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Poisonous (Jimmy Whittemore) and Western Toro (John MacDonald) each scored victories in the pacing co-features at Vernon Downs on Saturday (May 25). Both raced for a purse of $5,000. In the first harness racing feature Golden Brit (Leon Bailey) controlled the early fractions (:28.1, :58.0, 1:26.1). Poisonous ($5.70), who is owned by Whittemore and trained by Marissa Chadborne, was third after three-quarters. He went charging down the stretch to blow by and win in a seasonal best 1:53.2. E Z Noah (Terry Di Cicco) came up to finish second. Golden Brit Held on for third. Poisonous is a 7-year-old horse by Art Major. It was his second win this season. He now has 18 career Victories. In the second feature Winds Of Change (Josh Kinney) led to a first quarter of :26.3 and to the half in :55.4. Western Toro ($4.20), who is owned and trained by MacDonald, popped out of the pocket just after the halfway mark. He cruised to three-quarters in 1:24.2 and won easily in 1:52.2. Banacek (Adam Capizano) was second best with Winds Of Change holding on for third money. Western Toro                                 -Fotowon photo Western Toro is a 10-year-old gelding by Western Ideal. He won for the second time this season and the 25th time in his career. Live racing returns to Vernon Downs with a special 14 race Memorial day matinee starting a 1:05 p.m. The feature races will be the Empire Breeders Classic finals for sophomore trotting fillies ($209,500) and 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings ($215,200). There is an umbrella giveaway while supplies last as well as a live buglar For more information go to www.vernondowns.com   John Horne for Vernon Downs.

Only Passing Thru (Jimmy Whittemore) wins the featured Vernon Downs trot ($7,000) on Friday (May 24). Only Passing Thru ($2.90) took the early lead and led them to a first quarter of :27.4. Taco Tuesday (Leon Bailey) took over the lead and was in front at the half (:57.2) and three-quarters in 1:27.1. Only Passing Thru, who is owned by Diane Whittemore and trained by Marissa Chadbourne, sat in the pocket until the stretch. He would battle Taco Tuesday down the stretch and go by to win in 1:55.4. Taco Tuesday settled for second with Eyore Hanover (Homer Hochstetler) getting third money. Only Passing Thru is a 5-year-old horse by Muscle Hill. It was his fifth win of 2019. He now owns 16 career victories. Driver Jimmy Whittemore and trainer Marissa Chadbourne combined on another win on the evening. They got their other win with Love Live Laugh ($8.30). Leon Bailey won the late double on the night. His wins came with Tiger Boudoir ($6.00) and Southwind Vixen ($13.40). Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Saturday (May 25) with a 10 race card starting at 6:10 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com   John Horne for Vernon Downs

