Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fields Drawn for Empire Breeders Classic Trot Eliminations

Elimination races for the Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) New York sired three-year-old trotting events are scheduled for Friday, June 1 at Vernon Downs.

Two divisions each of colts and fillies will endeavor to advance to next Friday's rich finals.

The colts come up first (race 5) with Flyhawk Jester the morning line choice in the field of seven.

Vernon's favorite son Brian Sears returns home for the card and has the mount.
Archangel wins a division of the New York State Fair in 1:55 at Vernon Downs

Race 10 offers recent NYSS winners Archangel, Coraggioso and Delano battling last year's NYSS final champ Royal Shyster for entry into the $233,250 final.  

The filly divisions are races six and nine with Lady Crown and Vixy the odds-maker's choice in each.

Both fillies race for local connections Pine Hill Stables, trainer Dee Johnson and Vernon's current leading driver Chris Lems.

They will endeavor to advance to the $239,550 final next Friday. 

The top four and one fifth place finisher move on, with elimination winners choosing their post for the finals. 
First post at Vernon is 6:55PM. Complete entries may be found on the Vernon Downs website.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mystical Valentine makes it a happy Memorial Day

The veteran Mystical Valentine displayed the most foot when it counted and came through with a 1:51.3 victory in Monday afternoon's $9,500 featured ninth race at Vernon Downs.

Mystical Valentine wins the Memorial Day Open Pace
Competing in the Memorial Day Open pace, the favorite Mystical Valentine ($3.90) dropped in behind the hard-charging Pacinello shortly after the start, and then sat in the cat-bird's seat until the stretch drive.  The speedy 6-year-old sashayed to the front in the final quarter (personally timed in :28 seconds) and defeated his mile-cutting wagering rival by two lengths.

Frank Milby drove for trainer Dave Dewhurst as the steady-going son of Dream Work-Sneakheravalentine joined fellow pacer Cheap N Easy and trotter Ziegler Hanover as the meet's only three-time winners after 14 programs.  The sizzling score, which missed his lifetime mark by two ticks of the timer, gave the bay battler five first-place finishes in nine current outings, and increased his all-time win count to 26.  Philip K. Hale owns the career winner of $346,091.

Roman Lopez, steering his trotter Glorious Winner and pacers Shum Fu and Miracle Freeluck, captured three of the afternoon's 13 races. 

DOWNS DOINGS—The Rick Plano-driven pacer Mach My Word churned out the day's fastest mile, a career-best 1:51.1 triumph for owner/trainer Scott West and his partner Tracy Brainard, in race five…The pacers Renier De Vie, Red Hour Back and Miracle Freeluck became two-time winners during the day's competition…Vernon will offer live racing at 6:55 p.m. Thursday-Saturday next week…Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Love U Overandover takes Saturday night feature

The favored Love U Overandover used a late speed surge and the preferred pylon path to capture Saturday night's $7,600 featured trot at Vernon Downs.

With trainer John Duer in the sulky, Love U Overandover ($6.10) drafted along in fourth until the final quarter, then chose the inside route, while tossing in a :28-second closing kicker, to defeat the front-striding Ulay Boko by a length in Saturday's ninth event.

The 1:55.2 clocking proved to be a fresh win-mark for the 4-year-old daughter of Andover Hall-Love You Most, who is owned by her breeder, the Peninsula Farm of Lexington, KY.  The career winner of $145,335 became the 20th two-time winner at the 13-night meeting, while raising her lifetime tally total to eight.

Leading driver Chris Lems (26 scores) earned his third local double during Saturday's 10-race card, while driver Claude Huckabone, III came up with three first-place finishes and driver Kevin Switzer, Jr. two.

DOWNS DOINGS—Of Vernon's 20 two-time current winners, 10 have been on the trot (the leader is Ziegler Hanover with three) and a like number on the pace (the leader being Cheap N Easy with three)…
Vincent Rampe's trotter Wicked Schooner, as well as the pacer Maxnifizent, owned by Michelle C. and Albert C. Crawford, each earned their "maiden" victories during Saturday's competition…The Downs will conclude its Memorial Day weekend with a 13-race card beginning at 1:15 on Monday (May 28)…Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at

Empire Breeders Classic Trot Eliminations at Vernon Downs on Friday, June 1

Elimination races for the 2012 Empire Breeders Classic for 3-Year-Old colt and filly trotters will be raced at Vernon Downs on Friday, June 1 at Vernon Downs with the $250,000E finals on June 8.
The June 1 card will be drawn on Tuesday morning. The box closes at 9:00 AM.
Follow this link to the Vernon website to access the condition sheet, list of eligibles and race conditions.
Call Race Secretary Scott Warren at (315) 829-6825 to make your entries and arrangements for the these races.
Whatever it takes upset Dejarmbro to win last year's Empire Breeders Classic for colt and gelding trotters. Watch the replay of the thrilling race below.

Jezzy won the 2011 Empire Breeders Classic for filly trotters. The replay of her victory can be seen below.

Archangel, New York Attitude Fastest in State Fair races

New York Attitude and Archangel tied at1:55 for fastest divisional mile honors during Friday night's $141,200 New York State Fair racing feature for 3-year-old trotters at Vernon Downs.

New York Attitude wins his division on 1:55
The favorite New York Attitude ($3.30) turned in his career-fastest clocking in Friday's seventh event, while Archangel ($2.20), also a crowd wagering choice, came within three-fifths of his career win mark with a convincing score in the ninth event.

