Posts Tagged ‘Yonkers’

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

Monday, June 6th, 2016

May 28-June 4, 2016

It’s been a while since we’ve handed out the Weekly Awards in this column. We hit a stretch the past month or so at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono where it seemed like every week featured a different set of stakes races, which obviously needed to be highlighted. This week the stakes races took a breather, allowing our excellent condition and claiming pacers and trotters to take center stage. And, with warm temperatures hitting the track, plenty of candidates stepped up with outstanding performances. So let’s see who took the highest honors at Pocono in the week that was.

PACER OF THE WEEK: SCOTT ROCKS

It’s been a bit of an up-and-down season for Scott Rocks, a 6-year-old stalwart of the Chris Oakes barn. The gelding was a tough customer early in the year at Pompano Park, but then he came up empty in the Levy series at Yonkers. In his two starts at Pocono in the meet leading up to Saturday night, he battled his way to a second and a third against the top condition pacers on the grounds.

On Saturday night, Scott Rocks lined up from post position #6 in a field of eight for an $18,000 condition purse. He went off as the 2-1 second choice, ceding the favorite’s mantle to Bettor’s Edge, earner of over $1.8 million in his career. But driver George Napolitano Jr. wasn’t about to take a back seat to anyone, sending Scott Rocks to the front end. The fractions he set were intense, so much so that it seemed only a matter of time before Bettor’s Edge or somebody else in the field overtook him.

But Scott Rocks kept right on rolling. He finished strong in the lane to hold off Bettor’s Edge by a length-and-a-half. The winning time was an eye-opener, as the gelding tripped the line in 1:48. Not only was that the fastest time of an excellent career to date for Scott Rocks, it was also the fastest of the 2016 season so far at Pocono. Look for this talented gelding to step up in class off that extremely impressive mile in the weeks to come.

Other top pacers this week include: Limelight Beach (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who rallied to capture Saturday night’s featured condition pace in 1:49:4; Mr D’s Dragon (Simon Allard, Staffan Lind), a 3-year-old who picked up his second straight condition win on Monday night, this one coming in 1:55 in the slop; and Check’s Commodore (Matt Kakaley, Tony Kavoleff), whose victory in a condition pace on Monday night in 1:54:4 in sloppy conditions gave three wins and a place in his last four races.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: AGGRESSIVE

For the past few weeks at Pocono, the condition trot with the biggest purse has been scheduled on Sunday nights, giving some of the leading lights of the trotting game a chance to shine. Three weeks ago, Tag Up N Go put together an impressive win in the featured trot, followed the next week by Armor Hanover’s victory in the slop. In both of those races, Aggressive, a 5-year-old gelding trained by Gilberto Garcia-Herrera, had been best of the rest with second-place finishes at nice prices.

On Sunday night in the $18,000 featured condition trot of the week, it appeared as though Aggressive might have to once again take a back seat to a conquering invader. B Yoyo arrived from The Meadowlands with an impressive string of swift times and solid performances and, with the inside post, went off as a 1-2 favorite. When B Yoyo had the lead on the back stretch, it appeared for all the world like he would fulfill his promise.

But Aggressive, perhaps weary of playing second fiddle, had other ideas. With one quick brush he moved from third right past the stunned leader. He then built a big lead that he would pretty much carry all the way home. With George Napolitano Jr. in the bike, the gelding steamed home 3 ¼ lengths ahead of his nearest foe, tripping the line in a career-best time of 1:52:4, which also matched the fastest trotting time of the week. Now that he has a taste for winning, you might see Aggressive doing it a lot more often.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Mr Lover (Anthony Napolitano, Jenny Melander), who moved up in class and captured his second straight condition win on Monday night, this one coming in the slop in 1:56:2; Celebrity Bugatti (Anthony Napolitano, Chris Oakes), who picked up a condition victory in a career-best 1:52:4, which matched the fastest trotting time of the week; and Spicedbourbongirl (Jeff Gregory driver and trainer), a filly who picked up a condition win on Sunday night in a career-best 1:53:4, giving her three victories in her last four races.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: BELLA’S PUNKETT

