Sunday, June 30, 2013

Northern Companion Wins the Open Pace, Truman Gale wins 4

Northern Companion takes the Saturday feature

The pacer Northern Companion and driver Truman Gale were each prominent performers during Saturday night's 60th Anniversary celebration program at Vernon Downs.

Northern Companion charged home from third in a :27.3 final quarter to defeat track record-holder JK Panache in Saturday's $10,000 featured Open pace, while Gale, a former provisional driving champion at the track, captured four of the evening's 13 races.

Competing over a rain-soaked "sloppy" track in Saturday's 10th contest, Northern Companion laid back in fourth while JK Panache carved fractions of :26.3, :55.1 and 1:23.3.  With trainer Robert Hoffman doing the steering, the 5-year-old son of Cambest-Smoke It Out began his closing kick near the three-quarter mark before drawing off in the final stages of the mile to win by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:51.2.  It marked the third local score, the eighth season's tally and the 28th lifetime win for the career-earner of $147,452, who is owned by Dorothy Zarza.

Gale started the program with wins in the Early Double behind Tobell and Hot Cowboy.  He added victories with Ringo Hanover in race four and No More Drama in race 11 to join Rick Plano, Roman Lopez and Jimmy Whittemore as the only drivers to have posted four or more wins during a single Vernon card through 30 programs.

Lopez logged three wins during the evening, while Hoffman hustled up a pair of first-place finishes, as did trainer Jocelyn Lavigne.

Trainer Lopez guided the Tanah Merah Farm's Glorious Winner to a 1:55.2 triumph in Saturday's $8,000 Open-2 trot.

DOWNS DOINGS—A 1:59.1 performance by Philip K. Hale's trotter Fedigan's Glory in race three was the promising colt's initial lifetime victory.  Lopez did the teaming for trainer Dave Dewhurst…Track official celebrated Vernon's 60th Anniversary season with a commemorative T-shirt promotion, an expense-paid trip giveaway to the prestigious Hambletonian Stake, and a $500 betting voucher prize in the Great Moments in Vernon Downs History promotion…Vernon will offer live racing Thursday-Saturday next week, with Thursday's July 4 card starting at 1:15 p.mA revised 2013 racing and stakes calendar, as well as additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at

Friday, June 28, 2013

Cowgirl Hall takes Friday feature; Plano wins 5

Cowgirl Hall and Gates Brunet take the Friday feature

Cowgirl Hall and driver Rick Plano shared top billing during Friday night's 12-race program at Vernon Downs.

Former New York Sire Stakes standout Cowgirl Hall collected her first win of the season with a fast-closing 1:55 effort in Friday's $6,200 feature, while Plano, the track's leading reinsman and trainer again this season, posted five first-place finishes to tie Roman Lopez for most victories on a single card after 29 current programs.

Trainer Gates Brunet did the teaming in Friday's seventh session as Cowgirl Hall settled into fifth place during the early going, advanced to fourth around the final turn, and then turned on the speed in the final furlong to defeat the pocket-sitting Salome Marvel by a little more than two lengths.

Friday's first marked the 12th lifetime tally by the 4-year-old daughter of Cash Hall-Centerfold Hall.  The career earner of $411,304 is shared in ownership by Deborah Brunet (Gates' wife), Y. J. Brunet, Theodore Gewertz and Michael Rosenfeld.

Plano, the 2012 driving and training champ, captured the second (Cannae Barron), fifth (Armbro Doyle), sixth (Ulay Boko), eighth (Mchoffman) and 11th  (Keystone Sapphire) events.  The 61-year-old horseman also chalked up a second-place finish and a trio of thirds while raising his leading win count for the meet to 57 and his top training total to 25.

The trotters Ulay Boko, owned by Maryann Plano, and Don Dinero, registered to owner and trainer Jenny Melander, each collected their fifth Vernon victories of 2013 and moved into a tie with the square-gaiter Hold On Tightly and pacer Canaco Star for most equine scores through June 28.

DOWNS DOINGS—The Angus Mac Donald trained and driven My Future Ex earned his initial career win following a 1:58 trotting performance for owner Neal Chilson in Friday's third event…Saturday's 13-race program, which celebrates Vernon's 60th Anniversary season with a commemorative T-shirt promotion, an expense-paid trip giveaway to the prestigious Hambletonian Stake, and a $500 betting voucher prize for some lucky fan, will get underway at 6:45 p.m.A revised 2013 racing and stakes calendar, as well as additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at

Fool Me Once breaks track record in the slop in NYSS

Fool Me Once (Scott Zeron) break the track record in NYSS action

The favorite Fool Me Once lived up to his top billing with a 1:50  track record performance in the fastest of three divisions of Thursday's $132,975 New York Sire Stakes feature for 3-year-old male pacers at Vernon Downs.

