Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kindergarten Classic Numbers Way Up for 2010

The Kindergarten Classic series,offered for freshman trotters only in 2010, has matured into an intriguing option for those seeking opportunities to prepare their precocious juveniles for the fall stakes.

The number of nominees increased dramatically this year which, in addition to in increase in money added to the finals from $25,000 to $40,000, will see the purses for each of the finals rise to well in excess of estimates.

The number of colts nominated increased by more than 50% to 116 and those making the final will compete for over $160,000.

The 98 fillies paid in falls just shy of that benchmark and their final purse will be in the $140,000 neighborhood.

The series begins at The Meadowlands, with the filly divisions raced on Wednesday, July 21 and the colts on the next day.

Vernon Downs will host all subsequent races with leg two at the venerable upstate New York strip on Friday, August 20.

The balance of the races take place on Friday, September 10 and Friday, September 17 before the September 24 finals.

The schedule affords nominators an opportunity to then move on to the Breeders Crown, Red Mile and beyond with a suitable foundation.

Each leg offers a purse of $10,000 and requires an entry fee of $250. There is no entry fee for the finals or $10,000 consolation races. Complete info and nominee lists with pedigree info are available at the Vernon Downs website.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Stonebridge Wish a Hard-Fought 1:52.2 Victory

Track record-holder Stonebridge Wish turned in a strong harness racing performance en route to a hard-fought 1:52.2 victory in Saturday night's $10,000 featured sixth race at Vernon Downs.

With leading driver Josh Marks doing the teaming for top trainer Tracy Brainard, the veteran pacer's owner, Stonebridge Wish led throughout the week's Miracle Mile 1 clash, but had to beat back late bids by Diamond Stick Pin and Daley Deposit Only before preserving a three-quarter length triumph. He paid $4.40 to win.

In his last outing here on June 5, Stonebridge Wish breezed to a nearly 12-length score in 1:49.4, which rewrote the track's record for aged pacing geldings and is currently tied, with a similar clocking by the aged pacing mare My Little Dragon, as the fastest mile in Vernon's 57-year history.

Saturday's tally was the second at the meet, the third on the season and the 10th all-time for the speedy bay son of Camluck-Star Crusher, who now sports career winnings of $145,794.

It was one of three wins on Saturday's 12-race card for Marks, raising his local tally to 78 after 29 programs. He also finished first with the pacers Ghost Moves (1:55.1) and You Bet Your Glass (1:51.2) to chalk up his seventh hat trick at the Downs in 2010.


The You Bet Your Glass clocking ended up as the fastest of the evening...The pacer Up Front Rudy became the first six-time winning equine at the meet after a 1:52.1 tally for driver Jimmy Whittemore in Saturday's $6,200 fifth race. Trainer Jody Weidman owns the 6-year-old pacer along with George Mathar...Whittemore and trainer Jennifer Sansone each recorded doubles during Saturday's card...There will be no live racing at Vernon next Thursday, July 1. The track will offer harness competition at 6:55 on Friday and Saturday nights only next weekend. The Downs has a 1:15 p.m. program planned for Monday, July 5

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Schedule Change at Vernon Downs

Vernon Downs would like to let fans, horsemen, and its simulcast partners know of two schedule changes for the 2010 race season.

Vernon has canceled live racing on Thursday, July 8th due to a Joan Jett Concert and will now race on Monday, July 12th with a 1:15 PM post time.

Vernon has also canceled live racing on Friday, August 6th for a concert by country music superstar, Clint Black, and will race on Monday, August 2nd with a 1:15 PM post time.

Whata Winner Produces Fastest Time in NYSS

Harness racing track record-holder Whata Winner produced the fastest divisional tally in Friday night's $156,410 New York Sires Stake feature for 3-year-old male trotters at Vernon Downs.

Whata Winner, who established a 1:55 standard for sophomore geldings on the diagonal gait here with a win in the John Simpson, Sr. Memorial Stake on May 15, came within two-fifths of a second of that mark with his one-length triumph in Friday's seventh session. He paid $6.80 to win.

Part-owner and trainer Jim Doherty did the driving as Whata Winner rallied overland from fourth at the quarter and closed from third in pay dirt to snap a string of four consecutive second-place finishes.

