From a mile away, Allerage Farm’s magnificent harness racing barn can be seen amid rail fences, rolling pastures and red and white outbuildings on a hill rising some 1,500 feet from the Susquehanna River basin. Drawing near, the Bradford County, Pennsylvania postcard comes to life. Foals gambol near watchful mares. Staff, dressed smartly in black polo shirts, lead their equine charges to assigned stables and pastures. At the very top of the hill sits a gabled manor from which the farm’s owner — real estate and racetrack magnate Jeff Gural — can take it all in. Yet for all its beauty, Gural's horse-breeding farm holds a disturbing mystery health experts and the federal government are working hard to solve. For three years, the mares have been bearing foals with dysphagia — a rare, life-threatening condition preventing them from swallowing properly. Although researchers have yet to pinpoint a cause, a Cornell University veterinary team that saved 17 of Gural's standardbred foals has identified a primary suspect — a gas well drilled directly next to the farm by Chesapeake Appalachia LLC. An investigation by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection confirmed the farm’s water was contaminated. However, it concluded Chesapeake operations was not the cause. Big money, land rights and health hazards have been salient story lines in Pennsylvania’s shale gas bonanza. The mystery on Gural’s farm, however, represents a new twist in the power play between landowners, regulators and the gas industry. For years, farmers have been dealing with water contamination and illnesses that common sense tells them is caused by nearby shale gas operations. But they generally face a burden of proof requiring legal and scientific resources beyond their means. Regulators, industry and health officials, meanwhile, often explain problems like polluted water wells as resulting from natural and pre-existing phenomenon. But Allerage is not your average farm, and the foals are not your typical animals. Colts playing at Allerage Farm in Sayre, Pa Thomas La Barbera / Correspondent Photo (Photo: THOMAS LABARBERA) With some horses potentially worth six figures, Gural wants answers. His lawyers have filed an appeal with the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board demanding state regulators conduct a more thorough investigation of his farm’s water. “We are protecting our interests,” Gural said. “If you don’t respond now, it’s hard to come back a year later and say there was a problem.” The farm, which opened in Pennsylvania in 2007, is more than an investment for Gural. It’s a passion. The name, Allerage, is a combination of the names of his three children: Aileen, Eric and Roger. Gural’s veterinary team at Cornell has been conducting its own study funded by a $240,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health, an arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the nation’s medical research agency. This study involves not only water chemistry, but a search for compounds in the soil, air and forage as well as in the blood and tissue of the horses themselves. Gural arguably could be one of the most influential part-time farmers in the Northeast. His breeding operations include more than 100 horses distributed between Sayre and a second farm in Dutchess County, N.Y. Jeff Grual questions why foals on his Bradford County, Pa. standardbred horse breeding farm are being born with a unique malady that requires immediate treatment at Cornell, (Photo: Jeff Platsky/Press & Sun-Bulletin) Allerage Farm is a quick 6-mile drive south over the state border from his Tioga Downs Casino Racing & Entertainment complex in Nichols, N.Y. — a facility this year due to explode into a full-scale casino with table games. A big part of the current operation is the Tioga harness racetrack. In addition to real estate operations in New York and New Jersey, he also operates Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, New Jersey and Vernon Downs in Oneida County. At the heart of the mystery of the foal's illnesses at Allerage is the proximity of gas wells. The foals on the Dutchess County farm, where there is no drilling, all have been healthy. But 17 foals on the farm in Bradford County near the Chesapeake well have been stricken at birth over the past three years. Although all the sick foals have been cured with treatment at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, the problem has posed a life-and-death struggle during the first weeks of their lives. The most recent victim was Flash, a bay beauty with an impressive pedigree. His father, Yankee Glide, was a dominant trotting champion winning more than $500,000 in purses in two years of racing. His mother won more than $150,000. Flash seemed perfectly healthy