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WILKES-BARRE, PA -- The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono opened on Saturday night, the earliest seasonal start in the 55 years of harness racing at the track, but while the temperature hung around the freezing mark, the competition on the oval was hot, mainly in the first preliminary leg of two sections of the track's Game Of Claims Pacing Series. Action for horses entered at various claiming prices, with three preliminaries determining those who will race for the throne as their Game Of Claims divisional champion, provided two divisions of $25,000 base-price horses going for $25,000 each and three cuts of $15,000 base-price horses going for $15,000 (the base price in each grouping goes up slightly with each preliminary) opening night. With $50,000 and $30,000 Championship purses respectively, it's no surprise that a total of eighteen horses were claimed in Saturday's first round action, including four of the five divisional winners, for a total of $350,000. The only Game Of Claims winner on Saturday not changing barns will be the Rock N Roll Heaven gelding This Is My Song, who moved after a blistering half, made the lead easily to the ¾, and defeated his field of $25,000 horses handily in 1:51.2, fastest mile of the opening card for driver George Napolitano Jr., trainer Dan Maier, and Racing To Win Stable. The other winner at that level was the Captaintreacherous ridgling Trente Deo, who never looked back for the brother team of trainer Rene and driver Simon Allard in 1:53.4, last half :55.4, for Allard Racing Inc. and Earl Hill Jr. Team Allard also won the first division for the $15,000 horses, with the Delmarvalous gelding Machine Team benefiting from a fast pace to score a closing victory in 1:55.4 for A 1 Racing as the only Game Of Claims favorite to win. The other two sectors for $15,000 horses were taken by Darren Taneyhill- trained horses coming off two-month layoffs, and they won by a combined 14¼ lengths for driver Jim Morrill Jr. and owner Eric Prevost - the Cheyenne Rei gelding Cheyenne Reijane coming out of the pocket for a 7½ length win in 1:53.3, and the Make My Day gelding Ancle on the engine to finish 6¾ lengths to the good in 1:54.1. The 11-year-old Western Terror gelding Atta Boy Dan, 2019's Pocono Pacer of the Year while posting a United States-high win total of nineteen seasonal triumphs, readjusted quickly to northeast Pennsylvania, capturing a $14,000 conditioned pace in 1:51.4 for driver Tyler Buter, trainer Peter Pellegrino, and owner Stephen Larkin. Rock Diamonds N did not want to surrender the early lead, so Buter put "Dan" in the pocket, then came again after the leader in the stretch and went by for a half-length triumph, the 73rd win of the pacer's distinguished career while moving his lifetime bankroll to $974,002. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The harness racing trotters and pacers take to the track at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Saturday for the earliest seasonal opening in 55 years of the harness sport in northeast Pennsylvania, with the first of thirteen races scheduled for 5 p.m. The opening set of features during February's racing at The Downs will be part of the new Game of Claims Series, grouping horses of varying values. It's appropriate that the claiming horses will provide the early season highlights at a track where 483 claims resulted in $9,465,025 turnover during 2019. Saturday's Game of Claims's first preliminary rounds will have two groups of horses with a base claiming price of $25,000 going for $25,000 a division, and three sections of $15,000 basic-level horses racing for $15,000 purses. The claiming price will go up slightly for prelims two and three, with each group's top pointearners in the preliminaries getting a chance to race for the throne as their Game Of Claims division's champion on Saturday, February 29, with a $50,000 bounty on the line for this week's $25,000 base-price horses, and $30,000 up for grabs by the leading $15,000 base-price competitors. Multi-time leading Pocono trainer Rene Allard will be sending out horses in four of the five Game Of Claims cuts, three of them new to the barn; the "holdover," Maxdaddy Blue Chip, was the 2017 Pacer of the Year at Pocono, and is still going strongly at age eight. Another "golden oldie," the 11-year-old Atta Boy Dan, returns to Pocono in a $14,000 pace after being named the 2019 Pocono Pacer of the Year. Atta Boy Dan, who will be starting from the outside