The Tioga & Vernon Downs race dates and stakes calendar has been ironed out for the 2009 racing season (pending regulatory approval from the New York State Racing and Wagering Board). Vernon Downs will begin their 90 day season on Friday, April 17th and conclude 2009 on Saturday, November 7th.
Vernon will race a schedule of Thursday, Friday, & Saturday for most of the meet with a post time of 6:55 pm. Two Monday matinees with a special post time of 1:30 pm are scheduled for May 25th and September 7th. During the month of July Vernon will race Tuesday nights at 6:00 pm.
Tioga Downs will kickoff their 57 day season on Saturday, May 2nd, otherwise known to the betting world as "Derby Day". Tioga's season will conclude on Saturday, September 12th. During the meet Tioga will race a normal schedule of Friday, Saturday (post time 6:50 pm) and Sunday afternoon (post time 1:30pm). Tioga will race two Wednesday cards scheduled for June 10th and August 19th with a post time of 1:30 pm.
The stakes season for both tracks will kick off with The Empire Breeder's Classic eliminations for 3-year old New York bred pacers and trotters. The trotters will race eliminations at Vernon on Saturday, May 16th and return for the $500,000E finals on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25 th. The New York bred pacers will race eliminations at Tioga on Sunday, May 17th returning for the $500,000E finals on Sunday, May 24th.
Tioga will once again host its Rags To Riches series for $10,000 claiming pacers from Sunday, June 7th through Sunday, June 28th in an elimination style bracket series in which $10,000 claimers have the chance of racing for $150,000E.
The $300,000E Zweig Memorial Trot for 3-year old colt and filly trotters will be held at Tioga held on Friday, July 10th. Normally held during the State Fair the Zweig was moved to an open spot in the calendar and will hopefully be used as a stepping stone to the Hambletonian.
The ‘roarin grand circuit' stops at Tioga with the Tompkins-Geers stake races from Friday, July 17th through Monday, July 20th as over $650,000E in purse money will be up for grabs on this four day race weekend. Tioga will also be offering a free golf tournament to owners, trainers, and drivers that participate in the Tompkins-Geers stakes. The four man scramble takes place on Monday morning, July 20th, and is held at the Tioga Country Club located just four miles from the track.
The third annual Tioga Downs Driver's Championship will be held on Sunday, August 2nd with a post time of 1:30 p.m. Yannick Gingras repeated in 2008 as Champion of this lucrative event after sharing the 2007 title with Brian Sears. Also starring on the Sunday card will be a leg of the $150,000E Miss Versatility trotting series as well as a leg of the Kindergarten Classic for 2-year old pacers. Tioga will also play host to a 2 nd leg of the Kindergarten series on Sunday, August 22nd with the remaining legs carried out at Vernon Downs.
The New York State Fair will once again be held at Tioga this year from Saturday, August 8th through Sunday, August 16th with over $800,000 in purses being offered.
Last but not least on the Tioga stakes schedule is the $120,000Eopen mare pace scheduled to go forward on Saturday, September 12th. The pace was moved from Vernon Downs to Tioga Downs for 2009. In 2008, My Little Dragon paced the first sub 1:50 mile in Vernon Downs history to capture the event with Brian Sears in the sulky.
Vernon Downs will once again host thefor open mare trotters. The race will be held at a special 1:30 pm post on Labor Day, Monday, September 7th, as top open mare trotters will battle for $120,000E.
Speaking of trotters, the $125,000Efor the open ranks will come to the seven-eighth's mile oval in Vernon, New York on Friday, September 18th. American Lane and Cat Manzi were victorious in the 2008 edition while Vivid Photo, who was the 2007 champion, holds the track and stakes record of 1:52.1. Also going postward on the Friday card will be the 3rd leg of the $150,000E Miss Versatility trotting series for open mare trotters. The final will follow six days later on Jug Day, Thursday, September 24th at the Delaware County Fair.
The New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions makes its first ever visit to the Miracle Mile on Saturday, September 26th. With eight $150,000E finals the Saturday night card will award more than $1.2 million in estimated purses. Owners of the stakes horses will be invited to a pre and post race cocktail party free of charge. For dining and/or room reservations, please contact Jason Settlemoir by email at Jason@tiogadowns.com or by phone at (607) 699-7588.
Last up at Vernon will be the $500,000E Kindergarten Classic final for 2-year old pacers and trotters. It will be held on Saturday, October 31st. The Kindergarten has 6 legs separated by sex and gait sprinkled between Vernon & Tioga starting on July 31st. In a format change for 2009 the Kindergarten Classic finals will be held at Vernon.
For more information regarding any of the above events or to download the nomination forms, please visit us on the web by going to www.tiogadowns.com or www.vernondowns.com or give us a call at (607) 699-7688.
Jason M. SETTLEMOIR