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  Riches To Rag's !     

Vernon Downs   If you were part of the opening day crowd back in July of "53" you might have been a little confused if you had the right place for harness racing. A quick look at the track showed a six furlong oval with a quarter mile chute. This seemed like the perfect conformation for a minor league thoroughbred track, but it was indeed built for harness racing.

Vernon Downs  The theory behind the plan was that it would provide safety and speed, and it did. In 1955 the pacer Adios Harry paced the mile in 1:55 a record that stood for 18 years. For all practical purpose the three quarter mile track was actually a mile track. In the early years Vernon Downs because of it's speed ended up on the Grand Circuit tour and many of the top horses and drivers competed at the oval. Vernon Downs like most of racing peaked in the 1980's, then started a slide into oblivion.

 By the 1990's Vernon Downs was in financial trouble and seemed to be closed more than it was open. In 2000 the old track was ripped out and a more traditional seven eights oval was installed. The track now looked like a harness venue but it didn't do much for attendance. About that time Jeffry Gural came along.

 Gural seemed like a major force in getting racino gaming in New York state, and there by saving New York States crumbling harness racing industry, especially in Western New York. Vernon and Tioga Downs re-opened under Gural's ownership, Batavia Downs long dormant came back to life and Buffalo Raceway the only continues venue of the bunch received a shot in the arm.

 In 2011 many top events were run at Vernon Downs as it attempts to regain some of it's past glory running from April to November. Jimmy Whittlemore won the drivers title. Racing with a full stakes schedule returns in 2012.