Monday, April 23, 2012

Defending champs dominate in Vernon Downs qualifiers


Defending driving champion Jimmy Whittemore and training titleist Tracy Brainard were each credited with victories during Friday's qualifying program at Vernon Downs.

104 harness horses performed during the morning's 17 races as the Central New York harness track prepared for its 59th season.

Whittemore, who was tops in wins during Vernon's 2011 campaign with 108 first-place finishes, guided JK Panache to a 1:54.4 triumph in Friday's fifth race.  It proved to be a career-fastest mile for the 3-year-old pacing colt that is shared in ownership by trainer Dave Dewhurst and Philip Hale.

Brainard, who led all conditioners at the Downs last year with 56 victories, received a 2:00.4 score from her veteran trotter Armbro Doyle in Friday's 10th event.  Provisional reinsman Jordan Hope did the teaming.

Veteran driver Chris Lems recorded three tallies during Friday's second practice session of the season, two of them for trainer Deedra Johnson and the other for owner and conditioner Gary Bryant.

Driving and/or training doubles were also posted over Vernon's 7/8ths-mile track by Brian Connor, Leon Bailey, Adam Capizzano, Gary Minckler and Paul Minckler.

Vernon will conduct its annual Media Night program at 6:55 p.m. on Tuesday (April 24) and another qualifying session at 11 a.m. next Friday (April 27).   The track's official 90-card campaign will follow at 6:55 p.m. that Friday evening (Apr. 27).

DOWNS DOINGS--Additional information regarding the track's 59th schedule and its casino can be obtained at www.vernondowns.com.