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Nichols, NY - The $1 million(e) Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) stakes for harness racing 3-year-old New York sired trotters and pacers will be raced without eliminations in 2021. This format was implemented for the 2020 EBC trotting races and the 2020 EBC colt pace went straight to the final with ten declarations.   In 2021, should ten or fewer declare for any of the EBCs, the stake will go as a single division for the total purse. If eleven or more declare the stake shall be raced in divisions with the purse split equally and the entry fee reduced accordingly.   The EBC colt and filly trots are scheduled for Vernon Downs on Friday, June 18 and the pacers will race at Tioga Downs on Sunday, August 29.   The 2021 $650,000(e) Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial will be raced at Vernon on Sunday, August 28 using the "Main events/consolation" format as it has been for the past several years.   The W.N. Reynolds stakes for 2-year-olds will return to Tioga for 2021 and all divisions are scheduled for Friday, September 3.   Vernon and Tioga Downs are set to begin the 2021 live racing season at the customary starting dates for the pair of Upstate New York venues.   Vernon starts first on Saturday, April 17 while Tioga gets underway on Saturday, May 1.   Contact Racing Operations Manager Brett Risi at BRisi@TiogaDowns.com or (607) 699-7688 for answers.          

Nicholas, NY - Tioga Downs will host the top NY state-bred sophomore pacers in Sunday's Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) harness racing finals. Purses for the EBC is funded by the Agriculture & NYS Horse Breeding Development Fund, NY Farms that stand stallions along with Tioga & Vernon Downs and payments made by the owners of the eligible horses.   Hen Party (Andy McCarthy PP 2) is the top chick in the $223,500 filly pace, race 7 on the card. The Roll With Joe lass is the NYSS point leader with three wins in the state-bred program and looked nifty winning in 1:50 in last Sunday's elimination for trainer Tony Alagna and owner Crawford Farms.   Chief among her eight rivals are the winner of the other elimination, Pettycoat Business, and So Rude who missed by picking up Hen Party by about an inch last week.   The $240,600 colt final required no elimination with all ten of the declarees lining up for race 8 in a what shapes up to be a very even contest.   While Splash Brother, Groovy Joe and Major Betts have been generating headlines in the NYSS events, a strong case could be made for Roll With JR who has been following the Grand Circuit trail and chasing the division's best this summer.   A winner in the Bluegrass Stakes last fall at The Red Mile, Roll With JR actually gets what could be considered class relief in the EBC and a new driver in Scott "Money" Zeron for trainer Jeff Cullipher who owns the colt in partnership with Tom Pollack as Pollack Racing.   The NYSS will be represented on the card by three divisions of freshman trotting fillies and four Excelsior divisions.   For the full program click here.   The fun starts at 1:00 Sunday afternoon.   Nick Salvi

Nichols, NY - Governor Cuomo's extension of the NYS on PAUSE order until May 15 will cause the postponement of the harness racing Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) trots at Vernon Downs from the scheduled eliminations on May 15 and final on May 25 until a date as yet to be determined.   That extension will also affect the opening of the Tioga and Vernon casinos, thus delaying the start of the live racing at both properties until the order is lifted.   Governor Cuomo has been quoted as considering permitting the reopening of businesses in the less populated regions of New York first. It is our hope that that plan would permit Tioga and Vernon casinos to get open and allow for us to prepare for racing.   Any developments will be addressed and passed along as soon as there is anything to report.   Nick Salvi

Nichols, NY - Horsepersons should be advised that all divisions of the Tompkins-Geers stakes for 2-year-old trotters and pacers will be raced on Friday, August 9 at Tioga Downs.   The draw for that card will be on Sunday, August 4 with a box close of 9:00am.   The Empire Breeders Classic pacing eliminations, Crawford Fars & Joie De Vie Open Trots are all to be raced on Sunday, August 11.   The draw for those stakes is on Wednesday, August 7 with a box close on 9:00am.   Horses for the Crawford Farms and Joie De Vie are required to be checked into the Stakes Barn by 8:00pm on Saturday, August 10.   Condition sheets may be found on the web. Electronic entry is encouraged. The Racing Office may be reached at (607) 699-7688.   By Nick Salvi, for Tioga Downs      