With Fern Paquet, Jr. steering for trainer John Hallett, New York Attitude took control of his male division after the half-way mark and then bullied his way to a six-length tally, his second of 2012 and fifth all-time.  The gelded son of Cash Hall-Four Starz Nanny, currently a career-winner of more than $55,500, is owned by Michelle S. Hallett and L Michelle Oglesby.
Archangel destroys his division by 14 lengths in 1:55

Fresh from a career-best 1:54.2 New York Sire Stakes triumph at Tioga Downs on May 18, Archangel front-ended his way to a 14-length decision in his division with Jim Morrill, Jr. driving.  It was the fifth lifetime victory for the black son of Credit Winner-Michelle's Angel, who is shared in ownership by Alan C. Hainsworth, Clare Semer and trainer Peter Arrigenna.  He now sports career winnings of $166,426.

Friday's other male divisional winners were Brookroad Knight (1:56.2) and Gaelic and Garlic (1:57.2).

Filly flights were captured by Vixy (1:55.4), Lady Crown (1:56.1), Cowgirl Hall (1:56.4), Precious Metal (1:57.3), J'Omama (1:57.4), Bringing Up Lindy (1:58) and Pretend To Be Nice (1:58.2).

Bunny In The Bank won the week's $9,500 Open for female pacers in 1:51.3 with Morrill, Jr. steering for trainer/co-owner Tracy Brainard and Andrew Herzog in Friday's 10th contest.

Morrill, Jr. tied Tim Tetrick at six for most single-card wins at the 12-night meeting, while Brainard bagged a pair of victories, as did drivers Chris Lems, Wally Hennessey, trainer/driver Gates Brunet and trainer Deedra Johnson.    

DOWNS DOINGS—Precious Metal and Bringing Up Lindy earned their "maiden" victories on Friday night…Eight of Friday's 13 winners earned new win records, while another equaled her lifetime mark…The Downs will present a 10-race program starting at 6:55 tomorrow (May 26), that will include a hat giveaway (while supplies last), a new Favorite vs. The Field promotion and a fireworks show following the evening's last live event…The track will conclude its Memorial Day weekend with a 13-race card beginning at 1:15 on Monday (May 28)…Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"Lazy" horse breaks all time track record with 1:48.3 win

He's Gorgeous made history when he turned in the fastest mile in the 59-year history of Vernon Downs this past Saturday, winning the $9,500 Open Pace in 1:48.3. Afterwards, owner Ken Jacobs described his earner of more than $700,000 as lazy.

"If he gets to the front, they can't catch him, but if he doesn't make the front, he's lazy," said Jacobs.

See more from the unlikely record-breaking performance and find out what's next for the horse on the newest episode of "Inside Harness Racing."

"Inside Harness Racing," a weekly, half-hour television show, airs today (Wednesday) at 6:00 PM on Time Warner Cable Sports throughout Upstate New York.  For the second year in a row, the show will also be broadcast on HPI TV in Canada.  Viewers can also watch every episode online at the Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs YouTube channel (

This week's episode all features a trio of high-profile upsets that occurred in the New York Sire Stakes.

Top 3-year-old fillies American Jewel and Handsoffmycookie settled for runner-up finishes at Vernon Downs while Hambletonian hopeful Royal Shyster finished fifth in his Sire Stake at Tioga Downs.

Viewers will also meet leading Vernon Downs trainer Tracy Brainard in Settlemoir's Spotlight and the latest lesson from Harness Racing University explores the different types of wagers available at the racetrack.

"Inside Harness Racing" is hosted each week by Justin Horowitz, who encourages fans to interact with the show by sending him a Tweet @ItsTheJHo.

Fans can watch the full episode right now below:

Monday, May 21, 2012

5/21/12 Daily Clips from NY Gaming Association

New York State
1)      They’re off! Pols push sports bets - New York Post

“Place your bets here!

A Queens lawmaker wants to legalize betting on professional sports in New York — and his proposed legislation has the backing of one of the state’s top prosecutors, Brooklyn DA Charles “Joe” Hynes, The Post has learned.

State Sen. Tony Avella’s bill would allow betting on baseball, football, basketball, hockey and soccer at the Aqueduct and Yonkers racinos and all casinos across the state, as well as off-track betting parlors outside the city.

Currently, only betting on horse racing is legal.

Such legalized betting in the sports-crazed Big Apple could become a cash cow for the state, where fans passionately follow — and often illegally bet on — the Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets Knicks and Rangers.

Citing a study conducted by the New York City Partnership five years ago, Democrat Avella said betting on pro sports would generate more than $2 billion.

He said the state’s cut from the racino sports book would go to fund schools.

“We have to think out of the box. I’d rather come up with revenue this way rather than raising property taxes,” said Avella.

He claimed said studies show illegal sports betting generates more than $100 billion nationally and as much as $15 billion to $30 billion in New York City alone — much of it feeding organized crime.

And that’s why Hynes is supporting the measure. He said sports betting should be regulated by the government and benefit the public, not crooks.

“Right now, sports betting is a cash cow for the mob,” said Hynes. “I’ve been in favor of legalized sports betting. It has always made sense to me.”

Hynes feels so strongly about authorizing sports betting that he will write letters to urge Gov. Cuomo and the state District Attorneys Association to back the legislation.

“It would be a huge win for the state of New York,” he said.”

