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Pocono Meet Set To Open

Published: March 12, 2018 4:23 pm ET

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The 2018 season of live harness racing at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono is set to get underway this Saturday night (March 17). The first of the card's 14 races is scheduled to head postward at the track’s new ‘normal’ post time of 7 p.m.

A pair of $17,000 events for developing younger horses will top the bill of fare on the curtain-raising card. In Race 13, 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.

Art Scene, who was purchased at the start of 2018, earned over $290,000 in 2017, and he threw a scare into last year’s US Pacer of the Year, Downbytheseaside, in the Messenger Pace, as he came within a nose of victory. Art Scene has drawn the difficult Post 8 for the nine-horse contest.

The Allards could sweep the opening night features at the mountain oval, as they will have the Muscle Mass gelding Zagster starting from Post 3 in a field of seven in Race 3. Zagster will head into the dash off of an impressive two-move victory in 1:57.3 over Saratoga’s half-mile oval, but he will have to shake off some recent bouts of indecorous behaviour to have a good chance to capture the co-feature.

Simon Allard has been named on 11 horses for Saturday’s card; the Napolitano brothers will show up even more frequently. Anthony Napolitano, who currently leads all drivers at the Meadowlands Racetrack, has been penciled in for 13 races, while his brother, George, who will be seeking his seventh consecutive Pocono dash-winning crown, has been called on to face the gate 12 times.

For its first ‘week’ of racing, Pocono will follow the Saturday card with a program on Tuesday (March 20) at 7 p.m. In the following 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 $6 million Breeders Crown Championship series. Eliminations will take place on Friday, October 19 and Saturday, October 20. The top performers from the eliminations will advance to their lucrative championships on Saturday 27, a night that will see many divisional championships settled – ‘It all comes down to the Breeders Crown.’

(PHHA / Pocono)

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