Tioga Downs in the home stretch for Derby preparations

Local News

NICHOLS, N.Y. (WETM) – It’s off to the races at Tioga Downs this weekend, as the Casino and racetrack prepare to reopen for the first harness races of the year. The Kentucky Derby is also bringing many racing fans out to the Downs this weekend to watch the big race.

“Saturday will be what I like to call a double dip. We’re gonna have fans back for the first time in two years and we are going to have the biggest day of betting,” Brett Risi, regional racing operations manager at Tioga Downs, said.

Inch by inch…. or furlong by furlong, Tioga Downs has been getting ready to welcome back fans. Racing begins at 5 p.m. Saturday in Nichols with a brief intermission for the Kentucky Derby at 6 p.m. If you are making bets for this weekend, experts have a few tips to keep an eye on.

“People need to look out for the best trainer percentage the best jockey percentage and obviously the horse, you know, that seems to fit this,” Risi continued. “We’d like to help the patrons, make their bets on the Derby and then as always the weather should be pretty good Saturday for the derby so we’re looking forward to that.”

The grandstands will be partially filled again, which is exciting for racing fans. A sign of normalcy amid a time of change.

The biggest race of the year, The Kentucky Derby, is featuring a horse with Upstate New York ties. Hidden Stash is making his Derby debut, representing his Upstate New York ownership. If he wins, his trainer, Vicky Oliver, would be the first female trainer to win the first leg of the Triple Crown.

“We think just getting to this mile and a fourth for him [the horse] and this being everyone’s first chance at running a mile and a fourth, this could be our best race coming up,” Brendan O’Brien, founding partner at BBN Racing, said.

In terms of the odds, Hidden Stash is not a favorite, but he could shock the racing world.


“Hidden Stash is going to be a giant long shot, so that makes it even more fun. The Kentucky Derby is a race that can fall into anybody’s lap due to anything that can happen in a 20-horse-field,” Risi added.

An underdog hoping to take it all at Churchill Downs.

To watch The Kentucky Derby, tune in Saturday, May 1 starting at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports. The race will be aired on WETM 18 News at 6 p.m.

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