Despite being parked for the entire mile, Highalator ($13.80) proved a gutsy 1:49.4 winner in one of two $20,000 pacing features on the Sunday afternoon (July 19) program at Harrah's Philadelphia. Turbo Hill ($4.20) lived to favoured billing with a 1:50 score in the other.
Highalator and driver Ricky Still gunned for the lead from post 7, only to be out-sprinted through a :26.2 first quarter by Tookadiveoffdipper and denied the pocket seat by Western Fame. With no choice but to advance, Highalator toughed out the uncovered journey through a :54 half before grinding down Tookadiveoffdipper and working to the lead on the backstretch—only to face pressure from a three-wide Shake That House nearing three-quarters in 1:21.2.
Midway around the final turn, the pressure appeared too much for Highalator to withstand—Shake That House worked to a one-length lead at the eighth pole. But Highalator found another gear off the corner and reclaimed the lead, winning by a driven length. Shake That House held second, and Bechers Brook A rallied belatedly for third.
Trainer Jenny Bier co-owns Highalator with Joann Dombeck and Midsize Construction Inc. The six-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere has won 34 times in his career.
Highalator's win capped a Pick-4 sequence in which all four favourites were defeated. The sequence including Fabrice Hanover ($6.60), Bill Haley N ($11.00), Lyons Johnnyjnr ($15.80) and Highalator returned $2,697.80 on a 50-cent ticket.
In the other featured event, Turbo Hill and Joe Bongiorno used a :27.1 quarter to clear Somewhere In L A and maintained a fairly even pace throughout to stave off the first-over Proper One and the aforementioned Somewhere In L A—who finished in a dead heat for second—by a half length. Jenn Bongiorno trains the five-year-old American Ideal entire for owner-breeder Tom Hill.
Joe Bongiorno led all drivers with four wins on the 14-race card, three of them in tandem with his sister, trainer Jenn Bongiorno.
Racing returns to Harrah's Philadelphia with another 14-race program on Wednesday (July 22), which features an $11,644.77 carryover in the 20-cent Jackpot Hi-5 in Race 5. Post time is 12:25 p.m. (EDT).