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Years ago, harness racing driver George Napolitano Jr. asked his dad, who owned a high-performance shop building race cars, why he got out of the horse business. The answer turned George’s life around. “He told me it was because he couldn’t take the drivers. He swore that if he ever got back in the business, his sons would be driving,” George remembers. His dad got a few horses, and George, in his early 30’s, got his chance. “He made me into a driver.” Revelry (George) Photo Credit: Curtis Salonick Harness racing as a career wasn’t what George thought would be in his future, even as he helped his dad with the horses when he was in his teens. “I knew how to take care of the horses, but I never thought in a million years I would do it for a career because it was just too much work,” he said. “ I grew up racing Motocross, and boxing, and being a wild kid. I always wanted to do something else. But my dad got back in the business and that was it.” Now at over 10,723 wins* in his career, George is humble about his character years back. He regrets what he calls “always being in fight mode. “I couldn’t get it through my head that you can’t fight everyone you work with,” he explained. “I went through a lot of years fighting with drivers. Now we’re all friendly and buried the hatchet, but I hope that one day they’ll forgive me. I was a really bad guy. I’m not perfect now, and I still fall really short, but Jesus holds my ear and drags me down the right path.” Leading Driver Wins/UDR 2017 At the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, he’s won the Leading Driver-Wins title 14 times, including the last 9 years in a row; at Harrah’s Philadelphia, he’s been awarded the title 8 times. His success comes from a formula he follows daily. “I just go out and race, and then turn the page real quick when it’s over, and go back into fight mode,” he describes. “Going up against top drivers like Tim Tetrick and David Miller, you’ve got to have tiger blood running through your veins to compete. There are lots of highs and lows in this game, so if you let races get to you, it will drag you down real quick, and then you can’t drive the same.” His family inspires him every day. “My wife stuck by me and has given up her life to follow mine. She put herself through school and gave up her career as an ultrasound tech. Some day, I told her I’ll do the same for her and we can move back to Florida and I’ll follow her life,” he said emotionally. His son George is now 16 and is playing basketball at his high school Unityville, and since the games were played during the winter, his father decided to stay back here with his family rather than go to Florida as they would normally do, which was a decision that placed George in the top 3 at the driver standings at the Meadowlands’ winter meet. Another Napolitano enjoying driving success from hard work and passion for the sport is his younger brother Anthony. With over 3208** lifetime wins, he’s consistently been in the top 3 in the driver standings at Pocono for several years, and second to leading driver George. Anthony took care of his dad’s horses since he was a kid, and ran the stable at Pompano after his father passed away in 2006. Like George, he wasn’t sure that harness racing was something he could do as a career. “I had other things in mind, I wanted to be a professional boxer. I just wanted to do something else. Rockin The Hills & Anthony Napolitano Photo Credit: Curtis Salonick But it just comes naturally to fall into a family business than to go on your own and have to deal with another boss,” he said. He drove in the amateurs and then soon got his full license and made the transition to driving professionally. Anthony decided to make the move from Pompano to Pennsylvania when things began to slow down at that track, and he bought a small farm twenty minutes from Pocono, where he’s based today. He and trainer Marta Piotrow have been working together for several years. Marta, who has her degree in Animal Science and her Masters degree in Equine Reproduction, was Breeding Manager for Jeff Gural’s Allerage Farms and had been dating Anthony when he was involved in a serious accident at Pocono. She relocated to his farm from New York to help him recuperate and then started to learn the training end of harness racing. “She’s doing very well,” Anthony said proudly. “She does everything! I just drive them. I step in when she needs my professional input, and she takes my suggestions and puts her own twist on it, and it seems to work.” He emphasized that it’s difficult for a small stable like theirs to survive, but they work hard and it shows in their success. In their free time, both love the thrill of riding dirt bikes. “Big brother” George has high praise for Anthony and offered his help to get him started. “I put Anthony on his first win at Pocono,” he said. “He came to visit me and I told him to bring his colors, and I had a horse that could not lose. His name was Yankee Lander. I made a driver change, right in the paddock, I said put Anthony Nap on him. I told him ‘Ant, put this thing on the gate and roll him’, and he did; he went in :51 with him! He made that horse go faster than I did! My little brother is so amazing, he’s so gifted and talented, and I’m so proud of him that he followed his big brother’s footsteps. Everything I did, he did. I boxed, he boxed. I raced Motocross, he did. I race