Posts Tagged ‘Tom Jackson’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

April 15-21, 2017

Even with only three days of racing last week due to our taking Easter Sunday off, there was a ton of exciting action that took place at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. We saw our first sub-1:50 mile of the meet, the continuation of the Bobby Weiss late closer series, and, in general, some wild and woolly racing. Without further ado, let’s review it all by handing out our Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: MIGRATE BLUE CHIP

Moving up in class is never an easy feat, but this five-year-old stallion from the Ron Burke barn was ready to do just that on Saturday night. After all, he had won back to back starts against the non-winners of five pacing conditioners in his previous two races, putting up times of 1:52:1 and 1:53 in the process. Saturday night’s test came against the non-winners of seven colts, stallions and geldings. The betting public had faith in Migrate Blue Chip though, installing him at 1-9 as the heaviest kind of favorite.

The rest of the field wasn’t about to concede the race to the heavy betting choice. In fact, pacesetting Pan Of Steel was particularly prickly. Each time Migrate Blue Chip attempted to get to the front, Pan Of Steel would dig in his heels and push him back. This left the favorite with an unenviable trip, first-over around two of the race’s three turns.

Despite losing the lead to Pan Of Steel twice, Migrate Blue Chip, under the steady guidance of driver Matt Kakaley, strove onward and finally took over the lead in the stretch. At that point, you might have expected one of the closers to pounce on the tired favorite. But the stallion was having none of it, stretching the lead to two lengths at the line and winning in 1:51:3, a new career-best time. That makes three in a row for a horse who might be ready to take on more experienced pacers on the highest rungs of the condition ladder.

Other top pacers this week include: Orillia Joe (Eric Carlson, Matias Ruiz), who captured Saturday’s $25,000 condition pace in 1:49:4, a new career-best and the fastest time of the young season at Pocono; Dash Of Danger (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who captured his third straight Bobby Weiss win and fourth in a row overall on Monday night, this one coming in a new career mark of 1:51:3; and Hypothetical (Andrew McCarthy, Ross Croghan), a three-year-old colt who picked up his second straight condition win on Tuesday night in 1:53:1.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: DOLCE DUCCI

This 10-year-old gelding from the Norman Morford barn has a knack for rising up with a big mile when you least expect it. He scored his first victory of the season on April 10 at Pocono against the $8,500 condition trotters. Coming off that confidence-builder, he moved up to the $11,000 group on Monday night. He didn’t receive too much attention, however, going off as an 11-1 shot.

As the race progressed, Dolce Ducci seemed to be an afterthought indeed. As Tea Party Politics set the pace, he lolled about near the back of the pack. When Raven Victory took over the lead with a first-over charge on the back stretch, the gelding was sill eighth in the field of nine. He must have been lulling them into a false sense of security, because Dolce Ducci started to boogie around the last turn. At the top of the stretch, driver Tom Jackson guided him four-wide so that he had a clear look at the horses ahead of him and the finish line.

Dolce Ducci then kicked into gear, making up several lengths with a furious move. Raven Victory held on for as long as he could before he finally caved to the charge of the horse coming from behind. Dolce Ducci swept by to win by a length-and-a-half in 1:57:1. Expect another move up in class for this veteran trotter, and expect him to sneak up again if the race breaks his way.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Get To Doin It (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who scored a condition win on Saturday night in the week’s fastest trotting time at Pocono of 1:53:3, which was also a career-best; Hilarious Hero (Matt Kakaley, Jenny Melander), whose Bobby Weiss series victory on Tuesday night in a career-best 1:55 gave him three wins in as many starts this season; and Ooh Rah (Jim Morrill Jr., Kathleen La Montagne), who churned out his second straight Bobby Weiss series victory on Tuesday night in 1:56:1.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ORILLIA JOE

It’s not often that the longest shot of the week comes home in the week’s feature race, but Orillia Joe did just that on Saturday night at 20-1 for a win payout of $42.40 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ERIC GOODELL

It’s been a nice start to the meet for Goodell, and his three victories on Saturday night provided a taste of the success he’s been able to achieve early this season.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: MATIAS RUIZ

Ruiz chalked up a training double on Saturday night, with the highlight coming in Orillia Joe’s surprising victory in the featured pace.

