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Nichols, NY - Tioga Downs will switch to weekend harness racing starting on Saturday, July 4 with a 4:00PM post. Live racing will continue on Sunday, July 5, post time 1:00PM.   For the rest of July, Tioga will follow a Friday & Saturday at 4:00PM and Sunday at 1:00PM live racing schedule.   The beautiful Tioga Downs hotel is now open on Friday & Saturday nights with PJ Clarks restaurant serving both inside and on the deck outside which provides a great view of the live action. COVID-19 protocol is practiced in both locations.   by Nick Salvi, for Tioga Downs    

Nichols, NY - Tioga Downs will host a huge harness racing Grand Circuit stakes card on the evening of Sunday, July 21 with first post of 4:00PM.   Headlining a 13 race program with total purses of $490,500 is the $164,000 Roll With Joe Open Pacing Stakes (RWJ). The ten horses entered for the RWJ have combined career earnings of more than $10,000,000.   In something of a surprise move with the first leg of the Graduate Series on the same card, Chris Ryder has entered last season's Dan Patch Award winning sophomore pacing colt Bettor's Wish (Dexter Dunn) into the RWJ where he'll face older rivals in his first seasonal start. Ryder shares ownership of the son of Bettor's Delight with Art & Leah Zubrod's Fair Island Farm and the Bettors Wish Partners.   Leading the competition is a powerful four-pronged Ron Burke entry of This Is The Plan (Y. Gingras) Backstreet Shadow (T. Tetrick) Filibuster Hanover (TBA) and Dorsoduro Hanover (M. Kakaley). Last year's aged Breeders Crown winner American History (J. Bongiorno) will begin from post 10 in the second tier for trainer Tony Alagna.    The opening leg of the Graduate Series for pacers drew 26 entries and gets underway with three $50,000 divisions carded as races 4, 6 & 9.   That fourth race is a doozy with double Dan Patch winning filly Warrawee Ubeaut (Gingras) taking on male rivals in her first foray as a 4-year-old mare. She's had a pair of good qualifiers to prepare and will start from post three for trainer Burke who owns the Sweet Lou lass with Phil Collura, J&T Silva, Purnell & Libby and Weaver Bruscemi.   2019 Little Brown Jug winner Southwind Ozzi (B. Sears) makes his seasonal bow in race six. Trainer Bill Mac Kenzie brings the Somebeachsomewhere horse into the Graduate with a single qualifier some three weeks ago and has drawn post seven. Vincent Ali, Jr and Alma Iafelice own Southwind Ozzi.   Dancin Lou (Dexter Dunn) comes in hot to the 10th race off his imposing 1:50 win in the Meadowlands open last Saturday. Trainer Tahnee Camilleri brought him back fit and has "Louie" sharp for his first stakes go of the year. A friendly post 3 draw can only help his chances.    The New York Sires Stakes (NYSS) program gets underway with a pair of $55,000 divisions of the sophomore filly trot on the card. Though small in size at five fillies each in the two divisions (races 5 & 10) the quality is certainly present.   Last year's NYSS champ for the division, Hypnotic AM (Sears) signaled her readiness with a scalding, in hand 1:51.1 qualifying win at The Meadowlands. Trainer Marcus Melander returns to New York's Southern Tier where he and Sears swept the trotting Graduate legs just a week ago. Melander and owner Anders Strom as Courant, Inc have found a pretty good spot to launch her 2020 campaign.   Three NYSS Excelsior A divisions and a pair of Excelsior B's round out the exciting and very bettable twilight card at Tioga on Sunday.   Nick Salvi

