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

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

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; a congratulatory ad in the souvenir Dinner Journal, honoring anybody being feted that night, can be arranged through Kim Rinker at

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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?