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Vernon Downs played host to a July fourth harness racing spectacular on Saturday. It featured three Empire Breeder Classic races for sophomore trotters (colts & geldings had two divisions). Also on hand was two divisions of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for freshman pacing fillies. These five races combined for over half a million dollars in purse money. Hypnotic AM (Brian Sears) captures the $207,250 EBC final for 3-year-old trotting fillies. A wild start saw No Mas Drama (Joe Bongiorno) lead to the first quarter in :27.2. Love A Good Story (Andy Miller) took the top spot right after the first quarter but that was short lived as Hypnotic AM ($3.60) took control as they went to the top of the back stretch. Southwind Fern (Jim Morrill Jr.) was parked outside first over and put on slight pressure as Hypnotic AM hit the half first in :56.1. The field was two by two following Hypnotic AM as they charged around the final turn hitting three-quarters in 1:25.4. Hypnotic AM led as they made the turn for home. Love A Good Story was trapped in the box and finally got free as they reached the stretch but Hypnotic AM was too strong and won in 1:53.4. Love A Good Story settled for second. No Mas Drama finally got free in the stretch as well and finished third.   Hypnotic AM is a 3-year-old filly by Chapter Seven. Owned by Courant Inc. and trained by Marcus Melander. She is now two for two in 2020 with nine wins in 11 lifetime starts. Hobbs (Jason Bartlett) goes three-wide to gain upset victory in $97,750 first division of  the EBC for sophomore trotting colts & geldings. Hobbs ($17.20) went straight to the front and led to the first quarter in :27.2.  Barn Holden (Jim Morrill Jr.) took over as they went around the clubhouse turn with Hobbs settling for the pocket.  Barn Holden hit the half first in :56.3.  Take the Credit (Ake Svanstedt) was the first to make a move on the backstretch going first-over from fourth.  The two battled all the way around the final turn with Take The Credit leading to three-quarters in 1:24.3.   Hobbs came out of the pocket and came at them three-wide as they reached the stretch.  As they headed to deep stretch Take The Credit muscled his way to the front.  Hobbs wore him down and went by just before the wire hitting a lifetime best mile of 1:53.3.  Take The Credit had to settle for second money with Barn Holden hanging on for third.   Hobbs is a 3-year-old gelding by Credit Winner. Owned by Runthetable Stables and trained by Jim Campbell, he won for the first time this season and the second time in his career. Third Shift (Ake Svanstedt) dominates the $97,750 second division of the EBC for 3-year-old colts & geldings. Berkery J (Scott Zeron) and Chaptiama (Trond Smedshammer) battled for the early lead with Chaptiama taking over just before hitting the first quarter in :27.2. Chaptiama led to the half in :57.1 with Berkery J in the pocket and Third Shift ($2.90) sitting patiently in third. As they headed to three-quarters Ballcapsnbluejeans (Corey Callahan) came first up and flushed out Third Shift. Chaptiama still led as they hit three-quarters in 1:25.3. Third Shift moved into second and went a little wide as they made the turn for home. Berkey J tried to split the leaders but went off-stride. Third Shift had another gear and forged to the front and won by over five lengths in a lifetime best of 1:52.4. Ballcapsnbluejeans came up to finish second with Sir Cromwell (Jason Bartlett) getting awarded third place.   Third Shift is a 3-year-old colt by Chapter Seven. Owned by trainer Svanstedt and Melby Gard Inc. He is two for two in 2020 with five career wins. Easy To Please (Jim Morrill Jr.) and Test Of Faith (Jim Marohn Jr.) each take divisions of the NYSS for freshmen pacing fillies. Easy To Please (Roll With Joe-Lorrie Please) wins the $53,100 first division of the NYSS for 2-year-old pacing fillies. She would take over just before the half and never looked back to win in a lifetime best of 1:53.2. She is owned by trainer Michael Hall, Our Three Sons Stable, Brad Grant, and Howard Taylor. She is now two for two in her young career. She paid $2.60 for the win. Test Of Faith (Art Major-Cannae Cammie) goes wire-to-wire to capture the $53,100 second division. Trained by Brett Pelling for owners Melvin Segal and Kentuckiana Racing Stable. He won in 1:52.2 in his first career start paying ($11.00) for the win. Vernon Downs returns to live racing Thursday (July 9) with a 13-race card starting at 4 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com. by John Horne, for Vernon Downs.  