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

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

July 23-29, 2016

It was hot this week in Northeastern Pennsylvania, but that’s no real news flash, because it was hot just about everywhere in the country as well. I only mention it because the heat didn’t seem to cause any lethargy in the horses competing this past week at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. If anything, we witnessed some of the fastest races at the track in several weeks, with horses routinely putting up career-bests and even coming within shouting distance of world records. Here are some of the best performers this week, via the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: VAGUE TRACES

You never know when you’re going to see a special performance at the track. Vague Traces gave just such a performance on Saturday night. It wasn’t entirely unexpected that this 4-year-old gelding would be good, considering that he went off as the favorite in a field of $14,000 condition pacers. But the extent to which he excelled was what left mouths agape after he cashed in on his promise and scored the victory.

Trained by Ross Croghan, Vague Traces was making his first start at Pocono in 2016. He came in with wins in just two of his 14 races on the year, but they were back-to-back wins at The Meadowlands in June. Coming off a pair of distant finishes against tough company at Yonkers, the gelding didn’t show much in the first half of his first mile at Pocono, sitting an unassuming fourth early. Then driver Andrew McCarthy sent him first-over on the outside, and everything changed.

In a flash Vague Traces blew by everyone in front of him and took the lead prior to the three-quarter pole. But he didn’t stop there, continuing an elongated speed burst that didn’t relent until he crossed the line 7 ¾ lengths ahead of the dumbfounded field. Even more impressively, he tripped the line in 1:48:1, not just a career-best but the fastest at Pocono this week and one of the fastest at the oval this season. Just like that Vague Traces made an impression on the Pocono faithful; let’s see how he handles the tougher competition that’s bound to come.

Other top pacers this week include: Bushwacker (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Ryder), who scored a victory in Saturday night’s $18,000 featured pace in 1:50; Soto (Andrew McCarthy, Eric Ell), a newcomer to the racing wars at Pocono who immediately left his mark with a condition victory on Saturday in a career-best 1:48:4; and Life Is A Beach (Anthony Napolitano, Randy Bendis), who handled Tuesday night’s featured condition pacing mares in 1:52, which matched a career best.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: ARMOR HANOVER

There were several excellent candidates for this honor this week, but this seven-year-old gelding gets the call not just for his last two outstanding performances, but also for how far he’s come in that time. Trained by Douglas Berkeley, Armor Hanover hit rock bottom on July 2 when he went off-stride for a second consecutive race. That meant he’d have to qualify before he could race again. He did just that, winning a qualifier at Monticello on July 6, apparently earning some serious confidence in the process.

In his first race back on July 16, he headed out against a $14,000 condition trotting field as a 17-1 long shot. But driver Tom Jackson drove him aggressively and Armor Hanover responded, holding off Auspicious Hanover by a nose in a thrilling stretch battle to upset in 1:54:3, which was a career-best time.

On Saturday night, he faced off against a $15,500 condition grouping and this time went off at 6-1 with Anthony Napolitano in the bike. With a tremendous back-stretch brush, Armor Hanover left behind the 2-5 favorite Cufflink Hanover. The rest of the field was no match for him either, as he came home six lengths in front. His winning time of 1:52 shattered the career mark he had only just laid down. Armor Hanover has indeed come a long way in a short time, and it will be exciting to see now just where he goes from here.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Tac’s Delight (Jim Marohn Jr., Rene Allard), who handled a $15,000 claiming handicap field in 1:54:1 on Sunday night for his third straight victory; Homicide Hunter (Eric Goodell, Chris Oakes), who captured Sunday night’s $25,000 featured condition pace in 1:51:1, a new career-best, the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono, and only a fifth of a second short of a world record for 4-year-old trotting geldings; and Crazy About Pat (Jim Marohn Jr., Paul Kelley), who shipped in from Yonkers to pick up a condition win on Sunday night in a career-best 1:53:1.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: LARSON HANOVER

