Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sheer Brilliance wins Saturday's Open Pace

Sheer Brilliance (near) and Claude Huckabone, III

Sheer Brilliance displayed his radiance with a bold-striding 1:51.2 victory in Saturday night's $10,000 featured Open pace at Vernon Downs.

Competing for the second time at Vernon since shipping in from Tioga Downs, Sheer Brilliance left from the assigned outside post position in Saturday's second session and, after a brief battle for the early lead with Moonlight Ransom, took charge of the mile contest.  Despite broken equipment, the gritty gelding continued on to a close decision over his early challenger.

It was the third tally in the last four starts for the productive 8-year-old, his seventh season's score and 41st lifetime win.  The aggressive bay son of Blissful Hall-High Roller Ash raised his career earnings to more than $492,000.  Claude Huckabee, III did the teaming for co-owner and trainer Jeffrey Long and his partner, J. Paul Long.

Saturday's fastest mile was a 1:51.1 performance by No Monkeys Allowed, who scrambled home from sixth in the final quarter to snare his second win in succession for owners Robert J. Orr and Gary J. Jonas in the $8,000 seventh race.  John MacDonald, who earned a double with the first-place finish, did the steering for trainer Edgar Clarke, who also recorded two victories during Saturday's 13-race program, as did owners Orr and Jonas.

Leading driver (130 wins) and trainer (51 tallies) Rick Plano picked up his meet-leading 15th triple during the track's 71st program, while Roman Lopez also logged three wins and Fern Paquet, Jr. two.

DOWNS DOINGS—Paquet recorded eight wins during the three-night weekend, and Plano seven …One of Plano's wins was behind Lon Frocione's promising 2-year-old trotting filly Fashionableapple, who secured her "maiden" victory with a 1:57.4 showing in Saturday's ninth race.  Veteran Tony Mondi trains the bay daughter of Big Apple Deli-Fashionablefilly…The MacDonald, Clarke, Orr, Jonas contingent's other triumph came from the pacer Yankees In Six, who chalked up his second straight score with a 1:52 tally in Saturday's $6,000 fifth event...Vernon will offer live racing Thursday-Saturday next week,  with first post at 6:45 p.m.…A revised 2013, 88-program racing and stakes calendar, as well as additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Plano wins 4 including feature with She's All In

Rick Plano and She's All In

Defending dash-winning and training champion Rick Plano was on top of his game again at Vernon Downs on Friday night, posting four first-place finishes, including a 1:54.4 score with his trotter She's All In during the $8,000 featured ninth event.

Competing as the crowd's favorite from post five in Friday's ninth race, She's All In drafted along in second behind the pace-setting second choice, Manningly, until the final furlong, where she found racing room in the pylon patch and accelerated to a 1-1/4-length victory over the on-rushing Dreamanotherdream.  Manningly ended up third.

Friday's victory was the fourth locally, the sixth this season and 15th overall for the 4-year-old daughter of Revenue S-Simply Royal, who raised her lifetime earnings up to more than $110,000.

Plano's other tallies were with his wife's (Maryann) trotter Ulay Boko in the third race, the Jeffrey Long-conditioned trotter Isabella Gal in the fifth session, and Lon Frocione's trotter Naughty Not Nice in the eighth event, bumping his win-total after 70 programs to 127 and his conditioning count to 50.

After Ulay Boko tied fellow trotter Ziegler Hanover at eight for most wins by an equine performer at the meet in Friday's third event, Ziegler Hanover hustled up his ninth first-place finish during the track's 60th anniversary season in the sixth session.  It was the second win in succession, the sixth in the last seven starts, and the 26th all-time for the steady-striding 8-year-old son of Andover Hall-Xqsmwa, who raised his career earnings to nearly $260,000 for owner Regina Dewhurst.  Chris Lems did the steering for trainer Dave Dewhurst.

Truman Gale, a former provisional driving champion here, captured the first, second and 12th races of the evening to record his third triple at the meet. 

DOWNS DOINGS—Owner/trainer Ron Abbott steered his 3-year-old trotter Scottish Rite to a 1:56 victory in Friday's 10th event, which became the colt's initial pari-mutuel triumph…Vernon will present at 13-race card starting at 6:45 on Saturday night, a program that will include a $500 Fall Fever Handicapping Contest on races 1-10 and  a $10,000 Open pace in race two…A revised 2013, 88-program racing and stakes calendar, as well as additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at

Friday, September 27, 2013

Don't Blame Her wins again, Paquet Wins 5

The quick-striding pacer Don’t Blame Her, and driver Fern Paquet, Jr. shared the spotlight during Thursday night's 11-race program at Vernon Downs.

Don't Blame Her became a two-time winner at Vernon's 69-program meeting with a 1:51.2 victory in the evening's $10,000 Open for female pacers, while Paquet produced five wins during the card.

For the second week in a row, Joe Bongiorno handled the lines behind Don't Blame Her as the 10-year-old mare wired four fast-footed distaff rivals in Thursday's second race, stopping the timer in 1:51.2, a mile that equaled her lifetime speed record.

The impressive mile resulted in the second straight score, fifth this season and 56th all-time for the bay daughter of Village Connection-Never My Fault, who is also registered to Barbara Bongiorno, and trained by Brad Irvine.  It was the 210th start for the career-earner of $780,982.  She had obtained her win-mark at The Meadowlands last season.

