Vernon Downs, an upstate New York Standardbred track, was licensed March 22 by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board on the condition a third party oversees racing operations.The track, which built a video lottery terminal casino but couldn't open it last fall because of licensing issues, also was granted licenses for live racing and simulcasting, and also was awarded dates for 2004. Live racing is contingent upon the track having an agreement with the Harness Horse Association of Central New York.Mid-State Raceway, which owns Vernon Downs, now can move forward with its application for a VLT agent's license, which is issued by the New York Lottery."Getting a live racing license has been our number one priority," Dave Wilson, vice president of racing and acting chief executive officer, said in a release. "I want to thank the horsemen and the people of Vernon who have given us their support along the way."Today, we came one step closer to turning Vernon Downs around, but we are not in the homestretch yet. A license to open up the VLT facility is next on our list. Opening the VLT facility is the only way to secure the future of this track; that's the bottom line."Mid-State will hire Dennis Dowd as an independent third party to oversee the racing operations. He will hold the position of general manager of the racing division. Dowd is the former Chairman of the New Jersey Racing Commission, and has served as president and general manager of several racetracks.