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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

WILKES-BARRE, PA - On Saturday night, the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono honored its 2019 harness racing Horse of the Year and Claimer of the Year, who happened to be one and the same horse - the Western Terror 10-year-old gelding Atta Boy Dan. So far this year at Pocono, Atta Boy Dan has posted a record of 22-13-2-3, with earnings of $151,575. He was all but invincible in the top claiming ranks through most of the summer, taking ten of eleven starts, and he was claimed out of fourteen straight races, an unofficial local record. Peter Pellegrino, training the horse for owner Stephen Larkin as the last of the long line claiming Atta Boy Dan, was among those in the Pocono winners circle for the ceremonies. Atta Boy Dan is the first horse in recent memory to be a double honor winner for a season. Funknwaffles made a brush to the lead at the half, fought off pressure, then drew away to a 3½ length victory in the $17,500 featured pace, tallying in 1:50.2. The American Ideal gelding won over Ourlittlegeneral A, who challenged the winner of $952,534 without cover down the backstretch, couldn't get by him, but did hold for the deuce. Funknwaffles missed less than a length in this class last week from the outside post nine, and the move all the way in to the rail may have made the difference for the veteran, who is trained by Deborah Brunet for Crawford Farms Racing. George Napolitano Jr. drove Funknwaffles, one of four victories he had on the Saturday card at the mountain oval. Burning Midnight and driver Pat Berry got good racing fortune in taking the $16,000 top claiming handicap pace. The Mach Three gelding was on the move early behind Talent Soup, then got to retuck in the pocket behind his cover as the early leader broke and bothered the horse behind him. Talent Soup was joined by first-over Palomar down the back and on the far turn, with Berry able to slip out behind the dueling pair and then catch Palomar by a neck in 1:52 for trainer Lou Pena and the ownership of Joe P Racing LLC. From the PHHA / Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - A pair of $15,000 trots headlined the Tuesday twilight harness racing card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with both winners scoring in 1:55.2 just before heavy rains necessitated a downgrading of the track surface. First to Victory Lane was the Donato Hanover mare Mystical Wynn, who parlayed a pocket trip into a neck decision over heavy favorite Grandma Heidi, who had set the pace. Anthony Napolitano drove the Bob Baggitt Jr. trainee for the Kelly Walker Stable LLC. Joining forces with trainer Frank Kamine and the ownership of A 1 Racing for the first time, the E L Titan sophomore filly Play It Again As took a lifetime mark in winning the other feature event. Despite being off for 23 days, Play It Again As set the pace from the quarter and had enough to withstand first-over Choco Charlie by a half-length under the guidance of Simon Allard. Top pace on the evening was a $14,000 event for distaffs, in which the Bettor's Delight mare Medusa raised her lifetime earnings to $997,778 with a victory in 1:51.1 over a track which by this time had been listed as "sloppy." George Napolitano Jr. put the favored winner on the lead, and she stormed home in :55.1 despite the adverse conditions to defeat longshot KG Rocks by four lengths for trainer Randy Bendis, who also co-owns the veteran mare with Pollack Racing LLC. George Napolitano Jr., who recently notched his 10,000th career driving victory, won four of the last five races to give him sulky honors for Tuesday, and he has now recorded 4,993 career wins at the mountain oval. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE PA - Tight Lines blew away a talented harness racing field in the $21,500 featured trot Sunday evening at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, recording a 1:54.1 victory with a :56.3 back half despite 50o temperatures and a sloppy surface. Trainer/driver Jeff Gregory was behind the innermost of the leavers and put foes in behind him to a :27.3 quarter, then got a :30 breather in the second stanza. From there the sprint was on, and the altered son of Yankee Glide was in complete control in the latter stages, winning by 4½ lengths over pocketsitter Joey Bats. Tight Lines has now won a third of his eighteen seasonal starts and has amassed $522,076 lifetime for Jeff Gregory Inc., Jesmeral Stable, and William Richardson. There was a trio of $17,000 co-features for younger horses trying to earn their way up the condition ladder. In the single trotting event, the Cantab Hall sophomore gelding Nextroundsonme got to the half in slow time even over the off going while on the lead, then stepped home in :57.1 to complete a 1:57.4 victory, defeating pocketsitting Conman Crown by 1½ lengths. George Napolitano Jr. drove the victorious three-year-old for trainer Jenny Melander and Belmar Racing And Breeding LLC. The first of the pacing co-features was for females, and Blue Ivy proved worthy of heavy mutuel backing with an easy 2½ length victory over two-holer Coral Bella in 1:53.1, coming her last half in :56.1 and her last quarter in :28 after moving to the lead past the quarter. The winner is a three-year-old Captaintreacherous miss who was driven by Tyler Buter for trainer Chris Oakes and the partnership of Crawford Farms Racing, Northfork Racing Stable, and Chuck Pompey. In the division for male pacers, the sophomore Somebeachsomewhere gelding Quatrain Blue Chip moved to the lead in front of the stands, opened up a big lead with a :27.3 third quarter in the muck, and came home comfortably for a 1:53 triumph, 2¼ lengths to the good of JK Musicman. Trainer Chris Oakes completed a sweep of the pacing co-features with the three-year-old, who won a division of the Simpson Stakes at Philly three starts back, for owners Mac Nichol and Gerald Stay; the victory completed a driving triple for George Napolitano Jr., top among the sulkysitters on the night.   PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The temperature danced on either side of the 50 degree mark Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, but driver Eric Carlson again proved to have the hot hands with the longshots, as he guided Somwherenbrookln N ($87.80) to a 1:51.3 victory in the $17,500 featured harness racing pace Saturday night at the northeast Pennsylvania oval. Carlson kept the Somebeachsomewhere gelding well off a torrid contested early pace, then swung him three-wide late on the backstretch, with Funknwaffles right on his back. These two circled tired horses and proved to be the main factors to the wire, as Somwherenbrookln N maintained a ¾ length lead to the finish for owner/trainer Gilberto Garcia-Herrera. Driver Carlson has now guided seven horses who have paid $50 or more to win at the meet - his nearest rivals are Matt Kakaley and Anthony Napolitano with three. Trainer Garcia-Herrera notched his third longshot winner of the meet, tying him at the top with Travis Alexander and Ron Burke in the conditioners' column. Although absent from the local scene since July 13 as he focused on the New York Sire Stakes circuit from his western New York base, driver Jim Morrill Jr. showed no "Pocono rust" as he won four races on the card, including with the Bettor's Delight gelding Keystone Steam in a $16,000 co-featured claiming handicap pace. Keystone Steam made no fewer than three different moves in the race, yet still had enough to defeat Ron Bakardi by a neck in 1:51.3 for trainer Katie Remmerswaal and owners Doug and Leslie Berkeley, who enjoyed their one-week stay with Keystone Steam - they claimed the horse last week, lost him via claim for the same price tonight, and made $8000 minus the week's training fees. From the PHHA / Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The World Of Rocknroll mare Clarebear took another successful step up the class ladder at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, winning her third straight with a 1:52.1 harness racing victory in the $17,500 mares pacing feature on the Tuesday twilight card. Driver Eric Carlson was insistent on the lead going out of the gate, then after getting early pressers to take back, in a :27 opener she yielded to the brushing Baron Remy in front of the stands. Baron Remy continued on to middle fractions of :55.3 and 1:24.1, but it was Clarebear who showed the most late speed, using the Pocono Pike to overhaul the pacesetter by 1½ lengths. The winner, who is trained by David Russo for the Cavalli Veloci Stable LLC ("cavalli veloci" is Italian for "fast horses"), boosted her lifetime bankroll to $298,983. There were a pair of $15,000 trots as co-features. In the first, the Donato Hanover three-year-old gelding Crossfit advanced with cover, went on uncovered after his cover broke on the far turn, then caught pacesetter Fire'N Woodshed by a half-length while taking a new mark of 1:55.4. Matt Kakaley drove the winner for trainer Ron Burke and owner Joe Sbrocco. In the other trot, 30-1 shot Darty was four-wide early in going to the lead and maintained the advantage to the wire as the outer tiers were stagnant, with pocketsitter Voodoo Man closest at the wire, a half-length behind, at the end of the 1:56.1 mile. Marcus Miller was at the controls of the sophomore altered son of Yankee Glide as he won for trainer John Butenschoen and the partnership of Harmony Oaks Racing Stable, David Miller, In Over My Head Stable, and VIP Internet Stable LLC. In a $14,000 mares pace, The Charging Moa N ran her North American record to two-for-two while lowering her mile record to 1:51. The daughter of Changeover has lived up to her name in both starts here - last week charging up three-wide on the far turn and going on to an impressive score, this week charging three-wide in front of the stands for driver Tyler Buter to clear before the second turn and going on to a 1¾ length victory over $990,778 winner Medusa. Trainer Rob Harmon looks like he has a mare who will be climbing the class ladder for Harmon Racing Stable LLC, Winners Circle Racing LLC, Howudoin Stable, and Richard Lerner. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs    

Normally in this space we hand out the Weekly Awards for excellent performances by horses, drivers and trainers at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. I would venture a guess that no one has won more of those awards than driver George Napolitano Jr. Which is why it's only fitting that we take a break from the Weekly Awards to honor George's latest milestone. This past Saturday night, George Nap picked up his 10,000th career driving victory. A lot of times, when we stop and note these milestone wins, it's just about the fact that the driver happens to have landed upon a nice round number. But 10,000 victories represent extremely rarefied air, a total that few drivers could even dream of achieving. For context, only 11 active drivers have done it, while only 18 in the history of the sport of harness racing in North America have reached that plateau. When you think about all of the drivers at all of the tracks through all of the years that the sport has been in existence, you realize that 18 represents only a tiny fraction of all of the men and women who have ever sat in the sulky. So how is it that one comes to such a number? Well, it helps to have longevity, and George has certainly managed that. But you also have to be at the absolute top of your game during the time that you're driving. Many others have raced for as long or even longer than Napolitano and have not approached 10,000 victories. To get there, you have to be winning an extremely high percentage of your races. And George has certainly done that, especially in the state of Pennsylvania. Pocono has always been his main stomping grounds, with just