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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        

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.          

Harness racing, at its very core, is a career that follows a routine pattern, but at the same time, follows no routine at all. In other words, the everyday routine of each stable is set through a similar schedule – morning feed, stalls, buckets, watering, jogging or training, bathing, lunch, and dinner. Now these schedules vary from stable to stable. Everything from how far a horse is jogged to how much they are fed to how many buckets of water each horse has can be different. But, the routine of a single stable changes as anything can happen in the barn. Horses get sick, pop a gravel, get mysterious injuries, and more. Most horse people at Tioga Downs share a similar routine in the sense of travel. We follow a schedule like birds in the winter. From October to May, we all find ourselves in South Florida at the Winter Capital of Harness Racing, Pompano Park. Only about three Tioga Downs stables remain north during this time. Then, as spring comes to an end and summer begins, we migrate north. All of our horses and necessities to run a stable are jam packed into several trailers headed for a final destination of Nichols, New York. Some trainers ship their own horses, some hire shippers, and others with large stables do a mix of the two. Usually, we race until at least the end of April or beginning of May. That is a part of our routine to follow a racing schedule that doesn’t change from year to year. Or, that’s how it was until this year. This year has been full of surprises, surprises that not even the uncertain harness racing business or even the best handicapper could have predicted. We are used to our horses presenting us with some sort of unusual case; whether it is one of those mysterious injuries or some strange cause of injury. Yet, we are not used to having our entire business shut down in the blink of an eye. March 11th – the last race day of the 2019-2020 race season at Pompano Park. Horses entered in the box for that following Thursday, Sunday, and Monday were unable to race. Now what? A question that breezed through the minds of every horseman on that track. Everyone was about to feel the effects of this shut down, including stables of only one horse to stables of over forty head. We had no idea how long it was going to last and if we would race again at Pompano. The shutdown caused a ripple effect that affected everyone on and off the track – trainers, drivers, owners, grooms, veterinarians, and blacksmiths as well as the companies that provide hay, grain, and sawdust. “As an equine vet with my own practice, it shut my business down,” Dr. Michelle MacDougall said. “There was a money crunch on all owners and trainers that prevented them from doing elective vet procedures.” Owner-trainer-driver Mike Deters said, “It was a tremendous financial burden. Nothing changed in the fact that my grooms made the same amount and my feed bill still came in, but there was no income coming in.” Debbie Gagnon, groom for Mike Deters, said, “we were afraid of how long we would be there. We cut back on treating horses which affected how they are racing now. It was a scary situation to be on hold for so long. Trainers were afraid to do anything.” “Everything was on hold. Everyone is scared for travel or flying, but I have to for my job – from Fort Lauderdale to Pocono and back,” Blacksmith Mike Cable said. “I had a fear for my family. I was traveling in and out of state and in and out of our house. Unfortunately, COVID-19 grabbed my mom and took her life on April 19th. I was quarantined during the first week of April due to traveling for work. I wasn’t able to go to the track to shoe horses and I lost work. “It made life harder for everyone,” Cable continued. “My wife was worried. She could not and did not sleep. She and many others stay home.” Despite the uncertainty of racing and life in general, horsemen also saw the positive side of everything. “We have our own safe and protected community where we were able to keep track of ourselves. We were mentally thinking differently and we now carry our mask in our pocket every day, but we are very fortunate that our [Pompano Park-Tioga] horsemen community is without cases,” owner-trainer-driver Jim McDonald stated. McDonald’s groom, Jim Hogan, said, “I am a groom that is fortunate enough that my trainer kept me employed.” Owner Laurie Poulin said, “I am thankful that the government has helped us out in any way that they could.” Fast forward to mid-May and we are on the road to Tioga Downs. It had been two months since our last start. Yet, most every stable on the grounds was still jogging and training, prepared for if we did see an opening date again. Sadly, it never came. “It’s like baking a cake. Every day we bake the cake – we train and jog. We buy the supplies to bake the cake – we still have to feed and support the horses. But, at the end of the day, since there is no racing it is as if we throw the cake away. And then, we