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

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

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

Vernon, N.Y. -- Harness racing driver Chris Lems availed 5-4 favorite Titus Seelster ($4.50) a clear pocket trip off a fast pace in the featured $6,500 top-level Miracle Mile pacing event at Vernon Downs on Saturday (July 9) evening, making his winning move in the last eighth of a 1:49.4 mile.   The 5-year-old Artistic Fella gelding was the only one able to keep up with the blistering pace set by Modern Gesture (Jimmy Whittemore), drafting intently off splits of :25.1, :53.4, and 1:22.2. Just upon cornering for home, Lems tipped Titus Seelster off the pegs, urging him to the fore in mid-stretch and edging away by 1-1/4 lengths in the end. Runner-up Modern Gesture was a farther 9-1/4 lengths clear of Fox Valley Cadet (John MacDonald), who passed a tiring A Fool for Mark (Dustin Ingraham) for third. Abreathofreshart (Dan Daley) was the tail-ender for the entire mile after breaking at race's outset.   Jackie Rousse trains 16-time winner Titus Seelster for the Kellogg Racing Stables, LLC.   John MacDonald padded his lead in the driver standings with yet another hat trick, giving him 10 over the last three cards. MacDonald teamed up with odds-on choices Ring Leda ($3.20, 1:53.3), Columbia Lion ($3.60, 1:57.2), and Aloneinspades ($3.70, 1:52.3).   The 50¢ Pick 5 returned $550.50, buoyed by 8-1 winner JD's Brent N Sheree and 11-1 outsider Mr Wiskers both prevailing in the sequence.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Thursday (July 14) evening, with the first of 10 races due off at 6:45 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. -- Fresh off his Canada Day hat trick, driver John MacDonald registered another three-win night on Saturday (July 2) at Vernon Downs--but he had to share top honors with Chris Lems over the course of the nine-race card.   MacDonald held sway narrowly with the favored Count Speed ($4.60) in the featured $5,500 Miracle Mile Trot, controlling the pace and prevailing over the first-over Walk the Floor in 1:55.2. The "Prime Minister" also trains the 7-year-old Majestic Son gelding for owners Paul and Patricia O'Neil. MacDonald's other two driving wins on the night came aboard Doug Miller trainee Shoemaker Hanover ($7.80, 1:58.1) and Dave Dewhurst trainee Choke Hold ($4.80, 1:56.2).   Lems drove the longest-priced winner of the night in Fox Valley Photog ($46.00, 1:57) as part of his hat trick, also teaming up with Winbak Meadow ($9.40, 1:58) and the impressive Swinging Royalty ($2.20, 1:54.1), who sprinted off to a 15-length triumph in a $3,600 trotting event for young distaffers.   After a dark day on Sunday, Vernon Downs will offer a 12-race Independence Day card. Post time on Monday (July 4) is slated for 1:25 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, for Vernon Downs

