Harness racing makes its 2018 eastern Pennsylvania debut on Tuesday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, as the first of a dozen qualifying races will take to the track, with the initial event to start at 10 a.m.
It will be the 94th and last horse qualifying hopeful to set foot on the track who is likely to attract the most attention. That would be Keystone Velocity, now 10 but coming off the best year of his career, when he won $783,442 and was named Older Pacing Horse of the Year in balloting by the U.S. Harness Writers Association.
In receiving his trophy last week in Florida, trainer Rene Allard said that "Velocity" would be pointed for the Levy Pacing Series at Yonkers, where he is the defending champion after posting an 11-1 upset triumph on April 22 last year. The Levy Series starts a week from Saturday, ironically also the first night of live racing at Pocono this year.
Rene's brother Simon will be guiding the greybeard son of Western Hanover from post eight for Allard Racing Inc., Kapildeo Singh, Earl Hill Jr., and VIP Internet Stable.
The most accomplished horse as far as 2018 stats in the Tuesday qualifying races is Pepper Guy, a sophomore gelding who is perfect in three starts this season after winning half of eight starts in his freshman season. Matt Kakaley, perennially high in the Pocono standings and currently in the North American top five in driver moneywinnings, has the steer behind Pepper Guy as they start from post five in race five.
Anthony Napolitano and Jim Marohn Jr., currently one-two in the driving standings at the Meadowlands, will both be at the mountain oval for tomorrow's early morning session.
More qualifiers are scheduled for this Thursday, and then the schedule for the "qualies" will shift to its usual once-a-week Wednesday schedule. The draw for the opening night card on Saturday, March 17 will take place next Monday (March 12), as the Pocono action will follow the same draw and racing schedule as last season. One thing that will change, though, is post time – with the exception of rare special event cards, the first race at The Downs will be programmed for 7 p.m. each racing night. (Pocono/PHHA)