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WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Break The Bank K gelding Magic Vacation, who had not gotten home first since July 2018 before winning a week ago, posted a repeat victory in taking the $12,800 claiming trot feature at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Tuesday afternoon. Anthony Napolitano (an 11-time winner during this week's four cards here) again sent Magic Vacation frontward early despite a jump in class, and the pair were parked well past a :27.1 opener getting by favored Crossfit to the lead. The half-mile pole was reached in :55.4, and the pacesetter got no respite as Pilgrims Tide came up uncovered going to the 1:24.3 three-quarters. Crossfit swung wide out of the pocket to loom boldly as these three, the only real contenders, turned for home. Crossfit disappointed his backers by going offstride in early stretch and Pilgrims Tide actually gained a short advantage, but Magic Vacation dug in and defeated his rival by the smallest possible margin in 1:54. Especially for a horse who went 778 days between visits to the winners circle before last week, Magic Vacation looks to be in prime form now for trainer Steven Brabrook and owner Jaypaul Hoover.   A couple of winners in the "nw 2 races" trotting class earn a note. Gotta Believe, a freshman daughter of Donato Hanover out of Mets Life (a half-sister to $1.3M-winning Met's Hall), showed only a 2:04 time in a qualifier before making her debut here, but she came from last in the 8-horse field to break her maiden in 1:57.1 and pay $80.40. Andy Miller drove the undefeated filly for Andy Miller Stable Inc., Thomson Sisters Racing Stable, and Let It Ride Stables Inc.; for trainer Julie Miller, this second $50+ winner at the meet tied her on top of the Pocono standings in that category. The Yankee Glide sophomore gelding Zapaca improved his lifetime record to 5-for-6 - all without leaving the "nw2" category! - with a 1:55.1 win for driver Tyler Buter (who had five victories Tuesday), trainer Dale Gilmour, and UptownpetsCom Stable Inc. The last four wins have come at Pocono, which also has a "nw $20,000 lifetime" section in its eligibility for this level, and now Zapaca, having exceeded that total, will be facing tougher opposition, which he may well be able to handle. FINISHING LINES - Pocono will now be dark this Saturday, Sunday, and Monday; the next card of racing at the mountain oval will be Tuesday, September 15, with a Rainbow Pick 5 carryover of $195,039. That card will be drawn for on Wednesday, September 9. From the PHHA/The Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Skyway Quinton, circling four-wide on the far turn around horses who had been used hard early, stayed strong to the wire to take the $17,200 pacing feature in 1:50.2 on Saturday afternoon at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Anthony Napolitano kept the victorious son of Real Desire near the back of the pack as favored Alluneedisfaith N yielded to Rollwithpapajoe near the quarter, after which that one put up splits of :26.1, :55.2, and 1:22.1. A first-over bid from Western Fame and a three-wide sweep from Luciano N did not gain on the frontenders, but Skyway Quinton did, pulling away to win by 1½ lengths over two Pocono Pike users who dead-heated for second - chalk Alluneedisfaith N and Prairie Panther, the longest shot on the board.   Skyway Quinton, sent off at 8-1, scored his 20th career victory and raised his earnings to $199,477 for trainer Travis Alexander and owner Sarah Nichole Conrad. The $14,000 fast-class co-feature fell to the Rock N Roll Heaven gelding Rock The Devil in 1:50.2. The first-over winner rocked his own third quarter in 26.1 to go to the lead nearing the three-quarters and went on to win comfortably for driver Jim Marohn Jr., trainer Nifty Norman, and the Scarlett Stables LLC. 11-year-old Atta Boy Dan, Pocono's Pacer of the Year in 2019, is doing pretty well in 2020 as well, recording his third straight win and sixth of the season in 1:51.1. Parked past a stinging :25.4 opening quarter, the Western Terror gelding stayed game and strong to the wire for driver George Napolitano Jr. while recording his 77th career win while boosting his earnings to $1,008,564. Peter Pellegrino trains the evergreen pacer for owner Stephen Larkin. From the PHHA / Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - "Youthful veteran" harness racing driver Anthony Napolitano recorded the 3000th victory of his driving career Tuesday afternoon at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono with a hard-earned victory behind the Artspeak sophomore pacing miss Winning Words. The favored filly had to go the difficult first-over route, yet held off a host of distaffs coming from every direction to take a new mark of 1:53.4. The 38-year-old Napolitano, brother of local top reinsman George Napolitano Jr., is currently in the 20th year of his sulky career. His horses have won over $1 million for twelve consecutive years, including the last five years with their earnings each being over $2 million. His best money year came in 2018, when he handled the winners of $3.5 million. Anthony has also won over 200 races in each of the last four seasons, with his yearly high in 2009 at 295. Anthony currently ranks fifth in victories and third in money earned among the talented Pocono driving community. The Rock N Roll Heaven gelding Rockapelo, who a month ago was racing against