Posts Tagged ‘Transcending’

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

September 19-25, 2014

Racing at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs has geared down somewhat in terms of quantity, as the schedule now features three live nights per week. But the quality hasn’t let down a bit, as evidenced by a Saturday night card that included no pacing miles slower than 1:50:2 and no trotting miles slower than 1:54. We even had a world-record performance, which, of course, stands out among this edition of the Weekly Awards.


This 6-year-old gelding was struggling with the upper reaches of the pacing ranks when he was last here in June, but he’s been performing well since then at other tracks, winning three of his last five races. The last four of those races came after he switched barns to be trained by Rene Allard, Pocono’s leading trainer, including a come-from-behind win in an Open Handicap in his last race at Yonkers as a 7-1 shot.

His confidence sufficiently boosted, he returned to Pocono to compete on Saturday night in a Preferred Handicap pace for a purse of $25,000. It was a stacked field, including star veteran Golden Receiver and Dancin Yankee, who had owned the oval at Pocono in his previous appearances in 2014. But driver Ron Pierce drove Bigtown Hero as if there were no other horses on the track, sending him to the front for a huge lead as each fraction ticked off proved more impressive than the one before.

In the stretch, Bigtown Hero began to slow ever so slightly. It was a good thing the lead he built up was so substantial, because Dancin Yankee and Aslan came closing at him fast. Pierce urged him home for a half-length victory in a stunning time of 1:47:3. That broke the world record for aged gelding pacers on a 5/8-mile oval, which was set last June at Pocono by Foiled Again and then matched by Abelard Hanover.

Other top pacers this week include: Ring Warrior (Matt Kakaley, Brewer Adams), a colt who followed up four consecutive wins at Ocean Downs with a victory at Pocono in a condition pace on Tuesday night in a career-best 1:54; Cherokee Hunter (Simon Allard, Rene Allard) whose condition win on Tuesday night was his second straight and came in a career-best time of 1:52:1; and Wake Up Peter (Tyler Buter, Larry Remmen), who scorched a condition pacing group on Saturday night in 1:49:2.


Not all slumps are created equal. To wit, consider the struggles Sevruga had been having in the summer months. Last year he earned nearly $500,000 facing the best trotters around, and the highlight of his season was a world-record performance at Pocono with a win in 1:50:3. But he had come up empty for three months straight in terms of wins heading into Saturday night’s $25,000 Preferred trot.

In his last three races at Pocono, all against the most rugged trotters on the grounds, Sevruga, a 6-year-old gelding trained by Kevin Carr, had hit the board every time and had lost by just a neck in the last two. On Saturday night, he enjoyed his first quality post position in more than a month and took advantage of it, breezing to the front early with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike.

Things were by no means easy from that point, as Wind Of The North put up a sustained first-over challenge to the lead. But Sevruga had been rated well enough early in the race that he was able to dig deep in the final strides and win by a nose in a rapid 1:52:1. Maybe it wasn’t fair to say that Sevruga was in a slump considering the quality of his competition and the multiple near-misses, but it is fair to say that his losing streak is history and a lengthy winning streak might just be in the offing.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Tui (Anthony Napolitan, Don Wiest), a Pocono fan-favorite mare who scored her first win of the season on Saturday night in a tough condition group in 1:53:1; A Cool Million (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), a mare who moved up her claiming price and won her second straight race on Tuesday night, doing so in a career-best 1:54; and Fortunista (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), a mare who beat the boys in a tough condition group on Saturday night in a career-best 1:53:1.


An outside post and long odds didn’t bother this veteran pacer as he came from out of the clouds late to shock a condition field on Saturday night at 49-1, paying off an even $100 on a $2 win ticket.


Pierce had it grooving on Saturday night, winning four consecutive races on the card, all in gate-to-wire fashion, a streak that culminated with the world-record win by Bigtown Hero.


Joe still does such a great job as a catch driver that his training abilities can sometimes be taken for granted, but a training double on Wednesday night put them front and center.

That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at

Googoo Gaagaa Sets World Record in Winning Beal at Pocono

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

June 23, 2012

On a night when three track records and two world records had already been established at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, Googoo Gaagaa needed to come up with something special to steal the show.

How does the fastest mile ever on a 5/8-mile oval work for you?

Googoo Gaagaa trotted an unreal 1:50:4 to win the $500,000 Earl Beal Memorial Jr. trot on Saturday night. The performance capped off an amazing night of action that saw pacers and trotters scorching the Pocono oval all night long.

Googoo Gaagaa came into the night having set a world record for 3-year-old colts on the trot of 1:51:3 in last week’s Beal elimination. In the final, the colt who is owned and trained by Richard Hans of Maryland, made his move on the front stretch to take the lead from Stormin Normand.

