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The Tioga and Vernon Downs race dates and stakes calendar has been ironed out for the 2009 racing season (pending regulatory approval from the New York State Racing and Wagering Board). Vernon Downs will open its 90-day season on Friday, April 17, and conclude 2009 on Saturday, Nov. 7.

Vernon will race a schedule of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for most of the meet with a post time of 6:55 pm. Two Monday matinees with a special post time of 1:30 pm are scheduled for May 25 and Sept. 7. During the month of July, Vernon will race Tuesday nights at 6 pm.

Tioga Downs will kickoff its 57-day season on Saturday, May 2, otherwise known to the betting world as “Derby Day.” Tioga’s season will conclude on Saturday, Sept. 12.

During the meet Tioga will race a normal schedule of Friday, Saturday (post time 6:50 pm) and Sunday afternoon (post time 1:30 pm). Tioga will race two Wednesday cards scheduled for June 10 and Aug. 19, with a post time of 1:30 pm.

The stakes season for both tracks will kick off with The Empire Breeder’s Classic eliminations for 3-year old New York-sired pacers and trotters. The trotters will race eliminations at Vernon on Saturday, May 16, and return for the $500,000 (est.) finals on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25. The New York pacers will race eliminations at Tioga on Sunday, May 17, returning for the $500,000 (est.) finals on Sunday, May 24.

Tioga will once again host its Rags To Riches series for $10,000 claiming pacers from Sunday, June 7, through Sunday, June 28, in an elimination-style bracket series in which $10,000 claimers have the chance of racing for $150,000 (est.)

The Zweig Memorial Trot for 3-year old colt and filly trotters, worth an estimated $300,000, will be held at Tioga held on Friday, July 10. Normally held during the State Fair, the Zweig was moved to an open spot in the calendar and will hopefully be used as a stepping stone to the Hambletonian.

The third annual Tioga Downs Driver’s Championship will be held on Sunday, Aug. 2, with a post time of 1:30 pm. Yannick Gingras repeated in 2008 as champion of this lucrative event after sharing the 2007 title with Brian Sears. Also starring on the Sunday card will be a leg of the Miss Versatility trotting series as well as a leg of the Kindergarten Classic for 2-year old pacers. 


The New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions makes its first ever visit to Vernon Downs on Saturday, Sept. 26. With eight $150,000 (est.) finals the Saturday night card will award more than $1.2 Million in estimated purses. Owners of the stakes horses will be invited to a pre and post race cocktail party free of charge. (Tioga & Vernon Downs)