Saturday, June 30, 2012

Whittemore, Plano post driving triples on Friday Night

Leading drivers Chris Lems, Rick Plano and Jimmy Whittemore all benefited from successful showings during Friday night's 10-race program at Vernon Downs.

Lems led the way with the trotters Royalty For Life (1:58.4) and Danijill (1:57) in events one and three, respectively, while posting his sixth two-win outing at the 27-program meeting.

Defending champ Whittemore and Plano, last year's runner-up, each produced three victories on a single Vernon program for the fifth time during the track's 59th season.

Whittemore won with the trotter Hall Of Mirrors (1:59.4) in the second stanza, the pacer Donna Party (1:54.2) in race seven and trotter Cedarridgetag (1:56.4) in the eighth event, while Plano finished first with the trotter She's All In (1:56.l) in the sixth session, the pacer The Bruiser (1:55.4) in the ninth race and capped off the program with a score behind the trotter Nowerland Nathan (1:57.4) in race 10.

At evening's end, Lems held a 44-42 advantage over Plano, and a 12-win bulge over Whittemore atop the track's dash-winning standings.

DOWNS DOINGS—Royalty For Life, trained by George Ducharme for owners Raymond W. J. Campbell, Jr. and Alfred Ross, became the initial 2-year-old winning trotter in pari-mutuel competition at the Downs this season…Royalty For Life , Hall Of Mirrors and The Bruiser all earned their initial career victories on Friday…Provisional pilot Leslie Hale hung up his third tally of the meet after a 1:59 showing behind his trotter B Cor Janett in Friday's fifth event…Live racing will resume at 6:55 p.m. tomorrow night…Vernon will present a special Tuesday card (first post 6:55 p.m.) on July 3, followed by a  fireworks show…The track will also offer a 1:15 matinee program on Wednesday, July 4…There will be no live racing on Thursday, July 5 due to a concert by "America" at the track…Live racing will resume at 6:55 p.m. on Friday, July 6 and Saturday, July 7…Starting July 11, Vernon will add Wednesday nights (first post 6:55) to its live racing schedule in July and through August 29....Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Jeff Gural, Owner of Vernon Downs Casino Will Personally MATCH Ticket Price for 1970's Music Sensation "America"

All Proceeds To Be Donated to the Food Bank of Central New York!

            As a way of giving back to the community, all proceeds from the ticket sales for the July 5th America concert will be donated to the Food Bank of Central New York.

In addition, Chairman of American Racing and Entertainment Jeff Gural, has decided he will now personally donate $10.00 to the Food Bank of Central New York for every ticket sold for the concert.  So, for every ticket sold, $20 will go to the Food Bank of CNY.
Vernon Downs will be celebrating America's Independence Day Weekend with a concert by the chart-topping group "America"!  Renowned for such great hits as: “A Horse With No Name: “Sister Golden Hair”, “Ventura Highway”, and “Tin Man”, “America” will take to the stage on Thursday, July 5th, outside and under the stars at Vernon Downs, followed by a fireworks spectacular. Tickets for the 8:00pm show are available for $10 at the Vernon Downs Casino Player’s Club and all Ticketmaster Locations. The Food Bank will also be on hand at the July 5th concert to collect donations for their organization.

“I recognize that many people in our community continue to struggle during these difficult times and I thought this was the best way for myself and our company to express our thanks to everyone for the support we have received over the last 6 years.” Mr. Gural stated. Last year $58, 246.13 was raised through ticket sales, Mr. Gural’s $5.00 match and donations at the Pat Benatar Concert and presented to the Food Bank at a Ribbon Cutting of the new Event Center on July 21st.

            Opened in 2006, Vernon Downs Casino Hotel occupies a 34,000 square foot gaming facility featuring over 767 video gaming machines, restaurants, lounges and arcades in addition to live and simulcast racing. The property also offers an all-suites hotel and employs over 375 people.  In 2011, Vernon Downs expanded the hotel to accommodate conventions, weddings, and meetings and have plans for further expansion in the future if it receives one of the seven casino licenses proposed as part of a constitutional amendment allowing casino gambling in New York state.