Nobody else made a serious threat to the top two, and Stormin Normand made a charge in the stretch, pulling up to about a half-length away. But driver Corey Callahan, who’s been aboard for all of Googoo Gaagaa’s 2012 victories, urged him home to win by 1 ¼ lengths. Little Brown Fox finished a distant 3rd. The fractional times were 27:1, 55:2, and 1:22:3, leading to the amazing winning time of 1:50:4, which shattered the world record for trotters of all ages on the 5/8-mile oval, which was the 1:51 mile posted by Arch Madness at Pocono in 2010.

In the winner’s circle, Callahan described Googoo Gaagaa’s legendary performance by saying, “He’s just a machine. He’s a professional in every sense of the word.” Callahan also had encouraging words for Hans, who was unsure how he fit in on the big stage, telling him, “You belong here, and he proved tonight that he does.”

Googoo Gaagaa now has an amazing record of 11 wins in 12 races, with his only loss coming earlier this season when he went off-stride at Harrah’s. Sired by Cam’s Rocket, a pacer, the colt pushed his career earnings to $345,945 as he heads to the Yonkers Trot.

The record-setting began at Pocono in the first elimination for the Ben Franklin, a free-for-all pace which Pocono will host for the first time next week. George Brennan drove Aracache Hanover, trained by Gregg McNair, to the Pocono all-time mark for aged pacing stallions with a victory in 1:48:1. The previous mark of 1:48:2 was set by Vlos in 2010 and matched by Transcending this May. From that elimination, Meirs Hanover (2nd), Bettor Sweet (3rd), Clear Vision (4th), and Razzle Dazzle (5th) also made the Franklin final.

In the second elimination, Bettarthancheddar, with Brennan in the bike again, this time for Casie Coleman, chased down We Will See late for a victory in 1:48:3. Along with Bettarthancheddar and We Will See, 3rd-place Foiled Again and 4th-place Rockincam are headed to the Franklin final.

In the second elimination for the Max C. Hempt Memorial, a 3-year-old open pace, Hurrikane Kingcole powered to a romping win in 1:48:1, breaking Shadow Play’s track record of 1:48:2 and matching the world record for 3-year-old colts on a 5/8-mile oval. From that split, I Like Dreamin and Hillbilly Hanover, who finished 2nd and 3rd, will race in next week’s final.

The first Hempt split was captured by I Fought Dalaw, with David Miller in the bike for Sam DePinto, in 1:49:3. One Through Ten and Mc Attaboy made the final by finishing second and third in that split. Bolt The Duer, with Mark MacDonald driving for Peter Foley, won the final Hempt split in 1:48:3. All Star Legend, who finished second in that split, and A Rocknroll Dance, who finished 3rd, are headed to the Hempt final next week.

The night’s final record came courtesy of American Jewel,  the star 3-year-old filly trained by Jimmy Takter. With Tetrick in the bike, she captured her elimination for the James M. Lynch Memorial stakes for 3-year-old pacing fillies in 1:49:2. That’s a new Pocono mark for the age group, breaking the 1:49:3 staandard set by the great Southwind Tempo, and matches the world record on a 5/8-mile oval. Joining her in next week’s Lynch final from her split are Economy Terror, Marty Party, Lightning Paige, and Destiny’s Chance, who finished 2nd through 5th, respectively, in the race.

In the night’s other Lynch elimination, Darena Hanover, with Yannick Gingras in the bike for Ron Burke, scored in 1:50:2. Her fellow finalists are Sarandon Blue Chip (2nd), Shelliscape (3rd), and Major Look (4th.)

The finals for the Ben Franklin, Hempt, and Lynch will all take place in a mega-card on Saturday night, June 30 at Pocono, with approximately $1.6 million on the line during the night.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

May 11-17, 2012

The action at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs has been great all season long, but the last few weeks have been particularly fine, highlighted by the first track records of the season. With the first Sire Stakes of the season in the offing, the racing is bound to get even hotter in the weeks to come. In the meantime, let’s dive into this edition of the Weekly Awards.


This 8-year-old stallion from the Ron Burke barn has been a top performer for several years. Consistency is the name of his game, as he has hit the board in more than half of his 156 career starts, most of which came against the finest pacing competition at Pocono and other Eastern tracks. His effort Saturday night, however, is one that will stand out in his illustrious career.

Facing an excellent field of condition pacers, Transcending worked out an excellent trip behind a raging speed duel between American Rage and Mickey Hanover. As the fractions got faster and faster, Matt Kakaley sat tight with the stallion, waiting for his opportunity to explode.

