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Luck Be Withyou Loves Pocono

Published: September 4, 2016 12:26 am ET

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Luck Be Withyou, racing at the track that he absolutely loves, gained into a :27 last quarter coming out of the pocket to catch Mel Mara by a head in the $25,000 Winners Over Handicap Pace on Saturday night (September 3) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, stopping the clock in 1:49.

The two faced each other on Sun Stakes Saturday night two weeks ago, with Luck Be Withyou drawing post seven and Mel Mara post four, with the :25.3 first quarter gone by Luck Be Withyou taking just enough out of him that he came up a half-length short of Mel Mara in 1:47.2. Tonight, with the post advantage reversed – Luck Be Withyou five, Mel Mara six – the result was reversed as well.

George Napolitano Jr. guided the son of Western Ideal to the lead past a :26.1 opener, then stung Mel Mara (driver Andrew McCarthy), who had left right behind him and then was out raw, until past the three-eighths mark before releasing him to go to the lead. After the :53.3 strength-sapping half, Mel Mara got a relative breather -- if a 1:22 clocking to the three-quarters is a “breather” -- but turning for home Napolitano and Luck Be Withyou were out and driving, and though Mel Mara came home in :27, the pocket rocket came home even faster, winning by a head.

At two, Luck Be Withyou won the Breeders Crown at Pocono; at three, he went four-for-four here and took a mark of 1:48 that lasted until a couple of months ago; at four, he won both a Franklin FFA elimination and then the final; and this year at five, he won the Franklin Consolation, lowering his mark a tick to 1:47.4. The winner of over $1.2 million for owner John Craig of North York, Ont. was the third successful collaboration of the evening for driver Napolitano and trainer Chris Oakes; George’s brother Anthony also drove three winners.

Although Andrew McCarthy just missed in the feature, he did have three winners as well on the Saturday Pocono card, and all at nice prices, including $95.80 bomber Nathan Feelsgood in the race before the feature and Stamkos ($35.20) in the race after the feature, along with winning the $20,000 sub-feature with Star Cover who, despite winning for the fourth time in five Pocono starts, opened the evening with a $23.60 payoff.

McCarthy has four $50-plus horses now at both Pocono (where he is third behind Marcus Miller’s eight and Tom Jackson’s five) and Philly (one behind Tony Morgan and even with Pat Berry). McCarthy is also the only driver to have two $100-plus winners at Philly this year, including a win with the longest of 2016 longshots at the riverside oval, $229.20 victress Shortstory Hanover.

Sunday's card will start at the special post time of 4:30 p.m., with fireworks and a concert to follow. Monday's racing will also begin at 4:30 p.m.; Pocono will be doing all of its Monday racing through the end of the year at the twilight post time.

(With files from PHHA/Pocono)

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