Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dan Patch Award Winners Announced

Courtesy of Harness Racing Communications:

Rock N Roll Heaven finished his racing career a month ago, but added another win to his resume Tuesday.

Rock N Roll Heaven, who completed his career with a 10-race win streak that included a world-record performance in the Little Brown Jug, was named harness racing’s best 3-year-old male pacer by the U.S. Harness Writers Association in Dan Patch Award voting revealed Tuesday.

Award-winners were named in 12 age-based divisions for trotters and pacers. The results of USHWA balloting for Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year will be announced at the organization’s annual awards dinner, to be held February 27 at the Marriott in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Other division winners were 2-year-old male trotter Pastor Stephen, 2-year-old male pacer Big Jim, 2-year-old filly trotter Crys Dream, 2-year-old filly pacer See You At Peelers, 3-year-old male trotter Lucky Chucky, 3-year-old filly trotter Bar Slide, 3-year-old filly pacer Put On A Show, older male trotter Enough Talk, older female trotter Buck I St Pat, older male pacer Won The West and older female pacer Dreamfair Eternal.

Buck I St Pat has won three consecutive awards for best older female trotter, joining Moni Maker (1997-2000), Peace Corps (1990-92), Scenic Regal (1987-89) and Fresh Yankee (1969-72) as mares to earn the honor at least three years in a row. Buck I St Pat was named on all 131 ballots returned, making her the only unanimous selection this year.

Enough Talk claimed his second award for best older male trotter; he won previously in 2008. He joins Mr Muscleman (2004-05) and No Sex Please (1990 and 1992) as the only horses to win twice in the last 34 years.

Won The West captured his second consecutive division title as best older male pacer. He joins Mister Big (2007-08) and Red Bow Tie (1998-99) as the only horses to pull off the double in the last 32 years.

Lucky Chucky earned his second straight division crown, having won the 2-year-old male trotter title last season. He is the fourth consecutive trotter to accomplish that feat, following Muscle Hill, Deweycheatumnhowe and Donato Hanover.

Rock N Roll Heaven, the top-ranked horse in the year-end Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, was named on 129 of 131 ballots returned. In addition to the Little Brown Jug, which he won in consecutive heats with back-to-back world-record-equaling 1:49.2 miles, Rock N Roll Heaven’s victories included the Breeders Crown, Tattersalls Pace, Battle of the Brandywine, and Messenger Stakes.

Trained by Bruce Saunders and driven primarily by Daniel Dube, the colt earned $2.15 million, good for the seventh richest season ever for a pacer of any age. He is owned by Frank Bellino.

Among the other award winners, Pastor Stephen won the closest balloting since 1988. He defeated Manofmanymissions by one vote, 56-55. In 1988, Esquire Spur defeated Park Avenue Joe 82.5-82 in voting for 3-year-old male trotter.

See You At Peelers finished the year with 13 wins in 13 races and became only the second 2-year-old filly pacer to win her Dan Patch Award with an undefeated season. My Little Dragon, who was 6-for-6 in 2005, was the first.

Put On A Show won 12 of 16 starts and $1.16 million this year, pushing her career earnings to $1.89 million and setting the record for highest earnings for a filly pacer. Miss Easy held the record, with $1.77 million earned in 1990-91.

Pastor Stephen (56 votes)
Cantab Hall-Gala Dream-Enjoy Lavec
Breeder: Brittany Farms
Owners: Christina Takter, John Fielding, Brittany Farms
Trainer: Jimmy Takter Driver: Yannick Gingras
Races: 11-6-4-0 Purses: $653,748 Mark: 1:56 at Mohawk
Top wins: $485,000 William Wellwood Memorial; $98,489 Champlain

Crys Dream (94 votes)
Taurus Dream-Crysta’s Image-Balanced Image
Breeder: Reve Avec Moi Dreamwithme
Owners: Reve Avec Moi Dreamwithme, Deo Volente Farms, TLP Stable
Trainer: Henrik Hollsten Drivers: Jean Dubois, Luc Ouellette
Races: 8-7-0-0 Purses: $584,392 Mark: 1:54.3 at Woodbine
Top wins: $502,000 Goldsmith Maid; $452,020 Peaceful Way

Lucky Chucky (108 votes)
Windsong’s Legacy-Aerobics-Muscles Yankee
Breeder: Perretti Farms
Owners: SGS Partners, Perretti Racing Stable, Lindy Racing Stable
Trainer: Chuck Sylvester Driver: John Campbell
Races: 11-5-3-1 Purses: $1.43 million Mark: 1:50.4 at the Red Mile
Top wins: $970,000 Canadian Trotting Classic; $500,000 Colonial

Bar Slide (69 votes)
Yankee Glide-Marla Bar-Malabar Man
Breeder: Fair Winds Farm
Owners: Fredericka Caldwell, Bluestone Farms
Trainer: Joe Holloway Driver: Tim Tetrick
Races: 14-5-2-1 Purses: $568,529 Mark: 1:52.4 at the Meadowlands
Top wins: $750,000 Hambletonian Oaks; $70,500 Bluegrass

Enough Talk (73 votes)
Enjoy Lavec-Fashion Setter-Donerail
Breeder: Perretti Farms
Owners: Peter Kleinhans Racing, Jerry Silva
Trainer: Peter Kleinhans Driver: Ron Pierce
Races: 17-5-4-1 Purses: 641,022 Mark: 1:51 at the Meadowlands
Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $235,750 Titan Cup

Buck I St Pat (131 votes; unanimous)
Jailhouse Jesse-Name It Something-Speed In Action
Breeder: Ron Fuller
Owners: Howard Taylor, Edwin Gold, Abraham Basen, Ron Fuller
Trainer: Ron Burke Driver: Tim Tetrick
Races: 19-9-3-4 Purses: $715,135 Mark: 1:51 at the Meadowlands
Top wins: $340,470 Armbro Flight; 250,000 Breeders Crown

Big Jim (120 votes)
Western Ideal-Bold Pink-Big Towner
Breeder: Hanover Shoe Farms
Owner: Jim Carr
Trainer: James “Friday” Dean Driver: Phil Hudon
Races: 10-6-1-2 Purses: $827,204 Mark: 1:49.1 at Woodbine (world record)
Top wins: $709,000 Governor’s Cup; $600,000 Breeders Crown

See You At Peelers (99 votes)
Bettor's Delight-West Side Glory-Western Ideal
Breeder: Christina Takter
Owners: Christina Takter, John Fielding, Jim Fielding
Trainer: Jimmy Takter Driver: Jim Morrill Jr.
Races: 13-13-0-0 Purses: $581,649 Mark: 1:51.3 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs
Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $200,000 New York Sire Stakes championship

Rock N Roll Heaven (129 votes)
Rocknroll Heaven-Artistic Vision-Artsplace
Breeders: Steve Stewart, Charles “Cotton” Nash, Julie Nash, Francene Nash
Owner: Frank Bellino
Trainer: Bruce Saunders Driver: Daniel Dube
Races: 21-16-2-1 Purses: $2.15 million Mark: 1:47.3 at the Meadowlands
Top wins: $604,100 Little Brown Jug; 604,000 Tattersalls; $500,000 Breeders Crown

Put On A Show (118 votes)
Rocknroll Hanover-Stienam’s Place-Artsplace
Breeders: Green Mountain Farms, Kentuckiana Farms General Partnership
Owners: Craig Henderson, Richard Young, Joanne Young
Trainer: Chris Ryder Driver: Tim Tetrick
Races: 16-12-3-0 Purses: $1.16 million Mark: 1:49.4 at the Red Mile
Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $350,000 Valley Forge

Won The West (90 votes)
Western Hanover-Gabrielle-Dragon’s Lair
Breeder: Fair Winds Farm
Owners: Strollin Stable, William Robinson, James Koehler
Trainer: Ron Burke Driver: David Miller
Races: 19-7-8-3 Purses: $1.36 million Mark: 1:48.1 at the Meadowlands
Top wins: $748,800 Canadian Pacing Derby; $500,000 Breeders Crown

Dreamfair Eternal (123 votes)
Camluck-J Cs Nathalie-Flight Of Fire
Breeders: John Lamers, Mary Lamers
Owner: John Lamers
Trainer: Patrick Fletcher Driver: Randy Waples
Races: 22-16-4-1 Purses: $925,575 Mark: 1:49.4 at Tioga Downs
Top wins: $364,560 Milton; $300,000 Breeders Crown

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Muscle Hill to be held at Vernon Downs in 2011

Vernon Downs is proud to announce one of its newest sponsors for one of the top Open mare trotting events in North America to its 2011 stakes schedule in The Muscle Hill.

Recently known as The Conway Hall, The Muscle Hill Syndicate has stepped up to sponsor one of the top mare events for an estimated purse of $200,000.

“We are very pleased to be involved with the management of Vernon Downs in sponsoring this event," said Syndicate Manager Mike Klau of Southwind Farms. "Vernon has always been a great place to race trotters and we feel that this event always showcases the world’s best and that’s something that we felt that we could support.”