Courtly Choice (David Miller) won the Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) final ($272,025) in a track record for 3-year-old colts of 1:48.3. It was just one of many big races at Tioga Down on Sunday afternoon (August 19). Courtly Choice ($2.80) would pass Hitman Hill (Brett Miller) and lead to the first quarter in :26.4. He guided them to the half in :54.4, with a pretty sharp :28 second quarter. As they reached the backstretch, the second choice in the betting, American History (Yannick Gingras) went first-over from third and applied pressure. Courtly Choice led them to three-quarters in 1:21.1, using a :26,2 backside quarter. As they rolled around the far turn the race was still up for grabs. As they reached the top of the stretch, Miller asked for more and he responded winning it easily in 1:48.3. American History had to settle for second best on the day, Real Surreal (Cory Callahan) came up to get third money. Courtly Choice is a 3-year-colt by Art Major. Trained by Blake Macintosh for owners Hutt Racing Stable, Mac & Heim Stables, Daniel Plouffe, and Touch Stone Farms. The winner of the Meadowlands Pace, won for the eight time in eleven starts this season. It was career win number 10. Youaremycandygirl (Yannick Gingras) too sweet for the field in the EBC final ($270,425) for sophomore pacing fillies. Youaremycandy ($2.20) went to the lead going to a first quarter of :27.3 and taking them to a :56.3 halfway mark. I'm Trigger Happy (Jim Marohn Jr.) was still close as they hit three-quarters in 1:23.2. Owned by William Donovan and trained by Ron Burke, Youaremycandygirl found another gear and left them all in her dust gliding home and hitting the mile in 1:50.4. Alexis Faith (Jim Morrill Jr.) came up and finished second. I'm Trigger Happy settled for third. Youaremycandygirl is a 3-year-old filly by American Ideal. It was her sixth win this season and the 15th victory of her career. In the most exciting race of the day, Western Fame (Andrew McCarthy) charges late to shock the field in Roll With Joe open pace for a purse of $143,000. Rockin Ron (Yannick Gingras) went to the front leading them to a first quarter in :26.4 and the half in :54.4. All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley) went first over to engage Rockin Ron on the back stretch. They hit the three-quarter mark at 1:21.1. The two raced as a tandem all the way around the final turn. Dealt A Winner (David Miller) went three-wide at the top of the stretch. Western Fame ($32.20) came from last at the top of the stretch going four wide. Owned by Brittany Farms and trained by Jimmy Takter, he flew down the stretch and just got by Dealt A Winner to win in a lifetime best of 1:48.4. Dealt A Winner settled for second best losing by just a head. Rockin Ron held on to finish third. Western Fame is a 5-year-old horse by Western Ideal. It was his fifth win this year and the 15th time he has stepped into the winner's circle in his career. Shartin N (Tim Tetrick) wins the Artscape ($161,000) open mares pace. Caviart Ally (Andrew McCarthy) took them to a first quarter in :26.2. Shartin N ($3.30) went first-over from fourth and took over the lead as they went by the stands for the first time. Trained by Jim King Jr. for owners Richard Poillucci and Jo Ann Looney-King, she put up all the rest of the fractions (:54.2, 1:22.2, 1:50.0). Caviart Ally came out the pocket to put up a late challenge but had to settle for second money. Apple Bottom Jeans (Jim Marohn Jr.) took third place. Shartin N is a 5-year-old mare by Tintin In America. It was her 14th win in 18 starts this season. She now owns 21 career victories. Ice Attraction (Yannick Gingras) wins the first division of the Ms Versatilty ($30,000) in leg #3. Ice Attraction ($3.40) went right to the front and controlled all the fractions (:28.2, :57.3, 1:25.0, 1:53.2). Owned by Little E LLC, D. Sipple, Mal and Janet Burroughs and trainer Ake Svanstedt, she was followed by pocket sitter Pink Pistol (Tim Tetrick). Pink Pistol popped the pocket and gave everything she had but fell just short to finish second. Barn Bella (Trond Smedshammer) was third best. Ice Attraction is a 4-year-old mare by Muscle Hill. It was her first win this season and her 10th career victory. Broadway Donna (David Miller) easy winner in the second division of the Ms Versatilty ($30,000). Broadway Donna ($2.90) went to the front and led the field gate-to-wire (:27.1, :56.4, 1:24.2, 1:52.1). Owned by Fashion Farms LLC. and trained by Jim Campbell, she shook off the late pressure by second place finisher NF Happenstance (Jack Parker Jr.) to secure the win. Celebrity Ruth (Trond Smedshammer) was third best. Broadway Donna is a 5-year-old mare by Donato Hanover. It was her fourth win this year and her 21st career victory. Tioga Downs returns to live racing on Friday (August 24). It starts Corntastic weekend with a post time of 6:15 p.m. For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com by John Horne, for Tioga Downs  

Nichols, NY - Tioga Downs will present the richest card of its 2018 season at the "Jewel of the Southern Tier" on Sunday offering nearly $1 million in purses on the day. The featured stakes include the $550,000 Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) 3-year-old pacing finals, the $161,000 Artiscape and $143,000 Roll With Joe for FFA mare and horse pacers respectively and the 3rd leg of the $60,000 (divided) Miss Versatility for trotting mares. The Miss Versatility split into a pair of six mare fields as they continue to accumulate points toward the $110,000 final at the Delaware County Fair on Little Brown Jug Day, September 20. Broadway Donna, Celebrity Ruth, Ice Attraction and Barn Bella head up the contestants for Sunday's races. The EBC fillies (race 7) are led by Youaremycandygirl (Yannick Gingras) who continued her current form spree with an effortless 1:51 romp in her elimination last week. She leaves from post 6 for trainer Ron Burke and owner Bill Donovan in the $270,425 final. Meadowlands Pace winner Courtly Choice (Dave Miller) has been tabbed as the morning line favorite in the $272,025 EBC colt pace final. He's won 7 of 10 starts including an impressive 1:49 elimination success last week and stands at nearly a half million dollars in seasonal earnings for trainer Blake MacIntosh who shares ownership with Hutt Racing, Daniel Plouffe and Touch Stone Farms. Courtly Choice starts from post 5 in the 8th race. American History (Gingras) endured a long uncovered grind to win the other elimination, albeit 2 seconds slower than Courtly Choice. He's been sharp recently and has landed post 3 for this race permitting the driver options to secure the type of trip needed to win. Tony Alagna trains American History, the fastest sophomore of the 2018 season by virtue of his 1:47 Meadowlands clocking in June for Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz and American History Racing. All of the top older mares are in town for the Artiscape (race 9) with division leader Shartin N (Tim Tetrick) seeking to continue her season-long dominance over her rival distaffers. She won 13 of 17 starts and collected over $680,000 for owners Richard Poillucci and Jo Ann Looney-King with the Matchmaker, Roses Are Red and Lady Liberty on her seasonal resume. Jim King, Jr is the trainer. The pacing horses number but five in the Roll With Joe and include last year's winning pair in Dealt A Winner and driver David Miller. The now 6-year-old is rounding into form of late and recently eclipsed the $1 million mark in career earnings for owner Jeffrey Snyder. Mark Silva conditions Dealt A Winner who will face stiff competition from a pair of Burke entries in Rockin Ron (Gingras) and the ageless All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley). Post time for the big card at Tioga is 1:15 pm. by Nick Salvi, for Tioga Downs

