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Napolitano, Ranger set for final showdown for Pompano title

May 13, 2009

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As the racing season in South Florida heads into its final week, the battle for the leading driver honors between Anthony Napolitano and Bruce Ranger may be decided on the final night.


Despite having moved his own stable of horses to Pennsylvania to race at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, Napolitano flew back to Florida last Saturday to compete on the 14-race card in hopes of capturing his first driving championship. Upon completion of the program and now with just two nights left of racing, Napolitano holds a slight five-win lead over perennial driving champion Ranger, the all-time leader in victories at the Isle Capri at Pompano Park.


“It’s going to be tough to hold off Bruce,” Napolitano said after a pair of wins on Saturday night. “I did not have much power tonight now that some of the better stables have shipped out so I had to make due with the drives I did have.”


Winning four races last Wednesday and three more races on the Saturday night program, Ranger has been closing in fast on the Napolitano lead. And the always competitive veteran has become a fan of his younger competitor’s talent.


“He has been getting better over the past couple years,” Ranger said. “There was a time when he first started that he was a bit green and reckless. But his time spent up at Pocono Downs has obviously done him some good. He is driving better and that has lead him to get better drives as well.”


Napolitano scored victories on Saturday night with SF Midas (1:55.4) for trainer Alan Johnson and Banker Ablaze (1:58.1) for trainer Barry Probber. Ranger’s victories came with trainer Jim McDonald’s Can’t Slay Me (1:53), Adrians Speed (2:00) for trainer Jim Langley, and Passthegreypoupan for fellow New Englander, trainer Stanley Whittemore (1:54).


“Hopefully Bruce won’t go nuts on me and win eight races on Wednesday night,” Napolitano said. “I am going to come back down next Saturday night and see if I can hold him off. No matter what happens, I’ve had a great meet and all I can do is give it my best shot.”

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