Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Simpsons are at Vernon Downs

The John F. Simpson Memorial stakes, a Grand Circuit event for two-year-old pacers and trotters makes a stop at Vernon Downs on the evening of Friday, November 1.

The freshman trotting colts start the show in races one and three dubbed the "Super Bowl", with a pair of five horse fields each for a purse of $13,271. Trainer Chris Ryder has a Muscle Hill contender in each division and has an ownership position in both.

Well Built has had a consistent if unspectacular campaign and broke maiden in a Vernon overnight event just last week. Jim Meittinis is listed to drive the colt on Friday evening for Ryder and partner Robert Mondillo.

Muscle On In is the more accomplished of Ryder's pair, having won the Harold Dancer Memorial and NJ Futurity at Freehold this fall. He has earned more than $60,000 for the partnership of Ryder and Mondillo along with Max Wernick. Chris will drive this one from post four in the abbreviated field.

Trotting fillies go for $25,716 in race seven, named for the grand dame Davidia Hanover where Ruby looks like the one to beat. She is an Explosive Matter filly trained by Erv Miller for Patrick Quaid and James Bafia who comes to the Simpson off a solid fourth in the Breeders Crown final. Meittinis catches the drive on her from the advantageous post two.

The "Bret Hanover" (race ten) is comprised of six pacing colts and geldings racing for $25,341. Beat The Drum is a Tell All colt who's won a few stakes this summer, including the Tompkins-Geers at Tioga Downs and took a 1:53- record winning a NJSS leg at The Meadowlands. He's made just shy of $90,000 for trainer Staffan Lind who owns him in partnership with Bender Sweden, Inc.  Jim Meittinis has the drive on this morning line choice as well.

The filly pace, christened the "Razzle Hanover", boasts a competitive field of six with JK Molly and Ideal Helen the most accomplished.
JK Molly winning a NYSS at Vernon earlier this season

JK Molly was a factor all summer in the NYSS program, earning over $115,000 and took a fast 1:52.1 mark right here at Vernon in early September for owners the 3 Brothers Stable. Ron Burke trains and Roman Lopez has the drive on the Art Major lass.

Ideal Helen has had a successful season in the Garden State with seven wins and nearly $120,000 earned for owner/breeder D. R. Van Witzenberg. She counts the Review Stakes, NJ Futurity and Babic Filly Stake among her conquests while in the care of Erv Miller. Chris Lems will plot her course from the outside.

Post time is 6:45pm at Vernon on Friday. The season is winding down with just one more weekend of live racing to go. Visit the Vernon website for further information.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Restless Yankee upsets the Saturday feature

Restless Yankee

Restless Yankee was a 1:50.4 upset winner in Saturday night's $12,000 Open pacing feature at Vernon Downs. 

The favorite, track record-holder JK Panache, took the early lead in Saturday's second session, while second choice Sheer Brilliance, winner in the last two Open events here, settled into the pocket.  Driver and trainer Chris Lems kept Restless Yankee in fourth place past the three quarters in 1:22.4. 

As the top choices wore each other down entering the stretch charge, Restless Yankee came on in a :27.1 final panel to secure the score, defeating runner-up Western Tsunami by a head.

It marked the third local tally, seventh season's score and the 47th lifetime victory for the 6-year-old son of Relentless Yankee-Towner's Love Dove, who is owned by Robert J. and Ryan J. Lems.  The gritty gelding is currently a career winner of nearly $242,000.

Lems also finished first with the Ryan J. Lems-owned pacer Ding Dong Boy (1:53.2) in Saturday's fourth event to record his meet-leading 22nd driving double.  Two-win performances were also turned in by Roman Lopez, Truman Gale and Claude Huckabone, III.