Meadowlands Preferred company, got a far easier field to face in the finale and responded with an all-by-himself victory in 1:49.1, fastest mile so far in 2020 at Pocono. Matt Kakaley sent the winner of $354,662 right down the road and increased his lead throughout the last half in winning for trainer Ron Burke and the ownership of Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC along with Phil Collura. From the PHHA / Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Harness racing driver Anthony Napolitano, who won one of the two divisions of the first prelim of the Game Of Claim Series for pacing mares on Sunday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, went himself one better by sweeping the two $15,000 divisions of the first prelim of the Game Of Claims Series for $15,000-base trotters Monday. Tactically "Anthony Nap" was well-diversified. In the first division, he sent Manwithamission, a gelded son of Manofmanymissions (a 2010 Breeders Crown winner here) to control the pace with two moves, then stepped home in 1:56.3 for trainer Steve Salerno and owner Jack Piatt III - who promptly lost the horse to a claim in the chess game that is the Game Of Claims prelims. For Manwithamission, it was his fifth winning effort in seven 2020 starts. Steve Salerno had even better luck in the second Game Of Claims divisions - the Uncle Peter gelding ELO Hanover, whom he co-owns with trainer Emily Bost, not only won in 1:57.2, but they did not lose him to a claim. Napolitano brought this one from far back off of cover, tipping wide and getting by a contentious bunch late. The most impressive winner on the Pocono card was a maiden pacer making his second career start 236 days after making his first. But the Somebeachsomewhere - Allamerican Memoir sophomore colt Remember The Beach (a full brother to $900G+-winning world champion Beach Memories) certainly had the pedigree to improve from freshman to sophomore status, as indeed he did, winning in 1:52.4 for driver Josert Fonseca, trainer Nancy Takter, and owners 3 Brothers Stables, Christina Takter, Rojan Stables, and Caviart Farms. Fonseca put rivals in behind in a hot :26 opener, yielded to favored Devil Or Angel and sat on his back through middle splits of :54.4 and 1:23.2, then came out nearing headstretch and took right over, suggesting more success may be in his immediate future. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The male harness racing pacers had their Game Of Claims Series opportunities early in the meet at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono; starting this week, pacing mares and trotters will start their series, with the sidewheeling distaffs kicking off on Sunday. The Napolitano brothers drove the winners of the two $10,000 divisions of the first prelim, for $10,000 base-price horses, with Anthony guiding the Hypnotic Blue Chip mare Melanie's Filly right to the top en route to a 1:54 victory. But if trainer Daniel Maier and owner Antonia Storer want to see this mare racing for them in the $20,000 Championship event in three weeks, they'll have to pony up some money - as the winner was haltered for the $12,000 price, mares getting their standard 20% price allowance. (And the base price goes up a bit each week in the Game Of Claims prelims.) Brother George's 1:54.3 winner in the other first round prelim, the Rockin Image mare Summer Rock, also will not be returning to the connections of trainer Robert Lounsbury and owner Robert Main - such is the competitive nature of Pocono horsemen, especially with the prospect of a shot at big money just down the line. In all, four of the mares in the series were claimed, with six claims total on the night, for $70,500. High-level trotters rounded out the Sunday Pocono action in a $17,500 contest, with a four-across-the-wire finish going to Presidente Zette, a son of Muscle Hill, who was just up in 1:54.3 for driver Jim Marohn Jr. and trainer/owner Cozette McAvoy. Presidente Zette won by a head, while a long photo separated the closely-placed noses of Two AM, Volare, and Broadway Mojo in that order. A pair of victorious mares worth noting are the McArdle veteran Lispatty, who won her 2020 debut in 1:52.4 to boost her lifetime bankroll to $918,485, and the Kikikolt distaff Blackwell Ruby IR, who started her career on the eastern side of the Atlantic Ocean but has kept her winning ways, as she is now 5-for-6 this year and 11-for-15 lifetime after also winning in 1:52.4. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The harness racing driving brothers Anthony and George Napolitano Jr. certainly held the hot hands during Wednesday morning's qualifying session at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and each teamed well with a specific trainer - Anthony guided four Jose Godinez trainees to victory, with four horses conditioned by Gilbert Garcia-Herrera brought home first by George. Two of the "ANap"-Godinez horses took the primary spotlight, as they defeated free-for-all horses Western Fame and Springsteen, both members of Team Allard. Western Fame, the 2019 Levy Final winner and a winner in morning action here last week, had to settle for second, 3¾ lengths behind the two-moving Havefaithinme N, who tripped the timer in a solid 1:52, last half :55, for the ownership of Blindswitch Racing Stable, Gary Axelrod, Good Friends Racing Stable, and Santo Farina. And if the nine-year-old Havefaithinme N's name rings a certain bell, that's because it should - the