Thursday, December 30, 2010

Jason Settlemoir Honors Top Driver Yannick Gingras with USHWA Presidents Award



Yannick Gingras, the “youthful veteran” driver from Quebec, who extends his talent and efforts on the track to worthwhile causes away from the racing, has been named as one of two President’s Award winners by Jason Settlemoir, president of the United States Harness Writers Association.

The 31-year-old Gingras is one of many French-Canadians from Quebec who have come to the States and risen to the top ranks of horsemanship.

USHWA’s Rising Star of the Year in 2003, he has won a driving title at Yonkers and now competes regularly, and with success, at The Meadowlands, against the toughest driving colony in the world.

Despite being “in the big time” for less than a decade, Gingras’s sulky charges have won over $60 million during his racetrack career, headed by the iron-tough mare Darlin’s Delight, who herself earned $2.9 million during her many seasons at the races.

But Settlemoir selected Gingras for honors because Yannick has contributed freely and generously with time and effort away from the racing wars.

Concentrating on charities for children such as “Toys For Tots,” he has shown an admirable philanthropic streak, often asking when competing at Tioga (Settlemoir’s base) to have his driver’s check donated to this charity or that.

At the other end of the age spectrum, Gingras has given to the Standardbred Retirement Foundation, to sustain horses after their racing careers.

And he has taught French at local schools.

Gingras has also been cooperative with the marketing and publicity departments of racetracks, whether at the track itself or taking time from his regular schedule to shoot promotional tape for a venue 300 miles away.

He has shown himself to be articulate during panel discussions concerning the sport, and popular while signing autographs in a track’s winners circle.

Yannick Gingras will receive his President’s Award at USHWA’s annual “Night Of Stars” awards banquet, to be held February 27 at the Marriott North in Fort Lauderdale FL. Tickets, accommodations, and further information can be obtained from Steve Wolf at stevejw@bellsouth.net.

FINISHING LINE – As a service, we will solve one of the toughest questions in harness racing: how do you pronounce Yannick Gingras’s name? We went to the horse’s, er, horse’s driver’s mouth and called Yannick; we didn’t reach him on vacation, but his message made it loud and clear: YAH-neek ZHEN-grah.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Jason Settlemoir Honors Horseplayers Association with USHWA President's Award



Jason Settlemoir, president of the United States Harness Writers Association, has announced that H.A.N.A., the Horseplayers Association of North America, and driver Yannick Gingras will receive President’s Awards at USHWA’s “Night Of Stars,” the annual awards banquet, on Sunday, February 27, at the Marriott North in Fort Lauderdale Fla.

Today’s release will look at H.A.N.A.; a release tomorrow will focus on Gingras.

Horseplayers, both Standardbred and Thoroughbred, have long been the lifeblood of the equine racing sports, but they and their concerns/suggestions have usually received short shrift from the sports’ organizations and racing officials.

The self-formed H.A.N.A. is trying to change that: “H.A.N.A. is committed to giving horseplayers a voice” reads the very first sentence of its mission statement.

Among the areas where H.A.N.A. thinks that racing could present a more attractive product to potential customers/bettors are: universal signal availability to all outlets at all times, without exception; the long-awaited and long-debated lowering of takeout rates -- H.A.N.A.’s ideal figure would be in the 10 percent range, a number not far off from “optimization of handle” studies by university economists; a severe hard-line stand against drug misuse in racehorses; “pool integrity,” which they define as a secure tote system which displays correct and final odds as soon as the gate springs; and large, competitive race fields.

The horseplayers association, headquartered in Virginia, has Jeff Platt as its President, while its secretary has been Dean Towers, known to many harness racing participants, an Ontario horseowner who wrote his university thesis on off-track betting. The group’s website is www.horseplayersassociation.org.

Those involved with H.A.N.A. will receive their award on February 27 at the Florida banquet, as mentioned above.

Tickets, accommodations, and other information about the weekend can be had from Steve Wolf at stevejw@bellsouth.net; a congratulatory ad in the souvenir Dinner Journal, honoring anybody being feted that night, can be arranged through Kim Rinker at trotrink@aol.com.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Harness Racing's Division Champions Crowned


Courtesy of Harness Racing Communications:

Rock N Roll Heaven finished his racing career a month ago, but added another win to his resume Tuesday.

Rock N Roll Heaven, who completed his career with a 10-race win streak that included a world-record performance in the Little Brown Jug, was named harness racing’s best 3-year-old male pacer by the U.S. Harness Writers Association in Dan Patch Award voting revealed Tuesday.

Award-winners were named in 12 age-based divisions for trotters and pacers. The results of USHWA balloting for Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year will be announced at the organization’s annual awards dinner, to be held February 27 at the Marriott in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Other division winners were 2-year-old male trotter Pastor Stephen, 2-year-old male pacer Big Jim, 2-year-old filly trotter Crys Dream, 2-year-old filly pacer See You At Peelers, 3-year-old male trotter Lucky Chucky, 3-year-old filly trotter Bar Slide, 3-year-old filly pacer Put On A Show, older male trotter Enough Talk, older female trotter Buck I St Pat, older male pacer Won The West and older female pacer Dreamfair Eternal.

Buck I St Pat has won three consecutive awards for best older female trotter, joining Moni Maker (1997-2000), Peace Corps (1990-92), Scenic Regal (1987-89) and Fresh Yankee (1969-72) as mares to earn the honor at least three years in a row. Buck I St Pat was named on all 131 ballots returned, making her the only unanimous selection this year.

Enough Talk claimed his second award for best older male trotter; he won previously in 2008. He joins Mr Muscleman (2004-05) and No Sex Please (1990 and 1992) as the only horses to win twice in the last 34 years.

Won The West captured his second consecutive division title as best older male pacer. He joins Mister Big (2007-08) and Red Bow Tie (1998-99) as the only horses to pull off the double in the last 32 years.

Lucky Chucky earned his second straight division crown, having won the 2-year-old male trotter title last season. He is the fourth consecutive trotter to accomplish that feat, following Muscle Hill, Deweycheatumnhowe and Donato Hanover.

Rock N Roll Heaven, the top-ranked horse in the year-end Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, was named on 129 of 131 ballots returned. In addition to the Little Brown Jug, which he won in consecutive heats with back-to-back world-record-equaling 1:49.2 miles, Rock N Roll Heaven’s victories included the Breeders Crown, Tattersalls Pace, Battle of the Brandywine, and Messenger Stakes.

Trained by Bruce Saunders and driven primarily by Daniel Dube, the colt earned $2.15 million, good for the seventh richest season ever for a pacer of any age. He is owned by Frank Bellino.

Among the other award winners, Pastor Stephen won the closest balloting since 1988. He defeated Manofmanymissions by one vote, 56-55. In 1988, Esquire Spur defeated Park Avenue Joe 82.5-82 in voting for 3-year-old male trotter.

See You At Peelers finished the year with 13 wins in 13 races and became only the second 2-year-old filly pacer to win her Dan Patch Award with an undefeated season. My Little Dragon, who was 6-for-6 in 2005, was the first.

Put On A Show won 12 of 16 starts and $1.16 million this year, pushing her career earnings to $1.89 million and setting the record for highest earnings for a filly pacer. Miss Easy held the record, with $1.77 million earned in 1990-91.