in a field of seven, was the winningest harness horse in the United States last year with 19 victories, and he was the focus of the attention of many stables, being claimed no fewer than seventeen times, for a total of $670,000. FINISHING LINES -- In Tuesday morning qualifying action at The Downs, Crocketts Cullen N turned in a sharp 1:54.2 mile in wire-to-wire fashion for driver Larry Stalbaum and trainer Tracy Tarantino. The Kiwi import won fifteen times in 2019, including ten times in his last fifteen starts, all in high-class company. During the month of February, Pocono will race on Saturday and Sunday at 5 p.m., with Mondays being added in March and post times shifting to the standard 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Monday cards will start at 4 p.m., and they will be joined at that start time in April with Tuesday racing as Pocono expands to its full standard schedule. An introductory press briefing will take place this Thursday to preview the highlights of the 2020 racing season at the northeast Pennsylvania track. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The 2020 racing season got off to a quick start at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Monday morning, as the Big Jim harness racing pacing mare Jossie James A won the first qualifier of the season in 1:54 while making her U.S. debut. Yonkers driving leader Jason Bartlett sent the oft-winning mare away quickly from post seven and tucked third. They sat in that position as Lyons River Pride, first or second in his last four starts against good foes at Yonkers, set fractions of :27.3, :56.4, and 1:25.1, then moved out on the turn and overhauled the leader by a half-length for trainer Richard Banca and owner Barbara Boese. Rene Allard, Pocono's leading trainer last season, teamed with his brother Simon for two qualifying wins, with the fast but fractious trotter Magical Journey in 2:01 and the stakes colt Captain Malicious in 1:57.1 in his 2020 bow. They also had seconds with Lyons River Pride and with newcomer Y S Sunshine, a Quebec stakes winner at two and three. The track's leading driver last season, George Napolitano Jr., also posted a first, guiding Nine Ways, a 14-time winner last campaign, to a wire-to-wire win in 1:56.4, one of two on the day for trainer Antonia Storer. Driver Tyler Buter also had a pair of triumphs during the first session. Tomorrow (Tuesday) will offer another qualifying session along with the draw for this Saturday's Opening Night of the 139-card 2020 racing season. The inaugural card will feature two events in the highlight races of February's action, the Game Of Claims Series for various levels of pacers, with elimination rounds determining who will be in the contest to sit on the throne after taking the series' rich Championship races. In the month of February, Pocono will race on Saturday and Sunday at 5 p.m., with Mondays being added in March and post times shifting to the standard 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Monday cards will start at 4 p.m., and they will be joined at that start time in April with Tuesday racing as Pocono expands to its full standard schedule. An introductory press briefing will take place this Thursday to preview the highlights of the 2020 racing season at the northeast Pennsylvania track. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono is preparing for the earliest-ever opening in its 55th harness racing season, with qualifying races scheduled for Monday and Tuesday ahead of the first card of this year taking place this coming Saturday, February 8. Trainer/driver Ray Schnittker has several interesting prospects in the Monday qualifiers, which start at 10 a.m., including Wild Bill, a full brother to Huntsville who has shown periodic flashes of his brother's ability; the trotter Alternative Fact, a 1:53.3 winner as a sophomore in a Simpson Stake division at Harrah's Philly; and the well-pedigreed Nightcap, a $125,000 yearling who makes her career debut at three. Others to keep an eye on will be the million dollar-winning Zooming; the hard-hitting Nine Ways, a 14-time winner in high-class company in 2019; and a pair of Down Under invaders, Jossie James A and Raptors Flight N, who make their North American debuts for trainer Richard Banca. Pocono's all-time leading driver George Napolitano Jr. is listed in many of the qualifiers as he lays the foundation towards taking a ninth consecutive Pocono sulky win title. Napolitano, who had 6522 victories in the just-ended decade, did not start 2020 