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After an early push clear of her five rivals, Let's Go Higher ($2.40) looked every bit odds-on in the Independence Day (July 4) feature at the harness racing meeting at Vernon Downs, taking the $10,000 Mares Open Pace in 1:52.   The 7-year-old Cole Muffler mare crossed and cleared from her outside post rapidly, sent to the fore by Chris Lems with no reservations through a :26 initial quarter.   After backing down the pace through a :29.4 second quarter, she accelerated clear on the far turn, leaving the pocket-sitting Love You Bye (Jimmy Whittemore) three lengths in arrears through a 1:23.3 three-quarter sectional.   She continued to extend her margin through the stretch, ultimately defeating her competition by four lengths.   The Filly Princess (Frank Davis) sustained a belated first-over bid to take second, just getting past an all-out Love You Bye in the final yards.   Heidi Rohr trains Let's Go Higher for owner Jesse De Long.   Jimmy Whittemore led all drivers with a hat trick on the 10-race card, teaming up with Drinkin N Dancin ($3.90, 1:54), Devil Child ($5.40, 1:52), and Country Chic ($5.20, 1:57.3).   Live racing returns on Sunday (July 5) afternoon, with post time slated for 1:15 p.m. Eastern time.   James Witherite

Vernon, N.Y. -- After stalking from midpack, the J P Stables' Damon Blue Chip ($3.00) angled off the pegs en route to head-stretch, steadily closing on the pacesetters and ultimately prevailing for a 1:51.1 score in Sunday (June 28) afternoon's $7000 harness racing featured conditioned pace at Vernon Downs.   The 6-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding was relaxed early, allowing A Fool for Mark (Dustin Ingraham), Dont Tell Rusty (Todd Frocione), and Walks of Life (Frank Davis) all to make moves to the lead before commencing his. Rated well off a :54.4 half mile, trainer-driver John MacDonald put Damon Blue Chip into play on the far turn, passing a tiring Dont Tell Rusty to take third before reaching the head of the stretch, but still five lengths out of second. Damon Blue Chip made better progress upon straightening out for home, closing steadily to collar A Fool For Mark--who vacated the pocket to pass Walks of Life in mid-stretch--by a half length. Celebrity Scandal (Claude Huckabone, III) rallied from the back of the pack to take fourth.   MacDonald scored a driving double on the 12-race card, as did Claude Huckabone, Jr., Greg Merton, and Shawn McDonough.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Saturday, July 4. First post for the Independence Day program is 6:45 p.m. Eastern time.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. -- After being shoved three-wide by Painite on the entry to the far turn, Barn Girl ($10.00) made a push to the fore only to be collared by the offender in Saturday (June 27) evening's $8,000 Mares Open II Trot at Vernon Downs. Ultimately, Barn Girl was placed the winner ahead of Painite as a result of the aforementioned interference.   Jimmy Whittemore settled toward the back of the pack with the 3-year-old Cash Hall filly, racing well behind a :27.2 first quarter clicked off by Saint Patty's Doll (Greg Merton) and a :57.1 first half attended by the first-over Concentration (Chris Lems). Moving into the far turn, Barn Girl angled second-over, but was carried deeper out by Painite (Truman Gale), who vacated the pegs without clearance three-eighths from home. Nonetheless, Barn Girl sustained her rally, working to the lead in the final 150 yards before Painite swept to the grandstand side and narrowly finished first past the post. As a result of the interference on the far turn, however, Painite was relegated to second behind the offended Barn Girl, placed the winner in 1:56.1. Torches Star (Claude Huckabone, III) rallied from the back of the pack to take third over the pacesetting Saint Patty's Doll.   Howard Okusko trains Barn Girl for the Out in the Country Stable, along with Steven and Nancy Pratt.   Whittemore also won on the card with Misty Major ($7.20), earning a driving double on the 11-race card. Chris Lems and Greg Merton also each scored two wins on the program.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Sunday (June 28) afternoon, with first post at 1:15 p.m. Eastern time.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. -- After sustaining an early push to the lead, The Filly Princess ($5.90) held off a late charge from her pocket rival to take Friday (June 26) evening's harness racing $10,000 Mares Open Pace at Vernon Downs.   