This two-year-old trotter’s maiden win on Tuesday night was quite memorable, as he came home a winner at 75-1 to pay out $154.20 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY NAPOLITANO

Returning from an injury that kept him out nearly two months, Napolitano wasted no time getting in the swing of things by ripping off five wins on his first night back Saturday.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JENNY MELANDER

Melander put together an interesting streak this week at Pocono, as she followed up training wins in both halves of the Late Daily Double Monday night with another victory in the opening race on Tuesday.

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

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

July 16-22, 2016

It’s hard to believe, but we’re nearly at the midway point of the 2016 racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. There’s a lot of great racing from this year already in our rear view, yet we’re entering an extremely busy portion of the season, highlighted by the mega-card on Super Stakes Saturday in August. We’ll be talking about all of that soon enough, but for now let’s put the spotlight on the best of the best from the week that was and hand out our Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: B R FLYING DALI

This four-year-old stallion entered Pocono on a high note with a victory at The Meadows against $5,000 claimers on May 11. After finishing third against $7,500 claimers in his first try at MSPD, he quickly followed that up with a win in that class on May 29. B R Flying Dali was claimed from that race, switching trainers from Mike Palone to Dan Altman in the process, and he promptly moved up for the Altman barn for back-to-back wins against the $10,000 and $12,500 claimers in his next two races.

That meant he was riding a three-race winning streak when he took to the track on Saturday night to once again face off with the $12,500 claimers. Leaving from the #4 post in a field of nine as an even money favorite, B R Flying Dali sat second at the quarter behind a hot pace. Driver Simon Allard guided him to the lead with a quick move on the front stretch and hustled him through a quick third quarter of 27:2 to try to keep the pressure at bay.

In the stretch, B R Flying Dali had to deal with the charges of pocket horse Teranadawn and outside closer Special Terror. But he was up to the challenge, topping Special Terror at the line by a length in 1:52, which matched the career mark he had set in his previous start. That makes four wins in a row, five out of six, and ten overall for the season for B R Flying Dali. Those are impressive stats, and they stand to get even better if this stallion continues his hot streak.

Other top pacers this week include: Dreams Beachboy (Eric Goodell, Chris Oakes), who ripped off his second consecutive condition victory on Sunday night, this one coming in 1:50:3; Bandolito (Sean Bier, Daryl Bier), who scorched a condition group on Saturday for a win in a time of 1:49:2, the fastest pacing mark of the week at Pocono; and Highview Conall (Pat Berry, Scott DiDomenico) who followed up back to back wins at Harrah’s with a victory in a claiming handicap on Saturday night at Pocono in a career-best 1:49:3.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: WILBERFORCE

No two races are ever the same, so it’s a good thing when a horse has the versatility to roll with whatever comes its way on a particular night. It’s also a bonus when a horse’s driver can adjust his game plan depending on the circumstances. Those factors came into play when Wilberforce, a 4-year-old gelding from the Kris Rickert barn, took the track on Sunday night in search of his second consecutive victory over the non-winners of seven condition grouping.

In his previous start on July 10, driver George Napolitano Jr. kept Wilberforce off the pace on the inside, then guided him home when an opening appeared late. The gelding won in a career-best 1:53 by 3 ¾ lengths over Tuscanellie, who was the race favorite but wore down on the front end. On Sunday night, Tuscanellie was again favored at 1-2 with an improved post position, but he watched as Wilberforce changed up tactics and took charge early.

