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That throne is a series of uncomfortable bucket seats along a back wall of the paddock by the first gate at the Harrah’s Philadelphia harness racing track in Chester. As reported by Philadelphia Weekly. Taking a long pull of a giant vape pen, Napolitano exhales a plume of smoke so thick his weathered face completely disappears. When it returns to focus, his head is buried in a racing program, checking once more where he’ll be placed – and on what horse – in just 18 minutes time. Unless you’re familiar with the high stakes sport of harness racing, you’d never know that sitting alone in that corner is one of the winningest drivers in the history of the sport. A world champion, who at his peak pocketed over $8 million in his first half of his career. He’s the driver other drivers emulate. He’s the name on the program that even if he’s riding a long shot, you bet on it. Not because it’ll automatically win, but because with Napolitano on that horse, you’ve got a fighting chance. Bettors know it, and other drivers especially know it. It’s one of the reasons Napolitano is respected, even if he isn’t always well liked. See, in the high prized world of harness racing, everyone is an independent contractor of sorts. In each race, a hefty 5 percent split of a five- or six-figure purse for drivers who finish 1-2-3 serves as supreme motivation. Even on this day as he waits patiently, Napolitano has a chance to clean up at Harrah’s as trainers have him on a horse in every race. “He’s the guy,” said Harrah’s racing official Joe Auger. “He’s one of the best drivers in the world and he knows how to be among the top in almost every race. That’s why his name in a [racing program] gets anyone who knows anything about harness excited. We’re lucky to have a guy like that racing here.” Tim Tetrick, left, another one of harness racing's best is one of Napolitano's fiercest rivals – and friends in the business, "He's a warrior. This guy right here keeps me on my toes." | Image: Kerith Gabriel Even now, Napolitano is atop the leaderboard among drivers at Harrah’s for most starts, wins and purses this season, chasing a 5 percent split of nearly $2.7 million at the time we met for this story. It’s a sport that has given Napolitano so much. But it’s also one that robbed him of his identity. An identity that nearly killed him. ‘God, if you’re real, I could really use you right now’ In the mid-2000s, Pompano Park and Pocono Downs were playgrounds for Napolitano. In 2006, he led all drivers at the latter with 312 wins and over $1.7 million in prize monies. In one of the best years of his life professionally, Napolitano was also racing champion at Pompano both as a trainer and driver.  It wouldn’t be a cliche to at all to call it “riding high,” because that’s what Napolitano was doing – both on and off the track. But it would catch up with him. Both he and the horses he’d train would routinely test positive for banned substances, him for illegal drugs and his horses for enhancers. Champion harness driver George Napolitano waits patiently for his first race of the day at Harrah’s Philadelphia in Chester. Napolitano is the top driver at Harrah’s with over $2 million in purses so far. | Image: Kerith Gabriel It all came to a head the morning of May 7, 2007.  Dale Rapson, vice president of racing operations for Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, announced the driver, then known as “Georgie Nap,” was banned indefinitely from racing at Pocono on the heels of another suspension from the state racing board. A decision that ultimately blackballed him from the sport for more than a year. “I was suspended for so long, I had no choice but to turn my life around,” Napolitano recalled. “They took everything from me. I was lost man, I was absolutely lost. When they took [my license] from me, I was worthless. My wife left me and I was living in my car. I started using cocaine a lot harder, and I was on drugs that I couldn’t get off of. I was living on the streets, it was without question a really scary point in my life.” People in the sport could see Napolitano’s path was one that wasn’t going to end well. Before his redemption and ascension back into harness racing, the “old George” was admittedly, “a piece of shit.” He’d do whatever he had to do to win, and if another driver or trainer got in his way, watch out. “Oh yeah, I’ve clocked guys,” Napolitano said. “I’m probably one of the only drivers in this sport that has done suspension time for punching someone. That was the old George, and when I first started out I had this ego and a real bad temper. I was cocky, wasn’t very humble and if someone got in my way I’d crack the shit out of them.” It was his drug-induced me first, fuck you mentality that made Napolitano a pariah on many facets. It found his family distancing themselves early on despite his success, including his own kid brother, Anthony, who got into the family business of racing 15 years ago and is a top driver in his own right. Anthony will say he was always rooting for his brother to get his life together – but that it had to be from a distance. George, left, and his brother Anthony are the latest in the Napolitano family to carry on a long standing tradition of drivers and trainers in the harness racing game. | Image: Kerith Gabriel “We had to let Georgie figure his life out,” said Anthony, who explained the separation as he parked himself right next next to his brother in a bucket seat just before the third race at Harrah’s. “We are in a sport that when someone falls it’s natural to talk badly about each other, but in the end, who is the best will show up time and time again. My brother put himself through the ringer, but there was no one happier for him than me to see him get his life together and come back and be a rising star for the last 10 years at the two toughest tracks in the country. He’s fought his way back.” It was only after his wife left and on a day in which Napolitano described as a “drug-fueled rampage,” he remembered what a friend told him. “I saw a friend who had gotten out of prison; he looked at me and said, ‘dude, you gotta turn to Jesus.’ I thought he was crazy,” said Napolitano. “One day I went on a rampage with the drugs and drinking and was out of control. I remembered what he said and I got down on the ground and said, ‘God, if you’re real, I could really use you, right now.’ I mean you have to remember man, that before all of this, I was the winningest driver and a champion and all of a sudden it was just gone.” Napolitano went to rehab, but quickly left. Then he went back and stayed longer – and left. But each time, he learned something that kept him coming back. He was changing. A final stint in rehab saw the cocaine-fueled rage sessions cease. His drinking slowed. Family started coming back into the fold. His wife returned. And in that, Napolitano found a greater purpose. “I learned in that time that, like horses, life is a grind,” Napolitano said.  “If you let it get to you, if you aren’t mentally and physically sharp, it’ll eat you up and spit you right out.” ‘Everything is calculated now. Measured.’ Routine arguably has saved George Napolitano’s life. He does the same thing most days when he wakes up inside his West Chester home. He gets on his computer, checks the United States Trotting Association website to see where he’s placed or if there are any changes to his draws. Then it’s a series of calisthenics, stretches and a protein shake before he heads out the door to Harrah’s or a number of other area tracks.   George Napolitano equated the start of a harness race to being in a heavyweight boxing match. "It's like two champions getting ready to go at it. It's about as intense a feeling you'll ever get." | Image: Kerith Gabriel  Since his license has been fully restored, Napolitano has been on the circuit hard. Every day doesn’t find him at Harrah’s, as he could be at any track on any given day, even Pocono Downs, where his ban has been lifted and he’s returned as one of the top drivers. – You think George Napolitano has confidence? You bet he does...Talent isn't always enough. If you don't think you're great, you can't be great.” – Bob Pandolfo, columnist and handicapper for DRF Bets wrote in a May 2016 story on the Napolitano brothers. – However, he’ll tell you right away that with his support system minutes away, Harrah’s is home. Today, his faith and his family take precedent. He checks in with his wife, Kathy, who in spite of her decision to leave her husband at a time he arguably needed her most, Napolitano will attest that he couldn’t have gotten himself back without her tough love and support. He spends quality time with his son George, Jr. and routinely talks to his favorite trainers in the business in Gilbert Garcia and Chris Oaks. Monotony? Sure. But to stay regimented, it’s necessary. “I don’t live like that anymore and I don’t put myself in situations where I could be tempted to live like that,” said Napolitano. “I put Jesus first. I read my Bible, I look out for my family and I take things slowly. Everything is calculated now. Measured. Now it’s my faith, my family and my job. Where before, it was always my job.” The grind of horse racing and the toll it took on Napolitano’s life can be read across his face at first glance. But it’s something about the family business that keeps him coming back. Money, sure. That’s first and foremost, the Napolitano brothers aren’t hiding that. But there’s something more for George that is going to take a while for him to ever step away from. George Napolitano says his greatest high has always arrived from holding the reins of a great horse. | Image: Kerith Gabriel “The high I used to get doing drugs? I get that once the gate opens and I’m on a horse,” said Napolitano with a smile beamed across his weathered face. “Especially a great horse. When you get a good horse and you’re going down the stretch, you feel like you’re in a Ferrari, and you’re on cruise. They are beautiful animals and great horses make for great drivers. There’s a lot great drivers here that never get the opportunity to drive a great horse." And when it comes to one day calling it quits? "I’m gonna let Jesus tell me when it’s time to go," he adds. "I’m not giving it up yet. I was a true champion for a long time and I just want to feel that again. Right now, I’m enjoying life, and I know that sooner or later the torch has to be handed over, but it ain’t gonna be in the next couple of years. I’m still here to keep people on their toes.” Anthony pivots in his seat to look at his brother. “[George] can’t leave yet, he’s my motivation," Anthony said. "He’s got my back and I have his. It’s nice because we share the same qualities as far as appreciating the money that we make in this business...people call it a shadow, but I’m happy to be in that shadow. My brother fought his way back and he’s here now. I’m not No. 1, but at my track he’s my No. 1 and I’m No. 2 and I’m happy with that.” Reprinted with permission of The Philadelphia Weekly