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands regrets to announce that the number of reservations taken did not meet the minimum required to set up dining on the West deck for Friday & Saturday night's live harness racing.   As a result, the West Deck dining service has been cancelled. There will be no live attendance for the races as the permission was granted to present an outdoor dining service and with no service there will be no admission.   Breakfast With The Babies (BWTB) will go as scheduled on Saturday morning. The New Jersey SBOA will generously sponsor the bagels, muffins and refreshments provided for the those who enjoy watching the freshman pacers and trotters get their early lessons. Baby race programs will be provided to all guests.   The East Deck will be open to owners at 8:00 am with all tables properly social distanced and the races will get underway at 8:30 am with an announcer calling the action. All owners will have access to hand sanitizer and restrooms. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 201-842-5059 or emailing Marianne Rotella at MRotella@playmeadowlands.com. All owners must enter from the open gate located on the east side of the building. Owners will have their temperature taken upon entrance and must have a mask on when not seated at a table. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 or higher will not be allowed entrance. No outside food and beverage is permitted on property. At the conclusion of qualifiers all guests must exit the grandstand to adhere to all COVID-19 safety protocols.   Nick Salvi    

East Rutherford, NJ - With the draw for the 36 races to be contested over the weekend now complete, The Meadowlands invites harness racingowners and fans to attend and watch their horses race for the first time since March. Post time for Friday, June 19 and Saturday, June 20 is 6:00PM with 18 races each evening.   Please make your reservations today (Wednesday) by calling 201-842-5059 or emailing Marianne Rotella at MRotella@playmeadowlands.com. There will need to be a minimum of 100 reservations per night in order to offer dining and we must know by today to prepare for sufficient staffing.   A credit card and phone number will be taken to guarantee the reservation. Walk ups will not be permitted. Credit card payments only, no cash accepted.   The West Deck will be open for business on what is shaping up to be a comfortable weekend, weather-wise. An American BBQ menu that includes hamburgers, hotdogs, grilled chicken and sliced steak along with salads and dessert is being prepared for your dining pleasure. Items will be cooked to order on the grill and served by our waitresses.   The price is $29.95 plus tax and gratuity and includes soft drinks.   A service bar will also be available offering beer, wine, hard seltzer and mixed drinks which will be served in "to go" containers. All recommended Covid protocols will be followed with hand washing stations available and 6ft distancing strictly enforced. Smoking is prohibited in the dining areas per NJ Executive Order 150. Wagering is still prohibited onsite but we remain hopeful that if all goes well, wagering may be allowed the following weekend of June 26 and 27. We appreciate your support and hope that you'll be able to attend and enjoy some harness racing.   Nick Salvi

Nichols, NY - Tioga Downs will host the first harness racing Grand Circuit stakes of the 2020 season when the first trotting leg of the Graduate Series comes to town on Sunday evening.   Thirteen declarations split into two $50,000 divisions carded as races 11 and 12 on the fifteen race extravaganza.   Gimpanzee (Brian Sears) will face five rivals as he makes the Graduate his first start of hie 4-year-old campaign for trainer Marcus Melander and Swedish owners Courant, Inc. and SRF Stable. The son of Chapter Seven closed out his sophomore season powerfully with wins in the Yonkers Trot, NYSS Final and Breeders Crown to vault past $1 million in 2019 earnings.   The second split will feature trotting "Girl Power" as top mares Grand Swan and Pure Chance invade to the Empire State with powerful mid-west resumes.   Melander and Sears team up again to send out Grand Swan, who cashed in for over $400,000 by dominating the Indiana program last year for owners Never Too Late Stable, Grand Swan Racing, Soulsby and Weisenberg.   Pure Chance (Aaron Merriman) parlayed multiple wins in the Ohio Sires Stakes program with a few Grand Circuit scores into nearly a quarter million dollars in earnings for trainer Chris Beaver who shares ownership with Steven Zeehandelar.   Tioga will host the first leg of the Graduate Series for pacers on a card that includes the $175,000e Roll With Joe Open Pace and the opening leg of the 2020 New York Sires Stake for 3-year-old trotting fillies.   The Graduate Series moves to The Meadowlands for leg #2 for the trotters on June 27, leg #2 for pacers on July 4 and both $250,000 finals on July 11 at The Meadowlands on Meadowlands Pace elimination night.   The ive racing schedule at Tioga throughout the month of June is Sunday and Monday with a 4:00PM post time.   Nick Salvi    

