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Racing/stall applications for both Tioga and Vernon Downs are due by March 25.   They must be completely filled out, back and front, and signed to be valid.   Direct questions to Brett Risi at BRisi@TiogaDowns.com or (607) 699-7688   Tioga Downs application   Vernon Downs application   by Nick Salvi, for Tioga and Vernon Downs

Nichols, NY - Live Harness Racing will make its return to Upstate New York this Spring with Tioga Downs preparing to kick off the 2021 live racing season on Saturday, May 1. Racing will follow a Friday and Saturday evening, Sunday matinee schedule covering 59 dates until September 25.   With the casino operational and revenue projected to return to pre-COVID levels, the purses for the 2021 season will be close to the 2019 levels. It is our hope that live attendance and on-site wagering will be permitted during the racing.   The Southern Tier Harness Horseman's Association (STHHA) plans to reinstate the stabling incentive program.   Tioga Downs offers stabling at no cost to horsemen and the stall/racing applications are currently available on the web. They should be completed in full, signed and returned by March 25.   Questions may be directed to Racing Operations Manager Brett Risi at (607) 699-7688 or STHHA President Guy Howard at (607) 765-7168.   by Nick Salvi, for Tioga Downs        

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands is pleased to announce that stakes purses for the 2021 harness racing season will total more than $20 million.  Spearheaded by the return of the $6.5 million Breeders Crown to the prolific New Jersey oval for the first time since 2016, the stakes opportunities abound from March through November.   Important seasonal highlights include the $1.5 million Hambletonian and Oaks, $700,000 Meadowlands Pace and well over $1 million in New Jersey bred events.  The stakes will begin with the second edition of the New Jersey Breeders Maturity for 4-year-old pacers and trotters in March and April, respectively.  The Meadowlands Championship Meet and Grand Circuit (GC) racing begins with the first of three Graduate Series legs for the pacers on May 1. The first Graduate leg for the trotters goes on May 22, leg #2 for both is at Woodbine at Mohawk Park (WMP) on June 5 then a return to The Meadowlands for leg #3 on June 26 precedes the $250,000e finals on July 10.  The first leg of the Versatility goes on May 8 at Meadowlands, WMP hosts leg #2 on May 28, the third leg on Pace night, leg #4 on July 31 and the fifth leg on September 10 are all at The Meadowlands, with the $100,000e final at Delaware on Jug Day.  The $180,000e Arthur Cutler Memorial maintains its customary position as the first major GC stake for older trotters on May 15. May will also bring two legs and the rich finals of the New Jersey Sires Stakes (NJSS) for the sophomore set. The first 2-year-old Grand Circuit event of the season will be the Tompkins-Geers on June 18. The NJSS freshman stakes will race two legs and a final through the month of July and the SBOA of NJ sponsored Homegrown 2-year-old pace goes on June 26 while the baby trotters will race in the Garden State on August 6. The popular Kindergarten series for freshman trotters and pacers have the first leg on Friday, July 23, resume in September with legs on September 17 and 24 then wrap up with the fourth and last leg on November 6 leading into the $200,000e finals on November 13.  The month of July is filled with an embarrassment of riches beginning on July 3 with the Roll With Joe Open Pace, Crawford Farms Open Trot, Artiscape Open Mare Pace and Joie De Vie Open Mare Trot, all of which had previously been raced at Tioga Downs moving to The Meadowlands. The purse for each is estimated at $175,000.  The track's signature event, The Meadowlands Pace, highlights "The Greatest Night In Harness Racing" a $2.5 million extravaganza that counts the Mistletoe Shalee, Hambletonian Maturity, WR & Dorothy Haughton (formerly known as the Golden Girls) Memorials for FFA pacers and important Hambletonian preps, the Stanley Dancer and Del Miller on July 17.  Hambletonian Day falls on Saturday, August 7 in 2021 and the sport's marquee day of racing will boast $3.5 million in purses led by the $1 million trotting classic and its $500,000 filly companion stake.  The supporting stakes include a preview of prospects for the 2022 Hambo as the baby trotters see their first major tests of the season in the Peter Haughton & Jim Doherty. Adding further intrigue is the expected All Star cast of important stakes consisting of the Cane Pace & Shady Daisy 3-year-old pacing stakes, the John Cashman &, Dr. John Steele and the Sam McKee and Lady Liberty respectively will field the best older trotters and pacers racing. The Fall Meet is heavy with important Grand Circuit stakes led of course by the $6.5 million Breeders Crown. The eliminations will be held on the weekend of October 22 & 23 with the rich finals on Friday, October 29 and Saturday, October 30. But wait, there's more!  As the calendar turns to November and the Kindergarten series concludes on November 13, the very next weekend will see the return of the sport's top 2-year-olds in the $2 million Freshman Fall Final Four and the best older horses will sort out the order for seasonal awards in the $1 million TVG Championships.   "We look forward to the 2021 stakes season at The Meadowlands with great anticipation," said Meadowlands GM Jason Settlemoir. "The stakes roster is incredible and the return of the Breeders Crown is the cherry on top. Owners, breeders, trainers and drivers will have a tremendous opportunity to showcase their prized colts and fillies at the mecca of Standardbred racing over the finest racetrack in North America and The Meadowlands is thrilled to play host."   The entire 2021 stakes schedule will be posted to the internet soon.     Nick Salvi

