, no matter where he races next.

Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: Dynamic Youth (Joe Bongiorno, Ron Burke), who battled to a win in Saturday night’s $30,000 Open Handicap pace in 1:49, the fastest pacing time of the week; Artistic Major (Eric Goodell, Steve Elliott), a 3-year-old colt who beat some tough older horses in a condition on Saturday night in a career-best 1:49:4; and Frost Damage Blues (Mike Simons, Tom Fanning), a three-year-old filly who, after winning five straight races in New York to start her career, handled a condition field at Pocono on Wednesday night in a career-best 1:51:1 to stay perfect.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: CULINARY DELIGHT

At 36-1, this filly wasn’t given much of a chance on Tuesday night, but she upset a condition trotting field with Marcus Miller in the bike to pay out $74.80 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: SIMON ALLARD

As if five wins on Friday night weren’t enough, he came right back to dominate the proceedings with eight wins on Saturday night, a personal best for him here at Pocono.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: RENE ALLARD

After notching four training wins on both Friday and Saturday night, the meet’s leading trainer now has twice as many wins in 2015 as his nearest competitor in the Pocono training standings.

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.

Eight divisions in first leg PA Stallion Series

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

There were eight divisions of the $160,000 first leg Pennsylvania Stallion Series event Tuesday night, July 14th, at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and — with one small exception — they saved the best for last.

The Dragon Again-Guthrie Hanover baby Griffon Hanover worked hard for the early lead, saw two brush by him in the second quarter, then got a clear shot in the famed Pocono Pike and rallied for the tally in 1:54, fastest of the octet of races. David Miller guided the speedy freshman to the win for trainer Tom Fanning and owners Robert Dathe and Donovan Spamer while completing a siring triple for Dragon Again.

The one dark spot? Griffon Hanover, much to the lament of improvers of the breed everywhere, was the only gelding among the eight winners.

David Miller bookended the Stallion Series action when he took the opening section with the Yankee Cruiser-Ma Foi colt Ginger Tree Cash in 1:55.4. Also with a driving double was Tom Jackson, first with the Well Said-Yankee Scramble colt Yolo Hanover in 1:55.3, then, in the most exciting of the eight stretch drives, picking up the field on the far outside with another son of Dragon Again (out of Western Powerful), Art’s Dragon, in 1:54.4. Dragon Again’s third winner, out of I’m Sassy, was Innit Hanover, first home in 1:55 with Scott Zeron at the lines.

Also with a multiple sire credit was Somebeachsomewhere; his two winners were I’m Some Graduate (out of the $1.3M-winning mare Western Graduate), guided by John Campbell to victory in 1:56, and Beach Ogre (out of Donkeys Can Talk), whose 1:54.4 win for Ray Schnittker was the only non-lifetime best in the competition, as the youngster had previously qualified at The Downs in 1:54.1.

Rounding out the action was Star Of Terror, by Western Terror-Game Bunny, a winner in 1:55.2 for driver Tim Tetrick.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Friday, July 12th, 2013

July 5-11, 2013

I had originally intended this week’s article to only recap the Pennsylvania All Stars races that highlighted Grand Circuit at the week. Yet sometimes things happen at the track that demand attention, and I would say that four consecutive nights of track and world records at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs would definitely qualify as one of those special events that merit a change of plans.

Fans of racing at Pocono know that the track boasts perhaps the fastest racing surface in the country. Just a few weeks ago on Sun Stakes Saturday, the proof of that speed came from the fact that the fastest trot and fastest pace in the history of racing on 5/8-mile ovals both took place at MSPD. That momentum carried over into this week, leaving us all agape at the blistering action that we witnessed.

The explosive action began last Wednesday night, July 3, which was only fitting since a giant fireworks display was scheduled for immediately after the completion of racing. There were five Pennsylvania All Stars races that evening for 2-year-old colts and geldings. Perhaps the most vulnerable record in the Pocono book coming into the week was the 1:56:3 mark of Sand Violent Blu for 2-year-old geldings on the trot. Sure enough, in the very first race of the night, gelding Amped Up Hanover, with Marcus Miller in the bike for John Butenschoen, shattered that mark with a 1:55:4 mile in a win. Later on that same night, Yannick Gingras drove the Steve Schoeffel-trained gelding Ravenclaw to a win in that same record time of 1:55:4.

On Friday night, much of the racing attention was paid to the eight divisions of 2-year-old All Stars races for 2-year-old trotting fillies. While there were some excellent performances in that class, none were able to break into the record book. In a condition trot, however, Summer Indian, driven by Matt Kakaley for trainer Ron Burke, put on a show with a win in 1:51:1. That blasted the 5-year-old Pocono record for 4-year-old trotting geldings of 1:52, set by Macho Lindy back in 2008, which was also the world mark for that age group on a 5/8-mile oval.

Saturday night was our biggest night of Pennsylvania All-Stars action, with 12 straight races featuring 3-year-olds kicking off the card. In a division of the All Stars for 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings, Its Complicated, with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike for trainer Kris Hite, was a powerhouse on the front end and won in 1:52:4. That matched the track and world record for 3-year-old geldings on the trot.

When the All Stars races ended that night, things really started to heat up. First up was Live On, driven by Eric Carlson for trainer Tom Fanning, who matched a world record for 4-year-old geldings on the pace with a mile of 1:48:1 in a romping condition victory. Just a race later, the track record for trotting geldings five years and up was matched, as Zooming, with Jim Morrill Jr. in the bike for trainer Amber Buter, came on for a condition win in 1:51.

On Sunday night, many of the overnight races that got pushed back by all of the Pennsylvania All Stars races were scheduled, which meant that some of our older horses would have their chances to assault the record books. In a $25,000 Preferred trot, Sevruga took his opportunity and did something really special.

The 5-year-old gelding from the Julie Miller barn came into the race with wins in 7 of his 13 races this season, despite the fact that he was up against some of the top trotters on the grounds of each of the different tracks where he competed. Driver Andy Miller pretty much cut Sevruga loose to see what he what he could do, and the results were staggering. The gelding won the race by 5 ½ lengths over an excellent field and tripped the timer in 1:50:3. That matched the world record for fastest mile ever trotted on a 5/8 oval that had been set just eight days previous at Pocono by Uncle Peter. It also established the world mark for aged geldings on the trot.

Those are a lot of broken records in a four-night span. When you count all the marks that fell on Sun Stakes Saturday, almost half of the Pocono record book has changed around in a stretch of a little more than a week. So what gives? Well, you have a perfect storm of incredible talent, in terms of horses and horsemen, making MSPD a destination instead of a stopover, hot weather, and a perfectly manicured track. Suddenly Pocono is like the Bonneville Salt Flats of the harness racing world. Don’t blink or you literally might miss another record being set.

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.