Marcus Melander trains the top three horses in the first Road to the Hambletonian rankings released this week by Meadowlands Racetrack announcer/analyst Ken Warkentin, and No. 1 makes his first harness racing start of the season Monday (May 27) in the $215,200 Empire Breeders Classic for 3-year-old male trotters at Vernon Downs. Gimpanzee, who was 9-for-9 last year and took home the Dan Patch Award for best 2-year-old male trotter, will start from post five in the EBC for Melander and regular driver Brian Sears. Last year, Gimpanzee won seven times on the New York Sire Stakes circuit, including the $225,000 final, before capturing his elimination and the final of the Breeders Crown. "He's doing good," Melander said of Gimpanzee, the horse atop Warkentin's rankings, followed by stablemates Greenshoe and Green Manalishi S. "He's filled out nicely. He's not the biggest horse but we've been very happy with him all winter. He doesn't make any noise here at home, he just looks like a regular horse. He's nice and calm. I can't be more excited for his season to start." Gimpanzee, who earned $591,358 in purses last season for owners Courant Inc. and S R F Stable, heads to the Empire Breeders Classic off a second-place finish by a head to 2017 Horse of the Year Hannelore Hanover in a qualifier on May 18 at The Meadowlands. The time of the mile was 1:53. The colt also qualified on May 4, winning in 1:55, and on April 27, when he was fifth in 1:58.3. "Hannelore Hanover just got him at the wire, but we were very happy with his last qualifier," Melander said. "The first qualifier we went with an open bridle and it was a windy day, so maybe that didn't look too impressive, but the last two qualifiers have been very good." Of the eight remaining horses in the EBC, four are eligible to Hambletonian: Gettin Serious, Star Track Hanover, Mr Vicktor, and Cavill Hanover. Lightly raced Mr Vicktor is 3-for-3 this year for trainer Buzzy Sholty and has won four of five career starts. Melander was uncertain of Gimpanzee's schedule beyond Monday. He would like his horses to have four or five starts heading to the $1 million Hambletonian, which is harness racing's top event for 3-year-old trotters and will be held Aug. 3 at The Meadowlands. "We'll see how he races on Monday and then we'll decide," Melander said. "He's fully staked so we can choose whatever we want to do." So far, only Greenshoe has made a start this season among Melander's highly regarded trio. Greenshoe won the preliminary round of the New Jersey Sire Stakes for 3-year-old male trotters in 1:51.2 on May 17 at The Meadowlands. Last year, the colt won two of four races, including the NJSS final, despite going off stride in each start. Greenshoe                                  --Lisa photo "I know the horse is fast, so my only concern was that he was going to behave himself," Melander said. "It looked like he was behaving behind the gate and then in the race he looked perfect. He did a huge race and I couldn't be more happy with him. "He'll get this week off and we'll aim for the sire stakes final (on May 31). It's a long season and winning in (1):51, I don't think he needs another race between here and the final." Green Manalishi S, who won five of 10 races last season and never was worse than second, will qualify for the third time this year on Saturday at The Meadowlands. The colt went off stride in his most recent qualifier, May 18 at the Big M, after winning his first in 1:54.1. Green Manalishi S                                     --New Image Media "The track is normally very good at The Meadowlands, but it was loose and in the first turn it was just too loose for him and he made a break," Melander said. "He'll be qualifying again this Saturday and then he will race (June 2) at Pocono in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. "He's been training down very good. We took a slow start with him because the first sire stakes was at The Meadows and I didn't want to go out there with him. We had a couple of months to prepare him and he feels very prepared. He grew a lot during the winter and filled out nicely. I think he will have a good season." Gimpanzee's start in the Empire Breeders Classic is expected at approximately 3:29 p.m. (EDT) Monday. The EBC for the male trotters is race nine and will be preceded by the Empire Breeders Classic for 3-year-old female trotters. For Monday's complete Vernon entries, click here.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com

Bay Rum (John MacDonald) wins the featured harness racing pace ($6,000) at Vernon Downs on Saturday (May 18). Electrofire (Jennifer Lappe) charged to the front and put up all the early numbers (:27.1, :57.2, 1:26.1). Bay Rum ($5.40) , who is owned by Glasser Racing LLC. and trained by Homer Hochstetler, sat in the pocket until he reached the stretch. He would go right by to win in a seasonal best time of 1:53.2. Electrofire hung on for second with Skip Jive (Jimmy Whittemore) earning third place money. Bay Rum is a 6-year-old gelding by Real Desire. It was his fourth win this season. He has 15 career victories. John MacDonald had four wins on the card. His other wins came with Haulin Oats ($7.10), Leviathan ($7.30), and Western Toro ($4.80). Claude Huckabone III trained and drove three winners on the night. His wins came with Gaius Crastinus ($5.80), Passa-Grille Beach ($35.60), and Redhot Romeo ($12.20). Vernon Downs returns to live racing on Friday (May 24) with a post time of 6:10 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com   John Horne for Vernon Downs