CHESTER PA - The three-year-old Larry Karr upset older fast-class stock in the $18,000 pacing feature at Harrah's Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon, during the final card of the 2018 harness racing season, which saw many familiar faces - and one new one - resting atop the horsemen's statistical competitions. An altered son of A Rocknroll Dance, Larry Karr has now won three straight races, with his triumph in the final Philly feature of the season done "the hard way," going first-over. Favored Mach Pride had put up early splits of 28.3 and 57.3 over a "sloppy +1" track that seemed to get a little muckier as the day wore on, then had the winner come up to him at the 1:25.4. Through the stretch Larry Karr responded to the urging of Yannick Gingras, who had four successful drives on the getaway card, going past the pacesetter by ¾ of a length in 1:54.1, with pocketsitting Sevens Hope A another half-length back in third. The sophomore's human namesake, Lawrence Karr, is co-owner of the sharp pacer, who looks like he could do some damage in winter series (only $59,746 lifetime earnings), along with Frank Baldachino, Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Larry Karr's victory was one of three wins on the day for trainer Ron Burke, who picked up his seventh Harrah's training title, this season harnessing 130 winning charges. In the percentage competition, requiring one starter for a trainer every two cards, "Orange Crush" Julie Miller earned her first Harrah's laurel after a .479-.475 decision over Jim Campbell. Two very familiar names divided up the driving crowns. George Napolitano won his fifth consecutive Philly dash title, and his seventh overall, with a 271-252 edge over Tim Tetrick. Tetrick himself has won five sulky victory titles at Philly - and in the track's 13-year history, only Cat Manzi, who won the first driving crown, has put his name in this column other than this year's 1-2 finishers. In the UDR chase (one start per card minimum for drivers), Tetrick reversed the tables on Napolitano, posting a .356 UDR for the season vs. Napolitano's .348. "Timmy T" has now won three straight local UDR championships and seven overall here; George Nap has three, Yannick Gingras has two, and Cat Manzi also won the first UDR title here to close the very select roster of driving champions on the local scene. PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