Gettin Serious wins $4,800 featured trot at Vernon Downs on Thursday (July 2). American JJ (Michael Miller) went to the front and led to the quarter in :27.4. Gettin Serious ($4.10) took control on the back stretch for driver Roman Lopez and was first to the half in :56.3. Five Towns (Howard Parker) went first-over and tried to put pressure on Gettin Serious but couldn't get by. Gettin Serious led to three-quarters in 1:25.2. As they turned for home Gettin Serious found another gear and won easily in a lifetime best of 1:55.1. Sweet Royalty (Jimmy Whittemore) showed late trot and came up to finish second. Five Towns had to settle for third. Gettin Serious is a 4-year-old horse by Crazed, is co-owned by trainer Roman Lopez with Mitchell Frair. It was his second win of 2020. He now has nine career victories. Howard Parker drove four winners on the night while Leon Bailey steered three to the winner's circle. Parker won with Step Forward ($22.60), Pudge's Pastime ($5.60), East To Cincy ($6.00), and Fox Valley Photog ($5.20). Bailey got his wins with The Band K ($7.20), Jenny Lake ($4.60), and Sweet Sofie T ($18.20). Vernon Downs returns to live racing on Saturday (July 4) starting at 1:10 p.m. The "Miracle Mile" will feature the Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) for trotters with a combined purse for the three races of over $400,000. Also on Hand will be two divisions of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for freshman pacing fillies. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com by John Horne, for Vernon Downs

Vernon Downs will host three Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) races for 3-year-old trotters on Saturday (July 4) at 1 p.m. There will be two divisions for sophomore trotting colts and geldings. Both divisions will race for a purse of $97,750. In the first division, the Steven Pratt trained Barn Holden (Jim Morrill Jr) looks to be the horse to beat. In a leg of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) last week the colt by Conway Hall faded in the stretch to finish third after leading most of the race. He has two wins in 2020 and five career victories with earnings of over $135,000. His main rival will be the Julie Miller trained Book Seven (Andy Miller). The Chapter Seven colt is one for one in 2020 with a lifetime best mark of 1:56.3 last week at Tioga. He has six lifetime wins and has earned over $85,000 in his career Third Shift (Ake Svanstedt) and Berkery J (Scott Zeron) are set to face off in the second division of the EBC, Both are coming off of NYSS wins at Vernon Downs last week. Third Shift (Chapter Seven) won the ($225,000) NYSS final for freshmen colts & geldings. He looked real sharp in his 2020 debut last week winning in a lifetime best of 1:54.3. Trained by Svanstedt, he has earned over $210,000 including four career wins. Berkery J (Chapter Seven) came flying late to win last week in a lifetime best time of (1:54.2) in his first start of 2020. The George Ducharme trained colt has four career wins and earnings of over $176,000. Chaptiama (Chapter Seven) should be their main competition. Trained and driven by Trond Smedshammer, the colt came charging late to finish a close second to Berkery J at Tioga. She has two lifetime victories and nearly $200,000 in earnings. 11 fillies will square off in the $207,250 EBC for sophomore filly trotters. Hypnotic AM (Brian Sears) is the top money earner in the group with nearly $500,000 in the bank. Marcus Melander trains the filly by Chapter Seven. As a freshman she finished first in the $225,000 NYSS final and a decent third place finish in the Breeders Crown. She is one for one in 2020 with an impressive NYSS win at Tioga Downs last week. She is eight for ten in her career. Senorita Rita (Scott Zeron) will be making her 3-year-old debut. She had a sensational freshman season with wins in the $475,000 Goldsmith Maid final and the $251,000 Kindergarten Classic final (both at the Meadowlands). Linda Toscano trains the filly by Chapter Seven. She has six career wins and earnings of over $410,000. Morning line favorite, Love A Good Story (Andy Miller) is coming off a lifetime best of 1:53.0 in her 3-year-old debut at Tioga Downs last week in a leg of the NYSS. The sophomore filly by Chapter Seven is trained by Julie Miller. She has eights career wins and has amassed over $260,000 in her career. There will also be two divisions of the NYSS for freshman pacing fillies. Both divisions will race for a purse of $53.100. Post time for the 15-race card on Saturday (July 4) is 1:10 p.m. Vernon Downs will race on Thursdays and Saturdays for the rest of July at 4 p.m. They will race on Friday (July 10) with a 4 p.m. post time as well. For more information go to www.vernondowns. by John Horne, for Vernon Downs            

