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Pocono Officially Announces New Name

Published: March 19, 2015 10:00 am ET

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The location is still Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania but the track that many consider to be the fastest five-eighths mile oval in North America has officially unveiled a new name.

At a press conference on Wednesday, track officials announced that the track will be called The Downs At Mohegan Sun Pocono.

The Downs At Mohegan Sun Pocono begins its 50th anniversary season of harness racing this Saturday night, with the first of 14 races at the northeast Pennsylvania oval set to go to post at 6:30 p.m.

Highlighting the getaway card are three divisions of the Bob Weiss Series for male pacers just coming into their prime, with $15,000 divisions slotted for races 3, 4, and 5. The top horses in four preliminary rounds will earn their way into the Weiss Championships the week of racing starting with April 18. As noted, the male pacers will race on Saturday; as Pocono opens with a three-day a week schedule, events for female pacers and male trotters will be held on Tuesday, with trotting misses set for Wednesday action.

Four of Saturday’s Weiss entrants already have posted speed marks of less than 1:52 in their young careers, and should be among the horses to watch on Saturday: Shadow Margeaux in race 3, What I Believe and Mojito Hanover in race 4, and YS Lotus (with the fastest mark of 1:51.1) in race 5.

The vast majority of Pocono’s 'heavy hitters' in the horsemen’s colony are slated for action Saturday. George Napolitano Jr., the track’s winningest driver over the past few seasons, should be fast out of the gate, having won 31% of his starts in limited campaigning this winter at Pompano Park; the 2-3-4 drivers behind Napolitano -- Simon Allard, Matt Kakaley, and George’s brother Anthony Napolitano -- will all be in the sulky here Saturday, and horses harnessed by last year’s 1-2 trainers, Rene Allard and Ron Burke, seem ready to get those barns off to a quick start.

One intriguing newcomer to the drivers’ colony is two-time defending North American dash-winning champion Ronnie Wrenn Jr., who has indicated a desire to try the high-flying circuits of the Mid-Atlantic (including Pocono) this year as he continues to build his name and reputation. A winner of over 1,500 races in 2013-14 combined en route to his titles, Wrenn will get a quick 'baptism under fire' at Pocono on the initial card, as word of his availability got around, and he was put down to drive on ten horses.

As noted, Pocono will open on a Tuesday-Wednesday-Saturday schedule, with Fridays and Sundays to be added on in the warmer climes of the prime of the season. The track’s two $2 million showcase cards, Sun Stakes Saturday and Super Stakes Saturday, will be held on July 5 and August 22, respectively, bringing the finest horses in North America to the local scene. Pocono will also host a special 50th Anniversary Night in conjunction with the top stakes racing on August 22.

(The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono)

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