Saturday, July 31, 2010

Local Newspaper Previews Drivers Championship

From Saturday's Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin:

Reigning champion Jason Bartlett will be among a nine-man field for the fourth annual Driver's Championship at Tioga Downs, to be held Sunday at the Nichols track.

The event brings together the top seven money-winning drivers in North America of 2010, as well as top driver from the host track and one sponsor's exemption. They'll compete for the top prize of $25,000, with $5,000 to the runner-up.

A look at the participating drivers:

* Jason Bartlett: Youngest driver in this year's championship at 29 years old, he sits fourth in North America for money won with his horses making $5 million-plus. A Maine native, Bartlett is leading driver at Yonkers Raceway. He won the Driver's Championship at Tioga in 2009 and also represented the United States in the World Driving Championship.

* Tim Tetrick: Leading 2010 money winner in North America, his horses have earned in excess of $7.5 million. He recently won the $1 million Meadowlands Pace with One More Laugh, and is making his fourth consecutive appearance in the Driver's Championship at Tioga Downs.

* George Brennan: Currently Meadowlands' leading driver, Brennan's horses have made in excess of $6 million in 2010, and he ranks second in North America in money. From 1995-2007, he finished among the top 25 money winners in the sport, though that streak ended in 2008 when he missed 4 1/2 months due to a compound fracture of his right wrist, suffered in a racing accident at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.

This marks his Drivers Championship debut.

* Brian Sears: Tied Yannick Gingras in the inaugural Driver's Championship in 2007, and presently ranks third in North America in money won. He was named "Driver of the Year" in 2009 by the United States Harness Writers Association and won the $ 1.5 million Hambletonian in 2009 with Muscle Hill. He's making fourth appearance in Driver's Championship.

* Ron Pierce: His mounts have made over $4.8 million this year, and this will be his fourth start in the Driver's Championship. Pierce is in Harness Racing's Museum and Hall of Fame, located in Goshen. He has won such classics as the Little Brown Jug, Meadowlands Pace and North America Cup.

* Dave Palone: Named Harness Tracks of America driver of the year in 2008 and was enshrined in Harness Racing's Hall of Fame on July 4. His horses this year have made over $4.7 million, and he is the leading driver at the Meadows Racetrack and Casino near Pittsburgh, Pa.Palone was to have made his first appearance in the Driver's Championship last year at Tioga Downs, but with flight problems and then traffic problems he was a last-minute scratch.

* Yannick Gingras: He tied for first in the Inaugural event with Brian Sears, and won the event outright in 2008. He is a native of Quebec, and is regularly in the top five drivers at the Meadowlands. Gingras' drives have won in excess of $4.5 million this year. This marks his fourth straight appearance in the Driver's Championship.

* John Campbell: Recipient of Tioga Downs' sponsor's exemption for the championship, this Hall of Famer is making his debut in the event. He has earned more money than any driver in the sport's history, with a lifetime bankroll of $267,177,419 through the end of the 2009 season -- more than $85 million ahead of runner-up Mike Lachance. He led all North American drivers in earnings 16 times in his career.

* Bruce Ranger: He is Tioga Downs' current leading driver in 2010, and thus earns his first appearance in the Driver's Championship. This is Ranger's first summer at Tioga Downs. He has been a mainstay of Pompano Park in Southern Florida during the winter and took up residency at Rockingham Park in the summer until its closing earlier this year. He also trains a stable of horses at Tioga Downs.

Lucy Lucy Repeats in Tioga Downs’ Feature

Lucy Lucy tasted victory once again in Tioga’s feature the $15,000 Fillies & Mares Open Handicap pace on Friday night at Tioga Downs.

Anthony Napolitano picked up the catch drive and settled Lucy Lucy in fourth as Biggest Big Bertha (Luke Plano) took the field through fractions of 28.3 and 57.3.

Just past the half Napolitano tipped Lucy Lucy first over and had the leader collared as the field headed three quarters in 1:25.3.

Lucy Lucy cleared to the front in the final turn under minimal Napolitano urging and easily held off a late charge from All Spirit (Jim Marohn Jr.) to win clear by two lengths.

It was the sixth win in 20 starts for the 6-year old daughter of Tough Sir-Small Change from the Michael Deters Stable for owner Jay Sears.

Despite winning last week’s F&M Open pace Lucy Lucy was dismissed as the second choice and returned $9.10 for the victory.