            Vernon Downs will wrap up its outdoor summer concerts with Bruce Springsteen
And the E Street Band Wrecking Ball Tour on August 29 th! Tickets are available at

Vernon Downs Casino Hotel is open year-round and is located on Routes 5 and 31 in Vernon, NY.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Updated Driver and Trainer Standings

Here are the latest driver and trainer standings at Vernon Downs through the end of racing on June 23:

Driver Standings
1. Chris Lems                             41 wins
2. Rick Plano                             39 wins
3. Jimmy Whittemore                  29 wins
4. Jim Morrill, Jr.                        20 wins
5. Frank Davis                           18 wins
6. Kevin Switzer, Jr.                   17 wins
7. Roman Lopez                        14 wins
8. Brian Connor                         11 wins

Trainer Standings
1. Tracy Brainard                       28 wins
2. Rick Plano                             22 wins
3. Dave Dewhurst                      15 wins
T4. Jessica Okusko                    11 wins
T4. Roman Lopez                      11 wins

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mach My Word is fastest on Saturday night

The pacer Mach My Word was Saturday night's fastest race winner, while another proponent of the lateral gait, Delaware Hanover, became the first 2-year-old to earn an official victory at Vernon Downs this season.

Mach My Word ($11.20) made every station a winning one en route to a 1:51.3 first-place finish in Saturday's $6,500 seventh race.  Frank Davis sat in for trainer Scott West as the swift-footed 4-year-old son of Mach Three-Keepsake Killean became a two-time winner at the 26-program meeting and secured his fifth career win for West and co-owner Tracy Brainard. 

Seven precocious frosh pacers were showcased in Saturday's $3,000 third event, with the well-bred colt Delaware Hanover cutting fractions of :28.1, :59.2 and 1:28.4, and then holding off a late bid by the colt Artis Great, before registering a 1:57.2 career-best score in his third lifetime outing.  He had previously finished first in two qualifying miles here, posting times of 1:59.1 and 1:57.3, respectively.  Trainer Frank Milby guided the brown son of Dragon Again-Dashaway Hanover to the convincing tally for owner Irwin Samelman.

Defending driving champ Jimmy Whittemore chalked up three tallies during Saturday's 13-race card, while current dash-leader Chris Lems registered two scores, as did fellow teamster Davis and trainers Lonny Hale and Scott West.

DOWNS DOINGS—Davis leads in driving doubles at the meet with six…The pacer Lightning Prince and trotter My Buddy Hall Lee each extended their winning streaks to three, tying two other pacers and a like number of square-gaiters for top honors in that category…Josh Kinney recorded his fourth provisional driving victory at the meet behind the Hale-trained pacer Bullish Blue Chip in Saturday's fifth race and currently trails Michael Miller by one first-place finish in that category…There will be no live racing at the Downs next Thursday, June 28.  Live racing will resume on Friday (June 29) and continue on Saturday (June 30)…Vernon will present a special Tuesday card (first post 6:55 p.m.) on July 3, followed by a 1:15 matinee program on Wednesday, July 4.  There will be no live racing on Thursday, July 5 due to a concert at the track.  Live racing will resume at 6:55 p.m. on Friday, July 6 and Saturday, July 7.  Starting on July 11, Vernon will add Wednesday nights (first post 6:55) to its live racing schedule in July and August....Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Pair of Track Records fall during New York Sire Stakes

Coral Snake and Bettor's Edge each re-set a track record for 3-year-old male pacers during Friday night's $208,800 New York Sire Stakes racing at Vernon Downs.
Coral Snake lowers the track record for 3yo colt pacers

Coral Snake reduced the Vernon standard for 3-year-old colt pacers to 1:50.1 with his fast-closing, career best win in Friday's third and final division of a $132,000 regular NYSS test for his age, sex and gait.  The previous 1:50.3 track standard had been established by Ove Vay in 1996.

Bettor's Edge trimmed 1/5th-of-a-second off the former Vernon record for sophomore pacing geldings with his 1:50.1showing in the first $44,000 NYSS flight.  The former mark for this class had been set by Fantaddy last year.

With George Brennan driving for trainer Casie Coleman and the West Wins Stable, the favorite Coral Snake ($2.90) rallied from fourth in the early going and closed from third in a :26.4 final quarter to slither under the finish wire a length ahead of the front-striding Escape The News in Friday's 11th event.  The brown son of Bettor's Delight-Southwind Coral remains undefeated after four lifetime starts (all this season) and increased his all-time winnings to $87,409.

Bettor's Edge sets new track record
With Jason Bartlett steering for trainer Linda Toscano, the crowd's choice, Bettor's Edge ($3.80), also rallied from off the pace in Friday's sixth session, defeating the determined closer Bet On The Law by a head.  The time was a personal best for the bay son of Bettor's Delight-Spring Wind, who now sports three wins and earnings of more than $112,800 after 16 career outings for his breeders, the Brittany Farms and Val D'Or Farms.

The other NYSS divisional winner was Ideal Romance (Brennan teaming for trainer Coleman) in Friday's ninth event.  The 1:51.1 mile resulted in a win record and the third lifetime tally for the career-producer of $47,865.  The bay son of American Ideal-Dial Romance is shared in ownership by the West Wins Stable and Mac T. Nichol.  

