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VERNON — Vernon Downs owner Jeff Gural wants to reduce the number of slot machines at the casino and racetrack facility from 750 to about 550, among plans for 2018, according to online reports including casinogamespro.com. The change would make the venue more spacious and inviting for customers, said Gural, who also noted that the racino’s catering business could undergo some changes that could generate more revenues. Vernon Downs survived the 2017 harness racing season because the amount of taxes on generated gaming revenues was reduced by the state, Gural said in the casinogamespro.com report. The site offers harness racing typically from April to November, and slot machines over the entire year. Harness racing has concluded for the season. The tax reduction by the state saved 300 jobs, and Vernon Downs saved $10 million-$12 million usually paid to the state as education support, casinogamespro.com said. In addition, $2 million in taxes to Oneida County and the town of Vernon were part of the savings. Gural said he expects to break even or generate a small profit at Vernon Downs in 2017 thanks to the tax reduction, casinogamespro.com added. In June, the state agreed to cut the racino taxes on slot machine revenues after Gural said he was losing between $150,000 and $200,000 per month at Vernon Downs. Reprinted with permission of The Rome Sentinel

Harness racing trainer/ driver  John MacDonald put an exclamation point on his 2017 season at Vernon Downs durng closing night (November 4) with six driving wins and three training wins on the night. MacDonald was top driver with 185 wins on the season and top trainer with 57 wins on the year. He was also owner and trainer of Oh My Joepa, who won horse of the year honors with nine wins. MacDonald's six driving wins on the night came with Always Flash-N ($3.10), Forty Carrotss ($9.30), Major Master Piece ($5.70), Talk To Me Courage N ($9.50), Hurricane Howard ($5.00), and Sucrose Hanover ($3.30). His got his training victories with Major Master Piece, Hurricane Howard, and Sucrose Hanover. Arsenic (Chris Lems) wins the featured pace ($7,500). Golden Gun (Brett Crawford) put up all the early fractions :26.4, :56.0, 1:24.0. Arsenic (Bettor's Delight), who is owned by Scott Dillon and trained by Heidi Rohr, would battle Golden Gun (second) all the way down the stretch nipping him at the wire in 1:52.0. Love To Roll (MacDonald) finished third. Arsenic ($4.90) entered the winner's circle for the fifth time this season while gathering up career win number 13. Vernon Downs management and staff would like to thank all the horsemen and fans for a great 2017 season. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com John Horne for Vernon Downs

Pier Ho Exotic (Jimmy Whittemore) would capture the Vernon Downs harness racing featured trot ($9,000) on Friday night (November 3) as Whittemore wins four on the night. McKenzie's Star (John MacDonald) would take control of the early fractions :27.4, 57.0. Pier Ho Exotic (Conway Hall) would go first over and take the lead just before hitting three-quarters in 1:25.3. Owned and trained by Dennis Whittemore, the 5 year-old gelding would take the mile in 1:55.3. Painite Truman Gale) charged late to finish second with Walk The Floor (Chris Lems) getting third. Pier Ho Exotic ($24.00) won for the fifth time this season and the 14th time in his career. Whittemore would also win with Lew's Big Guy ($18.60), Love Live Laugh ($2.80), and Gimme The Cash ($9.20). Saturday (November 4) is closing night at Vernon Downs with a long t-shirt giveaway while supply last. The 12 race card starts at a special post time of 6:00 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com John Horne for Vernon Downs

