Vernon Downs Celebrates 70 Years of Harness Racing
Apr. 13 2023

Vernon Downs Celebrates 70 Years of Harness Racing

Click for 2023 harness racing season and festivities!

Vernon Downs Racetrack will open its gates for the 70th season of live harness racing on Saturday, April 15, 2023.

Vernon Downs was the eighth racetrack to open in New York, beginning as a six-furlong oval with a quarter-mile chute on July 1, 1953. Over the years, it has become known for hosting prestigious stake races and drawing celebrities, like baseball’s Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford, and some of the best equine names, such as Bret Hanover, Ring Eyed Pete, Nevele Pride, Albatross, Niatross, Moni-Maker and Bunny Lake.

The company will mark this milestone anniversary with celebrations honoring Vernon Down’s long-running legacy of fast-paced harness racing, ranging from a slate of competitive races on its 7/8-mile oval to festive entertainment.

“Vernon Downs is a historic venue and we are thrilled to have the support of top local horsemen and fans as we kick off our 70th year!” said Arthur Wood, Assistant General Manager. “We’ve lined up some great promotions and hope our fans enjoy the Vernon Downs experience.”

2023 Schedule of Events:

Saturday, April 15 – Opening Day: Return for another season of racing on Opening Day, with first post at 6:05 p.m. Grab food and drink deals, including $1 popcorn or fountain soda, $2 hot dog and $3 draft beer (16 ounces). The first 200 guests to check in at the promotions desk after Race 3 will receive a Vernon Downs golf umbrella.

Saturday, May 6 – Kentucky Derby Day: While enjoying mint julep cocktails and delicious eats from food trucks, racegoers can view a live broadcast of the 2023 Kentucky Derby from the racetrack and participate in a $1,770 Derby Wager and Win Giveaway. Vernon Downs post time is 5:05 p.m.

Friday, May 12 – Horse Play Car Giveaway: Enter to win a 2023 Toyota Camry LE throughout live racing on Fridays and Saturdays. Vernon Downs is donating 100% of the proceeds to the northeast region of the American Cancer Society. Tune in for the grand prize drawing during live racing on October 7, 2023.

Monday, May 29 – Special Memorial Day Races: Join Vernon Downs for live racing, a mini horse race and American flag giveaway. Post time is 12:15 p.m.

Friday, June 16 – Vernon Downs will feature the Empire Breeders Classic with separate races for 3-year-old filly trotters and 3-year-old trotting colts with a special post time of 12:15 p.m.

Sunday, June 18 – Father’s Day and Corgi Dog Races: Spend Father’s Day with the entire family as Vernon Downs features standardbreds and the fastest Corgi’s in the area! First post 12:15 p.m.

Saturday, July 1 – 70th Anniversary Racing Celebration: Celebrate Vernon Downs’ 70th anniversary of racing with $70 gas gift card giveaways, t-shirt giveaway, food trucks and fireworks.

Saturday, July 8 – Vernon Downs is proud to host the Zweig Memorial races featuring the 3-year-old Open Trot and 3-year-old Fillies Trot once again with a post time of 12:15 p.m.

Friday and Saturday, August 18-19Corntastic Weekend: Guests will receive a half dozen ears of fresh sweet corn while supplies last. A corn tossing contest will also highlight the weekend.

Live racing takes place from April through November and entry to the track is free every race day. Vernon Downs races on Friday and Saturday evenings at 6:05 p.m. This season, post time will be at 4 p.m. on Fridays through August. For more information about the 2023 racing season, promotions, all unique race dates and post times, visit

Individuals must be 18 years of age to wager on horses, participate in promotions and giveaways, play gaming machines and purchase lottery tickets.

ABOUT: Vernon Downs Casino Hotel is a specialized gaming center for gamers of all volition to enjoy. It is home to over 500 games, including in-house progressives and video poker. The casino offers free enrollment into its Rewards Club, where you can become eligible to receive benefits, such as special offer mailers, invitations to live events, and much more. Vernon Downs is also home to self-bet terminals for all thoroughbred and harness racing that takes place at the casino hotel. You must be 18 years of age to play at Vernon Downs. Please play responsibly. Vernon Downs is a New York State Lottery Customer Service Center.