60 years ago, harness racing debuted at Vernon Downs on a revolutionary six-furlong oval. The first race on opening night, July 1, 1953, was won by Bob Abbe II. He paid $38.60 to win on a $2.00 wager. The track featured 24 barns each with 24 stalls and beautiful natural backdrop with hills and sprawling countryside. Over the years, Vernon Downs has been host to some of the biggest stars of the sport including Adios Harry, Niatross and Moni Maker. After suffering through financial hardships, New York City businessman and harness racing enthusiast Jeff Gural purchased the track out of bankrupty in 2006, bringing a new, prosperous era of racing to Central New York. In recent years, the track has become home to some of the sport's premier races including the Credit Winner, Muscle Hill and Zweig Memorial.