Saturday, April 16, 2011

Scorpion Moon Takes Opening Night Feature

The proven veteran Scorpion Moon helped Vernon Downs' 58th season get off to a fast and successful start with a 1:54.3 victory in Friday evening's (April 15) $10,000 Open trot.

A large (3,460) and energetic crown turned out for opening night's promotional activities and 10 pari-mutuel races and watched the favored Scorpion Moon, shared in ownership by defending training champ Tracy Brainard and Andrew Herzog, dispatch five formidable foes in Friday's co-featured ninth event.

Jack Rice achieved a driving double by keeping his 10-year-old charge on the front end throughout, holding off the closing Don't Know Chip by 4-1/2 lengths.

The impressive performance not only resulted in the fastest mile of the young meeting, but it gave the bay gelding a 1-1-1 season's standard after three starts.

It marked the 77th lifetime victory for the career winner of more than $841,400, who paid $3.90 for finishing first.

Friday's $10,000 Open for female pacers was captured by the Big Sky Ranch's Blueridge Betty ($15.60), who defeated newcomer Late Flyin N by a neck in the eight event.

Trainer Joe Nassimos did the teaming as the quick-footed 5-year-old mare rallied from seventh in the early going to ink her first start of 2011 in the win column.

Driver Fern Paquet, Jr. (Ruby Falcon and Aruba Vacation) also chalked up a pair of first place finishes during the first of Vernon's 90-scheduled programs.

DOWNS DOINGS - Rice's other win came behind Don Brainard's trotter Cello Hanover in Friday's first race... Trainer Brainard recorded three wins and a second-place finish in four Friday outings... Saturday night's 12-race program, which includes the week's $10,000 Open pace, begins at 7 p.m.... Additional information regarding Vernon Downs and its casino can be found at