Recent winners of the event include World Champion Passionate Glide in 2007, Falls For You in 2008 in 1:53.1, which stands as the current stakes record, Multiple World Champion Buck I St Pat in 2009 and Yursa Hanover and Dan Dube in 2010.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Muscle Hill Syndicate to showcase the best of the best trotting mares in the world for The Muscle Hill in 2011," said Jason M. Settlemoir, VP of Racing and Simulcast. "Muscle Hill himself was a multiple World Champion and was undoubtedly one of the best trotters to step foot on a racetrack. We are very proud that his name will live on in the industry, and will be a major stakes event at Vernon Downs.”

The Muscle Hill is scheduled for Friday, September 2nd, 2011 at Vernon Downs and will be co-featured by the $200,000 counterpart for Open Trotters, The Credit Winner.

For more information on Vernon Downs please visit us online at www.vernondowns.com.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Jeff Gural Responds to New York City OTB Closing

Jeffrey Gural is the chairman of American Racing and Entertainment, the owner of Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs.

"As the owner of Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs and a member of the Creditors Committee for OTB, I feel that I have to respond to the statement issued by the Empire State Harness Horsemen’s Alliance which claims to represent almost all of the horsemen in New York State. I am proud to say that they certainly do not represent the horsemen at Tioga Downs.

As you know, this group vigorously opposed the legislation that would have kept OTB open and now seems relatively unconcerned with the fact that it is closing. I want to make it clear to the industry that the closing of OTB is a disastrous development for our industry.

While I totally agree that OTB as it has been run is not a well oiled machine, I think that everyone involved recognizes that in order for it to survive long-term it has to go in a new direction and open the type of facilities that we have seen opened in New Jersey and appear to be quite successful.

Unfortunately, from an economic standpoint, the closing of New York City OTB will be disastrous. I expect that the breeding fund will lose approximately $1,500,000 and that the racetracks will lose an additional $11,000,000, 50% of which goes to horsemen in the form of purses. In total this represents a loss of approximately $7,000,000 in purses and breeding funds statewide.

Worse yet, sometime next year Aqueduct will open and that will take business away from Yonkers which will probably cost an additional $1,500,000 to the breeding fund in 2012 and cause purses at Yonkers to decline by about 20%.

Making matters even worse, the likelihood is that the other OTB’s will also eventually fail and the head of District 37, the largest union in the state that represents the thousand workers who lost their jobs yesterday at Christmas time, assured me that the union will do everything they can to insure that no legislation is passed in the future that will help our industry or the other OTB’s.

That does not bode well for the future of horse racing.

Another negative has been the numerous newspaper editorials written on this subject which all make reference to the fact that horse racing is a dying business and should no longer be subsidized by the taxpayers. The amazing part of all of this is that the legislation this group opposed would actually have increased purses statewide by about 10% and kept the breeding fund where it currently is.

All in all, the events earlier this week, in my opinion, are an unmitigated disaster but apparently our largest breeding farms and all but the Tioga Harness Horsemen’s Association disagree. Is it any wonder that our sport is where we are today?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Vernon Downs/Tioga Downs Racing Handle Comparison

Tioga Downs and the Southern Tier Harness Horsemen’s Association (STHHA) opted to try a lower takeout rate initiative for the 2010 race season, where all takeout rates were lowered to New York state minimums.

The results of the takeout initiative were promising compared to industry standards.

Where most other handles are dropping, the Tioga Downs handle showed an increase of 7.8% over 2009.

Vernon Downs’ takeout rates stayed the same as in 2009.

The 2010 handle showed a 5.6% decrease.

The live on track handle for the Vernon Downs season was only down just under 1%, but the export number plummeted at Vernon Downs in 2010 with a 9.5% decrease in export compared to 2009.

The end result of the takeout rate reduction at Tioga showed an actual revenue loss in 2010 compared to 2009, but management feels that as part of repairing our broken business model in harness racing, a takeout reduction is worth exploring.

“The horseplayers have spoken and they want more value on the product they are betting on," said Jason M. Settlemoir, VP of Racing and Simulcast. "It’s past time to look at our business model and make adjustments, and we have to begin with the most important piece of the puzzle, the bettors. With the high amount of product available for bettors to wager on they are going to go where they are getting the best value and we believe that we are providing that for them at Tioga.”

“Hopefully we will someday also provide our customer with a better product by keeping our stars racing as we recently saw by the dramatic increase in news coverage and TV ratings when Zenyatta raced in the Breeders’ Cup."

For more information on Tioga Downs or Vernon Downs please visit us online at www.tiogadowns.com or www.vernondowns.com.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Vernon Downs’ 2010 Year in Review

Vernon Downs wrapped up its 2010 race season this past weekend in Vernon, New York for the 57th time in track history.

A total of 13 track records highlighted a 90 day race meet in which the all age trotting track record was re-written by Lucky Jim and Andy Miller on September 17th in the Credit Winner Open Trot in 1:52.

Stonebridge Wish posted the fastest mile of the season with a 1:49.4 score on June 5 that equaled him for the fastest mile in Vernon Downs’ history.

Yursa Hanover captured the fourth edition of the Conway Hall Trot as she upset defending Champion Buck I St Pat in 1:54.2 with driver Dan Dube.

Also highlighting the 2010 stakes schedule and kicking off the sire stakes in New York was the Empire Breeders’ Classic at Vernon Downs for sophomore trotters.

Southwind Samurai and Pat Berry captured the 2010 edition for sophomore trotting fillies in stakes record time of 1:54.4.

The Bjorn Noren trainee upset Impressive Kemp, to take home the lion’s share of the $234,900 purse.

In the $235,900 Empire Breeders’ Classic Final for 3-year old colt trotters, Strong Hope and Ron Pierce upset a field of nine at 15-1 to post a 1:55.2 victory for trainer Noel Daley.

Tracy Brainard was crowned 2010 Trainer of the year on Saturday night, while Jimmy Whittemore defended his Driver of the year title to make it two in a row for the young Maine native.

“We would like to thank all the fans who supported us for the 2010 race season," said Jason M. Settlemoir, VP of Racing and Simulcast. "We continue to bring in some of the top horses and drivers in the country for many marquee races during the heart of the stakes season. We look forward to another successful year in 2011 and wish everyone the best in the offseason."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

2010 Racing Season Concludes

Touch Of The Past saved the best for last on closing night to prevail in 1:51.2 during Saturday’s $13,200 featured ninth race at Vernon Downs.

Competing in the final Miracle Mile-1 pace of Vernon’s 57th season, Touch Of The Past advanced from fourth at the half to second at the top of the stretch, and then closed with a flurry to defeat the on-rushing Four One One by a head in a career-best time of 1:51.2.

Joe Nassimos did the teaming for veteran trainer Howard Okusko, Sr. as the 4-year-old son of Village Jove-My Place earned his second win in succession, seventh at the 90-card meeting and 16th all-time.

Rocco Manzi and Paul Tandlmayer own the career-winner of nearly $75,000.

Nassimos and driver Claude Huckabone, III each recorded three wins during Saturday’s 10-race program, while trainer Adam Wahl posted two tallies.

"I would like to thank the racing fans, employees and horsemen of Vernon Downs for making the 2010 racing season a success,” said Jason Settlemoir, the track’s regional vice-president for racing and simulcasting. “Vernon Downs continues to strive to bring top quality harness racing action to its fans in Central New York, and this year alone we set thirteen track records at the home of the Miracle Mile. We are already looking forward to the 2011 racing season in the spring with hope and optimism."

The pacer Stonebridge Wish recorded the season’s fastest mile, a 1:49.4 performance on June 5 that tied the fastest mile in Vernon’s history, while Lucky Jim established a 1:52 all-time track trotting standard on Sept. 17.

The pacer Saranac Hanover was the track’s winningest equine with 10 first-place finishes, while Fox Valley Majesty topped all trotters with eight scores.

Jimmy Whittemore successfully defended his dash-winning driving title, while Tracy Brainard was the season’s leading trainer.

Leon Bailey led all provisional reinsman for the second straight season.

DOWNS DOINGS—Vernon’s 57th season covered 90 programs from April 16 through November 20…The pacing mare My Little Dragon set Vernon’s 1:49.4 all-time speed standard in 2008.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Huckabone, III Notches 2,000th Career Win

Touch Of The Past won the $10,800 featured eight event, while 36-year-old local horseman Claude Huckabone, III achieved his 2,000th career driving victory during Saturday night’s 10-race program at Vernon Downs.

Touch Of The Past ($4.70) closed from fourth in the final quarter and displayed the most lick in the lane to record a 1:52.3 victory in Saturday’s top Miracle Mile pacing contest, while Huckabone, son of Vernon veteran Claude Huckabone, Jr., converted a pocket-sitting trip behind his pacer Deau Best into a memorable 1:55.4 triumph in the second session.

