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WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 4, 2019 -- Trapped in with no hope of clearance, Lass A Rope found the Lightning Lane just in time and brushed to her second straight harness racing victory in Friday's $18,000 Filly & Mare Preferred Handicap Trot at The Meadows. Glidinthruparadise moved first over and edged past the leader, Dirty Secret, as the field straightened for home. But when Aaron Merriman pointed Lass A-old daughter of Encore Encore-American Lassie had just enough time and trot to nip Glidinthruparadise by a nose in 1:55.2. Bessie completed the ticket. Rich Gillock trains Lass A Rope, who now boasts $172,614 in career earnings, for owner/breeder Bob Key. Jim Pantaleano collected three wins on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Monday, when the program features a $5,000 total-pool guarantee for the Pick 4 (races 4-7) and a $1,453.57 carryover in the Pick 5 (races 8-12). First post 1:05 PM. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

Horsemen are reminded that nominations should be postmarked by February 15 for the many and varied early and late closers that will highlight the 2019 racing season of The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The famed northeastern Pennsylvania oval will begin the 134-day race meet on Saturday, March 16. Starting off the season - right from opening night -- will be a new late closer, The Secretary's Series, with 6 different divisions, and no nomination fees. An initial group of three divisions will be programmed for four year old & older horse & gelding pacers, mare pacers, and trotters in general, with separate mare divisions if entries warrant for the trotters. These three events will be for non-winners of $50,000 in 2018 for those that have started 10 or more times in 2018. The 3 preliminary legs will go for a purse of $12,500, with a final of $25,000 (there will be consolations for those classes that fill such a race). The second group for the same type of horses will be for non-winners of $75,000 in 2018 for those that have started 10 or more times in 2018. Purses for these events will be $17,500 for the preliminaries and a $30,000 final (again, consolations are part of the plans). If a horse won less than $50,000 in 2018 with the required ten starts, he or she can also enter the parallel division of this second late-closing series, to be raced entirely after the completion of the first group. The Bobby Weiss Late Closing Series for 3- & 4-year-old horses will return this season in April with four events for non-winners of 2 extended pari-mutuel races or $30,000 lifetime as of & including February 1, 2019. The separate events will be for male pacers, female pacers, male trotters and female trotters. Each Weiss will consist of three $15,000 legs and a $30,000 final. This year there will be consolations for each event. Returning this year will be the Great Northeast Series for open class horses for pacers, mare pacers and trotters. Legs will be going for $30,000, which will alternate between The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and Harrah's Philadelphia from May to September. (The June 29 card at Pocono, the Sun Stakes Saturday card, will also contain the mares pace and open trotters events normally raced on Sundays at Pocono.) The $100,000 finals will be held on Monday, September 9 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono going a distance of 1 ¼ miles. In these late closers, each horse that actually starts will receive 25 points along with any points they get from their official placings in each leg (on a 50-25-12-8-5-4-3-2-1 finish position basis). All of the late closers will have no nominating fees, including the Weiss Series for the first time. The Pennsylvania All Stars, an early closer for Pennsylvania Sired 3-year-olds, will make their will be raced in 2019 in May and June, with their counterpart 2-year-old races in July. Nominations for the 3-year-old events of the Pennsylvania All Stars are due on February 15; nominations for the 2-year-old events are not due until March 15. Sun Stakes Saturday will, once again, usher in the summer portion of the racing season. The Championships for the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr Memorial 3-year-old open trot, $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial 3-year-old open pace, $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial 3-year-old filly pace and $500,000 Ben Franklin FFA Pace will be on Saturday, June 29. The eliminations for these races will be one week earlier on June 22. If entries for the eliminations warrant, there will be a $75,000 consolation for the Beal, Hempt and Franklin races and a $50,000 consolation for the Lynch. Complete racing conditions and payment information for all these racing events are listed on The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono's website, on the Horsemen page. Jerry Connors Jr

WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 1, 2019 -- He had to beat the richest Standardbred ever to do it, but David McNeight III collected career win 1,000 Monday at The Meadows when he piloted Knocking Around to victory in race 10. The race was styled "Foiled Again's Last Call," as it marked the final race of Foiled Again, who faced mandatory retirement Jan. 1 when he turned 15. McNeight and Knocking Around, however, weren't intimated by Foiled Again's career bankroll of more than $7.6 million, as they powered up first over to prevail in the slop. Foiled Again finished fifth. Winners’ circle following the 1,000th career win of David McNeight III. - Chris Gooden photo McNeight, a native of western New York who has compiled just less than $6 million in purses, learned the business under the tutelage of his father, trainer David McNeight, Jr., the conditioner of Knocking Around. "My dad worked for General Mills for a while, but he got back into the business in 2008 when I was 18," he says. "I was cleaning stalls and grooming for him, but when I watched the drivers winning races, I wanted to do the same thing." McNeight cut his teeth on the half-mile ovals at Buffalo and Batavia. When the McNeights relocated to The Meadows about two years ago, he found that the most difficult aspect of the transition was not the switch to a five-eighths-mile track. Rather, it was holding his own against The Meadows' talented, experienced drivers. "The driver colony here is deep," he says. "You definitely want to get away close to the lead when you're racing against Dave Palone, Mike Wilder, Jim Pantaleano and all the Ron Burke horses. It's more challenging, but at the same time, it's more rewarding." The younger McNeight also trains three horses -- he's their sole owner -- and doesn't foresee a time when he'll want to specialize in training or driving exclusively. "I'd like to add to my own stable and keep driving for my father and other stables," he says. "Having other owners for my horses would be good, but right now it seems better to own them myself."   Evan Pattak   The Meadows Racetrack & Casino Home of Pennsylvania's largest jackpot ever paid, The Meadows is an all-inclusive entertainment destination and significant economic generator for the region. With its nearly 1,300 employees, The Meadows provides approximately $125 million in taxes annually and more than $14 million per year to the Local Share Account designated for new economic, community and industrial development projects. The Meadows features 82 table games and more than 3,100 slot machines, premier restaurants with spectacular views of the gaming floor and the racetrack, a racing grandstand with VIP suites, a simulcast area, an 11,000 square foot event center, a 7,500 square foot banquet room and an all-ages bowling center. The Meadows also offers a high limit slots area and a high limit table games room featuring exceptional service in a relaxing, upscale setting. For more information, please see: www.meadowsgaming.com.

WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 1, 2019 -- Competitive fields and a sloppy, tiring surface set the stage for upsets in Monday's finals of six Holiday Claiming Series at The Meadows, as three of the winners scored at odds of 22-1 or longer. The six-pack of championships served collectively as the co-feature for "Foiled Again's Last Call," the final race in the spectacular career of the richest Standardbred all time. Highlights of those championships:   $28,700 Final, $20,000 Claiming Colt, Horse & Gelding Pacers Lyons King may have been the most improbable winner, as he trailed by 9 lengths at the half and appeared pinned inside. But when the Lightning Lane became available, he shot through for Yannick Gingras and scored at 28-1 in 1:54.2. Poacher N was a length back in second, with Believeinthespirit third. "I would've been fifth over if I pulled, so I thought it was better to stay inside," Gingras said. "He had a lot of pace, and we got lucky that the inside opened up." Brandon Presto trains the 4-year-old Somebeachsomwhere-Boldnbrash Hanover gelding for Spring Valley Ranch and Michelle Linnert.   $17,100 Final, $10,000 Claiming Trotters ER Kevin was a close-up second in the series' second leg but was shunned by bettors, who sent him off at 22-1. But he also used the Lightning Lane to pull off the 22-1 stunner in 1:58.3 for Dan Charlino and owner/trainer Todd Keith. Mutinyonthebounty was a head back in second while Boy Meets Girl K completed the ticket. "I thought maybe he would be a 5-1 shot," Keith said of the 6-year-old Elegant Man-Karen's Karma gelding, who lifted his career bankroll to $158,237. "Dan gave him a real good steer, and we were lucky enough to find room."   $17,700 Final, $10,000 Claiming Filly & Mare Pacers For the most part, the claimers handled the foul racing conditions well. This championship was the exception, as four of the nine horses jumped it off. The most costly break was that of Deprived, as it occurred at the three-quarters when she was on the point. That opened the door for Lady Dudette, who triumphed at 26-1 for 'Downtown' Brady Brown and trainer Mark Goldberg, who owns the 3-year-old daughter of Bettor's Delight-Luxury Goods with Richard Gubanish and Betty Gubanish. "Even without the breaks, I think I would've beaten them in the stretch," Brown said. "The leader wasn't getting away from me, and I think I would've picked her up."   $28,000 Final, $20,000 Claiming Filly & Mare Pacers Entering the series, Ellasen had been racing primarily off the pace. After her claim by trainer Ron Burke for Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, she changed her style. "When she made the front last week, her ears went up, and it felt like that's where she wanted to be," winning driver Dave Palone said. "I wasn't going to take any chances in the final. She was very strong through the wire." She powered off to a 1-3/4-length victory in 1:53.4, lifting her career bankroll to $155,248. The pocket-sitting My Kind Of Dance and Always A Z Tam rounded out the ticket.   $28,000 Final, $20,000 Claiming Trotters Nailed late in both preliminary legs, IC Caviar also changed his tactics, ducking before moving first over for Dan Rawlings. "He trained off a helmet this week, and he responded very well," said John Sullivan, who conditions the 7-year-old Malabar Millennium-Lady Caviar gelding for Michael Marocco. "So we thought, leaving from the rail, just try and get him out of there as best we could and hope the cards fall right." IC Caviar took to the trip and defeated Pembroke Morgan by 2-3/4 lengths in 1:56.2, with Teddy Brosevelt third. IC Caviar now boasts $250,911 in career earnings.   $17,700 Final, $10,000 Claiming Colt, Horse & Gelding Pacers Stonehouse Adam was pushed four wide through the final turn but had little trouble roaring past the leaders and scoring in 1:54.2 for Aaron Merriman and owner/trainer Tyler George. T'S Electric was 1-1/2 lengths back in second while Fairytale Prince earned show. "This horse is older and he's really gritty," Merriman said. "He out-hearted them today. When we got next to the leader, I knew I was the winner." The 11-year-old Intrepid Seelster-Shirleys Last Pie gelding has earned $442,055 in his career.   Evan Pattak The Meadows Racetrack & Casino Home of Pennsylvania's largest jackpot ever paid, The Meadows is an all-inclusive entertainment destination and significant economic generator for the region. With its nearly 1,300 employees, The Meadows provides approximately $125 million in taxes annually and more than $14 million per year to the Local Share Account designated for new economic, community and industrial development projects. The Meadows features 82 table games and more than 3,100 slot machines, premier restaurants with spectacular views of the gaming floor and the racetrack, a racing grandstand with VIP suites, a simulcast area, an 11,000 square foot event center, a 7,500 square foot banquet room and an all-ages bowling center. The Meadows also offers a high limit slots area and a high limit table games room featuring exceptional service in a relaxing, upscale setting. For more information, please see: www.meadowsgaming.com.

WASHINGTON, PA, Dec. 29, 2018 -- If Foiled Again, the richest Standardbred ever, is to cap his extraordinary harness racing career with a win in his final race, he'll have to do it from post 8. That's where he's drawn in Monday's $13,000 pace at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino, styled as "Foiled Again's Last Call" that will bring down the curtain on the career of the gallant gelding who's amassed more than $7.6 million earnings but faces mandatory retirement Jan. 1 when he turns 15. For this historic New Year's Eve event, The Meadows and the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) have planned a memorable program. During a special winners' circle retirement ceremony, Foiled Again's shoes will be pulled for the final time. Fans will enjoy a video featuring Foiled Again's career highlights, and the horse's key connections -- caretaker Tessie Irey; trainer Ron Burke; driver Yannick Gingras; owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and JJK Stables --will share their favorite Foiled Again memories. In addition, fans will receive Foiled Again-themed shot glasses, Terrible Towels, posters coffee mugs and hats (while supplies last), and the MSOA will raffle off two Foiled Again Breyers. Fans will be given party hats and noisemakers and invited to celebrate the new year in the casino. On the racing side, the program includes the championship legs of six Holiday Claiming Series while the track's Horses of the Year will receive their awards as part of the "Night of Champions. First post is 5:30 PM. The card and retirement ceremonies will be available via Meadows Live! Many may have expected The Meadows to write a cakewalk that would allow Foiled Again to waltz to a fan-pleasing win, but the "Last Call" came up tough. Foiled Again's seven rivals have a collective 33 wins this year and 191 lifetime. "It's basically a semi-open pace," Burke says. "I'll train him pretty tight, but he'll have to be pretty aggressive to win from there. He's a great horse who tends to rise to the occasion, so we'll ask him to do it one more time." His home base of The Meadows is the last stop in Foiled Again's wildly successful "Farewell Tour," which has seen him win 11 races at tracks across the continent and raise his career victory total to 109. Perhaps more importantly, the tour created special events for tracks and gave fans one more chance to see and admire the old boy. "I thought it would be a fun thing and good for the game," Burke says. "But I never thought it would turn out as well as it did. It exceeded every expectation I had by far." He indicated Foiled Again would be turned out after the race but still would play a valuable role in retirement. "We'll give him horses to hang out with in the field so he can teach nervous horses to relax. That will be really useful." In addition, Foiled Again will be available to serve, through public appearances, as a roving ambassador for harness racing. "That's why we didn't give up control of him," Burke says. "He's open to doing things, and he definitely enjoys it." The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

