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WILKES-BARRE PA - Under patient handling from Anthony Napolitano, the Bettor's Delight mare Betabcool N rallied off of a fast pace to win in 1:52.3 while taking the $14,000 featured harness racing pace for mares at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with the mountain track starting its 2019 scheduling of 4 p.m. post time on Mondays and Tuesdays. Betabcool N was pinned in behind an early-moving flow as fractions of 27, 55.3, and 1:22.4 were posted, mostly by pacesetting Vorst. She retained the lead into the lane, but Always A Z Tam swung wide off cover midturn, with "ANap" and Betabcool N following that one wide. In deep stretch the New Zealand import proved to have the most late kick, winning by a neck over Always A Z Tam, who nosed out Vorst for second. Jose Godinez, who teamed with Anthony Nap for another come-from-behind victory with the trotter Crazycat earlier in the card, conditions the winner of $460,062 for the Blindswitch Racing Stable. Some younger horses looking to make their mark in the upcoming Weiss Series at Pocono showed themselves ready with Tuesday victories. The most impressive of the trotters was the Explosive Matter sophomore filly Spring In Paris, whose final time of 1:56.4 was not only a lifetime mark but a North American season's record. Spring In Paris brushed from first-over to take the lead on the far turn, then drew clear by four lengths for driver Andrew McCarthy, trainer Steve LeBlanc, and the ownership of Leblanc Racing Inc., Glenn Dyke, and Douglas Johnson The Muscle Massive gelding Teardown This Wall (named after what President Reagan advised Gorbachev to do about the Berlin Wall) posted his maiden victory and improved his Weiss outlook, rallying from the pocket for a half-length tally in 1:59 over pacesetting favorite Dawn Of Glory. Tyler Buter handled the Muscle Massive gelding out of the $540G+ stakes-winning mare Vernon Blue Chip for trainer Rob Harmon and the Harmon Stable Racing Stable. (Harmon also sent out the upward-bound trotter My Lindy Winner, who took a new mark of 1:55.1 to remain undefeated in two seasonal starts.) On the pace Turbo Hill, a four-year-old son of American Ideal, ran his lifetime record to 5-for-6 with a blistering front-end tally in 1:51.1 for trainer/driver Hunter Oakes and owner Tom Hill, certainly stamping himself as a big consideration in his Weiss division. A Weiss filly counterpart, the four-year-old Sportswriter mare Lady Ella, came into her Tuesday race not having won since her career debut, 636 days ago, but she looked strong in a 1:54 triumph for trainer Andrew Harris, giving driver George Napolitano Jr. his sixth sulky success on the twilight card.   PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - The weather may have been cold and windy for the opening night of the 2019 harness racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, but one place where it was hot was near the claiming box, as no fewer the fifteen horses were haltered in the five claiming events at the mountain oval Saturday night - including Urban Renewal, the winner of the featured $20,000 claiming handicap pace on the opener. With two speedy favorites drawing posts one and two, driver Eric Carlson raced out and accepted a 4-tuck with the altered son of Cam's Card Shark, then came uncovered on a night when the speed was winless in the first nine races. That figure soon went to 0-for-10, as Urban Renewal grinded right to the lead on the turn, then drew off to win by 3¼ lengths in his farewell for trainer Mike Watson and Clifford Grundy, who saw the horse taken for a $35,000 claiming price. Each of the five claimers had at least two horses changing hands - the $30,000/$35,000-tagged feature saw half of the field of eight entering new barns, with hopeful owners laying out an amazing $297,500 trying to get a sharp horse for the early-season campaigns. In the race after the feature, a $17,500 conditioned pace, a horse was finally able to last wire-to-wire, and appropriately it was a horse backed by the noted front-favoring team of driver George Napolitano Jr. and trainer Hunter Oakes, the Four Starzzz Shark gelding Epaulette A, who took a North American mark of 1:51.3 for the ownership of the Northfolk Racing Stable. Epaulette A had favored Soho Wallstreet A coming at him late, but withstood that rival in crossing the beam ¾ of a length to the good. Both feature winners went over the $200,000 mark in career earnings with their triumphs. Jim Morrill Jr., who had made his first sulky appearance since October 26 on the Wednesday card at Buffalo, was in mid-season form on the Saturday Pocono program, guiding three winners, including $61.00 winner Western Alumni (who also was promptly claimed). Simon Allard also posted a driving triple. The trotters and pacers next take to the Pocono oval on Tuesday, when a 16-race card featuring several hopefuls for the upcoming Weiss Series goes postward at 4 p.m. - Pocono will race at 4 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays this year in trying to garner the "simulcast gap" money, while the Saturday and Sunday cards will stay at 7 p.m. