Posts Tagged ‘Zooming’

Familiar faces make their way back to the track for opening night

Monday, March 21st, 2016

The opening night card of the 2016 racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono saw some familiar trainers and drivers revisiting the winners circle, and the Holiday Road gelding Its Huw You Know capturing the featured $15,500 second race trot in 1:55.2.

Jim Morrill Jr., with a UDR of over .600 starting the season at Buffalo, completed a sweep of the Daily Double with Its Huw You Know, huw who, as opposed to his win in his last start at The Meadowlands where he came from behind, made a quarter-move to the top in front of the stands, stole a 30 second third quarter, then went on to win over My Love Bi (George Napolitano Jr.). For trainer Ron Burke, it was his sixth win of the day in Pennsylvania after capturing five at The Meadows in the afternoon, with his Burke Racing owning a piece of all six and main partners Weaver / Bruscemi also listed on five winners including this one.

The Morrill – George Napoiltano Jr. finish was a repeat of the season’s curtainraiser, one of three $14,000 cofeatures, this one for high-end claiming handicap pacers. Forego The Cigar, coming from Northfield with a 6-3-3-0 recent tally, added a win at Pocono to that fine record when Morrill also used quarter-moving tactics with the Western Terror in defeating Cotton Eyed Joe (“GNap”) in 1:52.4 for trainer Dale Loney and owner Amy Loney. (Not surprisingly for Pocono, the 1-2 finishers were claimed out of the race, at a track where Saturday night claims usually ran into the double digits the last couple years.)

The $14,000 conditioned actually went considerably fastest than the feature, as Zooming returned to the track where he took his 1:51 mark two years ago and won here for defending driver champion George Napoitano Jr., going 1:53.3 with the temperatures near 40 degrees. Zooming had to go the hard uncovered trip against pacesetting P L Houdini (guided by George’s brother Anthony), but despite the rough journey the Classic Photo gelding had more than enough to get by for trainer Amber Buter and owners Steve Oldford, Gene Oldford Farms LLC, and Tyler Buter.

Eric Carlson completed a consecutive double when he drove Star Cover to a win 1:51 engine triumph in the other $14,000 feature, a high-level conditioned pace. The altered son of Royal Mattjesty had posted three seconds in as many recent starts between Woodbine and The Meadows, but he found the famous Pocono surface just the right answer for trainer Brewer Adams and Owner Joseph Trice.

Just as the fastest trotting time did not come in the biggest purse event, so too did the quickest pacing triumph come outside the twin features for that gait. UF Rockin Dragon, a Rocknroll Hanover gelding handled by Anthony Napolitano, lowered his lifetime mark to 1:50.2 in a $12,500 conditioned pace, with the engine score tacking on a 27.3 kicker to leave little doubt for trainer Mark Ford and owners Up Front Racing LLC.

Pocono races on a Saturday-Tuesday schedule in March, with 16 races slated for this Tuesday at 6:30. The mountain oval adds Sundays on April 3 (with a new Sunday starting time of 7:30), and Mondays on April 11th, racing these four days most of the 2016 campaign.

Opening Night Saturday at the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono

Friday, March 18th, 2016

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono opens its 51st season of harness racing on Saturday night, March 19th, with a $15,500 trotting feature and a trio of $14,000 co-features, two on the pace and one on the trot. The card starts off strongly, with the nightly feature slotted for race 2 on the 14-race card, and one of the co-features hitting leadoff for the mountain action, which has a first post at 6:30 p.m.

In the second race conditioned trot, the Holiday Road gelding Its Huw You Know has been accorded 3-1 morning line favoritism by oddsmaker Jim Beviglia despite form that would try the patience of a mother. The Ron Burke-trained gelding has won twice in his last four starts, including a 1:54.2 triumph in his last outing at The Meadowlands, but he has been known to throw the occasional tantrum in a race. His backers will hope for the “good” Its Huw You Know to show up as he starts from post six in a field of eight for driver Jim Morrill Jr., who comes to Pocono red-hot from Buffalo Raceway, sporting an incredible .624 early-season UDR.

