Nichols, NY - Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs have announced their 2014 stakes schedule, with an estimated $4.3 million in purses to attract the top horses in New York and across North America throughout the season. Tioga Downs opens their stakes season on Sunday, June 1 with the $200,000e Roll With Joe Open Pace. New York Sire Stakes races mark the calendar through June and July, leading up to the $350,000e Tompkins-Geers Stakes for two- and three-year-olds of both gaits. Unlike years past, where the Tompkins-Geers Stakes have been contested throughout an entire week of racing, two-year-old pacers will have their events on Sunday, August 3, while two-year-old trotters and three-year-olds of both gaits will race on Sunday, August 17. Between the Tompkins-Geers events, New York-sired sophomore pacers will take the spotlight on Sunday, August 10 in the $500,000e Empire Breeders Classic, with separate events for each sex. If needed, eliminations are scheduled for the week prior. Labor Day (Monday, September 1) proves to be a banner day in the Southern Tier, with a trio of stakes events headlining the afternoon. The $110,000e Shady Daisy for three-year-old pacing fillies and a $40,000e preliminary leg of the Miss Versatility for older trotting mares comprise the undercard features for the day, while three-year-old pacers take center stage in the $350,000e Cane Pace-the first leg of the Triple Crown for pacers. The $125,000 Reynolds Stakes for two-year-olds closes out the stakes schedule at Tioga, with trotting divisions on Thursday, September 4, and pacing divisions on Friday, September 12. Vernon Downs kicks off their stakes season on Sunday, June 8, with New York-sired three-year-old trotters contesting the $500,000e Empire Breeders Classic (like the pacers, separate events are held for each sex). If eliminations are necessary, they will take place on Friday, May 30. New York Sire Stakes events cover the early summer months, leading up to the first of two big nights at Vernon on Friday, August 29. The $700,000e Harry Zweig Memorial Trot for three-year-olds once again serves as the centerpiece of the Vernon Downs stakes schedule, with top open trotters sharing the spotlight that night in the $200,000e Crawford Farms Trot (formerly known as the Credit Winner). Two-year-olds of both gaits and sexes contest the $100,000e Simpson Stakes on Friday, October 24, leading up to a blockbuster Closing Night program, featuring a trio of rich events on Saturday, November 1. Two-year-old trotters wrap up the Kindergarten Classic series with a $200,000e final, and top distaffers compete in a pair of $200,000e events as well-trotters in the Muscle Hill, and pacers in the Artiscape, which moved to Vernon after being raced at Tioga in past seasons. Nomination forms and more information can be found at www.tiogadowns.com and www.vernondowns.com. by James Witherite, for Tioga Downs
VERNON, NY—Let’s Go Higher increased her winning streak to five with a dominating 1:50.4 performance in Thursday night’s $12,000 featured Open for female pacers at Vernon Downs. With Shawn T. Gray doing the steering for trainer Heidi Rohr in Thursday’s second session, the favorite Let’s Go Higher was on the iron from the start, stomping out fractions of :26, :54.2 and 1:22.2 en route to a six-length score over last week’s winner in this class, Don’t Blame Her. It was the fourth local score, the 12th season’s tally and the 21st all-time victory for the steady-striding 5-year-old daughter of Cole Muffler-Ten Speed, who earned her 1:50.3 record here on Aug. 8. The Jesse J. De Long-owned mare is currently a career-winner of more than $265,000. Ten-time track driving champ Howard Okusko, Jr. charted his fourth triple of the 78-program meeting, winning with the trotters Oldmanandthesea (1:59), Oaklea Tyson (1:58) and pacer Winbak Your Kash (1:55). His wife, former Downs conditioning champ Jessica Okusko, is the trainer of Oldmanandthesea and Winbak Your Kash. Veteran horseman Angus Mac Donald (66) enjoyed a driving win, My Future Ex (2:00.3), and two training tallies during Thursday’s 12-race card. DOWNS DOINGS Roman Lopez and Jimmy Whittemore each earned one victory during Thursday’s action, and remained tied for second-place on the track’s driving chart with 92 wins each… The pacer Campanile Hanover and trotter DL Cruiser each extended their winning streaks to three during the program... Tomorrow night, the track will host the fifth and final preliminary leg of the Kindergarten Classic Series for 2-year-old trotters. Filly flights will be featured in Friday’s second and 11th events, while male divisions will be contested in the fourth and sixth races. A $12,000 Open Trot is also slated as the evening’s ninth event. First post is at 6:45 p.m… The Downs will also present the annual event’s $400,000 championship final the following Friday, Oct. 25… Only 10 racing dates remain during the track’s 60th anniversary season that continues through Nov. 9… A revised 2013, 88-program racing and stakes calendar, as well as additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at www.vernondowns.com. Jim Moran
