Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Penny Earned headlines Vernon opening night

Thursday, April 16, 2015 - by James Witherite, Vernon Downs Racing Media
Vernon, NY---Trotters and distaffers headline Friday (April 17) evening's Opening Night program at Vernon Downs, with 21-time winner A Penny Earned making his return to the Miracle Mile in the featured $10,000 Open Trot.
The six-year-old Conway Hall gelding proved victorious in 7 of 26 races last year, staying close to trainer George Ducharme's central New York home base throughout. He took a seasonal mark of 1:53.3 while earning just over $60,000, and he's reunited with his regular driver from last season, defending Vernon Downs driving champion Chris Lems.
Lems has nine drives on the ten-race card, with three of them for last season's top trainer David Dewhurst. The pair will look to establish themselves atop their respective leader boards with Kyler's Valentine (race 1, 7-2 morning line), Ziegler Hanover (race 2, 5-2 ML), and Pounce K (race 6, 6-1 ML).

Fans are encouraged to arrive well before first post time of 6:45 p.m. EDT, as racing calendar magnets and T-shirts will be distributed starting one hour before the first race (while supplies last). Arriving fans can also meet their favorite drivers prior to the races, and all are welcome to remain for the post-racing fireworks display.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Vernon Downs readies for 2015 opener

Monday, April 13, 2015 - by James Witherite, Vernon Downs racing media

Vernon, NY --- Vernon Downs opens the curtain on their 2015 live harness racing season later this week, as Friday (April 17) marks the first of 90 programs over the critically acclaimed seven-eighths-mile stonedust track.

"We're excited to kick off another season of harness racing at the home of the Miracle Mile," said Jason M. Settlemoir, Vice President of Racing at Vernon Downs. "It's been a long winter, but we're ready for the upcoming meet, featuring world-class stakes races, the New York Sire Stakes, and a slew of fun promotions for our loyal fans."

Fans will be welcomed back to the home of the Miracle Mile with race date magnets and T-shirts given away at the main entrance beginning at 5:45 p.m. (while supplies last). Fans will also be able to meet their favorite Vernon Downs drivers before the races. During the races, six lucky fans will be selected to win a $50 wager on the house, and after the last race, all are invited to enjoy a spectacular fireworks display.

The first Horseplay Car Giveaway finalist will be chosen on opening night as well (weather permitting), as the popular season-long contest returns with a Volkswagen Jetta on the line. Fans can earn entries every live race night through Sept. 7, when one lucky winner will drive away with the new car.

Later in the season, Vernon Downs will again host the trotting divisions of the Empire Breeders Classic (June 21), along with a number of top trotting and distaff events.

Stakes action continues with the Zweig Memorial Trot (for 3-year-olds) slated for July 26, while the Aug. 21 card boasts a trio of top events -- the Crawford Farms Trot, the Muscle Hill Mares Trot, and the Artiscape Open Mare Pace.

As the weather cools down, Vernon Downs will once again host the New York Sire Stakes Excelsior Series finals on Sept. 19, the Simpson Stakes for 2-year-olds on Oct. 16, and the Kindergarten Classic trotting finals on Oct. 31.

As last year’s major open stakes were won by Dan Patch champions Father Patrick, Shake It Cerry, Sebastian K, and Rocklamation, the Miracle Mile is sure to once again host a number of present and future world champions throughout the year.

Additionally, Vernon Downs will play host to a full complement of New York Sire Stakes preliminary events for 2- and 3-year-old pacers and trotters.

Post time for the opening night program is slated for 6:45 p.m. (EDT). Racing will take place on Friday and Saturday evenings through closing night, Nov. 21, with Sunday afternoon cards added from mid-May through the end of August and Wednesday evening cards added in September and October. For a complete schedule, visit

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

PRESS RELEASE: Harness racing season kicks off in two weeks at Vernon Downs

Media invited for special preview night with live racing

Vernon, N.Y. – April 7, 2015 – Vernon Downs is preparing to usher in spring with the start of live harness racing scheduled to begin in about two weeks. The 62nd season of live harness racing begins April 17th with a post time of 6:45 pm. Guests will receive the traditional race date T-shirt and schedule magnet (free while supplies last). A spectacular fireworks show will commence after the last race, at approximately 10 pm.

Other highlights of opening night include the chance to get to know Vernon Downs drivers through a special meet and greet held in the hour before post. Guests can also sign up to win a $50 free roll, and six winners receive $50 to wager entirely on a designated race and keep any winnings.

“After a long, cold winter, we can’t think of a better way to ring in spring than to join in the activities surrounding the start to live racing,” said Scott Freeman, Sr. Vice President & General Manager. “And that’s just the beginning—the fun and excitement continues all season long with creative promotions, contests and events.”

The second big event of the 2015 season is Kentucky Derby Day on May 2. Guests can spend the day at Vernon Downs and celebrate southern style while watching and betting on the Derby. Those who wish to dawn lavish hats can enter a special contest, and everyone who attends can enter to win $1,000 Derby Dream Bet. Live harness racing follows that evening.

Later in the season, the popular Camel and Ostrich racing return on June 13, typically drawing one of the largest crowds of the year! Two special promotions, the Horseplay Car Giveaway and Million Dollar Ball Drop, continue all season long. Vernon Downs will also host several top-class stakes races throughout the season, including the Crawford Farms Trot, Zweig Memorial and the Artiscape Pace.

Media Night: Members of the media are invited to a special preview of the 2015 season at Vernon Downs on Tuesday, April 14th beginning at 6 pm. Members of track management and horsemen will be available for interviews, and additional information on the facility and the upcoming season will be highlighted. The media will also have a chance to see live qualifying races beginning at 6:45 pm that evening. Photography and videography is welcomed and encouraged.

In addition to live harness racing, Vernon Downs offers video lottery terminals, video poker and electronic roulette. A variety of eateries are also part of the entertainment complex. Jeff Gural owns Vernon Downs in Vernon, NY, and Tioga Downs in Nichols, NY. Gural is in the process of preparing a new proposal to apply for the state’s final full gaming license. Once awarded, Tioga Downs will expand its facility and workforce to accommodate live casino gaming. In the last decade, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs have created more than 700 family-sustaining jobs. For more information on Vernon Downs, please visit