Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs
Pocono Downs Raceway is a harness racing track near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. It's widely acknowledged as one of the best smaller-sized tracks in America. Live racing dates are usually held from April to October.
Pocono Downs Raceway hosts several important harness racing stakes events each year. Among these are the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes, the Max Hempt Memorial Pace, the James Lynch Memorial Pace and the Reynolds Stakes.
Pocono Downs Raceway has a 5/8-mile oval track.
The length of the stretch is 490 feet and its surface has a stone aggregate base; the body is largely composed of stone dust; and has red rock screenings in the top layer.
The Grandstand can accommodate up to 3,000 while the clubhouse can hold up to 500.
The stable, meanwhile, can accommodate up to 900 horses.
History of Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs
A new era in the history of Pocono Downs began in late January of 2005 when Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority purchased the racetrack and its off-track wagering facilities from Penn National Gaming, Inc.
Adding to that chapter in 2006 will be the opening of a renovated grandstand area that will house two floors of slot machines, office space and a food court.
The new slot parlors are scheduled to open in the spring of 2006.
A new simulcast area, part of a $44 million renovation project at the Wilkes-Barre area racetrack, was set to open in January of 2006.
Pocono Downs first opened its doors July 15, 1965, when more than 12,000 fans jammed the infield, clubhouse and grandstand to see the "new kid" on the block, joining its racing neighbors, Liberty Bell, to the south, and the Meadows to the west.
First winner of that initial season was Satin Queen. During those early years it was unheard of a pacer or trotter breaking the two-minute mile barrier. The track record in that inaugural season was 2:004, established by a horse named Heineken.
Record for a trotter was 2:02.2 and registered by Singing Arrow.
From 1965 through 1981 there were only 100 horses that broke the two-minute time. Nowadays, there are thousands of two-minute miles each and every season.
Track mark today stands at 1:49.4, recorded by Yankee Finale July 10, 2005 with Cat Manzi in the bike. It's the only sub-150 mile ever timed at the Northeastern Pennsylvania racetrack.
Two horses currently own the track mark for fastest trots ever. They are SJ's Caviar, established July 22, 2001 with Robert Blanton, Jr., driving, and Armbro Barrister, trotting that mile May 10, 2005, with Ray Schnittker in the bike.
Unlike those earlier years, today there's off-track wagering, simulcasting, inter-track wagering, ebetUSA, which allows bettors to wager interactively via computers from their homes and offices, and Dial-A-Bet (wagering via telephone).
The late James and Anna Durkin were among the founders of Pocono Downs that cost $7 million to construct in the 1960s. Penn National Gaming, Inc., bought the track and its off-track facilities for $47 million in November of 1996 from the estate of the late Joseph B. Banks.
It was under the leadership of Mr. Banks that Pocono Downs emerged from bankruptcy and became very successful.
In addition to harness racing there was thoroughbred racing from 1970 through 1980 when the Shamrock Racing Association shared the facility.
During the Agnes Flood of 1972, (At the time one of this country's largest natural disasters that destroyed a large part of Wyoming Valley and vicinity) the track served as an evacuation center for displaced residents.
While harness tracks such as Liberty Bell, Brandywine and Roosevelt have closed, Pocono Downs continues to be one of the best "small" tracks in North America and the tradition continues.
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