when he dropped into the world in late March. But, within hours, as he stood on his spindly legs and began nursing, his handlers recognized the telltale signs. Milky froth bubbled out his nostrils. Later, a rattling noise developed in his chest. The hungry foal was aspirating his mother’s milk. Without emergency care, he would die of pneumonia. When treatment is required, the foals, accompanied by their anxious mothers' handlers, are guided into a trailer for the 50-mile back-road trip to Cornell. There, clinicians usher the team into a medically-equipped stable, insert a catheter to administer sedatives and antibiotics and a tube down the foal’s trachea for nourishment. Each foal has been cured after treatment, with the regimen lasting from a week to a month and costing between $5,000 and $10,000. “We’re lucky to have the resources,” said Ashleigh Bennett, the farm manager. “If it wasn’t for Jeff, these foals would be euthanized.” Gas drilling supporter Five of 10 foals born on Gural’s Pennsylvania farm were afflicted with dysphagia in 2014 and 10 of 11 in 2015. Although mares are sometimes moved between the New York and Pennsylvania farms, mothers of the sick foals share one obvious connection — they drank water at the Pennsylvania farm during their pregnancy. Some mares have also had problems with their reproductive cycles, a major concern on a breeding farm. With the water a prime suspect, Gural added a $40,000 upgrade to the Pennsylvania farm’s water filtration system in October. Meanwhile, farm staff awaited the birth this spring of three foals whose mothers had been exposed to the water prior to the upgrade. The foals arrived in March. Two of them — Flash and Oscar — developed the telltale rattle in their chest within a day of their deliveries. Allerage Farm's water filtration system Tom LaBarbera / Correspondent Video The babies will be given race names when they grow into competitors. Their “barn names” typically reflect the circumstances of their birth. Flash was a quick delivery that came a week early. Oscar was born during the Academy Awards, and Ester, a biblical name, was born over Easter weekend. Like puppies or kittens, foals have distinct personalities and a universal cuteness. When Flash gets riled, he bucks and kicks in jerky sideways movements to show his machismo — a display comical in a foal but intimidating in a colt. It’s a drill the colts on the farm are always practicing against each other while loose in the corrals. Gural and his team are counting on the new water filter to put an end to the problem, but with the equine gestation period lasting 11 to 12 months the results won’t be known until later this year and early next. Though wary, Gural is not rushing to judgment about the nearby gas well. He is on record as a supporter of shale gas development — a position he emphasized in a recent interview at the farm. Allerage Farm in Sayre, Pa owned by Jeff Gural, and owner of Tioga Downs has had more than a dozen foals born on the farm have been sick, afflicted with dysphagia, a problem swallowing that prevents them from nursing. Researchers suspect the problem is related to a shale gas well on adjacent property. Thomas La Barbera / Correspondent Photo (Photo: THOMAS LA BARBERA) “It created jobs in Pennsylvania, and look what it’s done for the price of gas,” said Gural, noting oil and gas prices have dropped to the lowest levels in recent memory. “It’s been a boom for the economy.” Roughnecks and roustabouts, pioneers in developing northern Pennsylvania gas fields, were frequent and welcome customers at Tioga Downs, less than an hour’s drive for many of them. So were landowners receiving royalty payments who might have spent some of it at Gural's casino complex. Gural said he would entertain the idea of putting a shale gas well on his Tioga Downs property if fracking were approved in New York. But he does not unconditionally hold the industry blameless, making it clear he doesn't approve of some of Chesapeake's business practices. Mostly though, his support for shale gas development is tempered by skepticism about regulation in Pennsylvania and a lack of oversight. “The way they do this in Pennsylvania is loosey-goosey,” he said. “I believe they would do a better job in New York.” Gural, candid and approachable, was dressed in jeans, work shirt and a cap bearing the name of a feed company. With casual exchanges with his barn staff, he conveyed an impression more of a farmer than a real estate/casino tycoon. He walked toward a stall where Flash, recently returned from Cornell, lay resting in the hay near his mother. Gural reported his wife, Paula, feels strongly the dysphagia was unrelated to shale gas development. The conversation turned to a federal exemption — commonly known as the “Haliburton