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.