2-YEAR-OLD MALE TROTTER OF THE YEAR
Pastor Stephen (56 votes)
Cantab Hall-Gala Dream-Enjoy Lavec
Breeder: Brittany Farms
Owners: Christina Takter, John Fielding, Brittany Farms
Trainer: Jimmy Takter Driver: Yannick Gingras
Races: 11-6-4-0 Purses: $653,748 Mark: 1:56 at Mohawk
Top wins: $485,000 William Wellwood Memorial; $98,489 Champlain

2-YEAR-OLD-FILLY TROTTER OF THE YEAR
Crys Dream (94 votes)
Taurus Dream-Crysta’s Image-Balanced Image
Breeder: Reve Avec Moi Dreamwithme
Owners: Reve Avec Moi Dreamwithme, Deo Volente Farms, TLP Stable
Trainer: Henrik Hollsten Drivers: Jean Dubois, Luc Ouellette
Races: 8-7-0-0 Purses: $584,392 Mark: 1:54.3 at Woodbine
Top wins: $502,000 Goldsmith Maid; $452,020 Peaceful Way

3-YEAR-OLD-MALE TROTTER OF THE YEAR
Lucky Chucky (108 votes)
Windsong’s Legacy-Aerobics-Muscles Yankee
Breeder: Perretti Farms
Owners: SGS Partners, Perretti Racing Stable, Lindy Racing Stable
Trainer: Chuck Sylvester Driver: John Campbell
Races: 11-5-3-1 Purses: $1.43 million Mark: 1:50.4 at the Red Mile
Top wins: $970,000 Canadian Trotting Classic; $500,000 Colonial

3-YEAR-OLD-FILLY TROTTER OF THE YEAR
Bar Slide (69 votes)
Yankee Glide-Marla Bar-Malabar Man
Breeder: Fair Winds Farm
Owners: Fredericka Caldwell, Bluestone Farms
Trainer: Joe Holloway Driver: Tim Tetrick
Races: 14-5-2-1 Purses: $568,529 Mark: 1:52.4 at the Meadowlands
Top wins: $750,000 Hambletonian Oaks; $70,500 Bluegrass

OLDER MALE TROTTER OF THE YEAR
Enough Talk (73 votes)
Enjoy Lavec-Fashion Setter-Donerail
Breeder: Perretti Farms
Owners: Peter Kleinhans Racing, Jerry Silva
Trainer: Peter Kleinhans Driver: Ron Pierce
Races: 17-5-4-1 Purses: 641,022 Mark: 1:51 at the Meadowlands
Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $235,750 Titan Cup

OLDER FEMALE TROTTER OF THE YEAR
Buck I St Pat (131 votes; unanimous)
Jailhouse Jesse-Name It Something-Speed In Action
Breeder: Ron Fuller
Owners: Howard Taylor, Edwin Gold, Abraham Basen, Ron Fuller
Trainer: Ron Burke Driver: Tim Tetrick
Races: 19-9-3-4 Purses: $715,135 Mark: 1:51 at the Meadowlands
Top wins: $340,470 Armbro Flight; 250,000 Breeders Crown

2-YEAR-OLD MALE PACER OF THE YEAR
Big Jim (120 votes)
Western Ideal-Bold Pink-Big Towner
Breeder: Hanover Shoe Farms
Owner: Jim Carr
Trainer: James “Friday” Dean Driver: Phil Hudon
Races: 10-6-1-2 Purses: $827,204 Mark: 1:49.1 at Woodbine (world record)
Top wins: $709,000 Governor’s Cup; $600,000 Breeders Crown

2-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACER OF THE YEAR
See You At Peelers (99 votes)
Bettor's Delight-West Side Glory-Western Ideal
Breeder: Christina Takter
Owners: Christina Takter, John Fielding, Jim Fielding
Trainer: Jimmy Takter Driver: Jim Morrill Jr.
Races: 13-13-0-0 Purses: $581,649 Mark: 1:51.3 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs
Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $200,000 New York Sire Stakes championship

3-YEAR-OLD MALE PACER OF THE YEAR
Rock N Roll Heaven (129 votes)
Rocknroll Heaven-Artistic Vision-Artsplace
Breeders: Steve Stewart, Charles “Cotton” Nash, Julie Nash, Francene Nash
Owner: Frank Bellino
Trainer: Bruce Saunders Driver: Daniel Dube
Races: 21-16-2-1 Purses: $2.15 million Mark: 1:47.3 at the Meadowlands
Top wins: $604,100 Little Brown Jug; 604,000 Tattersalls; $500,000 Breeders Crown

3-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACER OF THE YEAR
Put On A Show (118 votes)
Rocknroll Hanover-Stienam’s Place-Artsplace
Breeders: Green Mountain Farms, Kentuckiana Farms General Partnership
Owners: Craig Henderson, Richard Young, Joanne Young
Trainer: Chris Ryder Driver: Tim Tetrick
Races: 16-12-3-0 Purses: $1.16 million Mark: 1:49.4 at the Red Mile
Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $350,000 Valley Forge

OLDER MALE PACER OF THE YEAR
Won The West (90 votes)
Western Hanover-Gabrielle-Dragon’s Lair
Breeder: Fair Winds Farm
Owners: Strollin Stable, William Robinson, James Koehler
Trainer: Ron Burke Driver: David Miller
Races: 19-7-8-3 Purses: $1.36 million Mark: 1:48.1 at the Meadowlands
Top wins: $748,800 Canadian Pacing Derby; $500,000 Breeders Crown

OLDER FEMALE PACER OF THE YEAR
Dreamfair Eternal (123 votes)
Camluck-J Cs Nathalie-Flight Of Fire
Breeders: John Lamers, Mary Lamers
Owner: John Lamers
Trainer: Patrick Fletcher Driver: Randy Waples
Races: 22-16-4-1 Purses: $925,575 Mark: 1:49.4 at Tioga Downs
Top wins: $364,560 Milton; $300,000 Breeders Crown

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Garth Brooks Tribute Band to Play Tioga Downs on January 15



Fans of Garth Brooks can see the next-best thing to Garth himself on January 15th at Tioga Downs Casino when Greg Allan and his band re-create his greatness in two shows at the Nichols, NY facility.

The band will play two shows at 7pm and 9pm featuring all of Garth's hits including "Thunder Rolls", "Friends in Low Places" and "Standing Outside the Fire."

Tickets start at $10 and are available at the Players Club or online at Ticketmaster by pasting this link into your browser. http://bit.ly/ggo8DY

For more info on Greg Allan and his band, here's an article that recently appeared in the Pocono Record:
From Pink Floyd to Elvis, individual performers who are dead or bands who no longer perform have spawned a growth industry for so-called tribute bands, whose members go to considerable lengths to recreate the music of their idols.

That makes Greg Allan's tribute a little different: It is Garth Brooks he wishes to channel, and Brooks, of course, is still very much alive."There are people out there who do the music of people who have retired. (Garth) is only doing shows in Vegas, and all his shows are him solo, so he is not really touring, per se. But even when he was touring, his shows were so big folks couldn't get in to see him. The tickets were sold out so quick," said Allan, who is set to make his Pocono debut Saturday at Mount Airy Casino.

Once a staple venue for new talent, Mount Airy is again fulfilling the role of one end of the "Borsch Belt," an area anchored on the opposite end by the Catskills, another nightclub-rich environment in which new talent gets a shot at the gold ring.