2)     NYRA told to come up with reform plan ASAP - Times Union

“For the second time this month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo presided over a face-to-face meeting with trustees of the New York Racing Association, and this time his brow was full of creases, according to people close to those in the room.

In the first meeting two weeks ago, Cuomo stated his position indirectly but diplomatically to a dozen NYRA trustees in Albany. He told them things must change.

But last Friday in Manhattan, with the NYRA board's executive committee, the governor was more like a prosecutor. He bluntly stated that things will change.

The stronger message comes after the governor took exception to the board appointing a new president and general counsel when he would have preferred interim leaders while two state investigations of NYRA play out. The probes are covering the circumstances of a 15-month period of overcharging bettors leading to $8.5 million in unlawful commissions. NYRA's new president, Ellen McClain, was on duty as a top financial and compliance administrator during those 15 months.

Governors don't normally sit down with NYRA trustees for private meetings — so secretive that Cuomo's aides refuse to even acknowledge the sessions are scheduled, one even pleading ignorance when 12 NYRA trustees were converging on the Capitol.”

3)     NYRA wins at Preakness - Times Union

“The biggest winner of Saturday's Preakness Stakes was the New York Racing Association. That's because I'll Have Another, the winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, is coming to town.

For the next three weeks, I'll Have Another is going to be a bigger Big Apple sports name than Derek Jeter or Henrik Lundqvist.

Horse racing hasn't seen a Triple Crown winner since 1978, and here comes I'll Have Another, on the cusp of thoroughbred immortality.

The New York Racing Association, which has been battered, beaten and humiliated over the last two weeks, finally got a break.

On June 9, there will be life at Belmont, a place that has had little cheer.

On May 4, the takeout scandal cost Charles Hayward, NYRA's president and CEO, his job. Patrick Kehoe, the organization's chief counsel, also got the heave-ho.

A week later, it was announced that Ellen McClain would be the organization's new president, but she was the chief finance officer for the majority of the takeout scandal.

The New York State Inspector General is conducting an ongoing investigation.

NYRA has lost the trust of many a horseplayer. Just over six months ago, the future was bright for New York racing when the casino at Aqueduct opened and purses soared. Now the scandal.”

4)     SARDELLA: Ray Sharpe continues success in Saratoga - The Saratogian

“Ray Sharpe is a relatively new name to fans of Saratoga Casino and Raceway but it’s a name you should get used to hearing. Sharpe first started training horses back in 2004 but it wasn’t until the last few years that he has been doing so on a full-time basis.

In 2009, the conditioner had his best season according to purse money earned as he tallied more than $115,000 with his trainees in just 63 starts. Training in New Jersey and racing almost exclusively at Freehold Raceway and the Meadowlands, Sharpe had nine wins and nine seconds en route to the six-digit season. After only starting 36 horses in 2010, Sharpe started to go at it full time in the ’11 season and began competing at Saratoga in nearly all of his races.

The Ray Sharpe Stable had a breakout year in 2011, doing it almost solely at the Spa. In 104 total races, Sharpe recorded 14 wins and hit the board 46 times, amassing just shy of $100,000 in earnings and finishing with a training average of .274.

Sharpe had enough success to not only race at Saratoga full time but also to move here. The conditioner now calls Saratoga Springs home and has certainly found a home for himself at the raceway. In last week’s action, Sharpe had his best stretch since coming to town last year. On Wednesday and Thursday nights, Sharpe started horses in three races and he swept them.”

5)     I'll Have Another Arrives in NY One Win Away - Blood Horse

“Trainer Doug O'Neill has full confidence in the potential for I'll Have Another to handle the grueling 1 1/2 miles of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) after the colt captured the first two jewels of America's Triple Crown.

“He’s got the mind,” O’Neill said at Pimlico Race Course the morning after I'll Have Another nipped Bodemeister by a neck in a thrilling renewal of the May 19 Preakness Stakes (gr. I). “You’ve seen the way he’s handled the attention in Kentucky and here in Baltimore. He’s got a great confidence about him and he’s got the stride of a horse that a mile and a half won’t be a problem. He’s got the pedigree; so much stamina on the female side."

Meanwhile, after a second agonizing loss to I’ll Have Another in the Preakness, trainer Bob Baffert said Bodemeister will remain in training but skip the Belmont.

“I’ve had enough,” Baffert quipped.

Reddam Racing's I'll Have Another, winner of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) by 1 1/2 lengths two weeks before the Preakness, was loaded onto a van the morning of May 20 to begin his journey to Belmont Park and a date with racing history.

He arrived at Barn 9 at Belmont Park following the ride at 2:53 p.m. EDT.

“We got kind of held up for about an hour and a half,” said Jack Sisterson, assistant to O’Neill. “I have no idea where we were, but besides that the horse was happy. He was just looking out the window the whole time. He and Lava Man were together, they were just chatting away the whole time. We were at Pimlico almost two weeks and we shipped in a week before at Churchill, and now we’re here for the three weeks. So far, so good.

"It’s kind of working out for us, so we’re not going to change that. I think the sooner he gets over the track and gets familiar with the surroundings. We’ll walk him tomorrow and then take it from there. One day at a time.”

After winning the Preakness in front of a record crowd of 121,309, the chestnut son of Flower Alley is the first since Big Brown   in 2008 to win the first two legs of the series. He will try to become the 12th horse to capture American racing’s most treasured prize – and the first since Affirmed in 1978 – in the Belmont June 9.”