Vernon Downs hosted two harness racing divisions of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for 3-year-old trotting colts & geldings on Wednesday (June 24). Third Shift (Ake Svanstedt) is impressive winner in the $59,000 first division of the NYSS. Take The Credit (Andy Miller) took the early lead but Bluffinner (Trond Smedshammer) found the front before hitting the first quarter in :28.0. He was followed by the coupled entry of Take The Credit and Third Shift ($2.80) as they hit the half in :58.2. Third Shift would make his move as they headed for the last turn going first over from third. He would get a clear lead before hitting three-quarters in 1:26.2. He would just pour it on in the stretch winning it with ease in a lifetime best of 1:54.3. Take The Credit came up to finish second. Ballcapnbluejeans (Mark MacDonald) fired late to take Third money. Third Shift is a 3-year-old colt by Chapter Seven. Owned by Melby Gard Inc., and trainer Svanstedt. He was a winner in his first start of 2020. He now has four career wins. Bekery J (Scott Zeron) charges late to capture $58,000 second division of the NYSS. At the start they would be five wide as they went by the stands for the first time. Beerthirty K (Tyler Buter) worked his way clear to lead to a first quarter of :28.1. Barn Holden took over right after the quarter and led to the half in :56.4. He would remain in control as he started to open up as he hit three-quarters in 1:25.4. Berkey J ($13.60) made his move from third as they made the turn for home. He took over at mid- stretch and held off a late surge from second place finisher, Chaptiama (Trond Smedshammer) to win in a lifetime best of 1:54.2. Barn Holden settled for third. Bekery J is a 3-year-old colt by Chapter Seven. He is owned by Kenneth Jacobs and trained by George Ducharme. He is one for one in 2020. He now owns four career victories. Vernon Downs return to live racing on Thursday (June 25) with a 13-race card at 4 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com.   John Horne for Vernon Downs.

Vernon Downs welcomes two divisions of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for harness racing trotting colts & geldings on Wednesday (June 24). The $59,000 first division features last year 2-year-old NYSS final winner, Third Shift (Chapter Seven). The colt won three times in eight starts as a freshmen including a lifetime best mark at Vernon Downs of 1:54.4. He has earned over $210,000 in his career and will make his 3-year-old debut on Wednesday. His top rivals include four time winners Sky Castles (Jason Bartlett) and Bourbon Express (Tyler Buter), who will make their first starts of 2020. Sky Castles (Conway Hall) is trained by Andrew Harris. He has amassed almost $114,000 in career earnings. Jessica Okusko trains sophomore gelding Bourbon Express (RC Royalty). He has earned over $130,000 in his career. In the $58,000 second division, the coupled entry of Barn Holden (Andy Miller) and Chaptiama (Trond Smedshammer) will be tough to beat. Barn Holden (Conway Hall) is two for two this season with both wins at Vernon. Trained by Steven Pratt, she has five career wins and almost $130,000 in earnings. Chaptiama (Chapter Seven) finished second in the NYSS final last season. Trained by Smedshammer, he will make his 3-year-old debut after two wins and over 180,000 earned in 2019. Berkery J (Scott Zeron) and Beerthirty K (Tyler Buter) should be their main competition. Berkery J (Chapter Seven) won three times and almost $150,000 for trainer George Ducharme. Beerthirty K (Credit Winner) is trained by John Berger. He was one for eight and earned just short of $100,000 as a freshman. They both start their sophomore seasons at Vernon on Wednesday. The 15-race card on Wednesday (June 24) starts at 4 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com John Horne for Vernon Downs

