Posts Tagged ‘Tracy Brainard’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

August 12-18, 2017

This past week at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono featured either Pennsylvania Sire Stakes or Stallion Series competition every racing night. It’s always a lot of fun to see these two and three-year-olds going at it for big purses as they try to establish themselves among the stars of their age groups. It’s also a reminder that Labor Day brings the two-year-old Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championships to Pocono. In the meantime, here are the finest performances of the past week via the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: HOLD IT HANOVER

In general, Stallion Series races are reserved for two and three-year-olds that are a notch below Sire Stakes level; that’s reflected in the lower, but still substantial, purses for the Stallion Series races. But, in some cases, the Stallion Series serves as a great location for horses that may have started a bit later in their career than others but are suddenly demonstrating immense talent. That certainly seems to be the case for Hold It Hanover.

This filly didn’t race at age two, and made her debut in Canada this season as a sophomore, picking up one win in eight starts. But things started to transform when she arrived in Pennsylvania in July and joined the barn of trainer Michael Hall. After finishing fourth in her first start at Harrah’s at Philadelphia, Hold It Hanover promptly ripped off three straight victories against non-winners of three fillies and mares. She then came to Pocono on August 8 and beat that same class from an outside post in a career-best 1:51:2.

On Sunday night, she took on the Stallion Series for three-year-old pacing fillies for the first time and the domination continued. As the 2-5 favorite from an outside post in a field of seven, she overwhelmed the field on the front end by 5 ¾ lengths with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike. The winning time of 1:51 was easily the fastest Stallion series time of the night and was comparable to the times of Saturday night’s Sire Stakes winners in the same division. With five wins in a row under her belt, the best way to classify Hold It Hanover is as tough to beat.

Other top pacers this week include: Maxdaddy Blue Chip (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who moved up in class and grinded out a first-over mile for his second straight condition victory on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:50:1; Scotty Lauxmont (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who scored his second consecutive condition win on Sunday night, moving up in class to win in a career-best 1:52:3; and First Class Horse (George Napolitano Jr. Tracy Brainard), whose condition win on Saturday night in 1:50 marked a career-best and the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: RIDGEWAY SPRINGS

One can never tell when the light is going to come on for a struggling horse. In the case of Ridgeway Springs, it looked like he might dwell in darkness all year long. When he arrived at Pocono from The Meadowlands for a non-winners of $6,000 in the last five event on August 6, he was winless this season in 19 races. But the change of scenery must have helped, as the four-year-old gelding, who had just joined the Owen Eiler Jr. barn, made a three-wide back stretch move on his way to a win in a career-best 1:55:2 at 11-1.

On Sunday night, Ridgeway Springs took on a different challenge, battling the non-winners of five for a purse of $16,000. Those are much bigger stakes than what he’s used to seeking, so it was somewhat understandable that he was let go at 13-1 despite the win in his last start. Driver Anthony Napolitano had the gelding ready to roll, however, pushing him to the front early and then settling into the pocket after race favorite Rosesareexplosive grabbed the lead on the front stretch.

Some first-over pressure from Centurion Hanover softened up Rosesareexplosive, all while Ridgeway Springs relaxed in the pocket. In the stretch, Ridgeway Springs uncorked his best move and slid past Rosesareexplosive to win by three-parts of a length. In doing so, he matched his career-best 1:55:2 time from the previous week. After two straight victories at double-digit odds, hope springs anew for this suddenly red-hot trotter.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Up Front Billy (Anthony Napolitano, Mark Ford), who scored a condition win on Saturday night in a brisk 1:53:1; Windsongmusclelady (George Napolitano Jr., Hunter Oakes), a mare who followed up a win at Harrah’s with a victory in Monday night’s featured claiming handicap trot in 1:52:3, a new career-best and the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; and Frac (Anthony Napolitano, Jim Ray), who stepped up the condition ladder to win his second straight on Tuesday night in 1:55.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: CAN I SAY

With Anthony Morgan in the bike, this trotting mare beat a field of boys to win a condition event at 29-1 on Saturday night, paying off $60 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

On Sunday night’s card, which featured some top drivers shipping in for the Stallion Series races, Pocono’s top driver asserted his dominance by winning eight of the 14 races on the program.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: NIFTY NORMAN

Among Norman’s four training victories at Pocono this week were back-to-back Stallion Series wins on Sunday night with sophomore filly pacers Bridge To Tomorrow and Perplexed.

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

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.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Week in Review

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

April 11-17, 2015

Next week in this space we’ll be talking about the finals of our Bobby Weiss late closer series, races which will be taking place over the next few racing nights at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The Weiss preliminary legs have featured some of the most exciting younger horses in the country, so the finals should be filled with great performances. In the meantime, we’ve got the best of this week’s overnight action on display with this edition of the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: BUSHWACKER

It’s always interesting to watch four-year-old horses make the transition from facing horses their own age to competing with older foes. Those who make that transition smoothly are often the ones who end up battling it out in the upper conditions and Opens at their respective tracks. Bushwacker, a talented 4-year-old gelding, is already making that transition at Pocono even as he has only just started his 2015 campaign.

