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Nichols, NY -- Enjoying a solid form spree in early-year stakes events on the Woodbine Entertainment Group circuit, Bourbon Bay ($7.30) shipped south to Tioga Downs as one of six entrants in the Opening Day (May 2) harness racing feature, leaving the other five in his wake en route to a 1:52.1 score in the $14,000 Open Trot.   The four-year-old Sand Vic gelding allowed Deacons Valley to clear the front early, powering to the fore after a :27.1 first quarter and not looking back. After clearing the lead and continuing through a :55.3 half, lessee-driver John Cummings Jr. opened up on the field with Bourbon Bay, amassing a three-length lead through a :27.1 third quarter and holding that margin through the far turn. While 3-5 favorite Twin B Spike Man (Mike Simons) mounted a rally off the far turn, he could only gain into second, 1-3/4 lengths in arrears of Bourbon Bay's 1:52.1 track record performance. Deacons Valley faded to third after chasing from the pocket.   Megan Wilson handles the training duties of Bourbon Bay, who cored his 14th career win in 30 starts. The 5/8-mile track, rated "fast" for the Opening Day 10-race card, was truly fast, with seven winners equaling or improving upon their lifetime marks. While Mike Simons couldn't prevail with Twin B Spike Man in the featured event, he registered five wins on the program, scoring with My Muscleman ($6.00, 1:55), Lightning Paige ($3.90, 1:54), Twain Drive ($3.50, 1:57.2), Crazy Eyes ($5.50, 1:56.2), and J R Jazz ($9.30, 1:57.1).   Panpero Firpo upsets in Vernon feature; MacDonald and Hochstetler sweep Farina splits   Vernon, NY -- After mustering just minor shares in recent tries against top Saratoga company, Panpero Firpo ($19.00) employed a change of tactics in tonight's $10,000 Open Pace at Vernon Downs, closing the pocket behind dueling leaders before pouncing in deep stretch for a 1:51.4 score.   The five-year-old No Pan Intended entire drafted behind an extended duel between JK Panache (Chris Lems) and Talking Blues (Frank Davis), sitting just off them through the first three-quarters of the mile while boxed in by a second-over Damon Blue Chip (John MacDonald), last week's Open winner. At the top of the stretch, with Talking Blues beginning to fade, Brett Crawford made his move with Panpero Firpo, taking over late and holding off Damon Blue Chip for a 1:51.4 triumph. JK Panache was a worn-down third after enduring steady pressure.   Trainer Jackie Rousse owns 16-time winner Panpero Firpo in partnership with Bill Reepmeyer.   Additionally, a pair of $4,000 second-round divisions of the Anthony Farina pacing series were contested, with trainer Homer Hochstetler and driver John MacDonald teaming up on both winners. Hot Lemonade ($2.40) pushed clear and turned aside a stiff challenge from Flight Again (Truman Gale) for a 1:53.2 victory in the first division, while Speaking Out ($5.80) sustained an uncovered bid to take the second division in 1:55.1. The Anthony Farina series final is scheduled for Mother's Day (May 10) along with the Catherine Burton trotting series final.   Live racing returns at Tioga Downs on Sunday (May 3) afternoon, with a 1:30 p.m. first post, while Vernon Downs resumes racing action on Friday (May 8) evening at 6:45 p.m.   by James Witherite, Tioga/Vernon Downs

Vernon Downs hosted a pair of $10,000 Open events on their Friday (May 1) night 13-race harness racing card, with distaff pacer Purity ($6.00) and trotter A Penny Earned ($3.60) taking top honors for the night.   Five pacing mares contested the $10,000 Mares Open Pace in race two, with two of the five entering off wins in their most recent outings. Those two--Purity (Claude Huckabone, III) and Seascape Hanover (Jimmy Whittemore) ultimately squared off on the far turn, well after Purity was used hard in establishing the lead through a :54.3 first half mile. With three-eighths to go, Whittemore moved 3-5 favorite Seascape Hanover first-over out of third, sustaining an extended press but proving unable to collar Purity through the stretch. The four-year-old Always a Virgin mare prevailed by three-quarters of a length in 1:52 over Seascape Hanover, while Kardashian (Truman Gale) stayed on for third after pressing the pace early.   Kevin Hough trains Purity for owner Michael Casalino, Jr.   