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Ron Pierce wins Drivers' Championship; Market Share and Check Me Out star in Zweig Memorial
Multiple Standardbred stars were in orbit around the fast 7/8ths-mile oval at
Vernon Downs on Sunday afternoon as the track's State Fair racing weekend
concluded with a power-packed 13-race program.
As the dust settled, the brightest stars at
day's end were Check Me Out, Market Share and Ron Pierce.
The even-money favorite Check Me Out lowered
Vernon's record for 3-year-old trotting fillies to 1:51.3, equaling her world
record, with a come-from-behind victory in Sunday's $150,000 Dr. Harry M. Zweig
Memorial Final for her age, sex and gait.
The crowd's choice Market Share lived up to
his top billing with a fast-closing (final quarter in :26.4) 1:52.1 track record
score in Sunday's $350,000 Zweig Memorial championship contest for 3-year-old
Hambletonian winner Market Share wins the Zweig Memorial
Ron Pierce captured three of Sunday's six
races in the 6th-annual Drivers' Championship to finish first with 49
points and earn the $25,000 top prize.He also won this prestigious event in 2010.
"It was a proud day for Vernon Downs and a
tremendous day for harness racing in the Empire State," said Jason Settlemoir,
vice-president of racing operations."It
was an ideal day weather-wise, Track Superintendent Tony Rossi had the
7/8ths-mile track in tip-top condition, there were five track records set or
equaled, which resulted in a very entertaining day for fans of the sport.The turnout was great and enthusiastic, which
certainly bodes well for the remaining 29 programs of Vernon's 59th
Prior to Check Me Out's sensational score in
Sunday's eighth event, freshman Vernon record-holder Gym Tan Laundry logged a
1:52.3 tally in race four that became a fresh Downs standard for 3-year-old
trotting geldings.George Brennan drove
for trainer Noel Daley and the Adam Victor & Son Stable.
Check Me Out matches her own world record in the Zweig Filly
In the very next race, Jim Morrill, Jr.,
sitting in for trainer Trond Smedshammer and owner Michael Andrew, steered
Chilitodayhotamale to a career-best 1:52.3 victory that became, at that point in
the day, a new Vernon standard for 3-year-old trotting fillies.
Check Me Out, currently ranked second to the
older trotter Chapter Seven on the sport's Top 10 chart, had to work hard to
earn her eighth win (plus a second-place finish) in 10 season's starts.The swift-footed daughter of Donato
Hanover-Illusion Bi was fifth at the half, before rallying first-over around
Vernon's final turn to wear down the front-striding Win Missy B and record a
1-1/4 length decision in race eight.Tim
Tetrick, the sport's top money-winning reinsman, did the teaming for
part-owner/trainer Ray Schnittker and his partner Charles Iannazzo.
"She's the best horse I’ve ever been
associated with,” said Tetrick in Vernon's winner's circle."She'll go as fast as you'll want to go with
Two races later, Tetrick was back in the
sulky behind the Linda Toscano-trained, recent Hambletonian winner Market Share,
who also had to rally from off the pace to out-scrap the game-going Magic
Tonight in the final strides and gain a two-length triumph.The track-record clocking equaled his
lifetime speed badge and became the Revenue S-Classical Flirt-colt's sixth score
in 13 starts this season, and 11th in 18 career outings.The lifetime winner of $1,272,505 is shared
in ownership by Richard Gutnick, William J. Augustine and the TLP Stable.
"This colt is super every time he goes to the
starting gate, and he just seems to get better and better every time out," said
Trainer Toscano, who is enjoying a magical
season, pointed out that the championship colt has worked his way up to the top
of the season's sophomore trotting class (currently ranked fifth on the sport's
Top 10 chart).
Pierce, a Hall Of Fame horseman who trailed
first round leader Dave Palone 25-19 after the initial $25,000 Driving
Championship leg at The Meadowlands on Aug. 17, earned 30 points during the day
after first-place finishes behind the pacers Shark Shooter (race two), Joba Jovi
(seven) and Stettin Hanover (11) to out-point local favorite Morrill, Jr.,
49-41, in the hard-fought competition.
Sunday's other Driving Championship race
winners were former Downs driving champion Brian Sears (Whimzical Britt in race
three, and Hot Cowboy in race nine), and Morrill, Jr. (Chilitodayhotamale in
Following Pierce and Morrill in the final
standings were Sears and Palone (38 points each), Yannick Gingras (34), Dave
Miller (30), Tetrick (19), Brennan (13) and last year's champ Jody Jamieson
Sunday's $11,000 Open pace was won by the
fast-striding Melvyn, who equaled his win-mark and bettered Vernon's all-time standard
for 4-year-old geldings after a 1:49.4 performance in race 12.Brennan did the teaming for owner and trainer
Rita Polese as the bay son of Mannart Howard-Cr Charisma collected his fourth
season's score, 12th lifetime win and raised his career earnings to
more than $212,000.
DOWNS DOINGS—Defending Driving
Championship titleist Jamison was honored with a bobblehead doll giveaway prior
to the program…Vernon's fastest trotting mile ever is still San Pail's 1:51.1
win on Sept. 2 last year…Gym Tan Laundry currently owns Vernon's 1:55.3 record
for 2-year-old trotting geldings, which was set on Oct. 28 last year…There will
be no live racing on Wednesday or Thursday this week, or simulcasting on Aug.
29. …On 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…Live racing
at the Downs this week will be conducted at 6:55 p.m. on Friday (Aug. 31) and
Saturday (Sept. 1) only.The track also
has a matinee program planned for 1:15 p.m. on Labor Day (Monday, Sept.
3)…Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and
promotional events can be obtained at www.vernondowns.com.