In the curtainraiser, a handicapped event for high-level claiming pacers, Cotton Eyed Joe has been tabbed a 3-1 choice despite not having started since the end of the last Pocono meet, on November 21, though he had a good qualifying prep. “Joe” will start from post three in a group of eight, and will be driven by George Napolitano Jr., the track’s all-time leading single-season dashwinning champion with nine, including a record 407 visits to Victory Lane last year.

The other pacing co-feature, race 10, finds Ultimate Beachboy starting from the rail, inside seven foes, as he comes in from Toronto for trainer Rene Allard, who topped the conditioning tables at Pocono last season. Rene’s brother Simon, second to “George Nap” in the driving standings here last year, will guide the “Beachboy,” a $72,000 purchase at The Meadowlands’ January sale, who returns to the track where he took his personal record of 1:48.3, which at the time equaled the world record for three-year-old pacing geldings over a 5/8-mile track.

The co-featured trot, race 6, affords 5-2 favoritism to the $770,000+-winner Zooming, who drops in class after battling Open competition at Yonkers and Saratoga. George Napolitano Jr. has been picked to guide Zooming as the pair starts from post seven in a field of nine.

Pocono opens its season racing on Saturdays and Tuesdays in March; it will add Sundays (with a new 7:30 post time as opposed to the “usual” 6:30 start) on April 3 and Mondays on April 11. That Saturday through Tuesday schedule will be the basic format at The Downs through the spring and summer, with special event days accompanying the three races of the Thoroughbred Triple Crown.

Major Uptrend registers major upset in Weiss Series

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Major Uptrend overcame post eight and snapped the streak of Victory At Last, who had won in the first three legs of the Bobby Weiss Series at The Downs at Mohgean Sun Pocono, by posting a 1:51.3 triumph in one of two $15,000 cuts of the fourth and final preliminary  for male pacers Saturday, April 11th.  In the other division, YS Lotus posted the fastest Weiss clocking all year, 1:50.2, to stamp himself as a major danger in next Saturday’s $30,000 Championship.

Major Uptrend went up to challenge his barnmate in the Ron Burke stable, Victory At Last, past the 27 opener, and from there the altered son of Somebeachsomewhere was in control, stopping the timer in 1:51.3 while 1¾ lengths to the good of Victory At Last, for owner Howard Taylor. It is interesting that driver Matt Kakaley, who had driven Victory At Last to his three previous Weiss wins, choose to go with Major Uptrend, whom he had also won with last week, and the decision proved to be a Weiss wise one.

YS Lotus, whose last six races had taken place in an 18-day span (competing in both Yonkers Sagamore Hill Series and the Weiss), seemed to like this week’s having seven days between starts, as he made an early move to the top and stayed in front, defeating Shadow Margeaux by ¾ of a length. The If I Can Dream gelding earned a new speed badge with the 1:50.2 clocking while winning for driver Simon Allard, trainer/brother Rene, and owner Yves Sarrazin.

In $22,000 overnight events, the Classic Photo gelding Zooming zoomed home from next-to-last at the half to handle the trotters in 1:52.4 for driver George Napolitano Jr., trainer Amber Buter, and owners Steve Oldford, Oldford Farms LLC, and Tyler Buter. On the pacing side driver Jim Morrill Jr. rallied Mustang Art out of the pocket to hang a nose defeat on frontstepping Somethinginthewind in 1:50 (the new “even time” at Pocono?), the Artiscape gelding parading back to Victory Lane for trainer Jim McGuire and owners Max Walton and Greg Papaleo.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week in Review

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

April 4-10, 2015

Even though we’re still in just our first month of racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and the weather conditions have been far less than ideal, the season feels like it’s starting to take shape. This week’s addition of Sundays, making it a four-night racing week, should speed up that process. In the meantime, here is a look at the best horses and horsemen from the past three racing nights as we hand out the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: IDEAL MATTERS

One of the characteristics of this whole season-taking-shape thing we talked out about in the intro paragraph is that certain horses begin to assert themselves as horses from whom we’ll be hearing all year long. And while it may be a bit presumptive to make a judgment based on the small sample size of a couple starts, it sure looks like Ideal Matters is in for a big 2015 at Pocono by the way he’s raced the last few weeks.