First-place finishers in Friday's $76,800 Excelsior Series competition for NY-bred sophomore male members of the lateral gait were Screen The Call (1:52.2), Sir Melo's Z Tam (1:53), The Green Knight (1:53.2), Sir Howie's Z Tam (1:53.2), Bettoriffic (1:54.2) and Mr. Erv (1:54.3).   

Bartlett, who posted three wins during Friday's 13-race card, piloted newcomer Transcending to a blistering 1:49.4 victory in the week's $10,500 Open pace (race seven), while Flex The Muscle finished first for trainer, driver and part-owner Ray Schnittker in the evening's $10,500 Open trot (race four), scoring in 1:53.4.

Transcending's time resulted in the second-fastest local mile of 2012, while Flex The Muscle's performance was just 1/5th-of-a-second off the Vernon standard for aged trotting horses, set by Speed Bomb on June 8.

Jim Morrill, Jr. also finished the night with three victories, giving the 54-year-old reinsman 20 tallies in four trips to the Downs this season.

In addition to Brennan and trainer Coleman, driver/trainer Pat Lachance and conditioner Erv Miller also chalked up a pair of victories during the track's 25th program   

DOWNS DOINGS—Nine of Friday's first-place finishers earned fresh win records…Saturday's 13-race program, which includes a Hambletonian trip giveaway promotion, begins at 6:55 p.m....Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at

Friday, June 22, 2012

Elleofnxample Upsets Thursday Feature

Elleofnxample displayed courage and determination en route to a 1:52.2 triumph in Thursday night's $10,500 featured ninth race at Vernon Downs.

Elleofnxample upsets the F&M Open Pace
A winner in the week's Open class for female pacers here on June 7, Elleofnxample ($35.20) went right for the lead from the start of this week's Open distaff test for lateral gaiters and maintained it through splits of :27 to the quarter and :56.2 to the half.  Shuffled back to second by the advancing favorite, Ocean's Motion, entering the final furlong, the 6-year-old daughter of N Xample-Farline Hanover battled back to regain the advantage entering the final sixteenth and maintained it to the finish by a head over the fast-closing High Speed Life.

With Todd Frocione driving for his dad, owner Lon Frocione, and trainer Tony Mondi, Elleofnxample earned her third current victory (second locally) and 17th all-time, while raising her lifetime earnings to more than $188,000. 

Rick Plano and Jimmy Whittemore each earned their meet-leading (along with Frank Davis) fifth driving doubles during Thursday's 12-race program.

DOWNS DOINGS—After 24 programs, Plano trails Chris Lems, 40-38, on the driving chart, and Tracy Brainard, 27-22, in training tallies…Top provisional pilot Michael Miller increased his current win output to five following a 2:01.3 victory behind Terry Miller's trotter Chip's A Cumin in Thursday's sixth test...The Plano-trained-and-driven 4-year-old trotter Presiding Judge (for the Retired Life Stable) earned his first career victory following a 2:00.4 tally in Thursday's third contest…The Downs will host a rich New York Sire Stakes feature for 3-year-old male pacers as part of tomorrow night's (June 22) 13-race program, which will also include the week's Open trot and Open pace.  First post will be at 6:55 p.m ...Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Vernon Downs increases purses

Vernon Downs will sport bigger purses starting with the Thursday (June 21) card.

Jason Settlemoir, Vice President of Racing, said, "We are happy to be able to have shown considerable improvement thus far in regards to wagering on our live product; our import number is up, too. Scott Warren (race secretary) has done an excellent job in providing our customers with good, solid wagering races. These increases have been substantial enough to warrant a purse increase at Vernon that we are pleased to announce."

All classes currently written will reflect a purse increase.

Vernon Downs will increase its racing schedule beginning in July. For the month of July, Vernon Downs will race Wednesday through Saturday with the exception of the week of July 1. That week racing will be added on Tuesday (July 3) with a 6:50 p.m. post time with fireworks and will be dark Thursday (July 5). The Wednesday (July 4) program will be a matinee with a post time at 1:15 p.m.

In August we will race Wednesday through Saturday with the exception of the week of August 26. That week Vernon Downs will race a special Sunday matinee program (post time 1:15 p.m.) with the $700,000 Zweig Memorial and the $50,000 Drivers' Challenge.

The dark days for the week will be Wednesday (August 29) and Thursday (August 30). "The Boss" Bruce Springsteen will be in concert in the infield on August 29 at 7:30 p.m.

