It's hard to believe, but we've reached the halfway point of the 2014 season at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The first half seemed to speed by as fast as so many of the record-setting horses that have graced the Pocono stage so far this year. We can only hope that the second half holds that same kind of excitement. If the past week of racing is any indication, it surely will. Here are some wonderful performances worthy of the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: QUINCY In the late 70's and early 80's, Jack Klugman played a medical examiner named Quincy who always figured out all the crimes that the cops were too dense to solve. But it's really been no mystery how this horse of the same name has reeled off such an impressive streak of late against the toughest claimers at Pocono. Early speed gives this 4-year-old stallion a great chance to win each and every time he leaves the gate. His recent stretch of nearly unbeatable racing began with a win over the $20,000 claimers on May 28. He moved up to the $27,500 claimers, the highest claiming price at Pocono, the next time out and won in a dead heat with Giddy UP Blackfly. After a hiccup with a third-place finish in his following start, Quincy reeled off three straight victories in that rugged claiming group, with a career-best mark in 1:49:3 on June 28 the highlight of that series of races. On Saturday night, it was business as usual as Quincy rejoined the barn of trainer Kevin Lare and powered to the front end early in the race. Driver Anthony Napolitano rated him well, which was important late as both BJ's Rameau and Machin Music took shots at him in the stretch. But Quincy hung tough to win by a neck in 1:50, making it four in a row and six out of seven. He's the hottest pacer around, and that case is closed. Other top pacers this week include: Skitsofrantic (Anthony Napolitano, John Barchi), who won his Third Straight start and sixth in his last seven with a conquest of the $5,000 claimers on Sunday night in a career-best 1:52; Luck Be Withyou (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Oakes), a 3-year-old whose victory against older pacers in a condition on Saturday night came in the week's fastest time of 1:48; and Mickey Hanover (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who reeled off his Third Straight win and his second consecutive sub-1:50 mile thanks to a victory on Saturday night in 1:49:2. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SWISS LIGHTNING This 5-year-old gelding started the year quietly, going winless in his first six races with just one finish in the money. The tide started to turn with a victory over $7,500 claimers on 1:55:2 on June 8. After breaking stride in his next start, he bounced back in his next two with back-to-back wins, the latter coming in a career-best 1:55. Following a claim that put him in the barn of trainer Marcus Marashian, Swiss Lightning stepped up in class to face the $10,000 claimers on Wednesday night. Not only did he have a tough #7 post in the field of eight, but he had to deal with Frenchmen, a trotter who had won his last start at that claiming price handily and had the inside post. That didn't seem to worry driver Scott Zeron, who quickly urged Swiss Lightning to the front end to dictate the pace. Frenchmen lurked In The Pocket all the way around, but when the stretch rolled around, it was Swiss Lightning who emerged as the class of the race. He kicked away from his competitors to win by 2 Â¾ lengths in 1:54:4, which was a new career-best for the gelding. With that Third Straight victory, the trotter demonstrated how to move up in class in style. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Hoorayforvacation (George Napolitano Jr.-Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), whose condition victory came on Saturday night came in 1:52:1, which was not only a career-best but was also the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono; Highest Peak (Andrew McCarthy-Noel Daley), a filly who followed up a win at Harrah's with a condition victory at Pocono on Tuesday night in a career-best 1:54:1; and Tamasin Hall (Scott Zeron-Bill Mullin), a mare who beat the boys in Tuesday night's featured claiming handicap, winning in a career-best 1:54. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: AFTER ALIMONY With Simon Allard in the bike, this mare finagled a pocket spot out of an outside post and upended a field of claimers on Sunday night at 29-1, paying off $61 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR. On Friday night, the meet's leading driver decided to hog all the glory for a good portion of the night, reeling off six consecutive wins at one point in the card. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JOHN BARCHI The veteran of the Pocono racing wars is having his finest season in years, as evidenced by four wins this week that included a training double on Sunday. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs
We are in the thick of the most exciting time of the season at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Over the next few weekends we'll be seeing some of the finest standardbreds in the world competing for some huge stakes. We've also been blessed with Sire Stakes and Stallion Series races just about every night of late. Through all of that, our overnight races continue to produce outstanding performances. It's not easy to choose the very best out of such a wealth of talent, but that's what we'll try to do as we hand out the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: FATEFUL CHOICE When a horse is a part of a barn as successful as that of trainer Chris Oakes and it isn't winning with regularity, it can almost seem like an underachiever. In the case of 4-year-old gelding Fateful Choice, it may just have been a case early this year of running up against top competition while not quite on his best game. The result was just a single win in ten races to start the 2014 season. A drop down in class on June 3 to the non-winners of $7,000 in the last five starts did the trick though, as Fateful Choice found his confidence and his stride in a big way, blowing the field away by 4 Â¼ lengths in 1:49:2, a new career-best. Bouyed by the victory, he moved up to take on a tougher group of non-winners of $12,500 in the last five starts on Saturday night. Driver Anthony Napolitano stayed aggressive with Fateful Choice, sending him to the front end, then rated him very well to the half. At that point, the gelding was a powerhouse and scorched the dirt on his way to his second sub-1:50 victory, this one coming in 1:49:4. All of a sudden, Fateful Choice has the look of so many other of his stablemates. In other words, he looks awful tough to beat. Other top pacers this week include: Bushwacker (George Napolitano Jr., Chris Ryder), who moved to two-for-two on the season with another impressive condition win on Sunday night, this one coming in 1:51; Colossal Cruiser (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who took a huge step up in class Saturday night to the $20,000 claimers and still picked up his second straight victory, doing so in a career-best 1:50; and Bolt The Duer (Mark MacDonald, Peter Foley), who tuned up in anticipation of the Ben Franklin pace at Pocono by dominating a Preferred group on Saturday night in the week's fastest time of 1:48:2. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: IL MAGO This 5-year-old stallion from the Mark Harder barn has been exceptional since arriving at Pocono for a condition trot on June 4. That was just his second start following a layoff of two months, but there was no rust evident whatsoever as he took the lead on the front stretch and then gutted out a tough stretch drive to win by a neck in 1:53:3. On Tuesday night, Il Mago was back at it against the non-winners of $12,500 in the last five starts once again, albeit this time in a slightly tougher post on the outer half of the field. Andrew McCarthy was still able to fire the stallion out of the gate and reach the front end before the quarter-pole. He was also able to slow the pace down with fractions almost identical to Il Mago's previous win. In the stretch, a couple horses drew to within striking distance, but McCarthy called on the afterburners and Il Mago responded. The result was a second straight victory with the same time of 1:53:3 from the previous week. That kind of consistent excellence is the stuff of long winning streaks, so watch out for this talented trotted in the weeks to come even if he moves up in class. