03/13/2017 4:02PM

Pocono: 2017 meet starts on Saturday

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[UPDATE: Due to a winter storm which dumped more than two feet of snow in the area, Pocono has cancelled opening night. The track will now open on Tuesday, March 21.]

The Standardbred trotters and pacers will begin their 52nd season of pari-mutuel harness racing in northeast Pennsylvania this Saturday night, March 18, as The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono will present the first of 135 cards of harness racing scheduled for 2017, with Saturday’s first race marked for 6:30 p.m.

The highlight of the 2017 Pocono season will come on Saturday, July 1, with the $2 million+ Sun Stakes Saturday card, which annually draws the sport’s best horses over several of the major categories. It was recently announced that Wiggle It Jiggleit, 2015 Harness Horse of the Year and the fierce seasonlong rival of 2016 Harness Horse of the Year Always B Miki, will make his debut for the year in the Franklin Pace elimination races, to be held on Saturday, June 24.

Pocono’s all-time driving champion George Napolitano Jr. will be on the scene from opening night, coming up from Florida, where he already has shown himself in “midseason form” with a 27% win rate; his brother Anthony, second in the standings last year, will also have a full driving schedule from the word “go.”

The basic racing schedule at Pocono follows a Saturday through Tuesday basis, with first post at 6:30 except on Sundays, when the action starts an hour later. During the early part of the campaign, Pocono will gradually “work into” that schedule: after Saturday, racing will be held on Tuesday, March 21st; Saturday-Sunday the 25th and 26th; and Tuesday the 28th; Mondays will be added to the schedule on April 10.

-edited track release (Jerry Conors for Pocono)