WILKES-BARRE PA – The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono will be hosting a doubleheader of live racing this Saturday, the “brunch” card starting at 11 a.m. and the evening card, which will begin after the Kentucky Derby aftermath has settled down in the vicinity of 7:30 p.m., will be headlined by the traditional Pocono Derby Day feature, the $50,000 Van Rose Memorial Invitational Pace.
Rose, a modest fellow who was a longtime handicapper/writer focusing his efforts on The Downs, would no doubt be amazed that “a field like this is in a race named after me” – the nine pacers in the nighttime tenth race feature have an average lifetime mark of 1:49.2 and have collectively earned over $5 million, with two millionaires, Filibuster Hanover and Western Fame, in the field.
In fact, Western Fame is the hottest horse in North America harness racing so far in 2019, and the richest, too, with $446,300 to his credit in the first third of the year, raising his lifetime bankroll to $1,487,320. In the recent Levy Series at Yonkers, Western Fame had four wins and a second in five preliminary legs, and then in the $664,000 Levy Final on April 20, he won over a quality field by almost five lengths.
The other millionaire in the field, Filibuster Hanover, has the misfortune of having to make his 2019 debut from the outside post nine, with Jim Morrill Jr. scheduled to drive. A Somebeachsomewhere gelding who has brought home $1,500,029 for trainer Ron Burke and the partnership of Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Joseph DiScala Jr., and J&T Silva Stables LLC, Filibuster Hanover won the 2017 Little Brown Jug, and he already has a 1:51.1 qualifying victory at The Meadowlands on his 2019 card.
One cannot overlook Highalator, who is 10-for-17 lifetime over the Pocono surface, having won his Weiss Championship and a PA All-Stars stake here at three, and then a leg of the Great Northeast Open Series at four (the Van Rose will serve as the 2019 start of the Open pacing division of the Great Northeast). Richard Still will be behind the five-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere, the fastest performer in the field with a mark of 1:48, as they begin from post two for trainer Jenny Bier, co-owner with Joann Dombeck and Midsize Construction Inc.
Between the two cards will be the traditional Run for the Roses Hat Revue, a fashion display of imagination and style, and trackside concessions and a Party Tent will open; the drink of the Derby, mint juleps, will be available in souvenir glasses. The Pocono clubhouse will be open for a Champagne Brunch for the first card and a top-shelf buffet for the second session.