6)     Exhibitors fight Javits teardown - Crain's New York

“A powerful group of businesses in the trade-show industry has coalesced to fight Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to tear down the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center to ensure they have a voice in the final decision.

After nearly six months of intense meetings and conference calls, senior executives of companies that produce the vast majority of the shows at the Javits Center took a bold public stand, sending a letter to the governor late last month stating their opposition to the demolition of the Far West Side facility. The letter was also distributed to some 600 officials, including state and city legislators.

The executives insist they will not patronize the much larger venue in Ozone Park, Queens, at the Aqueduct raceway that is to be built by the casino operator Genting Americas. They prefer a proposed, but troubled, development plan at Willets Point near Citi Field, which is closer to Manhattan. "Javits customers are adamant that the Javits Center remain open long term," their letter stated.

Calling themselves Friends of Javits, the group is composed of 21 of the largest trade-show companies in the business—which produce such events as the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show and the New York International Gift Fair—as well as organizations such as the Toy Industry Association and the National Retail Federation, which also produce big events at Javits.

A seat at the negotiating table

The governor's dramatic announcement in January of a Javits replacement in Ozone Park surprised the executives, but they are determined to get a seat at the negotiating table now.

"We wanted to let the governor know that there is a strong base of support [for keeping the facility] and to ask him to reconsider tearing it down," said Britton Jones, chief executive of Business Journals Inc., which produces 17 events at Javits a year, including the Accessories and Moda Manhattan shows.

Without the trade-show industry's support, the proposed 3.8 million-square-foot convention center at Aqueduct—the largest in the country—would be tough to fill.

"This is a real strong message by the industry, which is saying, 'Just because you build it, it doesn't mean we'll come,' " said Mark Schienberg, president of the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association, which produces the annual New York International Auto Show at Javits.

The auto show's name does not appear on the letter because Mr. Schienberg is willing to move his weeklong event to Aqueduct, although he supports the industry's position on Javits. "They can easily pull their shows from New York City," he explained. "I can't."

The New York Hotel Association also recently sent a position paper to its members expressing its support for the Javits Center to remain open.”

Other Articles of Interest

1)     Compulsive gambler bans himself from Ohio casino - Lancaster Eagle Gazette

Ohio's casino commission has set up a way to help problem gamblers from giving into temptation and going into the state's casinos.

Compulsive gamblers or anyone else can ask the commission to ban themselves from any of the four casinos opening in the state.

The Akron Beacon Journal reported that the new state program makes it a crime for those on the list to enter.

People can ask to be banned for a year, five years or life.

So far, one northeast Ohio man is on the list and 10 others are awaiting approval. The casino commission thinks between 5,000 and 10,000 people will participate.

Ohio's program is similar to those in 15 others states.

2)     When is so much gambling too much? -

“It's getting tougher to do business in the Northeast casino market. That's the conclusion of many of those who study such trends. Given the explosion in the number of gambling venues in recent years and the finite number of gamblers, it's hardly surprising that "oversaturation" is having a big impact on a domestic gaming industry that not too long ago was confined (legally, anyway) to the Nevada desert.

But casino gambling came to Atlantic City in the late 1970s, and now every state from West Virginia to Maine has some combination of commercial casinos, Native American-run casinos and lotteries. Massachusetts has all three, and New York might have a casino in Manhattan within five years. Parimutuel wagering, horse racing and lotteries are also popular. Taken together, and counting gambling destinations in other parts of the country — including storied Las Vegas — "oversaturation" pretty much describes what's going on in the gambling business.

And a lot of casinos are hurting as a result.

That the politicians in various states who have been selling gambling as a cure for their states' financial woes don't recognize the worrisome trend may be surprising or not, depending on one's views of politicians generally. David Cordish, whose company is opening yet another huge new casino in Maryland next month, says politicians don't understand oversaturation and "think you can have casinos like Starbucks" — on every corner.

Atlantic City is proof positive that such an attitude is just plain wrong. Though New Jersey gaming officials say gross profits are up significantly over the last two quarters, the more than a dozen casinos there have been enduring a five-year slump that has seen a lot of the resort town's former gambling patrons being siphoned off by newer casinos in Pennsylvania. The glitter of the Atlantic City gaming experience faded a while ago. Some of the casinos are showing their age, and from anecdotal accounts, we hear customer service happens more by accident than by design. A new casino, Revel, is being counted on to reverse Atlantic City's fortunes, but some experts at this year's East Coast Gaming Congress said what the town really needs is fewer casinos, not more.”

3)     Jimmy Buffett talks about his new Mississippi casino - USA Today

“Jimmy Buffett the businessman is expanding his empire.

The poster child for the laid-back lifestyle got his first paid performing job in Biloxi, Miss., and opens a Margaritaville Casino & Restaurant there Tuesday. It joins a chain of restaurants and bars, a hotel in Pensacola, Fla., online game, clothing line, casino at the Flamingo resort in Las Vegas and other ventures. Another casino in Bossier City, La., is in the cards for next year.

Jimmy Buffett appears before the Mississippi Gaming Commission Thursday as the final step toward opening a Margaritaville Casino and Resort in Biloxi, Miss.  Buffett, 65, never intended to be a corporate king. But he has negotiated the shark-infested waters of the music business and tries new ventures because "it's kind of fun," he drawls.

The Pascagoula, Miss., native says of the Biloxi casino, where a hotel also is planned: "I didn't know if I wanted to do it, but then the storm (Katrina) came along. I was contacted by (former Mississippi Gov.) Haley Barbour, who said, 'We need to get back.' " Buffett and a partnerbuilt the casino, adding 1,000 jobs to the local economy.”