"Well. It's kind of a long story. I've been playing since I was 14, and I used to own two nightclubs, then I kind of retired from music and started a horse farm. Then I was playing a job and I did a couple Garth songs, and (a friend) said, 'Wow, you do those songs just like Garth!' Finally he got me one day and said, 'Look, you're gonna do this thing'," Allan explained from his home in Norwich, N.Y., a few hours north of Binghamton, N.Y.

So what makes Brooks' music so much in demand? According to Allan, it was the crossover nature of his hits from country-western to pop that made the biggest impact. The standard country-western songs when Brooks came on the scene featured pedal steel and fiddle, and twangy vocals about home, heartbreak or true loves gained or lost, all crooned by men in cowboy hats or women in gingham dresses.

Brooks kept the hat, but was one of the first country artists to also incorporate rock-and-roll elements to his style of country, from hot guitar licks to slick and elaborate staging. All of this has made him the all-time leading artist for album sales, even out-doing another crossover pioneer of country music, Elvis.

"He crossed over hugely and brought the western underground style to the main stage. He was from Oklahoma and raised in the West, and his mark on country was to bring the modern text of what it's like to be a cowboy. People liked Garth's music and remembered what it was, and wanted to relive it," Allan said.

For Allan, the challenge was to find other musicians who could reprise both the music and the live performances of Brooks and his band.

"We're trying to do the best impersonation of what you see in the man. We're just going to have fun and try to depict what he did on stage. We're really studying the live music he put out, trying to re-create what he did live, and to have a lot of fun up there like he did," Allan said.

The more he studied Brooks, the closer Allan began to feel to him, even discovering that their birthdays are almost exactly one year apart, the same length of time it took for Allan to find like-minded musicians for the project. The six-piece band — with the requisite fiddle and pedal steel — is now ready to go, in Allan's estimation.

"It took a year to get the band together, and this is our first show out, a great show. I'm really excited about being able to perform with this hot smoking band, really excited and grateful to do it."

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Letter from Jeff Gural on the Meadowlands Situation





A Message from Jeffrey Gural on the Meadowlands Situation

I think by now, everyone knows that the Governor has given me, in conjunction with the SBOANJ, until March 31st to negotiate a long term lease for the Meadowlands. What most people don’t know is how close we came to having the plug pulled and the 2011 Meadowlands meet cancelled.

I, like most of you, just assumed that the Meadowlands would open in January as our whole industry in New Jersey, and to a lesser extent, the East Coast and Canada, would have been severely harmed if we had no Meadowlands. When I learned that a good friend and business partner was a close friend of Governor Christie’s, I called Tom Luchento last week to see if I could help in any way. Tommy asked me to call Craig Domalewski at the Governor’s office, who politely explained that in order for the Meadowlands to race in 2011, the Governor was insisting on a letter of credit or a security bond for eight million dollars to cover the anticipated operating losses for the year.

He said he needed this by the end of the day Wednesday, which was obviously impossible. Subsequently, the deadline was extended until Friday, but at the last minute on a conference call with the Governor’s office Thursday, we were told that unless we were prepared to put up a significant amount of money, it was a waste of time to come down to Trenton on Friday.

Fortunately, Tommy has some friends in the legislature who persuaded the Governor’s staff to keep the meeting in an effort to find a solution that would allow the Meadowlands to open in January. With input from Leo McNamara, Mike Gulotta, and Anthony Perretti, we were able to come up with a temporary solution that gives us until March 31st to come up with a plan to lease the facility.

In discussions directly with the Governor, he made it perfectly clear that he would veto any legislation that has a purse subsidy or allows slots at the Meadowlands. It is still possible that we will get a purse subsidy as the Democrats are pushing hard to include that in legislation to help Atlantic City.

At the present, we have to assume no purse subsidy. So, the question is, can a new facility be built on the opposite side of the track and be paid for and can purses be high enough to keep the Meadowlands product worth wagering on without slots income or a purse subsidy?

The reason I share this with all of you in the industry is simply because if the Meadowlands is to survive, it will take all of us in the industry working together to make it happen. Obviously, down the road, it is possible a casino will be built, but we can’t count on it and even if it did happen, who knows if Governor Christie would allow money to go to supplement purses as other states currently allow.

I, along with Mike Gulotta, who will be working closely with me and Tommy Luchento, will be reaching out to all of you for help in making the changes that I believe are necessary to keep our existing customers while attracting new and younger customers the way we have been able to do at Tioga.

Clearly, in order to succeed, we will have to improve our product, reduce race dates and tackle the integrity issues that plague our sport.

I think if we all pull together, we can make this happen, but if we don’t, I think it is a virtual certainty the Meadowlands will close for good in April 2011.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to Tommy Luchento, Leo McNamara, Mike Gulotta and Anthony Perretti, who have been working overtime to avoid closure. But, the reality is the Governor is not going to subsidize harness racing and we have to accept that.

I look forward to discussing the issues with many of you and hopefully we will come up with a long-term solution.

As the holidays approach, let me wish everyone in the industry a happy holiday and let’s hope 2011 is the beginning of a new era at the Meadowlands as we are given an opportunity to control our own destiny.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tioga & Vernon Downs contribute more than $76,000 to charity in 2010


American Racing and Entertainment is proud to announce that their donation totals between Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs in 2010 amounted to more than $76,000 and reached more than 50 charities.

In the month of August, fans at Tioga Downs donated more than $3,300 to each the Chloe Mulchahy benefit and Aliesya Abrams benefit, which Tioga Downs matched dollar-for-dollar to both charities, as well as Chairman Jeff Gural, who personally matched the contribution, and the Starlight Children's Foundation of New York City.

Some of the other charities that American Racing and Entertainment donated to in 2010 include the Ohio Harness Horsemen to help in the Lebanon fire relief, Sullivan Chapter of the Red Cross to help with aid in the Haiti disaster, and The Food Bank of the Southern Tier.

The Tioga Downs employees showed their generosity with the Tioga County United Way Campaign in November and donated over $8,000 which was matched by Tioga Downs, and Jeff Gural personally donated $5,000 to bring the grand total to more than $21,000.

One of the marquee events of the year for Tioga Downs is the Drivers’ Championship which also helps raise money for charity.

Jason Bartlett, Brian Sears, Dave Palone, Yannick Gingras, John Campbell, Bruce Ranger, and Tim Tetrick each gladly donated their 5% earnings in the competition to the Standardbred Retirement Foundation, which Tioga Downs matched, while Ron Pierce and George Brennan donated their earnings to a charity of their choosing which Tioga also matched.

“We are very thankful to the communities that support us, and this is a way that Tioga and Vernon are able to give back and help these wonderful local charities out in a time of need," said Jason M. Settlemoir, VP of Racing and Simulcast. "We would also like to thank our customers who donated their money and canned food items to many of the local charities this year, without your help much of this would not be possible."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tioga Downs to Donate $10,000 to Local Food Bank



Courtesy of the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin:

Tioga Downs Casino Racing & Entertainment and the Southern Tier Harness Horsemen’s Association have teamed up to help families in need through The Food Bank of the Southern Tier. Thursday, they will each present the food bank with a $10,000 donation.

In 2009, the Food Bank distributed nearly 7 million pounds of food across Broome, Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga, and Tompkins counties.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Historic Series races to Tioga & Vernon in 2011


The Historic Series races, which have recently resided at The Meadowlands, will get a new home for the 2011 race season at Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs.

The 2-year old races, including the E.H. Harriman Cup, Acorn Stakes, Goshen Cup, and Debutante Stakes, will all be raced on Friday, September 2nd at Vernon Downs, the same night as The Muscle Hill for Open mare trotters and The Credit Winner for Open Free-For-All Trotters.

