LEBANON, OH. - Latest Desire made it three-in-a-row in O-hi-o on Saturday night (Feb. 18) at Miami Valley Raceway, capturing the $22,000 Open I Pace again despite being assigned the outermost post position in the harness racing field of nine. Knowing that his horse is in exceptionally good form driver Simon Allard set sail from the get-go, managing to clear to the front as the first quarter beam was reached in :27. The winner was afforded a :29 second breather in the second quarter, reaching the midway point of the race in :56. With Lucky Lime (Kyle Ater) moving up to second on the outside and My Buddy Ninkster (Tyler Smith) enjoying a tight pocket ride, Latest Desire had to step it up in the third panel, stopping that teletimer in 1:23.4. With Lucky Lime still pressing on the outside and runnerup My Buddy Ninkster finding racing room along the stretch pylons, Allard and Latest Desire paced a confident :28.1 closing quarter to win by a measured 'neck' margin. A recent purchase by the partnership of AWS Stables, Fairway Stables and Milton Leeman, Latest Desire eclipsed the $400,000 earnings plateau with his third straight win, including a 20% bonus as Ohio owners winning from a nine-hole start. Virgil Morgan Jr. trains the 7-year-old Real Desire gelding. Latest Desire (S.Allard/V.Morgan Jr.) Miami Valley Gregg Keidel
YONKERS, NY, Saturday, February 18, 2017 - It was the old double-nickel Saturday night as a pair of fives took down Yonkers Raceway's $50,000 harness racing co-featured Open Handicaps. Rock of Cashel (Scott Zeron, $13.20) won the week's marquee trot from second over, snapping pace-setting (:28.3, :58, 1:27.1) 17-10 choice Springbank Sam N (Jordan Stratton) by a head in 1:56. Dot Dot Dot Dash (Steve Smith) offered her best stride late to grab third, with a two-move Red Hot Herbie (Jason Bartlett) and a pocket-tiring Newcastle (Dan Dube) settling for the minors. For third choice Rock of Cashel, a 7-year-old son of Majestic Son co-owned by Joseph Jannuzzelli & Jeffrey Ruch and trained by Mark Harder, it was his second win in six seasonal starts. The exacta paid $48, with the triple returning $124. Rock of Cashel The weekly featured pace saw tepid fave Caviart Luca (George Brennan, $6.30) have a simple a trip as was equine-ly possible, as in unpressured intervals of :27.3, :57.3, 1:25 and 1:52.2. The final margin was 2¼ lengths over the loose pocket of Sports Bettor (Brent Holland). A season-debuting But of a Legend N (Stratton) was saved to the lane from the eight-hole, then was sharp closing for third. Delaware interloper Soto (Matt Kakaley) was also solid late grabbing fourth, while First Class Horse (Tyler Buter) earned the final pay envelope. For Caviart Luca, a 6-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi and Phil Collura, it was his fourth win in five '17 tries. The exacta paid $40.40, with the triple returning $664. Caviart Luca More tidbits from a Saturday evening... --no one hit the Pick 5, so Monday night's gimmick begins with a carryover of $2,310.27 (50-cent base wager, Monday going as races 7 through 11); --Stratton won four races, including three in succession, during the 10-race card; --a local season-high daily double of $1,251 was the result of 6-Validus Deo (Dube, $99.50) and 4-Aggressive (Mark MacDonald) winning the first two races. Frank Drucker
HAMBURG, N.Y. --- A break at the start looked like it might have doomed the chances of Itsonlyrocknroll A ($3.80) in Buffalo Raceway's $10,000 Open Pace on Saturday night (Feb. 18) but in the end, he had the remaining six harness racing participants waving the white flag in surrender. Itsonlyrocknroll A (Larry Stalbaum) continued to stamp himself as the top pacer on the Buffalo Raceway grounds by breezing to an easy 3-3/4 length victory over Bubbie Boy in 1:55.1 over the fast track. It was his fourth victory in five appearances in 2017. Able to regroup and get back on gait going around the first turn, Itsonlyrocknroll A was in high gear to the opening quarter mile and eventually took command going around the clubhouse turn the final time. With Stalbaum popping the plugs before the three-quarter pole, Itsonlyrocknroll A impressively increased his lead to six lengths at the top of the stretch and jogged home from there. The only battle to the wire was for the minor spoils as Bubbie Boy (Shawn Gray) rallied for second place with Knocking Around (David McNeight II) rolling into third. Itsonlyrocknroll A (Million Dollar Cam-Boldandbeautiful) is a 6-year-gelding owned by Stalbaum and trained by Kimberly Asher. The win pushed his earnings to $22,700 this season and $190,920 lifetime. It was a great night for the Stalbaum/Asher team as Larry captured six events in the sulky while Kim conditioned four winners. Shawn Gray posted a triple in the bike while JD Perrin notched a training four-bagger. Racing will resume on Wednesday evening at 5 p.m. with an 11-race program scheduled. For more information including upcoming promotions, the latest news, race replays and results, go to www.buffaloraceway.com by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway
WASHINGTON, PA, Feb. 18, 2017 -- Mykindachip was wearing down the leader on the inside. Dapper Dude was rallying furiously on the outside to erase a 4-length deficit. When they hit the wire in Saturday's $18,000 Winners Over Life/Preferred Handicap Pace, the harness racing camera couldn't separate them. Thus, they were declared dead-heat winners in 1:50.2, fastest dead heat ever at The Meadows, knocking a tick from the mark set by Hillbilly Hanover and Sam Hill in 2015. The winners took decidedly different paths to victory. Mykindachip moved first over from third for Dave Palone and finally put away Believeinthespirit late. Dapper Dude, who appeared to be struggling down the backside, kicked it into gear in the far turn for Aaron Merriman and gobbled up the ground. Hawk's Red Chief finished third, a head back. Ron Burke trains Mykindachip, an 8-year-old Art's Chip-Figmental gelding who pushed his career bankroll to $672,302, for Burke Racing Stable, J&T Silva Stables, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Larry Karr. Dapper Dude, an 8-year-old son of The Panderosa-Dressed To Suggest, now boasts a lifetime bankroll of $1,044,520 for trainer Bill Bercury and owner Renee Bercury. Dan Rawlings piloted three winners, including a pair for trainer Dirk Simpson, on the 12-race card. Fastest dead heat ever The Meadows Racetrack & Casino
Last Saturday night Yonkers Raceway offered $280,000 in overnight purse money and this Saturday, that total will be eclipsed with the $326,000 that the Hilltop Oval is putting up for grabs on the 10 race harness racing card. Once again two $50,000 Open Handicaps - one for trotters and one for pacers- will be featured and the strong undercard is highlighted with a pair of $39,000 events. The 50 cent Pick-5 commences with this week's Open Trot, race 6, which pits the Allard Stables' Red Hot Herbie, who got the better of the equal draw for posts 7 and 8, against the Julie Miller-trainee, the hard hitting mare, Allerage Star. The rivalry continues as the Gural/Settlemoir-owned charge pays the toll over the GW Bridge in quest of the dough. This outstanding mare is again handicapped with the eight hole but she is so good that she almost succeeded in getting home before the boys last week from the same tough spot. After cutting the fractions the talented mare was overtaken in the deep stretch from a two-hole perfect trip by Red Hot Herbie in 1:55.4 and finished second. The other mare in the race, Dot Dot Dot Dash, no slouch herself, moves to the coveted pylon position off a third place finish to both Herbie and the Star in last week's battle with many of the same foes. The veteran Springbank Sam N, the oldest trotter in the race, drew the four-hole and also can threaten from there for trainer, Peter Tritton. Red Hot Herbie has the upper hand cash-wise with $79,000 on his card thus far this year, and with another $50,000 in purse money in this week's rematch his totals can easily increase. Race 7, the Open Pace, has the same $50,000 on the line and Guantanamo Bay will have the skyrocketing talent Scott Zeron in the bike from post seven in this handicapped event. While Zeron decided to stick around the Hilltop Oval he has joined the ranks of the talented field of reinsmen that are surely among the best in the game currently racing today. That talented group will be further enhanced when the White Knight and latest Hall of Famer, Brian Sears, again joins the local driving colony. In the meantime Scotty Z has risen to second place in the ranking behind perennial driving champ Jason Bartlett. Joining the group of equine stars is a freshened-up Levy winner, Bit of a Legend N who is burdened with post eight. ˜The Legend has been given a well-deserved rest since last November and comes into the contest off a respectable third place finish in his qualifier. And with over $700,000 in his 2016 bank account he is certainly to be reckoned with. The Dover Downs invader, Soto, who has three wins in five seasonal starts, picks up another Yonkers talent in Matt Kakaley and figures to be a factor. Also deserving serious consideration are Caviart Luca, who has been knocking at the door for Ron Burke, and Matias Ruiz's, Sports Bettor, who has drawn inside from last week's post seven. The races can be seen live on Yonkersraceway.com. Post time is the usual 7:10 pm and if you have an Empire City Bets online wagering account there are rebates as high as eight percent. See empirecitybets.com for details.