with his usual extended stay in Florida; in fact, he made a couple of rare "road trips" to Dover the last two weeks to keep himself sulky-sharp. Besides hosting more qualifiers, Tuesday will also bring the first draw of the year for the Saturday February 8 card. The opening card will feature two events in the highlight races of February's action, the Game Of Claims Series for various levels of pacers, with elimination rounds determining who will be in the contest to sit on the throne after taking the series' rich Championship races. In the month of February, Pocono will race on Saturday and Sunday at 5 p.m., with Mondays being added in March and post times shifting to the standard 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Monday cards will start at 4 p.m., and they will be joined at that start time in April with Tuesday racing as Pocono expands to its full standard schedule. An introductory press briefing will take place this Thursday to preview the highlights of the 2020 racing season at the northeast Pennsylvania track. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono is pleased to announce their 2020 racing season schedule.  The track in Northeast PA is looking forward to their 55th year of harness racing excellence. Opening night will be earlier for the new season, Saturday, February 8th,  and racing in February will be Saturdays and Sundays with a special winter Post Time of 5:00pm both nights.  In March, Monday at 4:00pm will be added, and the track will transition to the regular Saturday and Sunday post of 7:00pm.  Starting in April, the regular schedule of Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday will be in effect.  On opening night, there will be free live racing programs for the fans at the Racing Rewards desk.  On Sunday, February 9th, as well as the next two Sundays, fans can take advantage of the popular promotion “50/50 Nights”.  The first 100 fans can purchase $50 in live racing vouchers, and it is matched for a total of $100 in vouchers, valid on the live card.  This is a wristband-only event, and they will be distributed at 3:00pm in the Clubhouse Lobby to assure the fans of the offer. Starting off the new season will be a new later closer, the Game of Claims Late Closing Series, with 6 different progressive events for varied claiming levels for  3-year-olds and older horses and gelding pacers, mare pacers, and trotters.  The Bobby Weiss Late Closer series returns in April with 4 events, exclusively for 3-year-olds.  The Pennsylvania-All-Stars, an early closer for Pennsylvania-sired 3-year-olds, starts in May, with the 2-year-olds in July.  The prestigious $2 million Sun Stakes Saturday is July 4th,  featuring the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Trot; $500,000 Ben Franklin Free For All Pace; 500,000 Max Hempt Memorial Pace; and the $300,000 James Lynch Memorial Pace.  Eliminations will take place on Saturday, June 27th.  Monday, February 3rd and Tuesday, February 4th are the first two Qualifying days of the season, with the regular weekly Wednesday qualifying day starting February 12th. by Jennifer Starr, for Pocono Downs  

Stephen Larkin owns only one racehorse, but when the horse is Atta Boy Dan, one is not such a lonely number. In fact, the number is quite common when looking at Atta Boy Dan's past performances, as in first-place finishes. Atta Boy Dan led all harness racing horses in the U.S. in wins last year with 19. He was named both the Claimer of the Year and Pacer of the Year at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, becoming the first horse in recent memory to receive double honors in the same season. For his career, the now 11-year-old gelding, who was slowed by a coffin joint injury in 2017, has won 71 of 200 starts and is approaching $1 million in purses. "What he did last year was amazing," Larkin said. "The thing I love about him the most, he just gives his best every week. He's never had a bad week. He gets a lot of tough trips, but he's always trying down the stretch. He has great heart. He is a great horse." Larkin claimed Atta Boy Dan this past September for $40,000. It was the 14th consecutive start the horse was claimed. During that span, Atta Boy Dan won 11 times, was second twice and third once. "I've never seen a horse change barns that many times, at that age and that caliber, and win every week anyway," said Pete Pellegrino, who trains Atta Boy Dan for Larkin. "He's just an honest horse that loves to do it. He's just as tough as they come. He's an iron horse." Since