horses, and he races horses. Everything I’ve done, he’s done, and he’s better than me!” On the track, though, they are competitive and driven to win. “Oh, we fight!” exclaimed George. “My dad always taught us, maybe not the right thing exactly, to fight for anything. Me and my brother sometimes do fight, but we love way more than we fight.” Anthony agrees. “We’ve had some pretty aggressive arguments, but it goes away over time. We’re competitive on the track, but at the end of the day, we’re still blood, and we’re still family.” George always had helped Anthony through the early part of his career to get drives, but things have turned around. “Now that I’m getting older, he’s trying to help me, putting me on his backups!” he laughed. As for the future for both brothers, George is quick to note that, at age 54, retirement is not even on his radar. “Wally Hennessy is still driving at 65. I don’t know what my number is, but I’ll just let my body and Jesus tell me. I want to go heavy for a couple more years, provide for my family, and then relax.” Anthony, 39 years old, is looking forward to continuing driving the circuit and working alongside Marta, running their stable. One word that was echoed from both Anthony and George was “thankful”. Both are thankful to be doing what they love every day; for their success, and thankful for their strong family bond. The numbers (as of press time) compiled by Jerry Connors *George Napolitano Jr. 10,723 wins $96,854,274 lifetime Record year-2015-$8.57M/834 wins Leading Driver-Wins – Pocono – 14 times Leading Driver-UDR- Pocono – 12 times Leading Driver-Wins- Harrah’s-8 times Leading Driver-UDR-Harrah’s-4 times North America Leading Driver-Wins-2010 (753 wins) **Anthony Napolitano 3208 wins $31,032,168 lifetime Record year-2009-295 wins Record year-2018-$3.46M by Jennifer Starr, for the PA Horse Racing Association

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Bar Hopping sophomore trotting harness racing ridgling Top Me Off became the only male to come through the Bobby Weiss Series preliminaries undefeated, as he equaled his mark of 1:54.2 with a hard-earned victory in his division of that group's $17,500 third and final prelims during the Sunday twilight card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Todd Schadel guided Top Me Off, last year's PA Fair champion and undefeated in four starts this year, to the lead before the :27.3 first fraction, with Tart Tongue yielding then stalking him through middle fractions of :57 and 1:25. Tart Tongue took his shot in the Pocono Pike but came up a half-length short, with Black Tie Bash closing well to get nosed out of second behind the winner, who is also trained by Todd and is co-owned by him, his wife Christine, and Rick and Regina Beinhauer.   TOP ME OFF REPLAY     The Winning Mister gelding Tricky Dick reversed last week's photo loss to Credit Con by catching that one late to win by a neck in 1:56.1 for his second series win. Anthony Napolitano drove the developing three-year-old for trainer/owner Jim McGettigan.   TRICKY DICK REPLAY     The Southwind Frank colt Pilot Hanover, a $240,000 yearling, punched his ticket for the $40,000 Championship next Sunday, but he needed the entire stretch to get ahead of a game Ceffyl Dwr by a nose while reducing his mark to 1:55.3. Mattias Melander was in charge of the consistent sophomore for trainer/brother Marcus Melander and S R F Stable.   PILOT HANOVER REPLAY     The point standings going into the Championship event read as follows: Top Me Off; Tricky Dick; Hoolie N Hector; Ceffyl Dwr; Killer Instinct; Credit Con and Pilot Hanover (tie); Black Tie Bash; and Robbie Pev. Maddys Leading Man is AE1; to establish an AE2, it will be the luck of the draw between Capital T Storm and Halls Of Valor. The trotters' final will be drawn on Tuesday. Only four favorites won during the 12-race card Sunday at Pocono - but the other eight races were taken by six second choices and two third choices. Monday's 12:30 card at Pocono will feature three sections of the final Weiss preliminary for the sophomore filly pacers; double winners so far are So Irresistible (race three, post three) and Incaseyoudidntknow (race five, post six). Program pages will be available at https://www.phha.org/downsmsppps.html. For full race results, click here. From PHHA/Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - The impressive Top Me Off is now 2-for-2 in the Bobby Weiss Trotting Series for sophomore trotting males after winning in 1:57.1 over a "good" track Sunday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with Hoolie N Hector joining him with two Weiss wins after a 1:57.4 clocking in his division, all four of which carried a purse of $17,500. The Bar Hopping ridgling Top Me Off showed his maneuverability in this week's Weiss event, for after racing in front in his previous two 2021 starts trainer/driver Todd Schadel raced him in the pocket behind his fair circuit foe of last year, Killer Instinct. Come the stretch, though, Schadel right-lined his three-year-old, and he went right on by for his ninth win in 19 lifetime starts. Todd's wife Christine owns the swift youngster along with Rick and Regina Beinhauer. TOP ME OFF REPLAY   The Muscles Yankee gelding Hoolie N Hector was let go at 19-1 when he won last week, but this time the crowd sent him off as the favorite, and the trotter rewarded their insight, sweeping wide on the final turn for Anthony Napolitano to win going away over the off going for trainer Andrew Adamczyk and owner Joseph Meaney.   