Sweet Ashley T and harness racing driver Homer Hochstetler win the Vernon Downs Featured trot ($9,000) on Saturday night (October 28). Sweet Ashley T (Conway Hall) would put up all the fractions :28.3, :57.3, 1:26.1, 1:55.1. Owned by South Of The Tracks Racing Inc. and trainer Hochstetler, the 4 year-old mare would hold off a late spurt by runner-up Painite (Truman Gale) and third place finisher Lucid Thoughts (John MacDonald). Sweet Ashley T ($8.70) would get her fifth win of the year and nail down her 10th career victory. Arsenic (Chris Lems) would win the $7,500 pace. Cam's Lucky Sam (Leon Baily) would battle Golden Gun (Bret Crawford) all the way through three-quarters. Arsenic (Bettor's Delight), who is owned by Scott Dillion and trained by Heidi Rohr, would take advantage of the speed dual and fly right by to win by a length in 1:51.2. Cam's Lucky Sam would take second while Golden Gun would settle for third. Arsenic ($8.90) won for the fourth time this season. The 4 year-old gelding would get career win number 11. Jimmy Whittemore would win three on the night. He would get his victories with Western Toro ($3.10), Ameriman ($8.40) and Bosshoss Hanover ($3.00). Vernon Downs will close out live racing for the 2017 season this coming weekend. Post time for Friday (November 3) is 6:45 p.m. Saturday (November 4) is closing night and will have a special post time of 6:00 p.m.. Free long sleeve t-shirt giveaway on closing night while the supply lasts. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com John Horne for Vernon Downs

Harness racing driver Jimmy Whittemore won the co-trotting features ($6000) at Vernon Downs on Friday night (October 27). Whittemore won the first feature with Pier Ho Exotic (Conway Hall). Aruba vacation (Dan Daley) would carve out all the early fractions, :27.4, :57.4, 1:26.4. Pier Ho Exotic ($3.40) who is owned and trained by Dennis Whittemore, would ride in the pocket until the stretch blowing by to win in 1:55.1. Hanrahan (Jeff Long) fired late to finish second with Aruba Vacation held on for third. Pier Ho Exotic would get his fourth win on the season and win for the 13th time in his career. McKenzie's Star (Whittemore) would win the second feature. Manssive (John MacDonald) would charge out to the front and put up all the early fractions, :27.4 :57.1, 1:26.4. McKenzie's Star (Donato Hanover), who is owned by Allie Howard with Reuben Graber and trained by Joe Skowyra, would go first over and zoom on by after the three-quarter mark. The 7 year-old mare would win in 1:55.2. Stick With Me Kid (Chris Lems) would come up to finish second with American JJ (Michael Miller) getting third place. McKenzie's Star ($21.60) got her fifth win of the year and her 28th career victory. Vernon Downs returns to live action with a 10 race card on Saturday (October 28) starting at 6:45 p.m. John Horne for Vernon Downs

Vernon Downs hosted leg number five of the Kindergarten Classic featuring all harness racing 2 year-old classes at Vernon Downs on Thursday (October 26). The first Kindergarten Classic race was for two year old trotting colts and Geldings. Tito (Andrew McCarthy) would take over just before the half and would glide to an easy victory in 1:55.2. Seven Iron (Tim Tetrick) would finish second and Glider Man (Corey Callahan) would settle for third. Tito (Muscle Mass - Stonebridge Encore) is owned by Anthony Lombardi, George Golemes, and Louis Willinger, while trained by Erv Miller. The 2 year old colt would pay $3.60 while picking up his third career victory. Sevenbuyeleven (Tetrick) would win the Kindergarten Classic for freshman trotting fillies. Sevenbuyeleven (Chapter Seven - Musclelini) would put up all the fractions :28.2, :55.0, 1:28.3, 1:56.3. Owned by Kenneth Jacobs and trained by Linda Toscano, the 2 year-old bested runner-up, Megadolce (McCarthy), and third place finisher Maria Deo (Larry Stalbaum). Sevenbuyeleven ($3.60) won for the fourth time in 10 starts. Points North (McCarthy) won the Kindergarten Classic for freshman pacing colts and gelding. Points North (Somebeachsomewhere - Northwest Hanover) who is owned by the Pinske Stables and trained by R Nifty Norman, would go first-over just before three-quarters and take over at the top of the stretch. The 2 year-old colt would hold off a late charge by Rockapelo (Tetrick) to capture the win in 1:52.4. Rockapelo claimed the second spot while Casual Cool (Marcus Miller) and California Cruisin (Mike Simons) would end up in a dead heat for third. Points North ($14.80) would get win number six on the season. I'm Trigger Happy (Corey Callahan) won the Kindergarten Classic for 2 year-old pacing fillies. I'm Trigger Happy (Art Major - Shot Togo Bluechip) would go gate-to-wire by putting up all the fractions :27.4, :57.3, 1:26.3, 1:53.4. Owned by Let It Ride Stables Inc. and trained by Ross Croghan, she would put them away in the stretch winning by five lengths. Alexa's Power (David Miller) would finish second with Aldine Hanover (Atlee Bender) finishing second. I'm Trigger Happy ($5.00) won for the fourth time in five lifetime starts. The Kindergarten Finals will be ran at the Meadowlands on Saturday (November 4). Vernon Downs returns to live action on Friday (October 27) with a nine race card starting at 6:45 p.m. John Horne for Vernon Downs