The bay son of Credit Winner-Whata Chippie has now recorded four wins and a like number of seconds in nine current appearances for Doherty and his partners, Thomas Dillon and Terrax, Inc. He's now a career-winner of $164,500.

Friday's other NYSS winners were Folk Tail, in 1:56.1 for the Little E LLC stable, Boztheman in 1:57.1 for Robert and David Anderson, Classical Winner in 1:57.4 for owner Anders Olaf, and Deliver Delovin in 1:58 for the Winbak Farm and Purple Haze Stable.

Folk Tail earned his second season's score after Josh Marks, sitting in for trainer Bob Bencal, teamed the brown son of Conway Hall-Fairy Tail to a personal best win record in race three.

Boztheman, competing for only the fifth time in his brief career, displayed style and substance as Marks, steering for trainer Trond Smedshammer, urged the bay son of Credit Winner-Kosmo Girl to a maiden-breaking triumph in race eight..

With Marcus Johansson catch driving for trainer Bjorn Noren, Classical Winner, a bay son Credit Winner-Classical Motion, secured his second season's score and a new win mark in race five.

Deliver Delovin earned his second straight NYSS score and a new trotting speed tab after Howard Okusko, Jr. guided the bay son of Malabar Man-Armbro Nuzzle to his third season's tally in Friday's opener.

Jim Morrill, Jr. did the guiding as Oven Ready recorded his fourth straight score for owner and trainer Ray Saunders in Friday's $11,000 ninth race, the week's Miracle Mile 1 contest, tying Sharpshootennorris for most wins by a diagonal-gaited equine at the 28-night-old meet, and equaling the longest winning streak at the Downs thus far in 2010, a mark shared by Sharpshootennorris and the pacer Pickmeamerigold.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

NYSS Colt Trotters at Vernon

Friday night's 12-race card at Vernon Downs is trotters only, featuring five divisions of New York Sires Stakes sophomore colts racing for a combined purse of more than $150,000.

Last year's NYSS division final winner, the locally based Blacktuxwhitesocks, faces a stiff test in race seven.

The star of the Howie & Jessica Okusko barn, owned by Wanda Polisseni's Purple Haze, has been dominant in his last two stakes scores.

Friday's race finds accomplished foes Whata Winner, Aruba Vacation, Margarita Man and Stimulus poised to contest the issue and all posted inside of "Tux".

The Sires Stakes events are races 1, 3, 5, 7 & 8 on the card with seven Miracle Mile trotting divisions in support.

Post time is 6:55 PM.

Vernon Downs Debuts New Weekly TV Show

Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs are proud to announce the debut of “Inside Harness Racing.” This 30-minute weekly television show will be available on Time Warner Cable Sports On Demand throughout Central New York and the Southern Tier. It can also be seen online at the Tioga Downs YouTube site. (

The show is hosted and produced by Justin Horowitz , features Jason Settlemoir and Wendy Ross as field reporters, while Jim Rotundo handles videography and production. Each week, “Inside Harness Racing” will take viewers inside the sport with interviews, features and race recaps from both Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs and is aimed at both the longtime fan and the newcomer to harness racing.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Purses Increased at Vernon Downs

The overnight purses at Vernon Downs have been increased by approximately 15% effective with the Thursday, June 24 race card.

The top horses, Miracle Mile Class "A", will now race for $11,000 if seven or more start, $10,000 if fewer than seven and the NW 1 PM and $4,000 claimers have been raised to $2,900 and $3,400 respectively.

Entries for the June 24 races close on Saturday, June 19th at 9 AM. Check the condition sheet here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bosnjak, Fahy awarded Dewey Degree scholarships

Wednesday, June 16, 2010 - by Tim Bojarksi, president, UNY-USHWA

Akron, NY --- The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association is proud to announce the recipients of the 2010 edition of the Dewey Degree College Scholarship are Anjelka Bosnjak and Chelsea Fahy.

This year, UNY-USHWA had a large response of applicants and the field of eligible students was stellar. After the committee spent days reading over the transcripts, references, and essays, the group was narrowed to two. We then realized that both girls were scholastically outstanding and worthy of the award so it was decided we would recognize them both and each will receive a check for $1,500.

Anjelka Bosnjak

Anjelka Bosnjak is from Grand Valley, Ontario. Her parents Nikki Branigan and Zeljko Bosnjak have been breeding and racing Standardbreds for as long as she can remember. She started working in their barn at age 4 and had her groom’s license by age 10. Her love for horses eventually made her realize she wanted to make it her career.

