They thunder down the stretch, a sea of grey and white…a ghostly apparition of horses! It’s time again for the Grey Ghost and Poltergeist Pace at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs! The renowned record-breaking track will play host to all grey** or roan horses on Wednesday, October 30th, otherwise known as “Mischief Night”. Entries for the race include morning line favorite Gotta Love Him, trained by Cindy Weitoish and driven by Matt Kakaley, at odds of 3-1; last year’s Grey Ghost winner Lilywhites, ready to defend her win, and driven by Mike Kimelman for trainer Sara Kimelman, at odds of 7-2 as the second favorite; Next at odds of 4-1 is the Joe Pavia Jr.-trained Express Jet, coming off a second place finish at Pocono on October 24th and driven by Ron Pierce. Also entered are Saratoga shipper Six Gun, trained by Brad Irvine and driven by Joe Bongiorno at 9-2; the Robert Lounsbury-trained Working Stiffs at 10-1, who finished in the money in her last four starts at Monticello Raceway; Artic Byrd, shipping in from Yonkers, and trained and driven by Truman Gale, at odds of 12-1; odds of 5-1 on McThird Dimension, trained by Blake Macintosh and driven by Simon Allard; and Hillcrest Bigdaddy, driven by Aaron Byron and trained by Scott Osterhout at 8-1. The race is the third on the card with approximate Post Time of 7:06 p.m. Children of Pocono horsemen will be on hand to present the winning trophy in a specially decorated Winner’s Circle. This year, while Outrider Terry Scott recuperates from recent injuries, his brother Gary will take his place as the Headless Horseman, leading the ghostly greys down the stretch. **According to the U.S. Trotting Association, the governing body of harness racing, less than five percent of all harness horses are grey in color. The most famous was the former world champion trotter and Hambletonian winner, Greyhound. Jennifer Starr Racing Marketing Manager Racing Operations
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. by Jim Beviglia for Pocono Downs
WILKES-BARRE PA – The freshman pacing filly Weeper posted the fastest winning time in the history of the Pennsylvania Stallion Series Championships Friday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs when she stormed home in 55.2 to record a 1:51.4 victory on a Championship night devoted to two-year-olds. The victory by the daughter of Allamerican Native was certainly no surprise – she had posted the exact same clocking in her last start when, after all but clinching a berth in the Stallion final with two wins and a second in early prelims, trainer Kelly O’Donnell decided to try her against the Sire Stakes “big girls” – and she posted the fastest time in the three divisions of that event’s final leg. On Friday Weeper ran her record to four wins and three seconds in seven starts as driver Dave Palone settled her in an early spot, then rushed her uncovered into the second turn to quickly gain the point. Sub-28 pacing in the last two quarters kept her in control of the race, though Lucy’s Pearl made a fine stretch move to narrow in for second, with four for four prelim winner McVita Bella having to settle for fourth behind stablemate Mayabelle after hard early usage from post eight on the far outside. Weeper was victorious for the home state ownership of Bay Pond Racing Stable while also shattering the 1:53.1 Stallion Championship divisional record of Want Answers. The old all-time Stallion Final standard of 1:52.1 had been held by four horses, all male pacers – 2YO’s Eddie Sweat (who will be in Saturday’s 3PC Stallion final) and EZPass Hanover, and 3YOs Take It Back Terry and Sectionline Blast. That quartet’s joint record was almost equaled just an hour before Weeper broke it, as sire Allamerican Native accounted for both sidewheeling events when Jack Attack won the colt contest in 1:52.2. Driver George Napolitano Jr., who visited Victory Lane five times in all Friday night, quarter-moved with his gelding, rated a 57.1 half, and seemed to be in control as favored pocketsitter So Surreal struggled a bit in a 27.1 backside. But So Surreal just kept on coming in the last eighth, and the wire came just at the right time for Napolitano and Jack Attack, who like Weeper had earlier won a Sire Stakes division, for trainer P.J. Fraley and owner Bamond Racing LLC. The trotting filly Nitro Nittany emulated Weeper by setting a Stallion Championship divisional record, winning in 1:56 to reduce the old mark of Tattoo You by 2 1/5 seconds, with her sire Expensive Matter emulating Allamerican Native by fathering both winners on their respective natural gaits. Driver Howard Parker had Nitro Nittany perfectly placed behind two-moving favorite Tweet Me for most of the last half, then got by that game rival late for trainer Jim Raymer and the Harbor Racing Stable LLC ownership, who just missed having a Stallion “sweeper” after Nitro Nittany posted wins in the first three prelims, but had to settle for second behind Outsourced Hanover (who finished third tonight) in the last preliminary. Trainer Jim Campbell, who has already enjoyed some success at Pocono this year with baby trotters (does the name Cooler Schooner ring a bell?), added another freshman victory when Who