get up the next day and do it all over again,” trainer Michelle Hallett says. Once we got to Tioga Downs, we set up our barn and prepared to “bake the cake” again. This time with a bit more confidence that we would be racing again. Several stables remained in Florida, though. The board of directors and head of racing at Tioga Downs held a mandatory track meeting. If you wanted to race or even be in the paddock, you had to attend – grooms, trainers, and some drivers attended. This meeting focused on proper hygiene and guidelines set by the CDC for COVID-19, such as masks and social distancing. Masks are mandatory in the paddock and there is a system set up to maintain social distancing. At this point, we were all willing to do anything to make up for the months of lost racing time. We signed a sheet that acknowledged we attended and understood the new guidelines for racing. Masked driver Jim Meittinis at Tioga Downs June 1st – Our first Tioga Downs qualifier and our second time we have been able to race since the shutdown. The one other time was May 14th for a qualifying day generously approved by Pompano Park and organized by a joint effort of the Florida Amateur Driving Club (FADC) and the Florida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association (FSBOA). We accomplished this by qualifying out of our barns. When it was time for our race, we walked the horse up, hooked them in the bike if they didn’t already have one on, and lead them to the track through the chute. “Putting on my colors again to drive in the qualifiers at Pompano and Tioga Downs was like Christmas morning,” driver Wally Hennessey said. Things were finally starting to feel as a sense of normal again. “It was good to get in the bike again. We are all race junkies and so, yes, the best way to describe it is like it was Christmas morning. At Gilcrest, we kept qualifiers all the time and moved the post times around to give hope to the horsemen. The biggest challenge was the mental stress caused by the unknown,” Gilcrest association President and horseman Verlin Yoder said. Left to right driver Scott Zeron, NYSS head M. Kelly Young and Brett Risi, Operations Manager at Tioga and Vernon Downs. Tioga Downs association President and horseman Guy Howard said, “Our association stepped up. Board members were cleaning the bathrooms and driver’s room, we paid for manure removal, and we helped in getting the track done. Ronnie Morales got the track done in the mornings during the weekend and I did it in the afternoon. It was a team effort to get the track [Tioga Downs] up and running, ready for the horsemen from Florida.” June 7th – the first official race day in months for horsemen at Tioga Downs, opening day for the 2020 season. It was a four-race paddock set up, instead of the usual eight races. Every other stall was used to promote social distancing. Everyone wore a mask. Even though everyone was wearing a mask, you could still see the smiles beneath, happy to be back doing what we all love. Owner and trainer Maggie Audley said, “the strain of having to pay the same number of bills without any income was rough. Thankfully, Mr. Gural is a good friend of horseman and understood our plight. He got us back racing and for that, we are all very grateful.” Throughout this summer and to today, our day-to-day lives are still impacted by COVID-19. Horse racing in North America was fortunate that many tracks were able to reopen during the summer with no spectators while most every other professional sport was shut down. Our race paddock at Tioga remained as a mandatory mask zone up to the final race day. We continued social distancing and the rules for the driver’s lounge were followed. The paddock was upgraded from a four-race to a six-race paddock. After the meet ended at Tioga Downs, horsemen traveled to other tracks to race. Pompano Park opened its doors on October 1st for the 2020-2021 race meet. One by one, horsemen pulled out and made the journey south. By November 1st, the track was over half full. Stables were put back together with harness bags hanging and trunks out front. Everyone was ready for a fresh start at Pompano Park since the abrupt shut down in March. The first few stakes races came first. Due to unforeseen circumstances, opening day was postponed to November 15th. Eldorado’s Vice President of Racing Joe Morris and Pompano Director of Racing Gabe Prewitt have successfully composed our 2020-2021 race season with full race cards and the inclusion of fans, horsemen, and bettors. Race officials at Pompano Park have handled the safety guidelines for operating during the pandemic in a similar manner to Tioga Downs. We are currently racing in a four-race paddock with masks and social distancing. We are hopeful to fulfill our full season; but, unfortunately, we are still experiencing the fears of the unknown due to COVID-19 and the hopes that the new vaccine will bring an end to it all. The pandemic is one race that horsemen cannot wait to end. A race that will hopefully leave most everyone as winners, horsemen and fans alike. By Jessica Hallett, for Harnesslink