After Express Jet (John MacDonald) split Love You Bye (Jimmy Whittemore) and Tiger Boudoir (Truman Gale) to establish the early lead in a :27.4 first quarter, Frank Davis charged to the front with The Filly Princess. The 7-year-old Bettor's Delight mare caught a :58.2 middle half breather, digging in off the far turn to stave off a late charge from pocket rival Express Jet. The Filly Princess prevailed by half a length, holding firm for a 1:53.3 triumph. Tiger Boudoir stayed on off a ground-saving trip to take third.   Andy Gardner trains The Filly Princess for Standardbred Ventures, Inc.   Davis scored a driving double on the evening's 10-race program, as did Joe Nassimos.   Racing returns to Vernon Downs on Saturday (June 27) evening, with post time slated for 6:45 p.m. Eastern time.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. -- Both brushing to the fore and opening up at will on their respective rivals, Barn Doll ($2.70) and Crazy Wow ($2.30, part of entry) proved dominant in a pair of harness racing  Empire Breeders Classic events for New York-sired 3-year-old trotters on Sunday (June 21) afternoon at Vernon Downs.   The $248,275 Classic for fillies saw Zanna Blu (Yannick Gingras) stride to the early lead past her stablemate Allerage Belle (Jim Morrill, Jr.), with Barn Doll tracking that pair comfortably through a :28 initial quarter. Moving off the clubhouse turn, Jeff Gregory brushed to the fore with the 3-year-old Conway Hall filly, clearing Zanna Blu with no trouble before controlling a :56.2 half mile. Barn Doll accelerated on the far turn through a :27.3 third sectional, leaving her eight rivals well in her wake after edging clear at head-stretch. She ultimately trounced the others, winning by 6-1/4 lengths in 1:52.1. Lock Down Lindy (Tim Tetrick) rallied down the center of the track to take second, while Jewels in Hock (John Cambell) kicked cover off the far turn to finish third.   Trainer Steven Pratt co-owns Barn Doll with Nancy Pratt and the Purple Haze Stables, LLC.   An overflow field of 11 3-year-old colts and geldings contested a $255,325 Classic event, with Crazy Wow overcoming a second-row start to obliterate his competition--and the previous track record for sophomore geldings. Yannick Gingras floated Crazy Wow second-over to follow entrymate Habitat (Jim Morrill, Jr.) to a :26.4 first quarter, continuing on without cover to clear the lead upon exiting the clubhouse turn. The Crazed gelding posted a :56.4 middle half and then edged clear of his entrymate in upper stretch, amassing a 6-1/2 length margin of victory in 1:51.1. Habitat held second, while Fashion Creditor (David Miller) rallied from a third-over trip to take third while well detached of the Ron Burke trainees.   The Our Horse Cents Stables, the JT 45 group, and the J&T Silva Stables, LLC own Crazy Wow, who knocked 1-2/5 seconds off Gym Tan Laundry's 1:52.3 mark for 3-year-old trotting geldings, taken in 2012.   Fireyourguns breaks his own all-age pacing record   Earlier in the 14-race program, Fireyourguns ($2.90) set blistering fractions and held sway from a late-charging JK Panache (Yannick Gingras) to take the $10,000 Open Pace in a track record 1:47.3. The 6-year-old American Ideal remains undefeated on the year in six starts, taking two-fifths of a second off his former mark with Jim Morrill, Jr. in the bike. Double millionaire Golden Receiver, reunited with 2011 World Driving Championship runner-up Corey Callahan, was all-out to chase the pacesetter, holding third. Trainer Terence McClory co-owns Fireyourguns with Jennifer and Robert Lowe.   NY Sire Stakes glamour boys contest four undercard events   In addition to the pair of Empire Breeders Classic events and Fireyourguns's track record mile, 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings squared off in a quartet of New York Sire Stakes events, offering a combined purse of $122,400. My Spirit Soars ($5.50, Jim Morrill, Jr., 1:49.3), National Seelster ($8.60, Andy Miller, 1:50.2), A Bettor Hat ($7.30, Morrill, 1:51.3), and Artistic Major ($8.50, Scott Zeron, 1:50.3) proved victorious in their respective races.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Friday (June 26) evening, with post time set for 6:45 p.m. Eastern time.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs    

