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Favourites First In Philly Features

Published: November 28, 2021 8:47 pm ET

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Shes Pukka N ($2.80) and Stars Align A ($3.40) both lived up to odds-on billing in their respective $16,200 top-level pacing features on Sunday (Nov. 28) at Harrah's Philadelphia, as both Australasian imports coasted to open-length wins.

In the afternoon's top distaff event, Shes Pukka N and driver Tony Morgan seized control of the terms from post 5 and traveled uncontested through splits of :27.1, :55.4 and 1:23.3 before widening their lead to 6-1/4 lengths at the end of a 1:51.3 mile. Callmequeenbee A narrowly held second over Eclipse Me N (Simon Allard). Brian Malone trains the six-year-old Betterthancheddar mare, now a 23-time winner, for Peter Venturini.

The featured event for male pacers saw Stars Align A likewise widen his advantage to the finish line, but he used completely different tactics to get there. Simon Allard landed the eight-year-old Art Major entire in the pocket behind Southwind Ozzi, and after drafting behind early sectionals of :26.3 and :55, angled the 42-time winner out to challenge for the lead past three-quarters in 1:22.3. Stars Align A easily pushed to the fore on the far turn, and evaded a late charge from the third-over Caviart Luca by 2-1/2 lengths in 1:50.3. Blank Stare — the 43-1 longest shot in the race — saved third out of late traffic. Jenn Bongiorno trains Stars Align A for Joshua Graber.

Yannick Gingras registered four wins to take top driving honours on the 14-race card; George Napolitano Jr. and Tim Tetrick won three races each.

Two short fields of trotters racing for purses of $9,200 went to post in the American Harness Drivers Club (AHDC) trots at Harrah's Philadelphia, and each event was won by a driver named Tony. In the first event, Tony Beltrami scored in wire-to-wire fashion with Shared Interest A in a time of 1:57.3 while the second contest went to Masster Blue when Tony Verruso drove him to a 1:58 victory.

Verruso, who is making a charge for Amateur Driver of the Year honours, notched his 23rd seasonal victory when he guided Masster Blue to a come-from-behind win in 1:58.

Sent at odds of over 7-1 from post two, Verruso was content to follow the leaders as Bob Hechkoff showed the way with River Otter. But when Hechkoff's trotter began to labour, Verruso was out and going with Masster Blue, and they charged to the lead as the field rounded the final turn and headed for home. At that point, Tony Beltrami had Dark Pool in high gear and they rallied from fifth to finish heads apart with Masster Blue. But after the judges viewed the photo, Masster Blue was a head better than Dark Pool and declared the winner. Three lengths in the rears, Crews Hilltopper rambled home third best for Bob Krivelin.

Masster Blue is owned and trained by John Novello. He paid $16.60 to win.

With only five others to contend with in his contest, Tony Beltrami sent favoured Shared Interest A immediately to the lead after the wings of the mobile gate folded and then played 'catch me if you can,' and since no one could, Beltrami cruised to a 3-1/4-length win over Lionhead and driver Melissia Arbia in what was the fastest of the two amateur trots. Third place went to If I Must driven by Paul Minore.

Shared Interest A is owned by Triple Q Stables and trained by Edwin Quevedo. He paid $5 to win.

Live racing returns to Harrah's Philadelphia on Wednesday (Dec. 1); post time is 12:25 p.m. (EST).

(with files from Harrah's Philadelphia and AHDC)

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