Closing Day At Harrah's Philly

Tim Tetrick
Published: January 1, 2024 12:10 am EST

On Sunday (Dec. 31), Harrah’s Philadelphia held a 14-race twilight card to close out its 2023 racing season.

The feature was the $15,000 championship for the American Harness Drivers Club and the Uncle Peter gelding, Lionhead, plagued by bad early luck in recent outings, stayed out of trouble for driver Newton “Yogi” Sheridan, refusing to give up the lead and posting a winning time of 1:57.4, equalling his lifetime best on the last day of the year, while defeating Trump This by 1-1/2 lengths. Dawn Anderson trains the winner for owner Terry Morgan.

The Muscle Mass gelding, Warrior Way, was sharp in a two-move 2:00.3 victory in the $10,000 AHDC consolation. Neil Glasser guided the Joseph Eisenhower Sr. trainee for Henry Ottinger. 

The year’s leading horsemen's honours went to one new name (locally at least) and a couple of very familiar ones. On the training side, Brett Pelling picked up his first local UTR title, winning at almost a 37 per cent clip and landing on a final percentage of .497. (Pelling’s son Jack topped all drivers on closing day with six victories, putting new marks of three of the winning quintet.) 

Jeff Cullipher’s barn finished the meet hot, but Ron Burke’s stable had built enough of a lead to register an 83-81 success story. This was Burke’s 10th time sending out the most winners in the 18-year history of the riverside oval.

Another 10-time Philly winner is Tim Tetrick, who had a UDR of .395 in claiming his second straight crown in this category. Tetrick also won the dash-winning derby with 242 visits to victory lane, his ninth dash crown breaking a tie for the most local driving win titles with George Napolitano Jr. Only Tetrick, scoring his third consecutive victory in this column in 2023, and Napolitano have won the dash championship since Cat Manzi won the inaugural title way back in 2006. 

Racing in eastern Pennsylvania thus comes to a halt – but just for a short time. The 2024 opening of Pocono Downs at Mohegan Pennsylvania is penciled in for Feb. 19, while Harrah’s Philly is slotted to be back in action after its traditional winter break on April 12.

(PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia)

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