Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lopez Posts First Driving Triple

Driver Roman Lopez used a 1:56 victory by Sundowner Bob in the $9,000 featured ninth race on Friday night to record his initial triple of the season at Vernon Downs.

Following victories behind Brian Earl Doolittle’s trotter Naughty Broadway (1:59.2) in the first race, and Don Brainard’s high-stepper Peaceful Prince (1:58) in the seventh session, Lopez guided Sundowner Bob to a front-striding, neck triumph over the on-rushing Gladiator Lindy in the week’s top Miracle Mile trotting contest.

The favorite paid $5.70 for finishing first.

The bold-going performance marked the third tally at the meet and 31st all-time for trainer Scott West’s 9-year-old son of Muscles Yankee-Pine Potion, who hiked his lifetime earnings to more than $394,300.

In Friday’s third test, catch-driver Rick Plano, doing the steering for trainer Dave Jannone, piloted Brenda Komers’ freshman Diamond Star to a 1:54.3 maiden-breaking victory that proved to be the fastest locally this season by a 2-year-old pacing gelding.

The time was just 2/5ths of a second off the track record for this class, shared by Three Card Monte (1998) and Four Starz Louie (2007).

Plano earned a driving double during Friday’s 11-race program, as did defending dash champ Jimmy Whittemore.

DOWNS DOINGS—Lopez also owns a driving double at the meet…Saturday’s 12-race offering includes two divisions of the C.K.G. Billings Series for amateur drivers of trotters (races one and three), as well as the week’s top Miracle Mile pacing contest (race six). First post will be at 6:55 p.m.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

See You at Peelers Breaks Track Record in NYSS Win

The precocious, still unbeaten freshman See You At Peelers posted a 1:51.3 track record and her seventh straight score in the opening division of Saturday night’s $135,624 New York Sires Stakes feature for 2-year-old filly pacers at Vernon Downs.

With Marcus Johansson steering for trainer Jimmy Takter, See You At Peelers shot out for the early lead, then drafted in second behind Drop The Ball until deep stretch, before regaining the top spot and winning by 1-1/4 lengths.

She paid $7.30 for finishing first.

It was the second straight tally at Vernon for the talented bay daughter of Bettor’s Delight-West Side Glory, who is shared in ownership by Christina Takter (Jimmy’s wife), John and Jim Fielding.

The career winner of nearly $90,000 trimmed 4/5ths-of-a-second off the previous Downs standard for her age, sex and gait, which was established by My Girl’s A Star eight nights earlier.

Saturday’s other NYSS divisional winners were Asteria Blue Chip (Bettor’s Delight-Weeping Wanabe), in 1:53.1 for driver Jeff Gregory, trainer Linda Toscano and the Stake Your Claim 17 stable, Janet Seltzer, Glenn Silverstein and Jeffrey Scott contingent, My Girl’s A Star (Art Major-Ifuwantitcumngetit), in 1:55.2 for driver Gareth Dowse, trainer Ray Schnittker and owner Mathias Meinzinger, and Southwind Jazmin (Art Major-Juliet’s Fate), in 1:53.3 for driver Jack Moiseyev, trainer Mark Harder and owner Rick Phillips.

Newcomer Tarver Hanover captured his Downs debut with a front-striding 1:52.2 triumph in Saturday’s $10,000 Miracle Mile-1 pace.

Trainer Sam Schillaci did the steering for the Wiz Kids Stable as the 9-year-old son of Ball And Chain earned his sixth season’s score, 45th lifetime victory and increased his all-time earnings to more than $721,000.

The pacer Up Front Rudy raised his meet-leading win total to eight after posting a 1:52.1 victory in Saturday’s 11th event for catch-driver Jimmy Whittemore, trainer/co-owner Jody Weidman and his partner George Mathar.

DOWNS DOINGS—Following his win, Up Front Rudy was claimed for $7,000 by Don Cromer…Chris Lems, the meet’s third-leading driver earned a triple during Saturday’s 12-race card, while trainer Arnie Marks was credited with a double…Vernon will offer live racing at 6:55 Thursday-Saturday nights next week.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Seasonal Record Matched in Kindergarten Classic Series

Charlie De Vie tied the season’s standard for 2-year-old trotting colts, while John Paul’s Legacy equaled the all-time track record for aged trotting horses during Friday night’s 12-race program at Vernon Downs.

Charlie De Vie bullied his way to a front-striding 1:58.2 personal-best record while capturing Friday’s $10,000 fifth race, the male division of the Kindergarten Classic Series for freshman high-steppers.