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands is announcing a change in post time for live racing. Beginning on Saturday, December 26 post time for the first race will be 6:00PM.   The 6:00PM post time will continue for all live programs, racing Friday and Saturdays through March 13.   "We've been considering going earlier for some time," said General Manager Jason Settlemoir. "COVID has people staying in and their habits are changing. Now is the time to see if handle moves and at the same time allow for our customers and horsemen to get home earlier during the winter months."   Paddock and Lasix schedules for the new post time will be posted on The Meadowlands website.     Nick Salvi

Nichols, NY - The New York Sires Stakes Excelsior A finals were raced at Tioga Downs on Friday, September 11, each for a purse of $50,000. Uhtred won the glamor boy division in the day's fastest 1:51.1 with a gate to wire tour de force from post nine, driver Jason Bartlett's third stakes win on the day. A rallying Levine eked out second in a photo over My Pal Joe.   Unraced at two, Uhtred was making only is sixth career start and winning for the fourth time. The Art Major colt has displayed unusual talent over that short span for trainer Carmen Auciello and owners Earl Hill, Jr and Stephen Klunowski, clearly his best days are before him. Just Joshing (Marcus Miller) kicked off the stakes in the 2-year-old filly trot with an upset of heavily favored Izzy Demsky for trainer Julie Miller in 1:58.2. The Chapter Seven lass sat a pocket behind the fave then out sprinted that one through the lane to post the half-length win. Andy Miller Stable, breeder Windsong Stable and Dumain Haven Farm share ownership of the winner who took a new speed mark in the process. Dresden (Scott Zeron) avenged the loss of the favorite in the opener when the freshman Roll With Joe pacing filly took race three in a personal best of 1:54.1 over Carrington in a largely front stepping effort. Dresden is a Henderson homebred trained to now three wins in four attempts by the venerable conditioner Chris Ryder. Zeron came right back to take the baby colt trot with Linda Toscano's Royson's Punch affording that colt an ideal trip after a hard leave to the lead, releasing heavily favored Barn Hall then out-gaming that one in the shadow of the wire in 1:57. Linda trains the Chapter Seven colt and owns as Camelot Stable in partnership with R and I Farms. Mullinax (Bartlett) took the freshman colt pace as a slight favorite in a forwardly placed 1:53.2 effort. The wire arrived just in time for Mullinax as Hopnroll Heaven was gaining quickly and just missed. Mark Ford trains the winner, a son of American Ideal, for long time owner Bill Varney. "It's been a really hard year on everybody, and this is one bright spot. I certainly wish the late Ed Mullinax who the colt is named for, was here to have raced him. Ed was a great guy to do business with, but an even greater guy to hang out with. He was a good friend," was the heartfelt response of trainer Mark Ford who bred the colt along with Mr. Mullinax. "All of the money Ed made in the business he reinvested and it's a huge loss to all of us that he's gone. The owner of this colt, Mr. Varney, is another really stand-up guy." Tioga's leading driver Wally Hennessey caught the mount on C And T's Credit when trainer John Stark, Jr. sent out a powerful entry in the 3-year-old filly trot and Wally took full advantage of the opportunity. Hennessey had C And T's Credit on the lead through a comfortable 58.1 half and that was enough to seal the deal as the pair won as they pleased in 1:55.1 over Soprese who rallied late for the place. Frank Barbato and Sam Bova Racing are the proud owners of the winner, a daughter of Credit Winner. Bolt Of Beauty became Marcus Miller's second stakes winner on the day. Away from the rail post position, Marcus had the Bolt The Duer filly close up through the early stages then bum rushed Discoforadollar going into the last turn, opened up and held sway over Turnthefrownaround in 1:52.3. Erv Miller conditions the sophomore filly pacer for his own interest as Erv Miller Stable in partnership with Tanah Merah Farms and Sara Miller. Conquest AS (Bartlett) dominated the 3-year-old colt trot field gate to wire with the greatest of ease in 1:55.1. Bartlett pointed him forward from the word go and the driver's work was largely done as the Conway Hall gelding did the rest. Bronze Yankee rode the pocket to a place finish. Trainer Annette Lorentzen had her charge primed, the Lorentzen family owns and bred Conquest AS under the ACL Stuteri AB banner. Tioga Downs will close out the 2020 racing season with a 13 race card tomorrow with post time at 3:00. by Nick Salvi, for Tioga Downs  