Joe Nassimos did the teaming for trainer Howard Okusko, Sr. as betting favorite Touch Of The Past earned his sixth season’s score and 15th lifetime victory.

Rocco Manzi and Paul Tandlmayer own the career-winner of more than $68,000.

Huckabone, who grew up in Vernon’s backstretch and posted his initial driving victory here, realized his 1,000th lifetime win at Monticello Raceway in 2004.

“This is a nice milestone in my chosen career,” said the personable Utica (NY) native. “I’m glad I got this one here at Vernon, where it all began.”

Huckabone, who also finished first with Lu Ann Huckabone’s pacer Willfully in Saturday’s fifth race and the pacer Joan’s Bad Boy, owned by Bennett Velocci and John Alutto, Jr., in the sixth race, increased his win total for the meet to 47.

In addition to Huckabone’s triple, Ruel “Dude” Goodblood, Jr. collected a pair of victories during the track’s 88th program.

DOWNS DOINGS—Huckabone is the owner and trainer of Deau Best…Tioga Thunder, the first youngster to be named by the fans in Tioga Downs’s “Name That Colt” contest a couple of years back, earned his “maiden” victory with owner and trainer Adam Capizzano doing the driving in Saturday’s opening event…The Downs with complete its 57th season with live harness racing next Friday and Saturday nights (Nov. 19 & 20). First post time will be at 6:55 both evenings.

Leading Trainer Brainard Sweeps Friday Co-Features

Keep It Fair displayed speed and stamina while winning Friday night’s $13,200 featured pacing contest in 1:52.4 at Vernon Downs.

With Jack Rice at the controls for trainer Tracy Brainard, Keep It Fair ($2.80) advanced from fourth at the quarter to first before the half, and then kept on digging until she had defeated newcomer Snapper in Friday’s seventh race, the week’s top Miracle Mile contest for female representatives of the lateral gait.

The half-length tally was the third in succession, sixth at the meeting, eighth in 2010 and 10th all-time for the 4-year-old daughter of Art Major-Direct Service, who is shared in ownership by Brainard and Andrew Herzog.

Brainard, this year’s leading trainer after 87 local programs with 67 first-place finishes, also owns and conditions Brick ($18.00), who turned a pocket trip into a 1:56.2 victory in Friday’s $10,800 ninth race, the weekend’s top Miracle Mile trot.

Claude Huckabone, Jr. did the teaming as Brick idled behind the pace-setting Queen Creek until the final furlong, and then rallied to earn a ½-length decision over the mile cutter.

It was the fourth season’s score (all at the Downs) and 30th lifetime win for the 8-year-old son of Conway Hall-Tees.

Defending driving champ Jimmy Whittemore posted three tallies during Friday’s 10-race card, while Leon Bailey, the track’s top provisional reinsman for the second straight season, also secured a pair of first-place finishes.

DOWNS DOINGS—Brainard, who won Vernon’s 2008 training title with a single-season record 101 triumphs, currently leads defending champ Jessica Okusko by 11 wins in this year’s conditioning contest…Whittemore now needs nine victories during the remaining three Vernon programs to retain the dash-winning driving championship that he earned for the first time here last season…Saturday night’s 10-race card, which features the week’s premier Miracle Mile pacing events, will begin at 6:55 p.m…The Downs is offering live harness racing on Friday and Saturday nights through November 20.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bailey's Upset Win in Feature Caps Three Bagger

The streaking pacer Four One One pulled off an upset victory in Saturday night’s $12,000 featured 10th race at Vernon Downs.

Fresh off a Miracle Mile-2 class triumph here last Saturday, Four One One ($12.80) took charge in this week’s MM-1 contest at the half and continued on to a 1:52.4 triumph.

Leon Bailey, the meet’s top provisional driver for the second straight season, earned his initial triple of the current Vernon campaign after guiding his 8-year-old charge to a 1-1/2 score over Daley Deposit Only.

Saturday’s score was the third locally this season and the 20th all-time for the gray son of Sealed N Delivered-Jammin Jenna, who is owned by Robert Siemski.

Wayne Hughes conditions the career-winner of more than $335,000.

Bailey, whose win total after 86 programs is 33, also captured the track’s early double behind the trotter Annuity Hanover and pacer Speedy Valentine, who is trained by Hughes.

Veteran driver Joe Nassimos also collected three wins during Saturday’s 12-race card, while provisional reinsman Frank Davis earned his initial driving double at the meet.

DOWNS DOINGS—Saturday’s “trifecta” was also the first of the track’s 57th season for Nassimos…The Downs is currently offering live harness racing at 6:55 on Friday and Saturday nights through November 20.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Vernon's Top Trot To Scorpion Moon

Scorpion Moon captured the $13,200 featured trot, while PW Ivory Grin grabbed top honors in the weekend’s top female pace on Friday night at Vernon Downs.

With Jack Rice sitting in for trainer Tracy Brainard, Scorpion Moon wired six rivals in 1:56.3 to take home first place honours in Friday’s eighth event, the week’s Miracle Mile-1 contest for disciples of the diagonal gait.

While chalking up his second local score, the nine-year-old son of Armbro Scorpion-Angie’s Nugget also recorded his 15th season’s victory and 75th all-time.

Brainard, the meet’s top race-winning trainer with 65 first-place finishes, owns the career winner of more than $844,000 along with Andrew Herzog.

PW Ivory Grin’s come-from-behind tally came in the $10,800 co-feature 10th event.

Claude Huckabone, Jr. did the catch-driving for part-owner and trainer Arnie Marks as the four-year-old daughter of Grinfromeartoear-Ivory Tower rallied from fourth in the early going and closed from second in the homestretch to post a 1:56.3 victory, her fourth of the meet and sixth all-time.

William Williams, Jr. also owns the lifetime winner of $65,520.

Racing continues Saturday night with a special 7:15pm post time following the conclusion of the Breeders' Cup simulcast from Churchill Downs.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Vernon Downs Post Time Change

Vernon Downs will be moving its post time on Saturday, November 6th from 6:55 pm to 7:15 pm to accommodate for the Breeders' Cup from Churchill Downs.

A 12-race card has been scheduled for Saturday night, and the weekend racing action at Vernon Downs will begin on Friday, November 5th at 6:55 pm.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Photo Finish in Thursday Vernon Downs Feature

Keep It Fair used a head bob in the final stride to earn a slim victory in Thursday night’s $12,000 featured 10th race at Vernon Downs.

Sixth (and last) at the ¾-mile mark, Keep It Fair ($22.40) staged a late rally in the homestretch that eventually gained her a head victory over All Spirit in the week’s top Miracle Mile contest for female pacers.

Diva Delight, last week’s winner in this class, finished third.

Thursday’s 1:53.1 career-best performance resulted in the fifth season’s score and the eight lifetime win for the bay daughter of Art Major-Direct Service, who increased her lifetime earnings to $111,325.

Driver Jimmy Whittemore owns the 4-year-old mare, while his father, Dennis, does the conditioning.

Whittemore, the track’s defending driving champ, collected three tallies during Thursday’s 12-race card to increase his win total to 114 after 82 programs.

Ray Fisher, Jr. also posted a driving triple, while two-time local provisional champ Chris Lems logged a driving double.

Claude Huckabone, III secured his 1,992nd career victory after steering the Dee Johnson-trained pacer Rosa Villa, owned by Donald Stockwell and Steven Guido, to a 1:55.2 tally in Thursday’s seventh race.

DOWNS DOINGS—The 2-year-old filly pacer Skylark Hanover improved her summary line to 2-1-2 after eight starts following a career-best 1:53.4 triumph in Thursday’s second race. Whittemore drove for trainer Richard Mathurin, Jr. and the Ram Racing Stables…Top trainer Tracy Brainard raised her win total to 63 after the pacer Town Gigolo, which she owns along with Andrew Herzog, won the sixth race with Jack Rice doing the steering…Friday’s 12-race card, which includes the week’s top Miracle Mile trotting events, will begin at 6:55 p.m.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Brothers Both Win on Friday Night at Vernon Downs

Newcomer Lord Burghley made his first Vernon Downs venture a winning one in Friday night’s $12,000 featured ninth race.

With Jack Rice doing the driving for owner and trainer Tracy Brainard, Lord Burghley ($4.40) raced on the lead throughout the week’s Miracle Mile-1 contest for representatives of the diagonal gait and drew off in the lane for a three-length victory.

The career-best 1:54.2 performance resulted in the second win in succession, the sixth this season and the 16th overall for the 9-year-old bay son of Armbro Invasion-Lady Of Substance, who raised his career winnings to nearly $129,000.

Mystic Splendor continued his winning ways in the evening’s MM-2 confrontation, posting a front striding 1:56.3 victory in race eight that became his third first-place finish in succession and fifth in 2010.

Howard Okusko, Jr. handled the reins for trainer Jessica Okusko, who owns the 4-year-old trotting horse with Kenneth Finnerty.

