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WILKES-BARRE, PA - Glengarry Knight N, a double harness racing winner in the preliminaries of the Game Of Claims Pacing Series for $25,000 base-claiming-price level, came off of cover and just caught American Rebel to take the richest purse of the year to date at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, $50,000, in winning his series Championship in 1:52.3. A Real Miracle streaked to the early lead in the contest, rejecting the bid of favored Melanie's Tedy for the front spot and forcing that one to tuck in, then letting stablemate American Rebel go to the top past a :27.1 quarter. The last-named pacer hit the half in :56, with Melanie's Tedy forced to accept first-over duties and Glengarry Knight N following his cover under the guidance of Anthony Napolitano. Near the 1:23.4 three-quarters the chalk stopped gaining and A Real Miracle backed off, letting American Rebel get a clear lead, but Glengarry Night N swung off his dull cover and tried determinedly to the wire, just catching the game pacesetter in the final steps, with the official margin a head.   The victorious altered son of Changeover made quite a debut for trainer William Adamczyk and owner William Emmons, as they claimed Glengarry Knight N for $30,000 last week (progressive prices in series). They are now the braintrust behind the second-richest North American harness horse of 2021 at press time, as the winner pushed his seasonal bankroll to $53,760. "A Napolitano-driven winner coming off two preliminary wins and joining a new barn" also summarized the story in the $30,000 Game Of Claims Championship for $15,000 base-priced horses, as George Napolitano Jr. kept Sunset Braydon clear in the lane for trainer/owner Jordan Derue (who claimed him for $20,000 last week) in 1:52.4. Cash Is King emerged with the early lead with Shoreview on the outside, but a major wrinkle came at the quarter when Royal Heart, the winner of this level's Championship last year, made a break at the :26.3 quarter trying to keep the pocket closed. Shoreview thus got in the two-hole, and the coast was clear for George Nap to come brushing with the favored Sunset Braydon, that horse making the lead well before the :55 half. A long uncovered move by Fernado stalled at the 1:23.2 three-quarters, and that fact coincided with Cash Is King not keeping the pocket filled, allowing the winning Always A Virgin gelding to open a clear margin on the far turn. No one could get near him in the lane, with Just Plain Loco swinging wide to get second behind the winner of half his eight seasonal starts.   The Sunday 5 p.m. card at The Downs will feature the $20,000 Game Of Claims Championship for $10,000-tagged horses and the $15,000 finale for $7500 claiming stock. On Monday, trotters will take up the Game Of Claims mantle, as $15,000-priced horses will go in four $15,000 divisions of their first preliminary. Program pages are available at https://www.phha.org/downsmsppps.html. Though there was no claiming from the series Championships; nonetheless eight horses did change hands during the card for $165,000. And the Napolitano brothers dominated the driving ranks for the card as they did in the series Championships, with Anthony winning five races and George four. For full results, click here. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Banker Volo gelding Itsonlymoneyhoney swung wide from second-over and was up late to catch the pylonskimming Remarkable De Vie and win the $10,000 trotting harness racing feature during the first Monday card of the season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. SVF Blusingbride took over from fast starter Remarkable De Vie past a 28.3 opener over a "good" surface, then backed off the half to :59. Heavy favorite Hashtagmadeyalook came up first-over down the backstretch and to the 1:27.3 three-quarters, with Itsonlymoneyhoney tailing the chalk's cover. In the stretch, 27-1 Remarkable De Vie went to the Pocono Pike and looked like he might pull off a big upset, but driver Tyler Buter got Itsonlymoneyhomey in high gear late and took a head decision in 1:57.1. Rob Harmon conditions the winner for Harmon Racing Stable LLC, Lawrence Kittenplan, and Winners Circle Racing LLC. Itsonlymoneyhoney went off at odds of 7.90 to 1 and paid $17.80 to win.   