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE — The “whole package” Mohegan Sun Pocono offers is getting closer to adding its latest attraction. A firm date still isn’t set, but the opening of the casino’s sportsbook seems to be only a few more months away. Anthony Carlucci, Mohegan Sun Pocono’s president and general manager, offered its location and his desire to cut the ribbon on the casino’s sports gambling arm before football season begins. That and other details — including an appearance by Saquon Barkley — were mentioned Wednesday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono during a kickoff luncheon for the track’s opening weekend of harness racing. The 2019 season begins with a 14-race card scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday. As for the sportsbook, prospective bettors have even more reason to follow the NFL’s free agency and draft news and the NCAA’s spring practices. They should be able to put money down on their favorite teams as soon as they return to the gridiron. “Obviously, we want to get it up and running. It’ll open before the football season,” Carlucci said. Carlucci added he doesn’t even know an opening date himself; regulations make determining one “hard to tell for sure.” He does know, however, that sports wagers will be placed right inside Mohegan Sun’s main entrance. The sportsbook will be in the space previously occupied by the Bluwire electronics store across from the Irish pub Molly O’Sheas. Carlucci said the sportsbook — which also plans to take online bets — will provide accessibility for all types of customers. They’ll easily be able to place a bet and watch the action on-site, head over to the gaming floor, grab some food or move on to the race track. Or, they can get right back to the parking lot. “They’ll pop over here, put a bet in, and then they might run down to their local pub and watch (the game),” Carlucci said. “I think it helps the whole community out.” “I think Sundays are going to be a busy day. Saturdays with the football, especially when Penn State plays,” he added. “During the playoffs, we expect it to be very busy.” Until then, Carlucci hopes customers stop by for other reasons in the coming months. It was also announced Wednesday that Barkley, the former Penn State star and current New York Giants running back, will take part in a moderated Q&A session at 3 p.m. March 24 in the Keystone Grand Ballroom. Fans can see the reigning AP Offensive Rookie of the Year by receiving a wristband on a first-come, first-served basis. A line can start at 11 a.m. for wristband distribution at noon. Carlucci also noted the return of Party on the Patio as well as plans to announce other shows and outdoor events coming to Mohegan Sun. Harness racing gets everything in motion after an offseason he’s anxious to see end this weekend. “It doesn’t feel the same without. We’re Mohegan Sun Entertainment. We want to be a whole package,” Carlucci said, “not just a casino.” “(Harness racing) puts it over the top. We think the sportsbook will as well.” By Eric Sultz Reprinted with permission of The Citizens Voice

WILKES-BARRE PA - The 2019 harness racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono begins this Saturday night (May 16), as the first of 134 cards planned for the northeast Pennsylvania 5/8-mile oval contains 14 races, with a scheduled first post of 7 p.m. The two horsemen who have been dominant in the trainers and drivers rankings at Pocono over the last few seasons, driver George Napolitano Jr. and trainer Rene Allard, look likely to get off to a fast start again this season, at least by a look at the past performances for opening night. Napolitano, going for his eighth straight year of having the most sulky success at The Downs, was named on no fewer than 40 of Saturday's 121 entrants - nearly one in three - and is slated to compete in every race. In three races he was put down on five horses and in three more he was listed on four entrants, so seeing which horse George decides to drive in those contests can go a long way in helping a player's handicapping take a turn towards the profitable. Allard, leading trainer at Pocono in five of the last six years, has eight entrants scattered throughout the program. Any regular Pocono player knows that Team Allard - Rene and driver/brother Simon - are often very tough when sending out a new acquisition to the barn, and amazingly, in every one of Saturday night's five claiming contests, a horse will debuting for the Allards! And in their last 25 starts combined (the last five races of each of the quintet), they show 12 wins, 3 seconds, and 3 thirds before moving into their new home! One such new member of Team Allard is Ruffle Up, who draws the rail in a field of nine in the top purse event on the card, a $20,000 contest for claimers valued between $30,000 and $35,000. Allard Racing Inc. and co-owner Earl Hill Jr. took the winner of over $200,000 after he recently posted two wins and a second in conditioned company at The Meadows, and he is entered back in for his $30,000 price of claim for the Pocono inaugural. Ruffle Up may make good use of his early speed from the rail - but so may Polak A, an 11-year-old winner of $730,000 who will start just to the right of Ruffle Up for trainer Hunter Oakes, last year's percentage champion in the Pocono training ranks. Polak A shows winning in Open company at Pompano Park, but the combined factors of a two-month absence and his adjusting to northern climes after wintering in Florida may