Vernon NY - The fifth and last preliminary leg of the harness racing 'Kindergarten Classic' series will be raced at Vernon Downs on Thursday, October 26.   One division for each sex and gait filled and will race for a purse of $10,000 each as races 7 - 10 on the Thursday card.   Trotting colts launch the Kindergarten portion of the program in the seventh led by Farsetti Hanover (PP #4) who has raced in all of the legs and is currently the division's point leader for the training/driving team of Erv and Marcus Miller. The Donato Hanover colt is but a few dollars shy of the $100,000 mark in earnings for the partnership of Erv Miller Stable, George Golemes and David Prushnok.   Filly trotters are up in the eighth where a field of ten (reduced to six betting interests due to entry coupling) will compete for not just purse money but valuable points toward a berth in the rich finals. Locally based owner Ken Jacobs had a pair of nice Chapter Seven fillies racing for trainer Linda Toscano led by Bluegrass stakes winner Sevenbuyeleven (PP #5 Tim Tetrick) who is making her Kindergarten debut. The formula is fairly complicated, but if everything goes exactly right Sevenbuyeleven can still race her way into the final with a good performance on Thursday.   Points North is in the colt pace and he is the point leader for that division, having compiled a pair of wins in the September legs at The Meadowlands for owner Pinske Stable and trainer Nifty Norman. Points North also added a Grand Circuit Bluegrass Stakes win to his list of accomplishments at The Red Mile last month. Andy McCarthy has the drive from post four.   Filly pacers wrap up the evening led by I'm Trigger Happy who swept The Meadowlands Kindergarten legs impressively. She's won 3 of 4 starts for owner Let It Ride Stables, INC and trainer Ross Croghan and begins from post eight for Corey Callahan.   The $150,000e finals and consolation races for the Kindergarten will be raced at The Meadowlands on Saturday, November 4. Both the current points standings and conditions are available on the web.   Post time at Vernon is 6:45 p.m.   Nick Salvi    

Dreams Beachboy with harness racing driver Chris Lems in the sulky would be victorious in the Vernon Downs featured pace ($9,000) on Saturday (October 21). Dreams Beachboy (Somebeachsomewhere), who is owned by Crawford Farms Racing and trained by Gates Brunet, would takes over just before three-quarters. the 5 year-old gelding found another gear and won by four lengths in 1:50.1. Major Leaguer (Jimmy Whittemore) finished second with Let Foal Around (Harry Landy) getting third. Dreams Beachboy ($6,10), won for the sixth time this year while picking up career win number 18. Lems would also get wins with Galows Nightmare($12.80), and Maceiver ($5.40) Fox Valley Cadet (Leon Bailey) would win for the fifth straight time at the Miracle Mile. Owned and trained by Harris O'Brien, the 5 year-old blew them away in the stretch winning by five lengths in 1:52.4 and paying $4.10 for the victory. Vernon Downs returns to live action on Thursday (October 26), with leg number five of the Kindergarten Classic, featuring all 2 year-old classes. The 10 race card starts at 6:45 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com. John Horne for Vernon Downs  