loophole” — allowing the fracking industry to withhold specifics about chemicals injected into the ground to stimulate gas production. Chesapeake's Struble Well sits near the south border of the farm. Thomas La Barbera / Correspondent Photo (Photo: THOMAS LABARBERA) “That they don’t have to tell you what chemicals they are using is ridiculous,” Gural said. “I haven’t met a politician yet who thinks that’s a good idea. Yet it shows you what kind of lobby they [the gas and oil industry] have.” The complaint over secrecy is at the center of his appeal to the Pennsylvania hearing board reviewing his case against the state environmental agency. Testing has shown Allerage Farm's well water is contaminated with levels of manganese, iron, aluminum and turbidity exceeding state standards. Before installing the new filter system in October, the farm used a sediment filter, which was effective until problems began cropping up with increasing frequency in 2014. The nearby gas well in question, Struble 5H, was drilled in March, 2011 about 300 feet from the farm's southern property line. Production began after it was fracked in 2012. The Pennsylvania DEP, taking into consideration samples prior to drilling, reported water quality on the farm “does not appear to have changed appreciably from before the commencement of oil and gas activities.” Gural’s lawyer, Martin Siegel, says the scope of the tests — covering only two dozen fundamental compounds — was too narrow. According to the appeal, the DEP failed to request or even consider information from Chesapeake regarding hundreds of substances used or possibly spilled at the well pad, let alone test for them. “Substances used by Chesapeake but not sampled for could be … the cause of the health problems suffered by the foals,” states the appeal, filed with the hearing board in February. In other words, the DEP results won't show an offending chemical if it was never part of the test. “You have to know what you are looking for to figure out what’s causing it,” Bennett said. “You have to find the needle in the haystack, if it’s even in the haystack.” Ashleigh Bennett, right, farm manager with the horses, leads Oscar as Amber Pruchnik, left, leads the mom to the stable at Allerage Farm in Sayre, Pa Thomas La Barbera / Correspondent Photo (Photo: THOMAS LABARBERA) Suspicion about the water represents “the needle in the haystack” for which Gural and his breeders are looking. If the source of the mystery isn't the water, a solution can be far more complicated. “Water, we can fix,” Bennett said. “If it’s in the ground or in the air, that’s a different problem.” On the farm Drilling has been known to compound existing water problems. Gas wells also produce air emissions from methane and other constituents rising from a mile below the ground. These impurities are bled off at wellheads and compressor stations or escape through leaks in the system. In addition to the gas well adjacent to Gural’s farm property, 10 other sites operate within 5 miles of the farm. Their emissions are invisible but potent. While the exact recipes for millions of gallons of solutions and fluids injected into and produced from the sites are proprietary, studies put the number of chemical compounds at 632. Of these, 353 cause illnesses to people or animals exposed to enough of them. Reprinted with permission of the pressconnects.com site Writen by Tom Wilber, firstname.lastname@example.org | @wilberwrites
East Rutherford, NJ - Stakes and Early Closers at The Meadowlands that require an April 15 sustaining payment and information pertinent to that payment may be found on The Meadowlands website. Any question will be answered by the Racing Office at (201) 842-5130. Please be reminded that April 15 sustaining payments are due for the Free For All Early Closing events at Tioga and Vernon Downs. The Tioga Downs Late Closers have been held open until April 15 as well. Details are available on the track website or by calling the Racing Office at (607) 699-7688. Meadowlands, Tioga, Vernon Downs Media Departments
Nichols, N.Y. -- Tioga Downs has revamped its 2016 late-closing program to avail harness racing 3-year-olds opportunities to race in conjunction with the New York Sire Stakes schedule, with a quartet of estimated $25,000 finals scattered through May and June. The Gail's Diner and Nichols True Value series, both for 3-year-old pacers which have not won two races or $25,000 at the close of nominations, will take place entirely in the month of May before the Sire Stakes season begins. The M&J Oil & Lube and Williams Auto series, both for trotters under the same conditions, are scheduled to take place in June while premier trotters compete in the Empire Breeders Classic at Vernon. Each series will feature two preliminary legs worth $7500 apiece, with top earners reconvening for the final. Nominations close on March 15, 2016, with a fee of $300 per horse nominated due to the Tioga Downs Race Office along with the nomination blank available at http://tiogadowns.com/media/racing/lcad.pdf. James Witherite
