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Vernon, N.Y. -- Availed a clear pocket trip by Chris Lems, Connie Hochstetler's Southern Girl ($3.40) prevailed as the odds-on harness racing favorite in Thursday (August 25) evening's $7,500 top-level Miracle Mile distaff pace at Vernon Downs.   With the withdrawal of Jinxy's Delight leaving a field of four, Southern Girl had no trouble securing the pocket behind early pacesetter Keene Olivia (Truman Gale), drafting comfortably through early sectionals of :27.3 and :56.2. Lems angled the 4-year-old Sportsmaster mare off the pegs with just over a quarter mile to go to avoid being boxed in by Asset Management (Fern Paquet, Jr.), and the pair made their move to the fore just after Keene Olivia completed the first three-quarters of the mile in 1:24. At the eighth pole, Southern Girl had overtaken the fading Keene Olivia, and the now 12-time winner had enough left to hold Asset Management a half length at bay in 1:51.4. Always Flash-n (Andy Gardner) was an even third, while Keene Olivia faded to finish last of the quartet.   For Southern Girl, a Homer Hochstetler trainee, the win was her third in five starts.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Friday (August 26) evening, with first post at 6:45 p.m. Eastern. The 12-race card features the $193,000 Crawford Farms and $170,000 Muscle Hill trotting events, along with a pair of New York Sire Stakes events for 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. -- Paul Kelley trainee Obrigado looks to defend his title in Friday (August 26) evening's $193,000 Crawford Farms Open Trot at Vernon Downs, but he'll once again have to contend with the likes of Resolve, Homicide Hunter, and Flanagan Memory after squaring off against them throughout the harness racing season.   Obrigado (7-2 morning line second choice, post 7) has won 4 of 11 races this year, including the Maxie Lee Memorial at Harrah's Philadelphia, the Charlie Hill Memorial at Scioto Downs, and the Cleveland Classic at Northfield. While doing his best work on small tracks this season, his most impressive performance may well have come over two turns in the Cashman Memorial at the Meadowlands earlier in the month, where he escaped traffic on the far turn and stormed home in :26.4 in pursuit of Resolve. Regular driver Mark MacDonald will once again pilot the 6-year-old Boy Band gelding for the partnership of the Paul Kelley Racing Stable, the SRF Stable, Linwood Higgins, and Stable 45.   Elitloppet runner-up and Cashman winner Resolve (5-2, post 6) looks to lead the charge to upend the defending champion in the night's tenth event, having also won the Arthur Cutler Memorial this season. Ãke Svanstedt trains and drives the 5-year-old Muscle Hill entire. Flanagan Memory (9-2, post 8) also enters from the Cashman, finishing a gathered-in third after seizing command through a bold middle move. The 6-year-old Kadabra entire earned all four of his seasonal wins in Preferred company at Mohawk. Brian Sears will take over the lines for trainer Rene Dion.   While Obrigado, Resolve, and Flanagan Memory have faced each other on multiple occasions this year, a new shooter is quickly gathering momentum. Homicide Hunter (6-1, post 2)--representing Crawford Farms Racing--enters off a decisive 1:50.1 victory in last week's Sebastian K Invitational at Pocono, brushing to the fore with a circuit to go and edging away to a four-length score. David Miller handles the driving duties of the 4-year-old Mr Cantab gelding for trainer Chris Oakes.   In the $170,000 Muscle Hill for distaff trotters (race 9), 21-time winner Hannelore Hanover (5-2, post 7) looks to maintain her dominance after winning 12 of her 13 assignments this year. The 4-year-old daughter of Swan For All proved a decisive and handy winner in her Miss Versatility preliminary at Tioga on August 14, completing the mile in 1:52.4 over off going yet with much in reserve. Yannick Gingras will remain aboard the Ron Burke trainee, who also captured the Miami Valley Distaff and the Armbro Flight, as well as the Fresh Yankee and Hambletonian Maturity over the 1-1/8-mile distance.   Among those aiming to hand Hannelore Hanover her second defeat of the year are Jewels in Hock (7-2, post 2, John Campbell), 2015 Empire Breeders Classic winner Barn Doll (9-2, post 4, Jeff Gregory), and double millionaire Shake It Cerry (6-1, post 5, David Miller).   A pair of New York Sire Stakes events for 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings headline the undercard, with the undefeated Serious Major and Funknwaffles due to square off in the $55,500 eighth event.   