While the favorite could not quite prevail in the Mares Open Pace, the $10,000 Open Trot saw A Penny Earned (Chris Lems) wear down Lutetium (Jimmy Whittemore) for a scant 1:54 victory in the evening's eighth race. A Penny Earned secured the pocket early, outsprinted by Lutetium through a :26.3 initial quarter. Lutetium would race uncontested through an easy 58.4 middle half, but found himself bracing for the oncoming threat of A Penny Earned at the top of the stretch--and the threat of Big Chocolate (Homer Hochstetler), who drafted behind the top pair throughout before fanning three-wide off the far turn. Battling gamely through the stretch, A Penny Earned took the lead from Lutetium 70 yards from the winning post, subsequently withstanding a stand-side charge from Big Chocolate, who missed by a scant neck.   Winning trainer George Ducharme co-owns the six-year-old Conway Hall gelding with Alfred Ross, Paul Fontaine, and Nicola Oliva.   In addition to the evening's pair of Open events, four $4,000 divisions of the second round of the Catherine Burton trotting series were held. Only Hollywood Jess ($5.50, Chris Lems) swept her preliminary legs, battling stoutly with Write That Down (Fern Paquet, Jr.) through quite literally every step of a 1:57 mile before holding clear of a late-closing Azucar (Gaetan Brunet). Blue Skies Craze ($18.40, Truman Gale, 1:56.2), Tango Pirate ($15.20, Gale, 1:57.1), and Act of Valor ($3.30, Claude Huckabone, III, 1:58.4) also were triumphant in their splits. Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Saturday (May 2), with first post slated for 5:10 p.m. by James Witherite, Vernon Downs 

Vernon, NY -- Commencing a rally out of last with five-sixteenths of the mile to go, Damon Blue Chip ($44.00) stunned harness racing fans in Saturday (April 25) evening's $10,000 Open Pace at Vernon Downs, passing every other horse in the race to just prevail.   The six-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding came away last of the field of five, allowing odds-on favorite Ashley's Husband (Fern Paquet, Jr.) to establish solid early sectional times of :26.2 and :55. Before entering the far turn, Ashley's Husband felt strong pressure from the first-over JK Panache (Chris Lems), and John MacDonald moved Damon Blue Chip off the pegs from last as the top pair dueled through a :27.3 third quarter. Ultimately carried four-wide at the top of the stretch, Damon Blue Chip was urged to gobble up ground through the stretch, prevailing in the final yards over a game Ashley's Husband. JK Panache flattened at the top of the stretch, narrowly holding third.   MacDonald, also the winning trainer, co-owns Damon Blue Chip with the J P Stables.   The featured event was the cornerstone of a driving grand slam for MacDonald, who also prevailed with another trainee of his, Dragon Fever ($6.40, 1:52). The Green Knight ($6.90, 1:53.2) and Hot Lemonade ($4.70, 1:54.2) rounded out MacDonald's quartet of driving wins on the evening's 13-race card.   The aforementioned Hot Lemonade was one of two winners in the first round of the Anthony Farina Pacing Series, pouncing from the pocket to defeat Sweet Bobbie (Chris Lems) in their division. Lilys Real Boy ($7.10) took the other $4,000 split, carried wide when circling to the fore early before kicking clear to a 6-1/4 length 1:53.2 victory with Fern Paquet, Jr. in the bike.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Friday evening, with first post scheduled for 6:45 p.m. EDT.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs  

A Penny Earned triumphs in Open trot, hat tricks for Lems and Dewhurst. After only mustering a fourth-place finish in his harness racing seasonal debut last week, A Penny Earned ($4.10) was quick to right the ship, taking Friday (April 24) evening's $10,000 Open Trot at Vernon Downs in 1:56.2.   The six-year-old Conway Hall gelding secured the pocket early behind Grey Ice (Jimmy Whittemore), brushing to a clear lead just upon entering the clubhouse turn. After exerting himself a bit to assume command through a :28.2 first quarter, he faced no pressure through a :31 stroll through the second. He was forced to pick up the pace on the far turn, as defending Open winner War Hero (Howard Okusko, Jr.) offered up mild first-over pressure. A Penny Earned would not be denied tonight, kept to task by Chris Lems to hold clear of War Hero by 1-1/4 lengths. Jaipur (Fern Paquet, Jr.) was urged to take third in deep stretch after loosely tracking War Hero's cover on the far turn.   Trainer George Ducharme co-owns the 22-time winner A Penny Earned with Alfred Ross, Paul Fontaine, and Nicola Oliva.   The win was one of three on the night for Lems, who was also victorious aboard David Dewhurst trainees Hollywood Jess ($9.00, 1:59.4) and Kyler's Valentine ($5.10, 1:55.3) earlier on the card. Dewhurst's training hat trick was completed by The African ($14.00, 2:00), who was driven to victory by John MacDonald in the opener.   