WILKES-BARRE PA – The Kadabra gelding Noble Prize overcame the tough first-over journey for the second straight week, winning the $14,000 claiming handicap trotting feature on the Monday twilight card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.
After a forward tuck early, Noble Prize started his uncovered move for driver George Napolitano Jr. on favored High Blue at the half, battling that one down the backstretch, through the turn, and into the stretch. Nearing the wire, the grinder proved the toughest horse, winning by 1¾ lengths, with second-over Keystone Sergeant just along to nip High Blue for second. The winner’s time of 1:54.4 gave him a new mark.
Noble Prize raced for trainer Lou Pena and owner Clinton Lugar, but he won’t go for these connections next time he faces the gate, as he was taken for the $17,000 claiming price, a frequent occurrence at a track with sharp horsemen always looking to acquire fit horses.
The featured trot was carded as the curtainraiser on the card; “George Nap” then completed the Early Double with the 10-year-old Cee Pee Panic (the Quebec-bred champion way back at age three) in 1:53.4. Napolitano had a total of five winners on the Monday card, and now has climbed to 299 victories during the season, putting him in fourth among North American drivers. Not bad for a driver who had a total of nine 2019 victories when Pocono opened its season on March 16; only Iron Man Aaron Merriman has won more races than Napolitano since that date.