"Thanks to Tioga Downs"

EDITOR: "Thanks to Tioga Downs" is a sentiment that is heard repeatedly in Tioga County and beyond, and I hope is never taken for granted. I'm happy to add my thanks once again to Tioga Downs for their timely and gracious assistance with the running of the New York State Sire Stake Races at the Tioga County Fair.

The preparation for, and management of this year's fair comprised an amazing amount of volunteer and donated effort by many individuals and businesses, some of which had little experience in the specific tasks that needed to be done.

For myself, I have always been a fan of harness racing stemming, I suppose, from tagging along with my grandfather many years ago as he assisted local horse owners for the joy of it. Flash forward to 2014 and I found myself raising my hand, offering to guide the effort to bring the Sire Stakes back to the Owego Driving Park.

Through the efforts of many, new stalls were built, officials were put in place and the track itself graded and raised as much as 10 inches in some areas. Throughout this process there had been "back gate" cooperation between Tioga Downs and the fair, involving the trading and lending of equipment and advice.

Come race day, however, we had a problem. The track surface was simply too deep. When Jason, Adam, and the rest of the Tioga Downs crew arrived to give us a hand as promised, a quick meeting was held and a plan made to harden the surface. Working together, the track was much improved and racing began after only a 50-minute delay.

As my grandfather would have said, Tioga Downs pulled our Chestnuts out of the Fire and saved the race card.

For that and everything else Tioga Downs did for the fair, I want to say thank you. Time will tell what lies in store for the old historic track, now that we have made a start at coming back from the ravages of the flood. It seems to me, however, that there will always be reasons for the fair and Tioga Downs to work together and I look forward to exploring how we might benefit each other in the future.

Jim Mead

Harness Racing Superintendent

Tioga County Fair