Vernon, NY - A sampling of top Hambletonian prospects will lead the charge to Monday's $500,000 Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) trotting finals at Vernon Downs as part of the Memorial Day matinee card beginning at 1:05 pm. The imposing Muscle Mass colt Six Pack (PP#2) equaled Market Share's track record of 1:52.1 in last week's elimination race and needed every bit of that strong effort to get past Helpisontheway by just a half-length on the wire for the win. He's won both of his seasonal starts at Vernon and heads into the $223,673 final (race 8) in top form for trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt who owns the colt in partnership with Jeff Gural's Little E, LLC, Stall Kalmar and Lars Berg. Trainer Linda Toscano sends out a pair of leading contenders, both sired by her 2012 Horse of the Year Chapter Seven. The aforementioned Helpisontheway (PP#3 Tim Tetrick) did much of the work before succumbing very late to Six Pack. He's owned by the trainer (as Camelot Stables) and The Bay's Stable. Local owner Ken Jacobs will watch his colt Seven Iron (PP #4 David Miller) who won the second EBC elimination. He's a rock solid trotter who gives an honest effort every time he puts his nose on the gate, was a Grand Circuit winner at The Red Mile and second in the Kindergarten final last season. The route to the $238,613 EBC filly final (race 9) winners circle appears to go through Atlanta, not the city but Rick Zeron's wicked fast Chapter Seven filly. She absolutely cruised to victory in 1:53.1, fastest of three elimination divisions for driver Scott Zeron and appeared to have plenty left. Atlanta will leave from post 4 as she carries the hopes of HA Taylor, Holland Racing and Brad Grant who own her in partnership with trainer Rick Zeron. Svanstedt manages the other two elim winners in Natalie Hanover and Plunge Blue Chip (Svanstedt) who start from the inside most posts respectively on Monday. Plunge Blue Chip was the state's top freshman filly trotter last season and also won the Grand Circuit stake Goldsmith Maid final, earning more than $400,000 at two for the trainer and his partners Blue Chip Bloodstock and Tomas Andersson. Natalie Hanover (Mark MacDonald) took a lifetime mark with her 1:54.1 score last week and seeks her biggest payday for Van Camp Trotting Corp, Anders Olsson, Lars Berg and Bjorn Nasstrom. The supporting card includes consolations for both EBC finals and a $120,000 New York Sires stake divided into three divisions, it's the first battle of the year for the state bred 3-year-old colt pacers. Vernon and the USTA Strategic Wagering Initiative have joined to offer a $3,000 guaranteed pool on a Pick 4 wager on races 6-9 that includes both EBC finals. Free program pages for the races included in the wager will be available on the web. From the press box at Vernon Downs    

Vernon Downs ran eliminations for the Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) for sophomore trotters on Friday night (May 18). Three divisions for harness racing 3-year-old fillies and two divisions for 3-year-old colts. The top three fillies in each elimination and the top four colts (and one fifth place finisher) will compete in the EBC Finals on Memorial day (May 28). Each class will race for an estimated $250,000 purse. All elimination races were for a purse of $12,500. Six Pack (Ake Svanstedt) won the first division for sophomore trotting colts. Ronnie Goldstein (Kim Crawford) took the lead into the first quarter (:26.1). Six Pack ($3.00) took over right after the quarter. However Helpisontheway (Tim Tetrick) brushed on by to take the half in :56.2 and led to the three-quarter mark in 1:26.1. Six Pack, by Muscle Mass, who is owned by Little E LLC., Stall Kalmar, Lars Berg, and trainer Svanstedt, sat patiently in the pocket then wore down Helpisontheway to tie the track record for 3-year-old trotting colts in 1:52.1. He tied the mark first set by Market Share in 2012. Helpisontheway held on for second. Classichap (Trond Smedshammer) finished third with Southwind Chrome (Scott Zeron) getting fourth place. All four qualified for the EBC Finals on Memorial Day. Seven Iron (Tim Tetrick) uses one last lunge to win the second division for 3-year-old trotting colts. Tito (Andrew McCarthy) took the early lead, hitting the first quarter in 27.2. Voss Volo (Corey Callahan) then took over and led to the half in :56.3. On The Ropes (Ake Svanstedt) then made his bid and had a slight lead after hitting three-quarters in 1:26.0. Seven Iron ($6.40), who is owned by Kenneth Jacobs and trained by Linda Toscano, found himself fifth after three-quarters. Tetrick would send him three-wide in deep stretch just getting by to win in a lifetime best mark of 1:54.2. On The Ropes narrowly took the runner-up spot. Voss Volo managed to finish third with Clive Bigsby (Scott Zeron) getting the fourth position. All four would qualify for the EBC Final. They will be joined by fifth place finisher Purpose Blue Chip (Dan Daley) to round out the nine qualifiers. Seven Iron is a 3-year-old colt by Chapter Seven. It was his first win of 2018 and his third career victory. Atlanta (Scott Zeron) coasts to easy win in the the EBC first division for 3-year-old fillies. White Cheetah (Marcus Miller) led the group to the first quarter mark in 27.0. The lead was short lived as Atlanta ($2.20), who is owned by Howard Taylor, Bradley Grant and trainer Rick Zeron, blew right by and never looked back. She would control all the rest of the fractions (:56.2, 1:26.1, 1:53.1). Golden Muscle (Drew Monti) charged late to finish in second with Tribute To Seven (Tim Tetrick) getting the third spot. All three fillies qualified for the EBC Final. Atlanta is a 3-year-old filly by Chapter Seven. She is two for two in her sophomore season. She would nail down her sixth career victory. Plunge Blue Chip (Ake Svanstedt) goes gate-to-wire to capture the second division for sophomore fillies. Plunge Blue Chip ($3.00), who is owned by trainer, Svanstedt, Blue Chip Bloodstock inc., and Tomas Anderson, charged out for the lead and controlled all the fractions (:27.4, :57.2, 1:26.0, 1:54.0). Her stablemate Ciao Dolce (Andy Miller) followed the whole way to finish second. Repentance (Tim Tetrick) finished third. All three will be in the EBC Final. Plunge Blue Chip is a 3-year-old filly by Muscle Mass. It was her second win of the season and she now has won 11 of her 12 career starts. The third division for 3-year-old fillies went to Natalie Hanover (Ake Svanstedt). Seven Karats (Tim Tetrick) took the lead and put up all the early fractions (:27.1, :57.1, 1:26.2). Natalie Hanover ($9.30), who is owned by Van Camp Trotting Corporation, Anders Olsson, and Borje Nasstrom while trained by Svanstedt, followed in the pocket all the way to thr three-quarter mark. The two fillies would battle all the way down the stretch. Natalie Hanover was just too strong and got the victory. Seven Karats held for second. Supergirl Riley (Marcus Miller) came up late to finish third. All three qualified to complete the field of nine for the EBC Final.   Natalie Hanover is a 3-year-old filly by Chapter Seven. She picked up her first win of the season and her third career victory with a lifetime best time of 1:54.1.   A big day for Ake Svanstedt with three wins and one second in the elimination races. Vernon Downs returns to live racing on Saturday night (May 19) with a 13 race card starting at 6:10 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com. John Horne for Vernon Downs      