On March 21, the 8-year-old gelding from the barn of trainer Gilberto Garcia-Herrera scored his first win of the meet by handling a field of condition pacers in 1:51. On Saturday night, he faced off with essentially the same condition grouping of non-winners $16,500 in the last five races for a purse of $18,000. Leaving from post position #2 in a field of nine, Ideal Matters was quickly sent to the lead by driver George Napolitano Jr., who then watched as Mustang Art hustled by to take over around the first turn.

That’s when Napolitano decided that Ideal Matters was better off leading than in the pocket. The gelding retook the lead quickly on the front stretch, and then powered his way to a big lead. Gearing down in the final strides of the mile, he coasted to a two-length win in 1:50:1, the fastest time of the young season at Pocono. Two straight wins should have Ideal Matters moving up in class, but he’s already established himself as one of the horses to watch in 2015.

Other top pacers this week include: Always Wanna (Jim Morrill Jr., Matias Ruiz), who picked up his second straight win over the $12,500 claimers on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:52:4; Victory At Last (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who won his third straight Bobby Weiss series race against the three and four-year-old colts, stallions and geldings on Saturday night in a career-best 1:52:1; and Show Runner (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), a mare who now has four straight wins to start the season, the last two at Pocono, following her condition victory on Wednesday night in 1:52:2.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: ZOOMING

We’ve talked in this column before how sometimes a horse simply needs a change of scenery to ignite a hot streak. In the case of Zooming, a talented veteran trotter, maybe it was a return to his old haunts that got him going this past week. Before coming to Pocono for Saturday night’s condition trot for non-winners of $17,500 in the last five races, the 7-year-old gelding from the barn of trainer Amber Buter was coming off back-to-back races where he went off-stride.

It was an unusual stretch for a horse pushing $600,000 in career earnings. A lot of those earnings were notched on the Pocono 5/8-mile oval, which is probably why the fans made him a 6-5 favorite in the race despite the recent struggles. As it turned out, he had to earn it in this one, forced as he was to make a tough first-over journey to get to the lead.

The trip didn’t matter, however, as driver George Napolitano Jr. urged Zooming on past the tiring leaders in the home stretch. With a winning time of 1:53:4 in the chilly temperatures, the gelding proved he was back on top of his game. The Pocono surroundings might have spurred the return to form, but Zooming deserves the credit for having that great form in the first place.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: GJ Photo Victory (Jim Morrill Jr., Marcus Marashian), who followed back-to-back wins at The Meadows with a claiming win at Pocono on Wednesday in 1:57:1; JL Cruze (John Campbell, Eric Ell), a gelding with eight wins in ten races at the Meadowlands this season who came to Pocono to coast to victory in a Bobby Weiss race on Tuesday night in 1:54:1; and Dress For Success (Matt Kakaley, Christopher Freck), the mare who rolled to her third straight win in the Bobby Weiss series against the distaff trotters, matching her career-best of 1:55:1 in the process.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: INCOGNITO

Incognito made a last to first rally in Saturday night’s final race with Ronnie Wrenn Jr. in the bike to win a condition pace at 18-1., paying off $39.40 on a $2 win ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

George Nap has already carved out space at the top of the driving standings, and he solidified that standing with a five-win night on Tuesday, the first Pocono driver to reach that plateau in 2015.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: RON BURKE

The leader in training wins to this point at Pocono, Burke has been cleaning up in the Bobby Weiss series, scoring three of his four winners this week in those late closer races.