weigh in the mind of George Napolitano Jr. - who is named on the horse but also on four others, with good paper credentials, in the tenth race headliner. The top conditioned pace of the evening comes a race later, with $17,500 on the line for eight starters in race 11. One of three horses George Napolitano Jr. is listed on is Epaulette A (post two), another Hunter Oakes trainee and another Florida climatechanger, but this one at least does have one start under his girth since a recent minivacation. The Allards are represented by Maxdaddy Blue Chip (post six), who took his lifetime mark of 1:49.1 here at Pocono in 2017, and who would break the $250,000 plateau in lifetime earnings with a good finish in this tough grouping. After Saturday, Pocono will next race on Tuesday (the 19th); the following week, the trotters and pacers will go over the red surface on Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday; and the week after that (March 30-April 2), Pocono will shift to its regular seasonal racing schedule of Saturday through Tuesday. Post times for 2019 will be 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, and 4 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, looking to take advantage of the "simulcast bridge" gap between the end of daytime and nighttime simulcast cards. One more set of pre-season qualifying races will be held at Pocono, on Wednesday at 10 a.m.; at noon that day, they will be a gathering for the press to present a preview of the 2019 season at The Downs. PHHA / Pocono

WILKES-BARRE PA - Harness racing trainer Rene Allard, leading conditioner at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono five of the last six seasons including the previous two, showed that he should again be a major force during the early part of 2019 at the mountain oval as he harnessed three winners during the Thursday morning qualifying session. The track was again rated "+2" in 20-degree temperatures even though the surface was today rated fast, but several horses looked in midseason form, especially those coming from Team Allard. Rene's brother Simon drove two of the barn's winners, Bet On Brett (1:56.1) and Beach Boogie (1:57.1, his own last half 56.2); Simon was guiding another Allardite when Rene's third winner, Nicol Shard N, posted the fastest clocking of the day, 1:55.2 (56.4-28), going wire-to-wire for driver Tom Jackson. For the results of these qualifiers click on this link. Many of the horses who qualified two days ago and today are likely to be racing on Pocono's first live card of the season on Saturday, March 16, which will be drawn on Monday. Opening night will find male pacers going in $12,500 first leg divisions of their Secretary's Series action. Nicol Shard N returning to the paddock with driver Tom Jackson for trainer Rene Allard There will be one more qualifying session at Pocono before Opening Night - this coming Wednesday, the 13th, at 10:00 a.m., after which Pocono will welcome the media for a preview of the 2019 racing season. Jennifer Starr Racing Marketing Manager

WILKES-BARRE PA - Harness racing returned to the eastern side of Pennsylvania on Tuesday morning, as The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono held the first of three qualifying sessions prior to the 2019 opening night of Saturday, March 16. With the track crew doing their usual excellent job of working with a track that had seen much snow in recent days, the surface was rated "good +2" in 19-degree temperatures. Fastest mile of the five in the first session was posted by the Western Ideal pacing gelding Busboy Hanover, who popped outside down the backstretch, went up to challenge new leader Make It Big, then draw clear of that one in 1:56.2 for driver Anthony Napolitano and trainer Bucky Angle Jr. Bill "Moon" Mullin," a three-time Pocono training champion, combined with driver Tyler Buter for two tallies: with the Muscles Yankee trotting mare Casino Cutie IT, wire-to-wire in 2:00, and with Paprike Blue Chip, an altered pacing son of Roll With Joe who was a pocket rocket in 1:57.1. Another three-time Pocono conditioners crownwinner, Steve Salerno, harnessed the first winner of the day, the Somebeachsomewhere pacing mare Attention Hanover, guided by Eric Carlson to victory in 1:57.2. Todd Schadel, 2018 North American UDR champion in the 300-499 category, won the other event as a trainer, tapping Tom Jackson to handle the eleven-year-old Cantab Hanover trotter Buffalino Hanover, who posted a head triumph in 2:00.1. The draw for the 16th's opening card will be conducted on Monday, March 11. Pocono will race on Saturday and Tuesday (19th) its first week, add Sundays the following week, and then settle into its Saturday through Tuesday basic schedule the week of March 30-April 2. Post time will be 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and then 4 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday to take advantage of the "simulcast bridge" hours. Qualifiers will be held at Pocono on Thursday and then on Wednesday the 13th, just before a press conference welcoming the media back to the Downs for the 2019 meeting. PHHA / Pocono  

