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Horsemen are advised that initial payments for early-closing harness racing events at Tioga and Vernon Downs are due postmarked no later than Tuesday, March 17.   These payments are necessary to establish and/or maintain eligibility to the Empire Breeders Classic, Kindergarten Classic, Crawford Farms, Artiscape, Muscle Hill, Roll With Joe, and Miss Versatility events.   Checks should be made payable to Tioga Downs, and sent to Racing Office, c/o Tioga Downs, LLC, 2384 West River Road, Nichols, NY 13812.   For complete stakes information, follow this link: http://tiogadowns.com/media/racing/stakesad.pdf   by James Witherite

Nichols, NY -- Tioga Downs announces their 2015 late-closing program for three, four, and five-year-olds, and also advises harness racing horsemen that stall applications are now available online.   As in past seasons, the Morrisville College Sale Trot (for horses, colts, and geldings), Williams Auto Trot (fillies and mares), Nichols True Value Pace (horses, colts, and geldings), and M&J Oil & Lube Pace (fillies and mares) will feature entrants who have not won five pari-mutuel races or $60,000 through the end of March. Both trotting series will culminate in $40,000 (estimated) finals on Sunday, June 21, while the pacing series will wrap up with $40,000 (estimated) finals on Sunday, June 28.   The nomination fee is $400 per horse, and is made payable to Tioga Downs (2384 W. River Rd., Nichols NY 13812) no later than Wednesday, April 1. Please be advised the deadline for nomination is earlier than in past years.   Nomination forms, along with the 2015 stall application, are available at this link: http://www.tiogadowns.com/racing/horsemen.php   by James Witherite, Tioga Downs Racing Media  

Tioga Downs is in search of a track superintendent for the 2015 season.   Interested individuals are asked to contact Tioga Downs Director of Racing Jason Bluhm via email at jbluhm@tiogadowns.com or 607.372.1693.   by James Witherite, for Tioga Downs

East Rutherford, N.J. (December 12th) - Thanks to a work share agreement between Meadowlands Racetrack, Freehold Raceway, and Vernon Downs, some new harness racing voices will be heard describing the racing action at those facilities during the 2015 season. Effective January 2nd, Ken Warkentin will become the full-time announcer at Freehold Raceway. Warkentin will still remain an integral part of the Meadowlands broadcast team as well as sharing duties with longtime Meadowlands announcer and host Sam McKee. "We're excited to begin our 2015 racing season with an announcer of Ken's caliber," said Freehold Raceway General Manger Howard Bruno. "We think our patrons will enjoy having Ken call our races on a daily basis beginning in January. We're fortunate to be able to work out this arrangement with the Meadowlands." Vernon Downs patrons will hear a combination of race callers including James Witherite, Ken Warkentin and Director of Racing Scott Warren during the 2015 season. Witherite will also be back as the regular voice of Tioga Downs. "We're blessed to have several talented announcers on staff at the three facilities operated by Jeff Gural," said Meadowlands CEO/GM Jason M. Settlemoir. "Thanks to the work share agreements now in place, we can maximize opportunities and further utilize our talented line-up to help provide guests with top quality announcers at multiple facilities. We appreciate Freehold Raceway working with us and see it as a win-win for both organizations. At anytime during the upcoming year, you could hear Sam McKee, Ken Warkentin, Scott Warren, James Witherite, Darin Zoccali, or myself calling the races at any of our three properties." Both Freehold and Meadowlands begin their 2015 season on Friday, January 2nd. Vernon Downs is scheduled to open for live racing on April 10th. by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands  

Saratoga shipper An Artist's Dream ($20.40) managed to escape the pocket in the final 150 yards of Friday (October 31) evening's featured $6,500 Four One One Pace for grey and roan horses at Vernon Downs, scoring a 1:52.2 minor upset.   Settling into the pocket amid a three-way pace battle with Ontario invader Zambuca Gass (John Macdonald) and top local mare Artic Byrd (Truman Gale), An Artist's Dream tracked blistering early fractions of :26 and :54.2. While close to the fast pace, the five-year-old Admirals Galley gelding was boxed in on the far turn, as Artic Byrd commenced a first-over bid, applying pressure on Zambuca Gass through three-quarters in 1:23 and in upper stretch. With Artic Byrd flattening, Jimmy Whittemore was able to wedge An Artist's Dream between rivals with 150 yards to go, taking the lead in deep stretch to beat the favored Zambuca Gass by a widening 1-1/4 lengths. The Grey Bullet (Joe Nassimos) made a late rally up the pegs to finish third off a ground-saving trip.   Ray Sharpe owns and trains An Artist's Dream, now a six-time winner.   The race was named for Four One One, a 12-year-old grey pacer who was honored earlier in the card with a special retirement ceremony. He and longtime trainer Wayne Hughes led the post parade for the evening's featured race.   The 2014 season at Vernon Downs wraps up on Saturday (November 1), with the first of 11 races scheduled for a special 6:00 p.m. EDT post time.   by James Witherite, for Vernon Downs 