In somewhat of a unique occurrence, Mystic Splendor’s older full-brother Electronic Chip (Giant Hit-Mystic Virtue) captured Friday’s seventh session with a fast-closing 1:58.1 mile.

Okusko also did the steering for his wife, Jessica, the 7-year-old gelding’s lessee.

In addition to the Okuskos, driver Jimmy Whittemore also collected a pair for wins during Friday’s 11-race program.

DOWNS DOINGS—Whittemore trails leading driver Josh Marks 125-110 with 10 programs remaining in the track’s 57th season…Brainard enjoys a 62-54 lead over Jessica Okusko in current training triumphs… Frank Davis earned his fourth provisional driving victory at the meet after a 1:54.2 effort behind his pacer Art’s Image in Friday’s fourth event…Saturday night’s 12-race card, which features the week’s top MM pacing events, will begin at 6:55 p.m. and include a Pumpkin Patch giveaway.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Vernon Downs Announces Purse Increase

Vernon Downs is proud to announce that, due to the increased volume in slot play at the Vernon Downs Casino, which is up 12%, the purses as of last weekend have been raised 20% and will continue at this level through the end of the meet.

The 2010 Vernon Downs race meet comes to a close on Saturday, November 20th and races Thursday, Friday, and Saturday through the end of October and then switches to a Friday, Saturday schedule in November.

All post times for Vernon Downs are at 6:55 pm (EDT), and more information on the Casino, Hotel, and Racetrack can be found online at www.vernondowns.com.

Diva Delight Captures Top Miracle Mile Test

Diva Delight delivered a front-striding 1:55.1 victory in Thursday night’s $12,000 featured 10th event at Vernon Downs.

On a raw, rainy fall evening and over a good track, Diva Delight ($7.90) cut out fractions of :27.2, :57.4 and 1:26.2 en route to a one-length victory over Won Night Stand in the week’s top Miracle Mile test for female pacers.

The favorite, All Spirit, finished third.

Thursday’s bold-going tally was the third at the meet, the fifth this season and the 26th lifetime for the 5-year-old daughter of Bettor’s Delight-Mallbreaker, who increased her all-time bankroll to $241,296.

Ray Fisher, Jr. did the driving for trainer Jim Perry and owners William J. and Jack M. Heinz.

Driver Claude Huckabone, III teamed the first-place finishers in races four through six to secure his third triple of the 79-program local campaign, and increase his career win total to 1,988.

Fisher won the eighth event to record his initial double during the track’s 57th meeting.

Gary Gibson, 20-year-old son of Vernon’s late three-time dash-winning driving champion of the same name, earned his first pari-mutuel victory after he steered Geoffrey Zimmer’s pacer Pounne De Luxe to a 1:56.4 triumph in Thursday’s first race.

DOWNS DOINGS—Leading trainer Tracy Brainard hiked her win total to 61 after her pacer Bilmar Diva prevailed in Thursday’s 12th event…Friday’s 11-race program, which features the weekend’s top Miracle Mile trotting races, will begin at 6:55 p.m.

Monday, October 18, 2010

4 Juveniles Crowned Late Closer Champions at Vernon Downs

The 2-year-olds Mosee Terror, Dreamy Dawn, Winona and Forty Three were each crowned New York Sires Stakes late-closing champions, while another state-bred titleist, Blacktuxwhitesocks, captured Friday night’s top division of the Miracle Mile trot at Vernon Downs.

With Chris Lems driving for trainer Paul Reid and the Baron Racing Stable, Mosee Terror turned in a solid six length score in Friday’s $30,000 fourth race, the Empire state’s late-closing final for freshman male pacers.

The career-best 1:56 tally marked the third straight victory for the bay son of Western Terror-Shimmer, who improved his season’s summary to 4-1-2 and earnings to $40,474 after nine starts.

Lems was also at the controls when Dream Dawn delivered an 8-1/2-length triumph in Friday’s $30,000 fifth event, the late-closing final for 2-year-old filly trotters.

The 2:01.3 mile resulted in the fourth straight victory for the brown daughter of Dream Vacation-Divine Eos, who now sports a record of seven wins and a second-place finish in 10 trips to the track.

Ed Lohmeyer conditions the winner of $109,441 for Lohmeyer LLC.

With Howard Okusko, Jr. teaming for his dad, trainer Howard, Sr., and the Perry Racing Stable, Winona became the fastest freshman trotting gelding at the meet following a personal best 2:01.4 triumph in Friday’s $30,000 sixth session, the late-closing title test for first year male trotters.

It was the second win in succession for the bay son of Dream Vacation-Teola, who has chalked up a 4-1-1 performance line and earnings of $39,646 in six starts.

Forty Three completed the frosh late-closing finals with a 1:57.1 showing in Friday’s $30,000 seventh session that equaled her career win mark.

Jimmy Whittemore did the steering for trainer Adam Capizzano and Indigo Racing LLC as the bay daughter of American Ideal-Lake Hills Susie defeated eight female pacing rivals en route to her seventh win (plus three seconds) and earnings of $40,044 after 11 appearances.

Fresh off a 1:56.3 victory in the $200,000 NYSS championship race for sophomore male trotters at Yonkers on Sept. 25, Blacktuxwhitesocks defeated four opponents with a 1:57 effort in Friday’s $12,000 10th contest.

The talented brown son of Credit Winner-True Blue Victory has recorded 10 wins, a second-place finish, three thirds, plus winnings of more than $295,800 in 15 season’s showings.

Okusko, Jr. handled the career-winner of $455,940 for his wife, trainer Jessica Okusko, and Wanda Polisseni’s Purple Haze Stables.

Okusko, Jr. recorded four first-place finishes during Friday’s 12-race card, while his wife was credited with three training triumphs.

Chris Lems turned in a driving double, while owner/trainer Scott West visited the winner’s circle on two occasions during the track’s 77th program.

DOWNS DOINGS—Scott’s Cool Touch became the second-winningest trotter at the meet following a 1:59 trip over a sloppy track in Friday’s third race. It was his seventh score at the Downs this year. Fox Valley Majesty leads the division with eight trotting triumphs…Defending training champ Okusko is currently second in conditioning credits with 50 first-place finishes. Tracy Brainard leads this category with 59 wins…Saturday night’s 12-race card, which features the week’s top Miracle Mile pacing events, will begin at 6:55 pm.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Happy Birthday Jimmy!

Defending driving champ Jimmy Whittemore celebrated his 28th birthday with five first-place finishes, including a 1:55.2 triumph with Keep It Fair in Thursday night’s $10,800 featured 10th event at Vernon Downs.

After registering earlier victories with Streeter, Lovely Magic and Final Time, owner Whittemore kept Keep It Fair ($3.60) back in fourth place while Won Night Stand led the field though the three-quarter mark in 1:27.3 on a sloppy track.

After moving up to second in the final bend, the Maine native urged his 4-year-old charge to the front entering the homestretch and they drew off for a five-length score in the weekend’s top Miracle Mile test for female pacers.

It was the fifth season’s score and seventh lifetime tally for the bay daughter of Art Major-Direct Service, who raised her lifetime winnings to $104,365. Whittemore’s father, Dennis, does the conditioning.

Whittemore went on to capture the 11th race with Lekka to record his second five-win outing at the 76-program meeting.

Drivers Ruel “Dude” Goodblood, Jr. and Claude Huckabone, Jr. also posted a pair of victories during Thursday’s 12-race card.

DOWNS DOINGS—Whittemore’s previous five-win outing was Sept. 18…Only leading driver Josh Marks has won more races (seven) on a single Vernon program this season…Whittemore currently trails Marks by 20 wins with 14 programs remaining in the track’s 57th season…Fox Valley Majesty’s win in Thursday’s ninth event (Huckabone steering for owner and leading trainer Tracy Brainard) was his eighth at the meet, tops among trotters and tying him with the pacers Up Front Rudy and Saranac Hanover for most equine tallies to date…Friday night’s 12-race line-up includes four $30,000 New York late-closing championship finals for 2-year-olds. First post will be at 6:55 p.m.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Freshman Late Closer Finals on Tap Friday Night at Vernon Downs

Four $30,000 New York Bred late closer finals will highlight a 12-race Friday night card at historic Vernon Downs.

In the New York Late Closer Final for 2-year old trotting fillies, Dreamy Dawn has been give the nod as the 5-2 morning line favorite for trainer Ed Lohmeyer and catch driver Chris Lems.

Dreamy Dawn is coming into the final off of an easy victory in the $50,000 Fall Harvest at Yonkers Raceway on October 2nd, where she was victorious in 1:59.4.

The 2-year old daughter of Dream Vacation – Divine EOS sports a career record of six wins and one second from nine outings behind the starting gate, with earnings of more than $96,000 and a mark of 1:59 taken at Batavia Downs in a New York Sire Stakes event.

In the $30,000 Final for 2-year old pacing fillies, All About Kisses has been assigned the 5-2 morning line favorite spot.

