For the second straight week, Luke Plano did the steering for trainer Mary Fisher as the crowd's choice, Steuben Ruthless ($4.60), extended the meeting's longest winning streak by a representative of the lateral gait to five, and became the local campaign's initial eight-time equine victor after a career-best 1:51.4 performance.
Drafting along in third to the half, timed in :54.3, Stueben Ruthless rallied to overtake the pace-setting Cheap N Easy early in the payoff patch, and then accelerated (last quarter in :28.1) to a 2-1/4-length triumph. She's earned more than $30,800 in 23 career outings for her New York breeder, the Steuben Farms.
The 3-year-old bay daughter of Dragon Again-Ruthless Jen began her winning streak here back on Aug. 23. The fast-paced filly is now just one win behind the trotter My Buddy Hall Lee for most consecutive tallies at the Downs thus far in 2012.
She presently owns a two-win lead over My Buddy Hall Lee, plus the trotter Whispur, and pacers Mia's Star and Mach My Word after 71 current Vernon programs.
Ten-time track driving champion Howard Okusko, Jr. and his wife, trainer Jessica Okusko, each recorded a pair of first-place finishes during Thursday's 11-race program.
DOWNS DOINGS—The 2-year-old trotting colt Bar Back (Malabar Man-Winbak Flame) secured his initial pari-mutual victory after a 2:01.1 effort for trainer/driver Dan Daley and owners Ann-Mari Daley (Dan's wife) and Richard Lombardo in Thursday's ninth race…Tracy Brainard increased her leading conditioning count to 59 after the pacer JK Geronimo notched a 1:54.4 score in Thursday's eighth event…Top driver Rick Plano (Luke's father) upped his win total to 110 after finishing first with the Eric Felter-trained pacer R U For Me in the evening's 11th event…Friday night's 12-race program will begin at 6:55 p.m…Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at www.vernondowns.com.