The 90-day meet concludes on Saturday (Nov. 3). For more information visit

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Team Whittemore wins 1st Father/Son Driving Challenge

Oriental Carpet rolled out a late rally to capture Saturday night's $7,600 featured "Winners Over" pace at Vernon Downs.

Leading driver Chris Lems handled the lines for trainer Jessica Okusko as Oriental Carpet ($15.80) advanced on the outside from fourth at the half, challenged the pace-setting Shamderock for the lead entering the dash to the finish and then prevailed by three-quarters of a length.  The 1:52.1 clocking was a personal best for the 4-year-old son of Artiscape-Silksndiamonds, who is shared in ownership by Conrad Zurich, Edwin Gold and Wanda Polisseni's Purple Haze Stables. 

The Fathers and Sons pose before Saturday's Father/Son Driving Challenge
Saturday's fastest mile was a front-striding 1:51.2 performance by the 6-year-old pacer Pacinello in the $6,200 ninth event, with trainer Rick Plano teaming for the D&E Racing stable.

The Whittemore clan (father, Dennis and Son, Jimmy) accumulated 88 points to win the 1st-annual Father & Son Driving Challenge at the Downs.  Jimmy recorded a win (Lightning Prince) in the four-race competition, while Dennis, normally a trainer, helped out with a second-place finish (Fox Valley Valkari) and a third (Straightistheway). 

Whittemore, Vernon's defending driving champion, racked up a pair of first-place finishes during Saturday's 12-race program, as did driver Frank Davis.  

DOWNS DOINGS—The team of father, Robert Gale and son, Truman Gale, finished second in the Father-Son competition with 81 points…The other winning drivers in the pre-Father's Day contest were Claude Huckabone, III (Deau Best), Chuck Connor, Jr. (Bandini) and Truman Gale (Mighty Me)…Michael Miller gained a one-win lead (4-3) over Josh Kinney in this season's provisional drivers race following his 1:58.3 victory behind the trotter Broadway Matador in Saturday's 11th event…The Downs will offer live racing at 6:55 p.m. Thursday-Saturday night week, with a New York Sires Stakes feature for 3-year-old male pacers set for June 22...Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Yankee Manny slow to start, but fastest to finish

It took a while, but the favorite Yankee Manny finally lived up to expectations in Friday night's $9,500 Open trot at Vernon Downs.

Trainer Frank Davis drove in Friday's featured ninth race as Yankee Manny ($5.70) got away last as the event's second betting choice, Aruba Vacation, took the six-horse field to the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:26.1. 

Yankee Manny wins Friday's Open Trot
Advancing overland to third entering the stretch, Yankee Manny shifted into another gear in the final furlong and motored to a 1-1/2 length victory over the on-rushing Manningly. 

Friday's 1:55 score marked the third at the meet, fifth this season and 24th all-time for Brian Green's 6-year-old son of Yankee Glide-Yankee Minuet, who raised his career bankroll to more than $132,300.   

Drivers Rick Plano and Frank Milby each posted a pair of first-place finishes during Friday's 11-race card.

DOWNS DOINGS—Michael Miller's 1:56.4 tally behind the trotter Franklin M Hanover in Friday's 10th event was his third at the 22-program meeting, tying him with Josh Kinney for most provisional driving victories…Chalking up maiden wins on Friday were the pacers Debt Of Honor (1:54), Film Critic (1:56.2) and trotter Tarport Lauren  (1:58.4)…Saturday's 12-card program, that includes 10 pacing events, will feature four races in the track's first-annual Father & Son Drivers' Challenge.  First post will be at 6:55 p.m...Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Harlem Rockturne Upsets Thursday Night Feature

While Chris Lems and Rick Plano were competing in a determined driving duel during the evening, defending champ Jimmy Whittemore steered Harlem Rockturne to a 1:53.2 triumph in Thursday night's $9,500 featured sixth race at Vernon Downs.

Whittemore, a three-time dash-winning titleist at the Downs, got away third with the sixth-wagering choice, Harlem Rockturne ($18.60), in the week's Open for female pacers and the determined duo remained there until the stretch drive where they flashed to the front and finished first by one length.

Harlem Rockturne wins Thursday's F&M Open Pace
In securing her second score at the 21-program meeting, the 5-year-old daughter of Rocknroll Hanover-Capericorn equaled her career win-mark, chalked up her 12 lifetime victory and raised her all-time earnings to more than $103,200.  Whittemore's father, Dennis, owns and trains the speedy distaffer.