Pompano Beach, FL (February 18, 2017) - The Florida Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association is pleased to announce its annual Florida Harness Racing Hall of Fame Awards Banquet. Scheduled for March 10, 2017 at the Ft. Lauderdale Marriott Resort and Spa (1200 N. Ocean Blvd., Pompano Beach, FL 33062), this event honors the Standardbred horsemen and horses that created memorable performances in 2016 and during their careers. Hall of Fame inductees includes trainers Dan Hennessey and Mark Friedman, and the stalwart Florida-based pacing stallions Royel Millennium and Rock On. The event also includes presentation of the FADC Amateur Driver of the Year and the FSBOA Crystal Awards. Proceeds provide for continuation of the promotion of harness racing, plus funding of the annual Allen J. Finkelson scholarship awards and the Aime Choquette Sunshine Fund. Join us for the celebration and networking on March 10 at 6:00 pm. Tickets are $80.00 each and tables of ten are available. Price includes dinner, one hour open bar and cocktail hour. To purchase tickets and to place congratulatory advertisements in the Hall of Fame Awards Program, contact Rosie Huff at the FSBOA office (954-972-5400) or Steven Wolf (954-654-3757). Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. by Thomas H. Hicks, for the Florida Chapter USHWA
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (February 17, 2017) - Rose Run Parker, the two-time Indiana Sire Stakes champion, was a dominant winner at the Meadowlands in his 2017 harness racing debut. Rose Run Parker was bet down to even-money favoritism in the field of nine that also included stakes-winner Muscle Diamond, last week's top-class winner B Yoyo, and past winners Crosbys Clam Bake and Opulent Yankee. Yannick Gingras moved the 6-year-old Jailhouse Jesse gelding to the front past an opening quarter mile in :28.3. Gingras maintained his lead through a half in :57.1 and three-quarters in 1:26. B Yoyo took his shot from the pocket while Muscle Diamond came first over turning for home. Rose Run Parker maintained his advantage through the stretch to win by a length in 1:53.4. B Yoyo was second. Crosbys Clam Bake was third. "His performance tonight was a very encouraging sign," said trainer Ron Burke. "He looked sound and looked well within himself." Rose Run Parker took his lifetime mark at the Meadowlands last May of 1:50.4 when he defeated a field that included Obrigado. "I am pretty much going to give him shots in every big stakes race this season," said Burke. "I think he can be competitive, maybe not dominating, but he is a winner and he will rise to the occasion." Burke added that at this point, he views Rose Run Parker on the same level as his millionaire trotter Crazy Wow, but was quick to add that neither is as good as his super mare, Hannelore Hanover, the runner-up in trotter of the year voting. Rose Run Parker has now won 40 times in 61 career races with $809,465 in career earnings for Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi. Burke said his immediate plan is to give the horse a week off and then look to race him again at the Meadowlands. Corey Callahan posted a driving hat trick on the 11-race program while Jim Marohn, Jr. and Andy Miller each won two races. Total handle was $2,530,541 for the 11-race program.Live racing resumes Friday with an 11-race card. Post time is 7:15 p.m. For more information, visit www.playmeadowlands.com. Justin Horowitz
YONKERS, NY, Friday, February 17, 2017 - Bedroomconfessions (Scott Zeron, $8.70) gave nothing else a shot Friday night, easily winning the harness racing Yonkers Raceway's $50,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. Bedroomconfessions threw down an early gauntlet, making the lead-from post position No. 7-before a :27.2 opening quarter-mile. From there, she zipped the modern way, finishing her foray with intervals of :55.4, 1:24 1:52.1. Empress Deo (Matt Kakaley) yielded for the pocket and watched the winner get away as Bedroomconfessions opened a couple of lengths in and out of the final turn. The final margin was a never-in-question length-and-a-quarter. Empress Deo was second, with a season-debuting 6-5 choice Mach it a Par (Jason Bartlett), Regil Elektra (Jordan Stratton) and Bettor N Better (Brent Holland) rounding out the payees. For third choice Bedroomconfessions, a repeating 5-year-old daughter of American Ideal co-owned (as Alagna Racing) by (trainer) Tony Alagna and Riverview Racing, it was her second win in three seasonal starts. The exacta (same combination as a week ago) paid $74.50, with the triple returning $189. Frank Drucker