Harrisburg, PA - The State Horse Racing Commission's Bureau of Standardbred Horse Racing today reminded Standardbred harness racing owners that 2019 Sire Stakes payments for 2-year-old and 3-year-old horses are due by March 15. The first payments due for 2-year-old horses are $150 for the Pari-mutuel Division and $50 for the Fair Division. This payment must be made for the horse to qualify for future opportunities in the PA Sire Stakes. The final payment of $500 for the Pari-mutuel Division for 3-year-olds is also due by March 15. In the Fair Division, if no 2-year-old sustaining fees were made in the prior year, a $750 late sustaining payment may be made by March 15 of the horse's 3-year-old season, as well as a sustaining fee of $150, payable by May 15. The Sire Stakes Sustaining Payment forms are available at www.agriculture.pa.gov. Search "sire stakes." Individuals can also contact Ryan Kell at rkell@pa.gov or 717-214-9053 to obtain payment forms. Learn more about the State Horse Racing Commission's work to reinvest in Pennsylvania racing and continue to develop Pennsylvania's reputation as a superior place to breed, train, race and enjoy horses. From the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes

The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono is pleased to announce their 2019 harness racing season schedule.  The track in Northeast PA is looking forward to another tremendous season of racing. Opening night has been set for Saturday, March 16, and there will be a limited schedule in the month of March, with racing on Tuesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.  Starting in April, the track will move to the full schedule of four days a week.  Post Time for Saturdays and Sundays throughout the season, with some exceptions, will be 7:00pm, and Mondays and Tuesdays will have a 4:00pm post.  During the months of March and April, fans will receive a free live racing program on Mondays and Tuesdays.  Opening night will also be 50/50 night.  Racing fans receive $100 in live racing vouchers for $50.  The very popular promotion will start with a line for wristbands at 4:00pm, and all fans receiving the wristbands at 5:00pm will receive this offer, while supplies last.  Stakes action kicks off on opening night with the Secretary’s Series for 4 and older, and the finals for the series starts Sunday, April 19th.  In addition, the Bobby Weiss Series returns Monday, April 1st, and continues throughout the spring.  Finals for the Bobby Weiss begin on Monday, April 29th.  Other stakes action in the spring and summer includes the PA All-Stars beginning on Saturday, May 11th; the PA Stallion Series starting May 19th; and the PA Sire Stakes kicking off on May 19th as well.  The prestigious $2 million Sun Stakes Saturday is June 29th,  featuring the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Trot; $500,000 Ben Franklin Free For All Pace; 500,000 Max Hempt Memorial Pace; and the $300,000 James Lynch Memorial Pace.  Eliminations will take place on Saturday, June 22nd. A double-header of live racing is once again planned for Kentucky Derby day, Saturday, May 4th, with a first post of 11:00am and the second card approximately 7:30pm.  Racing follows the Preakness Stakes on May 18th and Belmont Stakes on June 8th, and will also be an approximate Post Time of 7:30pm. Qualifying dates have been set for Tuesday, March 5th and Thursday, March 7th, and then every Wednesday thereafter for the remainder of the season. The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono is extremely excited to welcome all horsemen and fans back for another season! by Jennifer Starr, for Pocono Downs

Horsemen are reminded that nominations should be postmarked by February 15 for the many and varied early and late closers that will highlight the 2019 racing season of The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The famed northeastern Pennsylvania oval will begin the 134-day race meet on Saturday, March 16. Starting off the season - right from opening night -- will be a new late closer, The Secretary's Series, with 6 different divisions, and no nomination fees. An initial group of three divisions will be programmed for four year old & older horse & gelding pacers, mare pacers, and trotters in general, with separate mare divisions if entries warrant for the trotters. These three events will be for non-winners of $50,000 in 2018 for those that have started 10 or more times in 2018. The 3 preliminary legs will go for a purse of $12,500, with a final of $25,000 (there will be consolations for those classes that fill such a race). The second group for the same type of horses will be for non-winners of $75,000 in 2018 for those that have started 10 or more times in 2018. Purses for these events will be $17,500 for the preliminaries and a $30,000 final (again, consolations are part of the plans). If a horse won less than $50,000 in 2018 with the required ten starts, he or she can also enter the parallel division of this second late-closing series, to be raced entirely after the completion of the first group. The Bobby Weiss Late Closing Series for 3- & 4-year-old horses will return this season in April with four events for non-winners of 2 extended pari-mutuel races or $30,000 lifetime as of & including February 1, 2019. The separate events will be for male pacers, female pacers, male trotters and female trotters. Each Weiss will consist of three $15,000 legs and a $30,000 final. This year there will be consolations for each event. Returning this year will be the Great