Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs


2012 Season Review
Well, racing fans, we’ve come to that point in the year where we wrap things up at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The season closes out on Wednesday night, November 21 with the 140th racing night of the campaign. After that, MSPD racing goes on hiatus until March of 2013.
Since we are so near the end, it’s time to put on a bow on this season by looking back at some of the memorable performances that Pocono racing fans have witnessed over the past 7 ½ months. We talked about the horses of the year a week ago in this column. Let’s take a little time now to honor the top drivers and trainers from this outstanding season just about gone by.
On the driving side, it was another stellar season for George Napolitano Jr. who rocketed back to the top of the standings in driving wins. George also was in a battle for the UDRS title, a percentage akin to a baseball batting average measuring driving efficiency, with Jim Morrill Jr., and that race might even come down to the final night.
George Nap was not the only driver to have success this season however, as our balanced racing community at Pocono produced eight men with over 100 wins in the meet. Those eight drivers were mixed evenly between veterans like Napolitano, Morrill, Mike Simons, and Joe Pavia Jr. and younger pilots who have already established themselves as forces like Matt Kakaley, Tyler Buter, Andrew McCarthy, and Eric Carlson. Carlson accomplished the feat in his first ever year at MSPD.
On the training side, Chris Oakes once again dominated the proceedings. He held a huge advantage in training UDRS all season long, and he pulled away from Ron Burke for the training wins crown in the season’s final weeks. In addition to Oakes and Burke, there have been a number of trainers celebrating excellent seasons in 2012. The other trainers rounding out the Top 10 in victories in 2012: Kent Sherman, Erv Miller, Amber Buter, Jason Robinson, Rene Allard, Paul Holzman, Brewer Adams, and Mark Ford.
2012 also was a great year for track records, proving once again that the competition keeps getting better and faster at Pocono. Out of 24 categories which separate horses by age, gait, and gender, 13 records were set in 2012. In other words, more than half of the existing records fell by the wayside.
Our two most prestigious records, fastest pace and fastest trot for all ages and genders, came under assault in 2012, not surprisingly in the two biggest stakes races held all season at Pocono. Betterthancheddar captured the Ben Franklin pace in 1:48, matching the all-time pacing mark set a season ago by We Will See. On that same June day in the Earl Beal Memorial trot, Googoo Gaagaa put together a ridiculous performance for a victory in 1:50:4, the fastest mile ever trotted, not just at Pocono, but on any 5/8-mile oval.
In addition to those two amazing records, Economy Terror managed a feat that will be hard to match. After setting the track mark for two-year-old placing fillies at the Pennsylvania Championships in 2011, she came back as a 3-year-old and defended her state title, once again breaking a track record in the process. That makes Economy Terror, the pride of the Oakes’ barn, the only horse to have two records on the Pocono ledger.
Those were just a few examples of what has been another tremendous season of racing at MSPD. Even as we come to one meet’s completion, it’s hard not to look forward to what’s ahead in 2013. That’s because the Breeders Crown, harness racing’s year-end championship races, will once again be hosted by Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.
We hosted the Breeders Crown for the first time back in 2010, and it was such a ringing success that we all hoped that it wouldn’t be too long before it returned. We are honored to be the location for the best of the best in harness racing, who will duke it out for bragging rights and hundreds of thousands of dollars in purse money.
In the meantime, it’s time to put the 2012 season to bed. It has once again been an honor to call the races for the Pocono faithful, and, as always, I’ve enjoyed writing these columns to highlight the very best of the racing at our track. There are too many co-workers to thank for all their efforts in bringing racing to you all; suffice it to say they all have harder jobs than me and they do them splendidly to make sure the racing product at Pocono is the best in the country.
Finally, I’d like to thank our fans, the most loyal and knowledgeable around, for their continued support of MSPD racing. I hope you all have a wonderful winter, and I look forward to seeing you all again for what should be an amazing 2013 meet.
Until then, that will do it for this year, but, after a little time off, we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at