Saturday, August 25, 2012

Opening Night of State Fair races at Vernon Downs

Sir Lehigh Z Tam and Pat Berry win a division of the NYSF
Sir Lehigh Z Tam turned in the fastest performance among the 81 New York-bred 2-year-old distaff Standardbreds competing in Friday night's $128,300 State Fair racing program at Vernon Downs.

With Pat Berry doing the teaming for trainer Richard Ringler in Friday's eighth event, a division of the $63,900 frosh filly pace, Sir Lehigh Z Tam rallied from fifth in the early going, closed from second at the head of the payoff patch, and then caught and passed the pace-setting Know It All in deep stretch to earn a career-best 1:53 win mark.

It marked the second Vernon victory and the third tally in five lifetime starts for the steady-going daughter of Art Major-Moss Blue Chip, who is registered to Pat Lachance, Ira Rosenblum and the M&M Harness Racing contingent.

Friday's other first-place finishers in the filly pace were JK Songsunblue (Art Major-Song Bird) in 1:53.3, Greatdayforamerica (American Ideal-Seasational) in 1:54, Ritascape (Artiscape-Rita J) in 1:54.1 and Mollie Mile (American Ideal-Little Betty) in 1:55.2.

On the trotting side of the ledger, You Want Me gave noted catch-driver Jim Morrill, Jr. his fifth win during Friday's 11-race program after her maiden-breaking 1:57.1 performance in race nine.  It was also one of three tallies during the track's 59th program for trainer Paul Kelley.  William Weaver, III and the Kelly Racing Stable own the black daughter of Credit Winner-Annette Hall, who also sports a pair of second-place finishes and a third in five official trips to the racetrack.

The other female tallies on the diagonal gait were recorded by Palm Beach Chic (Conway Hall-Back On Track) in 1:57.3, Isabella Gal (Rc Royalty-Tango Hall) in 1:58.1, Americash Express (Cash Hall-Neon Hall) in 1:58.4 and Playful Credit (Credit Winner-Pinery) in 1:59.

Former Vernon regular Jeff Gregory piloted a pair of first-place finishers during Friday's program, as did defending track driving champion Jimmy Whittemore.

DOWNS DOINGS—Isabella Gal, who owns the season's fastest mile by a 2-year-old filly trotter at the Downs  (a 1:56.2 tally on July 26) is the winningest member of Friday's State Fair performers with four first-place finishes in seven starts…Also earning "maiden" victories during the evening were Aspidistra Hanover, Americash Express, Playful Credit, Greatdayforamerica, You Want Me and JK Songsung-blue.…The Downs continues its State Fair racing weekend on Saturday with New York-bred competition for 2-year-old colt/gelding trotters and freshman male pacers.  Saturday's 12-race card will begin at 6:55 p.m…Vernon will conclude State Fair weekend with its initial $50,000 leg of the 6th-annual Driving Championship at 1:15 p.m. on Sunday (Aug. 26).  Dave Palone is the early points-leader after the event's first round that was held at The Meadowlands racetrack in New Jersey on Aug. 17.  Sunday's 13-race card will also include colt and filly flights of the $700,000 (est.) Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial 3-year-old trot, and a Jody Jamieson bobblehead doll giveaway…The Downs also has a matinee program planned for 1:15 p.m. on Labor Day (Sept. 3)… Next Wednesday (Aug. 29), Vernon will host a concert by "The Boss," Bruce Springsteen and his E-Street band at the track.  It's a leg of the noted singer's current Wrecking Ball Tour…Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at