During this break in the Grand Circuit action, attention turns to Vernon Downs which is hosting the New York Night of Champions for the first time tonight. The Night Of Champions features eight $175,0000 New York Sire Stakes finals.
Of particular interest is the three year old trotting and pacing colt races. In the three year old trotting colt race, Judge Joe is the favorite to become the NYSS champion. Other horses in this race of note are Calchips Brute and Russell Hill. In the three year old pacing colt division, Hypnotic Blue Chip and Handsome Harry lead the field.
There was a lot of controversy with the Night of Champions being raced upstate. Traditionally, the Night of Champions has been raced exclusively at Yonkers Raceway, only moving to Saratoga Raceway when Yonkers was closed for construction. The argument was the races should be held at Yonkers, as the vast majority of monies raised to fund the sire stakes program came from wagering at Yonkers. The trustees of the sire stakes decided it would be more appropriate to have the sire stakes championships conducted each year at different tracks to help promote the NY Sired horses through out the state. Plans are for the finals to return to Yonkers next year.
Actually, Yonkers loss is actually a gain for some of the participants in the NY Sire Stakes program. Since the Night of Champions moved to Vernon this year, Yonkers is sponsoring in October an overnight series of $50,000 races which could be considered consolation races for top eight horses that did not qualify for the NYSS finals.
The famed ten day Grand Circuit meet at the Red Mile begins this Tuesday, September 29. During the Grand Circuit, racing occurs Tuesday thru Saturdays with a first post of 12:30pm. Muscle Hill is the center of atttention week one with the Kentucky Futurity coming up next Saturday.