The draws for Saturday's Championships in the higher-level Game Of Claims Pacing Series were held Monday, and even though all of the horses have to have shown good recent form just to qualify for the finals, handicapping still may be a bit difficult. In the $25,000 base-priced group, going for $50,000, eight of the nine entrants were claimed last time, while the $30,000 being chased by $15,000-level entrants will find seven of the nine starters having changed hands in the final prelim. In the $50,000 Championship, points leader Melanie's Tedy drew post five, by far the best starting slot early in the meet at Pocono with nearly 30% winners, and he will go for the barn of Dan Maier, tied with Steve Brabrook at the top of the trainers' win list. In the $30,000 contest, top two point earners Sunset Braydon and Royal Heart will get their starts from the innermost spots on the gate; those looking for an "extra factor" can find two with Royal Heart: he won his Game Of Claims Championship last year while competing at this level, and he stays in the barn of trainer Travis Alexander off of a win last time. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs  

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Always A Virgin gelding Sweet Talkin Satin (Jim Pantaleano), racing for a $10,000 base tag in the Game Of Claims Pacing Series at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, became the only horse in the Game Of Claims' four levels to win all three of his preliminary legs while succeeding during the Sunday twilight card. The 11-year-old, with a $629,284 career bankroll, posted a 1:53.2 victory over sloppy going, smashing his field by 10¼ lengths.   And if he is to have success in next Sunday $20,000 series Championship, he'll have to do it for yet another new barn - because Sweet Talkin Satin has now been claimed out of all three of those prelim victories. Big Game Hunter (George Napolitano Jr.) posted his second series triumph in another division at this level, joining Myidealson N in having two prelim round successes. The unofficial top nine point winners who appear to have earned their way into their Championship are in order Sweet Talkin Satin, Big Game Hunter, My Idealson N, Better B Rolling, Little Admiral, P-Drive Hanover, Canbec Kingkazimir, Bamski, and Love The Action (who didn't race in leg three after a second and a first earlier, and scraped in by one point); My Alpha Rock N and Spicebomb are the AEs. Horsemen should check with the Pocono Race Office to verify these totals, and to see if anyone is affected by the "no more than two horses for a trainer or owner" rule, especially with horses being claimed. The fastest clocking of the entire twilight card came in the final prelim for $7500-priced horses, when the Rocknroll Hanover gelding Dontcallmefrancis posted a 4¾ length victory in 1:53 for hot-driving Anthony Napolitano, who tied with Matt Kakaley with three sulky successes on the night. Trainer David Russo and owner Santo Farina still have the horse, as he attracted no claims from anybody in all three prelims, two of which he won.   Don'tcallmefrancis was joined in becoming a two-time prelim winner Sunday by the 12-year-old Modern Art gelding R Gauwitz Hanover (Matt Kakaley), a career winner of $478,255, who became the leading pointwinner while winning his section at this level in 1:55 - and who will be changing hands before his $15,000 Championship. The top nine in the quick unofficial calculations were R Gauwitz Hanover, then a tie between Don'tcallmefrancis and Rojan's Way (an earlier two-time winner), Grits N Gravy and Lucky Levis (tie), Luziana and Needless To Say (tie), and Onlythetuffsurvive and Stick With Cramer (tie). Heez Orl Black N is first "on the bubble"; tied for the second "bubble" spot are Durant and Pop Icon. Even these lower-tagged horses attracted eight claimers for $104,000 with a chance at going for "big money" for this type a week hence. The claiming totals for the week were 28 horses changing hands for $641,500; for the six-day meet, "series fever" has prompted 125 moves in the claiming box, to the tune of $2,324,375. Pocono will be hosting its first Monday program of the season at 12:30 p.m.; free program pages are available at https://www.phha.org/downsmsppps.html. For full race results, click here. From PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - On Monday morning, horsemen at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono will be checking with the Downs' Racing Office to confirm that their horses - most of them new barn members after Saturday's third and final preliminary round of the Game Of Claims Pacing Series - had enough points to make their rich harness racing finals on Saturday, March 6, and they likely will also be checking the availability of driver Anthony Napolitano, who had six wins Saturday, five in claiming preliminaries. The horses entered in the section of the Series for $25,000-base price horses saw Melanie's Tedy become the prelim point leader by virtue of a 1:54.3 triumph over sloppy going, joining Glengarry Knight N and Horsing Around as two-time winners in this class. Glengarry Knight N was second-leading point earner - and Horsing Around, despite his double victories, did not even rank in the top nine horses in the totals, as he skipped the first week, and now has to hope for defections to get in the $50,000 Championship.   