Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Penny Earned splashes to Open Trot win

A Penny Earned captured the $10,000 Open trot, while Ray Schnittker secured two scores in the opening round of the Catherine Burton Memorial Trotting Series on a rainy Friday night at Vernon Downs.

Competing over a "sloppy" track in race nine, A Penny Earned eked out a neck tally in his initial venture of 2013.  With Chris Lems doing the driving, the determined 4-year-old bay horse rallied on the outside from fourth at the half and closed from second in the final strides to nip the front-striding Grey Ice in an impressive 1:57.3 performance. 

It marked the ninth career win for the quick-footed son of Conway Hall-Penny Dream, who boosted his all-time winnings to $206,556 for trainer George Ducharme and his ownership partners Alfred Ross, Paul Fontaine and Nicola Oliva.  The bay battler's winning time was just 3/5ths of a second off the fastest trotting mile of the three-night meet, set by Aruba Vacation last Friday.

Trainer Schnittker steered Il Pizzaiolo (2:01.4) and Laughing King (1:59.4) to victories in the new Burton Series, which honors the memory of a long-time track horsewoman and owner, who passed away at the age 88 last January. The first-place finishes resulted in initial career scores for each promising sophomore son of Deweycheatumnhowe.

Friday's other Burton winners were Pollux Blue Chip (2:00.4) and Hold On Tightly (2:01.4).

Friday's fastest mile was a 1:53.3 spin around Vernon's soggy 7/8ths-mile oval in race eight by Buck Stops Here, with John MacDonald doing the teaming for trainer Tracy Brainard and her partners Charles and Giorgan Iannazzo.   

DOWNS DOINGS—The meet's initial two-time winners are the trotters Hold On Tightly, Ziegler Hanover, Alarming Quick and Scorpion Moon, who secured his 92nd career tally in race 12…In addition to Schnittker, Friday doubles were recorded by defending driving and training champ Rick Plano, Chris Lems, owner Theodore Gewertz and conditioner Brainard…Saturday's 13-race slate includes three divisions in the new Anthony Farina Memorial Pacing Series and begins at 6:45 p.m…The Downs will continue Friday and Saturday evening racing (first post 6:45) only through May 4.  Thursday nights will be added starting May 9…Vernon's 90-card campaign continues through November 2…A complete racing and stakes calendar, as well as additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at