HOOLIE N HECTOR REPLAY   Fastest Weiss winner on the card was the Credit Winner gelding Credit Con, and technically you could say that he too is undefeated in the series - and the season - since his 1:57 victory came in his first start in seven months minus a day. Tyler Buter coaxed enough out of the 11-1 shot to record the triumph and a new mark for trainer Todd Buter and owner Lee Sitto.   CREDIT CON REPLAY   Ceffyl Dwr got a big second quarter breather on the lead, and then scooted home in successive quarters of :29 to win his Weiss section in 1:57.1. Named after a "water horse" in Welsh folklore, Ceffyl Dwr may have had an "advantage" over the wet going as he posted a lifetime best for driver Jackie Ingrassia and trainer/husband Frank Ingrassia; Jackie also shares in the ownership of the Andover Hall colt with Donna Franchetti and Thomas Doran.   CEFFYL DWR REPLAY   George Napolitano Jr. followed up a five-bagger on the Saturday card with four more victories on Sunday. Weiss Series competition carries on during the Monday afternoon card at Pocono, with three sections carded for the second prelim for pacing fillies, and the middle contest matching first-week winners So Irresistible and Milieu Hanover is perhaps the most competitive. Post time for the Monday card at the Downs is 12:30 p.m.; program pages will be available at https://www.phha.org/downsmsppps.html. For full race results, click here. From PHHA/Pocono  

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Broadway Bruiser and Credit Fraud both became two-time harness racing winners in the Game Of Claims Trotting Series for $15,000-level horses on a Monday afternoon at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, where the temperature cracked the freezing mark only near the end of the card. Those two horses shared a couple of other traits, too: they were both driven to victory by a Napolitano, with each horse retaining the brother who won with them last week; they did this despite the fact that both were claimed out of their first prelim round; and both will again be moving to a new barn via claim after their triumphs in $15,000 divisions Monday. Broadway Bruiser, an altered son of Muscle Mass, was slightly the faster of the two, winning in 1:57.1 for George Napolitano Jr., whose three victories gave him fifteen for the Saturday-Sunday-Monday local racing week. Credit Fraud, a Jailhouse Jesse mare, went in 1:57.3 with Anthony Napolitano in the sulky.   Neither was the fastest winner in the series today: that honor went to the Cantab Hall gelding Willie B Worthy ("Anthony Nap"), who turned the tables over her first round conqueror Explosive Magic ("George Nap") with a neck decision in 1:57. Both of those horses will reside in a new barn after a claim. The other series winner Monday was Adagio De La Tour, an altered son of Lillum Madrik who triumphed in 1:57.1 for driver Matt Kakaley after finishing second in the first leg. He is the only one of this week's winners who did not change hands, going back to trainer Ron Burke and the partnership of Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC after they claimed him last week. It will be interesting to see if the French-bred's connections try keeping him out of next Monday's final preliminary round (and the claiming box), hoping his first and second will get him a spot in his Championship. Love The Action was the only horse to try that tactic in the many Game Of Claims Pacing Series earlier, and he squeezed into his final in the ninth and last slot one point ahead of the AE1 horse, and then promptly triumphed in his Championship. In all, nine horses in the Series will live in a new environment after their races Monday, after fifteen were taken out of the first leg. Monday's claiming action brought the week's totals to 38 claims for $637,000, and the meet's to 191 transactions for $3,407,855 in thirteen cards. For complete results, click here. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Game Of Claims Series lived on during the Monday afternoon card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono - it just shifted gaits to the trot, where four fields of $15,000-base-priced harness racing horses raced $15,000 divisions in their first preliminary leg. While the gait shifted, other recent aspects of the Game Of Claims series remained firmly in place. The Napolitano brothers, Anthony and George Jr., each drove two of the four series winners, and each handled a horse who divided honors for fastest split at 1:55.4. And there were plenty of claims out of the initial trot gathering as well - fifteen of the twenty-nine entrants left the Pocono paddock to head back to new barns, including all four winners. The quickest first prelim winners were the Lucky Chucky gelding Namje, who was powerful from a pocket trip, by George, to win by 5¾ lengths after coming in from Saratoga, and the Explosive Matter gelding Explosive Magic, who made an early pace-controlling move for Anthony en route to a five-length decision. The other Game Of Claims winners were Credit Fraud, a Jailhouse Jesse mare who grinded to a 1:56.4 victory for Anthony, and the Muscle Mass gelding Broadway Bruiser, hone in 1:57.4 with George doing the sulkysitting. For the day, "Anthony Nap" crossed the wire first six times, George four, putting Anthony ahead of his brother 29-26 after ten cards of racing at The Downs in 2021. The frenzied claiming box activity for the Game Of Claims trotters raised the total of horses haltered during the week to 27, with $437,500 paid out; for the meet, there have already been 153 claims put through, with $2,770,875 changing hands. There is likely to be much more claiming activity the next two weeks, especially among the series trotters, as everyone tries to have a sharp horse to enter in the $30,000 Championship on Monday the 29th. For full race results, click here. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs  