Vernon, N.Y. -- Enjoying a pocket trip behind Jaipur through a 1:00.3 middle half, the J P Stables' Lucid Thoughts ($7.60) struck the front in mid-stretch, edging clear through a :27.2 final quarter for a 1-1/2 length victory in Saturday (June 20) evening's $7,000 harness racing upper-level conditioned trot at Vernon Downs.   The 7-year-old Cash Hall gelding floated forward from midfield, securing the pocket behind Jaipur (Fern Paquet, Jr.) through a :26.4 initial quarter, tracking closely throughout while Jaipur maintained an uncontested lead until the top of the stretch. Trainer-driver John MacDonald turned up the pressure off the corner, propelling Lucid Thoughts to the fore and prevailing in 1:55. Jaipur held second, while Saint Patty's Doll (Greg Merton) kept up with the top pair to hold third off a tracking trip.   MacDonald scored four driving wins on the 13-race program, also teaming up with Damon Blue Chip ($3.30, 1:51.1), Whispur ($11.00, 1:55.4), and Socks and Shuzy ($11.60, 1:57.1).   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Sunday (June 21) afternoon, with the Empire Breeders Classic finals for 3-year-old trotters headlining the 14-race card. New York Sire Stakes events for 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings comprise the bulk of the undercard. Post time is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. Eastern time.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. -- Paul and Patricia O'Neil's Godiva Seelster ($2.10) made good on a 1-20 promise, holding off steady pressure from The Filly Princess to prevail in Friday (June 19) evening's harness racing $10,000 Mares Open Pace at Vernon Downs.   The 5-year-old Camluck mare worked clear of Purity (Greg Merton) after dueling through a :26.2 first quarter, continuing up the backstretch to a :54.4 half before bracing for a challenge from 8-1 second choice The Filly Princess (Chris Lems). Godiva Seelster accelerated upon facing the threat, holding a length advantage through a :28.1 third quarter and subsequently edging clear in deep stretch. She ultimately won by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:51.2 in rein to John MacDonald.   Dan Hennessey trains Godiva Seelster, who scored her 18th career win.   MacDonald also teamed up with Martinique ($2.90, 1:55.3), Express Jet ($8.20, 1:53.3), and My Lucky Word ($7.00, 1:57.1) for wins on the evening's 13-race card.   Live racing continues at Vernon Downs on Saturday (June 20) evening, with post time at 6:45 p.m. Eastern time. Sunday (June 21) afternoon's card kicks off at 1:15 p.m., and features the Empire Breeders Classic finals for 3-year-old trotters.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs  

Louisville, KY --- There certainly are not many horses that break a track record in their very first pari-mutuel engagement, but that’s exactly what the trotting colt Royal Deceptor did. That situation, however, is not the only reason he is the best horse Chip Foster has ever owned during his three decades of involvement in the harness racing industry. “This horse has been an absolute thrill for me and my partners Mike Sentiwany and Mike James,” he said. “I’ve bred and bought horses to race for 30 years. We never had one good enough to even start in a New York Sire Stake race, let alone break a track record. I told everyone after he did that it would not matter to me what he did the rest of the year, but he went out and earned more than $70,000 as a 2-year-old. “Now we have the opportunity to compete in the Empire Breeders Classic which has a $250,000 purse. I’m tickled just to be there as this horse only (sold for) $11,000 as a yearling and he will be racing against horses like Crazy Wow and Habitat. He is very special to us in many, many ways.” Foster is referencing the next engagement for the son of RC Royalty and the Malabar Man mare Art Of Deception, which is on Sunday (June 21) at Vernon Downs. Carded as the ninth race, the Empire Breeders Classic sports a purse of $255,325 and has an 11-horse field. Royal Deceptor, who is driven by Mike McGivern and conditioned by his wife, Cheryl, will commence his mile journey from the third post position and will seek to collect his fifth win from seven starts on the season. He possesses a resume of 14-6-2-2 for his career, has earned $113,350 and owns a lifetime mark of 1:58h. “He is very spoiled,” Cheryl McGivern said. “We fell in love with him the day we brought him home and fully expected he would go for a much higher price. He has quite the personality and loves to talk. He really enjoys his turnout time each day in the paddock. We bring him to the track only to race him and then take him right back home. We are just so very pleased to have him.” Royal Deceptor was purchased by his connections at the 2013 Morrisville Sale and has performed only on the New York circuit. His dam was unraced and her first three foals earned just over $60,000 between them. Art Of Deception, however, is a daughter of Keystone Delicious, who herself is a daughter of American Winner with Speedy Crown as her broodmare sire. Keystone Delicious also did not make it to the races, but she