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Stay In Your Place (Leon Bailey) coasted to a gate-to-wire harness racing victory in the Vernon Downs feature pace ($7,000), on Saturday (April 21). Stay in Your Place (Mr Wiggles), who is owned by Victor Finocchiaro and trained by Andy Gardner, went to the front and never looked back. The 4-year-old controlled all the fractions (:26.3, :55.3, 1:23.4, 1:52.2). Drunken Desire A (Justin Huckabone) came on late to finish second with Ben N Crosby (John MacDonald) taking third. Stay In Your Place ($10.00), would pick up his third win of the season and earn career win number 10. Silver Arrow (John MacDonald) captured the first leg of the Anthony Farina Pacing Series ($4000). Silver Arrow (Roll With Joe) would charge out to the front and lay down all the fractions (:27.4, :57.4, 1:27.1, 1:55.3). CJ's Roll On Two (Claude Huckabone III) would ride in the pocket seat the whole way and would settle for second place. Back to Motown (Mike Merton) would finish third. Silver Arrow ($3.40), is owned by Purple Haze Stables and George Wyman while trained by Howard Okuskow. He won for the first time this season. The 3-year-old colt now has two career victories. Vernon Downs returns to live racing on Friday (April 27) at 6:10 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com John Horne for Vernon Downs.  

Somedew Somedont (Chris Lems) takes the first leg of the Robert E. Keller Trotting Series($4000) on opening night at Vernon Downs (April 20). On a brisk evening at the Miracle Mile, Lems took Somedew Somedont (Deweycheatumnhowe) right to the lead from her outside post. Owned by Chris and Dale Lawton (trainer), the 3 -year-old fillie put up all the fractions 28.4, 59.2, 1:28.2, 1:57.4. The post time favorite, I win Hanover (Tom Jackson) would follow the entire mile. The 3-year-old gelding would come out of the pocket and give her a run at it but had to settle for second. Irish Kate (Jimmy Whittemore) would finish third. Somedew Somedont ($6.00) won in her first start of the season. It was third career victory in just 10 starts. Joe Nassimos had an opening day driving double. He would get wins with The Big Muscle ($8.10) and Velocity Kelli ($23.40). The large opening night crowd recieved free t-shirts and magnets plus got to see a spectular fireworks display after the 11 race card was over. Vernon returns to live racing tomorrow (April 21) with an 11 race card starting at 6:10 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com John Horne for Vernon Downs.      

John MacDonald has won three straight driving championships at Vernon Downs. He will begin his Quest for four in a row as Vernon Downs opens for live harness racing on Friday (April 20) starting at 6:10 pm. MacDonald won 185 races last season. His main competition the last three years came from Chris Lems, who was runner-up all three years. Lems will be on hand opening day but will only be there part time this season. Also returning is another former track champion, Jimmy Whittemore, who was third with 82 wins a year ago. Truman Gale (54) and Leon Bailey (30) round out the top five from last year. MacDonald will go for his third straight training title. He trained 57 winners in 2017. Andy Gardner returns to take another crack at the training title. He was just six wins behind MacDonald last season. Opening day features free t-shirts and schedule magnets while they last. Fireworks will follow the 11 race card. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com John Horne for Vernon Downs

Vernon Downs is set to begin their 65th year of harness racing on Friday (April 20) with a new post time of 6:10 pm. Opening night will feature a t-shirt and schedule magnet giveaway. Also the popular "That's My Driver" promotion. Five entries will be randomly selected following Race 2. All will have a chance to win up to $140. At the conclusion of the evening's racing will be a large fireworks display. Highlights for the season include "Derby Day" featuring the live showing of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday (May 5) with a special post time of 4:30 pm. Memorial Day (May 28) features The Empire Classic Finals for both 3-year-old filly trotters and 3-year-old trotting colts. Each Final is racing for a purse of $250,000 est. with a post time of 1:05 pm. The Zweig Memorial races will take place on Friday (August 17) featuring the Zweig 3-year-old Colt Trot ($370,000 est.) and 3-year-old Fillies Trot ($150,000 est.). The Million Dollar Ball Drop will take place on Saturday (August 18). The Horseplay Car Giveaway featuring a 2017 Ford Fiesta will be on Saturday (September 1). John MacDonald will attempt to defend driving and training titles he won in 2017. MacDonald was top driver in 2017 with 185 wins on the season and top trainer with 57 wins on the year. He was also the owner and trainer of Oh My Joepa, who won horse of the year honors with nine wins. The 11 race card for Friday will feature Leg one of the Robert E. Keller Trotting Series. A live bugler will be on hand for the festivities as well. For more information go to www.vernondowms.com John Horne