At ages two and three, Bushwacker, trained by Chris Ryder, performed very well, earning over $200,000 combined in those seasons by facing tough competition. He kicked off his 4-year-old season extremely well, winning against non-winners of five on a sloppy track at Pocono in 1:52:3 on March 31. The field he faced on Saturday night, a condition for non-winners of $15,500 in the last starts, featured only one other four-year-old; everybody else in the field was at least a year older.

Yet Bushwacker didn’t seem at all stressed out by the step up  in class. With Jim Morrill Jr. in the bike, he took a tough first-over path but managed to take over the lead late. From there he stayed strong, holding on to win by a length in a sharp 1:51. That makes him two-for-two in the young season and puts all of the top pacers at Pocono, even the veterans, on notice that Bushwacker is ready to roll at any level.

Other top pacers this week include: Always Wanna (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who changed barns but still rolled to his third consecutive victory over the $12,500 claimers on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:53:2; Mustang Art (Jim Morrill Jr., James McGuire), whose win in Saturday night’s featured condition pace came in 1:50, fastest time of the meet up to that point; and Major Deagan (Jim Morrill Jr., Tracy Brainard), a 17-1 shot who rallied to win a condition pace on Tuesday night in a career-best 1:50, matching the standard set by Mustang Art three nights before.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: TAMASIN HALL

A five-year-old mare from the barn of Bill Mullin, Tamasin Hall has proven in the past her ability to put together a big mile on the Pocono oval. Like many trotters, she occasionally struggles with breaking stride, but when she’s flat she’s dangerous. She showed that in her first start of the 2015 meet at Pocono when she rallied to beat a condition trotting field on March 31 in 1:56:3.

Her next start, against the same class, resulted in only a fifth-place finish, but that one could be written off somewhat by the fact that she had to deal with the dreaded #9 post position. She came back to face the same group of non-winners $12,500 in the last five starts on Tuesday night, and though her #7 post position was no pleasure cruise, it gave her a better chance to flash some early speed. With Jim Morrill Jr. in the bike, she worked her way to the front end on the front stretch.

From there she rebuffed all those who tried to take the lead away. Morrill urged her home in the stretch to win by a length over You Rock My World in an impressive winning time in 1:53:2. That was a pretty good performance, especially considering she got away as a 6-1 shot. With two wins in three starts so far in the 2015 Pocono meet, it looks like Tamasin Hall will be a hot trotter once again this season.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Chocoholic (Andrew McCarthy, James Quinn), who matched a career-best she knocked off a rugged condition group on Tuesday in 1:55; Buffalino Hanover (Andy Miller, Todd Schadel), who toughed out a first-over move to win a condition trot on Tuesday night in 1:54:2; and GJ Photo Victory (Jim Morrill Jr., Marcus Marashian), whose claiming victory on Wednesday night in 1:54:3 was his fourth straight, the last two of which came at Pocono.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: DIVINATION

On Sunday night this mare driven by Anthony Napolitano snuck out of the pocket late to surprise a field of condition pacers at 34-1, paying off $71 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: SIMON ALLARD

Simon did some serious damage on Saturday night in conjunction with his brother Rene (see below), ripping off seven driving victories, a personal best for him here at Pocono.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: RENE ALLARD

The two-time defending champion in training wins made his first big splash of 2015 on Saturday night by teaming with his brother Simon for seven wins on the 14-race program.

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.

Wing Tips Stars in Stallion Series at Pocono

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

July 15, 2012

Wing Tips posted the fastest winning time among four divisions of the Stallion Series held at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on Sunday night. The races, which were contested by 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings, each carried a purse of $20,000.

Wing Tips (SJ’s Caviar-Annette Hall), who was coming off a win in his previous start at The Meadows, came home a winner in 1:54:2 with Brian Zendt. The gelding is owned by William Zendt and trainer Leslie Zendt.

The other Stallion Series winners on Sunday night: Celebrity Hall (Tom Ridge-Canne Angus), driven by Andrew McCarthy, trained by Susanne Strandqvist, and owned by Celebrity Farms, in 1:55:2; Fogelberg (SJ’s Caviar-Maurel Hanover), driven by Charlie Norris, trained by Todd Rooney, and owned by Foge McKeever LLC, Eldon Thompson, and Joseph Hartley, in 1:55:4; and Upfront Billy (Andover Hall-Angel Pie), driven by Brian Zendt and owned by trainer William Zendt and Ed Mullinax, in 1:54:3.

In an exhibition race, Pocono held its first ever Racing Under Saddle event with a purse of $10,000. Armbro Doyle (King Conch-Accompaniment), owned and trained by Tracy Brainard and driven by Helene Gregory, won in 2:00:2, setting a new North American record for such a race on a 5/8-mile oval. Keepin The Chips finished 2nd and Dreamnwillie picked up the show.