Saturday, April 13, 2013

Opening Night of the track's 60th season

Aruba Vacation (Fern Paquet, Jr) takes the Opening Night co-feature
Aruba Vacation and High Speed Life were co-feature winners at Vernon Downs on Friday night (April 12) as the Central New York harness track launched its 60th anniversary racing season.

On a rainy night and over a "sloppy" track, Aruba Vacation posted a front-striding 1:57 victory in Friday's opener, the week's $10,000 Open trot, while  High Speed Life forged the fastest mile of the evening, a 1:56.1 score in the $10,000 eighth event, the distaff Open pace.

Fern Paquet, Jr. drove the Howard Stables' Aruba Vacation to a 2-1/4 length triumph in Friday's first race.  The 6-year-old son of Dream Vacation is trained by Guy Howard.  Paquet and Howard also combined for a 1:57.1 victory with the trotter Grey Ice in Friday's $5,100 seventh session.

With trainer and part-owner Roman Lopez doing the teaming in Friday's eighth event, High Speed Life raced at or near the front before drawing off in the stretch for a 1-3/4 length score over the on-rushing Little Santamonica.  The victorious 7-year-old mare is also shared in ownership by Mitchell Frair.

Doubles were also recorded during the program by drivers Lopez (Mia Casino) and Chris Lems (Pop My Buttons and Ziegler Hanover, each trained by Dave Dewhurst).

The productive 12-year-old trotting gelding Scorpion Moon earned his 91st career victory with a bold-going 1:59.3 victory for defending driving/training champ Rick Plano in the evening's $4,100 sixth session.  Co-owner Tracy Brainard conditions the career winner of $949,991 for her partner Andrew Herzog.

DOWNS DOINGS—In spite of the mid-30 degree temperature and off-track conditions, all 10 Opening Night races went in 1:59.3, or faster…The Downs will continue its opening weekend with Saturday's 13-race program that will get under way at 6:45 p.m...This year's post time is 10 minutes earlier than in previous years…The track's 90-card campaign will continue through Nov. 2… Additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at