Tioga/Vernon release 2009 race dates

from the Tioga Downs/Vernon Downs Publicity Department

Nichols, NY — The Tioga and Vernon Downs race dates and stakes calendar has been ironed out for the 2009 racing season (pending regulatory approval from the New York State Racing and Wagering Board).

Vernon Downs will begin their 90-day season on Friday, April 17, and conclude on Saturday, November 7. Vernon will race a schedule of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for most of the meet with a post time of 6:55 p.m. Two Monday matinees with a special post time of 1:30 p.m. are scheduled for May 25 and September 7. During the month of July, Vernon will race Tuesday nights at 6:00 p.m.

Tioga Downs will kick-off their 57-day season on Saturday, May 2, otherwise known to the betting world as “Derby Day.” Tioga’s season will conclude on Saturday, September 12. During the meet Tioga will race a normal schedule of Friday and Saturday evenings (post time 6:50 p.m.) and Sunday afternoon (post time 1:30 p.m.). Tioga will race two Wednesday cards, scheduled for June 10 and August 19, with a post time of 1:30 p.m.

The stakes season for both tracks will begin with The Empire Breeders Classic eliminations for 3-year old New York bred pacers and trotters. The trotters will race eliminations at Vernon on Saturday, May 16, and return for the $500,000 (est.) finals on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25. The New York bred pacers will race eliminations at Tioga on Sunday, May 17, returning for the $500,000 (est.) finals on Sunday, May 24.

Tioga will once again host its Rags To Riches series for $10,000 claiming pacers from Sunday, June 7, through Sunday, June 28, in an elimination style bracket series in which $10,000 claimers have the chance of racing for $150,000 (est.).

The $300,000 (est.) Zweig Memorial Trot for 3-year-old colt and filly trotters will be held at Tioga on Friday, July 10. Normally held during the State Fair, the Zweig was moved to an open spot in the calendar and will hopefully be used as a stepping stone to the Hambletonian.

The Roarin’ Grand Circuit stops at Tioga with the Tompkins-Geers stake races from Friday, July 17, through Monday, July 20, as over $650,000 (est.) in purse money will be up for grabs on this four-day race weekend. Tioga will also be offering a free golf tournament to owners, trainers, and drivers that participate in the Tompkins-Geers stakes. The four-man scramble takes place on Monday morning, July 20, and is held at the Tioga Country Club, located just four miles from the track.

The third annual Tioga Downs Drivers’ Championship will be held on Sunday, August 2, with a post time of 1:30 p.m. Yannick Gingras repeated in 2008 as champion of this lucrative event after sharing the 2007 title with Brian Sears. Also starring on the Sunday card will be a leg of the $150,000 (est.) Miss Versatility trotting series as well as a leg of the Kindergarten Classic for 2-year-old pacers.

Tioga will also play host to a second leg of the Kindergarten series on Sunday, August 22, with the remaining legs carried out at Vernon Downs.

The New York State Fair will once again be held at Tioga this year from Saturday, August 8, through Sunday, August 16, with over $800,000 in purses being offered.

Last but not least on the Tioga stakes schedule is the $120,000 (est.) Artiscape open mare pace, scheduled to go forward on Saturday, September 12. The Artiscape pace was moved from Vernon Downs to Tioga Downs for 2009. In 2008, My Little Dragon paced the first sub-1:50 mile in Vernon Downs history to capture the event with Brian Sears in the sulky.

Vernon Downs will once again host the Conway Hall for open mare trotters. The race will be held at a special 1:30 p.m. post on Labor Day, Monday, September 7, as top open mare trotters will battle for $120,000 (est.).

Speaking of trotters, the $125,000 (est.) Credit Winner for the open ranks will come to the seven-eighths-mile oval at Vernon on Friday, September 18. American Lane and Cat Manzi were victorious in the 2008 edition while Vivid Photo, who was the 2007 champion, holds the track and stakes record of 1:52.1. Also going postward on the Friday card will be the third leg of the $150,000 (est.) Miss Versatility trotting series for open mare trotters. The final will follow six days later on Jug Day, Thursday, September 24, at the Delaware County Fair.

The New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions makes its first ever visit to the Miracle Mile on Saturday, September 26. With eight $150,000 (est.) finals, the Saturday night card will award more than $1.2 million in estimated purses. Owners of the stakes horses will be invited to a pre- and post-race cocktail party free of charge. For dining and/or room reservations, please contact Jason Settlemoir by e-mail at Jason@tiogadowns.com or by phone at (607) 699-7588.

Last up at Vernon will be the $500,000 (est.) Kindergarten Classic final for 2-year-old pacers and trotters. It will be held on Saturday, October 31. The Kindergarten has six legs separated by sex and gait, sprinkled between Vernon and Tioga starting on July 31. In a format change for 2009, the Kindergarten Classic finals will be held at Vernon.

For more information regarding any of the above events or to download the nomination forms, please visit us on the web by going to www.tiogadowns.com or www.vernondowns.com or give us a call at (607) 699-7688.

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