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Vernon Meet To Conclude On Sept. 26

Published: September 13, 2020 11:30 am ET

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The Harness Horse Association of Central New York (HHACNY), the Gaming Commission-recognized representative horsemen’s association at Vernon Downs Racetrack, together will the management of Vernon Downs, have announced that the last live race card for 2020 will be conducted on Saturday, September 26.

​HHACNY President Rick Papa stated, “While the viral pandemic that afflicted the nation was raging, we were quite fortunate to have been able to commence the 2020 race season, albeit later than we desired. Still, from the very moment the Governor announced the lifting of the moratorium on live racing, both the horsemen and management worked extremely hard to start the meet. Then, without the benefit of any revenue from the still-shuttered video lottery terminal parlour (racino), we were able to offer competitive, full-card harness racing without interruption.”

President Papa continued, “Though the 2020 meet was scheduled to continue through November 7, it is only in just the last few days that the racino was given permission to reopen. Rather than subject the horsemen to a debilitated purse structure through the fall portion of the meet, it was jointly decided to cease racing at the end of September. This timed closure will ensure that by the anticipated opening of the 2021 season, the horsemen’s account will be fully replenished, such that owners, trainers and drivers will race for competitive purses. On behalf of the horsemen, I thank everyone involved including track management for its input into this important decision.”

​Vernon Downs President, Jeff Gural stated, “I want to thank the HHACNY for working with us this season, as obviously the pandemic has been devastating to the industry. I think we succeeded in providing an opportunity for our horsemen to get their horses raced the last few months, including the all-important NY Sire Stakes Program. Despite the pandemic, horses need to be fed and cared for and with no income coming in it was a major hardship. Let’s hope we can reopen on time in the spring and the pandemic will be a distant unpleasant memory.”

Subject to New York State Gaming Commission approval, the 2021 race meet is scheduled to start in mid-April.

(HHACNY/Vernon Downs)

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