Day At The Track

Pocono Downs Week in Review

04:19 AM 22 Jul 2020 NZST
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Brian Sears, harness racing
Brian Sears named Driver of the Week at Pocono Downs
USTA photo


It can be difficult for a horse to come back strong after a career-best mile. That was the dilemma facing Branquinho, a four-year-old stallion from the Ray Schnittker barn who scored a win in a new career mark of 1:49:3 in his previous race at Pocono on July 11. On Saturday the stallion once again faced the non-winners of six condition, leaving from post position #6 in a field of eight as a 1-2 favorite.

Any worries about lethargy from Branquinho were silenced when he brushed to the lead on the front stretch under the guidance of driver George Napolitano Jr.. Despite setting nasty fractions, he was still strong in the lane, holding off Captain Malicious to win by a comfortable 3 ¾ lengths. And even though it wasn't as quick as his previous victory, Branquinho's second straight win came in 1:50:3, the fastest pacing time of the week at Pocono.

Honorable Mention

Prairie Panther (Tyler Buter, Michael Deters), who continued to perform well among the highest ranks at Pocono with a victory on Saturday in a $14,000 condition pace in 1:51:2

Atta Boy Dan (George Napolitan Jr., Peter Pellegrino), whose second straight condition win on Monday, this one coming in 1:51:3, put him over $1 million in earnings in his career

Father Sarducci (Joe Bongiorno, Jennifer Bongiorno), who has won two straight on the Pocono oval, with a second at Harrah's sandwiched between, after a condition win on Saturday afternoon in a career-best 1:51.


This mare from the Jenny Melander barn had already proven her bona fides with back to back victories in condition trots coming into Sunday night. After beating some more experienced horses in those races, the four-year-old mare faced horses more her own age on the Sunday program as she took on non-winners of four. Leaving from the inside post in a field of nine as an even-money favorite, she found an early pocket seat behind pacesetting Winter Olympics.

When they hit the top of the stretch, Winter Olympics went on a break, leaving Bella Ava in a battle with first-over challenger Arclight Hanover. Driver David Miller called on Bella Ava for more and she responded, nipping Arclight Hanover by a head. Her winning time in this third straight victory at Pocono came in 1:54:2, which was a new career mark.

Honorable Mention

Mississippi Storm (Anthony Napolitano, Tom Fanbning), who captured his second win in his last three races with a condition victory on Saturday in 1:53:1

Crystal Fashion (Jordan Stratton, Jim Campbell), whose victory in Saturday's featured $17,200 trot came in 1:51:4, which was the fastest trotting time of the week at Pocono

Ineffable (Brian Sears, Marcus Melander), who posted the fastest winning time on Sunday night in four divisions of Pennsylvania All-Stars for two-year-old trotting fillies with a 1:56.


This trotter with Anthony Napolitano in the bike led just every step of the way in a condition trot on Monday and did so at 25-1, paying off $52.40 on a $2 win ticket.


Sears made only one appearance this week but made his presence felt by churning out three wins on Sunday night, including a Pennsylvania All-Stars races aboard Ineffable.


Bongiorno had the best day of any conditioner on Saturday, sending out five starters and producing three winners on the card, and then she added another training victory on Sunday.

That will do it for this week at Pocono, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at

by Jim Bevigila, for Pocono Downs





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