This filly with Jim Taggart Jr. in the bike left well in a condition trot on Tuesday night, inherited the lead from a breaking horse, and trotted away late to win at 20-1, paying off $42.80 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

George Nap, who currently is the only driver with over 100 wins in the Pocono meet, had another big week with four wins on Saturday night and three nights out of four with multiple victories.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JONAS CZERNYSON

Czernyson sent out a pair of maiden trotters on Sunday night and by the end of the evening they were maidens no more, as both Sand Grenade and Pick Up The Tab scored their first lifetime victories.

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.

Winning Fillies return for Bobby Weiss Series

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

Both South Side Hanover and Stirling Debutant are now two-time winners in as many preliminary legs of the Bobby Weiss Series for trotting females after Tuesday, April 12th, at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, but Stirling Debutant was more impressive to the eye as she easily trotted over her field after a fast pace to win in a lifetime best of 1:55.4.

Anthony Napolitano placed the Credit Winner mare third behind a streaking Real Caviar, also a winner last week, as the latter posted scalding fractions of 27.2, 56.4, and 1:25.4. Napolitano was able to back out behind the cover over first-over Hot Curry on the far turn, then tipped wide and easily trotted to the fore, winning by a length and a quarter. After going 1 for 25 at ages two and three, Stirling Debutant is now 2-for-2 in 2016 for trainer Christie Collins and owners J M F Racing LLC.

Although trainer/driver Todd Schadel’s Real Caviar tired after that hot pacesetting, his other winner from the first Weiss leg, South Side Hanover, did make a return trip to Victory Lane, tonight winning in 1:57.1. Schadel sent the Cantab Hall filly uncovered at the half, and she trotted a 27.4 third panel to clear to the lead en route posting a length victory. Schadel also co-owns South Side Hanover with Roger Hammer, the pairing behind 2005 Hambletonian winner Vivid Photo.

In the third $15,000 division of Tuesday’s second round action, the Kadabra filly Ready Any Time was ready this evening, also using first-over tactics en route to a 1:59.4 triumph by 1½ lengths. Matt Kakaley was in the filly’s sulky for trainer Nifty Norman and the partnership of Melvin Hartman, Herb Liverman, David Mc Duffee, and Little E LLC.

Rene Allard is still four winners away from becoming the first trainer to achieve 3000 conditioning victories before the age of 30, dividing six starts between The Downs and Yonkers on Tuesday, and doing very well with three seconds and two thirds, but no winners circle appearances. Allard, 29, sends out one horse April 13th, Wednesday, at Harrah’s, and then his magic moment seems likely to arrive over the weekend: he has seven in at Yonkers Thursday April 14th  and nine Friday,April 15th, and then has entrants in every one of the 14 races at Pocono on Saturday in addition to four at Yonkers; if those horses don’t get him to 3000, he’ll have eight more chances at Pocono on Sunday.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

April 2-8, 2016

Racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono ramped up to three live nights this past week, as Sunday joined the schedule for the first time this year. By next week, we will have reached our four-nights-per-week schedule that will be our standby for the bulk of the meet. In the meantime, the three racing nights this week have given us just enough fodder to hand out 2016’s first edition of the Weekly Awards. Let’s see who takes the initial honors.

PACER OF THE WEEK: KINGS BARNS

This 5-year-old gelding spent the early part of 2016 battling it out at Yonkers with little to show for it. In nine races at the half-mile oval, he could only manage a pair of third-place finishes. In his last start at Yonkers, he switched to the barn of Rene Allard, a fellow who does serious damage at Pocono with all manner of horses.