Sweet Ashley T (Jimmy Whittemore) captured the harness racing featured trot ($9,000) at Vernon Downs on Friday night (October 20, 2017). Pop I (Chris Lems) would carve out all the early fractions, :28.2, :58.1, 1:27.1. Sweet Ashley T (Conway Hall), who is owned by South Of The Tracks Racing Inc. And trainer Homer Hochstetler, would sit the pocket all the way to the stretch. She would slip by on the inside to win in 1:55.4. Pop I settled for second with Jersey Boy (Ben McNeil) nailing down the third spot. Sweet Ashley T ($15.80) won for the fourth time this season and the ninth time in her career. Whittemore added two more wins on the night . His other wins were with McKenzies Star ($2.90) and Pier Ho Exotic ($2.10). John MacDonald keeps on rolling he would add four more victories on the night. He won with Stirling Accord ($47.80), Steuben Magic Ride ($3.90), Major Master Piece ($2.10), and Master Of Puppets ($6.90). Michael Miller piloted big longshot American JJ (RC Royalty) to a win by charging late down the stretch in 1:55.3. The 4 year-old horse would pay $90.00 for the win. Vernon Downs returns to live action with a 10 race card on Saturday (October 21) starting at 6:45 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com John Horne for Vernon Downs      

Drea's Good Powow (John MacDonald) captured the harness racing featured Fillies and Mares pace ($9,000) at Vernon Downs on Thursday (October 19). Bye Bye Michelle (Chris Lems) would control all the early fractions :26.4, :55.2, 1:23.3. Drea's Good Powow (Squaw's Fella), who is owned by J P Stables and trained by MacDonald, would sit patiently in second almost the whole way. The 7 year-old mare would pounce out of the pocket in mid-stretch and blow right by to get the win in 1:51.3. Bye Bye Michelle would hang on for second with Graceful Vision (Atlee Bender) would finish third. Drea's Powow ($4.90) would get her eighth win of the year. She now has 27 career victories. MacDonald, who is Vernon's leading driver would win five of the eight races on the night. His other wins came with Yule Love It ($3.90), I Saw Red ($4.70), Axios ($3.20), and Rockin Show ($5.60). Live racing returns to live racing on Friday (October 20) with a 10 race card starting at 6:45 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com John Horne for Vernon Downs

