WILKES-BARRE PA – Going into this past Saturday, the roan Rockin Image gelding Seal O’Neill had been winless in seventeen 2022 starts. After Tuesday’s $13,000 pacing feature on Tuesday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, he now has two victories for the season.
Seal O’Neill won in a dead-heat on Saturday, quarter-moving before finishing in a tie with Western Waltz, and followed that up on short rest Tuesday with a hard-fought 1:53.4 decision. Marcus Miller put the flashy horse on the lead and set the pace, was actually headed by first-over Amazon on the far turn, but then came back gamely to pass that rival and then hold off wide finisher Win Place’N Show by half a length, with Amazon just another neck back from taking it all. Seal O’Neill is conditioned by Pocono’s leading trainer, Darren Taneyhill, for owner Mark Jakubik.
Perennial Pocono driving champion George Napolitano drove the winners of the two $12,500 sub-feature trots, both of whom posted a clocking of 1:54: the Break The Bank K gelding Bank Box Treasure, wire-to-wire from the pole while taking a new mark for trainer/owner Gilbert Garcia-Herrera, and the Donato Hanover gelding Mystical Wynn, who also used engine tactics in succeeding for trainer Robert Baggitt Jr., co-owner with Christine Baggitt.
Napolitano finished the day with three visits to the winners circle, giving him ten wins at Pocono this past week, which in most years would have helped him enlarge his victory lead. However, this season Matt Kakaley has had the hottest hands so far – Matt won six times on Tuesday to give him 16 for the four-card week, and he didn’t race here on the Fourth Of July. The seasonal tally now reads Kakaley 142, Napolitano 130; ironically, Matt won the dash driving title here the last time George didn’t, but that was in 2011, and don’t ever discount the chances of the ten-time defending champion. It should be a great battle to the wire.
Racing returns to Pocono this weekend, with outstanding features on a 1:30 program Saturday and a 5:00 p.m. card Sunday – Saturday features a $25000 fast-class pace with six horses who have an average lifetime mark of 1:49, and Sunday will bring together Pennsylvania two-year-old pacing colts for four $30,000 divisions of a Pennsylvania All-Stars contest, along with a $25,000 pace for mares. Program pages will be available at https://www.phha.org/downsmsppps.html.