CHESTER PA – Three $11,200 divisions of the “nw 3 races” class for developing pacers highlighted the Friday card at Harrah’s Philadelphia.
In the quickest of the three headline events, the three-year-old Sportswriter filly Sports Duchess was able to sit in third until the three-quarters in her division of the female features, briefly got cover, then went wide for driver George Napolitano Jr. and was along by a neck over Sweet Talker. The 1:53.4 clocking knocked almost four seconds off the lifetime best of Sports Duchess, who is trained by Blake MacIntosh for owners Stuart McIntosh and Leanne Murphy.
The race for males saw driver Dexter Dunn atypically pay $55.60 to win as he put the Somebeachsomewhere sophomore gelding Aquaman Hanover just in the right place at two different junctures of the racing in getting a stretch lead, then holding off fast-closing Yankee Litigator by a neck while taking a new mark of 1:54. Nifty Norman trains the winner for Enzed Racing Stable Inc., Robert Cooper Stables LLC, and Kovach Stables LLC.
Nutcracker Sweet, the six-year-old star-crossed full brother to the $2.7M-winning Bettor’s Sweet and a half-brother to the $3.4M-winning Sweet Lou, had produced a sub-1:51 clocking in each of his first four years of racing, but on Friday he went the fastest mile of his career when he won in 1:50.1. George Napolitano Jr. drove the winner of $441,134 to the sizzling time for the brother team of trainer Tom and owner John Cancelliere.
Ontario’s “youthful veteran” driver Doug McNair, 2017 Canadian Driver of the Year, wasted no time making his presence felt on the local scene, guiding Betsea to a new mark of 1:52.4 in his initial drive of the season here. McNair is trying Philly and other Mid-Atlantic ovals while the virus locks down his native province, and the winner of 3687 races is likely to acquit himself well.
The Sunday card at Harrah’s Philadelphia is as good as the southeast Pennsylvania oval has presented in 2021, with features for developing younger horses, fast-class paces for both sexes, and hard-hitting top-level claiming handicaps. Sunday’s first card will start at 12:40 p.m.; Program pages for the card will be available at https://www.phha.org/harrahspps.html. There will also be a live card at Philly on Kentucky Derby Day, Saturday, May 1, at 12:40.