Horsemen are reminded that entrants for the Crawford Farms and Muscle Hill events will race out of the detention barn, and they are due to arrive no later than 8:00 p.m. Thursday (August 25). Horsemen in need of hotel rooms for the weekend are advised to contact the race office at 315.829.6825.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Flanagan Memory heads to Friday's $193,000 Crawford Farms Open Trot at Vernon Downs looking for his first stakes win of the season, but the 6-year-old son of stallion Kadabra has already provided more harness racing magical moments than anyone associated with the trotter ever expected. The winner of 17 races and $1.05 million, Flanagan Memory was born two weeks prior to the death of his breeder, Michel Flanagan of Quebec. Flanagan's daughter, Liette, was not involved much in harness racing, but was determined to keep the horse regardless of any input she received. Among those offering advice were her father, who before his passing suggested Liette get rid of the colt because of his crooked legs. "He said I knew nothing about the horses and he didn't want me to get in trouble," Liette Flanagan said. "I told him no, I was going to keep him first and see what (then-trainer) Pierre Touchette said. I wanted to see what we could do and give him a chance. "Pierre said, 'I understand. You're going to do what you have to do. I won't argue with you.' I told him he didn't have to argue, I was going to do it anyways." Flanagan's decision paid off. Flanagan Memory's career victories include the 2015 John Cashman Memorial, 2013 Goodtimes Stakes, and 2013 Ontario Sire Stakes championship. He received the 2013 O'Brien Award for Canada's best 3-year-old male trotter. "I'm happy about it," Flanagan said. "My father, even though he passed away six years ago, he is somewhere living still in the horse. I never expected this. Even my father, if he was alive, he wouldn't believe it. It's really something. When you have that once-in-a-lifetime horse, it's wonderful." Flanagan was unable to attend Flanagan Memory's win in the Goodtimes, but was at Mohawk Racetrack when he won the Ontario championship. "The (Goodtimes), I was very happy," Flanagan said. "I was watching on the computer. I was alone that day watching and I was screaming, 'Come on, baby, come on.' The second one, that's when I realized it wasn't just luck. Everyone around me didn't know I owned the horse, but they found out very fast. I was going crazy." Flanagan Memory, out of the Flanagan-owned mare Classy Stacy, has won four of eight races this year and earned $157,580. All of his victories this season, including a 1:51.2 career-best in July, have come at Mohawk Racetrack in Preferreds. His stakes results include a second-place finish in the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial and third-place finishes in the Charlie Hill Memorial and Cashman. The stallion is trained by Rene Dion, a Touchette protégé who took over following the death of his mentor in 2011. Dion joined Liette Flanagan in ownership of Flanagan Memory prior to the horse's racing career. Flanagan Memory will start Friday's Crawford from post eight with Brian Sears listed to drive. Flanagan Memory is 9-2 on the morning line, the third choice behind Resolve at 5-2 and Obrigado at 7-2. "He's had a nice season," Flanagan said. "He deserves a nice big win now." Flanagan, who is the president of a Montreal-based business association founded by her father in 1972, owns four horses at the moment. In addition to Flanagan Memory and Classy Stacy, she owns Flanagan Memory's full sister Flanagan Lady. The 5-year-old Flanagan Lady was unraced, but is the dam of a Justice Hall-sired yearling named Flanagan Fantasy. She is in foal to Justice Hall again. She plans to continue racing Flanagan Memory for as long as the horse is happy and successful. "We don't force him," Flanagan said. "He's not a machine. We have to respect that too. I think we're doing well with that. We let him tell us when he's ready to go. We just have to watch him and listen to him." Friday's card at Vernon Downs also features the $170,000 Muscle Hill Stakes for older female trotters. Hannelore Hanover, who has won 12 of 13 races this year and earned $580,189 for trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing, the partnership of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, and Frank Baldachino, is the 5-2 morning line favorite. Following are the fields for the Muscle Hill and Crawford. $170,000 Muscle Hill Mares Trot Race 9 - Post time 9:25 p.m. (EDT) PP - Horse - Sire - Driver - Trainer - Line 1. Harley Momma - SJ's Caviar - Ake Svanstedt - Ake Svanstedt - 8/1 2. Jewels In Hock - Credit Winner - John Campbell - Linda Toscano - 7/2 3. Rules Of The Road - Muscle Hill - Jim Morrill Jr. - Janice Connor - 5/1 4. Barn Doll - Conway Hall - Jeff Gregory - Jeff Gregory - 9/2 5. Shake It Cerry - Donato Hanover - David Miller - Jimmy Takter - 6/1 6. Kelsey's Keepsake - Yankee Glide - Scott Zeron - Ron Burke - 8/1 7. Hannelore Hanover - Swan For All - Yannick Gingras - Ron Burke - 5/2 8. I'm So Fancy - Donato Hanover - Mark MacDonald - Tony Alagna - 10/1 $193,000 Crawford Farms Open Trot Race 10 - Post time 9:45 p.m. (EDT) PP - Horse - Sire - Driver - Trainer - Line 1. Crescent Fashion - Muscle Hill - Jim Morrill Jr. - Ake Svanstedt - 10/1 2. Homicide Hunter - Mr Cantab - David Miller - Chris Oakes - 6/1 3. JL Cruze - Crazed - John Campbell - Eric Ell - 8/1 4. Canepa Hanover - Muscle Hill - Yannick Gingras - Jimmy Takter - 10/1 5. Centurion ATM - SJ's Caviar - Steve Smith - Ake Svanstedt - 8/1 6. Resolve - Muscle Hill - Ake Svanstedt - Ake Svanstedt - 5/2 7. Obrigado - Boy Band - Mark MacDonald - Paul Kelley - 7/2 8. Flanagan Memory - Kadabra - Brian Sears - Rene Dion - 9/2 9. Musical Rhythm - Cantab Hall - Scott Zeron - Benoit Baillargeon - 5/1 Ken Weingartner  

Vernon, N.Y. -- JK Panache ($3.10) continued his dominance in the top pacing ranks at Vernon Downs with a 1:48 shellacking of his three harness racing foes in Saturday (August 20) evening's featured $9,000 Open/Preferred Pace.   John MacDonald sent the 7-year-old Art Major gelding to a clear lead over Modern Gesture (Andy Gardner) on approach to the first turn, posting a :25.2 first quarter before keeping a fast pace throughout. JK Panache maintained an uncontested lead through middle splits of :53.4 and 1:21 before drawing away in upper stretch. JK Panache used a :27 last quarter to evade Jacksrluckytoo (Greg Merton) by 4-1/2 lengths, while Rock On Moe (Dan Daley) rallied mildly to take third in the last yards from the fading Modern Gesture.   Trainer Dave Dewhurst co-owns JK Panache with Philip Hale.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Thursday (August 25) evening, with post time set for 6:45 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. -- Fresh off a track-record performance at Tioga Downs in last week's Geers Stakes, Cougar Bait ($5.00, part of entry) proved dominant in Friday (August 19) evening's lone $10,000 Kindergarten Classic preliminary for harness racing 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings, carded as race two at Vernon Downs   Marcus Miller brushed the Western Terror-No One Is Alone gelding to the fore after a :27.2 first quarter before rating a :57.3 middle half. Upon turning for home, Cougar Bait felt mild pressure from 3-5 favorite Lindythefourteenth (Scott Zeron), edging clear easily off the corner--Lindythefourteenth broke stride only after he began to regress. Meanwhile, Cougar Bait drew off by 4-3/4 lengths over his stablemate Harry Terror (Andy McCarthy), who rallied belatedly to take second from Manattack (Chris Lems). The 1:51.4 mile time gave Cougar Bait a new lifetime mark in his third consecutive win.   John Butenschoen trains Cougar Bait for the Harmony Oaks Racing Stable, Inc., Jeremey Day, Tangie Massey, and the VIP Internet Stable, LLC.   Miller scored a stakes double at the Miracle Mile, making gradual gains with Ameraway ($3.90, part of entry) through the stretch en route to a 1:53 win over Well What's New (Zeron) and V String (McCarthy) in the tenth event, a Kindergarten preliminary for pacing fillies. Trainer Erv Miller co-owns the daughter of American Ideal and Shyaway with Paymaq Racing, the aforementioned Tangie Massey, and Neil Cumsky.   The earlier Kindergarten split for fillies, carded as race six, saw Caviart Ally ($3.80, part of entry) make all the pace and accelerate through the far turn for a 1:53.2 score over pocket rival Someonesomewhere (Miller) and the belatedly-gaining Jenny's Terror (Fern Paquet, Jr.). Andy McCarthy drove the daughter of Bettor's Delight and Allamerican Cool for trainer Noel Daley and owner Caviart Farms.