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Owner sets donation goal of $100,000 to benefit the Food Bank of CNY

Vernon Downs Casino Hotel and Racetrack is excited to announce that country music sensations Jerrod Niemann and Love and Theft will be appearing live in concert
on Thursday, July 3rd outside and under the stars at Vernon Downs. Tickets for the 8:00pm show are available for $15 at the Vernon Downs Casino Players Club and all Ticketmaster locations.

Jerrod Niemann has produced Billboard chart-toppers “Drink To That All Night” and “Lover, Lover” while Love and Theft is best known for their number 1 hit “Angel Eyes” and “Runaway.”

As a way of giving back to the community, all proceeds from the ticket sales for the concert will be donated to the Food Bank of Central New York. In addition, Chairman of American Racing and Entertainment Jeff Gural stated that he will personally donate $10.00 for every ticket sold for the concert, making the total donated amount $25 per ticket. Mr. Gural will also give 50 cents for every $1 donated to the Food Bank on the day of the show. Mr. Gural and Vernon Downs have a goal of raising a total of $100,000 through their combined efforts.

“Making ends meet continues to be a struggle for people in our community during these difficult times and I think this is the best way for myself and our company to express our thanks to everyone for the support we have received over the years,” Mr. Gural stated. Last year’s “Gretchen Wilson” concert raised nearly $68,000 for the Food Bank, through ticket sales,
Mr. Gural’s $10.00 match and donations.

Vernon Downs Casino Hotel and Racetrack employs over 350 people and is open year-round with video gaming machines, simulcast horse racing, restaurants, sports bar, hotel and event center.

Vernon Downs is located close to Routes 5 and 31 in Vernon, NY.


Contact Info: Ursula Maunder
Senior Director of Marketing
315.560.4856

by James Witherite, Vernon Downs racing media

In similar fashion to her first three victories, William Donovan's Medusa ($2.70) brushed to the fore on the backstretch and pulled clear en route to a 1:51.2 victory in the $13,300 Anthony Farina Pacing Series final on Saturday (May 3) evening at Vernon Downs.

Medusa - still undefeated (Fotowon photo)
The three-year-old Bettor's Delight filly came away in fourth as Stony Brook (John MacDonald) set the initial pace, blazing through a :26.2 first quarter before yielding to Medusa on the backstretch.  Medusa would not be caught, opening up at the top of the stretch and holding clear of Stony Brook for a three-length victory in rein to Chris Lems.  Team Edward (Truman Gale) stayed on to be third off a ground-saving trip.

The Paul Kelley-trained Medusa remains undefeated after the victory.

The $14,100 Catherine Burton Trotting Series final went to Gewertz, Brunet, and Brunet's Wild and Crazy Guy ($2.40, Truman Gale).  Part of a six-horse entry, Wild and Crazy Guy snuck through up the pegs off a pocket trip for a half-length win over the three-wide Keystone Trevor (Rick Plano) in 1:55.4, with Driving Miss Crazy (Gaetan Brunet) holding third after enduring a first-over trip.

Racing resumes at Vernon on Thursday evening, with the first of ten races heading to the gate at 6:45 p.m. EDT.

by James Witherite, Vernon Downs racing media

A select field of five contested the $8,000 featured event on the Friday (May 2) program at Vernon Downs, and despite having things largely his own way, Pennsylvania shipper and odds-on favorite Sand Top Gun was just collared by House Money ($6.80) in the last strides of the Miracle Mile 2 trot.

House Money (foreground) prevails
in Miracle Mile 2 trot (Fotowon photo)
Trainer/driver Roman Lopez tracked from the pocket through sensible fractions, keeping House Money just behind the pacesetting Sand Top Gun (Tyler Raymer) throughout the first seven-eighths of a mile.  Locked in by the first-over Ilovemymommy (Chris Lems), House Money resorted to wedging through at the pegs--and he found room in the last sixteenth.  The five-year-old Angus Hall gelding emerged with the lead in deep stretch, scoring in 1:55.0 by 3/4 length.  Sand Top Gun held second, while Mc Tiny's Hope (Ben McNeil) saved ground for third.

Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Saturday, with a 10-race card featuring the finals of the Catherine Burton Trotting Series and Anthony Farina Pacing Series kicking off at 5:10 p.m.


by James Witherite, Vernon Downs racing media

Rallying off cover as the pacesetters ruthlessly wore each other down, Donn Lewandrowski and Gail Farrell's Artic Byrd ($10.00) passed every other mare in the race en route to a 1:53 victory over sloppy going in Thursday (May 1) evening's $8,000 Fillies and Mares Miracle Mile 2-3 Handicap Pace at Vernon Downs.

Artic Byrd circles the field in
pacing feature (Fotowon photo)
 The six-year-old Art Major mare settled at the rear of the field initially before advancing two-wide on the backstretch to join the front flight prior to a :55 half mile.  On the far turn, trainer-driver Truman Gale moved third-over with Artic Byrd, while pacesetting favorite Market Dynamics (Rick Plano) faced stiff pressure from the first-over Got the Munchies (John MacDonald) approaching head-stretch.  Aided by live cover from Elleofnxample (Todd Frocione), Artic Byrd launched a four-wide stretch bid, pulling clear at will for a 1-3/4 length victory.  Elleofnxample stayed on for second, while the pocket-sitting Steuben Ruthless (Fern Paquet, Jr.) squeezed through at the pegs to save third.
Ben McNeil scores his first driving
victory (Fotowon photo)

Earlier in the program, Ben McNeil scored his first pari-mutuel driving win aboard Want More ($5.30), edging out Sudden Desire in 1:55.4 in a conditioned event for distaff pacers.

Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Friday (May 2) evening, with the first of nine races slated for 6:45 p.m. EDT.
Celebrate “the most exciting two minutes in sports” on Saturday, May 3

VERNON, NY (April 28, 2014) – The first Saturday in May is the most exciting day of the horse racing season and Vernon Downs is celebrating the Kentucky Derby with a full day of entertainment, style and winning for the whole family.

The day begins at 10:30 a.m. with the first live race from Churchill Downs. Fans can watch and wager on all of the day’s races leading up to the 140thRun for the Roses at 6:24 p.m.

Vernon Downs is giving one lucky fan a chance to make a “Derby Dream Bet.”One lucky fan will receive $1,000 to wager on one horse in the Kentucky Derby and of course, get to keep all of the winnings. A $1,000 win wager on last year’s Kentucky Derby champion would’ve returned $6,400.

In celebrating Kentucky Derby tradition, Vernon Downs will also host its annual $500 grand prize Derby Hat Contest with registration beginning at 2:30 p.m. and judging at 4:30 p.m. Mint juleps, the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby, will also be available throughout the day.

Live racing from Vernon Downs begins at 5:10 p.m. The Gold Cup Buffet,with its expansive views of the racing action, will offer its extensive menu featuring grilled flank steak, baked ham, steamed clams and more for $14.99 for adults and $6.99 for children ages 5-10. Reservations are strongly recommended.


The party continues late into the night with popular dance band Soul Injection at Ring Eyed Pete’s in the casino from 9:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m.

Media Contact:
Justin Horowitz
Regional Racing Marketing Manager
607-372-1171

by James Witherite, Vernon Downs racing media

After prevailing against similar company a fortnight ago and finishing a respectable second to Fireyourguns in last week's top pacing event, Kelly Hope's Stonebridge Master ($3.00) took top honors in Saturday (April 26) evening's $8,000 Miracle Mile 2 Pace at Vernon Downs, posting a 1:54.2 victory in going-away fashion over sloppy going.

