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Napolitano Dominates Closing Night

Published: November 21, 2015 11:21 pm ET

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George Napolitano Jr., the winningest driver in North America in 2015, put an exclamation point on his superlative season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs by winning seven races on the closing night's 13-race card.

The septet ran "George Nap's" final total to 407 wins for the meet, well ahead of his previous one-year mark of 347 set in 2004. This title, Napolitano's ninth in the victory category, gives him the all-time outright lead for dash crowns at The Downs, breaking the deadlock he had before this year with Bill Lambertus. Simon Allard had the second-most winners with 236.

George Napolitano also won the UDR title for the meet, his seventh UDR title -- Bill Mullin and Jim Morrill Jr. are next in that category with three. His seasonal log of 1,501 starts, 407 wins, 263 seconds, and 172 thirds figures out to a driver rating of -- hard to believe, but true -- .407.

Simon Allard's brother Rene won his third consecutive training win title in 2015, with a closing night double bringing his tally to 158. Chris Oakes had 85 wins, including three on closing night, to win the meet UTR honours with a log of 286-85-58-33-.448.

The Allard brothers teamed to take the Downs' closing night feature, a $24,000 pace, with the Allamerican Native stallion National Debt in 1:51, moving to the lead past the quarter and then coming home in :55/:27 to tally in 1:51. National Debt has about as geographically-varied a set of connections as one could imagine in North America -- bred in Maryland, a champion on the Alberta circuit at two, and now owned by Allard Racing of Quebec, Howard Taylor of Philadelphia, Kapildeo Singh of Westchester County, New York, and the Our Three Sons Stable of the harness hotbed of Atlanta, Georgia.

A final word on George Napolitano Jr., who has some thinking to do -- his seven winners tonight gives him a 24-victory lead in the North American chase over Aaron Merriman, 793-769. But with Pocono now closed for the year, and his other main track of completion, Harrah's Philadelphia, down to its last 12 cards, with Merriman driving as many as nine cards a week between The Meadows and Northfield, Napolitano is going to have to decide to just enjoy the great year he has had -- or look for new places (he has driven a limited schedule in the winter at Florida's Pompano Park) to conquer in the last six weeks of the year if he is to add to his 2010 North American sulky win crown collection.

(PHHA / Pocono)


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