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Saturday (August 20) evening; post time is set for 6:45 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Trenton, NJ --- There’s no question Erv Miller is one of the top trainers in harness racing. But when it comes to giving Knute Rockne-type pep talks, he may have to pick up a few tips. In sending one of his trainers out on his second professional drive at Vernon Downs in New York, Erv wasn’t encouraging Atlee Bender to go out and win one for the Gipper -- or even the Bender or the Miller. “He said, ‘I want you to take your filly (Rockin Winner) up there and I also want you to race the big colt (restricted stakes-winner Jet Airway),” Bender said. “I just started grinning. He said he was sticking his neck out for me when he let me drive that horse. He said ‘Don’t let me down.’” Bender continued laughing as he told the story, saying, “That made me more nervous than if he’d have said how to drive him. He didn’t tell me how to drive him he just said ‘I’m sticking my neck out for you, don’t let me down.’ Coming from Erv, that’s a little intimidating.” But it wasn’t debilitating, as Erv’s neck made out just fine after Atlee’s drive became his first win. The 24-year-old from Indiana brought Jet Airway from behind with a :26.2 final quarter-mile to win in 1:50.4 on July 30. Bender got away last in the five-horse field and, at the advice of Erv’s son Marcus Miller, popped the earplugs early around the first turn. “They were moving out pretty good and he settled in there pretty good,” Bender said. “I was second over past the half, and I just followed that guy around to the last turn and went three wide at the head of the stretch. I was in the middle of the racetrack and won by a length and a half.” The victory was big on numerous levels, as it was Bender’s first; he didn’t let Erv down; and his family was on hand for the occasion. “It was awesome,” Bender said. “As I came across I was just thinking ‘I can’t believe I’m actually doing this.’ My mom and dad said they were going to come out and watch. They drove nine hours, so I was happy to win for them being there. That’s pretty sweet.” So was the phone call he got from Erv shortly afterward. “He just called and said ‘I don’t need nothing, I just wanted to say congratulations professional,’” Bender said. “He said I did a good job.” It was a nice payoff for 10 years of hard work. Bender’s foray into horses came from watching his uncles race ponies as a kid. One uncle began working with Standardbreds, which piqued Atlee’s interest. “That was my whole life,” Bender said. “I wanted to try the horses.” He initially helped a friend from his church race ponies and started doing it himself at age 14. He soon bought a pony with family friend Lewayne Miller and continued to drive them as a hobby until age 22. Miller raced horses at Indiana’s Hoosier Park, where he became friends with Erv Miller (no relation) and began working for him. Weary of his job in a trailer factory, which he had since graduating high school, Bender asked Lewayne if Erv needed help. It turned out he did need someone in Indiana. Bender met Miller at a sale, the two hit it off, and Atlee started working for Erv two years ago, both in Indiana and Florida. This past year, Miller brought him to his stable in Wind Gap, Pa., making Bender his second trainer. As one would expect, working with a harness racing icon has been invaluable. “I’ve learned a lot of things,” Bender said. “I didn’t have a lot of experience from the harness racing aspect. It’s the same concept as ponies, but he does his stuff a lot different. He taught me a lot, how to set a horse up as far as rigging, training-wise and driving. He taught me a lot about how to drive horses. “He’s always trying to teach you to do better. He’ll harp on you a little bit, but that’s just for good intentions to make you better. He really wants you to succeed and get the most out of every horse you drive. He emphasizes that every horse is different, and you can’t drive them all the same. He really taught me a lot as far as the driving aspect.” Miller felt Bender learned his lessons well enough to give him a shot with Jet Airway, who had strong 2- and 3-year-old campaigns, winning 10 of 30 races including four divisions of the Ontario Sire Stakes and earning $371,555, before being limited to four starts last year. “He broke down a little bit,” Bender said. “We just started him back and he’s pretty sound now.” Atlee began qualifying horses for Miller last year and the trainer rewarded him with that now memorable drive. Bender said he had no time to get nervous, as it was only he and one groom on hand at Vernon Downs. Atlee had to race Jet Airway in the second race; and the horse he owns, Rockin Winner, in race five (he is part owner of two other horses with Lewayne Miller). “We were kind of pushed for time, so I didn’t have much time to get nervous,” Bender said. “I was warming up Rockin Winner, I got off the track and jumped on Jet Airway, so I