Nichols, N.Y. -- Tioga Downs and the Southern Tier Harness Horsemen's Association have agreed to terms for a five-year contract, including a new Stabling Incentive Program, through the 2020 harness racing season. "We hope the Stabling Incentive Program will give horsemen another incentive to stable at Tioga Downs," said Guy Howard, President of the Southern Tier Harness Horsemen's Association. Any horse stabled on-course or at a local training facility approved by the STHHA will be eligible to receive purse bonuses beginning with its fourth Tioga Downs start provided that the horse's owner and trainer are in good standing and members of the STHHA. A bonus of 15% of a given horse's earnings in overnight races (stakes and late closers excluded) will be paid to owners, and 5% to trainers. This bonus will be distributed biweekly. "With this program, we are looking to reward the horsemen who spend our summers with us," remarked Jason Bluhm, Director of Racing at Tioga Downs. "These are the guys who have been with us for many years, and they work very hard with us to put the best racing product possible on the track." Tioga Downs will kick off their eleventh season of harness racing in May of 2016. For more information on racing, gaming, and entertainment at Tioga Downs, visit www.tiogadowns.com. by James Witherite, Tioga Downs
Nichols, N.Y. - Throughout the second half of 2015, Tioga Downs and the Southern Tier Harness Racing Horsemen's Association teamed up to donate over $47,000 to the Food Bank of the Southern Tier, with customers pitching in with over 2,700 cans of non-perishable food items through the month of October. "On behalf of everyone at Tioga Downs, we wanted to make sure that as many families as possible were able to enjoy turkeys at Thanksgiving and substantial Christmas dinners," said Jeff Gural, Chairman of Tioga Downs. From the reprise performance of Chubby Checker at Tioga in July, net ticket sales of $7,360 were donated to the Food Bank, along with $20,030 from Gural. Additionally, Tioga Downs and the Southern Tier Harness Horsemen's Association each contributed $10,000 during the Thanksgiving season. "We've always wanted to give back to the Southern Tier and help where we can, seeing that the Southern Tier supports us all during the racing season," said Guy Howard, president of the Southern Tier Harness Horsemen's Association. For more information on racing, gaming, and entertainment at Tioga Downs, visitwww.tiogadowns.com. by James Witherite, Tioga Downs
Nichols, NY --- The New York Gaming Facility Location Board has just selected Tioga Downs for the state’s final full casino gaming license. Tioga Downs credits the outpouring of community, political and public support over the past several months for making this decision possible. “Many members of the community were instrumental in demonstrating to the State that awarding a license to Tioga Downs would positively impact our region,” said owner Jeff Gural. “I would like to personally thank the selection committee, Governor Cuomo and the many municipalities and community leaders who made this license for Tioga Downs a reality. In addition, we appreciate every single person who wrote a letter, sent an e-mail or spoke in favor of a full gaming license for Tioga Downs at the public hearing. Your showing of support made all the difference in allowing us to move forward and begin transforming Tioga Downs into a full gaming resort.” A groundbreaking ceremony and news conference are in the process of being confirmed and scheduled for later this month; those details will be announced in a subsequent advisory in the near future. Once complete, Tioga Downs will be transformed into a $195 million regional entertainment destination. The expansion will also represent a significant investment in the local workforce in the form of 840 new direct and indirect jobs and $145 million of spending for the State of New York. Always committed to investing in the community, the expansion will allow Tioga Downs to further assist small businesses and charitable causes. Meanwhile, to thank the community for its support, Tioga Downs will be offering its dinner buffet for free to all guests tonight (Oct. 14), which begins at 4 p.m. “It’s just one small way of saying thanks for believing in us and allowing us to move forward with this exciting new chapter at Tioga Downs,” said Gural. For the full document click on this link. For more information on Tioga Downs, please visit www.tiogadowns.com.
