Saturday, April 12, 2014

Lutetium resilient in Opening Night Vernon feature


by James Witherite, Vernon Downs racing media

Coming off three consecutive wins in the Open ranks at Buffalo, Lutetium ($5.30) proved a gutsy 1:52.4 winner, taking a lifetime mark in the featured $10,000 Miracle Mile 1 Trot at Vernon Downs on Opening Night, April 11.

Lutetium scores in 1:52.4. (Fotowon photo)
The seven-year-old Credit Winner gelding stayed true to his past strategy, clearing and setting a strong tempo, posting a :26.4 first quarter before facing pressure on the far turn from a first-over Mc Tiny’s Hope (John MacDonald).  Lutetium responded strongly, digging in through the stretch to stave off Mc Tiny’s Hope by 1-1/2 lengths in a dazzling 1:52.4 victory in rein to Aaron Byron.  Mc Tiny’s Hope held second, with the pocket-sitting Grey Ice (Fern Paquet, Jr.) staying on for third.

Mark Laidlaw trains the 24-time winner for owner Colleen Girdlestone.

Byron swept the evening’s featured events, scoring an 8-1 upset win with Rocks N Bagels in the $8000 Miracle Mile 2 distaff pacers.  in first-over fashion, beating a re-rallying Artic Byrd (Truman Gale) and the mid-race pacesetting Asset Management (Fern Paquet, Jr.) in a lifetime best 1:53.


Jim Moran is recognized after his 50-year career as
the "Voice of Vernon Downs". (Fotowon photo)
 The Opening Night card paid tribute to longtime racecaller Jim Moran, who retired after calling the first race of the 2014 season.  “We thank Jim for his many years of service to harness racing at Vernon Downs,” said Jason Settlemoir, Regional Vice President of Racing at Vernon Downs.  “We wish him nothing but the best in his retirement.”

After the first race, Moran was recognized in the winner’s enclosure by staff, management, horsemen, and local dignitaries.