Jason Settlemoir (Regional VP, Racing and Simulcast) announced that Garrett Madison has been named Regional Racing Marketing Manager for Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs. Madison, a graduate of Owego Free Academy, started with the company as a Mutual Teller in 2011. He eventually became the Regional Racing Operations Manager, a position he held for the last four years. The Apalachin native will be responsible for all marketing of racing, including creating all of the advertising with different kinds of media. He will also be responsible for all racing promotions done at both tracks, among many other duties. Settlemoir said, "It has been a pleasure watching Garrett grow with the company in every position he has held. We feel his hard work and dedication will help him thrive in his new position." Jason Bluhm (Sr Regional Director of Racing Tioga Downs & Vernon Downs) also praised Madison. "Garrett is a great worker, I've put a lot on his plate these past few years and he's handled everything brilliantly. It's a well-deserved promotion." Said Bluhm. Madison, who recently purchased a new home with his partner, Erinn Gahring, in Campville, NY, said "I grew up racing Motocross. When I got the chance to work in the Harness Racing Industry, it seemed like a natural fit." " I love the competitive nature and the hard work that goes into it." Madison said that Jason Bluhm and Jason Settlemoir have taught him so much about the sport of harness racing. "They (Bluhm and Settlemoir) are so passionate about the sport." "All that rubs off, it has helped to make me fall in love with harness racing." "I can't thank them enough." Madison added "I love going to work every day with all the great people at both Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs. I look forward to the challenge of my new job and can't wait to get started." Madison's main office will remain at Tioga Downs but he will commute to both locations throughout the year. John Horne for Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs

ALBANY – An upstate harness racing track said it will not open as planned later this month because of increased competition from casinos in the area. Vernon Downs in central New York was set to start its harness racing season April 21, but the opening is being delayed because of “significant financial losses” due to the addition of new casinos in the region, said the track‘s owner Jeff Gural. Vernon Downs is one of eight racetracks in New York with video-lottery terminals, and Gural also owns Tioga Downs in the Southern Tier that switched to a full-scale casino in December. “It is extremely unfortunate, but we have no other choice than to postpone the opening day of racing at Vernon Downs,” Gural said in a statement. “The property loses money on racing, so opening racing now only makes a bad situation worse.” Gural said Vernon Downs would reopen if it gets a better tax rate from the state as it faces increased competition from casino expansions by the Oneidas, the American Indian tribe that owns the sprawling Turning Stone Casino and Resort nearby, as well as the Yellow Brick Road Casino closer to Syracuse. The Oneidas are also planning Meanwhile, to the west, the del Lago Casino in the Finger Lakes opened in February. When the third Oneidas casino opens next year, there will be 10 gambling sites between Albany and Batavia. With 767 video-lottery terminals, Vernon Downs has long battled against Turning Stone, which is just 6 miles away. But the additional competition has taken an increasing toll on the racetrack, which is looking to start its 64th  season of harness racing. The track‘s revenue Gural said the track, which has about 300 jobs, has been losing about $150,000 a month since November. Gural‘s announcement comes after a new tax deal for the track wasn‘t included in the state budget, which was approved Sunday. “Lowering the tax rate is a way that New York can ensure that properties like Vernon Downs that do not have table games can remain competitive and continue to be an asset within the community,” he said. There was no immediate comment from the state Gaming Commission on Gural‘s decision. Vernon Downs isn‘t the only track seeking a better deal from the state. Batavia Downs because of the increased competition in western New York, and Finger Lakes Racing & Gaming got a new tax deal last year because of neighboring del Lago. Reprinted with permission of The Luxora Leader

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

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