WILKES-BARRE PA – The 2022 harness racing season got underway at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Saturday afternoon, with the weather fair (45 degrees, no moisture) and a pair of $15,000 features, one on each gait, as the headline events.
In the trotting contest, the Better Caviar gelding Real McCoy was guided around first-turn trouble by driver Matt Kakaley, sat third until making his move on the far turn, then took over in the stretch and held off the closer Keeper Of Secrets by a length in 1:58. A winner in two of his last four starts, Real McCoy is trained by 18-year-old Bryson Dunning for 69-year-old owner Dante Scattolini, who last season drove the winner in an amateur event at The Meadows for his first sulky win in 33 years. For Kakaley, the victory was one of five on the day.
Fastest mile of the day was a powerhouse 1:51.4 triumph for the Western Ideal gelding Western Joe, who ran his lifetime earnings to $933,873 while coming home 6¾ lengths to the good over the opposition, who could not go enough to make up ground in a :54.2 back half. Owned by Anthony Ruggeri and Richard Tosias, Western Joe was driven by George Napolitano Jr., who came home first four times on the card; trainer Chris Choate joined Randy Bendis and Steve Brabrook in sending out a pair of winners.
Pocono will not be racing on Sunday in deference to the Super Bowl, but on the final two weekends in February will have cards at 1:30 on Saturday and 5:00 on Sunday.