Posts Tagged ‘Upfront Billy’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review – End of Season Awards

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

November 4-10, 2017

For the past seven months plus in this column, we’ve been chronicling the exploits of some of the finest horses each week at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Now it’s time to go a little further and highlight the 2017 Horses of the Year.

This is never an easy task, simply because there are so many excellent horses who pass through Pocono, many of whom put up outstanding records along the way. Narrowing down all of those choices from an eight-month season into just four winners means leaving out a lot of worthy competitors. But these choices are what I consider to be the best of the best this season. Let’s take a look.

PACER OF THE YEAR: MAXDADDY BLUE CHIP

After dominating racing at Pompano Park early in the season, this five-year-old gelding made his first appearance at Pocono in August not long after joining the Rene Allard barn. He immediately made his presence felt by ripping off back-to-back wins in tough condition races. And that pretty much set the tone for what we could expect from him in 2017. He raced at Pocono nine times, often in Saturday night features, and won five of those races. He only missed the board in two of those races, and many of his wins broke the 1:50 barrier. If that kind of performance sounds familiar, you might remember that Keystone Velocity, another Rene Allard trainee, put up similar stats in winning Pacer of the Year at Pocono, and now he is one of the top aged pacers in the country. Who knows? Maybe Maxdaddy Blue Chip will follow in his footsteps.

TROTTER OF THE YEAR: UP FRONT BILLY

This seven-year-old gelding trained by Mark Ford has bounced around this year, but whenever he journeys to Pocono, good things to happen. He started out the meet inauspiciously, finishing no better than fourth in his first three races, before picking up a $14,000 condition win on May 6. After about a month in New York, he returned to Pocono and really got cooking, picking up wins in four out of nine races, including a couple for $16,500 purses. Then it was off again, this time to Harrah’s for a couple months. But when he returned for a condition start on October 14, he picked up right where he left off with another solid condition victory. When you combine the amount of time that he has performed here this season, his excellent overall performance with six victories in the meet, and the caliber of the competition he faced, Up Front Billy makes sense as our Trotter of the Year.

CLAIMER OF THE YEAR: POUNCE HANOVER

Sometimes a horse can make such an impact with just one hot streak that it overpowers the deeds of those horses who have been around much longer and put up consistent performances throughout the season. That’s the case with this six-year-old gelding, who made his mark this season at Pocono with a six-race winning streak. That stretch ran from June 5 to July 31, during which time Pounce Hanover had three different trainers and three different drivers. He also raised his claiming price during that time from $10,000 to $20,000. Many of his wins came from far outside posts, which raised the degree of difficulty level considerably. Overall this gelding won seven of his twelve races this season at Pocono, but that unforgettable two-month streak is the reason he stands as the 2017 Pocono Claimer of the Year.

MARE OF THE YEAR – CELEBRITY EVENTSY

Making the transition from three-year-old to four-year-old can be tough for a distaff trotter, because you often go from facing just your own age and gender to battling older, male horses. This four-year-old mare trained by Staffan Lind made that transition this season with aplomb, especially when he was at Pocono. In seven races this year at Pocono, all condition trots and none with a purse lower than $14,000, she put up three wins and three places. In most of those miles, she faced off against more experienced trotters with gaudier career records. Much of her damage was done in May and June, but Celebrity Eventsy returned for one command performance in September, beating the $25,000 winners over trotters. Along the way she also posted a career-best of 1:52:2 on the Pocono oval. Her performance was such that you could also make a case for her as Trotter of the Year, but Mare of the Year will do just fine.

Congratulations to these well-deserving winners. Next week we will wrap up the 2017 season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun in this column.

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, May 12th, 2015

May 2-8, 2015

We’re coming a fun week of racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, featuring five racing cards in four calendar dates thanks to a doubleheader card on Kentucky Derby. We also had the first appearance of the always-thrilling Pennsylvania All Stars races and our first major invitational race of the season, the $50,000 Van Rose Memorial on Saturday night. So let’s take a look at this heady week of action by handing out some Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: DOMETHATAGAIN

Held each year in honor of a local sportswriter who did an amazing job highlighting the action at Pocono over his long career, the Van Rose Memorial drew an especially impressive group of pacers for the 2015 edition. The favorite was understandably Domethatagain, a six-year-old stallion who was not only coming off a win in the prestigious Levy at Yonkers, but also boasted the driver/trainer combination of Simon Allard and Rene Allard, who have been dominating Saturday night action at Pocono.