The possibility of defections is why everyone will focus on the draw for this Championship so much, in two ways: the series' rules say no owner or trainer can have more than two horses in any single Game Of Claims Championship, and seven out of the top point earners were claimed on Saturday! The unofficial early listing of the top nine is Melanie's Tedy, Glengarry Knight N, Iammrbrightside N, Captain Nash, Apex Seelster, Union Station and American Rebel (tie), and A Real Miracle and Mississippi Rabbit (tie); Tullow N and Horsing Around are "on the bubble." (Check with the Pocono Race Office for the official final totals.) Only three of Saturday's seven winners are preliminarily on the Championship list; trainer Darren Taneyhill sent out three winners (all guided by ANap), but only Union Station has a decent chance to return. The "landing strip" for the $30,000 Championship for $15,000-base price horses is a little bit less congested, as on Saturday Sunset Braydon and Royal Heart (the 2020 series winner for this price) posted their second victories in this class, joining Fernado as two-time winners, and that trio ranking 1-2-3 in points from first-named to last. Royal Heart will get to stay with trainer Travis Alexander for another week after being haltered out of the first two legs, but he is one of only two out of the top nine pointwinners in this class who was not claimed on Saturday. The unofficial early ranking for this group is Sunset Braydon, Royal Heart, Fernado, Busboy Hanover and Thisjetsabookin (tie), Cash Is King, Just Plain Loco, and Polak A and Shoreview (tie); Best Trick Ever and White Hair Rocks are the AEs. Obviously the claiming box was rocking and rolling again on Saturday, with 20 horses taken for $537,500 in advance of these finals, bringing the season totals to 117 claims for $2,220,375. And that's after just five cards of the 2021 season. Those figures should be added to on Sunday, when the final preliminary for $10,000- and $7500-base price horses will be conducted during a 5 p.m. card, with program pages available at https://www.phha.org/downsmsppps.html. For full results, click here. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA – The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono was forced to cancel its first Monday afternoon card of the year after a snowstorm suddenly grew bigger, and the program was abandoned for the sake of the safety of horsemen and horses. Monday morning did see the draw for the card for this Saturday (February 27), which features the third and final preliminary rounds of the Game Of Claims Pacing Series for $25,000- and $15,000-base price horses. The top pointwinners in the three preliminaries – and whoever owns and trains the horses after a whirlwind of claiming activity that has already seen 97 horses change hands the last two weekends – will go for $50,000 and $30,000 series finals, respectively, on March 6. In the progressively-priced pacing prelims, this week the higher class will have a $30,000 base tag, and the lower a $20,000; purses remain at $25,000 and $15,000 respectively. Of the eleven horses so far who have won at the $25,000 level and are entered Saturday (including the level’s only double winner, Glengarry Knight N), only three will be starting for the barn for which they won. Among the $15,000 set, only two horses will be coming back for the stable for which they triumphed (the double winner at this level, Fernado, like Glengarry Knight N, starts for new connections). From PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Harness racing reinsman George Napolitano Jr. drove three of the four winners in $10,000 second preliminary round action of the Game Of Claims Pacing Series for $10,000-base price horses on the Sunday twilight card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. However, he's not assured of a drive next week behind any of them - because all three of them were claimed here, as they were last week. The base claiming price went up to $12,500 for this prelim of the progressively-priced pace, but slips were in for the two repeaters. The faster of the two double winners was the Always A Virgin gelding Sweet Talkin Satin, home strongly in 1:53 with the temperature below freezing for one-week trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera and owner Gilbert Garcia-Owen.   