The top New York-bred trotting sophomores will gather at Vernon Downs on Friday evening (June 8) to contest harness racing's rich Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) finals.
Ladies first, and the chase for the big share of the $239,500 final (race 6) isled by last year's NYSS final winner For A Dancer.
Trained by Joe Holloway for owner Bluestone Farms, thefilly has been flawless this season, lowering her lifetime record to 1:54.3 in last week's elim for regular pilot Jeff Gregory.
That one was a narrow victory over Cowgirl Hall, who returns as part of a three-pronged Ted Gewertz/Ray Schnittker entry in the final, looking to be just a head better than she was last week. Anandamide won the other elimination and her driver Jimmy Morrill always seems to have a little something left for next week.
Speaking of Morrill, he has his regular seat behind, the favorite in the $233,250 colt final (race 9).
Trainer Pete Arrigenna shares ownership of the handsomecolt with Alan Hainsworth and Clare Semer and brings him into the EBC razor sharp.
Three wins in 1:55 or faster in four starts this season, including last week's track record of 1:53.4 (erasing's 1:54 previous standard) on what was not a particularly balmy evening makes an obvious favorite and has his connections dreaming the big dream.
Coraggioso had the jump on the fave last week until making anuntimelyjump of his own in late stretch while moving like a winner.
Owners Joe Spadaro and Tom Durkin (yes, that Tom Durkin) could reap major rewards if their colt stays focused for trainer-driver Phil Fluet in this one.
War Cry Hall rewarded hissparse crew of backers with an $80 win ticket in the other elim last week and will be tracking the top choice in this one.
Post time at the venerable Vernon, NY 7/8's mile strip is 6:55PM on Friday and if the weather cooperates, sparks will fly. Check the video below of last week's races and further details.
By Nick SALVI