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 or

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 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.

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.

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 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

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