High Speed Life wired seven Open rivals to captured Thursday's $11,000 featured ninth race in 1:53.1, fastest mile of the track’s 77th program, while Whispur recovered from an early break in stride to rally and claim the evening's $3,700 11th event and become the meet's winningest representative on the diagonal gait.
With part-owner and trainer Roman Lopez doing the driving, High Speed Life ($6.70) went to the front from the word "go" and led through splits of :28 seconds, :57.3 and 1:25.3 before holding off the late-closing favorite Steuben Ruthless by a neck in the week's top test for female members of the lateral gait.
The win, one of two on the night for driver Lopez, was the fifth locally, the eighth this season and 29th overall for the 6-year-old daughter of Lease On Life-Nano, who is also owned by Mitchell A. Frair. The determined victory raised her career earnings to more than $502,200.
After going off-stride early in Thursday's 11th event, the crowd's choice Whispur ($3.30) regained his composure and gait in the clubhouse curve, and then rallied from fifth at the half to become a contender in the final strides. The gritty 6-year-old gelding won out by a nose over three hard-charging rivals to earn his seventh Vernon victory and become the meet's winningest trotter.
Thursday's tally was the 10th all-time for Whispur, who is owned by the current campaign's leading conditioner Tracy Brainard (66 wins).
Top teamster Rick Plano (123 tallies) posted two victories and a pair of training triumphs during Thursday's card, while drivers Jimmy Whittemore and Joe Nassimos also visited Vernon's winner's circle twice during the program.
DOWNS DOINGS—The pacer Steuben Ruthless is the meet's winningest equine through Oct. 4 with eight first-place finishes…The 3-year-old trotter Lolly Pike (2:00.1) and sophomore pacer Artie Cat (156.3) each secured their initial pari-mutuel victories during Thursday's program…Artie Cat's half-brother Camvicster (owned by Leslie Whitmer and also out of the family's productive broodmare Madonna Victoria) finished first in Thursday's second race. Another half-brother, Turning For Home, (trained by Leslie’s mother, Lynn, also competed during the track's 77th program…Just 13 live programs remain during Vernon's 59th season which goes through Nov. 3…Friday's 13-race card, which includes six divisions of the track's new Late-Bloomer Series for three and 4-year-old trotters and the week's $8,500 junior Open trot, 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.