Nichols. N.Y. -- While Friday (June 17) evening's racing program at Tioga Downs will feature camels and ostriches in addition to horses, the main point of interest will be State Treasurer's defense of Sunday (June 19) afternoon's $179,000 Roll With Joe free-for-all pacing event.
Despite being winless in six starts so far this year, the 7-year-old Real Desire entire seeks to defend his title in the Southern Tier after his jaw-dropping 1:47.2 track-record effort in last year's renewal of the marquee pacing event at Tioga. David Miller is listed to drive the 30-time winner for trainer Dr. Ian Moore and owners Sally and Paul MacDonald.
A quartet of other millionaires are slated to line up, including Steve Elliott trainee McWicked and a trio of Ron Burke trainees in All Bets Off, Take It Back Terry, and Limelight Beach--three-quarters of a four-horse entry.
McWicked, a lunging third to Evenin of Pleasure in the $115,500 Molson Pace at Western Fair, makes his fourth start of the season after a stout chasing effort behind Mel Mara's scintillating 1:47 mile at the Meadowlands two weeks ago. Tim Tetrick is nominated to drive the 2014 Breeders Crown champion.
All Bets Off, runner-up to Bit of a Legend N in the $609,000 Levy Final at Yonkers and runner-up to Wiggle It Jiggleit in the Battle of Lake Erie at Northfield, has been forced to race from off the pace of late given a string of outside and second-row post draws. The 5-year-old Bettor's Delight entire gets some relief with an inside draw, and Matt Kakaley is nominated to drive.
Also looking to upend the defending champion is Rockeyed Optimist (Brett Miller listed), who drew off to a 10-length win in last week's Open at Tioga on the Graduate undercard. While he trails the septet in terms of career earnings, the 5-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding reeled off eight wins so far this year, mostly against top-level company at the Meadowlands and Dover.
Post time for Sunday's 11-race card is 1:30 p.m. Eastern.
Friday marks the end of a three-year hiatus for camel and ostrich races at Tioga Downs. The camels and ostriches, from Hedrick's Animal Farm in Kansas, will compete in the early part of the card, as they do at many events nationwide. Post time on Friday and Saturday evenings is slated for 6:30 p.m. Eastern.