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