Plano, currently second in both driving and training tallies at the meet, captured the first (Damian Carlos N), Fourth (Misdori) and eighth (Sweet Fancy Moses) events, while Lems countered with first-place finishes behind Witch Trials in the second, Here Comes Doodles in the fifth and Dream State in the seventh session.

At program's end, Lems maintained a four win lead (37-33) over Plano in the reinsmen's report, while Whittemore  ranked third with 22 triumphs.

Also enjoying multiple wins during Thursday's 11-race card were trainers Plano (two), Dave Dewhurst (two), Lonny Hale (two), and owner Regina Dewhurst (two).   

DOWNS DOINGS—As the result of his win behind the Hale-trained pacer Canaco Star in Thursday's 11th event, Josh Kinney presently sits atop the provisional driver standings with three scores…Provisional driver Gary D. Gibson earned his initial win credit at the meet with a first-place finish behind the Joe Armstrong co-owned (with Anthony Aiello) and trained trotter Billy's Crystal in Thursday's third event.  It was the 3-year-old filly's maiden victory…Friday's 11-race line-up, which includes the week's $9,500 Open trot in race nine, will get started at 6:55 p.m...Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Dan Daley wins 1,000th career race

Dan Daley shown with wife, Ann-Mari and Racing Secretary Scott Warren
Veteran driver Dan Daley earned his 1,000th-career victory, while Hay Goodlooking achieved his initial local Open pacing triumph of the season during Saturday night's 12-race program at Vernon Downs.

Daley, who makes Vernon his summer home along with his wife, Ann-Mari and family, guided the 10-year-old trotter Bacon Hill Scott ($4.60) to a front-striding 1:57.1 triumph in Saturday's fifth race to reach the prestigious plateau.  It was fitting that his 1000th win should come behind a representative of the diagonal gait, as the 53-year-old horseman is widely recognized throughout the Standardbred sport as a top trainer of square-gaiters.

Saturday's score by Bacon Hill Scott was his second this year and 36th all-time.  The solid son of Sir Taurus is owned by Jennifer Signor and trained by Jason Signor.

Hay Goodlooking wins Saturday's feature
After four consecutive second-place finishes in top tier pacing competition here, Maryann Plano's Hay Goodlooking ($9.20) finally gained a trip to the winner's circle following the $9,500 featured ninth race.  Rick Plano, the 20-program meeting's second-leading driver and trainer, put the gritty 6-year-old gelding on the lead off the starting gate and kept him there past the half, reached in :55.3.  After being fronted by three-time local Open winner Diamond Stick Pin past the 5/8ths pole, the bay son of Art Major-Monique's Legacy staged a furious comeback in the final furlong that enabled him to best Diamond Stick Pin by a half-length.  The 1:51.1 clocking resulted in a fresh win-mark for the career-winner of $448,594, who secured his 30th lifetime victory.

It was one of three first-place finishes during the program for Plano, who ended the evening with 30 driving scores (four less than current leader Chris Lems) and 18 training tallies (nine off the mark achieved by training pace-setter Tracy Brainard).

Frank Davis also chalked up a pair of driving wins during the Saturday's card.   

DOWNS DOINGS—With Davis driving, the Lonny Hale owned and trained pacer Miracle Freeluck became the meet's initial four-time winning equine following a 1:52.2 effort in Saturday's seventh session that equaled his lifetime mark…The 4-year-old trotting mare Tender Loving earned her maiden victory after a 1:59 showing in race three. Plano drove for owner/trainer Brainard…The Downs will offer live racing at 6:55 p.m Thursday-Saturday next week...Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Track Records Fall in both Empire Breeders Classic Finals

The superiority of New York-bred 3-year-old trotters For A Dancer and Archangel was again apparent on Friday night at Vernon Downs by virtue of the fact that each was a track record-breaking winner in this season's $472,750 Empire Breeders Classic divisional events.

For A Dancer remained undefeated in four season's starts (two at Vernon) with a career-best 1:54 effort in the $239,500 EBC filly flight, while Archangel lowered his win-mark for the second straight week with a sizzling 1:53.1 triumph in the $233,250 EBC colt clash.
For A Dancer wins the EBC Filly Final

Former Downs regular Jeff Gregory was again behind the favorite For A Dancer ($3.40) in Friday's sixth session as the bay daughter of Conway Hall-Fluttering Wings followed Borrow And Spend off the starting gate, took the lead before the half, reached in :57.4, and continued on to a two-length tally over the closing Fortunista.  It was the 12th score (coupled with a second and a third-place finish) in 15 lifetime starts for the career-winner of $436,879, who is trained by Joe Holloway and owned by the Bluestone Farms.  She trimmed one-fifth of a second off the former 1:54.1 Vernon standard for her class, which was set by George Steinbrenner's Personal Banner in the 1996 Breeders Crown final.

