Tuesday, May 28, 2013

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 www.vernondowns.com.