Vernon, NY - On Friday night, Vernon Downs will host five $12,500 elimination races for the Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) the first major event of the season for harness racing 3-year-old trotting fillies and colts as races five through nine.   The box was overflowing with entries for the filly division with twenty-six declared for the eliminations resulting in three divisions with the top three on the official order of finish returning for the $265,000 final.   The most accomplished of the lot include Plunge Blue Chip who dominated the class at two, last season's surprise New York Sires Stakes (NYSS) final winner Lucky Ava and the fleet Atlanta who trotted to a 1:52 win in her first start of the new season at The Meadowlands last week.   Plunge Blue Chip and Lucky Ava both hail from the barn of Ake Svanstedt who has no fewer than five fillies in the elims and will drive both on Friday.   The only blemish on Plunge Blue Chip's freshman season was a shocking out of the money finish in the NYSS final where her barn mate Lucky Ava picked up the mantle and scored what is by far her biggest win. Svanstedt owns a piece of each, partnered with Blue Chip Bloodstock and Tomas Andersson on "Plunge" and Little E, LLC and Van Camp Trotting Corp sharing the title on Lucky Ava.   Atlanta captured everyone's attention with her stunning 1:52 win against a field that included older horses and a legitimate Hambletonian contending colt in a Meadowlands overnight last week. She zoomed by the field with a withering stretch burst to claim the win with Scott Zeron driving for his father Rick who trains her. Holland Racing Stable, HA Taylor and Brad Grant own Atlanta in partnership with the trainer.   Svanstedt also has one of the top contenders among the nineteen colts in last year's NYSS final winner Six Pack. A winner five times in nine lifetime outings, Six Pack is the fastest of the colts by virtue of his 1:53.1 win in a NYSS event at Vernon just a week ago. Svanstedt own him in partnership with Little E, Stall Kalmar and Lars Berg.   The second division of colts is a very competitive, balanced field that includes the winner of last year's Kindergarten final, Tito. Driver Andy McCarthy will have to chart a winning course from an outside post eight for the Erv Miller trainee who was third in his seasonal debut last week. Anthony Lombardi, George Golemes and Louis Willinger are Tito's owners.   From the pair of colt divisions, the top four and one of the fifth place finishers drawn by lot will advance to the $248,000 final. Both of the rich finals will be part of the Labor Day matinee card on Monday, May 28.   The EBC eliminations will be carried live on The Meadowlands broadcast, spaced between the Meadowlands races.   Races 6-9 will comprise the Pick 4 with a $2,500 guaranteed pool in concert with the USTA Strategic Wagering initiative. Program pages will available on the web.   First race post time is 6:10 with the EBC races slated to begin at 7:30.   Nick Salvi

Heaven's Gait (David Miller) would win the Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) on Sunday (August 20) with a purse of $263,100 for harness racing sophomore pacing Colts & Geldings at Tioga Downs. Two track records, beautiful weather, and big long shot made it a perfect day of racing at the five-eighths oval in Nichols, NY. In the EBC for 3 year-old colts and geldings, it was In A SIngle Bound (Billy Dobson) who would take charge with a first quarter in :27.4, and a half in :55.4. Funknwaffles (Corey Callahan) would battle and take the lead to the three-quarter mark in 1:21.4. Heaven's Gait (Rock N Roll Heaven) would watch this speed duel from the third. Owned by John Cummins and trained by Nicholas Devita, the 3 year-old colt would charge down the stretch like he was shot out of a cannon. Heaven's Gait ($4.50), would win in 1:49.2. He would win for the fifth straight time. Miso Fast (Matt Kakaley) would fire late to finish second. Music Is Art (Tim Tetrick) came up late to finish third. In the EBC final ($257,850) for sophomore pacing fillies, it was big long shot Obvious Blue Chip (Scott Zeron), who was victorious. Tequilla Monday (Brian Sears), would put up all the early fractions, :26.3, :54.4, 1:22.3. Clear Idea (Mark MacDonald) would put on pressure during the whole race. He was parked almost the whole way and would take the lead at the top of the stretch. Obvious Blue Chip (Roll With Joe), who is owned by NLG Racing Stable with Stephen Klunowski and trained by Mark Steacy, would take advantage of a second over trip. The 3 year-old filly blew right by Clear Idea (second) to win in a lifetime best of 1:50.2. Third place went to Ameriway (Corey Callahan). Obvious Blue Chip ($57.50), would win for fourth time this season and the fifth of her career. Dealt A Winner (David Miller) shocked the field to win the Roll With Joe ($163,000), with a track record for aged geldings at 1:47.4.. Sunfire Blue Chip (Mark MacDonald) would hit the first quarter in :26.1. Rockin Ron (Yannick Gingras) would then continue the fast pace hitting the half in :54.1 and three-quarters in 1:20.4. Dealt A Winner (Cam's Card Shark) would follow Wakizashi Hanover (Tim Tetrick) with a second over trip. Dealt A Winner ($72.50), who is owned by Jeffrey Snyder and trained by Mark Silva, would go three wide at the top of the stretch flying to the lead and tack record. He would fall short of the world record for aged gelding pacers for a five-eighths mile track by one-fifth of a second. The 5 year-old would win for the 13th time in his career. Rockin Ron hung on for second with Sunfire Blue Chip getting third. Pasithea Face S (Tim Tetrick) would win the third leg of the Ms Versatility ($40,000) setting a new track record for all trotters in 150.4. Oho Diamond (Brett Miller) would lead into the first quarter in :27.1. Pasithea Face S (Muscle Hill) would take over as they went by the stands for the first time. She would follow with times of :55.1, 1:23.4, 1:50.4. Pasithea Face S ($3.40) didn't have it easy though. She battled the first over PL Hill (Corey Callahan) all the way from the three-quarter mark and holding on by a quarter-length. PL Hill (Kadabra) finished second with entry mate Oho Diamond (Ken Warkentin) getting third. Pasithea Face S is Owned by Courant Inc. and trained by Jimmy Takter. She won for the fifth time this season getting a new lifetime mark. She was just one-fifth of a second off the world record for aged mares for a five-eighths mile track. Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Monday (August 21) post time for the 10 race card begins at 6:50 p.m. For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com John Horne for Tioga Downs

