Day At The Track

Purity, A Penny Earned take co-features

06:57 PM 02 May 2015 NZST
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Purity A Penny Earned
Purity (#4, foreground) keeps Seascape Hanover (#2, background) at bay
A Penny Earned (#5, centre) holds off a late rally from Big Chocolate (#4, background)
Vernon Downs hosted a pair of $10,000 Open events on their Friday (May 1) night 13-race harness racing card, with distaff pacer Purity ($6.00) and trotter A Penny Earned ($3.60) taking top honors for the night.
 
Five pacing mares contested the $10,000 Mares Open Pace in race two, with two of the five entering off wins in their most recent outings. Those two--Purity (Claude Huckabone, III) and Seascape Hanover (Jimmy Whittemore) ultimately squared off on the far turn, well after Purity was used hard in establishing the lead through a :54.3 first half mile. With three-eighths to go, Whittemore moved 3-5 favorite Seascape Hanover first-over out of third, sustaining an extended press but proving unable to collar Purity through the stretch. The four-year-old Always a Virgin mare prevailed by three-quarters of a length in 1:52 over Seascape Hanover, while Kardashian (Truman Gale) stayed on for third after pressing the pace early.
 
Kevin Hough trains Purity for owner Michael Casalino, Jr.
 
While the favorite could not quite prevail in the Mares Open Pace, the $10,000 Open Trot saw A Penny Earned (Chris Lems) wear down Lutetium (Jimmy Whittemore) for a scant 1:54 victory in the evening's eighth race. A Penny Earned secured the pocket early, outsprinted by Lutetium through a :26.3 initial quarter. Lutetium would race uncontested through an easy 58.4 middle half, but found himself bracing for the oncoming threat of A Penny Earned at the top of the stretch--and the threat of Big Chocolate (Homer Hochstetler), who drafted behind the top pair throughout before fanning three-wide off the far turn. Battling gamely through the stretch, A Penny Earned took the lead from Lutetium 70 yards from the winning post, subsequently withstanding a stand-side charge from Big Chocolate, who missed by a scant neck.
 
Winning trainer George Ducharme co-owns the six-year-old Conway Hall gelding with Alfred Ross, Paul Fontaine, and Nicola Oliva.
 
In addition to the evening's pair of Open events, four $4,000 divisions of the second round of the Catherine Burton trotting series were held. Only Hollywood Jess ($5.50, Chris Lems) swept her preliminary legs, battling stoutly with Write That Down (Fern Paquet, Jr.) through quite literally every step of a 1:57 mile before holding clear of a late-closing Azucar (Gaetan Brunet). Blue Skies Craze ($18.40, Truman Gale, 1:56.2), Tango Pirate ($15.20, Gale, 1:57.1), and Act of Valor ($3.30, Claude Huckabone, III, 1:58.4) also were triumphant in their splits.

Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Saturday (May 2), with first post slated for 5:10 p.m.

by James Witherite, Vernon Downs 

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