It was the first career win for the brown son of Yankee Glide-Knickers Hanover, who is driven and trained by Oyvind Hegdal and owned by the Joie De Vie Farm.

In Friday’s $11,000 sixth session, John Paul’s Legacy also led from start to finish for catch-driver Jimmy Whittemore, stopping the timer in 1:55.1 to capture the week’s premier Miracle Mile class for representatives of the diagonal gait.

It was the fifth season’s score and 17th lifetime victory for the 5-year-old son of Credit Winner-Amore Vita, who is trained by Angus Mac Donald and owned by Emil Benvenuto.

Charlie De Vie’s mile equaled the current colt trotting mark, set by Surface Tension on Aug. 12, while John Paul’s Legacy tied the all-time horse trotting record, established by Fight Cheer in 1999.

Kindergarten Classic Series $10,000 2-year-old filly flights went to first time winners Lady Pixie (Yankee Glide-B Cor Peatra), in 2:02.1 for driver Ruel “Dude” Goodblood, Jr., trainer Larry Rathbone and the M & L Stable for Delaware, Inc., and Sacred Saint (Chocolatier-Sister Sammy), in 1:59.4 for driver/trainer Trond Smedshammer and owners Robert M and David H. Anderson.

DOWNS DOINGS—Defending driving champ Whittemore earned his seventh hat trick during Friday’s 53rd program. He also scored with the trotters Ashco’s Scotty (1:58.4) and Hit Me Baby (1:59)…Cool Touch’s 1:55 victory in race eight was his sixth at the meet, tying him with Fox Valley Majesty for most trotting tallies through Aug. 20. Josh Marks did the teaming for owner/trainer Scott West…The pacer Up Front Rudy currently leads in equine victories at the meet with seven…Saturday night’s 12-race card, which begins at 6:55, features four divisions of a $101,268 New York Sires Stake for 2-year-old filly pacers and the week’s top Miracle Mile pacing contest

Friday, August 20, 2010

Vernon Downs horsemen award $9,000 in college scholarships

The Harness Horse Association of Central New York is proud to announce its 2010 college scholarship winners.

First place winner of the cherished prize of a $5,000 scholarship is John Mondrick II of Durhamville, N.Y.

John, a 2010 graduate of Oneida High School, is attending Alfred State College of Technology. He is majoring in Engineering Science.

His mom and dad accepted the award on behalf of their son who is away at Alfred State, “taking full advantage of his current accomplishments and working hard on his future,” said Harness Horse Association of Central New York President Rick Papa.

Daniel Daley of Lake Worth, Fla., was awarded the $2,500 scholarship. Daniel is a 2008 graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and is attending Florida State University.

Daniel has a double major, Political Science and Criminology, and is the son of famed trainer/driver Dan Daley and his lovely bride Ann Mari. Like John Mondrick, Dan is a longtime Vernon horseman.

Justin Gordon of Clinton, N.Y., was the beneficiary of the $1,500 scholarship. Justin is a graduate of New Hartford High School and is attending Oswego State University of New York and majoring in Communications Media and the Arts.

Justin is pursuing a music and teaching career. His proud parents Lance and Deborah also are stalwarts at Vernon Downs.

“The scholarship committee reviewed several applications and weighted financial need, community service, the written explanation of the application and academic performance. The Committee used a ‘blind review,’ not knowing the names of the applicants before the review process,” stated Committee Chairman Joseph Camerino.

“We are very proud of all applicants and we want to thank everyone who applied. All of those applicants are winners in our minds and we are overjoyed to help in whatever way we can as an association of the hard working dedicated horsemen here at Vernon and their families.”

Economic and Job related impact to be felt with Vernon Downs Events Center Expansion Project

The new $8.1 million dollar expansion project at Vernon Downs Casino and Hotel that’s set to break ground on Friday, August 20th will give a nice economic push to the surrounding community.

The expansion project will create 50 construction jobs during the one year projected project, and 50 new full-time employment positions at Vernon Downs over a three-year period once finalized.

The project is expected to increase revenue through raising total traffic at Vernon Downs with weddings, conventions, and special events.

The Vernon Downs expansion will include a state of the art 70-seat simulcast facility, 16,000 square foot multi-purpose room for meetings, conferences, and events, rooftop garden area for catering events overlooking the racetrack, 119-seat dine in restaurant, two tier outdoor patio space, and 1,000 square foot lounge and bar area on the third floor.

Opened in 2006, Vernon Downs Casino Hotel occupies a 34,000 square foot gaming facility featuring over 750 video gaming machines, restaurants, lounges and arcades in addition to live racing and simulcasting.

The property also offers an all-suites hotel and employs approximately 345 people.

