Saturday, June 11, 2011

Mata Harry Upsets Field in $10,000 Open Pace


Mata Harry turned an unintended gift from the favorite Highbeta Blue Chip into a 1:51.4 triumph in Saturday night's $10,000 Open-1 pace at Vernon Downs.

Boxed in fourth, three lengths behind the leader Highbeta Blue Chip entering the stretch drive, Mata Harry ($28.40) took advantage of a sudden opening in the inside pylon patch, accelerated through it (final quarter in :27.2 on a "sloppy" track) and came away with a one-length victory over the fast-closing Mystical Valentine in the evening's first contest.

Highbeta Blue Chip, who bore out from the inside in the final furlong, had to settle for third.

Saturday's score was the third this season (all at Vernon) and the 34th overall for the 10-year-old son of Armbro Operative-Down East Lady, who is owned by Elliot Missula.

The opportunistic effort increased his career winnings to more than $407,000.

It was one of four wins during Saturday's 10-race card for driver Jimmy Whittemore, who did the teaming for his father, trainer Dennis Whittemore.

The two-time defending champ and current leading chauffeur also finished first with the pacers Kingsandqueens (1:56.4), Forty Carrots (1:54), and the trotter Lekka (1:58.4) to post his third four-win outing in 24 programs, and hike his season's tally total here to 43.

Chris Lems, currently fourth on the track's dashes-won chart with 19 victories, collected his initial triple at the meet after scoring with the pacers You Bet Your Glass (1:52.3), Johnny Midnight (1:54.3) and Mackenzie’s Bliss (1:54).

The victory by the Leslie Hale-owned-and-trained Johnny Midnight was the 8-year-old gelding's fifth at the Downs this season, tying him with fellow side-wheeler Rosa Villa for top honors among equine performers at the meet.

DOWNS DOINGS - The streaking pacer Mach Hula extended his win skein to three after a 1:56 performance for driver Frank Milby, trainer/co-owner Dave Dewhurst and his partner, Louis Chichester, in Saturday's fourth event. Only Rosa Villa has more consecutive wins (four) at the meet... Justin Huckabone, 17-year-old son of Vernon veteran horseman Claude Huckabone, Jr. and brother of driver-trainer Claude Huckabone, III, began his harness racing career with several successful drives during Saturday morning's qualifying program here... The Downs will present live racing at 7:05 p.m. Thursday-Saturday next weekend... Additional information regarding the track's 2011 season and its casino can be obtained at www.vernondowns.com, and on Facebook.