DOWNS DOINGS—Provisional pilot James Clouser, Jr. earned his initial Vernon victory behind TM Valley Storm (1:56.4) in Saturday's 11th event.  The sophomore gelding is owned by Leonard Segall…Vernon will offer live racing Thursday-Saturday next week.  First post on Thursday and Friday will be 6:45 p.m., while Saturday's start will be at 6 p.m…The Downs will also offer simulcast wagering on the 2013 Breeders Cup championship thoroughbred competition on both Friday and Saturday afternoons…Only five live racing dates remain during the track's 60th anniversary season that continues through Nov. 9…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

Goddess and Southwind Spirit win Kindergarten Classic Finals

Goddess and Southwind Spirit each earned champion status as the result of their first-place finishes in Friday night's $433,500 finals of the 2013 Kindergarten Classic Series for 2-year-old trotters at Vernon Downs.

Goddess gained a 1:56.3, front-striding victory in Friday's eighth event, the $206,000 Kindergarten title test for 2-year-old filly trotters, while Southwind Spirit continued his superb season with a bold-striding 1:55 tally in the ninth event, a $217,500 freshman final for male members of the diagonal gait.
John Campbell and Goddess

Goddess, a $110,000 yearling purchase by the Kelly Racing Stable, Joe Sbrocco and William Weaver, III, went to the starting gate as the third wagering choice and was sharp from the start on a rain-soaked track.  With Hall of Fame reinsman John Campbell doing the steering for trainer Paul Kelley, Goddess powered through splits of :28.1, :57.2 and 1:26 to defeat second-favorite Yoga by 1-1/4 lengths.  It was the fourth season's score for the bay daughter of Donato Hanover-Macaria Hanover, who has also compiled a second and two thirds, plus earnings of $155,825 after 11 lifetime starts.

After Vernon's 7/8ths-mile oval was downgraded to good for the ninth event, the crowd's choice Southwind Spirit shrugged off the damp conditions by carving out splits of :28.1, :57.2 and 1:25.1 to thwart third-choice Outburst by 1-3/4 lengths.  Yannick Gingras did the teaming for trainer Ron Burke as the bay son of Muscle Hill-Spice On Ice improved his summary line to 6-3-1 after 12 official trips to the track.  The $105,000 yearling purchase has returned $310,925 on his investment to the Weaver Bruscemi, LLC, Burke Racing Stable and Stable 45 ownership contingent.

Southwind Spirit and Yannick Gingras
In Friday's second session, a $10,000 Kindergarten Classic consolation clash, Starsaboveallerage also used front-striding tactics to vanquish the favored Skates N Plates by a nose in a 1:57.1 performance.  It was the third win, coupled with a trio of thirds-place showings, in nine starts for the bay son of Angus Hall-Starry Eyed, who has banked nearly $30,000 in 2013 for Jeff Gural's Little E LLC stable.  David Miller did the teaming for local trainer Jessica Okusko.

Friday's $12,000 Open trot was won by Grey Ice, with Dan Daley doing the piloting for trainer Guy Howard in race 10.  The strong-striding 7-year-old gelding followed the pace-setting Mr. Web Page throughout the mile contest, before leaving the pocket in the stretch and spurting to a nose triumph over the mile cutter.  The tight tally was the third locally, the seventh this season and the 23rd all-time for the gray son of the Icepan Cometh-The E Street Pan, who bumped her lifetime winnings to nearly $197,300 for the Howard Stables.

Fans were treated to triples by drivers Campbell, (David) Miller and trainer (Paul) Kelley, as well as a two-win effort by Gingras during Friday's 12-race program. 

DOWNS DOINGS—Kelly's other victories came from trotters The Triple Lindy (1:54.4) in race four and Panamanian Hanover (1:57.2) in event 11.  Campbell drove all of Kelley's first-place finishers… Owner/trainer Tony Schambach's 7-year-old trotting mare Edit Away earned her first career victory after a 1:57.2 performance for driver Claude Huckabone, III in Friday's third event…Saturday's 13-race program, which starts at 6:45 p.m., includes a $12,000 Open pace in race two…Only six live racing dates remain during the track's 60th anniversary season that continues through Nov. 9…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, October 25, 2013

Ocean's Motion wins Thursday feature by 4 lengths

Ocean's Motion splashes home to win

Ocean's Motion obtained her first win of the season with an impressive 1:55.1 performance in Thursday night's $12,000 Open feature for female pacers at Vernon Downs.

