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NLG Racing Stable's Nocturnal Blue Chip (George Napolitano Jr) went gate-to-wire in Sunday's featured event at Harrah's Philadelphia on Sunday (June 17th), a pace for non-winners of $22,500 in their last 5 starts going for a purse of $18,000. Starting from post one, the 5-year-old gelded son of Bettor's Delight made an uncontested lead, setting fractions of :27.1, :55.3, and 1:23.1, The Gareth Dowse trainee had to withstand a first over push from Christen Me N (Tim Tetrick), but was able to turn back the challenge en-route to a one length win in a time of 1:50.4. Christen Me N was second, while Makasi (Pat Lachance) rallied for third. It was the 12th career win for Nocturnal Blue Chip, his 5th of the season. He's won 3 of his last 4. The gelding triggered a Jackpot Hi-5 payoff of $250.86, which now has a carryover of $501.75 headed into Wednesday's program. by Michael Bozich, for Harrah's Philadelphia

WILKES-BARRE PA - The 2017 Pacer of the Year at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Maxdaddy Blue Chip, visited the Downs winners circle for the first time in 2018, unleashing his patented late charge to capture the $21,500 feature on Saturday night. The 4-5 favored Sportswriter gelding was well-positioned second-over by driver Simon Allard, then started his surge three-wide midturn and carried it to the wire, which he reached ¾ of a length ahead of Waikiki Beach A. Maxdaddy Blue Chip is trained by Simon's brother and the meet's leading conditioner, Rene Allard, for Allard Racing Inc., Alycon Stable, How's That Stables Inc., and VIP Internet Stables LLC. The track's leading driver, George Napolitano Jr., was honored in the Pocono winners circle early in the evening for earning career driving victory #9000 on Monday night, making him only the 21st North American member of that exclusive club. Then "George Nap" went out and showed he was in a hurry to get to 10,000, scoring eight times on the card, including in the $18,000 claiming handicap pacing feature with the red-hot Major Trick, a gelded son of Art Major who made two speed moves in searing early fractions of 26.2 and 53.4, opened a big lead to the 1:21.4 ¾ pole, then stayed clear by 1¾ lengths to the wire in 1:50.1. The winner of $339,088, a five-time winner in his last six starts, is trained by Hunter Oakes for owner Omar Beiler. Napolitano also won the fastest mile of the night, a 1:48.4 triumph with the world champion (OPG-hmt) Scott Rocks. Finally, Walks Of Life, who was a gallant second while trying to increase his North American-leading 2018 win total to 14, will be doing something that he hasn't done since March 24 - returning to the same barn from which he started the night, in this case that of Team Allard. The tough claimer had been taken from his 12 previous starts, but attracted no claims tonight, and thus that streak is halted one shy of what is believed to be the longest series of a horse being claimed, the 13 purchases transacted for R Gauwitz Hanover in 2015. (But thirteen other horses were claimed on the Saturday card, with $223,750 changing hands.) From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

It was a great week for all of horse racing with the stupendous Triple Crown-winning performance by Justify in The Belmont Stakes. That kind of thing reminds everyone what special athletes these horses are, and we at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono are privileged to get to see them do their thing up close and personal four nights a week. We see great performances on the regular, and the best of those from this past week get the spotlight as we hand out the Weekly Awards. PACER OF THE WEEK: MAJOR TRICK In many cases, the horses that take home the Weekly Awards are those who are in the midst of winning streaks. Yet in the case of Major Trick, his previous race to his start on Saturday night in a $30,000 to $40,000 claiming handicap pace was a loss by a half-length in third to Eastend Eddie. That loss snapped a string of three consecutive wins for the seven-year-old gelding. Major Trick, a popular claiming commodity even at the high price, rejoined the barn of trainer Hunter Oakes in his Saturday night attempt to atone for the loss. Leaving from post position #4 in a field of nine as a 6-5 betting favorite, Major Trick sat third early in the mile. A speed duel materialized in front of him, and the fractions spiraled quickly out of control. Sensing that the leaders were tiring, driver George Napolitano Jr. sent Major Trick for a quick first-over move on the back stretch, and he was on the lead in just a matter of moments. But it also