Corey Braden posted a driving triple on the night’s 10-race card, while Jim Marohn Jr. earned a double.

Tioga Downs continues live racing on Saturday, July 31st with a post time of 6:50 pm, and will bring the Fourth Annual $40,000 Drivers’ Championship on Sunday, August 1st at 1:30 pm.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tioga Downs Drivers’ Championship draw on YouTube

The draw for the Fourth Annual Drivers’ Championship at Tioga Downs was completed this morning (Thursday, July 29th) and can be seen on the Tioga Downs YouTube page. (

A total of six overnight races will determine the winner of the $25,000 grand prize on Sunday, August 1st and will be scattered between seven divisions of New York Sire Stakes for 2-year old colt and gelding trotters.

The Drivers’ Championship day will be filled with promotions and giveaways, including the Jason Bartlett Bobblehead giveaway beginning at 12:00 pm (while supplies last), (20) $25.00 gift certificates to the Oakdale Mall, (4) $25.00 Mainesourse Gift Certificates, (1) Hot Air Balloon Ride at Spiedie Fest, and (2) 42’ TVs. Don’t miss out on one of the most exciting days in harness racing at the Fourth Annual Drivers’ Championship on Sunday, August 1st post time 1:30 pm.

Introducing the Field for the $40,000 Drivers Championship

More than $916 million dollars in earnings, more than 65,000 career victories, and two Hall of Famers are just a few of the highlights on the resumes of the nine drivers ready to compete in the Fourth Annual $40,000 Drivers’ Championship at Tioga Downs on Sunday, August 1st.

Top prize of the event is $25,000 along with a 14kt gold commemorative ring from Bow River Jewelry and bragging rights until 2011.

The field for the 2010 Drivers’ Championship is as follows:

1. Tim Tetrick: The “Bionic Man” has caught fire in the past two weeks winning the $1 million dollar Meadowlands Pace with One More Laugh, the $500,000 Ben Franklin Open Pace with Vintage Master, and the $340,000 Amrbro Flight with Buck I St Pat. It will be the fourth straight Drivers’ Championship for Tetrick, who finished fourth in last years edition.

2. George Brennan: The “Minister of Speed” will embark on his first Drivers’ Championship on Sunday afternoon. Brennan has been on a roll at The Meadowlands in 2010 and currently leads in earnings and wins at The Big M. Earlier in 2010 Brennan set the all age Tioga Downs’ track record with Shark Gesture in 1:48.3 in the Bettor’s Delight Open Pace.

3. Brian Sears: The “White Knight” was co-champion of the first Drivers’ Championship with Yannick Gingras in 2007 and has banked over $5 million in earnings thus far in 2010. Sears will look to get back to his winning ways in Sunday’s competition after a seventh place finish in 2009.

4. Jason Bartlett: The 2009 Drivers’ Champion ranked his win last year at the top of his career driving victories after taking home the $25,000 grand prize. This year will mark the debut of the Jason Bartlett Bobblehead in honor of his 2009 Drivers’ Championship victory, and will be given out on Sunday, August 1st.

5. Ron Pierce: He was in position to win the 2009 Drivers’ Championship last year entering the 5/8th’s mile “dash for the cash”, but got parked and had to settle for second place behind Bartlett. Pierce seeks revenge in 2010 and will be participating in his fourth straight Drivers’ Championship event.

6. Dave Palone: Palone was recently given the highest honor in harness racing on July 4th weekend in Goshen, New York where he was inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame. Palone currently ranks second for most wins in the history of harness racing behind Herve Filion, and has won HTA Driver of the year six times. Dave was scheduled to participate in the 2009 Drivers’ Championship, but got stuck in the Philadelphia Airport due to weather delays.

7. Yannick Gingras: Two time champion of the Drivers’ Championship edged into the event in the final day and gets another chance to capture his crown. Gingras was co-champion of the event in 2007 and won the outright title in 2008. In 2009 Yannick was honored for his victory with the Yannick Gingras Bobblehead Giveaway on Drivers’ Championship Day, but had to settle for fifth place.

8. John Campbell: The 2010 Sponsor’s Exemption is the most decorated driver of all time in the sport of harness racing. Campbell is the all time leading catch driver in earnings with more than $269 million, has more than 10,000 wins on his resume, six Hambletonian Titles, and was also the youngest driver ever to be inducted in the Harness Racing Hall of Fame at the age of 35 in 1990.

