Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Spectacular fireworks among highlights of harness racing kickoff this month

Vernon Downs opens season April 22

Vernon, N.Y. – April 19, 2016 – Final preparations are underway at Vernon Downs to open the 63rd season of live harness racing on Friday, April 22. Racing is set to begin that evening with a post time of 6:45 pm. Fans will receive the traditional race date T-shirt and schedule magnet (free while supplies last). All are welcome to stay after the last race for a fireworks show worth waiting for, beginning 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 beginning at 6 pm. As part of a 60 second wagering spree, three lucky winners will be able to place as many $2 bets as they can manage in one minute with Vernon Downs paying the wagers and the contestant keeping any winnings!

The second big event of the 2016 season is Kentucky Derby Day on May 7. Guests can spend the day at Vernon Downs and celebrate southern style while watching and betting on the Derby. Everyone 18 and older who attends can enter to win the $1,000 Derby Dream Bet. Live harness racing follows that evening. Other highlights of the 2016 season include two ongoing special promotions, the Horseplay Car Giveaway and Million Dollar Ball Drop.

On the track, Vernon Downs will host live racing primarily Thursday thru Saturday with a few Sunday and usual holiday Monday races planned. Several top-class stakes races including the Crawford Farms Trot, Zweig Memorial and the Muscle Hill Trot round out the 2016 racing calendar.

A special benefit concert* on August 12 will feature musical sensation, Grand Funk Railroad.
This American rock band first rose to fame in the 1970s with hits such as "We're an American Band," "Time Machine" and "Walk Like a Man." Rain or shine, the summer concert will take place at 8 pm outside and under the stars at the track Grandstand. Tickets are selling for $15 at all Ticketmaster outlets and Vernon Downs Players Club. All proceeds will benefit The Food Bank of Central New York. Plus, Chairman of American Racing & Entertainment, Jeff Gural will personally donate an additional $15 for each ticket sold. Help us reach our goal of $100,000!

In addition to its video gaming machines, Vernon Downs offers live harness racing, concerts and other entertainment. Jeff Gural owns Vernon Downs in Vernon, NY and Tioga Downs in Nichols, NY.  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

*Proceeds from the August 12 Grand Funk Railroad concert to benefit The Food Bank of Central New York.