The 3-year old events for trotters, including the Historic-Dickerson Cup for 3-year old colt and gelding trotters and the Coaching Club Trotting Oaks for sophomore trotting fillies, will be held at Tioga Downs on Saturday, June 25th.

Tioga Downs will showcase the Jersey Cup for 3-year old colt and gelding pacers and the Ladyship Stake for 3-year old pacing fillies a week later on Saturday, July 2nd.

The Historic Series races have always been a stepping stone for some of the top Grand Circuit horses gearing up for the heart of the stakes season.

In 2010, Muscle Massive used the Historic-Dickerson Cup as a prep on the road to the Hambletonian, finishing second to freshman standout Holiday Road.


In the sophomore colt pace, Rockin Image captured a division of the Jersey Cup in a lifetime best of 1:48.2.

“I remember when I was much younger going to Goshen to watch great horses compete in these races, and I’m thrilled that we were able to bring these races back to New York," said American Racing and Entertainment Chairman Jeff Gural. "Hopefully we will be able to create some interesting races for our customers at Tioga and Vernon in 2011."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tioga Downs fills its floors with crafts


Courtesy of the Towanda Daily Review:

NICHOLS, N.Y. - On Friday and Saturday, craft and jewelry makers from around the Southern Tier of New York and Pennsylvania gathered at Tioga Downs to setup tables with items for sale that ranged from paintings and dolls, to pet wares and holiday decor.

Organized between Erica Miller, group sales executive at Tioga Downs, and Julie Rose, a crafter from Endicott, N.Y., the event offered guests at Tioga Downs an opportunity to browse through items that are handmade within the region.

Out of the ordinary at the craft fair were Matryoshka dolls, or painted wooden nesting dolls, that were created by Igor Kulagin of Scranton, Pa. Kulagin, who was born in the city of Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine in the former Soviet Union, was accompanied by his wife Kim at the show. The two met in Russia in 1992 when Kim was working in Moscow as a tour guide.

According to Kim, the two travel to do approximately 25 craft shows a year. They also have a shop in their home located in downtown Scranton, near Steamtown Mall
And right next to the craft table for Igor's Russian Art Gallery was that of Pat Ortega of Endicott, N.Y. Ortego designs products for animals that include collars, leashes and toys, and tries to get to about five shows a year.

And according to Miller from Tioga Downs, the craft fair was a way to gain further community involvement. The facility recently finished off a food drive to benefit CHOW, and then followed it up by bringing craft vendors into their facility. The show, according to Miller, was the first of its kind held at the facility and attracted approximately 17 vendors each day.

"We hope to do more of these," added Miller.

Julie Rose of Endicott, N.Y. brought the idea to Miller, and had hopes on Saturday of donating proceeds from the sale of a small hanging quilt with horses to local charities. The intent, according to Rose, was to raffle the hanging quilt - but she later decided to sell it, and donate from its sale instead.

According to the crafters who brought their wares to Tioga Downs on Friday and Saturday, the sales were slowed because of weather on Friday, but picked up a bit more on Saturday.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tioga Downs Holds Holiday Craft Show


Tioga Downs is proud to be hosting a Holiday Craft Show. The event runs Friday, December 10th from 11am-8pm and Saturday, December 11th from 11am-6pm.

More than a dozen local vendors will be in attendance selling a wide variety of holiday crafts.

Admission is free and open to the public.

Contact Erica Miller of Tioga Downs for more information at (607) 699-3900.

Here's an article about the Craft Show, courtesy of the Towanda Daily Review:

NICHOLS, N.Y. - From 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. today, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow, various crafters will be set up at Tioga Downs, near the stage area, with a variety of arts and crafts.

The event, which is being called the "Holiday Craft Fair," will feature more than a dozen crafters who have paid a fee that will benefit local charities.

According to the organizer, Julie Rose, this event has been in the works for several years. The first year, according to Rose, the event was called off because of weather. And then the second year, due to a family emergency, Rose had to table it yet again.

This year, Rose added, everything came together, and more than a dozen vendors have already arrived on-board for the charitable event.

"We have people selling jewelry, we have wood craft, and a variety of other items that will be offered, to include art," Rose said. While the sale of items will benefit the vendors, their $100 table fee, according to Rose, will go directly to benefit local charities. She also noted that the event is being held in conjunction with a non-perishable food drive already taking place to benefit CHOW.

Rose added that tables will be available for vending right up until the event, and you can call Erica Miller at Tioga Downs for more information. The number is 699-3900.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Jeff Gural Responds to New York City OTB Closing



Jeffrey Gural is the chairman of American Racing and Entertainment, the owner of Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs.

"As the owner of Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs and a member of the Creditors Committee for OTB, I feel that I have to respond to the statement issued by the Empire State Harness Horsemen’s Alliance which claims to represent almost all of the horsemen in New York State. I am proud to say that they certainly do not represent the horsemen at Tioga Downs.

As you know, this group vigorously opposed the legislation that would have kept OTB open and now seems relatively unconcerned with the fact that it is closing. I want to make it clear to the industry that the closing of OTB is a disastrous development for our industry.

While I totally agree that OTB as it has been run is not a well oiled machine, I think that everyone involved recognizes that in order for it to survive long-term it has to go in a new direction and open the type of facilities that we have seen opened in New Jersey and appear to be quite successful.

Unfortunately, from an economic standpoint, the closing of New York City OTB will be disastrous. I expect that the breeding fund will lose approximately $1,500,000 and that the racetracks will lose an additional $11,000,000, 50% of which goes to horsemen in the form of purses. In total this represents a loss of approximately $7,000,000 in purses and breeding funds statewide.

Worse yet, sometime next year Aqueduct will open and that will take business away from Yonkers which will probably cost an additional $1,500,000 to the breeding fund in 2012 and cause purses at Yonkers to decline by about 20%.

Making matters even worse, the likelihood is that the other OTB’s will also eventually fail and the head of District 37, the largest union in the state that represents the thousand workers who lost their jobs yesterday at Christmas time, assured me that the union will do everything they can to insure that no legislation is passed in the future that will help our industry or the other OTB’s.

That does not bode well for the future of horse racing.

Another negative has been the numerous newspaper editorials written on this subject which all make reference to the fact that horse racing is a dying business and should no longer be subsidized by the taxpayers. The amazing part of all of this is that the legislation this group opposed would actually have increased purses statewide by about 10% and kept the breeding fund where it currently is.

All in all, the events earlier this week, in my opinion, are an unmitigated disaster but apparently our largest breeding farms and all but the Tioga Harness Horsemen’s Association disagree. Is it any wonder that our sport is where we are today?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tioga Downs/Vernon Downs Racing Handle Comparison



Tioga Downs and the Southern Tier Harness Horsemen’s Association (STHHA) opted to try a lower takeout rate initiative for the 2010 race season, where all takeout rates were lowered to New York state minimums.

The results of the takeout initiative were promising compared to industry standards.

Where most other handles are dropping, the Tioga Downs handle showed an increase of 7.8% over 2009.

Vernon Downs’ takeout rates stayed the same as in 2009.

The 2010 handle showed a 5.6% decrease.

The live on track handle for the Vernon Downs season was only down just under 1%, but the export number plummeted at Vernon Downs in 2010 with a 9.5% decrease in export compared to 2009.