9. Bruce Ranger: The 2010 Tioga Downs’ leading money winning driver has earned more than 7,800 wins and banked more than $30 million during his career. Ranger has been a staple at Pompano Park and has been at the top of the driver standings for years. This was his first summer spent at Tioga Downs, and will make his first appearance in the 2010 Drivers’ Championship as the hometown favorite.

The draw for the 2010 Drivers’ Championship takes place on Thursday, July 29th with the box closing at 9:00 a.m.

Purses for the Drivers’ Championship races are increased by 20% and horses finishing sixth through ninth will each receive $100.00.

Drivers participating in the Drivers’ Championship will be distributing their 5% earnings on the Drivers’ Championship races to the Standardbred Retirement Foundation with the exception of George Brennan who will be donating his 5% to the Wounded Warrior Project, which helps wounded soldiers when they return from battle.

Tioga Downs will match all the money raised for charity, along with Jeff Gural who will personally match it as well.

The first post on Sunday, August 1st is scheduled for 1:30 pm, but the day will kick off at 12:00 pm with a driver meet and greet and autograph session, along with the Jason Bartlett Bobblehead Giveaway beginning at 12:00 pm on the trackside apron, while supplies last.

Drivers Championship Preview on "Inside Harness Racing"

Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs are proud to present the newest episode of their new television show, “Inside Harness Racing.”

This 30-minute weekly program airs Wednesdays at 6:00 PM Eastern on Time Warner Cable Sports and can be seen by more than 250,000 people throughout Central New York and the Southern Tier on TWC Sports On Demand.

It can also be seen online at the Tioga Downs YouTube site. (

This week’s episode includes a full preview of Sunday’s Fourth Annual $40,000 Drivers Championship at Tioga Downs featuring North America’s top 7 money-winning drivers.

Jason Settlemoir sits down with leading Tioga money-winning driver, Bruce Ranger, who will also compete in the Drivers Championship.

Also, there are highlights and interviews from the recent Tompkins-Geers Grand Circuit races that saw several track-record performances.

Plus, a new feature on this week’s show gives fans a chance to win an exclusive Jason Bartlett bobblehead doll by answering a trivia question on Facebook.

“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.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Winbak Dimensions captures Tioga Downs Sunday feature

2008 Tioga Downs Pacer of the Year Winbak Dimensions captured his first victory of the year in the $15,000 Open Handicap Pace on Sunday afternoon.

Corey Braden sent Winbak Dimensions from the two hole to capture a pocket ride behind post time favorite Bullville Powerful (Jim Taggart Jr.) through fractions of 27.3, 55.3, and 1:24.1.

As the field rounded the final turn, Braden sent Winbak Dimensions to the outside and battled Bullville Powerful to the wire getting up to win by a neck in 1:52.1.

Although it was the first win in 10 seasonal starts, the 7-year old son of Village Jove-Exact Dimenions has banked more than $27,000, and has missed the board only twice.

Jim Perry trains Winbak Dimensions for William and Jack Heinz of Ohio.

Bullville Powerful (Jim Taggart Jr.) hung on for second, while Anvilanunoit N (Bruce Ranger) got up for third.

Jimmy Marohn Jr. and Howard Parker each posted driving doubles on the afternoon’s 12-race card.

Bruce Ranger sealed up his invitation to the 2010 Fourth Annual Drivers’ Championship on Sunday afternoon, and will participate in the event on Sunday, August 1st finishing ahead of Jim Morrill Jr. and Corey Braden.

Tioga Downs continues live racing on Friday, July 30th with a post time of 6:50 PM

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Ranger Takes Open Trot and Drivers Standings Lead Saturday Night

Andover America flaunted his class on Saturday night at Tioga Downs by capturing the $15,000 Open Handicap Trot.

Trainer-Driver Bruce Ranger sat fourth through the mile with Andover America as Baseball Express (Howard Parker) trotted through fractions of 27.3, 56.2, and 1:25.1.

Ranger moved Andover America to the outside past the three quarter pole and quickly trotted into second as the field turned for home with Ranger surging by Baseball Express stopping the timer in 1:56.2.

It was the eighth win in 20 starts for the 5-year-old son of Andover Hall-Armbro Array, and with the victory is now less that $2,000 away from the $200,000 plateau.

Baseball Express (Howard Parker) hung on for second, while The Windsurfer A (Darren Hancock) captured third.

Just as Andover America captured victory on Saturday night, all signs point to Bruce Ranger capturing the spot for Tioga Downs’ leading money-winning driver as he passed Jim Morrill Jr. for the lead on Saturday.

