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Vernon, NY - Horsemen, please be advised that the box for the Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial 3 YO Open & Filly trotting stakes at Vernon Downs will close at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, July 20. The condition sheet with all pertinent details may be found on the Vernon website.   The Zweig stakes and a NYSS for 3YO pacing fillies will highlight the card on the evening of Sunday, July 24. First post is 6:45 p.m.   Further information is available by calling the Racing Office at (315) 829-6825.   Horsemen are encouraged to make hotel reservations with Race Office concierge John "Brownie" Brown at (315) 829-6825. The sooner, the better.      

Freehold, NJ --- Mission Brief, fresh off her victory in the Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial Filly Trot, moved into the Top 10 in this week’s harness racing  Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll while the top six horses in the rankings remained unchanged. Wiggle It Jiggleit, JL Cruze, and Bee A Magician did not race and held their spots at the top of the poll. Pinkman remained fourth following his victory in the Zweig Memorial Open, followed by idle Wakizashi Hanover and State Treasurer. Rankings based on the votes of harness racing media representatives on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 11 –7/28/2015  Rank Name (First Place Votes) A/G/S Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Wiggle It Jiggleit (25) 3pg 15-14-1-0 $961,092 330 1 2 JL Cruze (5) 4tg 18-16-2-0 $612,788 302 2 3 Bee A Magician (4) 5tm 8-7-1-0 $408,070 280 3 4 Pinkman 3tg 7-6-1-0 $620,965 219 4 5 Wakizashi Hanover 3pg 10-6-2-1 $639,902 184 5 6 State Treasurer 6ph 9-4-1-2 $305,090 102 6 7 Mission Brief (1) 3tf 4-3-1-0 $200,347 90 -- 8 Doo Wop Hanover 4ph 11-6-1-1 $258,326 83 7 9 Shake It Cerry 4tm 9-3-1-2 $196,733 64 8 10 In The Arsenal 3pc 9-5-1-1 $362,405 43 9 Also: Uncle Lasse (31); Barn Doll (19); Split The House (18); Freaky Feet Pete, P H Supercam (17); Lady Shadow, Rockeyed Optimist (16); Moonlit Dance (13); Spirit To Win (11); Father Patrick (9); Artspeak, Market Share (8); Anndrovette (6); Canepa Hanover, The Bank (4); Centurion ATM, Foiled Again, Luck Be Withyou, Ooh Bad Shark, Southwind Frank (3); All The Time, Betting Line, Daylon Magician, Dude’s The Man, Handover Belle, Pure Country (2); Churita, Cinamony, Mach It So, Melmerby Beach (1). Mission Brief winning The Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial Filly Trot by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications 