That last-named duo also lost another new charge of a week, the Bettor's Delight gelding Love The Action, who followed up a second last time with a victory in this week's fastest time among all the Sunday claimers, 1:52.1 - a new lifetime mark by almost four seconds. The other repeat winner at this level, also changing barns after a seven- day stay, was the American Ideal gelding Myidealson N, who toured the Pocono oval in 1:54 for "George Nap," trainer Brianne Good, also co-owner with Phillip Fluet Stable LLC. In five $7500 divisions of Game Of Claims action for $7500-base horses (tagged for $9000 this week with the progression), the Well Said gelding Rojan's Way was the only repeat winner, overcoming the brutal first-over journey to win in 1:54.3 for driver Anthony Napolitano, trainer Marta Piotrow, and owner Melvin Fink. But although his connections got two Series prelim wins from him, Rojan's Way won't give them a third prelim success, as he too was taken back to a new home after a claim. Despite the increase in purchase price for the weekend's second series prelim, 37 more horses changed homes via the claiming box, for an outlay of $681,375. In the four Game Of Claims cards (last Saturday-Sunday and this), there were a total of 97 claims, ringing up $1,682,875. George Napolitano Jr. had four wins on the night to head the sulky colony. FINISHING LINES - Pocono will be staging its first Monday card of the year at 12:30. Monday racing will continue at that time through the end of the meet, which comes on October 30. For full results, click here. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Game Of Claims Pacing Series barreled right along at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Saturday afternoon, with the second preliminary round for $25,000- and $15,000-base-priced horses yielding only two repeat winners, one at each level, but seeing 24 more harness racing horses change hands to the tune of $538,875. The repeat winner at the higher level, which here went for a $27,500 base tag in the progressively-priced prelims, was the Changeover gelding Glengarry Knight N, who took one of the seven $25,000 cuts for his group in 1:54.2 for driver Simon Allard. Trainer Eric Ell and owners Ken Wood, Toby Rekoon, Bill Dittmar Jr., and Steve Iaquinta had retained their pacer after the first prelim, but they lost him to a claim here after the front-end triumph.   Trainer Ell also sent out the fastest winner of the day, with the Captaintreacherous ridgling Trente Deo fronting an $8800 conditioned field in 1:53 for driver Jim Morrill Jr. and owner Bill Emmons. Before leaving the $25,000 base-priced brigade, mention should be made of the Mach Three gelding Tullow N, who paid $69.80 in closing from fifth at headstretch to win in 1:54.1 when the surface was still good for trainer David Russo and owner Marissa Russo. Driving Tullow N was Eric Goodell, who had taken a hiatus from the sport from last March until last Saturday's opening day here, and soon found himself back in Victory Lane. Among the $15,000-base prices, going here for a $17,500 tag before allowances in five $15,000 divisions, the horse making it two straight was the Delmarvalous gelding Fernado, used hard early by driver Matt Kakaley yet holding firmly late to stop the timer in 1:54.2 for trainer Jennifer Bongiorno and owner Evan Katz, However, they, like the connections of fellow repeater Glengarry Knight N, had retained the pacer last week but now saw their horse depart to a different barn after a claim. In all, eight of the twelve winners in the Game Of Claims races Saturday changed hands despite the uptick in price - and now comes the drama of whether to put them back in next Saturday in the third prelim, or hope their accumulated pointtotals have already earned them a spot in their respective $50,000 and $30,000 finals on March 6. The driving Napolitano brothers, Anthony and George Jr., and trainer Dan Maier each had three winners on the Saturday card. Racing resumes Sunday at 5 p.m., with Game Of Claims action for $10,000 and $7500 horses; free past performances for the card can be found at https://www.phha.org/downsmsppps.html. A makeup card has also been added for Monday at 12:30 p.m. For full results, click here. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Game Of Claims Pacing Series will again be featured this racing week at The Downs at Mohegan Sun, with 58 of the amazing 60 horses claimed during opening weekend (for $1,001,500) returning for second preliminary round action for their new connections. There is a slight "bump-up" in claiming price each prelim week of the Game Of Claims, so this Saturday afternoon seven $25,000 divisions will feature horses with a baseline tag of $27,500. Only the thirteenth race, the last prelim at this level, features a matchup of two winners from opening week - one who was not claimed, I Get That, who paid $83.20 in winning for trainer Mark Akins and draws post four here; and one who was taken, American