Spoiler Alert (Leon Bailey) holds on to win the harness racing $5,600 featured trot at Vernon Downs on Thursday (June 18). Warrawee Preferred (Jim Taggart Jr) laid down all the early fractions (:26.4, :56.3, 1:25.4). Spoiler Alert ($20.40), who is owned by Jeffrey Hayes and trained by Misty Carey, rode In the pocket all the way to the stretch. Only Passing Thru (Jimmy Whittemore) went outside and Spoiler Alert snuck inside as they went three across the track. Spoiler Alert came clear but had to hold off the late charge of second place finisher Fashionwoodchopper (Claude Huckabone Jr.) to win in 1:54.2. Warrawee Preferred hung on to finish third. Spoiler Alert is a 6-year-old gelding by Chapter Seven. It was his first win in 2020. He now has 16 career wins. Sweet Diesel (Dan Dailey) captures the $5,600 featured pace. Golden Gun (Howard Parker) took the lead and hit the first quarter in :27.3. Bettor's Edge (Jennifer Lappe) took control as they went around the clubhouse turn. He led to a half of :56.4 and three-quarters in 1:25.1. Sweet Diesel, who is trained by Daley for owners Ann-Mari Daley, Crawford Farms Racing and James Crawford IV, was sixth at the halfway point. He then flew around the final turn and took the lead at they reached the stretch. The gelding used a last quarter of :27.2 to set a new lifetime mark of 1:52.3. Golden Gun finished second.. Hugh Hefner N (Fern Paquet Jr.) was third. Sweet Diesel is a 4-year-old gelding by Sweet Lou. First win in his first start of 2020. He now has 10 career victories. Sweet Diesel Trainer Misty Carey and driver Leon Bailey combined for a double. Their other win came with Mr. Livan N ($3.50). Fern Paquet Jr. remained red hot with a driving double. His wins came with Ohio Larry ($6.50) and Celebrity Liberty ($6.30) Vernon Downs returns to live racing on Wednesday (June 24) at 4 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com John Horne for Vernon Downs

Purpose Blue Chip (Dan Daley) wins the harness racing $4,800 featured trot at Vernon Downs on Wednesday (June 17). American JJ (Michael Miller) went to the first quarter in :27.1. Purpose Blue Chip ($2.10) took the lead right after the quarter. He used a :29.2 second quarter to hit the half in :56.3. American JJ tried to keep up but Purpose Blue Chip cruised to three-quarters in 1:25.0. Purpose Blue Chip, who is trained by Daley for owners Ann-Mari Daley, Donald Brenner, and James Crawford IV, grabbed a three length lead as they reached the stretch. The battle was for second as Purpose Blue Chp won in a lifetime best of 1:54.2. The battle for place wnt to Getting Serious (Roman Lopez). Give Angel Credit ( Joe Nassimos) came up to get third. Purpose Blue Chip is a 5-year-old horse by Chapter Seven. He is two for two in 2020. He how has six career victories. Fern Paquet Jr. drove four winners on the night. He won with Rockin Party ($6.50), Racingtowardadream ($60.50). Hid other two wins came with The father-daughter combination of Celebrity Maserati ($4.50), and Celebrity Serena (by Celebrity Maserati ($6.00)). The pair were trained by Jennifer Sansone for Celebrity Farms. Vernon Downs returns to live racing with a 12-race card on Thursday (June 18) starting at 4p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com John Horne for Vernon Downs

