|Northern Companion battles to win the Open Pace|
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Plano, Whittemore win 4 races on Father's Day Sunday
Northern Companion charged to a favorable result in Sunday afternoon's featured pace, while drivers Rick Plano, Jimmy Whittemore and trainer Lonny Hale also got to celebrate a successful Father's Day at Vernon Downs.
Competing in Sunday's $10,000 Open contest, Northern Companion battled briefly with the favorite Special Strides going to the quarter before taking charge at the half and continuing on to a neck victory over the on-rushing PJ Lucky in the 10th event.
Sunday's score was the second locally, but the seventh this season for the speedy son of Combest-Smoke It Out, who now sports 27 career wins and total earnings of $140,752. Trainer Robert Hoffman handled the bay battler for owner Dorothy Zara.
Defending driving champ Plano posted four wins on a Vernon card for the third time this season, winning the first, second, seventh and eighth events to take a 44-39 lead over Roman Lopez in the 2013 dashes-won derby. The 61-year-old horseman also added a training tally to earn a 19-18 advantage over his chief driving rival on the current condition chart after 24 programs.
Whittemore, a multiple Downs driving champ, followed suit with first-place finishes in Sunday's third, fourth, ninth and 11th events to secure his initial four-win performance of the track's 60th campaign.
Former Vernon conditioning champ Hale harnessed winners in races three, five and six, lifting his meet total to 16 and moving into third place in year's trainer standings.
Leah's Ex earned her third straight local score with a come-from-behind 1:55.1 triumph in Sunday's $8,000 Open-2 trot (race nine). Whittemore did the steering for trainer Angus Mac Donald and owner Neal Chilton.