Located in the heart of the beautiful Finger Lakes region of New York, known nationally for its abundant wineries, recreational activities and spectacular vistas, Finger Lakes Casino & Racetrack has developed into a favorite stop for local residents and the thousands of tourists who visit the area annually.
Finger Lakes has seen some of the greatest jockeys and Thoroughbreds in the history of the sport grace its grounds, including Hall of Fame riders Angel Cordero, Pat Day, Julie Krone and Bill Shoemaker. On September 24, 1978, Steve Cauthen, fresh off guiding Affirmed to a Triple Crown sweep in 1978, attracted a crowd of 11,030 that wagered a single-day, on-track record of $765,580.
No appearance was more exciting than Funny Cide’s run in the $100,000 Wadsworth Memorial Handicap on July 4, 2007. The first ever Kentucky Derby winner to race at Finger Lakes did so in style charging from behind and pulling away down the stretch to win in what later turned out to be the final race of his distinguished career. More than 11,000 were on hand that day, the largest crowd since Finger Lakes’ inaugural season in 1962.
Fio Rito, however, stands above all others in Finger Lakes racing lore. In 1981, Fio Rito, a locally-based horse who was named New York State Horse of the Year in 1980, stepped into the national spotlight by winning the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga. Fio Rito dominated at Finger Lakes throughout his career, winning 19 of 27 starts. Upon his passing in 1996 at the age of 21, Fio Rito was buried in the Finger Lakes infield.
Since 2004, Finger Lakes has transformed itself into a multi-faceted entertainment destination. Following the addition of video gaming machines in February 2004, the property has experienced a tremendous resurgence, with more than 2 million visitors enjoying gaming and racing annually.
An expansion in 2013 will enhance several amenities by including more gaming space, a 102-seat restaurant and a feature bar/lounge.
Highlights from the 2012 campaign include Wilfredo Rohena capturing the riding title with 138 wins. It marked the first time since 2001 anyone other than John Davila, Jr. claimed the top jockey crown. Davila finished second with 129 wins. Chris Englehart continued his dominance of the trainer standings, winning his 10th consecutive title, and 12th overall.
Finger Lakes will host several stakes during 2013, headlined by the New York Derby in July. The Derby is the second leg of the Big Apple Triple for New York-bred 3-year-olds, which begins with the Mike Lee Handicap at Belmont Park in late June, and concludes with the Albany Handicap at Saratoga in mid-August. The New York Breeders’ Futurity is also a highlight in September. In 2008 the Futurity featured the largest purse in the history of the track ($318,525).