WILKES-BARRE PA – This Saturday’s opening card of the 2024 harness racing season at Pocono Downs at Mohegan Pennsylvania was drawn on Monday. There will be twelve races for the trotters and pacers in the curtainraiser, with the first set to go at 1 p.m.
The top purse of the day, $16,500, is offered twice, in races three and ten. The first feature will be a starter allowance for claiming pacers, with some eyeing upcoming competition in the Game Of Claims Series, which begins on Saturday, March 2. (The Game Of Claims is the reason Pocono offers starter allowances the first two weeks, so that owners who bore the expense of laying off a horse during the winter do not lose their “fresh” horse right away after their "vacation" investment.)
The tenth race is a high-level conditioned pace for a field of eight, with the inside five invading from Yonkers. Billy Clyde, who won in 1:48 last year at The Meadowlands and who took his mark of 1:47.3 at that Jersey oval, faces a bit easier competition than he did in Gotham and should be very competitive for trainer Ray Schnittker and driver Mark MacDonald from post two.
Monday also marked the first qualifying session of the year at Pocono, with Mach Doro A, who was entered right back in for the Saturday opening card, showing his current sharpness by winning in 1:54, fastest time of the day, for driver Jim Pantaleano and trainer Darren Taneyhill. Ridge Warren guided home three winners during the a.m. session, including two for trainer Gilbert Garcia-Herrera, who was the only conditioner to see two charges report home first.
On Tuesday, the second card of the year, to be raced Monday, February 19 at 1 p.m., will be drawn. The Saturday-Monday opening schedule will be joined by racing on Tuesday at 1 p.m. in March, with Sunday evening racing at 6 p.m. starting in May and bringing Pocono to its basic four-cards-a-week schedule