Saturday, August 31, 2013

Plano posts 10th driving triple of the season on Friday night

Senor Grande was 1 of 3 wins for Rick Plano

Defending dash and training champion Rick Plano guided the pacer Senor Grande to a 1:52.2 clocking in Friday night's eight race en route to his 101st victory of the 57-program meeting at Vernon Downs.

Plano also finished first with the pacer Guitar's Tiki Bars (1:55.2) and the trotter Hello I’m Johnny (1:58.2) while earning his meet-leading 10th driving triple of the season.  He currently leads in driving victories (101) and training tallies with 40.

Piloting the Saratoga invader Senor Grande for owner and trainer Brad Irvine, Plano kept the 3-year-old gelding on the lead throughout and secured a comfortable six-length triumph.  The time was a career-fastest win clocking for the slick-striding bay son of Art Major-World's Sweetheart, who now sports a 3-2-2 summary line and purse-earnings of $15,274 after 12 starts in this his first season of competition. 

Two-win performances were also turned in by drivers John MacDonald, Brian Connor and trainer Ronald MacDonald during Friday's 11-race program.   

DOWNS DOINGS—John MacDonald steered the 3-year-old pacer Briolette Hanover to a 1:56 "maiden" victory in Friday's fourth race.  Ron MacDonald is the spritely filly's trainer and owner…Roman Lopez teamed the 2-year-old filly pacer Perfect Play to a lifetime-best 1:56.4 triumph in Friday's 10th event, that was just 2 & 1/5th seconds off the fastest mile at the 2013 meeting by a frosh distaffer on the lateral gait…The Downs will present a 10-race program on Saturday night (Aug. 31) that will include three divisions of a $107,925 New York Sires Stake for 2-year-old male pacers, along with three segments of a $37,900 Excelsior Series contest for representatives of the same age, sex and gait, plus a $10,000 Open pace.  First post will be at 6:45 p.m…There will also be a special 10-race matinee program on Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 2) starting at 1:15 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

Friday, August 30, 2013

Love You Bye loves the winner's circle in Thursday feature

Love You Bye (near) wins with Jimmy Whittemore

Relative newcomer Love You Bye helped driver Jimmy Whittemore attain a driving triple at Vernon Downs on Thursday night with her 1:54.2 triumph in the week's $10,000 Open for female pacers.

Making just her second starts over Vernon's 7/8ths-mile oval in Thursday's ninth race, the favorite Love You Bye, second in this class in her Downs debut last week, stayed close to the pace-setting Abbey Road Hanover throughout the mile test.  Second entering the stretch drive, the scrappy 4-year-old mare was passed by the on-rushing Elleofnxample entering the final furlong, but the maneuverable bay daughter of McArdle-Cam's Genious forged through slim racing room in the inside pylon path and ended up defeating both of her main challengers by 3/4ths-of-a-length.

Trained by Vernon veteran Ray Van Dreason for the Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi and Howard A. Taylor, Love You Bye earned her fourth victory of 2013 and ninth all-time tally, while hiking her lifetime winnings to nearly $143,800. 

Whittemore, a multiple former Downs driving champ, also scored with the pacers Make It Kate (1:52.1) and KJ's Jakee (1:55.3) to record his 4th driving triple of the 56-program meeting.

Also enjoying two-win evenings during Thursday's 10-race card were leading trainer Rick Plano and driver Chris Lems.  

DOWNS DOINGS—The win by KJ's Jakee in Thursday's final event was his initial pari-mutuel victory for trainer Keith Cluff and the Morrisville College Foundation, Inc…Vernon's weekend will continue with an 11-race card on Friday, and a 10-event slate on Saturday; first post at 6:45 both evenings…In addition, there will be a special 12-race matinee program on Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 2) starting at 1:15 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

Thursday, August 29, 2013

World Champion He's Watching leads New York Sire Stakes on Saturday

Three divisions of the New York Sire Stakes for freshman colt pacers highlight the Saturday night card at Vernon Downs, each for $35,975. 

He's Watching breaks the world record at Tioga
The headliner throughout the season has been the wickedly fast He's Watching. The American Ideal colt is unbeaten thus far in four outings and is the fastest two-year-old ever on a five-eighths mile track by virtue of his crushing 1:50- NYSS win at Tioga Downs in early August. As fast as track superintendent Tony Rossi has had the Vernon surface this summer, the five year old track record of 1:51- held by Schoolkids may well be in jeopardy.  

He's Watching will have a new driver, Jeff Gregory, for this one. The colt is trained and owned in part by Dave Menary with partners Brad Gray and Michael Guerriero. He starts from post two in the first division which will be race three on the card. 

Forty Five Red is likely the best colt from the first crop of If I Can Dream with three wins from six starts including the Sheppard final and nearly $133,000 earned for the Burke Racing and Our Horse Cents Stables. Vernon's leading driver Rick Plano has the assignment from post eight. 

Design Guru actually went a tick faster than He's Watching in the Yonkers leg, tacking a 27.3 final quarter onto his 1:54.1 personal record. He has also drawn the outside eight post with Jonathan Drury in for the drive. Casie Coleman trains the Artiscape gelding for Jeff Snyder. 

Three division of Excelsior stakes for the same group are on the supporting card. 

First post at Vernon is 6:45. More info is available on the Vernon website.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Total handle tops $300,000 thanks to top-class races and wider distribution of signal

VERNON, NY – Sunday night’s race card at Vernon Downs, headlined by the opening round of the All-Star Drivers’ Championship and Zweig Memorial Trot, produced the track’s highest single-card wagering handle since 2009.

