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Vernon, N.Y. -- Scott Woogen and Brenda Messenger's Lauxmont Capri ($10.20) pounced from the pocket to capture Saturday (November 5) evening's featured $7,900 Miracle Mile pacing event at Vernon Downs, and John MacDonald sewed up top harness racing trainer and driver honors for the 2016 season, which came to an end with a 12-race card.   The 6-year-old Red River Hanover gelding drafted behind 9-5 favorite Skip Jive (Jay Randall) through splits of :25.4, :54.2, and 1:23.1 before making his move just before cornering for home. Once Mike Merton moved Lauxmont Capri off the pegs, he pressed immediately and collared Skip Jive at the eighth pole, accelerating away and repelling a late bid from Modern Gesture (Truman Gale) to prevail by a length in 1:51.4. Skip Jive faded to third.   Gary Messenger trains 20-time winner Lauxmont Capri.   John MacDonald's 197 driving wins and 54 training wins through the season earned him top honors in both categories. MacDonald finished the meet 48 wins clear of the second-best driver Chris Lems and five clear of training runner-up Andy Gardner.   In the annual "Turn Back the Clock Rewind Race", contested clockwise over seven-eighths of a mile, Avogadro Hanover ($8.20) slid up the pegs after tracking a contested pace, reaching the lead in the last sixteenth of a mile and completing the single circuit in 1:40.3, a neck better than Ton of Luck (Merton) and the collared pacesetter Bring Them Home (Justin Huckabone).   The 2017 season at Vernon Downs is slated to begin in April; fans and horsemen alike are advised to consult www.vernondowns.com through the winter for updates.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. - William Ballard's Gimme the Cash ($3.40) held off all comers in Friday (November 4) evening's harness racing  featured $6,700 trotting event at Vernon Downs, living up to odds-on billing. The 5-year-old Cash Hall mare sprinted to the fore early, clearing Count Speed (John MacDonald) with ease before controlling the terms through :27.1, :56.3, and 1:25.2 sectionals. Upon reaching head-stretch, Gimme the Cash responded to pressure from Count Speed up the pegs, but was also faced with a threat from the late-emerging My Lucky Word (Truman Gale) in the last yards. Ultimately, Gimme the Cash prevailed by a nose over My Lucky Word in 1:54.3, while Count Speed was a gamely chasing third. Angus MacDonald trains Gimme the Cash, who took her 13th career win and her third in four tries. For driver Chris Lems, the featured win kicked off a hat trick on the 13-race card only to be outdone by John MacDonald, who led all drivers with four victories on the night. Saturday (November 5) evening's closing night program features the annual "Turn Back the Clock Rewind Race", conducted clockwise at seven-eighths of a mile, as the eighth of 12 dashes carded. Horsemen and bettors alike should note a special 6:00 p.m. post time for the closing night card, with fireworks to follow. by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. - Harness racing drivers Truman Gale and Fern Paquet, Jr. each captured three of Saturday (October 29) evening's 12 races at Vernon Downs. The 27-year-old Gale began his hat trick in the second race, a $3,900 second-level Miracle Mile event, with Card Knock Life ($8.90, 1:52.2), trained by his wife Jocelyn. Team "Night Train" would team up again in the fifth, a $3,600 maiden event, with Springhouse Mojo ($5.20, 1:56.1), who drew off to a convincing 11-1/4 length victory after making all the pace. Gale concluded his driving triple with Dave Dewhurst trainee Pantheon Hanover ($9.50, 1:54.1), who recovered from a break to circle the seventh-race field and just prevail in the $4,300 third-level pacing event from third-over. Paquet, a winner of over 2,800 races in his career, teamed up with trainer Joe Skowyra to take the $3,100 sixth event with Rockavellian ($6.70, 1:54.2) before holding sway in the $3,300 first-level distaff ninth race for a narrow front-end win with Paul Minckler trainee Table Games ($6.00, 1:55.3). Paquet concluded his hat trick in the $3,500 first-level eleventh, pulling the pocket and vaulting forward with Jordan Hope trainee Ultra Shok N ($4.80, 1:53.4). The evening's featured event, a $6,700 pace, saw Damon Blue Chip ($11.60) rally off cover and edge away to a 1:53.4 score for trainer-driver John MacDonald. The J P Stables own the 7-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding. Closing