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Not Afraid (Jim Morrill Jr., Jimmy Takter), who followed up a win at the Meadowlands with a Preferred win on Saturday night at Pocono in a new career mark of 1:51:4, which was also fastest trotting time of the week at MSPD; Bikini So Teeny (Charlie Norris trainer and driver, who won her second straight on Wednesday night, this one coming in Stallion Series company in a career-best 1:55; and Designed To Be (Brian Sears, Julie Miller), whose Sire Stakes win on Wednesday night matched a world record for 3-year-old trotting fillies on a 5/8-mile oval with a winning time of 1:51:3. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ROYAL ENGAGEMENT Despite being laid off since a May 2nd victory in California, this mare with Andrew McCarthy in the bike rallied for a claiming pacing win on Sunday night at 23-1 for a $48.40 payout on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY NAPOLITANO A-Nap looks poised for his best season ever at Pocono, especially after a week in which he had mutilple wins in three of the four racing nights. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JULIE MILLER Miller had a wonderful night at the Sire Stakes on Wednesday, sweeping both divisions of the 3-year-old trotting fillies with her trainees Take The Money and Designed To Be. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com. by Mike Beviglia, for Pocono Downs
The month of June arrived at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs and brought with it some of the most competitive racing we've had all year long. We saw a little of everything: Standout performances, stunning long shots, drivers and trainers putting in big efforts, and much, much more. It's never easy to pick out the very best of such a crowded field, but that's what we're here to do by handing out another edition of the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: BJ'S RAMEAU Like any other athlete, character is often most clearly revealed in a harness racing horse when adversity strikes. In the case of BJ's Rameau, that adversity came in the midst of an outstanding season as one of the top claiming pacers at Pocono, when, in his first start in the barn of trainer Matias Ruiz on May 17, he finished dead last in a field of nine despite having a lead at the top of the stretch. That rare clunker of a finish was mitigated somewhat by the fact that he started the race from the outside post, meaning that the lead he captured was extremely hard-fought. Still, the bettors were skeptical enough that in his next start, BJ's Rameau went off at a tepid 6-1. He responded with a gutty win from the pocket in 1:50:2. On Saturday night, he was the even-money favorite once again in his usual $25,000-$30,000 claiming handicap group, and he delivered a bravura effort. With Joe Pavia Jr. in the bike, BJ's Rameau made the lead about 3/8 of a mile into the race and poured it on from there, beating the toughest pacers on the grounds by 5 Â¾ lengths and doing so in a career-best 1:49:1, which was the fastest pacing time posted this week at Pocono. Like all the finest horses, this 5-year-old gelding bounced back from his brief bout of adversity stronger than ever. Other top pacers this week include: Morgan Shark (Simon Allard, Pierre Paradis), who ripped off his Third Straight claiming win on Saturday night and did so in a career-best 1:50:1; Skitsofrantic (Mark MacDonald, John Barchi), who continues to tear up the lower claiming ranks, winning in 1:53:3 on Sunday night for his fourth consecutive victory; and Stanhope (Anthony Napolitano, Steve Salerno), a three-year-old who won his Third Straight condition race on Sunday, this one in 1:52:4, despite the fact that he wasn't favored in any of those starts. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: JOHNHANNIBALSMITH Fans of 80's television will recognize this name as being the same as the leader of the A-Team, a guy famous for saying, "I love it when a plan comes together" at the end of every episode. For the trotter of the same name, an 11-year-old gelding from the barn of trainer Gilberto Garcia-Herrera, the plan has been pretty simple. He just goes out and beats everybody he faces. Coming into Wednesday night's $12,500 claiming trot, Johnhannibalsmith had made seven starts in 2014 and won six of them. His only loss was by a heartbreaking head to Fortissimo on April 25 at Chester, but he ripped off three more wins in a row following that defeat, two of them coming at Pocono. On Wednesday night, he upped his claiming price from $10,000 to $12,500 for a new challenge, but the race played out the same when the gelding booked to the front end. With his regular driver George Napolitano Jr. in tow, Johnhannibalsmith led all the way even though he was tested at the end of the mile. That extra effort led him to a career-best time of 1:54:3, meaning that this veteran trotter deserves another victory cigar lit in his honor, just like his television namesake liked to do. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Tamasin Hall (Bill Mullin driver and trainer), a mare who picked up her second straight condition win on Tuesday night, this one in 1:56:3; Bufalino Hanover (Matt Kakaley, Todd Schadel), whose condition win on Tuesday night came in the week's fastest trotting time of 1:53:3, which was also his career-best; and Truth In Action (Mike Simons, Jenny Melander), who overcame an outside post position to win a claimer on Tuesday night in 1:55:2. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: PSYCHOBABBLE The filly's maiden victory on Tuesday night with Tom Jackson in the bike was probably just as memorable for her bettors as it was for her, as she cashed in at 36-1 for a $74.40 payout on a $2 ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: Joe Pavia Jr. Joe proved this week that he is still a force in the sulky when he takes on enough drives, posting back-to-back three-win nights on Saturday and Sunday night. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: FRED GRANT Grant pulled off a unique training double on Tuesday night, as each of his winners, trotter Psychobabble and pacer Somenicebeach, earned their maiden victories. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs
It was another extraordinary week of harness racing at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, one that featured a world record performance and some exciting Grand Circuit races. But the two horses that won the major honors this week are a pair of veterans who appear to be peaking at a time when most others are either winding down their careers or already retired. Let's take a look at their exploits as we hand out the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: ANDERLECHT While it's not unusual for a nine-year-old pacer to be winning races, most of those veterans do so in the lower claiming ranks. Since arriving from Yonkers, this stallion has taken on some top-flight condition pacers and showed them how it's done. On May 17, he absolutely blitzed a group of non-winners of $15,000 in the last five races with a monster mile of 1:48, which would have been a track record were it not of Dancin Yankee beating him to the punch a few races earlier with a 1:47:2 mile. After a mile like that, it was obvious that he would be the favorite facing the same condition group on Saturday night. Yet the concern for Anderlecht, trained by JD Lewis, was that the ripping time from the previous week would leave him a bit winded this time out. When Getitoffyourchest made an aggressive move past him on the back stretch, it looked like maybe those fears would be realized. Driver Simon Allard didn't panic though, biding his time until the stretch when he cut loose Anderlecht for another move. He rallied past Getitoffyourchest to win by a 1 Â½ lengths, posting another scorching winning time of 1:49:1. Can this veteran move up in class off these two wins and beat even more accomplished pacers? Based on these performances, it seems like horses of all ages and classes should be wary. Other top pacers this week include: Somwherovrarainbow (Tim Tetrick, Joe Holloway), whose win in a Preferred pace for mares on Sunday night came in 1:48, the fastest time ever posted by a female pacer on a 5/8-mile oval; Stanhope (Anthony Napolitano, Steve Salerno), who moved up in class to win his second straight condition pace on Sunday night, this one coming in 1:51:4; and Ella's Twin (George Napolitano Jr., John Barchi), a mare who churned her way to her third straight claiming win on Wednesday night, this one in 1:54:3. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: CHERRY TREE NICOLE For a trotter to be a consistent winner week after week, it generally has to have a decent amount of getaway speed. Being close to the early lead takes a lot of variables out of a race, so the horses that can fire out of the gate well every race usually give themselves a good chance to win. Cherry Tree Nicole has virtually no leaving speed, yet the mare has been one of the most consistent winners since arriving from California in April. The pattern for her races has been pretty much identical. She tends to start slowly, out-pacing just a couple horses in the large field around the first turn. On the back stretch, the mare starts to make steady advancement, and, in the stretch, she blows by everyone. That strategy led her to victories in three of her first four races at Pocono. Tuesday night was a tougher test because she was moving up in class to the $10,000 claimers. Plus, she was switching barns, racing for the first time under the banner of trainer Steve Salerno. Yet for all the changes, the results turned out to be strikingly similar. Cherry Tree Nicole, an eight-year-old mare with an impressive 65 career wins coming into the race, started in her usual lethargic way. When it counted though, driver Matt Kakaley had her in gear, and she coasted by the tiring leaders for a win in 1:57:2. Who said you can't come from off the pace and win consistently? This gritty mare will have none of that nonsense. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Stitch In Time (Tyler Buter, Amber Buter), who captured Tuesday night's featured condition trot with a flying rally in a career-best 1:54:4; A Crown For Lindy (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who picked up his second straight claiming win on Wednesday night with a victory in 1:55; and Broadway Socks (Dan Rawlings, David Wade), who followed up a Stallion Series win at The Meadows with a victory here on Sunday night against other three-year-old fillies in the Historic Series, posting a career-best 1:55 in the process. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: PRINT IT After winning at 22-1 on April 26, this 12-year-old pacer did it again on Saturday night with Tyler Buter in the bike, defeating a claiming group at 32-1 for a $66 payout on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: Tyler Buter One of a seemingly endless cadre of excellent drivers plying their trade at Pocono, Buter was hot this week, racking up five wins including a three-bagger on Saturday. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: STEVE SALERNO Year in and year out, Salerno is a force at Pocono, and he's been picking up steam of late, including a training double on Sunday night and three wins for the week. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com. by jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs
On Kentucky Derby day at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, we held our annual doubleheader, bookending thoroughbred's most famous race with a pair of harness racing cards for the overflow crowd. That means we had even more racing action than usual at Pocono this past week. And that, in turn, means that it was even tougher than usual choosing from among the best performances. Yet that's what we've attempted to do with this edition of the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: DANCIN YANKEE The feature event on Saturday night and of the entire week at Pocono was The Van Rose Memorial, a $50,000 invitational pace held in honor of the longtime area Sportswriter and great friend to the sport of harness racing in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Van certainly would have loved Saturday night's race, considering the stellar field it contained and the outstanding performance of Dancin Yankee. Dancin Yankee, a 6-year-old stallion from the Josh Green barn, was fresh off the rugged Levy series at Yonkers, where he finished 5th in the $567,000 final. As the 3-1 second choice in the Rose, he stayed back from a blistering early pace which produced fractions that were unsustainable even for the caliber of pacers in the race. On the back stretch, driver Brett Miller sensed his chance and sent Dancin Yankee first-over to easily take the lead. From there, he kept extending his advantage until it was just about insurmountable at the top of the stretch. Even with closers like the race favorite Dovuto Hanover attempting to rally, Dancin Yankee stayed strong and came home in front by 3 Â¼ lengths, an eye-opening margin considering the quality of the field. Even more impressive was his winning time of 1:49, a new career mark despite the fact that the track had been downgraded to good condition due to rainy weather. Other top pacers this week include: Codey Shark (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), whose condition victory on Saturday afternoon in 1:52:3 was his third straight; Sky Desperado (Anthony Napolitano, Steve Salerno), who switched barns but still managed his second straight $25,000 claiming win on Saturday night and matched his career-best time of 1:51:1 in the process; and Dealmaker (Ron Pierce, Joseph Poliseno), who picked up his second straight $15,000 claiming win on Wednesday night and did it in a new career-best of 1:50:4. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: HARBOR POINT There wasn't an Open or Preferred trot on the schedule this past week at Pocono. Instead, the highest trotting purse of the week was the $21,000 up for grabs in a condition trot on Saturday night pitting non-winners of $27,500 in their last four starts against each other. As a result, the top trotters on the grounds jammed into this field, many either dropping down in class or shipping in from other tracks for the race. Yet the horse who was made the 3-5 favorite was one who was actually moving up in class. Harbor Point had faced a lower condition field in his previous start but scored in such convincing fashion in a sizzling 1:53:2 that it was impossible for the bettors to ignore him, even in such heady company. Driver Ron Pierce raced him like the best in the field, gunning him to the front end early. Pierce did an excellent job rating the speed on the front end, so that Harbor Point was plenty strong enough to hold off any late challengers. Even with the move up in class, the 5-year-old gelding from the Mark Ford barn picked up his second consecutive win in 1:54 on a good track. This trotter is on a roll and seems ready to take on all comers as long as this hot streak persists. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Frenchmen (Simon Allard, Pierre Paradis), who picked up his second straight front-trotting win on Sunday night over the $7,500 claimers, this one coming in a new career mark of 1:56:4; Skyline Road (Jim Morrill Jr., William Mullin), who took a big step up the condition ladder on Wednesday night but still scored his second straight win, this one coming in a career-best 1:53:3; and Affirmed Action (Mike Simons, John Grasso), who went gate-to-wire to win Wednesday night's featured condition trot in 1:53:4. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: HUMILITY This pacer had been up the track in his previous two $25,000 claimers, but he reversed that trend on Saturday night with Marcus Miller in the bike at 36-1 for a $74.60 win payout on a $2 ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR. George is a candidate to win this award every single week at Pocono. This week he picked up multiple wins in four out of the five racing cards that were held. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: Ron Burke Burke, as always, is in the hunt to be the top trainer in the Pocono standings, and he helped his cause on Saturday night by scoring three training victories. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs