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

Vernon, NY - The 2020 version of the Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial, a Grand Circuit stake for 3-year-old trotting fillies and colts has drawn a single harness racing division of each (races 10 & 11) to be contested on Friday, August 21 at Vernon Downs.   In what is clearly a case of quality making up for what the 2020 Zweig does not possess in quantity the cream of this year's sophomore square-gaited crop are among the entrants. The first three across the finish line in this year's Hambletonian have been declared for the Zweig.   The $160,140 filly division features the extremely rare match-up of the Hambletonian winning Ramona Hill versus Oaks winner Sorella.   Both were nothing short of spectacular in their respective victories with Ramona Hill (PP 1 Andy McCarthy driving for trainer Tony Alagna) equalling her sire Muscle Hill's stakes record of 1:50.1 in her tour de force over male rivals.   Sorella (PP 3), to be driven for the first time on Friday by Dexter Dunn for trainer Nancy Takter, was a handy 1:51 winner in the ladies only division of the stake.   Just for good measure, the Queen of the New York Sires Stakes program and place finisher to Sorella in the Oaks, Hypnotic AM, is in the field as well. Fortune Starlet and Tricky Sister round out the quintet of trotting debutantes.   Ramona Hill races for the partnership of Brad Grant, local owners Crawford Farms Racing, Robert Leblanc and John Fodera and Steve Wienick as In The Gym Partners. Crawford Farms is also a partner in Sorella, sharing ownership with her breeder Elmer Fannin and his son Brent.   The $330,000 Zweig open main event counts the Hambo place and show finishers, a pair of colts by Ready Cash, among the nine entrants.   Trainer Nancy Takter sends out the talented Ready For Moni (PP 4 Matt Kakaley) who was a good Hambo second while Back Of The Neck (PP 1 Scott Zeron), one of four entered by trainer Ake Svanstedt, was a solid third.   John Fielding, Lindy Farms of Connecticut, Herb Liverman and Bud Hatfield own Ready For Moni while Howard & Judith Taylor share ownership on Back Of The Neck with Stefan Balazsi's Order By Stable.   Also on the card is a potential preview of the 2021 Zweig in the form of a pair of $51,300 New York Sires Stake for 2-year-old colt trotters and the usual accompaniment of Excelsior divisions.   Owners interested in details regarding attending the races may reach Racing Operations Manager Brett Risi at BRisi@tiogadowns.com.   Post time is 3:00PM on Friday at Vernon Downs and the entries my be viewed here.   by Nick Salvi, for Vernon Downs  

