Horse owners believe Vernon Downs’ closure is a bluff

Local News

For many horse trainers, they’ve spent their childhoods at Vernon Downs.

“I grew up here, my father raced here when I was a kid,” said Leslie Hale.

But that could be a thing of the past.

“It’s more than frustrating, it’s just a shame to see how everything changes and it’s take out on the horse business anyway,” said Hale.

Management at Vernon Downs says they’ve been waiting for tax relief to come from the state. A bill passed in the State Senate, so it’s in the hands of the State Assembly, but management says they’re through waiting. With less than a week left in legislative session, they’ve announced a closing schedule.

Harness racing will continue through the end of the season, but the trainers say they don’t believe it.

“When you repeatedly hear something like that then it’s like well you know what we’ve heard this before let’s just wait and see what happens,” said Dan Hoover, horse trainer.

But Jeff Gural who controls operations says it’s for real.

“Oh absolutely, 100%,” said Gural.

If there is no movement in the State Assembly, the casino is set to close in September, the hotel shutting its doors in December.

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