shy of half of those 10,000 wins coming on our oval. He's on his way to his 13th driving championship at the track, including the last eight years running. In that time, Pocono has boasted one of the strongest driving communities in the country. Coming out on top of that group year after year is truly a sign of excellence. George Nap has also done a lot of damage at Harrah's at Philadelphia across the state, winning driving titles there as well. It becomes a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy when you have that kind of talent. He drives so successfully that the owners and trainers want him to drive their horses, meaning that he gets the choice of the best horse flesh. When you put that kind of equine talent together with George's driving skills, it's a winning combination. But that doesn't take into account all of the wins George has earned when the horse he was driving didn't have the best of racing luck. That's why his 10,000th win was so emblematic. It came aboard a horse named Motown N who was made the favorite in a condition pace despite the fact that he was moving up in class. In the race, Motown N was urged to go for the lead by Napolitano as the field came around the first turn. It's a move that George has made a million times, and it usually ends up with his horse in the lead before they hit the 3/8-mile marker of the race. But this time, the early pacesetter, Santafe's Coach, was unwilling to give up the lead. Motown N was parked al the way through the front stretch and only cleared for the lead at the half-mile marker. As someone who has seen a lot of races from up in the announcer's booth over the years, I know that such a trip usually spells trouble. A horse parked around two turns and used hard during that stretch generally struggles to sustain the lead. When Youcaniknow came charging up with a stout first-over charge, it seemed again like it would be too much for Motown N to handle. But one of the things that has characterized Napolitano throughout his amazing career has been his ability to keep horses afloat that might otherwise falter in lesser hands. And this historic race proved to be another example of that. Motown N rebuffed the charge of Youcaniknow and was still out in front at the top of the lane. It was never going to be easy, though, as Motown N still had to weather a late charge by Redbank Blaze A, driven, ironically enough, by George's brother Anthony Napolitano. But there was no denying this horse or this driver in this one. Motown N gutted it out to win by two lengths. Normally, during a stretch drive of a harness race, the television shot tries to widen out to encompass as many of the contending horses as possible. But in this case, the professionals at International Sound, who handle the Pocono TV production so adeptly, took a quick closeup of Motown N as he strived to the finish line. And that closeup showed George Napolitano Jr., all grit and determination, working just as hard as his horse, calling on every last bit of savvy and skill that he has amassed over the years to get the victory. Do that just once in your life and you've accomplished something. Do that 9,999 times more, and you can call yourself as successful as George Napolitano Jr. I think I can speak for all of us here at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono as I pass along my congratulations to George and let him know what an honor it has been to witness his excellence. Here's to many more victories to come. That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com. by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs                

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Muscle Mass mare Supergirl Riley made an early move to the lead and trotted on strongly to take the $17,500 trotting harness racing feature Sunday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, winning in 1:52.3. Fresh off a 1:51.3 lifetime best at Lexington, Supergirl Riley was kept midpack early by driver Simon Allard, then moved at the quarter and grabbed the lead as the field neared the wire the first time. A final quarter of :28.1 was sufficient to keep the nearest challenger, the first-over Hill Of A Horse, 2¼ lengths at bay; the latter photoed out pocketsitter The Lionking As for place. Pocono's leading trainer, Rene Allard, trains the winner of three of her last four, who boosted her lifetime earnings to $457,713 for Allard Racing Inc., John Lengacher, and Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc. There were three $17,000 co-features for horses looking to climb the class ladder. Two of the races were for pacers; in the contest for males, the Captaintreacherous sophomore gelding Seafarer was the last choice in the field of five and last at headstretch, but he closed solidly to nose out JK Musicman while taking a new mark of 1:50.4. Driver Marcus Miller got the timing just right with the winner of three of his last five for trainer/father Erv Miller and the ownership of Ervin Miller Stable Inc. and Tanah Merah Farms LLC. Marcus and Erv Miller came right back in the next race, the co-feature for pacing females, with another Captaintreacherous sophomore, Alli Nui, who also set a lifetime best with a 1:50.3 mile. Alli Nui sat behind pacesetting favorite Bestseller Hanover, moved out in the stretch to get the lead, then withstood the late kick of Blue Ivy by 1½ lengths for Ervin Miller Stable Inc., Hannah Miller, Nick Surick Stable LLC, and Louis Willinger. In the trotting contest, Macmorris Hanover was outside early and not able to clear to the lead until almost the second turn, yet he still had enough to hold off favored Fade Into You by 1½ lengths in 1:55.2 for driver Pat Lachance. The Cantab Hall sophomore gelding has now been victorious in two of his last three starts for trainer Bob Baggitt Jr. and owners Ben Mudry, Douglas Millard, Timothy Murray, and Howard Taylor.   PHHA / Pocono

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