Competing for only the 12th time this season, Ocean's Motion had veteran Chuck Connor, Jr. at the controls as she left from the outside five post position in Thursday's 11th event.  Racing over a rain-soaked, sloppy track, the 6-year-old mare took her time building up speed.  She rallied from fifth at the quarter to fourth at the half, shot to the front around the final bend and then showed her heels to the small but select field in the stretch, winning by an eased up 4-1/4 lengths.

The stout effort resulted in the 22nd lifetime victory for the daughter of Camotion-Cr Charisma, who raised her career bankroll to more than $335,700.  Janice Connor (Chuck's wife) conditions the bay battler for owner Robert J. Lovett.

Fans witnessed the second dead-heat for win at Vernon's 81-program meeting after the pacers Rocha's Hanover and Sunshine Patriot tied at the top following a 1:54.2 mile in Thursday's seventh session. 

The win by Rocha's Hanover was her second at the meet for trainer Robert C. Gale and owners Scott Hay and Scott Miller.  Driver Truman Gale earned three wins during Thursday's 12-race card.

Sunshine Patriot's score was also her second of the season at the Downs.  Joe Bongiorno did the teaming for trainer Brad Irvine and owners Kim and Jordan Myers. 

Bongiorno also won with the pacer Inittowinafortune (1:52.3 in the ninth event) to secure his first driving double at the Downs this season.

Robert C. Gale collected his second win of the evening after Truman Gale won the eighth race with Upfrontandpersonal (1:56.4) for owner Ross Bonafield.     

DOWNS DOINGS—Truman Gale's other win was behind the Judy Lanpher-trained pacer Sinspirational (1:53.1) in Thursday's third race.  Lanpher owns the 5-year-old mare along with her daughter, Connie, and Larry T. Lanpher….Tomorrow night; Vernon will host the $433,500 championship finals of the Kindergarten Classic for 2-year-old trotters.  Friday's 12-race program will begin at 6:45 p.m.…Only seven live racing dates remain during the track's 60th anniversary season that continues through Nov. 9…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

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Kindergarten Finals at Vernon on Friday

After five preliminary legs that began at The Meadowlands on August 2 then wound through Tioga Downs and The Red Mile on their way to Vernon, the Kindergarten Trotting Classic finalists will vie for over $400,000 in total purses at Vernon Downs on Friday night.

It is ladies first in the eighth race where Yoga (Muscles Yankee) leads the way for trainer / driver Jimmy Takter from post six. She comes into the race as the point leader off of her four wins in series action, including last week's Vernon leg. Yoga will attempt to bring the winner's share of the $206,000 purse home to her owners Christina Takter and John & Jim Fielding.

The colt division (race nine) is also led by a Takter pupil, as Trixton is at the top of the charts and starts from post two for Jimmy on Friday. From the first crop of Muscle Hill, Trixton was a $360,000 yearling purchase by Brixton Medical Ab and Christina Takter and seeks the biggest payday of his young career in the $217,500 final. The competition is deep with recent world record setter Outburst leaving from inside Trixton and Southwind Spirit, beaten a short nose in Outburst's record mile and fourth in the Breeders Crown leaving from post four.

As the end of the Vernon racing season draws near, fan appreciation is a priority and there are several promotions offered along with the races. Fans will receive a 60th Anniversary racing season hooded sweatshirt while supplies last. They can also register to win a snow blower, courtesy of Clinton Tractor. Vernon Downs will also be conducting its Fall Fever Handicapping Contest for on-track guests with a first place prize of $500. Entry is free in the handicapping contest.

Post time is 6:45 pm and all the pertinent info is available on the Vernon website.