Friday, April 29, 2011

Vernon Downs to Host Youth Harness Camp

Vernon Downs will host a Harness Horse Youth five-day overnight camp July 12-16 as part of the U.S. Trotting Association's Back to the Track program.

Youth between the ages of 12-14 are eligible for the camp for a fee of $150.

The cost includes overnight accommodations at the Vernon Downs Hotel, all meals and camp materials.

The event concludes July 16 with exhibitions featuring all participants.

Campers will work hands-on with the HHYF's stable of Trottingbred horses.

Among the topics covered are care and grooming, equipment, conformation, lameness, history, stable management and equine careers.

For details and a camp application, log on to

E-mail HHYF Executive Director Ellen Taylor at with questions.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Multimillionare One More Laugh Upset by Dry Gulch in Vernon Downs Feature

Dry Gulch became the meet's initial two-time winning pacer following a 1:51.1 upset verdict over the favored One More Laugh in Saturday night's featured 10th race at Vernon Downs.

After a heavy downpour during the previous race turned the track's condition to sloppy, Dry Gulch took the select Open-1 field to the quarter in :27.2 and the half in :55.2.

Biding his time in fourth during the early going, One More Laugh, making his 2011 debut, employed a sling-shot move off the first turn to gain the lead on the backstretch, and then paced the four-horse cast past three-quarters in 1:22.4.

Only one and a quarter lengths back entering the homestretch, Dry Gulch ($10.20) became reenergized in the final sixteenth, powering back to the front and prevailing over the crowd's choice by one length.

In addition to becoming the four-night meet's first two-time winning pacer, the gritty 4-year-old gelding gathered up his fifth victory in eight current outings.

Jack Rice drove for trainer Tracy Brainard, who owns the career winner of $65,783 along with Andrew Herzog.

Stablemate Cello Hanover joined Fancy Shot as the meet's only two-time winning trotters following a 1:58 decision in Saturday's $4,000 eighth event.

DOWNS DOINGS - Vernon's speed standard for the meet was 1:53 prior to Dry Gulch's comeback victory... Provisional drivers Lonny Hale (Johnny Midnight) and Michael Miller (Pacific Wave) each acquired their initial wins at the meet during Saturday's 12-race card... The Downs will offer live racing at 7 p.m. next Friday and Saturday. Thursday night programs will be added to the projected 90-card schedule starting on May 5... Additional information regarding the track's 2011 season and its casino can be obtained at and by following us on Twitter

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Whittemore Wins Four Including $10,000 Open Trot

Fancy Shot became the first two-time winner of the 58th season at Vernon Downs after his 1:55.4 performance in Friday night's $10,000 Open-1 trotting test.

Defending dash-winning driving champ Jimmy Whittemore sat in for two-time training titleist Tracy Brainard as Fancy Shot ($3.20) trotted into the lead past the half, timed in :59 seconds, and then high-stepped on to a convincing 2-1/4 length win over Unshakeable in Friday's ninth race.

It was the fourth win in 10 current outings for the quick-footed 9-year-old gelding, who increased his career earnings to more than $257,600.

The bay son of Angus Hall-Fancy Fancy Fancy is owned by Brainard and Andrew Herzog.

The win was one of four during Friday's 12-race card for Whittemore, and it also helped Brainard bag four first-place finishers, as well.

The same ownership duo was credited with a victory in Friday’s $10,000 Open contest for female pacers after their 5-year-old mare Semjac Legacy (Jack Rice teaming) logged a 1:54.1 score in the very next race.

The come-from-behind triumph was the third in 12 season's showings for the lifetime winner of $192,000, who was making her initial local appearance of 2011.

Brainard's other Friday winners were the trotters Ivanhoe Diamant (1:56.2) and Boy Meets Grill (1:55.2), while Whittemore's additional tallies came behind the pacers Faith Ann (1:57.1), Canaco Star (1:54.2) and Delightful Dancer (1:54.3).

DOWNS DOINGS - Newcomers Michael Eaton (Occupant), Frank Milby (Boy Meets Grill) and Daniel Lehan (Spring Haven Art) each earned their initial local driving victories on Friday evening... Two-time millionaire One More Laugh (1:47.4) will make his 2011 debut in Saturday night's (April 23) 10th race, the week's $10,000 Open-1 pace. His competition will include Vlos, Dry Gulch, Diamond Stick Pin, Four One One and Firethorn. Saturday’s 12-race line-up begins at 7 p.m... Additional information regarding the track and it’s casino can be obtained at Follow us on Twitter

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

One More Laugh Eyes 2011 Return Saturday Night at Vernon

Double millionaire One More Laugh is set to make his 2011 debut on Saturday night at Vernon Downs in the $10,000 Open Pace, slated as race 10 on the 12-race card.

