Next week, the harness racing action at Pocono really kicks into another gear with our first Sire Stakes action of the season and our first Open pacing and trotting events for the meet. This past week was no slouch though, thanks to Pennsylvania All Stars action and some thrilling overnight racing. Let's take a look at which horses and horsemen stood above all in the past four racing nights by handing out the Weekly Awards. Pacer of the week: Dynamic Youth It's good sometimes to have a long memory when you're trying to handicap a race. Take the case of Dynamic Youth in Saturday night's condition pace for non-winners of $15,000 in the last five starts. The 6-year-old gelding from the Aaron Lambert barn had won his previous start against lower company in a solid effort in 1:51:1. Saturday night represented a step up the condition ladder though, and considering he had finished ninth in a lower group at The Meadowlands, the morning line oddsmaker, who shall remain nameless (although his name rhymes with Schmim Schmeviglia), decided to tag him with odds of 6-1. The betting public, however, who likely remembered how many classic miles this one has put together in the past at Pocono, bet him down to a 4-5 favorite. The fans were right. With George Napolitano Jr. in the bike, Dynamic Youth took charge early and powered through the second half of the mile, keeping his competition at bay for a victory in 1:50:1. Maybe he just needed to be back at his old haunts, or maybe he just needed the backing of the faithful. Whatever the case, Dynamic Youth is back on top of his game with two straight victories, so under estimate him at your own peril. Other top pacers this week include: Rose Run Quest (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who, even after a barn switch, picked up his third straight condition pacing win on Tuesday night in 1:52:3, which was a new career mark for him; A J Corbelli (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who rolled to his second straight condition win on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:50:3; and Caviart Shelley (Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke), who moved up in class and still won her third straight condition pace on Wednesday night, matching her career mark of 1:51:4 in the process. Trotter of the week: Ali De Vie This 5-year-old gelding loves to race at Pocono. Coming into his start on Wednesday night in a $12,500 to $15,000 claiming handicap, he had won four races in a row when he was at the Pocono oval. Sprinkled in that stretch were a pair of struggling performances at Harrah's at Philadelphia, so maybe the right thing to do would be to keep this one here until somebody knocks him off. After wins the past two weeks for trainer Rene Allard, Ali De Vie was claimed and joined the barn of Jenny Melander for his start on Wednesday night. Leaving from post position #2 in a field of nine, the gelding sat in fourth early on as Browner Shuttle set the pace. Driver Jim Morrill Jr. waited for an opening and then sent Ali De Vie on a first-over journey on the back stretch. Although he found no cover to help him out, Ali De Vie corralled Browner Shuttle at the top of the stretch. Once he had the lead, he had to deal with Fall Creek Bandit, who had an excellent trip in the pocket and was coming up the passing lane. But Morrill and Ali De Vie had just enough to hold him off and win it in 1:55:3. That makes three wins in a row overall and five for his last five at Pocono. This horse truly loves this course. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: P L Eureka (George Napolitano Jr., John Barchi), whose claiming handicap victory on Wednesday night in 1:54:2 was his fourth in his last five; Sentry (Larry Stalbaum, Jenny Melander), who snuck up the inside late on Saturday night for an upset win in the week's top condition trot in 1:54, which matched a career-best; and Picture This (Charlie Norris driver and trainer), who rolled to a condition victory on Tuesday night in 1:53:3, the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono. Long shot of the week : Cane Ridge Driver Joe Pavia Jr. worked out a pocket trip for this pacer on Saturday night and he rallied to win a claiming handicap at 45-1, paying out $92.40 on a $2 win ticket. Driver of the week: Joe Pavia Jr. Pavia only recently returned to driving duties, but he made his presence felt on Saturday night with ba pair of victories, including the huge long shot Cane Ridge. Trainer of the week: Mark Kesmodel Talk about efficiency: Kesmodel sent out three starters at Pocono al week, two on Saturday and one on Wednesday, and every one of the three came back to the barn a winner. Jim Beviglia
