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Vernon Downs to open racing season on April 20

By Traci DeLore (


(Photo credit: Vernon Downs website)

VERNON, N.Y. — After a bumpy 2023, which almost saw the racetrack close, Vernon Downs is set to begin its 71st season on Saturday, April 20, the racing and gaming venue announced. Post time for opening night is 6:05 p.m. and features a T-shirt giveaway after the third race.

Last May, Mid-State Raceway, Inc., which does business as Vernon Downs Casino & Hotel, filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act notice with the state, announcing the track would close by year’s end unless it received $2 million in tax relief through the restoration of a previous agent commission fee it received. The closure, which would have affected 249 employees, was avoided when the state passed legislation in May that provided the extended tax relief.

Last year’s top driver, John MacDonald, as well as leading trainer Michelle Warner will return this year to defend their titles, Vernon Downs said in a release.

Other events planned at Vernon Downs include the May 4 simulcast of the 150th Kentucky Derby that includes a $1,300 win and wager promotion along with mint-julep specials.

Vernon Downs will host eight New York Sire Stakes cards featuring top trainers and drivers including the Empire Breeders Classic on June 14, the Zweig Memorial on July 4, and the New York Sire Stakes Excelsior series finale on Sept. 13.

Live racing takes place from April through November.

Vernon Downs Casino Hotel offers more than 500 games, including self-bet terminals for all thoroughbred and harness racing that takes place at Vernon Downs.


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