Horse racing could get underway at Tioga Downs in Nichols in a matter of days.

Owner Jeff Gural says he hopes the first qualifying races at the track could be held next Monday.

Races initially would be run without any fans in attendance. Gural said he expected the races would take place in the late afternoon in an effort to get more online exposure when other tracks aren't active.

Speaking on WNBF Radio's Binghamton Now program Wednesday, Gural said things have been especially difficult for those who have had to care for horses with no income during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gural said efforts continue to develop plans for the reopening of the Tioga Downs casino in early July. He said distancing protocols might require the use of every other slot machine and it's possible there would be no table games.

The opening of the Tioga Downs hotel will pose its own set of challenges. Gural said he's planning on a 24-hour period between guests in hotel rooms to give people greater "peace of mind."

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