Archangel lowers his own track record in EBC Final
Archangel ($3.10), who has collected three of his four straight victories over Vernon's 7/8ths-mile oval, improved his current record to four wins and a second-place finish in five starts with a lifetime-fastest 1:53.1 showing in race nine.  The black son of Credit Winner-Michelle's Angel was eased off the gate in fourth place by driver Jim Morrill, Jr., took the lead with a sweeping overland move in the second quarter, and, when challenged by the pocket-sitting Coraggioso in the final furlong, accelerated to a 1-3/4 length triumph.  The time clipped3/5ths-of-a-second off the previous Downs standard that Archangel has posted with an elimination tally here on June 1.  The career winner of $288,701 now sports seven scores in 18 lifetime outings for part-owner/trainer Peter Arrigenna and his partners, Alan C. Hainsworth and Clare M. Semer.

Friday's $9,500 seventh race, the week's Open trot, was captured by newcomer Speed Bomb, who earned a fresh win-mark and established a Vernon record for aged trotting horses with his eye-popping 1:53.3 gate-to-wire victory.  Jason Bartlett drove for trainer Ron Burke, the Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, the JJK Stable and Phillip Collura as the speedy 9-year-old bay son of Master Lavec-Mighty J C recorded his 41st lifetime score (third this term) and increased his all-time winnings to $821,428.

The previous 1:55.1 local speed standard for older trotting horses was set by Fight Cheer in 1999 and equaled by John Paul's Legacy in 2010.

Driver Rick Plano won four of Friday's 12 races and chalked up three training tallies, while Gregory and Morrill, Jr. each piloted a pair of first-place finishers.        

DOWNS DOINGS—Morrill, Jr. has visited Vernon on four occasions this year and has chalked up 17 victories…The Downs will simulcast all of tomorrow afternoon's races from Belmont Park, including the 144th running of the Belmont Stake at approximately 6:35 p.m…Saturday's live 12-race Vernon card, featuring the week's $9,500 Open pace, will begin at 6:55 p.m...Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at

Friday, June 8, 2012

EBC Trotting Finals Friday at Vernon

The top NY bred trotting sophomores will gather at Vernon Downs on Friday evening to contest the rich Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) finals. 

Ladies first, and the chase for the big share of the $239,500 final (race 6) is led by last year's NYSS final winner For A Dancer. 

Trained by Joe Holloway for owner Bluestone Farms, the Conway Hall filly has been flawless this season, lowering her lifetime record to 1:54.3 in last week's elim for regular pilot Jeff Gregory.

That one was a narrow victory over Cowgirl Hall, who returns as part of a three-pronged Ted Gewertz/Ray Schnittker entry in the final, looking to be just a head better than she was last week. 

Anandamide won the other elimination and her driver Jimmy Morrill always seems to have a little something left for next week.

Speaking of Morrill, he has his regular seat behind Archangel, the favorite in the $233,250 colt final (race 9).
Trainer Pete Arrigenna shares ownership of the handsome Credit Winner colt with Alan Hainsworth and Clare Semer and brings him into the EBC razor sharp.

Three wins in 1:55 or faster in four starts this season, including last week's track record of 1:53.4 (erasing Deweycheatumnhowe's 1:54 previous standard) on what was not a particularly balmy evening makes Archangel an obvious favorite and has his connections dreaming the big dream.

Coraggioso had the jump on the fave last week until making an untimely jump of his own in late stretch while moving like a winner.

Owners Joe Spadaro and Tom Durkin (yes, that Tom Durkin) could reap major rewards if their colt stays focused for trainer-driver Phil Fluet in this one.

War Cry Hall rewarded his sparse crew of backers with an $80 win ticket in the other elim last week and will be tracking the top choice in this one.

Post time at the venerable Vernon, NY 7/8's mile strip is 6:55PM on Friday and if the weather cooperates, sparks will fly.

Check this website for video of last week's races and further details.

Elleofnxample Surges to Thursday night feature win

Elleofnxample produced a strategic surge that carried her to a 1:52.4 victory in Thursday night's $9,500 featured eighth event at Vernon Downs.

Todd Frocione did the teaming for trainer Tony Mondi and his father, Lon,  in the week's Open contest for female pacers as Elleofnxample ($15.20) rallied from fourth at the quarter with a first-over move on the backstretch, then past the half, timed in :57.2, took command and outlasted the  fast-closing Glam Cam by half-a-length at the finish.

