WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — Finally, some familiar sights and sounds for Dale Rapson.
"I've been here over 40 years and I've never seen anything like this, the Vice President of Racing Operations at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono said. "We're glad to be back racing."
After three long months, harness racing has returned to The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, though it's not exactly the same.
"As you can see now behind me, there's no one out there," Rapson said. "We hope to get the fans back as soon as possible as soon as the state gives us the word."
But no fans does not mean no bets – they're just being placed online.
"Believe it or not, our handle has been pretty good," Rapson explained. "People across the country are wagering on us at a good amount and we're happy about that."
And they're about to be even happier. Inside the Clubhouse, the simulcast area has been set up for social distancing. Fans will be allowed to return to this room starting July 1st, just in time for the races on 4th of July weekend.
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"Saturday will be the first day they can come to the track, have a teller, wager on Pocono Downs during the simulcast and sit in the Clubhouse and we have strict protocols," Rapson said. "Face masks must be worn all the time. No grouping. No big crowds."
Slowly, but surely – and safely – a return to racing.
"You don't appreciate it until it's taken away from you and I'm just so glad to be back and see these horses race," Rapson said.