Napolitano took advantage of a small six-horse field by setting tepid fractions on the lead. That meant that Tuscanellie, even though she had the trip, still couldn’t get past Wilberforce in the late going. The gelding held tight to win by 1 ¼ lengths. The winning time of 1:54:4 wasn’t as quick as the previous week, but the bottom line is what mattered. That’s two in a row for Wilberforce, who has proven he can win a couple different ways, a handy talent in this sport.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Tac’s Delight (Jim Marohn Jr., Rene Allard), who moved up in class to win a claiming handicap trot on Sunday night in 1:54:1, earning his second straight victory in the process; J L Cruze (John Campbell, Eric Ell), who coasted to victory in Sunday night’s $25,000 featured condition trot, sharing the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono in the process with a 1:53; and Pounce Hanover (Jim Marohn Jr., Greg White), who rolled to a condition win on Tuesday night in 1:53, a new career mark which matched the week’s fastest trotting time at Pocono.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ARMOR HANOVER

After breaking stride in his previous two starts, this trotter driven by Tom Jackson stayed flat and then some on Saturday night, beating a condition field at 17-1 for a $36.20 payout on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: SCOTT ZERON

As Zeron has become more of a regular presence at Pocono this year, he’s doing more damage, as was the case on Sunday night when he picked up four driving victories.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JIMMY TAKTER

When there are stakes races, you can count on Takter to do some damage, and the results this week at Pocono for him included three Stallion Series wins on Monday and a Sire Stakes victory.

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.

A “haunting good night” at the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

As “darkness falls across the land”*, the ghosts will come out at the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Saturday, Halloween night.!

“Grey Ghosts”, that is, as all grey or roan horses come to Northeast PA for the annual “Grey Ghost and Poltergeist Pace” sponsored by the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen, NY.

Eight ghostly greys are behind the gate for the 4th race, with an approximate Post Time of 7:24p.m., and will be led to Post Parade by “Headless Horseman”, otherwise known as Outrider Terry Scott.

The eight-year-old grey mare, Summer Snow, has been installed as the morning line favorite at odds of 5-2.  Trained by Jennifer Lappe, the spooky grey will be driven by Andrew McCarthy.

The winner of the 2013 race at Pocono, Gotta Love Him, is second choice at 3-1, and will once again have Matt Kakaley in the bike.  Cindy Weitoish trains the 7-year-old gelding, who has been in every edition of the “Grey Ghost” race at Pocono!

First-time Pocono starter Movie Sequel, 4-1, trained by Shaun Callahan, ships in from Delaware, and comes off a 3rd this past Tuesday at Rosecroft.  Tom Jackson picks up the drive.  Others in the field include the Jennifer Sansone-trained Corwhiny at 12-1; Annie McVicar, 10-1, trained by Kimberly Asher; JS McFlash, 6-1, trained by Wendy Shimmin; and Putnam’s Storm, with Pocono leading driver George Napolitano Jr. in the bike for trainer Brian Fisher, at odds of 9-2.

Fans can expect to see some surprises with these ghoulish greys!

The Harness Racing Museum will be in the lobby, selling the commemorative Greyhound wristbands, raising money for the exhibit honoring the great trotter.  Other items will be for sale.

***According to the U.S. Trotting Association, the governing body of harness racing, less than five percent of all harness horses are grey in color.  The most famous was the former world champion trotter and Hambletonian winner, Greyhound.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

July 17-23, 2015

Now that we’re in the heart of the 2015 racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, the schedule provides five nights of racing each week. That means that it’s harder than ever to choose who’s deserving of the Weekly Awards, because there are even more candidates from which to select. But we’re going to take a deep dive anyway and come up with the best of the best from the week that was at Pocono.

PACER OF THE WEEK: CAUTION SIGNS

It’s been a lot of fun to chart the ascendancy of this 5-year-old stallion in 2015. On April 16, he finished third in a $12,500 claimer at Yonkers. That’s when he was claimed by owner/trainer Tracy Brainard, who immediately coaxed better efforts from the horse in New York, as he won two of his next three starts. But that was nothing compared to the run of success he’s put together at Pocono. Since arriving at the end of May, Caution Signs has four wins and two places in six races, all while climbing the highest rungs of the condition ladder.