The gelded son of Mcardle-Fancy Creek Funny has already begun prepping for the tough 4-year old campaign with two qualifying events at Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs on the 7th and 14th of April.

One More Laugh came away from both qualifiers winning in convincing fashion and will face one of his opponents from his last qualifier once again on Saturday night when he lines up next to Vlos.

In the qualifier, Vlos and Brian Sears cut through fractions of 27.3, 55.4, and 1:25 before Ray Schnittker popped the pocket and paced away from Vlos by more than six lengths to stop the timer in 1:53.1.

Vernon will host its second weekend of live racing on Friday and Saturday night with a post time of 7:00 pm.

This weekend's promotions will include a handicapping contest on Friday, along with My Space Saturday and Spin To Win on Saturday evening.

Below is the field:

Open Pace Saturday, April 23rd Race 10: Purse: $10,000

1 1 Firethorn Ronald Macdonald Ronald Macdonald
2 2 Four One One Leon Bailey Wayne Hughes
3 3 Diamond Stick Pin Howard Okusko Jr. Jessica Okusko
4 4 Dry Gulch Jack Rice Tracy Brainard
5 5 One More Laugh Ray Schnittker Ray Schnittker
6 6 Vlos Eric Mollor Eric Mollor

For more information on Vernon Downs, please visit us online at

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Renewed Hope for Meadowlands? Gural Issues Statement on Future

Thanks to the help of some of the Meadowlands major customers who have been talking to the tellers for the last few days, a meeting has been arranged with a representative group of tellers for tomorrow in my attorney's office.

I think that many of the tellers did not understand our offer and hopefully by listening to their issues and clarifying some of ours we can get this process back on track.

I personally met with many of the tellers prior to the vote and I found most of them very supportive and willing to work with us so I am cautiously optimistic.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Vernon Downs reminds horsemen of double draw on Tuesday

The Vernon Downs Race Office would like to remind all horsemen that it will be holding a double draw on Tuesday, April 19 for the cards on Friday and Saturday night.

The entry box will close at 10:00 AM on Tuesday morning and entries should be called into the race office at 315.829.6825.

Vernon will host its second weekend of live racing on Friday and Saturday night with a post time of 7:00 PM.

This weekend's promotions will include a free handicapping contest on Friday with a first prize of $500 along with My Space Saturday and Spin To Win on Saturday evening.

For more information on Vernon Downs please visit us on our website at

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dry Gulch Tops Sloppy Night at Vernon Downs

Dry Gulch joined stable mate Scorpion Moon as the fastest performers of the fledgling 58th harness racing season at Vernon Downs following his 1:53.3 victory in Saturday night's (April 16) $10,000 Open pace.

Assigned the outside nine post in event 10 by racing secretary Scott Warren, the favorite Dry Gulch ($3.80) went right to the front at the start and, in a driving rain and over a sloppy track, cut splits of :26 seconds, :55.2 and 1:24.3 en route to a convincing one length tally over Diamond Stick Pin.

As he did here the previous evening behind the Open trot winner Scorpion Moon (1:54.3), Jack Rice drove for trainer Tracy Brainard as Dry Gulch gained his fourth score in seven season's starts and seventh lifetime tally.

The 4-year-old gelding, a career winner of $65,783, is shared in ownership by Brainard and her partner Andrew Herzog (the same owners as of Scorpion Moon).

DOWNS DOINGS - Dry Gulch had posted a 1:53.1 qualifying victory here on April 9... Drivers Jimmy Whittemore, Chris Lems and trainer Lonny Hale each secured a pair of first-place finishes during Vernon's second night of pari-mutuel competition... Despite the inclement conditions, three of the evening's 12 winners earned new win records... The Downs will offer live harness racing at 7 p.m. next Friday and Saturday.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Scorpion Moon Takes Opening Night Feature

The proven veteran Scorpion Moon helped Vernon Downs' 58th season get off to a fast and successful start with a 1:54.3 victory in Friday evening's (April 15) $10,000 Open trot.