Nichols, N.Y. -- While steady rain in the Southern Tier made for sloppy going by the end of Saturday (September 12) evening's 10-race harness racing card, the spirits of those backing Jim Marohn, Jr. were anything but dampened by his six-win performance on the Closing Night program at Tioga Downs. The "Mighty Mite Part Two" reeled off five wins in the first six races, teaming up with Take Charge Karl ($3.50, 1:55.2), Smellthecolornine ($5.50, 1:54.4), Race Me Rocky ($15.00, 1:54.2), Bugger Bruiser ($17.80, 1:52.1), and Ruthless Ace ($5.50, 1:55.1). In the closing race of the season, a co-featured $14,000 Open Trot, Marohn wasted no time taking charge with Swishnflick ($6.10), sprinting clear of Lutetium (Corey Braden) early on and edging away from a first-over challenge by B Yoyo (Joe Bongiorno) at the top of the stretch. The 5-year-old Kadabra mare beat the boys by four lengths in 1:55 over sloppy going, with Bourbon Bay (John Cummings, Jr.) emerging from traffic to just nab Lutetium for second. Arthur Green trains Swishnflick for owner Kenneth Westerside. The other featured event on the evening's card, a $14,000 Mares Open Pace, saw Arodasi ($9.90) sustain a first-over move out of midfield, working clear of pacesetter and odds-on favourite Icommandmyspirit (Cummings) in mid-stretch while holding sway of pocket rival Southwind Trini (Marohn) for a 1:53.2 victory. Mike Simons handled the driving duties of the 6-year-old Western Terror mare for owner-trainer Joe Pavia, Jr. and co-owners Peter Shank, Joseph Barbera, and the AGC Stables. Seasonal champions acknowledged With the 61-program season at Tioga Downs in the books, Mike Simons was crowned the leading driver, amassing 82 wins on the meet over Jim Marohn, Jr.'s 76. The race for leading trainer went to Gary Messenger, harnessing 32 winners over Ronnie Morales, III's 28. Mach It a Par was named Pacer of the Year, having reeled off six wins at Tioga in 10 starts, rallying from off the pace to be a formidable force in top distaff events. Dan Clements owns the mare, while Ronnie Morales, III handled the training duties. Bourbon Bay took Trotter of the Year honors, breaking the track record for trotters on Opening Night with a front-end 1:52.1 mile and not looking back, earning seven wins in 12 local starts on the season. John Cummings, Jr. leases the gelding, with Megan Wilson training. Racing will return to Tioga Downs in May of 2016. For updates on the 11th season of harness racing in the Southern Tier, visit www.tiogadowns.com. by James Witherite, Tioga Downs
The owner of the Tioga Downs racino in New York’s Southern Tier says a recent presentation to state officials made him optimistic about his proposal to expand his facility into a full casino. Jeff Gural told The Associated Press on Friday that the recent meeting with the state’s casino location review board went well and he’s confident local residents will support his plans at a public hearing scheduled for Friday in Binghamton. Gural also owns Vernon Downs and has said the futures of both harness racing tracks are linked. Tioga Downs submitted a bid for a casino license last year but the board instead recommended three other projects around the state. Tioga Downs submitted a second application when bidding was reopened for a fourth license.
Nichols, N.Y. -- Having taken her past four wins from pacesetting and pocket trips, Non Stick ($3.70) demonstrated increased versatility in her $36,566 New York Sire Stakes win at Tioga Downs on Friday (September 11) evening, sustaining a first-over bid on the backstretch en route to her 1:57.1 harness racing victory. Lucas Wallin eased the 2-year-old daughter of Lucky Chucky and Meucci Madness just off the pace, drafting behind Pampered Winner (Mark MacDonald) and Love Crazy Love (Jim Marohn, Jr.) through a soft :59 half mile before commencing a bid on the backstretch. Non Stick progressed steadily without the aid of cover, forcing a :28.4 third quarter before working to a clear lead off the far turn. After collaring Pampered Winner, Non Stick held off a late rally from Love Crazy Love, who emerged from the pocket in the final yards to miss by three-quarters of a length. Royal Surprise (Dan Daley) chased her cover to take third. Trainer Ake Svanstedt co-owns Non Stick, now undefeated through five career races, with Little E, LLC. Subsequent $36,566 New York Sire Stakes events for 2-year-old trotting fillies on the evening's 13-race program went to Posterity ($4.40) and Dizzy Broad ($2.70), both of whom pushed to the lead late to push their respective career win tallies to five. Posterity, a