Lightfootedlegend (Renaldo Morales III) steals the $7,000 open harness racing trot at Tioga Downs on closing night Saturday (September 5). Lightfootedlegend ($16.00) went to the lead from his outside post and led the group to the first quarter in :27.2. Prairie Fortune (Wally Hennessey) took command as they went by the stands for the first time. He led the way to the half in :57.2. Bj Lorado (Jim Meittinis) was the first to make a move going first-over from third. Prairie Fortune remained in command as he hit three-quarters first in 1:26.1. As they made the turn for home it looked like Prairie Fortune was going to roll to victory but Lightfootedlegend had other ideas as he slid through an opening on the inside to win in a lifetime best of 1:55.4. Prairie Fortune had to settle for second best. Clarion Hall (Mike Merton) came up to get third money. Lightfootedlegend is a 5-year-old gelding by Mr Cantab. He is owned by David Linker and trained by Dale Gilmour. It was his third win of the season. He now owns eight career victories. Leading driver Walley Hennessey drove four winners on closing night. Renaldo Morales drove three winners on the card. Joe Skowyra had a training hat trick with three winners. Wall Hennessey won his second straight diving title with 90 wins. Mike Merton ended up second with 71 tallies. Corey Braden (26), Tyler Buter (24), and Bruce Aldrich Jr. (22) rounded out the top five. Rob Harmon nailed down the trainer's title with 44 wins. Gaston Lareau was second with 34 victories. Joe "Scooter" Skowyra was third with 32 trips to the winner's circle. Jim McDonald (27) and Mike Deters (26) rounded out the top five. Tioga Downs would like to thank all the fans, horsemen, and horsewomen for a successful season even through these are tough times. We look forward to 2021. For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com by John Horne for Tioga Downs

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  

NICHOLS, N.Y. - The New York Sire Stakes Excelsior Finals head to Tioga Downs this Friday, one day prior to the $1.8 million New York Sire Stakes Finals at Yonkers Raceway. With $400,000 in purse money up for grabs Friday, the event will kick off a weekend of season-ending competition for the top 2- and 3-year-olds bred in the state. The full list of entries can be found here. Heading into the finals, Just Joshing leads the division for 2-year-old filly trotters with two wins and two second place finishes in four starts. Dresden is the morning line favorite among 2-year-old filly pacers, also with a pair of wins through two starts. Undefeated in four starts, Barn Hall is the horse to beat in the 2-year-old colt trot. The freshman has won more than $34,000 for trainer Steven Pratt. Isaac, undefeated in three Excelsior starts, leads among 2-year-old colt pacers. C And T's Credit is looking to pull the double in the 3-year-old filly trot. She won her Final last year and may be poised to do so again as she sits atop her division. The 3-year-old trotting colt to watch is Conquest AS. He has four wins in five starts, with a second-place finish rounding out his season record. The horse is in a competitive division with trainer entries from George Ducharme and Anette Lorentzon. Bolt Of Beauty will hope to fend off challengers to the crown for 3-year-old pacing fillies in one of the most competitive divisions in this year's series. The same can be said for Levine who holds a narrow lead atop the points standings for 3-year-old pacing colts. Owners who wish to attend in-person must email brisi@tiogadowns.com to reserve space no later than Thursday (today) at 5 p.m. Post time o n Friday is 3 p.m. From the New York Sire Stakes