acquiring Atta Boy Dan, his new connections have put him in conditioned races (some with an optional claiming tag) with the hopes of keeping him for as long as possible. He has raced 14 times for Pellegrino and Larkin, winning three times and earning a check 12 times on his way to $40,455. Atta Boy Dan, who has earned $959,452 lifetime, is entered Saturday in a conditioned race at The Meadowlands. He is 9-2 on the morning line with Corey Callahan in the sulky. "He's been hard luck the last bunch of weeks; first over, first over, first over," Pellegrino said. "Last week, he was first over at the half and they went (1):48.3 and he finished third. But he works right to the wire. You think he's done and in mid-stretch, here he comes again." Larkin, a Massachusetts resident who works as a corrections counselor for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, got his first horse in the mid-1990s. "My father owned horses a long time ago," Larkin said. "In 1995, I moved to New York (for work). I didn't know anyone, I didn't have any hobbies, and I ended up going to Monticello Raceway to pass some time. I ended up claiming some horses; that's how I met Pete." Larkin was attracted to Atta Boy Dan because of his back class. The gelding's top win came in 2015 in the Robert J. Kane Memorial at Batavia Downs and he finished second in that year's Gold Cup and Saucer on Prince Edward Island. Overall in 2015, he won 18 races and was named both the Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year at The Meadows while racing in the stable of trainer Ron Burke. "He speaks for himself," Pellegrino said. "What you see is what you get. He's just an unbelievable horse." Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. Saturday at The Meadowlands. For complete entries, click here.  by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA     

WILKES-BARRE, PA - On the closing night of the 2019 harness racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, there were many highlights, with champions both human and equine honored. George Napolitano Jr. was honored as he continued his unprecedented dominance of the driving ranks in the 54-season history of the Downs. His seasonal sulky statistics were 1437-337-205-188-.357, which earned him his eighth straight win title and 13th overall, and his sixth consecutive UDR crown and 11th overall, which George adds to the five Pocono training titles he has won. But stealing the show was 23-year-old provisional driver Sofia Zingale, who picked a dramatic circumstance in which to record her first-ever sulky victory - in the final $15,000 Billings Amateur Driving Series Eastern Championship. Zingale looked like a seasoned pro behind the veteran Muscles Yankee gelding Inukchuck Chuck, racing him second-over behind Jacks To Open after Wygant Prince went past early leader and favorite Fiji and put up fractions of :27.4 and :58 in 27-degree temperatures. The pacesetter and first-over went at it past the 1:28 three-quarters and through the turn, with Fiji waiting for the Pocono Pike. But Zingale tipped Inukchuck Chuck three-wide and got the trotter to rally strongly to win by 2¼ lengths over Fiji, sending Zingale to Victory Lane for the first time in a sulky (she has a 1-for-3 record in Racing Under Saddle events). Inukchuck Chuck is trained by Nick Surick for owner Clifford Grundy. Even veteran Billings promoter John Manzi was unsure if the "lightly-raced" Zingale had a "Billings nickname" yet. Since this victory propels her to eligibility for the $25,000 Billings Eastern Gold Cup next Saturday at Yonkers, maybe Sofia "What A Time For A First Win!" Zingale may be appropriate. Another trotter in the limelight at Pocono Saturday was the four-year-old Explosive Matter gelding Rich And Miserable, who formed a four-race win streak here that propelled him on to being a force in the continental free-for-all trotting ranks. Named the Trotter of the Year at Pocono, Rich And Miserable posted a 6-5-1-0-$113,750 scorecard locally, highlighted by his victory over 2017 Horse of the Year Hannelore Hanover in the $100,000 Great Northeast Open Series Championship. Rich And Miserable is owned by Buter Farms Inc., Lynette Buter, and William and Carol Fuhs, trained by Todd Buter and driven in all of his Pocono starts by Tyler Buter. The $17,500 closing night featured pace was, fittingly enough, to the Pocono Pacer of the Year and Claimer of the Year Atta Boy Dan, who overcame first-over to catch favored pacesetter American Prime Time by a neck in 1:51. Driven by Simon