Vernon NY - The Grand Circuit comes to upstate New York bringing harness racing's finest three-year-old colt and filly trotters to ply their trade in the $630,000 Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial on the Sunday, July 26 matinee card at Vernon Downs. This year's race serves as an important prep for the 2015 Hambletonian, a fortnight hence.   Hall of Fame horseman Jimmy Takter has entered four Hambo hopefuls from his armada of sophomore square-gaited stalwarts in the 41st edition of the Zweig. Pinkman, Canepa Hanover, Uncle Lasse and Whom Shall I Fear comprise the Takter presence and will race as an imposing coupled entry in the $370,000 Main Event (race nine) for colts.   Last year's top freshman trotter Pinkman (Yannick Gingras) eclipsed the $1 million mark in career earnings while winning a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial for owners Christina Takter, John & Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland and Herb Liverman last week at The Meadowlands. He took the $500,000 Beal final in World Record time and is but a half-length from perfection in six tries this season.   Canepa Hanover (Takter) has flashed brilliance, specifically a pair of sub-1:52 wins this spring, but broke in the Goodtimes final and had missed a month before his well-meant third to Pinkman in the Dancer. He is the whole package, looks combined with the big pedigree and is diligently working off the $300,000 yearling sale promise made to owners Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld, Brixton Medical and Christina Takter.   Uncle Lasse's (Brett Miller) season would be unblemished, had he not suffered a head defeat at the hands of Pinkman in that Beal final. He's talented, consistent, fresh and ready for his push at the title for Solveig's Racing Partners and Goran Falk.   Whom Shall I Fear (John Campbell) cost the most, $475,000, and has accomplished the least to this point. He remains a work in progress for his eponymous ownership group.   The $76,000 consolation race for colts goes as the third with a couple of talented, well connected  colts using it as their final exam before the August 8 Hambletonian.   Muscle Diamond (Campbell) was second to the aforementioned Pinkman in last year's Breeders Crown final and was considered to have a legitimate shot at the sophomore title by many winter book enthusiasts. Horse racing however, is fraught with peril and trainer Brett Bittle has been forced to react to a series of nagging issues with his star colt. With but a single start and a handful of qualifiers on Muscle Diamond's sophomore résumé, time is dangerously close to running out on this year's Hambo dreams for his owners, the Kellers and the Bittles.   Iron (Tim Tetrick) holds the hopes of another family steeped in Hambletonian tradition and this season has run the gamut of emotion for trainer Frank Antonacci. Handled carefully at two, Iron has shown the speed you need to win the classics but thus far not the grit. He needs a confidence builder, as do the connections, KR Breeding, Robert Rudolph and Frank Baldassare.   The $185,000 Zweig Filly trot will continue the saga of the enigmatic Mission Brief (Gingras). Her well documented transition from freshman to sophomore took a welcome positive turn in last week's Del Miller Memorial where she showed marked improvement in a narrow 1:52 defeat. Sunday's race will help her connections to make the difficult choice of Hambo or Oaks for their enigmatic prodigy. Part of a three-pronged Ron Burke entry, Mission Brief races for the interests of her trainer as Burke Racing along with Our Horse Cents, J&T Silva and Weaver Bruscemi.   The Harry M. Zweig Memorial honors the late Dr. Harry Zweig, a distinguished veterinarian, and his numerous contributions to the state’s equine industry. In 1979, by amendment to the pari-mutuel racing and wagering law, the New York State legislature created the Harry M. Zweig Memorial Fund for Equine Research to promote equine research at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. The Harry M. Zweig Committee was established for the purpose of administering the fund and is composed of individuals in specified state agencies and equine industry positions and others who represent equine breeders, owners, trainers, and veterinarians.   Also on the bill are the ever-popular Budweiser Clydesdales, available throughout the afternoon and slated to perform after the fifth race. Racing Under Saddle is on the program as well, they're off between races three and four.   Post time is 1:15 pm at the Downs on Sunday.   Vernon Downs Media Relations Department