Yet despite the half-million dollar race he just bagged and the hot connections, Domethatagain was a somewhat tepid 2-1 choice on the board. Part of that was due to the balance of the field, and maybe part was based on the notion that he had lucked out in the Levy with a great trip. But there’s a skill in the ability to find that pocket, and Domethatagain did it again in the Rose on Saturday night, tucking in early behind pacesetting Bandolito.

Bandoilito had to go hard on the back stretch to hold off the first-over pressure of Dancin Yankee, leaving him ripe for someone coming from behind. Since Domethatagain was sitting only a length back, he didn’t have far to come in the passing lane to get past. Simon Allard asked and the stallion responded, blowing by to win a length in 1:49, fastest time of the 2015 meet at Pocono so far. If he keeps winning against the best of the best, no matter how he does it, you won’t be able to get such favorable odds on Domethatagain anytime soon.

Other top pacers this week include: Rocky Mountain Guy (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who picked up his second straight condition win on Saturday afternoon and did so in a career-best time of 1:50:4; Caviart Shelly (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), a mare who rolled to her second straight condition win on Tuesday night, this time in a career-best 1:51:4; and Arodasi (Joe Pavia Jr. driver and trainer), who moved up in class and won her second straight condition race for mares on Wednesday night, this one in 1:52:1.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SIM BROWN

His name sounds like a computerized approximation of the former Cleveland Brown running back Jim Brown. And this 7-year-old gelding has been racing lately with the same kind of bruising authority. In his start in April 25, he handled a tough condition group on the front end in 1:54:4 for trainer Carmen Auciello. On Saturday night, he moved up in class to face the non-winners of $20,000 in the last five starts for a purse of $22,000.

With Wisenheimer setting a furious pace, Sim Brown stayed third on the inside early. Driver George Napolitano Jr. took a chance that there would be racing room for his horse late, which seemed doubtful for a while as the outer flow moved up alongside him. But Wisenheimer’s quick numbers caused the outside horses to falter, allowing Sim Brown room to roam at the top of the stretch.

Sim Brown may have had the racing luck break his way, but he had to have the goods to take advantage of it. Napolitano called for late kick and he responded by zipping by the leaders with a powerful brush. He ended up winning by a length-and-a-half over Bouncing Bax in 1:53, a new career mark and the fastest trotting time of the week. With two straight winning efforts, this talented trotter is living up to his Hall-of-Fame name.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Upfront Billy (George Napolitano Jr., Mark Ford), who powered to an easy condition victory on Saturday, his second straight, in 1:54; Oh My Darlin (Ake Svanstedt driver and trainer), a filly who followed up her maiden win with a condition victory on Tuesday night in a new career mark of 1:55:3; and Ali De Vie (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), whose claiming handicap victory on Wednesday night in 1:55:1 was his second straight overall and his fourth straight when racing at Pocono.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: DAVID ON ICE

This condition pacer came from way off the pace with Marcus Miller to surprise in Saturday night’s last race, scoring at 21-1 for a $45.80 payout on a $2 win bet.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY NAPOLITANO

Anthony scored wins in all five of our racing cards this past week, and was especially fine under the bright lights on Saturday night with three victories.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: KEVIN LARE

Lare has been very effective in the early part of the season at Pocono, and this week he scored a pair of winners on Saturday night and one more on Sunday.

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.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Monday, November 10th, 2014

October 31-November 6, 2014

Well, folks, we have almost reached that point in the racing season at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs when it’s time to sum up all that we’ve seen. Next week we’ll take a look in this space at the top horses of the year and then we’ll follow that up the week after with a wrap-up of the entire 2014 season. For now, let’s take the time to hand out our last set of Weekly Awards for this racing campaign.

PACER OF THE WEEK: MCBOOGIE

This five-year-old gelding has been on a tear lately, turning what was looking like a lost season into the best year of his career. McBoogie had just one win in eight wins when he lined up for a $10,000 claimer on September 17, but he rolled that night to a victory in 1:52:1. After a sluggish 5th-place effort in his follow-up race, he took off with wins in his next three in a row, one of which came in a career-best time of 1:50:4.

In the middle of that streak he moved up from the $10,000 claimers to the $15,000 claimers. He also switched barns, joining trainer Dean Eckley’s stable in the middle of October. On Saturday night he looked to keep his outstanding stretch of races going by taking on the $15,000 claimers as the 2-5 favorite. When he briefly lost the lead around the first turn, driver George Napolitano Jr. sent him right back to the front end with a quick brush.