LEBANON, OH. - After a four week absence, Noone To Depend On returned to the winner's circle following the Friday (Feb. 17) $22,000 Fillies & Mares Open Pace at Miami Valley Raceway. After reeling off harness racing victories at the top level the first two weeks of the meet in early January, the 4-year-old daughter of Santanna Blue Chip had only a fourth place finish to show for her next three starts (plus a week off). Trainer-driver Kayne Kauffman was on a mission this night, however, determined to put his talented lass on the engine and stay there. Leaving alertly from the three hole behind the gate, Noone To Depend On was first to clear to the pylons and reluctant to let anyone pass her the rest of the way. Stacking other adversaries with front end dreams four-wide until just before the :26.2 quarter, Kauffman was able to get a :29 breather for his outstanding mare once the others tucked behind her. Just before the midway mark favored American Girl (Ronnie Wrenn Jr.) began her assault from fifth. Last week's winner moved up from fifth to third on the outside during the :28 flat third panel, and continued to inch closer all the way to the wire-but fell a little over a length short in the 1:52.3 mile. Aniston Seelster (Randy Tharps) closed best of all in the stretch to grab the show money. Stephen Herrick and Mark Bogen own Noone To Depend On, who they purchased in November at the Harrisburg sale. She has returned double her purchase price in just two months of racing for her new connections. Excitement continued to build Friday night in the second leg of the Survivor Series for $10,000 male pacers. Four elimination heats went postward and were whittled down to two for next Friday's third and final preliminary elimination round. The ten 'survivors' will compete for a $25,000 purse on March 3. Quickest winner in the quartet of $12,000 purse races was Blueridge Doc (Dan Noble) in 1:52.3, who paid $8.00 to win. The other three winners were Status Quo (Tyler Smith, 1:52.4, $11.40), Ahdoughnolum (Tyler Smith, 1:53.1, $7.00) and Thisdeuceiswild (Jason Brewer, 1:55, $10.60). Seven of the 36 horses in the second round were claimed, including five that advanced to Round 3. Blueridge Doc and Thisdeuceiswild will be racing for new connections, who get the benefit of a 20% boost in claiming price next go-around. Gregg Keidel
HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Life is just 'perfect' right now for Perfect Rendition at Buffalo Raceway as he kept his harness racing record unblemished there with an easy 1-3/4 length win in the featured $10,000 Open trot in 2:01.1 over the sloppy track on Friday night (Feb. 17). It was the fourth consecutive victory in as many tries for Perfect Rendition at Buffalo Raceway in 2017. Beginning from the five spot, the front-end speed ball Perfect Rendition (Larry Stalbaum) had little resistance in grabbing the lead and was able to post fractions of 30.2, 1:01.2 and 1:31.4. Mesmerized (Shawn Gray) was in great first over position past the three-quarter marker but couldn't narrow the gap at all as Perfect Rendition ($7.10) managed to trot away with the comfortable victory. Trotting R T (Kevin Cummings) took the show position. The 11-year-old gelded Perfect Rendition (Perfectly-Ella Go Go) is owned by Stalbaum and trained by Kimberly Asher. The win moved his earnings in 2017 to $18,200 and $295,035 lifetime. Driver John Cummings Jr. had four wins on the evening while Shawn Gray had two victories. JD Perrin had a training triple and Gerry Sarama added a pair.. Racing will continue on Saturday night with a 12-race program scheduled for 6 p.m. For more information including the latest news, upcoming promotions, race replays and results, go to www.buffaloraceway.com by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway
Team Teague had a big night on Monday's (2/13) harness racing card. Montrell Teague led all drivers with four wins. Trainer Clyde Francis haltered three wins while owner George Teague had a double plus Brenda Teague owned and trained another of her nephew's winners. Montrell came right back Tuesday with a driving double. --------------------------- Wednesday (2/16) was a "King's ransom" at Dover Downs. Jim King dominated the morning qualifiers winning five of the non-betting races including Wakizashi Hanover in 1:52. . On the official race program, King haltered another three winners including the $20,000 Open Trot Handicap feature when Frost Free Hanover notched his third win of the year. Tetrick had a driving triple. --------------------------------------- Dismissal is one of the hot horses at the track these days. The four-year-old rang up her fourth win in a row on Valentine's Day recording a 1:51.2 victory with Montrell Teague driving the $15,500 sub-feature pace win. ------------------------------------ Next week only, the DSOA will conduct its 2nd Annual Stallion Service auction beginning Tuesday, Feb. 21. There are 15 Delaware stallions from which to choose, 12 pacers and three trotters. For complete details call the DSOA office. The numbers are 302-678-3058 