made him a target for the closers, especially considering how close he had been to the blistering pace. In the stretch, both Our Dragon King and Our Regal Ideal were closing with a head of steam. But Major Trick showed himself to be none the worse for wear, closing strong to hold of Our Dragon King by a half-length. The proof of his excellence was in the winning time of 1:49.4, which established a new career mark. Major Trick has now won four of his last five races, and it seems like another prolonged winning streak could be starting right after the one that was just broken. Other top pacers this week include: Unbeamlievable (George Napolitano Jr., Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who followed up a win at Harrah's with a victory in Monday night's featured claiming handicap for mares in 1:53.4; Boston Red Rocks (Anthony Napolitano, Jake Leamon), whose condition win on Saturday night came in 1:48.4, fastest time of the 2018 meet to date; and Mach It So (George Napolitano Jr., Jeffrey Bamond Jr.), who came up victorious in the Great Northeast Open series on Saturday night as an 11-1 shot in 1:49.3. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: OSTRICH BLUE CHIP For handicapping purposes, there were a couple of red flags that might have dissuaded you from putting your money on Ostrich Blue Chip on Saturday night. On the one hand, the four-year-old mare from the Rene Allard barn was coming off a sharp win on May 28 at Pocono in 1:54.3. But the negatives for her condition trot on Saturday night included the fact that she would be leaving from the difficult #9 post and would be jumping a few rungs on the condition ladder to face the $14,000 group. But the mare was driven by Simon Allard as if she was the no-doubt favorite and not a 6-1 third choice, which was the reality of the situation. She quickly hustled to the front end from the outside post in a rapid :26.4 for the opening quarter. That made it seem like she would be vulnerable, and, indeed, the favorite TSM Photo Bugger came brushing up on the back stretch to challenge. But when he reached Ostrich Blue Chip, she accelerated again and left him hanging on the outside. From there, it was just a matter of sealing the deal, and Ostrich Blue Chip was able to do that with aplomb. She withstood yet another charge from the game TSM Photo Bugger at the end of the mile, coming home three-quarters of a length in front. The winning time of 1:53.1 was a new career-best and also the fastest trotting time posted at Pocono this week. For all of those red flags, Ostrich Blue Chip was the one who took home the green, as in the winner's share of the $14,000 purse. Honorable mention on the trotting side goes to: LMC Mass Gem (Simon Allard, Rene Allard), who moved up in class to capture Sunday night's featured condition trot, winning in 1:56.3 in the slop for his second straight victory; Skates N Plates (Anthony Napolitano, Andrew Harris), who stepped up the condition ladder to pick up his second straight win on Monday night, this one coming in 1:55.4; and Manchego, the three-year-old filly superstar who stayed perfect, two for two this year and 14 for 14 lifetime, with a Pennsylvania All-Stars victory on Tuesday night in 1:52.4, matching her career mark. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: HIGHLAND DYNAMITE Dynamite, indeed: This trotting filly, with Simon Allard driving, pulled a stunner in Pennsylvania All-Stars action Tuesday night, winning at approximately 124-1 to pay off $250.80 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: GEORGE NAPOLITANO JR. The milestones just keep on coming for Pocono's 10-time driving champion, as his win on Monday night with Myidealson N was the 9,000th driving victory of his illustrious career. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: JENNIFER LAPPE Lappe sent out a pair of New Zealand-bred winners on Saturday night, each of whom managed a new career-best with their victory: Motown N in 1:50.1 and Seel The Deal N in 1:51.1. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at by Jim Bevigilia, for Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE PA - Unbeamlieveable, the winningest two-year-old pacing filly in North America in 2015 and tying for her divisional lead in 2016, has continued her winning ways into her older form, taking Monday's $14,000 distaff pacing feature at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in 1:53.4. The track's top driver, George Napolitano Jr., quarter-moved with the daughter of Moon Beam, rated the half and controlled the pace to the wire, seeing off the stretch move of pocketsitter LK's Nancy Lee by a length. Unbeamlieveable's 39th career victory raised her lifetime earnings to $195,652, and she's now 2-for-2 since teaming with owner Gilbert Garcia-Owen and trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera. FINISHING LINES - Undefeated champion filly Manchego returns to the races tomorrow (Tuesday) at Pocono in one of four $30,000 divisions of the Pennsylvania All-Stars event for three-year-old trotting misses, starting from post seven for driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Jimmy Takter. The All-Stars event has drawn many other nice sophomore fillies, including four other Pennsylvania Sire Stakes winners in 2018, winners in two divisions of the Currier and Ives Filly Trot, and perhaps Manchego's toughest opponent of 2017, Phaetosive, who came within ¾ of a length of her at the finish of last season's Peaceful Way Final. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE PA - All the bettors' attention was focused on Rodeo Romeo and Rockeyed Optimist, 1-2 in the Great Northeast Open Series pacing standings and 1-2 at the post draw, but Mach It So, a winner here recently and still let go as the 11-1 third choice, set the pace and held off Rodeo Romeo by a head to win a $30,000 Great Northeast event at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Saturday night. George Napolitano Jr., with five winners on the Pocono card joining the two he had at Philly this afternoon, gunned the Mach Three gelding at the start and easily beat 13 to the eighth to seat everyone behind him, with Rodeo Romeo in the pocket at the 26.1 quarter. Favored Rockeyed Optimist started uncovered nearing the 55.2 half, but Mach It So had had a nice breather in quarter two and restarted the jets, blunting the first-over's bid by reaching the  in 1:22. But Rodeo Romeo was still right there, and pulling out in the stretch he inched ever-closer to the leader. But the winner of $2,593,675 lifetime showed his heart was still in the right place at age 8, holding off the potential pocket rocket by a head for trainer Jeff Bamond Jr. and Bamond Racing LLC. The $21,500 conditioned co-feature resulted in the fastest mile of the year on a 5/8-mile track (unless it was beaten elsewhere Saturday night), as 2015 freshman champion Boston Red Rocks followed cover behind wicked fractions , then stormed home (last quarter 26.3) to stop the timer in 1:48.2 in turning back Scott Rocks by 1¼ lengths. The son of Rocknroll Hanover, now with a bankroll of $1,370,016, took a career mark with the impressive victory for driver Anthony Napolitano, trainer Jake Leamon, and owners Peter Blood and Rick Berks. In the $20,000 claiming handicap pace, "George Nap" and trainer Hunter Oakes combined for their second joint win on the night, this with the Art Major gelding Major Trick in a career best 1:49.4. Oakes had had the horse for three straight wins, lost him via claim, took him right back, and immediately started the winner of $330,098 back on the winning track for owner Omar Beiler. This was the last claiming event of the night; in all, 14 horses changed hands via the claim box, totaling $261,750 and bringing Pocono's two-week money exchange amount to $514,250 - just on the two Saturdays. Finally, Walks Of Life remains the winningest horse in North America in 2018 with 13 visits to Victory Lane, and Saturday he was claimed for the 12th straight time, his fourth stay with Team Allard and approaching the local "record" of 13 straight claims put up by R Gauwitz Hanover in 2015. Alas, the hard campaign might be catching up to him, as he set the pace as is customary, but had nothing left in the stretch and finished out of the money - the first time he hasn't been 1-2 since March 10, and the first time he didn't hit the board in 21 starts this year. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs    

CHESTER PA - It may have been 117 days since driver George Napolitano Jr. and harness racing trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera were crowned tops in their respective categories for 2017 at Harrah's Philadelphia, but on Friday's opening card of the 2018 season, the duo showed "no signs of a layoff," combining to win the two featured races as an evening session kicked off the year at the suburban Philadelphia track. In the $18,000 featured pace for distaffs, Napolitano and Garcia-Herrera combined with the Gotta Go Cullect mare Taketothesky N as the Kiwi import took a North American mark of 1:53. "George Nap" had the mare well-placed behind live cover, then tipped her wide and came from fifth at the stretch call, despite a good-sized wind up the lane, to catch pacesetting Juxta Cowgirl for owner/trainer