The 2-year old daughter of Pro Bono Best – Cheerful Outlook came first over in her last start in the $50,000 Fall Harvest at Yonkers, but tired in the stretch after sticking a head in front, but could only save fifth place money.

Chuck Connor Jr. will do the driving for his wife Jannice Connor who trains and co-owns the filly with Albert and Michelle Crawford of New York.

Vernon Downs kicks off its weekend of racing on Thursday, October 14th with a post time of 6:55 pm.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Surface Tension Leads Gate-to-Wire in Simpson Stakes

Surface Tension, The Evictor, Native Daughter and Quiet Hero were all divisional winners in the John F. Simpson Memorial stakes races at Vernon Downs on Friday night, Oct. 8.

Surface Tension ($2.20) continued his brilliant campaign with a front-striding, 1:58 career-best victory in the opening division of Friday’s $30,894 Super Bowl 2-year-old colt/gelding trot.

The 4-1/4-length decision over The Lindy Reserve improved the brown colt’s summary line to 5-1-3 and earnings to nearly $130,000 after 11 starts.

Trainer Dan Daley drove the son of Cash Hall-Hopeful Gigi for his wife, Ann-Mari Daley, and her partners Richard Lombardo and Albert C. Crawford.

The Evictor ($11.40) also used front-ending strategy to dominate the second flight of The Super Bowl division and secure his first victory with a 1:56 mile.

Brandon Simpson did the steering for trainer John Butenschoen and owners William Wiswell and Jean Goehlen as the bay son of Valley Victor-Expressive Chip won by more than 14 lengths and raised his bankroll to more than $35,000.

Native Daughter ($12.20), competing as a second-tier trailer from the 10 post in the $30,594 Razzle Hanover 2-year-old filly pace, advanced from sixth in the early going to gain the lead entering the stretch drive, and then delivered a five length victory in a personal best time of 1:53.3.

It was the second score in five starts for the bay daughter of Allamerican Native-Sparkling Hanover who lifted her winnings to $25,667.

Defending dash champ Jimmy Whittemore, who posted four wins during Friday’s 10-race card, did the teaming for trainer Mark Capone and owners Michael Butler and Samir Tawil.

Native Daughter’s same driver, trainer and owner contingent returned to Vernon’s winner’s circle after Quiet Hero ($5.90) hustled to a lifetime fastest 1:54.1 triumph in Friday’s $28,794 Bret Hanover contest for 2-year-old male pacers.

It marked the first win in six starts for the bay son of Western Ideal-Neverhaveneverwill, who raised his earnings to $25,667.

With Hall of Fame horseman Ray Schnittker doing the driving for the Givemethecredit Stable, the sophomore trotting colt Shaq Is Back turned a pocket trip into a 1:55.4 triumph in Friday’s $10,000 ninth event, the week’s top Miracle Mile contest for representatives of the diagonal gait.

It was the fourth season’s score and ninth all-time win for the bay son of Credit Winner-Vivica Hall, who has accumulated more than $436,000 during his productive career.

Schnittker chalked up a driving and training double during the track’s 74th program, as did driver Claude Huckabone, III, who raised his career win count to 1,979.

DOWNS DOINGS—The Evictor’s 1:56 clocking was just 3/5ths of a second off Vernon’s record for freshman colt trotters (set by Manofmanymissions back on Sept. 24)…Saturday night’s 12-race card, which includes the week’s top Miracle Mile pacing event, will begin at 6:55 p.m…The Downs will also simulcast the entire Pocono Downs Breeders Crown card starting at 5 p.m.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Don't Cry Lindy, Tap Tap Dance Score in Simpson Stakes

Don’t Cry Lindy and Tap Tap Dance were divisional winners in Thursday night’s $32,992John F. Simpson Memorial Stake for 2-year-old filly trotters, Pickmeamerigold captured the week’s top contest for female pacers and Howard Okusko, Jr. posted four winners for the first time this season at Vernon Downs.

Don’t Cry Lindy’s ($12.20) fast closing 2:01.1 victory in Thursday’s third race was the first in nine starts for the bay daughter of Chocolatier-Evita P, who is owned by Marvin Sternberg and Alvin Katz.

Okusko did the steering for trainer Linda Toscano.

Tap Tap Dance ($3.20) delivered a front-striding 2:00.2 triumph for driver and trainer Dan Daley in Thursday’s fifth event.

It marked the second local score and third overall tally for the bay daughter of Conway Hall-Suydance, who is owned by Ann-Mari Daley (Dan’s wife), Richard Lombardo and Murray S. Ferguson , Jr. She has earned close to $100,000 in 11 starts.

Pickmeamerigold’s ($5.60) gate-to-wire win in Thursday’s ninth race, the week’s top Miracle Mile distaff pace, was her seventh at the meeting, tying her with fellow pacers Bet The Ranch, Saranac Hanover and the trotter Fox Valley Majesty for second in total equine victories after 73 programs.

It was the eighth season’s score and 11th all time for the 4-year-old daughter of Ameripan Gigolo-Whip City Gal, who is owned by Holly Cordisco.

Jack Rice did the teaming for trainer Joe Cordisco.

After posting first-place finishes in the night’s first three events (She’s So Chic, Viewish and Don’t Cry Lindy), Okusko capped off his four-bagger with a win behind Designed To Dazzle in race eight.

His wife, defending training champ Jessica Okusko, was credited with three wins, while Daley (Uni-optic Man) earned a double during the 10-race program.

DOWNS DOINGS—The pacer Up Front Rudy is tops in equine victories at the Downs this season with eight…Friday’s 10-race card includes four divisions of the John F. Simpson Memorial Stakes and the week’s top Miracle Mile trot. First post will be at 6:55 p.m.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Peter Haughton Champion The Lindy Reserve leads Simpson Entries at Vernon Downs

The $500,000 Peter Haughton Champion, The Lindy Reserve leads 14 freshman trotting colts in the John F. Simpson Memorial Stakes on Friday night at Vernon Downs.

Split into two divisions with six betting interests as the Antonacci’s have four in on Friday, the purse for each division has been split to $15,447 per division.

Frank Antonacci will be driving The Lindy Reserve from post position number two in the first of two divisions, and his main rival looks to be Surface Tension from the Dan Daley stable who recently finished third in the NYSS Final on the 25th of September.

Although The Lindy Reserve has banked more than $250,000 in seven starts this season, the 2-year old son of Sj’s Caviar-Crown N Lindy has had back-to-back miscues in the Kindergarten Final and Breeders’ Crown Elimination.

10 freshman pacing fillies dropped their names in to go in one division for $30,594 in the John F. Simpson Memorial.

Given the nod as the 5-2 morning line favorite was Astera Blue Chip from the Linda Toscano stable who was a main force on the NYSS all year long, but drew the eight hole in the final and was never a factor finishing sixth.

Chris Lems has been called upon to drive the 2-year old Bettor’s Delight-Weeping Wanabe filly that has banked over $72,000 in 2010.

Vernon Downs kicks off its weekend of racing on Thursday, October 7th and continues through Saturday, October 9th all with post times of 6:55 pm.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fast Miles Highlight Chilly Night at Vernon Downs

The pacers Johnny Absolut and Sheer Brilliance cranked out hot miles near the conclusion of a chilly 10-race, Saturday night program at Vernon Downs.

With temperatures hovering near the 50-degree mark, Johnny Absolut delivered a career-fastest 1:50.2 victory in the $8,000 eighth event that was just three-fifths-of-a-second off the track’s record for older pacing geldings, before Sheer Brilliance registered a 1:51 clocking in the $11,000 ninth event.

Both were first-time starters over Vernon’s 7/8ths-mile oval.

With Jimmy Whittemore driving for his father, trainer Dennis Whittemore, and owner Ralph Bowling in the week’s Miracle Mile-2 test, Johnny Absolut ($7.40) wired eight rivals to earn his fourth season’s score and the eighth of his career.

Sheer Brilliance ($3.00) also led from start to finish in the week’s MM-1 match-up, defeating seven speedsters en route to his fifth current victory and 20th lifetime tally.

Howard Okusko, Jr. did the catch driving for owner-trainer Jeffrey Long and his partner, J Paul Long.

Whittemore, Okusko, along with fellow reinsman Bill Bailey, trainer Ann Yurenka and the Richie Pat Bonvie Stable all charted a pair of first-place finishes during the track’s 72nd program.

DOWNS DOINGS—Stonebridge Wish owns the 1:49.4 Vernon standard for aged pacing geldings, established on June 5 of this year…Saranac Hanover’s 1:52.3 score in Saturday’s 10th race was his seventh at the meet, tying him with fellow pacer Bet The Ranch and the trotter Fox Valley Majesty for second place among equine winners here this season. The pacer Up Front Rudy tops the races won list with eight first-place finishes…Okusko is the track’s all-time leader in “2:00” miles with 1,103…Vernon will offer live racing at 6:55 p.m. Thursday-Saturday next week, and will feature the John Simpson Memorial Stakes for 2-year-olds on Oct. 7 and 8.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Vernon Downs Announces Closing Night Race Date Change

Vernon Downs has changed its closing weekend for the 2010 race meet and will now close up for the year on Saturday, November 20th with a 6:55 pm post time.