Harness racing action on the Grand Circuit is really in full swing now. This Week: Joe Gerrity Memorial, Saratoga Casino and Raceway, Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Zweig Memorial and Zweig Filly, Vernon Downs, Vernon, N.Y. Delvin Miller Adios eliminations, The Meadows, Washington, Pa. Kindergarten Series, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J. Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action will be held this weekend at four different racetracks. Action begins on Friday (July 24) at Meadowlands Racetrack with three $10,000 divisions of the Kindergarten for 2-year-old trotting colts and two $10,000 divisions of the Kindergarten for 2-year-old trotting fillies. On Saturday (July 25), Saratoga will host their marquee event, the $260,000 Joe Gerrity Memorial for older pacers, while The Meadows will offer a trio of $25,000 eliminations for their marquee event, the Devlin Miller Adios for 3-year-old colt pacers. The busy weekend concludes on Sunday (July 26) as Vernon Downs will offer the $370,000 Zweig Memorial for 3-year-old colt trotters (and $76,000 consolation), as well as the $185,000 Zweig Filly for 3-year-old filly trotters. Complete entries for the races are available at this link. Last time: Meadowlands Racetrack hosted seven lucrative Grand Circuit events this past Saturday, led by the $706,000 Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-olds. They all had a clear shot at him, but none of the nine other pacers in the Meadowlands Pace could get past Wiggle It Jiggleit, as his 24-year-old driver Montrell Teague gave a fist pump and won by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:47.4 at The Meadowlands Wiggle It Jiggleit is owned by Montrell's father, George Teague Jr. and is trained by Clyde Francis. Montrell is the youngest driver ever to win the classic race. The son of Mr Wiggles-Mozzi Hanover started his season at The Meadowlands in the dead of the winter of 2015, racing in series and taking each in stride with progressively stronger performances. For the season, Wiggle It Jiggleit has now won 14 of 15 starts, with earnings of $978,742. His lone loss was a second place finish to Wakizashi Hanover in the North America Cup. In the Meadowlands Pace, Montrell Teague had Wiggle It Jiggleit on cruise control to the wire in 1:47.4. Dude's The Man ranged up on the outside to get past Wakizashi Hanover for the second place money in the final strides. Also on the stakes loaded Saturday card, JL Cruze (John Campbell) won for the 12th consecutive time, capturing the $443,300 Hambletonian Maturity for 4-year-old trotters by a neck over Resolve in a world-record 2:04.2 for 1-1/8 miles. Shake It Cerry finished third. It was JL Cruze's third consecutive world-record effort, following his 1:49.4 win in the Graduate Series final and 1:51 triumph in the Sun Invitational. The previous record for 1-1/8 miles was 2:05.3, set by Your So Vain in last year's Hambletonian Maturity. JL Cruze, trained by Eric Ell, has won 16 of 18 races this year and earned $612,788. He had five wins in 17 races prior to this season. He was purchased for $37,000 at the November Standardbred Horse Sale Mixed Sale by owners Ken Wood, Bill Dittmar Jr., and Stephen Iaquinta. Mach It So (Tim Tetrick) won the $430,600 William Haughton Memorial for older male pacers by a neck on Saturday at The Meadowlands in a time of 1:48.1. He's trained by Jeffrey Bamond Jr. and owned by Bamond Racing. It was only the second win of the year for the 5-year-old son of Mach Three-Beach Dancer in 12 starts. Lifetime, he has captured 21 of 54 starts with a bankroll of $991,439. State Treasurer was a fast closing second and Foiled Again was just behind him in third. Pacesetter Luck Be Withyou finished fourth. Complete recaps of all the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2015, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farm is the sponsor for the 2015 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the past weekend: Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 303; 2. Tim Tetrick - 293; 3. Brian Sears - 275; 4. David Miller - 244; 5. John Campbell - 203. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 405; 2. Jimmy Takter - 260; 3. Jeff Bamond Jr. - 228; 4. Ray Schnittker - 187; 5. Rene Allard - 158. Owners: 1. Bamond Racing - 195.5; 2. Burke Racing - 102.5; 3. George Teague Jr. Inc. - 100; 4. Weaver Bruscemi - 94.3; 5. Ray Schnittker - 74.9. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next weekend at The Meadows and Meadowlands Racetrack. The Meadows will host eight Grand Circuit events, led by the final of the Delvin Miller Adios for 3-year-old pacing colts. Meadowlands Racetrack will host eliminations for six lucrative stakes, led by the Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old filly trotters. Paul Ramlow

Vernon, NY - Vernon Downs will conduct a double draw with the entry box closing at 9:00am on the morning of Tuesday, August 26 for the Friday (Zweig Memorial, Crawford Farms open trot, 2014 Drivers' Championship) & Saturday (NYSS 2YO Colt Pace) race cards. The condition sheet will be available on Saturday afternoon.   Horsemen should contact the race office at (315) 829-6825 or to swarren@vernondowns.com for hotel reservations for next weekend. Rooms are limited on Saturday due to a wedding and a VIP Event in the casino, so reservations will be on a first come, first served basis.   From Nick Salvi, for Vernon Downs

Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs announce a new format for the 2014 Drivers' Championship, scheduled to take place on a pair of marquee race days at both New York courses. The first round will take place at Vernon Downs on Friday, August 29, along with the $200,000e Crawford Farms Open Trot and the Zweig Memorial Trot for three-year-olds. The second round is slated for Monday, September 1--three days later--at Tioga Downs, where the Drivers' Championship will share the spotlight with the Cane Pace, the Shady Daisy, and a preliminary leg of the Miss Versatility series for distaff trotters. Past years have seen the six top money-winning drivers in North America and a sponsor's exemption join the leading driver from both Tioga and Vernon, but the 2014 Drivers' Championship will implement a new means to compile the nine-driver field. This year, the leading drivers (by wins) at Tioga and Vernon will be joined by: - the top three (3) Meadowlands drivers (by purse earnings) - the top Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) circuit driver - the top Harrah's Philadelphia/Pocono Downs driver - the top driver aged 25 or younger - a sponsor's exemption As of right now, the field would be comprised of Jim Marohn, Jr., Chris Lems, Yannick Gingras, David Miller, Tim Tetrick, Sylvain Filion, George Napolitano, Jr., Scott Zeron, and the sponsor's exemption. The field will be finalized according to drivers' statistics as of the close of racing on Sunday, August 3. As in past years, the overall winner takes home $25,000--equivalent to a driver's commission for winning a $1,000,000 race. Additionally, the leader at the conclusion of the first round wins $10,000. In addition to a slew of other giveaways and promotions, both tracks will host a Jim Marohn, Jr. bobblehead giveaway in conjuction with the Drivers' Championship to commemorate last year's winner. With a healthy lead over Aaron Byron in the Tioga Downs standings, the "Mighty Mite Part Two" is poised to defend his title. by James Witherite, for Tioga Downs