Rated perfectly throughout the ninth race in a persistent rain and over a sloppy track, Fool Me Once was sent to the front at the start by driver Scott Zeron and led through splits of :26 seconds, :55.1 and 1:23.4 en route to an impressive four-length victory, clipping one-fifth-of-a-second off the former Vernon standard for 3-year-old colt pacers, that had been set by Coral Snake on June 22 last season.

Thursday's brilliant performance resulted in the fifth win in seven season's starts by the bay son of Art Major-Fool That I Am and his ninth career tally.  Mark Austin conditions the lifetime earner of nearly $293,000 for the Mark Austin Stables, Inc. and Daniel W. Smith.

Thursday's other NYSS divisions were captured by Hail The Taxi (Art Major-Taxi Hanover) in 1:51 over a "good" track with Hall-of-Famer John Campbell doing the teaming for trainer Jim Campbell and the Fashion Farms, LLC, and Bettor Than You (Bettor's Delight-Mambo Hall) in 1:51.4 on a similarly rated surface with Jim Morrill, Jr. doing the steering for owner/trainer Tony O'Sullivan and his partners John D. Fielding and Jim H. Fielding. 

I'm The Real Major (Art Major-Real Girl) posted a 1:52 personal-best speed-mark to snare the swiftest Excelsior Series score for male sophomore side-wheelers, with Chris Lems steering for trainer Margaret Spagnola and owners Dave Spagnola and the Our Blue Streaks Stable.

Thursday's other Excelsior series splits were won by Stormy West in 1:52.1, Humility in 1:53.3, Just Bettor in 1:53.4 and Larussa STL in 1:54.

First-time Downs starter Blissfull Romance earned a 1:52.3, head decision over Bells Are Ringing in Thursday's 10th event, the week's $10,000 Open distaff pace, with Morrill, Jr. piloting for trainer Ron Burke, the Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi.

Nine-time current local winner Morrill managed his third triple of Vernon's 60th season, while the 28-program meeting's leading trainer and driver, Rick Plano, posted a pair of first-place finishes, as did John Mac Donald and Jason Bartlett.    

DOWNS DOINGS—The record performance by Fool Me Once is the seventh track standard that has been re-written or equaled to date during Vernon's 60th season…Vernon's current 1:49.3 mark for aged gelding pacers belongs to A Fool For Mark, who established the new standard on June 22…Friday's 12-race card will begin at 6:45 p.m., as will Saturday's 13-race program, which celebrates Vernon's 60th Anniversary season with a commemorative T-shirt promotion, an expense-paid trip to the Hambletonian Stake giveaway and a $500 betting voucher prize for some lucky fanA revised 2013 racing and stakes calendar, as well as additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

New York Sire Stakes Colts at Vernon on Thursday

The glamor boys hit town this Thursday when the three-year-old colt pacers roll into Vernon Downs for a New York Sire Stakes event worth a total of $132,975.
27 colts & geldings were entered resulting in three even divisions of nine, each for a purse of $44,325. The under card offers five $12,800 Excelsior divisions for the same group. 

While the first two divisions, carded as the fourth and sixth races, featured some nice, solid pacers, the ninth race drew the most heat. That division boasts two division winners from the Yonkers leg in Sir Cary's Z Tam and Bet The Moon along with Rooney Memorial winner Doctor Butch and Fool Me Once, who won his North American Cup elimination in 1:48.1 a few weeks back then came fourth in the $1,000,000 final.  

This one sets up in a fashion that may well threaten Coral Snake's 1:50.1 Vernon Downs track record for sophomore pacers, perhaps even He's Gorgeous' all age standard of 1:48.3. Both were established over the razor sharp seven-eighths mile strip just last year. 

First post Thursday is 6:45. Visit the Vernon website for more information

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Lifetime and Track Records at Vernon Saturday

Vernon Downs was the place to be Saturday evening if you were in the need for speed.

Lifetime marks were taken in all 13 races while 4 track records were either equaled or broken.  Track Superintendent Tony Rossi and his crew had the track in outstanding condition.

Summertime Lea wins the NYSS in 1:50.4
In the first division of the New York Sire Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, Summertime Lea (Jim Morrill Jr.) was victorious in 1:50:4. Leaving from post 9, the Lislea offspring was parked out fifth to the quarter and kept charging her way to the front. Once there Summertime Lea never looked back gaining her 12th win in 14 career starts and pushing her career earnings over $382,000. Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, Baldachino, & Smith share ownership.

