Friday, February 12, 2010

Zweig format to change for 2012

Friday, February 12, 2010 - by Jason Bluhm, Director of Racing, Tioga Downs

Nichols, NY --- The Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial for 3-year-old trotters (an open and filly division) will have a new format and a new purse when the rich and historic race goes postward in 2012.

Starting with the yearlings being nominated in 2010 to race as 3-year-olds in 2012, the single final and consolation format that is taking the harness racing world by storm will replace the current practice of racing divisions.

The newer system would take the top nine money earners from 2012 that declare and place them in an estimated $400,000 Open final ($170,000 estimated Filly final). The next nine highest money earners that declare for the Open would race in a consolation for an estimated $80,000 (Filly consolation $40,000). Any horse that declares for the race and does not draw in will receive a refund of their 3-year-old payments. The added money for the two events will also increase from $75,000 to a minimum of $125,000.

"We're looking forward to a having a premier trotting event that will give New York a signature race for years to come," said Anne Zweig, wife of Dr. Zweig, after she gave her blessing for the change at the recent Harness Horse Breeders of New York State board meeting.

"We want to bring the customers of our two tracks the highest quality product available. With the new format, more added money, and a date after the Hambletonian we hope to attract the best 3-year-olds in the country," said Jeff Gural, Chairman of American Racing & Entertainment, the parent company of Tioga and Vernon Downs. "With the recent financial woes of Illinois racing and directly the World Trotting Derby (referring to the 2009 winnings not being paid out yet), it's possible the World Trotting Derby may not exist in the near future and the Zweig would be a suitable replacement race."

The Zweig is named for Dr. Harry M. Zweig. Dr Zweig played a pivotal role in improving Standardbred breeding in New York State and in reviving the Syracuse Fairgrounds as a racing center. When Dr. Zweig died unexpectedly in 1977, the New York State legislature established the Harry M. Zweig Memorial Fund for Equine Research to recognize his efforts. The law mandates that two percent of the money generated from betting in the Empire State horse racing industry be set aside for equine research at Cornell University's New York State College of Veterinary Medicine. The fund's mission: to conduct a balance of basic and practical research that has the potential to improve the health, welfare, and performance of racehorses.

For more information on the Zweig, please visit the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State Web site at www.hhbnys.com. Yearling nominations are due May 15 for the 2012 race.

For more information about racing at Tioga or Vernon Downs, visit www.tiogadowns.com or www.vernondowns.com.