WILKES-BARRE PA – The sister-brother team of trainer Jennifer Bongiorno and driver Joe Bongiorno took the Saturday afternoon spotlight at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, combining for three victories, although the Downs’s all-time leading driver, George Napolitano Jr., earned some glory as well with six winning drives.
The Bongiornos combined with the Mach Three gelding J M Mandamin, unraced since December 26 and yet still ready in his 2021 debut to put on a powerful performance, winning in 1:50.3, the fastest mile of the year locally and just a tick off his mark taken here last season. Robert Weinstein saw his gelding bring his lifetime earnings to six figures with the triumph.
The other high-level claiming pace went to George Napolitano Jr., sulkysitting for trainer David Russo and owner Marissa Russo, behind the Mach Three gelding Tullow N, rallying him off cover to take a 1:53.2 decision and paying a very un-“George Nap”-like $41.60 to win – although in his other victory of the year, Tullow N paid $69.80.
Though none of the feature winners were claimed Saturday, eighteen more horses headed back to a new barn after their race, with $372,000 spent in search of sharp stock. After eleven days, Pocono has seen 171 claims amalgamating to a figure of $3,142,875.
With her trio of winners Jennifer Bongiorno joined Dan Maier at the head of the local conditioners’ list with eight successes. George Napolitano Jr. reclaimed his usual spot atop the Downs’s driving colony, though brother Anthony is very close at 32-30.
Sunday’s racing card begins at 5 p.m.; Monday’s 12:30 program will feature the second Game Of Claims Trotting Series prelim for $15,000 base-price horses. Program pages are available at https://www.phha.org/downsmsppps.html.