Ideal, who will begin from post six for trainer Daniel Renaud. Saturday's card, which begins at 12:30, also brings together five $15,000 sections of pacers who will go for a base tag of $17,500. Again, it is their last prelim of the day, race twelve, which finds winners squaring off, and again there is one who was claimed last week (Sunset Braydon, post six, trainer Kelly Hastings) and one who was not (Fernado, post four, trainer Jennifer Bongiorno). Sunday's twilight card at 5 p.m. has four $10,000 divisions for horses with a $12,500 price before any allowances, and all four of this level's winners in round one have drawn into separate divisions this time. Such is not the case in the five $7500 divisions for $9000 base-tag performers that evening; the eighth race section, for example, will match three first leg winners who did not have to adjust to new surroundings, but here will have to adjust to starting on the right-hand side of the gate: Dontcallmefrancis (post six, trainer David Russo), Onlythetuffsurvive (post seven, trainer Marc Mosher), and Pop Icon (post nine, trainer Dennis A. Laterza). Since Pocono lost its scheduled opening card on February 6, a special card has been added for this Monday, February 22, with a 12:30 post time, with overnight horses featured during the program. FINISHING LINES - Horsemen are reminded that nominations for the Game Of Claims Series for trotters starting with a base price of $15,000 are due by this Saturday, February 20. ... Veteran John Kakaley drove three winners during the Wednesday morning qualifiers at Pocono. John is the father of Matt Kakaley, who won seven races here on opening weekend; Matt also grabbed himself a qualifying victory. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Game Of Claims Pacing Series' first preliminary round was again featured during the Sunday twilight harness racing program at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, on this card featuring horses with base tags of $7500 and $10,000 in their respective competitions. Once again, the claiming box was the subject of much attention, with 19 more horses changing hands on Sunday. This raised the total for the Saturday-Sunday cards to 60 horses moving to new homes, with the final amount paid out for competitive horses in the lucrative series rising to $1,001,500 during the two days. And as happened Saturday, the lower level of the program's competition produced the fastest mile in the Game Of Claims races. The Dali gelding Durant dominated his competition with a 1:54 triumph, making the lead in front of the stands for George Napolitano Jr. (who led the drivers with three sulky successes) and winning by two lengths. Unfortunately for trainer Robert Lounsbury and owner Margaret Olmstead, Durant was the only winner from the six $7500 purse events for his caliber who was claimed from Sunday's racing.   Three out of the four winners in the $10,000 events for $10,000 base-tag pacers changed hands after their racetrack exertions. George Napolitano Jr. drove one of these victorious horses, one who shared the quickest clocking at this level, 1:54.1 - the American Ideal gelding Myidealson N, who went out a winner for trainer Matias Ruiz and the Friendship Stables LLC. George also handled the one $10,000 success who did not change barns, the Somebeachsomewhere gelding P-Drive Hanover, who also stopped the clock at 1:54.1 for trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera and owner Gilbert Garcia-Owen. With everybody coming from other raceways for opening weekend and with many horses coming off of layoffs, only four favorites won on each card Saturday and Sunday, and the average win payoff for the weekend was $16.75. For full results, click here.  From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The 2021 harness racing season got underway on Saturday afternoon at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. While the temperature hovered in the low- to mid-20s, the action was hot on the racetrack, at the claiming box - and if your horse was driven by Matt Kakaley, who captured six winners on the opening day card. Featured during the curtainraiser were the first preliminary legs of the Game Of Claims Pacing Series for two divisions: horses with a $25,000 base tag and horses based at $15,000. The claiming prices rise a little in the next two preliminaries - which may be part explanation for the incredible total of 41 claims during the card. $825,000 worth of horseflesh went home to a new barn after the races as hopefully the right horse for their purchasers to chase after their $50,000 and $30,000 Championships respectively on March 6. There were seven $25,000 divisions of the action for the $25,000-priced set, with Kakaley winning three times in the class. His fastest win in the group came with the American Ideal gelding American Rebel, who sat a groundsaving journey then angled out in the lane to lower his mark to 1:52.3 for trainer Jennifer Bongiorno and the ownership of Glenn Goller, Abraham Basen, and David Postman. Unfortunately for those connections, American Ideal was one of six overall Game Of Claims winners to be purchased out of his race.   