She enrolled at the University of Guelph where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biological Sciences in 2007. She is currently studying at the Ontario Veterinary College, pursuing her degree as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. She is in her second year of study and will be graduating as a licensed Veterinarian with the class of 2013.

Although she carried a 3.5 GPA upon graduation, Anjelka was not accepted to the Veterinary program on her first try. She took 11 non-degree science courses in 2008 and then re-applied in 2009, where she was accepted. Since then she has excelled in the course, scoring “A’s” in biochemistry, veterinary medicine, clinical medicine, health management and medical genetics.

One of her Professor’s described Anjelka as “dedicated to work and work ethic, is a quick learner, has an eye for detail, has excellent leadership skills, applies knowledge well and is quick to question results and procedures. She has simply done outstanding with all her course work.”

Anjelka is currently working at McMaster-Powell Equine Services. Other veterinarians and clinics that helped mentor her are Dr. Terry Ruch from the Barrie Equine Clinic, Dr. Jodi Kendrew, Dr. Richard Bryson and Linwood Veterinary Services.

Her perseverance towards her ultimate goal of becoming a veterinarian and the excellence of her work once that opportunity presented itself are reasons why we felt Anjelka Bosnjak was deserving of this award.

Chelsea Fahy

Chelsea Fahy is from Washington, Pa., and is the daughter of Moira and Bill Fahy. Moira had her own stable before marrying Bill, who is most notable for campaigning the likes of Western Hanover and Jenna's Beach Boy. She grew up surrounded by horses so it was inevitable that her career would fall somewhere in the racing field. Since health and science were always a passion for her, she decided to become a veterinarian.

She is currently attending the University of Findlay in Ohio and has completed her first year of study with a major in pre-vet and a minor in math. Her transcripts show a 3.93 GPA and an “A” next to each of the 14 courses she took in the first two semesters. And oh yes, she made the Dean's list twice. Did I mention she aced Calculus II and outperformed everyone in U of Findlay’s Pharmacy program in that course?

On top of her heavy course load, Chelsea also works two part time jobs, interns at the Canon Hill Veterinary Clinic at the Meadows, and helps her parents with their racing stable.

After getting her degree, Chelsea plans on strengthening the sport of harness racing by first strengthening the immune systems of its horses. She wants to educate people to use alternative methods of health care on harness horses in order to reduce the unexpected side effects of currently used methods. She wrote “I believe my education in veterinary medicine and my innate skills, along with my passion and commitment to the harness racing industry will allow me to be a leader in the future of harness racing.”

One of her Professors wrote of Chelsea, “She has a great work ethic, pays attention to detail, inspires trust in others, has excellent communication skills, has shown herself to be a loyal friend, consistently shows concern over other people’s welfare, and is an asset to our University.”

Dr. Nicholas Loutsion, who Fahy works with, commented, “You would be hard pressed to find a young person who is motivated, is a self starter, who has a thirst for knowledge, as well as being an intelligent, caring, and well grounded individual. All these attributes must be used when describing this fantastic young lady!”

Congratulations to these two industry leaders of tomorrow. The formal check presentations will be at Tioga Downs next month.

The Dewey Degree Scholarship was initiated by generous donations from Ray Schnittker and Jeff Gural and is administered by the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association. It was named after Schnittker’s great Hambletonian winning trotter Deweycheatumnhowe who is currently standing at Westwind Farm in Strathroy, Ontario.

Local Woman Wins Over $480,000 Jackpot At Vernon Downs Casino

It Pays to Play At Vernon Downs Casino!

Laurie B. of Chittenango, NY won big at Vernon Downs Casino on June 15, playing the Wide Area Progressive Blazing 7’s Hot Shot for a jackpot of $480,713.26!

That is the largest jackpot to-date for a NYS Lottery regulated Video Gaming Machine.

Vernon Downs Casino & Hotel is open year-round with a 170 room, all-suite hotel, over 750 video gaming machines, simulcast and live harness horse racing, multiple restaurants, bar and special entertainment events including Joan Jett live in concert, Thursday July 8th at 7:30pm.