Northeast Series for open class horses for pacers, mare pacers and trotters. Legs will be going for $30,000, which will alternate between The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and Harrah's Philadelphia from May to September. (The June 29 card at Pocono, the Sun Stakes Saturday card, will also contain the mares pace and open trotters events normally raced on Sundays at Pocono.) The $100,000 finals will be held on Monday, September 9 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono going a distance of 1 ¼ miles. In these late closers, each horse that actually starts will receive 25 points along with any points they get from their official placings in each leg (on a 50-25-12-8-5-4-3-2-1 finish position basis). All of the late closers will have no nominating fees, including the Weiss Series for the first time. The Pennsylvania All Stars, an early closer for Pennsylvania Sired 3-year-olds, will make their will be raced in 2019 in May and June, with their counterpart 2-year-old races in July. Nominations for the 3-year-old events of the Pennsylvania All Stars are due on February 15; nominations for the 2-year-old events are not due until March 15. Sun Stakes Saturday will, once again, usher in the summer portion of the racing season. The Championships for the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr Memorial 3-year-old open trot, $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial 3-year-old open pace, $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial 3-year-old filly pace and $500,000 Ben Franklin FFA Pace will be on Saturday, June 29. The eliminations for these races will be one week earlier on June 22. If entries for the eliminations warrant, there will be a $75,000 consolation for the Beal, Hempt and Franklin races and a $50,000 consolation for the Lynch. Complete racing conditions and payment information for all these racing events are listed on The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono's website, on the Horsemen page. Jerry Connors Jr

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Saturday was closing night for the 2018 harness racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, with ceremonies honoring some of the top horses and horsemen of the meet sharing the spotlight with the C.K.G. Billings Amateur Driving Series Eastern Regional Final #2. The Billings purse was $12,000, but you'd have thought they were going for a hundred times that as they were three-deep to a 27.4 quarter. Past that station, Winwood Scout, the favorite, kept On The Podium out in the 38-degree air, and the middle fractions of 57.2 and 1:27.2 were very demanding. With the best seat in the house behind the battle up front was driver David Offenberg and the Cantab Hall gelding Fiji, and when the outside horse melted back on the far turn, Fiji was ready to spring. Offenberg moved his horse outside at headstretch, but Winwood Scout was favored for good reason, and it took until the very last steps before "Dave The Rave" could nudge Fiji past the gallant Winwood Scout and driver Bob Davis, winning by the smallest possible margin in 1:57.1. For being named after a tropical island (which was the homeland of the famous Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka), Fiji is certainly a good cold weather performer - he also accounted for a Billings event in November of last year. The winner of $164,637 is trained by Eric Abbatiello for the Allister Stables LLC of Offenberg, and he may add to that total this year, as by virtue of winning this Billings Regional Final Championship, Offenberg has qualified for the $25,000 Billings Gold Cup at Yonkers on Sunday the 25th - and he may well take along the sharp and proven "winter warrior" Fiji. (Offenberg also looks like a "winter warrior" - he won the NAADA Final in December 2015 and the Silver Cup in November of that year, and he was second in the GSY Fall Final on Friday.) The equine honoree of the evening was Pocono Trotter of the Year Homicide Hunter, who locally won the Breeders Crown and set a world record for 1¼ miles in a year where he also became The World's Fastest Trotter with his 1:48.4 mile at Lexington. Chris Oakes, the horse's trainer and himself the winningest trainer of the year here three times, was on hand, and also took part in the ceremony honoring his 20YO son Hunter Oakes, who took the award for top UTR with a sparkling rating of .556. Rene Allard won his second straight training victory title and fifth in the last six years, finishing with 133 visits to Victory Lane, including on closing night. Allard's "handful" of training title ties him for the all-time lead at Pocono with a horseman whom some may have forgotten once had an active stable - George Napolitano Jr. (2001 and 2003-2006). "George Nap" of course also had his turn in the spotlight, winning the crowns for driving victories (366) and UDR (.374). George has now been the top driving dashwinner at Pocono twelve times, including the last seven consecutive seasons, and he won the last race of the year with Feeling Cam Lucky to finish with the second-most victories at Pocono in a year, behind only his own record of 407 in 2015. George's tenth UDR title at the mountain oval was his fifth in a row. One trophy not given was "Most Driving Wins with $50+ Longshots" - if they did, Jim Taggart Jr. solidified his hold on this honor, guiding home Roll Away Joe to a $51.20 victory for his seventh of the meet, two ahead of Tom Jackson and Anthony Napolitano. FINISHING LINES - It may have been Closing Night, but it appears that not too many stables will be shutting down for the year - there was $163,750 in claiming action on the last card of the meet, with nine horses changing hands. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