Stonebridge Master pulls clear
for his second win of the meet
(Fotowon photo)
The eight-year-old Artsplace gelding raced patiently from off the pace, tracking live cover from Western Trademark (Fern Paquet, Jr.) before swinging three-wide in upper stretch.  At immediate asking from Aaron Byron, Stonebridge Master powered clear of his four rivals, winning by a widening 1-1/4 lengths over Western Trademark, while pacesetter Sheer Brilliance (Claude Huckabone, III) was worn down late, finishing third.
Medusa stays perfect with a 1:55.2
win (Fotowon photo)

Earlier in the card, a pair of $4,000 second round divisions of the Anthony Farina Pacing Series were contested, in which William Donovan's Medusa ($2.30) remained undefeated through three career races.  The three-year-old Bettor's Delight fully controlled a :58 half mile before pushing clear on the far turn, scoring a 1:55.2 win by a 6-1/2 length margin in rein to Chris Lems.  Joseph Meylan's Stony Brook ($3.30) prevailed in the other division, scoring a 5-length win in 1:56.1.

Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Thursday, May 1, with the first of 10 races scheduled for 6:45 p.m. EDT.  The upcoming Thursday card marks a switch to a three-night weekly schedule at Vernon, as well as the beginning of the Showdown Handicapping Contest, worth $1,500 to the last contestant standing.  Visit showdown.vernondowns.com for further details.

by James Witherite, Vernon Downs racing media

Driver Fern Paquet, Jr. swept the evening's pair of $8,000 Miracle Mile feature events at Vernon Downs on Friday (April 25) evening, rallying to circle the field with Asset Management ($19.60) in the Fillies and Mares Miracle Mile 2-3 Pace, and prevailing in the nick of time aboard Jaipur ($8.20) in the Miracle Mile 2 Trot.

Asset Management pulls clear late in the $8,000 Miracle
Mile 2-3 Pace for fillies and mares. (Fotowon photo)
In a change of tactics from the last two weeks, Asset Management dropped to last, biding her time well off a pressured pace before mounting a three-wide rally at the top of the stretch.  The six-year-old Western Hanover mare gobbled up ground willingly, eclipsing the pace-setting Market Dynamics (Rick Plano) in deep stretch, pulling clear for a 2-3/4 length win in 1:52.3, capped by a torrid :26.2 final quarter.  Artic Byrd (Truman Gale) was a narrow third, flattening off a first-over bid.

Jaipur took a similar path to victory in the trotting feature, making a massive three-wide push in the final quarter mile, passing horses steadily en route to a slim triumph over the pacesetting House Money (Roman Lopez) for a 1:54.4 victory.  Painite (Truman Gale) rallied late to save third after breaking at race's outset.

A trio of divisions of the Catherine Burton trotting series were contested, with Wild and Crazy Guy (1:56.1) and Driving Miss Crazy (1:56.2) giving Gaetan Brunet a training and driving double on the evening.  Indira Blue Chip (1:57.1) prevailed in the non-wagering division for trainer-driver Ray Schnittker.

Live racing returns on Saturday evening with a 6:45 p.m. first post, and Thursdays are added to the schedule on May 1, with post time slated for 6:45 p.m. on Thursday evenings as well.
April 23, 2014

Contact: Michael Brych, Organizer
atcendurance@gmail.com

Contact: Ursula Maunder, Marketing Manager
umaunder@vernondowns.com
Vernon Downs Casino & Hotel

Come join the team at Vernon Downs for the second annual “Treads and Threads” Duathlon and 5K Road Race on Sunday, April 27!  Spots remain open for all events, so try your hand at our Flat and Fast 5K run or the challenging 5K run, 20 mile bike ride, and 5K run duathlon event. Not up for an entire duathlon?  Register with a group of friends and participate as a team for the big race. 

All registered athletes will receive a quality t-shirt from Atayne, a company that uses recycled plastic bottles as their source material. Athletes will also enjoy a post-race party featuring free food and tickets for Budweiser beverages courtesy of Vernon Downs and Budweiser.  Other vendors on-site include Hemstrought's Half Moon Cookies, Bagel Grove Bagels, Gypsy Girl Wood Fried Pizza, bounce houses, and a live DJ for the kids. There will also be two bikes raffled off courtesy of the staff at Vernon Downs and Budweiser. 

