Racing

Stables open Monday, March 2

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Mohegan Sun Pocono will officially open the stables on Monday, March 2, rather than the planned Sunday, March 1, due to the freezing temperatures and the water supply.

All horsemen are asked to please adjust your schedules to begin arriving on Monday after 8:00am.  The water will be tu

We thank you for your understanding, and look forward to a memorable 50th Anniversary season!

50th Anniversary Racing Schedule for 2015 announced

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

The 50th Anniversary Season of Pocono Downs kicks off Saturday, March 21st, and the season promises exciting stakes action; fun fan events; and an anniversary week celebrating the rich history of the track.

The Bobby Weiss Late Closing Series, named for the former Director of Track Maintenance, opens the meet, with the finals set for April 18-22.

Kentucky Derby Day, May 2th, traditionally a huge celebration of racing and partying, will also boast a double-header with two Pocono live race cards.  Post Time for the first will be at 11 a.m., and the second will be immediately following the 141st running of the Derby.  In between, there will be the Run for the Roses Hat Review; a luscious Champagne Brunch in Pacers Clubhouse; a souvenir photo booth; and Spa Sapphire’s makeup booth.

The $2 million Sun Stakes Saturday is set for July 4th, with the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Trot; the Ben Franklin Free For All Pace; Max Hempt Memorial; and the James Lynch Memorial contested on this prestigious night of racing.  Eliminations are set for June 27th.

Super Stakes Saturday returns to Pocono on anniversary night, August 22, with nearly $2.1 million in purses and the Colonial; the Battle of the Brandywine; and the Valley Forge, along with two consolations for each.  Other festivities are planned for the anniversary, to be announced soon.

Racing in the month of March will be Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday, with Sundays added April through June; Fridays jump in the mix in July, August, and September; and from mid-October through closing on November 21, racing nights will be Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. The schedule is at http://mohegansunpocono.com/racing/schedules.html.

A 50th Anniversary Souvenir Book will be on sale starting March 21st, featuring a look back at 50 years of racing; events; and photos from Pocono Downs.  The book is $3 and is available at the Program desk.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

2014 Season Review

Turkeys wearing camouflage. Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel 24 hours a day. My light cool sweatpants replaced by my warm heavy sweatpants.

All these signs, including the bitingly cold weather, make it clear the winter is just about upon us. And that means that another racing season at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs is just about to wrap up. Luckily for all those who follow Pocono racing, it has been a marvelous season, one that witnessed is share of superstar performances, incredible finishes, and shocking long shots. About the only constants from night to night were the uniformly competitive and exciting races.

In 2014, we were graced, as usual, by the presence of some of the finest drivers and trainers in the country. Some familiar faces to Pocono fans took home the highest honors for the season. On the training side, Rene Allard and Chris Oakes repeated as the leaders in training wins and training percentage, respectively. And George Napolitano Jr. continued his incredible run atop the leaderboard among the drivers, sweeping the titles for driving wins and percentage with plenty of room to spare in both categories.

Yet those three men were really only just a part of the story in terms of the driving and training community. Four other drivers (Simon Allard, Matt Kakaley, Andrew McCarthy, and Anthony Napolitano) besides George Nap managed 100 wins in the Pocono meet, while a dozen picked up at least fifty. On the training side, five men (Allard, Oakes, Ron Burke, Lou Pena, Gilberto Garcia-Herrera) churned out at least 50 victories. Balance was the name of the game with the trainers and drivers, as more and more of the top horsemen in North America made Pocono a regular part of their racing schedule.

Of course, what really makes Pocono racing such a special entity is the quality of the horses who come to race. Last week in this space we honored our horses of the year, but there were so many wonderful equine performers who made their way to MSPD that it was impossible to honor them all, even with over thirty sets of Weekly Award and honorable mentions given out by yours truly in 2014.

One easy way to check the impact of a particular season is to look at the track records page in the beginning of the program. You’ll notice that a big portion of the dates on that page indicate that those records were set here this year. In all, there were twelve records either set or matched at Pocono this season, with the vast majority of those going for world records on a 5/8-mile oval. And who can forget that in 2014, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs hosted the fastest pace ever on a 5/8-mile oval (a scorching 1:47 by Sweet Lou) and the fastest trot at any track size anywhere (an incredible 1:49 by Sebastian K.)

As I said above, there are really too many memorable moments to squeeze into this humble little retrospective. One of the neat things about harness racing is that every single night, it seems like something happens that you’ve never seen before. And you never know when that unpredictable bolt out of the blue will happen. It might happen in the feature race with the finest horses on the grounds, but it can also happen with maiden trotters. As the caliber of racing has continued its steady uphill climb at Pocono, these special moments seem to take place more and more often.

We’ve spent this time looking back, but before we call it a season, we should think about what’s to come in 2015. It will be an extremely special campaign at Pocono, as it marks the 50th season of racing at the track. In addition to the usual schedule of thrilling stakes races and competitive overnight races, 2015 is going to feel like one big celebration.

For the fans who have been with us for many of those 50 years, next season will probably feel pretty special, a milestone at the track. As someone who has worked at Pocono for 17 years, I feel really honored to be playing a small part of it. Even as we put another incredible season to bed, it’s hard to feel anything but anticipation for what’s to come.