or 888/227/0658. -------------------------------------------------------- Coming up next Sunday, Feb. 26, the annual highlight event of the Winter Awards- Banquet season is set for Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas, Nevada with the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA) Night of Champions which honors the 2016 Dan Patch Awards winners. For the roster of winners, ticket and lodging information, check this website: www.ushwa.org . ----------------------------------- Houston, Del. horseman, George Teague receives several major honors in Las Vegas next week. Harness Horsemen International (HHI) honors Teague with its top award, "The Dominic Frinzi Person of the Year."Teague will be saluted for his support of the sport by graciously allowing the public to meet and greet his great pacer, 2015 Horse of the Year, Wiggle It Jiggleit. On many occasions during 2016, Teague went all out to help promote harness racing at major events. The U.S.Harness Writers Association (USHWA) also honors Teague with two awards. He becomes the first person honored for a second time as its "Good Guy" award winner. More importantly, Team Teague gets the sport's second highest honor, The Stan Bergstein Proximity Award, for service to the sport. For ticket and hotel arrangements consult: www.ushwa.org ---------------------------------------------------------- Family and friends of the late Delaware 'giant' David Buckson turned out (2/5) during the races to "Celebrate the Life" of the man who was a founder of Dover Downs. Buckson, a consummate political force who also was a harness horseman, had his ashes spread over the harness course by his son in a special ceremony during the racing program. -------------------------------------------------- The Leading Drivers statistics show defending champion Corey Callahan,has caught and now leads Vic Kirby, in the leading driver standings. Kirby had previously led from opening day, Callahan now has a 110-107 win lead over Kirby. Yannick Gingras is third with 94 wins Tony Morgan is fourth place with 80 wins. Ross Wolfenden has moved ahead of Tim Tetrick with 61 winners. -------------------------------------------------- Jim King has an 8-win lead in the leading trainer stats, with 55 wins. Defending champ Dylan Davis has moved up to second with 47 wins, Joe Hundertpund and Leigh Raymer are tied for third place, each with 32 wins. Eric Ell is now fifth with 26. Marv Bachrad
WASHINGTON, PA, Feb. 17, 2017 -- On Saturday, Feb. 18, The Meadows Racetrack & Casino will offer a $20,000 total-pool guarantee for its Pick 5 harness racing wager as part of the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Initiative. The Meadows added the "instant" guarantee after Wednesday's Pick 5 was uncovered, resulting in a two-day carryover of $7,212.32. In addition, Saturday's card includes a $5,000 total-pool guarantee for the Pick 4, a regular feature of each program at The Meadows. Minimum wager for the Pick 4 (races 4-7) and Pick 5 (races 8-12) is 50 cents. Since Pennsylvania law requires a minimum per-race wager of $2, a player wagering at the 50-cent level must bet at least four tickets. First post for Saturday's program is 1 PM. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino
ALBANY -- In 2003, New York's racetracks were paying out among the lowest prizes in the nation, and many of the tracks, particularly upstate harness racing facilities, were nearly set to be put out to pasture. Then the racetracks started adding video-lottery terminals. Now, the purses -- the amount paid out to winners in the races -- are among the highest in the nation, and the revenue at the so-called racinos has also soared. With three new upstate casinos opening in recent months, the state's existing gaming halls face new competition after enjoying years of rising revenue for their casino-like facilities and horse-racing operations, a review of records by the USA Today Network's Albany Bureau found. Purses at New York's seven harness tracks have tripled over the past 14 years, creating an unprecedented dynamic: There's nearly no one in the stands, but the prize money is at levels not seen in decades. "I’ve said to many people that if you want to make money in (harness) racing, this is the best opportunity you’ve had in many, many years," said Bob Galterio, the COO at Yonkers Raceway, the state's largest harness track. ►NY just had a record year for its lottery ►With three new NY casinos open, can they succeed? ►House wins big with casino tax breaks Ninety-two percent of the money from gamblers at the state's racetracks with the video-lottery terminals goes to pay the players as prizes. The key figure is the 8 percent that's left: It is split among the tracks, the horsemen and the state. Without the piece that goes to purses and breeders, horse racing in New York would be