Garcia-Herrera. Trainer Garcia-Herrera is also the owner of the Sportswriter mare Windy Sport, whom Napolitano moved to the lead at the quarter, then urged home to withstand the late burst of Lil Miss Gorgeous in 1:52.3 to take the $16,000 co-featured pace. Both feature winners scored by a half-length. The next card at Harrah's Philadelphia comes on Sunday at 12:40, when race 9 will feature former North America Cup champion Wakizashi Hanover and the streaking Awesomeness, winner of two straight and four of his last six, trying to overcome their assigned outermost posts in a $22,500 winners-over handicap pace. Until Labor Day this year, Harrah's Philadelphia's basic schedule will be Wednesday - Thursday - Friday at 12:25 p.m., with Sunday action set for a post of 12:40 p.m. PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

The curtain fell on the 150 day harness racing meet at Harrah's Philadelphia on Sunday, December 17, 2017. Gilbert Garcia-Herrera was the leading trainer at the meet. Herrera had 111 wins in 395 starts for a UDRS of .419, and purse earnings of $1,070,569. Ron Burke, who led the meet in purse earnings with $1,518,484, was second with 97 wins on the season. Driver George Napolitano Jr won his record 12th dashwinning title, once again winning the titles at both Harrah's Philly and The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Napolitano had 316 wins of 1,376 starts for a UDRS of .367, and purse earnings of $3,243,110. Tim Tetrick, who had the most total purse earnings on the meet ($3,494,086) finished second with 274 wins. Harrah's Philadelphia would like to thank the horsemen and women for an exciting 2017, and wish everyone a happy and safe Holiday Season. Michael Bozich

Driver George Napolitano Jr had seven wins on the harness racing program on Thursday (Dec. 7) at Harrah's Philadelphia. Six of which were trained by Gilbert Garcia-Herrera. Napolitano, who is on his way to another Harrah's Philadelphia driving title, has 308 wins on the meet and over $3 million in purses. Tim Tetrick, who had 7 driving wins on last Wednesday's card, is a clear second in the drivers standings with 271 wins and over $3.4 million. Trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera has 110 training wins, 19 more than Ron Burke who has 91. Garcia-Herrera has over $1 million earned in purses at the meet. Michael Bozich

WILKES-BARRE PA - Three Of Clubs, a son of Mach Three who was claimed for $30,000 at Yonkers by harness racing trainer Matias Ruiz and co-owner Daniel DeJohn on September 22, continued his incredible run of form upon coming to The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, taking a new mark for driver George Napolitano Jr. of 1:50.1 in the $25,000 handicap pace. Three Of Clubs hustled right out to the lead and led at every pole, going under the wire a length clear of pocketsitter Si Semalu, with favored $1.9M-winner Bit Of A Legend having to go the rough tuck then first-over journey, reporting home third. In seven starts for Ruiz and De John, Three Of Clubs has posted a 7-4-2-1 record, good for $69,830 - a sizable and quick return on investment. Maxdaddy Blue Chip finished fourth in the feature after starting from post eight and coming from last at the ¾ pole. Maxdaddy Blue Chip was voted Pacer of the Year at Pocono, and he took a turn in the spotlight to receive that honor. Also in the final night spotlight was George Napolitano Jr., who won his record eleventh dashwinning title and sixth consecutive local crown. The leading driver at Philly and second to the long-gone Aaron Merriman in the North American standings, Napolitano wound up with 287 visits to the Hanover Shoe Farm's winners circle during 2017, including five on closing night. Simon Allard (213) held off Jim Marohn Jr. (211) after a rock-em-sock-em late-season battle to finish second, with Matt Kakaley (191) and Anthony Napolitano (174, four wins closing night) completing the drivers top five. The local UDR belt went to veteran Swedish horseman Ãke Svanstedt, who mixed stakes performers with developing overnight stock to post a .419 "batting average." Rene Allard won his fourth training victory title in the last five years at The Downs, winding up with 151 success to top Ron Burke (114, five closing night including three handled by "Anthony Nap") and Gil Garcia-Herrera (56). PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Jereme's Jet gelding Alta Jerome N, who won his last start at Yonkers, shipped back to the "home track" of his harness racing trainer Chris Oakes and promptly made it two in a row, taking the $20,000 featured conditioned pace Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in 