For more information, including registration links, go to the race organizer's website, atcendurance.com, or arrive in person at Vernon Downs from noon until 4pm on Saturday, April 26th, or the morning of the race on April 27th.  The 5K and Duathlon kicks off at 9am.  
  
Vernon Downs Casino Hotel and Racetrack employs over 350 people and is open year-round with video gaming machines, simulcast horse racing, restaurants, sports bar, hotel and new event center.

Vernon Downs is located close to Routes 5 and 31 in Vernon, NY. 


Tracking from the pocket before unleashing a lethal stretch kick, Kelly Hope's Rocks N Bagels ($5.10) proved a dominant 1:50.4 winner in Friday (April 18) night's $8,000 Miracle Mile 2 event for distaff pacers at Vernon Downs.

The six-year-old Rocknroll Hanover mare drafted behind the pacesetting Asset Management (Fern Paquet, Jr.) before angling out in upper stretch, drawing clear for an 8-1/2 length win over a late-gaining Got the Munchies (John MacDonald).  Rocks N Bagels turned in a :26.2 final quarter as part of a :53.4 last half in rein to Aaron Byron for trainer Jordan Hope.

The featured trotting event of the evening was an $8,000 Miracle Mile 2 event as well, with Jerry Clark's Jaipur ($4.30) kicking cover for a neck win over House Money (Roman Lopez) in 1:53.4 for driver Fern Paquet, Jr. and trainer Jamie Paquet.

The Catherine Burton trotting series kicked off as well with four $4,000 first-round divisions.  Ray Schnittker trainees Indira Blue Chip (1:56.1) and Corsair Hall (1:57.2) prevailed in their splits, while Driving Miss Crazy (1:55.4) and Keystone Sadie (1:57.1) also proved victorious.

Live racing returns to Vernon Downs with a thirteen-race Saturday card, and first post slated for 6:45 p.m. EDT.


by James Witherite, Vernon Downs racing media

Strong attendance and handle numbers marked the return of racing to Vernon Downs last weekend, doing well to set the stage for the 2014 meet.

On-track attendance was up both nights from Opening Weekend 2013, while live handle was up nearly 5% per race from last year's figures.  Additionally, the simulcast market showed up in earnest, with export handle figures showing a 25% per-race increase and a 14.1% overall increase this year from the first weekend of 2013.

“We were very happy with the numbers for opening weekend all across the board but especially the response to the 50 cent minimum for trifecta tickets," said director of racing Scott Warren.  "Even with the lower minimum we showed nearly a 30% per race increase compared to opening weekend last year.”

Horseplayers can feel confident in their wagers with the help of the new "Handicapping Resources" page on the Vernon Downs website, featuring detailed race analysis and trip notes at http://www.vernondowns.com/racing/handicapping.php.

After a strong opening weekend, Vernon Downs hosts two late closing series starting this weekend.  Trotters contest the Catherine Burton series starting on this evening (Fri., April 18), while pacers square off in the Anthony Farina series on Saturday (April 19).  Both series culminate with $10,000 added finals on Saturday, May 3.
Tonight's card also features a free on-track handicapping contest, where fans can vie for a $500 top prize.

Post time for both the Friday and Saturday cards this weekend at Vernon Downs is slated for 6:45 p.m. EDT.

by James Witherite, Vernon Downs racing media

Coming off three consecutive wins in the Open ranks at Buffalo, Lutetium ($5.30) proved a gutsy 1:52.4 winner, taking a lifetime mark in the featured $10,000 Miracle Mile 1 Trot at Vernon Downs on Opening Night, April 11.