Going into the final day (July 25th) the standings are Bruce Ranger: $301,502, Jim Morrill Jr.: $296,085, and Corey Braden: $284,181.

Tioga Downs continues racing on Sunday, July 25th with a post time of 1:30 pm featuring a $6,000 guaranteed pick six in races four through nine for “Pick Six Sundays” at Tioga Downs.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Lucy, I'm Home!

Lucy Lucy and Fern Paquet Jr. took home Friday night’s $15,000 Fillies and Mares Open Handicap pace at Tioga Downs.

Lucy Lucy got away sixth in a field of six and was biding her time as Howard Parker and the favorite Elusive Prey cut through fractions of 26.4, 56.3 and 1:24.4 with Harper Lee (Jim Taggart Jr.) pressing the leader first over through the third quarter.

As the field went around the final turn Paquet was three wide with Lucy Lucy charging to the lead and just held of a fast closing All Spirit (Jim Marohn Jr.) at the wire in 1:53.1.

It was the fifth win in nineteen starts for the 6-year old daughter of Tough Sir-Small Change who is trained by Mike Deters for Jay Sears of Florida.

With the victory Lucy Lucy increased her seasonal earnings to more than $48,000.

Lucy Lucy was dismissed by the wagering public at 5-1 even though she won her last start at Tioga in the F&M Open pace on July 3rd.

Fern Paquet Jr., Andy Santeramo, and Bruce Ranger each posted driving doubles on the evening’s 10-race card.

Tioga Downs continues live racing on Saturday, July 24th at 6:50 pm.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Guaranteed $6,000 “Pick Six Sunday” at Tioga Downs

Tioga Downs continues its $6,000 guaranteed Pick Six on Sunday, July 18th in races four through nine, which include the Tompkins-Geers Stakes for 3-year old colt pacers, 3-year old colt & filly trotters, and 2-year old colt pacers. Post time is 1:30 PM.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Galimony Finds Home Away From Home at Tioga in Tompkins-Geers

It was ladies night at Tioga Downs as the two- and three-year-old filly pacers were in the spotlight on Friday night for the Tompkins-Geers as part of the four-day race weekend.

In the lone $62,107 division for 3-year old pacing fillies, Galimony continued her success around the five-eighths mile oval of Tioga Downs with her third win in four career starts in Nichols, New York.

Galimony left from post position three with Jim Morrill Jr. at the controls, and he sent the 3-year old daughter of Artiscape-Ideal Gal to the front through fractions of 26.4 and 56.3 as the duo parked out Howard Parker and Naughty Indeed.

When the field straightened out down the backside, Galimony had rebuffed the challenge from Parker, but was under siege once again, this time with Shaky Hanover and Eric Goodell.

Galimony and Shaky Hanover battled by the three quarter mark that flashed up in 1:25, and as the field turned for home the stubborn Shaky Hanover finally gave way to Galimony in 1:53.2.

Shaky Hanover hung on for second, while a fast closing Tia Maria Hanover (Jimmy Marohn Jr.) got up for third.

It was the third win in six seasonal starts for Galimony who is trained by Linda Toscano for Stake Your Claim Stable of New Jersey.

In the 2-year old filly bracket, Drop The Ball made her second lifetime start, which was her second start in a row at Tioga Downs, and broke her own track record in the process that she set last Friday night of 1:53.1.

Morrill did the steering for Drop The Ball, and put the 2-year old daughter of Western Terror-Mattcheck Girl on the engine through fractions of 28.3, 57, and 1:25 before sprinting away from the field in 27.4 stopping the tele-timer in 1:52.4.

Also capturing divisions of the Tompkins-Geers for 2-year old pacing fillies were: See You At Peelers 1:54 (Jim Morrill Jr.), Southwind Jazmin 1:55.2 (Jim Morrill Jr.), Character Flaw 1:55.3 (Bruce Ranger), and Winsmith Jess 1:56 (Jim Taggart Jr.).

Tioga Downs continues racing on Saturday, July 17th with a post time of 6:50pm.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Jezzy Breaks Track Record to Highlight Opening Night of Tompkins-Geers

The “Roarin Grand” rolled into Tioga Downs on Thursday night featuring seven divisons of the Tompkins-Geers for freshman trotters.