nearly non-existent, track officials and experts said. The industry is a major one in New York's agricultural sector: It employs 32,000 people, according to its trade organizations. "If the VLTs didn’t come in 2004, I really doubt racing would be here," said Chris Riegle, the president of Finger Lakes Gaming and Racing, the only upstate thoroughbred track outside of the summer meet at Saratoga Race Course. Also, "I don’t think there would be very many harness tracks in New York." Avoiding closures Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, then-Gov. George Pataki and state lawmakers sought to help the state's economy by allowing the horse tracks to add video-lottery terminals -- the slot-machine-like devices controlled by a central computer system in Schenectady. The move was a way to boost the state's coffers by designating about half of that coveted 8 percent to fund schools. It also was a way to keep horse racing alive after decades of decline in the sport, which was once a major local draw. Batavia Downs in western New York is the oldest nighttime harness track in the nation. Yonkers drew 40,000 people on weekend nights in the 1960s. In 2004, the first VLT facilities opened. It has been a boon to all sides. "It definitely saved racing; it saved the jobs," said Jeff Gural, the owner of Tioga Downs in the Southern Tier and Vernon Downs in central New York. Of the net win -- the money left in the machines after payouts to winners -- 8.75 percent goes to the horsemen and 1.25 percent to the breeders. The rest is split between the state and racinos. The tracks also get 10 percent for marketing and 4 percent for facility improvements -- including hotels that some are building. The money has helped the state's coffers: The racinos contributed nearly $1 billion in 2015 to the state designated for education -- or 48 percent of the nearly $2 billion in net win. Anthony Palermo, of Rochester, plays a slot machine on opening day of del Lago Casino. (Photo: Jamie Germano/@jgermano1/Staff Photographer) Soaring purses The purses at the state's eight racetracks and the three tracks run by the New York Racing Association hit $301 million in 2015 -- up 87 percent since 2003. For just the seven harness tracks, purses went from $35 million to $118 million, records from the state Gaming Commission showed. So the average purse per race went from about $4,000 to $11,000 over the 14 years -- putting New York among the top five in the nation. The figures have been extraordinary at some tracks: Batavia Downs' purses grew from $1.8 million to $5.5 million; from $4 million to $18 million at Saratoga harness; and from $20 million to nearly $63 million to Yonkers. Some tracks said they are dealing with a shortage of horses. "If you and four friends had $20,000. The best thing to do is to get together, each kick in $4,000 and buy a $20,000 claimer and race it at Yonkers Racetrack," Galterio said. "The purses are so good. You race every week." Rising racinos While the gambling money has throw life preserver to racing, it also boosted the tracks' owners. The money going to the racinos has skyrocketed since they opened. The tracks, after a sluggish start, negotiated lower payments to the state in 2007. At Finger Lakes, the so-called agent commission -- the tracks' main revenue stream -- doubled to $40 million in the 2015-16 fiscal year that ended March 31. At Yonkers, it was up 50 percent to $177 million since 2008, while Tioga Downs' commission grew 59 percent since 2007 to $22 million. So while the purses are up, so too are the tracks' fortunes, said Joe Faraldo, president of the state's Standardbred Owners Association, which represents the harness horsemen. "The horsemen, their purses have gone up dramatically -- the same way track revenue has gone up with these VLTs," Faraldo said. Live harness racing at Batavia Downs. (Photo: Annette Lein) Subsidizing racing So the situation has created a scenario where purses are up despite fewer people betting on the races. Yonkers stopped publishing its attendance figures in the late 1980s. VLT revenue provides an increasing percentage of the purses: In 2004, 50 percent of the purses came from the VLT revenue; in 2011, it was 71 percent, state records show. At the same time, total handle at the harness tracks -- the amount bet on the races -- dropped 21 percent between 2003 and 2015, hurt in part by the closure of New York City Off-Track Betting in 2010. The on-track betting on the races also fell: It was down 56 percent at Yonkers over that stretch and down from $3.4 million to $1.5 million at Batavia. Most of the betting comes from simulcasting of races around the state, country and internationally, which is a growing business at Yonkers, in particular. "I don’t want to say it’s become a television studio, but it more important to produce a good-looking television