The curtain rings down on the 2018 harness racing season here at Harrah's Philadelphia, with a very good card considering the numbers of tracks racing still. The tenth race feature goes for $18,000, with MACH PRIDE dropping down as he is coming in from Yonkers, and DREAM OF LUCK stepping up a notch after being second in that monster 1:50.1 mile last time out. Horses who could very well be constant factors in the top class next year, now "nw 5 horses," go for $16,000 in races seven and eleven. … Of course, there will be simulcasting here throughout the winter months, and we're already looking forward to seeing you back at the 5/8-mile oval for live racing in the early spring of 2019! 5th race: After noting that the #2, #3, #5, and #7 are not taking a full step down in class (look at the purses), we note that TUXEDO BAY is indeed stepping up two levels today -- but he looked so impressive in winning last time, coming home in 55.1 and hiding from his foes, we think he may be better than this upturned company, and look for him to repeat. 6th race: HALLIE'S COMET put in a pretty good mile last time, spotting early from an outside post, then having to go three-wide on the far turn and still missing only two lengths -- and now gets to drop in class here. Anything near the 12-1 early setting would be a very good price, and this pacer deserves respect in exotics with racing luck. 10th race: We're going to come right back with DREAM OF LUCK, who had a big victory upon coming here last time out, and then last time ran into a rejuvenated 1:50.1 buzzsaw named FEELING CAM LUCKY. This horse has been in very good form for Chris Height, and he may prove to be the horse to beat, even vs. the classdropping shipper MACH PRIDE. 13th race: For our last ANALYSIS horse of the year, we'll use the tried-and-true method of the  horse coming off a "lungclearer" -- CARTIER ZETTE had shown no recent inclination toward frontrunning, but then last time went 1:27.4 to the 3/4 before tiring. The speed-sharpening may have set him up for a winning mile today. WATCH OUT FOR: We congratulate the horsepeople who have earned top honors in the various season-long competitions. Both the win leaders have clinched their crowns -- George Napolitano Jr. (269 before today) on the drivers side, his seventh title and fifth in a row, and Ron Burke (127) on the training end, also his seventh Philly title. Julie Miller has a .479-.475 lead over Jim Campbell in the UTR (percentage) contest, and since neither has a horse in, Orange Crush Julie will take her first Harrah's title. Tim Tetrick has a .358-.349 lead over Napolitano in the UDR chase, so unless GNap gets about nine winners, Tetrick will also be on the top rung in that category for the seventh time at Philly. PHILLY'S FINEST Race 1   6-5-1-8 Race 2   3-5-4-1 Race 3   7-5-3-8 Race 4   3-6-2-4 Race 5   4-2-3-1-6 Race 6   3-2-5-1 Race 7   3-5-1-2 Race 8   5-2-1-4 Race 9   3-6-5-1 Race 10   5-4-1-3 Race 11   5-7-4-2 Race 12   3-1-4-7 Race 13   3-1-7-5 Race 14   1-2-6-5 SEE YOU FOR 2019 LIVE RACING!

