Sunday, July 21, 2013

No Monkeys Allowed earns his way into the winner's circle

No Monkeys Allowed

Generally speaking, monkeys aren't allowed in the winner's circle at Vernon Downs, but Saturday night was the exception.

After a text-book journey in Saturday's $6,200 featured seventh race, No Monkeys Allowed earned the right to enter that charmed circle after a splendid 1:51.2 pacing performance.

Brian Connor did the teaming for trainer Edgar Clarke as No Monkeys Allowed followed the pace-setting Oh My Joepa off the gate and dropped into the two spot.  Even though the on-rushing Vroom Hanover became the chief threat on the outside for a bit in the far turn, the patient 6-year-old gelding remained in the garden spot until the stretch drive, and then accelerated in the final strides to defeat Oh My Joepa by a half-length at the finish.

Saturday's slick score was the first in seven season's starts and the 18th overall for the bay son of Rocknroll Hanover-Weeping Wanabe.  The career-winner of $214,209 is shared in ownership by Robert J. Orr and Gary J. Jonas.

The first-place finish was one of two during Saturday's 12-race program for Connor, while it gave Clarke his third training credit of the weekend.

Leading driver Rick Plano tied runner-up Roman Lopez at eight after collecting a triple during the track's 39th program, while former Vernon champ and current 2:00-mile driving leader Howard Okusko, Jr. (1,180) registered a pair of victories, as did his wife, former local training champ Jessica Okusko.

DOWNS DOINGS— The Okusko's daughter, Kayla Prentice was recently named the winner of a $15,000 Gallo Blue Chip Scholarship for 2013 by the Harness Horse Youth Foundation.  The 17-year-old recent graduate of Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School (with a 4.0 GPA) will attend Syracuse University this fall, where she will study health and exercise science…Through July 20, Plano leads Lopez 76-59 in driving tallies and 27-25 in conditioning credits…Jocelyn Lavigne is currently third in training tallies with 24…The HHYF conducted a pair of non-betting pony races on Saturday to complete their week-long summer camp at the track. Participating in the program, headed up by Ellen Taylor, were Abigail Dingman, Dasha Fedroff, Dylan Huckabone, Rebecca Randall, Holly Roux, Rachel Siegel, Becca Vineall and Victoria Windey…The Downs will present live racing at 6:45 p.m. Thursday-Saturday next week…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