New York State Fair Races on tap this weekend

The New York State Fair (NYSF) races for three-year-olds are scheduled for the upcoming holiday weekend at Vernon and Tioga Downs. 
This year the NYSF is considered a part of the Excelsior series, so the horse must be eligible to the Excelsior Series to race in the NYSF races.
The purse for all NYSF races will be $12,000 (plus all entry fees, $110). Points will be awarded toward the Excelsior finals. 
The NYSF/Excelsior 3YO colt & filly trots will be raced at Vernon Downs on Friday, May 25.
Entries will be taken by the Vernon Race office at (315) 829-6825 on Tuesday, May 22 until 9:00AM. The condition sheet is here.
Vernon's holiday racing schedule is Friday, May 25 and Saturday, May 26 at 6:55PM. Memorial Day (May 28) racing is a 1:15 matinee card. 
Tioga Downs will be dark this Friday for a concert, but live racing resumes on Saturday, May 26 at 6:50PM and Sunday, May 27 with a special evening post time of 6:30PM. 
The NYSF/Excelsior pacing colts & fillies will race at Tioga on Monday, May 28 as part of the Memorial Day matinee card beginning at 1:30PM. 
The draw for Monday's stakes card will be on Friday, May 25, box closing at 9:00AM. The Tioga Race Office phone is (607) 699-7688 and that condition sheet is here.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

He's Gorgeous breaks all-time Vernon Downs track record

Eye-popping track record performances by He's Gorgeous and Major Look highlighted Saturday night's lively 13-race program at Vernon Downs.

He's Gorgeous breaks all-time Vernon Downs track record
Following up on his 1:50 effort here last week, He's Gorgeous ($3.30) lowered the track's 59-year speed standard by one-and-one-fifth seconds with his 1:48.3 victory in Saturday's $9,500 Open pace.  Tim Tetrick did the driving for trainer Tracy Brainard and local owner Kenneth Jacobs as the swift-striding 5-year-old son of Art Major-So Ravishing cut fractions of :25.4, :53.2, and 1:21 en route to a 1-1/4 length triumph over two-time current Open winner Diamond Stick Pin.  The spectacular showing in Saturday's 10th race by the former New York Sire Stakes standout raised his career earnings to $748,294.

After Romantic Moment had lowered the Vernon all-time record for 3-year-old pacing fillies to 1:51 in the opening division of Saturday's $134,564 NYSS feature for this age, sex and gait, Major Look ($31.80) won the second division in 1:50-flat.  Jeff Gregory did the teaming for trainer Robert Riddle in race six as the quick-footed daughter of Art Major-Band Of Emeralds began her sophomore campaign in sensational fashion, defeating the favored American Jewel by 2-1/4 lengths. 

Major Look is shared in ownership by New Yorkers Joseph Balkunas and Mark Giordano.

Major Look upsets heavily favored American Jewel in track record time
JK Fine Art captured Saturday's third top shelf NYSS segment in 1:52.4, before Jamie Sue and Brownsville Bomber finished in a 1:53.1 dead-heat for win in the final flight.

Six divisions of the new Excelsior Series for NY-bred sophomore pacing fillies were also raced for purses totaling $76,900 on Saturday's card with top prize money going to Major Crush (1:53), Hepburn Blue Chip (1:53.3), Pansphobic (1:53.2), Table Games (1:53.1), Paltrow Blue Chip (1:54.2) and Winbak Speed (1:54.4).

Tetrick put on a driving clinic with six scores, while driver Jim Morrill, Jr. and trainer Linda Toscano each visited the winner's enclosure on three occasions.  Brainard, the track's leading trainer after 11 programs, harnessed a pair of first-place finishers.   

DOWNS DOINGS—Vernon's previous 1:49.4 all-time speed standard had been shared by the pacers My Little Dragon (2008), Stonebridge Wish (2010) and Go Go Solano (2011)…See You At Peelers owned the former 1:51.1 record for 3-year-old pacing fillies when Saturday's program began…The Toscano-trained JK Fine Art, who defeated the favorite Handsoffmycookie by a neck in race eight, now sports a 6-3-1 summary line after 10 trips to the racetrack…There will be no live racing at the Downs next Thursday night (May 24) due to a special Memorial Day matinee offering at 1:15 on May 28.  Live racing will resume at 6:55 p.m. on Friday (May 25)…Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at

Here's a video replay of the track record performance by He's Gorgeous:

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Scorpion Moon posts fastest trotting mile of season

Scorpion Moon (near) wins Friday's $9,500 Open Trot
The productive veteran Scorpion Moon converted a two-hole trip into the fastest trotting mile of the season during Friday night's $9,500 featured eighth event at Vernon Downs.

Chris Lems did the teaming for owner/trainer Tracy Brainard as Scorpion Moon ($10.80) sat in the cat-bird's spot behind the front-striding favorite Lorenzo Dream until the stretch drive, then spurted to a nose triumph over last week's winner in this Open class, Yankee Manny.  The Saratoga-shipper Lorenzo Dream finished third.

Friday's first-place finish marked the fifth victory in eight current outings and the 84th lifetime triumph for the 11-year-old son of Armbro Scorpion-Angie's Nugget, who raised his career winnings to $904,156.

The 1:54 clocking lowered the track's current standard for representatives of the diagonal gait by two-fifths of a second.