Wants Soup cooked up a 1:56.3 triumph in his event for his third straight victory. Tyler Buter rushed the gelding wide at the ¾ to contention and made the lead in early stretch, but Who Wants Soup had to be brave to nip Pocono Pike flyer Faust while equaling the stakes mark set last year by Smoother Ride, while Monkey Man, also stuck with post eight while looking for the Stallion “sweep,” holding on OK for third. Runthetable Stables are the owners of the promising youngster, who also get credit for the Campbell-“Soup” pairing. In another feature of national importance, Drop The Ball, who in her last start, at Pocono on August 17, set a 1:48.2f world record for older pacing mares, did not let that brief layoff not the outside post seven deter her at all as she won a $30,000 mares handicap pace in 1:50. Driver Joe Pavia Jr. worked out a fine second-over trip for Drop The Ball, and the Western Terror mare took it from there, swinging wide entering the stretch and keeping safe Pocono Piker Feeling You by a neck, with the always-game Anndrovette, stung by a 26.2 opener before setting the pace, just a half-length off the winner at the finish. Drop The Ball is trained by Ross Croghan for Let It Ride Stables Inc, Dana Parham, and Robert Cooper Stables LLC. FINISHING LINES – The three-year-olds will contest their Stallion Series Championships on Saturday, and with the promise of good weather the recordbooks could again take a beating … Drivers Napolitano, Buter, and Parker posted their first-ever Stallion Series Championships wins, while Palone’s victory ties him with Ron Pierce for the all-time lead at four, in a series that as of this writing is only 32 races old … The aforementioned Smoother Ride, who made his Sire Stakes Championship this year, is to date the only horse to post five wins (four prelims and the final) in one year of Stallion Series competition. by Jerry Connors
Mickey Hanover came from behind late to score a harness racing victory Saturday night in the featured Preferred pace at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.
Waiting On A Woman extended his winning streak to five at Wednesday night's Pompano Park harness racing with a hard-fought win in 1:54.4 for Wally Hennessey.
Cruizin K C, leased, trained and driven by Mark O'Mara, paced his final half mile in :54.3, circling the harness racing field and 'cruizin' to victory in Pompano Park's Open Pace on Saturday night in 1:52.3.
Joe Pavia, Jr. and Andy Santeramo shared the spotlight during Pompano Park's harness racing program on Saturday night. Pavia took top honors with Bestnotlie Hanover in the $12,000 Open Handicap Pace in a photo finish over Santeramo's Spring Again in 1:51.2 and then came back to double his pleasure with Bet On The Law in a conditioned event for pacers in 1:51, the fastest mile of the night.
Odds On Aventure, skillfully handled by harness racing driver Jason Dillander skimmed the pylons late in the mile to score a narrow decision in the $10,000 Mares Open Pace at Pompano Park on Monday.
Commander K, smartly driven by Joe Pavia, Jr., was sent to the lead as the gate's wings folded and wired his harness racing competition for the second straight week in Pompano Park's $11,500 Open Trot.
The ship from Pennsylvania to Florida didn't seem to bother Commander K at all as the five-year-old son of Ken Warkentin sped to a 1:56 score over six highly-regarded harness racing rivals in Wednesday's $11,000 Open Trot at Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park.
There were only three nights of harness racing this past week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs due to Hurricane Sandy. Even with the smaller slate of racing, there were still plenty of fine performances, including a track record.
The harness racing competition at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs over the past week was a lot of fun to watch. The weather has been cooperating, providing warmer temperatures than usual for this time of the year even when the rains came.
Most of the verbiage spent in this column relates to the fine four-legged performers at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, the horses whose incredible exploits leave us slack-jawed in disbelief night after night. Yet harness racing fans know that these performances wouldn't be possible without the skills of the drivers who take the lines each night and attempt to guide their charges to victory.
New York Sire Stakes harness racing action continued at Batavia Downs, this time for 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers racing in two divisions worth $64,760 each. Saturday's program also featured three divisions of the Excelsior series and two Open events.
Southwind Jazmin set a track record and matched a world record for 4-year-old pacing mares on a 5/8-mile oval with her harness racing victory in 1:49:2 in the featured pace on Wednesday night (July 31) at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.
Trotter Hot Shot Blue Chip and pacer Fred And Ginger won the featured races on the Saturday night harness racing program at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Each race was a condition for non-winners of $25,000 lifetime and carried a purse of $25,000.