The total handle, including on-track and off-track simulcast locations, totaled $313,690, the track’s highest figure since hosting the New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions in September of 2009. It also represents a nearly 20% increase over last year’s Drivers’ Championship and Zweig Memorial Trot card.

“We worked extremely hard to promote one of our signature nights of the season and we’re pleased to see how well-received it was by horseplayers nationwide,” said Scott Warren, Director of Racing. “By racing the card in the evening, we were able to get our simulcast signal distributed in California and a loaded on-track promotional schedule delivered the type of family-friendly event we strive to produce.”

Hambletonian champion Royalty For Life cruised to victory in the $360,000 Zweig Memorial over a star-studded field of trotters and continued his magical season for Vernon Downs based trainer George Ducharme.

Vernon Downs resumes racing with a four-day holiday schedule. Live racing takes place Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 6:45 p.m. and a special Labor Day matinee on Monday starting at 1:15 p.m.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Royalty For Life wins Zweig Memorial, Marohn Takes Round 1 of Drivers' Championship

Royalty For Life with Brian Sears
Hometown hero Royalty For Life, along with Mistery Woman and driver Jim Marohn, Jr., all shared the limelight during Sunday night's special 13-race card at Vernon Downs.

Royalty For Life, the recent Hambletonian winner who is stabled in trainer George Ducharme's barn in the Vernon backstretch, came up big again by capturing Sunday's $360,000 Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial clash for 3-year-old male trotters in 1:53.1.

Mistery Woman won the $150,000 Zweig Memorial filly trotting contest in 1:52.1, while Marohn, Jr. earned top honors and $10,000 for completing the initial round of this season's 7th-annual All-Star Driving Challenge by winning two of the event's four Vernon races and compiling 27 points. 

Leaving from the outside nine post in Sunday’s 10th race, Royalty For Life went right to the front for former Vernon resident Brian Sears and cut soft fractions of :27.1, :58, and 1:26 without any serious challenges from his eight top-shelf competitors.  Then, when Corky came-a-callin' entering the final furlong, the powerful 3-year-old colt shifted into another gear (like top-quality horses do) and spurted to a 1-1/2-length triumph.

It marked the fifth victory in nine season's starts for the bay son of Rc Royalty-Bourbon 'n Grits, who has earned $834,850 this season.  The lion's share of the purse increased his career winnings to more than $1.2 million for owners Alfred Ross, Raymond W. J. Campbell, Jr. and Paul Fontaine.

Mistery Woman and David Miller
Mistery Woman started our cautiously for driver David Miller in Sunday's seventh session, remaining in fifth-place to the half, timed in :55.3.  The bay sophomore daughter of Donato Hanover-My Dolly's Dream rallied on the outside from there, advancing to fourth entering the last quarter and cranking out a :28-second final split to defeat entry-mate Shared Past by one length. 

Sunday's career-best score improved the steady-striding filly's current summary line to 3-2-3 after nine trips to the track and hiked her career winnings to $329,200 after 15 lifetime starts for the Misty Miller, William J. Donovan, Millstream, Inc. and Aldebaran ownership contingent.  The Jonas Czernyson-conditioned youngster lowered her win-mark by 4/5ths-of-a-second in the gritty performance.

Marohn, Jr., representing Tioga Downs as its current dash-winning leader and two-time champion (2009 and 2012), earned a second-place finish (Steuben Lone Pine) and two tallies (Bullet Speed and Mc Tiny's Hope) in Vernon's four championship races and amassed a 10-point lead over Canadian reinsman Jody Jamieson entering the final leg of the championship, which will take place at Tioga Downs on Monday afternoon, Sept. 2.

The other point-earners in the Vernon competition were Tim Tetrick with 18 points, Sears with 17, Ron Pierce, last year’s winner in this contest, 10, Yannick Gingras, six, Rick Plano, three, David Miller, two and Corey Callahan, one.

Thistle DHU won the Zweig consolation 3-year-old filly trot in 1:54.1 with Brett Miller doing the teaming for trainer Del S. Miller and owner William J. Donovan, while Lindy's Tru Grit got home first in the male consolation race, finishing in 1:54.4 with Tetrick teaming for trainer Frank Antonacci, the Lindy Racing Stable and Robert A. Rudolph.

Newcomer Outrageous Art produced a shocking 1:49.3 victory in Sunday's $10,000 12th contest, the $10,000 Open pace.  Part-owner Gingras did the teaming for trainer Ron Burke and his ownership partners the Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, LLC and Joseph Di Scala, Jr. as the 6-year-old son of Artsplace-Righteous led from start to finish, equaling his lifetime speed-mark and securing his 11th season's score in 21 official trips to the racetrack.   

DOWNS DOINGS—Jamieson won Sunday's first three races, but only the third event earned him 10 points in the driving duel…Sunday's other winner in the driving competition was Tetrick behind the pacer Legacy N Diamonds (1:51.2) in the evening's ninth race…Tetrick, who has been the Standardbred sport's money-winning leader for an unprecedented six straight seasons, hasn't earned a title in this driving event through six previously appearances…A 1:53.1 triumph by Hot Cowboy (Truman Gale steering in race 13) was his sixth of the 55-program meeting, tying him with Ideally Magic for most equine tallies on the lateral gait thru Aug. 25.  The trotter Ulay Boko tops the current equine win chart with seven first-place finishes…Live harness racing resumes Thursday-Saturday this weekend, first post at 6:45 p.m.  In addition, there will be a special 1:15 p.m. matinee program on Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 2)…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