Saturday, October 6, 2012

Helios stars in round 2 of Late Bloomer Series

Helios, Celebrity Obsession and Miss Eva Cash were repeat winners in the $36,000 second round of the Late Bloomer Series for three and 4-year-old trotters, while Spring Goal captured the evening's $8,500 Junior Open trot, and leading driver Rich Plano posted five wins during Friday's 13-race program at Vernon Downs.

Helios, owned by the Little E, LLC stable, remained unbeaten after three career starts following Friday's 1:56.1 lifetime-best triumph for driver Chris Lems and trainer Jessica Okusko in the second (race four) of six $6,000 Late Bloomer divisions, while Celebrity Obsesion earned a 1:56.2 victory in the final flight (race 12), with Plano doing the teaming for trainer Susanne Strandqvist and owner Sam Stathis, and Miss Eva Cash claiming a career-best 1:57 tally, with John Stark, Jr. doing the steering for trainer Sam Schillaci and the Second Chance Stable in the night's 10th event.

Friday's other first-place finishers in Late Bloomer competition were Pollux Blue Chip (1:56.1) in race two, Mystical Muscles (1:56.2) in event six, and Getinonthesecret (1:56.4) in the eighth attraction.
Spring Goal wins Friday's Jr. Open feature

With Plano doing the piloting, Spring Goal closed with a flurry to gain a neck decision over newcomer Winning Fireworks in Friday's ninth contest.  Owned by Maryann Plano, Rick's wife, the 4-year-old son of Yankee Glide-Maragoal Miss maneuvered up from fifth at the half to second entering the payoff patch and then rallied to overtake the pace-setting favorite, A Penny Earned (who ended up third) and the on-rushing runner-up.  It was the fifth season's score (second at the Downs) and ninth all-time victory for the career-earner of $143,797.

Having attained five wins on a single Vernon program for the second time in 2012, Plano increased his local win count to 128 and his training tally to 67, thus gaining a one win lead over defending conditioning champ Tracy Brainard.

Also snaring multiple wins during the track's 78th program were drivers Lems (two victories), Claude Huckabone, III (two), Dan Daley (two), plus a pair of conditioning credits, and trainer Okusko (two).

DOWNS DOINGS—Saturday's 13-race line-up, which includes an $11,000 Open pace in race one, will begin at 6:55 p.m., and include a pumpkin giveaway, plus cider and donuts for all patrons attending (while supplies last)…Including Saturday's card, just 12 live programs remain during Vernon's 59th season that continues through Nov. 3…Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at