Lutetium scores in 1:52.4. (Fotowon photo)
The seven-year-old Credit Winner gelding stayed true to his past strategy, clearing and setting a strong tempo, posting a :26.4 first quarter before facing pressure on the far turn from a first-over Mc Tiny’s Hope (John MacDonald).  Lutetium responded strongly, digging in through the stretch to stave off Mc Tiny’s Hope by 1-1/2 lengths in a dazzling 1:52.4 victory in rein to Aaron Byron.  Mc Tiny’s Hope held second, with the pocket-sitting Grey Ice (Fern Paquet, Jr.) staying on for third.

Mark Laidlaw trains the 24-time winner for owner Colleen Girdlestone.

Byron swept the evening’s featured events, scoring an 8-1 upset win with Rocks N Bagels in the $8000 Miracle Mile 2 distaff pacers.  in first-over fashion, beating a re-rallying Artic Byrd (Truman Gale) and the mid-race pacesetting Asset Management (Fern Paquet, Jr.) in a lifetime best 1:53.


Jim Moran is recognized after his 50-year career as
the "Voice of Vernon Downs". (Fotowon photo)
 The Opening Night card paid tribute to longtime racecaller Jim Moran, who retired after calling the first race of the 2014 season.  “We thank Jim for his many years of service to harness racing at Vernon Downs,” said Jason Settlemoir, Regional Vice President of Racing at Vernon Downs.  “We wish him nothing but the best in his retirement.”

After the first race, Moran was recognized in the winner’s enclosure by staff, management, horsemen, and local dignitaries.

by James Witherite, Vernon Downs racing media

Punters will have an easier time aiming for a big score in trifecta, Pick 3, and Pick 4 wagers this season at Vernon Downs, as the base wager in all three pools has been reduced to 50¢.

“Although our export handle has increased 63% over the past three years, we still look for avenues to increase revenue,” commented Vernon director of racing Scott Warren.  “We have received a lot of feedback from our regular fans that attend the races live asking for the 50 cent Trifecta back. After discussion in the offseason, we took it a step further by changing the Pick 3 & Pick 4 wagers as well to hopefully grow the pools in these exotic wagers and give fans more bang for their buck.”

In addition to the lower base wagers, handicappers will have a wealth of information at their fingertips at http://www.vernondowns.com/racing/handicapping.php, with content-driven race analysis and trip notes made available for every race through the 90-program meet.  For new fans, the How to Bet section of the Vernon Downs website explains how to read and interpret the program, along with some basic wagering strategies.  Follow http://www.vernondowns.com/racing/racing-college.php for more.

Opening night (Friday, April 11) post time is 6:45 p.m., and fans will receive a Race Date T-Shirt and Schedule Magnet (while supplies last).  Longtime racecaller Jim Moran, who will enter retirement after calling the first race of the season, will also be honored throughout the evening.  After the races, a spectacular fireworks display will grace the skies above Central New York’s rolling hills.

Then Saturday, Vernon Downs wants to help its fans pay off their taxes. With the April 15 Tax Deadline right around the corner, fans will have a chance to enter a contest to win up to $500 towards their tax bill.


Twenty-five Standardbred horses took part in five non-betting races on Tuesday night (April 8) as Vernon Downs conducted its third qualifying session in preparation for its 61st season.

An enthusiastic crown turned out for the track’s annual Media Night festivities and watched 17 trotters and eight pacers try to convince the judges of their abilities to compete in pari-mutuel races at the central New York harness track.

Ashton Seelster, owned by trainer/driver Gary Clark and his wife, Fay, turned in a brisk 1:58.4 performance over a “sloppy” 7/8ths-mile oval to earn fastest-mile-of-the-night honors.  The bay 7-year-old horse is a son of Camluck and out of the Astreos-mare Angelina Seelster.   

Vernon will begin its 2014 schedule with a 10-race program this Friday night (Apr. 11) that will include five trotting and a like number of pacing events.  A $10,000 Miracle Mile-1 trot will serve as Friday’s feature in race two.  First post will be at 6:45 p.m.

Veteran announcer Jim Moran will end 52 seasons at the track after calling Friday’s first race.  It will mark his 50th year as the track’s “race-caller.”