CHESTER PA - Harness racing driver George Napolitano Jr. won five races on Friday afternoon at Harrah's Philadelphia, including four in a row late in the card, as he approaches his fifth straight dash title at the riverside oval and seventh overall sulky win crown in the track's 13-year history. The quintet gives Napolitano an unbridgeable 269-250 advantage over Tim Tetrick going into the season's final card on Sunday. There were three $16,000 feature events on Friday in Philly, with the only one on the pace taken by Bettor's Delight sophomore filly Delightful Feather in 1:54.4, completing an engine venture with a 28.1 last quarter for driver Andrew McCarthy while keeping Fine Art safe by a length. The victory was one of three on the afternoon for the brother team of trainer Tom and owner John Cancelliere, and it was the fourth for Delightful Feather in her last five starts. Also raising his recent record to 4-for-5 was the Swan For All sophomore gelding Swansea, who came up the inside from third-in to take a new mark of 1:55, a half-length ahead of Pandora's Box, in the first trotting feature. Tony Morgan was in the sulky for trainer Scott Di Domenico and the ownership of Dana Parham and Triple D Stables Inc. The star of the day, though, shone in the second trotting contest, as the Mr Cantab three-year-old gelding River Otter was sent to the front by Dexter Dunn at the quarter and improved his position from there, drawing well clear of his field in a startling 1:53.2, lowering his mark over three seconds for owner Yinson Quezada. It was the winner's second start for trainer Anette Lorentzon, who also had three victorious charges on the day, since coming to town from Hoosier Park. The final card of the 2018 season at Harrah's Philadelphia will be held on Sunday, with first post set for 2:05 p.m. PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia    

CHESTER PA - Thisguyisonfire again lived up to his name on Thursday afternoon at Harrah's Philadelphia, taking his fourth decision in his last five trips to the harness racing gate with a 1:55.1 victory in the $18,000 headlining trot. Andrew McCarthy got the son of Yankee Glide away third behind pacesetting Majestic Presence and favored Fashion Creditor as fractions of 28.3 and 57.4 were put up. Thisguyisonfire decided to put some heat on the leader late on the backstretch, and by the 1:26.3 ¾ pole he was ready to sweep past the pacesetter. Fashion Creditor got out behind the winner midturn as the rest of the field was left behind and gave a good accounting of himself in the stretch, but Thisguyisonfire prevailed by a length. Trainer Chris Lakata and owner Richard Mishkin now have two wins and a second to the good Trolley since acquiring this horse in mid-November, with $23,000 in earnings a good rate of return for less than a month of investment. In the $17,000 co-featured trot, the Kadabra gelding Mr Houdini used two speed moves before the 3/8 to control the pace, then went on to post a new lifetime best of 1:55.3. Clive Bigsby, the favorite, had bad racing luck and was shuffled, then finished with a rush but came up 2¼ lengths behind the winenr, who was driven by Yannick Gingras for trainer Ron Burke and the ownership of Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Driver Marcus Miller got behind a pair of horses who were a combined 0-for-56 in 2018 and generated mutuel gold with a pair of longshot victories. The first win came behind the pocket rocket Myell's Rockstar ($67.80) in the second race; then in race twelve, taking advantage of a 1-2 shot and an 8-5 shot both offstride before the first turn, Miller went wire-to-wire with Aldebaran Eureka, lighting up the toteboard at $63.00. Marcus Miller is only the second driver to have two $50+ horses on one card at Harrah's in 2018 - Eric Carlson turned the trick, in consecutive races, on September 5. PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

CHESTER PA - A quartet of $16,000 harness racing events were in the Wednesday afternoon spotlight at Harrah's Philadelphia; evenly divided between the gaits, both the pacing and the trotting events had one runaway and one close finish, with the former preceding the latter in both. The first feature on the track was a pacing contest going to the Sportswriter three-year-old gelding Sprocket, who was hustled to the lead down the backstretch and went on to take a new mark of 1:51.3, 3¾ lengths clear on the wire for driver Andrew McCarthy and owner/trainer Ed Gannon Jr. In the other sidewheeling contest, the altered Bettors' Delight sophomore Desert Party, coming in off a win at Dover, was raced in front by Tim Tetrick, with the pair just holding off a wild late rush from Lisburn, who was shuffled to last and made up five lengths of the stretch. Desert Party had enough to win his second straight, keeping a head ahead in 1:53.2 for trainer Joe Hundertpfund Jr. and owner William Sartin. On the trot, both winners were sophomores who recently changed hands. The Cantab Hall filly Bandol Rose, going for the third time for trainer Rene Allard, brushed to the lead early and was long gone, stretching her lead to 2½ lengths at the ¾, five at the stretch call, and 8½ lengths at the 1:55 finish. Yannick Gingras was in the sulky for the ownership of Allard Racing Inc. and Earl Hill Jr. In the other diamondgaited division, the Credit Winner gelding Fashion Forever paid immediate dividends upon acquisition, withstanding Clarion Hall by a half-length in 1:56.1. Driver Steve Smith put his charge into grind mode just past the half, made the lead mid-far turn, then held to the line while withstanding the large-charging Clarion Hall for trainer Karen Garland and owners George Bullukian and Charles Krippendorf. PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