From there, he held strong, although he eventually faced a stiff challenge from Woodmere Ultimate in the home stretch. McBoogie showed the fortitude that’s been a hallmark of his recent stretch of racing, digging in to hold on by a neck in 1:51:3. That makes four wins in a row and five out of six. This gelding is turning it on when most horses are shutting it down.

Other top pacers include: Ahead Ofthe Curve (Anthony Napolitano, Paul Holzman), who churned his way to his second straight claiming handicap victory, this one in 1:52, on Saturday night; Yagonnakissmeornot (Ron Pierce, Rene Allard), who overcame an outside post to storm her way to victory in Saturday night’s featured Open Handicap for mares in 1:50:1; and Fie Fy Fo (Anthony Napolitano, Chris Oakes), a 2-year-old filly who burned her way to her second straight condition victory on Tuesday night, this one coming in 1:54:1.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: OPENING NIGHT

There were some tough customers in Saturday night’s $35,000 Open Handicap trot. Not Afraid won in Preferred company the last time he was at Pocono, Tirade Hanover had ripped off wins in his last five races, and Backstreet Hanover won her last start against the same class at Harrah’s at Philadelphia. Opening Night, a 6-year-old stallion from the Jim Campbell barn, certainly had raced at the highest  level throughout his career, but he was working his way back into top form heading into Saturday.

Still, a win in condition company two starts previous at Harrah’s was a confidence builder, as was a second behind former Hambletonian winner Market Share in his last race. On Saturday night, he had to overcome the outside #8 post, which, coupled with the fact that he was moving back up in class, is probably why he was an 11-1 shot. Driver Ron Pierce was able to coax some early speed out of him so that he could find a pocket spot early.

In the stretch, Opening Night kicked into high gear once again to win a hard-fought battle to the line, holding off Tirade Hanover for the victory. His winning time of 1:53 was the fastest among all trotters this past week at Pocono. Against a top field and from a demanding post, this stallion showed that class and guts can overcome the toughest of obstacles.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to Upfront Billy (Tyler Buter, Mark Ford), who, with the help of a disqualification, won his second straight condition trot on Tuesday night; Four Starz Speed (Ron Pierce, Rene Allard), who rolled to his third straight victory and fourth in his last five with an easy claiming handicap win on Wednesday night in 1:56; and Proud Moment (Ron Pierce, Rene Allard), who once again conquered Wednesday night’s featured claiming handicap trot, winning his second straight in 1:53:3.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: RESCUE PLAN

This condition pacer with Tyler Buter in the bike was the longest shot on the board at 55-1 in Tuesday’s feature, but he rallied for the win and paid off $113.20 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: RON PIERCE

Pierce had one of his best single nights at Pocono on Saturday when he ripped off five victories, which included wins in both of the night’s $35,000 featured handicaps.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: DEAN ECKLEY

In the second half of the season, Eckley, a relatively new name to the Pocono faithful, has been winning at a high rate, adding two more victories to the ledger on Saturday.

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.

 

Sevruga Barrels Into Record Book at Pocono

Monday, July 8th, 2013

July 7, 2013

Sevruga matched the fastest time ever trotted on a 5/8-mile oval with a romping win in a Preferred trot at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on Sunday night. The race carried a purse of $25,000.

Sevruga (SJ’s Caviar-Stunning Lindsey), a 5-year-old gelding from the Julie Miller barn, left from post position #6 in a field of seven as the 1-5 favorite. Driver Andy Miller sent him to the front before the quarter, and as he clipped off fractions of 26:4, 55:4, and 1:22:4, the rest of the field faded from view. Sevruga trotted home 5 ½ lengths in front in a stunning 1:50:3. Upfront Billy in second and Traverse Seelster in third picked up the minor awards.

Sevruga’s time of 1:50:3 matched the mark set at Pocono just eight nights ago by Uncle Peter as the fastest ever time trotted on a 5/8-mile oval. It also sets the track and world record for aged geldings trotting on that distance track. The previous world mark was 1:50:4.

Sevruga, owned by KDM Stables Corp, won for the 8th time in 14 races this season. The victory was the 25th of his career and put his lifetime earnings at $635,091.

In other Sunday night action at Pocono, Rock N Soul outfinished Economy Terror in the stretch in a duel between million-dollar mares, winning a Preferred Handicap pace for mares in the process. The race carried a purse of $25,000.

Leaving from post position #6 in a field of seven, Rock N Soul (Rocknroll Hanover-Artchitecture), left early and led at the quarter only to cede the lead to Economy Terror in the front stretch. The two stayed in that order until the stretch, when driver Matt Kakaley guided Rock N Soul, trained by Ron Burke, up the inside passing lane to win by a neck over Economy Terror in a career-best 1:49:4. Bullet Point was right with the top two at the line in third.

