Field shaping up for driving championship
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The field is starting to take shape for the 7th annual Tioga/Vernon Drivers' Championship, billed this year as harness racing's version of the all-star game, following the big money races of Hambletonian Weekend at the Meadowlands.
North America's top six money-winning drivers will join the leading driver by wins at both Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs and a sponsor's exemption. The group of nine will compete for more than $40,000 in prize money in a two-day driving challenge at Vernon Downs on August 25 and at Tioga Downs on Sept. 2.
The Vernon Downs leg of the challenge shares a card with the $700,000 Zweig Memorial Trot which will likely showcase Hambletonian champion Royalty For Life. The Tioga Downs leg of the challenge shares a card with the $400,000 Cane Pace, opening leg of the Pacing Triple Crown and likely destination for the sport's top-rated horse, Captaintreacherous.
Drivers still have 11 days to jockey for position. The field will be announced on the morning of August 19.
Tim Tetrick, winner of six straight national money-won titles, leads the charts with more than $8.1 million in earnings. He is followed by Hambletonian winner Brian Sears, Yannick Gingras, David Miller, Ron Pierce and Corey Callahan. George Brennan and Matt Kakaley are within striking distance of the sixth and final spot.
Locally, Rick Plano has all but locked up the Vernon Downs representative spot while Jimmy Marohn, Jr. holds a narrow lead in the race to represent Tioga Downs.
In addition to the racing on the track, fans will also be treated to a variety of giveaways and promotions including the annual bobblehead giveaway free while supplies last. This year, Corey Callahan will be featured joining previous honorees Jody Jamieson, Tim Tetrick, Yannick Gingras and Jason Bartlett. (Tioga)