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 www.vernondowns.com.