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History of

the Yonkers

Harness Race Track

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Yonkers Raceway in Yonkers, New York

Yonkers Raceway is one of the East Coast’s most popular
harness racing facilities. Located at Central and Yonkers Avenues,
Yonkers, New York, it has been the home of the historic Empire
City Trotting Club since 1899. It is still one of today’s most
preeminent attractions in the tri-state area.

Yonkers Raceway hosts the annual New York Night of Champions
which is the culmination of the multi-million-dollar New York
Sires Stakes (NYSS) program. The race showcases the "best of the
best" among 2- and 3-year olds of both genders and gaits. The New
York Night of Champions began at Yonkers Raceway in 1991 and has
been hosted there ever since.

A brief History of Yonkers Raceway

• In 1899, the track opened as Empire City Trotting Club. It was
built at a cost of US $780,000 by copper magnate William H. Clark
and grocery tycoon James Butler; the actual construction was done
by Seth Griffin. Opening day, September 4, drew 12,000 patrons.

• The track was dark from 1900 to 1906 but reopened in 1907
offering thoroughbred racing. It would become a fixture up to
1942. Major stakes such as the Empire City and Westchester
Handicaps attracted the top runners of the era, including
Seabiscuit, Discovery, and Questionnaire.

• Pari-mutuel wagering was legalized in 1940. The Westchester
track was enlarged and improved at a cost of $600,000. A new
building for pari-mutuel machines was created at the end of the

• Harness racing returned in 1943, where the Hambletonian was
held that year. Volo Song, with Ben White at the controls, won
the prestigious event.

• In 1950, the track took on major renovations under direction of
William H. Cane, the 'Father of the Hambletonian'. The facility
was renamed Yonkers Raceway. A half-mile oval replaced its
one-mile predecessor. The venue reopened April 27, 1950 to 21,178
patrons who wagered $688,009. Yonkers achieved the first $1
million handle in trotting history on May 20, 1950. Crowds
averaged 14,766 and wagered $688,335 per night over 73 programs
that year.

• In 1954, Yonkers Raceway became the first harness facility to
top $2 million in handle in a single night.

• In 1955, the Trotting Triple Crown originated with the Yonkers
Trot. The Trot conceived to complement the Hambletonian and
Kentucky Futurity. The first Cane Pace was also held in that same

• In 1962, Yonkers Raceway became the first harness track to top
the $3 million handle mark for a single night. It achieved this
mark on the night of November 30. A crowd of 35,677 wagered an
amazing $3,191,020 on that unforgettable evening.

• On December 15, 1969, Yonkers Raceway achieved its highest ever
single-night handle -- $3,220,686.

• In 1990, the 'Hubless Rail' consisting of two-foot Styrofoam
pylons, was installed at Yonkers on September 10.

• In 1993, Silver Almahurst (Jim Morrill Jr.) set a world record
on a half-mile track by capturing the George Morton Levy Memorial
Final on April 24 in a sizzling 1:50:4. American Winner (Ron
Pierce) set a new Yonkers Trot record on July 10 by capturing the
first jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown in 1:56:2. This mark
also set a new Yonkers Raceway track record. On August 14, the
USA's Giant Force captured the 35th International Trot in 2:27, a
world record for the mile and 1/4 distance.

• In 1996, Yonkers Raceway "stretched the stretch", elongating
the homestretch by 50 percent from 440 feet to its present 660
• In 1997, Yonkers Raceway underwent a dramatic facelift. That
same year, Western Dreamer won the Raceway's final Cane Pace en
route to capturing the sport's first Pacing Triple Crown since
Ralph Hanover some 14 years earlier.

• In 1998, driver Walter Case Jr. won 978 races at Yonkers,
smashing the record for the most wins by one driver at one track
in a single year. Case's 1,076 total wins also set a
single-season standard.

• In 1999, Yonkers Raceway celebrated its centennial with grand

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