Vernon has taken the two days that were supposed to be raced on the 26th and 27th of November and moved them to Thursday, October 21st and Thursday, October 28th both at 6:55 pm.

Closing weekend activities including closing night fireworks all have been moved up to take place on November 20th.

Earlier this week Vernon Downs received approval from the New York State Racing and Wagering Board that the remainder of the 2010 race season has been approved.

Vernon Downs currently races a Thursday, Friday, and Saturday race schedule all with post times of 6:55 pm.

Denver Dolly Splashes to Career-Best in NYLC

Denver Dolly overcame driving rain and a sloppy track to deliver a career-best 1:56.4 victory in Thursday night’s second division of a $39,400 New York Sires Stake late-closing contest for 2-year-old male pacers at Vernon Downs.

Snapping a string of three consecutive second-place finishes in the third event, Denver Dolly ($5.80) gained the lead in the final turn and raced on to a solid score, his second of the season for owner Alfred Ross.

Fern Paquet, Jr. drove the bay son of Artiscape-Denverlove for trainer George Ducharme.

Thursday’s other late-closing flights went to A Major Haze (Art Major-Dorothy’s Jate), in 1:57.4 for driver Brian Mattison, trainer Paul Kelly and Wanda Polisseni’s Purple Haze Stables, and Mosee Terror (Western Terror-Shimmer), in 1:58.1 for driver Chris Lems, trainer Paul Reid and the Bulletproof Enterprises.

Penny Pincher won Thursday’s $9,000 seventh race, the week’s top Miracle Mile test for female pacers, with a late-closing 1:56.1 effort.

Howard Okusko, Jr. did the teaming for trainer Jim Perry and Ohio owners William J. and Jack M. Heinz.

It was the 5-year-old mare’s fifth season’s score and 13th all-time.

Holly Cordisco’s Pickmeamerigold claimed fastest-mile-of-the-night honors with a 1:53.4 performance in Thursday’s $6,000 ninth race, the evening’s MM-3 event.

Defending driving champ Jimmy Whittemore, sitting in for trainer Joe Cordisco, completed his 15th double during the track’s 70th program, guiding the 4-year-old mare to her seventh win in 2010.

DOWNS DOINGS—The 7-year-old pacing mare Miss Robin’s Magic, owned by Myron Ekstein, Michael and William Pozefsky, went over the $100,000 mark in career earnings with her 1:58.3 victory for trainer and driver Chip Zombick in Thursday’s 10th event…All three of Mosee Terror’s wins have come in NY late-closing competition…Rodney Freese’s pacing mare Prettyasapageant (Tyler Freese driving) extended her current winning streak to three with a 1:58.4 score in Thursday’s fourth race…Friday’s 10-race card, which features the weekend’s top MM trotting events, will begin at 6:55 p.m.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Simpson Freshman Stakes at Vernon Downs

The John Simpson Memorial Stakes for two-year-olds are scheduled for next Thursday and Friday at Vernon Downs.

Purses for each sex and gait are estimated at $35,000 divided and the draw schedule is as follows:

2FT to race on Thursday, October 7 with the entry box to close at 9:00AM on Saturday, October 2.

2CT - 2CP - 2FP all to race on Friday, October 8 with the entry box to close at 9:00AM on Tuesday, October 5.

Phone entries call (315) 829-6825.

The condition sheet will be available here soon.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

15th Track Record Falls in Saturday Night Racing

The speedy River Shark chalked up the 15th track record performance of the season at Vernon Downs with a 1:50.3 mile in Saturday night’s (Sept. 25) $8,000 eighth event.

Third at the quarter, timed in :27.1, River Shark ($4.10) was sent to the front by driver Jack Rice and continued on through splits of :55.2 and 1:22.2 to win the week’s Miracle Mile-2 contest by 3-1/2 lengths and establish a fresh Vernon standard for 4-year-old pacing geldings.

Saturday’s sizzler marked the first Vernon victory, the fifth season’s score and the 13th lifetime tally for the bay son of Four Starzzz Shark-Riverview Diamond, who equaled his lifetime speed mark.

Mark Ford trains the career winner of more than $506,000 for the VIP Internet Stable, El Lobo, LLC and Aaron Waxman.

One race later, Winbak Dimensions ($3.70) became a repeat winner in Vernon’s $11,000 MM-1 class, closing from second in the stretch to post a head decision over Mata Harry.

The 1:53 effort marked the fifth season’s score and 31st lifetime tally for the 7-year-old son of Village Jove-Exact Dimensions, who hiked his career bankroll to more than $510,000.

Defending dash champ Jimmy Whittemore did the teaming for trainer Jim Perry and owners William and Jack Heinz.

Whittemore and Ruel “Dude” Goodblood, Jr. each hung up driving doubles during the 10-race card.

Prior to Saturday’s pari-mutuel program, non-betting divisions in Vernon’s second leg of the C. K. G. Billings Series for amateur drivers of trotters were won by Laura Mac Namara (driving Anahar Charlie) in 1:59.1, and Mitchell Walker (Rush N Supreme) in 1:57.1.

Mac Namara is the owner of Anahar Charlie (trained by John Mc Dermott), while Walker is the owner and trainer of Rush N Supreme.

DOWNS DOINGS—On The Way Again (in 2002) and Golden Receiver (2009) had previously shared the Vernon record for 4-year-old altered pacers…Saturday’s new speed standard marks the 15th record that has been re-written or tied during the track’s 57th season…Vernon will offer live racing Thursday-Saturday next week, first post at 6:55 p.m.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Manofmanymissions, Seducedbychocolate Capture Kindergarten Classic Finals in Track Record Times

Seducedbychocolate, Manofmanymissions and Winning Mister all produced track record performances during Friday night’s (Sept. 24) 12-race program at Vernon Downs.

Seducedbychocolate’s 1:56.4 record for 2-year-old filly trotters came in the $134,000 final of the Kindergarten Classic Series, Manofmanymissions rewrote the colt mark for freshman high-steppers with his 1:55.2 triumph in the $162,500 KCS male clash, while Winning Mister authored a 1:54 standard for 4-year-old trotting horses with his win in the week’s Miracle Mile-1 contest.

Seducedbychocolate ($14.40) took charge of the ninth race after the opening quarter and trotted on to a two-length tally over Sacred Saint.

David Miller drove for trainer Jonas Czernyson as the bay daughter of Chocolatier-Seducer Hall turned in a career-best mile, improved her summary line to 3-3-2 after nine trips to the track and her earnings to nearly $100,000 for the Maximum Force, Inc.

It was her second local series score.

Manofmanymissions ($2.70) also lowered his personal speed badge and secured his second series win in Friday’s 10th test.

The bay son of Yankee Glide-Armbro Vanquish trotted on or near the lead throughout, winning by five lengths over Whit.

Andy Miller did the teaming for trainer Erv Miller.

John Carver, M Biasuzzi Stable and Mystical Marker Farms own the winner of $86,750.

Former Downs driving champion Brian Sears did the steering for veteran Vernon trainer Ray Van Dreason as Winning Mister ($4.50) turned a pocket trip into a head victory over Airzoom Lindy in Friday’s top Miracle Mile trotting match-up.

The time trimmed three-fifths of a second off his record and one tick of the timer off the previous mark for his age, sex and gait, set by Airzoom Lindy back on July 23.

Robert J. Key owns the homebred black son of Angus Hall-Winning Missbrenda, who has earned nearly $385,000 during his productive career.

Divisions of Friday’s $53,100 New York-bred late-closer for 3-year-old filly trotters were won by Platinumatic, in 1:55.4 for the Purple Haze Stables; South Jersey Honey, in 1:56 for owner, trainer and driver Steve Reisenweaver; Jetties, in 1:56.1 for owner Roy Dobbins, and L Dee’s Maggie, in 1:56.3 for owners Lawrence Dumain and Carlo Lattinelli.

Celebrity Obsesions 1:57.4 performance in Friday’s $10,000 KCS consolation contest (race eight) for frosh fillies on the diagonal gait was just four-fifth of a second off the then track standard for her class, while Highscore Kemp’s 1:53.4 tally in race 11 (Miracle Mile-2) missed the track mark for 4-year-old trotting mares by just four-fifths of a second.

Tim Tetrick turned in a driving triple for the third time at the meet, while Sears, Howard Okusko, Jr. and trainer Jessica Okusko were each credited with two wins during the track’s 68th program.

