Posts Tagged ‘Rainbow Pick 5’

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono 2017 Season Review

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

Well, here we are at the end of another campaign of racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The meet officially ends on Saturday, November 25, at which point we in racing all begin our hibernation periods. It’s hard to believe that it is the end of the racing season, perhaps because we were blessed in Northeastern Pennsylvania with such benign weather for most of September and October. When the weather really started to bite in November, we were already on the home stretch.

Reflecting back on the season that was, I, as I always tend to do at this point of the year, realize how difficult it is to sum everything up in just one article. Harness racing is comprised of mini-trends and spurts, but it’s very rare that you can point to something that has really taken hold for the duration of the season. But there are a few thoughts that do stand out and will likely separate 2017 from other seasons in my mind.

The first thing was a wager, which is ironic for me, because I don’t do any betting myself even though I essentially go through the process of handicapping the races as the morning line maker. But I must say that the Rainbow Pick 5, which we added about halfway through the 2017 campaign as a wager at Pocono, really took an already exciting sport up a few more notches. The strategy in the wager as well as the little bit of luck that went along with it really super-charged the last several races of each night’s card. I know that I thoroughly enjoyed it, and, by the response of the fans, I wasn’t the only one.

One other occurrence, or I guess it would be accurate to say that it was the lack of an occurrence, was the fact that there were no track records set at Pocono in 2017. Now that in no way is a commentary on the caliber of racing; I actually the think that this might have been our most rugged year of competition ever. On the contrary, I think it was a more a reflection of times in general becoming more moderate around the harness racing world. Some wetter summer weather also had a hand in it as well. What I think you’ll see is a huge reversal of that trend next year, especially with the Breeders Crown coming to town. More on that later.

As for the driving and training communities, George Napolitano Jr. and Rene Allard continued to dominate, which shouldn’t be taken for granted. There is as deep a colony of quality drivers and trainers at Pocono as anywhere in the country, so the way that George and Rene have kind of planted themselves at the top daring everyone else to knock them off is truly impressive.

As usual, many of the top names in the sport passed through Pocono in 2017. Superstars like Keystone Velocity, Manchego, Ariana G and many others made appearances and wowed the faithful. On a nightly basis, the overnight races provided excellent proving grounds for a wide variety of claimers and condition horses, many of whom put together impressive winning streaks and eye-opening times. Again, there were far too many to possibly note them all in a short article like this one, but all of their exploits definitely deserve honor and appreciation.

The 2017 season basically stands as a continuation of the excellence that the racing product has displayed for about the past decade at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. It may not have been a round number anniversary year like the 50th a year ago and it may not culminate in the Breeders Crown like 2018 will, but it was a season of racing featuring outstanding performances, constant surprises, and excitement pretty much from the opening race on Opening night all the way through these waning moments of the season. And that’s nothing to sneeze at.

In the meantime, we’re all looking forward to the return of The Breeders Crown a year from now. It will be the third time we’ve hosted the event at Pocono, and there’s nothing quite like having all of those champions of every age, gait, and gender on the same track. It will be bittersweet calling the races without Sam McKee, who was with me for the previous two Crowns at Pocono, but I’m certain he’ll be with us in spirit.

Until next season, just let me say thanks to all of my co-workers at the track who do such an amazing job putting on our racing product night in and night out. And thanks as well to the Pocono faithful, the best fans in the racing business without a doubt. I hope everyone has a wonderful winter, and I look forward to seeing you all again and communicating with you via this column again next season.

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

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

August 26-September 1, 2017

This is usually the space where we hand out Weekly Awards, but I thought I’d take a break from that this week to address a recent phenomenon at the track. That phenomenon is Rainbow Pick 5 Fever!

For those who might have missed it, here’s the gist of it. The Rainbow Pick 5 is a wager that requires a bettor to pick the winners of five consecutive races. But that’s not all. If there are multiple winning tickets on a given night, the winners share in a small percentage of the pool. The remainder of the pool carries over to the next night, and that can continue indefinitely until there is a single winning ticket.

Well, it looked like the wager might carry on infinitely instead of indefinitely at Pocono over the past few months, as night after racing night the Pick 5 was hit by multiple tickets instead of just one. The jackpot skyrocketed to $230,534.56 in the meantime, so it was decided to freeze it for a few weeks and give everyone a shot for a piece of that overflowing pie. On Sunday night, September 3, there will be a mandatory payout of that jackpot, meaning that even multiple winning tickets will get to share in the entirety of that huge sum of money instead of just a portion of it.

Think about it: Say the pool rises to $250,000 (after the 15 percent track takeout) or so on Sunday night with all of the betting action and, at the end of the night, there are ten winning tickets. That would mean those ten would pocket $25,000 apiece. Considering that they would have received a fraction of that without the mandatory payout, it’s easy to understand why this event Sunday night is such a big deal.

You might say, “That’s all good and fine, but picking the winner of one race is hard enough. Picking five in a row is like hitting the lottery.” But the Rainbow Pick 5 allows you to make picks for just twenty cents apiece. That means for a two-dollar wager, you can play ten different combinations of winners for the five races.

And that’s where the strategy that makes this wager so fascinating comes into play. If you come with the idea in your head that you’re going to spend a little money to give yourself the best possible chance to win, you still have to decide how to spread that money around. For example, you might find a race within the Pick 5 where you think a horse in the field is a can’t-miss winner. In that case, you might make him your only pick from that race, which would allow you to pick maybe six, seven or even all the horses from another race.

On the other hand, you might prefer to hedge your bets in each of the Pick 5 races, playing multiple horses in each race. Just remember that each horse you include in your ticket drives up the price of your wager a little bit. But what if the horse that you leave out at the last minute is the one who comes in as a long shot and would have separated your ticket from all the other bettors out there?

Again, that’s the kind of “what if” that makes the Rainbow Pick 5 so addictive. I don’t wager on the races at Pocono. I’m not forbidden to do so by any rules, but I made the choice that I wouldn’t while calling the races so that I would remain objective at all times. But I have been filling out a hypothetical Pick 5 ticket each night just to see how I would do. And what I’ve learned is that it takes a pretty good-sized wager, maybe a minimum of $40, to give yourself a chance that’s more than just a dart throw. Otherwise you have to be absolutely dead-on with your handicapping and hope that no long shots spoil the party, which, over the span of five races, is a distinct possibility.

Doing it that way, I’ve been able to hit the Rainbow Pick 5 with my pretend tickets about one out of every four racing nights. It’s not the best percentage, but, considering the amount of money on the line, I’d take those odds in a heartbeat.

Maybe you have your own strategy for the Pick 5. Or maybe you’ll just pick your favorite numbers or names and let Lady Luck work her magic. Again, what makes this wager such a cool deal is that there’s no one way to approach it.

We’re expecting Sunday night September 3rd to be a big night at the track, as bettors of all stripes will be lining up to take a portion of that lucrative payout home with them. However it turns out, there’s no doubt that the Rainbow Pick 5 has spiced up what has already been a thrilling racing meet at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.

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