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Glengarry Knight N, a double harness racing winner in the preliminaries of the Game Of Claims Pacing Series for $25,000 base-claiming-price level, came off of cover and just caught American Rebel to take the richest purse of the year to date at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, $50,000, in winning his series Championship in 1:52.3. A Real Miracle streaked to the early lead in the contest, rejecting the bid of favored Melanie's Tedy for the front spot and forcing that one to tuck in, then letting stablemate American Rebel go to the top past a :27.1 quarter. The last-named pacer hit the half in :56, with Melanie's Tedy forced to accept first-over duties and Glengarry Knight N following his cover under the guidance of Anthony Napolitano. Near the 1:23.4 three-quarters the chalk stopped gaining and A Real Miracle backed off, letting American Rebel get a clear lead, but Glengarry Night N swung off his dull cover and tried determinedly to the wire, just catching the game pacesetter in the final steps, with the official margin a head.   The victorious altered son of Changeover made quite a debut for trainer William Adamczyk and owner William Emmons, as they claimed Glengarry Knight N for $30,000 last week (progressive prices in series). They are now the braintrust behind the second-richest North American harness horse of 2021 at press time, as the winner pushed his seasonal bankroll to $53,760. "A Napolitano-driven winner coming off two preliminary wins and joining a new barn" also summarized the story in the $30,000 Game Of Claims Championship for $15,000 base-priced horses, as George Napolitano Jr. kept Sunset Braydon clear in the lane for trainer/owner Jordan Derue (who claimed him for $20,000 last week) in 1:52.4. Cash Is King emerged with the early lead with Shoreview on the outside, but a major wrinkle came at the quarter when Royal Heart, the winner of this level's Championship last year, made a break at the :26.3 quarter trying to keep the pocket closed. Shoreview thus got in the two-hole, and the coast was clear for George Nap to come brushing with the favored Sunset Braydon, that horse making the lead well before the :55 half. A long uncovered move by Fernado stalled at the 1:23.2 three-quarters, and that fact coincided with Cash Is King not keeping the pocket filled, allowing the winning Always A Virgin gelding to open a clear margin on the far turn. No one could get near him in the lane, with Just Plain Loco swinging wide to get second behind the winner of half his eight seasonal starts.   The Sunday 5 p.m. card at The Downs will feature the $20,000 Game Of Claims Championship for $10,000-tagged horses and the $15,000 finale for $7500 claiming stock. On Monday, trotters will take up the Game Of Claims mantle, as $15,000-priced horses will go in four $15,000 divisions of their first preliminary. Program pages are available at https://www.phha.org/downsmsppps.html. Though there was no claiming from the series Championships; nonetheless eight horses did change hands during the card for $165,000. And the Napolitano brothers dominated the driving ranks for the card as they did in the series Championships, with Anthony winning five races and George four. For full results, click here. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - On Monday morning, horsemen at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono will be checking with the Downs' Racing Office to confirm that their horses - most of them new barn members after Saturday's third and final preliminary round of the Game Of Claims Pacing Series - had enough points to make their rich harness racing finals on Saturday, March 6, and they likely will also be checking the availability of driver Anthony Napolitano, who had six wins Saturday, five in claiming preliminaries. The horses entered in the section of the Series for $25,000-base price horses saw Melanie's Tedy become the prelim point leader by virtue of a 1:54.3 triumph over sloppy going, joining Glengarry Knight N and Horsing Around as two-time winners in this class. Glengarry Knight N was second-leading point earner - and Horsing Around, despite his double victories, did not even rank in the top nine horses in the totals, as he skipped the first week, and now has to hope for defections to get in the $50,000 Championship.   