Sunday, July 15, 2012

Oriental Carpet Rolls to feature win; Plano wins 5

Oriental Carpet rolled to a career-fastest 1:52 featured race win, while leading driver Rick Plano piled up five first-place credits during Saturday night's 11-race program at Vernon Downs.

The fourth wagering choice in Saturday's $8,000 "Winners Over" contest, Oriental Carpet ($22.60) tucked in behind the pace-setting favorite Mach My Word going to the quarter, and remained in the garden spot until the final stages of the sixth race before rallying to record a neck triumph over the frisky mile-cutter.

Howard Okusko, Jr., who was injured earlier in the season, returned to the sulky for his wife, trainer Jessica Okusko, and patiently guided the 4-year-old son of Artiscape-Silksndiamonds to his second local win this year, third tally of 2012 and seventh lifetime score.  The career-winner of $43,627 is shared in ownership by Conrad Zurich, Edwin Gold and Wanda Polisseni's Purple Haze Stables.

Plano produced victories in the third (Fast Heat in 1:56), fifth (Where's Waldo in 1:53), seventh (Fish Tales in 1:53.2), ninth (Oozie's Bad Boy in 1:52.1) and 11th (Winbak Way in 1:55.1) events to bump his win total for the 36-program meet to 58, 10 more than runner-up Chris Lems.

Two of Plano's first-place finishes (Where's Waldo and Fish Tales) were behind pacers conditioned by the meet's top trainer and defending champ, Tracy Brainard, who hiked her victory total for the meet to 37.

The 60-year-old horseman also collected a training tally during the evening (Oozie's Bad Boy), and currently trails only Brainard by eight wins on Vernon's conditioning chart.    

DOWNS DOINGS—Only Tim Tetrick and Jim Morrill, Jr., with six wins each, have recorded more victories on a single Vernon card to date in 2012, the former on May 19 and the latter on May 25 and again on June 1…Through July 14, the pacers Oozie's Bad Boy, Miracle Freeluck, and trotters Yankee Manny and My Buddy Hall Lee are tied for the lead in equine victories at the meet with four each…The Downs will begin another week of Wednesday-Saturday live racing at 6:55 p.m. on July 18…Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at