Chester, PA -- A mere three weeks away from mandatory retirement, Foiled Again ($2.20) withstood three strong challenges en route to a gritty 1:54.2 win -- the 108th of his career -- in Sunday's (Dec. 9) $10,000 Foiled Again Farewell Tour Invitational at Harrah's Philadelphia.   The richest pacer of all time and usual driver Yannick Gingras were tested from the outset by Cabbie's Delight (George Napolitano Jr.), but held their ground through a :27.4 first-quarter duel. After rating a comfortable :57 half, the 14-year-old son of Dragon Again faced first-over pressure from Machtu N (Brett Miller) up the far side of the course. Machtu N worked to within half a length of the lead past three-quarters in 1:25.4 before dismissing that challenger, only for Cabbie's Delight to re-emerge up the open stretch.   Driven out to the winning post, Foiled Again refused to lose, parrying Cabbie's Delight's inside challenge by a quarter length for his tenth seasonal score. Hypothetical (Tony Morgan) made late inroads to take third.   "There's tears every time I get to sit behind him, and it gets harder every time," said an emotional Gingras after the win over the same racetrack Foiled Again made a name for himself in 2008 with ten wins, eight of them against open competition.   "There's no doubt that he's helped me to get to where I'm at."   Trainer Ron Burke expressed similar sentiments of the veteran, whose farewell tour will wrap up on Dec. 31 at The Meadows.   It's really energized us as a barn and made us enjoy everything," Burke said about the tour before reminiscing about his star pacer's legacy.   "Probably at seven, he was better than everyone out there. All of a sudden, there wasn't anyone better, and he went for two or three years where he was the best horse in the country." In his 2011 campaign, Foiled Again won six $100,000 events en route to amassing well over $7.6 million in career earnings.   The Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi and JJK Stables own Foiled Again, and have have campaigned him since acquiring him in July of 2008.   Live racing resumes at Harrah's Philadelphia on Wednesday (Dec. 12); first post is slated for 12:25 p.m.   by James Witherite, for Harrah's Philadelphia

CHESTER PA - Trotting action, usually the hallmark of "Trottin' Thursdays" at Harrah's Philadelphia, carried over to the Friday harness racing action, with three $16,000 contests gathering good fields of developing horses. First to the feature race winner's circle was the Credit Winner sophomore filly Aperfectruby, who made the most of a cover trip, rushing three-deep on the turn and closing to catch T Barrr by ¾ of a length in 1:56.3. George Napolitano Jr. was in the sulky for trainer Anette Lorentzson, who conditions the winner for ACL Stuteri AB and Kjell Johansson. The Dejarmbro sophomore gelding Tropical Splash AS made an early move to control the pace, then came home two lengths to the good for driver Tim Tetrick in 1:57.1 to take the second feature. The Scott Di Domenico trainee is owned by Triple D Stables Inc. and RBH Ventures Inc. The final feature fell to another horse conditioned by Di Domenico, the Swan For All sophomore gelding Swansea, who cleared up the inside from the pocket and had the most length to be two lengths clear at the end of the 1:55.3 mile. Tony Morgan guided the winner, a winner of three of his last four, giving Triple D Stables Inc., a second feature winner; this one they co-own with Dana Parham. Also worthy of mention is the freshman full sister to Pinkman, Im All Pink, who is now perfect in two career starts for driver Josert Fonseca. She was extended by longshot Trixar before prevailing in 1:59.4 in her debut for trainer Nancy Johansson after father Jimmy Takter entrusted her with care of the horse. Probably the most exciting race of the day was the featured pace, a $12,500 contest for distaffs. Prairie Sweetheart went to the lead, got to the half in 55.4, and then met the challenge of favored Frost Damage Blues. Neither mare gave an inch through a 26.3 third quarter and around the turn; it was only late that the Western Ideal mare Frost Damage Blues was able to get clear of her stubborn rival, winning by 1¾ lengths in 1:52 for owner/driver Bill Augustine and trainer Symon Spicer. The early part of the Friday card was spiced up by a pair of 33-1 shots tallying within the first four races. Both With Presence ($69.80) and Chips Starr ($68.00) made strong late moves to give their scattered backers some nice holiday money to spend as they pleased. The evergreen champion Foiled Again makes one of the final stops on his Farewell Tour here at Philly on Sunday, where he will be the 8-5 favorite in a field of five in the seventh race for driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Ron Burke. And while no harness horse can say they have earned $7,624,018, there are also very very few of them who can say they are returning to a track where they first raced 4,135 days ago. Foiled Again made his first start at then Harrah's Chester on July 15, 2007 - and he comes back to make his last rounds 11 years, 4 months, and 25 days after his first. PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