The 1:52.3 clocking was matched by another winner in the higher-level action, with the Mach Three gelding Lord Willoughby A one of a minority of horses on the lead to do well on the arctic day. Despite only one race in just under two months, Lord Willoughby A paced bravely late to win for owner/trainer/driver Larry Stalbaum. The fastest mile in all the Game Of Claims action came in one of four $15,000 divisions for the $15,000-tagged pacers, with the Always A Virgin gelding Sunset Braydon continuing his hot form with a 1:52.1 win for driver Jim Pantaleano, coming off his 8000th career win on Thursday; trainer Justin Pirillo; and Fox Racing Inc. The Royal Art gelding Royal Heart won the Game Of Claims Series Championship for $15,000 horses here last year, and he got his 2021 off to a good start by winning a division in 1:54.2 despite a two month layoff. Royal Heart was one of three Kalaley winners for this price tag as well, with Matt driving for trainer Clay Faurot Jr. and owner Chelsey Faurot. Both Sunset Braydon and Royal Heart were claimed out of their races. Quickest of all the Saturday competitors at Pocono was the richest one - Western Fame, with the son of Western Ideal raising his career earnings to $1,803,025 with a 1:51.1 victory. Jordan Stratton rated the half, then sent the talented pacer through the chill in :54 the last half to tally for trainer Shane Tritton and owners Bruce Soulsby, Stephen Klunowski, B & I Stables LLC, and Kapildeo Singh. For full race results, click here. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs  

WILKES-BARRE, PA - An extra card has been added to the February harness racing schedule at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The trotters and pacers will be racing over the 5/8-mile oval on Monday, February 22, with first post time 12:30 p.m. This card will be drawn on Wednesday, February 17, with the box closing at the usual 9 a.m. A condition sheet for this day's races will be available shortly. Pocono will open its 2021 season this weekend, with a Saturday card at 12:30 p.m. and a Sunday program starting at 5 p.m. FINISHING LINES - The 10-year-old Somewhere Fancy posted the fastest qualifying time on a "24-2" weather day for Pocono qualifiers Thursday, going wire-to-wire and holding off the big late move (56.2-27.4) of Clouseau Hanover in 1:56.3 by a half length. ... Trainer/driver Chris Carrubba Jr. made his first-ever appearance at Pocono a winning one, taking a qualifier with Pet Sur-roc on the engine in 1:57.1. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The set of qualifying races at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono that was drawn today (Tuesday the 9th) and was supposed to be raced on Wednesday the 10th has now been moved to Thursday the 11th. Post time for the first qualifier remains at 10 a.m. The training availability that was scheduled for Wednesday has also been moved to Thursday. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES BARRE, PA - The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono will be looking for more cooperation from the weather this weekend after losing its opening day card to the aftermath of a snowstorm last Saturday. This weekend the northeast Pennsylvania track is planning to race on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m., with 14 races on each program. The weekend features will be the opening preliminary rounds of the popular Game Of Claims Pacing Series, where four levels of competitively-priced opponents contest three prelim legs trying to earn their way into a rich Championship on the weekend of March 3-4. On the Saturday card, there will be seven $25,000 divisions of the series for $25,000 base-price claimers and four $15,000 cuts of competition for $15,000-tagged horses. Sunday will see the first prelims for $7500- and $10,000-priced horses. Among the horses carrying a $25,000 tag Saturday, most of the divisions are hard to figure out, especially the tenth race section, where American Rebel, a former stakes performer who ended his 2020 with a first- or second-place finish in his last five starts, begins from post four for trainer Jennifer Bongiorno after an easy qualifying win at The Meadowlands. Tough opposition could come from Da Magician, who has won three of his last four starts for this price at Dover, but must here solve post seven