Vernon Downs Casino Hotel is open year-round and is located on Routes 5 and 31 in Vernon, NY.

Glacier Girl Gives Late Closer Foes the Cold Shoulder

Glacier Girl made quick work of six rivals to earn fastest-mile-honors in Thursday night’s $ 53,000 New York Sires Stakes late-closing contest at Vernon Downs.

Leaving from post three in Thursday’s final NYSS division, Glacier Girl made every split a winning one en route to a personal best 1:54.2 triumph in the ninth race.

It was the second straight score and third of the season (all at Vernon) for the homebred daughter of Sealed N Delivered-Cirque, who raised her lifetime winnings to more than $23,000 for breeder/owner John Boll.

Howard Okusko, Jr. did the steering for his dad, venerable local conditioner Howard Okusko, Sr.

Okusko also drove Dashboard Dancer to a 1:56 career-best NYSS divisional tally in Thursday’s opening division for trainer Linda Toscano and the Kovach Stables.

It was the fifth first-place finish in 13 season’s outings for the bay daughter of Artiscape-Hula Dancer, who has socked away $32,357 of her $32,681 in lifetime earnings this season.

Thursday’s other NYSS divisional winners were Freedom Crossing (Artiscape-Bunker To Bunker), in a career-best 1:54.3 showing for leading driver Josh Marks (105 victories), trainer Kevin Johnson and the Winbak Farms, Rebecca Williams ownership contingent, and Quick Step (Bettor’s Delight-Panquin), in a 1:55 lifetime-fastest performance for driver Chris Lems, trainer/co-owner Keith Cluff and his partners David Hanson and Richard Edison.

Anthony R. Farina’s 7-year-old mare My Girl Lora logged a 1:53 win-mark and her 31st lifetime victory while defeating eight rivals in Thursday’s $9,000 seventh session, the week’s top test for female pacers.

Rick Plano, who had won earlier in the card with the trotter Mr. Friendly, sat in for trainer Dave Dewhurst and recorded his fourth double at the 52-program meet.

DOWNS DOINGS—Friday’s program includes three divisions of a $30,000 Kindergarten Classic Series event for 2-year-old trotters (two for fillies, one for colts/geldings). The 12-race card will get underway at 6:55 p.m.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Back to the Track Night Nearly Sees Another Track Record Fall

Waltrip Hanover came within two-fifths of a second of the track record for older pacing horses with his 1:51.3 showing in Saturday nights $9,000 featured sixth race at Vernon Downs.

Leaving from post six in the seven side-wheeler Miracle Mile-2 test, Waltrip Hanover shot right to the front for driver Howard Okusko, Jr. and remained there to the half, reached in :55.2.

The Jessica Okusko-conditioned 5-year-old relinquished the lead to the betting favorite, You Bet Your Glass, until the final sixteenth, and then bounced back to win by a head.

In addition to equaling his personal speed mark, the career winner of nearly $87,000 notched his second season’s score and 12th all time.

Wanda Polisseni’s Purple Haze Stables owns the fleet-footed son of The Panderosa-Witchin Flight, who earned his record here last season.

Driver Rick Plano captured three of Saturday’s 12 races, as did veteran conditioner Howard Okusko, Sr.

Leading dash-winner Josh Marks earned a double during the track’s 51st program, as did reigning provisional pilot Leon Bailey and former top P driver Chris Lems.

DOWNS DOINGS—Saturday’s promotion-laden program was designated Back To The Track Night…Vernon’s 1:51.1 standard for aged pacing horses was set by Goin To The Beach in 2002…The Downs will offer live harness racing Thursday-Saturday next weekend, first post at 6:55 p.m

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Track Records Fall During State Fair Races

The pacer My Girl’s A Star and trotter Some Girls turned in track record performances during Friday night’s New York State Fair program for 2-year-old distaffers at Vernon Downs.

My Girl’s A Star recorded a 1:52.2 triumph in Friday’s opening division of a $125,650 New York State Fair contest that sliced 1/5th-of-a-second off the previous Vernon standard for 2-year-old filly pacers (set by Hula’s Z Tam in 2009), while Some Girls uncorked a 1:57 mile in the second flight of the $110,840 New York-bred 2-year-old filly trot that lowered the Downs record for this class (set by Munis Blue Chip last season) by 3/5ths of a second.

Jim Morrill, Jr., who recorded five catch-driving victories during Friday’s 12-race card, sat in for trainer Ray Schnittker and owner Mathias Meinzinger as My Girl’s A Star (Art Major-Ifuwantitcumngetit) took charge of the third race after the opening quarter and went on to earn a personal best speed mark and her fifth victory in six starts.

