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      Harness racing is back at Vernon Downs for the 2013 season

      Opening night of harness racing at Vernon Downs went off without a hitch despite some light rain throughout the evening. This year marks the track's 60th anniversary in business.

      The evening kicked off with the singing of the National Anthem sung by students from the Williams Wettel Elementary school in Vernon.

      For many of tonight's attendees, being a part of opening night has become a life long tradition.

      "I have been coming to this track since I was a little kid," Kenny Mariano of Utica said. "I love the animals, I love to watch the horse's, they are beautiful animals."

      As the bugle was blown to mark the start of the first race, many spectators came out from underneath over hangs and got up close to the track for the best view.

      For attendees like Nicola DeCarlo of Syracuse, the races are not just about gambling. "I have seen a lot of my friends here for years and years, I have been glad to see them all the years," he said. "It's my favorite, you know what I mean? It's like gambling in the wind, it don't matter if you win or lose."

      The rain fell on and off throughout the evening but that didn't stop anyone from having a good time.

      "No the rain doesn't change the people, no matter the rain or snow, people will gamble no matter what," said DeCarlo. "Sometimes the people don't want to go outside because they don't want to get wet, but the people with a lot of enthusiasm, they go outside and look at the race and don't care if they get wet or not."

      "It's just exciting to see them get to that line and struggle to be the first horse," said Mariano. "I just like to support my community and do the things that help our economy, so this is our track and I want to be here to support it."

      Vernon Downs will operate on Friday and Saturday nights only through May 4th. Thursday programs will be added May 9th. Vernon's 90 card campaign will continue through November 2nd.