Friday, March 23, 2012

Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs set to open barn areas on April 1st

Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs, in preparation for the 2012 race seasons, will open their barn areas on April 1st.

The main racetrack at Vernon Downs will open on Monday, March 26th due to the warm weather, while Tioga will open on Monday, April 2nd, to gear up for the first qualifying events (April 13th – Vernon), and (April 20th – Tioga).

Management would also like to inform horsemen that if they shipped from Saratoga, or have raced at Saratoga Raceway since March 1st, that they will be required to show a negative culture reading for strangles for every horse in their barn.

This requirement is in effect for both horsemen stabled on the grounds and for horsemen that choose to ship-in to train.

The management at Tioga and Vernon will monitor the situation closely and will continue to correspond with its horsemen.

With opening day fast approaching for both facilities we want to be very cautious with this matter. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tioga to resume Monday and Tuesday simulcasting

Tioga Downs will once again be open for simulcasting seven days a week beginning on Monday, April 2.

As in years past, Tioga had ceased simulcast operations on Mondays and Tuesdays during the winter months due to lack of product and interest.

"With more tracks opening up for their spring meets we feel it is a good time to once again simulcast seven days a week leading in to our live racing season that begins on May 5th," said Jason M. Settlemoir, VP of Racing and Simulcast.

For more information on Tioga Downs including its monthly simulcast calendar please visit their website at

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fourth Round of Rockokie Set for Friday Night

The fourth week of the Rockokie Star Contest is set. The 12 singers will sing their best song and be judged by our panel of judges and the audience.

The contestants are competing for $10,000 worth of prize money including a $5,000 first prize.

The show begins Friday at 7:00pm.

Here are the 12 singers (in alphabetical order) and the songs they'll be singing:

1. Angel Acosta - "Listen" by Beyonce
2. Katey Channing - "Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood
3. Tory Daral - "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith
4. Shawn Delahanty - "Mr. Jones" by Counting Crews
5. Amanda Hungerford - "Stay" by Sugarland
6. Marissa Hromek - "Oh Darlin" by The Beatles
7. Ashley Jonas - "Skyscraper" by Demi Lovato
8. Bobby Neira - "Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5
9. Matt Smith - "Country Girl (Shake It)" by Luke Bryan
10. Dean Wheeler - "Love Shack" by The B-52's
11. Hailey Wiggins - "Longtime" by Boston
12. Joanna Yaeger - "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Luck of the Irish with Tioga Downs Casino guests on St. Patrick's Day

The luck of the Irish struck Tioga Downs Casino this past Saturday during the St. Patrick's Day celebration as $106,923.36 was paid out in jackpot winnings throughout the day.

Three of the largest jackpots during St. Patrick's Day included a guest from Vestal, NY hitting a jackpot on a 1¢ Quick Hit Platinum machine for $61,311.75.

No more than half an hour later, Kris Ann Kvassay of Johnson City, NY found the pot of gold on St. Patrick's Day, winning $25,110.20 on a 1¢ Golden Wheels machine.

To round out the night of winning, a guest took down $10,800 on a $5.00 Triple Lucky 7's machine.

Tioga Downs Casino would like to congratulate all of our guests on their jackpot winnings from this weekend.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Chairman of American Racing and Entertainment responds to expanded gaming amendment of state constitution to allow casino gaming in New York

Jeff Gural, Chairman of American Racing and Entertainment, which owns and operates two upstate New York Casinos, Tioga Downs Casino and Vernon Downs Casino and Hotel, released a statement Thursday in regards to the passage of the expanded gaming bill by the legislators on Wednesday night.

"We are very pleased that Governor Cuomo and the legislature passed the first steps to allow full scale gaming in the state of New York, and would like to thank them for their hard work. The economic benefits of this bill including more than 700 construction and operational jobs between Tioga and Vernon Downs created by expanded gaming in New York State would be a great economic boost to our local regions," said Jeff Gural, Chairman of American Racing and Entertainment.

The bill that was passed through legislation on Wednesday night paves the way for seven privately owned Casinos in the state to become fully operational casinos to include roulette, craps, poker, and blackjack.

Since the proposed bill is a constitutional amendment, the same bill will once again have to pass through the legislature once again in 2013.

"We look forward to meeting with state officials and make the argument that both Tioga and Vernon are well suited to be converted to full casinos and that we are prepared to make significant capital improvements at both facilities in order to justify the Governor's goal of creating jobs and additional revenue for the state," stated Mr. Gural.

"We hope the state will take into account the fact that at Vernon we are competing with a Native American Casino that pays no taxes and has table games which puts us at a decided disadvantage. In addition, Vernon already has a hotel and we recently invested over $8,000,000 to add convention facilities that have proved to be very popular. We look forward to working with the state once they have developed criteria as to where they think the seven licenses should go,” stated Mr. Gural.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Gural asks the USTA to study funding plan for testing and marketing

The following is a statement from Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs owner Jeff Gural regarding the results of a poll taken of United States Trotting Association members in slots states over the months of January & February and his thoughts on the topic:

A poll of USTA members in the state of Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania sent to all USTA members in those states has shown overwhelming support for the concept of using a tiny portion of the slots money to enhance the capabilities of testing labs in their efforts to deter the use of non-therapeutic and illegal substances in racehorses.