Allard for trainer Pete Pellegrino for owner Stephen Larkin, the ten-year-old Western Terror gelding won for the 19th time this year, one off the top figure in North America, and pushed his 2019 earnings to $203,090; the lifetime parallel numbers are 71 victories and $946,692. Four claims on closing night brought the seasonal total for the 134 cards to 483 horses changing hands, for a total value of $9,465,025. (Atta Boy Dan accounted for 17 claims and $670,000 himself.) From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The winners of the three $15,000 featured races at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on the Tuesday twilight card all continued recent winning form with harness racing victories as the favorites in their respective contests. The one with the highest winning rate lately is the Sir Lincoln pacing mare Lincoln's Girl N, who remained undefeated in three U.S. starts while taking a new mark of 1:54.2 despite racing over a "good +2" track, with the temperatures a biting 21 degrees and blowing snow in the infield. To say that driver George Napolitano Jr. was "sitting chilly" in the sulky late would be correct in two senses, as the Kiwi won by herself, taking her fourth straight race counting her Down Under departure event. Trainer Josh Green co-owns the promising distaff with Richard Lombardo and David Kryway. Napolitano came back to win the trotting section of the tri-features with the Muscle Hill sophomore colt Night Hall, who used the Pocono Pike to edge by Grapple Hanover in 1:56.1, giving him victories in three of his last four and five of his last six. Ã…ke Svanstedt conditions the developing three-year-old for owner Peter Wilhelmsen. In the feature division for male pacers, A Stud Named Sam continued the recent turnaround in his fortunes by catching Bring The Thunder in a clocking of 1:53.1 for driver Tyler Buter. Unraced at two and opening his career with thirteen straight defeats, the gelded son of A Stud Named Sue has now won five of his last six starts for trainer Dirk Simpson and the Dirk Simpson Stable Inc. The long-memoried fans who recalled that Western Alumni had won on Opening Night here in 37 degrees while paying $61.00 got a bonanza on Tuesday's second-to-last card of the year, as the pacer again paid boxcars in cold weather with a $63.80 upset for driver Tom Jackson and owner/trainer Eddie Williams. Western Alumni joined A Bettor Beach as the only two horses to pay $50+ to win twice at the meet. The 2019 seasonal finale on Saturday will find George Napolitano Jr. (a five-time winner Tuesday) recognized for being Pocono's top driver in terms of wins and UDR (his sixth straight year of doing that particular double), Rich And Miserable acclaimed as the local Trotter of the Year, and patrons getting a Fan Appreciation Night gift of a hooded sweatshirt as supplies and sizes last. First race for Saturday's yearly windup is at 7 p.m. From the PHHA / Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Keystone Endeavor gelding Endeavors Pride, under constant reminders from driver Matt Kakaley to keep to business during the mile, showed gameness in taking the featured $16,000 claiming handicap harness racing pace Saturday evening at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Endeavors Pride was looped early, and was outside well past the :26.4 opening quarter. The winner did gain command before the :55.4 half, but he soon came under attack from first-over Rockin Rio. Endeavors Pride turned that one back on the far turn, then had enough to withstand a huge closing burst by Outkast Blue Chip, closer to the outside fence than the pylons turning for home, by 1¾ lengths in 1:52.3, with the mercury at 30 degrees. The eight-time seasonal winner is trained by Katie Remmerswaal for Doug and Leslie Berkeley. A "heat wave" came to the track midcard, with the temperature up to a balmy 32 degrees for the two $14,500 co-featured paces. The first of the co-features went to the Pocono Pacer of the Year, Atta Boy Dan, who won for the 15th time at Pocono during the meet, for the 18th time during 2019, and for the 70th time during his $937,942-winning career. What was unusual about this victory is that Atta Boy Dan came from dead last in the six-horse field, moving three-wide in the lane and showing his big heart to overhaul 60-1 shot A Real Miracle by ¾ of a length in 1:52.2. Simon Allard, who tied with Kakaley for night's honors with four victories, drove the ten-year-old Western Terror gelding for trainer Pete Pellegrino and owner Stephen