The final racing nights in April at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs were marked by cold, windy, and rainy conditions that tested the grit and determination of our horses and drivers. We can only hope that the weather is going to turn for the better, but it's a testament to the caliber of racing at our track that the competition was as electric as it was despite such adverse conditions. Here is a look back at the past four racing nights as we hand out the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: UP FRONT TIM T Most of the time the horses that win these Weekly Awards come from the upper classes and are often the favorites or close to it in their respective groups. Yet the recent achievements of Up Front Tim T, a 7-year-old stallion trained by Bruce Lundstrom, have maybe been more impressive than most if only because he has been so unheralded on his hot streak against the $5,000 claimers. It started on April 13, when Up Front Tim T rallied from far back early to win by a head as a 16-1 shot. He followed that up on May 22 with another late-kicking win, this time a bit more moderately priced but still a mild surprise at 4-1. On Tuesday night, his biggest obstacle was a #6 post position, which meant that he might be shuffled too far back for his late move if he stayed on the inside. Driver Tyler Buter, who was aboard for the previous three wins, sent Up Front Tim T on the outside on the back stretch, taking on some extra distance but giving his horse a chance to uncork his late move. In the stretch, the stallion blew by the leaders and came home a winner going away in 1:55:3, a time skewed by sloppy conditions. This time he was a 6-1 shot, meaning that he's picked up three wins in a row without being the favorite once. Unheralded, yes, but, of late, also unstoppable. Other top pacers this week include: American Shuttle (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), a mare who ripped off her Third Straight win over the $15,000 claimers on Sunday night in a career best 1:51:3; Schoolkids (Brett Miller, Tracy Brainard), whose condition win on Saturday night came in 1:50, the fastest pacing time of the week; and Bestnotlie Hanover (Anthony Napolitano, Douglas Berkeley), who won his second straight and third in his last four with a claiming victory on Saturday night in 1:51:1. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: A CROWN FOR LINDY Anyone who knows anything about the trotting game knows that the constant possibility that even the very best of them might go off-stride makes every trot a bit of a nail-biter. As a result, sometimes it's not the flashiest or even the fastest of trotters who gets to the winner's circle with regularity, it's the one who's steady, consistent, and gives itself a chance week in and week out. A Crown For Lindy has found that consistency in his last couple starts. On April 13, he overcame a tough outside post to find the pocket and upset a $7,500 claiming group in a career-best 1:55:4. On Sunday night, the 8-year-old gelding from the Brad Irvine barn had a better post but also moved up into the more rugged $10,000 claiming group, which seemed like a tough test. One by one, horses made their play for the front end in the race, only to break stride. Meanwhile A Crown For Lindy, with Don Irvine Jr. in the bike, stayed flat and strong, eventually making his way to the front for the victory in 1:57. That makes two in a row for the veteran trotter, who has demonstrated in this mini-streak that, for the trotters, steadiness is sometimes as important as speed. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: War Cry Hall (Howard Parker, Jim Raymer), who won a condition trot on Wednesday night against a tough group in 1:56 in the slop; Wind Of The North (Mike Simons, Clifton Green) who posted the best trotting time of the week by a wide margin with a condition in on Saturday night in 1:54:1; and Majestic Stone (Scott Zeron, Bucky Angle Jr.), who followed up a win at Harrah's with a condition victory in the slop on Wednesday night in 1:56:2. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: EMBASSY SEELSTER Off-tracks often lead to long shot winners, and that was the case on Wednesday night, when Brett Miller rallied this mare to a claiming handicap pacing win at 22-1, paying off $46.80 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: Simon Allard Simon really caught fire in the second half of 2013 at Pocono, and he has continued that hot streak this year. He picked up five wins this week, including a triple on Sunday night. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: Daryl Bier Bier, who is also known as an excellent driver, came up with three training wins this week, including a double on Tuesday and a win with Bandolito on Saturday in the featured Preferred pace. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs
With the Breeders Crown in our rear view and November now upon us, it means that we have officially hit the home stretch of the 2013 season at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Before we can wrap things up, we still have a few more weeks of exciting racing action to finish. This past week there were some excellent performances even with the temperatures dropping. Here are the best of those in the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: HERE WE GO AGAIN An outstanding field of nine headed to the gate in Saturday night’s featured $25,000 Preferred pace, including several horses who have been on torrid hot steaks. Here We Go Again was one of those horses. He came in off five straight in the money. The 6-year-old gelding from the barn of PJ Fraley had been particularly tough at Pocono, winning back-to-back condition paces in his previous two circuits of the track. Saturday night was his first try in the Preferred class though, which meant he would be facing the very best pacers on the grounds. Driver Eric Ledford raced him aggressively, setting nasty fractions in the chilly temperatures that seemed destined to catch up with him in the race. Come the stretch, however, he was still winging it. Things got real tight in the final strides when pocket horse Townslight Hanover, who had been tracking with an excellent trip, came firing. The two pacesetters hit the line together, but it was Here We Go Again who took the photo by a nose. He paced the mile in 1:50, giving him four wins in his last six races and an improving reputation as some of the finest pacers in the East. Other top pacers include: Easton Bound (Matt Kakaley, Chris Oakes), a fast-improving 3-year-old, who won his second straight condition pace on Friday and third in his last four overall, this one coming in a time of 1:54:1; Keystone Neptune (George Napolitano Jr., Rene Allard), who won his second straight $20,000 claimer, this one in 1:52, giving him five wins in his last eight; and A Sweet Ride (Andrew McCarthy, Aaron Lambert), who chalked up a condition win on Saturday night in 1:49:4, the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: PAULA’S BRADY This 7-year-old gelding has been one of the most consistent lower-priced trotters at Pocono for much of the meet, and he’s been coming into his best stride of late. He scored back-to-back $10,000 claiming victories in come-from-behind fashion to start off the month of October. In his last race, he started a bit slow, finishing third as an even-money favorite. He was back at it again on Tuesday night in the same class trying to avenge his loss, this time with Anthony Napolitano in the bike for trainer Scott Osterhout. Paula’s Brady nearly got boxed in on the inside behind the leaders, but Napolitano found him some room behind cover on the outside before the gap closed. He followed that cover until the stretch. It was an exciting three-way battle for the win in the closing moments. At times Paula’s Brady seemed like he was going to come up just a bit short. But Napolitano coaxed just enough out of him as the line approached for a razor-thin victory in 1:56. That gives him three wins in his last four races, quite the hot stretch for this veteran trotter as the season winds down. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Affirmed Action (Mike Simons, John Grasso), whose condition victory on Friday night came in the week’s fastest trotting time of 1:53:4; Schalom G (George Napolitano Jr., Neal Ehrhart), who captured a tough condition trot on Saturday night in 1:55; and Southwind Warsaw (Matt Kakaley, Brewer Adams), who scored a victory in Tuesday night’s featured claiming handicap trot in a career-best 1:54:1. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: TAYLOR C Despite going off at 31-1, this claiming pacer with Anthony Napolitano in the bike made a couple of speed moves on Friday night and came up a winner for a $65.20 win payout. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ERIC LEDFORD Ledford doesn’t stop in at Pocono very often, but he might want to be a more frequent visitor after picking up three victories for trainer PJ Fraley on Saturday night. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: PAUL HOLZMAN Another solid performer from the deep Pocono training community, Holzman had a good week with single wins on Friday and Tuesday. That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. by Jim Bevigila for Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs
We are just a weeks away from the Breeders Crown finals at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. This past week, as if sensing that those year-end all-star races were approaching, a few of our top overnight performers stepped up their games with world-record performances. Those two extraordinary efforts highlighted the action and also lead the way as we hand out the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: DYNAMIC YOUTH This 4-year-old gelding from the Aaron Lambert barn is one of the finest horses in his age group in all of North America, so anytime he steps in to face an overnight field, even one as tough as the Preferred pacers at Pocono, he will be tough to beat. On September 28 in chilly temperatures, he went gate-to-wire for a victory in that class in 1:49:2. Last Saturday night offered up unseasonably warm weather in Northeastern Pennsylvania, meaning that the track would be especially fast. For a speedy horse like Dynamic Youth, it meant that he could set nasty fractions and still have something left to give late. So that’s exactly what driver Andrew McCarthy and Dynamic Youth did in the race once they took over the lead on the front stretch. Though there were some other excellent competitors in the field, Dynamic Youth raced like he was the clock was his only measuring stick, staying out in front and winning by 1 ¼ lengths. When he crossed the line, the timer read 1:48:1. That matched the world record for 4-year-old pacing gelding on a 5/8-mile oval, which was set earlier this season by Live On at Pocono in July. Other top pacers this week include: Alfredsson (Anthony Napolitano, Rene Allard), who stepped up into our highest claiming handicap group and captured his second straight win at Pocono on Saturday night, this one coming in a career-best 1:49:3; Here We Go Again (Eric Ledford, PJ Fraley), who moved up the condition ladder on Saturday night and rolled to a win, his second straight, in a career-best 1:49:3; and Lotsa Chrome (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who ripped off his second straight condition win on Tuesday night, pacing the mile in 1:50:2. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: IN YOUR ROOM This 5-year-old mare from the Gail Wrubel barn was coming off of a pair of in-the-money finishes in her previous two starts. But she didn’t win either of those races and she was moving up in class on Saturday night into the non-winners of $25,000 in the last five starts condition group. So it wasn’t much of a surprise to see her final odds at 12-1, and, quite frankly, horses that go off at 12-1 usually don’t win, let alone set a track record. But driver Mike Simons had the wise inclination to settle In Your Room on the inside not too far off the early pace, which was a good thing because anyone trying to catch up with pacesetter Money On My Mind on the outside was in for a long night. Money On My Mind set ridiculous fractions, shaking off everybody in the field except for In Your Room, who made her move on the last turn. Money On My Mind was as game as could be in the stretch, but he was no match for the fresh mare coming up on his flank. In Your Room pushed past toward the line and won by three-quarters of a length in 1:51:4. That stunning time matched the world record for aged mares on the trot on a 5/8-mile oval, a mark that Beatgoeson Hanover first accomplished at Pocono back in August. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Trading Places (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), a mare who who rallied to beat the top claimers trotters on the grounds for the second straight week in 1:54:4; Paula’s Brady (Tyler Buter, James Quinn), who rallied for his second straight win over the $10,000 claimers on Tuesday night, matching a career-best victory of 1:55:3 in the process; and Rise N Shine (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), a mare who dominated the $12,500 claimers on Tuesday night in 1:54:3, a new career mark, for her second straight win overall. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: PUT IT IN GEAR This Yonkers shipper with Eric Carlson in the bike rallied late to stun a field of claiming pacers on Wednesday night at 75-1, paying off a hefty $153.40 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: HOWARD PARKER The veteran driver proved that it’s best not to underestimate him. He had three wins on Friday and Saturday night, and they came at odds of 44-1, 10-1, and 13-1. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: TOM FANNING The Fanning barn has been firing on all cylinders in the past few weeks, and the success continued on Friday night with a pair of training wins. That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com. by Jim Bevigilia for Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs
It was an extremely busy racing week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Several other nearby tracks went on hiatus recently, so many of the horses from those tracks came to Pocono to keep up their schedules. In fact, both of the horses who captured our top Weekly Awards were shippers from other tracks. Let's hand out those awards and honor all of the other top performers of both the equine and human variety from the week that was at MSPD. PACER OF THE WEEK: SCOTT ROCKS One of the most fun divisions all year long at Pocono has been the non-winners of four races pacers, ages three and four years old. These horses are still only a relatively short way into their racing careers but are nonetheless at an age where they start to really come into their best form. Many have performed in tough stakes or racing series, so they are really primed when they come into this group, which usually takes center stage on Wednesday nights. This past Tuesday night, a great showdown in this class took place between two peaking three-year-olds, Scott Rocks and Cadillac Phil. Both are handled by top trainers and both had recently found solid success at Harrah's after coming down from Canada. In their battle at Pocono, Scott Rocks, who had won his previous start, grabbed the engine, while Cadillac Phil settled In The Pocket. By the time the stretch rolled around, this dynamic duo were the only ones who still had a shot at winning. The stretch duel was a thriller, with both horses all-out and burning down the track at top speed. Scott Rocks, with George Napolitano Jr. in the bike for trainer Chris Oakes, came out on top in a tight finish, pacing the mile in a career-best 1:50:2 in the process. That outstanding race was just one more in a long line of instant classics from this ultra-competitive condition grouping. Other top pacers this week include: Dynamic Youth (Andrew McCarthy, Aaron Lambert), a 4-year-old gelding who captured Saturday night's $25,000 Preferred pace in 1:49:2, the fastest time of the week at Pocono; Rick's Crossroads (Matt Kakaley, Richard Banca), a gelding whose victory over the $10,000 claimers on Saturday night was his second straight win and sixth in his last seven races; and B J's Skye (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), whose romping win in a claiming pace for mares on Wednesday night in 1:51:3 was her third win in a row, with two of those victories at Pocono. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: WORLD CUP There were some excellent trotters lined up for Saturday night's condition trot for non-winners of $23,500 in the last five starts, a race with a $21,000 purse that was the biggest prize for trotters at Pocono this week. Sand Wyndham had won his last start, Keystone Thomas had conquered two in a row, and Luckycharm Hanover had rolled up victories in three of his last four. Throw in outstanding veteran mare Definitely Mamie, who always races well at Pocono, and you had quite the field. The horse who was made the favorite at 6-5 was World Cup, a 4-year-old stallion from the Ron Burke barn who hadn't managed quite the recent success as some of the others in the field. What he did have going for him was the level of competition he had recently been facing at Harrah's and Harrington, giving him the kind of class that would toughen up for any kind of race. On Saturday night, World Cup, with Matt Kakaley in the bike, proved his mettle by powering from behind in the stretch for the victory. His winning time of 1:52:4 was not just the best of his career but it was also the fastest trotting time at Pocono for the week. It also pushed him closer to six figures earned in what has been an outstanding 4-year-old season. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Martino (George Napolitano Jr., Mike Watson), who followed up a win at Harrah's with a condition win on Friday night at Pocono in 1:55:2; Waiting On A Woman (Kevin Wallis, Travis Kolaczynski), who returned off a win at Tioga to score a condition victory on Wednesday night in 1:54; and Money On My Mind (Eric Carlson, Julie Miller), who exploded for a condition victory on Friday night in a sharp 1:53. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ABSOLUTELY MICHAEL In a claiming pace on Tuesday night, Absolutely Michael, with Anthony Napolitano in the bike, overcame an outside post and a tough first-over journey to score at 16-1, paying out $35.60 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR. The meet's leading driver had 43 drives on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night and he won 19 of them. That's pretty much all you need to know about his amazing week. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JAMES EATON Eaton trained three winners this week, two on Saturday night and one on Wednesday, with all of them coming in rugged condition paces. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jim Beviglia
We returned to a full racing schedule this past week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs after a few weeks of an interrupted slate. The action picked up fast and furious from where it left off, producing a plethora of candidates for the Weekly Awards. Without further ado, let’s get right to it and highlight the best of the best of the week that was. PACER OF THE WEEK: ROCKIN THE HOUSE Saturday night witnessed the first sloppy track at Pocono in quite some time, but that didn’t stop the powerhouses in the $25,000 Preferred Pace from putting on an impressive show. The best of the group appeared to be red hot Chester invader Bestjetyet, but his early break threw the race wide open for the other competitors. Rockin The House proved to be ready for the opportunity. The 6-year-old gelding from the Ron Burke barn had won his previous start in a rugged condition group in gate-to-wire fashion, but, because of the move up in class, he was only a 9-1 shot on Saturday. Driver Matt Kakaley settled him in the pocket early, but things still looked dire when pacesetter Flem N Em N opened up a nice margin heading into the stretch. Rockin The House had something left to give in the lane though, while Flem N Em N began to falter. As they approached the line, Rockin The House went past and prevailed by a half-length. That made it two wins in a row and three in the last five for the gelding, who scorched the slop to the tune of a 1:50:2 winning time. Other top pacers this week include: Competition Cam (Tyler Buter, Richard Banca), who stepped up in class to handle the toughest pacers on the grounds on Saturday night with a rallying win in 1:51:4, giving him three victories in a row; First Impression (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who, despite moving up his claiming price and switching barns, chalked up his third win in a row on Saturday night, this one in 1:53:1 in the slop; and Lotsa Chrome (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), whose rallying win in Tuesday night’s condition pace came in 1:50:1, fastest time of the week at Pocono. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: KEYSTONE THOMAS When Keystone Thomas arrived at Pocono earlier in the meet, he was immediately slotted against the very best trotters on the grounds and was maybe a tad overmatched. Thus began a process of his handlers moving him from class to class in an effort to find the right spot for him to compete. That process seems to have reached its fruition the last few weeks. Trained and driven by Joe Pavia Jr., the gelding parlayed a pocket trip into a victory in 1:54:2 on September 6. On Saturday night, he moved up in class into a condition for non-winners of $19,000 in the last five races and got away at 5-1. Pavia was the aggressor nonetheless, putting Keystone Thomas in front early and holding tight. Things did indeed get tight, but the 7-year-old gelding dug deep and held off all comers. Pavia guided him across the line in 1:55:3, a rock-solid time considering the lousy racing conditions. With wins in two races in a row, this talented veteran appears to have finally found his stride, meaning that he might be able to advance even higher to continue an already-impressive season. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Quantum Lightning (George Napolitano, Bill Mullin), who stepped up in class to the $10,000 claimers on Tuesday and earned his second straight win at Pocono, this one coming in 1:56; Judith (Anthony Napolitano driver and trainer), a mare whose win over the $7,500 claimers on Friday night in 1:56:2 was her second straight in that class; and Wind Of The North (Matt Kakaley, Clifton Green), who scored a win over an excellent condition field on Saturday night in 1:55:1 in the slop. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: EXCEL NINE He got a break when the horse that crossed the line first was disqualified for interference, meaning this condition pacer driven by Matt Romano inherited a victory Saturday night at 29-1, paying off $60 to win. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: MATT KAKALEY Kakaley is currently experiencing one of the hottest stretches of his season. He followed up four victories on Saturday night with six more winners on Tuesday. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: PIERRE PARADIS Pierre has been a productive member of the training community at Pocono for many years, and this week he added two more wins to the ledger, including a 21-1 shot on Wednesday with ER Mr T. That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com. by Jim Beviglia for Pocono Downs