A large (3,460) and energetic crown turned out for opening night's promotional activities and 10 pari-mutuel races and watched the favored Scorpion Moon, shared in ownership by defending training champ Tracy Brainard and Andrew Herzog, dispatch five formidable foes in Friday's co-featured ninth event.

Jack Rice achieved a driving double by keeping his 10-year-old charge on the front end throughout, holding off the closing Don't Know Chip by 4-1/2 lengths.

The impressive performance not only resulted in the fastest mile of the young meeting, but it gave the bay gelding a 1-1-1 season's standard after three starts.

It marked the 77th lifetime victory for the career winner of more than $841,400, who paid $3.90 for finishing first.

Friday's $10,000 Open for female pacers was captured by the Big Sky Ranch's Blueridge Betty ($15.60), who defeated newcomer Late Flyin N by a neck in the eight event.

Trainer Joe Nassimos did the teaming as the quick-footed 5-year-old mare rallied from seventh in the early going to ink her first start of 2011 in the win column.

Driver Fern Paquet, Jr. (Ruby Falcon and Aruba Vacation) also chalked up a pair of first place finishes during the first of Vernon's 90-scheduled programs.

DOWNS DOINGS - Rice's other win came behind Don Brainard's trotter Cello Hanover in Friday's first race... Trainer Brainard recorded three wins and a second-place finish in four Friday outings... Saturday night's 12-race program, which includes the week's $10,000 Open pace, begins at 7 p.m.... Additional information regarding Vernon Downs and its casino can be found at

Friday, April 15, 2011

Statement from Jeffrey Gural on the Future of the Meadowlands

"Obviously, I am very disappointed with the vote yesterday by the tellers not to ratify the proposal we gave them to extend their contract three years at the expiration of the existing contract next February.

This is extremely disappointing considering I have actually raised the money which I thought was the hard part.

I believe we are very close to an agreement with the state with only two or three open points remaining.

At this point, I think we have to assume that the Meadowlands will not reopen for racing on May 7th unless the tellers reconsider.

I am looking into the possibility of relocating the Graduate and The Cutler Memorial stakes races which were originally scheduled to be raced at the Meadowlands on May 7th with a final on May 14th to the other tracks that I own.

I would recommend making the payments for those two races that are due today and the money will be refunded if the race is canceled.

I am actually on my way to Vernon for opening night.

I will discuss this with the horsemen at both Tioga and Vernon to see if we can come up with something as I think it would be unfair at this late date to cancel those two races.

Hopefully the tellers will have a change of heart but in the meantime I think it would be prudent to assume that the facility will not reopen for racing on May 7th.

I would like to thank the many horsemen who contributed to this effort financially as we raised close to $1,000,000 to cover the costs associated with trying to keep the Meadowlands open.

I am very sorry that this effort did not end the way we had all hoped but it is not for lack of effort."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

2011 Vernon Downs Racing Opening Video Sneak Peek

Vernon Downs presents its 58th season of harness racing in Central New York at the Home of the Miracle Mile.

The season opens Friday, April 15th with a 7:00pm post time and continues through November.

Visit us online at, on Facebook - and follow us on Twitter -

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Vernon Downs Completes Final Tune Up for Friday's Opening Night

Vernon Downs completed the final tune up for Friday's (April 15) 58th season's opener last night.

The track's Media Night program consisted of seven practice races.

Earlier in the day, Racing Secretary Scott Warren, beginning his initial season at the central New York harness track, conducted a double draw for opening weekend.

Friday's 10-race program includes a $10,000 fillies and mares Open pace (event eight) and a $10,000 Open trot (race nine).

Saturday evening's 12-race card features a $10,000 Open pace (race 10); including the speedy newcomer Dry Gulch, who produced a 1:53.1 qualifying victory here last Saturday morning.

The Downs will operate Friday and Saturday evening during April, with first post time at 7 p.m.

Thursday evening programs will be added starting May 5.

The track's 90-card campaign is slated to continue through November 19.

DOWNS DOINGS - Jason Settlemoir, vice-president of racing operations for both Vernon Downs and its sister track, Tioga Downs, announced the completion of a tentative two-year contract agreement between Vernon Downs and the Harness Horse Association of Central New York that will cover the current and 2012 seasons. The compact is expected to be officially ratified later in the week... Defending driving champ Jimmy Whittemore and training titleist Tracy Brainard will be returning for Friday's lid-lifter.This season's new stables are expected to include those of John Hogan, Kyle DiBenedetto, Frank Milby and Kevin Hough, among others... Additional information regarding Vernon Downs and its casino can be found at

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Newcomer Dry Gulch Tops Second Set of Vernon Downs Qualifiers

Newcomer Dry Gulch paced to a 1:53.1 victory as Vernon Downs completed its second qualifying card in preparation for the harness track’s 58th season that will begin next Friday night (April 15).