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands will open the main track to harness racing training this Saturday, June 13 after the qualifiers which begin at 9:00AM.   The number of horses coming in to train will be limited to 70.   They may not arrive on the grounds before 11:00AM and will be directed to assigned stalls.   The NJ COVID-19 protocol is of course enforced and your cooperation is appreciated.   Call the Racing Office after 3PM on Friday to sign up.   Nick Salvi

The New Jersey Sires Stakes (NJSS) is announcing a date change for the New Jersey Breeders Maturity Pace. The date for this stake is being changed from the previously scheduled dates of elimination races on Saturday, June 20 and the final on Saturday, June 27 to eliminations on Friday, July 24 and the harness racing final on Friday, July 31 at The Meadowlands.    The NJ Breeders Maturity is a new stake funded and serviced by the New Jersey Sires Stakes with separate divisions for 4-year-old horses and mares on both the pace and trot. The trotting races are scheduled for September 11 & 18.   The purse for all Maturity elimination races is $12,500 - $15,000 based on number of entrants. The finals purses will be determined by the number of entries at $40,000 if 8-10 entries, $32,000 if 5-7 entries and $24,000 if less than 5 entries.   Questions should be directed to NJSS:  Lynn Mathews at 609-292-8830     Nick Salvi  

Nichols, NY - With the opening leg of the New York Sires stakes scheduled for Sunday, June 21 and so many horses with no place to get a start before then, Tioga Downs will provide a NYSS Prep race for 3YO trotting fillies on Sunday, June 14.   Only those fillies paid up to the NYSS and Excelsior program are eligible for this class and since there is no other condition on the class if it splits the divisions may be seeded. The box for Sunday closes at 9:00AM on Thursday, June 11 and the purse will be $4,000.   Horses shipping in for this race will be assigned stalls in the ship in barn near the paddock and will race out of those stalls to keep them and their handlers away from the Tioga population. No overnight horses that are not on the grounds or previously approved will be accepted to race at Tioga Downs at this time.   The Sunday condition sheet is now posted on the web and you may enter electronically. We ask that if you intend to enter in this NYSS Prep you do so as soon as possible so we may prepare to properly accommodate the number of fillies that will be shipping in to race.   Tioga Race Office phone is 607-699-7688   Nick Salvi    

East Rutherford, NJ - The number of horses entered this morning for the weekend harness racing draw at The Meadowlands was a staggering 777.   With the purse account under duress from compromised revenue streams this year, the number of races will remain at 13 for each day which leaves more than 500 horses with no place to race. There is simply not the revenue in The Meadowlands purse account to fund the addition of more racing days.   Recognizing that the hardship continues to increase for owners and trainers as more time passes time passes without an answer on how to get horses raced and when the various sires stakes will get underway, Jeff Gural has a thought to try and give more horses a chance to race.   Pending NJ Commission and state approval, The Meadowlands would consider leasing the track to horsemen's associations to add a race card beginning next week for a few weeks as necessary until more tracks open, provided they could fund the purses from their purse or sires stake account.   Nick Salvi

Nichols, NY - Tioga Downs will host the first Grand Circuit stake of the 2020 harness racing season when the 1st leg of the Graduate Series for 4-year-old trotters comes to the Southern Tier of New York on Sunday, June 14.   The draw for the June 14 card will be on Thursday, June 11 with a box closing at 9:00AM.    Electronic entry for the Graduate Series is now available on etrack.   Be advised; Post time for all Tioga Downs race cards will be 4:00PM on Sunday and Monday for the month of June.   Horses shipping in for stakes will be assigned stalls in a ship in barn and will remain in those stalls through the race. There is no detention and we ask that you ship up day of the race and ship back out as soon as practically possible.    The NY COVID-19 Protocol is available on the web and the pracrices are much like they are at Meadowlands. We are pleased to host the Graduate Series and our other stakes but we must insist that you follow these guidelines explicitly as to not jeopardize our status.   The Graduate Pacing Leg #1, Roll With Joe Open Pacing stake and NYSS for 3-year-old filly trotters will all be raced on Sunday, June 21.   Questions should be directed to the Racing Office at 607-699-7688.     Nick Salvi