1:50.3. Top driver George Napolitano Jr., noted for his aggressive steering of horses, played a well-timed waiting game in the feature, sitting just behind pacesetting favorite Bushwacker, who led through early splits of 25.4 and 55.1, and Archangel Three, who popped the pocket to challenge the leader in a huge third quarter, with the third marker reached in 1:22. "George Nap" kept his pacer to the inside, ducked into the famed Pocono Pike, and went on to get a half-length decision over Bushwacker while equaling his lifetime best (North American, anyway). Alta Jerome N went over the quarter-million dollar lifetime earnings plateau for Northfork Racing Stable and Sam Dalia. On a generally-bad night for chalk at Pocono, two favored horses owned at least in part by the VIP Internet Stable LLC won the $16,500 co-featured paces, with both cuts going faster than the feature event. First out, in the very first race, was the Four Starzzz Shark gelding Allstar Partner, who never looked back for driver Anthony Napolitano while lowering his lifetime mark over two seconds to 1:49. Andrew Harris trains the winner $543,126, and VIP owns him outright. In the other feature, the Sportswriter gelding Maxdaddy Blue Chip was a pocket rocket, getting home first in 1:50 for the brother team of driver Simon Allard and trainer Rene Allard. The late-developing speedster is co-owned by VIP with Allard Racing Inc., Alycon Stable, and How's That Stables Inc. PHHA / Pocono

 WILKES-BARRE PA - George Napolitano Jr., driving the favorite, went wire-to-wire in both $18,000 featured races Sunday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, in both cases holding off a late charge by a harness racing longshot driven by his brother Anthony in what would be an outstanding day for the Napolitano boys. The Credit Winner trotting mare Earn Your Wings finally broke through with a victory after being a beaten favorite in her last three starts, going wire-to-wire in 1:55.1 for "George Nap." 36-1 proposition Ridgeway Springs and "Anthony Nap" used the rail well to get a pocket trip behind a chalk, but their late charge came up a length shy of Earn Your Wings, who has earnings of $295,580 for trainer Anette Lorentzon and the SRF Stable. In the companion featured pace, the Somebeachsomewhere colt Photobombr Hanover followed up on a win in the Keystone Classic in his last start by making every pole a winning one against his Sunday opposition, triumphing in 1:51.4. Photobombr Hanover and "GNap" got a 56.3 stroll to the half, then tacked on successive 27.3 quarters for driver George Napolitano Jr. to defeat 20-1 Braley Hanover and "ANap" by 1¼ lengths while running his earnings to $154,397 for trainer Tom Fanning and the ownership combine of Fanning Racing LLC (this is half of that stable), Howard Taylor (who has a few more horses than that), and Susan Kajfasz. The two feature wins, added to another Pocono victory, blended nicely with the five wins George Napolitano Jr. had put up during the afternoon card at Harrah's Philadelphia, and the former national dash champion is now just one wins behind second-place Jason Bartlett, trailing the indefatigable 1000-win candidate Aaron Merriman. Despite coming up shy in these marquee events, Anthony Napolitano visited Pocono's Victory Lane six times himself on Sunday - 14 wins on the day for the brothers. FINISHING LINES - There are no official records on this sort of occurrence, but Pocono-based trainer John Butenschoen must have set some kind of new standard this (Sunday) afternoon when he sent out three stakes winners - within 21 minutes! The Butenschoen Trifecta started at Harrah's Philly when Paprike Blue Chip won a division of the Simpson freshman colt pace at 3:49 p.m. 14 minutes (and 623 miles west-southwest) afterwards, Dover Dan beat some of the sport's best three-year-old male trotters in a division of the Bluegrass Stake at Kentucky's famous Red Mile. And seven minutes after that big win, freshman colt trotter Scirocco Rob took a division of his Simpson stake at Harrah's. Total haul for 21 minutes of work for Team Butenschoen -- $71,550, out of the $112,558 the stable won between stakes at the two tracks (11 starters, 3 wins, 2 seconds, a third, and 10 checkgetters). ... And all three horses in this "Trifecta" had won earlier in the year at Pocono. PHHA / Pocono  