Vernon Downs hosted eight Excelsior "A" Finals for a purse of $45,000 each on Wednesday Night (October 18). Harness racing driver Jim Morrill Jr. would capture the first three races. Checkered Past (Jim Morrill Jr) would charge late to win the first Excelsior "A" race for freshman pacing fillies. After several lead changes Checkered Past (American Ideal - Character Flaw) would make a third-over move going into the stretch. Owned by All Star Racing Inc. and trained by Peter Foley, she would blow by them all to win in a lifetime best time of 1:53.2. The 2 year-old filly would get get her fourth career victory, paying $11.20 for the win. Act Like A Diva (Marcus Miller) would finish second and Credit List would settle for third. The "A" Final for 2 year-old trotting Colts and Geldings would go to Troller (Jim Morrill Jr.). If Not Why Not (John MacDonald) would lead them through the first half, Troller (Muscle Mass -Pearls Last Chance) would then go first over and take the lead right before three-quarters. Owned and trained by Paul Kelly, the 2 year-old colt would hold off the late drive by second place finisher Yuge (Charlie Norris) for the win. Credit List (Andy Miller) would finish third. Troller ($ 7.20) got career victory number three with a lifetime best of 1:55.2. Rootin Tootin (Jim Morrill Jr.) tough as nails to win the freshman colts and gelding Excelsior "A" Final. Rootin Tootin (Roll With Joe - Wild Retreat) would take charge right after the first quarter. Manverick (John MacDonald) would go alongside at the half and the two would battle all the way through the stretch. Rootin Tootin ($ 10.40), who is owned by Stuart and trainer Blake Macintosh, dug down deep and would gut out the win in a lifetime best of 1:51.2. Rockapello (Jason Bartlett) would come on late to finish second with Manverick settling for third best. Pittstop Emerald (Chris Lems) would go gate-to-wire to win freshman fillies trot "A" Final. Pittstop Emerald (RC Royalty - Nowerland Kristen) would fire out of the gate and put up all the fractions :27.4, :58.2, 1:27.1, 1:57.0. Owned and trained by Robert Gale, she would hold off the late charge of Minne Cheatum (Jason Bartlett), who finished second and Miss Muscle (John Stark Jr.) who got third. Pittstop Emerald ($18.20) would win for the fifth time in nine starts with a lifetime best of 1:57.0. Roll With Sparky (John MacDonald) rolls to sophomore pacing fillies Excelsior "A" Final victory. Roll With Sparky (Roll WIth Joe) would take the lead just before the half time mark and never look back to win in 1:51.2. Owned by Paul Tandimayer and trainer Jim Graham, she would pay $3.00 for her 10th win of the year. Robin J (Jason Bartlett) would be second best with Roll Baby Roll (Marcus Miller) settling for third. Golden Kronos (Jason Bartlett) would nip big favorite Big Man Ev (Andy Miller) during "A" Final for trotting 3 year-old colts and geldings. Golden Kronos (Chapter Seven) would take the lead before the first quarter but Big Man Ev (Chapter Seven) would take over before the half and lead all the way to deep stretch. Golden Kronos ($16.60), who is owned by Myron Ekstein with Michael and William Pozefsky while trained by Stanley Zombick Jr., would pop out of the pocket to just nip Big Man Ev (second). Winneress (Jim Morrill Jr.) was third. Golden Kronos would get season and career victory number eight in a lifetime best of 1:54.4. Geez Joe (Marcus Miller) captures "A" Final for 3 year-old pacing colts and geldings. Geez Joe (Roll With Joe) would take over just before the half and would win easily over second place finisher Sir Pugsley (Dan Dube) in 1:51.2. Joe Joe Joe (John MacDonald) finished third. Geez Joe ($4.80) who is owned by the Bay Pond Racing Stable and trained by Erv Miller, would get eighth win of the season and career. Sophomore trotting fillies "A" Finals went to Prairie Diamonds (John MacDonald). Prairie Diamonds (Diamond Goal) looked like she was shot out of a cannon in the stretch going from fifth to first to win in a lifetime best 1:55.0. Mighty Surf (Jim Morrill Jr.) was second with Chapter Review (Jim DeVaux) finishing third. Prairie Diamonds ($7.90) is owned by Fred Morosini, Laurie Poulin, Fritz Racing and trainer Mike Deters. She picked up her seventh win of the season and eighth win of her career. Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Thursday (October 19) with an eight race card starting at 6:45. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com. John Horne for Vernon Downs

VERNON, N.Y. (October 17, 2017) - Vernon Downs will offer a special Wednesday night racing program on October 18 featuring eight $45,000 New York Excelsior Series Finals for 2-year-old and 3-year-old trotters and pacers. Post time is 6:45 p.m. The program was rescheduled following Sunday's cancellation necessitated by a power outage. For fans coming to the races, Vernon Downs will offer sit-down dining options. The Miracle Mile Restaurant will serve its regular menu while the Gold Cup Buffet will also be open and serving food off the Miracle Mile's menu. Reservations are not required, but are encouraged, and can be made by calling 315-829-3217. For more information, visit www.vernondowns.com. by Justin Horowitz, for Vernon Downs