altered son of Bettor's Delight is a career winner of $1.3 million, and in 2016 he paced what was at the time the fastest mile in Australasian harness history, 1:47 5/10, in winning the Miracle Mile over the Menangle Park 7/8-mile oval. Springsteen, now five and the winner of the 2018 Hempt Memorial right here at Pocono, closed determinedly from far back, but his :55.1-:27.1 bid home came up a head shy of the American Ideal mare Sally Fletcher A, who also made two moves controlling the tempo in a 1:54.4, with Blindswitch Racing Stable doubling up in the Wednesday morning "features." The most impressive of the George Nap - Garcia-Herrera horses was the $900,000+-winning Lispatty, who stepped home in :55.2 - :27.2 as the McArdle mare toured the Pocono oval in 1:53 for owner Gilbert Garcia-Owen. FINISHING LINES - After Saturday's card at 5 p.m., Pocono switches post times in March to its standard 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and 4 p.m. on most other racing days, primarily Monday and Tuesday. There will be racing Sunday, March 1 at 7 p.m., and then the first Monday card of the year on the 2nd at 4 p.m., with three cards a week in vogue throughout the end of March. Racing is going into the second month of the 2020 season at the Down at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and horsemen racing at the track in Northeast PA should be aware of opening times for the Paddock and stable gate area.  Going forward, the stable gate will open one and a half hours prior to first Lasix, and the Paddock one hour prior to first Lasix.  Post Times for March are 7:00PM on Saturday and Sunday, and 4:00PM on Monday, with the addition of Tuesday at 4:00PM in April. Also, the Ship-in barn will open Monday, March 2, and training for the rest of the season will take place out of the ship-in barn. Any questions, please contact Paddock Judge Luann Sensenbach at 570.831.2125. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Explosive Matter gelding Scirocco Rob notched his third win in his last four starts on Sunday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, coming home 2¼ lengths to the good of The Lionking AS in the $17,500 featured trot at the mountain oval. The Lionking AS sped away from the rail to take the early lead in a :27.2 opener; Scirocco Rob was soon on the move to the lead, and he got a big breather in the second split, reaching the half in :57.2. From there the sprint home was on, and nobody had more sprint than Scirocco Rob, who trotted home in :56.1 - :28 to win easily for trainer Mark Silva and owners Kathleen and Lewis Whitaker Jr. Scirocco Rob was driven by George Napolitano Jr., who had won eight races on Saturday, including each of the last five races, which make up the track's Rainbow Pick 5 bet. Sunday George combined with his brother Anthony for another "Napolitano Rainbow Pick 5 sweep," as he took the first two races in the sequence, while Anthony won the last three. All of Anthony's Rainbow winners were with non-favorites, after the chalk had won the first ten races on the 13-race card. Anthony and George wound up with four driving successes each on Sunday. Between Saturday night, Sunday afternoon at Philly, and Sunday back at Pocono, George had fifteen wins, which included the Pocono features on both Saturday and Sunday and also two stakes wins in the Simpson Series at Philly. From the PHHA / Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Armbro Operative mare Don't Think Twice A became the first favorite to win during the Tuesday twilight card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, using the Pocono Pike to take both the tenth race $21,500 featured pace for mares and a new mark of 1:51.1. Despite an absence from the races of 18 days, the winner started well and got the pocket spot behind pacesetting Baron Remy as that one cut fractions of :27.1, :55.4, and 1:23.4, with Dont Think Twice A getting the perfect trip in the two-hole. Driver Anthony Napolitano didn't have to think twice about pulling on his mare's left line when the inside lane came clear, and the winner outfooted Baron Remy by a half-length for trainer Andrew Harris and the ownership of Michael Goldberg Racing LLC and A Harris Racing LLC. Pilgrims Lass enjoyed the drop from stakes company and showed that appreciation by recording her first win of the season in a $15,000 co-featured trot. The Muscle Mass filly, trained by Scott Andrews for owner Edward Andrews, made the early lead for Matt Kakaley, yielded at the quarter to sit the pocket behind Bag O Chips, then came out in the stretch to catch that one by ¾ of a length while reducing her lifetime best to 1:55.3. From the  PHHA / Pocono Downs

