CHESTER PA – On many days Harrah’s Philadelphia has earned a reputation as a speed-favoring oval, and this observation was given added credence by the fact that the defending Horse of the Year, Test Of Faith, could not get home enough to catch Majorca N at the end of a 1:49.2 mile, the $22,500 distaff handicap pacing feature on Friday afternoon at the southeast Pennsylvania riverside oval.
Test Of Faith went to the back of a five-horse field while Majorca N and Corey Callahan went to the front, setting fractions of :27, :55.2, and 1:23. And not even a valiant first-over effort by Test Of Faith, who came her back fractions in :53.1 - :26.2 on the 5/8-mile oval, could get her near Majorca N, as the Betsy Ross winner here earlier this year could tack on a :26.2 last quarter to win by two lengths over Test Of Faith. Pocketsitting Odds On Whitney was very resilient after the ease of the two-hole journey to be only a neck in arrears of the heavy favorite at the finish.
Majorca N, the 9-2 second choice, has had herself a terrific season with a third of the year left to go, with eight wins and earnings of $200,035 while taking a mark of 1:48.4 at The Meadowlands in an Open handicap. Trainer Dylan Davis co-owns the Art Major Kiwi transplant with Michael Casalino Jr.
Another down-the-road winner was the Sweet Lou gelding Pyro, who captured the $16,200 fast-class pace for males in 1:49, just a tick off the seasonal pacing record here held by Let It Ride N and Komodo Beach. George Napolitano Jr. wanted the winner of $593,873 on the engine, but Speedy Dominic A made him pay a withering :25.4 price before having him go by. Pyro rolled on through hot fractions of :53.2 and 1:20.2, then stayed safe to the finish, where he was three-quarters of a length ahead of the longest shot on the board, Louie The Horse N, for trainer Gilbert Garcia-Owen and owner Gilbert Garcia-Herrera.
Besides the two feature winners, Groovy Joe and Dragon Said also paced in 1:50 on the afternoon program, both on the engine. In all, eleven pacesetters and three pocket horses won the fourteen races on the Friday card; in a related note, George Napolitano Jr. was the top driver on the day with four victories, as he could utilize his preferred style to maximum advantage.
Two divisions of American Harness Drivers Club competition for amateur horsemen produced an unexpected result for a horse and an “expected” result for a driver. Moffitt Hanover hadn’t won a race for 928 days, since February 17, 2020, before taking one section for James Slendorn in 1:56.1; the AHDC didn’t race at Philly last week, but the four weeks before that driver Frank Tsipouras had won a Club race, and he won again Friday with Beach Demon in 1:52.4.
The richest card of the year at Harrah’s Philadelphia, with $1.3M at stake, will be presented on Sunday, as the top state-sired babies contest their four $252,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championships. Each group also has a $50,000 consolation, and in addition there is a $40,000 Invitational with the likes of Allywag Hanover, Ruthless Hanover, and American Dealer N. Post time for the to-level card is 12:40 p.m.; program pages are or will be available at https://www.phha.org/harrahspps.html.