WASHINGTON, PA, Dec. 21, 2018 -- An all-day rain turned The Meadows harness racing track to slop, and when that rain changed to snow, conditions became even more forbidding. But all was fair downtown -- with "Downtown" Brady Brown, that is. Brown overcame the elements and collected four wins Friday at The Meadows. Brown drove a pair of winners for trainer Mark Goldberg and one each for trainers Tim Twaddle and Miles Wollam. Dan Rawlings, too, enjoyed a big night, fashioning a three-bagger on the 11-race card. Also on Friday, The Meadows and the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) celebrated Caretaker Appreciation Night. To recognize and reward their dedicated, often unsung work, the track and the MSOA presented caretakers with hoodies as well as soup and sandwiches from the paddock kitchen. In addition, the MSOA raffled off cash and gift cards for grooms. Given the weather, the hoodies were a timely gift. Live racing at The Meadows continues Saturday, when the card features a pair of carryovers -- $997.16 for the Pick 5 (races 9-13), $709.59 in the Super Hi-5 (race 13). First post is 1:05 PM. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

WASHINGTON, PA, Dec. 21, 2018 -- Some horses are fast, some consistent. When you combine speed and consistency, you get Phoenix Warrior N, who'll try for his 14th harness racing win this year Saturday at The Meadows. The 8-year-old Jereme's Jet-Never Walk Alone gelding leaves from post 4 in the $20,000 Preferred Pace (race 8) with Jim Pantaleano aboard. First post is 1:05 PM. Phoenix Warrior N has rolled up those wins competing against the track's elite. Moreover, he's finished in the money in 26 of his 28 starts despite some hellacious trips. It's not unusual for him to be parked most of the mile and still be gaining in deep stretch. "He just loves to chase horses down and come off cover," says his trainer, Scott Betts. "He's had some big miles on the front, but some of his best miles are from doing things horses shouldn't do." Owners Tim Betts, Nicholas Catalano and Stephen Moss purchased Phoenix Warrior N privately about a year ago for $85,000. It was immediately clear that he had talent, determination and quirks. "He's a little bit squirrely," Betts acknowledges. "Sometimes when you train him, he's real nice. Other times he wants to train himself the wrong way on the track, or he'll put his head down and gallop. He has his little routine, and we've learned to just stick with it." Betts pays special attention to his star's feet. Every three weeks or so, trainer/blacksmith Tyler Raymer ships in from Delaware to adjust the shoeing for Phoenix Warrior N and the rest of Betts' stable. Although he's bumped his lifetime bankroll up to $369,853, Saturday's race won't be a cakewalk for Phoenix Warrior N. He'll be facing such tough cookies as Anythingforlove A, who's hit the ticket in 14 of 17 outings this year, and Arthur Pendragon, winner of two straight. But he won't be up against his archrival, Windsong Leo, who's pinned nine losses on Phoenix Warrior N this year. "That helps," Betts concedes. Win or lose Saturday, Phoenix Warrior N likely will enjoy a break soon. "We'll probably give him a month off; we'll let him tell us when," Betts says. "He went to the Meadowlands for a series last year, and we're talking about doing that again. He's an okay shipper." The pre-Christmas weekend at The Meadows kicks off with a special Friday card when the track and the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) celebrate Caretaker Appreciation Night. Caretakers will be presented with hoodies as well as soup and sandwiches from the paddock kitchen. In addition, the MSOA will raffle off cash and gift cards for caretakers. First post Friday is 5:30 PM. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

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

WASHINGTON, PA, Dec. 14, 2018 -- The Meadows Racetrack & Casino is seeking 14-year-old pacers for a special New Year's Eve race that will give these gallant harness racing warriors one more opportunity to strut their stuff and extend their earnings before they face mandatory retirement the next day. The Dec. 31 card begins at 5:30 PM. For more information or to enter, please contact the Race Office, 724.225.9897. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