Warrrawee Preferred (Jim Taggert Jr.) wins the $5,600 harness racing featured trot at Vernon Downs on Thursday (June 11). Only Passing Thru (Jimmy Whittemore), jumped to the front and led to a first quarter of :27.2. The big favorite, Wings Of Royalty (Howard Parker) took over the lead as they headed around the clubhouse turn and hit the half in :56.0. He controlled the way as they hit three-quarters in 1:24.2. Warrawee Preferred ($21.00), who is owned by Scott Woogen and trained by Kerin Warner, was fourth as they made the turn for home. It looked like Wings Of Royalty was going to win it easy. Warrawee Preferred look like she was shot out of a cannon as she went on by to win in a lifetime best of 1:54.4. Wings Of Royalty had to settle for second. Fashionwoodchopper fired late to finish third. Warrawee Preferred is a 9-year-old gelding by Federal Flex. It was his third win of the season and 46th career victory. Warrawee Preferred Jimmy Whittemore drove three winners on the night. He won with Ohio Larry ($7.50), Skip Jive ($2.60), and My Blue Opal ($7.00). Taggert Jr., Fern Paquet Jr., and Leon Bailey all had driving doubles on the night. Vernon Downs handle tops $300,000 For the Second straight day the "Miracle Mile" had a strong handle. After an opening day handle of over $350,000 Vernon Downs took in a handle of $304,121 on Thursday.. . Vernon Downs returns to live racing on Wednesday (June 17) with a 4p.m. start time. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com John Horne for Vernon Downs  

Sheer Talent (Fern Paquet Jr.) wins the $4800 featured fillies & mares harness racing pace at Vernon Downs on opening night (June 10). Under The Bus (Jimmy Whittemore) jumped to the front and put up all the early fractions (:26.2, :56.3, 1:26.2). Sheer Talent ($13.20), who is owned by Bill Reepmeyer and trained by Bruce Lauer, sat in the pocket the whole way until they reached the stretch. She eased out of the pocket and blew right on by to win in a seasonal best of 1:53.1. Under The Bus had to settle for second. Ladyboss (Wally Hennessey) got third money. Sheer Talent is a 6-year-old mare by Badlands Hanover. It was her third win this season. She now owns 13 career victories. Howard Parker drove three winners on the night. He finished first with Tournament ($6.50), Double Dealing ($4.00), and Rosiemunn ($3.60). Jimmy Whittemore, Fern Paquet Jr, and Joe Nassimos all had driving doubles. Whittemore won with Love Live Laugh ($4.40), Cheek Please ($12.60), Paquet's other win came with A Lister ($17.40). Nassmos got wins with Angel Magic ($9.00), and Give Angel Credit ($153.00). Vernon Downs had a first night handle of $353,784. Their best in a very long time. Vernon Downs would like to thank everyone who participated. Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Thursday (June 11) with a 12-race card starting at 4p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com   John Horne for Vernon Downs.

Vernon Downs is set to begin their 67th year of racing on Wednesday (June 10) with a 12-race card in front of no harness racingh fans with a post time of 4:00 pm. The "Miracle Mile" will race on Wednesdays and Thursdays in June starting at 4 p.m. In July Vernon Downs will run on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights with the exception of Friday (July 3). Post time in July will be 6:10 p.m. except for July 4th which will start at 1:10 p.m. In August, September, and October, Vernon will race every Friday and Saturday with a post time of 6:10 p.m. There will also be a special Labor Day performance on Monday (September 7) starting at 1:10 p.m. Post time will be at 6:10 p.m. on November 6th and 7th with closing night coming on Saturday (November 14). Vernon Downs will once again feature the Zweig Memorial races for 3-year-old trotters. The Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) for 3-year-old trotting colts as well as a race for 3-year-old trotting fillies. The "Miracle Mile" will also play host to several legs of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) in 2020. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com John Horne fro Vernon Downs      

