Friday, May 2, 2014

Open events, Kentucky Derby festivities headline Tioga opening weekend

by James Witherite, Tioga Downs racing media

A pair of $14,000 Open events headline the Saturday (May 3) program at Tioga Downs, which begin their ninth season of live harness racing this weekend.

A quintet of trotters contest the first race co-feature, with Jaipur (Fern Paquet, Jr., 7-5 morning line) shipping in after scoring consecutive wins at Vernon against top trotters there.  Splitsville (Jim Marohn, Jr., 5-2) and Grey Ice (Jim Meittinis, 3-1) are also in pursuit of repeat wins, returning from Saratoga after front-end victories last week.  Seven distaff pacers comprise the other headline field of the evening in race six, with Rocks N Bagels (Aaron Byron, 3-1) coming in off a dominant 1:50.4 score at Vernon.

First post for Saturday's 10-race card is 5:00 p.m. EDT, with a break after the third race for simulcasting of the Kentucky Derby from Churchill Downs.  In line with Derby Day festivities, Tioga Downs will offer mint juleps, live music through the day, and will offer one lucky fan a $1,000 win wager on one horse in the Derby--with the winnings theirs to keep.

Sunday (May 4) afternoon's 13-race card kicks off at 1:30 p.m., with a $14,000 Open pace serving as the afternoon's top event.  Pompano standout Prairie Jaguar (Jim Marohn, Jr., 3-1) will likely attract much attention in the six-horse Open field, but won't be without competition.  Fireyourguns (Aaron Byron, 7-2) is 2-for-2 this year so far, most recently scoring a 1:50.2 win at Vernon, while Real Flight (Brandon Simpson, 6-1) and Modern Day Clyde (Mike Simons, 2-1) enter after competing in top conditioned events at Yonkers most recently.

For a complete racing schedule, handicapping resources including race analysis, race replays, and trip notes, visit