Vernon Downs is located at Routes 5 & 31 in Vernon, NY.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Up Front Rudy Becomes First Five-Time Winner at Vernon

The precision pacers Daley Deposit Only and Up Front Rudy shared the limelight during Saturday night’s 10-race program at Vernon Downs.

Daley Deposit Only recorded a 1:52.1 triumph in Saturday’s $9,100 featured sixth race, while Up Front Rudy became the meet’s initial five-time winner with a 1:54.1 effort in the $5,400 ninth event.

Competing as the favorite in the week’s Class A Miracle Mile contest, Daley Deposit Only took the lead away from Hay Goodlooking after the opening quarter and remained in command to the finish, winning by one length. While raising his career earning to more than $208,500, he paid $4.80 to win.

It marked the second Vernon victory in 2010, the eighth on the campaign and 20th lifetime for the 5-year-old son of Artiscape-Sassy Cessiann, who is shared in ownership by Ann-Mari Daley, Jared Daley, Richard Lombardo and Robert Pergament.

Jack Rice directed Up Front Rudy to his second straight score and fifth in his last six starts. The steady-going 6-year-old son of The Panderosa-O J Almahurst is owned by trainer Jody Weidman and George Mathar.

The fastest mile over Saturday’s rain-soaked track was a 1:51.4 performance by the Josh Marks-driven pacer You Bet Your Glass. It was the second score in seven current appearances for the speedy 7-year-old, who is registered to trainer Arnie Marks (Josh’s father) and William Williams, Jr.

Daley and top provisional pilot Leon Bailey each recorded doubles during Saturday’s 10-race card, while newcomer Enio Barrera was credited with a pair of training tallies.

DOWNS DOINGS—The pacers Artlight Hanover, How Forever Feels and Miracle Freeluck joined Daley Deposit Only and You Bet Your Glass as two-time local winners after 23 programs…Up Front Rudy now sports a summary of five wins and a second-place finish after six season’s starts.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Marks Hits 1,000

Josh Marks earned his 1,000th career victory while driving Brick to a 1:55.2 tally in Friday night’s $8,100 featured seventh race at Vernon Downs.

The talented 27-year-old horseman urged Brick to the front as the starting gate pulled away and he kept the veteran gelding on the front end through splits of :28, :57.3 and 1:26.2 en route to a one length triumph over the betting favorite, Howd That Feel, in the week’s top Miracle Mile trotting contest. As the crowd’s second wagering choice, he paid $7.10 to win.

It marked the third win in the past four starts for the eight-year-old son of Conway Hall-Tees, who secured a fresh speed mark and his 29th lifetime score. Trainer Tracy Brainard owns the career-winner of $136,636.

Marks, the son of veteran trainer Arnie Marks and his wife, Mary Ann, grew up in the Vernon Downs backstretch. He earned his initial driving victory at the Downs on May 10, 2001 and was the harness track’s leading provisional pilot that season with 34 first-place finishes, a track record. The Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School product received his A (regular) license on October 11 of that year.

Marks, the leading race-winning reinsman at Vernon in 2008 with 114 credits, is currently tops in dashes won at the meeting with 55 victories. He presently ranks seventh on the track’s all-time list for drivers of “two-minute” horses with 473.

Nick Salvi, Vernon’s director of racing, congratulated Marks in the winner’s circle following the seventh session.

Marks won three of Friday’s 10 races. His other first-place finishes were with Asabi Hanover and Blue Cam Rock.

Through 19 programs here this season, Marks has chalked up three driving doubles, six triples, three four-win cards, two five-win programs, one six-win night and a seven-win outing on May 20 that tied the track’s single-program record.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Fast Freshman Sighting at Vernon Downs

Friday's Vernon Downs qualifiers, held on a perfect June 4 morning, included the track's very first 2-year-old starter of the 2010 season and quite an impressive performance it was.

Dapper Denzil, a son of Red River Hanover, faced a field of older horses in his career debut for owner/trainer Arnie Marks with the meet's leading driver (and son of the trainer) Josh Marks at the controls.

Reserved in fourth, nearly 10 lengths off a half in :57.4, Dapper Denzil was moved a measured first over to be second, well in hand while falling just 1-1/2 lengths short in 1:56.1 (individually timed in 1:56.2). The winner was Speculative Edge, who was making his sophomore debut for Dan Daley after a successful season on the NYSS circuit in 2009.

Charts for the Friday Q's are available at