produced Marian’s Man (Malabar Man, 4,1:56.3s, $468,060) and Mr Tasty (Malabar Man, 4,1:53.2s, $462,209). “We can’t afford to buy $100,000 yearlings and definitely had a budget going into the sale,” Foster said. “We thought Royal Deceptor would go for more money, as Royalty For Life won the Hambletonian and RC Royalty did not breed many mares. We were prepared to go to $20,000 for him and Mike (McGivern) thought he was the best horse in the sale. Fortunately, he came into the ring right after the sales topper, which I really liked, but he went for $59,000. “The bidding opened on this horse at $10,000 and then we bid $11,000. We sat there waiting for another bid, but there was silence and then he was ours. We were in shock we got him for that price and we were very lucky. We realized his dam hadn’t foaled anything really at that point, but we felt that she would and he had the potential to be a very nice horse.” The McGiverns, who have also been in the business for about 30 years, operate a small stable in Gansevoort, N.Y., and always had faith in Royal Deceptor’s ability. In fact, they talked him up considerably to Foster and his partners. That faith was rewarded when the world witnessed Royal Deceptor’s debut at Buffalo Raceway on July 9, 2014. That was when the colt captured a $27,750 New York Sire Stake contest in a new track standard of 1:59.3 with a last quarter in :28.4. The previous record was 2:01.2, which was established in 2012 and tied in 2013. “Mike James and I drove to Buffalo to watch him, unfortunately my other partner had to care for his ill wife and could not attend,” Foster said. “Mike and Cheryl kept telling us how good this horse was, but having been in the business for awhile I had a wait and see approach. My jaw was on the ground that he broke two minutes for the mile, let alone set a new track record. That’s when I told everyone he didn’t have to win another race all year, because that was enough for me.” But Royal Deceptor did visit the winner’s circle again in his next start and subsequently picked up checks in his next five races before finishing sixth in the $225,000 New York Sire stakes final. This year, the colt won his first three starts, which were all in overnights at Saratoga, prior to a fourth place effort in a NYSS race at Monticello Raceway. He posted another triumph in a NYSS contest at Yonkers Raceway and was fifth placed eighth for breaking at Vernon Downs in his last start, also in NYSS competition. “Mike had to take him up a little bit in that race and he took a step, but he got right back on stride,” Foster said. “I’m very happy with the third post for this upcoming race and I know we have to have the perfect trip. Habitat and Crazy Wow are great horses, but anything can happen in horse racing. We are very fortunate just to be racing for that kind of money and to have a nice chance. “All the credit has to go to Mike and Cheryl. They are very patient and are excellent with trotters. I’m also happy for them they have a horse like this. They have a very small barn and had a horse named Cash Me Out (Cash Hall, 3,1:56.4h) that won more than $350,000 on the New York circuit over the last couple years. To have another horse do the same thing on a relatively small investment is truly an accomplishment for them and they really deserve it.” For the time being, Royal Deceptor will continue to compete in the Empire State and although he is not eligible for the Hambletonian, he is staked to the Yonkers Trot. “We don’t usually stake our horses,” Foster said. “Even with this horse as he only was $11,000, but he deserves the chance to see what he can do against the top horses. I really can’t explain what a thrill it is either to have a horse to enter in a classic race like that. Actually, this race on Sunday is the highest purse we all, including Mike and Cheryl, have ever raced for.” Cheryl also cannot say enough good things about Royal Deceptor. “Our job is simply to keep him happy,” she said. “It is an absolute pleasure to be associated with him and words cannot express how much gratitude we have to just be around him.” by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent   

