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  It's No NYRA !     

Finger LakesFinger Lakes Logo

Finger Lakes is a one mile thoroughbred track, located in Farmington, about sixteen miles from Rochester. It has open air seating in both the grandstand and clubhouse area than can accommodate 6,000, while the betting and simulcast areas are enclosed. In 2004 major renovations were completed to convert the track into a racino. In doing so, the first level of the grandstand became the gaming area, leaving the second level for racing and simulcasting. The clubhouse on the other hand had a reversal of sorts, the first floor became the main racetrack entrance and the second level was mostly abandoned except for a restaurant and bar area. The stable area houses about 1,200 horse and parking is plentiful.    

Located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York Finger Lakes is the only thoroughbred track in New York State not run by NYRA. It's meet traditionally runs from mid April to early December. Once a track for cheap claimers it's purse structure was greatly increased when it was converted to a racino. Zippy Chippy the infamous 0 - 100 horse called Finger Lakes homes till he was booted off the track for starting gate problems.

Finger Lakes100 glorious days

Many famous riders have ridden at Finger Lakes including Steve Cauthen, Angel Cordero Jr.,Pat Day, Julie Krone and Bill Shoemaker. The horse for the course would be Fio Rito who won 19 of 27 starts at Finger Lakes but gained national attention when he won the 1981 Whitney Stakes at Saratoga. Fio Rito was such a local favorite that upon his death at 21 he was buried in the track infield. The premier race at Finger Lakes is the New York Derby. Run in July it is part of the Big Apple Triple for New York Breds.

 The purse index for Finger Lakes was a 5 but that was long before it became a racino back then 1,500 claimers were the norm. It now sports a purse index of 19. Like most racino formats you can drive into the parking lot on Saturday and think you're back in the sixties. You know you better hurry because there's going to be a long line to get those doubles everybody gave you bet. Then you walk in remember it's 2011 and realize your pretty much alone all the action is on the other side of the wall! In 2011 it was business as usual no major changes going on. 

Over the years I've been to Finger Lakes a few times, the first was in 1970 when the track was known to be in Canandaigua. The track has never moved but now it seems to be in Farmington? I learned a good life lesson on that visit, in the sixth race a horse named Graphic Park was shipping in from Maryland and seeming to be against lower class horses. He had early speed and there were only four horses running against him. Seemed like a perfect time for a twenty dollar show bet and make enough for a couple free beers. As I figured the grey jumped out to an easy lead, I could taste those beers. To my horror, by the time they reached the stretch two horses went by him like he was standing still, so much for free beer! As it turned out he was placed third in a tight photo, all that pain for a buck. Now a days you can't get water for a dollar never mind beer. Moral, there are no sure things.

My next trip was in 1978, it was a Saturday and the place was packed, Green Mountain had been closed for a few years and I noted that Stephen Kisielewski had moved his tack to the Finger Lakes oval. A major race track milestone for me happened on that day, I bought my first souvenir tee shirt.

I returned to Finger Lakes(the one in Farmington) after it became a racino and the place was packed, the casino part that is, race track not so much. The place was completely changed, racing seemed like a necessary evil playing to family and friends, while the real show was going on in the old first level of the grandstand, at the slots.