Larkin. Perhaps the most impressive winner of the night was In Secret, who captured the second co-feature in 1:50.4, matching the lifetime best he established two weeks ago. The Bettor's Delight gelding had a horrible trip early - looped leaving, three-wide around a breaker, finally getting to tuck out of the first turn, then uncovered again into the next bend - but In Spades brushed right around the leader before the 5/8 and had a safe lead the rest of the way, winning under a hold. George Napolitano Jr. guided the sharp winner for owner/trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera. 21-year-old trainer Hunter Oakes was honored as the track's leading conditioner in the UTR system in trackside ceremonies. The son of well-known trainer Chris Oakes, Hunter saw his horses post excellent numbers of 162-51-27-23-.455 going into the night's card, putting him ahead of all trainers who average a start per two cards. Speaking of two cards - that's all that is left on the 2019 Pocono calendar. The trotters and pacers will go at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, and then next Saturday (7 p.m.), the final card of the local year will be highlighted by a Fan Appreciation Night that features a hooded sweatshirt giveaway while quantities (and size availability) lasts. The leading Driver awards will be given on the closing card, and the Trotter of the Year will be honored. From the PHHA / Pocono Downs

There are only three days remaining in the 2019 harness racing season at the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and the track in Northeast PA is planning a special “Fan Appreciation Night” on Saturday, November 16th.  Just in time for the cold weather, fans can pick up a special commemorative hooded sweatshirt, while supplies last.  A coupon is required, and will be in the live racing program, available starting at 5:00pm at the Racing Rewards desk.  The coupon may be redeemed between 9:00pm and 10:00pm at the lower grandstand, and sizes are limited. The Downs is also continuing to highlight the best of the 2019 season, with the Leading Trainer – UTRS to be honored on Saturday, November 9th, and the Leading Driver and Trotter of the Year spotlighted on closing night, November 16th.  Rene Allard was honored for Leading Trainer – Wins on Saturday, November 2nd, and Atta Boy Dan took home two awards, Pacer of the Year and Claimer of the Year on Saturday, October 26th.   Post Time for the two Saturday cards is 7:00pm, and Tuesday post is 4:00pm. The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono’s 2020 racing schedule will be released in late December.  by Jennifer Starr, for Pocono Downs  

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Despite a mercury reading dancing on the edge of 50o, the three winners of the $15,000 features on the Tuesday twilight card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono all posted lifetime harness racing marks. The Art Major gelding Benson Boys N perforce took a new best of 1:52 in a pace for males, as the race was his U.S. debut. Unraced at two and three but now 6-for-13 in his last two seasons, Benson Boys N swept wide off cover on the far turn, was kept out wide by the pocketsitting Boys Turn moving outside at headstretch, but still won the stretch battle of the "Boys" by ¾ of a length. Tyler Buter drove the promising import for trainer Chris Oakes and owners Northfork Racing Stable and Alan Johnston. The Pet Rock sophomore filly Throwing Shade put in a big mile in her second start for Team Allard, winning in 1:52.4 by over four lengths. Simon Allard, driving for brother/trainer Rene, got a spot leaving, then moved the filly at the 3/8 to gain the lead by the half. None of her rivals in this feature split for pacing distaffs could go with her in the second half, and she looks like a good acquisition for Allard Racing Inc., Jordan Derue, and Bruce Soulsby. In the feature division for trotters, Choco Charlie steadily came on in the last quarter, wearing down leader Play It Again As by a length in 1:54.4. Tyler Buter also had sulky duty behind the sophomore altered son of Andover Hall for trainer Jill Roland and owner Bernard O'Brien. Buter and Eric Carlson led the driving colony with three winners each on the Tuesday card. Pocono has only three cards remaining in its 2019 season: this Saturday and the following Tuesday, and then closing night on Saturday, November 16. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE. PA - The Big Jim sophomore colt Bronx Seelster, fresh off racing in his Breeders Crown harness racing final, went to the top against mostly older foes in the $17,500 feature at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs Saturday night, then responded gamely to post a 1:50.3 victory in 40-degree temperatures. Simon Allard, who had three victories on the night, hustled the sophomore to the top before the :26.2 initial split, then got him to the half in :55.1 and the three-quarters in 1:23.2 without too much pressure. In the stretch, though, Twin B Tuffenuff ducked in from the pocket to the Pocono Pike and menaced in midstretch, but Bronx Seelster dug in and held a neck advantage at the wire. The pacer is now campaigned by Allard Racing Inc., Bruce Soulsby, Alan Weisenberg, and Dr. Stephen Klunowski, who acquired him before his Breeders Crown elimination. Bronx Seelster is trained by Rene Allard, who was recognized during the card for being the winningest trainer at Pocono in 2019, a feat which now gives him six of the last seven local titles. The 32-year-old native of Quebec ranks third among North American trainers in the seasonal victory category. Keystone Steam joined an early-forming two-wide tier, went three-wide down the backstretch and went back to two-wide on the far turn, then was just along over the pacesetting Tom's Arockin in 1:51.3 in the $16,000 claiming handicap pace co-feature. The gelded son of Bettor's Delight, who won by a half-length, got the job done for trainer James Guagliardo, owner Steven Cetinsky, and driver George Napolitano Jr., who also won with Pocono's Pacer of the Year Atta Boy Dan on the card among his five wins on the night. The Great Britain-bred Hasty Hall gelding Matticulous GB remained undefeated in three starts on this side of the Atlantic, and he took his lifetime record to 21-17-4-0 with a 1:51.1 victory in a $14,000 pace. Matt Kakaley put the Ron Burke trainee, owned by Brett Thompson, on the lead going to the quarter and was unstoppable - literally: after coming home in :27, Matticulous GB and Kakaley "came back" and sailed right past the winners circle and in the general direction of the paddock. Pocono now will next race on Tuesday, as the track will alternate Saturday and Tuesday programs until the meet's closing night of Saturday, November 16. From the PHHA / Pocono Downs

CHESTER, PA - The Explosive Matter gelding Scirocco Rob, pressed to the max around the final turn by the first-over Max, got a big break when that one went offstride nearing headstretch, and "Rob" was able to go on to a 1:54.4 harness racing victory over a "good" track in the $17,500 trotting feature at Harrah's Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon. George Napolitano Jr., who had four driving wins on the dank day, sent the Mark Silva trainee right out to command, and when Armageddon Seelster could find no first turn hole in which to tuck, he went on past the :27.3 opener to get the lead, only to see Scirocco Rob immediately reclaim the top well before the :57.2. At that point Max started his first-over grind and was giving the winner all he could handle when he lost his gait late on the turn, allowing Scirocco Rob to stay in control and tally by 3 ½ lengths over late-closing Ooh Rah. The winner, owned by Kathleen Whitaker and Lewis Whitaker Jr., now shows career earnings of $397,723. Sumatra was handled patiently by driver David Miller through most of the $14,500 co-featured trot, then proved to have the most late in 1:55.3 victory, a neck to the good of Izoh. The Muscles Yankee gelding, trained by Tom Fanning, has amassed a lifetime bankroll of $790,172 for owner Joseph Smith. From the PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

WILKES-BARRE, PA - A rare Ãke Svanstedt-trained pacer, the Rock N Roll Heaven mare Kimberlee, sat off of very hot fractions, then swept to victory late in the $17,500 distaff featured harness racing pace during the Tuesday twilight card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Shes Pukka N used the rail to gain the early advantage, keeping the favorite Eclipse Me N parked well past the :26 quarter to almost the 3/8; at that point Medusa, who had also left and was parked with cover, went on and gained command before the hot :54.1 half. Tell Me A Joke came up first-over, with the 12-1 Kimberlee towed up second-over, with the former challenging Medusa for the lead through and past a 1:22 three-quarters. All of the horses who had been involved with the quick pace understandably tired a bit, leaving Kimberlee ($26.60) with a clear path to pace to a 1:50.3 victory, a