WILKES-BARRE PA – George Napolitano Jr., the perennial leading driver at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and second in the standings at Harrah’s Philadelphia, drove most of the Sunday afternoon card at Philly, winning two races, but since the Philly races were slightly behind schedule, “George Nap” didn’t see sulky action at The Downs until the seventh race during the twilight card at Pocono. But he quickly made up for lost time, winning the first three races in which he competed, including the $12,500 fast-class distaff pace with Tall Poppy N in 1:52.
Napolitano got away third with the Kiwi daughter of Mach Three as Stowaway Hanover bulleted away in :26.1, with Abigail Dawn (favored in the win pool by just $5 over Tall Poppy N) sat the pocket as the leader hit the half in :55.2. Tall Poppy N was moved out of third to challenge and got to the lead just past the 1:23.1 three-quarters, opening up enough distance on Abigail Dawn so that her comeback effort could only net her second. Now a winner of $102,699, Tall Poppy N is trained by the meet’s top trainer, Gilbert Garcia-Herrera, who also owns her with Barbara Arnstine.
The American Harness Drivers Club were back for another $11,000 contest in their amateur competition, and it went to driver Tony Beltrami and the veteran Caviar Crown gelding Wilberforce, a pocket rocket in 1:57.3 for trainer Kris Rickert, co-owner with Dale Wareham. Beltrami, who began his amateur career in 2014, has stepped up his participation this year, and the record testifies to it: he has 24 lifetime victories, and 13 of them have come this year.
Sunday marked the last card on that day of the week at Pocono in 2021; racing now shifts to a Saturday-Monday-Tuesday schedule at 12:30 until the end of the racing season on Saturday, October 30. There are a host of $13,000 races for up-and-coming younger performers scattered throughout the Monday card; program pages are available at https://www.phha.org/downsmsppps.html.