for trainer Les Givens. Royal Heart was the winner of the Game Of Claims Championship for $15,000-valued horses in 2020, and he draws the rail in the sixth race division for horses entered for that price; trainer Clay Faurot Jr.'s horse faces a tough task in that he hasn't raced in over two months. Nine Ways, no stranger to eastern Pennsylvania, may turn out to be the favorite in this contest, as he ships in off a blazing 1:52 victory against this type at Ohio's Miami Valley Raceway; he'll start from post three for trainer Dan Maier. The draw for the Sunday card will take place Tuesday, with a 9 a.m. closing of the entry box. FINISHING LINES - The Downs also held its first qualifiers of the 2021 campaign on Monday. The pacer Redbank Blaze A posted the fastest time, 1:53.4, for Pocono's perennial leading driver George Napolitano Jr. and trainer Jose Godinez, each had three wins during the morning session. On the trot, P L Notsonice, an Ontario Sire Stakes winner at three, showed herself ready for her four-year-old campaign by winning in 1:57.1 for trainer/driver Renaldo Morales III. ... Pocono will hold qualifying races this Wednesday; declare by Tuesday at 11 a.m. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The brutal early-week snowstorm that attacked much of the country hit very hard in the Pocono Mountains / Wilkes Barre-Scranton area, dumping two feet of snow or more in some areas, and forcing The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono to cancel its first planned harness racing card of 2021, which was to go on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.. The racetrack and its environs could not be sufficiently cleared, and the track reworked, to ensure the safety of the horses and people involved, forcing the cancellation. The two cards of racing scheduled for next weekend, Saturday the 13th at 12:30 p.m. and Sunday the 14th at 5:00 p.m., will be held. Horsemen should declare their entrants by 9:00 a.m. Monday for the Saturday card and Tuesday at 9:00 a.m. for the Sunday program. The weekend will feature the opening preliminaries of the $495,000 Game Of Claims Pacing Series. Condition sheets are available at https://newsroom.mohegansunpocono.com/racing-docs-files/condition-sheet/2021%202-13%202-14.pdf. There will be qualifying races at The Downs on Monday and Wednesday at 10 a.m. Entries for the Monday qualifiers must be made by SATURDAY THE 6TH, and for Wednesday's Q by this coming Tuesday; the box for qualifiers for both days closes at 11 a.m. Training over the renowned Pocono 5/8-mile oval will be available on Monday and Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs    

WILKES-BARRE PA – The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono opens its 2021 harness racing season this Saturday afternoon. Post time for the 55th year of competition at the northeast Pennsylvania oval is 12:30. The headliner on the inaugural card is a $14,000 fast-class pace slotted for race ten on the 14-race card. The 5-2 morning line favorite is the Rocknroll Hanover gelding Redbank Blaze A, who has been closing very strongly while competing at Yonkers for trainer Jose Godinez and the Godinez Racing Stable LLC. The Down Under import, who starts from post one, will have the sulky services of George Napolitano Jr., who will be bidding for his tenth consecutive victory crown among Pocono drivers, and who is listed for action in 12 of 14 races. The winningest trainer at Pocono last year, Ron Burke, sends out the 3-1 second choice in the feature, the Bettor’s Delight gelding Bettor Memories, who will have to overcome the outside post eight for driver Matt Kakaley, but who has being showing good early speed for Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, and Phil Collura. Burke, longtime leading trainer at The Meadows, Harrah’s Philadelphia, and all of North America, completed his first “Pennsylvania training sweep” last year by winning the Pocono title, and he’ll look to start building an early lead with four Saturday entrants. One of them is Sailboat Hanover, a son of Captaintreacherous who is the early chalk in the $12,000 pacing co-feature, starting from the middle of a field of nine, with Kakaley listed to drive. The other co-feature is for trotters, with much of the attention likely to focus on Get Legs, a son of Muscle Hill who will begin from post eight for the husband/wife team of trainer Julie and driver Andy Miller. Get Legs, now four, did not get to the races until November of his sophomore year, then promptly won his first five starts before finishing third against tough opposition at The Meadowlands last time out. FINISHING LINES – Seventeen entrants on the Saturday card already show 2021 victories, with Talk Show, Little Admiral, and Blacklight already having visited the winners circle twice this year. … The Downs will be dark for Super Bowl Sunday, but then the regular February schedule of Saturday at 12:30 and Sunday at 5:00 will kick in, with the racing on those two days focused on first-round action in the $495,000 Game Of Claims series’ four classifications.   PHHA / Pocono