Elleofnxample surges to the lead to win Thursday's $9,500 F&M Open Pace
Thursday's tally was the second this season (first at Vernon) and the 16th all-time for the quick-footed 6-year-old daughter of N Xample-Farline Hanover, who bumped her career winnings up to $122,384.

Driver Chris Lems raised his meet-leading win total to 33 with a triple during Thursday's 11-race card, while runner-up dash winner Rick Plano posted a driving and training double during the meet's 18th program.  It was also a multiple win night for drivers Brian Connor (2) and Frank Milby (2).

DOWNS DOINGS—The Downs will host the championship races in this season's rich Empire Breeders Classic for New York-bred 3-year-old trotters tomorrow night, with the $239,500 filly flight going off as the sixth race and the $233,250 male showdown set for the ninth event.  Friday's 12-race card, which will also include the week's $9,500 Open trot, is set to start at 6:55 p.m…The veteran trotters Ray's Commando and Armbro Doyle each became three-time winners at the meet during Thursday's card....Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Artiscape, Bettor's Delight, and Empire Breeders Classic highlight the weekend schedule
A look back at the career of famed pacer Artiscape as his namesake race is only days away. That's the highlight of this week's edition of "Inside Harness Racing."

"Inside Harness Racing," a weekly, half-hour television show, airs today (Wednesday) at a special time of 10:30 PM on Time Warner Cable Sports throughout Upstate New York.  For the second year in a row, the show will also be broadcast on HPI TV in Canada .  Viewers can also watch every episode online at the Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs YouTube channel (

Host Justin Horowitz takes a trip down Route 17 to picturesque Winbak Farm to visit the 17-year-old stallion Artiscape. Artiscape was the 1998 3-year-old pacing colt of the year and has sired seven millionaires during his breeding career.

Tioga Downs will host the $200,000 Artiscape Open Mare Pace and the $200,000 Bettor's Delight Open Pace this Sunday, June 10.

This week's show also looks back at the eliminations leading up to Friday night's Empire Breeders Classic for 3-year-old trotters at Vernon Downs.

Also, Meadowlands commentator Wendy Ross makes her return to the show with an interesting look at the role of whips in harness racing.

Here's this week's episode:

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Diamond Stick Pin is back on top

Diamond Stick Pin re-established himself as pacing King-of-the-Hill following his narrow victory over newcomer Melvyn in Saturday night's $9,500 featured ninth race at Vernon Downs.

Two-time defending Downs driving champ Jimmy Whittemore did the teaming for trainer Jessica Okusko in the week's Open contest as Diamond Stick Pin ($5.70) drafted immediately behind the pace-setting Poker Hat until the half, timed in :55.2. 

After Melvyn came a callin' from fifth to take the lead entering the final furlong, Diamond Stick Pin shook loose from the pocket and closed like a gate in the wind to snare a nose triumph in 1:51.1, equaling his career-best win mark.

The fast-closing finish was his third in Open competition at the 17-program meeting, his fourth in 11 current outings and the 23rd all-time for the 6-year-old son of Bettor's Delight-Silksndiamonds, who is shared in ownership by Wanda Polisseni's Purple Haze Stables, Conrad Zurich and Edwin J. Gold.  The career winner of $438,933 hasn't finished worse than second in five starts at the meet dating back to April 28.

Whittemore finished Saturday's 12-race card with three tallies, tying with Rick Plano, who also recorded a triple, at 21 for second place on this season's dash-winning chart.  Chris Lems, the current driving leader with 30 first-place credits, recorded a pair of Saturday scores.  

DOWNS DOINGS—Defending champ Tracy Brainard is again the meet's leading trainer with 22 tallies…Driver Dan Daley recorded his 999th driving victory behind the trotter Alarming Quick (1:58.3) in Saturday's third race…Miracle Freeluck, a three-time winner at the meet, became the first pacing claim at the Downs this season after trainer Lonny Hale plucked him out of the sixth race for $7,500.  It was the largest of four claims at the track thus far this season…Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Archangel's Track Record tops Empire Breeders Classic Eliminations

Archangel stole the show in Friday night's Empire Breeders Classic elimination races at Vernon Downs, establishing a 1:53.4 track record for 3-year-old colt trotters.

Archangel establishes a new track record for 3-year-old colt trotters
Jim Morrill, Jr. drove in the $12,500 10th event, the second elimination for New York-bred male members of the diagonal gait, as Archangel ($5.30) closed from fourth in the final quarter (personally timed in :27 seconds) to defeat the breaking Coraggioso by 1-1/2 lengths.  The time was a win mark for the black son of Credit Winner-Michelle's Angel, who earned his third victory (plus a second-place finish) in four starts, and increased his career bankroll to $172,670 for trainer Peter Arrigenna and his partners Alan C. Hainsworth and Clare M. Semer.