The African and Hollywood Jess earned their respective victories in two of four first-round divisions of the Catherine Burton Trotting Series, with each split carrying a $4,000 purse. The other two division winners were Deadhead Royalty ($6.20), driven by Howard Okusko, Jr. for a late-rallying 1:59.2 score, and Julmyra ($16.20), who pounced up the inside from a pocket trip in rein to trainer-driver Brett Crawford.   Live racing returns on Saturday evening, with a 13-race card slated to kick off at 6:45 p.m. EDT. A $10,000 Open Pace takes top billing, along with the first round of the Anthony Farina Pacing Series.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, NY -- A pair of $10,000 Open events are among the harness racing highlights at Vernon Downs this week, along with the opening rounds of the Catherine Burton and Anthony Farina late-closing series.   Friday (April 24) evening's Open Trot attracted a field of seven, and has been carded as the evening's seventh of twelve races. Howard Gill's War Hero (2-1 morning line) has been assigned the outside post after his 4-1/2 length win in last week's Open Trot, turning in a 1:55.2 effort in his seasonal debut. Howard Okusko, Jr. once again will handle the driving duties for trainer Jessica Okusko. Among those looking to defeat the seven-year-old Ken Warkentin gelding are Grey Ice (8-1 ML, Jimmy Whittemore), who set the pace last week before collared by War Hero, and Ozymandias (Roman Lopez), who charged from the back of the pack to finish third. Last season's Trotter of the Year A Penny Earned (Chris Lems) also comes back, looking to redeem himself off a fourth-place effort in last week's Open. Joining the Open ranks this week is Pounce K (3-1 ML, John MacDonald), who steps up off a 1:54.3 victory against upper-level conditioned company last week.   Additionally, four divisions of the Catherine Burton trotting series are scattered throughout Friday's card, scheduled as races 1, 3, 8, and 10. The speedy Write That Down is the 9-5 morning line favorite in the third race, with Fern Paquet, Jr. driving the four-year-old Crazed gelding. As a three-year-old, he was placed in multiple Excelsior A events, and he took a 1:56 mark at Rosecroft as well. Deadhead Royalty is a notable entry in the eighth race, rallying stoutly to make up ample ground in his seasonal debut. The three-year-old RC Royalty colt won two Excelsior B events as a two-year-old, had also boasts four second-place finishes among his ten career starts. Howard and Jessica Okusko team up once again as Deadhead Royalty makes his second start of the year. The final division sees Kennel Browser ship in from Pompano, bringing a 1:57.3 lifetime mark with him. The five-year-old Ken Warkentin gelding has been installed as the 2-1 morning line favorite in his division, and Roman Lopez will take the lines.   Saturday (April 25) evening's Open Pace is carded as the second of thirteen races on the program, with last week's runner-up Ashley's Husband (post 5) leading the select field of five. William Donovan's five-year-old Henry Clay gelding was passed late by That'll Be the Rei in a 1:50.2 mile last week, holding second while dispatched the 3-5 favorite. Fern Paquet, Jr. will be back aboard for trainer Kyle Spagnola, and the 19-time winner has been installed as the 6-5 morning line choice. JK Panache (post 4) joins Ashley's Husband on the outside portion of the starting formation, having set a torrid pace last week before he was collared in mid-stretch. Chris Lems handles the driving duties once again for trainer Dave Dewhurst.   Two divisions of the Anthony Farina pacing series feature seventeen entrants, and they are programmed as races 6 and 9 on the Saturday card. Flight Again, owned, trained, and driven by Truman Gale, has been installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite in the first division, recently drawing clear for a 4-length triumph over non-winners of two at Saratoga. Here Comes Thunder, owned, trained, and driven by Frank Davis, is likewise the 5-2 morning line favorite in the second division, beating $7,500 claimers at Saratoga earlier this month to tally his fourth career win. He'll have to overcome the outside post 8 in his division, along with a pair of Excelsior A contenders from last year in Hot Lemonade (John MacDonald) and Sweet Bobbie (Chris Lems).   Post time on both Friday and Saturday evening at Vernon Downs is 6:45 p.m. EDT.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Shipping in from Yonkers after finding himself overmatched in a Levy Series preliminary, Harmon Racing's That'll Be the Rei ($7.50) vaulted clear in the final yards of Saturday (April 18) evening's $10,000 Open Pace at Vernon Downs, scoring a 1:50.2 triumph for his second win of the year.   