On July 4, he completed his climb by beating Open pacers in 1:48:4, his third straight win. On Saturday night he took on Open company again and a field that was reduced to four by a couple of scratches. Although that might have seemed like an easy assignment, Caution Signs was dealing with a sloppy track. And, as he took the early lead, he was also dealing with a horse in Scott Rocks who sat the pocket and wouldn’t let him get away to a comfortable margin.

In the stretch, Scott Rocks came out of the pocket full of sound and fury looking to upend the even-money favorite. But no horse wins as consistently as Caution Signs has of late without being more than a little game. The stallion, with Joe Pavia Jr. doing the driving, fought hard to hold on to his lead, eventually winning by a neck in 1:49:4, a blistering time considering the sloppy going. Something tells me you wouldn’t be able to get Caution Signs for $12,500 right now, or maybe even five times that, considering his current hot streak.

Other top pacers this week include: Priceless Edition (Anthony Napolitano, Pierre Paradis), an 11-year-old veteran who cranked out his third straight claiming handicap on Friday night, this one coming in 1:54:4; Union Man Hanover (Andrew McCarthy, Tracy Brainard), who moved up his claiming price on Saturday night to $25,000 and still easily scored his third straight victory, this one in 1:51:4 in the slop; and Request For Parole (Anthony Napolitano, Ron Burke), a mare who followed up a win at The Meadowlands with a victory in Friday night’s featured pace in 1:49:2, the fastest time posted at Pocono this past week.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: AUSPICIOUS HANOVER

When I’m making the morning line odds for some of the top condition races on the card at Pocono, it’s always difficult to assign long odds to horses with strong performance backgrounds. There have to be long shots in every race, of course, so I grit my teeth and hope the public sees it the same way. That’s my way of explaining how a horse as solid as Auspicious Hanover could ever get away at 25-1 like he did on Saturday night.

The 4-year-old gelding from the Chris Oakes barn was coming into the condition trot for non-winners of $22,500 in the last five races, which carried the week’s top trotting purse of $24,000, off a 6th-place finish at Saratoga, but that was in an Open Handicap. Prior to that he had ripped off back-to-back wins at middling prices on the 5/8-mile oval at Harrah’s. Yet he was way back in the betting pecking order, with Madewell Hanover the even-money choice.

None of that mattered once the race started. Driver Kevin Wallis urged Auspicious Hanover to the lead at the quarter in a zippy :26:4. He was able to rate things much more reasonably through the middle portion of the race though, so that Auspicious Hanover didn’t just withstand the late pursuit of Madewell Hanover, but he actually lengthened the lead at the line to 2 ¼ lengths with a winning time of 1:54:1 in the slop. The win payout was $53.20 on a $2 ticket, so those who waded through the talented field to find the merits of this talented gelding were definitely rewarded.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Can I Say (Tom Jackson, Douglas Berkeley), a mare who beat the boys in a tough condition race on Saturday night in 1:54:1 in the slop; Demons N Diamonds (Simon Allard, John McDermott), a filly who stepped up in class on Sunday night and ripped off her second straight win, this one in a career-best time of 1:54; and Born To Fight (George Napolitano Jr., Mark Ford), who stepped up in class on Tuesday night to win his second straight condition won, this one coming in 1:55:2 in the slop.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: BLINTZ

This filly made here maiden victory a memorable one on Sunday night, scoring for trainer/driver Bob Krivelin at 55-1, paying off $118 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

On Saturday night we honored George Nap for picking up his 7,000th career victory earlier in the week at Harrah’s, and he reminded us of how he reached that milestone by winning the night’s first three races.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: TRACY BRAINARD

Brainard’s efficiency at Pocono has been off the charts in recent weeks, and two more victories on Saturday continued that torrid training streak.

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.