Races drawn for opening weekend at Pocono
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The 2018 live season of harness racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono opens this Saturday night (March 17), with the first of 14 races set to go at the track’s new "normal" post time of 7 p.m.
A pair of $17,000 events for developing younger horses tops the bill of fare on the curtainraising card. In the 13th race pace, the brother team of trainer Rene and driver Simon Allard will send out the American Ideal four-year-old Art Scene, who was one of eight qualifying winners last week for Team Allard with a 1:56.2 open-length victory. Purchased at the start of 2018, Art Scene earned over $290,000 in 2017, and he threw a scare into last year’s Pacer of the Year Downbytheseaside in the Messenger Pace, coming within a nose of victory. Art Scene does draw the difficult post eight in this nine-horse contest.
The Allards could sweep the opening night features at the mountain oval, as they have the Muscle Mass gelding Zagster starting from post three in a field of seven in the third race trot. Zagster comes off an impressive two-move victory in 1:57.3 over Saratoga’s half-mile oval, but he must shake off some recent bouts of indecorous behavior to have a good chance to take the co-feature.
Simon Allard has been named on 11 horses for Saturday’s card; the Napolitano brothers show up even more frequently – Anthony, who currently leads all drivers at The Meadowlands, is named in 13 races, while brother George, seeking his seventh straight Pocono dashwinning crown, is set to face the gate 12 times.
This first "week" of racing, Pocono will follow this Saturday card with a card on Tuesday, March 20 at 7 p.m. In the next two Saturday through Tuesday "standard racing weeks" at Pocono, Sunday will be added to the mix, and the April 1 card on Easter Sunday will have a special post time of 5 p.m., in addition to hosting the first competition in this year’s Bobby Weiss Series for developing three- and four-year-olds. The basic four-card-a-week schedule will first be employed with the addition of racing on Monday, April 9.
The highlight of the season will come in late October, when Pocono will be the host for the third time to the $6M Breeders Crown Championship series, with eliminations on Friday, October 19 and Saturday, October 20, with the best in these races coming through to their lucrative Championships on Saturday 27, a night that will see many divisional championships settled – "It all comes down to the Breeders Crown." (Pocono)