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono 2021 Season Preview The 2021 harness racing season has arrived at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. It's an earlier start than we've had in the past, which in turn gives our fans an earlier chance than usual to dig into all the action. It all gets underway on Saturday, February 6, the first of 137 racing days on the new season's schedule. Let's start off by taking a look at that schedule, so you'll know when the live racing takes place. After Opening Day, Pocono returns a week later (no racing on Super Bowl Sunday) for a February racing schedule of Saturdays at 12:30 PM ET and Sundays at 5 PM ET. That's the way it stays until March, when we add a third day: Mondays at 12:30 PM ET. In April, Pocono gets up to full gear by adding Tuesdays at 12:30PM ET, and that's the way we stay throughout the rest of the spring and summer months. In October, the final month of the season, Pocono reverts to Saturday, Sunday and Monday racing until Closing Day, scheduled for Saturday, October 30. Over the years, Pocono has built a reputation as having some of the most competitive overnight racing action (non-stakes races) in North America. In February and March, the track will pay tribute to the claiming division with the Game of Claims, a series which inaugurated last year and features combined purses of $145,000 for the four series finals. The next series to come down the block will be the Bobby Weiss Series, named after Pocono's longtime track superintendent. In the Weiss series, three-year olds take center stage. This series culminates from April 24 to 27 with a quartet of $40,000 finals. It's at that point that the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes, Pennsylvania All-Stars, and Pennsylvania Stallion Series all kick into gear. Featuring two and three-year-old horses from the Keystone State, these races draw in some of the best racing talent, lured as they are by the massive purses. In addition, those horses in the Sire Stakes and Stallion Series know they have to perform well if they want to get to the finals, which push the purses even further skyward (more on that in a bit.) On Saturday, August 21, it's the return of Sun Stakes Saturday, the biggest racing day of the season at Pocono, one which puts the track at the epicenter of the harness racing universe. For many years now, the track has hosted the $300,000 Max Hempt Memorial (for three-year-old pacers, the $250,000 James Lynch Memorial (for three-year-old filly pacers) and the $300,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial (for three-year-old trotters,) and will do so again in 2021. The new addition this year is the Delmonica Hanover stakes. This is a race named after a legendary trotter who won her division four times in the 1970s. In her honor, the top three-year-old trotting fillies will be going at it for $250,000. When you combine the stakes and consolation races on tap that day, a total of $2.1 million will be on the line in a single racing card. As we mentioned earlier, the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes bring together the very best horses in the state throughout the summer. And, on Saturday, September 4, Pocono will host the three-year-old PA Sire Stakes championships, which will crown the overall winners and award over $1 million dollars in purses in the finals alone. In other words, there will be a lot on the line at Pocono in 2021. That goes also for the heavy competition in the paddock area among the drivers and trainers. Pocono boasts one of the most talented communities of horsemen and horsewomen anywhere, and that will surely be on full display again this season. Anticipation is high among all of us who work at Pocono. This will be my fourteenth season calling the races at the track, and I still get the same level of excitement as I ever have for a new season. It's a season that feels extra-special, one where the gratitude we all have for having such an enjoyable place to come to work each day might be at higher level than ever. We just can't wait to get started. In that spirit, we hope to see you all on Opening Day and throughout the 2021 campaign at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. That will do it for now, but we'll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegasunpocono.com.   Jim Beviglia

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