Shuffled to last at the top of the stretch, Itstimeformetofly ($27.40) found room to hook to the grandstand side in the final eighth of a mile, rallying to a 1:53 victory in the featured $7,300 conditioned pace for fillies and mares on Thursday (October 30) evening at Vernon Downs.   The six-year-old Cheyenne Rei mare secured the pocket between dueling leaders Always Flash-n (Frank Davis) and Spotlight On (John Macdonald) through a scorching :26.1 initial quarter, left to track the pair from third on the backstretch.   As Bring Them Home (Justin Huckabone) commenced a first-over bid on the entry to the far turn, Itstimeformetofly found herself hard pressed for racing room, shuffled badly through the third quarter. Relegated to last off the corner, Fern Paquet, Jr. hooked four-wide with Itstimeformetofly, charging up alongside mid-stretch leader Thats My Dream (Jimmy Whittemore), who took the lead after kicking cover.   Itstimeformetofly continued on to take charge in the final yards, prevailing by three-quarters of a length over Thats My Dream. Always Flash-n, also a victim of traffic trouble, re-rallied to save third after steadying hard mid-stretch.   Scott West trains Itstimeformetofly for owner Marie Roberts.   Paquet and Truman Gale each scored three wins on the evening's 10-race card.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Friday (October 31), with the first of 11 races scheduled for 6:45 p.m. EDT.   by James Witherite, for Vernon Downs

Top older mares of both gaits and two-year-old trotters of both sexes will vie for over $800,000 in purses on a blockbuster closing night card this Saturday (November 1) at Vernon Downs.   Triple millionaire Anndrovette headlines the $178,000 Artiscape Mares Pace (race six), and the seven-year-old veteran will square off against seven rivals in the first leg of an all-stakes Pick 4. Trainer PJ Fraley listed Tim Tetrick to drive the 41-time winner, and she'll line up in post 3, just outside her entrymates Krispy Apple (Brett Miller) and Shelliscape (John Campbell).   Double millionaire Rocklamation also figures to be among the standouts, having won the Lady Liberty and the Golden Girls at the Meadowlands this summer. Yannick Gingras is listed to drive the six-year-old for trainer Ron Burke. In all, the Artiscape field boasts 200 career wins, along with combined earnings in excess of $11.9 million.   Races seven and eight are the culmination of the Kindergarten Classic series, with nine two-year-old trotting colts and geldings competing for a $240,500 purse in the seventh race. Indiana standout Airman Batten (Marcus Miller, post 1) has won 10 of 13 career races, and the Erv Miller-trained Swan For All colt figures to be prominent along with the Jimmy Takter-trained French Laundry (Yannick Gingras, post 5). The son of Muscles Yankee has won five of his nine career races, taking a 1:54.4 lifetime mark in his Kindergarten preliminary at the Red Mile on September 18.   Freshman fillies contest a $250,000 purse in the eighth race, with five-time winner Bee the Queen (Brian Sears, post 9) coming in off multiple Kindergarten preliminary wins. While she consistently shows speed, the George Ducharme-trained daughter of Donato Hanover has a number of four-time winners lining up to her inside, including Allerage Star (Corey Callahan, post 1), Josie's Joy (Tim Tetrick, post 5), Lady Clarabella (David Miller, post 6), and Sweet Thing (Charlie Norris, post 8).   Ten top distaff trotters square off in the $178,000 Muscle Hill, carded as race nine on the 11-race program. Bee a Magician, fresh off her third-place finish to Natural Herbie and Commander Crowe in the Yonkers International Trot Preview, has drawn post 9 in the full field. Usual driver Brian Sears is listed to drive the 30-time winner for trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman. The other millionaire in the field is 27-time winner Maven (post 7), making her debut from the Ron Burke stable off a sharp 1:54 qualifier at Pocono. Yannick Gingras has been nominated to retain his drive aboard the five-year-old Glidemaster mare.   The closing night card is scheduled for a 6:00 p.m. EDT start time, with a long-sleeve T-shirt giveaway to commence an hour earlier (while supplies last). A fireworks display over the Central New York Sky will take place following the evening's final race.   by James Witherite, for Vernon Downs 

