WILKES-BARRE PA – A pair of pacing distaffs with North America-wide reputations – the four-year-old Caviart Ally and the three-year-old Zero Tolerance – both made their 2019 debuts at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Tuesday, and both were gallant but had to settle for second behind more experienced foes.
Caviart Ally was odds-on in the $25,000 mares pacing handicap, and after being looped by Bettorhaveanother early, she worked her way to the lead near the :27.1 quarter. But driver Simon Allard and the Real Desire mare Eclipse Me N, who had won with a breathtaking stretch dash from seventh last week, were soon on the move and got to the lead well before the half, reached in :55.2, and continued in front to and past the 1:23.3 three-quarters.
Zero Tolerance, second in the Breeders Crown and Three Diamonds last year, looked like an irresistible force at 1-5 in the $17,500 distaff subfeature, but she ran into Pocono’s immovable object, driver George Napolitano Jr. David Miller let Zero Tolerance patiently work outside past the :26.4 opener to the lead in front of the stands, but “George Nap” had the Palone Ranger mare Juslikeaqueen winging frontward at that point, and that pair reached the half in :55.
The “Queen” and the filly maintained 1-2 position at the 1:22.4 three-quarters, and just when it looked like Zero Tolerance was ready to go by, Napolitano got more out of the 9-1 shot and brought her home a half-length to the good in a lifetime best of 1:51. The game frontstepper, owned and trained by Antonia Storer, now has career winnings of $253,205.
The victory with Juslikeaqueen was the sixth of the twilight card for George Napolitano Jr.; Simon Allard had three, and George’s brother Anthony added another pair, meaning that eleven of the thirteen winners on Tuesday at Pocono were driven by someone named Napolitano or Allard.
Saturday is Kentucky Derby Day, and that also means the traditional doubleheader of racing at The Downs, with first post at 11:00 a.m. for the brunch session and approximately 7:30 p.m. for the post-Derby action. The nighttime racing will be highlighted by the $50,000 Van Rose Memorial Invitational Pace, in which Western Fame, the richest North American harness horse so far this year with $446,300 to his credit, looks to be the likely favorite.