Amal Hall (Jason Bartlett) and Quincy Blue Chip (Jim Morrill Jr.) won their Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) trotting fillies elimination races at Vernon Downs on Friday (May 17). Both races were for a purse of $12,500. In the first harness racing division Amal Hall ($4.30) went to the front and led to a first quarter of :27.2. Conway Kellyanne (Charlie Norris) then took over control and led to a half of :58.1 and to three-quarters in 1:27.2. Amal Hall, who is trained by Julie Miller for owners GTY Stable, Andy Miller Stable, and Dumain Heaven Farm, popped out of the pocket in the stretch and blew by to win in 1:56.4. Conway Kellyanne hung on for second. Pilgrims Lass (Mike Simons) finished third. Amal Hall is a three-year-old filly by Credit Winner. It was her first win in 2019. She now owns four career victories. In the second division, With Out A Doubt (Tyler Buter) charged out to the lead and led the way to a first quarter of :28.3. Quincy Blue Chip ($5.70), who is owned by Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc. and trained by Gareth Dowse, took over the lead on the back stretch. She led them to the half in :58.0. As she hit the three-quarter mark in 1:26.2, she would be joined by Winndevie (Trond Smedshammer) as they made the turn for home. Quincy Blue Chip shook lose in mid-stretch and held off a late charge by second place finisher Sweet Chapter (Matt Kakaley) to win in 1:54.3. Winndevie held on for third. Quincy Blue Chip                                   -- Fotowon photo   Quincy Blue Chip is a 3-year-old filly by Chapter Seven. It was her second win in 2019. She now has reached the winner's circle six times in her career. Here are the qualifiers for the EBC Final for 3-year-old trotting fillies on Memorial Day (May 27): Amal Hall, Conway Kellyanne, Pilgrims Lass, Sensibility, Quincy Blue Chip, Sweet Chapter, Winndevie, With Out A Doubt, and Gobi Princess. The alternate is Hanna Dreamgirl. The field is set for EBC final for 3-year-old colts and geldings. Post-Horse-Driver 1. Gettin Serious 2. Star Track Hanover 3. Skyway Kon Man 4. Whimzical Chapter 5. Gimpanzee 6. Mr Vicktor 7. Travel Winner 8. Cavill Hanover 9. Big Money Honey   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs with a 13 race card starting at 6:10 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com.   John Horne for Vernon Downs.

Vernon, NY - The Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) for 3-year-old New York sired trotters at Vernon Downs was drawn today.   There were but nine colts declared and they will go directly to the $215,200 championship on Monday, May 27 as part of the matinee Memorial Day holiday harness racing card. No elimination necessary.   Last season's unbeaten freshman Gimpanzee is the headliner in the colt division. He won the New York Sires Stakes (NYSS) final and Breeders Crown final during his Dan Patch Award winning season for owner Courant, Inc. and trainer Marcus Melander.   They are in post position order: Horse Driver 1- Getting Serious - R. Lopez 2- Star Struck Hanover - TBA 3- Skyway Kon Man - T. Smedshammer 4- Whimzical Chapter - D. Daley 5- Gimpanzee - B. Sears 6- Mr Vicktor - T. Buter 7- Travel Winner - T. Buter 8- Cavill Hanover - J. Morrill Jr 9- Big Money Honey - T. Buter   Twelve fillies were declared and they will race in a pair of six filly eliminations on Friday night with the top nine (first four and one fifth drawn by lot) and the two winners will draw for posts 1-6 for the $209,500 championship on the same afternoon.   Last season's NYSS Final winner Winndevie will compete in the second division for Purple Haze Stable and trainer -driver Trond Smedshammer.   They are: Race 4 Purse $12,500 1. Pilgrims Lass M. Simons 2. Conway Kellyanna C. Norris 3. Amal Hall J. Morrill, Jr 4. Sensibility S. Zeron 5. Amanda Blue Chip TBA 6. Gobi Princess J. Morrill, Jr   Race 7 Purse $12,500 1. Quincy Blue Chip J. Morrill, Jr 2. Winndevie T. Smedshammer 3. Sweet Chapter J. Morrill, Jr 4. Hanna Dreamgirl TBA 5. With Out A Doubt T. Buter 6. Stella Jane J. Bartlett