John Macdonald was the star of the show at Vernon Downs on Saturday (October 25) evening, winning four of 13 races on the harness racing card--three of them with his own trainees.   He kicked off his driving grand slam in the featured second race, a $6,500 upper-level conditioned pace. Dragon Fever ($7.60), a four-year-old Dragon Again gelding from the MacDonald stable, sprinted to the front from race's outset, set sensible fractions of :27.3 and :56.3, turning aside a bid from the pocket-sitting Barbarian (Fern Paquet, Jr.) on the far turn before kicking clear to a 2-1/2 length victory in 1:53.1.   In the fourth race, a $3,000 second-level conditioned pace, MacDonald pounced from the pocket in mid-stretch with Firethorn ($6.10), beating the pacesetting Donna's Scape in a 1:52.3 mile. MacKenzie's Bliss ($16.20) gave MacDonald a training and driving hat trick in the eighth race, also kicking to the fore to take the $5,100 fifth-level conditioned pace in 1:53.1.   In the ninth race, a $4,000-$5,000 claiming handicap trot, MacDonald teamed up with the Arnold Marks-trained Windsun Galliano ($9.60), working clear through a :28.1 first quarter before rating a more conservative tempo on the backstretch. After dismissing a first-over challenge from Funny Photo (Lems), Windsun Galliano drew clear in the stretch for a 1:57.1 triumph, ending up five lengths in front at the line when the pocket-sitting Nineanddivine (Claude Huckabone, III) broke stride in deep stretch.   Only three nights of racing remain in the 2014 season at Vernon Downs. Closing week kicks off on Thursday (October 30) with a 10-race program, due to start at 6:45 p.m. EDT.   by James Witherite

Tomy Terror ($2.70) took more than two seconds off the Vernon Downs track record for two-year-old pacing geldings with his 1:50.2 effort in the John Simpson Memorial on Friday (October 24) evening.   The son of Western Terror and Mib Hanover tracked entrymate Gold Coast Muscle (Mike Simons) through sizzling middle fractions of :54.1 and 1:22, pulling the pocket off the far turn and vaulting to the fore. Chased home by Bet You (Brett Miller) and Hall of Terror (Mark MacDonald), Tomy Terror and Corey Callahan prevailed by 1-1/2 lengths in 1:50.2.   John Butenschoen trains Tomy Terror for owners William Wiswell, Jeah Goehlen, Eugene Schick, and the VIP Internet Stable.   Two other Butenschoen trainees were victorious in their Simpson divisions, both in divisions for freshman trotting colts and geldings. Boots N Chains ($4.60, Callahan, 1:54.4) and Explosive Drama ($36.60, Simons, 1:56.1) rounded out the Butenschoen training hat trick.   Butenschoen's attempt to sweep the trio of male trotting divisions with Suit and Tie was thwarted by none other than Centurion ATM ($2.10). After rated patiently by trainer-driver Ã…ke Svanstedt off the top pair through a :56.4 half mile, the son of SJ's Caviar and Ens Tag Session began is move in the final three-eighths, taking over in upper stretch and holding off a late closing Sixteen Encores (Callahan) in 1:54.2. Centurion ATM, the Peter Haughton Memorial winner, was well in hand approaching the post, winning by 1-1/4 lengths with much in reserve.   Rounding out the Simpson winners for the evening were trotting fillies Model Behavior ($44.60, Simons, 1:55.1) and Deli Royal ($32.00, Jimmy Whittemore, 1:57.2) who both proved upset winners, while the lone event for pacing fillies ended in a 1:52.1 dead heat between Deli Beach ($4.60, John Campbell) and Heart Major ($4.50, Joe Pavia, Jr.).   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Saturday (October 25), with the first of 13 races scheduled for 6:45 p.m. EDT.   by James Witherite, for Vernon Downs      