Wilkes-Barre, Pa---In a thrilling stretch duel Dave "the Rave" Offenberg got his venerable trotter, Fiji, up in the final strides to collar Winwood Scout and driver "Buffalo Bob" Davis to reel in the lions share of the $12,000 purse offered in the Billings East Regional Final on Saturday night (Nov. 17) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. In a field reduced to six starters, Offenberg and Fiji departed from the pole position and watched as "Buffalo Bob" Davis and Winwood Scout get in a speed duel with On The Podium ("Yankee Joe" Lee) as the two leaders trotted by the first panel in :27.4. They were still side-by-side as they headed for the halfway point with Lee looking for room along the pylons but with Uriel and "Annie Get Your Gun" Stoebe tight on his back second over, no room was to be had as the trotters along the pylons kept all the holes closed. When the field went by the half mile pole Winwood Scout was on the lead with Fiji tucked in nicely in the two hole and On The Podium and Uriel parked on the limb. Winwood Scout was in command as he passed the third stanza in 1:27.2 with On The Podium still second on the outside. But when the field headed for home, Offenberg,,who was in the catbird seat, rallied Fiji as On The Podium began to fade. In the deep stretch it was Winwood Scout and Fiji... and Fiji and Winwood Scout.., as the two trotters battled all the way to the wire and after the judges posted the tight win-photo the victory went to Fiji and Offeberg in a time of 1:57.1. Tony "the Capo" Verruso, up behind Peoplesayimnogood, trailed the leaders throughout and rambled home for the show dough. Fiji is owned by Offenberg's Allister Stables LLC and trained by Eric Abbatiello. It was the sixth victory for Fiji this year which raised his seasonal bankroll to nearly $50,000. For Offenberg he notched his fourth seasonal triumph and 55th of his amateur career. Offenberg now joins "Marvelous Marvin" Raber who won the Midwest Region Final last week with Mikey Hanover at Hollywood Gaming Dayton Raceway and both drivers have earned the privilege to draw inside post positions in the $25,000 Delvin Miller Memorial Gold Cup Final at Yonkers Raceway on November 25. by John Manzi for the Billings Series    

WILKES-BARRE, PA - A trio of $15,000 conditioned events were featured on the penultimate card of 2018 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Tuesday night. The first of two trots resulted in an easy victory for the Kadabra gelding Northern Major in 1:57.3. Matt Kakaley moved the winner to the front past a 29 quarter and put up midsplits of 59 and 1:28.1 before storming off by 5½ lengths over closing Broadway Bruiser. The race favorite, Northern Major is trained by Ron Burke for Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. In the other trotting contest, the Triumphant Caviar sophomore gelding QB Kemp rallied from the pocket to record his second straight triumph, here in 1:57.1. Favored Bautista went to the top in a quick 27.4 on a cool night, rated the middle fractions to 57.1 and 1:27.2, but still could not withstand the rush from the two-hole by QB Kemp, driven by Tyler Buter for trainer Rob Harmon and Harmon Racing Stable LLC. The pacing event was for fillies and mares, with Don't Mach Mia surrendering the early lead to Parkin In Heaven in a 28.1, brushing to the lead and posting middle fractions of 57 and 1:26, then holding off the pocketsitter to notch a neck triumph in 1:55.1. George Napolitano Jr. was sulkysitting for trainer/owner Gilbert Garcia-Owen. Earlier, pacer SB Ideal In Art, driver John Kakaley (Matt's father), and trainer Jim Ray became the first horse-driver-trainer combination to post two $50+ victories in 2018 at Pocono when they teamed up for a $148.80 shocker in race two. The trio had clicked at a $58.00 price on July 31. Tempster Hanover is the only other horse to have two $50+ wins at the meet, but he had changed hands between his May 8 and June 26 upsets. Trainer Ray tied for the top at Pocono with his second training bomber: Judy Welty, Jose Godinez, Alex Kavoleff, Jason Robinson, and Ron Burke also have two upset winners, with the last two joining Ray as both posting their double within the last month and having one of their twosome under question pay $100+. The last card of the 2018 season will take place at The Downs on Saturday night, with the yet-undistributed yearend awards to be given. The world's fastest trotter and "home track" Breeders Crown winner, Homicide Hunter, will receive local Trotter of the Year honors, with the horse's trainer, Chris Oakes, also to be on hand to see his son Hunter Oakes get the award for posting the colony's top UTR. Rene Allard will be feted upon winning his fifth training win title in the last six years, while George Napolitano Jr. will sweep the driving dash title and UDR title for the sixth straight year - "George Nap" has thirteen Pocono dash crowns and eleven UDR championships to his credit, both obviously local records. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Elysium Lindy took control from the pole early for driver Matt Kakaley, rated the half, then sprinted home to keep pocketsitting favorite Gruden at bay while winning the $30,000 Open trot at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Sunday. Kakaley discouraged any outside attempts to fire away hard, going at a 27.1 clip to the quarter, then rated the second quarter to hit the half in 57.1. From that point, nobody had enough speed to overhaul Elysium Lindy on a 32-degree night, with Gruden giving valiant chase up the Pocono Pike from the two-hole but coming up ¾ of a length shy. Elysium Lindy, an altered son of Cantab Hall, raised his earnings to $152,240 for the year and $318,835 lifetime for trainer Ron Burke and the ownership team of Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Joseph DiScalia. After the race, driver Matt Kakaley did something that would normally be unusual - he took his helmet off. He gave it to the caretaker of Elysium Lindy, who wore it taking the victorious trotter back to the paddock, and Matt stayed in the winners circle, being joined by important Burke Brigade owner Phil Collura, to accept the honor of 2018 Pocono Pacer of the Year for the sophomore millionaire Dorsoduro Hanover. The Somebeachsomehwere gelding has posted a 19-10-5-1 scorecard so far in 2018 and has bankrolled $1,229,112, with his tally at Pocono alone reading 7-6-0-0-$469,120. Locally, Dorsoduro Hanover won a Pennsylvania All-Stars race, a leg of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and his divisional Championship, a Hempt elimination, and of course his Breeders Crown elimination and final, in the latter of which he took his lifetime mark of 1:49.4. (His only Pocono setback was a very honorable one, as he put up fractions of 26, 53, and 1:20.3, and then missed only a length in the Hempt Championship.) Kakaley was his regular driver for his trainer Burke and his owners, Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC; Silva, Purnel & Libby; and the Wingfield Five LLC. From the PHHA / Pocono Downs  

WILKES-BARRE, PA - The Onlyest One, a Bettor's Delight gelding racing for the first time for the meet's leading trainer Rene Allard after a claim, overcame a first-over journey to post a 1:52.3 victory in the $18,000 claiming handicap harness racing pacing feature Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, where the mercury was one degree above freezing for the evening's headliners. Now a 13-time winner in 2018 with earnings of $101,450 this year and $347,240 lifetime, The Onlyest One withstood Roll Away Joe by a length for driver Simon Allard while making a successful debut for Allard Racing Inc. Music Is Art may not have been the straightest pacer in the stretch drive of the $17,500 co-featured pace, but he was the fastest under the guidance of Anthony Napolitano to reach the wire first in 1:51.2. The son of Art Major was positioned second-over, swung wide entering the stretch - and kept going wider the closer he got to the line, winding up about 4 ½-wide at the wire but with a half-length lead over pacesetting I'm A Big Deal, a sophomore last seen in his Breeders Crown Final here. Music Is Art, trained by Mark Ford for owner Rick Berks, pushed his earnings to $91,863 this season and $196,790 lifetime. Ford, the Allard brothers, and George Napolitano Jr. each had a triple Saturday. Two horses were honored Saturday in the Hanover Shoe Farms winners circle at Pocono for seasonal accomplishments at the mountain oval. First to be spotlighted was another success story for the brothers Allard, Mare of the Year Eclipse Me N, who won half of her twelve 2018 starts at Pocono at the highest level of the conditioned ranks, including a Tuesday, August 28 victory - right back in two days after she had competed at the top level at Pocono on Sunday. For the year overall, Eclipse Me N, who raced in the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series at Yonkers in the winter, has nine wins and $93,210; she took her mark of 1:50.1 on May 15 at Pocono for Allard Racing Inc., Yves Sarrazin, and Don Mac Lean, who imported her from New Zealand in May 2017. While the American Ideal gelding Ideal Kiss raced honorably at Pocono from May to November, his selection as Claimer of the Year was hugely based on his stint under the tutelage of Hunter Oakes, after Northfork Racing Stable claimed him for $30,000 on August 11. For Northfork/Oakes and driver George Napolitano Jr., still guiding the horse's fortunes, Ideal Kiss paced to a scorecard of 9-5-1-1 for earnings of $59,020 and a lifetime mark of 1:49.3 earned on September 1 - take that, you who say "Just a claimer" with a sneer. Ideal Kiss has raced this year to a total of 10 wins and $118,030 in earnings; his lifetime accumulation is $202,730. Tomorrow night Pocono Pacer of the Year Dorsoduro Hanover will be feted; on 2018 closing night next Saturday, Trotter of the Year Homicide Hunter will be honored -- quite a pair closing out the season at The Downs. From the PHHA / Pocono Downs