What's Goin On (Claude Huckabone III) took the Vernon Downs featured harness racing pace ($7,000) on Sunday (May 12). Seel The Deal N (Jennifer Lappe) went to the front and put up all the early fractions (:27.4, :58.3, 1:28.4). What's Goin On ($4.50), who is Trained by David Russo for owners Marissa and Joseph Russo, took the lead at the tap of the stretch. Heaven Rocks (Jimmy Whittemore) came flying late but What's Goin On dug in deep and would not be denied winning in 1:56.4. Heaven Rocks settled for second with I Am Golden (Ronald Harp) finishing third. What's Goin On is a 5-year-old gelding by Roll With Joe. It was his fifth win this season. He now has 15 career victories. Adam Capizzano, Claude Huckabone Jr., and Roman Lopez all had driving doubles. Capizzano won with Reuben Tune Ups ($17.40) and Sapient Hanover ($18.60). Huckabone Jr. came in first with American Jo Jo ($15.00) and Brookdale Bruiser ($4.30). Lopez got his wins with Release The Terror ($26.60) and Bay Rum ($3.00) Vernon Downs returns to live racing on Friday (May 17). They will feature the eliminations for the Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) for both 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings as well as 3-year-old trotting fillies. Post time is 6:10 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com   John Horne for Vernon Downs.

Angel Speak (Claude Huckabone III) charges late to capture the featured fillies and mares harness racing pace ($5,000) on Saturday (May 11) at Vernon Downs. Hope Hotspur (Ronald Harp) led to a first quarter in :28.3 and to the half in :58.4. Quick Trot (Josh Kinney) brushed first-over to take the lead at the three-quarter mark in 1:28.0. Angel Speak ($16.20), who is owned by the Brian Henkel Stable and trained by Huckabone III, was fifth at the three-quarter mark. She went three-wide in mid stretch and flew by at the wire to nip Hope Hotspur to win in 1:55.4. Quick Trot was in the photo as well but settled for third best. Angel Speak is a 6-year-old mare by Well Said. It was her second win this season. She now owns 13 career victories. Huckabone III and Howard Parker each had three driving wins on the night. Huckabone III got his other wins with Gimme The Cash ($8.60), and Yo Yo Mass ($21.00). Howard Parker went to the winner's circle with Gimmesomeroom ($5.20), Rosiemunn ($6.50), and She's Uncorked $26.00). Vernon Downs returns to live racing with a special Mother's Day matinee (May 12). The 11 race card will start at 1:05 p.m. Free rose to each mother while supplies last. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com   John Horne for Vernon Downs

Vernon Downs played host to two harness racing divisions of the New York Sire Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings on Friday (May 10). Both divisions raced for a purse of $58,700. Winnerup (Trond Smedshammer) charged late to win the first division. Star Track Hanover (Jimmy Whittemore) led the group to a first quarter in :27.0. Chip Chip Conway (Jim Taggart Jr.) took over around the clubhouse turn and hit the half in :55.0 and three-quarters in 1:23.3. Winnerup ($18.40) found himself fourth at the three-quarter marker. Owned by the Purple Haze Stables and trained by Smedshammer, he hit the stretch like he had a rocket strapped to his back. He flew by to win by 10 lengths in a lifetime best of 1:53.1. Big Money (Tyler Buter) came up late to finish second. Chip Chip Conway held on for third. Winnerup is a 3-year-old colt by Credit winner. It was his second win this season. He now has three career victories. Mr Vicktor (Tyler Buter) holds on to win the second division. Skyway Kon Man (Trond Smedshammer) took the lead and hit the first quarter in :29.1. Mr Vicktor ($5.80) , who is trained by G Buzzy Sholty for owners Joseph Lee, Diamond Pride LLC, and Sholty Racing LLC, grabbed the lead just before hitting the half in :58.2. He would be the first to three-quarters with a time of 1:26.2. Skyway Kon Man charged late but had to settle for second as Mr Viktor dug down deep and held on for the win in a career best of 1:55.1. Whimzical Chapter (Dan Daley) was third. Mr Viktor                                        --Fotowon photo Mr Vicktor is a 3-year-old colt by RC Royalty. He is a perfect three for three in 2019. He now has four career victories. Tyler Buter won four races on the night. His other wins came with Financial Impact ($33.80), RX For Success ($3.60), and Travel Winner ($3.80). Vernon Downs returns to live racing on Saturday (May 11) with a nine race card starting at 6:10 p.m. There will be a special 11 race Mother's day card on Sunday (May 12). Sunday post time is 1:05 p.m. www.vernondowns.com   John Horne  for Vernon Downs