Mike Merton drives four winners including the $6,000 featured harness racing pace with Real Lucky N at Tioga Downs on Sunday (September 6).  In the feature, Devisser (Renaldo Morales III) took the lead and led to the first quarter in :26.4.  Real Lucky N ($3.90) took over as they went by the stands for the first time.  He led to the half in :56.4.  Rockntouch (Brandon Parker) came first-over and put on pressure all the way down the backstretch.  Real Lucky N led to three-quarters in 1:24.3.    As they made the turn for home Real Lucky N shook loose and won going away in a lifetime best of 1:52.3.  Rockntouch held on to finish second.  Mac Anover (Bruce Aldrich Jr.) took third.  Real Lucky N is a 6-year-old gelding by Real Desire.  He is owned and trained by Rob Harmon.  It was his fourth win this season.  He now has 26 career victories.  Merton’s other win came with Whip N Neigh Neigh ($54.50), Majoring Artist ($44.40), and Lofty Beach ($3.70).  With just two live racing dates left in 2020, Wally Hennessey leads all drivers with 84 wins.  Mike Merton is second with 68 tallies.  Corey Braden (26), Tyler Buter (24), and Bruce Aldrich Jr. (21) round out the top five.  Rob Harmon trained three winners on the program and leads all trainers with 42 victories.  Gaston Lareau is second with 32 trips to the winner’s circle.  Joe Skowyra is third on the list with 29 wins.  Mike Deters (26) and Jim McDonald (25) round out the top five.  Tioga Downs returns to live racing on Friday (September 11) and will feature the New York Excelsior A finals.  Post time is 3 p.m.  For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com    John Horne for Tioga Downs.

Leading harness racing driver, Wally Hennessey drives the winners of both $6,000 co-features at Tioga Downs on Saturday (September 5). Tay Tay M ($3.20) takes the featured fillies & mares pace. Tay Tay M charged right to the front and led to the first quarter in :27.2. She would slow things down with a :29.2 second quarter hitting the half in :56.4. Persistent Better (Bruce Aldrich) was the first to make a move going first-over from third getting to within a length as Tay Tay M took them to three-quarters in 1:24.4. As they made the turn for home Gigi From Figi (Mike Merton) made a three-wide bid but Tay Tay M found another gear down the stretch cruising to an easy win in 1:53.3. Gold Star Mysti (Corey Braden) finished second with Grant Me This (Jim Meittinis) taking third.   Tay Tay M is a 6-year-old mare by Six Of Diamonds. She is owned by Richard Dunmire and trainer Kim Sears. It was her third straight win and fifth of the season. She now has 18 career victories. Prairie Fortune ($4.90) dominates the featured trot. Prairie Fortune forged to the front but Choochoocharlie (Phil Fluet) took the lead just before hitting the first quarter in :28.0. Prairie Fortune would re-take the top spot with a circuit to go. He was first to the half in :57.4. Clarion Hall (Mike Merton) came first-up and challenged from second. Prairie Fortune led to three-quarters in 1:26.3. As they went around the final turn, Prairie Fortune started to skip away. As they reached the stretch it would be a battle for second. Prairie Fortune breezed to the win in 1:55.3. Clarion Hall held on for second. Uncle Hanover (Corey Braden) finished third.   Prairie Fortune is an 8-year-old gelding by Arapa Victory. He is owned by Laurie Poulin and trainer Mike Deters. It was his fifth win this season. He now has 62 career victories. Mike Merton drove four winners on the card. He got his wins with Post Time Terror ($18.20), Queen Me Again ($16.00), Quick Deal ($3.20), and Runhappy Ten ($3.70). Tioga Downs returns to live racing on Sunday (September 6) with a 10-race card starting at 1 p.m. For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com by John Horne, for Tioga Downs