The five-year-old gelded son of Cheyenne Rei tracked early pacesetters JK Panache (Chris Lems) and Hunchie (Truman Gale) through a strong early pace, drafting a close third through a :54.2 half mile. While 3-5 favorite Ashley's Husband (Fern Paquet, Jr.) sustained a first-over bid on the far turn, That'll Be the Rei was never in danger of traffic trouble, angled three-wide by Mike Merton in the final eighth of a mile to pounce on the softened JK Panache. That'll Be the Rei struck the front a sixteenth from home, driven clear to a three-length win. Ashley's Husband was a game--but outkicked--second, and Hunchie saved third with a mild bid after suffering traffic woes in upper stretch.   Rob Harmon trains That'll Be the Rei, who scored his thirtieth career win.   Driver Chuck Connor, Jr. and trainer Janice Connor teamed up for a Saturday night hat trick, proving victorious was Mattjesty Bluechip ($8.40, 1:55.3), impressive first-time starter Shadowmisty ($3.30, 1:56.2), and 86-1 longshot Candid Man ($175.50, 1:57.1).   Live racing returns at Vernon Downs on Friday evening, April 24, with first post scheduled for 6:45 p.m. EDT.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Howard Gill's homebred War Hero($11.40) took advantage of a pocket trip, pouncing late and drawing clear to a 1:55.2 victory in the featured $10,000 Open Trot on Friday (April 17) evening's Vernon Downs program. The seven-year-old Ken Warkentin gelding secured the pocket behind pacesetter Grey Ice (Jimmy Whittemore) through a :28.2 opening quarter, drafting patiently through the race's intermediate stages. As Grey Ice accelerated on the far turn, War Hero stayed right with him from the pocket, angling off the pegs when first-over challenger Jaipur (Fern Paquet, Jr.) flattened at the apex of the turn. The two pacesetters were on level terms past three-quarters in 1:26.4, but War Hero kicked clear in the final eighth of a mile, kept to task through a 4-1/2 length triumph. Grey Ice was all-out to narrowly hold second, while Ozymandias (Roman Lopez) rallied from the back of the pack to take third. The favored A Penny Earned (Chris Lems) flattened amid his late rally, only mustering fourth honors. Howard Okusko, Jr. handled the driving duties for trainer Jessica Okusko. While Okusko and defending Vernon Downs driving champion Chris Lems each recorded two wins on the night, Jimmy Whittemore led all drivers with an opening-night hat trick. Live racing resumes on Saturday (April 18), with the first of 12 races slated for a 6:45 p.m. EDT post time. by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, NY - Trotters and distaffers headline Friday (April 17) evening's Opening Night harness racing program at Vernon Downs, with 21-time winner A Penny Earned making his return to the Miracle Mile in the featured $10,000 Open Trot.   The six-year-old Conway Hall gelding proved victorious in 7 of 26 races last year, staying close to trainer George Ducharme's central New York home base throughout. He took a seasonal mark of 1:53.3 while earning just over $60,000, and he's reunited with his regular driver from last season, defending Vernon Downs driving champion Chris Lems.   Lems has nine drives on the ten-race card, with three of them for last season's top trainer David Dewhurst. The pair will look to establish themselves atop their respective leader boards with Kyler's Valentine (race 1, 7-2 morning line), Ziegler Hanover (race 2, 5-2 ML), and Pounce K (race 6, 6-1 ML).   Fans are encouraged to arrive well before first post time of 6:45 p.m. EDT, as racing calendar magnets and T-shirts will be distributed starting one hour before the first race (while supplies last). Arriving fans can also meet their favorite drivers prior to the races, and all are welcome to remain for the post-racing fireworks display.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, NY -- Vernon Downs opens the curtain on their 2015 live harness racing season later this week, as Friday, April 17 marks the first of 90 programs over the critically acclaimed 7/8-mile stonedust track. "We're excited to kick off another season of harness racing at the home of the Miracle Mile," said Jason M. Settlemoir, Vice President of Racing at Vernon Downs. "It's been a long winter, but we're ready for the upcoming meet, featuring world-class stakes races, the New York Sire Stakes, and a slew of fun promotions for our loyal fans." Fans will be welcomed back to the home of the Miracle Mile with race date magnets and T-shirts given away at the main entrance beginning