There is no denying that we are coming into the home stretch at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono for the 2019 harness racing season. Soon we'll be taking a look at the horses and humans that are deserving of year-end honors. In the meantime, we still have a full schedule of overnight racing taking place each week, providing plenty of candidates for the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: FEELING CAM LUCKY His name may signify good fortune, but for most of 2019, this seven-year-old gelding from the barn of trainer Gilberto Garcia-Herrera hasn't exactly enjoyed much of it. Coming into an $11,000 condition pace on September 14, Feeling Cam Lucky had raced 25 times this year and had hit the board in 15 of those starts. But despite being in contention so often, he was winless coming into that start, this despite racking up 11 wins in 2018. Feeling Cam Lucky finally rectified that with a rallying win that night in 1:50:4. Given that shot of confidence, the gelding stepped up in class to meet a $12,000 condition pacing group on Saturday night. Leaving from post position #4 in a field of seven at middling odds of 7-2, he flashed excellent early speed to grab the lead. The pace was slowed down for the second panel, but then Feeling Cam Lucky, with George Napolitano Jr. urging him on, provided a burst on the back stretch, ticking off the third quarter in 27 seconds even. That strategy shook everybody in the field except 21-1 shot Electric Western, who stayed close in the pocket. For a moment as Electric Western surged, it looked like Feeling Cam Lucky might be in line for another hard-luck loss. But the taste of winning he picked up in his previous start seemed to help, as he fought off Electric Western for the victory in 1:50:2 by 1 ¼ lengths. He has a way to go to catch up with his numbers from last year, but Feeling Cam Lucky might be ready for a winning streak now that fortune has started to turn his way. Other top pacers this week include: Sweet Rock (Eric Carlson, Wayne Givens), who rallied for a victory in Saturday night's featured condition pace in 1:50:1; Rockin In the Hills (Anthony Napolitano, Jose Godinez), who scored a win in a condition on Saturday night in 1:49:4, a new career-best and the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono; and Don't Think Twice A (Anthony Napolitano, Andrew Harris), who captured Tuesday night's featured condition pace for mares in a career-best 1:51:1. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SCIROCCO ROB Scirocco Rob has been alternating between sizzling miles and breaks of stride of late at Pocono. He came into the $17,500 condition trot on Sunday night with breaks in two of his previous races. Also included in that stretch for the four-year-old gelding was a hard-luck second at the $17,500 level and a victory at the $14,000 level in 1:54:1. Considering the win was in his previous start in Sunday night, it was understandable if some of those bettors who made him an even-money favorite bit their nails while they watched the race. After all, if Scirocco Rob had followed his recent pattern, he would have gone off-stride. Instead, he started fast, then allowed Whats The Word to speed on by and take the early lead. Throughout the mile, Whats The Word stayed aggressive on the lead, putting up fractions that made it difficult for the rest of the field to stay close without exerting a lot of energy. But Scirocco Rob hung around in his pocket seat, waiting for his moment to move on the leader. That moment came in the stretch, when driver George Napolitano Jr. tipped him to the outside to go after Whats The Word. The pacesetter was game, but Scirocco Rob, who is trained by Mark Silva, powered past to win it by a half-length in a speedy time of 1:52:1, the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono. Now that he has won two in a row, those worries of inconsistency seem to be in the rear-view for now for this talented gelding. Honorable mention on the trotting side this week goes to: Lindy's Big Bang (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who picked up his second straight condition win on Saturday night, scoring in 1:53:1; Inner Peace (George Napolitano Jr., Hunter Oakes), who earned his second straight condition victory on Sunday night with a win in 1:55; and Zooming (Tyler Buter, Amber Buter), the 11-year-old veteran who rallied for a condition win on Tuesday night in 1:54:3. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: BURGUNDY B This three-year-old filly driven by Eric Carslon snuck up from the pocket to win a condition trot on Monday afternoon at 35-1, paying off $73.40 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR. The meet's leading driver seems to be getting stronger as the year progresses, as he rolled to at least four driving wins on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: ROBERT CLEARY The Cleary barn produced the fastest winning time on Sunday night (with Rebel Rouser) and the featured condition pace winner on Monday night (with Vodka On The Beach.) That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs        

WILKES-BARRE PA, - The Well Said mare Lady Dela Renta A, now 2-for-3 in the United States, paced an impressive 1:49.2 mile in taking the $17,500 distaff feature on the Tuesday twilight card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Anthony Napolitano got away fourth with the recent import as Bettorhaveanother took the field to the quarter in :26.2, then began a grinding move as early mover Lyons River Pride took the field to the half in :55. Lady Dela Renta A gained into a 1:21.4 three-quarter clocking, then showed no ill effects from the rough two-move trip, stretching out for more ground to the wire in defeating Lyons River Pride by a length. Lady Dela Renta A, a five-year-old mare, had put together 14 wins in 41 Down Under starts and $155,814 on her card when she was purchased by Blindswitch Racing Stable and Dolne Farm Services LLC and turned over to trainer Jose Godinez, and her connections looked to have made an astute purchase who may be capable of even better feats. Turville Hanover followed the cover of Bag O Chips around the far turn, then kicked on to beat out that rival by a neck in a $15,000 co-featured trot while taking a new mark of 1:54.4. Trainer Jeff Gregory guided the sophomore Cantab Hall gelding, who was unraced at two but now has posted five wins in 13 starts for Jeff Gregory Inc., Stuart Morgan, and Steven Finkelstein. FINISHING LINES - The draw is Wednesday morning for one of the biggest cards of the season at The Downs, next Monday's twilight program which features the three $100,000 Championships of the Great Northeast Open Series at 1¼ miles as well as all eight of the Pennsylvania Stallion Series Championships during an action-packed lineup of races. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Roll With Joe gelding Benji's Best, who snapped Atta Boy Dan's five-race winning streak in the top claiming handicap pace at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono last Saturday, handled the jump to the $21,500 conditioned company this Saturday, winning despite a first-over trip in 1:50.4. Anthony Napolitano, who had four wins on the night as did his brother George, was fifth as Another Daily Copy took the field to the quarter in :27, then yielded to Soho Wallstreet A, who fronted the group to the half in :54.4. Benji's Best moved first-over and gained steadily to a 1:23.3 three-quarters, then continued his relentless grind, made the lead in the stretch, then held off the Pocono Pike charge of Another Daily Copy by a head, with Soho Wallstreet A staying on for third. It was the fourth straight victory for Benji's Best, who was claimed for $25,000 on July 27 by the partnership of Ameer Najor and trainer Dan Maier, was passed up when offered for $30,000 last week, and now has earned $20,750 in his two starts for Team Najor-Maier and $150,769 lifetime. Atta Boy Dan bounced right back from having his winning streak snapped, winning in the $20,000 claiming handicap pacing event in 1:49.4. Despite being outside past the 3/8 in making the lead from the outside post six for Anthony Napolitano, Atta Boy Dan had enough left late to withstand inside-shooting longshot Lucbobski, with Pembroke Wildcat third behind the ten-year-old Western Terror gelding. Atta Boy Dan now has 12 victories in 23 seasonal starts, with earnings of $132,815 in 2019; his lifetime stats show 64 career triumphs and a bankroll of $876,417. He won on Saturday for owner/trainer Antonia Storer, but he was claimed from his ninth straight start (three of them for Storer), for the tenth time this meet for the local record $40,000, and for the twelfth time since he came in from The Meadows in May. His next start will be for Clifford Grundy, his third stint for that ownership. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Favorites Spectre and Mass Fortune K both parlayed front-end trips into a victory in a $15,000 featured trot during the Tuesday twilight card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The Holiday Road gelding Spectre went to the lead before the :27.3 quarter for driver Anthony Napolitano, could back off the half to :57, picked up the pace to the 1:25.2 three-quarters, then held off a threat from pocketsitting P L Ketchup to take a two length victory. Rob Harmon trains the late-developing five-year-old for Adv Racing Stable LLC. After facing the likes of Greenshoe and Green Manalishi S in his last few starts, the Muscle Massive colt Mass Fortune K responded well to the change in company, taking a new lifetime mark of 1:55 for driver Pat Berry after making two early moves and putting up fractions of :28.2, :57.2, and 1:25.4. Mass Fortune K won by 8½ lengths in posting his first seasonal score after a six-figure campaign at two for trainer Charlie Norris and owner Robert Key. In a $14,000 distaff pace, Vorst was also a favored frontstepping winner, but her path to the winners circle was much harder. The Four Starzzz Shark mare, owned and trained by Gilbert Garcia-Herrera, was parked past a :26.3 opener and went on to a :55.2 half, only to have second choice Attention Hanover come up to challenge and require a 1:22.2 three-quarters clocking. Vorst received constant last quarter urging from driver George Napolitano Jr., who had four wins on the card, and the mare responded even after being passed by pocketsitting Summer Charm in midstretch, surging back to take a half-length victory over Attention Hanover, who photoed out Summer Charm for second. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

As we head into the month of August, the realization that the 2019 racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun has reached the back stretch might have dawned on you. Not that there has been any letdown in terms of the racing action, of course. But it is interesting how time flies when you're watching top-notch competition week in and week out. This week was more of the same, as you'll be able to tell from this edition of the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: BENJI'S BEST It seems like each and every week at Pocono we see a different claimer burst onto the scene with a huge mile. Last week it was Benji's Best, a five-year-old gelding who came into a $20,000 to $25,000 claiming handicap pace on July 20 without a win and left it with a 15 ½ length victory in a career-best 1:50. He had shown signs leading into that race with back-to-back second-place finishes. But winning by the biggest margin of any horse all meet was something nobody saw coming, especially because he wasn't even favored in that race. Needless to say, he was favored when he returned to action to