wasn’t nervous.” Bender finished fourth with Rockin Winner. Two weeks later, he drove Jet Airway to a second victory in a career-best 1:49.2 over a sloppy track in the Open/Preferred at Vernon. Once again, Bender got away last in the five-horse race. “The horse that beat us the previous week got away fourth,” Atlee said. “He pulled second over, and just followed him. In the turn he went three wide, I followed him and at the head of the stretch I tipped four wide and we were side by side for the stretch and I pulled away. I looked over at the time and I saw (1):49.2. My eyes just got all big and I started smiling.” Bender has evidently earned his trainer’s trust. He has two more races Friday at Harrah’s Philadelphia and another two Saturday at Tioga Downs. Atlee’s dream is to become a fulltime driver but he said if that doesn’t come to pass, he would be happy to train horses. Either way, it beats the trailer factory. “I like it a lot better,” he said. “I’ve never woke up and said ‘I have to go to work.’ I want to go to work. I want to be with horses instead of doing the same thing over and over.” by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent   

Vernon, N.Y. -- Trainers Jimmy Takter and Julie Miller each captured two $10,000 Kindergarten Classic preliminary events on Thursday (August 18) evening's 13-race harness racing card at Vernon Downs.   Takter's King On the Hill ($3.00) took full advantage of a cozy tracking trip, closing the pocket on the far turn and hooking three-wide off the far turn to eclipse Sweet Perks (David Miller) and early pacesetter Catch the Game (Yannick Gingras) in the evening's second event. The son of Muscle Hill and Lantern Kronos posted a 1-3/4 length win in 1:56, with Tim Tetrick driving for Christina Takter, Göran Falk, Göran Anderberg, and the Hatfield Stables.   Takter completed his stakes double in the tenth with Mellby Gard, Inc.'s Feed Your Head ($5.20), a pillar-to-post winner in rein to Yannick Gingras. The daughter of Muscle Hill and Flawless Bluestone seized command of the terms early and held clear of pocket rival Spending Spree (John Campbell) by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:57. No Bus For Us (Andy Miller) recovered from an early break to save third.   Julie Miller trainees captured races four and six, both in pacesetting fashion. Fly On ($4.40) proved the fastest of the ten 2-year-old trotting colts and geldings to compete on the card, using a :56.3 closing half to just evade pocket rival International Moni (Tetrick) for a 1:55.3 triumph in the fourth. Driver Andy Miller co-owns the son of Muscle Hill and Calchips Finisher with the Arden Homestead Stable and the GTY Stable.   Overdraft Volo ($11.20) circled three-wide on the clubhouse turn to secure the lead after yielding early in the sixth. The daughter of Yankee Glide and Bank of Newport controlled tepid middle splits of 1:00.3 and 1:30 before leading a :27.2 sprint home and holding 4-5 foavorite Glitzey Gal (David Miller) 1-1/2 lengths at bay in 1:57.2. The Pinske Stables and the Kentuckiana Racing Stable own Overdraft Volo.   The remaining Kindergarten division saw Crann Tara ($3.60) equal the fastest stakes time of the evening, wiring her four eighth-race foes in 1:55.3 with the aid of David Miller. Linda Toscano trains the daughter of Donato Hanover and Shan Riches for owner William Donovan.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Friday (August 19) evening, with three pacing divisions of the Kindergarten Classic series headlining the 11-race card. Post time is slated for 6:45 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. -- Aided by live three-wide cover from prohibitive favorite JK Panache, Jet Airway ($29.00) and 24-year-old harness racing driver Atlee Bender teamed up to spring a 13-1 upset in Saturday (August 13) evening's $10,000 Open/Preferred Handicap Pace at Vernon Downs.   The 5-year-old Jereme's Jet entire dropped to the back of the quintet early on as Jacksrluckytoo (Greg Merton) sprinted off to establish a blistering pace. After a :25.4 first quarter, Jacksrluckytoo faced pressure in the form of 37-1 outsider Modern Gesture (Fern Paquet, Jr.) through middle splits of :53.3 and 1:21.4. As Jacksrluckytoo worked in an attempt to stave off his first-over challenger, 1-10 favorite JK Panache (Truman Gale) mounted a three-wide bid with Jet Airway looming right behind. Ultimately, Jet Airway circled four-wide off the turn and struck the front at the eighth pole while the pace imploded. Jet Airway ultimately bested JK Panache by three-quarters of a length in 1:49.2 over sloppy going, while third-place finisher Modern Gesture checked in a farther 5-3/4 lengths in arrears.   