The Breeders Crown Championship series of stakes, the annual year-end arbiter of the top horses in every harness racing division, will be returning to The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono during the 2018 racing season, the third time the all-star extravaganza will be hosted by The Downs, following 2010 and 2013.
The announcement was made during the season-opening press conference/luncheon held in the Pocono clubhouse in the early afternoon Monday, a couple of days after Saturday’s start to 2017 racing was delayed by last week’s midweek snowstorm. The trotters and pacers will start racing over Pocono’s red clay oval tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m.
The Breeders Crown Championships are administered by the Hambletonian Society, which itself is currently undergoing a major change. John Campbell, harness racing’s leading all time money winning driver with earnings approaching $300 million, will be assuming the duties of president and chief executive officer of the Society in July. Tom Charters, who has been in charge of the Breeders Crowns since their inception in 1984 and Hambletonian Society CEO since 1998, will be easing into well-deserved retirement during the last part of the season.
“John called me after we announced that the Breeders Crown was going to Pocono in 2010,” Charters recalled. “He said, ‘Tom, you must get criticized for some of the things you do and that the Society does. But I will assure you that no one will ever say a word about the Breeders Crowns going to Pocono.’
"I’ve been looking forward to the races returning here since we raced here in 2013, and I’m thrilled that Pocono will again be the host in 2018.”
Joining Campbell, Charters, and Hambletonian Society Director of Event Operations Moira Fanning in the announcement were Tony Carlucci, president and general manager of The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and Dale Rapson, Mohgean Sun/Pocono VP/Racing Operations; Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association president Sam Beegle; and Jim Simpson, squire of Hanover Shoe Farms and representing the breeders of Pennsylvania.
The two previous Breeders Crowns visits to the 5/8-mile speedy mountain oval attracted over 17,000 improvers of the breed to Pocono, and total all-sources wagering, inside and out of the state, reached over $8 million. The 2013 edition won a special award from the Keystone Chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association as “The Greatest Night in Pennsylvania Harness Racing History.”