Pompano Beach, FL...January 10, 2015...Luca Derrico's Cadillac Phil, driven by Joe Pavia, Jr., proved he can go zero to 35 in less than two seconds and went on to score a handy two length victory over Fancyfreeshark, handled by Bruce Ranger, in Pompano Park's $13,000 Open Handicap Pace on Saturday night in 1:51.1. Duc Dorleans finished third for Donald Dupont while EZ Noah and Dont Tell Rusty earned the final two awards in the septet of top pacers. This five year-old son of Shanghai Phil won the early tussle out of the blocks with Fancyfreeshark, securing a clear lead just a stride or two past the opening marker in :27. From there, Cadillac Phil proceeded through fractions of :55.2 and 1:23.2 before Pavia put his charge in another gear, sprinting home in :27.4 while never threatened in the lane. In a post race interview, driver Joe Pavia, Jr. said, "he lived up to his name tonight. He drove just like a Cadillac...and on cruise control once he took the lead. There were only two horses that drew inside of us that showed early speed and, when one of those didn't leave, I decided 'now is the time.' He had been returning to his sharpness of a month ago and, last week, was really motoring at the end. Luca (trainer Derrico) had him razor sharp tonight!" Garnering his 13th lifetime win to go along with a mark of 1:49.3 up north, Cadillac Phil sent his lifetime bounty to $159,930--$92,870 of that earned last season. As fourth choice in the win wagering pool, Cadillac Phil returned $11.00 to win. A pair of lucrative carry-overs are among the highlights of the Sunday night card. The Pick-5 went untouched on Saturday night and that event covering races two through six sports a carry-over of close to $5,000. The Super Hi-5, to be contested on the last race of the Sunday evening program, has a carry-over of close to $30,000 after multiple winners on Saturday night insured the largest to-date Super Hi-5 jackpot in the track's history. Post time remains at 7:30 p.m. for the Sunday 11 race program. by John Berry, for Isle Pompano Park
Pompano Beach, FL...November 24, 2014...In the aftermath of Saturday night's card featuring Doc Dorleans spectacular 1:49 performance and five Aylor Stakes events, racing fan Gary Andrews asked, "What is Pompano Park going to do for an encore on Monday?" Director of Racing Brett Revington has the answer..."two things," he said. "First, we have our Pick-5 with a $7,500 guaranteed pool on Monday night. Second, we have a million dollar field of mares going to the gate in our excellent Open for the mares." Monday night's hefty guaranteed pool was assured when 45 to 1 shot Major Stone lit up the tote board in Saturday night's final leg of that Pick-5. As for the grand field of mares, Just A Bee and Godiva Seelster appear to be the ones to beat as Pertty Music, Ed Hensley's outstanding mare, is taking a week off after her 1:51 win last week. Hensley, though, will be represented by Time To Celebrate, fresh off of a splendid 1:51.3 win in her own right and now stepping up to the top class. Just A Bee, trained and driven by Mike Micallef, was just a photo finish away from a 1:51 mark in Pertty Music's win and Godiva Seelster, from the powerful Hennessey Stable, cut all the fractions in last week's event, finishing third, less than a length away. Of Just A Bee's performance last week, trainer Mike Micallef said, "this mare is becoming a very pleasant surprise to me. She didn't win last week, but I thought it was her best performance ever and I am hoping her blossoming talent continues." Also in the sterling field is Arodasi, representing the Joe Pavia, Jr. Stable. Arodasi is the leading money winner of the group this year at $102,900 and also owns the fastest lifetime mark--1:50.1. Mach Me Not, Winbak Heavenly and Always As Fast complete the talented field. Post time for the Monday night card is 7:30 with the Pick-5, along with the $7,500 guaranteed pool, beginning with the second race on the program. by John Berry, for Isle Pompano Park
Regil Elektra rallied from far back early to pull off a major upset at odds of 18-1 in the featured Open Handicap pace for mares on Friday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The race carried the night's top purse of $35,000. Leaving from post position #3 in a field of eight, Regil Elektra (Mach Three-Top Time Notcher), a 4-year-old mare from the barn of trainer Monte Gelrod, got away seventh as a battle for the lead produced devastating early fractions. Driver Joe Pavia Jr. set the mare in motion third-over on the back stretch as the outer flow moved up on tiring pacesetter Drop The Ball. In the stretch, Regil Elektra spun out four wide and powered home in a career-best 1:50:3, holding off fellow long shot Spirit Of Desire by three-quarters of a length. Camille finished third, while Yagonnakissmeornot, the 2-1 favorite fresh off big wins at in Ohio and Kentucky, struggled to seventh. Regil Elektra, owned by Fred Monteleone Stables, won for the fifth time in 23 2014 races. It was her 17th career victory, pushing her lifetime earnings to $356,191. She paid $38.20 to win. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs
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 email@example.com. 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.