Nichols, NY - Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs have announced their 2014 stakes schedule, with an estimated $4.3 million in purses to attract the top horses in New York and across North America throughout the season. Tioga Downs opens their stakes season on Sunday, June 1 with the $200,000e Roll With Joe Open Pace. New York Sire Stakes races mark the calendar through June and July, leading up to the $350,000e Tompkins-Geers Stakes for two- and three-year-olds of both gaits. Unlike years past, where the Tompkins-Geers Stakes have been contested throughout an entire week of racing, two-year-old pacers will have their events on Sunday, August 3, while two-year-old trotters and three-year-olds of both gaits will race on Sunday, August 17. Between the Tompkins-Geers events, New York-sired sophomore pacers will take the spotlight on Sunday, August 10 in the $500,000e Empire Breeders Classic, with separate events for each sex. If needed, eliminations are scheduled for the week prior. Labor Day (Monday, September 1) proves to be a banner day in the Southern Tier, with a trio of stakes events headlining the afternoon. The $110,000e Shady Daisy for three-year-old pacing fillies and a $40,000e preliminary leg of the Miss Versatility for older trotting mares comprise the undercard features for the day, while three-year-old pacers take center stage in the $350,000e Cane Pace-the first leg of the Triple Crown for pacers. The $125,000 Reynolds Stakes for two-year-olds closes out the stakes schedule at Tioga, with trotting divisions on Thursday, September 4, and pacing divisions on Friday, September 12. Vernon Downs kicks off their stakes season on Sunday, June 8, with New York-sired three-year-old trotters contesting the $500,000e Empire Breeders Classic (like the pacers, separate events are held for each sex). If eliminations are necessary, they will take place on Friday, May 30. New York Sire Stakes events cover the early summer months, leading up to the first of two big nights at Vernon on Friday, August 29. The $700,000e Harry Zweig Memorial Trot for three-year-olds once again serves as the centerpiece of the Vernon Downs stakes schedule, with top open trotters sharing the spotlight that night in the $200,000e Crawford Farms Trot (formerly known as the Credit Winner). Two-year-olds of both gaits and sexes contest the $100,000e Simpson Stakes on Friday, October 24, leading up to a blockbuster Closing Night program, featuring a trio of rich events on Saturday, November 1. Two-year-old trotters wrap up the Kindergarten Classic series with a $200,000e final, and top distaffers compete in a pair of $200,000e events as well-trotters in the Muscle Hill, and pacers in the Artiscape, which moved to Vernon after being raced at Tioga in past seasons. Nomination forms and more information can be found at www.tiogadowns.com and www.vernondowns.com. by James Witherite, for Tioga Downs  

VERNON, NY – Sunday night’s race card at Vernon Downs, headlined by the opening round of the All-Star Drivers’ Championship and Zweig Memorial Trot, produced the track’s highest single-card wagering handle since 2009. The total handle, including on-track and off-track simulcast locations, totaled $313,690, the track’s highest figure since hosting the New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions in September of 2009. It also represents a nearly 20% increase over last year’s Drivers’ Championship and Zweig Memorial Trot card. “We worked extremely hard to promote one of our signature nights of the season and we’re pleased to see how well-received it was by horseplayers nationwide,” said Scott Warren, Director of Racing. “By racing the card in the evening, we were able to get our simulcast signal distributed in California and a loaded on-track promotional schedule delivered the type of family-friendly event we strive to produce.” Hambletonian champion Royalty For Life cruised to victory in the $360,000 Zweig Memorial over a star-studded field of trotters and continued his magical season for Vernon Downs based trainer George Ducharme. Vernon Downs resumes racing with a four-day holiday schedule. Live racing takes place Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 6:45 p.m. and a special Labor Day matinee on Monday starting at 1:15 p.m. by Justin Horowitz  

