CHESTER PA – Focus Pocus, a dive-year-old Muscle Massive gelding currently in career form, went to the lead and was able to hold off the stubborn grind of favored Storm Is Raging to take the $16,200 featured handicap trot in 1:53.1 at Harrah’s Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon.
Focus Pocus had just come off a 1:52.4 career best at Pocono in engine fashion with George Napolitano Jr., and there seemed no need to change tactics. Focus Pocus was three-wide early but able to clear to the lead on the first turn en route to a :27.1 quarter, and got then a breather of a second quarter to hit the half in :56.3. Storm Is Raging commenced his uncovered grind from last in the five-horse field nearing the midpoint, but he hadn’t gotten the lead by the 1:24.3 three-quarters and wouldn’t reach the leader at the wire despite trotting his own back half in :55.3, as Focus Pocus had had things just too easy early and withstood the chalk by 1½ lengths .
Focus Pocus advanced his lifetime earnings to $199,358 with the victory. Trainer Jeff Cullipher shares ownership in the talented trotter with Pollack Racing LLC.
In a $14,400 co-featured trot, the Donato Hanover gelding College Tuition rode a nice two-hole trip behind Highgate, hard-used for the lead, then went by him through the lane to produce a 2½ length victory while lowering his mark a tick to 1:55. Jack Pelling drove the winner, a College Tuition which has shown itself to be a good investment by raising his earnings to $108,860 for trainer Courtney Foster and owner Eric Foster.
… But the horse many will be talking about after her performance Thursday was Another Like Me, a freshman trotting daughter of Muscle Hill out of $600G+ and O’Brien award-winning Stubborn Belle, which gives her two full siblings who have sub-1:53 marks in Ms Savannah Belle and Really Fast. Making her career debut off a 1:56.3 qualifier here, Another Like Me left from the rail from Team Takter (driver Jimmy and trainer/daughter Nancy) and put up fractions of :27 (6 1/2 lengths ahead), :54.1 (15 lengths ahead, with the rest of the field to go out of the camera picture soon thereafter), and 1:23.3 (15 lengths ahead).
Under only the mildest of coaxing in the stretch, Another Like Me won her debut in 1:54.1, just missing by a fifth the divisional track record held by Insta Glam, while 15½ lengths ahead of her nearest rival. No strangers to success with fast freshmen or fillies, the ownership of Al Libfeld, Marvin & Lynn Katz, and Sam Goldband may have themselves yet another stakes filly here – maybe even by the end of the year, given the schedule in North Jersey the next three weeks.
Four drivers had doubles on the Thursday card: Troy Beyer, Kasper Foget, George Napolitano Jr., and Simon Allard. Allard has now been top driver or co-top driver during 14 of the 16 cards at Harrah’s Philly since September 29, during which time he has amassed 47 local successes.
A pair of $22,500 handicap paces for the track’s best fast-class horses are scheduled for the Friday afternoon card at Harrah’s Philadelphia, with females competing in race five and males going gateward in race ten. Program pages for all Philly cards are or will be available at https://www.phha.org/harrahspps.html.