daughter of Lucky Chucky and Vintage Chip, had no part of the early pace, saving ground on the backstretch to pass a parked and beleagured Zette Starlet (Bob Moran) before vacating the pegs and launching a strong bid on approach to the far turn. Posterity collared pacesetter Goosebump Hanover (Jim Morrill, Jr.) in upper stretch, drawing off to a 2-1/4 length win in 1:57 with trainer Charlie Norris handling the driving duties as well. Carrie Norris, Janine Zito, and Buck Sprinkle share ownership of Posterity. Dizzy Broad likewise worked to the lead late in the mile, but took advantage of a pocket trip behind Franniegetyourgun (Mark MacDonald) before turning up the pressure with just over a quarter mile to go. The two dueled through the far turn, but Dizzy Broad kicked clear with less than a furlong to go, wearing down Franniegetyourgun and staving off an explosive late charge from Dazzling Dollars (Marohn) for a 1:56.4 score. Jim Morrill, Jr. drove the Ron Burke-trained daughter of Broad Bahn and Portia for the Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Frank Baldachino, and Earl Smith. The 2015 live racing season at Tioga Downs concludes on Saturday (September 12), with a 10-race card, car and television giveaways, and a fireworks spectacular on the docket. Post time is 6:15 p.m. Eastern. by James Witherite, Tioga Downs
Linda Toscano trainees Cut and Paste ($2.10) and Soft Idea ($2.40) both achieved early leads and never looked back in their respective $31,894 Reynolds Stake divisions for 2-year-old pacing fillies on Thursday (September 10) evening at the harness racing meeting at Tioga Downs, while Katies Rocker ($2.20, part of entry) was king among five 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings in their lone $64,788 dash. The first division for pacing fillies, contested as race 3, saw Cut and Paste work clear of Twice an Angel (Matt Kakaley) in the initial stages, controlling the terms throughout her 1:54.3 triumph. Jim Marohn, Jr. comfortably rated sectionals of :28.1, :57.4, and 1:26.2 with the daughter of Well Said, and Cut and Paste responded immediately to the late challenge of Twice and Angel to prevail by 1-1/2 lengths. In the second division, carded as race 5, Soft Idea settled off early pacesetters JK Fannie (Kakaley) and Wine Snob (Mike Simons), drafting through a :28.1 initial quarter before brushing to the fore upon entering the home straight on the first occasion. Once clear on the lead, Jim Morrill, Jr. rated a :57 middle half with the American Ideal filly. Off the far turn, Soft Idea dug in to repel dual challengers JK Fannie and Wine Snob, both of which closed in from either side in a dead heat for second, three-quarters of a length behind the odds-on winner. While pupils of Toscano took both filly divisions of the Reynolds, a Jim Campbell trainee prevailed in the lone split for colts and geldings. Katies Rocker worked clear of his four rivals with no trouble at all, sprinting off through a :27.3 initial quarter before Simon Allard rated a :31 breather to race's midpoint. On the backstretch, the Rocknroll Hanover gelding was nudged along by his entrymate Show the Fashion (Kakaley), but Katies Rocker proved far superior in the end. The Fashion Farms homebred edged clear by 1-1/2 lengths, using a :55.1 back half mile to cap a 1:53.4 victory over Safensound Hanover (Morrill), who gave chase from the pocket once clear in the final sixteenth. Live racing returns to Tioga on Friday (September 11) evening, with the first of 13 races due off at 6:15 p.m. Eastern time. James Witherite
Twenty-one 2-year-old trotting fillies will contest three New York Sire Stakes events on Friday (September 11) evening's harness racing program at Tioga Downs, with Non Stick looking to keep her undefeated record intact. Non Stick, one of a quartet of four-time winners on the program, has been installed as the 6-5 morning line favourite in the evening's fifth race, carrying a $36,566 purse. The daughter of Lucky Chucky and Meucci Madness was recently a pillar-to-post winner at Yonkers, having taken her career mark of 1:56.3 at Vernon the week prior. Lucas Wallin handles the driving duties for trainer Ake Svanstedt. A pair of four-time winners square off in the second division, carded as race six on the 13-race card. Posterity (9-5 ML) reeled off three straight wins before she was collared at Yonkers in her most recent race, edging clear for a 1:56 win at Vernon on August 14. Trainer Charlie Norris will drive the daughter of Lucky Chucky and Vintage Chip. She will have to contend with Ron Burke trainee Goosebump Hanover (7-5 ML), who comes in off three straight New York Sire Stakes victories, most recently holding sway narrowly for a 1:57.2 win at Saratoga. Jim Morrill, Jr. is slated to drive the daughter of RC Royalty and Good Common Cents. In the third and final division, programmed as the seventh event, Dizzy Broad (7-5 ML) seeks to extend her winning streak to three. Ron Burke and Jim Morrill, Jr. once again team up with the daughter of Broad Bahn and Portia. The penultimate program of the season at Tioga Downs is due to begin at 6:15 p.m. Eastern time. James Witherite