DOWNS DOINGS—Vernon’s 1:57 previous 2-year-old filly trotting mark (Some Girls) and its 1:55.3 former colt trotting standard (Dejarmbro) were both established earlier in the meet…Saturday’s 10-race pari-mutuel program, which features the week’s top Miracle Mile pace, begins at 6:55 p.m. Non-betting divisions in the C.K.G. Series for amateur drivers of trotters will be held prior to the program, one at 6:10 p.m. and the other at 6:20 p.m.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Lucky Jim Breaks Track Record in Winning $195,000 Credit Winner

The sensational Lucky Jim produced the fastest trotting mile in the 57-year history of Vernon Downs while winning the 4th-annual Credit Winner Open in 1:52 on Friday night.

Competing against six swift rivals in the $195,000 eighth event, Lucky Jim ($4.90) rallied three wide off the final bend and came a last quarter in :27.4 to earn a one length victory over track record-holder Buck I St Pat (1:54.3 for aged mares).

Hot Shot Blue Chip was another half-length back in third.

Friday’s thrilling effort resulted in the 24th lifetime score for the 6-year-old gelded son of S J’s Photo-Hawaiian Sierra, who improved his season’s slate to 5-4-0 after 11 appearances.

Andy Miller drove the career winner of $1.5 million for trainer Julie Miller and owners David and John Prushnok and William Gregg.

Lucky Jim’s clocking clipped one-fifth of a second off the previous all-time Vernon trotting standard, set by the older gelding Vivid Photo while winning this same event in 2007.

The gifted Frosty Flirt improved her season’s summary line to 10-1-1 after 14 starts with a personal best 1:55.1 triumph in a division of Friday’s $149,416 New York Sires Stakes contest for 3-year-old trotting fillies.

David Miller did the teaming for owner and trainer Tracy Brainard.

Friday’s other NYSS divisional winners were Wolf’s Jann (Tetrick driving for trainer Jeffrey Morris and the Leo Wolf & Son stable) in 1:56.2, Tuesdays With Mom (Claude Huckabone, Jr. steering for owner and trainer Peter Arrigenna) in 1:55.2 and Viva Las Lindy (Tetrick sitting in for trainer Frank Antonacci and the Adam Victor & Son stable) in 1:57.1.

Swan In A Million (Andy Miller handling the lines for trainer Erv Miller and the Diamond Creek Farm, Mary Jane Anderson, Mystical Marker Farm and John Carver ownership contingent) remained unbeaten after three starts with a 1:57.4 tally in a male division of Friday’s $40,000 Kindergarten Classic for 2-year-olds on the diagonal gait.

The other colt/gelding clash was won in 1:58.4 by Evil Urges (trainer Homer Hochstetler driving for Connie Hochstetler and Robert Buddig), who also secured his third season’s score.

The female Kindergarten Classic flights were captured by Taya’s Photo (Andy Miller teaming for trainer Erv Miller, Peggy C. Hood and the Mystical Marker Farm) in 2:00, and Hot Off The Press (part-owner Jacqueline Ingrassia piloting for trainer Frank Ingrassia and her fellow owners Martha Brown and the Arden Homestead Stable) in 1:57.4.

Tetrick, Andy Miller and Brainard each posted three wins during the track’s 65th program.

DOWNS DOINGS—Lucky Jim’s record for aged trotting geldings marks the 11th track standard that has been broken or tied during the 2010 meeting…Saturday’s 12-race all pacing line-up that includes six Miracle Mile clashes, will begin at 6:55 p.m.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Vernon Downs Teams Up with Facebook for Exclusive Hotel Offer

The Hotel at Vernon Downs Casino is offering its Facebook fans an exclusive hotel offer.

Fans can print off a coupon available exclusively on Facebook good for a $49 room rate from Sunday through Thursday nights.

Visit www.facebook.com/vernondownscasino to become a fan today.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Conway Hall Trot and Top 5 Races of the Year Highlights Season Finale of "Inside Harness Racing"

Yursa Hanover’s upset of champion Buck I St Pat in the Conway Hall Trot plus closing night festivities and the Top 5 Races of the Year highlight the season finale of the “Inside Harness Racing” television show. The 30-minute episode debuts on Time Warner Cable Sports throughout New York tonight at 6:00 PM and is also available online at the Tioga Downs YouTube site (www.youtube.com/tiogadowns).

This week’s episode also includes an all-access look inside the starting gate and a feature on a Tioga Downs farrier. Plus, leading driver Jim Marohn, Junior flips the script and interviews Jason Settlemoir about his career in track management. Also, see as some of Upstate New York’s biggest stars are inducted into the Upstate New York Harness Racing Hall of fame as the inaugural class.

“Inside Harness Racing” debuted on June 23rd and aired each Wednesday at 6:00 PM throughout the live racing season. Every episode is archived on YouTube. “Inside Harness Racing” is hosted and produced by Justin Horowitz and features Jason Settlemoir and Wendy Ross as field reporters while Jim Rotundo handles videography and production.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Track Record Falls During Sire Stakes at Vernon Downs

The exceptional youngster Fashion Delight turned in the fastest divisional clocking, but Townslight Hanover established a track record during Saturday night’s $135,200 New York Sires Stakes feature for 2-year-old male pacers at Vernon Downs.

Fashion Delight delivered his fourth straight score with a 1:51.4 performance in Saturday’s first race, before Townslight Hanover hustled to a 1:53.1 victory in the third race that chopped a full second off the previous track record for freshman geldings on the lateral gait.

Sir Ziggy’s Z Tam won Saturday’s final NYSS flight after a career-fastest 1:52.1 mile in the fifth event.

Fresh off first-place finishes in the prestigious Niatross and Woodrow Wilson events, respectively, at The Meadowlands, Fashion Delight flashed to the front after the opening quarter and never looked back en route to a half-length triumph, his fourth in six starts.

The bay son of Bettor’s Delight-B J’s Sunshine missed the track’s colt mark by 4/5ths of a second, while hiking his purse winnings to more than $298,000.

David Miller did the catch driving for trainer Jim Miller and the Fashion Farms.

Townslight Hanover, a bay son of Bettor’s Delight-Towner’s Image, took command after the half and then raced on to a nose victory that earned him a fresh speed standard and his second score in seven starts for owner Kenneth Tucci.

Jim Morrill, Jr. drove the winner of $73,552 for trainer Aaron Lambert.

Trainer and part-owner Pat Lachance guided Sir Ziggy’s Z Tam to bold-going 2-1/4-length score that earned the bay son of Art Major-So Far Away four first-place finishes (all in NYSS action) in seven appearances.

He’s now a winner of nearly $94,000 for Lachance and his partners, the Z Tam Stables and Ira Rosenblum.

Elliot Misshula’s Mata Harry became a two-time winner at the meet after a 1:52.1 tally in the $9,000 ninth race, the weekend’s top Miracle Mile pacing event.

Jimmy Whittemore did the steering for trainer Kevin Gould.

Leading driver Josh Marks earned his 11th triple of Vernon’s 63-card campaign during Saturday’s 12-race card, while Whittemore and Jim Morrill, Jr. each posted a pair of first-place finishes.

DOWNS DOINGS—Three Card Monte (1998) and Four Starz Louie (2007) had previously shared the track’s 1:54.1 standard for 2-year-old pacing geldings…Vernon will present live programs at 6:55 Thursday-Saturday nights next weekend…The track’s $200,000 (est.) Credit Winner open trot is slated for next Friday evening (Sept. 17).

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Yursa Hanover Leads All the Way to Win $150,000 Conway Hall Trot

Yursa Hanover blew away six standout rivals while breezing to a 1:54.2 triumph in Friday night’s $150,000 Conway Hall open mare trotting contest at Vernon Downs.

Second choice to Windsong Soprano in the sixth race wagering, Yursa Hanover ($6.90) went right to the lead from post four and led through splits of :27.3, :57-flat and 1:26 en route to a 1-1/2 length verdict over the crown-wagering choice.

Autumn Escapade finished another half-length back in third, while Buck I St. Pat, racing for purse money only due to a scratch of stable mate Southwind Wasabi, finished fourth.

Daniel Dube did the driving for trainer Benoit Baillargeon as the 4-year-old daughter of Windsong’s Legacy-Yankee Topaz earned her third season’s score and 12th lifetime tally.

Richard Berthiaume owns the career-winner of $820,835, who posted her 1:52.3 record earlier in the campaign.

Tracy Brainard’s Scorpion Moon secured her third straight score with a 1:55.1 victory in Friday’s $15,000 Miracle Mile-1 trot, while the Brainard-trained newcomer Slimsplace, owned by Jeffrey Gillis and Ellen Ott, turned in a 1:52.1 career-best mile while winning the week’s top Miracle Mile class for female pacers.

Tim Tetrick, who chalked up five victories during Friday’s 13-race program, drove both of those first-place finishers.

Divisions of Friday’s $30,000 Kindergarten Classic clashes for 2-year-old male trotters went to Swan In A Million (1:57), Manofmanymissions (1:56.3) and High Pan Tolerance (1:58), while the filly flights were won by Centrifical Force (1:59.1), Seducedbychocolate (1:57.4) and Beatgoeson Hanover (1:57.4).