face that same class on Saturday night. Even with the dreaded #9 post, Benji's Best was made the 8-5 betting choice. Whereas he had won for the Rene Allard barn in his previous start, following the claim he was representing trainer Jennifer Bongiorno on Saturday. With Hunter Oakes doing the driving, Benji's Best surged to the lead with a swooping move past Paprike Blue Chip on the paddock turn. On the back stretch, the favorite had to deal with first-over pressure from Rockin Rio. But it didn't seem to bother him when they turned for home, as he kicked away from the pursuit. Benji's Best came home a winner in 1:50:2, another quick time. His margin was a more modest but still impressive 3 ½ lengths over second-place Paprike Blue Chip. After going so long winless this year, this gelding seems to have decided he likes the feel of winning, so much so that it's easy to see him doing it again real soon. Other top pacers this week include: Jereme's General (George Napolitano Jr., Daniel Maier), who captured his second straight claiming handicap on Saturday night in 1:51:1; Atta Boy Dan (George Napolitano Jr., Brittany Robertson), who continued his dominance in the highest claiming group at Pocono with a fifth consecutive victory on Saturday night, this one in 1:49:3; and Ideal Rocky (Anthony Napolitano, Joe Pavia Jr.), who moved up in class on Monday to win his second straight condition pace, this one in 1:52. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: SAY YOU DO The Todd Buter barn has been producing some outstanding trotters for several years now, and 2019 has been a banner year by any standard for his trainees. Earlier this year, we saw Rich And Miserable put together a long winning streak on the Pocono grounds. Lately the one getting the attention has been Say You Do, a four-year-old gelding on an impressive streak of his own. He came into the featured $21,500 condition trot on Sunday night with five straight victories. Included in that stretch were three straight wins at The Meadowlands, an Open Handicap score at Tioga, and a victory at Pocono against the same group on July 21. Up against a short field of five on Sunday night, Say You Do went off as a 3-5 favorite from post position #2. Although his win the previous week at Pocono had come with a late rally, driver Tyler Buter decided he wanted the favorite to dictate matters and this one, and Say You Do took over the lead on the first turn. The fractions were rated well on a sloppy track, with Say You Do keeping under control even as Fashion Creditor pulled up alongside him at the three-quarter pole with a first-over move. At the top of the stretch, Tyler Buter just had to ask Say You Do for a little more and he responded, giving a quick burst of speed to secure his lead and coming home in front by 1 ½ in 1:54:3 on the sloppy grounds. That makes six in a row for Say You Do, a stellar run of wins even for a barn that is getting used to such stretches. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Lindy's Big Bang (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who won his second straight condition race on Sunday night, getting it done in 1:54:1; Silvermass Volo (Eric Carlson, Michael Holcman), who moved up in class to pick up his second straight condition win on Sunday night, scoring in the slop in 1:56:1; and Flippen Creek (Marcus Miller, Erv Miller), who followed up his maiden victory last week at Pocono with another condition win on Monday, this one coming in a new career-best time of 1:57:1. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: MIDWAY ISLAND In Saturday night's featured condition pace, this gelding with Kevin Wallis in the bike pulled off a stunner at 40-1, paying off $82.40 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY NAPOLITANO A-Nap continues to enjoy what has probably been his finest meet ever at Pocono, and he kept it rolling by churning out five wins on the Saturday night program. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: BRETT PELLING Pelling picked up pacing wins on back-to-back nights at Pocono this week, scoring with Yeahnah on Sunday and then with two-year-old filly and first-time starter Alexis's Beach on Monday. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs        

With the Kentucky Derby taking place this past Saturday and our traditional double-header of racing on that day, The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono hosted five cards of live harness racing instead of the usual four for the week. As if choosing for the Weekly Awards wasn't difficult enough, there are many more possibilities this time around because of the extra races. Let's take a look at who garners the honors for this busy week of harness racing action. PACER OF THE WEEK: HIGHALATOR On Saturday night, Pocono hosted its first big stakes race of the season with the Van Rose Invitational Pace for a purse of $50,000. It was also the first race at Pocono in the Great Northeast Open series, which inaugurated last year to much acclaim and will culminate with big-money finals at the end of the summer. Saturday night's race looked on paper like it would belong to Western Fame, who was coming off a convincing victory in the $500,000 final of the Levy series at Yonkers. But the field was full of top aged pacers, including Highalator, a standout five-year-old stallion from the Jenny Bier barn who always seems to rise to the occasion when he appears at Pocono. He left from the #2 post in a field of