Elmira/Corning Regional Airport

Tioga Downs Camel & Ostrich Race

Tioga Downs Race

NICHOLS (WENY)---It wasn't a typical weekend at Tioga Downs.

Yes, there was horse racing but some other animals raced for first place- camels and ostriches.

Self-proclaimed animal love, Jill Crepin, said, "My favorite part of the day was basically seeing the ostrich race, they were hillarious."

Horse trainer, Paul Bernardo said Jill really loved the race. "She was really excited because the girl ostrich won," he said.

More than 3,000 fans came out to Saturday night to enjoy the unique racing experience- a first for Nichols, New York.

Tioga Downs Vice President, Jason Settlemoir, said, "It's something different and ostriches and camels aren't that prevelant in this part of the world."

The ostrich race was quick. Actually, too quick for our camera but the best part of the rac was that ostriches escaped, sending the trainers into a tizzy and the crowd into a laughing match.

But, the trainer carried the big bird with his two hand into the truck, clearing the track for the next anticipated race.

Settlemoir got the crowd excited, "Come on Nichols, New York. Are you ready for the camel races?"

The 6 foot animals were easier to handle. The camels didn't send trainers running, but Vice President of Tioga Downs might beg to differ.

"I rode one last night at the Meadowlands and I'm out tonight, " he said. "With my athletic abilities that I still posses, I was able to keep myself on the camel but I managed to wrench my back. There is a late rider change cause I tested fate one time and I don't want to test it again."

Settlemoir left it up to the professionals and camel number one came in number one in in the race. Hats off to the winning cowboy who traveled all the way from Kansas, right here to the Twin Tiers.

If you missed the race, the big question here is will Tioga Downs be graced with these rare sights in the future?

"I think it's safe to say we'll be seeing ostrich and camels back here in Nichols, New York," said Settlemoir.