Vernon's previous 1:54 record for this age, sex and gait was set by Deweycheatumnhowe in 2008.

It was one of six wins on Friday's 12-race program for Morrill, Jr., who also teamed six winners here on May 25.  He is currently tied with Tim Tetrick for most driving wins on one program at the 16-card meeting.  

The fastest filly flight went to For A Dancer ($3.00), who delivered a career-best 1:54.3 performance in Friday's $12,500 ninth race, which was just 2/5ths of a second off the track's female mark, established by Personal Banner in 1996.  Jeff Gregory drove for trainer Joe Holloway and the Bluestone Farms.  The bay daughter of Conway Hall-Fluttering Winds remains undefeated after three season's starts.

Also qualifying for next Friday's (June 8) $233,250 (est.) male EBC championship race here were War Cry Hall, the first division winner in a life's best 1:55.2 with Morrill, Jr. steering for trainer Ron Burke, and owners Joseph Di Scala, Jr., Cynthia Lynn Massari and the Burke Racing Stable, as well as Flyhawk Jester, A Penny Earned, Trouble, Delano, Coraggioso, Turbulent Flight and Southwind Austin.  No Frosting will be the first also eligible.

For A Dancer and Anandamide, who captured the first distaff dash in a career-best 1:56.2 effort, with Morrill, Jr. sitting in for trainer Anette Lorentzon and the Acl Stuteri Ab contingent, will be joined in next Friday's $239,550 (est.) filly final by Lima Playmate, Moonglow, Fortunista, Cowgirl Hall, Borrow And Spend, Latte Hall and Fancy, with Vixy serving as the first also eligible.  

Scorpion Moon dropped the fastest trotting mile clocking of the meet down a full second with his sizzling 1:53 victory in Friday's $9,500 seventh race, the week's Open contest.  It marked the sixth win in 10 current outings and the 85th lifetime score for the 11-year-old gelding, who is shared in ownership by trainer Tracy Brainard and Andrew Herzog.

Brainard chalked up three training tallies during Friday's program, while former Downs driving champ Brian Sears secured a pair of first-place finishes.

DOWNS DOINGS—The trotters Come On Jerry (2:00.2) and Whimzical Britt (2:00.3) each won their initial pari-mutuel races during Friday's program… Saturday's 12-race card, which includes the week's $9,500 Open pace (race nine) will begin at 6:55 p.m…Driver Michael Miller posted his second provisional driving victory of the meet behind the trotter Pacific Wave (1:58.4) in Friday's second event…Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at

Friday, June 1, 2012

High Speed Life's flying rally leads to Thursday feature win

High Speed Life became the 26th winner of two or more races at Vernon Downs after 15 current programs following her 1:53 performance in Thursday night's $9,500 featured 10th event.

Competing against eight eager rivals in the week's Open for female pacers, High Speed Life ($10.80) idled in sixth until the half, timed in :56.3, before launching a high-flying rally around the final turn that propelled her into the lead entering the final quarter and on to a 1-1/2-length victory over newcomer The Assassinator.
Roman Lopez and High Speed Life win Thursday's feature

Thursday's come-from-behind tally by High Speed Life was her second in three local outings this season, the fourth in 2012 and her 25th all-time.  Trainer Roman Lopez drove the 6-year-old daughter of Lease On Life-Nano, who has accumulated more than $447,000 in career earnings.

Lopez, who earned his eighth driving and seventh training triumph at the meet, shares ownership of the mature bay mare with Mitchell Frair.

LeWayne Miller, teaming with the trotters Mystical Muscles and Rocky Malibu for trainer Erv Miller, earned a driving double in his 2012 Downs debut.   

DOWNS DOINGS—14 pacers have captured two or more wins through May at the Downs, while 12 others have accomplished this feat on the trotting gait…Mystical Valentine and Cheap N Easy share the lead among members of the lateral gait with three wins each, while Ziegler Hanover sits alone atop the trotting chart with three... Mystical Muscles and Rocky Malibu each earned their maiden victories on Thursday…Leslie Hale tied Josh Kinney and Brandon Loomis at two for the lead among provisional drivers at the meet following his 1:54 victory behind the pacer P L Eclipse in Thursday's sixth session…Vernon will host four elimination races for the $500,000 (est.) Empire Breeders Classic championship races for 3-year-old trotters, to be held here on Friday, June 8.  Two of tomorrow night's elims will be for male members of the diagonal gait and two for females.  Friday's 12-race card, which also includes the week's $9,500 Open trot, will begin at 6:55 p.m…Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at