by James Witherite, Tioga Downs racing media
Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs announce a new format for the 2014 Drivers’ Championship, scheduled to take place on a pair of marquee race days at both New York courses.
The first round will take place at Vernon Downs on Friday, August 29, along with the $200,000e Crawford Farms Open Trot and the Zweig Memorial Trot for three-year-olds. The second round is slated for Monday, September 1--three days later--at Tioga Downs, where the Drivers’ Championship will share the spotlight with the Cane Pace, the Shady Daisy, and a preliminary leg of the Miss Versatility series for distaff trotters.
Past years have seen the six top money-winning drivers in North America and a sponsor’s exemption join the leading driver from both Tioga and Vernon, but the 2014 Drivers’ Championship will implement a new means to compile the nine-driver field.
This year, the leading drivers (by wins) at Tioga and Vernon will be joined by:
- the top Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) circuit driver
- the top Harrah’s Philadelphia/Pocono Downs driver
- the top driver aged 25 or younger
- a sponsor’s exemption
As of right now, the field would be comprised of Jim Marohn, Jr., Chris Lems, Yannick Gingras, David Miller, Tim Tetrick, Sylvain Filion, George Napolitano, Scott Zeron, and the sponsor's exemption. The field will be finalized according to drivers' statistics as of the close of racing on Sunday, August 3.
As in past years, the overall winner takes home $25,000—equivalent to a driver’s commission for winning a $1,000,000 race. Additionally, the leader at the conclusion of the first round wins $10,000.
In addition to a slew of other giveaways and promotions, both tracks will host a Jim Marohn, Jr. bobblehead giveaway in conjuction with the Drivers’ Championship to commemorate last year’s winner. With a healthy lead over Aaron Byron in the Tioga Downs standings, the “Mighty Mite Part Two” is poised to defend his title.