Harness Racing kicked off at Tioga Downs on Saturday (Photo Gallery)

The 13th season of harness racing kicked off at Tioga Downs in Nichols, N.Y. on Saturday. Derby Day at Tioga Downs was held in conjunction with the Kentucky Derby. Here are some photos from the opening day. Click on the thumbnail to view the larger photo; use the back button on your browser to return to the main page. 

To ready for opening day, last Tuesday, members of the media were invited to the P.J. Clarke’s Patio at Tioga Downs Casino and Resort to get a sneak preview of Saturday’s opening day of harness racing at the casino’s track in Nichols, N.Y., and held in conjunction with the Kentucky Derby. 

Harness Racing kicked off at Tioga Downs on Saturday

Guy Howard, president of the Southern Tier Harness Horsemen’s Association, was recognized during Media Night on Tuesday, and during the announcement of the opening day of harness racing on Saturday at Tioga Downs, and in conjunction with the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Wendy Post)

The event featured tours of the grounds, photo opportunities, and an exclusive preview of the event highlights for the 2018 live harness racing season.

On Saturday, the celebration included a Derby Hat contest, t-shirt and magnet giveaways, performances from the Edward P. Maloney Pipe Band, and a $1,000 Derby Dream Bet promotion. Between the live races, the Kentucky Derby was televised.

Coming up, on Sunday, May 27, Tioga Downs will commemorate Memorial Day at the track. American flag hats will be given away at the promotions table beginning at 5 p.m., and there will be a patriotic fireworks display directly following the last race. Post time is 6:15 p.m.

Staff members at Tioga Downs also highlighted some activities taking place throughout the summer to include a Father’s Day celebration on June 17, and the return of the Camel and Ostrich Races. The day’s events will also feature a Father’s Day themed giveaway, where one lucky winner will leave the track with a ride-on lawn mower. Post time for this race will be 1 p.m.

Harness Racing kicked off at Tioga Downs on Saturday

On the left, Jason Bluhm, senior regional director of racing, was recognized during Media Night on Tuesday, and during an announcement regarding the opening of harness racing on Saturday at Tioga Downs. (Photo by Wendy Post)

Additional highlights for the 2018 season include a special Independence Day race at 1 p.m. on July 4, the Miss Tioga Downs Beauty Pageant on Saturday, July 21, and a series of high-stakes races in August. 

On Sunday, Aug. 12, the track will host Joie De Vie Open Mare Trot and Crawford Farms Open Trot. These exciting races will each have purses of an estimated $175,000. The Empire Breeders Classic Finals will take place the following week, on Aug. 19. The event will feature three-year-old horses and will have an estimated $250,000 purses up for grabs. The Roll with Joe Open Pace and the Artiscape Open Mare Pace will take place this same day, each with an estimated purse of $175,000.

There will be another chance to win big at the annual Million-Dollar Ball Drop on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 3. This highly anticipated contest will take place during the live racing. The grand prize is $1,000,000, and the Top 25 closest golf balls can win prizes up to $5,000. Post time is 1 p.m.

Harness Racing kicked off at Tioga Downs on Saturday

Jason M. Settlemoir, general manager and chief executive officer of Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey, announces the upcoming harness racing season at Tuesday’s Media Night event. (Photo by Wendy Post)

The season will come to an end on Saturday, Sept. 22. For closing night, Tioga Downs will host a Horseplay Car Giveaway, and the winner will walk away with a 2018 Toyota Corolla. To celebrate the last night of the season, all guests will enjoy a spectacular fireworks display. Post time for the final race of the year is 6:15 p.m.

Also, when Tioga Downs Casino Resort opened for the 2018 racing season on Saturday, the fans and horsemen will enjoy an enhanced experience. 

Since the last racing season, the new 161-room hotel opened, and offers a fitness center as well as an indoor heated salt water pool and hot tub. 

Horsemen can enjoy a discounted rate of $89.99. Reservations can be made through the race office at (607) 699-7688.

When summer hits, the whole family can also enjoy an outdoors water slide with plunge pool as well as an outdoor Cabana Bar and outdoors pool.

Guests can visit AgeLess Spa for a couple’s massage and more before hitting the track or casino floor.

Also new for 2018 is P. J. Clarke’s Restaurant, with breakfast available Monday through Saturday and dinner available seven days a week.  

Harness Racing kicked off at Tioga Downs on Saturday

Jim Weed, marketing manager at Tioga Downs, talks about special events taking place surrounding the opening day of harness racing on Saturday, and the other events taking place at Tioga Downs Casino and Resort this summer. (Photo by Wendy Post)

Tioga Downs is also gearing up for their summer concert series, offering quality acts throughout the season in addition to the scheduled harness racing.

The highly anticipated Beach Boys concert will take place at the trackside stage at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 7. Other shows include Chris Janson, who will perform at Tioga Downs at 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 31; a Thursday, June 28 performance by Eddie Money; and a Labor Day performance by Michael Bolton, planned for 8 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 2.

On July 28, at 8 p.m., Wynonna and The Big Noise will perform a special concert to benefit the Southern Tier Veterans Support Group. As in the past, all ticket sales will be donated to the Southern Tier Veterans Support Group, and in addition, Jeff Gural, owner of Tioga Downs Casino and Resort, has generously pledged to match all ticket proceeds. Tickets are available for $15 each.

To check out the complete 2018 season event calendar, visit www.tiogadowns.com.


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