The Ithaca Journal

Tioga Downs Casino in Nichols will host Derby Fest 5 on Saturday, celebrating the running of the 138th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs and the official kick-off of Tioga Downs’ 2012 live harness racing season.

This year’s Cinco De Mayo celebration also falls on Saturday, so in addition to offering mint juleps and holding its annual Kentucky Derby hat contest, Tioga Downs also will feature margaritas and a sombrero contest.

The day will begin at 10:30 a.m. with simulcast racing from Churchill Downs. Guests can watch and wager on all of the races leading up to the 138th Run for the Roses (post time is approximately 6:24 p.m.). Tioga Downs’ live harness racing season will kick off with a special post time of 5 p.m., with a break to air the running of the Kentucky Derby.

Derby Fest 5 will feature seven live musical performances throughout the day, including a set by an authentic mariachi band at 4:30 p.m.

The hat and sombrero contests will be held at 3 p.m. on the side apron of the track, with registration beginning at 2 p.m. Those in attendance should wear their best Kentucky Derby hat or sombrero for a chance at a $500 race voucher.

Live harness racing will continue following the Kentucky Derby at approximately 7 p.m., and the day’s festivities will end with a fireworks display.

Tioga Downs is located at 2384 W. River Road in Nichols. Visitors must be at least 18 to play the video gaming machines. For more information, visit