weekend at Vernon Downs kicks off Friday (November 4) evening, with post time slated for 6:45 p.m. Eastern. by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. - The W. Springtime Racing Stable and Shannon Brott's Skip Jive ($9.70) made every yard a winning one in a sparkling 6-1/4 length victory in Friday (October 28) evening's harness racing featured $7,900 Miracle Mile Pace at Vernon Downs. The 3-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven gelding achieved the early lead from his midpack draw, sprinting off from Cheyenne Raider (Truman Gale) and controlling the pace through splits of :26.4, :55.1, and 1:22.3. Skip Jive edged away upon turning for home, leaving Cheyenne Reider well in his wake at the completion of his 1:51.3 mile. Modern Gesture (Chris Lems) emerged late to take the runner-up spot off a clear stalking trip, defeating the tiring Cheyenne Reider by 1-1/2 lengths. Odds-on favorite Super Soph (Brett Derue) only managed fourth place off an even effort. Fern Paquet, Jr. drove Skip Jive for trainer Dave Spagnola. Leading driver John MacDonald proved victorious in half of the evening's 12 races, teaming up with Azucar ($5.30, 1:57.3), Triple Charm ($5.30, 1:55.4), Jinxy's Delight ($3.60, 1:53.3), Some Major Beach ($3.60, 1:53.4), Well Excuuuse Me ($3.10, 1:54.2), and Ittakestwobaby ($7.80, 1:56). A 12-race card is on tap for Saturday (October 29) evening at Vernon Downs; post time is 6:45 p.m. Eastern. by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. – Homer Hochstetler and Robert Buddig’s Sweet Thing ($9.10) made every yard a winning one in Friday (October 21) evening’s featured $11,000 Miracle Mile/Open Handicap Trot at Vernon Downs, evading local harness racing standout and odds-on favorite J A T O by 4-1/4 lengths to hand him a second straight Miracle Mile defeat. Fern Paquet, Jr. wasted no time putting the 4-year-old Chocolatier mare in play, sprinting to the fore and forcing Pop I (Harry Landy) into the pocket through a :27.2 first quarter mile before rating a :56.3 half. While Sweet Thing used a :27.3 sectional through the far turn to amass four lengths of clearance on the field, J A T O (Chris Lems) had sustained first-over gains to take second from the weakening and subsequently breaking Pop I. Despite J A T O’s best efforts to chase Sweet Thing, the pacesetter held clear while driven to a 1:53.3 victory. J A T O held second by half a length over Its Payday Friday (Ronnie Morales), who split foes at head-stretch to escape traffic and stay on up the pegs. For Sweet Thing, the featured win was the 11th of her career and her third in four starts since returning to the Miracle Mile from Saratoga. Paquet’s featured win accounted for half of a driving double, a feat equalled by Truman Gale in the night’s late double. Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Saturday (October 22) evening; post time is 6:45 p.m. Eastern. by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. - Ellen McNeil's Looney Dune ($4.10) proved simply dominant at even money in Thursday (October 20) evening's featured $6,100 distaff pace at Vernon Downs, controlling the pace en route to an eight-length harness racing win. The 8-year-old Bettor's Delight mare sprinted clear from her outside post 5 with ease, leading pocket rival Love You Bye (Fern Paquet, Jr.) through early sectionals of :26.2 and :55. With five-sixteenths of the mile to go, Ben McNeil encouraged Looney Dune to accelerate away, and she responded by mounting an eight-length lead while driven out to a 1:51.2 triumph. Tiger Boudoir (Truman Gale) wedged through up the pegs to claim the runner-up spot, while Jinxy's Delight (John MacDonald) rallied off stalled cover to take third, another length back. John McNeil, III trains Looney Dune, whose sixth seasonal win increased her career tally to 39. For Ben McNeil, the win capped a driving double on the nine-race card. Chris Lems, John MacDonald, and Fern Paquet, Jr. also accounted for two wins apiece. Live racing returns to the Miracle Mile with a 10-race card on Friday (October 21) evening; post time is 6:45 p.m. Eastern. by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. -- JK Panache ($2.20) made every yard a winning one in Saturday (October 15) evening's featured $9,900 Miracle Mile/Open Handicap Pace at Vernon Downs, drawing clear easily by 4-1/4 lengths in his 1:49.3 victory and giving John MacDonald one of his four driving wins on the 11-race harness racing card.   