The possibility of defections is why everyone will focus on the draw for this Championship so much, in two ways: the series' rules say no owner or trainer can have more than two horses in any single Game Of Claims Championship, and seven out of the top point earners were claimed on Saturday! The unofficial early listing of the top nine is Melanie's Tedy, Glengarry Knight N, Iammrbrightside N, Captain Nash, Apex Seelster, Union Station and American Rebel (tie), and A Real Miracle and Mississippi Rabbit (tie); Tullow N and Horsing Around are "on the bubble." (Check with the Pocono Race Office for the official final totals.) Only three of Saturday's seven winners are preliminarily on the Championship list; trainer Darren Taneyhill sent out three winners (all guided by ANap), but only Union Station has a decent chance to return. The "landing strip" for the $30,000 Championship for $15,000-base price horses is a little bit less congested, as on Saturday Sunset Braydon and Royal Heart (the 2020 series winner for this price) posted their second victories in this class, joining Fernado as two-time winners, and that trio ranking 1-2-3 in points from first-named to last. Royal Heart will get to stay with trainer Travis Alexander for another week after being haltered out of the first two legs, but he is one of only two out of the top nine pointwinners in this class who was not claimed on Saturday. The unofficial early ranking for this group is Sunset Braydon, Royal Heart, Fernado, Busboy Hanover and Thisjetsabookin (tie), Cash Is King, Just Plain Loco, and Polak A and Shoreview (tie); Best Trick Ever and White Hair Rocks are the AEs. Obviously the claiming box was rocking and rolling again on Saturday, with 20 horses taken for $537,500 in advance of these finals, bringing the season totals to 117 claims for $2,220,375. And that's after just five cards of the 2021 season. Those figures should be added to on Sunday, when the final preliminary for $10,000- and $7500-base price horses will be conducted during a 5 p.m. card, with program pages available at https://www.phha.org/downsmsppps.html. For full results, click here. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Harness racing reinsman George Napolitano Jr. drove three of the four winners in $10,000 second preliminary round action of the Game Of Claims Pacing Series for $10,000-base price horses on the Sunday twilight card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. However, he's not assured of a drive next week behind any of them - because all three of them were claimed here, as they were last week. The base claiming price went up to $12,500 for this prelim of the progressively-priced pace, but slips were in for the two repeaters. The faster of the two double winners was the Always A Virgin gelding Sweet Talkin Satin, home strongly in 1:53 with the temperature below freezing for one-week trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera and owner Gilbert Garcia-Owen.   That last-named duo also lost another new charge of a week, the Bettor's Delight gelding Love The Action, who followed up a second last time with a victory in this week's fastest time among all the Sunday claimers, 1:52.1 - a new lifetime mark by almost four seconds. The other repeat winner at this level, also changing barns after a seven- day stay, was the American Ideal gelding Myidealson N, who toured the Pocono oval in 1:54 for "George Nap," trainer Brianne Good, also co-owner with Phillip Fluet Stable LLC. In five $7500 divisions of Game Of Claims action for $7500-base horses (tagged for $9000 this week with the progression), the Well Said gelding Rojan's Way was the only repeat winner, overcoming the brutal first-over journey to win in 1:54.3 for driver Anthony Napolitano, trainer Marta Piotrow, and owner Melvin Fink. But although his connections got two Series prelim wins from him, Rojan's Way won't give them a third prelim success, as he too was taken back to a new home after a claim. Despite the increase in purchase price for the weekend's second series prelim, 37 more horses changed homes via the claiming box, for an outlay of $681,375. In the four Game Of Claims cards (last Saturday-Sunday and this), there were a total of 97 claims, ringing up $1,682,875. George Napolitano Jr. had four wins on the night to head the sulky colony. FINISHING LINES - Pocono will be staging its first Monday card of the year at 12:30. Monday racing will continue at that time through the end of the meet, which comes on October 30. For full results, click here. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

Pompano Beach, FL — George Napolitano Sr., 96, passed peacefully at his home on Saturday (Nov. 7) after enjoying a life with horses for three-quarters of a century. At the age of 12 and 13, he, along with his father, Joseph, broke mustangs as wagon pulling horses used for the delivery of fruits and vegetables. Married at the age of 17, George soon thereafter served his country in World War II and, upon returning from active duty, resumed his love affair with the horse community, becoming a Standardbred trainer in the mid-1950s at Roosevelt Raceway. The patriarch of one the most successful racing families in Florida became interested in owning racehorses in the late 1950s when he and wife, Carmela, bought Flying Scotchman at a Yonkers sale. He was a member of the Florida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association and the United States Trotting Association. He was inducted into the Florida Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association Hall of Fame in 2012. George is preceded in death by his loving wife of 76 years, Carmela; and his only son, Joseph. He is survived by his four daughters, 15 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. Services will be at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Church, 1400 S. State Road 7, North Lauderdale, FL 33068 at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday (Nov. 12). From the Florida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Harness racing drivers Simon Allard and Anthony Napolitano had the hot hands at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Saturday afternoon, with Simon bringing in five winners and Anthony just behind him with four. Surprisingly, the crowd did not catch on to the successful drivers, as each only numbered one favorite among their victories. Simon Allard finished just ahead of Anthony Napolitano three times and his brother George once, with Anthony was first in races where George was second three times and another where Simon was second. George did get a winner in the last race on the card and as usual has far and away the highest seasonal total at The Downs. The $17,200 featured trot was won by the Muscle Hill gelding Muscle M Up, driven by Anthony - and in this race the Napolitano "family theme" was continued, as the winner is trained by Ãke Svanstedt, for whom George drove two stakes winners at Philly Friday. Muscle M Up went first-over and still won by two lengths over Scirocco Rob (Allard) in 1:52.2 for Knutsson Trotting Inc.   There was a pair of $14,000 co-features, with Simon Allard guiding the American Ideal Casual Cool gelding to victory in 1:50.1 despite also having to take the grinding uncovered route. Joesstar Of Mia A (A Nap) was a half-length behind the Daniel Renaud trainee, who raised his earnings to $330,009 for the Dune Road Stables LLC. In the trotting co-headliner, area newcomer Justin Huckabone continued to impress with the Winning Mister gelding Winning Legends, who ran his eastern Pennsylvania record for his trainer/driver and owner Jonathan Applebaum to 6-3-2-0 since coming to the area two months ago. Winning Legends won by a neck in a career best 1:53.2 over Broadway Athena (ANap), who charged home from last to come up just shy. Finally, Larry Stalbaum celebrated his first return to Pocono since July 19 and only his second card here since March 9 with a pair of sulky successes. The double included the fastest mile of the day, with Stalbaum and the Somebeachsomewhere gelding Closing Statement blasting down the road under duress in :25.4, :53.4 and 1:20.4, yet still making a decisive closing statement in winning by 6¼ lengths in a lifetime best 1:49.3 for trainer Randy Bendis, co-owner with Pollack Racing LLC. From the PHHA / The Downs

PACER OF THE WEEK: SHES SPORTY A In the case of harness racing claiming handicaps, the best horses often have to deal with the toughest posts. Case in point: This six-year-old mare from the barn of trainer Gilberto Garcia-Herrera, who came into Sunday night's $10,000 to $12,500 claiming handicap pace with two straight wins, including one at The Downs. In that victory at Pocono, Shes Sporty A had to overcome a #9 post position. She was back in that spot trying to do it again on Sunday night, going off as the even-money favorite. Driver Anthony Napolitano was able to find her a nice spot in the pocket behind pacesetter Always Be Lucy. In the stretch, Shes Sporty A rolled past, once again handling the tough post and posting he victory in 1:52:3. Honorable Mention Rock The Town (Anthony Napolitano, Darren Taneyhill), who followed up a victory at Harrah's with a condition victory at Pocono on Saturday in 1:50:3. Joesstar Of Mia A (Anthony Napolitano, Steven Brabrook), who captured Saturday afternoon's $14,000 featured condition pace in 1:50:3. Billy Lincoln N (Marcus Miller, Tahnee Camilleri), who won Sunday night's featured condition pace in 1:52:2, beating previously unbeaten Scootnroll in the process. TROTTER OF THE WEEK: EV'S GIRL Trained by Brianne Good, this four-year-old mare surprised a $12,500 claiming trot group on September 28 at Pocono as a 24-1 winner. In that race, Ev's Girl came from well off the pace to get the victory in 1:56:4. On Sunday night, she was suddenly the belle of the bettors at Pocono, going off as a 7-5 betting favorite. Leaving from a #6 post in a field of eight, Ev's Girl decided to change her strategy from her previous win. Well, at least driver Anthony Napolitano did, sending the mare to the front end and dictating the pace. The bottom line was her second straight victory, as this time she came home in a new career-best time of 1:56. Honorable Mention Explosive Breakaway (Tom Jackson, Fred Grant), who followed up a win at Harrah's with a victory at Pocono on Saturday in a $14,000 condition trot in 1:54:2. Broadway Athena (Anthony Napolitano, Gilberto Garcia-Herrera), who came off a victory at Harrah's to score a condition win on Saturday at Pocono in 1:53:2, the fastest trotting time of the week. Pilgrims Tide (Simon Allard, Shane Tritton), who dominated in the claiming handicap featured trot on Tuesday with a win in a career-best 1:54:1. LONG SHOT OF THE WEEK: ROCK THREE TIMES This veteran pacer driven by Anthony Napolitano in the bike came from well off the pace in a condition race on Tuesday for the win at 22-1, paying off $46.20 on a $2 win ticket. DRIVER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY NAPOLITANO It was all A-Nap this past weekend at Pocono, as he tore it up to the tune of five driving wins apiece on Saturday and Sunday. TRAINER OF THE WEEK: DARREN TANEYHILL Taneyhill enjoyed the best single-day performance of any trainer in 2020 at Pocono on Saturday when his trainees came up with four victories. 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 The Downs            