Despite finding herself in constant battle, Southwind Trini ($8.00) proved unwavering in Thursday (October 23) night's $10,000 Fillies and Mares Open-Preferred Pace at Vernon Downs, capping a driving hat trick for Jim Marohn, Jr.   Coming off victories in her last two Vernon appearances, the six-year-old Rocknroll Hanover mare was hard used to clear JK Letitgo (Jimmy Whittemore) through a :26 first quarter.   The two were joined off the gate by 1-4 favorite Let's Go Higher (Chris Lems), who retreated to a tracking position before commencing her first-over bid on the backstretch. After forcing a :54.4 half mile, Let's Go Higher turned up the pressure on the far turn, gaining a narrow lead briefly, but Southwind Trini would not relent.   Off the far turn, she fought back to a 1-1/4 length lead, holding sway by three-quarters of a length for a 1:52.3 score over sloppy going. Thats My Dream (Claude Huckabone, III) finished third off a ground-saving trip, while JK Letitgo tired through the stretch after chasing the contested pace.   Patti Harmon trains Southwind Trini for Karma Racing, Inc.   Jim Marohn, Jr. led all drivers with three wins on the night, teaming up with Flying Fish ($13.60, 1:57) and Ace of Pace ($2.80, 1:53.4) in addition to his victory in the evening's featured event.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Friday (October 24) evening, with the first of 13 races slated for 6:45 p.m.    by James Witherite, for Vernon Downs

While he employed different tactics from last week, the result was the same for owner-trainer-driver John Macdonald's Dragon Fever ($11.80), who held narrowly for a 1:54 win in Saturday (October 18) evening's featured $6,500 top-level conditioned pace at Vernon Downs.   MacDonald sent the four-year-old Dragon Again gelding straight to the lead, working clear of Celebrity Scandal (Fern Paquet, Jr.) through a :26.3 quarter over sloppy going.   After rating a :29.3 second-quarter breather, Dragon Fever found himself nudged along by UF Bettors Hanover (Justin Huckabone) on the far turn. Still maintaining control of the terms through three-quarters in 1:24.4, Dragon Fever repelled the challenge of UF Bettors Hanover, drawing off by two in mid-stretch--but bracing for Celebrity Scandal's late kick. Dragon Fever prevailed by a scant neck, just holding off Celebrity Scandal.   The favored Moonlight Ransom (Truman Gale) was forced wide off stalling cover, rallying to take third.   Roman Lopez led all drivers with three wins on the 13-race card.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Thursday (October 23) evening, with first post scheduled for 6:45 p.m. EDT.   by James Witherite, for Vernon Downs

Not only was Lady Clarabella ($5.90) the fastest among five $10,000 Kindergarten Classic preliminary winners on Friday (October 17) evening at Vernon Downs, but she also established a new track record for two-year-old trotting fillies.   The daughter of Lear Jetta proved a handy winner in 1:54.2, protecting the lead early from A List Lindy (Charlie Norris), and controlling the terms through stout early fractions of :27.1 and :56.3. On the far turn, she faced some pressure from Gold Cora (Mike Simons), who circled three-wide en route to the far turn before challenging.   Lady Clarabella responded well, kicking clear by four in mid-stretch before she was taken in hand by David Miller for a 2-1/2 length triumph. Sarcy (Marcus Miller) rallied late to take second, while Gold Cora faded late.   Randy Beeckman trains Lady Clarabella for Paul Kinnear and Dreamland Farms.   Lady Clarabella's 1:54.2 trotting mile was one-fifth of a second faster than that of prior record holder Ma Chere Hall, who was the evening's $10,000 Open Trot winner.   Now a four-year-old, Ma Chere Hall ($2.50) pushed clear of Pounce K (John Macdonald) in a :26.3 first quarter, controlling the pace throughout before edging clear to a 2-1/4 length win under David Miller. The Jonas Czernyson trainee beat A Penny Earned (Chris Lems) and Helios (Claude Huckabone, III) in a powerful 1:52.4 effort.   The other four Kindergarten Classic winners on the evening were colts True Blue Stride ($14.00, John Campbell, 1:56.4) and Dapper Don ($47.00, Campbell, 1:56), while fillies Lindy Land ($18.40, Campbell, 1:56.1) and Sweet Thing ($3.70, 1:55.3, Charlie Norris) proved victorious.   The top point-earners through the five preliminary legs of the Kindergarten Classic series are eligible to the finals, to be held on Saturday, November 1.   Live racing returns to Vernon on Saturday (October 18) evening, with first post slated for 6:45 p.m. EDT.   by James Witherite, for Vernon Downs