signal than to have tasty hot dogs in the stands," Galterio said. Growing competition The reliance on VLT revenue has raised concerns within the racing industry, which fears the tracks will one day seek to drop racing or cut the amount that goes to it. "A lot of these racinos kind of make it difficult to go to the track, because they would rather be a straight casino and not do racing at all," Assembly Racing Committee Chairman Gary Pretlow, D-Mount Vernon, said. Those fears have grown after the casinos opened in recent months in the Finger Lakes and Schenectady, with one set to open next year in the Catskills. At Finger Lakes, it received a lower tax rate last year because of the competition from del Lago, which opened earlier this month in Tyre, Seneca County, 28 miles away. Even with the competition, though, the horsemen will be held harmless. The 2013 law that allowed for four upstate casinos included a provision that requires the new casinos to keep purses at the same level as 2013 -- if the new casinos cut into the racinos' bottom line. (Photo: File photo) Negotiating at Finger Lakes That's a current fight: The horsemen at Finger Lakes face a cut in purses if the racino's revenue drops because of del Lago, which is not required to make the track whole. The casinos have to help the racetracks in the zones established by the state: Finger Lakes, though, is outside the del Lago zone. The sides -- Finger Lakes, del Lago and the state -- are now trying to find a solution to help the horsemen. "I’m hopeful we’ll come to a conclusion very quickly," Riegle said. Pretlow said the Legislature has no plans to revisit the split of revenue between the tracks and the racing industry: "Part of this whole thing is to help racing." The tracks said they continue to invest in their racing, saying it is still a viable portion of their business. Yonkers points to expansion in recent years of hosting major stakes races, including the $1 million International Trot each fall; tracks said they have upgraded their racing facilities. But the tracks often seek fewer racing dates each year, despite protests from the industry, and Finger Lakes won't disclose how many dates it wants this year as it negotiates a new contract with its horsemen. "It really boils down to how much purse money you have to hand out and how many horses you have," Riegle at Finger Lakes said. "If you have a respectable amount of both, you can run more." Gaming the future Dave Brown, president of the Finger Lakes horsemen association, charged that the tracks would just as soon drop racing if they could, but they are bound by the state law. "There is no question they’d love to not run. And they make it difficult for us," he said. Riegle rejected that idea, saying it is still "a pretty significant piece" of the business. Gural, a horse owner who also owns the Meadowlands track in northern New Jersey, said he's concerned about the future of racing in New York. The tracks are not required to market the sport to new customers, and its fan base is dwindling. In December, Tioga Downs received a gaming license to turn from a VLT facility to a full-scale casino. "Without the slots or the VLTs, there would be no harness racing. It’s totally dependent on the revenue we receive from the slots," Gural said. He added, "The problem is that most of our customers are older and we have not successfully created an industry for the younger generation. So what happens when all those people die off?" Joseph Spector , Albany Bureau Chief Reprinted with permission of The Democrat and Chronicle
East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands will host a dozen races on Saturday night, featuring a cracker-jack harness racing field of ten in the seventh race, a condition/optional claiming pace for a purse of $15,000. This group is an amalgamation of accomplished veterans with a number of variables to complicate the handicapping issue. Trainer Dylan Davis bookends the field with a pair of talented six-year-old pacers coupled as a pari-mutuel entry that will open as the morning line favorite. Brand new purchase Somesizesomestyle starts from the rail and recent Dover Open winner Jet Airway will get underway from the far outside. Alberto Contador N and Barimah A both move up a step after impressive wins last week, Dynamic Youth and The Rock ship over from Yonkers and top stakes winner Rockeyed Optimist makes his first start since last September. There are several more interesting races on the bill for your wagering pleasure and to help with the task we offer free program pages for the $50k guaranteed Late Pick 4. Saturday is also the night of the eagerly anticipated Whiskey Dinner in Pink with former NY Knick star Larry "Grandmama" Johnson. There are four delicious courses, each paired with a delicate spirit to complement the food. Post time is 7:15 p.m.