Nichols NY - Tioga Downs will be the focus of the harness racing universe on the afternoon of Sunday, August 20 featuring the $163,000 Roll With Joe FFA Grand Circuit stake and the $521,950 Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) pacing finals.   While the older pacing ranks aren't what they were a year ago when Always B Miki and Wiggle It Jiggleit threw down virtually every week all across North America, what we do have in the Roll With Joe (race nine) is a very competitive, even field of nine accomplished veterans.   Shamballa (Scott Zeron) held his own against the best last year including an upset of the aforementioned pair in a stirring 1:47.1 edition of last year's US Pacing Championship and his second place finish in the fastest mile ever last fall at The Red Mile. Shamballa has raced but a handful of times without success in 2017 and his last start was two months ago but he qualified back fast at Tioga last Friday. Rick Zeron trains and owns Shamballa with Cool Cat Racing, HA Taylor and Brad Grant.   The top money winner in the race, both career-wise and seasonally, is the iron tough All Bets Off. Over the $2.5 million mark lifetime, he has faced and beaten the best in major stakes from age two right through his present campaign now at six and never goes a bad one. By the way, guess who was third in that fastest mile ever mentioned above? That's right, All Bets Off was. Matt Kakaley has been aboard for virtually every one of those two and a half million dollars for trainer Ron Burke and partners Weaver Bruscemi, Frank Baldachino and Panhellnic Corp.   Last year's Roll With Joe winner Rockeyed Optomist (Jason Bartlett) returns to defend his title. He's seeking his first big one of the season for trainer Steve Elliott and owners Anthony Perretti, Ginny Berkner, A&B Stable and Joe Bataglia.   Nine of the Empire State's finest sophomore pacing colts will battle for $263,100 in a very contentious seventh race. The three elimination winners drew shoulder to shoulder from the rail out; In A Single Bound (Billy Dobson), Heaven's Gait (David Miller) and Art Scene (Scott Zeron).   While the first two didn't take much imagination to handicap as logical contenders in their respective eliminations Art Scene did as the lightly raced son of American Ideal was winning for only the second time at odds of more than 15-1. Art Scene had been chasing NYSS types around the smaller ovals before he tipped his hand a bit with a sneaky good effort in the Cane Pace on Hambletonian Day at The Meadowlands. In last week's win, he prevailed after a long uncovered move on division leader Funknwaffles to win by a neck.   Tony Alagna trains Art Scene for his own interests as Alagna Racing along with partners Brittany Farms, In The Gym Partners and American Art Stable.   EBC fillies go for $257,850 in the eighth where elimination winners Tequila Monday (Brian Sears) and Clear Idea (Mark MacDonald) drew post one and two.   While one would have to consider them as the best fillies in the program this season and while Tequila Monday went a second faster in her elimination split, Clear Idea has prevailed in both of their most recent meetings. Last week's win was the ninth of the year for Clear Idea and her seasonal earnings stand at $188,113 for trainer Blake MacIntosh who owns the American Ideal lass with Hutt Racing Stable.   A pair of $30,000 EBC consolation races for those who didn't quite make it to the final is also on the Sunday card.   The third of four preliminary legs of the Miss Versatility series (race five) for mature trotting gals rolls into Tioga and Swedish import Pasithea Face S is here to face five rivals following her impressive win in the Dr. John Steele Memorial at The Meadowlands. The Nichols faithful will get their chance to see this potential new star live and in person thanks to this series and owner Courant Inc and trainer Jimmy Takter bringing her in for the race. Tim Tetrick is the driver.   The Tompkins-Geers stakes for 2-year-olds were scheduled for August 20 but the only event that had enough entries to race on the card is the $53,700 filly trot. The others were canceled.   More information and the complete list of entries may be found at the Tioga website.   Post time on Sunday is 1:00 p.m.   Nick Salvi

NICHOLS, N.Y. (August 15, 2017) - Fans of horse racing will be treated to a world-class afternoon of harness racing at Tioga Downs on Sunday, August 20 headlined by the $200,000 (est) The Roll With Joe Open Pace presented by Blue Chip Farms and the $500,000 (est) Empire Breeders Classic Finals for the premier New York-sired 3-year-old pacers. Off the track, fans will have a unique opportunity to enter a contest to name a baby horse that will hopefully go on to compete at the sport's highest levels. The foal, a baby horse less than one year old, was bred at Jeff and Paula Gural's Allerage Farms in nearby Sayre, PA. Race fans in attendance on Sunday will have the chance to submit their best name for the filly. The filly is a daughter of the stallion Yankee Glide and her mother is Love Tale. A representative from Allerage Farms will pick their three favorite names and the winner will be the name that receives the most applause from the crowd. The person who submits the winning name will then receive 1 percent of the horse's earnings during its 2 and 3-year-old racing seasons. For complete contest rules visit www.tiogadowns.com. The Empire Breeders Classic will feature a deep, and talented group of sophomore pacers. In the colts and geldings division, odds-on favorites Miso Fast and Funknwaffles were narrowly defeated in last Sunday's eliminations by In A Single Bound and Art Scene respectively. In the third elimination, Heaven's Gait was a four-length winner and has now won four straight races and six of his last seven. Heavily-favored Clear Idea and Tequila Monday won the pair of eliminations for the fillies and loom as the ones to beat in Sunday's final. Clear Idea, trained by Blake MacIntosh, has won seven in a row and earned more than $188,000 this year. Tequila Monday won her elimination a full second faster than Clear Idea and has had success on the Grand Circuit this season, winning the Lismore Final at Yonkers and finishing third in the $321,200 Fan Hanover at Mohawk. Post time for Sunday's spectacular program is 1:00 p.m. Besides the three headlining stakes, the card also includes the third leg of the Miss Versatility for the sport's top trotting mares and 2-year-old divisions of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes. For more information, visit www.tiogadowns.com. Justin Horowitz

The Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) eliminations for sophomore colts and geldings pacers as well as their counterpart filly pacers, were at Tioga Downs on Sunday afternoon (August 13) as part of a 15 race harness racing card. On the card was three divisions of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for freshman trotting fillies as well. In the first elimination for colts and geldings it was In A Single Bound (Chris Lems) who would come out on top. In A Single Bound (Roll With Joe) would lead to the first quarter in 27.3. The favorite Miso Fast (Matt Kakaley) would take over before the clubhouse turn He would control the the pace all the way to the top of the stretch. In A Single Bound ($5.70) who is owned by Dennis and Simone Noud, while trained by Monica Krist would pop out of the pocket and battle Miso Fast (Roll WIth Joe) all they way down the stretch. In A Single Bound would lunge out and win at the wire in 1:50.4. He would win for the eighth time in 11 starts as a 3 year-old. Miso Fast would finish second and qualify for the finals. The third qualifier would br Outkast Blue Chip. In the second elimination, Art Scene (Brett Miller) would shock the 1-9 favorite Funknwaffles (Corey Callahan) Geez Joe (Brian Sears) would lay down the first quarter time in :27.3. Funknwaffles (American Ideal) would then take control hitting the half in :56.0 and three-quarters in 1:24.1. That is when Art Scene (American Ideal) would make his move going first over. Art Scene ($33.20) who is owned by Brittany Farms, Alagna Racing, In The Gym Partners and American Art Stable would duel the favorite in the stretch to win by a neck at the wire in 1:51.2. Trained by Tony Alagna, the 3 year-old colt would win for just the second time in his career while setting a lifetime best mile. Funknwaffles would finish second to qualify for the final. Music Is Art (Tim Tetrick) would also qualify by finishing third. Heaven's Gait (David Miller) would win the third elimination by four legnths. Uffizi (Tim Tetrick) would carve out all the early fractions :27.0, :56.2, 1:23.4. The 3 year-old would start to fizzle out at the top of the stretch. Chip Walther (Brian Sears) would then take over. The lead was short lived as Heaven's Gait (Rock N Roll Heaven), who is owned by John Cummins and trained by Nicholas Devita, would blow right by to win in 1:50.4. The winner paid $4.40 and won for ninth time in his career. Chp Walther (Art Major) would qualify by finishing second. Talent Soup (Brett Miller) would take third to qualify as well. On the Fillies side the first elimination went to Clear Idea (Mark MacDonald). Clear Idea (American Ideal), who is owned by Huff Racing and trainer Mark Macintosh, would go gate-to-wire with fractions of :27.1, :56.4, 1:24.3, 1:52.0. She would win for the seventh straight time but it wasn't easy. Roaring To Go (Brett Miller) would sneak up on the inside and fall short by just a neck. Clear Idea ($3.10), would win for the 10th time in her career. Finishing second was Roaring To Go (Art Major). The other qualifiers were Obvious Blue Chip (Scott Zeron), who finished third, Gurl Band K (Tim Tetrick), fourth, and Ameraway (Corey Callahan) finished fifth and won the wild-card pick. The second elimination went to the favorite Tequilla Monday (Brian Sears). Tequilla Monday (American Ideal) would take over just after the first quarter and then cruise home to win in 1:51.0. She is owned by North Fork Racing Stable with Chuck Pompey and trained by Chris Oakes. Tequilla Monday ($2.70) would win for the sixth time this season and the 10th time in her career. The other qualifiers were American Sara (Scott Zeron) who finished second. Shepulledthegoalie (David Miller) finished third while Candlelight Dinner (Brett Miller) finished fourth. Also on the card was the NYSS freshman fillies. Undefeated Plunge Blue Chip (Ake Svanstedt) would set the track record for 2 year-old trotting fillies in the third division of the NYSS. Entry mate Fury Road (Mark MacDonald) would lead after a first quarter of :28.4. Plunge Blue Chip (Muscle Mass-Dunk The Donato) would take over as they went past the stands for the first time. She would then control the whole race after that with fractions of :58.2, 1:26.2, 1:55.1. She would eclipse the track record by a fifth of a second. Lucky Rainbow (David Miller) would finish second best while Atlanta (Rick Zeron) settle for third. Plunge Blue Chip ($3.20) is owned Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc. and trainer Svanstedt. She is now four for four as a freshman trotter. In the first division of the NYSS, big long shot and first time starter Setntheworldonfire (Troy Beyer) would win in 1:57.1. Settintheworldonfire (Muscles Yankee-Gaelic) who is owned by Birdie Path Stables LTD. and trainer Noel Daley would make a three wide move in the stretch to nip A Gift For You (Tim Tetrick) at the wire. Settintheworldonfire would pay $130.00 for the win A Gift For You (Credit Winner-Soprano Hanover) would finish second. Big Checkmate (Donald Dupont) was third. The second division winner was White Cheetah (Mark MacDonald). After the big favorite Seven Carats (Tim Tetrick) went on a break, Perfect Summer K (Brian Sears) would control all the early fractions, :28.1, :57.4, 1:27.1. White Cheetah (Muscle Mass-Wheely Quick) would go three wide at the top of the stretch and looked like a cheetah as she blew by to win in 1:57.4. Perfect Summer K (Conway Hall-American Miss K) would finish second. Jackie Newlands (Scott Zeron) would get third. White Cheetah ($33.80) is owned by J Sbrocco, Stable 45 and trainer Paul Kelley. She would win for the first time in four starts. The horses were drawn for the EBC Finals. For the Colt and Geldings Final ($268,100). 1) In A SIngle Bound 2) Heaven's Gait 3) Art Scene 4) Miso Fast 5) Music Is Art 6) Chip Walther 7) Talent Soup 8) Outkast Blue Chip 9) Funknwaffles   For the Fillies Final ($262,850) 1) Tequilla Monday 2) Clear Idea 3) Obvious Bluechip 4) American Sara 5) Candlelight Dinner 6) Ameriway 7) Roaring To Go 8) Shepulledthegoalie 9) Gurl Band K Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Monday (August 14) witha 11 race card starting at 6:50 p.m. For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com John Horne for Tioga Downs