WILKES-BARRE PA --- Luck Be Withyou has been in love with the red clay surface of The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono for going on four years now, and the harness racing six-year-old son of Western Ideal continues to show no sign of passing ardor, winning Saturday $25,000 winner-over handicap pace in 1:48.4, with the 2015 Franklin Final winner holding off the 2017 Franklin champion Keystone Velocity by a nose. George Napolitano Jr. hustled Luck Be Withyou away quickly from the outermost post seven (he and Keystone Velocity had shaken for the two outside starting spots), and with George's brother Anthony hustling Polak A away at high speed to grab the two-hole, Keystone Velocity was guided into third early by Simon Allard as Luck Be Withyou posted "leisurely" fractions of 26.3 and 55.1. The pace quickened to a 27 rate during quarter three (1:22.1) - then quickened even further in the last panel, with Luck Be Withyou stepping his last fraction in 26.3. Keystone Velocity, three lengths out at the stretch call, flew up the Pocono Pike (a la his win over Mel Mara in this year's Franklin), but this night's rally came up a nose shy, with Polak A a good third. The win was the 16th in the 25-start career of "Luck" at Pocono, which began when he won his Breeders Crown event here at two, and has continued to the point that he has taken his seasonal mark here all five of his racing years, including his 1:47.4 speed badge last year. Trained by Chris Oakes, Luck Be Withyou has now amassed $1,439,791 for owner John Craig, with his Pocono plunder alone approaching three-quarters of a million. You don't often associate North American leading trainer Ron Burke with the word "longshot," but Burke led the local conditioners colony here last year with four $50+ wins, and exactly 4 hours and 45 minutes after his Check Six posted a $77.00 upset in the Sam McKee Pace on Hambletonian Day, Mach On The Beach, another Burke trainee, crossed the wire first at Pocono to return $73.40. Two-year-old colt pacers take to the Downs' oval for the next two nights in the third preliminary leg of the Pennsylvania-sired series, with Stallion Series horses going in five cuts on Sunday and Sire Stakes stock, including the exciting Done Well, in three divisions Sunday. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - Characteristic driving tactics by the two leading harness racing drivers at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono - George Napolitano Jr. and Simon Allard - were directly responsible for the success of their charges in the features at the mountain track Sunday night. Racing secretary Rick Kane carded a 5/8-mile dash, and in it the two inside horses left on the boil, forcing Napolitano and his charge, favored UF Larry Alltheway, to tuck third. "George Nap" is noted for making "quarter-moves" en route to Pocono victories, and here again he pulled out after a quarter of a mile - only in this sprint the "quarter pole" was in the middle of the backstretch. The pair went up to challenge to 48-1 pacesetter Happy New Year (Tom Jackson), who had used track geometry to the max to leave from the rail and set fractions of 27.3 and 55.1, but the Dragon Again gelding UF Larry Alltheway, trained by Mark Ford for Up Front Racing LLC, gradually wore Happy Andyversary down under Napolitano rocking and urging to win by a length. The timer rested at 1:09.3 for the sprint, playing "Taps" to the oldest track record on the Pocono books, the 1:14.3 posted by the well-remembered Lieut Harkie back in 1979. Ironically, at the microphone for the Lieutenant's record effort way back when was Saul Needle - whom Kane succeeded as Pocono race secretary upon Needle's retirement after the 2010 racing season. This year Simon Allard's driving has been notable for his "pulling out" with horses early, with his ability to produce and carry speed yielding better results than one might expect for a horse two-wide or more for so long. This style was exemplified in the $20,000 featured trot, when Allard got away seventh with 22-1 Tirade Hanover, then pulled him at the quarter and revved him up to go frontward -- even with a dislodged left headpole! On the lead after a 27 quarter was 2-5 shot Opulent Yankee (Andy Miller), fresh from a 1:51.4 divisional track record mile at Philly, but Allard got Tirade Hanover right by the chalk and to the front before the 55.4 half, probably coming his own second quarter in the mid-27s. From there the victorious Crazed gelding was in charge, reaching the ¾ pole in 1:24, and then resisting a Pocono Pike charge by Opulent Yankee to win by 1¾ lengths in 1:52.4. The winner of $809,956 is owned by Allard Racing Inc., Yves Sarrazin, and VIP Internet Stable LLC, and while it certainly is not our place to give any advice to Rene Allard, Tirade Hanover's trainer and second-leading trainer in North America - based on the evidence of this race, he might want to experiment with leaving that left headpole off. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA -- George Napolitano Jr., the leading harness racing driver at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and the pilot of favored Theartofconfusion A in that track's $20,000 pacing feature Saturday, got away from the gate with a very simple, non-confusing plan: keep going until getting the top, and then improve position from there.   And George Nap followed the plan to perfection, guiding the altered son of Riverboat King to the front going under the wire the first time, and then widening his lead to four lengths the next time they passed that point, at the finish of his 1:49.3 victory, a time which lowered his lifetime best by a fifth. The winner of $263,088, owned by Gilbert Garcia-Herrera in partnership with Barbara and Donald Amestime, is perfect in Pennsylvania since entering Garcia-Herrera's care four starts back, following up on a Philly win with this Pocono triumph.   The oldest track record on the Pocono books, the 1:14.3 clocking by Lieut Harkie for 5/8 of a mile, posted in 1979, seems almost sure to fall Sunday night as the mountain oval cards a rare race at the oncearound distance. The world record of 1:08.1 would be ambitious, but does not seem impossible.   PHHA  

WILKES-BARRE PA – Always At My Place, a six-year-old gelding by Always A Virgin who set a still-standing world record for his division with a 1:47.2 victory on Sun Stakes Saturday 2015, took Saturday night’s $20,000 harness racing pacing feature at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in a 1:48.2 effort that may have approximated his record mile, as it was conducted over a track rated “sloppy +1.” George Napolitano Jr. placed Always At My Place in the “quarter-mover #2” position, tailing El Bloombito’s move to take away the lead from first-to-the-top Long Live Rock after the 26.2 opener. Once El Bloombito cleared, Always At My Place steamed by, putting up middle splits of 53.4 and 1:21.1, then coming home in 27.1 and looking like he could have gone around again as he won by 4½ lengths. Ron Burke conditions the winner of $642,022 for Burke Racing LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Lawrence Karr, and Phil Collura. Top trot on the soggy card was a $16,500 contest, with “George Nap” completing a sweep of the high-level conditioned events with the SJ’s Photo gelding TSM Photo Bugger, who raised his earnings to $688,038 with a 1:54 score. After sitting a pocket trip behind a fast (1:24.4) pace, TSM Photo Bugger trotted to the top then held off Panana Republic for trainer Karen Fread and owner Theodore Tomson. Kevin Wallis, fifth on the list of active all-time winningest drivers (if you count Campbell and Lachance retired), added career victory 10,152 when he guided Dynamic Edge to victory as the biggest longshot of the night, helping him become a pocket rocket while paying $56.40 to win. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA – Some nifty steering by the harness racing track’s leading driver, George Napolitano Jr., put Ginger Tree Cash in position to take a ¾-length victory over Geez Joe in an $18,000 pacing feature Sunday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Napolitano got away third with the altered son of Yankee Cruiser, sitting behind Voracity’s posting of big first half numbers – 26.1 and 54. When pocketsitter OK Icon gave way down the backstretch, “GNap” guided his horse into the two-hole, quickly made up ground on Voracity past the 1:21.2 ¾ pole and passed him by the stretch call, then held off the late burst of Geez Joe, who had tailed him throughout, in 1:49.3, a new personal record. Ginger Tree Crash is trained by frequent Pennsylvania-Ohio commuter Mike Dowdall for owner Keith Pippi.   In the $18,000 trotting co-feature, Honor And Serve showed he seems to be approaching fine form as he made the lead past the quarter, then came home in 56.2 to be a three length winner in 1:53.2 for driver Jim Marohn Jr. The son of Donato Hanover had won almost $290,000 by the end of his three-year-old season, but he has been lightly raced the last two campaigns, and this was his first win of 2017 – but off his strong performance for trainer Åke Svanstedt and owners Howard and Judith Taylor and the Order By Stable, it is likely there will be more victories in the near future.   Two-year-old trotting fillies will be in full effect in Pennsylvania stakes action the next two nights at Pocono: Monday brings seven divisions of the Stallion Series, while five divisions of the Sire Stakes will close out the week at The Downs Tuesday.   PHHA / Pocono

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