Fifteen 2-year-old pacers--ten fillies, five colts and geldings--will vie for over $128,000 in purses as they contest their Reynolds Stake divisions on Thursday (September 10) evening at the harness racing meeting at Tioga Downs. New York Sire Stakes standout Soft Idea has been installed the 4-5 morning line favourite in the $31,894 second division for pacing fillies, carded as the fifth race on the 11-dash program. The daughter of American Ideal and Walk Softly has amassed over $128,000 so far in her career, winning five of seven races on the Sire Stakes circuit. Jim Morrill, Jr. handles the driving duties for trainer Linda Toscano. Another Toscano trainee has been made the morning line choice in the earlier $31,894 split for fillies (race 3), with Cut and Paste installed at 7-5 off her 1:53.3 maiden-breaking win at Pocono. Jim Marohn, Jr. will drive the daughter of Well Said and On the Arm. Of the quintet of pacing colts and geldings to contest their lone $64,788 Reynolds event (race 7), the Jim Campbell-trained entry of Show the Fashion and Katies Rocker have been made the 6-5 morning line favourite. Katies Rocker, a two-time winner, comes off a 1:53.1 victory at Pocono after earning minor checks in the New Jersey Sire Stakes and the Geers Stake Simon Allard is slated to drive the son of Rocknroll Hanover and Just Wait Kate. Show the Fashion likewise ships in from Pocono, breaking maiden in 1:54.3 in his most recent effort. Matt Kakaley will handle the lines of the son of Well Said and Show and Tell. The first of 11 races on the season's antepenultimate program is due off at 6:15 p.m. Eastern time. James Witherite
Nichols, N.Y. -- Fresh off her upset in the Earl Rowe Memorial at Georgian Downs nine days ago, Rockin With Dewey ($5.40, part of entry) once again sustained a first-over bid en route to victory, collaring harness racing millionaire Classic Martine in a $40,000 Miss Versatility preliminary event on Monday (September 7) afternoon at Tioga Downs. Away last in the field of five, the 5-year-old daughter of Deweycheatumnhowe commenced her rally with a circuit to go, beginning to advance as 3-5 favourite Classic Martine (Matt Kakaley) cleared the lead. After a :56.3 half mile, Bob McClure turned up the pressure with Rockin With Dewey, closing to within a length of Classic Martine through a 1:24.4 three-quarter sectional. The two dueled through the far turn, and Rockin With Dewey ultimately wore down her main adversary, prevailing by three-quarters of a length in 1:53.1. Trainer Benoit Baillargeon co-owns Rockin With Dewey with Diane Ingham. In addition to the Miss Versatility, the 13-race program featured a pair of sub-featured Open events--one for trotters and one for pacers. The $14,000 Open Trot saw Bourbon Bay ($4.10) set blistering fractions, fully extended on the far turn but able to hold sway from Smoother Ride in 1:54.1. In the $14,000 Open Pace, JK Panache ($18.80) likewise controlled the terms, holding off the steadily advancing Rockeyed Optimist for a 1:50.2 triumph. John Cummings, Jr. handled the driving duties of both Open winners on the day. Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Thursday (September 10) evening, with post time at 6:15 p.m. Eastern. by James Witherite, Tioga Downs
Nichols, N.Y. -- Now a six-time winner, Margaret and Amy Butler's Dayson ($2.10) drew clear at will for a 1:56 triumph in his $53,500 New York Sire Stakes event on Saturday (September 5) evening at Tioga Downs. Jeff Gregory settled the 2-year-old gelded son of Conway Hall and Nervey's Taurus at the back of the main body of the field early on, better than just the far detached Neymar (Harry Landy), who faltered at the start. Dayson sat well off a :27.1 initial quarter before vacating the pegs at race's midpoint, working to within three lengths of 28-1 leader Credevie (Jim Marohn, Jr.) through a :57 half. On the backstretch, the Howard Okusko trainee found cover in the form of the first-over Crown Point (Dan Daley), drafting to advance easily through a 1:26.3 