The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono 2019 Season Review


The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono 2019 Season Review

October 29, 2019

We are winding up the 2019 racing season here at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. It was another extremely successful campaign filled with excitement and surprises, favorites and longshots, unexpected winners and scintillating performances. In short, everything a harness racing fan could possibly want out of a racing season.

We started back in the middle of March and we are closing up shop on Saturday night, November 16. When you are in the midst of the season, it always seems like it’s flying by. But then you think back at all of the great racing that has taken place and you realize just how full of action this meet has been.

As always, we use the end of the season to take a look back at the top performers, both human and equine, for the 2019 season. One thing that stands out is the great balance that Pocono can boast, both in terms of the depth of the driving and training colony, and also in terms of the amount of outstanding horses who made the track their semi-permanent home this year.

On the equine side, it was particularly tough to choose the horses that would be honored with yearend awards. But the three horses who received the honors were extremely well-deserving and feel like the right calls.

Leading off is the amazing veteran Atta Boy Dan, who became the first horse in Pocono history to win both Pacer of the Year and Claimer of the Year honors for his winning ways at the very top of the claiming ladder. He ended in the Pete Pellegrino barn, but many different trainers had a hand in his 2019 campaign at Pocono.

Joining Atta Boy Dan on the dais are Eclipse Me N, Mare of the Year, Rich And Miserable, Trotter of the Year. Eclipse Me N proved nearly unbeatable whenever he showed up at Pocono for trainer Rene Allard to take on the featured Mares pacers on Tuesday nights. And Rich And Miserable worked his way up through the condition ladder for trainer Todd Buter until he captured the finals of the Great Northeast Open Series to culminate his amazing meet.

As far as drivers and trainers, the pressure is off us, because the awards are based on the statistics. And, as far as statistics go, there isn’t a driving stat that you can find at Pocono that doesn’t have George Napolitano Jr. sitting at the top of the list. Add two more to the ledger for George Nap, as he once again swept the titles for Pocono driving wins and driving UDRS in 2019, a campaign which saw him pick up his 10,000th career driving win and his 5,000th victory at the Pocono oval.

On the training side, Rene Allard continued his dominance by adding to his impressive string of Pocono training wins titles, as he was the only trainer to hit triple digits in wins in the 2019 meet. On the UDRS, it was a family affair, as Hunter Oakes, at press time, appeared as if he would just hold off his father Chris to win that crown.

We always talk about the champs, but the overall balance was quite impressive. In addition to George Napolitano Jr., Anthony Napolitano, Simon Allard, Tyler Buter, Matt Kakaley, Eric Carlson, and Marcus Miller all managed at least 100 driving wins in the 2019 meet at Pocono. Meanwhile, Ron Burke, Gilberto Garcia-Herrera, and Jose Godinez joined Rene Allard and Hunter Oakes in the top 5 in training victories.

We also witnessed greatness in many of our traditional stakes races, including a Sun Stakes Saturday where upsets were the order of the evening. It was also nice to see many horses who made their way through Pocono in 2019 were able to perform extremely well in the Breeders Crown races in Canada recently.

With all that in mind, it is just about time to move on from the 2019 campaign. Certainly, we look forward to being back in 2020 and doing it all over again.

But before that, I’d just like to say thanks to all of the horsemen and women for their outstanding efforts in 2019. I’d like to thank all of the employees at The Downs at Mohegan Sun as well, all of whom, I assure you, have a more difficult job than mine and are responsible for making the product come off so seamlessly each racing night.

And, finally, on behalf of all of us at Pocono, I’d like to send out heartfelt thanks to the fans. Ever since I started writing this column some 15 years ago, I’ve been saying that our fans are the best in the sport and are the heart and soul of our racing product. A lot of things change in this world. Thankfully, that hasn’t been one of them.

That will do it for the 2019 season at Pocono, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at