Racing

Stables to open March 1

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

Spring is coming, and the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono is getting the stable area ready for our valued horsemen, with the gates officially opening for the 51st season on Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 8:00a.m.

All horsemen must have the required paperwork to enter with their horses, along with a valid Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission license, which must be presented upon entry at all times.

Applications are now being taken for stables at https://myhorsemen.mohegansunpocono.com.

Special rates are available to reserve your stalls.  Those reserving 10 stalls will receive each additional stall at half-off, and will receive preference for being stabled at Pocono.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono stable area features an excellent training track; tack shop and farriers; two veterinary clinics; laundry facilities; and a secure area with a guard on the premises 24 hours a day.  Entry is with a license only.  The stable area is minutes from major interstate highways.

Racing opens for the season at the renowned 5/8 mile track on Saturday, March 19th.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono announces 2016 live racing schedule

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

Racing on four consecutive nights and a double-header on Kentucky Derby day are included in the 2016 live racing schedule for the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, as announced by Vice-President of Racing Operations, Dale Rapson.

Racing opens at the renowned 5/8 mile oval in Wilkes Barre, PA on Saturday, March 19th, and will continue for the month of March on Tuesday, March 22, Sat., March 26, and Tuesday, March 29.

In April, racing moves to Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday, with Sunday, April 3rd the 1st leg of the Bobby Weiss Late Closing Series for 3 and 4 year olds, named for the beloved former Director of Track Maintenance.  Bobby retired in 2011, and was responsible for the record-breaking track surface that is maintained today.  The series continues throughout April with the finals on May 1st and 3rd.  There will be no live racing on Monday, April 4th.

The prestigious Sun Stakes Saturday is set for Saturday, July 2nd, and will feature the Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial 3-year-old Trot; the James Lynch 3-year-old Filly Pace; the Max Hempt 3-year-old Colt & Gelding Pace; and the Ben Franklin Free For All Pace.  Eliminations will take place on Saturday, June 25th

Saturday, August 20th is the $2.1 million Super Stakes Saturday with the Colonial 3YO Trot; Valley Forge 3YO Filly Pace; and the Battle of the Brandywine 3YO Open Pace.

The newly-created Pennsylvania Classics for 3YO PA-sired pacing colts & geldings will be held on Kentucky Derby Day, May 7th with eliminations the week before.

Also on the celebratory Kentucky Derby is a double-header with two Pocono live race cards.  Post Time for the first card will be at 11 a.m., and the second will be immediately following the 142nd running of the Derby.  In between, there will be the Run for the Roses Hat Review and a huge party on the track apron.  Live racing will immediately follow the second and third legs of the Triple Crown, the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

The first Qualifiers of the season will be Tuesday, March 8th; Wednesday, March 9th; and Wednesday, March 16th.

Post Time for Sunday nights is 7:30p.m., with all other nights 6:30p.m.  In September, October, and November, Monday night Post Time will switch to a 4:30p.m. Post.  The 51st season of live racing concludes on Saturday, November 26th.

2015 – The 50th Anniversary Season in Review

Friday, November 20th, 2015

2015 Season Review

Here we are at the conclusion of the 2015 racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. It’s been an extremely special season on a lot of levels, one that I’ve been thrilled to witness. I must admit that it feels a bit odd to be looking back, because, when you’re in the thick of an action-packed campaign like this one, it feels like it whooshes by before you know it.

The fact that this was the 50th racing season at Pocono lent everything an extra bit of specialness all year long. Each night of racing, the lights above the track lent their illumination, but they had a little help from the intangible glow cast upon the participants by the anniversary proceedings.

It even seemed like the weather cooperated for us this year more than I can ever remember. In one stretch, we went more than a month without seeing an off-track, and we even had unseasonably pleasant weather well into the month of November. As a result, it seemed like the crowds out on the patio and the apron were bigger than they’ve been in years.

What those patrons saw in 2015 was yet another season in which the racing product at Pocono was as fast and fantastic as anywhere else in the country. One peek at the track records page will show you just how dynamic the action was this past campaign. Five Pocono records were either set or matched in 2015, and four of those five also constituted world records.

Then again, electric talent tends to beget outstanding performances, so the assault on the record book was somewhat predictable in light of the caliber of horses that performed here throughout the season. We honored our horses of the year in this space last week, focusing mostly on those who were regulars or semi-regulars at Pocono this season. When you also consider some of the superstars of the sport who performed at Pocono in stakes races in 2015, horses like Wiggle It Jiggleit, Pinkman, and JL Cruze to name but a few, you get a true sense of the breadth of equine talent on display this past season.

Of course, those horses wouldn’t have been quite as special without the guidance and expertise of our drivers and trainers. We’ve talked in this column about the outstanding balance in the driving and training community this season, but a few men rose to the top of their respective fields.

On the driving side, it was a monster season for George Napolitano Jr., who easily won both the driving wins and driving percentage titles. George Nap broke his own single-season record for wins at Pocono and, at press time, was threatening the 400-win barrier on the season. Add to that the fact that he’s also leading the continent in wins for the season. What a year it’s been for Pocono’s most lauded driver.

Rene Allard once again dominated the training wins race, picking up his third straight title in that category. Allard had nearly twice as many victories as his nearest competitor, and at press time was on pace to put up the third most training wins in a season in Pocono history. Meanwhile Chris Oakes repeated as the top gun in the training percentage category, which means that nobody is more efficient at producing winners and in-the-money finishes than the Oakes barn.

