Posts Tagged ‘Tyler Raymer’

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

June 15-21, 2012

It’s been an incredible week of racing action at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, one that saw superstar colt Googoo Gaagaa break the world record for 3-year-old trotting colts in the eliminations for the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial on Friday night. We’ll be talking about the finals of that great stakes race in next week’s column. Luckily, there are plenty of other worthy candidates for the Weekly Awards from which to choose.


The life of a talented claimer is a transitory one, since a horse that does well in the claiming ranks usually is highly sought after by other horsemen. When a horse switches barns often, it sometimes takes a toll on its performance. By contrast, Ahead Ofthe Curve appears to be getting better every time he has to pack up and move.

He started his travels and his winning streak with a victory in a $12,500 claiming class on May 12 in 1:52. The 6-year-old gelding was promptly claimed and won in the same class two weeks later in 1:51:1, only to be claimed again. On June 2, he moved up to the $15,000 claimers and set a new career mark in 1:50:4 on his way to his third straight victory.

After yet another claim, he joined the Ken Rucker barn and faced his toughest test yet on Sunday night, a $25,000-$30,000 claiming handicap. Driver Eric Carlson has been the one constant for Ahead Ofthe Curve during his travels, and he was there to guide him on Sunday to his fourth straight victory in 1:51:1. Needless to say, he was claimed once more; considering he’s already at the top of the claiming ladder, maybe the gelding can try his luck against the condition pacers, meaning he might even get to unpack.

Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: Great Soul (Brandon Simpson trainer and driver), who used a late rally on Sunday for his second straight claiming win in 1:52:3; Twin B Passion (Jason Bartlett, Andrew Adamczyk), a mare who used a late rally to beat the $10,000 claimers on Wednesday night in 1:52:4, her fourth straight win; and Billmar Scooter (Tyler Buter, Amber Buter), who beat the top mares on the grounds for the second straight week on Tuesday, this time in 1:50:2.


Some horses have the ability to be versatile, showing that they can come from off the pace, sit close to the lead, or gun to the front and still be capable of performing well in all of those circumstances. To be frank, Windsun Galaxie has not been one of those horses since arriving at Pocono from Canada in April. The 5-year-old stallion from the Tyler Raymer barn has hustled to the front in every start and let the chips fall where they may.

Such an aggressive style means that it is incumbent on the driver to rate the pace well. Mark MacDonald, a Canadian import himself, has been masterful at just that skill since taking over the reins for Windsun Galaxie two weeks ago. On June 10, he went gate to wire to beat the non-winners of $25,000 in the last five starts condition trotters, a really rugged group, in a career-best 1:52:4.

On Sunday night he was once again up against the best trotters on the grounds, and he was once again sent right to the front by MacDonald. It was another nice rate job, allowing Windsun Galaxie to fight back when challenged in the stretch by pocket horse Flex The Muscle. The result was a thrilling win by a nose in a photo finish, giving him two straight victories and a spot on top of the mountain for all overnight trotters campaigning at Pocono.

Other top trotter this week include: The Lindy Reserve (Matt Kakaley, Frank Antonacci), who followed up a win at Harrah’s by scoring in a condition trot on Friday at Pocono in 1:54, a new career-best; Fox Valley Smarty (George Napolitano Jr., Thomas Stamper), who came from way back to win a claiming handicap trot in 1:54:3 on Tuesday night, his second straight win and third in his last four; and Keenan (Brian Sears, Larry Remmen), who moved up in class Wednesday night and scored his second straight easy win, this time coming in a career-best 1:53:2.


With one big move on the last turn, this mare piloted by Andrew McCarthy got by a field of claiming handicap pacers on Wednesday night at 13-1, paying off $28.60 to win.


Kakaley was on a nice hot streak the past four racing nights. He had double figure victories for the week, highlighted by a four-bagger on Tuesday night.


Rucker has been a consistently effective trainer at Pocono the last few seasons, and he was at it again this week with three wins, including a double on Sunday.

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

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

June 8-14, 2012

Over the next several weeks, some of the finest horses in the country will be stopping at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs as our stakes season begins in earnest. As if anticipation, the overnight horses on the grounds have ramped up their performances. On Saturday night alone, there were four miles of under 1:50; back in the day, we wouldn’t have four miles under 1:50 all season. It’s been a particularly competitive battle for the Weekly Awards. Let’s see who comes out on top.


This four-year-old gelding has found his stride in the 2012 season, tripling his career earnings with his performance this year. He arrived at Pocono in May to race against the $25,000 claiming class, winning against that group in his second MSPD start in a career-best 1:49:4. He was claimed from that race and joined the barn of trainer Cad Gregory.

Gregory and his new connections decided to try Rockin Glass against the condition pacers, and he showed he was up to the test with a victory on June 2 in 1:50:4. For Saturday night’s races, he stepped up into the non-winners of $25,000 condition, one of the toughest groupings on the grounds. With George Napolitano Jr. in the bike, the gelding found himself chasing some sizzling fractions.