Three-year-old trotting fillies Barn Doll ($4.30) and Katniss ($8.50) employed similar tactics toward victory in their $12,500 Empire Breeders Classic eliminations at the harness racing meeting at Vernon Downs on Sunday (June 14) afternoon, taking charge at the halfway stage and holding clear late in decisive fashion. In the first elimination (race 6), Jeff Gregory rated Barn Doll well off a :26.2 first quarter, moving the Conway Hall filly out from fourth on the backstretch to slipstream Jewels in Hock (John Campbell) on the backstretch before working clear after a :55.4 half. Barn Doll opened up at head-stretch, ultimately edging clear to a 2-1/2 length score in 1:52.1 over Jewels in Hock. Lock Down Lindy (Tim Tetrick) rallied off stalled cover to take third, while Allerage Belle (Andy Miller) faded to fourth.   Trainer Steven Pratt co-owns Barn Doll with Nancy Pratt and the Purple Haze Stables, LLC.   The second elimination saw Katniss secure the pocket behind Zanna Blu (Tetrick) through a :27 first quarter before Daniel Dubé brushed the Credit Winner filly to the lead en route to a :56.1 half mile.   As Zanna Blu faded off the far turn, Katniss accelerated clear, holding a two-length margin over a late-chasing Lady Winona (Andy Miller) for a 1:53 triumph. Stirling Debutant (Gregory) rallied late to be third, while Zanna Blu was a tired fourth.   Ake Svanstedt trains Katniss for owner Mario Mazza.   Of the two fifth-place finishers, Counsellor As drew into next Sunday's (June 21) $248,275 final along with the top four finishers from each elimination. The trotting fillies will share the spotlight with the 11 colts and geldings who entered and advanced automatically to their $255,325 final without requiring eliminations.   Earlier in the afternoon, JK Panache ($8.40) made all the pace in the $10,000 Open Pace, holding clear of a late rally from Hunchie (Tetrick) for a 1:49.2 win. Chris Lems drove the 6-year-old Art Major gelding for owners Philip Hale and David Dewhurst (the latter handles the training duties). Odds-on favorite Golden Receiver was left far back of the main body of the field after breaking stride at race's outset.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Friday (June 19) evening, with first post at the Miracle Mile scheduled for 6:45 p.m. Eastern time.   James Witherite

Vernon, N.Y. -- With a sizable harness racing crowd on hand for the annual camel and ostrich races, Lutetium ($18.60) parlayed a pocket trip into a 1:53.2 upset victory in Saturday (June 13) evening's $10,000 Open Trot at Vernon Downs.   Jimmy Whittemore secured the pocket with the 8-year-old Credit Winner gelding, out-sprinted only by 6-5 favorite Detroit Rapper (Greg Merton) through a :27.4 first quarter. Lutetium was the beneficiary of a middle-half duel, as A Penny Earned (Chris Lems) applied steady pressure to Detroit Rapper, softening the favorite up on the far turn. While A Penny Earned had nothing left at the top of the stretch and began to fade, Lutetium was able to wedge out of the pocket and push clear of the tiring pacesetter in mid-stretch. Lutetium prevailed ultimately by 1-1/4 lengths, holding clear of a late-closing War Hero (Fern Paquet, Jr.). March Awareness (John MacDonald) rallied from last to take third.   Mark Laidlaw trains Lutetium for owner Colleen Girdlestone.   While checking in at the rear of the field with A Penny Earned in the featured event, driver Chris Lems bagged five winners on the 11-race program, teaming up with David Dewhurst trainees Pounce K ($4.70, 1:54.2), Semper Fit ($5.90, 1:57.3), and Ideal Tan ($5.40, 1:55) in addition to George Ducharme trainees High Rise ($3.20, 1:55.4) and Lucky Ten K ($2.40, 1:57.4).   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Sunday (June 14) afternoon, with the first of 14 races due off at 1:15 p.m. Eastern time.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. -- Despite getting away last in a field of five, The Filly Princess ($21.00) sustained a first-over push to the lead and held clear for an upset harness racing win in Friday (June 12) evening's $10,000 Mares Open Pace at Vernon Downs.   Frank Davis took the 7-year-old Bettor's Delight mare off a contested pace, which saw Keene Olivia (Chris Lems) work to clear Purity (John MacDonald) through a blistering 25.4 first quarter before yielding.   As Purity reclaimed the lead on the backstretch, The Filly Princess commenced her first-over rally, steadily making up ground through the third quarter.   The Filly Princess turned up the pressure after Purity hit three-quarters in 1:23.1, advancing to a joint lead at the top of the stretch.   As The Filly Princess took a narrow lead with an eighth of a mile to go, Purity hopped in the air, going off stride and losing all chance. Meanwhile, The Filly Princess held clear of a late challenge from Keene Olivia to prevail in 1:51.3 over sloppy going, while Artic Byrd (Truman Gale) finished third.   Andy Gardner trains The Filly Princess for Standardbred Ventures, Inc.   Live racing returns at Vernon on Saturday (June 13) evening, with first post at 6:45 p.m. Eastern time.