The 7-year-old Art Major gelding had no trouble clearing his three rivals, sprinting to the fore through a :26 first quarter before leading pocket rival St Lads Moonwalk (Truman Gale) through middle sectionals of :54 and 1:22.2. JK Panache began edging clear at the head of the home straight, leaving an all-out St Lads Moonwalk well behind and evading a late bid from Calvin B (Greg Merton), who emerged from last off the far turn to take the runner-up spot. St Lads Moonwalk was a laboring third, while Some Kinda Beach (Mike Merton) faded to fourth.   Dave Dewhurst co-owns 45-time winner JK Panache with Philip Hale.   In addition to his featured win, MacDonald teamed up with Pramatic Life ($2.10, 1:53.3), Charmbo Curiosity ($3.70, 1:53), and Big Cal ($2.80, 1:54) to complete his grand slam.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs with a nine-race card on Thursday (October 20) evening; post time is 6:45 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. -- J A T O, the 4-year-old harness racing gelding who climbed rapidly from lower-level non-winners races to the Open ranks at Vernon Downs last fall, suffered his first defeat at the Miracle Mile in Friday (October 14) evening's featured $10,500 Miracle Mile/Open Handicap Trot.   Despite a strong early push to the fore through a :27.3 initial quarter mile and a pressure-free :58.3 middle half, J A T O (Chris Lems) would ultimately be upended by pocket rival Waiting On a Woman ($3.10), who made his move off the pegs in mid-stretch and edged away to prevail by a length at the end of a 1:54.3 mile over fast going. J A T O held the runner-up spot, while Its Payday Friday (Ronnie Morales) sustained gradual uncovered gains to take third.   Waiting On a Woman was availed a clear trip throughout by local leading driver John MacDonald, lacking for racing room at no point in the mile. The 8-year-old Northern Bailey gelding captured his 56th career win for owner Michael Polansky and trainer Kyle Spagnola.   In the evening's sub-featured $7,900 distaff trot, Homer Hochstetler and Robert Buddig's Sweet Thing ($4.30) made every yard a winning one, holding sway of My Lucky Word for a 1:55 score. Fern Paquet, Jr. drove the 4-year-old Chocolatier mare for one of his three wins on the evening's 10-race card.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Saturday (October 15) with an 11-race card; post time is 6:45 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. -- Mark Wamp's Super Soph ($2.90) earned a second consecutive top-level win at Vernon Downs, making all the pace and parrying a late charge from Southern Girl in Thursday (October 13) evening's featured harness racing $10,500 distaff pace.   The 6-year-old Admirals Galley mare wasted no time seizing command in the field of five, sprinting clear of All Charged Up (John MacDonald) through a :27 first quarter. Super Soph would maintain control of the terms throughout, rating a :56.4 middle half before edging away from the all-out All Charged Up at the eighth pole and absorbing a strong late push from Southern GIrl (Fern Paquet, Jr.), who worked into second in mid-stretch after commencing her first-over bid midway on the far turn.   Chris Lems, who drove the 40-time winner for trainer Jackie Rousse, also teamed up with his own trainee Sweet Bettor ($2.50, 1:55.1) and Angus MacDonald trainee Navy Whites ($6.10, 1:56.2) to lead all drivers with three wins on the nine-race card. Jocelyn Gale captured top training honors on the night with a double, sending Tiger Boudoir ($8.40, 1:55) and Sweet Brown ($4.70, 1:57.4) to victory.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs with a 10-race card on Friday (October 14) evening; post time is 6:45 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. -- Vernon Downs is looking to conduct a harness racing all-grey race on Saturday, October 29. It will be designated as "The Grey Bullet Memorial." The Grey Bullet enjoyed a long, multi-season campaign at the Miracle Mile, but the 11-year-old pacing gelding unexpectedly passed away earlier this year. In years past, the race had been named for his brother Four One One, who also was a fan favorite at Vernon. Anyone interested should contact the Vernon Downs race office at (315) 829-6825 or email Director of Racing Scott Warren at swarren@vernondowns.com. Conditions will be set for the race according to interest. The entry box will close Tuesday, October 25 at 9 a.m. Grey or roan horses are acceptable. With multiple grey horses stabled on the backstretch we are hopeful the race will be able to go and make Halloween weekend an exciting one in Central New York. By Scott Warren, Vernon Downs race office