Dee’s Red Delicious (Corey Callahan) takes the $104,400 New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for 2-year-old trotting colts & geldings at Tioga Downs on Sunday (August 30).  The morning line harness racing favorite Ahundreddollarbill (Jason Bartlett) went on a break right at the start.  Credit Con (Tyler Buter) went to the front with Sevenshadesofgrey (Mike Merton) challenging early.  As the headed for the quarter, Sevenshadesofgrey went off-stride.  Credit Con led to the first quarter in :28.2.  Credit Con used a :30.3 second quarter to hit the half in :59.0.  Dee’s Red Delicious ($3.20) made his move first-over down the backstretch as Unwritten Chapter (Wally Hennessey) followed second-over.  Dee’s Red Delicious took over the lead as they headed for the final turn hitting three-quarters first in 1:27.2.  As they made the turn for home Unwritten Chapter went all out on the chase and started to inch closer.  Dee’s Red Delicious found another gear and won going away in 1:56.2.  Unwritten Chapter had to settle for second.  Steel (Andy Miller) came up to finish third.  Dee’s Red Delicious is a 2-year-old gelding by Credit Winner-Apple Plush.  He is owned by Joseph Martinelli and trained by Bruce Saunders.  It was his third win in six lifetime starts.  Jason Bartlett drove three winners on the card.  He combined with trainer Claude Huckabone III to get wins with Sunny Days ($19.20) and I love My Country ($7.00).  His other victory came with Barn Hall ($2.50).  Tioga Downs returns to live racing on Saturday (September 5).  Post time is 3 p.m.  For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com    John Horne for Tioga Downs.

Harness racing drivers Wally Hennessey and Mike Merton continued their dominance at Tioga Downs with five driving wins a piece on Saturday (August 29). Among his five wins, Hennessy captured the $6,500 featured fillies & mares' pace with Tay Tay M ($5.00). In the feature, Tay Tay M charged right out to the front from her outside post and led to the first quarter in :27.2. She probably won the race by slowing things down using a :30.2 second quarter as she hit the half first in :57.4. Gold Star Mysti (Corey Braden) came first-up to challenge as they reached the backstretch and harassed Tay Tay M all the way to three-quarters. Tay Tay M was the first to get there in 1:25.4. As they made the turn for home Tay Tay M was too strong down the stretch and she won it easily in 1:54.1. Gold Star Mysti had to settle for second with Coveredndiamonds N (Mike Merton) coming up to finish third.   Tay Tay M is a 6-year-old mare by Six Of Diamonds. She is owned by Richard Dunmire and trainer Kim Sears. It was her fourth win this season. She now has 17 career victories, Hennessey got his other wins with Prairie Midnight ($16.20), Weekend Atnannies ($3.40), Odds On Cheddar ($2.10), and Verdi D Em ($4.30). Merton got his five wins with Redemptionbluechip ($3.80), Real Lucky N ($2.70), Quick Deal ($10.00), Clarion Hall ($3.40), and A wish For Wings ($13.80). Rob Harmon trained three winners on the day and leads all trainers with 38 wins. Gaston Lareau is second with 32 victories. Joe Skowyra is third with 27 tallies. Mike Deters (25) and Jim McDonald (24) round out the top five. Tioga Downs returns to live racing on Sunday (August 30). The 13-race card features the $104,400 New York Sire Stakes 2-year-old trotting colts & geldings. Post time is 1 p.m. For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com by John Horne, for Tioga Downs  

Tioga Downs welcomes New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for harness racing 2-year-old trotting colts & geldings on Sunday (August 30).   Eight freshmen trotters are set to race for $104,400. Ahundreddollarbill (Jason Bartlett) should be the horse to beat.   Trained by Dan Daley, he is a colt by Chapter Seven-Swinging Royalty.   The colt has pulled off back to back impressive NYSS wins at Saratoga and Vernon Downs.   He is two for four in his young career.   Special Prosecutor (Scott Zeron) and Dee's Red Delicious (Corey Callahan) should be his chief rivals.   The David Dewhurst trained Special Prosecutor (Chapter Seven-Valley Makayla) has two wins in five lifetime starts including a NYSS win at Yankers.   Dee's Red Delicious (Credit Winner-Apple Plush) already has a NYSS win at Tioga on July 26th.   The gelding trained by Bruce Saunders is two for five in his career.   The 13-race card starts at 1 p.m.   For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com.   John Horne for Tioga Downs              