84% of those responding supported the idea.

The second question relates to using slots money for marketing in conjunction with the racetracks and in that case, almost 87% responded favorably to the idea.

The poll was done by Plante and Moran with the cooperation of the USTA but was paid for by Jeffrey Gural.

Gural commented that he was extremely pleased with the results and truthfully somewhat surprised by the overwhelming support that both ideas had.

He mentioned that he made a similar proposal at the United States Harness Writers Association Banquet and received a standing ovation.

He commented that there appears to be a disconnect between the leaders of the horsemen's association and the members.

He is, however, hopeful that these poll results will finally bring action on the part of the industry to use a small portion of the hundreds of millions of dollars from slots revenue to solve the drug problem, get us on national television and utilize other marketing tools that are available but at the present time unfunded.

Gural has asked the directors of the USTA to take this matter up when they meet next week and form a committee to look into the feasibility of implementing this type of approach in order to accomplish these goals; especially trying to bring younger people into the industry.

As recent events have shown, relying on long-term government support is risky and it is time we take action using the resources that are available to help solve our long and short term problems.

Monday, March 12, 2012

March 15 Stakes Closings at Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs

Payments to nominate to all stakes serviced by Tioga and Vernon Downs have a closing date of March 15.

The Empire Breeders' Classic, Kindergarten Trotting Classic, Artiscape, Bettor's Delight, Credit Winner, Muscle Hill and Miss Versatility are all back for 2012 as part of a program estimated to be worth more than $2.5 million at the two New York venues.

Stall applications may still be submitted for the summer meet at Tioga.

Further stakes info, nomination forms and stall apps may be accessed by visiting the Tioga Downs website or calling (607) 699-7688.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Rockokie Finals are Set

The final 12 singers have been selected in the Rockokie Star Contest after 80s week wrapped up. The remaining contestants advance to the finals on March 23 and 30 where they'll compete for a $5,000 first prize and $10,000 in total prize money. Here are the finalists (alphabetical order):

1. Angel Acosta
2. Katey Collins
3. Tory Daral
4. Shawn Delahanty
5. Amanda Hungerford
6. Marissa Hromek
7. Ashley Lux
8. Bobby Neira
9. Matt Smith
10. Dean Wheeler
11. Hailey Wiggins
12. Joanna Yaeger

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

80s Week Highlights Round 3 of Rockokie

The Rockokie Star Contest resumes Friday night at 7pm with the third round. This week, the 14 remaining contestants will sing 80s songs. Remember, the singers are judged not only by the panel of judges, but also by all members of the audience.

Here is the list of singers and their song choices:

1. Joanna Yaegar "Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina & The Waves
2. Angel Acosta "Stone in Love" by Journey
3. Bobby Neira "Billy Jean" by Michael Jackson
4. Katie Collins "Summer of '69" by Bryan Adams
5. Tory Daral "Mony Mony" by Billy Idol
6. Mary Brown "Jessie's Girl" by Rick Springfield
7. Shawn Delahanty "Jump" by Van Halen
8. Marissa Hromek "Every Rose Has its Thorn" by Poison
9. Dean Wheeler "Nothing But a Good Time" by Poison
10. Amanda Hungerford "Working for the Weekend" by Loverboy
11. Ashley Lux "8675309/Jenny" by Tommy Tutone
12. Matt Smith "You Got Another Thing Coming" by Judas Priest
13. Angelica Carozzi "I Love Rock N Roll" by Joan Jett
14. Hailey Wiggins "Pink Houses" by John Mellencamp

Here are some highlights from Round 2 of Rockokie:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

2012 Dewey Degree Scholarship applications are now available

Courtesy of The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association:

The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Associa is looking for eligible high school seniors or returning college students from families of licensed owners, trainers, or drivers who participate full or part time in harness racing.

They can now log on to and print out an application form that could bring them $1,500 closer to completing their college education.

Through the generosity of Ray Schnittker and Jeff Gural, UNY-USHWA is offering the scholarship named for Schnittker's world class trotter, Deweycheatumnhowe.

The "Dewey Degree" is an annual fellowship given to an eligible student who meets the criteria and is chosen by our chapter officers and an impartial third party judge.

It is a $1,500 one time, non renewable assistance award.

The applicant must be entering college for the first time this fall or already in a college, university, or trade school and be enrolled as a full time student (12 credit hours minimum).

Applicants' parent(s), grandparent(s), and/or legal guardian(s) must be a licensed horseman or horsewoman during the year prior to application (in this case, 2011).

Only one relative need be licensed to be eligible.

The applicant must be at least a high school senior at time of application. Anyone living in the U.S. or Canada is eligible.

You are required to submit an essay discussing your background in harness racing, your work experience in harness racing, what you think could be done to better harness racing in the future, and how you see yourself as part of it.

The essay should be around 600 words in length.

You will also need to submit proof of your relatives' licensing and a min of two letters of reference -- one from a horseperson and one from a teacher in your current school.

All documents must be received no later than May 31.

The recipient will be announced shortly thereafter and the scholarship will be presented in the winner's circle at Tioga Downs this summer.

We request the winner be present for that presentation.

For more information and an application form, please log onto