It was one of three tallies during Friday's 12-race card for Lems, currently the track's top dash-winning reinsmen with 20 first-place finishes.  The evening's other multiple winners included drivers Rick Plano (three wins and two training tallies), Truman Gale (two driving wins) Frank Davis (two sulky scores), and Brainard (two training victories).

DOWNS DOINGS—Josh Kinney became the 10-night meet's top provisional pilot with a 1:54 pacing score behind Zinescape in Friday's first event.  It was his second Vernon victory of 2012…Leslie Hale earned his initial provisional driving win behind his pacer Filthy Rich in Friday's 11th event…Lems's triple was his fifth of the current local campaign…The pacer Dynamic Rayzer (1:53.3) and trotter Ulay Bono (1:55.4) became the meet's 10th and 11th two-time winners, respectively, as a result of their repeat Friday victories…Vernon will simulcast the 137th Preakness Stake at approximately 6:20 tomorrow afternoon, and then present a 13-race live  program, including 10 events for New York-bred 3-year-old filly pacers at 6:55 p.m…Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bunny in the Bank is money in the bank on Thursday night

Bunny in the Bank wins Thursday's F&M Open Pace
Bunny In The Bank was money in the bank for her followers in Thursday night's $9,500 featured ninth race at Vernon Downs.

With Kevin Switzer, Jr. driving for part-owner and trainer Tracy Brainard, Bunny In The Bank ($6.60) raced as if she was the best, and then proved it with a front-ending three-quarter length victory over the on-rushing Ellleofnxample in the week's Open contest for female pacers.

Thursday's 1:51.3 triumph marked the first this season and the 20th all-time for the fleet-footed 6-year-old mare, who increased her career winning to $372,789.  The bay daughter of Astreos-Bunny Dearest is also owned by Andrew Herzog.

Jimmy Whittemore steered four winners during Thursday's 12-race card, joining Rick Plano as the only drivers to capture more than three events on a single program at the nine-night meeting.  Switzer and Brainard collected three wins each, while Frank Davis won both halves of the early double.

DOWNS DOINGS—Red Light's 1:54.4 victory in race eight was just two-fifths-of-a-second off the fastest trotting mile of the current meeting…The pacer Cheap N Easy and trotter Fox Valley Dolly each became two-time winners at the meet on Thursday…Whittemore's four first-place finishes tied him with Chris Lems at 17 atop the track's dash-winning driving chart…Brainard's three tallies propelled her to an 11-7 advantage over Dave Dewhurst and Plano in current training triumphs…The Downs has a 12-race card planned for Friday night and a 13-race program, including 10 events for New York-bred 3-year-old filly pacers on Saturday night.  First post time is 6:55 p.m….Vernon will also simulcast the Preakness Stake at approximately 6:20 on Saturday afternoon…Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at

Thursday, May 17, 2012

American Jewel, Handsoffmycookie headline NYSS action on Saturday at Vernon

Two of the biggest names in harness racing for 3-year-old filly pacers will headline a star studded roster in the NYSS on Saturday night from Vernon, New York (Post time 6:55 pm).

American Jewel and Handsoffmycookie will begin their sophomore seasons coming off of a pair of qualifying events at The Meadowlands.

American Jewel, with regular pilot Tim Tetrick, will headline the second division (race 6) and has drawn post position number nine going for $34,091.

The 3-year-old daughter of American Ideal – Trim Hanover was undefeated through eight starts last year, until she was defeated by Big McDeal in Lexington in early October.

American Jewel, however, came out of that race with an injury that forced her to the sidelines until this year.

Jimmy Takter trains American Jewel, who sports a career record of eight wins and a second in nine lifetime starts with earnings of more than $677,000.

Handsoffmycookie, who won the NYSS Final last year, and was second in the Breeders Crown and Three Diamonds Final will headline the third and final division (Race 8).

Tim Tetrick will also be handling the driving duties on the 3-year-old daughter of Art Major – Observe Me for trainer Scott Di Domenico.

Handsoffmycookie wins a NYSS event last fall at Vernon
Handsoffmycookie was never worse than second last year and chalked up a freshman record of nine wins and three second in 12 starts, good for $575,000 in earnings.

She will leave from post position number three in race number eight on Saturday night.

Vernon Downs kicks off its three consecutive days of live racing on Thursday, May 17 at 6:55 pm.

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

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

1970’s Music Sensation “America” To Play Benefit Concert at Vernon Downs

Vernon Downs will be celebrating America's Independence Day Weekend with a concert by the chart-topping group "America."

Renowned for such great hits as: "A Horse With No Name," "Sister Golden Hair", "Ventura Highway", and "Tin Man," America will take to the stage on Thursday July 5th, outside and under the stars at Vernon Downs.

As a way of giving back to the community, all proceeds from the ticket sales for the July 5th America concert will be donated to the Food Bank of Central New York.

In addition, Chairman of American Racing and Entertainment Jeff Gural has stated that he will personally donate $5.00 to the Food Bank of Central New York for every ticket sold for the concert.

Mr. Gural will also give 50 cents for every $1 donated to the Food Bank on the day of the show.

Tickets for the 8:00pm show are available for $10 at the Vernon Downs Casino Player's Club and all Ticketmaster Locations.

The Food Bank will also be on hand at the July 5th concert to collect donations for their organization.

"I recognize that many people in our community continue to struggle during these difficult times and I thought this was the best way for myself and our company to express our thanks to everyone for the support we have received over the last 6 years,” Mr. Gural stated.