WILKES-BARRE, PA - There were four divisions of the "non-winners 4 races lifetime" condition going for $15,000 each as the top purse events on the Tuesday night card at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Two of them were on the pace, with a favorite and a second choice taking the big end of the purse, and two were on the trot, where form took a bit of a holiday. The pacers hit the track first, and in the initial event for that gait Captain Deo, a sophomore son of Somebeachsomewhere out of the $1.9M-winning mare Worldly Beauty, justified his favoritism with a dominating 2¾ length tally for driver Marcus Miller, trainer Tony Alagna, and the ownership of Alagna Racing LLC, Joe Sbrocco, In The Gym Partners, and Captain Deo Partners. Captain Deo won on the engine in 1:51.1, which included a 30 second quarter in the second split - meaning in the other 3/4s Captain Deo flashed 1:21.1 speed. In the other pacing section, a distaff event, Saratoga invader Northern Swift equaled her lifetime mark of 1:53.3, overcoming a first-over journey for driver Matt Kakaley (who led the drivers' colony on Tuesday with four wins), trainer Jean Drolet, and the ownership of Funky Munky Stable LLC and Marthe Drolet. The victorious daughter of Mach Three won by 1¾ lengths over pocketsitting Don't Mach Mia, who photoed out favored Covfefe, who had set most of the pace, for second. On the trot, perhaps it was appropriate on Election Day that one of the winners would be QB Kemp, a Triumphant Caviar sophomore gelding named after the former pro football player turned politician. QB Kemp hung in there like a beleaguered quarterback or determined officeseeker, setting the pace while keeping favored Northern Major on the rim, yet still winning by two lengths while lowering his mark by two seconds to 1:56.1 as a 9-1 shot for driver Tyler Buter, trainer Rob Harmon, and Harmon Racing Stable LLC. A $21.00 win price, however, pales next to the $72.40 for $2 generated by the winner of the other featured trot, Nice Stuff. The Yankee Glide four-year-old mare, who started from the rail, got a literal break when a foe went offstride past the half, advanced to the pocket under the guidance of driver Tom Jackson, then rallied in the lane for a length win in 1:56.2. Acquired by trainer Bucky Angle and the ownership of Howard and Joshua Kaufman at the end of the summer, Nice Stuff now has won two of her last three starts after going 3-for-62 before her acquisition, and her surprise triumph here generated a $1295.00 1-4 exacta with 20-1 Campbellini, a single 50-cent 1-4-9 winning Trifecta ticket worth over $2900 with 21-1 Broadway Bruiser third, and a single 10-cent Superfecta ticket on a "1-4-9-all" payout also in the $2900 neighborhood. From the PHHA/Pocono Downs  

WILKES-BARRE, PA - Charmed Life boosted her lifetime earnings to $1,445,137 in winning the $17,500 featured harness racing trot at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in 1:53.2 on Sunday night, and she did it in an unusual fashion for the mountain oval - she picked up the entire field from last. Driver Simon Allard, sulkysitting for brother/Pocono top trainer Rene, had drawn the outside post seven after a scratch, and was in no hurry with the veteran daughter of Majestic Son until down the backstretch, when he made a power three-wide move around stalled cover. Charmed Life had drawn within a length of the battling front duo, leader Crosbys Clam Bake and uncovered Silvermass Volo, by the top of the stretch, and she have enough kick in reserve to drew clear by 1¾ lengths over Crosbys Clam Bake, with Silvermass Volo another length back in third behind the winner, who is owned by Allard Racing Inc., Yves Sarrazin, and VIP Internet Stable LLC. There was a trio of $17,000 co-features on the Sunday card, and Pocono's top driver George Napolitano Jr. won both of the paces among the six victorious horses he guided on the evening. Mink Pink, sitting third on the rail entering the final turn, found a hole and Napolitano swung her wide in the distaff pace, with the American Ideal filly charging home swiftly to win by ¾ of a length in 1:52.1 for trainer Chris Oakes and Crawford Farms Racing. Napolitano, who has a frontracing style that usually works effectively at Pocono, also took the division for males from off the pace, and about as far off the pace as you can - last at the half after starting from the rail. But the Bettor's Delight gelding Bellows Binge had the necessary late step to catch 25-1 pacesetter Uffizi by a neck while stopping the timer in 1:52.3 for trainer Dirk Simpson and the ownership of Peter Karras and the Dirk Simpson Stable Inc. Lest anybody thinks that the Pocono oval had been totally converted from the speedfavoring track it had been on the Saturdays of Breeders Crown competition, a frontrunner did win the co-featured trot, which also fell to trainer Chris Oakes, but a different driving Napolitano - Anthony, who put a new mark of 1:53.1 on the Chapter Seven filly Eunice. "ANap" and Eunice controlled the pace and the sophomore won by almost seven lengths, her third straight triumph for Crawford Farms Racing (another feature doubler), Northfork Racing Stable, and the T L P Stable. And if anybody is trying to read the political tea leaves before the next Pocono card on Election Day Tuesday evening (the track is dark on Monday in November), we note the victory of Make America Great, a son of So Surreal, who took a maiden event. From the PHHA / Pocono Downs

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