at 5:45 p.m. (while supplies last). Fans will also be able to meet their favorite Vernon Downs drivers before the races. During the races, six lucky fans will be selected to win a $50 wager on the house, and after the last race, all are invited to enjoy a spectacular fireworks display. The first Horseplay Car Giveaway finalist will be chosen on opening night as well (weather permitting), as the popular season-long contest returns with a Volkswagen Jetta on the line. Fans can earn entries every live race night through Monday, September 7, when one lucky winner will drive away with the new car. Later in the season, Vernon Downs will again host the trotting divisions of the Empire Breeders Classic (June 21), along with a number of top trotting and distaff events. Stakes action continues with the Zweig Memorial Trot (for three-year-olds) slated for July 26, while the August 21 card boasts a trio of top events--the Crawford Farms Trot, the Muscle Hill Mares Trot, and the Artiscape Open Mare Pace. As the weather cools down, Vernon Downs will once again host the New York Sire Stakes Excelsior Series finals on September 19, the Simpson Stakes for two-year-olds on October 16, and the Kindergarten Classic trotting finals on October 31. As last year's major open stakes were won by Dan Patch champions Father Patrick, Shake It Cerry, Sebastian K, and Rocklamation, the Miracle Mile is sure to once again host a number of present and future world champions throughout the year. Additionally, Vernon Downs will play host to a full complement of New York Sire Stakes preliminary events for two- and three-year-old pacers and trotters. Post time for the opening night program is slated for 6:45 p.m. EDT. Racing will take place on Friday and Saturday evenings through closing night, November 21, with Sunday afternoon cards added from mid-May through the end of August and Wednesday evening cards added in September and October. For a complete schedule, visit by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Harness racing season begins two weeks from today at Vernon Downs. But once again, the track's fate — and that of its racino — hangs in the balance. Owner Jeff Gural, who also owns Tioga Downs, says a state decision could mean the end of both harness racing tracks. Harness racing season begins two weeks from today at Vernon Downs. But once again, the track’s fate — and that of its racino — hangs in the balance. Owner Jeff Gural warned that if Binghamton gets a casino, instead of his Tioga Downs, it could mean the end of both tracks. “I am committed to Vernon as long as things turn out OK with this new casino license,” Gural said. “It would be very difficult if somebody were to get a license in Binghamton. That would probably put Vernon and Tioga out of business.” To read the full article written by Elizabeth Cooper click here.  

Horsemen are reminded that nominations for the spring/summer late closing series held at Tioga and Vernon Downs must be postmarked by Wednesday, April 1.   Vernon Downs offers a pair of spring series--one each for pacers and trotters--for non-winners of two pari-mutuel races or $20,000 (fillies are allowed one additional pari-mutuel win; winners of $50,000 are ineligible) through Tuesday, March 31. These series culminate in a pair of $10,000 added finals on Sunday, May 10.   Tioga Downs offers a quartet of summer series separated by gait and sex, all of which are for three-, four-, and five-year-olds which have not won five pari-mutuel races or $60,000 (winners of $100,000 are ineligible) through Tuesday, March 31. They end with $40,000 estimated finals held in the last two weeks of June.   Nomination blanks are available through the following links:   Vernon Downs:   Tioga Downs:   by James Witherite

Jeff Gural is perhaps the most criticized individual in harness racing. The head of the Meadowlands, Tioga and Vernon is equally deserving and undeserving of the public ire.  Most will agree that Gural swooped in at the eleventh hour and saved the Meadowlands from disaster, but those same people have grown tired of hearing about it over and over. They applauded him a few years back and have since washed their hands and want to move on. Is that fair to Gural considering his efforts? Therein lies one of the public disagreements between the industry and the often outspoken head honcho.  Having just completed another impromptu sit-down with Gural, I came away once again seeing that he is equal parts sugar and salt. Joining a crowded club, he is not a perfect man, but at least on the surface desires to see the sport prosper. By Derick Giwner for To view the rest of this story click here.

The Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs race offices remind harness racing horsemen that nominations for their spring and summer late-closing series close Wednesday, April 1. Nomination blanks and complete details for the pair of late-closing events at Vernon Downs--the Anthony Farina pacing series and Catherine Burton trotting series ($10,000 added final for both)--are available here: Nomination blanks and complete details for the quartet of Tioga late-closers--the Morrisville College Sale and Williams Auto Group trotting series along with the Nichols True Value and M&J Oil & Lube pacing series ($40,000 estimated finals for all)--are available here: Additionally, the 2015 Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs media guides are available on the tracks' respective websites. The links below lead to the media guides, which include racing and stakes schedules, stakes history, and statistics. Tioga media guide: Vernon media guide: The 2015 live racing season at Vernon Downs kicks off Friday, April 17, while Tioga raises the curtain on Saturday, May 2.   by James Witherite, Tioga/Vernon Downs Racing Media

When Brett Risi started tagging along with his dad and older brother to the horse races at Vernon Downs at age 12, he never thought it would lead to the opportunity of a lifetime. After winning a qualifying tournament at Vernon Downs last month, Risi, now 21, will compete against 100 of North America's best horseplayers for a $50,000 prize pool in the World Harness Handicapping Championship (WHHC) in April at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment in East Rutherford, NJ. "I am honored to have a chance to play against the best handicappers in the country," said Risi, who will be the second youngest person ever to compete in the WHHC Final. "It makes me feel good about myself and I hope more kids my age will come to be as interested in the game as I am." Now in its tenth year, the WHHC is harness racing's premier handicapping tournament and allows players from across the U.S. and Canada the chance to qualify through both live and online events, in addition to buying a seat for $800. In the WHHC Final, each player begins with a $300 bankroll and contestants are required to wager at least $30 on ten designated contest races. The player who amasses the largest bankroll is declared the winner. Risi, a Herkimer, NY resident, is a college student and works part-time. He is a self-described regular at Vernon Downs and says he has won a few other smaller tournaments, but none that would provide a first-place prize of $20,000. "As I got older, I learned how to bet and really expanded my knowledge of strategic wagering," explained Risi. "By the time I was 19, I knew I had figured out just about everything I could on how to bet." Risi says he already spends a lot of time handicapping the races and will devote even more time to his craft if he wins next month. Three other horseplayers from Vernon Downs and Tioga Downs also won qualifying tournaments recently at the two Upstate New York racinos and will compete at the WHHC Final: Phil Melancon from Clay, NY; Mark "Duke" Smolinsky of Endicott, NY; and Kim Wahila of Vestal, NY. For more information on the World Harness Handicapping Championship, click here Justin Horowitz

Racing applications for the 2015 season are now available on the Vernon Downs website. The deadline for applications that wish to have stabling privileges is March 16. The entire barn area will open April 1. Harness Racing applications are required for anyone that intends to race at Vernon in 2015. Vernon Downs would like to remind all horsemen that nominations for both the Catherine Burton Trotting Series and the Anthony Farina Pacing Series are due April 1.  The Catherine Burton Trotting Series will conduct preliminary legs on Friday (April 24) and Friday (May 1). The Anthony Farina Pacing Series is slated for Saturday (April 25) and Saturday (May 2). The finals for each will be on Mother’s Day (May 10). Both legs of each series will go for $4,000 with $10,000 added to each final. The conditions for each series are non-winners 2(F&M 3) pari-mutuel races and/or $20,000 lifetime through and including March 31, 2015 (Winners over $50,000 lifetime not eligible). The nomination fee for each is $100 payable to Vernon Downs, Attention: Scott Warren, P.O. Box 860, Vernon, NY 13476. Nominations must be postmarked by April 1. Vernon Downs kicks off its 62nd year of racing on Friday (April 17) with a first race post of 6:45 p.m. The meet will consist of 90 days of racing, spanning from April 17 through November 21. For more information about racing visit  

Horsemen are advised that initial payments for early-closing harness racing events at Tioga and Vernon Downs are due postmarked no later than Tuesday, March 17.   These payments are necessary to establish and/or maintain eligibility to the Empire Breeders Classic, Kindergarten Classic, Crawford Farms, Artiscape, Muscle Hill, Roll With Joe, and Miss Versatility events.   Checks should be made payable to Tioga Downs, and sent to Racing Office, c/o Tioga Downs, LLC, 2384 West River Road, Nichols, NY 13812.   For complete stakes information, follow this link:   by James Witherite

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