In the stretch, Rockin Glass made his move out wide, blowing by his competition in a blistering 1:49:2. Not only was that a new career-best for the gelding, it was also the fastest time posted on the Pocono oval last week. With 9 wins in 19 races this season, this is one pacer who is loving his 2012 season, and there’s still a lot of racing to go.

Other top pacers this week include: White Liar (Eric Carlson, Erv Miller), a three-year-old colt who scored his third consecutive condition victory on Friday night, doing so in a career-best time of 1:50:4; Touch Of Steel (Matt Kakaley, Linda Kakaley), who moved up into the $12,500 claiming ranks on Saturday night from the $10 claimers and notched his third straight win, this one coming in 1:52:1; and Twin B Passion (Matt Romano, Andrew Adamczyk), a mare who moved up in class but still scored her third straight claiming win on Wednesday in 1:53:4.


This 9-year-old gelding is still trotting at an extremely high level. The pride of the Santo Zuzolo barn, Spice It Up Lindy returned to the Pocono racing wars on Sunday night after a highly successful stint at Tioga Downs, where he won back-to-back starts including an Open on June 2.

Considering that he had set a career-mark of 1:53 at Pocono in a race in 2011 and has had several solid wins here in the past, Spice it Up Lindy was a well-known commodity in the condition field he faced on Sunday night. Driver Tom Jackson sent him to the front end early and dared everyone else in the field to play catch-up with him.

Several took their shots, but none could get it done. Spice It Up Lindy powered home to win by a length-and-a-half. His sizzling time of 1:52:4 set a new career mark and also matched the fastest trotting time at MSPD last week. The gelding made it known has is back at Pocono, and all other trotters must take notice.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Windsun Galaxie (Mark MacDonald, Tyler Raymer), who led gate-to-wire to win the week’s featured trot on Sunday night in 1:52:4, a new career mark; All Munky Business (Jim Morrill Jr., Jean Drolet), who followed up a win at the Meadowlands with a condition victory at Pocono on Wednesday night in a career-best 1:55:1; and Sonny McDreamee (Larry Stalbaum, Celine Harvey), who captured Wednesday night’s featured condition trot in a sizzling, career-best mile of 1:53.


Despite a tough first-over trip, this trotter with David Ingraham in the bike surprised a field of condition trotters on Tuesday night at 24-1, paying off $51.40 on a $2 win ticket.


George had a huge week, including a six-win night on Saturday, making him the first driver in the Pocono colony to go over the 100-win mark for the 2012 meet.


Harmon just started training once again at Pocono recently, but he has quickly made his presence felt. This week he picked up wins on three out of five racing nights.

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

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week In Review

The early weeks of the season at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs have been spiced up by some exciting action in the Bobby Weiss series. Named after out longtime, recently retired track superintendent who helped to mold the Pocono surface into the lightning-fast, horse-friendly track that it is, the series held its first finals this past week with $30,000 on the line in those races, both of which were on the pacing side. Those final winners highlight this edition of the Weekly Awards.


Driver Corey Callahan wasn’t scheduled for any other drives at Pocono on Tuesday night except aboard Fearless Diablo in the final of the Weiss series for 3 and 4-year-old colts, horses, and geldings on the pace. Considering that the 4-year-old stallion had broken stride in his previous race, Callahan and trainer Dylan Davis must have felt that the last start was an aberration.

Fearless Diablo sat back early as the lead changed hands a couple times and fast fractions were laid down on the front end. The stallion began to move the first time past the front stretch, and he picked up some racing luck when the horse who tipped out in front of him, Ideal Champ, carried him all the way to the stretch right behind the lead.

That’s when Callahan let Fearless Diablo loose three-wide, and he blasted by the tiring leaders to win the race by 1 ¾ lengths in 1:51. That gives him six wins in 11 races, which is especially impressive considering he came into the 2011 season with just three career starts and no victories.

Honorable mention on the pacing side this week goes to: Ooh Bad Shark (George Napolitano Jr., William Wiggins), who completed a sweep of the Weiss for distaff pacers on Wednesday night by winning the final in a dominating, front-running performance in 1:52:3, a new career best; My Drag Queen (George Napolitano Jr., Robert Bresnahan Jr.), a mare who now has a five-race winning streak, the last two of those victories coming at Pocono, after a  condition win on Saturday night in 1:51:3, a new career mark; and Bet The Town (Anthony Napolitano, Steve Salerno), a winner of four straight and two in a row at Pocono after a win against out highest claiming class on Saturday night in a career-best 1:50:3.


Following her victory last week in 1:53:4, which is the fastest in the meet so far at Pocono, this 6-year-old mare was pointed to bigger things on Friday night. Trainer Mark Ford moved this one up in class to face a rugged condition trotting group filled with non-winners of $25,000 in the last five races.

On top of that, she was saddled with a tough #7 post in a field of eight. The bump in class and the tough post seemed like a double whammy for Pembroke Heat Wave, which might be why she got away as the 3-1 third choice on the board. Driver Jim Morrill Jr. wasn’t worried, however, sending the mare to the front end early with a burst of speed.