Vernon Downs welcomes NYSS for sophomore trotting colts on Friday. Two harness racing divisions of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings will race at Vernon Downs on Friday (May 10). In the first division ($58,700), JNR Express (John MacDonald) is the 3-1 morning line favorite. He is Trained by Jessica Okusko for owners James DeArmond and Russell Young. The colt by Conway Hall won the NYSS consolation final as a freshman. He is two for two in 2019. Chip Chip Conway (Jim Taggart) and Chapter Fashion (Mike Simons) are both at 7-2 morning line odds. Both raced in the NYSS freshman final a season ago. Chip Chip Conway (Conway Hall) is owned by Kenneth Weckstein and trainer Gary Messenger. The gelding is one for one this season with three career victories. Chapter Fashion (Chapter Seven) is owned by Fashion Farms LLC and trained by Jim Campbell. He is a gelding with three career victories. He also is one for one this season. In the second division ($58,700) the morning line favorite at 2-1 is Skyway Kon Man (Trond Smedshammer). Winless in six career starts, the gelding by Conway Hall had an impressive third place finish in his last start at Freehold Raceway for the Dexter Cup Final ($118,950). He is owned by the Purple Haze Stables LLC and trained by Smedshammer. The second morning line choice at 3-1 is Mr Vicktor (Tyler Buter). He is trained by G. Buzzy Sholty for owners Joeseph Lee, Diamond Pride LLC, and Sholty Racing LLC. The colt by RC Royalty is three for four in his career including a perfect two for two start this season The nine race card on Friday starts at 6:10 p.m. For more information go to www.vernon Downs.com   John Horne for Vernon Downs

Mr Lucky Star and harness racing driver Roman Lopez win the Robert E. Keller Trotting Series Final ($12,700) at Vernon Downs on Saturday (May 5). Barn Beast (Claude Huckabone Jr.) controlled the early fractions (:29.1, :59.4, 1:28.4). Mr. Lucky Star ($2.80), who is owned by Joan Ellafrits with Lynn Wilson and trained by Lopez, shot out of the pocket and flew right by to win by over five lengths in 1:57.4. Barn Beast held on for second with Irish Kate (Claude Huckabone III) getting third. Mr Lucky Star is a 4-year-old gelding by Mr. Cantab. He is now three for three this season after no wins in his career coming into 2019. Joe's Life (Leon Bailey) is an upset winner in Anthony Farina Pacing Series Final ($11,600). The big favorite Gia's Surreal (John MacDonald) put down all the early numbers (:28.3, :57.1, 1:25.4). Joe's Life ($33.60), who is owned by Rocco Stebbins and trained by Joe Skowyra, wore down a fading Gia's Surreal in the stretch to win in a career best 1:55.3. Irish Art (Howard Parker) came up to claim second with Gia's Surreal settling for third. Joe's Life Vernon Downs returns to live racing on Friday (May 10) at 6:10 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com John Horne for Vernon Downs.