That opportunity came in the stretch, as he battled American Rage through the lane right to the finish line. When the dust cleared, Transcending was on top by a nose in a ridiculous time in 1:48:2. That was not only his new career-best, but it matched the Pocono track mark for aged stallions on the pace, previously set by Vlos in October of 2010.

Other top pacers this week include: Hurrikane Scotty J (Joe Pavia Jr., Chris Oakes), who stepped up in class on Saturday night to conquer the $20,000 claimers, his third straight win, in a new career-best time of 1:51:1; Fearlesss Diablo (Andrew McCarthy, Dylan Davis), who kept his winning streak alive after returning from Harrah’s with a condition victory on Saturday night, his third straight, in 1:51:3; and Billmar Scooter (Tyler Buter, Amber Buter), who beat the best mares on the grounds for a second straight week on Tuesday in 1:51.


Many times in this column, the Pacers and Trotters of the Week come from the highest ranks of the conditions and claimers. Every once in a while, a horse from some of the more modest ranks puts together a string of racing that just can’t be ignored. Such is the excellent stretch of racing that Keystone Torch has assembled the past month.

Even at age 11, this gelding has been impossible to beat in the $7,500 claimers since arriving at Pocono from Harrah’s. He reeled off three straight wins for trainer Jennifer Sabot as soon as he hit the MSPD racing surface, only to be claimed following his win on May 4. That meant that Friday night he was heading to a gate for a new trainer, Chris Oakes.

None of that mattered once the gate sped away and Keystone Torch got to the front end. Nobody could get to him and driver George Napolitano Jr., and he coasted to the victory by 1 ¼ lengths in 1:57:1. That makes 4 in a row for the veteran, the longest winning streak at Pocono so far in the 2012 meet.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Fox Valley Iliad (Tom Jackson, Kimberly Asher), who, after winning Trotter of the Week honors for setting a track record last week, went even faster in his victory in the week’s featured trot on Saturday night, setting a mark of 1:52, which is a new world record for 4-year-old stallions on the trot; Marion Miss Julie (Eric Carlson, Neal Ehrhart), who switched barns and had to deal with the far outside post but still scored his second straight claiming handicap win on Saturday night in 1:54:3; and Bayside Volo (Matt Kakaley, Chris Oakes), who once again moved up in class and switched barns but still won his third straight on Tuesday night in 1:54:4.


He’s got a great name, and the colt had the game to match on Tuesday night, picking up his maiden win with John Kakaley in the bike at 26-1, paying off $54.60 on a $2 win ticket.


It seems like every year a new driver breaks into the Pocono driving colony and makes a splash. Carlson seems to be fitting that bill for 2012 after five driving wins last weekend.


Once again, Oakes is among the best trainers at Pocono. He’s been red hot early in the season, and he knocked out a training double on Saturday night on his way to a five-win week.

That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at

Fox Valley Iliad Hits Pocono Record Books for Second Straight Week

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

May 12, 2012

A week after setting a track record at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, Fox Valley Iliad improved his time in winning the $25,000 featured trot at Pocono on Saturday night, setting a world record in the process.

Last Friday, Fox Valley Iliad, a Vaporize stallion hailing from the Kimberly Asher barn, set a Pocono track record for 4-year-old stallions on the trot by winning a condition in 1:52:3. In Saturday night’s feature for winners of over $25,000 lifetime, the stallion left from the inside post in a field of six as the 6-5 favorite and allowed Lolique to grab the engine and set the quarter-mile mark of 27:1.

Like last week, driver Tom Jackson set Fox Valley Iliad in motion on the front stretch, sending him to the front at the 3/8-mile mark. He then clicked off sizzling middle panels of 55:3 at the half and 1:23:1 at three-quarters, gaining some separation from his foes. Monsignor Flan made a belated closing move in the stretch but came up a half-length short of Fox Valley Iliad. Lolique finished 3rd.

Fox Valley Iliad’s winning time was 1:52, which not only reset his Pocono track record for 4-year-old stallions on the trot, but it also set a world record for the age group on a 5/8-mile oval. Owned by Larry Stalbaum and Mike Sorentino, the stallion now has 4 wins in 7 starts this year and 11 victories lifetime with career earnings of $135,103.

Fox Valley Iliad wasn’t the only one muscling his way into the Pocono record books on Saturday night. Transcending matched the track record for aged stallions on the pace with a 1:48:2 mile in a victory in the non-winners of $25,000 the last five starts condition. Using a pocket trip and the passing lane, Transcending, an 8-year-old stallion trained by Ron Burke and driven by Matt Kakaley, won by a nose in a three-way photo over American Rage and Real Flight. He matched the Pocono mark set by Vlos back in 2010.