Vernon Downs Harness Racing Horsemen and Management successfully negotiate two year contract extension with a 2020 one time waiver of the ten percent stakes cap The Harness Horse Association of Central New York (HHACNY), the Gaming Commission-recognized representative horsemen’s association at Vernon Downs Racetrack, is pleased to announce that it has secured a two year extension of its horsemen’s agreement with Vernon Down’s Management and agreed to a waiver of the ten percent cap on the two important 2020 Vernon stakes in this difficult year. A formal agreement is to be executed. As part of the negotiation to achieve this agreement favorable to both parties, which ensures that the horsemen will receive all of the beneficial terms and conditions guaranteed under the present contract through the two year extension of the base agreement (now extended through December 31, 2023), the horsemen have agreed to a one-time waiver of the 10% cap on stakes allocation from the purse account, permitting the full funding of the 2020 renewals of The Zweig and Empire Breeders Classic. HHACNY President Rick Papa stated, “As we both have worked towards the restoration of harness racing to central New York in the aftermath of the most destructive period of the viral pandemic, it was important to make sure that our owners, trainers and drivers could rely on long-term continued operations of the raceway. The financial devastation that has impacted our members cannot be recouped by us or Management without some give and take on each side. That’s why it was so important to obtain this extension from management. While the horsemen were concerned about the uncertainty of whether or when the current season would commence, the HHACNY membership has again reached a successful resolution of this issue working with Management to obtain a clear and concise deal removing any ambiguity.” Vernon Downs President Jeff Gural stated, “I am glad we were able to resolve this and credit Rick for coming up with a compromise that makes sense for all concerned. As a horseman, I recognize how important it is to get racing up and running and come up with a plan for the sire stakes as well.”   Harness Horse Association of Central New York Rick Papa, President (315) 725-8948

Columbus, OH –  Negotiations over a revision to the existing contract between Vernon Downs management and the Harness Horse Association of Central New York have reached an impasse as that track prepares for their announced June 10 opening. Some of the issues involved in the discussions to amend their existing agreement have included the number of racing days and schedule as well as purses for overnight, sire stakes and stakes races.  A disagreement on the level of stakes’ purses remains. Since the closing of New York State casinos in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the usual revenue stream to the horsemen’s purse accounts has been cut off.  And while New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has granted permission to resume horse racing on June 1, there is still a delay in the casino openings and an expectation of limited capacity restrictions when they do. Despite that delay, Vernon Downs’ track and casino owner Jeff Gural has indicated that he is prepared to start the live meet in advance of opening the casino and will personally fund any shortfall to get them started racing to provide local horsemen, who have been struggling financially, with a place to race. According to Joe Faraldo, counsel for the HHACNY, the horsemen have negotiated in good faith regarding the need to reduce racing days and purses with the understanding that everyone will have to take a hit economically.  He indicated that Rick Papa, president of the local horsemen’s association, had signed and submitted the amendment to the existing contract based upon the product of the negotiations on Thursday evening (May 28). Aside from the NY Sire Stakes, only two stakes remain on the Vernon Downs schedule, The Empire Breeders Classic for state-bred 3-year-old trotters and the Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial, which showcases some of the top 3-year-old trotters in the sport. Gural indicated that failing to reach an acceptable compromise, Vernon Downs will not reopen for racing until the casino opens, which might be as late as mid-July. from the USTA Communications Department

