Horse Owners Buy New York Harness Track

In what seems to be a mini-trend in Standardbred racing, a group of horsemen will purchase Vernon Downs in upstate New York for more than $9 million pending approval by the racetrack's shareholders and the New York State Racing and Wagering Board. The deal has been approved by the board of directors, track president Justice Cheney said.

If the deal is approved, the track's new owners will be Eric Cherry of Delray Beach, Fla.; Sanford Goldfarb of Old Westbury, N.Y.; and Steven Goldberg of Verona, N.J. Cherry and Goldfarb are prominent Standardbred owners who have campaigned some of the sport's leading stakes winners. Goldberg is an attorney and newcomer to the horse business.

Vernon Downs is located in Vernon, about 30 miles east of Syracuse. For years it has competed with an Indian casino located only miles away.

"We are horsemen who are interested in promoting and enhancing the live racing business at Vernon Downs through innovative ideas that we feel will benefit both the sport's participants and fans," Cherry said. "It is a beautiful track with a rich racing history."

The agreement ensures continuation of the nearly 1,500 jobs and estimated $24 million economic impact generated in Central New York annually by Vernon Downs.

Several years ago, Rosecroft Raceway in Maryland was purchased by local horsemen who continue to run it today. Last year, a group of five Standardbred breeders and owners bought The Red Mile in Lexington.