three-quarter split before he was left uncovered on the far turn. Just as Crown Point cleared a tiring Credevie, Dayson found another gear, sprinting off through the stretch and ultimately defeating midpack stalkers Southern Palms (Mike Simons) and Chargin Cadet (Ray Schnittker) by 10 lengths to remain undefeated. The other $53,500 New York Sire Stakes event on the evening's program saw Dog Gone Lucky ($9.40) recover from a mild shuffle on the backstretch, rallying off the far turn to defeat odds-on pacesetter Allerage Echo (Chris Lems) by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:55.3. Jim Meittinis drove the son of Lucky Chucky and Ebbtide Hall for owners Amy Stoltzfus and Charles Stansley as well as trainer Chuck Sylvester. Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Monday (September 7) afternoon, with a $40,000 Miss Versatility preliminary event headlining the card. Post time is 1:30 p.m. Eastern. by James Witherite, Tioga Downs
Taking advantage of a pocket trip, Icommandmyspirit ($5.50) kicked on in the final yards to defeat 6-5 pacesetting favourite Arodasi in Friday (September 4) evening's $14,000 Mares Open Pace at the harness racing meeting at Tioga Downs. The 5-year-old Dragon Again mare outsprinted K J's Caroline (Jim Taggart, Jr.) and Southwind Trini (Jim Marohn, Jr.) en route to the first turn, working clear through a :26.3 initial quarter before yielding to Arodasi (Mike Simons), who brushed aggressively from fourth with a circuit to go. Icommandmyspirit drafted along through a :55.3 middle half before John Cummings, Jr. turned up the pressure on Arodasi off the far turn. The two dueled in upper stretch, with Icommandmyspirit ultimately prevailing in 1:50.1 by half a length. Southwind Trini held third off her tracking bid, while Mach It a Par (Dan Clements) failed to pose any threat throughout. K J's Caroline faded to finish last of the quintet. Ross Croghan trains Icommandmyspirit for owner/breeder Cheryl Costello. Jim Marohn, Jr. led all drivers with four wins on the 11-race program. He reeled off a natural hat trick to kick off the evening, winning aboard Hercu Lindy ($6.70, 1:57), Twin B Alibi ($7.40, 1:56.3), and Frenchmen ($2.80, 1:56.4) before teaming up with Somedreamsomewhere ($6.20, 1:55) in the evening's ninth race. Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Saturday (September 5) evening, with post time at 6:15 p.m. Eastern. James Witherite
Nichols, N.Y. -- A dozen 2-year-old trotting colts and geldings share the spotlight at Tioga Downs on Saturday (September 5) evening in a pair of $53,500 New York Sire Stakes events, while a quintet of older distaff trotters contest a $40,000 Miss Versatility preliminary on the Labor Day (September 7) harness racing program. Four-time winner Allerage Echo headlines the first Sire Stakes division, carded as the fourth of 12 races on Saturday's card. The gelded son of Conway Hall comes in off a dominant win at Monticello, defeating five foes in 1:58.1 en route to a lifetime mark. Chris Lems drives the 6-5 morning line favourite for trainer George Ducharme. The second division, programmed as race nine, sees five-time winner Dayson installed as the 3-5 morning line favourite. Jeff Gregory will once again drive the undefeated Conway Hall gelding for trainer Howard Okusko, teaming up with him for his recent victories at Yonkers, Batavia, and Buffalo. Of note, legendary racecaller Larry Lederman will stand in for James Witherite on Friday and Saturday evenings, with post time 6:15 p.m. Eastern on both occasions. The Labor Day afternoon program features the fourth preliminary leg of the Miss Versatility series, with millionaire Classic Martine set to square off against Rockin With Dewey. Classic Martine, a 23-time winnter trained by Steve Elliott, was just collared by Charmed Life in this event last year after setting a robust pace. Matt Kakaley will drive the 5-year-old daughter of Classic Photo. Rockin With Dewey, part of the Benoit Baillargeon-trained 6-5 favoured entry, comes in off a 28-1 upset in the Earl Rowe Memorial at Georgian, sustaining a first-over push en route to a 1:53.2 win over the 5/8-mile Ontario course. Her driver in the Rowe, 24-year-old Bob McClure, retains the assignment, thus making his Tioga debut. A pair of $14,000 Opens also take place on the 13-race Monday program, with Six Bax (Jim Taggart, Jr.) and Bourbon Bay (John Cummings, Jr.) squaring off in the ninth-race Trot, and Rockeyed Optimist (Matt Kakaley) headlining the tenth-race Pace. Post time for the Labor Day program is 1:30 p.m. Eastern. by James Witherite, Tioga Downs