Trainer and part-owner Gates Brunet did the teaming behind Some Girls (Conway Hall-Emotional Rescue), who also front-ended her way to a fresh win mark and her fifth tally in six lifetime outings.

She’s also registered to Theodore Gewertz, Michael Rosenthal and Jean Brunet.

Friday’s other winner in the 2-year-old filly pace were the undefeated (after six starts) See You At Peelers (Bettor’s Delight-West Side Glory), in 1:53.1 for driver Morrill, Jr., trainer Jimmy Takter and owners Christina Takter (Jimmy’s wife), John and Jim Fielding, and Song In A Major (Art Major-Dreams Made Real), in 1:53.4 for driver Josh Marks, trainer Linda Toscano and owners Seth Coen, Fred Wallace and William Jacobowitz.

The other first-place finishers in Friday’s 2-year-old filly trot were Temper Of Will (Conway Hall-Dixie Crystal), in 1:58.3 for driver Morrill, Jr., trainer Trond Smedshammer and owners Roger Slobody, Alfred Ross and Raymond W. J. Campbell, Jr., and Tap Tap Dance (Conway Hall-Suydance), in 1:57.3 for driver-trainer Dan Daley and owners Ann-Mari Daley (Dan’s wife), Richard Lombardo and Murray S. Ferguson, Jr.

Newcomer Crypto Man (Morrill, Jr. steering for trainer David Dziengiel and owner Anthony Lake) captured the week’s Miracle Mile-1 trot after a 1:56.2 front-ending effort in race six.

Daley and leading driver Josh Marks each recorded driving doubles during Friday’s program.

DOWNS DOINGS—The State Fair races for 2-year-olds were moved to Vernon from the Syracuse Fairgrounds…The State Fair races for 3-year-olds will be contest at Tioga Downs tomorrow night (Aug. 14) and Sunday afternoon (Aug. 15)…Saturday’s 12-race Vernon card will begin at 6:55 p.m

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Longshots Rule During Saturday Night Sire Stakes

Jo Pa’s Fod was the only favorite to finish first in Saturday night’s $151,664 New York Sires Stake feature for 3-year-old male pacers at Vernon Downs.

With Jim Morrill, Jr. driving for trainer Jim Campbell and the Emposimato Stables in Saturday’s initial NYSS contest (race five), Jo Pa’s Fod rallied from fourth at the half to reach the front by the three-quarter mark, and then had to tough out a nose decision over the pocket-sitting Jimmy Hanover in 1:52.1.

The gritty performance marked the second NYSS score and third this season for the bay son of Art Major-Athena Blue Chip, who has secured five wins, a 1:51.2 record and $144,201 in 20 lifetime starts.

Saturday’s unexpected NYSS winners were Joey The Czar (in 1:51.3 for driver Jimmy Whittemore, trainer Bruce Saunders and owner Kevin Gee); Erichs Best (in 1:53.2 for driver Fern Paquet, Jr., trainer Jamie Paquet and owner Erich Boehm); and Flexjet (in 1:54.4 for driver Brian Allen, trainer Chet Poole, Jr., who is also an owner along with Norman Kelapire, Deborah Chase and Winbak Farm).

Joey The Czar turned a draft-along trip into a ¾-length victory and a personal best record. It was the sixth season’s score and eighth lifetime victory for the bay son of Art Major-Razmataz Hanover.

Erichs Best, a bay son of Pro Bono Best-T C’s Ruler, closed from seventh in a :27.1 final quarter to produce a one-length tally, his fifth lifetime triumph (all this year), as well as a fresh win-mark.

Flexjet advanced from eighth (last) at the half and hustled home from sixth in the final quarter to record a 1-1/2-length verdict. It was the third current victory and eighth career success for the brown son of Village Jove-No Sweets Please.

Diamond Stick Pin (Howard Okusko, Jr. steering for trainer Jessica Okusko (his wife) and the Conrad Zurich, Edwin Gold and Purple Haze Stables ownership contingent, captured the week’s $11,000 Miracle Mile pace in 1:52.4.

DOWNS DOINGS—Living It Up’s 1:51.3 victory in Saturday’s first race was just 2/5ths-of-a-second off the Vernon record for aged pacing horses…Driver and trainer Rick Plano won three of Saturday’s 12 races, while Josh Marks and Brian Allen each chalked up driving doubles…The Downs will offer live racing at 6:55 p.m. Thursday-Saturday next week.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Bet the Ranch Sets Lifetime Mark With Miracle Mile Score

Skad’s Winner and Bet The Ranch were co-featured victors during Thursday night’s 11-race program at Vernon Downs.