Tioga Downs played host to the Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) for 3-year-old pacing colts & geldings as well as 3-year-old pacing fillies on Sunday (August 23). Also, on hand was three harness racing divisions of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for freshmen trotting fillies. Hen Party (Andrew McCarthy) breezes to win in the $223,500 EBC filly pace final. Galleria Gal (Matt Kakaley) got the early lead but So Rude (Joe Bongiorno) went to the front just before hitting the first quarter in :26.2. She would use a :28.3 second quarter to lead to the half in :55.1. As they headed for the final turn Hen Party came first-over on the chase as So Rude hit three-quarters first in 1:22.0. Hen Party took command as they made the turn for home. As they reached the stretch, she made it a party of one as she cruised home in a lifetime best of 1:49.2. Galleria Gal came up to finish second with Dragon Roll (Dexter Dunn) getting third. Hen Party is a 3-year-old filly by Roll With Joe. She is owned by Crawford Farms Racing and trained by Tony Alagna. It was her fifth win this season and eighth career victory. Splash Brother (Tyler Buter) gets impressive victory in the $240,600 EBC colts & geldings final. Save Me A Dance (Jason Bartlett) wrestled his way to the front and led to the first quarter in :26.1. Groovy Joe (Matt Kakaley) then took over as they headed by the stands for the first time. He led the group the half in :54.4. Blank Stare (Corey Callahan) was the first to make a move as he went first-over heading to the backstretch. Splash Brother ($9.30) took cover moving second-over fourth. Groovy Joe and Blank Stare went side by side all the way down the backstretch. Groovey Joe had a short lead to three-quarters in 1:22.1. As they made the turn for home Splash Brother came charging three-wide and flew right on by to take the lead as they reached the stretch. Second place finisher Major Betts (Dexter Dunn) came flying late but could only watch as Splash Brother won going away in 1:50.0. Blank Stare had to settle for third. Splash Brother is a 3-year-old gelding by So Surreal. He is owned by Nolamaura Racing LLC., Steven Arnold, Tammy Flannery, and trainer Ray Schnittker. It was his fourth win of the season and of his career. Aela Jamieson (Andy Miller) charges late to win the $34,200 NYSS first division. Dream Chapter (Wally Hennessey) jumped out to the early lead but Tranaquility K took control just before hitting the first quarter in :27.4. Dream Chapter reclaimed the lead as they went by the stands for the first time. She hit the half first in :58.1. Me Three (Brian Sears) was the first to make a move going first-over. Aela Jamieson ($6.00) followed second over fourth. Dream Chapter continued to lead as they hit three-quarters in 1:26.4. As they turned for home Aela Jamieson emerged into second and it became a two-horse race. Dream Chapter dug in but Aela Jamieson came flying down the stretch like a rocket. She would just get by to win in a lifetime best of 1:55.1. Dream Chapter had to settle for second. Illuminata (Ake Svanstedt) came up to finish third. Aela Jamieson Aela Jamieson is a 2-year-old filly by Chapter Seven-Blk Thai Optional. She is trained by Julie Miller for owners Andy Miller Stable, Dumain Haven Farm, and Little E LLC. It was her second career win in four lifetime starts. Moni For Lindy (Scott Zeron) goes three-wide to capture the $33,600 NYSS second division. Insured AM S secured the lead just before hitting the first quarter in :28.0. She used a :29.2 second quarter to lead to the half in :57.2. Splash Blue Chip (Ake Svanstedt) came first over on the back stretch as Moni For Lindy ($11.20) followed. Splash Blue Chip took a slight lead and hit three-quarters first in 1:26.4. As the made the turn for home, Insured AM S battle back and went shoulder to shoulder with Splash Blue Chip. Moni For Lindy came charging three-wide and blew right on by in deep stretch to win in 1:55.3. Splash Blue Chip finished second. Insured AM S settled for third. Moni For Lindy is a 2-year-old filly by Credit Winner-Live Moni. She is owned by Moni Maker Stable and trained by Domenico Cecere. It was her first career victory and three lifetime starts. Moni For Lindy Destined To Dance (Tyler Buter) waltzes to fifth straight win by capturing the $33,600 NYSS third division. Iteration (Brian Sears) went straight to the front and led to the first quarter in :27.2 and to the half in :56.2. Destined To Dance ($3.50) made her move first-over from fourth working her way into second as Iteration led to three-quarters in 1:25.2. As they made the turn for home Destined To Dance and Iteration battled all the way down the stretch but in the end Destined To Dance was too strong and she won in a track record time for 2-year-old trotting fillies in 1:54.4. Soukup Blue Chip (Andy Miller) came flying late to finish second. Iteration had to settle for third money. Destined To Dance is a 2-year-old filly by Chapter Seven-Go Go Dancer. She is trained by John Butenschoen for owners Crawford Farms Racing, Rich Preziotti, and Heritage Standardbreds. It was her fifth straight win in six lifetime starts. Destined To Dance Tioga Downs returns to live racing on Saturday (August 29) at 3 p.m. For more information go to www.tiogadowns.com.   John Horne for Tioga Downs.