The end result of the takeout rate reduction at Tioga showed an actual revenue loss in 2010 compared to 2009, but management feels that as part of repairing our broken business model in harness racing, a takeout reduction is worth exploring.

“The horseplayers have spoken and they want more value on the product they are betting on," said Jason M. Settlemoir, VP of Racing and Simulcast. "It’s past time to look at our business model and make adjustments, and we have to begin with the most important piece of the puzzle, the bettors. With the high amount of product available for bettors to wager on they are going to go where they are getting the best value and we believe that we are providing that for them at Tioga.”

“Hopefully we will someday also provide our customer with a better product by keeping our stars racing as we recently saw by the dramatic increase in news coverage and TV ratings when Zenyatta raced in the Breeders’ Cup."

For more information on Tioga Downs or Vernon Downs please visit us online at www.tiogadowns.com or www.vernondowns.com.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tioga Downs and Southern Tier Harness Horsemen Donate $20,000 to Southern Tier Food Bank in 1st Annual Turkey Drive


Tioga Downs has given $10,000 to the Southern Tier Food Bank and the Southern Tier Harness Horsemen’s Association has matched that for a total of $ 20,000 that has gone to the Food Bank of the Southern Tier in 2010.

Currently you may give money online through the Foodbankst.org for 2011.

In addition, Tioga Downs will match up to $20,000 in funds raised for the 1st Annual Turkey Drive for 2011.

Funds raised through the 1st Annual Turkey Drive will be used to purchase turkeys to help feed families in need for the 2011 holiday season.

You can help the Food Bank provide our neighbors in need with a Thanksgiving meal this year by donating to the 1st Annual Turkey Drive sponsored by Tioga Downs Casino Racing & Entertainment.

Every $10 donation enables the Food Bank to distribute two turkeys.

With your generosity, more families in our community will be able to enjoy a plentiful meal on Thanksgiving Day when we raise funds through the Turkey Drive.

Tioga Downs will generously match up to $20,000 in funds raised to help provide turkeys for families in need.

Copy and paste this link into your browser to make a secure online donation.
https://www.foodbankst.org/index.asp?pageID=116&amt=

Tioga Downs Raises More Than $21,000 for United Way



Tioga Downs wrapped up its 2010 United Way campaign for Tioga County this past week and thanks to the gratitude of the employees, they were able to exceed their 2010 goal.

Tioga Downs’ employees donated in excess of $8,000 to the local community led by Tioga County Campaign Chairman for the United Way, Jason Settlemoir.

Tioga Downs as a company will also be matching the money donated by employees, and Jeff Gural, Chairman of American Racing and Entertainment is personally donating $5,000 for more than $21,000 going to the local United Way campaign in Tioga County.

“Tioga United Way is thankful and grateful to our neighbors at Tioga Downs," said Fred Trzcinski, Executive Director of the Tioga United Way. "They have proven over time to be excellent corporate citizens for Tioga County, and have really stepped up for the United Way. A special thanks from all of us at the Tioga County Untied Way to Jason Settlemoir for leading the way and Jeff Gural and the Tioga Downs employees for their generosity."

“We all are very proud of the things that our employees have been able to accomplish over the past years here at Tioga Downs," said Settlemoir. "Anytime these charities come calling on our employees everyone steps up and helps in anyway that they can, and we are happy that we were able to exceed our goal this year."

In addition to raising money for the United Way, Tioga Downs also hosts a promotion every Monday in November where guests bring in two canned food good items to donate to the local food bank and they receive $5 in free play for the gaming floor.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Horseman, Huston Proximity Award Finalists



The Horseman and Fair World, the longtime harness reporting stalwart which has stretched its magazine capabilities to the 21st century with a strong computer presence, and Roger Huston, a member of the Communicators Harness Hall of Fame, voice of the Meadows, the Little Brown Jug, Tioga Downs and one of the sulky sport’s top ambassadors, have been selected as this year’s two finalists for the prestigious Proximity Award by the U.S. Harness Writers Association.

Chapters of USHWA submit nominations for the Proximity, which is considered the second-highest honor in the sport behind the Living Hall of Fame.

USHWA’s Directors narrow these nominations to two, in this case The Horseman and Huston, and over the next couple of weeks those two names will go before the general electorate of the writers as they vote for various human and equine award winners posting a stellar 2010 campaign.

Those selected as champions will be feted at the annual Harness Racing Banquet, frequently known as “The Night of Stars,” which will be held this year at the Marriott North in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., not far from the Isle at Pompano Park racino, on Sunday, February 27, 2011.

The Harness Writers will have their annual meetings during that weekend’s Saturday and Sunday.

Local News Highlights Veterans Day Offer at Tioga Downs


In honor of Veterans Day, Tioga Downs offered a $5 buffet meal to all vets. Local Fox affiliate, WICZ-TV, highlighted Tioga Downs in a story on their local news.

http://www.wicz.com/news/video.asp?video=11-11-10+fud.flv&zone=News

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Springsteen Tribute Band to Play Tioga Downs



This article comes courtesy of the Elmira Star Gazette:

Chances are pretty low Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band will ever play at a club in your town. They're probably never going to perform at your neighborhood bar, and they're surely not going to sing at your cousin's wedding.

Enter the tribute band.

Yes, you could enjoy the music of your favorite band on your stereo at home and hear the real thing. But nothing quite matches listening to live music performed by professional musicians on a stage while surrounded by others who love the stuff as much as you.

And while it may never quite equal the thrill of the real thing, you still have the human connection with living, breathing people making music you enjoy.

For 30 years, B-Street Band has been performing Springsteen's music for his fans.

Saturday, they bring their show to Tioga Downs Casino in Nichols for two shows.

Formed in Asbury Park, N.J. in 1980 by keyboardist Will Forte and the late Bob Chipak, the band began to focus on Springsteen's music with the addition of Boss impersonator Glenn Stuart.

They've opened for the real thing at the Philadelphia Spectrum, performed with E Street Band guitarist Steve Van Zandt, and have performed at colleges, county fairs, clubs and parties throughout the east coast, according to the band's promotional material.

Saturday, the band will give shows at 7 and 9 p.m.

Tickets cost $15 and are available at the Tioga Downs gift shop, Ticketmaster locations and www.ticketmaster.com. Additional fees may apply.

The tributes at Tioga Downs don't end this weekend. On the horizon is "Turkey a la King," a Thanksgiving weekend performance by Elvis impersonator Peter Alden.

For more information and the casino's full schedule, see www.tiogadowns.com.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tioga Downs Track Record Holder Shark Gesture to Stand Stud in Pennsylvania



Shark Gesture, the fastest horse ever to race at Tioga Downs, will stand stud for the 2011 breeding season at Kentuckiana Farms of Pennsylvania, located at Walnridge Farm of Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, the farm announced.

The Shark set the all-aged track record of 1:48.3 in winning the inaugural Bettor's Delight in June.

His thrilling victory was voted the top race of the 2010 Tioga Downs racing season by "Inside Harness Racing."



“We are very excited about Shark Gesture’s return to stud duty," says Bob Brady, owner and general manager of Kentuckiana Farms.

"This opportunity is unique for breeders because of not only his tremendous accomplishments on the track, but because he has shown that he can sire spectacular individuals that have high commercial appeal. His first crop of yearlings, which sold this year, were excellent individuals and highly athletic. We had two great colts bring $72,000 and $84,000 in Canada and Lexington. It makes breeding to Shark Gesture an easy call when you know the type of yearling he can produce and that the market will reward you for a good athlete. After these results, rest assured there will be many more Kentuckiana-bred Shark Gestures in the future."