Trainer Erv Miller co-owns Jet Airway with Tangie Massey, Paul Sunderhaus, and Larry Agle. For Bender, both of his career driving victories in but five starts to date came with Jet Airway, now a 14-time winner.   The card began with a $5,000 C.K.G. Billings series event for amateur drivers, and Vernon Downs mainstay Celebrity Sitmulus ($9.30) dug in to hold off a late charge from the pocket-sitting Star Studded Cast in 1:57. Owner David Glasser drove the Homer Hochstetler trainee, a 6-year-old Cantab Hall gelding.   Two-year-old trotters take center stage in a Kindergarten Classic preliminary leg when live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Thursday (August 18) evening. The first of 13 races is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Harness racing's greatest traveling sideshow, the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series, moved on to Vernon Downs 9/10ths-mile oval for an eastern region contest on Thursday evening, August 13. And when that trot was declared official, David "Poppa" Glasser and Celebrity Stimulus emerged victorious in a 1:57 clocking. it seems there's an old adage about driving in a harness race which states, if you feel your horse is the best send him to the lead and if he gets beat on the front-end he probably wasn't the best. According to the driver David Glasser only the first part of that statement is correct because after his front end journey with Celebrity Stimulus his trotter hung game and scored neck victory over "Tough Tony" Ciufettelli's, Star Studded Cast, who enjoyed a two-hole journey. Glasser sent Celebrity Stimulus to the lead from the six-hole and they had command at the first stanza in a snappy :27.3 with Star Studded Cast tucked comfortably in the two-hole. The two leaders were raced one-two past the half in :58.2 and when the field straightened up the backside "Bullet Bob" Davis make a serious challenge with Shelikescandy and they reached the third stanza in 1:27.4 only a head behind the leader. On the final turn Celebrity Stimulus trotted away from Davis' mare but then had to contend with Ciufettelli's Star Studded Cast who drew alongside the Celebrity Stimulus as the two headed for paydirt. A serious stretch duel then ensued and although Star Studded Cast was giving his best efforts Celebrity Stimulus battled back and hung gamely for a neck victory. Shelikescandy and Bob Davis took home the show. Glasser owns the winner who's trained by Homer Hochstetler. A 9-5 favorite on the morning line Celebrity Stimulus went off at odds of 3.65-1 and paid $9.30 for win. It was the third winning drive this season for Glasser, who is the president of a litigation support company. by John Manzi for the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series

Vernon, N.Y. -- After Vernon Downs leading driver John MacDonald notched five victories on Wednesday night's card, current runner-up Chris Lems posted a natural grand slam to start off Thursday (August 11) evening's nine-race harness racing program--taking the featured $7,500 Miracle Mile trot with My Lucky Word ($7.00) as part of the sequence.   Lems sent the 4-year-old Lucky Chucky mare to a clear lead in the compact field of four, controlling the terms through easy splits of :28.1, :57.2, and 1:26.3 before posting a :27.4 closing quarter to evade a late push from even-money favorite Twice Too Nice (John MacDonald), who stalked intently from the pocket. My Lucky Word prevailed by 1-1/2 lengths in 1:54.2 for her 13th career win. Dave Dewhurst trains My Lucky Word for owner Philip Hale.   Lems also teamed up with Cascata ($6.10, 1:53), Patton ($3.70, 1:57.3), and Illusionsndreams ($9.20, 1:57.3) to lead all drivers on the night.   Claude Huckabone, III posted a training and driving double, upending odds-on favorites with Act of Valor ($15.60, 1:56.3) and Wine Photo ($30.00, 1:54.4).   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Saturday (August 13) evening, with post time set for 6:45 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite

The J P Stables' All Charged Up ($3.10) swung wide off a second-over trip to collar Bettorhaveanother in Wednesday (August 10) evening's harness racing featured $9,000 distaff pace at Vernon Downs.   Trainer-driver John MacDonald settled off the pace with the 5-year-old Ponder mare, sliding second-over to follow cover provided by Keene Olivia (Claude Huckabone, III) with seven-sixteenths of the one-mile journey to go. All Charged Up swung three-wide off the far turn, sustaining her bid after pacesetter Bettorhaveanother (Chris Lems) repelled a stiff challenge from Keene Olivia. All Charged Up would claim her 19th career win just outside the sixteenth pole, reeling in Bettorhaveanother and drawing away to prevail by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:51.4 over fast going. Asset Management (Fern Paquet, Jr.) mounted strong belated gains to just miss the runner-up spot.   For leading driver John MacDonald, the featured win was one of five on the nine-race card.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Thursday (August 11) evening, with first post set for 6:45 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. -- Planet Rock ($7.90) remained undefeated through four career starts via a sparkling 1:52 mile in her $55,500 New York Sire Stakes event for harness racing 2-year-old pacing fillies on Saturday (August 6) night at Vernon Downs.   Planet Rock enjoyed a cozy midpack stalking spot early on, perching just off the top trio as 48-1 outsider Takeyourbreathaway (Billy Davis, Jr.) worked to command before rating a :56.1 half-mile. With seven-sixteenths of the mile to go, Planet Rock slid second-over to draft behind a strong middle move from even-money favorite World Apart (Tim Tetrick), only to be left uncovered on entry to the far turn. Jim Marohn, Jr. continued to progress with the daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven and Villa Hanover, achieving the lead midway on the far turn.   Planet Rock would face stern resistance from World Apart off the corner, but she started to edge away at the eighth pole just as World Apart stumbled. Planet Rock ultimately drew off to win by 2-3/4 lengths, missing See You At Peelers's track record for freshman pacing fillies by two-fifths of a second. That's the Ticket (Marcus Miller) worked into second off live cover, while Artrageous (Jim Morrill, Jr.) emerged from traffic to save third.   Planet Rock gave owner Kenneth Jacobs and trainer Linda Toscano a sweep of the jointly-favored New York Sire Stakes events, as their Robin J ($5.10) vaulted off second-over cover to capture the earlier co-feature in 1:54.3. Tim Tetrick was aboard the daughter of Roll With Joe and Mommy Robin Q for the half-length triumph over American Cheer (John MacDonald) and That's How We Roll (Ray Schnittker).   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Wednesday (August 10), with a special nine-race twilight card due to commence at 5:10 p.m.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. -- Parkhill Horton ($17.00) used a quick turn of foot off the far turn to seize command from odds-on harness racing favorite Twice Too Nice in Friday (August 5) evening's featured $7,500 Miracle Mile Trot at Vernon Downs.   The 8-year-old Oaklea Julian gelding floated into third in the initial stages, enjoying a cozy tracking trip behind Twice Too Nice (John MacDonald) and My Lucky Word (Jimmy Whittemore) through splits of :28, :57.4, and 1:26.2. On approach to the head of the home straight, Claude Huckabone, III angled Parkhill Horton off the pegs, and he quickly pushed clear of the pacesetting Twice Too Nice--but he wasn't home free. My Lucky Word hooked three-wide out of the pocket at the eighth pole to give chase, but Parkhill Horton responded to prevail by three-quarters of a length in 1:54.2. My Lucky Word was a strongly chasing runner-up, while Twice Too Nice faded to third.   Trainer Robert Gale shares ownership of Parkhill Horton with Jeffrey Agan and David Adsit.   In the $4,000 "Dashtonian", a hybrid conditioned/starter allowance half-mile sprint for pacers, Bubba Zanetti vaulted to a clear lead through a :25.2 first quarter, but ultimately was collared in the final 40 yards by odds-on favorite Ring Leda ($3.30), who sustained a three-wide push off the far turn to prevail by three-quarters of a length. John MacDonald drove the 6-year-old Bettor's Delight gelding to a :54.3 victory for trainer Eric Felter.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Saturday (August 6) evening, with a pair of $55,500 New York Sire Stakes events for 2-year-old pacing fillies taking center stage on the 13-race card. The undefeated Planet Rock (Rock N Roll Heaven-Villa Hanover) seeks her fourth career win in as many starts for trainer Linda Toscano in the evening's tenth event. First post is slated for 6:45 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. -- Employing a tracking trip through much of the mile, Connie Hochstetler's Southern Girl ($12.20) reached late to nose out even-money favorite All Charged Up in Thursday (August 4) evening's harness racing  featured $8,000 Mares Open Pace at Vernon Downs.   