The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono opens its 51st season of harness racing on Saturday night, March 19th, with a $15,500 trotting feature and a trio of $14,000 co-features, two on the pace and one on the trot. The card starts off strongly, with the nightly feature slotted for race 2 on the 14-race card, and one of the co-features hitting leadoff for the mountain action, which has a first post at 6:30 p.m.
In the second race conditioned trot, the Holiday Road gelding Its Huw You Know has been accorded 3-1 morning line favoritism by oddsmaker Jim Beviglia despite form that would try the patience of a mother. The Ron Burke-trained gelding has won twice in his last four starts, including a 1:54.2 triumph in his last outing at The Meadowlands, but he has been known to throw the occasional tantrum in a race. His backers will hope for the “good” Its Huw You Know to show up as he starts from post six in a field of eight for driver Jim Morrill Jr., who comes to Pocono red-hot from Buffalo Raceway, sporting an incredible .624 early-season UDR.
In the curtainraiser, a handicapped event for high-level claiming pacers, Cotton Eyed Joe has been tabbed a 3-1 choice despite not having started since the end of the last Pocono meet, on November 21, though he had a good qualifying prep. “Joe” will start from post three in a group of eight, and will be driven by George Napolitano Jr., the track’s all-time leading single-season dashwinning champion with nine, including a record 407 visits to Victory Lane last year.
The other pacing co-feature, race 10, finds Ultimate Beachboy starting from the rail, inside seven foes, as he comes in from Toronto for trainer Rene Allard, who topped the conditioning tables at Pocono last season. Rene’s brother Simon, second to “George Nap” in the driving standings here last year, will guide the “Beachboy,” a $72,000 purchase at The Meadowlands’ January sale, who returns to the track where he took his personal record of 1:48.3, which at the time equaled the world record for three-year-old pacing geldings over a 5/8-mile track.
The co-featured trot, race 6, affords 5-2 favoritism to the $770,000+-winner Zooming, who drops in class after battling Open competition at Yonkers and Saratoga. George Napolitano Jr. has been picked to guide Zooming as the pair starts from post seven in a field of nine.
Pocono opens its season racing on Saturdays and Tuesdays in March; it will add Sundays (with a new 7:30 post time as opposed to the “usual” 6:30 start) on April 3 and Mondays on April 11. That Saturday through Tuesday schedule will be the basic format at The Downs through the spring and summer, with special event days accompanying the three races of the Thoroughbred Triple Crown.