onkers Raceway is prepping for its fifth annual Fall Harvest Festival, a free, family-fun event, set for Saturday night (October 19).
The Harvest Festival is slated from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on the track apron at the historic half-mile oval, and showcases the thriving relationship between horse racing and agriculture all across New York State.
The Fall Harvest Festival includes pony rides, face painting, pumpkin patch and musical entertainment, along with New York wine and beer product sampling. Of course, a full card of pari-mutuel races is also part of the evening (first post at the usual 7:10 p.m.).
A favourite among the Fall Harvest Festival highlights is the fifth annual Legislators’ Challenge, in which elected officials from across the state compete in four non-wagering harness races (with occasional help from professional harness drivers). Post time for the first of the three races is 5:30 p.m.
The ‘electeds’ have been divided into three groups – the rookies, the veterans and the previous winners.
Scheduled participants for the Legislators’ Pace include, from the New York State Assembly Andrew Raia (12 AD – Northport); Keith Wright (70 AD – Harlem); Michael Benedetto (82 AD – Bronx); J. Gary Pretlow (89 AD – Mount Vernon); Shelley Mayer (90 AD – Yonkers); Michaelle C. Solages (22 AD – Valley Stream); Joseph Saladino (9 AD – Massapequa Park); Rafael Espinal Jr. (54 AD – Brooklyn); Andrew Garbarino (7 AD – Bayport); and Frank Skartados (104 AD – Newburgh). Rounding out the competitors is State Senators Joseph Griffo (47 SD – Utica).
“The Legislators’ Pace has become a much-anticipated annual event among racing fans, residents statewide, and of course, our incredibly competitive state legislators,” Tim Rooney, Jr., general counsel at Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway, said. “But for us, this is just a fun-filled way to remind the elected officials and residents who support us, that not only have we contributed over $1.8-billion to the state’s schools, we’ve also helped revitalized the horse racing and agricultural industries across the state.”
“I am always excited to compete in the Legislative Challenge. It is a fun night, not just for those who are participating but for the entire family. Once again, Empire City has outdone themselves in providing a fun-filled evening for all,” Assembly Member Benedetto said.
“I would like to thank both the Standardbred Owners Association of New York and Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway for hosting this event and the Fall Festival,” Assembly Member Garbarino said. “These two organizations have helped make New York a leader in the standardbred breeding and racing industries. For many years, these two industries have provided much-needed jobs and revenue for the New York State economy.”
“I am looking forward to once again participating in this year’s fall harvest festival. It is a wonderful community event, and I appreciate Empire City Casino providing it to the Yonkers community,” Assembly Member Mayer said.
“I’ve been attending this event every year since its inception, and every year I’m blown away at how much fun it is,” Assembly Member Raia said. “Events like these are not just great fun for the whole family, but also critical to illustrating the importance of New York agriculture and business.”
“The Fall Harvest Festival is one of the most exciting nights at Yonkers Raceway,” Assembly Member Saladino said. “After winning last year’s race, I am thrilled to come back and defend my title and create another very exciting night. The legislative challenge is a not-to-be-missed event. I hope everyone comes out to Yonkers Raceway for a night of fun at the races.”
“It is an honour to race at the Yonkers Raceway and participate in the fifth annual Fall Harvest Festival. Harness racing with my fellow New York State legislators highlights an industry that not only benefits the great state of New York, but also the local community,” Assembly Member Solages said. “This is the most premier harness racing track in the country. I am excited at the opportunity to celebrate New York State’s advancements in the agriculture and equine industries at the harness racing capital.”
“The fall harvest is a great opportunity for legislators to highlight one of the jewels of New York, Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway, and it gives us a great opportunity to mix business and pleasure,” Assembly Member Wright said. “As a legislator from Harlem, I don’t get a chance to drive too many horses. I look forward to seeing everyone as I come around the clubhouse turn.”
Another highlight of the Fall Harvest Festival is a Racing Under Saddle exhibition event, with nine talented women competing in a mile-and-and-a-sixteenth event between the first and second races on the wagering card.