Shark Gesture retires from racing with career earnings in excess of $2.8 million and a career mark of 1:48.1. In doing so, Shark Gesture posted 31 sub - 1:50 miles, 16 1:49 or better miles and a remarkable four 1:48 or better miles.

Shark Gesture retires as a two-time Haughton Memorial Champion, two-time Graduate Champion, Three-Year-Old Breeders Crown Champion, and winner of the Dan Patch, Canadian Pacing Derby, Tattersalls, and Bluegrass, among many others.

In doing so, he defeated some of the sports all-time greats in Mister Big ($4,008,257), Boulder Creek ($3,425,857), Artistic Fella ($2,604,855), Art Official ($2,082,885), Holborn Hanover ($2,070,648), Shadow Play ($1,549,881), Total Truth ($2,022,433), Vintage Master ($1,846,233), Maltese Artist ($2,322,671) and 2009 Dan Patch Aged Pacer of the Year Won The West ($3,390,204) – defeating Won The West 12 times in the past two seasons.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bartlett to Again Represent the United States Against the World


Jason Bartlett was not happy with his sixth place finish in the 2009 World Driving Championship in Norway, but will have a “do over” when the Championship is hosted by the United States in 2011.

Bartlett recently accepted an invitation from the U.S. Trotting Association to participate in the 25th World Driving Championship, which will be raced over tracks where he has become one of North America’s most prolific race winners.

“I think the problem last time was that you can focus too much on winning, rather than just getting points,” Bartlett said. “It’s consistency that wins. I think it’s going to be to my advantage to race it here; the style of racing is different and it should favor me.”

The most recent World Driving Championship contested in the United States, in 1995, resulted in a win for the U.S. representative, Dave Magee. Bartlett will hope to join Magee, Ron Pierce and Joe Marsh, Jr. as the only Americans to win a world title.

Bartlett can plan on having a large cheering section. A USTA-sponsored tour, which will follow the drivers track to track, will likely be populated by family and friends from Bartlett’s native Maine, who will gather many great memories and friendships along the way.

“That’s one of the great things about the Championship: It’s a great experience and you make great friendships. We still talk regularly to Gareth Rattray (Australia) and Peter Ferguson (New Zealand),” Bartlett said.

More information about the Championship, which will open on July 31 at Harrah’s Chester and close on Aug. 5 at Yonkers Raceway, bookending stops at Tioga Downs, Monticello Raceway, and the Meadowlands, can be found online at world.ustrotting.com.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tioga Downs to Close Simulcast Operations on Mondays and Tuesdays


Tioga Downs will be closing its simulcast operations on Mondays and Tuesdays beginning on Monday, November 8th.

The simulcast facility will be open on Mondays and Tuesdays on certain occasions when NYRA is racing, or when there is a holiday.

The decision was made by management after handle numbers for Monday and Tuesdays were low with the lack of racing product available for simulcast customers to wager on.

“With the struggling economy and lack of racing product available for our patrons on Mondays and Tuesdays, it was in the best interest of our business plan to make this adjustment," said Jason Settlemoir, VP of Racing and Simulcast. "As we head into spring we will re-assess the simulcast situation at Tioga Downs and go from there."

Tioga Downs will continue to simulcast Wednesday through Sunday, and the Tioga Downs gaming floor will continue to be open seven days a week.

For more information on Tioga Downs please visit our website at www.tiogadowns.com

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cruisin' at the Downs Car Show Takes Over Tioga Downs




Joe and Marilyn Pierson took home the Best in Show trophy for their 1956 Corvette.

Here is a complete list of trophy winners:

1) Tony Marinucci # 176
2) Bill Wright #126
3) Paul Sutliff #113
4) Tom Wright #127
5) Hank Leathermen #110
6) Joe Place # 67
7) Alex Tomko #93
8) Edward Shelp #80
9) Rodger Ward #95
10) Ed Wrench #102
11) Jim Pollen #69
12) Aldo Brozzetti #9
13) Lori Youngs #104
14) Mike Catilin #140
15) Gary & Cathy Campbell #125
16) Les Wainmen #179
17) Dick & Dave Stoker #178
18) John Corim # 143
19) Chris Chervanka #246
20) Pate Palmari #65
21) David Richard #73
22) Jan Sirko #83
23) Robert Shelp #81
24) John Washak #96
25) Rhonda West # 98
26) Tom Zayay #105
27) George Greek #124
28) Mike Malarkry #132
29) John Rihl #141
30) Jerry Chambers #16

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Win a 1965 Thunderbird at Tioga Downs



Tioga Downs, in conjunction with its first ever Cruisin' at the Downs Car Show, will give away a 1965 Thunderbird to one lucky customer when the clock strikes Midnight on Saturday, October 16.

Players can earn entries into the drawing by using their Players Club card on a video gaming machine until 11:15pm on October 16th.

For every five points accumulated on the Players Club card, one entry into the drawing will be awarded.

You must activate your card on October 16th by using it in any video gaming machine between 4pm and 11:15pm to be eligible to win.

For a complete list of rules, visit tiogadowns.com

Monday, October 4, 2010

Lewis to represent Australia in the World Driving Championship


Tioga Downs will be one of five host tracks in North America for the 2011 World Driving Championship. The world-class event includes 20 races from July 31-August 5, 2011. Today, Australia's representative for the event was announced. Here is the release courtesy of Harness Racing Australia:

Chris Lewis has been selected to represent Australia in the 2011 World Driving Championship, which will be conducted in the United States between July 31 and Aug. 5, 2011.

Lewis, who passed both the 4,000 career wins and 2,000 Perth wins milestones during 2010, has been the standout driver in Western Australia for the past 25 years.

A nominee for induction into the West Australian Racing Industry Hall of Fame later this year, he has won eight Perth drivers’ premierships. Only Hall of Famers Fred R. Kersley, with 17, and Frank Kersley, with 11, have won more. In addition, Lewis has recorded an unprecedented 27 successive top five finishes on the Perth premiership list between the 1983-84 and 2009-2010 seasons.

The World Driving Championship, which commenced in 1970, will bring together 10 of the world’s finest drivers from Europe, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the U.S.A., who will compete in a series of 20 races at five tracks -- Harrah’s Chester, Tioga Downs, Monticello Raceway, the Meadowlands and Yonkers Raceway.

Lewis became one of only four West Australians to win the national drivers’ title when he beat Victorian ace Chris Alford to claim Australia’s leading driver title, by wins, in 1995 with a then Australian record 211 winners.

He also has been among the top 10 Australian drivers, by wins, 17 times, and has driven 100 winners in a season on 22 separate occasions.

Lewis has driven a total of 40 Group I winners in races that include the Inter Dominion (in both South Australia and Queensland), the Western Australia Pacing Cup, Fremantle Cup, Western Australia Derby, Western Australia Oaks, Western Australia Golden Slipper Stakes, Australian Pacing Championship, M.H. Treuer Memorial, Australian Pacing Gold, Western Australia Golden Nugget Championship, Bathurst Gold Tiara, Harold Park Cup and Miracle Mile.

He is the only Western Australian reinsman to win at the Group I level in each of the five mainland states in Australia.

