Wilkes-Barre, PA — George Napolitano Jr., the track’s all-time leading driver, won the $18,000 claiming pace feature at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Sunday (Oct. 21) with Ideal Kiss in 1:52.
Napolitano made a quarter-move with the American Ideal gelding past a :26 first fraction, then went on to post midsplits of :55 and 1:23 en route to a 3-3/4 length victory, his 10th of the year. Ideal Kiss, who is owned by Northfolk Racing Stable, now has earnings of $109,050 this year and $193,750 lifetime.
Napolitano won here on Sunday with two horses that Chris Oakes trains, and two with pupils of his son Hunter, including Ideal Kiss.
A pair of $17,500 conditioned events were co-featured on Sunday. In the trot, Two AM took his third victory in his last four trips to the gate, with Tyler Buter also using quarter-moving tactics en route to a length win in 1:54.1. Todd Buter trains the Muscle Massive gelding, the winner of his 2016 Pennsylvania Stallion Series division and $296,761 careerwise, for Gene Oldford Farms LLC, Lynette Buter and William and Carol Fuhs.
On the pace, it was Napolitano again reporting back to Victory Lane, this time with the rapidly-improving Somebeachsomewhere gelding Blayde Hanover in 1:51. Fractions of :27.2, :56.1, and 1:23.2 laid down from the pole were too much for his opponents to handle, with Blayde Hanover 2-3/4 lengths clear for trainer Brandon Todd and Belrose Standard LLC while boosting his bankroll to $159,151.
In all, Napolitano had five winners on the Pocono card, on top of the three races he took at Harrah’s Philadelphia before heading up for his Sunday Pocono duties. His brother Anthony had three winners on the local card.
FINISHING LINES: The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association congratulate Pocono regular Mike Simons on notching his 4000th career win. The leading driver at Pocono in 2002, Simons, who splits his year between Pennsylvania and Pompano Park, won with his first pari-mutuel drive of the season in the Sunshine State, with the Mickey McNichol-trained Blueberry Heaven.