Friday, May 31, 2013

Empire Breeders Classis Trots at Vernon on Sunday

Elimination races for the New York sired $500,000e Empire Breeders Classics (EBC) three-year-old trots are part of a Sunday, June 2 matinee card at Vernon Downs. 

The fillies were split into two $12,500 divisions of seven that are carded as races 3 and 5.

The first division features 2012 Dan Patch award winner To Dream On and 2012 NYSS Final runner-up Isabella Gal.

To Dream On makes her first seasonal start for the Jimmy Takter stable and the race has enticed her regular pilot, Yannick Gingras, in for the drive. The Credit Winner filly lists the Breeders Crown among her eight stakes wins in just nine starts last year for owners Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld and Sam Goldband, all of Ontario, Canada. 
To Dream On was the champion 2yo trotting filly of 2012

Isabella Gal is local talent, having been bred and raised by recent inductee to the Upstate New York Harness Writer's Hall of Fame Robert A. Brooks, who owns the filly along with his wife Lynn, John Buettner and her trainer, Jeff Long. 

Lady Suffolk division winner Lola De Vie heads the second filly split, race five. Another Credit Winner lass, she was bred and retained by Joie De Vie Farm LLC and is trained by Chris Ryder. 

Trainer Bob Bencal brings the lightly raced Perfect Alliance into the EBC elims for owner Jeff Gural's Little E, LLC off of a well meant second at The Meadowlands in her last. 

The seventh race is the first of two for the colts and will pit the first and second place finishers from last year's NYSS final against each other right out of the box. 

Fashion Blizzard got the nod in that round and reunites with his regular driver, the New York circuit's top pilot Jimmy Morrill, Jr. Credit Winner again appears on the top line of the pedigree for this homebred winner of more than $300,000 for the interests of owner Fashion Farms, LLC and trainer Jimmy Campbell.

Tirade Hanover missed being the NYSS freshman champ by just a head. His seven wins in 11 seasonal starts left him just shy of $200,000 for his freshman season. He's logged a couple of impressive Harrington qualifiers for trainer Tyler Raymer to prepare for his sophomore season. The Crazed gelding is owner by a group that includes the trainer's wife, Leigh Raymer, Stephen Moss, and Harold & Helane Solomon.   

Division two comes in race nine and there are a few that can really go in that one.

Royalty For Life is housed on the Vernon backstretch and trainer George Ducharme has used three qualifiers, the fastest a month ago in 1:54.1, to prep his RC Royalty colt. A 1:54.2 Grand Circuit stake win at The Red Mile, a close second in the Breeders Crown final and earnings of more than a third of a million dollars last year has drawn national attention to Alfred Ross, Raymond Campbell and Paul Fontaine's colt. 
Royalty For Life seen winning last year at Vernon Downs

Royalty For Life, however, is not in by himself.

Twisted Pretzel was a contender in the NYSS program last year in the capable hands of trainer Paul Kelley, who owns him with Abraham Singer and Ted Gewertz. 

Pine Credit likes the big tracks, as evidenced by his Red Mile form last season, and has a few qualifier preps for the Erv Miller barn. The trainer owns him in part with Harvey Eisman and Mike Anderson's Paymaq Racing.

Jurgen Hanover has really come to hand in the Donna Marshall barn this year at age three. He's unbeaten in five starts, ripped through the Weiss series at Pocono and just trotted to a 1:54- win at Harrah's Philly. He is owned by a group that knows something about winning classic races, Norman & Gerald Smiley in partnership with Tom & Lou Pontone's TLP Stables. 

Post time for the 13 race extravaganza is 1:15pm on Sunday afternoon at Vernon. The rich finals are schedule for Sunday, June 9 at 6:45pm. More details may be found by visiting the track website.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Empire Breeders Classic Draw Info

The elimination races for the 2013 Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) for three-year-old trotting colts and fillies will be raced at Vernon Downs on Sunday, June 2.

A double draw will be conducted on Wednesday, May 29 with a box close of 9am. The $500,000 EBC finals are the following Sunday, June 9.

The quarantine of the Vernon barn area is scheduled to end on May 31, so horses may be entered and raced on Saturday that are stabled at locations other than Vernon.

The Race Office phone number is (315) 829-6825. The list of nominees, race conditions and condition sheet may be accessed on the Vernon website.

Plano makes it a memorable Memorial Day

Special Strides takes Monday's Open Pace
Defending driving and training champion Rick Plano started his Memorial Day afternoon at Vernon Downs with an Open pacing victory behind Special Strides and things continued to improve from there.

Leaving from post two in the $10,000 featured first race, Plano and his 6-year-old charge dropped into third place early in the mile contest, drafting along behind the pace-setting A Fool For Mark until the top of the stretch, and then accelerating in the final furlong for a one-length triumph in 1:50.4.