Lewis will be attempting to join Ted Demmler (1987) as the only Australian to win the World title, and will join Western Australia Hall of Famers Jim Schrader (1973 and 1979) and Fred Kersley (second to Maurice McKendry in 1991) as the only Western Australians to compete in the World Driving Championship.

Lewis has previously driven winners in both Russia and the United States, in addition to his Australian record.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Boss and The King Tributes Highlight November Concerts

Tribute concerts to Bruce Springsteen and Elvis are coming to Tioga Downs Casino in November.

The B Street Band, a tribute to Bruce Springsteen, rocks Tioga with two shows on Saturday, November 13.

The first concert is at 7pm, the second is at 9pm.

Tickets are on sale now by visiting the Tioga Downs Players Club or Ticketmaster outlets.


Two weeks later on November 27, the King is back when Peter Alden puts on his blue suede shoes in a tribute to Elvis Presley.

There are two shows at 7pm and 9pm.

Tickets are also on sale at the Tioga Downs Players Club and Ticketmaster outlets.

Tickets for each show are $15.

Check out our commercial for the two concerts.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tioga Downs Closing Night, Top 5 Races of the Year and Conway Hall Trot Highlight Season Finale of “Inside Harness Racing”


Yursa Hanover’s upset of champion Buck I St Pat in the Conway Hall Trot plus closing night festivities and the Top 5 Races of the Year highlight the season finale of the “Inside Harness Racing” television show. The 30-minute episode debuts on Time Warner Cable Sports throughout New York tonight at 6:00 PM and is also available online at the Tioga Downs YouTube site (www.youtube.com/tiogadowns).

This week’s episode also includes an all-access look inside the starting gate and a feature on a Tioga Downs farrier. Plus, leading driver Jim Marohn, Junior flips the script and interviews Jason Settlemoir about his career in track management. Also, see as some of Upstate New York’s biggest stars are inducted into the Upstate New York Harness Racing Hall of fame as the inaugural class.

“Inside Harness Racing” debuted on June 23rd and aired each Wednesday at 6:00 PM throughout the live racing season. Every episode is archived on YouTube. “Inside Harness Racing” is hosted and produced by Justin Horowitz and features Jason Settlemoir and Wendy Ross as field reporters while Jim Rotundo handles videography and production.

Tioga Downs 2010 Year in Review


Tioga Downs wrapped up its 2010 racing season as the curtain fell on Saturday night (September 11) in front of a packed house of fans and horsemen.

Tioga made headlines earlier in the year when takeout rates were lowered to state minimums for the 2010 race meet.

As the final numbers came in, the results were promising.

Tioga Downs was up in live handle 4.1% over 2009, and was also up in export by 8.7% over the previous year at a time when growth in business is hard to come by.

“To be up in handle in both categories during this time in the economy and show over an eight-percent jump in export is really promising," said Jason Settlemoir, VP of Racing and Simulcast. "We have to thank HANA (Horseplayers Association of North America) for their support during our takeout rate initiative this year and everyone who supported it by betting on the Tioga product."

Tioga Downs also saw a total of 13 track records take new occupants during 2010, which also featured two world records on one day.

Manningly and Jeff Gregory set a world record for 4-year-old trotting stallions on a five-eighth’s mile track in 1:52.3, with Temple Of Doom and David Miller, only two races later, setting another world record for 3-year old trotting colts on a five-eighth’s mile track in 1:52.4.

The two overall track records got taken down this year.

Manningly’s 1:52.3 world record established a new overall track record on the trot, while Shark Gesture’s win in the inaugural Bettor’s Delight Open Pace in 1:48.3 destroyed the previous all age track record on the pace.

As always, the 2010 Drivers’ Championship was the highlight of the 2010 race season with the fourth edition of the event being captured by Hall of Famer Ron Pierce.

It was the fourth straight year that Pierce had been participating in the event and after last year’s loss in the final race to finish second, Pierce captured victory and the $25,000 first prize in 2010.

New to the 2010 race season was a year-long handicapping contest that was updated on the Tioga Downs website each week dubbed the “Pens vs. Microchip” in which a handicapping software system “Chatsworth Consortium" designed by Trackmaster faced off against a few human handicappers and the morning line.

When the contest came to a close the “Chatsworth Consortium,” which was offered for free all year long at Tioga, came out on top with an astonishing 16% ROI, followed by Bobby Z with 4% ROI, Mel with a -5% ROI, and rounding out was Ray’s Robot with a -9% ROI.

As in past years, Tioga Downs once again pushed promotions and giveaways to fuel attendance during the 58-day race meet.

Opening day was held on Kentucky Derby Day to create a full-day event for the Southern Tier fans, while closing night was in co-ordination with the 2010 Horseplay Car Giveaway and $20,000 Mystery Voucher Giveaway.

“We push towards on-track attendance and handle here at Tioga and try to drive our customers on track with promotions every day, and giveaways a few times a month," said Settlemoir. "Customers want to feel like they are ahead when they walk in the door, and when they can get into drawings and promotions everyday to win prizes it keeps them coming back and looking forward to their next visit.”

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tioga Downs Closes Out 2010 Race Season in Front of Packed House



Tioga Downs folded its gates for the final time in the 2010 race season on Saturday, September 11th in front of a crowd of 4,206 fans.

It was a night full of giveaways and promotions that included the 2009 Nissan Versa Horseplay Car Giveaway and fireworks following the races.

On tap for closing night were four divisions of NYSS for 3-year old colt and gelding trotters, and Blacktuxwhitesocks was dressed for the occasion as the prohibitive betting favorite in division number three.

Jeff Gregory was at the lines as usual and lowered the sophomore trotter’s lifetime mark with a front end effort in 1:55.1.

It was the eighth win in 13 seasonal starts for the Purple Haze Stable owned, Jessica Okusko trained New York trotting Sensation, and with the victory Blacktuxwhitesocks increased his seasonal bankroll to more than $180,000.

Also capturing victories in divisions of the New York Sire Stakes were: Kona – 1:58.2(Bruce Ranger), Aruba Vacation – 1:58 (Fern Paquet Jr.), and Wishing Stone – 1:56(Dewayne Minor).

It came down to the final race of the year, but Corey Braden held off the final weekend surge by Bruce Ranger to take home the 2010 driver of the year award with 72 victories on the season with Bruce Ranger finishing with 71.

Phil Fluet coasted home as the meet’s leading trainer with 30 tallies, while Andover America from the Bruce Ranger stable took home trotter of the year, and Sheer Brilliance from trainer Jeff Long captured pacer and horse of the year honors.

After the first race on the evening Jeff Gural, Chairman of American Racing and Entertainment and Jason Settlemior, VP of Racing and Simulcast, presented each of the families of Chloe Mulcahy and Aliesya Abrams with checks for more than $13,000 that was raised in the month of August during the Horseplay Car Giveaway.

These two girls are fighting life-threatening diseases and Tioga Downs, along with all of its fans and horsemen, have helped these two girls with money for treatments and medical bills.

All of us at Tioga Downs would like to thank the fans at Tioga Downs for their support during the 2010 race season, and also thank the Southern Tier Harness Horsemen’s Association, who without their support, none of this would be possible.

We hope to see everyone back at the races for the 2011 race season.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Charlie Daniels Wraps Up Summer Concert Series Thursday Night





The Tioga Downs Summer Concert Series wraps up Thursday night with the Charlie Daniels Band. Tickets start at $20 and are available at the Players Club and Ticketmaster outlets. Here's a preview of the concert from the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin:

There's no doubt that Charlie Daniels is an American patriot, and he's never been shy about expressing his love for God, country, family and flag.