CHESTER PA - The Explosive Matter gelding Major Impact certainly did have a major impact on the racing Thursday afternoon at Harrah's Philadelphia, closing strongly to rally by favored Clive Bigsby in the $17,000 featured trot and returning $106.80 to win. Driver Marcus Miller had Major Impact on the back of the favorite and advanced behind his cover, then swung wide behind him as he made a three-move move to the lead at headstretch. Major Impact proved the quickest late to win by a neck over Clive Bigsby in 1:56, tallying for trainer Robert Baggitt Jr. and Christine Baggitt. Both trainer and driver went to the local lead in the longshot standings with the triple-digit victory. Driver Marcus Miller tied Eric Carlson and Brett Miller with two $100+ horses at the meet - and Marcus has had only two $50+ horses in all, whereas the other pair is tied in that category with seven - while Baggitt became the first trainer to have two $100+ horses at the meet, and only the second conditioner to have more than one $50+ winner, after leader Mike Dowdall's four. Marcus Miller also led an unusual beginning to the Philly Thursday card, winning the first race and leading a Millerfecta, as Andy, Brett, and David Miller won the next three races in succession. In the $14,500 co-featured trot, Magic Night and driver Yannick Gingras rallied up the inside and bettered Yuge by a neck in 1:55.4. The victorious Kadabra gelding had gapped in the pocket behind favored pacesetter Crazshana much of the last half, but found better strides in the lane and beat out the closing Yuge, with Crazshana third. Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC co-own the winner with J&T Silva Stables; driver Gingras and trainer Ron Burke teamed for their third success of the afternoon, which included the second straight win of the impressive A Rocknroll Dance sophomore pacing filly Reclamation, now two-for-two since "shipping " in from Ireland via Wales. PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

CHESTER PA - On a cold day where the track condition went from "fast" to "good" to "sloppy" during a dusting of snow, a day when speed did not hold up very well, the Mach Three gelding Internet Hanover was the star of the day, going wire-to-wire in 1:53.1 to win one of three co-featured $16,000 harness racing contests at Harrah’s Philadelphia. Tim Tetrick guided the impressive sophomore to the lead past a 27.4 quarter, got a breather to the half in 58, then put up a third quarter in 27.4 and then a fourth quarter in 27.3 - on a day where only one other race beat 29 home. Internet Hanover won by 5¼ lengths as the heavy favorite as he captured his third straight for trainer Scott Di Domenico and the ownership of Triple D Stables Inc., Daniel Kiwak, and Jay Spector. In the other co-feature on the pace, when the track was still rated "good," the Yankee Skyscraper gelding Fox Valley Hijinx and trainer/driver Kyle Husted worked out the winning journey, just edging Lisburn by a nose in a personal best of 1:53.2. Lisburn had made the lead by the 27.2 quarter, then yielded to follow the heavy favorite Aleppo Hanover through middle splits of 56.2 and 1:24.1, with the winner sitting just behind them. Both horses behind the frontstepper moved out before the 3/4, with Lisburn putting away the speed, but then just missing against the late charge of Fox Valley Hijinx, who is owned by David Brigham. The trotting co-feature produced no fewer than seven lead changes, with IMF the only horse to have the lead twice, including the most important point of command: at the wire in a 1:57.4 mile. IMF had made the lead in front of the stands the first time, yielded, was lucky to get out in a blindswitch at the ¾, then got a clear path and outfinished his opposition by 2¼ lengths. Yannick Gingras guided the Chapter Seven sophomore filly for trainer Ed Gannon Jr., their second successful teaming on a day where Gingras and George Napolitano Jr. had three wins, and trainer Gannon and driver Gingras share in ownership of the winner with Frank Canzone and Ronald Sabatini. PHHA / Harrah’s Philadelphia

CHESTER PA - Pandora's Box set a new lifetime mark of 1:56.3, while Northern Major's 1:56.1 tied his personal best, as the harness racing pair won the $16,000 featured trots Friday afternoon at Harrah's Philadelphia. The sophomore Cantab Hall filly Pandora's Box slipped out behind first-over American Steele in the third quarter, tracked that rival as he trotted to the lead headstretch, then overpowered that foe late to win by 4¼ lengths. Eric Carlson had sulky duty for trainer Ross Croghan and the ownership of Deo Volente Farms LLC and Perry and Denise Martin. Northern Major got things pretty much his own way on the front end, opening up a sizable lead, then withstanding favored Dunsinane Hall, who was not well-served by his cover, by 1¼ lengths. The familiar combine of driver Yannick Gingras, trainer Ron Burke, and Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC are behind the Kadabra gelding, who raised his lifetime earnings to $101,159. Top events for pacers were a pair of $12,500 events for distaffs, with the meet's leading driver George Napolitano Jr. going coast-to-coast with American Ideal mares in both triumphs. Clear Idea made every pole a winning one in her victory, coming home in 55.4 to complete a 1:52.2 package for trainer Blake MacIntosh, the latter co-owner with Hutt Racing Stable, while in the other section, JK Jazzitup could not be caught in 1:53.1 as she raised her 2018 bankroll to $150,797; Gilbert Garcia-Herrera conditions the winner and co-owns her with Barbara and Donald Arnstine. 43-year-old New Zealand native Symon Spicer earned his first North American training credit when he sent out Breeders Crown starter Frost Damage Blues, who went from last to first to overpower her field in 1:52.4 for driver/owner/"Blueberry Man" Bill Augustine. George Napolitano Jr. piloted home four winners today, giving him eleven on the first three cards of the week, while Tim Tetrick had three triumphs; Napolitano has a 246-240 edge with nine cards left to go locally in 2018. Surprisingly, two of "GNap"'s winners paid $18.80 and $19.20, while Tetrick accounted for the longest price of the day behind Highly Thought Of at $31.40. PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