Ray Schnittker as always brought his young horses ready to race, and captured one of the divisions for 2-year old trotting fillies in track record time of 1:57.4 with Jezzy, a 2-year old daughter of Credit Winner-Ladylind.

Schnittker surprised the field with an unlikely tactic and backed Jezzy off to sixth as Mike Simons battled Ron Abbott through fractions of 28.4 and 59.2.

Schnittker was out of patience as the field reached the half and sent Jezzy three wide from sixth to first in a hurry to grab control of the field, stopping the three quarter mark in 1:27.3.

The freshman trotted her third quarter in 27.2 and opened up on the field as she pleased winning by open lengths at the wire to stay an undefeated three for three in 2010.

Jezzy is owned by the partnership of Schnittker, Silva, Gural, and Gewertz all of New York.

Jeff Gural, who is also the Chairman of American Racing and Entertainment, was in the winner’s circle following the victory.

“I usually don’t buy pieces of horses that I breed, but Schnittker asked me if I wanted to buy part of her and I am glad I did,” said Gural.

Tompkins-Geers division winners for 2-year old trotting fillies included Some Girls 1:59.2 (Gates Brunet), No More Credit 1:59.2 (Jim Morrill Jr.), and Refuse To Lose 2:00.1 (Jim Morrill Jr.).

Division winners for the colts included hometown favorite Typical Newyorker 1:59.4 (Wally Hennessey), Pay The Winner 1:59.4 (Sam Schillaci), and Ice Machine 2:01 (Charlie Norris).

Tioga Downs continues racing action on Friday, July 16th with a post time of 6:50 pm featuring the Tompkins-Geers for 2-year old and 3-year old pacing fillies.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Newest Episode of "Inside Harness Racing" Debuts

Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs are proud to present the newest episode of their new television show, “Inside Harness Racing.” This 30-minute weekly television show airs Wednesdays at 6:00 PM Eastern on Time Warner Cable Sports and can be seen by more than 250,000 people throughout Central New York and the Southern Tier on TWC Sports On Demand. It can also be seen online at the Tioga Downs YouTube site. (

This week’s episode features highlights and post-race interviews from the New York Sire Stakes for 2-year-old pacing fillies at Tioga Downs including the track-record performance by Drop the Ball and Jim Morrill, Jr’s five-win night. Also in this week’s show, Yannick Gingras stops by to discuss family, the race he most wants to win and bobbleheads. Plus, Wendy Ross gives a first-person account of her day job as Tioga’s parade marshal and a group of youngsters go to camp at Vernon Downs as part of the Harness Racing Youth League.

“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.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Andover America Captures Feature at Tioga Downs

Bruce Ranger and Andover America captured the $15,000 Open trot on Saturday night at Tioga Downs.

Ranger left from post position six and was not releasing anyone as he seated Howard Parker and the favorite Baseball Express through an opening quarter of 27.4.

Parker edged to the outside as the field straightened out, but Ranger drew the sword in a sign of no release coming Parker’s way.

The field trotted by the half in 57.2 and Parker once again edged to the outside before taking his seat again in the two hole.

Ranger and Andover America trotted past three quarters in 1:26 and trotted away from Baseball Express easily winning by open lengths in 1:55.3.

It was the seventh win of the year for the 5-year old son of Andover Hall-Armbro Array who is trained by Bruce Ranger for Mc Trade Enterprises.

Howard Parker and Baseball Express hung on for second, while Get Chipped and Jim Taggart Jr. got up for third.

Fern Paquet Jr., Howard Parker, and Corey Braden each posted driving doubles on the night’s 12-race card.

Tioga Downs continues live racing action on Sunday, July 11th with a post time of 1:30 pm, featuring the $6,000 Guaranteed Pick Six Sunday races 4-9, with a carryover of $1,644.

Freshman Pacing Fillies Take Center Stage at Tioga Downs on Friday Night

Tioga Downs hosted nine division of New York Sire Stakes for 2-year old pacing fillies on Friday night in Nichols, New York.

Ray Schnittker and My Girl’s A Star captured one of the first divisions of the night as the 2-year old daughter of Art Major-Ifuwantitcumngetit made it look easy.

Schnittker sent the pacing filly to the front as the field passed the quarter mile mark in 28.3, from there the duo cut through fractions of 58.1 and 1:27.1.

As the field headed around the final turn My Girl’s A Star pulled away from the field with minimal urging from Schnittker, and stopped the timer in 1:54.2, pacing a final panel of 27.1.