In addition to Tetrick’s fine performance, and Brainard’s three conditioning credits, drivers Andy Miller, David Miller and Daniel Harvey, as well as trainers Erv Miller and Maurice Bazinet were each two-time winners during the track’s 62nd program.

After Friday’s eighth event, Vernon’s all-time driving champion Jack Bailey (16 titles), along with driver Brian Sears, owner Ken Jacobs and announcer Jim Moran were recognized as Vernon’s representatives into the Upstate New York Chapter of the U. S. Harness Writers Association initial Hall-of-Fame class, that also includes Clint Galbraith, Buddy Gilmour, Jeff Gregory, Jeff Gural, Guy Howard, Gerry Sarama, Ray Schnittker, John Schroeder and Dave Vance.

DOWNS DOINGS—The times turned in by Seducedbychocolate and Beatgoeson Hanover were just 4/5ths-of-a-second off the track’s record for frosh female high-steppers…Saturday’s 12-race program, that includes several Miracle Mile pacing divisions and three flights of a New York Sires Stake for 2-year-old male side-wheelers, will begin at 6:55 p.m.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Buck I St Pat leads eight in $150,000 Conway Hall at Vernon Downs

World Champion Buck I St Pat will lead eight rivals into battle on Friday night at Vernon Downs in the $150,000 Conway Hall.

The 7-year old trotting sensation will look to repeat in the Conway Hall as she captured the 2009 edition in track record time for aged trotting mares in 1:54.3.

Campaigned from the mighty Burke Stable, Buck I St Pat will be part of an entry that shares the betting with Southwind Wasabi who captured the third leg of the Miss Versatility Trotting Series at Vernon on September 2nd in track record time for 4-year old trotting mares in 1:53.

Trainer Ron Burke has listed usual pilot Tim Tetrick on Buck I St Pat, and will turn back over the lines to Josh Marks who steered Southwind Wasabi to her last win at Vernon Downs.

The duo has been listed as the 7-5 morning line choice, but also drew the seven and eight hole in a field of eight.

The $150,000 Conway Hall has been slated for race number six on Friday night’s card that kicks off at 6:55 pm.

The field is listed below:

Conway Hall Trot: Open Mares Friday, September 8th
Race 6: Purse: $150,000
# PP Horse Driver Trainer
1 7 Southwind Wasabi Josh Marks Ron Burke
1A 8 Buck I St Pat Tim Tetrick Ron Burke
2 1 Broadway Paige Jimmy Whittemore Angus McDonald
3 2 Windsong Soprano Andy Miller Robert Mcintosh
4 3 Elusive Desire Trond Smedshammer Michael Keeling
5 4 Yursa Hanover Daniel Dube Benoit Baillargeon
6 5 Autumn Escapade David Miller Jonas Czernyson
7 6 Highscore Kemp Frank Antonacci Frank Antonacci

Also featured on Friday night’s undercard will be six divisions of the Kindergarten Classic Trot, three for colts and geldings, and three for fillies.

Leading the way in the colt division is Swan In A Million from super producer broodmare Swan Lake for trainer Erv Miller.

In the Miracle Mile 1 top trotting test, World Champion Enough Talk will make his return to the racetrack for trainer-driver Peter Kleinhans coming off of a break in the Ricci Memorial on August 14th.

Don’t miss out on some of the weekends best racing action with world class trotters on Friday night at Vernon Downs, post time 6:55 pm.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Anndrovette Leads Sire Stakes Action on Labor Day

The nifty filly Anndrovette continued her winning ways with a career-best 1:52.1 performance in the opening division of Labor Day’s $146,073 New York Sires Stakes headliner for 3-year-old pacing distaffers at Vernon Downs.

Taking on five formidable rivals in Monday afternoon’s third event, Anndrovette called all the shots en route to a five-length tally over Crown Lady. She paid $2.20 for finishing first.

The route-going effort marked the third NYSS score in succession for the bay daughter of Riverboat King-Easy Miss, who is owned by trainer Mark Kesmodel, along with Joseph Devino and Jeffrey Bamond.

Jason Bartlett drove the career winner of more than $181,000 to her sixth lifetime triumph.

Bartlett also guided Enduring Delight ($3.60) to a 1:53.1 decision over Love And Honor in Monday’s second NYSS flight; race six on the 12-event program.

It was the fourth career win (all this season) for the bay daughter of Bettor’s Delight-Enduring Dream, who equaled her lifetime speed mark.

She has returned more than $133,900 in 17 starts to owner-trainer Ron Coyne, Jr. and the Two Ninjas Stable.

In Monday’s final NYSS flight, race nine, the sensational Hula’s Z Tam ($2.10) improved her overall record to 12 victories in 16 lifetime starts with a 1:52.4 verdict over Buy Art.

With trainer Pat Lachance at the controls, the productive bay daughter of Bettor’s Delight-Tsunami Hanover earned her second straight NYSS win, improved her season’s summary line to 6-2-1 after nine outings and increased her all-time bankroll to $559,100 for Lachance and partners Margaret Dey and the Z Tam Stables, LLC.

The veteran speedster You Bet Your Glass ($11.40) responded eagerly to the commands of catch-driver Claude Huckabone, Jr. while posting a 1:51.4 victory in Monday’s $10,000 10th event, the week’s top Miracle Mile pacing contest.

It was the fifth win at the meet for the gritty gelding, who is registered to trainer Arnie Marks and William Williams, Jr.

In addition to Bartlett’s double, drivers Rick Plano, Josh Marks, as well as trainers Marks and Howard Okusko, Jr., each secured a pair of wins during the track’s 61st program.

DOWNS DOINGS—Provisional pilot Truman Gale authored his fourth victory at the meet following a 1:55.3 outing behind the pacer Printing A Place in the day’s last race…Due to the Labor Day matinee, there will be no live racing here this Thursday (Sept. 9). Live competition will resume on Friday (Sept. 10) with the $200,000 (est.) Conway Hall Open mare trot, and a leg of the Kindergarten Series for freshman trotters.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Pair of Track Records Fall on Thursday Night Card

Southwind Wasabi and Dejarmbro each crafted track record performances during Thursday night’s 10-race program at Vernon Downs.

While turning in the second fastest trotting mile in the track’s 57-year history, Southwind Wasabi produced a 1:53 Downs standard for 4-year-old mares on the diagonal gait with her solid two-length score in Vernon’s $25,000 leg of the Miss Versatility Series for older mare trotters.

The favorite Dejarmbro delivered a personal-best 1:55.3 victory in the opening division of Thursday’s $133,708 New York Sires Stake for 2-year-old male trotters that chopped 4/5ths-of-a-second off the previous mark for freshman colt high-steppers, set by Blacktuxwhitesocks last season.

As the crowd’s fourth wagering choice, Southwind Wasabee paid $25.20 after collecting her third season’s score for the Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Howard Taylor and James Koran ownership contingent.

Vernon’s leading driver Josh Marks did the teaming for trainer Ron Burke.

With Jeff Gregory steering for trainer Jessica Okusko and Wanda Polisseni’s Purple Haze Stables, Dejarmbro converted a pocket trip into his third straight score and fourth tally in six lifetime starts. He paid $3.40.

Thursday’s other NYSS colt/gelding divisional winners were I’m The Answer (Gregory driving for trainer Okusko and the Purple Haze Stables) in 1:56.4, Tiger’s Too Good (Wally Hennessey steering for trainer Joe Holloway, a part owner along with Hugh Grant, Jr., L & L Devisser LLC, and the Val D’Or Farms) in 1:57.2, and the dead-heat first place finishers Keenan (Jim Morrill, Jr. piloting for trainer Larry Remmen and owners John Lichtenberger and Ray Remmen) and Neal (David Miller sitting in for trainer Jim Campbell and the Fashion Farms) in 1:57.3.

Off The Grid (Morrill, Jr. teaming for owner-trainer Jody Weidman) earned a 1:57.4 speed mark and his fourth season’s score while posting the fastest divisional triumph in Thursday’s $39,500 NYSS late-closing contest for 3-year-old male trotters.

The evening’s other late-closing flights went to Black Licorice (Brian Mattison handling the lines for trainer Paul Kelley and the East Pond Stable) in 1:58.1, and Signal Hill Ginger (Gregory getting the call from trainer Tim Lanpher and owner Wesley Chandler) in 2:00.

Gregory chalked up four wins during the track’s 58th program, while Okusko, the track’s defending conditioning champ, was credited with three tallies.

DOWNS DOINGS—Vivid Photo is still the track’s fastest trotter of all time on the basis of a 1:52.1 mile in 2007…Morrill, Jr. visited Vernon’s winner’s circle twice during Thursday’s program…The Keenan-Neal tie marked the first dead-heat for win at the meet…Friday night’s 10-race card will begin at 6:55 p.m.