It was a career-fastest performance for the speedy brown son of Camotion-Belize and tied the fastest mile at the 14-program meeting, which had been established by the pacer To Beach His Own on April 27.   It marked the first win in 2013, but the 16th lifetime tally for the career winner of more than $78,000, who is owned by Thomas Witt and Richard C. Plano.

Plano continued on with first-place finishes behind Theresa Appler's pacer Sri Panka (1:52) in Monday's seventh session, and capped off the track's nine-race card with a 1:55.2 tally behind his wife Maryann's pacer Lotta Drama.

While securing his fourth triple of the meet, the 61-year-old Frankfort-native increased his leading win count for the track's 60th season to 30 and his top training total to 15.

Driving doubles during the sunny afternoon were registered by John MacDonald (First Tail U See and P J Lucky) and Chris Lems (That'ssomebracciola and Restless Yankee).  

DOWNS DOINGS—The 1:50.4 performance by Special Strides missed the Vernon record for older altered pacers by just one second…Sri Panka's trainer, John Gagnon, Jr., earned his initial conditioning credit at the meet with the seventh race score…Lems logged six driving victories during the three Memorial Day weekend programs…Vernon will continue with live racing at 6:45 this Friday and Saturday nights…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

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Penny Earned posts new lifetime mark in Open Trot win

A Penny Earned takes a new lifetime mark
The favorite A Penny Earned lived up to his top billing with a 1:54.4 victory in the $10,000 Open trot, while Scofanman secured the fastest mile, a 1:54.1 pacing triumph, on Saturday night at Vernon Downs.

Assigned the outside six post in Saturday's first race, A Penny Earned went right to the front off the starting gate and stayed in the lead throughout, defeating Margarita Man by nearly four lengths.  Chris Lems did the steering for trainer/part-owner George Ducharme as the 4-year-old son of Conway Hall-Penny Dream delivered a fresh win-mark, his second season's score and 10th lifetime tally.  The lifetime winner of $216,556 is also owned by Alfred Ross, Nicola Oliva and Paul Fontaine.

Trainer Brian Connor was the chauffeur of Scofanman, who zipped around a damp Vernon oval to post his first current victory and third career tally in Saturday's $3,000 third event.  The 4-year-old son of No Pan Intended-Dark Fiber took command in the clubhouse curve and never looked back en route to a 3-3/4-length score for owners Arnold Merola, Kathleen Merola and Bob Barnello.

Lems also won Saturday's second race with the Champion Stable's trotter Rockway (2:00.4) to chalk up his meet-leading fifth double.   Driver Truman Gale (the pacer Western Deuce in 1:55.4 and trotter Here Comes Annie in 1:56.3) also earned a pair of win-credits during the track's 13th racing program.

Leading trainer Roman Lopez (14 conditioning credits) also posted two driving tallies during Saturday's nine-race card.

DOWNS DOINGS—After Lopez tied him at 26 with a first-place finish behind the Tanah Merah Farms-owned trotter Glorious Winner (1:55) in Saturday's $6,000 seventh race, leading driver Rick Plano regained the cat bird's spot atop the track's driving chart with a 1:56.2 score behind David Fisher's trotter Steuben Lone Pine in the evening's $5,000 ninth event…Live racing will resume at the Downs at 1:15 on Monday as the track presents a nine-race Memorial Day matinee, and a 60th anniversary baseball cap giveaway, free while supplies last…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

Saturday, May 25, 2013

To Tell The Truth leads all the way to win Friday's feature

To Tell The Truth (Rick Plano) wins Friday's feature

To Tell The Truth dispatched six speed-minded pacing rivals with ease en route to a 1:53.4 victory in Friday night's $6,000 featured eighth event at Vernon Downs.

Leading driver Rick Plano did the piloting over a track labeled good on a chilly central New York evening as To Tell The Truth left the gate with speed and spirit, continued on the front-end throughout and defeated Steuben Ruthless by nearly three lengths.

Friday's first-place finish was the second in succession, the third in 11 season's starts and the 10th overall for the 4-year-old daughter of Tell All-Living With Art, who increased her career bankroll to $35,376 for owner Maryann Plano (Rick's wife).

With the victory, Plano increased his current driving advantage to 26-24 over Roman Lopez and tied him at 13 atop the track's training chart.

Drivers Chris Lems and Truman Gale each recorded doubles during Friday's nine-race program.

DOWNS DOINGS— Friday's first-place finishers To Tell The Truth and Bettor's Choice tied Artic Byrd at three for most pacing victories at the 12-night meet…The trotter Hold On Tightly is the winningest equine at the Downs this season with five scores...The pacers Doctor Of Speed (2:00.2) and Lis Rain (2:00) each recorded their initial career victories during Friday's program…The Downs will offer a nine-race card starting at 6:45 tomorrow night and the same number of pari-mutuel events during a special Memorial Day matinee program that will begin at 1:15 on Monday afternoon …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