Morrill did a nice rating job once his charge got to the lead, and Pembroke Heat Wave was ready when challenged in the stretch. Despite several competitors with better trips lining up behind her, she powered home to win in another crisp time of 1:54:1. Now 2-for-2 at Pocono, this mare might be capable of moving up yet again if she keeps trotting so impressively.

Other top trotters this week include: Speed Bomb (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who now has two straight wins to start the meet after a condition won on Friday in 1:55:1; Sand Top Gun (Jim Morrill Jr., Tyler Raymer), who burned his way to a win in Saturday night’s week featured condition trot in 1:54; and Magnum Kosmos (Jason Bartlett, Tony Dinges), who motored to a condition win on Wednesday night in 1:53:4, the fastest trotting time of the week.


This claiming pacer kicked off Saturday night’s late Daily Double in style, fighting hard to pick up the win for trainer and driver Brandon Simpson at 50-1, paying off $103.80 on a $2 win ticket.


Call him Mr. Saturday night special. George rolled all over the competition for six driving wins on Saturday night, most by a driver in a single night so far this meet.


He’s coming off his finest season at Pocono, and it looks like he’s picking up where he left off in 2011, racking up wins on three different nights last week.

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

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review Oct. 21-27, 2011

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

October 21-27, 2011

As October rolls to a close, it’s impossible to avoid the fact that the 2011 season is really winding down at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. With just a few weeks of racing left, the action hasn’t slowed down one bit, as evidenced by some of the stellar efforts we witnessed the past few programs. Here is just a taste in the Weekly Awards.


A five-year-old gelding from the barn of Aaron Lambert, Mr Massimo seems to be getting better as he gets older. He didn’t do much in his career until busting out last year with nearly $100,000 in earnings. He has more than doubled that this season, and came into Saturday night’s featured pace for winners of over $25,000 lifetime with a win and a show in his last two starts in that tough company.

Still, Mr Massimo was something of an afterthought at 6-1 in the betting. The reason for that was the presence of Atochia, a super-classy veteran pacer who had been facing a steady diet of big-stakes competition and had won his last start at Pocono back in August with a superb effort. Although Mr Massimo held the lead, it looked short-lived as Atochia charged at him on the back stretch.

That set up a truly thrilling stretch duel, with the two combatant inches apart. In the final yards, it was Mr Massimo, with Andrew McCarthy in the bike, who persevered just a tiny bit better, winning by three-quarters of a length. The winning time was a scorching 1:49, doubly impressive because it was a career-best and because it came in chilly weather conditions.

Other top pacers this week include:  Segundo Hanover (Andrew McCarthy, Sarita Mosher), who continued his outstanding season with by stepping up to beat the $15,000 claimers on Saturday night, giving him his 13th win of the season and his fifth victory out of six; Fool’s Gold (Daryl Bier, Daryl Bier), who shipped in from the Midwest and continued his winning ways with a condition win on Saturday night in 1:50, his 10th victory in 14 2011 races; and Annika S (Anthony Napolitano, Rene Allard), whose win on Wednesday night over the $10,000 claiming fillies and mares in 1:53:3 was her second straight and fourth in her last five.


The fact that a horse can somehow lose his form seemingly overnight is one of the most confounding aspects of the sport of harness racing. Tac’s Delight is just one example of this phenomenon. Last year, he won eight times and earned over $132,000, but he came into the month of October without a win in 2011 and having broken stride in his previous three starts at Pocono.

Yet it often takes just one race to turn things around. For Tac’s Delight, that race took place on October 4, when he romped to a 14-length win on the Pocono oval in a ripping 1:53:4. Buoyed by that, the 6-year-old gelding from the Rene Allard barn followed up with an easy win at Chester on October 10. On Friday night back at Pocono, Tac’s Delight jumped several condition classes in a monumental step up the ladder.

The way that he’s racing right now, it doesn’t really matter how much he jumps. Driver George Napolitano Jr. cut him loose and the gelding did the rest, destroying the excellent field by 5 ½ lengths in 1:54:1. Expect another jump in class from there, and don’t be surprised if it’s another successful leap. Just call Tac’s Delight Mr. October.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to:  Affirmed Action (Mike Simons, John Grasso), who swept by the field late to capture the week’s featured trot on Friday night in 1:54:3, his second win in the last three; Intimidator (Andrew McCarthy, John Duer), who moved up in class but rallied for his second straight condition win on Wednesday night in 1:55, matching his career-best; and Bambino Hall (Don Irvine Jr., Tyler Raymer), a 3-year-old gelding who once handled older horses in a condition trot on Wednesday night, winning his second straight in 1:54:3.


With Anthony Napolitano doing the driving, this filly powered by late to win a claiming pace on Friday night at 30-1, paying off $63.20 on a $2 win ticket.


Earlier this month, Anthony became the sixth driver to reach the 100-win plateau in 2011 at Pocono, joining his brother George, Matt Kakaley, Tyler Buter, Joe Pavia Jr., and Andrew McCarthy.


In an impressive display on Saturday night, Lambert’s trainees won three times in a four-race span. They were only horses he trained that night, and they won races with purses totaling $73,000.

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