Harness racing driver Mike Merton drove four winners including the $6,500 featured trot with Clarion Hall at Tioga Downs on Saturday (August 22). In the feature, Prairie Fortune (Mike Simons) passed Groovey Kid (Wally Hennessey) just before hitting the first quarter in:28.2. Prairie Fortune used a :28.3 second quarter to hit the half in :57.0. He would open at four lengths as they hit three-quarters in 1:25.0. As they went around the final turn Clarion Hall ($15.60) moved first-over into second and went on the chase. Prairie Fortune went on a break in the stretch. Clarion Hall inherited the lead and had to brace for a late charge from second place finisher Uncle Hanover (Kyle DiBenedetto) to win in1:55.1. Groovey Joe was third Best. Clarion Hall is a 6-year-old gelding by Windsong Espoir. He is owned by Michael Spaccerelli and trained by Rob Harmon. It was his fifth win this season and his 19th career victory. Merton got his other wins with Bravo Tex N ($4.40), Lightfootedlegend ($12.80), and Devissor ($4.10). Clarion Hall Tioga Downs returns to live racing on Sunday (August 23). The 15-race card features the $223,500 Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) for 3-year-old pacing fillies as well as the $240,600 EBC for 3-year-old pacing colts & geldings. Post time is 1 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com John Horne 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