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. -- Twenty-five New York-sired 3-year-old trotters have committed to the Empire Breeders Classic events at Vernon Downs on Sunday, June 21, with 14 fillies contesting a pair of eliminations this Sunday, June 14.   Sunday's sixth and ninth races will determine the finalists for the $248,275 Empire Breeders Classic filly division, with seven entrants in each elimination. The fields, with nominated drivers, are as follows (listed in post position order):   Race 6 - First Elimination 1. Jewels in Hock (John Campbell) 2. Spell That (Sam Schillaci) 3. Shaqline (Brett Miller) 4. Barn Doll (Jeff Gregory) 5. Allerage Belle (Yannick Gingras) 6. Lock Down Lindy (Tim Tetrick) 7. Northern Obsession (Greg Merton)   Race 9 - Second Elimination 2. Katniss (Daniel Dube) 3. Lady Winona (Andy Miller) 4. Counsellor As (Brett Miller) 5. Stirling Debutant (driver TBA) 1. Zanna Blu (Gingras) 1a. Frou Frou (Gingras also named) 6. Concentration (Chris Lems)   The top four fillies from each elimination and one fifth-place finisher will contest the following week's final, with the connections of elimination winners granted their choices of post positions in the final.   Eleven 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings entered for their $255,325 division, and all of them will advance straight to next week's final. They are as follows (in alphabetical order):   Apostles Creed, Crazshana, Crazy Wow, Fashion Creditor, Habitat, Maestro Blue Chip, Mythology Blue Chip, Royal Deceptor, Royal Lad, Wings of Royalty, Workout Wonder.   In addition to the Empire Breeders Classic finals on June 21, 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings will contest a round of the New York Sire Stakes series.   This weekend, Vernon Downs hosts live racing on Friday and Saturday evenings at 6:45 p.m. Eastern time. Saturday's program will feature the annual camel and ostrich races in between pari-mutuel events. The weekend concludes with the aforementioned Sunday card, beginning at 1:15 p.m.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

After saving ground well behind a contested pace, UF Bettors Hanover ($6.10) found a seam in the final 70 yards, surging to the fore late in Sunday (June 7) afternoon's featured $7000 upper-level conditioned pace at the harness racing meeting at Vernon Downs.   Jimmy Whittemore took the 5-year-old Bettor's Delight gelding off the pace initially, rating well off dueling leaders Walks of Life (Claude Huckabone, III) and Lilys Real Boy (Fern Paquet, Jr.) through a :54.3 initial half mile.   While continuing just worse than midfield the entire way around, UF Bettors Hanover found himself hard pressed for racing room on the final turn, when A Fool For Mark (Dustin Ingraham) circled three-wide off a stalled Lilys Real Boy and Card Knock Life (Truman Gale) followed that live three-wide cover to head-stretch.   Blocked at the pegs in upper stretch, UF Bettors Hanover had no shortage of pace, only able to use it in deep stretch when he found room to hook three-wide. His sudden turn of foot propelled him to a half-length win, beating Walks of Life in 1:51.4.   A Fool For Mark sustained his three-wide bid to hold third.   Trainer Scott West shares ownership of UF Bettors Hanover with Katie Currie.   Truman Gale led all drivers on the card with a grand slam, prevailing with Stettin Hanover ($20.20, 1:53.3), Flight Again ($4.70, 1:52.4), Tundra ($35.80, 1:52.1), and Vintage Fenom ($11.60, 1:54.1).   Racing returns to Vernon Downs on Friday (June 12) evening, with first post at 6:45 p.m. Eastern time.   James Witherite

Vernon, N.Y. -- Trainer Ron Burke and driver Jim Morrill, Jr. teamed up to sweep a pair of $61,300 New York Sire Stakes events for harness racing 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings on Saturday (June 6) evening at Vernon Downs.   In the first division, Habitat ($3.00) brushed from the pocket through a :57.1 initial half, clearing early pacesetter Wings of Royalty (Chris Lems) before facing first-over pressure on the far turn from Buen Camino (Trond Smedshammer). The son of Conway Hall and Habit's Best dug in at head-stretch, turning aside Buen Camino and holding clear of Wings of Royalty by 1-1/2 lengths in 1:53.4. The Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, and Weaver Bruscemi, LLC own Habitat.   The other division saw Crazy Wow ($2.10) mount a monstrous recovery to overcome an interference break he suffered at the start. An early break by Royal Deceptor (Michael McGivern) seemingly took Crazy Wow out of contention at the completion of a :27.2 first quarter, but the son of Crazed and No Pan No Gain worked to catch the field on the far turn, storming through up the pegs to collar pacesetter Mythology Bluechip (Aaron Byron) in the final yards of a 1:55.2 mile. The Our Horse Cents Stables shares ownership of Crazy Wow with the JT 45 group and the J. & T. Silva Stables, LLC.   