Rock N Soul, owned by Weaver Bruscemi, Burke Racing, and Frank Baldachino, won for the fourth time in 13 races this season. It was the 21st career victory for the 6-year-old mare, pushing her lifetime earnings to $1,012,935.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

June 7-13, 2013

This is the time of year at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs when we move to a schedule of five nights per week, meaning that there are more outstanding performances to sift through when choosing the Weekly Awards. This is also the time of year when it seems like not a week goes by without some sort of assault on either a Pocono track record or even a world record. One of those special performances on Saturday night is the obvious choice to kick off our Weekly Awards.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: UNCLE PETER

Harness racing can be a funny sport, because there are certain occasions when a horse’s record doesn’t really have much bearing on the race. Take, for example, Saturday night’s $25,000 Preferred trot, where Uncle Peter came in as the favorite despite having won just once in five tries in 2013. A closer inspection of that record shows that the competition that the 4-year-old stallion from the Jimmy Takter barn had faced so far this season had been top-notch.

Uncle Peter definitely had unfinished business at Pocono, considering that he had raced in Preferred company twice in April and had come up just short. In his return on Saturday night, he decided to put any doubts the Pocono faithful might have had about his credibility to rest by going the biggest mile he could possibly manage.

With Jim Morrill Jr. in the bike, Uncle Peter surged to the front end on the front stretch and romped away from the excellent competition from that point to win by four lengths. The winning time of 1:51:1 was astounding, breaking not just the Pocono mark for 4-year-old stallions on the trot but also the world record for the age group. It was also the third-fastest mile ever trotted at Pocono, proving that Uncle Peter is one of the best trotters around no matter what his win-loss record says.

Other top trotters this week include: Luv Ya Tyler (George Napolitano Jr., Neal Ehrhart), who chugged through the slop on Friday night to his second straight condition victory, this one coming in 1:55:4; Quantum Cashman (Jonathan Drury, Carmen Auciello), who followed up a win in Canada with a claiming handicap victory on Tuesday night in a career-best 1:55:3; and Upfront Billy (George Napolitano Jr., Mark Ford) who now has two straight wins, one at the Meadowlands at one in Wednesday night’s featured condition trot at Pocono in 1:53.

PACER OF THE WEEK: BUCK STOPS HERE

Some horses get on such a hot streak that they find their way to the line even when it doesn’t seem possible. Buck Stops Here is on just such a streak. The mare has really been on that roll all year long, as she came into Wednesday night’s $15,000-$20,000 claiming handicap pace for mares having won six of her last seven races. She was four for her first five since arriving at Pocono, and her last two wins came from the outside post.

The winning streak has been even more impressive for the fact that she’s been claimed in each of her five starts since coming to Pocono. The 5-year-old mare joined the Jason Robinson barn for Wednesday night’s contest, which once again had her dealing with an outside post. George Napolitano Jr. took her to the front early, and Buck Stops Here had to set imposing fractions just to repel the pressure to her outside.

In the stretch, closers came at her on both sides, and it seemed like she was bound to succumb. But Buck Stops Here, riding that outstanding streak, found her way to the line for a win by a nose in 1:52. She was claimed again after the race, and she’ll probably be on the outside should she face the same class again next week. But the way she’s going right now, I know I wouldn’t bet against her.

Honorable mention on the pacing side goes to: Jepson Hanover (Andrew McCarthy, PJ Fraley), who rallied late to win Saturday night’s $25,000 Preferred pace in a career-best 1:49:1; Erle Dale N (Andrew McCarthy, Darran Cassar), who made his second start in the U.S. a memorable one on Saturday night, winning a condition pace in a sizzling 1:49, fastest pacing time of the week at MSPD; and Queen Of Royalty (Tyler Buter, Allen Sisco), a mare who won her third straight on Wednesday night in a condition trot in 1:51:3 and moved up in class to do so.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: FRISKY STRIKE

In a rugged claiming handicap trot on Saturday night, this mare came up late to upend the favorites at 37-1 with Anthony Napolitano in the bike, triggering a $76.40 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: JOE PAVIA JR.

Pavia had one of his best weeks of the season to date this past week, picking up wins in four racing nights and scoring a driving triple on Sunday.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JASON ROBINSON

He’s been one of our top percentage trainers at Pocono for the past few seasons, and he had an excellent week just past, scoring three training wins.

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.