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

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

WASHINGTON, PA, Dec. 13, 2018 -- In the nearly 40 years they've been breeding and campaigning harness racing standardbreds, Jim Kezios and John Krillies -- racing as Tripoli Stable of Norridge, IL -- have followed a consistent theme in naming their horses. "Both of us are Greek, so we like to honor Greek traditions," Kezios says. "We name most of our horses for Greek islands, mythical characters or war heroes." The latest in the Tripoli line, the 3-year-old Mykonos, is extending that tradition. He'll try for his third straight victory in Saturday's first race, leaving from post 7 with Jeremy Indof piloting. His full brother, Zone Blitz, also will race Saturday (race 4, post 4, Indof). First post is 1:05 PM. Of all the horses who've borne Tripoli's Greek-influenced names, probably the most successful was Kanaris, who was named for Constantine Kanaris, a freedom fighter in the Greek War of Independence who eventually became the country's prime minister. Kanaris the pacer banked $361,649 lifetime and took a mark of 1:48.3. He was second at 25-1 in the 2014 $250,000 Jim Ewart Memorial Invitational at Scioto Downs, defeating the likes of Foiled Again, Sweet Lou and 2012 Adios winner Bolt The Duer. "That definitely was the highlight for us," Kezios says. Tripoli named its son of Corner Blitz-She's So Keen after the Greek island Mykonos, which Kezios, his wife and their daughters visited about 10 years ago. The island has an important place in Greek mythology. It was there that Zeus was said to have battled the Titans, there that Hercules slew giants considered invincible. Not only killed them, the myth goes, but also dismembered them and scattered their body parts that now exist, in petrified form, as large rocks that dot the island. For all the violence of those myths, Mykonos seems idyllic, cooled by gentle sea breezes that allow year-round tourism to flourish. The island is known for its family-oriented activities as well as all-night bars and what Kezios discreetly describes as "adult beaches." He did not experience those beaches. "I was very happy doing things with my family," he says. "What I remember most are the windmills and the breezes coming off the Mediterranean. It's one of the most beautiful islands you'd ever want to go to." Mykonos is not yet in Kanaris' class. Both recent wins have come in conditioned claimers, and he's stepping up Saturday to a much tougher $11,100 event for winners of two races but not more than four. Dirk Simpson, who trains the brothers, believes Mykonos is ready for the challenge. "His potential is good," Simpson says. "I like him a little better than Zone Blitz; he's a little more aggressive. Getting away from that long stretch at Hoosier Park didn't hurt him." Kezios agrees with that assessment. "He raced at Illinois fair tracks at 2, and he was able to zip around those. We thought a five-eighths-mile track would be better for him than mile tracks or Hoosier." To date, Mykonos has banked $48,807. If his earnings swell, would Kezios consider allocating his share of the profit to a return trip to the island? "If I can find the time, I'm planning on going back there whether or not the horse does well," he says. "Time is sometimes harder to find than money." Saturday's card includes a $1,436.13 Pick 5 carryover and a $778.50 carried-over jackpot in the final-race Super Hi-5. In addition, the track and the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) will host their annual holiday party featuring handicapping contests, giveaways, games and a visit from everyone's favorite reinsman, Santa Claus. For more information or to register for any activities, stop by the MSOA table in the Racebook. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

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

WILKES-BARRE PA - Trainer Mike Deters and driver Anthony Napolitano combined successfully for the second time on a dank (55 degrees, "sloppy +1" surface) Sunday night card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono when Prairie Fortune won the $17,500 featured trot in 1:53.4. "Ant'ny Nap" used the rail to advantage and worked out a good two-hole trip behind pacesetter Crazshana with the victorious altered son of Arapa Victory, then pulled away in the lane to be 3½ lengths clear of that rival at the finish, coming his own last half in 56.3. Trainer Deters co-owns the winner of $398,495 with Laurie Lee Poulin. Earlier, the backers in the crowd were few but were loud, as 99-1 shot College Hanover overcame a first-over trip for driver Drew Chellis to hold off 85-1 shot Takethemoneyandrun by a head in 1:55, returning $336.40 for a $2 ticket. That number was the biggest win mutuel at Pocono since November 17, 2015, when Lady Of The Lake and driver Joe Antonelli returned $400.60 to win after a nose victory. College Hanover, trainer by Richard Dunn for the MBC Stables LLC, did have some license in his pedigree - he is a Well Said out of the $590G winner Castanet Hall, and his ¾ brother Cashendash Hanover pushed his earnings over $575G when he won at Philly last Sunday. But the crowd was discouraged by College Hanover's 0-for-32 lifetime record - not knowing that the 33rd time would be the charm for the sophomore. Pocono is scheduled for a "dark night" tomorrow, as the scheduled annual local golfing tournament is as rabidly followed and enjoyed as much as a Super Bowl or a Wrestlemania card. The weather gods just may smile on the golfers, although rain is the 2-5 favorite at the moment (but if a horse can pay $336.60, ...).   Jerry Connors Jr.