The Excelsior "A" Series Finals that were originally scheduled for Sunday (October 15) at Vernon Downs will be run on Wednesday (October 18). The harness racing finals, features all classes for freshman and sophomore fillies as well as the colts and geldings. The first final (all are for a purse of $45,000 each) is for 2 year-old pacing fillies. The morning line favorite is the entry of KJ's Bekah (Jason Bartlett) and KJ's Justine (Daniel Dube) at 5-2. The second final is for freshman trotting colts and geldings. The morning line favorite at 5-2 is the unbeaten, On The Ropes (Ake Svanstedt). Race three is for 2 year-old pacing colts and geldings. The 5-2 morning line favorite is the entry of Dewar N Jack (Jim Morrill Jr.) and Rootin Tootin (Mark MacDonald). The fourth final features 2 year-old trotting fillies. The entry of Southwind Cookie (Ake Svanstedt) and I'mwhygodmadegirls (Jim Morrill Jr.) are the morning line favorites at 5-2. The first sophomore final is race five. It features 3 year-old pacing fillies. Roll WIth Sparky (John MacDonald) is the 5-2 morning line favorite. The next final is for 3 year-old trotting colts and geldings. The morning line favorite is the entry of Big Man Ev (Andy Miller) and Southwind Cruze (Marcus Miller) at 2-1. Race seven is for sophomore pacing colts and geldings. The morning line favorite is Sir Pugsley (Daniel Dube) at 5-2. The final race is for sophomore trotting fillies. The morning line favorite is Prairie Diamonds (Jeff Gregory) at 3-1. The eight race card starts at 6:45 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com. John Horne

Harness racing Excelsior "A" Series Finals re-scheduled at Vernon Downs due to power failure. A power failure due to a heavy band of storms forced a cancellation of the Vernon Downs Sunday night card (October 15), after race one. The card was to feature Excelsior "A" Series Finals. The Finals are re-scheduled for Wednesday (October 18th), with the eight races starting at 6:45 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com John Horne for Vernon Downs        

Gimme The Cash (Chris Lems) wins the harness racing featured trot ($6,000) at Vernon Downs Saturday night (October 14). Lems wins four on the night. Gimme The Cash (Cash Hall) sprinted to the front right out of the gate, playing catch me if you can. Owned by William Ballard Mdacs and trained by Angus Mac Donald, the 6 year-old mare would put up all the fractions, :28.3, :58.0, 1:27.1, 1:56.0. ABC Crown Me Queen (John MacDonald) would follow in the pocket the whole way but had no answer in the stretch finishing third. Ulysses Bi (Truman Gale) came up late to finish second. Gimme The Cash ($2.90) picked up win number four on the season and career victory number 17. Lems would win three others on the night. First win came with Mansome ($2.90). His second victory was with Stubble Trouble ($5.80). His last win came after the feature with Ladyyouaregorgeous ($11.20). Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Sunday night (October 15). It features eight Excelsior "A" finals for a combined purse of $360,000. All part of a 14 race card that starts at 6:45. For more information go www.vernondowns.com John Horne for Vernon Downs

Bye Bye Michelle (Chris Lems) wins the fillies and mares harness racing featured pace ($9,000) at Vernon Downs on Friday (October 13). Bye Bye Michelle (Stonebridge Regal) would put up all the fractions, :27.1, :57.0, 1:25.2, 1:53.1. Owned by Melissa Beckwith with Thomas Mc Tygue and trained by Andy Gardner, the 7 year-old mare would hold off the charge by the big favorite Drea's Good Powow (John MacDonald) and Love Live Laugh (Jimmy Whittemore). Those two would end up in a dead heat for second. Bye Bye Michelle ($7.10) would win for the seventh time this season and for the 32nd time in her career.   Lems would win two more on the night. He would win with Give Angel Credit (Credit Winner) in 1:55.3, paying $32.60. His other victory came with Fox Valley Photog (Vaporize) getting the mile in 1:57.3 while paying $11.20.   Vernon Downs returns to live action on Saturday (October 14) with a 10 race card starting at 6:45 p.m.   For more information go to www.vernondowns.com   John Horne for Vernon Downs          

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