neck ahead of Tell Me A Joke. Marcus Miller, whose four driving wins were the most on the card, was in the sulky behind the 10-time winner for Knutsson Trotting Inc. Though she came up shy in this, her first start in 26 days, Eclipse Me N earned a place in the winners circle after Kimberlee, as the Real Desire mare was honored as Pocono's Mare of the Year. Eclipse Me N performed quite honorably against national-class mares in the Great Northeast Open Series, missing only a half-length in the Championship, and in top-level overnight events she was a high-percentage winner, including an equaling of the 1:48.2 world record for older mares on a 5/8-mile track and an upset win over Breeders Crown champion Caviart Ally. The Allard brothers, driver Simon and trainer Rene, were among others on hand to accept the award for the connections of the winner of $314,269, who is owned by Allard Racing Inc., Yves Sarrazin, and Donald MacRae. Only five cards remain in the 2019 racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, as with the change to November the track will race only on Saturday and Tuesday until closing night of Saturday, November 16. From the PHHA / Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE PA - George Napolitano Jr., not long removed from achieving his 10,000th career driving victory, posted another milestone at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on the Monday twilight harness racing card, guiding Follow Your Heart to a 1:53.3 initial pari-mutuel victory to notch his 5000th lifetime driving success over the red 5/8-mile oval in northeast Pennsylvania. Just as he did with Motown N 16 days ago to get his overall win #10,000, Napolitano moved early for the lead with the favored Follow Your Heart, and the Rock N Roll Heaven freshman gelding kept control from there, coming home in :55.3 while lowering his mark over 4 seconds. The freshman is trained by Aaron Lambert, who is also co-owner with Ron Coyne Stables Inc., Blair Corbeil, and David Linker. Follow Your Heart trained by Aaron Lambert (in photo) Napolitano is well on his way to his 13th championship in the driving win category at the Pocono oval. In North American terms, Napolitano became the 18th driver to reach five figures in sulky wins, and he ranks 11th among active drivers. George also is sitting in third place among all North American drivers in 2019.     PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The veteran Conway Hall gelding Dayson was able to overcome a first-over journey, defeating Joey Bats by a half length in 1:54.3 to take the $17,500 featured harness racing trot Sunday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Matt Kakaley kept the career winner of $1,118,127 midpack as first Sylvesteramerica IT and then Hill Of A Horse took command from the breaking leader The Lionking As near the quarter, then midrace moved Dayson to the outside to begin his grind forward. The nine-time seasonal winner never faltered, going to the lead in the stretch and then withstanding second-over Joey Bats for trainer Ron Burke and the ownership of Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby, and Larry Karr (the last-named had the pacer named for him win in 1:50.1 over sloppy going at Philly earlier in the day). A trio of $17,000 events for developing younger horses served as subfeatures. In the one trotting division, the Chapter Seven sophomore colt Refi also found the first-out route the path to glory, catching pacesetter Always A Dream by half a length in 1:55. Tom Jackson drove the recent addition to the Ray Schnittker barn for the partnership of Greenhorse and Robert Rudolph. The two pacing co-features were split by sex. The event for fillies and mares saw the Bettor's Delight mare Persistent Bettor save ground most of the way for driver Anthony Napolitano, then slide wide at headstretch and rally to outfinish favored Demi Hill by ¾ of a length in 1:52. Trainer John Hallett, who has done very nicely on the local scene since coming over from Tioga Downs, conditions the winner for Geoffrey and Rick Howles. In the co-feature section for pacing males, the American Ideal gelding JK Musicman looked like his closing kick might come too late to catch Rebel Rouser, who had used the Pocono Pike to grab a midstretch advantage, but driver Eric Carlson hustled the Musicman home to a 1:50.4 victory by ¾ of a length. Gilbert Garcia-Herrera trains the winner of $111,266 for his son Gilbert Garcia-Owen. From the PHHA / Pocono Downs

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