Sunday, October 28, 2012

Plano honored as leading horseman of 2012

The gritty gelding Western Tsunami toughed out a 1:50.3 victory in Saturday night's $11,000 Open pace, while Rick Plano was honored as the leading horseman of the 59th harness racing season at Vernon Downs.

Taking on four fleet-footed foes in Saturday's featured first race, Western Tsunami ($8.10) stalked the race's pace-setters—Sheer Brilliance at the quarter and Pacinello for most of the remainder of the mile---before rallying from fifth in the final quarter to overtake the Plano-piloted Pacinello and pull out a one-length triumph.

Rick Plano with race secretary Scott Warren and wife Maryann
Western Tsunami, who has only finished off the payoff board once in his last nine trips to the track, earned his fourth Vernon victory of 2012, his sixth season's score and 46th lifetime tally.  Jonathan Roberts did the teaming for trainer Tracy Brainard and her ownership partner, Andrew Herzog, as the 9-year-old son of Western Hanover-Rons Girl increased his career winnings to $360,620.  The time was just two-ticks of the clock off of his all-time speed mark, earned three seasons ago.

Roberts went on to capture Saturday's fifth race with the Hale Storm Stable's pacer Stettin Hanover and record his fourth driving double at the 88-program meeting. 

Plano posted victories with the pacers Moonlight Ransom (1:51.3), Lucky Sniper (1:53.2) and trotter Dipietrantonio (1:58.3) to conclude his current Vernon venture as the leading driver with 159 first-place finishes and top trainer with 78 tallies.  He will be shipping his strong stable to Florida's Pompano Park early next week, missing the final two programs (Nov. 2 and 3) of the track's season.

Former Downs training champ Lonny Hale was also credited with a pair of first-place finishes during Saturday's12-race card.  

DOWNS DOINGS—Josh Kinney, who steered the Jessica Okusko-owned and trained trotter Oldmanandthesea to a lifetime-best 1:58.3 victory in Saturday's second race, tied Michael Miller at six for most wins among provisional drivers at the meet...Vernon will offer live racing at 6:55 p.m. next Friday, and at 6 p.m. on Saturday to complete its current 90-card campaign…Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at