Nichols, NY - Five $12,500 elimination races for the Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) for 3-year-old pacers will be featured along with New York Sires Stakes (NYSS) for freshman filly trotters as part of an all-stakes 15 race harness racing card on Sunday, August 13 at Tioga Downs.   Three divisions of colt and gelding pacers were split into equal fields of seven will go as races 6, 7 & 8.   Miso Fast (Matt Kakaley) makes his initial seasonal foray into state-bred competition after facing the top Grand Circuit colts with moderate success thus far in 2017. The Roll With Joe colt picked up the bulk of his quarter million dollar freshman bankroll in the NYSS program including a second place finish in last year's final.   Miso Fast took a 1:49.2 mark in his Hempt Memorial elim and has fared better in the preliminaries than the big finals this season. He may find Sunday's field more to his liking for the Burke Stable who owns the colt in partnership with Our Horse Cents Stable, J&T Silva and Weaver Bruscemi.   Funknwaffles (Corey Callahan) was the NYSS freshman final winner in 2016 and hasn't missed a beat this season in both restricted and open competition. The American Ideal gelding has absolutely manhandled his New York competition to go along with a third in the Rooney and closing second in the Hempt final against Grand Circuit colts. He's a farthing away from a half million in lifetime earnings for owner Crawford Farms Racing and trainer John Butenschoen.   Chief among the colts in the third division is the talented Heaven's Gait (David Miller). Lightly raced at two, this son of Rock N Roll Heaven is a John Cummins homebred and has enjoyed success on both a state-bred and national level. He has marched through the NYSS legs unblemished and is the author of the fastest mile of the season in the program by virtue of his 1:49 win at Vernon Downs. Heaven's Gait also won the Hempt consolation after narrowly missing a final berth in that stake for trainer Nick DeVita.   The fairer sex entrants numbered eighteen, which split nicely into a pair of nines.   Race 10 features Clear Idea (Mark MacDonald) who's but a length away from NYSS leg perfection this season, having finished second in the opener. Since then she's had a very "Clear Idea" of how to get to the wire first for trainer Blake MacIntosh who owns the seasonal winner of over $180,000 in partnership with Hutt Racing Stable.   The eleventh race favorite is last year's NYSS final winner Tequila Monday (Brian Sears). She's back strong this year for Chris Oakes having annexed the Lismore at Yonkers and copping a third in the rich Fan Hanover final. She'll start from post two on Sunday, seeking to advance for owners North Fork Racing and Chuck Pompey.   Next week's EBC finals are for the biggest purses of the year for NY restricted stakes with the colt stake at $268,100 while the fillies race for $262,850.   No fewer than 85 NYSS filly trotters will compete at Tioga on Sunday with one early non-betting race and 10 divisions on the card.   The main event split into three nine filly fields, each for a purse of $37,966.   Post time on Sunday is 1:00 p.m. You can find the entries on the Tioga Downs website.   Nick Salvi