Nichols, NY - Live harness racing will come to both Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs the beginning of June with qualifiers the first week and live racing the next.   Following the orders of Governor Cuomo, racing will get underway on the first day permitted with qualifying races held and Tioga on Monday, June 1 and again on Wednesday, June 3. At Vernon qualifiers will be on Tuesday, June 2 and Friday, June 5.   Live racing will kick off on Sunday, June 7 at Tioga and follow a Sunday - Monday schedule with a post time of 4:00 PM for all cards throughout the month of June with no live crowd and only remote wagering.   The first stakes to be raced at Tioga will be the NYSS 3YO Colt Pace, Roll With Joe Open Pace and a Graduate Series. All will remain on the originally scheduled date of Sunday, June 14.   Vernon will race on Wednesday, June 10 and Thursday, June 11 at 4:00 PM continuing that schedule and the no live attendance policy for the month as well. New York Sires Stakes will be raced at Vernon and we will post that schedule as soon as it becomes available.   With the large number of horses that we expect to enter qualifiers this week we ask that if your horse is currently qualified to race that you do not enter that horse to qualify.   Entries for the qualifiers will close at 10:00 AM the previous day. The qualifying overnight sheet will instruct horse people where each horse will be stabled/held until they race either in the paddock or designated area for ship ins.   Pertinent information on protocol the state will require to participate at both tracks will be made available on the track websites in the "Horsemen" section. Please read and become familiar with the details and come prepared to follow the conditions as written.   All persons entering the property at both tracks will be required to fill out a questionnaire and submit to a temperature check before entering the stable gate and if deemed a risk will be turned away. Once on the grounds you are required to wear face coverings at all times and gloves when practical, maintain social distancing, keep to a minimum number of people in the paddock and minimal contact with others while on the grounds.   Only those horses ages three and up that are stabled on the grounds (including local farms designated by management) at each track or eligible to the NYSS will be accepted to qualify and race at Tioga and Vernon for the time being. Two-year-olds will be accepted for week two of qualifiers.   Horses shipping in will be required to stable in the designated area and leave the grounds as soon as possible after qualifying or racing.   Please keep the warming up to a minimum and keep a distance from others when on the track both warming up and scoring.   Catch-Drivers will have no contact with the handlers of the horses and will wait in their car in a designated parking area with no contact among themselves.They will pick up their mounts on the way to the track. Trainers that drive their own horses and have been working in the stables may participate in the preparation of the horses.   It is strongly recommended that you sign up for Meadowlands, Tioga & Vernon mass text service as a lot of important information will be disseminated via text. To sign up, text the word "MEADOWLANDS" to the number 84700 on your mobile device. You may be required to respond "YES" if you receive a request for response.   We need everyone to adhere to protocol exactly as required by the state. It is imperative that we do everything they ask to the very best of our ability so that we may continue to race. Enduring this temporary inconvenience is what must be done to get back to what we need to do and eventual easing of these restrictions.   For all of the latest news on the resumption of racing, visit the USTA COVID-19 Resource Center.   Nick Salvi        

Nichols, NY - In light of the recent announcement that the New York regions containing both Tioga and Vernon Downs will be among the first to make a gradual return to business, Jeff Gural is working toward opening those tracks for live harness racing, hopefully by the end of May.   Negotiations with the Horsemen's organizations regarding details on just how to accomplish that in a fashion that would give racing the best chance to be conducted safely are underway.   "Although it's not in my best business interests to open for racing before the casinos get back going as originally planned, being a horseman I sympathize with the guys that race with us and the situation they have found themselves in through no fault of their own," said Jeff Gural, owner/operator of Tioga and Vernon Downs.   "Another key issue is the status of the NY Sires Stakes (NYSS) program. There are a lot of unknowns about the other tracks, when they will be able to open and what the landscape will look like when they do. I understand that Buffalo has chosen not to host NYSS races, so if we're able to get open we'll include that leg with those raced at Tioga and Vernon and get the program started."   "The picture should become much clearer over the next few days. We are busy working out the details of what will be expected of us to race and just how we'll get that done. Horsemen will need to be involved and diligent in policing themselves because we can not afford a single mistake."   Further details will be announced as they become known.   Nick Salvi        

Nichols, NY - Governor Cuomo's extension of the NYS on PAUSE order until May 15 will cause the postponement of the harness racing Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) trots at Vernon Downs from the scheduled eliminations on May 15 and final on May 25 until a date as yet to be determined.   That extension will also affect the opening of the Tioga and Vernon casinos, thus delaying the start of the live racing at both properties until the order is lifted.   Governor Cuomo has been quoted as considering permitting the reopening of businesses in the less populated regions of New York first. It is our hope that that plan would permit Tioga and Vernon casinos to get open and allow for us to prepare for racing.   Any developments will be addressed and passed along as soon as there is anything to report.   Nick Salvi

East Rutherford, NJ - Be advised that any horse that was being trained by a harness racing trainer named in the recent Federal indictments at the time those indictments were handed down will not be accepted to race at The Meadowlands, Tioga or Vernon Downs in overnights or stakes for 60 days from the date that the tracks reopen for live racing.    

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