There have been several changes made for this season's harness racing $50,000 Vernon & Meadowlands Drivers' Championship, the most noticeable of which is the new location.
In years past, Tioga Downs was the venue for this competition, with The Meadowlands added in 2011 when Jeff Gural took over that track's management.
This year, the Championship begins at The Meadowlands on closing night, Friday, August 17. The Final will be held for the first time at Vernon Downs on Sunday, August 26 on the same matinee (1:15PM) race card with the new and improved $700,000e Zweig Memorial 3 year old Open and Filly trot.
The Sunday card culminates Vernon's recreation of State Fair weekend with all divisions of the 2YO NY State Fair races raced on Friday and Saturday.
A more subtle adjustment this year is to provide the drivers with the opportunity to select their mount in one of the Championship races; the thought being to take a bit of the randomness out of the format in an attempt to avoid any driver drawing all long shot chances.
Top money winner Tim Tetrick will choose his mount in the first of the four Meadowlands Championship races, with the others (through fourth place)choosing in order of the money standings. The same formula will be used for the final at Vernon, with drivers five through nine each choosing a mount in one race.
A maximum prize of $35,000 could be collected if any of the participants can win both The Meadowlands leg ($10,000) and the final at Vernon ($25,000).
Available at Vernon will be the tiny bobble-headed likeness of Canada's superstar, Jody Jamieson (as long as the supply holds out).
The bobbleheads will be given away before the races and the drivers participating in the Championship will be on hand for an autograph session and driver meet and greet beginning at 11:45 a.m. on the track side apron.
On Saturday (August 25), Vernon Downs will be hosting a free golf outing for all horsemen and owners in the morning (planned tee time: 9 a.m.). The tournament will be held at Rome Country Club and will be a four person captain and crew format tournament.
Hotel rooms are available at Vernon Downs for the State Fair celebration (August 24-26) and the following arrangements have been made for all licensed owners, trainers, drivers and grooms to enjoy the State Fair atmosphere; a complimentary BBQ Buffet by Dean's Concessions in Founder's Park at 5 - 7PM on both Friday, August 24 and Saturday, August 25.
Then on Sunday, there will be a brunch on the Roof Top Terrace of the Vernon Hotel from 10AM to noon.
All hotel and clubhouse dining reservations as well as golf sign ups can be directed to Jason M. Settlemoir, VP of Racing and Simulcast, at 607.699.7588 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on Vernon Downs visit http://www.vernondowns.com/
by Nick SALVI