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands took harness racing entries for qualifiers and baby races this morning and when Race Secretary Scott Warren peered into the online entries he was not surprised to see 351 entries but shocked that only four were 2-year-olds. So no babies this week.   There are 26 qualifiers again but split over Friday and Saturday mornings at 9:00AM each day.    Horsemen, please do not let your guard down this week concerning the protocols New Jersey requires of us. Mask, gloves, questionnaire and social distancing. Last week the cooperation was remarkable and we made a positive impression on the authorities. Let's stay the course and protect the opportunity to race that we all cherish.   Owners are again asked not to attend and watch at home. Following this directive is inconvenient and frustrating but necessary. With luck, they will be there when it counts.   Among the stars over the two mornings of qualifiers are pacing stalwarts like last year's top 3-year-old pacers Bettors Wish (race 11) and Warrawee Ubeaut (race 4) who faces familiar rivals Tall Drink Hanover and Wiggle It Jiggleit (race 13) is back at The Meadowlands on Friday for the first time since the 2016 Breeders Crown. Wow!   Saturday morning is loaded with many of last season's top freshman trotters and pacers gearing up for the stakes season.   Of course the really big news is that The Meadowlands is racing live on Friday and Saturday at 7:15PM with giant 13 race cards and full fields. We are celebrating with free program pages for the entire card. We solicit your support.     Nick Salvi  

East Rutherford, NJ - The business of getting the Baby Racing harness racing season underway at The Meadowlands is quickly coming into focus. Entries will be taken for this week's 2-year-old races along with the qualifiers on Wednesday morning until 10:00AM.   Based upon the number of entries it will be determined if qualifiers and babies will all go on Saturday or the number is so large they must be split over Friday and Saturday mornings.   The Meadowlands racetrack will be open for the training of 2-year-olds only on Thursday, June 4. The paddock will be used and the number of horses will be limited to 100 with a maximum of 15 for any stable. Call the Racing Office to sign up.   The gates will open at 7:00AM and the same requirements that were required for last Saturday will continue to be enforced for the training and qualifiers. A separate questionnaire must be filled out and signed for each person coming onto the property and temperatures will be taken. The number of trainers and grooms must be kept at the very minimum and social distancing must be observed.     Nick Salvi

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands, Tioga & Vernon Downs are announcing several date changes for the 2020 harness racing stakes schedule. The recent cancellation of the Sun Stakes at Pocono removed a few potential conflicts and left two prime Saturdays without any stakes which led to several of the following adjustments.   First off, Tioga Downs is announcing that the NYSS 3-year-old Colt Pace scheduled for Sunday, June 14 has been delayed one week to June 21 due to NY Agricultural Fund concerns over horses getting qualified in time for the race.   Also moving to June 21 are the Roll With Joe and the first leg of the Graduate Series for Pacers.   The first leg of the Graduate Series for trotters will remain on Sunday, June 14 at Tioga where originally scheduled.   Leg #2 of the Graduate Series trot has moved one day from Friday, June 26 to Saturday, June 27 and the second leg for pacers will now be raced on Saturday, July 4. Both are at The Meadowlands.   The Graduate Series has been reduced from four legs to two due to scheduling constraints and the Finals will remain on Saturday, July 11 as part of the Meadowlands Pace elimination card.   Also being raced on the July 4 card at The Meadowlands will be the Arthur Cutler Memorial trotting stake.   All of the 2-year-old stakes at The Meadowlands remain on the 2020 schedule but the order has been rearranged to avoid as much conflict as possible. The Kindergarten Series dropped one leg, down to four and the finals.   The entire revised 2020 Meadowlands stakes list is posted on the track website.   There are two important changes to the 2020 Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) for 3-year-old trotters. Originally scheduled with elimination races and a Final on Memorial Day, the EBC Trots will be raced as a single stake on Saturday, July 4.   The conditions state that "if more than 11 declare to start the Host Track may adopt any of the methods of dividing the race then current in the rules and regulations". With the season shortened and dates at a premium the elimination will be discarded and if more that 11 declare for the colt or filly EBC it will go in divisions with the purse divided.     Nick Salvi  

