WILKES-BARRE PA – Preparations for the opening of the 2022 harness racing season at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono are approaching top speed, with a draw this Friday (the 4th) at 11 a.m. for the first qualifying races of the year on Monday, February 7 at 10 a.m., ahead of the opening program of racing on Saturday, February 12, which will be drawn on Monday the 7th at 9 a.m.
During February, the track will operate on Saturday the 12th, Saturday the 19th and Sunday the 20th, and Saturday the 26th and Sunday the 27th. Upon switching to March, the track will race a Saturday-Sunday-Monday schedule starting Saturday, March 5. Post times at Pocono this year will be every racing day at 1:30 (an hour later than last year) except for Sundays, when cards will start at 5 p.m. (After the first qualifiers, Wednesday will be the track’s regular day for qualifying beginning February 16.)
The track’s very popular Game Of Claims racing series will dominate the action during the months of February and March, starting on Saturday the 19th, with horses at various base levels of price trying to earn spots in their rich series Championships. New this year is that the horses in the Game Of Claims do not have to make their nomination payment until they start in the first leg of the Series.
The Bobby Weiss Series for developing three-year-olds, with divisions for both gaits and sexes, will be the featured attractions during the month of April. A nominating fee of $100 must be paid on all Weiss hopefuls by February 15. Nominating forms for both of these series can be found at https://mohegansunpocono.com/racing/horsemen.html.
The best harness horses in North America will gather at Pocono on Saturday, August 20 for Sun Stakes Saturday, a program where purses could easily exceed $2 million. The four races for leading three-year-olds will be divided divisionally by current earnings of the horses, with $300,000 top-level events for the Beal colt trotters and the Hempt colt pacers, and $250,000 jackpots for the Delmonica Hanover filly trotters and the Lynch filly pacers.
The top Pennsylvania-sired horses will as usual be featured through the spring and summer, with the Pennsylvania All-Star races kicking off on Saturday, May 8 and the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and Stallion Series events beginning on Monday, May 30. Pocono will host all eight Stallion Series Championships, worth $320,000, on its Monday, September 5 card.
Perennial Pocono sulky king George Napolitano Jr. is scheduled to be back at the mountain oval, going for his eleventh straight crown as winningest driver and sixteenth in track history. First-time Pocono training champion Gilbert Garcia-Herrera will be on hand to defend his title; also likely right in the mix is Ron Burke, the 2020 Pocono champion who will be inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame this summer.