Vernon, NY – Royalty For Life and driver Brian Sears were able to rebound from their loss last week by posting an impressive 1:53.1 victory in capturing the $360,000 Zweig Memorial Trot for three-year-olds at Vernon Downs Sunday. It was just about a cakewalk for the New York sired son of RC Royalty at his home-based track. Corky and driver Dave Miller left out of the gate as did Sears and Royalty For Life and Sear was able to take command by the opening quarter mile in :27.1. Spider Blue Chip (Ron Pierce) made a break out of the gate and was never in the hunt. Just about walking to the half mile marker in :58 and the three-quarters in 1:26, Royalty For Life had things his own way on the lead but Pine Credit has come first-over and collared the race leader with Modest Prince (Jeff Gregory) getting great second-over cover by the final turn.  But in the stretch it was all Royalty For Life, who seemingly held the field at bay and went on to win by one and one-half lengths with Corky second and Pine Credit third. It was Royalty For Life’s fifth win in nine starts this year. He is trained by George Ducharme for owner/breeder Al Ross with RWJ Campbell, Jr. and Paul Fontaine, all of New England. Royalty For Life paid $4.70 to win. “Tonight behind the gate he was a little extra quiet,” said driver Brian Sears of Royalty For Life. “He usually wants to get on the gate and take off but he was pretty docile tonight. I don’t think he was 100% tonight. He was extra docile, extra quiet tonight. But when I asked him to pick it up a little on the backside he did.” Punxsutawney and driver Corey Callahan could not take advantage of soft early fractions and gave perfect cover to Lindy’s Tru Grit and driver Tim Tetrick, who came on late in the stretch to win the $75,000 Zweig Memorial Trot consolation for three-year-old colts. Wannacmyguns and trainer/driver John Stark, Jr.  was the first to show from the starting gate and then gave way to Lindy’s Tru Grit by the opening quarter mile in :28.1. But by the half mile in :58.3 it was race favorite Punxsutawney moving first over and taking command in the backstretch. Punxsutawney led the field to the three-quarters in 1:27.2 as Crazed N Lindy and driver Ron Pierce came first over to challenge. As the field started down the stretch it looked as if Punxsutawney was well in command but no one told that to Tetrick and Lindy’s Tru Grit came after them, kept gaining ground and past them by before the wire to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:54.4. All Laid Out (Andrew McCarthy) closed well to be third. Sired by Cantab Hall, it was the third win this year and a lifetime mark for Lindy’s Tru Grit, who is trained by Frank Antonacci and is bred and owned by the Lindy Racing Stable of Enfield, CT with Robert Rudoph of Vineland, NJ. Sent off at odds of 5-1, Lindy’s Tru Grit paid $13.00 to win. By Steve Wolf

Vernon, NY – Mistery Woman was able to regain her winning form with a giant closing effort in capturing the $150,000 Zweig Memorial Trot for three-year-old fillies Sunday at Vernon Downs. Driven by Dave Miller, Mistery Woman waited until late in the race to make her move. Early on it was Royal Assets (Ray Schnittker), Curtsy Hanover (Corey Callahan) and Shared Past (Dave Palone) who all battled for control of the early lead through fractions of :55.3 and 1:23.3 before the stretch drive. Palone had rushed Shared Past to the lead by the top of the stretch and looked almost home free coming to the wire, but Miller and Mistery Woman just ate up loose ground and collared them right before the finish wire to win by one length in 1:52.1. Frau Blucher (Ron Pierce) was third. It was a lifetime mark for the daughter of Donato Hanover, who is trained by Jonas Czernyson and owned by Millstream, Inc. of FL, Misty Miller of NJ, W J Donovan of FL and Aldebaran Park, Inc. of Fl. “She raced very good today,” said Jonas Czernyson. “I am very pleased with her. We got a late start with her last year so we hope she will finish the year very strong.” It took the photo finish camera to declare the winner of the $40,000 Zweig Memorial Trot consolation for three-year-old fillies. Once the film was developed it showed that Thistle DHU and driver Brett Miller edged Perfect Alliance and Corey Callahan by a nose in 1:54.1. The race started off with Miss Steele and driver Andy Miller taking the early lead away from Thistle DHU and led the field past the quarter in :27.2 and the half mile in :57.4 when Callahan came first-over with Perfect Alliance. They were able to move up to challenge race leader Miss Steele by the three-quarters in 1:26.1. As the three horses raced down the stretch, Andy Miller was unable to keep the rail closed off as Miss Steele began to tire and bear out and Brett Miller came through with Thistle DHU and then battled to the finish against Perfect Alliance to the wire. Miss Steele was able to hang on for third place. It was a lifetime mark for Thistle DHU, who is sired by Donato Hanover. She is trained by Del S. Miller and is owned by W J Donovan of Ft. Lauderdale, FL.  Sent off at odds of 7-1, Thistle DHU paid $17.00 to win. By Steve Wolf

