Tioga Downs opens Saturday
April 30, 2010
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Tioga Downs opens its live racing season on Saturday, May 1, and has planned a launch to rival the Derby festivities in Kentucky on that same afternoon. Derby post-time is around 6:30 and 10 live harness races follow at 6:50 pm.
Christened “Derby Fest III”, the day long activities include, but are not limited to, authentic Mint juleps, a Derby hat contest on the track apron with registration closing at 4:30 and the contest itself beginning at 5:30, a race date t-shirt giveaway (starting at 6:00 while supplies last), fireworks after live racing and finally Bad Hair Day (a local band) performing live on the Tioga stage following the fireworks. Horsemen are invited to a welcome back party from 10:00 on in the Winner’s Circle Lounge.
The eyes of racing will be focused on Tioga’s fortunes, as the much heralded reduction of take-out (to the minimum permitted by state law) has piqued the interest of the horse playing community and fostered a unique offering initiated by the members of the Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA).
A couple of “HANAites” will participate in a contest on Tioga’s races, labeled “What’s Mightier, the Pen or the Micro-Chip?” at the horseplayer’s forum known as PaceAdvantage.com. To stimulate the interest of their members less familiar with harness racing, this contest will offer human expert selections versus computer generated picks, one of those provided free by TrackMaster.com. Tioga programs are available from that link as well.
The race card itself looks to be up to the task, with plenty of fast horses, some new faces and the first leg of the “Kenneth J” series for three year old pacing colts. Perennial Pompano Park driving champion Bruce Ranger has brought his tack to Tioga for the summer and adds his considerable talent to a solid community led by last year’s local kingpin, Jimmy Marohn Jr.
The excitement continues on Sunday afternoon at 1:30 with a robust 13 race offering. Sunday is always FAMILY DAY at the Downs and the frivolity includes bounce houses for the kids, Ty the miniature pony, caricature drawings, the “That’s My Driver “ promotion (a real fan favorite) and the one-time only offer of a refrigerator magnet with the 2010 Tioga Downs racing schedule featured (while supplies last).
Every racing night is made complete by the popular “Horseplay” promotion. Patrons donate a dollar (matched by Tioga) for a rubber horse that is tossed into a cruising 2010 automobile. Those lucky enough to land their horse into the car may be chosen for a season’s end drawing for the car itself, sponsored in part by Williams Nissan of nearby Sayre, PA.(Tioga)