Bold Fresh (Jimmy Whittemore) charges late to win the featured harness racing  trot ($6,000) at Vernon Downs on Friday (May 3). Keystone Orion (John MacDonald) laid down all the early fractions (:27.4, :57.3, 1:26.3). Bold Fresh ($9.50), who is owned and trained by Marrisa Chadbourne, was third after the three-quarter mark and went flying in the stretch to win easily in 1:56.4. Keystone Orion held on to finish second. First Call (Homer Hochstetler) was third best. Bold Fresh is a 10-year-old gelding by Cantab Hall . It was his third straight win on the season. He now has 48 career victories. Whittemore won two more on the night. Whittemore's other victories came with Glory Jean ($7.80), and Air Dynamic ($6.20). Ben McNeil had a driving double. He notched his wins with Gimmesomeroom ($27.00), and Mydelight Bluechip ($7.20). Live racing returns on Saturday (May 4) as we celebrate "Derby Day" at Vernon Downs with a special post time of 4:30 p.m. There will be a Derby Hat Contest. The Registration is at 4 p.m. with the Judging taking place after race four. There will also be two derby dream bets. Two lucky contestants will get a chance to bet $500 each to win on any horse in the Kentucky Derby and get to keep all of their winnings. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com. John Horne for Vernon Downs.

Skip Jive (Jimmy Whittemore) captures the harness racing featured Vernon Downs pace ($6,000) on Saturday (April 27). American Passport (Claude Huckabone Jr.) took the lead and put up all the early fractions (:28.0, :57.0, 1:25.0). Skip Jive ($5.10) was eighth after three-quarters. Owned by Diane Whittemore and trained by Marissa Chadbourne, he would fly to the front and hold off a late charge by second place finisher Electrofire (Jennifer Lappe) to win in 1:55.0. This Baby Rocks (Denny Bucceri) was third best. Skip Jive is a 6-year-old gelding by Rock N Roll Heaven. It was his first win of 2019 and 17th career victory. Mister Lucky Star (Roman Lopez) goes gate to wire to easily win the second division of Robert E. Keller Trotting Series ($4,000) in 1:59.4. Irish Kate (Claude Huckabone III) was second with Little Dave (Angus MacDonald) finished third. The second division from leg two of the Keller series was postponed last night (April 26). It was run on Saturday as a non-betting race. Mister Lucky Star is a 4-year-old gelding by Mr Cantab. Trained by Lopez for owners, Joan Ellafrits and Lynn Wilson, he is two for two in 2019. John MacDonald drove four winners on Saturday. His wins were with Jnr Express ($3.00), Jet Rock ($2.50), Sometimes Said ($9.70), and Rockme Socks Off ($4.90). Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Friday (May 3) with a post time of 6:10 p.m. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com John Horne for Vernon Downs.  

Tataria (Claude Huckabone III) takes featured fillies and mares pace ($7,000) at Vernon Downs on Friday (April 26). The harness racing race card was cancelled after four races due to inclement weather. Tataria ($11.60) jumped out of the gate and went right to the lead. She took them to a first quarter in :27.1 and to the half in :58.1. Rock My World (Leon Bailey) brushed and rushed from fifth to first, taking them to three-quarters in 1:27.1. Tataria, who is owned by the Joe Pavia Jr. Stable Inc. and trained by Melissa Beckwith, wasn't done yet. She rallied back to take the lead at the top of the stretch and cruised home to win in 1:54.4. Rock My World had to settle for second. Mydelight Bluechip (Ben McNeil) Finished third. Tataria is a 7-year-old mare by Four Starzz Shark. She won for the second time this season. She now owns 24 career victories. Barn Beast (Claude Huckabone Jr.) breezes to easy win in the second leg, first division of Robert E. Keller Trotting Series ($4,000). Barn Beast ($2.10) would take control just before the three-quarter mark. She flew down the stretch to get a new lifetime mark of 1:59.3. Royal Trumpery (Angus MacDonald) came up to finish second. Massive Impressive (Ronald Harp) was third best. Barn Beast is a 3-year-old colt by Credit Winner. She is owned by Purple Haze Stables with Nancy Pratt and trainer Steven Pratt. It was her second win this season. She now has three lifetime wins. Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Saturday (April 27) with a 12 race card starting at 6:10 p.m. For More information go to www.vernondowns.com John Horne for Vernon Downs