Jimmy Whittemore floated forward with the 4-year-old Sportsmaster mare to take third in the initial stages, drafting behind Looney Dune (Ben McNeil) and Super Soph (Chris Lems) through early splits of :26.2 and :55.3. On the far turn, Southern Girl found herself locked in, as All Charged Up (John MacDonald) commenced a first-over rally on approach to the quarter pole. Whittemore worked Southern Girl second-over upon cornering, and the pair ultimately swung three-wide as All Charged Up took command at the eighth pole. Southern Girl dueled strongly off cover to prevail by a hard-fought nose in 1:51. Looney Dune, the early pacesetter, was a worn-down third.   Homer Hochstetler trains Southern Girl, now an 11-time winner.   The evening's sub-featured $5,500 Miracle Mile pace for distaffers saw Embassy Seelster ($2.70) control all the terms and edge clear to a two-length victory over Jinxy's Delight in 1:51.2. Fern Paquet, Jr. drove the 6-year-old Modern Art mare for trainer Allie Berube.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Friday (August 5) evening, with post time slated for 6:45 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. -- Following a third-place effort behind Luck Be Withyou on the harness racing Gerrity undercard at Saratoga last week, JK Panache ($5.60) bounced back to capture his 40th career win in Saturday (July 30) evening's featured $10,000 Open/Preferred Handicap Pace at Vernon Downs.   Chris Lems sent the 7-year-old Art Major gelding right to the front from an assigned outside post, sprinting clear of a pressing All Stienam (John MacDonald) through a :26 first quarter. Despite a lack of pressure through the middle half, JK Panache maintained a solid clip through middle splits of :54.3 and 1:22.1 before bracing for a challenge from 5-4 favorite Jacksrluckytoo (Greg Merton) off the far turn. While Jacksrluckytoo was able to just collar pocket foe All Stienam in the battle for second, JK Panache evaded his five foes in strong fashion, posting a :26.4 closing quarter to cap his two-length 1:49 triumph.   Trainer David Dewhurst co-owns JK Panache with Philip Hale.   The sub-featured $7,500 Miracle Mile pacing event went to Jet Airway ($4.50), who kicked cover off the far turn to best an under-pressure That'll Be the Rei in 1:51. Atlee Bender gave the 5-year-old Jereme's Jet entire a cozy second-over trip behind Pantheon Hanover before making his move to collar dueling leaders in mid-stretch. Trainer Erv Miller co-owns Jet Airway with Tangie Massey, Paul Sunderhaus, and Larry Agle.   Racing returns to Vernon Downs on Thursday (August 4), with post time slated for 6:45 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. -- Charlene Long's Oh No Three O ($8.10) passed all four of his rivals in Friday (July 29) evening's featured $8,000 Miracle Mile/Open Trot at Vernon Downs, accelerating once free in upper stretch to collar 3-4 harness racing favorite A Penny Earned in the last 40 yards.   Claude Huckabone, III settled Oh No Three O to the back of the compact field from the outset, taking no part in the pacesetting proceedings while A Penny Earned (Chris Lems) strode out to a clear lead via a blistering :26.2 first quarter. While Gimme the Cash (Jimmy Whittemore) made steady first-over gains to keep A Penny Earned from fully relaxing on the lead, Oh No Three O saved ground through a :58 middle half.   As the outer flow weakened off the far turn, Oh No Three O managed to gain third up the pegs and subsequently switched to the two-path just outside the eighth pole. He accelerated at once, mowing down A Penny Earned in deep stretch and sprinting off by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:53.4. Twice Too Nice (John MacDonald) was fully extended in her pursuit from the pocket, finishing another 3-3/4 lengths back in third.   Paul Long trains Oh No Three O, now a 30-time winner. The 1:53.4 mile was good for a seasonal mark and his fourth victory in 2016.   In the sub-featured event, a $5,500 Miracle Mile trot, My Lucky Word ($16.00) left from post 8 to secure a pocket trip behind Ozymandias (Roman Lopez) off a fast pace before pouncing in upper stretch for a 1:54.1 victory. Jimmy Whittemore drove the 4-year-old Lucky Chucky mare for owner Philip Hale and trainer David Dewhurst.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Saturday (July 30) evening, with an 11-race card set to commence at 6:45 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

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