As always, I’d like to thank everyone who checked out my articles this past year or tuned in to my race calls, and thanks to all of my wonderful co-workers in the racing department who do such amazing work night in and night out.

I hope everyone has a wonderful winter and Happy Holidays. We’ll see you at the track in 2015.

If you have any questions or concerns over the break, feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.

  

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Week in Review

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

November 7-13, 2014    

Choosing the horses of the year at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs used to be a much simpler job. When the racing wasn’t as competitive as it is now, there were usually only a few candidates who would rise above the rest by winning in the same classes week after week, making the choices for the top honors relativeLY easy.

Not anymore. Since Pocono is a destination for the top horses and horsemen in the country, it is extremely difficult for any one horse to dominate a single division. As a result, there are dozens of horses who can make legitimate cases at different times in the year that they are the best of the best at MSPD.

I had a little input into these choices, but most of the research and hard work behind these choices was done by my esteemed colleagues Terri Phalen and Jennifer Starr. It wasn’t easy, but the three winners, in my opinion, are extremely deserving. So, without further ado, here is a look at the 2014 Pocono Horses of the Year.

PACER OF THE YEAR: DANCIN YANKEE

When this six-year-old stallion arrived at Pocono in May, he had already distinguished himself with a big winning streak at Dover and a respectable performance in the Levy series at Yonkers. Trained by Josh Green, he made his presence felt immediately at MSPD with back-to-back wins, including a dominant performance in the $50,000 Van Rose Invitational.

When he returned at the end of June, he was working for the Amber Buter barn. What an auspicious Pocono debut he made for the new connections, winning a $100,000 invitational race with Tyler Buter in the bike in 1:47:2, a winning time which would have broken every record in the book if Sweet Lou hadn’t won the Franklin in 1:47 that same night. Dancin Yankee followed that up with three more no-doubt wins in a row in a Preferred company. Only a monster mile by Bigtown Hero in September kept him from sheer perfection at Pocono for the year, as he finished third to finish with six wins in seven against the very best on the grounds. His success at Pocono was just one part of a brilliant season overall for Dancin Yankee, but it was good enough to capature perhaps the most glamorous year-end award.

TROTTER OF THE YEAR: WIND OF THE NORTH

Wind Of The North, a four-year-old gelding trained by Clifton Green, didn’t waste any time at Pocono in 2014. He picked up a condition win in the season’s first week on his way to wins in four of his five races of the season as he moved up the condition ladder in the spring. That was just his warm-up act, however. On June 28, with David Miller in the bike, he burned his way to a victory in 1:51, setting a new world record for his age group and gender on a 5/8-mile oval in the process.

One thing that Wind Of The North had failed to accomplish in the first half of the season was a win against the Preferred trotters. That all changed when he handled that very group for a victory on September 27. His final tally: ten starts at Pocono in 2014, six wins, two seconds, and a third. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s a Trotter of the Year resume for sure.

CLAIMER OF THE YEAR: B J’S RAMEAU

Do you want to know what was impressive about B J’s Rameau’s season at Pocono? Everything, that’s what. The sheer numbers of it are good enough on their own to warrant Claimer of the Year consideration. In 28 races at Pocono this season, the 5-year-old gelding hit the board 17 times and won 11, including a career-best 1:49:1 mile.

Then consider that all of those victories were against the top rung of the claiming ladder at Pocono. Consider that, as a hot claiming commodity, he won his 11 races for eight different trainers. And finally consider that many of those races were claiming handicaps and BJ’s Rameau, because of his high sale price, was often saddled with the outside post, making his record even more impressive. We’ve had a lot of outstanding claimers this year, but they were all toiling in the wake of this gelding.

Next week in this space we’ll be wrapping up the 2014 season for good as we approach closing night on November 22. We’ll be taking a look back at some of the best moments of the year and we’ll also tell you who won the honors among drivers and trainers in terms of wins and percentage. It’s hard to believe it’s almost over, but the three horses we’ve spotlighted here have given us a whole lot to remember come the offseason.

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

 

Mach It So Shatters World Record in Open Handicap Pace at Pocono

Monday, November 10th, 2014

November 8, 2014

Mach It So rallied from the pocket to win Saturday night’s featured $35,000 Open Handicap pace at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs and did so in world-record time.

Leaving from post position #4 in a field of six as a 7-1 shot, Mach it So (Mach Three-Beach Dancer), a 4-year-old gelding from the PJ Fraley barn, left well for driver Andrew McCarthy and then sat the pocket as Bigtown Hero cut out blistering fractions of :25:2, :52:2, and 1:19:1. Those numbers proved unsustainable for the 4-5 favorite, and Mach It So rallied in the stretch through the inside passing lane to hold off State Treasurer by a half-length. Wake Up Peter finished 3rd.

The winning time of 1:48 broke the world record for four-year-old pacing geldings on a 5/8-mile oval of 1:48:1, which was set in July of 2013 at Pocono by Live On and matched later in the year at the track by Dynamic Youth.

Owned by Bamond Racing, Mach It So won for the eighth time in 21 races in 2014. It was his 18th career victory and pushed his lifetime earnings to $601,039.