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