Guardian Angel AS (Tim Tetrick) holds off Gimpanzee (Brian Sears) and Crystal Fashion (Jordan Stratton) to win the $220,000 Crawford Farms Open Trot at Tioga Downs on a huge day of racing on Sunday (August 16). Guardian Angel AS ($26.60) went straight to the front hitting the first quarter first in :26.0. He would go :28.2 in the second quarter to hit the half in :54.2. Two-time New York Sire Stakes champion and the recent winner of Hambletonian Maturity, Gimpanzee made his move first-over from third as they went down the backstretch. Guardian Angel AS remained firmly in control as he led to three-quarters 1:22.1. Gimpanzee continued to grind it out in the stretch as he slowly got closer to Guardian Angel AS. Crystal Fashion (Jordan Stratton) made a bid, charging three-wide in deep stretch. Gimpanzee kept coming but Guardian Angel AS dug in and held on to win while posting a track record for aged horses in 1:50.4. Gimpanzee had to settle for second. It was his first loss in six starts this season. Crystal Fashion finished third.   Guardian Angel AS is a 6-year-old horse by Archangel. He is trained by Anette Lorentzon for owners ACL Stuteri Ab, and Kjell Johansson. It was his second win this season and 25th career victory. Plunge Blue Chip (Scott Zeron) charges late to win the $133,000 Joie D Vie Open Mare Trot. The big favorite Manchego went charging to the front followed by Plunge Blue Chip ($10.00). Manchego was first to the quarter in :26.1. She used a :29.1 second quarter to hit the half in :55.2. The mare continued to cruise along hitting three-quarters in 1:22.4. As they made the turn for home Plunge Blue Chip popped out of the pocket and made her move. Manchego tried to fend her off but Plunge Blue Chip powered her way to the front. Felictyshagwell S (Andy Miller) came flying late but Plunge Blue Chip had the jump and held on to win in a seasonal best of 1:51.3. Felictyshagwell S was second best. Manchego had to settle for third.   Plunge Blue Chip is a 5-year-old mare by Muscle Mass. Owned by Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc., Tomas Anderson, and trainer Ake Svanstedt. It was her second win of 2020. She now has 21 career victories. Shartin N (Tim Tetrick) cruises to an easy win in the $129,000 Artiscape Open Mare Pace. Stonebridge Soul (Corey Callahan) got the first call out of the gate but Shartin N ($2.10) quickly went by to hit the first quarter first in :26.4. She used a :28.2 second quarter to be first to the half in :55.1. She zipped along down the backstretch with a :26.1 third quarter hitting three-quarters in 1:21.2. As they reached the stretch second place finisher Stonebridge Soul was the only one with a chance but Shartin N was just too strong and won easily in 1:48.4. That was just one-fifth off the track record. Tall Drink Hanover (David Miller) came up to finish third.   Shartin N is a 7-year-old mare by Tintin In America. She is trained by Jim King Jr. for owners Richard Poillucci, Jo Ann Looney-King, and Tim Tetrick LLC. It was win number five in six starts this season. She now has 46 career wins. Hen Party (Andrew McCarthy) and Pettycoat Business (Scott Zeron) each win the eliminations for the Empire Breeders Classic (EBC). In the First Elimination Hen Party ($4.50) took the lead in the stretch and held off the late charge of So Rude (Brian Sears) to win in a lifetime best of 1:50. Dragon Roll (Dexter Dunn) finished third. They all qualified for next weeks EBC Final along with Gallaria Gal (Matt Kakaley) and JK Finendandy (Tim Tetrick). Hen Party is a 3-year-old filly by Roll With Joe. It was her fourth win this season and seventh career victory. She is owned by Crawford Farms Racing and trained by Tony Alagna. Pettycoat Business ($3.50) breezed to an easy win in the second division. She took control just before the half and never looked back winning in a lifetime best of 1:52.0. Moaning Lisa (Dexter Dunn) was second. Discofordollar (David Miller) finished third and Turnthefrownaround (Corey Callahan) was fourth. They all qualified for the EBC final with Eye Popping (Tim Tetrick) being named as also eligible. Pettycoat Business is a 3-year-old filly by Art Major. She is trained by Brian Brown for owners Michael Robinson, Robert Mondillo, RBH Ventures Inc., and Gillbilly Stables. She is now two for five in her career. Tioga Downs returns to live racing on Saturday (August 22) with a post time of 3:00 p.m. For more information got to www.tiogadowns.com by John Horne, for Tioga Downs

Wally Hennessey drove five harness racing winners including the $6,000 featured pace with Fernado at Tioga Downs on Saturday (August 15). In the feature, Catcha Lefty A (Mike Merton) jumped out to the lead and led to the first quarter in :27.3. He used a :30 second quarter to hit the half first in :57.3. As they headed for three-quarters Fernado ($7.40) popped out of the pocket and forced the hard charging How Are Yee John (Shawn Simons) to go three-wide as Catcha Lefty A still had a slight lead hitting three-quarters in 1:25.3. They were three across the track as they made the turn for home. Second place finisher Catcha Lefty A dug in but could not hold off the late charge by Fernado, who won in 1:54.0. Mac Anover (Bruce Aldrich Jr.) came flying late to finish third.   Fernado is a 6-year-old gelding by Delmarvalous. He is owned and trained by Jim McDonald. It was his seventh win this season. He now has 20 career victories. Hennessey got his other wins with Agedchedar Hanover ($5.80), Burn Notice ($7.30), Prairie Fortune ($5.60), and Standing Respect ($10.20). Tioga Downs returns to live racing on Sunday (August 16). They welcome the Grand Circuit as the 13 race card features the $133,000 Joie D Vie, $129,000 Artiscape, $229,000 Crawford Farms Open Trot, and the Empire Breeders Classic eliminations for 3-year-old pacing fillies. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com by John Horne, for Tioga Downs

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