CHESTER PA - Jackie's Jim was a "pocket rocket" in taking the $17,000 featured trot on the Thursday afternoon harness racing card at Harrah's Philadelphia in 1:56.3. Driver Scott Zeron quickly grabbed the early advantage with the sophomore Muscle Massive gelding, then yielded to Mr Houdini and sat behind that one during fractions of 28.2, 58.2, and 1:27.2. Favored Tymal Reign couldn't sustain her first-over bid through the lane, and Zeron chose the route inside of Mr Houdini, winning by "only" a half-length but with Zeron "sitting chilly" in the bike on the 44-degree day. Jackie's Jim, who had won three straight before having too far to come in finishing fourth in his previous start, got a new winning skein going for trainer Gary Simpson and owner Eric Good. (Ironically, Mr Houdini, just behind today's winner, lost a three-race winning streak with the narrow defeat.) There were a pair of $14,500 co-features on "Trottin' Thursday" at Philly. The first went to the Cam's Rocket sophomore gelding What That Is, who came strongly off cover and then withstood the horse on his back, favored Marion Gondolier, by a length in 1:55.3 for driver Eric Carlson, trainer Kerry Welty, and owner Brian Emerson. (An extra point if you saw "Cam's Rocket trotter" and thought of breeder Richard Hans, of Googoo Gaagaa fame.) In the second co-feature, Majestic Presence controlled the throttle en route to a 1:54.3 triumph for driver Andy Miller and trainer/wife Julie. The Majestic Son mare let Truemass Volo go to the lead before the 27.3 quarter, quickly reclaimed the top and posted midsplits of 57 and 1:25.1, and then withstood a nice comeback effort from Truemass Volo by a length, winning her second straight for owner Kapildeo Singh. The full sister to Pinkman, the Explosive Matter-Margie Seelster baby filly Im All Pink, made her career debut a winning one, rallying from the pocket to catch pacesetter Bag O Chips by a neck in 1:57.4. The $210,000 yearling, owned by Christina Takter, John Fielding, Joyce McClelland, and Herb Liverman, was handled by trainer Jimmy Takter, a man who looked awfully comfortable in the sulky that he is due to trade for a rocking chair upon his upcoming retirement. Winning the day's honors for most impressive pacing performance was the A Rocknroll Dance sophomore filly Reclamation, who is a mini-United Nations all in one - bred in Sweden, she is part- owned by Donal Murphy of Ireland, who put a 8-4-3-0 scorecard on her this year at home tracks, then sent her over Stateside to trainer Ron Burke, where she races for Murphy and owner W.J. Donovan, and had Canadian-American driver Yannick Gingras guiding her in his first U.S. start to a 1:53.4 win. The filly came home in 56 - 27.4 without competition, but with giving the impression that there still is plenty more left in the tank. George Napolitano Jr. continued a hot sulky streak, with four winners today combining with the three he reined home first yesterday. PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

CHESTER PA - A trio of $16,000 harness racing events for the developing "non-winners of 5 races" younger set were featured on a blustery Wednesday afternoon at Harrah's Philadelphia, where a one second time allowance was given due to the weather. The single feature trot went to the Muscle Mass sophomore gelding Armageddon Seelster, who took a new mark of 1:56 despite the inhospitable conditions. Pat Berry sent the three-year-old right to the top, then yielded to sit behind the mare Zette Minx through fractions of 28.2, 58.3, and 1:26.3. No serious outer tier action developed, so Berry was able to swing Armageddon Seelster outside nearing headstretch, and he outtrotted Zette Minx to the wire by 1 1/2 lengths for trainer Ron Coyne Jr. and the triumvirate of Ron Coyne Stables Inc., Blair Corbeil, and Mike McAllister. In the first of the two pacing headliners, the Richess Hanover gelding Sullivan came uncovered with a personal 27 third quarter to grab an early backstretch lead he would never relinquish, withstanding a late rally from a shuffled Fox Valley Hijinx by 1½ lengths in 1:55. Anthony Morgan was in the sulky behind the promising winner for trainer Virgil Addison (who had a training double) and Lady Mardot Racing LLC. The last two races on the card had to be raced for purse money only. But the Mach Three sophomore gelding Gold Rush didn't need betting accompaniment to be impressive in his powerful 1:53.4 win, as he swept off cover and paced his own last quarter in 28 into a stiff wind to defeat California Cruisin by 2¼ lengths. Brett Miller had sulky duty behind the fast finisher for trainer Paul Stafford and owner Thomas Ceraso Jr. George Napolitano Jr. had three wins on the Wednesday card at Philly while Tim Tetrick had two, so "George Nap" doubled his lead over his main rival in the race for dashwinning honors: the score is 238-236 with eleven cards to go in the 2018 season. PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