Paquet captured the first, third, fourth, fifth and 10th events to tie Rick Plano, Roman Lopez and Chris Lems at one for most wins by any driver during a single program at the track's 60th anniversary meeting. 

Three of Paquet's victories (Mc Thunderstruck, Salome Marvel and Want More) were for owner/trainer John McNeil, III, who chalked up his initial training triple at the Downs this year.

Jimmy Whittemore charted his 13th double at the Downs in 2013 to take an 83-81 lead over Roman Lopez in their battle for second place on this season's dash-winning driving chart.

DOWNS DOINGS—Wanda Polisseni's 3-year-old trotting colt Winnerwind produced his initial pari-mutuel victory after trainer Dan Daley drove the brown son of Credit Winner to a 1:59.1 personal-best mark in Thursday's seventh session…The Downs will present a 12-race card on Friday that will begin at 6:45 p.m…A revised 2013, 88-program racing and stakes calendar, as well as additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at

Monday, September 23, 2013

Northern Companion takes Saturday's Open Pace

Northern Companion rallied in the homestretch to catch and defeat the pace-setting favorite Sheer Brilliance in Saturday night's $10,000 Open pace at Vernon Downs.

With trainer Robert Hoffman at the controls in Saturday's featured second race, Northern Companion advanced from fifth in the early going to second entering the final furlong, and then kept digging until he had completed his objective, posting a 1:52.3 win over a rain-soaked "sloppy" track and a head triumph over the fan-favorite.

It was the fifth local score, the 10th this season and the 30th all-time for the 5-year-old son of Cambest-Smoke It Out, who is owned by Dorothy Zarza.  The hard-earned tally lifted the bay gelding's lifetime earnings to more than $171,000.

Hoffman also finished first with the Leopold Sawyers-owned and trained pacer GPS Legacy in Saturday's 10th event to secure his second two-win outing at the 68-program meeting.

Canadian-horseman John MacDonald delivered three first-place finishes during Saturday's 13-race program, while driver Claude Huckabone, III, trainer Edgar Clarke and his owners, Robert J. Orr and Gary J. Jonas, also enjoyed two trips to the winner's circle during the soggy evening.

DOWNS DOINGS—Driver Jimmy Whittemore guided the Ray Van Dreason-conditioned pacer Moonlight Ranson to a 1:52.2 triumph in Saturday's seventh session for owners Gus and Alan J. Johnston that produced his 81st win at the meet, and moved the 29-year-old horseman into a second-place tie on the track's current dash-winning chart with Roman Lopez…Harris Obrien's 4-year-old trotter Smokin' Barrie collected his first pari-mutuel victory after Huckabone, III, sitting in for trainer Dennis Lacey, guided the 4-year-old gelding to a 2:01 tally in Saturday's third event…Vernon will continue to offer live racing Thursday-Saturday next weekend, with first post time at 6:45 each evening…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

Check Me Out defeats males in Friday's Open Trot

Check Me Out with trainer/driver Ray Schnittker

The $1.8 million career-winning trotter Check Me Out made her appearance at Vernon Downs a notable one in Friday's $10,000 Open contest, finishing first in 1:54.

Co-owner, trainer and driver Ray Schnittker was in the sulky as the fan favorite idled in third to the quarter (timed in :27.2), accelerated to the lead at the half (:55.2) and then dominated from there, defeating She's All In, the nearest of her five foes by 1-1/4 lengths.

Friday's ninth-race tally was the second this season and the 27th all-time for the productive 4-year-old daughter of Donato Hanover-Illusion Bi, who is also registered to Steve Jones.  Check Me Out's dominating performance increased her official career earnings to $1,878,545.  She secured her 1:51.2 record at the Lexington "Red Mile" last year.

The Regina Dewhurst-owned trotter Ziegler Hanover used a quick-striding late rally to capture Friday's 11th race in 1:55, and become the winningest equine performer of the track's 60th anniversary season.  Chris Lems did the driving for former Downs conditioning champ Dave Dewhurst, as the 8-year-old horse rallied three-wide from fourth in the final quarter to defeat the Tioga Downs-shipper What About Brian by less than a length, chalking up his eighth local success of the 67-program campaign.  Having recorded five first-place finish in his last six starts, the steady-striding son of Andover Hall currently has an 8-7 edge over fellow trotter Ulay Boko and the pacer Hot Cowboy.

Three-time Downs' sulky champ Jimmy Whittemore attained his sixth driving triple of the meet on Friday and moved to within one victory (81-80) of Roman Lopez on the track's current dash-winning chart. 
Leading reinsman Rick Plano (122 wins) posted his 19th double of the meet and is tied with Chris Lems in that category with 19 each as of Sept. 20.  Driver Fern Paquet, Jr. also tallied twice during Friday's 12-race card. 

DOWNS DOINGS—Cary Grady's 3-year-old pacer Jude Hall (1:54),and the Melvin Robert Fuchs-owned 2-year-old sidewheeler Prince Ajani (1:57.4) each earned their initial pari-mutuel victories during Friday's program...Live racing continues with a 13-event agenda on Saturday, that offers a $10,000 Open pace in race two.  First post will be 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