Columbus, OH –  Negotiations over a revision to the existing contract between Vernon Downs management and the Harness Horse Association of Central New York have reached an impasse as that track prepares for their announced June 10 opening. Some of the issues involved in the discussions to amend their existing agreement have included the number of racing days and schedule as well as purses for overnight, sire stakes and stakes races.  A disagreement on the level of stakes’ purses remains. Since the closing of New York State casinos in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the usual revenue stream to the horsemen’s purse accounts has been cut off.  And while New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has granted permission to resume horse racing on June 1, there is still a delay in the casino openings and an expectation of limited capacity restrictions when they do. Despite that delay, Vernon Downs’ track and casino owner Jeff Gural has indicated that he is prepared to start the live meet in advance of opening the casino and will personally fund any shortfall to get them started racing to provide local horsemen, who have been struggling financially, with a place to race. According to Joe Faraldo, counsel for the HHACNY, the horsemen have negotiated in good faith regarding the need to reduce racing days and purses with the understanding that everyone will have to take a hit economically.  He indicated that Rick Papa, president of the local horsemen’s association, had signed and submitted the amendment to the existing contract based upon the product of the negotiations on Thursday evening (May 28). Aside from the NY Sire Stakes, only two stakes remain on the Vernon Downs schedule, The Empire Breeders Classic for state-bred 3-year-old trotters and the Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial, which showcases some of the top 3-year-old trotters in the sport. Gural indicated that failing to reach an acceptable compromise, Vernon Downs will not reopen for racing until the casino opens, which might be as late as mid-July. from the USTA Communications Department

Nichols, NY - Tioga Downs will hold harness racing qualifiers on Monday, June 1. The box will close at 10:00 AM on Sunday, May 31.   Tioga has a state required Reopening Protocol that horsemen must follow explicitly.   This questionnaire must be downloaded (must be a paper copy to turn in upon arrival - having it on your phone or other device is not acceptable) filled out completely and signed by all persons entering the grounds. Anyone entering the grounds will consent to a no touch temperature check that must not be above 100f to gain admittance.   Please enter electronically and be prepared to follow the guidelines as they are written when you get there.   Nick Salvi

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands is pleased to announce that Governor Murphy has granted harness racing the opportunity to resume in the state of New Jersey. Our thanks go out to the Governor for allowing all of us to get back to business.   Live racing will return to The Meadowlands next weekend Friday, June 5 and Saturday, June 6 at 7:15 PM with no live attendance. We ask that our fans and those involved with the horses as owners and in any capacity other than those essential to the function of racing be patient as we are hopeful that with careful management and Jersey remaining healthy we will be able to open the grandstand before too long.   Qualifiers will be held on Saturday morning. Pertinent information was released earlier today on important practices and protocols for racing. Further details including the draw for Saturday's qualifying races will be released as they become know later today.   With the green light to race we may now release the live racing calendar for the balance of 2020 which may be found on The Meadowlands website later this afternoon.   Also posted will be the revised stakes schedule which will remain virtually in tact. The stakes will begin with the New Jersey Sires Stakes (NJSS) for 3-year-olds on and the first leg of the Miss Versatility on Friday, June 19. The calendar may still be fluid as changes are made at other tracks regarding their intentions but any move would likely be only from Friday to Saturday.   While we are all pleased and grateful to be back racing, we must remain vigilant so far as following the protocols required of us all as long as they are in place.   Good luck and good racing to everyone.   Nick Salvi

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