DOWNS DOINGS—Vernon will complete its opening weekend with an 11-race card at 6:45 p.m. on Saturday (Apr. 12)…Former Vernon horseman Jeff Tallarino has been named Presiding Judge for the track’s  90-card campaign…A final pre-season qualifying program is planned for Friday morning.


by James Witherite, Vernon Downs racing media



In 1962, a young man named Jim Moran ventured from his home in Springfield, Massachusetts to central New York at the suggestion of his uncle Bud Hebert. Hebert, the Vernon Downs racecaller, would see his nephew assume the Clerk of Course position for that first season there. Moran then took on the role of assistant race secretary the subsequent season, and in 1964 would become the full-time announcer.



Fifty years and 73,000 races later, Jim Moran will call his last race this Friday (April 11), as Vernon Downs opens for the 2014 season.



In a half-century atop the Vernon Downs grandstand, Moran has seen some of the greatest horses, trainers, and drivers in the history of American harness racing through his binoculars.  “We got to see Bret Hanover, who was probably my all-time favorite horse,” Moran reminisced.  “I didn’t get to call Bret Hanover as a two-year-old, but the following year (1965) I did get to call his race.  We drew 14,000 people, which was the biggest racing crowd ever at Vernon.  He won the race, continued his winning ways, and came back as a four-year-old.  He also had a world record time trial at Vernon.”



Fourteen years later, another young pacer graced the Vernon backstretch, and eventually proved himself as one of the few worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as Bret Hanover.  His name was Niatross.  Moran continued about seeing Niatross develop as a two-year-old:  “Then Niatross came along, and Clint Galbraith developed him on the Vernon backstretch.  I crossed the paddock one night, saw Clint after Niatross had won a couple baby races, and said ‘That’s kind of a nice colt you’ve got there,’ and he said ‘Jim, he’s gonna be something special.’  Sure enough, he became Horse of the Year two times.”



Moran has seen many developments in harness racing through his time documenting the sport, namely in terms of safety and speed.  “By taking out the hub rail and putting the plastic wheel discs on the racebikes, the sport became a lot safer, and in turn, faster through improvement of the breed and equipment,” Moran explained.  “In the first season at Vernon Downs there were only four 2:00 miles.  Last year, 1,100 of the races were 2:00 miles, including two of the fastest miles ever here.”



In addition to calling a “Who’s Who” of harness racing athletes, both human and equine, Moran has been feted for his efforts as a harness racing publicist and historian on numerous occasions.  He received the North America Harness Publicists Association’s Golden Pen Award in 1990, was elected to the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame in 2003, and was inducted into the Communicators’ Corner of the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2009.



While Moran looks forward to more time with his wife of 49 years Suzanne, their three children, and three grandchildren, he has every plan on capping his career at Vernon on a very high note.  “There are things I’m going to miss about the sport, I’m sure, and as far as calling the last race goes, I hope I can still do the job like I used to.  I’ve told people in recent years that I may not be as good as I once was, but I can be good once as I ever was, and hopefully I’ll be as good once on Opening Night.”

by James Witherite, Vernon Downs racing media

A trio of Truman Gale trainees sparkled in Saturday (Apr. 5) morning's qualifying session at Vernon Downs, with Ocean Mist turning in a dominant 1:56.2 effort.

The five-year-old Artiscape gelding registered a 19-length win in the morning's second qualifier, pulling well clear of pocket-sitting Newyrorkstateofmind in a sparkling :27.3 third quarter with Gale in tow before maintaining a wide margin on the rest of the field through a stretch headwind.  Gale trainee Painite (2:00) 
turned in the fastest trotting mile in the eight-race session, with Artic Byrd (1:58.2) rounding out the "New York Night Train"'s dynamite trio.

Of 43 horses to face starter Mark Phillips in the morning's session, 36 met qualifying standards.  Opening Night for the 2014 Vernon Downs season is slated for Friday, April 11, with first post at 6:45 p.m.
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