Vernon, N.Y. -- The Kellogg Racing Stables, LLC's St Lads Moonwalk ($3.80) made his Miracle Mile debut a winning one, capturing Saturday (October 8) evening's harness racing featured $7,900 pacing event at Vernon Downs in decisive fashion.   The 3-year-old Mach Three colt enjoyed success in the Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots Series through the summer, earning his two most recent preliminary-event wins from off the pace. Tonight, Chris Lems put him in play from the outset, working clear of Major War (Truman Gale) after a :26.2 first quarter, rating a :57 middle half, and sprinting clear of the competition upon cornering for home. St Lads Moonwalk evaded his three foes by 4-1/4 lengths, prevailing in 1:51.2 in his first start for trainer Jackie Rousse. Modern Gesture (Fern Paquet, Jr.) captured second off a conservative stalking journey, and Flying Cowboy (Mike Merton) stayed even for third while Major War faded in the home straight off a failed bid from the pocket.   For St Lads Moonwalk, the win was the 12th of his fledgling career. For Lems, the win was the cornerstone of a driving grand slam following his five-win night on Friday. Lems additionally paired up with Gary Gibson trainee Some Major Beach ($4.80, 1:54.2) as well as Jordan Hope trainees Flashy Trick ($3.90, 1:53.1) and Hurrikane Bud K ($10.60, 1:54.1).   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Thursday (October 13) evening; post time is 6:45 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. -- Michael Polansky's Waiting On a Woman ($7.80) waited on no one in Friday (October 7) evening's featured $9,100 top-level trotting event at Vernon Downs, evading his five rivals and giving harness racing driver Chris Lems one of five wins on the 10-race program.   The 8-year-old Northern Bailey gelding, who had most recently been racing in upper-level events at the Meadowlands, Pocono, and Plainridge, worked to secure the pocket from his inside post before switching off the pegs and clearing 8-5 favorite Lucid Thoughts (John MacDonald) just after a :28 first quarter. Waiting On a Woman would maintain complete control of the terms from that point, rating a :58.1 middle half before accelerating away at head-stretch. The Kyle Spagnola trainee ultimately edged clear of Lucid Thoughts by 2-1/4 lengths for his 55th career win, while Kahoku (Truman Gale) held third off a ground-saving stalking trip.   Waiting On a Woman's 1:54.1 mile earned him the fourth win of his 8-year-old campaign.   In addition to his victory in the feature, Lems teamed up with 13-year-old Grecale As ($9.60, 1:56.4), Engagedatlexington ($6.60, 1:57.1), Airman Batten ($3.10, 1:54.1), and and Hollywood Jess ($4.60, 1:57.2).   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Saturday (October 8) evening; the first of 11 races is due off at 6:45 p.m.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. -- Leading driver John MacDonald notched a five-bagger on Thursday (October 6) evening's eight-race harness racing card at Vernon Downs, sweeping the back half of the program.   The 34-year-old Prince Edward Island native extended his advantage over Chris Lems in the seasonal table to 40 wins, taking his first win of the night in a $3,600 trotting event with Empirestateofmind ($5.70, 2:01.1), a 2-year-old daughter of Cantab Hall and Spectacularstarlet he also trains for owner Ross Bonafield. MacDonald would subsequently team up with Chip Chip Page ($4.70, 1:58), Andro Madi ($4.90, 1:53.3), I Saw Red ($7.90, 1:54.4), and Incredible Gambler ($12.80, 1:56.3) to cap his driving quintuple.   Lems accounted for two winners on the evening, including the featured $9,100 top-level distaff pace, which he won with Super Soph ($3.70). Lems secured the pocket with the 6-year-old Admirals Galley mare early on, angled off the pegs with five-sixteenths to go, and dueled down pacesetter Southern Girl (Fern Paquet, Jr.) by way of a :26.1 closing sectional to prevail in 1:54.1 for owner Mark Wamp and trainer Jackie Rousse.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs with a 10-race card on Friday (October 7) evening; post time is 6:45 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs  