Jeff Gregory and Give Me An Amen take a new track record
Give Me An Amen (Jeff Gregory) captured the NYSS 2nd division rallying from sixth. Hindered with post 9, Gregory eased the Art Major offspring off the wings of the gate to settle in sixth. Through the middle portions of the race Give Me An Amen worked out a second over trip but was making little headway with 3/8th to go. The story changed in the final stages as Give Me An Amen hit her best strides closing home 27 seconds to score in 1:50. The mile equaled the track record held by Major Look (Jeff Gregory) set in 2012.

Linda Toscano conditions for owners Stake Your Claim, Martin Sternberg, and Fred Wallace. With the win Give Me an Amen went over $200,000 in career earnings.

Four divisions made up the New York Excelsior Series. Winners included Thisthatntheother (Jonathan Drury – 1:52:1), JK Cheerleader (Jeff Gregory – 1:52:4), Park N Orchard (Joe Pavia Jr – 1:51), & Venus Delight (Jim Morrill Jr. – 1:53).

JK Panache (Jim Morrill Jr.) opened the card with a convincing win in the $10,000 Open pace in a track record performance 1:49:1 for four-year-old geldings. JK Panache broke the same record two weeks ago when winning in 1:49:3. Trainer Dave Dewhurst shares ownership with Philip Hale.

Leah's Ex captured the Open II trot Saturday night and in doing so established a new track record for aged mares. The time 1:53:1 eclipsed the record of Autumn Escapade (David Miller) set in 2011. Jimmy Whittemore guided the talented mare to victory for owner Neal Chilson and trainer Angus Mac Donald. Leah's Ex is riding a four race winning streak.

The final track record performance took place in Race 11 when Oozie's Bad Boy scored a three length win in 1:49:4. Oozie's Bad Boy equaled the aged pacing gelding record held by Stonebridge Wish (Josh Marks) and Go Go Solano (Greg Merton). Rick Plano trains and drives the veteran campaigner for Retired Life Stable.

Jim Morrill Jr. led the way driving with three wins while Jeff Gregory and Rick Plano both notched two victories each.

Racing continues at Vernon on Thursday at 6:45 pm. New York Sire Stakes will hit the track for three-year- old pacers with three divisions of the Sire Stakes and five divisions of the Excelsior Series.

For more information visit us at .

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Camels & Ostriches Invade Vernon Downs

The Camels pose in the Vernon Downs winner's circle

Vernon Downs held its first edition of the camel and ostrich races Friday night. More than 5,400 turned out to watch after Races 4 & 8. The crowd that turned out also enjoyed the harness racing.

"You could hear the crowd cheering the whole stretch while driving. It was great," said driver Howard Okusko Jr.
The camels & ostriches of Hedrick's Promotions, Inc. will venture to The Meadowlands Saturday evening followed by Tioga Downs Sunday afternoon.

On the racing front, Alarming Quick (Joe Nassimos) pulled the upset in the $6,200 feature Friday evening for mare trotters. Sitting fourth throughout the race, Alarming Quick stormed home late to win in a lifetime best 1:54:1 and returned $19.80 for a $2 ticket.  Alarming Quick is owned by Nicholas Angarano and Shawn Ross.

Veteran campaigner Four One One became a new member of the $400,000 club Friday night with his win. 

The 11-year-old Sealed N Delivered gelding notched his 26th career win. Howie Okusko Jr. drove for owner Robert Siemski.

Rick Plano led the way driving with a hat trick while Jimmy Whittemore and Chris Lems both had driving doubles.

Alarming Quick takes the Friday horse feature
Earlier in the day the freshmen took to the track once again as 10 baby races were conducted.  On the trotting side trainer George Ducharme won five of the six events. They included How Bout Cash (Chris Lems – 2:01:2), Margie (Howie Okusko Jr. – 1:59:4), Avalicious (Chris Lems – 2:00:2), Izzy Jokin (Chris Lems – 2:00), & My Friend Charlie (Chris Lems – 2:00:1). The non Ducharme trained Royal Max (J. Stark Jr. – 2:00:1) won the other trotting baby race.

For the pacers Big Boy Dreams (Brian Connor) was the fastest of the day winning in 1:55:2 after sitting the two hole throughout the mile. Other two year old pacing winners included Newyorkstateofmind (Rick Plano – 1:57:1), Savhorserideacowboy (Gates Brunet – 1:57:3), & Cundalini (Brett Crawford – 1:56:1).

Vernon Downs continues live racing Saturday (June 22) featuring the New York Sire Stakes & New York Excelsior Series for three-year-old fillies. Two divisions make up the Sire Stakes each carrying a purse of $66,487. Summertime Lea (Jim Morrill Jr.) & Social Scene (Jonathan Drury) were both victorious their last start at Tioga in New York Sire Stakes action. Give Me An Amen (Jeff Gregory) comes in off a win in the Historic at Tioga.

First post for the 13 race card Saturday (June 22) is 6:45 pm. For more information visit