Last year $58, 246.13 was raised through ticket sales, Mr. Gural’s $5.00 match and donations at the Pat Benatar Concert and presented to the Food Bank at a Ribbon Cutting of the new Event Center on July 21st.

Opened in 2006, Vernon Downs Casino Hotel occupies a 34,000 square foot gaming facility featuring over 750 video gaming machines, restaurants, lounges and arcades in addition to live and simulcast racing.

The property also offers an all-suites hotel and employs over 375 people.

In 2011, Vernon Downs expanded the hotel to accommodate small conventions, weddings, and meetings and have plans for further expansion in the future if it receives one of the seven casino licenses proposed as part of a constitutional amendment allowing casino gambling in New York state.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

He's Gorgeous lowers track record

He's Gorgeous lowers the track record Saturday night
Former New York Sire Stakes standout He's Gorgeous looked sharp during a 1:50 track record performance at Vernon Downs on Saturday night.

Competing in the $6,200 sixth race, He's Gorgeous ($5.80) led throughout, carving out splits of :26-flat, :54.4 and 1:22.2 before recording a decisive decision over the closest of his six rivals and equaling the career-best speed mark he set here last season.

It was the first win in six current appearances and the 23rd lifetime victory for the fleet-footed 5-year-old son of Art Major-So Ravishing, who clipped two-fifths-of-a-second off the previous Vernon standard for older pacing horses, which had been established by Pacinello last July 23.

Jack Rice drove for leading trainer Tracy Brainard as the bay battler increased his lifetime winnings to more than $733,300 for owner Kenneth Jacobs.

Mystical Valentine became the local season's fourth two-time winning pacer with his front-striding 1:51.2, neck victory over Diamond Stick Pin in Saturday's $9,500 Open contest.  Jimmy Whittemore sat in for trainer Dave Dewhurst in race nine as the gritty 6-year-old gelding secured his fourth season's score and his 25th lifetime tally.  Phillip Hale owns the career-winner of $340,147.

Two-win performances during Saturday's 12-race card were posted by drivers Whittemore, Kevin Switzer, Jr. Rick Plano, as well as by trainers Brainard and Dewhurst.

DOWNS DOINGS—Bill Bailey, who made a precautionary hospital visit following a racetrack accident here on Friday evening, was cleared to drive in two races during Saturday card…Oneida's Brandon Loomis earned his initial provisional driving victory at the meet with a 1:55.4 score behind the pacer Renier De Vie in Saturday's third event…Following eight programs, Chris Lems leads in driving victories with 17, while defending champ Brainard tops the training chart with eight first-place finishes…Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Yankee Manny posts fastest trotting mile of young season

Frank Davis and Yankee Manny win their second straight
The steady-striding Yankee Manny turned in the fastest trotting mile of the season at Vernon Downs with his 1:54.2 triumph in Friday night's $9,500 featured sixth race.

Trainer Frank Davis was at the controls as Yankee Manny ($5.20) survived a parked out journey and still had enough left in reserve to defeat the pace-setting Love U Overandover by 1-1/4 lengths at the conclusion of this week's Open test for representatives of the diagonal gait.

It marked second win in succession in this top class for the 6-year-old son of Yankee-Glide-Yankee Minuet, who also sports a second place finish after three Vernon ventures thus far this season.  It was the 23rd lifetime win for the $123,822-career earner, who is owned by Brian Green.

The time resulted in a new win-mark for the speedy gelding and it trimmed one-fifth-of-a-second off the previous current trotting standard that had been shared by Yankee Manny and Aruba Vacation.

The seven-night meet's leading reinsman Chris Lems, and two-time defending driving champ Jimmy Whittemore each recorded doubles during Friday's 11-race program.

DOWNS DOINGS—Drivers Bill Bailey (behind Edit Away) and Truman Gale (Sir Westside Z Tam) were involved in an unusual accident on the track while preparing for Friday's ninth race.  Bailey was taken to an area hospital for a possible back injury, while Gale didn't appear to be seriously hurt.  There was no post-race report available on the condition of the pacers involved…Yankee Manny and fellow trotter Photo Master (1:58.3) joined Ziegler Hanover as multiple winning trotters after seven local programs…The trotters World Cup (2:00.1) and pacer Flashy Trick (1:58) each earned their "maiden" victories on Friday night…The Downs will present a 12-race card at 6:55 on Saturday night that will include the week's $9,500 Open pace (race nine)…Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at

Friday, May 11, 2012

Aries Angel wins Thursday feature; Ziegler Hanover extends winning streak to three

Aries Angel wins the Thursday feature for driver/trainer Rick Plano
The pacer Aries Angel displayed fast form in winning Thursday night's $9,500 feature, while the trotter Ziegler Hanover became the first three-time winner of the season at Vernon Downs.

Competing against seven speedy rivals in the week's Open test for female practitioners of the lateral gait, Aries Angel ($9.80) challenged for the lead off the starting gate, took command after the quarter, and then forged a one-length victory in Thursday's 10th contest.

Trainer Rick Plano was in the sulky as the 5-year-old daughter of Western Ideal-Aries Conquest collected her fifth season's score and 18th lifetime tally.  Rick's wife, Maryann, owns the career-winner of more than $124,500.

The win was one of two during Thursday's 11-race card for Plano, who was the runner up in races won on last year's driving and training charts at the Downs.