DOVER, Del.--- Always At My Place made his first visit to Dover Downs a winning one having just enough to nip Cajon Lightning by a short nose in the $30,000 Preferred Handicap in 1:51.1 while Sweet Rock came-on to catch Emeritus Maximus in the final strides to win the $27,500 Delaware Special on a harness racing windy and chilly Thursday, Feb. 16. Yannick Gingras drove Always At My Place in his first start of the year for owners, trainer Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi, Karr and Cullar. Cajon Lightning took the lead early and led until the final strides finishing second for the fourth consecutive start. Veteran $1.5-million winner Dancin Yankee and Ross Wolfenden picked up the third place check. Always At My Place is an Always A Virgin-Best Place gelding who chalked up his 28th lifetime success lifting his career earnings to $589,122. In the $27,500 Delaware Special Handicap. Sweet Rock and driver Allan Davis, were all out to pass veteran Emeritus Maximus (Gingras), a winner of two straight after being claimed for $15,000 last month. Emeritus Maximus took the early lead and finished a strong second in the 1:51.4 mile. Sweet Rock, a Rocknroll Hanover-Penny For Nickel gelding, scored his first win of the year for trainer Wayne Givens and Rag Hazzard, G.P. Calloway and Legacy Racing. It was his 17th career trip to the winner's circle good for $466,377 in purses. Blazing Bobby Sox, a winner of his last two in this class, closed boldly to just miss while taking show money. On the hard-hitting undercard, Star Messenger, a horse claimed by trainer Gary Ewing in December, won for the third time with Tony Morgan at the controls notching a 1:50.2 victory, the fastest on the program, in a 1:50.2 decision winning a $15,500 Male pace. in a $15,000 4&5-Year-Old Male pace, Gingras also drove Bad Gamer, a Badlands Hanover-Kattimon four-year-old he owns with trainer Ed Gannon Jr., Frank Canzone and BobSatini in a 1:51.4 performance. Art Stafford Jr.'s first win came guiding Ben Stafford and Bill Dagget's Cloud Speed to a last-to-first 1:53 score in a $15,000 male pace for young horses. Allan Davis, Yannick Gingras led all drivers with three wins apiece, Art Stafford Jr. had a double; trainer Ron Burke and owners Weaver Bruscemi along with trainer Wayne Givens and owners Reg Hazzard and Legacy Racing with two wins each. Monday through Thursday post time is 4:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are dark days. Parking and admission at Dover Downs is free. Reservations are suggested for the popular Winner's Circle Restaurant and its acclaimed Buffet. . For reservation ns, call 302-674-4600. Simulcasting of top harness and thoroughbred racing is available in the Dover Downs Racing and Sports Book, from 12 Noon to 12 Midnight daily. Marv Bachrad
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (February 16, 2017) - Brett Miller stole the show on a cold, windy harness racing night at the Meadowlands on Thursday, winning four of the night's nine races including both Dash For the G-Notes series finals. Miller kicked off the "Meadowlands Harness Live" broadcast on SNY with a Dash win with the mare Never Ever Clever, who defeated the boys in the $15,000 final. Never Ever Clever, a 6-year-old Muscle Hill mare trained by Jonas Czernyson, held off the late charge of the favored Harmon Stable entry of Montalbano Bi and Detroit Rapper. Never Ever Clever won in 1:55 for her 11th lifetime victory. One race later, Miller survived an adventurous final quarter mile to score in another G-Notes final with I Found My Beach. After following race favorite Mr. Big Load from the pocket, Miller first attempted to go outside in the stretch only to swerve back towards the pylons. That was the winning move as the 8-year-old Mach Three gelding sprinted away to score in by a length in 1:53 in the $12,500 event. The four wins give Miller 83 for the current season, 31 more than second-place Jim Marohn, Jr. Total handle was $1,347,906 for the 9-race program. Live racing resumes Friday with an 11-race card. Post time is 7:15 p.m. For more information, visit www.playmeadowlands.com. Justin Horowitz