Sunday, July 28, 2013

Royalty For Life tunes up for Hambletonian with easy win

Royalty For Life and Chris Lems
Chris Lems enjoyed a stupendous Saturday night at Vernon Downs, logging five first-place finishes, including feature race wins with the highly-regarded sophomore trotter Royalty For Life in the $13,200 third contest and the fleet-footed pacer JK Panache in the week's $10,000 Open event.

The five victories tied Lems with Rick Plano and Roman Lopez for most driving victories on a single Vernon program through July 27.

The 26-year-old horseman started his brilliant evening with a front-striding, 1:53 Preferred victory behind the George Ducharme-trained Royalty For Life in Saturday's third race that tied the fastest mile by a diagonally-gaited performer at the 42-program meeting.  The 4-3/4 length triumph by the bay son of Rc Royalty-Bourbon 'n Grits served as a solid tune-up for an expected start in the prestigious 88th Hambletonian Stake at The Meadowlands Racetrack on Aug. 3.  Saturday's score was the second this season and the ninth all-time for the career-winner of $494,438, who is shared in ownership by Alfred Ross, Raymond W. J. Campbell, Jr. and Paul A. Fontaine.

Following a win behind his pacer Mackenzie's Bliss in race seven, Lems urged the laterally-gaited speedster JK Panache on to an exciting 1:51.3 victory (good track) in Saturday's 10th event.  It marked the fastest mile of the rainy night, and the sixth season's score for the track record-holder (4-year-old geldings), who is owned by trainer Dave Dewhurst and Philip K. Hale.

Lems completed his awesome evening with victories behind Linda Manzi's pacer Touch Of The Past (1:53.2) in race 11, and the John Minckler-leased-and-trained side-wheeler Speed Skater (1:56) in race 12.

In addition to Lems's heroics, leading pilot Plano picked up two win-credits, as did driver John Mac Donald and trainer Dewhurst.   

DOWNS DOINGS—Plano, who leads in driving doubles at the meet with 14, teamed the Maurice Bazinet-owned-and-conditioned pacer Ideally Magic to a 1:52 triumph in Saturday's second race that tied the 11-year-old gelding with fellow side-wheeler Canaco Star and the trotters Hold On Tightly, Don Dinero, Ulay Boko and Glorious Winner at five for most equine wins after 42 programs…The Downs will offer live racing at 6:45 p.m. Thursday-Saturday next week…A prestigious New York Sire Stakes for 3-year-old filly trotters is slated for Aug. 2, while the track will offer simulcast wagering on the Aug. 3 Hambletonian program…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