A trio of $10,000 Open events headlined the undercard, with Keene Olivia ($2.90, Morrill, 1:50.4) rallying to win the Mares Pace, Modest Prince ($7.90, Morrill, 1:53.1) pouncing from the pocket to beat the favored Bourbon Bay in the Trot, and Big Jer ($5.60, Greg Merton, 1:49.2) also striking from the pocket to upend JK Panache in the Pace.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Sunday (June 7) afternoon, with first post slated for 1:15 p.m. Eastern time.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. -- For Table Games ($14.80) and Jitterbug ($10.20), the pocket was the place to be at Vernon Downs on Friday (June 5) evening, as they both scored minor upsets after tracking the pace-setting favorites in their respective featured events on the evening's 12-race harness racing card.   Eight distaff pacers contested a $5500 purse in the co-featured eighth race, with 3-2 favorite Janie Bay (Greg Merton) handling the pace-setting duties after she cleared from post 7. While able to rate a :57.4 middle half, she ultimately was softened up by first-over pressure from Sweet Bettor (Chris Lems) before Table Games made her move from the pocket in mid-stretch. The 6-year-old Bettor's Delight mare stormed to the fore, just holding off a late bid from Kardashian (Truman Gale) in 1:53.1. Frank Davis drove Table Games for owner Edmund Namiotka, Jr. and trainer Paul Minckler.   The tenth race saw seven trotters vie for a $5100 purse, with Jitterbug ceding the lead to 6-5 favorite Sweet Thing (John MacDonald) on the backstretch after clearing from post 5 through a :27.4 initial quarter. Sweet Thing faced no challengers through the far turn, before Brett Crawford angled Jitterbug out of the pocket in mid-stretch to give chase. The 4-year-old Kadabra entire trotted right past, edging clear by 1-1/4 lengths to prevail in 1:54.1. Jackie Rousse trains the victorious Jitterbug for owner Janie Martin.   Live racing resumes at Vernon Downs on Saturday (June 6) evening, headlined by a pair of $61,300 New York Sire Stakes events for 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings. First post for the 14-race program is 7:10 p.m. Eastern time, just after the simulcast of the 147th Belmont Stakes.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs  

Vernon, N.Y. -- Making his much-anticipated return from a retirement which ultimately resembled a winter layoff, double millionaire Golden Receiver ($4.70) proved triumphant over his four harness racing rivals in Sunday (May 31) afternoon's featured $10,000 Open Pace at Vernon Downs. Before the race, trainer Allie Berube expressed nothing but optimism: "We're excited for Golden Receiver's return, and he is very excited to be back on the racetrack. He's feeling very fresh, and we hope for a successful season." That optimism was fulfilled in the 10-year-old Village Jove gelding's return, as Fern Paquet, Jr. sent him straight to the front from post 4 to control a :26.4 first quarter mile while tracked by A Fool For Mark (Dustin Ingraham). After rating a :30.1 second quarter breather, Golden Receiver faced a stern first-over challenge from Damon Blue Chip (John MacDonald), who forced a :27.4 third quarter while closing to within a neck. The challenge wasn't too tough for Golden Receiver, who kicked clear off the turn, holding clear of the late-charging JK Panache (Chris Lems) by two lengths in his 1:52.3 score over good going. Damon Blue Chip faded to third, while A Fool For Mark and UF Bettors Hanover (Justin Huckabone) rounded out the field of five. Berube continued to tell how Golden Receiver's return campaign would carry a nobler cause: "His proceeds will be donated to amazing causes thanks to his generous owners, the Our Horse Cents Stables and Nina Simmonds (Golden Receiver, LLC). Golden Receiver has a tremendous fan club, and we're certain he will not disappoint." If today's effort was any indication, Golden Receiver still has the ability to do a lot of good--both on and off the racetrack. While Golden Receiver was the equine star at the Miracle Mile today, four drivers each tallied two wins on the 11-race card. Adam Capizzano, Truman Gale, John MacDonald, and Jimmy Whittemore all recorded doubles on the afternoon program. Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Friday (June 5) evening, with first post scheduled for 6:45 p.m. Eastern time. by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

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