Thus it was understandable that Kings Barns was favored in his 2016 Pocono debut on March 26 in an $11,000 condition pace, and he delivered on that promise with a front-pacing win with Simon Allard in the bike in a career-best 1:50:3. He moved up slightly to take on a $12,500 condition group on Saturday night, but he was unable to find the early lead for a second straight race. Instead he had to follow cover on the back stretch and make an early three-wide move.

Once the stretch rolled around, the gelding had gathered enough momentum to take aim at the leaders. Simon Allard guided him back to the inside to save ground, and he rolled by the faltering leaders to win in 1:52 by 1 ¾ lengths. That makes back-to-back victories for Kings Barns, who looks positively regal so far this meet at Pocono.

Other top pacers this week include: Whatagamble (George Napolitano Jr., Dean Eckley), who rolled to his second straight win over the $10,000 claimers on Saturday night in 1:53; Options Are Adream (Corey Callahan, Richard Lewis), a 3-year-old colt who is now unbeaten after seven career races, following up six straight wins at Dover with a Bobby Weiss series victory on Sunday night in 1:52:1; and Cooperstown (Anthony Napolitano, Daniel Renaud), whose victory in Sunday night’s featured condition pace in 1:50:1 was his third straight win, two of which have come at Pocono.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SOUTH SIDE HANOVER

This filly from the Todd Schadel barn didn’t do much as a 2-year-old a year ago, failing to break her maiden in 13 races and hitting the board just four times. She came off the layoff to battle a non-winners of one condition distaff group last week. Despite being a 22-1 long shot in the race and leaving from a tough #7 post, she made the lead, gutted it out, and came home a winner in 1:57:1.

In a $15,000 division of the Bobby Weiss series for distaff trotters on Tuesday night, South Side Hanover was assigned the outside #7 post and received a bit more betting attention, going off as the 7-1 second choice. Most of the money went to 1-5 betting favorite Ready Any Time. But it was South Side Hanover who was ready from the getgo, hustling to the front end under before the quarter pole under urging from Todd Schadel to dictate the terms.

At the top of the stretch, South Side Hanover turned back a charge from pocket horse Squeals Of Delight, while the heavy favorite Ready Any Time could only rally for the show. She won by 1 ½ lengths in a new career mark of 1:56:4. From a nondescript maiden to Late Closer series contender in just a couple weeks, this filly is rising fast and it seems like even higher levels are within her reach.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Massacaia (George Napolitano Jr., Jason Robinson), who bounced back from a break in his previous start to score a condition win on Saturday night in 1:55; Extracurricular (Jim Morrill Jr., Lance Hudson), who arrived from Yonkers and fought hard for a condition win in 155; and Daylon Miracle (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), a mare who arrived from Saratoga to dominate in a condition trot in Tuesday night in 1:53, easily the fastest trotting time of the week.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ROCKINTHEPINES

This gelding driven by Marcus Miller started Tuesday night off with a surprising bang, rallying from way back to stun a claiming trotting field at 34-1, paying off $71.60 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: TODD SCHADEL

Schadel zipped to victories in two of the three Bobby Weiss divisions held on Tuesday night for distaff trotters, winning with South Side Hanover and Real Caviar, both of whom he also trains.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: DEAN ECKLEY

Talk about efficient: Eckley sent out only three starters on Saturday night, and every one of them came home a winner for a perfect training evening.

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.

Weiss Series kicks off with powerful Pacing performances

Monday, April 4th, 2016

Iwillmakeyousaywow lived up to his name, winning one of five $15,000 divisions of the first round of the Bobby Weiss Series for 3-4YO pacing males in 1:51.4 during the first Sunday card of the season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on April 3.

How does a horse record his 14th career win on March 29 in a series whose entry condition is “non-winners of two pari-mutuel races life as of January 1”? You do it primarily by being a tough horse on the Michigan Fair Circuit at two and three, which Iwillmakeyousaywow was, winning his championship event both seasons without anybody cashing a winning ticket on him through his sophomore final. The son of Manhardt, now four, came east and showed a 1:54 tally at Yonkers, but Sunday he lowered his lifetime mark by over two seconds, rattling off splits of 26.1, 55, and 1:23.1 despite the temperature being one degree above freezing in winning by 8 1/2 lengths for driver Tyler Buter, trainer Todd Buter, and owner Kelly Goodwin and Libby Myers.