Chester, PA --- After a first-over bid came up short in last week's Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final, Fashion Farms LLC's Patent Leather ($3.60) overcame the elements and proved dominant in the second of three $30,000 Liberty Bell splits for Pennsylvania-sired 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings on Sunday afternoon (Sept. 9) at Harrah's Philadelphia.   Tim Tetrick floated the son of Broadway Hall forward from his outside post 6 to land in third behind early pacesetter Hill Street (Corey Callahan) and pocket sitter Stonebridge Gamble (Tyler Buter). After drafting patiently behind soft fractions of :29 and :57.2, Tetrick gave Patent Leather his first-over cue with three-eighths to go, and the Jim Campbell trainee's response was instant. He powered past Hill Street at the 1:26.1 three-quarter mark and drew clear at once. He amassed 7-3/4 lengths of clearance over eventual runner-up Stonebridge Gamble at the end of the 1:54 mile, while Hill Street faded to finish third.   Patent Leather, who finished second to Tactical Landing in a Hambletonian elimination, earned the sixth win of his career. For Tetrick, the win capped a Liberty Bell double on the card, as he also teamed up with Tom Fanning trainee Mississippi Storm ($10.60) for a 1:54.3 victory over Scirocco Rob (Callahan) in the first trotting division.   Toast Of Lindy ($9.00, 1:56.1) rounded out the winners of the trotting divisions, taking advantage of an early break from twos-on favorite Lindy's Big Bang (Dexter Dunn) and edging away late in rein to Andy Miller for trainer Julie Miller.   Liberty Bell - 3-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Pace   Hayden Hanover ($2.20), runner-up to Dorsoduro Hanover in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final, won the last of four $30,000 Liberty Bell divisions for sophomore pacing colts and geldings convincingly, shrugging off a challenge from JK Wildfire (Dunn) en route to a 1:51.1 mile amid intensifying wind and rain. Andy Miller sent the son of Somebeachsomewhere to the lead at race's outset, and the pair controlled fractions of :27.2 and :56 before JK Wildfire emerged at their flank to press a :28 third sectional.   Despite his rival working to within a head a quarter from home, Hayden Hanover responded in kind, kicking on the afterburners at the eighth pole and edging away to a two-length win with plenty left in reserve. Daddyofemall (Mike Wilder) chased off cover to narrowly claim third.   Julie Miller trains four-time winner Hayden Hanover for the Pinske Stables, Andy Miller Stable, TLP Stable and Deo Volente Farms. For the Millers, Hayden Hanover capped a stakes double on the card.   Iluvtomakemoney ($51.00) opened the pacing proceedings with a major upset, circling four-wide from astern under Dexter Dunn to narrowly reach in 1:53.1 for trainer Mark Harder.   Messenger starter Winston ($10.60) followed in the second division by vaulting from the pocket to overtake odds-on pacesetter Terror Atthe Beach (George Napolitano Jr.) and stave off a late charge from Go West Go Fast (Matt Kakaley) by half a length in 1:53. Corey Callahan drove for trainer John Butenschoen.   After breaking in his two previous starts, Wheels On Fire ($10.80) and Matt Kakaley righted the ship in the third division with a 1:52.1 mile which saw him emerge late from the pocket to upend Macadoodledoo (Tetrick) by half a length. It was the seventh career win for the Ron Burke trainee.   Multiple players successfully hit the 20-cent Jackpot Hi-5 in the afternoon's fifth race, resulting in a carryover of $2,119.85 to Wednesday (Sept. 12). First post is 12:25 p.m. Eastern.   James Witherite Harrah's Philadelphia racing media

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