The idea behind Yonkers Raceway's first Fall Harvest Festival Saturday on night was to showcase the close relationship between horse and harness racing and agriculture in New York State.
Throw in the cooperation of Mother Nature, who held off her predicted deluge to the delight of a very enthusiastic turnout, and the evening turned out to be an unqualified success.
The track apron featured pony rides, face painting, live music, a blacksmith demonstration, a chance to have your picture taken sitting on a racing sulky...and the always-popular T-shirt giveaway. Leading New York apple farms, wineries and cheese manufacturers were also on hand, drivers signed autographs and a two pairs of driving colors were rallied off..
Fans--both regulars and rookies--were encouraged to learn more about the sport of harness racing with exhibits from Blue Chip Farms -New York's largest breeding farm--the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame, the New York Sire Stakes, Harness Horse Breeders of New York State and the Standardbred Owners Association of New York.
Blue Chip even brought down a special guest...their newest star attraction,, who led the post parade for one of the Fall Harvest Series events. That $400,000 Fall Harvest Series featured eight, $50,000 races for 2- and 3-year-olds of both sexes and gaits.
The big glory went to...
2YO Colt/Gelding Pace--Forty Carrots (by); co-owners Richard Clair and Lance Gordon/trainer-driver Jim Bailey; 1:58.2/$5.20;
2YO Filly Trot--Miss Conway (by); co-owners Ann-Mari Daley,Bob Brooks,Richard Lombardo/trainer-driver Dan Daley; 2:02.3/$5.80;
2YO Filly Pace--Rough Sketch (by); co-owners Robert & Lauren Tucker/trainer Ed Lohmeyer/drvier Cat Manzi; 1:58.3/$2.30;
2YO Colt/Gelding Trot--Big Stick Lindy (by); co-owners (trainer-driver) Ray Schnittker,Arnold,Silva, KR Breeding; 2:01.2/$3.90;
3YO Filly Pace--Allstar Salute (by); co-owners McDonald,White,Reid/trainer Mark Ford/driver George Brennan; 1:57/$3.80;
3YO Filly Trot--Guinevere's Star (by); owner Nancy Kipp/trainer-driver Bill Okusko; 2:01.1/$24; 3YO Colt/Gelding Pace--Where's Waldo,g (by Bettor's Delight); owner Ken Jacobs/trainer Linda Toscano/driver Yannick Gingras; 1:54.2/$4.10;
3YO Colt/Gelding Trot--Credit Blues,g (by); owner Gerrie Tucker/trainer Joe Anderson/driver Ryan Anderson; 1:59.2/$2.50.
Saturday night's $40,000 Open Handicap Pace was won by Runover Feeling (Brennan, $13.40) in a first-up 1:53.2.
Before the card, nine of the state's elected officials competed in the Legislators Challenge, a pair of double-seat, jog cart races. Bragging rights in Albany now belong to Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (with marginal help from Jason Bartlett) and Assemblyman Rory Lancman (with a bit more assistance from Manzi). Both members of the assembly have second careers in their future.
"We're very gratified by the response," general manager Bob Galterio said. "The weather held out and the crowd was tremendous. We appreciate all the help from the Standardbred Owners Association and the participation of the vendors.
"It's aafe to say we're looking at making this an annual event."
Yonkers' regular five-night-per-week schedule (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday) remains in effect. First post for all racing programs is 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available around the NYRA schedule.