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, August 11th, 2014

August 1-7, 2014

At this point in the season, it’s typical for 3-year-old horses at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs to be battling against others of their own age in Stallion Series or Sire Stakes action. Yet our two top performers of the week that was at Pocono dared to take on older horses. Not only did they survive, but they thrived. Here are the details of both their exploits and those of the other top performers as we hand out the Weekly Awards.

PACER OF THE WEEK: LUCK BE WITHYOU

This 3-year-old colt from the Chris Oakes’ barn started the season in Canada but quickly found a home at Pocono with a condition win on June 28 in 1:50:1. He then battled his way to a 7th in finals of the prestigious Meadowlands Pace before returning for an even more impressive victory in a blistering 1:48 on July 19.

On Saturday night, Luck Be Withyou faced his sternest test yet by going up against the non-winners of $22,500 in the last five races grouping. Among the competitors he would have to face were Meirs Hanover and Bolt The Duer, a pair of veterans as talented and as tested as there are in the sport. If the relative inexperience of Luck Be Withyou was ever going to be a factor, this was the race.

At the top of the stretch, the 3-year-old was staring at the tail of Bolt The Duer, who had set the pace and done so in reasonable fractions. Yet Luck Be With You was ready for the challenge when driver George Napolitano Jr. asked for another gear. He sped by a stunned Bolt The Duer and held off fast-closing E Street Plan for the win in 1:49:2. Even though the time wasn’t as flashy as his previous win, this victory was the best evidence yet of this sophomore’s incredible talent.

Other top pacers this week include: Show Runner (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), a mare whose victory in Friday night’s featured condition pace in a career-best 1:50:3 was her second straight win; Gold Deuce (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), who powered to a win over $10,000 claimers on Saturday night in 1:50:4, a career-best and his third straight win; and Mach It So (Andrew McCarthy, PJ Fraley), who picked up a win in Saturday night’s featured Preferred Handicap pace in 1:48:2, a new career-best and the fastest time posted this week at MSPD.

TROTTER OF THE WEEK: REVRAC HARBOUR

This award was probably a little overdue for this 3-year-old colt from the barn of trainer Tony Alagna. From June 3 to July 1, he ripped off four consecutive wins at Pocono, topping out with a back-to-back career-best miles of 1:54:1 in wins over the non-winners of four condition. He traveled to the Meadowlands after that and struggled against some of the top trotters in the country in a pair of stakes races.

Revrac Harbour returned on Tuesday night to face all older horses in a non-winners of $13,000 in the last five starts condition trot. Back at Pocono again, he found his stride quickly by making a move to the front end early in the race. Yet Picture This, the race favorite, lurked behind him in the pocket for much of the mile and enjoyed a much better trip.

In the stretch, Picture This took to the inside passing lane and briefly seemed like he was about to get past. That’s when driver Scott Zeron coaxed just a little extra effort from an already-taxed Revrac Harbour, who dug in and surged back in front in the final strides in 1:55:4 on a sloppy track. That makes it five wins in the last five races he’s started at Pocono, with this maybe the gutsiest yet.

Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Zooming (Tyler Buter, Amber Buter),who shipped in from New York for a condition win on Saturday in 1:51:4, easily the week’s fastest trotting time; Waldorf Hall (Corey Callahan, Jim Raymer), who churned through the slop for a condition win on Tuesday in 1:53:4; and Swiss Lightning (Anthony Napolitano, Kevin Lare), who ripped off his fourth straight claiming victory on Wednesday night in 1:54:4, matching his career-best in the process.

LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: RESCUE PLAN

It’s not often George Napolitano Jr., the meet’s leading driver, pilots a long shot, but this condition pacer was at 42-1 when G-Nap steered him to victory on Tuesday night for a $87.60 win payout on a $2 ticket.

DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR.

Who else could it be this other than George Nap, considering that he won seven of the thirteen races on the card on Saturday and nearly pulled off a 20-win week.

TRAINER OF THE WEEK: CHRISTIE COLLINS

Collins’ barn has been steadily gaining momentum in the summer months, and her trainees picked up three more wins this week, including a double on Friday.

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