Reigning New York champions Devious Man and Barn Bella demonstrated why they possess the harness racing crowns in their divisions with extremely impressive victories in their Empire Breeders Classic finals, worth $252,000 and $228,250, respectively on Sunday (June 18) afternoon at Vernon Downs. In fact, Barn Bella equaled champion Check Me Out's track standard of 1:51.3, while Devious Man was just off world champion and Hambletonian winner Market Share's record of 1:52.1 with a 1:52.2 mile. Barn Bella (Jeff Gregory) was the first to make her appearance in race eight. The daughter of Conway Hall-Bravissima, who is co-owned by Purple Haze Stables, her trainer Steve Pratt and Nancy Pratt, had not tasted defeat since last July and was vying for her 10th consecutive triumph. Leaving from post position nine, the 1-9 favorite and Gregory were content to sit in third while allowing Ostrich Bay (Scott Zeron) to cut the first quarter of the mile, which went in a swift :26.2. Shortly before the half-mile pole, the duo decided it was time to strike the front and pulled to make their move. The filly clicked off fractions of :55.2 and 1:24 and appeared to be firmly in command of the field of 10. David Miller and Celebrity Ruth (5-2), however, had their own plan on who would be in the winner's circle. Miller pulled his charge from third heading into the final turn and his filly had a full head of steam. She nearly drew alongside Barn Bella for a the briefest of instants before that rival assumed command in the blink of an eye to quickly place two lengths between herself and her closest pursuer. From there on in it was never in doubt, as Barn Bella strode beautifully to the wire still two lengths ahead of her colleagues. Celebrity Ruth trotted gamely for her second place finish and Sunshine Delight (Brett Miller) closely mildly for third. With the victory, which was the third fastest trotting mile of the season for 3-year-olds behind champions Ariana G (1:51.1) and Walner (1:51.2), Barn Bella is now a perfect six-for six this year and improved her record to 15-12-0. She has banked more than $350,000 during her career. "Oh she ranks up there for sure (with the greatest horses Gregory has driven)," said her pilot in the winner's circle. "She is limited to what she is eligible to, but she is pretty much paid up to everything in New York, so she won't be able to go against the big girls, but with what she is doing here, she is sure making us happy."   Barn Bella paid $3.10 to win, while Celebrity Ruth offered $3.70 and Sunshine Delight provided $2.70 to her supporters.   Not to be outdone by a member of the fairer sex, Devious Man supplied his own statement victory to ponder if his dam, Miss Garland, may earn the lofty distinction of foaling two Hambletonian victors in race nine, as this Credit Winner colt is a half-sibling to Vivid Photo.   With Andy Miller at his customary position in the bike, Devious Man, the 4-5 public selection, left the gate from post six and followed leader Swell Chap (10-1, Brett Miller) behind splits of :26.2, :56.3 and 1:24.4 before Stick With Me Kid, (9-1) with Brian Sears at the lines pulled from the pocket. Devious Man exploded off that one's cover and in a flash, showed the eight other colts and geldings his heels at the top of the lane. Second choice Bill's Man (7-2, Corey Callahan) made a furious rally from eighth, but could come no closer than several lengths before the finish line. Stick With Me Kid held for third in a photo between he and Bill's Man.   Owned by Story Inc. and the Andy Miller Stable, Devious Man is now three-for-three in 2017 and 15-10-1-1 lifetime. Trained by Julie Miller, the colt's purse money is now approaching the $500,000 mark and his time of 1:52.3 is a lifetime best.   Devious Man paid $4.70 to those who wagered upon him and Bill's Man was $3.00 to place. Stick With Me Kid provided the sum of $3.50 to his backers.   When asked after the event what the future plans where the colt, Miller minced no words.   "He did that easy, but the fractions were not real strong, so when he came off cover he just trotted to the wire," he said. "I'm not sure if we are going to Pocono next week (for the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial), but pointing him towards the Hambletonian is the goal and hopefully we have some luck there."   Pacing colts compete in NYSS action In the first division ($30,450), Heavens Gait (David Miller) would win going away in the stretch by five lengths. The 3-year-old colt by Rock N Roll Heaven would be fourth going around the last turn. Pointomygranson (Brett Miller) took the lead just after the first quarter and controlled the pace with :55.1 at the half and 1:22.2 after three-quarters. That is when Heavens Gait ($2.90) who is owned by John Cummins and trained by Nicholas Devita, looked like he was shot out of a cannon. Heavens Gait would fly right by taking a last quarter in :25.4 and finishing the mile in 1:49., which was a track record. Pointomygranson would finish second with Joe's Bid (Jim Morril Jr.) getting third. Owned by John Cummings, the Rock N Roll Heaven-Booya Beach colt is trained by Nicholas Devita and was the 1-9 favorite. In the second division ($30,450) American Wiggle (Scott Zeron) would shock the field with a late four-wide move. Manattack (Chris Lems) would set the early fractions :26.4, :56.0, 1:23.1. Music Is Art (John MacDonald) would take over at the top of the stretch and it looked like then the favorite Serious Major (Jim Morrill Jr.) was poised to take the victory American Wiggle ($74.00) would make his move. American Wiggle (American Ideal) who is owned by trainer Eve Bergeron with Geoffrey and Mary Howles would wear them all down in the stretch to win in 1:51.0. Serious Major would take second with Art Mojor finishing third. In the third division ($31,050) it was Funknwaffles (Brian Sears) winning rather easily. The 3-year-old colt by American Ideal, who is owned by Crawford Farms Racing and trained by John Butenshoen ,took over just before the half. Funknwaffles ($2.20) would hit the half in :55.4, three-quarters in 1:24.2 and win in 1:51:0. Rock It Scott (John Campbell) would come late to finish second with Twin B Cowboy getting third. The win was the 2016 NYSS standout and Grand Circuit competitor's first of the season. Winning the fourth division race ($30,450), was In A Single Bound (Billy Dobson). Outkast Blue Chip (Jim Morrill Jr.), would take the first quarter in :26.3. In A Single Bound (Roll With Joe) was restless and took over the lead too take them to the half in :55.4. Owned by Dennis and Simone Noud while trained by Monica Krist, the 3-year-old would open up by four lengths after hitting three-quarters in 1:22.4. Talent Soup (Corey Callahan) would then take a charge at In A Single Bound ($6.00). In A Single Bound would win in 1:50.2 while Talent Soup would settle for second just a length short. Cultural Paradise (Brett Miller) finished third. Vernon Downs returns for action on Thursday (June 22) at 6:45. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com by John Horne of Vernon Downs and the USTA Communications Dept.      

Vernon, NY - The rich harness racing finals of the Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) a New York sired event for three-year-old trotters will be raced as a part of the Father's Day card on Sunday, June 18 at Vernon Downs.   Ten fillies will compete in the first of the pair of finals (race 8) for a purse of $228,250 with Barn Bella the obvious choice despite the disadvantage of starting from the far outside post nine. The Conway Hall lass has won ten straight races including the New York Sires Stakes (NYSS) Final at two dating back to last August for owner - trainer Floyd Pratt and partner Wanda Polisseni's Purple Haze Stables. Barn Bella has handled older open trotters on two occasions and won the first NYSS of the season while preparing for the EBC and beyond. Jeff Gregory will drive.   The $252,000 EBC colt final is the ninth race and promises to be a far more contentious affair. Devious Man (PP #5) is the defending NYSS champ and is off to a great start on his sophomore campaign for the husband - wife team of driver Andy and trainer Julie Miller. The son of Credit Winner has won both 2017 starts including last week's EBC elimination in 1:53.4 after a freshman campaign that saw him earn over $300,000 including a Grand Circuit win at The Red Mile. He is owned by Stroy Inc. and the Andy Miller Stable.   Competition comes directly from the left as Bill's Man (Corey Callahan) who took the other EBC elimination in 1:53 starts from post four. He's a very well bred colt on the improve for trainer John Butenschoen and owners William Wiswall and M & L of Delaware.   Lord Cromwell (PP #9) already has a Grand Circuit score on his sophomore card with a convincing win in last month's Dexter Cup. He was third in the Devious Man elim but has drawn poorly in the final for Hall of Fame driver John Campbell and Eddie Hart who trains the homebred for Carolyn Atherton.   Such An Angel was an impressive second to Bill's Man in his elimination closing from well back for driver Mark MacDonald. He was the NYSS division leader for much of the 2016 season and appears to be finding his best form again for trainer Paul Kelley who conditions the Credit Winner colt for Sam Caruso, Jr and Purple Haze Stables.   Swell Chap (PP #7) was the other second place finisher and has matured nicely from age two to three for trainer Todd Rooney. His two most recent starts are his best with a close second to the highly regarded colt Enterprise in a sires stake preceding last week's finish. Tim Tetrick has been enlisted for the drive on Sunday for owners Foge McKeever and Eldon Thompson.   The Empire Breeders Classic is funded in part by the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund and NY Harness Horse Breeders along with Vernon & Tioga Downs.   The supporting card is largely comprised of the NYSS for sophomore colt pacers which only increases the quality of the presentation.   Post time for the Sunday matinee is 1:05 p.m.   Nick Salvi

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