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Normally the spotlight for this harness racing card Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono would fall on trainer Darren Taneyhill, who posted four victories during the matinee performance to move into third place in the conditioners standings, but George Napolitano Jr. and his brother Anthony, 1-2 atop the Pocono standings, were at it again Saturday. Nine-time winners between them this past Monday, they bettered themselves here with ten victories, including the first three and then seven of the last eight. Each reported home first five times on the day, including twice each with Taneyhill trainees. Anthony Nap now has ten winners over the last three cards at Pocono; George has 22 victories during the last five performances at the mountain oval, and 34 wins in eastern Pennsylvania from last Saturday onward, including his Harrah's Philly wins. The ten-year-old gelding Lachie Maguire N turned a fast profit for owner Robert Weinstein, who claimed him for $30,000 out of the top claiming handicap pace at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono last Saturday. This week the veteran came on to win the $16,000 claiming feature in 1:51, and was taken for a $32,000 price - a $10,000 profit ($8000 purse + $2000 hike in price) minus expenses for a week of ownership. Lachie Maguire N "paced back to his breeding" - his sire is Bettor's Delight, and he was the crowd favorite, and his dam's sire is In The Pocket, which is where he raced as Daamericansky cut out fractions of :26.3, :55.2, and 1:23.1. Driver Jim Marohn Jr., handling the horse for trainer Jennifer Bongiorno, sent the winner of $471,637 up the Pocono Pike and got him past Daamericansky, who had to settle for second for the third straight week, by three-quarters of a length.   There were a pair of $14,000 co-features for the fast-class set, one on each gait. The trotters were up first, and they were led home by the Explosive Matter gelding Explosivebreakaway in a 1:54.2 mile. The even-money favorite despite 30 days away from the races, Explosivebreakway had to come first-up against pacesetting My Lindy Winner, who got fairly soft fractions. Nonetheless, in a 27.4 last quarter it was the first-over who emerged with a 1¼ length victory over late-charging Goes Down Smooth, with My Lindy Winner holding on for third. Tom Jackson drove the winner for trainer Fred Grant, who is also co-owner with Janice Rubin, Steve Katz, and Murray Brown. Joesstar Of Mia A also found being first-over not an insurmountable obstacle, getting home first in 1:50.3 in the pacing co-feature. Rock The Devil moved to the lead in front of the stands and set the pace, opening a large advantage that he carried to midstretch, but Joesstar Of Mia A never said never and caught the tiring leader by a neck. Anthony Napolitano rallied the Roll With Joe gelding for trainer Steven Brabrook and owners Jonathan Lapp Jr. and Wish Me Luck Stables LLC. From the PHHA / The Downs  

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Break The Bank K gelding Magic Vacation, who had not gotten home first since July 2018 before winning a week ago, posted a repeat victory in taking the $12,800 claiming trot feature at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Tuesday afternoon. Anthony Napolitano (an 11-time winner during this week's four cards here) again sent Magic Vacation frontward early despite a jump in class, and the pair were parked well past a :27.1 opener getting by favored Crossfit to the lead. The half-mile pole was reached in :55.4, and the pacesetter got no respite as Pilgrims Tide came up uncovered going to the 1:24.3 three-quarters. Crossfit swung wide out of the pocket to loom boldly as these three, the only real contenders, turned for home. Crossfit disappointed his backers by going offstride in early stretch and Pilgrims Tide actually gained a short advantage, but Magic Vacation dug in and defeated his rival by the smallest possible margin in 1:54. Especially for a horse who went 778 days between visits to the winners circle before last week, Magic Vacation looks to be in prime form now for trainer Steven Brabrook and owner Jaypaul Hoover.   A couple of winners in the "nw 2 races" trotting class earn a note. Gotta Believe, a freshman daughter of Donato Hanover out of Mets Life (a half-sister to $1.3M-winning Met's Hall), showed only a 2:04 time in a qualifier before making her debut here, but she came from last in the 8-horse field to break her maiden in 1:57.1 and pay $80.40. Andy Miller drove the undefeated filly for Andy Miller Stable Inc., Thomson Sisters Racing Stable, and Let It Ride Stables Inc.; for trainer Julie Miller, this second $50+ winner at the meet tied her on top of the Pocono standings in that category. The Yankee Glide sophomore gelding Zapaca improved his lifetime record to 5-for-6 - all without leaving the "nw2" category! - with a 1:55.1 win for driver Tyler Buter (who had five victories Tuesday), trainer Dale Gilmour, and UptownpetsCom Stable Inc. The last four wins have come at Pocono, which also has a "nw $20,000 lifetime" section in its eligibility for this level, and now Zapaca, having exceeded that total, will be facing tougher opposition, which he may well be able to handle. FINISHING LINES - Pocono will now be dark this Saturday, Sunday, and Monday; the next card of racing at the mountain oval will be Tuesday, September 15, with a Rainbow