Gotta pick some more winners. Right now I stand at picking horses in 80 races with just 31 winners, not good enough. I went three for seven last week and lost $4.80. We are still in the minus earning column at  -$31.40 going into this weekend. The big action is all around North America. On Saturday we went with the two elimination divisions of the Canadian Pacing Derby at Mohawk Raceway but Sunday is the big day with the Zweig Memorial Trots at Vernon Downs and the Miss Versitility at Tioga Downs. Some chalk, of course, but some opportunities to make a score too! $360,000 Zweig Memorial Trot 3YO Open 10th race Vernon Downs – It’s the return of best sophomore trotters in the nation in another classic matchup. Spider Blue Chip, Royalty For Life, Smilin Eli and Corky head the field. Despite drawing the outside post nine and coming off a rough go in the $500,000 Colonial Trot, I am going back again with Royalty For Life. This is his “home turf” per say and I am sure after last week that Brian Sears with either get him out of the gate well enough to get to the front or will find some cover and make amends for last weeks loss. $150,000 Zweig Memorial Trot 3YO Fillies 7th race Vernon Downs – Not the greatest group of fillies and there are two major standouts in the field. To Dream On may dream of her great season last year but she is 1 for 8 in 2013 and is touch and go if she will make a break or not. Definetly is the class of the field but too many poor miles makes me toss her out. Frau Blucher will be the race favorite despite starting from the far outside in post nine. Last start she was second to stablemate Classy Martine in $120,000 PASS and despite poor showing in Hambletonian Oaks she should be able to score in here. $75,000 Zweig Memorial Trot 3YO Open Consolation 8th race Vernon Downs – Punxsutawney showed some major true grit in his last start, getting parked first-over and grinding it out in the $100,000 Colonial Trot consolation with a lifetime best 1:53.2 clocking. Faces (with the exception of All Laid Out) a softer field in here and if he can repeat his effort from last week he should be able to out trot this bunch. $40,000 Zweig Memorial Trot 3YO Filly Consolation 6th race Vernon Downs – This is a very well matched field of subpar trotting fillies. You can just about make a case for anyone in the field to be a winner. Time To Kill is the only one in the field who is winless this year in eleven starts. Nothing to brag home about but she was a $351,000 winner last year and has been facing the best fillies in the nation every week. Now that none of them are in this race she should be the top choice and rightly so. $40,000 Miss Versatility Trot Mares Open (leg #4) 6th race Tioga Downs – Let’s see, Maven has won 5 of her 7 starts this year and is coming off a week’s rest. D’Orsay is coming in off a lifetime best 1:51.4 victory in her last start and they are coupled together as an entry? Enough said. Real Babe could be a factor along with Personal Style and Beatgoeson Hanover, but with Maven and D’Orsay coupled together there is no other real choice in the race. $40,000 Canadian Pacing Derby Elimination 4th race Mohawk Raceway – Tie down your seat belts, here we go again. Can’t even take up the space to write all the names of the top horses in this race. They are all top class and this division of older pacers has been great all season long. Gonna go with Bolt The Duer again. Last week he set the world record on a half mile track with his 1:49.2 victory in the $275,000 Gerrity Memorial, showed amazing gate speed on a half mile and I look for him to hopefully repeat that same effort again. $40,000 Canadian Pacing Derby Elimination 10th race Mohawk Raceway – Once again, every horse in this race is a household name to a harness racing fan. It’s a shame any of them will be eliminated but only the first five return for the final next week. A Rocknroll Dance was able to tie Bolt The Duer’s world record of 1:47.4 last week at Pocono Downs. He draws a good inside post here and figures to get some great cover so that Tim Tetrick will weave his way through the field to victory lane.

