Friday, March 29, 2013
Opening Night of Racing is Friday, April 12
A celebration of the past with an eye towards bigger and better is the theme as Vernon Downs prepares for its historic 60th anniversary season. Live harness racing begins Friday, April 12. Post time has been moved 10 minutes earlier this season to 6:45 PM. The racing schedule features 90 race days on a mostly Thursday, Friday and Saturday schedule through November 2.
"This is going to be an exciting season to celebrate 60 years of harness racing tradition here at Vernon Downs," said Director of Racing Scott Warren, "While creating some new memories along the way."
Racing fans will notice many upgrades to the facilities this season including a renovated infield tote board, renovations to the Gold Cup dining room and a flashy new logo highlighting the 60th anniversary of racing.
In an effort to celebrate some of those historic moments, this season's program cover features several photos of legendary races and people from the past six decades. As part of a contest, fans that correctly identify the photos will be entered into weekly drawings for gift certificates from area businesses. They will also be entered into a grand prize drawing for $500 on June 29, the official 60th anniversary celebration. That special evening will also feature a commemorative T-Shirt giveaway and a trip giveaway to the Hambletonian, harness racing's premier event.
On the track, a stakes schedule worth more than $2.3 million will ensure that many of the sport's top horses will visit Vernon Downs in 2013.
"There aren't too many tracks in North America that offer a better stakes schedule than Vernon Downs," said Vice President of Racing Jason Settlemoir. "Central New York will witness first-hand harness racing's very best horses, drivers and trainers."
Fans will also want to circle Sunday, August 25 on their calendars. That special Sunday night of racing will feature the first round of the $50,000 Drivers' Championship, harness racing's version of the all-star game. The card will also include the $700,000 Zweig Memorial Trots. Hambletonian champion Market Share swept to a track record win in last year's male division while super filly Check Me Out matched her own world record with a 1:51.3 win against her fellow females.
The End of Summer Showdown returns on September 6 with a pair of $200,000 races for older trotters, the Credit Winner for the boys and the Muscle Hill for the girls. One lucky fan will also drive home that night with a brand new car: Scion iQ in the grand prize drawing of the season-long Horseplay Car Giveaway. The promotion helps to raise nearly $10,000 for local charities.
Fans may also register each racing night for the 2nd annual Million Dollar Ball Drop, another season-long promotion that could award one lucky winner with $1 million on August 31.
Other special promotional nights include May 27 (Special Memorial Day matinee with baseball hat giveaway, while supplies last); June 21 (Camel and Ostrich races); July 13 (Miss Vernon Downs beauty pageant); August 8-10 (Corntastic Weekend); and August 25 (Drivers' Championship bobblehead doll giveaway, while supplies last).
The Vernon Downs main track is being worked into mint condition by track superintendent Tony Rossi following another Central New York winter. Fans are invited to watch qualifying races on April 2 and 5 at 11:00 AM and April 9 at 6:45 PM.