Skad’s Winner eked out a 1:56.2 triumph in Thursday’s $10,000 sixth race, the week’s top Miracle Mile trotting contest, while Bet The Ranch uncorked a 1:51.1 tally in the $11,000 ninth event, the week’s MM-1 handicap for female pacers.

Bill Bailey steered Skad’s Winner for trainer Ann Yurenka and owner Mary Apker.

The sure-footed 5-year-old son of Broadway Hall-Angela Lane closed from fourth in the final quarter to move past the pacesetting Armbro Doyle with a head bob in the final stride.

The nose decision marked the fourth season’s score and 11th all-time for the gritty gelding that has earned more than $208,000 during his productive career.

Howard Okusko, Jr. was behind Bet The Ranch, guiding the quick-striding 5-year-old mare to a solid, front-striding score three races later.

The 3-1/4-length verdict resulted in a personal best record, the sixth local victory and 26th lifetime triumph for the bay daughter of Bettor’s Delight-Silksandiamonds, who is registered to Edwin Gold and Conrad Zurich.

Defending conditioning champ Jessica Okusko (Howard’s wife) trains the career winner of $216,917.

Former Downs provisional champ Chris Lems continued his hot streak, recording three first-place driving and training triumphs (Yessir Thatsmybaby, Onedayatatime and Won Night Stand), while the meet’s current driving kingpin Josh Marks also recorded three victories, two (Cool Touch and Striking Rich) for owner and trainer Scott West.

DOWNS DOINGS—After 46 Vernon programs, Bet The Ranch is just one win behind the pacer Up Front Rudy for top honors in equine victories, while Cool Touch is currently tied at five with Fox Valley Majesty for most tallies by a diagonally-gaited performer…There will be no live racing at the Downs on Friday (Aug. 6) due to a Clint Black concert at 8 p.m. However, the track will offer its regular simulcasting slate in the lower clubhouse…Live racing returns at 6:55 p.m. on Saturday (Aug. 7).

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Country Music Legend Clint Black Plays Vernon Downs Friday Night

Country music star Clint Black will play Vernon Downs this Friday night starting at 8:00. Tickets are still available at the Players Club and Ticketmaster outlets starting at $20. Here's a preview of the show from the Syracuse Post-Standard:

Clint Black’s first single, released back in 1987, was titled “A Better Man.”

The born-in-New Jersey, raised-in-Texas country music star has been living up to that title ever since.

Black has to his credit a long list of hits and awards, including the male vocalist of the year honor from the Country Music Association in 1990.

In 1999, Black won the Academy of Country Music’s vocal event of the year award for his performance with his wife, TV star Lisa Hartman, on “When I Said I Do.”

Black will perform outdoors, adjacent to Vernon Down’s horse-racing track.

WHAT: Clint Black in concert.
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday.
WHERE: Vernon Downs Casino and Hotel, routes 5 and 31, Vernon.
TICKETS: $20 and $30, available at Vernon Downs, Ticketmaster, and 800-745-3000.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Leading Driver Marks Triples His Fun

Sundowner Bob secured a training double for owner Scott West and a triple for leading driver Josh Marks with a 1:56.1 triumph in Saturday night’s $11,000 featured seventh race at Vernon Downs.

Leaving from the outside nine post in the week’s top Miracle Mile trotting contest, Sundowner Bob challenged for the lead from the start, took charge in Vernon’s clubhouse curve and then cruised to a three-quarter length decision over Unshakeable.

As second choice in the betting, he paid $5.70 to win.

It was the second season’s score (second in his last three starts) and 30th all-time for the 8-year-old son of Muscles Yankee-Pine Potion, who increased his lifetime earnings to more than $389,800.

West also owns and conditions the trotter Cool Touch, who produced a 1:56.3 victory for Marks in Saturday’s fifth race.

Marks also won with the trotting newcomer Current Ca Ching, conditioned by Paul Kulls, Jr. for owner Gil Chip Lawyer, en route to his ninth hat trick at the 44-program meet.

DOWNS DOINGS—Owner/trainer Leon Cable chalked up his first Vernon victory when Whiteland Will trotted to a 1:58.3 victory for driver Jimmy Whittemore in Saturday’s second race… Michael Miller, the meet’s second-leading provisional driver (behind Leon Bailey), notched his fourth win of the local campaign after Pacific Wave trotted to a 1:57.3 tally in Saturday’s third test… The Downs will present a special 12-race, all pacing make up program (for a Clint Black concert here on Friday, Aug. 6) at 1:15 p.m. this Monday (Aug. 2).