Options Are Adream visited the winner’s circle for the seventh time in his life after a 1:52.1 mile in another cut, but the answer to “How’d he do that given the series conditions?” is easier – he was unraced at two, but this year at three he is making up for lost time. The altered son of If I Can Dream had won six in a row at Dover, but wasn’t accorded favoritism upon coming to the Downs, going off as the 2-1 second choice to 7-5 chalk Rollaroundtheworld, who had won his only previous start in 1:52.3 at The Meadowlands. Something had to give in the battle of the two undefeated horses, and Options Are Adream used a 27.1 third quarter to brush to the lead and then fend off his main foe by a half-length for driver Corey Callahan, picking up the last-minute catch-drive;  trainer Richard Lewis, and owners David Banks and Layfield Horses LLC.

In another highly-anticipated battle, the Bettor’s Delight sophomore gelding Bettor Memories, coming off a 1:52 Meadowlands win, got the early jump on recent 1:52.4 Downs winner Settlemoir after leaving from a better post, and then kept him at bay in a 56.1 back half to win by 1¾ lengths in 1:52.4. Scott Zeron sulkysat for trainer Nifty Norman and owner Gus Dovi.

The Sportswriter four-year-old gelding Maxdaddy Blue Chip won a qualifier at Philadelphia on Tuesday, and that was a winning formula to have him ready for his seasonal bow five days later, as he brushed to the lead early then held off favored Sentencing Memo in 1:52.2 for driver Brett Miller, trainer Keith Armer, and the Fred Monteleone Stable LLC.

Midnight Lightning, coming off three checkgetting efforts in the Sagamore Hills Series at Yonkers, didn’t let a first-over trip bother him as he won easily in the last cut for males in 1:52.2. Matt Kakaley handled driving duties behind the four-year-old Camluck gelding for trainer Shaun Vallee, who is also co-owner with D P V Racing Stable.

There were also four $15,000 first prelim events for the female Weiss counterparts, and driver David Miller came out of the box hot, winning the first two divisions – one with 24-1 shot, and the other a 2-5 favorite.

In the first race of the night, Miller posted the big upset with Some Fancy Filly, proving the strongest in the last eighth to take a maiden mark of 1:53.2 by a half length over the favored Mystery Writer. Speaking of mysteries, how a daughter of Somebeachsomewhere out of a two-year-old divisional champion (Fancy Filly), trained by the only conditioner to guide a baby pacing filly to Horse of the Year honors (Nancy Johansson with JK She’salady) could pay $50, even in her sophomore seasonal bow, is puzzling, but her backers are happy with their return, and the winner’s owners, Courant A B, now have a filly pacing back to her pedigree.

Miller took the next cut in a more conventional manner, sending the Bettor’s Delight filly Southwind Tango to the lead in the second quarter and rolling home with the chalk from there to take a race mark of 1:54.4. Trainer Chris Ryder saw his own filly make a satisfying 2016 debut.

A first-time starter also reported home in 1:53.2 in upset fashion in another Weiss female cut, as the Dragon Again filly Candy Corn Hanover proved a sweet treat to her scattered 15-1 backers, rallying to win by a nose over favored Albany Girl for driver Matt Kakaley, trainer Travis Alexander, and the Fiddler’s Creek Stables LLC.

The final female cut saw favored Winners Over get sire Bettor’s Delight a third siring credit in Weiss competition Sunday, being the “last horse to the top” at the 3/8 and then fending off a good challenge by Pandaman Sea in the last 1/8 to lower her speed badge to 1:53.4. Mike Simons guided the victorious filly for trainer Michael Sinclair and owner Brianne Good, and hinted she may eventually wind up in the lofty class whose name she bears.