Vernon, N.Y. -- JK Panache ($3.20) made his return to Vernon Downs a triumphant one, bouncing back from a fourth-place finish at Saratoga to wire his four harness racing rivals in Saturday (October 1) evening's featured $9,900 Miracle Mile-Open Handicap Pace.   The 7-year-old Art Major gelding, who won his last local appearance by way of sustained uncovered gains through the far turn, was sent right to the front this night by Chris Lems from his assigned outside post in the field of five. The pair controlled all the terms through sectional times of :26.2, :55.1, and 1:23.1, facing nary a challenge before starting to edge away from pocket rival Quick Art (Fern Paquet, Jr.) on approach to the head of the homestretch. While JK Panache left Quick Art well in his wake, Calvin B (Greg Merton) would emerge wide of rivals to take second off the far turn. Still, JK Panache evaded that late threat by 1-3/4 lengths, prevailing in 1:50.3. Flying Cowboy (John MacDonald) saved third another 8-1/2 lengths detached.   Trainer Dave Dewhurst shares ownership of 44-time winner JK Panache with Philip Hale.   Lems also captured the sub-featured $7,900 upper-level pacing event on the 11-race card with Modern Gesture ($4.90), pouncing from the pocket midway on the far turn and parrying a late charge from No Bad Dreams (Dan Daley) to score in 1:51 for trainer Andy Gardner and owner Mark Jakubik.   Racing returns to Vernon Downs on Thursday (October 6); first post is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. - Heavy pressure into a blistering :25.4 first quarter could not deter Sweet Thing ($7.00), as she fought to hold her ground on the first turn and subsequently edged away to a 3-3/4 length win in Friday (September 30) evening's harness racing featured $7,900 top-level distaff trot at Vernon Downs. Sweet Thing and driver Fern Paquet, Jr. meant business from race's outset, refusing to yield to even-money favorite My Lucky Word (Chris Lems) through a cut-throat duel into the first turn. The 4-year-old Chocolatier mare worked to protect inside position despite being headed out the straight, in fact forcing My Lucky Word into the pocket upon reaching the back of the course and controlling middle sectionals of :55 and 1:24.4. A new challenger emerged coming off the far turn, as Mc Tiny's Hope (Ben McNeil) gained without cover to take second from the fading My Lucky Word. Despite the presence of a fresh rival, Sweet Thing steadily drew away, posting a 1:53.3 victory over Mc Tiny's Hope, while the late-rallying Painite (Truman Gale) took third as the 19-1 longest shot in the race. Trainer Homer Hochstetler owns 9-time winner Sweet Thing in partnership with Robert Buddig. In the sub-featured $6,700 trotting event, Walk the Floor ($6.80) circled from third-over to prevail, fanning to the grandstand side off the far turn and collaring the first-over Pegasus Point in the final yards of a 1:55.3 mile. Trainer Angus MacDonald drove the 5-year-old Crazed gelding to his second consecutive win. Live racing returns to Vernon Downs with an 11-race card on Saturday (October 1) evening; post time is 6:45 p.m. Eastern. by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. - The most drastic change of tactics possible proved no issue for K J's Caroline ($4.80), who once again was best among the top distaffers at Vernon Downs in Thursday (September 29) evening's featured harness racing $9,900 Mares Open pacing event. The 6-year-old Roddy's Bags Again mare, who typically plays a big role in the pacesetting duties, dropped to last immediately, sitting well off pacesetter Yes You Can (Truman Gale) through a strong yet even pace of :27.4, :56, and 1:24. Roman Lopez angled K J's Caroline off the pegs with five-sixteenths to go, and the pair made immediate headway before they were carried to the four-path off the far turn by Southern Girl (Fern Paquet, Jr.), who angled to the three-path out of third just upon cornering for home. K J's Caroline would sustain her bid through a :27.1 individually-timed closing sectional to just collar Southern Girl by a neck in 1:52.1. Yes You Can gave way under duress in deep stretch, but narrowly held third from Bettorhaveanother (Brett Derue). For K J's Caroline, the second straight Vernon win was her seventh of the year and the 30th of her career. Paul Long handles the training duties for owner-breeder Scott Woogen. Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Friday (September 30) evening with an 11-race card due to commence at 6:45 p.m. Eastern. by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

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