I really don’t have enough space to list all of the drivers and trainers who gave outstanding efforts at the Pocono oval this past season. Nor can I recap all of the thrilling races and sizzling times and crazy long shots that characterized this past meet. (Although in that latter category, I do want to mention the performance this past Tuesday night of Lady Of The Lake, a mare who picked up her maiden victory for driver/trainer Joe Antonelli and paid off a stunning $398.60 on a $2 win ticket. That makes her Long Shot of the Year.)

And so it’s time to bid farewell to this racing season, one that fulfilled every one of the lofty expectations we placed on it based on it being such a momentous anniversary. I wrote extensively about the ramifications of the 50th anniversary throughout the season, but I’d like to mention once again how honored I am to have been a small part of it.

I feel like this was a special year for the Pocono patrons as well, many of whom followed us when the purses were miniscule compared to today and a mile under two minutes was a rare occurrence. This 50th year really belonged to you folks, so I hope you cherished it.

Before you know it we’ll be doing it all again though. So I’d like to wish everyone a great offseason and Happy Holidays. Stay warm. And then, come springtime, we’ll rev it up for season 51 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.

That will do it for this season, but we’ll see you at the track in 2016. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.

End of Season Awards continue at the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono

Friday, November 20th, 2015

Only one night remains in the 50th Anniversary season for the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and the track in Northeast PA continues their awards for the standouts of the 2015 season closing night, Saturday, November 21st. The  Leading Driver; Leading Trainer – Wins; Claimer of the Year; and Three-Year-Old of the Year will accept their awards.

The Claimer of the Year for 2015 is the inimitable R Gauwitz Hanover.  Even before he arrived at Pocono in May, he was already a big winner in 2015, racking up six wins in New York.  But it was here that the 6-year-old gelding achieved his greatest success, winning nine of his 14 races at the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, all while moving up in class from the $10,000 claimers to the $25,000 claiming handicaps.  He won several races from outside posts, had victories for seven different trainers at Pocono; and notched a career-best mile of 1:49 as part of his unforgettable 2015 campaign at Pocono.  The track will honor this great gelding with his record number of claims by displaying, in the paddock, his custom-designed blanket with rainbow letters to signify all the different stables.

The 3-Year-old of the Year honor has been bestowed upon K Ryan Bluechip.  The gelding from the Joe Pavia Jr. barn finished fourth on April 8th in a maiden race at Pocono in what was his first start of the 2015 season.  After that, the only view other horses had of him at Pocono for the remainder of the season was his back end.  K Ryan Bluechip raced five more times at Pocono and won them all in impressive fashion, none slower than 1:51.1, and his career-best win of 1:50.2 came in September.

Rene Allard dominated the training wins, picking up his third straight title in that category.  Allard had nearly twice as many victories as his nearest competitor, and he has set the record for the most training wins in a season in Pocono history.

On the driving side, it was a monster season for George Napolitano Jr., who easily won both the driving wins and driving percentage titles.  George Nap broke his own single-season record for wins at Pocono, and he also notched over 400 wins this season.

Saturday is also a special thank you to the loyal fans with Fan Appreciation Night.  Souvenirs of the 50th Anniversary season will be given out to fans with a coupon from the live racing program starting at 7:00pm.

Racing returns March, 2016, and Simulcast is open year-round.

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono honors the standouts of the season

Friday, November 20th, 2015

As the  50th Anniversary season for the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono winds down, the track in Northeast PA is honoring the standouts of the 2015 season on Wednesday. November 18th, and closing night, Saturday, November 21st.

Wednesday night, the award for the Pacer of the Year was presented to four-year-old Luck Be Withyou.  The stallion from the Chris Oakes barn topped some of the world’s best pacers on July 4th, winning the Ben Franklin Pace in 1:49, going gate-to-wire from an outside post.  He also had a spectacular fall, returning from Canada to chalk up three straight condition wins in September and October.

Trotter of the Year honors went to Proud Moment, who is enjoying his best season ever at age nine, not typical for a trotter. But this is not just any typical trotter!  Six of the wins for the veteran warrior were at Pocono, and when he didn’t visit the Winner’s Circle, he often hit the board in impressive fashion.  He beat claimers and conditioners; did it from the outside and the inside; and won his six races for five different trainers.  The high point of his outstanding year was a three-race winning streak in July and August that included his career-best mile of 1:52.2.

The mare, Kiddie McCardle, was presented with the Mare of the Year honors on Wednesday, as well.  She has performed for several different barns at Pocono this season, picking up eight wins, including a 1:51.1 mile which set a career-mark for her at age seven. She is extremely tough, despite the fact that she’s often faced with brutal post positions in claiming handicaps; she’s been extremely competitive of late since moving over to face condition pacing mares.

The award for Leading Trainer/UTR, was bestowed upon Chris Oakes for the fourth time.  Accompanied by his family and friends, Oakes accepted his award on Wednesday night, and was in the Winner’s Circle as  Luck Be Withyou and Proud Moment were honored.

Closing night, Saturday, November 21st, the Leading Driver; Leading Trainer – Wins; Claimer of the Year; and Three-Year-Old of the Year accept their awards.  It is also a special thank you to the loyal fans with Fan Appreciation Night.  Souvenirs of the 50th Anniversary season will be given out with a coupon from the live racing program starting at 7:00pm.