The kids are going back to school, real football is about to be played, and my tan, what there was of it, has long since faded. That can only mean that the summer months are winding down and, as Bob Seger once sang, autumn's closin' in. Still, there is no let-up whatsoever in the racing action at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, as was evident in the racing week just gone past. So let's celebrate the finest performers of the last four racing nights by handing out the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: BLISSFULL DREAMER It's difficult to sustain a long winning streak in the sport of harness racing, even for a horse who stays in the same class. That's because staying in the same class doesn't necessarily mean facing the same field week after week, as hot horses could be moving up from lower classes while horses used to facing tougher competition might be dropping down. Add to that the vagaries of post position week to week, racing luck, and the simple possibility of an off week, and you can see why a four-race winning streak like the one Blissfull Dreamer was riding heading into her race on Friday night is such an achievement. Blissfull Dreamer has been sharp all year long as a 4-year-old mare, coming into her battle with the $12,500 distaff claimers on Friday with victories in 11 of 24 races on the season. She has shown the ability to come from off the pace in past races, but, with an inside post on Friday, she was sent to the lead early on by driver Ron Pierce to control the pace. Her fifth straight victory wasn't destined to be an easy win, however, as long shot Fire In The Night made a strong move in the stretch. Blissfull Dreamer, trained by Rene Allard, had the ultimate answer though, digging in late to win by a neck in 1:53:1. That makes it five in a row, the longest winning streak at Pocono this season, one that shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Other top pacers this week: Ultimate Beachboy (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who won a showdown with fellow Super Stakes Saturday winner Jonny Rock by a nose in Saturday night's featured condition pace in 1:50; Rick's Crossroads (Matt Kakaley, Brewer Adams), whose victory over a field of $10,000 claimers on Saturday night in 1:51:3 was his Third Straight at Pocono and fourth in a row overall; and Power Pach Hanover (Andy Miller, John Cancelliere), a 3-year-old filly who now has three wins in a row at Pocono after her condition victory on Tuesday night in 1:50:4. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: FLASHBACKS This 4-year-old stallion from the Wendy Chellis barn fell into a bit of a rut when he arrived from Tioga in June, struggling to make much of a mark against the tougher condition trotters on the grounds. The light switched on when he dropped down into a condition for non-winners of $11,000 in the last five races on August 9. As a 9-1 shot he made a strong first over move and scored an upset win in a career-best 1:53:1. Flashbacks was back at it again on Friday night in the same class, yet he was still given a tepid chance from the fans as a 7-2 third choice. This time around driver Drew Chellis decided to send his trotter to the front early, reaching the quarter in a rapid time which seemed to augur trouble for Flashbacks if he couldn't pace himself a little better. But Drew Chellis rated the horse masterfully through the middle portion of the race, conserving energy for the stretch drive. In the stretch, Flashbacks was still itching to go, and he powered home for a second consecutive win, this one in 1:54:3. With two straight impressive wins, this trotter with a name that suggests a dive back into the past is definitely looking ahead to a bright future. Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: From Above (Andrew McCarthy, Mark Silva), who won the week's featured condition trot on Saturday night in 1:54; Ballet Slippers (Andy Miller, Julie Miller), a filly who now has three straight wins, the last two coming at Pocono, after a condition victory on Friday night in 1:57:1; and Bloomfieldcantifly (Anthony Napolitano, Rene Allard), a mare who ripped off her second straight claiming handicap win on Tuesday night, this one coming in 1:56:1. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: FLIGHT EXEC Despite back-to-back wins coming into the race, Flight Exec, with Kevin Wallis driving, was a 23-1 shot when he upended a field of $25,000 claimers on Saturday nightand paid out $48.20 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: Anthony Napolitano Anthony has been a steady presence in the drivers' standings all year long, but he's really been picking up the pace of late, as evidenced by a driving triple on Tuesday night. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: Tony Alagna Alagna sent a pair of 2-year-olds to the gate on Tuesday night, and both Status Quo and Some Playa, came away with convincing victories. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. by Jim Beviglia
Next week in this column, we'll be highlighting all the action on Super Stakes Saturday at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, a stunning program of harness racing in which just about all of the sport's top superstars will compete. That should be a special evening, but, in the meantime, we were witness to another excellent week of racing at Pocono, and it's time to celebrate the best of that action by handing out the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: STONEHOUSE ADAM This six-year-old gelding from the Ron Burke barn is having the best year of his career in 2013. His earnings of over six figures this season have practically doubled his lifetime bank account. On Saturday night, he stepped up in class to the toughest condition group on the grounds for a purse of $21,000. Two weeks previous to that, Stonehouse Adam had come up just short in that class with a hard-luck second-place finish. Yet he bounced back last week with a confidence-building win in lesser company in a career-best 1:50 flat. Building off that, driver Matt Kakaley sent the gelding to the front end early in Saturday night, a move that was made easier by an inside post position. Kakaley rated the speed brilliantly for the first half-mile, and his horse needed every bit of his energy through the second half of the mile as competitors came at him from all sides. Stonehouse Adam dug in for the stretch drive and persevered for the victory in 1:50:2. With two straight gutsy wins, this veteran pacer seems to be hitting not only the best stride of his season, but also of his entire career. Other top pacers this week include: Blissfull Dreamer (Ron Pierce, Rene Allard), a mare who rolled to victory over a field of $12,500 claimers on Friday night in 1:53, giving her wins in her last four starts; Rick's Crossroads (Matt Kakaley, Brewer Adams), who moved up in class on Friday night for a $7,500 claiming victory in 1:51:3, making it two wins in a row at Pocono and three in a row overall; and Atochia (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), the acclaimed veteran whose win in a condition pace on Saturday night in 1:49 matched a career-best and was the fastest of the week at MSPD. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: HYANNIS HANOVER It's unusual for us to name a 2-year-old as one of the Weekly Award winners. It's even more unusual for it to be a 2-year-old with only two races under his belt. Yet Hyannis Hanover is the choice this week, not only for the fact that he won the first two races of his career, but also for the circumstances surrounding those wins. In his debut on August 7 against other two-year-olds, the gelding sired by Cantab Hall went off at towering odds of 90-1 in his debut. Yet there he was at the end, rallying from way back in the pack to upset the field in 2:01:1. The modest winning time and the fact that several horses in the race broke stride made the race look like a bit of a fluke, which was probably why Hyannis Hanover was let go at 9-1 as he moved up into a Stallion Series race on Tuesday night. This time around it was no fluke. Driver Bret Brittingham maneuvered Hyannis Hanover from the outside post into a pocket seat behind even-money favorite Broadway Charm, then pounced when the leader faltered. In trotting away to win by 2 ½ lengths in 1:58:3, Hyannis Hanover, trained by Don Brittingham, looked more like 1-9 than 9-1. The lesson: Underestimate this freshman trotter at your own peril. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Flashbacks (Drew Chellis, Wendy Chellis), who surprised a condition group at 9-1 on Friday night and did so in 1:53:1, the fastest trotting time at Pocono this week; Zumba Mouse (Anthony Napolitano, Randy Bendis), a mare who scored her second straight upset win against claiming handicap competition on Tuesday night, this one coming in 1:54:3; and Lexis Amigo (Andy Miller, Jeffrey Smith), who picked up a win in rugged condition company on Friday night in 1:53:3. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: FAUST That name might implay a deal with the devil, but Faust simply out-trotted his foes in Stallion Series action Tuesday night with Howard Parker driving at 17-1 for a $37.20 win payout. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: Mike Simons One of Pocono's favorite drivers came up with a milestone win on Wednesday night aboard Mac's Bad Boy, as Mike picked up his 3,000th career victory. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: Jim Campbell Campbell always has a strong contingent of younger horses, and he showed it off Tuesday night by training two winners of Stallion Series races for 2-year-old colts and geldings on the trot. That will do if for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com. Jim Beviglia
For the past few weeks in this column, we've largely concentrated on some of the outstanding stakes races that have been held recently at the track and the exploits of some of the horses who excelled in those races. With a little break in the stakes schedule at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, it seems like as good a time as any to get back to primarily profiling the overnight horses who battle it out week in and week out at MSPD. That means a return to handing out the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: ST PETE STAR Being an effective claiming horse usually means that you're going to be putting your suitcase down in a new barn practically every week. The best claiming horses can overcome this peripatetic lifestyle and find ways to win regardless of which barn they're representing, and St Pete Star is one of those horses who have proven recently he can do just that. St Pete Star, a 9-year-old stallion, started a winning streak on June 23 with a career-best win in 1:49:3 in a $20,000 claimer for the Paul Holzman. He followed that up six nights later by handling that same class once again, this time for the PJ Fraley barn in 1:50:2. He joined the Rene Allard barn in his effort to win his Third Straight in the same class on Saturday night. Allard gave the reins to George Napolitano Jr., who sent St Pete Star to the early lead and let him do the rest. He hustled home for the victory as a 3-5 favorite in 1:51, and, for his trouble, he was claimed once again. The new barn knows it has a real commodity on its hands: A horse on such a hot streak that it might not know where he'll next call home, but it can still find comfort in the familiarity of the Winner's Circle. Other top pacers this week include: Keystone Neptune (George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena), whose victory over the $15,000 claimers on Saturday night in a career-best 1:50:1 was his second straight and his fourth in his last five; Reckless Ric (Anthony Napolitano, Aaron Lambert), whose victory in a condition pace on Saturday night came in 1:49:1, the fastest time of the week at Pocono; and Western Guy (George Napolitano Jr., Peter Pellegrino), who moved up in class on Sunday night and still won his Third Straight claimer, two of which came at Pocono, this time scoring in 1:51:3. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: PRISMATICA This mare started a hot streak in chilly spring temperatures in Canada and it hasn't abated even in the stifling heat of the Northeastern Pennsylvania summer. She came into Pocono off a win at Saratoga on May 17 and promptly won the first three races she started at MSPD to cultivate a four-race winning streak overall. Her toughest test figured to be on Tuesday night, as she took on a claiming handicap field with claiming prices ranging from $15,000 to $20,000. Considering that she started her streak at Pocono at a claiming price of $7,500, it was evident how far she had moved up in the world during this span of racing. She joined the Lou Pena barn for the race on Tuesday night. Driver George Napolitano Jr. sent the mare to the front end early, and she was pressured throughout by several competitors. In the stretch, she dug in deep and found a way to sustain for the victory in 1:54:1. That marked the fifth consecutive win for Prismatica and it came in a career-best time. It will be interesting to see if she can move up even further and push that winning streak to new heights in the near future. Honorable mention on the trotting side includes: DW's NY Yank (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who burned his way to a condition trotting win on Saturday night in a new career mark of 1:51:3, which was also the fastest time at Pocono this week; C-O To Bluegrass (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who churned his way to his second straight claiming win on Tuesday night, this one in a career-best 1:54:3; and Sarah's Hall (Matt Romano, Steven Bartholomew), a filly whose upset win in a condition trot on Friday night at 11-1 in a career-best 1:56:1 was her second straight victory. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SCHALOM G In a wild finish to a claiming handicap trot on Sunday night, this gelding with Marcus Miller in the bike came flying up on the far outside to win at 28-1, paying off $59.60 for a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: Simon Allard One of the newer faces in the Pocono driving community, Allard made his biggest impact yet at Pocono this week by picking up driving doubles on Saturday and Tuesday night. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: Lou Pena Pena has been a big winner in the past at Pocono, and he's been at it again of late. This past week he won on four straight racing nights, scoring five training wins in all. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Opening week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs is officially in the books, and it was a great four nights of haness racing. Although Mother Nature hasn't yet cooperated with better racing temperatures, at least there were fast tracks all week long. That allowed for some sizzling racing regardless of the weather.
The vocal group the Eagles enjoyed a big hit with their " New Kid in Town" and harness racing fans at Monticello raceway are enjoying a 'new kid in town' this winter in the presence of Anthony Napolitano.
Monticello Raceway's harness racing 'Name Your Price Claiming Series' got underway on Monday afternoon with three divisions for fillies and mares and strangely the final times for all three winners, Pot Limit , Romi Mystic, and Tracey's Song , was 2:00.3.