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

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.