Tracking a pressured pace from the pocket, Asset Management ($7.60) found room up the pegs to strike the front just in time, scoring a narrow win in Thursday (October 16) evening's $7,300 featured upper-level distaff pace at Vernon Downs.   The six-year-old Western Hanover mare settled right behind pacesetter Spotlight On (John Macdonald), but found herself locked in with three-eighths to go as newcomer Ace of Pace (Chris Lems) began a first-over push through a :55.4 half mile.   With racing room at a minimum after Spotlight On was nudged past three-quarters in 1:23.3, driver Fern Paquet, Jr. was force to find a seam up the inside off the turn with Asset Management. Asset Management responded as soon as room was available, taking a narrow lead in mid-stretch and holding off a late stand-side charge from Always Flash-n (Frank Davis). Spotlight On and Ace of Pace finished in a dead heat for third, just three-quarters of a length away from Asset Management's 1:52.4 victory.   Allie Berube trains Asset Management for J&M Racing.   While unable to convert in the feature with Ace of Pace, Chris Lems registered a driving grand slam on the evening. After a 9-3/4 length win with Paltrow Blue Chip ($6.40), he teamed up with Peanutbutternhoney ($15.40), Sweet Bettor ($10.20), and Kyler's Valentine ($5.70).   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs tomorrow evening, with a 13-race card headlined by the final preliminary round of the Kindergarten Classic trotting series. Post time is 6:45 p.m. EDT.   by James Witherite, for Vernon Downs 

Charlene Long's Oh No Three O ($4.30) withstood a strong challenge from A Penny Earned, extending his winning streak to three with a 1:54.1 triumph in Friday (October 10) evening's $10,000 Open Handicap Trot at Vernon Downs.   Assigned the outside post in a field of seven, Howard Okusko, Jr. sent the seven-year-old Ken Warkentin gelding right to the front, pushing clear of Helios (Claude Huckabone, III) and Aruba Vacation (Aaron Byron) to establish an uncontested lead through a rated :56.4 half mile.   On the approach to the far turn, Oh No Three O saw his lead slip to a half-length, as A Penny Earned (Chris Lems) commenced a stout first-over challenge. The two were heads apart past three-quarters in 1:24.3, but Oh No Three O would not be denied a Third Straight win, edging clear to a 1-1/2 length win. Helios chased at the pegs to hold second off his pocket trip, while A Penny Earned flattened to third.   Paul Long trains Oh No Three O, and the featured win was one of three driving scores for Okusko. Fern Paquet, Jr. also tallied a driving hat trick on the evening's 11-race card.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Saturday (October 11) evening, with first post scheduled for 6:45 p.m. EDT.   by James Witherite, for Vernon Downs    

Karma Racing, Inc.'s Southwind Trini ($4.60) overcame a post 9 assignment en route to a decisive 1:51.2 triumph in Thursday (October 9) evening's $10,000 Fillies and Mares Open Handicap Pace at Vernon Downs.   The six-year-old Rocknroll Hanover mare wasted no time achieving the lead, pushing clear of Love You Bye (Jimmy Whittemore) through a :26.3 initial quarter before settling the pace down a bit. After a :55 half mile, the 6-5 favorite faced mild pressure from the first-over Carobbean Pacetry (Chris Lems). Southwind Trini kicked clear at will off the turn, drawing clear of Carobbean Pacetry to win by 3-3/4 lengths. Artic Byrd (Truman Gale) stayed even from second-over to hold third over a ground-saving Always Flash-n (Aaron Byron).   Jim Marohn, Jr. handled the driving duties aboard Southwind Trini for trainer Patti Harmon.   Aaron Byron led all drivers on the evening with three wins, teaming up with Elizabeth Bluechip ($7.20, 1:54.3), Sukura ($15.20, 1:56), and Got the Munchies ($16.00, 1:54).   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Friday (October 10) evening, with the first of 11 races scheduled for 6:45 p.m. EDT.   by James Witherite, for Vernon Downs

Despite racing from well off the pace, No Monkeys Allowed ($4.00) emerged victorious, uncorking a standside rally through the stretch for a 1:55 win in Saturday (October 4) evening's featured $6500 pace at Vernon Downs. The seven-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding had no hand in the pacesetting duties, as longshots Dragon Fever (John Macdonald) and Avantage (Daniel Harvey) disputed the early pace. After Avantage was used to clear in a :57 half-mile over sloppy going, he immediately found pressure from the first-over Moonlight Ransom (Jimmy Whittemore) on the far turn. Meanwhile, Fern Paquet, Jr. commenced his rally with No Monkeys Allowed from the back of the pack, fanning four-wide off the far turn. The response was instant, and No Monkeys Allowed kicked to the lead with a sixteenth to go, subsequently drawing clear for a four-length victory. Moonlight Ransom held second, and Dragon Fever checked in third. Edgar "Sparky" Clarke handles the training duties of 26-time winner No Monkeys Allowed for owner Robert Orr. Paquet and Chris Lems each scored three driving wins on the evening's 10-race card. Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Thursday, October 9. First post is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. EDT. by James Witherite, for Vernon Downs

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