WILKES-BARRE PA – Blustery winds, cold, and intermittent blowing snow greeted the trotters and pacers as they returned to Pocono Downs at Mohegan Pennsylvania for Saturday’s 2024 opening card. The conditions did not lend themselves to fast times, but competitiveness over an off track was the name of the game in the races, which were headed by two $16,500 events.


In the featured pace for top conditioned horses, the Always B Miki gelding Maximus Miki, a $200,000 yearling, showed himself ready to go after eight months away for trainer Tom Cancelliere and owner/brother John, coming up the inside from the pocket (after hard early usage) to win in 1:53.3 under the guidance of George Napolitano Jr. This was only the five-year-old’s 25th career start, but he’s won twelve of them and has shown lots of desire, winning by 1½ lengths in a race where that same margin covered the tightly-packed septet who trailed him home.


The other $16,500 event was a starter allowance for high-priced claiming pacers, some preparing for the upcoming lucrative Game Of Claims Series. In a scratch-plagued field of four, Matt Kakaley, two-time defending local driving champion who tied with Anthony Napolitano with three successes during the curtainraiser, was able to keep the Roll With Joe gelding Loorrim Lake A in the three-hole until the three-quarters, then moved the winner of $271,720 to the outside. The pair then worked their way past pacesetting Tam Major A to earn the decision in 1:54 for trainer Paul Blumenfeld and for Jersey Shore Stables LLC.


The Pocono schedule for February is a Saturday-Monday two-day week, and the horses will be taking to the track for a 14-race card at 1 p.m. on Monday. There are a trio of $15,000 contests for developing younger stock, two on the pace and one on the trot. Pocono programs can be obtained without charge by going to www.phha.org.

Cover Photo Credit to Curtis Salonick

Maximus Miki and Gerorge Napolitano Jr. draw clear late to win during the first card of the 2024 racing season at Pocono Downs at Mohegan Pennsylvania.

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