With Jack Rice driving for the track’s defending training champ Tracy Brainard, Dry Gulch gained the lead just before the half, timed in :58.3, and then recorded the fastest clocking of Saturday’s 10 practice performances.

The win was one of three on the day for Brainard.

Shared in ownership by Brainard and Andrew Herzog, Dry Gulch has posted three wins in six pari-mutuel starts during the current campaign.

The 4-year-old gelding earned his 1:50.2 speed mark at Florida’s Pompano Park on Feb. 21.

Saturday’s other speedy qualifying winners included the pacers Blueridge Betty (trainer Joe Nassimos driving) in 1:55.3, Speedy Valentine (two-time provisional champion Leon Bailey teaming for trainer Wayne Hughes) in 1:57.3, and The Grey Bullet (once again Bailey sitting in for Hughes) in 1:57.3.

Ten-time Downs driving champ Howard Okusko, Jr. also chalked up a pair of victories during the program.

DOWNS DOINGS—Vernon will offer pari-mutuel racing at 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays during April.

Thursday programs are planned to start on May 5…This Tuesday (April 12) has been designated “Media Night” with festivities in the track’s Gold Cup Room starting at 6 p.m.

Qualifying races will begin one hour later...

New Racing Secretary Scott Warren will conduct a double draw for opening weekend on Tuesday (April 12) with the entry box due to close at 10 a.m...

All stall application forms are due in Vernon’s racing office Monday morning (April 11)...

The track’s initial qualifying card was held on April 2...

Additional information regarding Vernon Downs and its casino can be found at

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Vernon Downs' qualifiers set for Saturday

Vernon Downs is set to host its second set of qualifiers in preparation for the beginning of the 2011 race season.

Qualifiers will be held on Saturday, April 9th beginning at 11:00 AM.

Horsemen wishing to enter horses to qualify should call the Vernon Downs’ race office at 315.829.6825 by Friday, April 8th at 11:00 AM.

Vernon will also host another set of qualifiers on Tuesday, April 12 during its annual “Press Night” that begins at 6:00 PM.

Qualifiers will be held under the lights beginning at 7:00 PM.

Qualifying entries for Tuesday should be called into the Vernon Race Office by Monday, April 11th at 11:00 AM.

Vernon Downs kicks off its 2011 racing season on Friday, April 15 with a post time of 7:00 PM.

For more information including qualifying standards at Vernon Downs, please visit us online at

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Stall Applications Available at Vernon Downs

Stall applications are now available online and in the race office at Vernon Downs.

If you plan on applying for stalls for the 2011 race season, please fax your application in by Monday, April 11th to (315) 829-3364.

Vernon Downs management is currently negotiating, in good faith, a new contract with the HHACNY.

The prior contract expired on March 31st but the New York State Racing and Wagering Board approved race dates through the end of April in order to allow more time for the sides to reach an agreement.

Vernon kicks off its 90-day race meet on Friday, April 15th with a post time of 7:00 PM.

For more information please visit Vernon on the web at or call the race office at (315) 829-6825.

Vernon Downs set to open Friday, April 15th

Vernon Downs has received approval from the New York State Racing and Wagering Board to kick off its 2011 race season on Friday, April 15th with a post time of 7:00 PM, and has been given approval for the month of April.

Vernon Downs will race a Friday-Saturday race schedule during the month of April with all post times scheduled for 7:00 PM.

Vernon will host its second set of qualifying events on Saturday, April 9th at 11:00 AM, while Press Night for the 2011 race season is going to be held on Tuesday, April 12th in the Gold Cup at 6:00 PM, with another set of qualifiers to go postward that night beginning at 7:00 PM.

Vernon will continue with a large assortment of stakes events in 2011 that will include a leg of the Miss Versatility Trotting Series, the $200,000 Credit Winner Open Trot, and the newly named $200,000 “Muscle Hill” Open mare trot formerly known as the Conway Hall (Pending Regulatory Approval).

Also on tap for September 2nd is the recently added Historic Stakes.

For more information on Vernon Downs please visit us online at