Harness racing driver John MacDonald made the first Saturday (April 20) of the 2019 Vernon Downs season a memorable one. MacDonald starting out by winning the first race with long shot Pearlameri ($34.40). His second win came in the Anthony Farina Pacing Series ($4000) with Gia's Surreal ($2.10). The 3-year-old filly by So Surreal won by over six lengths in 1:53.3. Finishing second was Regal Escape (Truman Gale). Joe's Life (Leon Bailey) was third Best. His last four wins came with Ponyta Boy ($9.40), KJ Erich ($4.50), Connie Keeper ($6.00), and Studio City ($6.70). Electrofire (Jennifer Lappe) charges late to capture the featured pace ($6,000). Winds Of Change (John MacDonald) put up all the early fractions (:26.0, :55.4, 1:25.2). Card Knock Life (Josh Kinney) would take the lead at the top of the stretch. Electrofire ($16.00), who is owned and trained by Lappe, found an opening on the inside and went to the lead and hang on to beat second place finisher Skip Jive (Jimmy Whittemore) in 1:53.2. Card Knock Life settled for third. Electrofire is a 12-year-old horse by Electric Stena. It was his first win of 2019. He now owns 48 career victories. Electrofire Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Friday (April 26) with a post time of 6:10 pm. For more information go to www.vernondowns.com John Horne for Vernon Downs

VERNON — A rainy opening night of the 66th harness racing season at Vernon Downs saw a disqualification in the featured $7,000 trot run as the fifth event on the program. Only Passing Thru and driver Jimmy Whittemore were awarded first place due to a disqualification by Taco Tuesday, driven by Leon Bailey. Track officials reported there was a big opening crowd, although the official attendance was unavailable. Opening night featured a T-shirt and magnet giveaway, and a fireworks display was scheduled at the end of the racing program. With rain falling throughout most of the night, the track was rated “good” for the first four events on the 11-race card but was changed to “sloppy” for the last seven. In the featured event, Only Passing Thru made a three-wide move to challenge Taco Tuesday for the lead, and Taco Tuesday drifted wide causing interference. Taco Tuesday crossed the finish line first but was placed second for interference, with Warawee Preferred taking third. A 5-year-old owned by Diane Whittemore and trained by Marrissa Chadbourne, Only Passing Thru won for the third time in 10 starts this season, returning $3.90. He now has 14 career victories. He had a winning time of 1:56.4. Whittemore and Chadbourne combined for three wins on the night, also placing first with Blameitonthenight and Bold Fresh. Whittemore was the track’s driving co-champion in 2018 along with John MacDonald, with each collecting 115 wins. Mr Lucky Star and driver Roman Lopez rallied late to overtake favorite Barn Beast and driver Claude Huckabone Jr. to win the first division of the $4,000 Robert E. Keller Trotting Series in 1:56.1. The 4-year-old gelding is trained by Lopez for owners Joan Ellafrits and Lynn Wilson. It was his first win in two lifetime starts. Irish Kate and driver Claude Huckabone III went gate-to-wire to win the second division of the Keller Series in 2:02.2. The 4-year-old mare, owned by Donald Cosgrove and trained by Angus MacDonald, won for the first time this season and for the fifth time in her career. The Downs is back in action tonight with another 11-race card starting at 6:10. For more racing information, visit www.vernondowns.com  Reprinted with permission of The Rome Sentinel

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