Vernon Downs will conduct a double draw on Wednesday, August 21 for Saturday, August 24 and Sunday, August 25 races. The box will close at 9:00AM. The race office phone is (315) 829-6825. Chief among the events for the weekend are the $700,000 Zweig Memorial trot, open and filly divisions, which will be raced on Sunday along with the first leg of the 2013 Drivers' Championship. The Excelsior/State Fair races for 2 year old trotting and pacing colts will be raced on Saturday evening. Post time for both Saturday and Sunday's cars is 6:45PM. The Vernon condition sheet is available here. by Nick Salvi  

NICHOLS, NY – Harness racing’s version of the All-Star Game returns to Upstate New York when North America’s premier drivers compete in the 7th Annual Tioga/Vernon Drivers’ Championship. The continent’s top six money-winning drivers have been confirmed to participate led by Tim Tetrick, whose mounts have earned more than $9.2 million in 2013. Tetrick has led North America in earnings for an unprecedented six straight years; however, he’s never finished first in the Drivers’ Championship in six appearances. This year’s field will also include Hambletonian winning driver and Florida native Brian Sears, two-time champion Yannick Gingras, defending champion Ron Pierce, David Miller and first-time participant Corey Callahan, who will also be honored with a bobblehead doll giveaway during the event. Those six drivers will compete against leading Tioga Downs driver Jimmy Marohn, Jr. and leading Vernon Downs driver Rick Plano. The final competitor in the nine-man field, the sponsor’s exemption, will be announced tomorrow. The first round of the event takes place at Vernon Downs during a special Sunday night of racing on August 25 with a 6:45 p.m. first race post time. The leader after the Vernon round will receive $10,000. The drivers and their accumulated points will then head to Tioga Downs on a special Labor Day card, September 2, with a 1:30 p.m. post time. The overall winner of the event receives $25,000. The Vernon Downs leg of the challenge shares a card with the $700,000 Zweig Memorial Trot featuring Hambletonian champion Royalty For Life racing on his home track. The Tioga Downs leg of the challenge shares a card with the $400,000 Cane Pace, opening leg of the Pacing Triple Crown. The Cane is expected to feature a long-awaited showdown between top-rated 3-year-olds Captaintreacherous and Vegas Vacation. In addition to the racing on the track, fans will be treated to a variety of giveaways and promotions including the annual bobblehead giveaway and t-shirt giveaway while supplies last and drawings to win iPads and laptop computers. There will also be pre-race autograph sessions with the drivers on both days of the event. Justin Horowitz

With the $1,000,000 Hambletonian Trot, harness racing’s most prestigious race, snuggled safely away with an ultra impressive two-heat victory, Royalty For Life has stamped himself as the top three-year-old trotting colt in the world. But the race season is just half way through and there are more challenges that await Royalty For Life and one of them will be the $400,000 Zweig Memorial Trot at Vernon Downs on Sunday, August 25. “We are hoping if all goes well to race him in the Colonial Trot next,” said co-owner Paul Fontaine, “And then we plan on sending him to the Zweig.” This week Royalty For Life will get a much earned rest and then his schedule gets tough again with the $500,000 Colonial Trot on August 17 at Pocono Downs followed the very next week with the $400,000 Zweig Memorial. Sired in New York by RC Royalty, who stands at Morrisville State College in upstate, NY, Royalty For Life is his top offspring. This year he has won four of his seven starts with earnings of $694,000 and lifetime has 11 wins in 20 starts and earnings of $1,029,000. He is trained by George Ducharme and is co-owned by Alfred Ross (who bred the horse), RW “Chip” Campbell (who raised him) and Paul Fontaine, all of whom are from New England. But it won’t be a walk in the park for Royalty For Life, as the best trotting colts in the nation are eligible to this year’s classic event and they will not allow Royalty For Life to just walk away with the top purse money. Also eligible is Smilin Eli, who was second to Royalty For Life both in the first heat and the final of the Hambletonian. And joining him may be Corky, winner of the $500,000 Beal Memorial and was third in the Hambletonian. In fact, of the 23 horses that raced in the $1,200,000 Hambletonian heats, 12 are eligible to compete in the Zweig. Some of those standouts include Spider Blue Chip, who captured an elimination division of the Hambletonian in 1:53.4 for his fifth win in nine starts this year; the 2012 Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year, Wheeling N Dealin, Aperfectyankee, Dontyouforgetit and High Bridge. Conditions for the Zweig state that the top nine money winners in 2013 will be entered in the $400,000 final and the next nine top money earners will race in the $80,000 consolation race. On the same day at Vernon Downs, the fillies will also be in action in the Zweig Memorial Trot Filly division and the purse for the main event is $170,000 and a $40,000 consolation race. The top contender so far this season is NY bred, To Dream On by Credit Winner and she was the 2012 Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year. This season To Dream On has gotten off to a rough start with just one win in seven races for the Jimmy Takter Stable, but in her last start, despite making a costly break, she was able to rebound and come back to finish third in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks. To Dream On is owned by Marvin Katz, Al Libfield and Sam Goldband of Ontario and is a career winner of $820,000 and has nine wins in 15 lifetime starts for trainer Jimmy Takter. Frau Blucher is another top filly eligible to the Zweig. Earlier this season she won at Pocono Downs in 1:52.3 and has four wins in seven starts this year for trainer Chris Oakes. Also a standout is Mistery Woman for trainer Jonas Czernyson. She has three wins in eight starts and a record of 1:53. Other contenders include Fashion Athena, Handover Belle and Time To Kill. By Steve Wolf