nine as the 2-1 second choice, while Western Fame left from the #7 spot at 3-5. Western Fame grabbed the engine while Highalator, with Richard Still in the bike, found the pocket seat early. The key to the race may have been how Western Fame was hounded by long shot The Wall and his first-over bid. In the stretch, the favorite couldn't summon enough to hold off the pursuit. Highalator, on the other hand, began to erupt as soon as the passing lane opened up. He flew home just a neck in front of Bettor Memories, who came out three-wide at the end of the mile with a lot of pace. Highalator paced the mile in 1:49:4 for yet another signature win on the Pocono oval. Other top pacers for the week included: Always At My Place (Anthony Napolitano, Ron Burke), who scored a condition victory on Saturday night in 1:49:1, which is the fastest pacing time of the year to date at Pocono; Dancin Hill (Tyler Buter, Gareth Dowse), who won his third straight race, the last two at Pocono, when he beat a claiming handicap group on Saturday night in a career-best 1:50:4; and Nine Ways (George Napolitano Jr., Antonia Storer), who moved up the condition ladder for his second straight victory on Saturday night, getting it done in a career-best 1:50:1.   TROTTER OF THE WEEK: TWO AM With the exception of a break of stride on April 14, this five-year-old gelding from the Todd Buter barn has been a consistent threat at Pocono in the 2019 meet. He has hit the board in three of four races here, peaking with a condition victory in a $21,500 featured condition trot on April 21 in 1:53:2. He returned to action in the $17,500 condition feature on Sunday night following a 6th place finish at the Meadowlands in his previous start. Leaving from post position #2 in a field of eight, Two AM, who went off as the 1-2 favorite, sat back and let others battle for the early lead on the sloppy track. After some jockeying for position, Truemass Volo grabbed the engine, while Two AM idled in fifth in the early portion of the race. But driver Tyler Buter didn't allow him to sit there for very long, sending him in motion first-over as the field headed into the clubhouse turn. Buter didn't wait around for cover, urging Two AM to engage Truemass Volo with his first-over move. He corralled the leader around the final turn and then left him, and the rest of the field, behind in the stretch. Despite being parked around two turns, the gelding still was out-trotting everybody in the lane, coming to the line a 3 ¼-length winner over Truemass Volo in 1:54:3, a time which was especially impressive considering the sloppy conditions. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Tiger's Too Good (Anthony Napolitano, Pete Pellegrino), whose condition victory on Sunday night in the slop in 1:57 gave him two consecutive victories; Rich And Miserable (Tyler Buter, Todd Buter), who followed up a win at Yonkers with a condition win at Pocono on Sunday night in the slop in 1:56:2; and Karets (George Napolitano Jr., James Cosenza), who powered to a condition win on Monday in 1:53:4, the fastest trotting time posted this week at Pocono.   LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: SHADY CITY A flying rally in the passing lane gave this condition pacer driven by Larry Stalbaum a victory on Saturday night at 24-1, good for a $51.40 payout on a $2 win ticket.   DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY NAPOLITANO A-Nap certainly enjoyed the double-header schedule on Saturday, as he picked up four driving victories in both the afternoon and evening cards.   TRAINER OF THE WEEK: TODD BUTER The Buter barn seems to have an endless supply of excellent trotters of all ages, as evidenced by Todd's wins with Two AM and Rich And Miserable on Sunday night. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.    Jim Beviglia

We enjoyed quite the busy week of harness racing action at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. High winds and slanting rains, Bobby Weiss Series action heating up, the fastest pacing time of the young season, and a 70-1 shot winning: All of it was part of the rich tapestry. Let's take a look back at all the wildness by handing out some Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: TURBO HILL In the three-and-four-year-old male pacers division of the Bobby Weiss series, it's hard to argue against this one as the class of the group. Yet he faced a situation on Saturday night where he wasn't favored in one of the races in the series. Hard to believe, considering that he came into the race on a five-race winning streak, two of which came at Pocono, and with a career record of seven wins in eight races for trainer and driver Hunter Oakes. Granted, Turbo Hill was a pretty prohibitive second choice at 4-5. Yet Sports Legend, who had won of three of four coming in, including a division of the Weiss in the first leg of the series, went off as the 3-5 choice. Leaving from post position #3 in a field of seven, it was Turbo Hill who got the jump, taking the lead over Sports Legend on the front stretch. And, with no pressure on the outside, Oakes was able to rate the pace in his horse's favor. At the top of the stretch, the race was pretty much a two-horse dance between the top two choices. Even though Sports Legend was attached to Turbo Hill at the top of the stretch, he couldn't gain through the lane. Instead, Turbo Hill, a four-year-old stallion, solidified his lead and came home a winner in a swift 1:51:2, 1 ¼ lengths in front of Sports Legend. These two might meet again in the final a few weeks hence, but, for now, Turbo Hill owns bragging rights. Other top pacers this week include: Hitman Hill (Hunter Oakes, Chris Oakes), who tore it up for a condition victory on Saturday night in 1:50:1, the fastest pacing time of the season to date at Pocono; Soho Wallstreet A (Pat Berry, Scott DiDomenico), who handled a top field in Saturday night's featured condition pace in 1:50:3; and Major Bucks (Anthony Napolitano, William Adamczyk), who rose up the condition ladder to score his second straight win on Saturday night, this one coming in 1:51:3.   