The Red Mile played host to the fourth and penultimate leg of the Kindergarten Trotting Classic series on Thursday evening. Conditions were ideal, as they often are in Lexington, KY, and seven divisions of the freshmen trotters were performing before a crowd of their human counterparts for a purse of $10,000 per split on “College Night” at the track. Noel Daley has made a tidy living by being patient with his young stock and that program is again paying dividends. The Explosive Matter two year old gelding Outburst won for the third time in six outings, finishing a comfortable 1:59- mile with a 27.4 final quarter for driver Charlie Norris. A $33,000 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale purchase by Daley, Adam Victor & Son and Mirva Bogucki, Outburst has the look of a contender for the late season stakes, which are many and lucrative this year. Speak The Truth is another making his first few career starts and he also looks like a player in the division. He is from Muscle Hill’s first crop from the accomplished race mare Tady’s Comer and cost Richard Gutnick $65,000 at Harrisburg last fall. He’s now won two of three and now has a record of 1:55.3. Brett Miller was in for the card and drove for trainer Linda Toscano. Great Society, another Muscle Hill, flashed willing late foot to be second. The first of four filly divisions came next and Goddess made amends for disappointing her legion backers last week by trotting a strong 1:57.2 mile for driver Randy Jerrell. The Donato Hanover lass cost trainer Paul Kelley and his partners Joe Sbrocco and new Hall of Famer Bill Weaver $110,000 but looks like a bargain at the price. She now won half of her six outings and sports a 1:56.1 record from earlier this summer in a Kindergarten division at The Meadowlands. Trixton was the highest priced trotting yearling sold at auction last fall when the Muscle Hill colt from a family of champions required a commitment of $360,000 from Brixton Medical and Christina Takter to bring him home. After a string of successes, he bounced back nicely after feeling the sting of defeat for the first time in last week’s Kindergarten and took his division in 1:56-. More impressive than the time on a perfect Lexington evening was the visual presence the colt displayed, moving beautifully under no encouragement from trainer/driver Jimmy Takter. He is a magnificent looking specimen ....Trixton that is. Takter came right back in the next event with one for the hunch players, as the moon was full on Thursday night and his eighth race charge is named Moonlight In Miami. The public knows and sent the Muscles Yankee filly away as the 6/5 choice. She rewarded their confidence with a maiden breaking 1:55- win, held just off the fast fractions until the time was right. Takter trains the $100,000 Harrisburg purchase for the Ontario power brokers, Katz, Libfeld & Goldband. Anonyme Hanover won right back for the Burke Stable equaling the 1:56.3 mark she took last week in the process. The Explosive Matter filly held off the late rally of race favorite Cee Bee Yes for Brett Miller and owners Burke Racing, Weaver / Bruscemi and Matt Kakaley who gave $47,000 for her at Harrisburg. Takter tripled up with the 1/5 fave Yoga in the last race. The Muscles Yankee filly was a bargain at $31,000 for Christina Takter and long-time patrons John & Jim Fielding. She was rated behind fast fractions and sailed by under her own power in 1:55- for Jimmy in the night cap. The Red Mile will host the Grand Circuit in a week, beginning Thursday, September 26 with a 7pm post time. Over $6 million in purses will be offered over the two weeks of top caliber stakes. Visit The Red Mile’s website for more information. The Kindergarten series will resume on Friday, October 18 with the finals a week later at Vernon Downs. Check the point standings here. Nick Salvi
Buck I St Pat, three-time defending Trotting Mare of the Year, has been retired, according to co-owner Howard Taylor. Buck I St Pat, three-time defending Trotting Mare of the Year, has been retired, according to co-owner Howard Taylor.
A harness racing leather halter worn by two-time Horse of the Year Moni Maker [Speedy Crown - Nan's Catch], arguably the greatest trotting mare of all time is now available on the Halters For Hope website.
River Shark stamped himself the one to beat in the $230,000 Berry's Creek as he wired the field in his elimination race Saturday night at the Meadowlands. The top five finishers in each of the evening's two $25,000 eliminations will meet in the Berry's Creek Final on Saturday, May 9.
The prestigious Classic Series for older horses opens its 2009 season with the first of three stops at Dover Downs and later to the Meadowlands and Mohawk to complete the preliminaries culminating with a $250, final in each of its four divisions.
Supplemental entries for the 2009 edition of The Classic Series (TCS) must be received in the office of The Hambletonian Society by the close of business on Monday, March 23. The payment levels, along with a list of nominees may be accessed at www.theclassicseries.com.
Corleone Kosmos trotted away from the field to win the $250,000 Classic Series final for older trotters in a world record of 1:58.3 by 1-1/4 lengths on Saturday night at the Meadowlands Racetrack.
Locked in a duel down the stretch with Enhance The Night, My Little Dragon gave driver Brian Sears his fourth winner of the night in the $250,000 Classic Series Final for pacing mares in 1:58.1 for the 1 1/16ths mile race on Saturday night at The Meadowlands.
Godiva Hall and driver Andy Miller were first to the finish line in 2:00.4, stakes record time, to win the 1 1/16th mile $250,000 Classic Distaff Final for trotting mares on Saturday night at The Meadowlands.
In a world record performance for a mile and a sixteenth, Artistic Fella and Tim Tetrick won the $250,000 Pacing Classic final in 1:56.1 on Saturday night at The Meadowlands by 3-1/2 lengths.
The $250,000 Finals of The Classic Series will go post ward at a mile and one sixteenth at The Meadowlands on Saturday evening. The Pacing Classic leads off the charge in race seven.
After a couple of opinionated pieces in a row, it is time to switch over to handicapping. In addition to the Hambletonian and Oaks eliminations, Saturday at The Meadowlands features four $250,000 Classic Series finals for older performers.
Today's hottest harness racing videos from the Meadowlands, so stay tuned for Meadowlands Pace action on Saturday (July 20) from the Meadowlands.
The second preliminary leg of The Classic Series (TCS) will be raced on Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack. Normally a four race event, the Series is reduced to two, the Trotting Classic and Classic Oaks, as both the Pacing Classic and Classic Distaff fell short of the number of entries required to card the race.