The mile equaled the lifetime best for My Girl’s A Star which was established in her first lifetime start in the Debutante at The Meadowlands.

Miss Annie J and Jim Morrill Jr. came out two races later and equaled the mile posted by Schnittker and My Girl’s A Star.

Morrill used the same battle tactics as Schnittker and put his filly on the front and made it her race to win or lose.

However the fastest mile of the night came in race number 10 when Jim Morrill Jr. and Drop The Ball broke the track record for 2-year old pacing fillies in 1:53.1.

The six other division winners were as follows: Lucky Turn, 1:57.1 (Dan Cappello Jr.), See You At Peelers, 1:56.2 (Jim Morrill Jr.), New Album, 1:56 (Jim Morrill Jr.), Dreamlands Roxy, 1:56.2 (Jim Morrill Jr.), JK Soundofmusic, 1:53.4 (Yannick Gingras), and Jim Morrill Jr. posted a handful of wins on the night’s 12-race card all in divisions of NYSS, as he continued his domination of the New York Sire Stakes.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

New Episode of "Inside Harness Racing" Debuts

Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs are proud to present the third episode of their new television show, “Inside Harness Racing.” This 30-minute weekly television show airs Wednesdays at 6:00 PM Eastern on Time Warner Cable Sports and can be seen by more than 250,000 people throughout Central New York and the Southern Tier. It can also be seen online at the Tioga Downs YouTube site. (

This week’s episode includes highlights of the week’s biggest races at the two tracks including post-race interviews with the winning drivers and trainers. Jason Settlemoir talks with veteran Vernon Downs driver Howard Okusko, Jr. Wendy Ross explains the basics of betting and America’s Handicapper, Toby Callet, stops by to share some of his secrets of success from his three decades as a professional handicapper. Our cameras were also there when 35 youngsters from area 4-H programs took an all-access tour of the Vernon Downs backstretch.

“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.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Tioga Downs to Host Fourth Annual Golf Outing

Tioga Downs will once again host its Fourth Annual Tioga Downs golf outing on Saturday, July 17th with a 9:00 am shotgun start at Shepphard Hills Country Club in Waverly, New York.

The golf outing is during the Grand Circuit Racing action of the Tompkins-Geers, and the tournament will be played as a four man captain and crew scramble with many opportunity to walk away with prizes including longest driver, closest to the pin, door prizes and much more.

Tioga Downs encourages all owners, trainers, drivers, and grooms that will be at Tioga Downs for the Tompkins-Geers to sign up for the free golf outing.

To sign up a team for the golf outing, or to sign up as an individual, please contact Dustin Ross, Racing Operations Manager at 607.699.7657 or by email at .

There is limited space available so sign up today.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Four Tops to Bring Motown Flavor to Tioga Downs

The legendary Four Tops will bring their Motown sound to Tioga Downs Friday night as part of the Summer Concert Series. Tickets are available at the Tioga Downs Gift Shop and all Ticketmaster outlets and start at just $10. The show is outdoors and begins at 8:00 PM. Here is a preview of the concert from the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin:

For a remarkable 44 years — from 1953 to 1997 — the Four Tops stayed together. In the world of pop music, it was an unprecedented achievement.

Then time, as it does, started to take its toll. Tenor Lawrence Payton died in 1997; bass Renaldo "Obie" Benson left us in 2005; and lead baritone Levi Stubbs, one of R&B music's standout voices, succumbed to cancer in 2008.

The one remaining original member — tenor Abdul "Duke" Fakir — is still out there, sharing such classics as "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)," "It's the Same Old Song," "Reach Out I'll Be There" and more. With him are three new Tops: Theo Peoples (as lead singer), Ronnie McNeir and Payton's son, Roquel.

Local music fans will get a chance to see the Four Tops for themselves at 8 p.m. Friday when they perform at Tioga Downs Casino in Nichols.

During the 1960s, the Four Tops helped to define the Motown sound, along with labelmates The Temptations, The Supremes, Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye. Their string of hits, penned by the legendary production team of Holland-Dozier-Holland and backed up by session musicians The Funk Brothers, sold millions of records worldwide. The original members were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and received Grammy awards for lifetime achievement last year.

Although the group's last true studio album was 1995's "Christmas Here With You," Fakir discussed earlier this year the possibility of recording with this incarnation of the Tops.

Tickets for the show are $10, $15 and $25, and are available at the Tioga Downs gift shop, through Ticketmaster at or by calling (800) 745-3000.