The gritty claimer Ziegler Hanover ($4.70) extended his local winning streak to three with a solid 1:56.3 score in Thursday's $5,200 eighth event.  Chris Lems drove for trainer and part-owner Dave Dewhurst as the 7-year-old son of Andover Hall-Xqsmwa improved his current record to three wins and a second-place finish after four outings.  Anthony R. Farina shares ownership of the 14-time career winner, who sports more than $224,500 in lifetime winnings.

Lems, the track's current driving leader with 14 first-place finishes, posted three wins during the evening, as did two-time defending titleist Jimmy Whittemore.

DOWNS DOINGS—Thursday's fastest mile was a career-best 1:53.4 effort by the sophomore filly pacer Canamerica in the second race. Trainer John Stark, Jr., a part-owner, drove for Eloise Luchsinger, E. Carlyle and David Smith…Dewhurst, Jessica Okusko and Tracy Brainard, who all posted wins during Thursday's card, are deadlocked atop the track's training chart after six nights of competition with five victories each…Vernon will present an 11-race program that includes the week's $9,500 Open trot (sixth race) at 6:55 p.m. on Friday (May 11).…Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Jody Jamieson to be honored with bobblehead at Vernon Downs

In honor of his unprecedented dual victories in the World Driving Championship and the Meadowlands/Tioga Drivers’ Championship in 2011, Canadian superstar Jody Jamieson will be honored with a bobblehead at Vernon Downs on Sunday, August 26 when he defends the second of his titles.

“I’m joining some elite company of drivers who have been honored with bobbleheads including Brian Sears, Yannick Gingras and Tim Tetrick,” said Jamieson.  “It’s nice to be recognized and it’s always nice to beat the best drivers in the world.”

The first round of this year’s $50,000 Drivers’ Championship will be contested at the Meadowlands on Friday, August 17, closing night of the Championship Meet.

For the first time, the final round moves to Vernon Downs and shares the spotlight with the $700,000 estimated Zweig Memorial Trot, which will also be raced at Vernon Downs for the first time. Post time on the special Sunday, August 26 racing program is 1:15 PM.

“We’re excited to be able to continue our great bobblehead tradition by honoring Jody Jamieson,” said Jason Settlemoir, VP of Racing and Simulcast.  “Jody is a great promoter of harness racing, both in Canada and also in the United States, and we appreciate his continued support of Vernon Downs and Tioga Downs.”

The bobbleheads will be given to all fans for free while supplies last.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

“Inside Harness Racing” TV show returns for third season

Harness racing fans, both new and old, will once again have a TV outlet for their favorite sport. 

"Inside Harness Racing," a weekly, half-hour television show, returns for its third season.  The first episode airs today (Wednesday) at 6:00 PM on Time Warner Cable Sports throughout Upstate New York.  For the second year in a row, the show will also be broadcast on HPI TV in Canada.  Viewers can also watch every episode online at the Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs YouTube channel (

"We're very excited to once again offer fans a television outlet for the great racing, great stories and great characters at Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs," said the show's executive producer and host, Justin Horowitz.  "TV is one of the best outlets to promote our game and we're grateful to our partners at Time Warner Cable Sports for once again giving us a prime outlet."

Each week, the show will not only cover the major races at Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs with replays and interviews, but also go beyond the races with special features to introduce viewers to the personalities and horses behind the scenes.

Fan education will also be a major focus with a regular segment called "Harness Racing University" that will teach new fans and horseplayers about the wagering side of the sport.

A story that aired on "Inside Harness Racing" was awarded an honorable mention in the 2011 John Hervey Awards for excellence in harness racing broadcasting.

Here's the debut episode of the show:

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Diamond Stick Pin is a repeat winner in Open Pace

The productive pacer Diamond Stick Pin was a repeat winner in Saturday night's $9,500 Open feature at Vernon Downs.

With Claude Huckabone, III steering for trainer Jessica Okusko, Diamond Stick Pin ($5.70) turned in a gritty performance in Saturday's sixth race, rallying from sixth (last) in the early going and exploding from fourth at the top of the stretch to nip the front-striding Restless Yankee by a nose in the 1:51.4 mile.

The time bettered the season's local speed standard by one tick of the timer, and improved Diamond Stick Pin's current record to three victories in seven starts.  It was the 22nd lifetime tally for the 6-year-old son of Bettor's Delight-Silksndiamonds, who is shared in ownership by Conrad Zurich, Edwin Gold and Wanda Polisseni's Purple Haze Stables.  His career winnings now stand at $427,100.

The first-place finish was one of two on the evening for Huckabone, who also won with the Kenneth Daniels-owned pacer One More Day in race one.

Veteran reinsman Rick Plano, last season's runner-up on both the driving and training charts at the Downs, collected four wins during Saturday's 12-race card.  The 60-year-old Frankfort-native won with the pacers Devil's Bargain, Dynamic Rayzer, Joba Jovi and trotter Neon Dream to record the first four-win performance by a driver at the five-night meeting.

DOWNS DOINGS—Chris Lems leads all drivers in races won after five Vernon programs with 11…Defending champ Tracy Brainard, Jessica Okusko and Dave Dewhurst are tied atop the training chart with four wins each…Michael Miller tied Josh Kinney, James Dodson and Mickey Holiday at one on the provisional driver's list after his 1:59.1 tally behind the Lew Miller-owned trotter BJ's Superman in Saturday's eighth event…Vernon will offer live racing at 6:55 p.m. Thursday-Saturday next week.…Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at