When it came time to compile his latest album, though, the country-rock legend admits that even he didn't realize just how many true-blue American tunes he's released over his 52-year career.

"Patriotism to me is always in style, but now — especially now — we need a little shot in the arm," Daniels, 73, said last month from a stop in Oklahoma.

"Land That I Love," released in August on Blue Hat Records/E1 Entertainment, gathers 13 classics such as "Simple Man," "This Ain't No Rag, It's a Flag," "Still in Saigon" and "In America," and updates "(What This World Needs Is) A Few More Rednecks" to take a shot (literally) at terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. The album's lone new track, "Iraq Blues," talks about a military man's plans once he gets home from his tour of duty. (On the list: Get some beers and spend some quality time with the wife.)

The multiplatinum-selling North Carolina native, best known for the Grammy-winning fiddle epic "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," now makes his home in Tennessee. Before his show tonight at Tioga Downs Casino in Nichols, he answered a few questions about his life, career and views on America in the 21st century.

QUESTION: Your song "In America" was originally written about Americans coming together during the Iran hostage crisis in 1980. Here we are, 30 years later, we're sharply divided again. Do you think we'll ever get together and find a way for everyone to get along?

ANSWER: It's hard. It seems like it takes something catastrophic to unite this country, and we have a short memory. 9/11 was definitely a wakeup call to everybody about our country and about how precious it is — about what can happen here and what did happen here. It never happened here before, and it showed we're a lot more vulnerable than we used to be.

So as we go along, we forget about those pictures of the planes crashing into the trade towers and all the things that went on that day. Our 24-hour news cycle, everything going on in this country and outside this country that involves us — the economy, this, that and the other thing. We tend to let our psyche wander around and we don't stay focused on things like that. ... We're able to get together, but you've got to just about hit us in the head to get everybody's attention at the same time.Q: A lot of people think of the Charlie Daniels Band as the essence of country music, but you've covered so many different styles over the years. Where do you think that eclectic spirit comes from?

A: I'll be 74 in October, so I've been around a long time. The era of radio that I came up in — I grew up in towns and rural areas where there would be maybe one radio station in your town. Maybe you wouldn't even have one in your area, but there'd be one in the next town you'd listen to. They were sparse, and there was no television, and they were very responsible for entertaining everybody.

The mandate of radio stations — it still is to this day — is supposed to be service to the community. Of course, it's a commercial venture and should be such — but these stations, since there were so few of them, they had to cater to everybody's taste. There were no formatted stations as we've come to understand the word nowadays. They played country, they played gospel music, they played whatever the popular music of the day was. Once in a while, some of the stations would play classical music. And when you're brought up in the South, you're always exposed to the blues.

So I came up hearing a lot of different kinds of music, so I guess it was kind of natural that when the time came to create my own music, some of that would creep into my psyche.

Q: You're obviously known as a fiddle guy — as the commercial said earlier this year, "Does Charlie Daniels play a mean fiddle?" I hear that's a ringtone now.

A: Yeah, when my son calls me, my phone plays that. (laughs)

Q: That's pretty funny! So I'm guessing people can see some of your fiddle wizardry in action during the show.

A: Absolutely — the first couple of tunes I play are fiddle. You know something, you owe people those songs. You owe them the songs they've heard on the radio, the ones they are familiar with. That's what they come see you for. They don't know about your other stuff. I hate to go see a band and they do a medley of their hits, then spend the rest of the night trying to sell me their new album. I want to hear their new album, I want to hear about it, but I don't want to have to sit there and listen to all their new stuff. I came to see them because of something I heard someone play on the radio or something I saw them do on TV. I don't want to see the Rolling Stones and they don't do "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." I don't want to see Eric Clapton and he doesn't play "Layla." You owe people that — that's what they expect. Then, in between the familiar songs, you weave in your other stuff.

Q: I'm sure since your stroke earlier this year, a lot of people have asked you how your health is.

A: I'm fine. I really try to take good care of myself. It was a blood pressure situation that happened with me — I had had some high blood pressure, but I went on vacation January and February in Colorado and didn't keep as close a watch on it as I should have. I had the stroke and it was a wakeup call: "Take care of yourself, boy!" (laughs)

Q: So you've been doing music now for more than 50 years. What drives you to still go out and play?

A: Because I love what I do — I sincerely love what I do. If I didn't love what I do, I wouldn't do it another day. ... I'm excited about it — I love getting up and making people happy when I'm onstage.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

World Record Performance and Beauty Contest Highlight “Inside Harness Racing”


Temple of Doom’s world-record performance and Lucky Chucky’s win in the Zweig Memorial Trot highlight the newest episode of “Inside Harness Racing at Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs.” The 30-minute episode debuts on Time Warner Cable Sports tonight at 6:00 PM and is also available online at the Tioga Downs YouTube site (www.youtube.com/tiogadowns).

This week’s episode also features the Second Annual Miss Tioga Beauty Pageant held during live racing at Tioga Downs.

We’ll catch the replay of Jason Settlemoir’s performance in the “Battle of the Braintrusts” at Monticello Raceway and then watch his interview with “King of the Sire Stakes” Jim Morrill, Junior who lived up to his nickname by sweeping a trio of New York Sire Stakes this past weekend at Tioga Downs. Plus, Wendy Ross continues her tour of Allerage Farm and learns how yearlings are prepped for the upcoming sales.

“Inside Harness Racing” airs Wednesdays at 6:00 PM through September 15th. It’s hosted and produced by Justin Horowitz and features Jason Settlemoir and Wendy Ross as field reporters while Jim Rotundo handles videography and production.

Tioga Downs Raises $25,000 for Two Sick Children


Tioga Downs along with its fans, horsemen, and employees just finished up the charity for the month of August for the 2010 Horseplay Car Giveaway for Chloe Mulcahy and Aliesya Abrams, and with your help we have raised $6,480.

That number will be increased to $25,920 as Tioga Downs, Jeff Gural (Chairman of American Racing), and the Starlite Children’s Foundation from New York City are all going to match what was raised throughout the month.

Chloe Mulcahy was diagnosed with an extremely rare genetic disorder called AHUS (Atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome) in January of 2010.

This causes proteins produced by the liver to break down her red blood cells and can lead to kidney failure, high blood pressure, and a number of other life threatening complications.

AHUS is most common in young children, yet less than 300 children are diagnosed in the United States each year and most don’t make it past the first year of diagnosis.

Aliesya Abrams was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma Cancer and on June 6, 2010 underwent brain surgery to remove a large stage four malignant tumor.

Treatment for Alieysa includes between eight and 12 months of extensive chemotherapy to ensure all cancerous cells have been removed, along with many in and out patient hospitalizations in the coming months.

“When you see young kids like this it truly breaks your heart and makes you realize how lucky you are to have kids and grandkids who are healthy," said Jeff Gural, Chairman and CEO of American Racing and Entertainment. "We are very proud of what we have been able to accomplish for these two girls in the month of August and want to say thank you to everyone who participated."

The Mulcahy and the Abrams family were both in attendance on Sunday afternoon for the last day of the charity and personally thanked everyone in attendance for their donations.

Each family will receive just under $13,000 to help pay for things that insurance companies don’t cover including treatment expenses, medicines, and travel.

For everyone that helped raised money for the Mulcahy's and the Abrams, everyone at Tioga Downs thanks you for your support.