Tioga Downs will host an exciting day of Grand Circuit stakes racing on Sunday, August 16 with nearly a half million in purses offered to many of North America's top standardbreds.   You may find Sunday's entries on the web.   The Crawford Farms Open Trotting Stake will see ten of the finest older trotters battle for a purse of $220,000 led by last week's Cashman Memorial winner Gimpanzee who currently sits atop the Top 10 Poll.   Trotting mares will compete in the $133,000 Joie De Vie with Manchego seeking to avenge her loss in the Steele Memorial, taking on new rival When Dovescry.   Shartin N defends her Artiscape crown, facing six talented rivals for $129,000.   The Empire Breeders Classic 3year-old pacing stakes saw 13 fillies enter and will require a pair of $12,500 elimination races on Sunday, August 16. The top nine will return next Sunday for the $223,450 final.   The EBC Colt pace drew 10 horses and per the stakes conditions will require no elimination. All 10 colts will race in the final next Sunday, August 23 for a purse of $240,600.   The colt stake was drawn today: 1. Splash Brother T. Buter R. Schnittker 2. Genius Man M. Miller E. Miller 3. Roll With JR T. Buter J. Cullipher 4. Save Me A Dance J. Bartlett A. Harris 5. Untred J. Morrill C. Auciello 6. Blank Stare C. Callahan J. Butenschoen 7. Groovy Joe M. Kakaley B. MacIntosh 8. Ideal Perception J. Bartlett A. Harris 9. Tint Of Mint TBA J. Byron 10. Major Betts D. Dunn M. Harder   by Nick Salvi, for Tioga Downs

The Meadowlands Pace provides a late supplemental yearling payment for foals of 2019 that were not nominated to the 2022 Pace by the regular May 15 payment.   This supplemental payment is due August 15 (postmarked by August 18 per USTA rules) and the cost is $125 payable to The Meadowlands.   The 2022 Meadowlands Pace conditions may be found here.   The form to be used complete with instructions and address may be found here.   The list of yearlings that were nominated by the May 15 payment may be found here.   Questions may be directed to Nick Salvi at (607) 972-5500.   From the Meadowlands      

Nichols, NY - Tioga and Vernon Downs racetracks are feeling the pinch from casinos at both properties not permitted to open. With more than 90% of the revenue for purses funded by the casino, purse money is running out at both venues.   Management opened both tracks in early June, as soon as allowable by Executive Order, to get the horses racing and earning for the owners and trainers after the long dry spell caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time the hope was that the casinos at both properties would soon be up and running. Sadly, that has not occurred.   Without casino revenue, both tracks are currently racing for casino generated purse money that had accumulated from the end of the 2019 live meet until the shut down order was given. The level of that funding has now reached the point where decisions must be made on future dates.   Tioga Downs has been racing three days per week on a schedule that was to continue through September 19. It has become necessary to reduce to two days per week, Saturday and Sunday, beginning August 1 with the goal being to continue to race through mid-September.   Vernon Downs is currently racing two days per week scheduled through November 21. Without casino revenue, the money for purses will run out and racing will end there in early September.   In the event the casinos are permitted to open, the above plans would change.   Starting August 1, both tracks are also moving to an earlier post time. Vernon will race on Friday and Saturday at 3:00PM both days. Tioga will race at 3:00PM on Saturday and 1:00PM on Sunday. All of the above is pending regulatory approval.   Tioga will have a double draw for the Saturday, August 1 and Sunday, August 2 live cards on Wednesday, July 29 with a box close of 9:00AM.   The condition sheet may be accessed here.   by Nick Salvi  

Vernon, NY - Vernon Downs will host the Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial, a Grand Circuit stake for 3-year-old colt and filly trotters on Friday, August 21.   This is a date change from the originally scheduled Saturday, August 22 due to the reshuffling of stakes due to the pandemic.   Please check for the draw information on the condition sheet as the date for the Zweig draws near.   by Nick Salvi, for Vernon Downs

Vernon, NY - To accommodate those horse people racing in the New York Sire Stakes 3YO Filly Trot at Vernon Downs on Saturday, July 11 card who have horses in stakes at other venues that same evening, post time has been changed to 1:10PM on that day.   The box for the Saturday card closes at 9:00AM on Wednesday, July 8. The condition sheet may be found here.   by Nick Salvi, for Vernon Downs

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

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