CHESTER PA - The Rock N Roll Heaven mare Oceania overcome the worst win-producing post at Harrah's Philadelphia, the trailing post nine (fewer than one win every 20 starts at 4.8%), in winning a $14,500 featured distaff pace during a special post-Thanksgiving Friday night harness racing program at the southeast Pennsylvania oval. Driver Scott Zeron, a three-time winner on the card, got the winner away alertly in third behind the two favorites, pacesetting JK Jazzitup and pocketsitting Bronze Over N, with early fractions of 27.4 and 57.2. When moved outside off the second turn by Zeron, Oceania grabbed right on the bit and jetted up to challenge, and she was right at JK Jazzitup by the 1:24.4 3/4s. Around the turn and into the stretch it was the 9-1 horse on the outside, and not the 2-1 horse against the pegs, who proved stronger. Bronze Over N, the race favorite, shook clear inside the tiring pacesetter, but her late kick was not enough after Oceania had built up a full head of steam that she kept going to the wire. The winner is trained by Robert Cleary for the partnership of Royal Wire Products Inc. and United Process Control Company. "The Napolitano brothers swept the Daily Double" is a phrase usually used at Pocono, not Harrah's Philadelphia. However, with the season at the mountain oval having concluded last Saturday, Anthony Napolitano visited Harrah's for the first time in 2018 and promptly wound up in the winners circle with trotter Gustavo Fring after the evening's first race, with brother George then taking the second contest with Carson Hill. "Anthony Nap" had a 2pl1 victory with E Dee's Well Said here last season, but this was the first time he had gone under the wire first at Philly since a victory with Tom's Torpedo on October 18, 2013. Anthony would have two more victories late on the card, with former pacing fair queen Unbeamlieveable and with trotter Delcrest Holiday, for a total of three wins on his local seasonal debut - but remember this is the driver who has led The Meadowlands two separate times during winter meets. Tim Tetrick was top driver on the card with four trips to Victory Lane. PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

Chester, PA -- Once again hit by multiple players, the harness racing 20-cent Jackpot Hi-5 at Harrah's Philadelphia boasts a growing carryover which now approaches the $12,000 plateau.   Despite 3-2 favorite Shady Secret A missing the ticket in Friday evening's (Nov. 23) fifth race, multiple players had the correct 2-6-4-5-9 combination for a $621.92 dividend. Given that the jackpot is only paid in the event of one unique winning ticket, $11,973.79 will carry over to Sunday's (Nov. 25) program.   The Jackpot Hi-5, offered daily in the fifth race, requires players to select the first five finishers in order.   Post time on Sunday is 2:05 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Harrah's Philadelphia  

CHESTER, PA - With the "Trottin' Thursday" program usually featured weekly at Harrah's Philadelphia knocked out by the dark racing day on Thanksgiving Thursday, Wednesday became the day that featured several fields of quality trotters at the riverside oval. And the guy who was on fire in the featured trots was driver Andrew McCarthy, who took both top-end purses and guided a freshman in an impressive debut. The driver who was on fire teamed with a son of Yankee Glide named Thisguyisonfire to record his third straight victory while taking the $18,000 top trot in 1:55.1. McCarthy had the winner well-positioned in the two-wide tier behind the game veteran Crosbys Clam Bake, who moved to the lead in the lane, only to be caught in the latter stages by a half-length after a good stretch battle. Chris Lakata conditioned the streaking winner for Fashion Farms LLC. The co-featured $17,000 trot was taken in strong fashion by the Kadabra mare Tymal Reign, who was reined by McCarthy to victory in 1:55.2, just a tick off her lifetime best. The favorite was sent right to the top, coming home in 57.2 to easily withstand pocketsitting Exarch by 1¾ lengths for trainer Noel Daley and Harbor Racing Stable LLC. A pair of Muscle Hill freshman colts costing $530,000 at the Harrisburg sale made their debuts and finished 1-2. The $320,000 purchase Sheer Muscle was limbed out four-wide to the 3/16, but driver McCarthy knew what he had under the hood, and the colt went on to the top and won in 1:58. Sheer Glide, his dam, is a full sister to $950G+ winner Flex The Muscle (and Duchess Faye is back in the pedigree a couple of generations), and trainer Lucas Wallin and owner Mario Mazza have a colt to keep an eye on. Finishing second was the $210,000 purchase Hillofamistery, a son of the $480G+-winning mare Mistery Woman, and he raced steadily in his bow, and should benefit from the start for Team Takter. From the PHHA/Harrah's Philadelphia  

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