Many of the nation’s top three-year-old trotting colts and fillies are eligible for the estimated $700,000 Harry M. Zweig Memorial Trots in 2013. The races will be held on Sunday, August 25 at Vernon Downs, just three weeks after the prestigious Hambletonian. And over the past two months many of the best Zweig-eligible trotters have been winning major stakes races throughout the country. The Zweig Memorial is named after Dr. Harry M. Zweig, a distinguished veterinarian who played a pivotal role in improving Standardbred racing and breeding in New York State, and will feature both an Open division for colts & geldings and a separate filly division. The colts & geldings will race in the final for an estimated $400,000 with consolation divisions totaling $80,000. The fillies race in the final for $170,000 and $40,000 in the consolations. What make the Zweig Memorial different is that upon being entered in the box, the top nine highest money earning horses in 2013 will go in each of the finals. Then the same procedure is in place for the consolations divisions. Emerging in the spotlight just this past week is Royalty For Life. The New York-bred and owned colt by RC Royalty, beat many of the top sophomore trotters in the nation with his impressive neck triumph in the $294,000 Stanley Dancer Memorial Trot at the Meadowlands on July 13. Trained by George Ducharme and co-owned by Alfred Ross, Raymond W J Campbell and Paul Fontaine of MA and RI respectively, Royalty For Life posted his first win in four starts with a 1:52 victory for driver Brian Sears. He was a $334,000 winner at age 2. Finishing second to Royalty For Life in that photo was Spider Blue Chip, another top Zweig eligible colt, who hails from the Chuck Sylvester Stable and owners David McDuffee of FL and Melvin Hartman of Ontario. This son of Andover Hall has three wins in six starts and $140,000 in earnings in 2013. He has a record of 1:52.3 taken at the Meadowlands in winning the $50,000 Reynolds Stake. Also in the race and finishing fourth was $600,000 career winner Corky and scratched from the race was Smilin Eli, a $146,000 winner this year. Both colts are expected Zweig starters.  The undefeated 2012 2-Year-Old Colt Trotter of the Year, Wheeling N Dealin, had made just one start in 2013 and was fourth against older horses but is expected to be ready for the Zweig. Also eligible are recent winners, Aperfectyankee, High Bridge, Jurgen Hanover and Crazy About Pat Heading the filly division of the Zweig Memorial is the 2012 USHWA two-year-old Trotting Filly of the year, To Dream On. This royally bred daughter of New York sire Credit Winner has had it rough so far in 2013. She was fourth last week in the $265,000 Del Miller Memorial Trot, but two starts back won a $27,000 division of the Reynolds Stakes at the Meadowlands in 1:54. Another standout is Frau Blucher, who was second in the Stanley Dancer last week. That was her first loss in five starts this year. Earlier she had won her first four starts, the fastest an impressive 1:52.3 victory at Pocono Downs in the PASS. She has career earnings of $581,000 and is sired by Broadway Hall. And yes, she is named after the old housekeeper (played by Cloris Leachman) on the movie, Young Frankenstein. Also a big contender is Mistery Woman, who was third in the Del Miller and is a career winner of $216,000 and has already won a $59,000 PASS division in 1:55.2. Other eligible fillies are Fashion Athena, who is a career winner of $264,000 and recently won at Harrah’s Philadelphia in 1:56.3 but last year took a fast mark of 1:53.2,  Royal Assets, Perfect Alliance, Hall La La, Handover Belle and Holy Mary. It may be mid July, but August 25 will be right around the corner and all eyes will then focus on Vernon Downs for the Zweig Memorial! By Steve Wolf

Most of the best three-year-old colt and filly trotters in North America have been made eligible for the estimated $700,000 Harry M. Zweig Memorial Trot in 2013.

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