TROTTEER OF THE WEEK: HANKS TANK Sunday night brought our first off-track of the season. Heavy winds battered the horses and slanting rain poured over the track, making it a night that wasn't for the faint of heart. It also benefitted those who were able to get to the early lead, as horses coming from off the pace struggled to make up ground all night long. Hanks Tank, therefore, didn't seem to mind the conditions at all, as they very much suited his racing style. A six-year-old gelding trained by Rob Harmon, Hanks Tank was coming off a win in his previous start on April 7 in 1:55:3. He won that race on the front end, and, with Jim Morrill Jr. in the bike, attempted the same kind of trip on Sunday night as he moved up in class to face the $11,000 condition group. The gelding went off as the 9-2 second choice, but he was the one sitting on the engine after winning an early speed duel with Very Very Fast. Hanks Tank then opened up a sizable advantage on the back stretch, as the rest of the field labored to get close to him. When the stretch arrived, Morrill no longer had to ask anything of his horse, and Hanks Tank was able to coast home a comfortable two-length victor. His second straight win came in a time of 1:56, which wasn't bad at all considering the sloppy track. Hanks Tank seems built for the weather, whatever it might be, when his form is as fine as it is right now. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: Fire'N Woodshed (Eric Carlson, Kerry Welty), who moved to two-for-two in his career by winning a second straight condition win at Pocono on Monday, matching his debut's winning time of 1:56:3 in the process; Tyson (Andrew McCarthy, Edwin Gannon Jr.), who picked up his first win of the year in Sunday night's featured condition trot, posting a 1:55:1 mile in the slop; and Thisguyisonfire (Andrew McCarthy, Christopher Lakata), who followed up a win at Chester by scoring a condition victory on Sunday night in 1:54:3 in the slop.   LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: LEAN ON YOU This condition pacer avoided trouble caused by a breaking horse in front of him on Saturday night and, with Jim Taggart Jr. in the bike, won at 70-1, paying off $143.40 for a $2 win ticket.   DRIVER OF THE WEEK: SIMON ALLARD Simon is once again perched high in the drivers' standings at Pocono, and this week was a big one for him, with multiple wins on each card and a four-bagger on Monday.   TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JOSE GODINEZ Godinez wasted no time getting in the groove on Monday afternoon, sweeping the early Daily Double with pacers Don'tcallmefrancis and Hot Seat. That will do it for this week, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.   Jim Beviglia

WILKES-BARRE PA - The American Ideal harness racing mare Sally Fletcher A, who had had several close finishes without victory over half-mile tracks recently, refound her winning ways upon coming to The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, winning the $14,000 distaff pacing feature in 1:53 on the Tuesday twilight card. Driver Anthony Napolitano opted on finding late luck with the even-money favorite as he kept her third along the inside most of the way. Opportunity came knocking when the second-over horse gapped on the turn, with Sally Fletcher A answering the summons by swinging out and then wider turning for home. Despite bearing out even further in the lane, the Down Under mare had sufficient rally to catch the potential Pocono Pike pocket rocket Bye Bye Michelle by a length while raising her bankroll to $340,247 for trainer Jose Godinez and the Blindswitch Racing Stable. Among the many horses on the Tuesday card prepping for the upcoming Weiss Series, the Sportswriter sophomore miss Girl's Got Rhythm was perhaps the most impressive, setting a North American season's record of 1:53 in her career debut. Hot-driving Tyler Buter settled the John Cummins-owned filly in the two hole behind a strong pacesetter (and fellow Weiss eligible) As Time Goes By, then came on in the lane to wear down the pacesetter by ¾ of a length on the money, reflecting some of her pedigree - her third dam was the dam of the fabled Jenna's Beach Boy. Trixar certainly also had breeding in his corner - an altered sophomore son of Trixton out of the $400G+-winning Spice Queen - but it took him until his 14th career start to put it all together, proving most photogenic in a bang-bang-bang finish over fellow Weiss eligibles Oceanato Hanover and Massive Vodka in 2:00, despite being out every step of the trotting mile. The betting public had lost hope on the fashionably-bred three-year-old, co-owned by trainer/driver Bill "Moon" Mullin along with Howard Taylor, as he lit up the tote board with a $166.80 win payoff.   PHHA / Pocono Jerry Connors

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