Game Of Claims Series Returns To Pocono

Published: March 3, 2024 01:01 am EST

The Game Of Claims Series, a vehicle for sharp horses racing for a tag to make good money for their owners (which can change every week during the preliminaries), kicked off its 2024 action on Saturday afternoon, March 2 at Pocono Downs at Mohegan Pennsylvania, with six $23,649 divisions of the first round for $33,784 base-priced pacers. The series again loosened the chequebooks of horsepeople wanting to acquire in-form racehorses, as 16 competitors changed hands to the tune of $412,500.

Four of the six winners went to a new barn, including the fastest winner, the Custard The Dragon gelding Dontpokethedragon, who led at every pole in a 1:54.2 triumph over a “sloppy +2” oval. It seemed very likely that “Dontpoke” would be moving on – he came to Pocono off eight straight victories in Canada – and now if he is to run his victory skein to double digits, he’ll have to adjust to life in a new barn. The winner was handled by Pocono’s most successful driver ever, George Napolitano Jr., who broke a four-way logjam at the top of the standings by posting five victories in the off going.

Another “George Nap” success story who was claimed out of his race was Tam Major A, a son of Art Major who covered the mile in 1:55.2. Napolitano also triumphed in 1:55.2 with the Captaintreacherous gelding Outwit Outrun, who went unclaimed. The other three divisional winners followed the same “two claimed, one not” story: taken out of their races were a pair of horses guided by Jim Pantaleano, the Somebeachsomewhere gelding Seeyou At Thebeach as a 10-1 upsetter in 1:55.4 and the Betting Line gelding All The Chips in 1:56.1. Going back to the same stall is the Sweet Lou gelding Flashy Dude (driver Matt Kakaley), whose 1:54.4 victory occurred in the only series event that did not have at least two claims coming out of it. 

In the top purse event for overnight horses, a $22,973 trot, the Trixton gelding Conrad Dipoggio IT made it two straight, quarter-moving and then not look back in a 1:55 win for driver Tyler Buter, trainer Rob Harmon and the partnership of Harmon Racing Stable LLC, Dean Spriggs and Bill Muggleston.

There will be no overnight races on Pocono’s 14-race Monday, March 4 afternoon card at 1 p.m., as there are seven divisions each of first round Game Of Claims action for pacing horses valued at $20,270 ($13,514 purse) and $10,135 ($10,135 purse), all looking to get a quick start towards earning their way to their respective Championships. With the Game Of Claims Series rules changed this year to mandate a horse must start in all three legs to qualify for the finals, the claiming box may be just as busy Monday as it was Saturday.

(PHHA / Pocono)

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