Pick 5 carryover of $195,039. That card will be drawn for on Wednesday, September 9. From the PHHA/The Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Skyway Quinton, circling four-wide on the far turn around horses who had been used hard early, stayed strong to the wire to take the $17,200 pacing feature in 1:50.2 on Saturday afternoon at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Anthony Napolitano kept the victorious son of Real Desire near the back of the pack as favored Alluneedisfaith N yielded to Rollwithpapajoe near the quarter, after which that one put up splits of :26.1, :55.2, and 1:22.1. A first-over bid from Western Fame and a three-wide sweep from Luciano N did not gain on the frontenders, but Skyway Quinton did, pulling away to win by 1½ lengths over two Pocono Pike users who dead-heated for second - chalk Alluneedisfaith N and Prairie Panther, the longest shot on the board.   Skyway Quinton, sent off at 8-1, scored his 20th career victory and raised his earnings to $199,477 for trainer Travis Alexander and owner Sarah Nichole Conrad. The $14,000 fast-class co-feature fell to the Rock N Roll Heaven gelding Rock The Devil in 1:50.2. The first-over winner rocked his own third quarter in 26.1 to go to the lead nearing the three-quarters and went on to win comfortably for driver Jim Marohn Jr., trainer Nifty Norman, and the Scarlett Stables LLC. 11-year-old Atta Boy Dan, Pocono's Pacer of the Year in 2019, is doing pretty well in 2020 as well, recording his third straight win and sixth of the season in 1:51.1. Parked past a stinging :25.4 opening quarter, the Western Terror gelding stayed game and strong to the wire for driver George Napolitano Jr. while recording his 77th career win while boosting his earnings to $1,008,564. Peter Pellegrino trains the evergreen pacer for owner Stephen Larkin. From the PHHA / Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - "Youthful veteran" harness racing driver Anthony Napolitano recorded the 3000th victory of his driving career Tuesday afternoon at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono with a hard-earned victory behind the Artspeak sophomore pacing miss Winning Words. The favored filly had to go the difficult first-over route, yet held off a host of distaffs coming from every direction to take a new mark of 1:53.4. The 38-year-old Napolitano, brother of local top reinsman George Napolitano Jr., is currently in the 20th year of his sulky career. His horses have won over $1 million for twelve consecutive years, including the last five years with their earnings each being over $2 million. His best money year came in 2018, when he handled the winners of $3.5 million. Anthony has also won over 200 races in each of the last four seasons, with his yearly high in 2009 at 295. Anthony currently ranks fifth in victories and third in money earned among the talented Pocono driving community. The Rock N Roll Heaven gelding Rockapelo, who a month ago was racing against Meadowlands Preferred company, got a far easier field to face in the finale and responded with an all-by-himself victory in 1:49.1, fastest mile so far in 2020 at Pocono. Matt Kakaley sent the winner of $354,662 right down the road and increased his lead throughout the last half in winning for trainer Ron Burke and the ownership of Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC along with Phil Collura. From the PHHA / Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Harness racing driver Anthony Napolitano, who won one of the two divisions of the first prelim of the Game Of Claim Series for pacing mares on Sunday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, went himself one better by sweeping the two $15,000 divisions of the first prelim of the Game Of Claims Series for $15,000-base trotters Monday. Tactically "Anthony Nap" was well-diversified. In the first division, he sent Manwithamission, a gelded son of Manofmanymissions (a 2010 Breeders Crown winner here) to control the pace with two moves, then stepped home in 1:56.3 for trainer Steve Salerno and owner Jack Piatt III - who promptly lost the horse to a claim in the chess game that is the Game Of Claims prelims. For Manwithamission, it was his fifth winning effort in seven 2020 starts. Steve Salerno had even better luck in the second Game Of Claims divisions - the Uncle Peter gelding ELO Hanover, whom he co-owns with trainer Emily Bost, not only won in 1:57.2, but they did not lose him to a claim. Napolitano brought this one from far back off of cover, tipping wide and getting by a contentious bunch late. The most impressive winner on the Pocono card was a maiden pacer making his second career start 236 days after making his first. But the Somebeachsomewhere - Allamerican Memoir sophomore colt Remember The Beach (a full brother to $900G+-winning world champion Beach Memories) certainly had the pedigree to improve from freshman to sophomore status, as indeed he did, winning in 1:52.4 for driver Josert Fonseca, trainer Nancy Takter, and owners 3 Brothers Stables, Christina Takter, Rojan Stables, and Caviart Farms. Fonseca put rivals in behind in a hot :26 opener, yielded to favored Devil Or Angel and sat on his back through middle splits of :54.4 and 1:23.2, then came out nearing headstretch and took right over, suggesting more success may be in his immediate future. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

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