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Allerage Echo continues his quest for another New York Sire Stakes crown at Buffalo Raceway on Sunday afternoon (June 26) as he headlines the harness racing entrants in the two $61,000 (est.) divisions for the 3-year-old colt and gelding trotters.   Winning the $225,000 Sire Stakes Finals for 2-year-old colt and gelding trotters in gate-to-wire fashion at Yonkers back on September 26, the lightly raced Allerage Echo looks for his first victory of the 2016 campaign.   In last year's NYSS final, Allerage Echo handed the breaking Dayson his first career loss.   With just three starts in 2016, Allerage Echo (Conway Hall-Echonomical) has a pair of second place finishes in two of New York Sire Stake events at Vernon Downs and Tioga. In his last appearance, which came on June 12 at Pocono Downs, Allerage Echo set the tempo but stalled out late to finish seventh.   Tabbed at 7-2 in the morning line from the seven post with Chris Lems in the sulky, the George Ducharme-trained Allerage Echo has earned $261,937 in just nine career starts thanks to five victories. One of those wins last season came at Buffalo Raceway as Allerage Echo went coast-to-coast in posting a five-length victory in 2:03.3 over Crown Point in a Sire Stakes contest.   The 5-2 favorite however is Just For Today who will score from the three hole with Mark MacDonald aboard. Just For Today (Credit Winner-Brandnewgirlfriend) is fresh off a solid second place finish in the Empire Breeder's Crown at Vernon Downs on June 19, losing a 1-1/2 length decision to Dante.   Others set to go in the event, slated as the seventh race, are Drazzmatazz (Francisco Del Cid), Smalltownthrowdown (Dan Daley), Southern Palms (Jim Morrill Jr.), Kapow (Kevin Cummings), Omaha Set Hut (Tyler Freese) and Do The Deal (Ake Svanstedt).   In the first leg, scheduled for the fourth race, it appears to be a wide open affair with several putting in good performances in the EBC last week at Vernon Downs.   The Royal Harry was favored off the rail in the EBC final but finished fourth. He drew the three post on Sunday and is the 2-1 choice on the morning line with Svanstedt in the bike.   Getting the 3-1 odds from the six spot is Thats A Bad Boy (Freese) who took third last week in the EBC. Thats A Bad Boy (Credit Winner-Mathers Ginger) showed some late trot and finished just 3-3/4 lengths back after trailing by nearly 10 lengths. It will be his first taste this season of Sire Stakes competition.   Sir Royson (Jim Marohn Jr.) has a pair of victories in Sire Stakes action thus far in 2016 but was a non factor last week in the EBC finale, finishing eighth by 12-3/4 lengths.   Royal Bachelor (Daley) arrives on an impressive three-race win streak but will be taking on much better and gets the seven spot.   The remainder of the field includes Crazycat (Drew Monti), The Perfect Lindy (MacDonald) and A Jersey Contract (Morrill Jr.).   With hot weather and a fast race track expected, the current track records of 1:56.4 for the colts set by Call Me Out in 2014 and 1:56.1 for the geldings established in 2014 by Gural Hanover are in jeopardy.   The 12-race card is set for 12:30 p.m. with action also slated for the Excelsior A and B divisions. There are also two races in the C.K.G Billings Amateur Driver competition.   For more information including the latest news, race replays, results and upcoming promotions, go to   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

Vernon, N.Y. -- Connie Hochstetler's Southern Girl ($9.00) earned her fourth win in five starts in the harness racing featured $7,500 Mares Miracle Mile Pace on Thursday (June 23) evening at Vernon Downs.   Chris Lems wasted no time with the 4-year-old Sportsmaster mare, posting a :26.4 first quarter to clear Love You Bye (Jimmy Whittemore) and Looney Dune (Ben McNeil). Southern Girl controlled the pace through middle splits of :56.3 and 1:25, beginning to accelerate clear of her five rivals with a quarter mile remaining. She was kept to task as she sped up through a :27.2 closing frame, amassing enough clearance in upper stretch to hold clear of the late-rallying odds-on favorite All Charged Up (John MacDonald) by 1-3/4 lengths for a 1:52.2 win. The Filly Princess (Andy Gardner) held third after sustaining mild first-over gains.   Homer Hochstetler trains Southern Girl, now a nine-time winner. For Lems, the featured win was one of three on the nine-race card, as he also teamed up with Patton ($2.80, 1:59.3) and Royal Promise ($7.00, 1:59).   No one hit the 50¢ Pick 5, resulting in a carryover of $578.25 to Friday's (June 24) card. The first of 11 races at the Miracle Mile is slated for 6:45 p.m.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. -- A pocket trip off intensifying pace pressure suited A Penny Earned ($4.70) well on Saturday (June 18) night, as he struck the front late to just prevail in the harness racing featured $8,500 Miracle Mile/Open Trot at Vernon Downs.   Chris Lems achieved the early lead with the 7-year-old Conway Hall gelding, but yielded the pacesetting duties to Winding Hill (Jimmy Whittemore) just after a :27.3 initial quarter. After a :57 half, A Penny Earned found himself boxed on the far turn as Walk the Floor (Angus MacDonald) pressed a :28.2 third-quarter from first-over and 5-4 favorite Lucid Thoughts (John MacDonald) slid out to follow that live cover.   After cornering, Lems found a seam up the pegs with A Penny Earned, rallying into the lead with 70 yards to go, ultimately collaring Winding Hill for a 1:54.1 triumph. Lucid Thoughts chased off cover to just take third from the leveled-off Walk the Floor.   Trainer George Ducharme co-owns A Penny Earned with Alfred Ross, Paul Fontaine, and Nicola Oliva.   Dan Daley and Truman Gale led all drivers with two wins each on the 11-race card.   A special Sunday (June 19) night card completes the racing week at Vernon Downs, with the Empire Breeders Classic trotting finals sharing top billing on the 10-race card. Post time is 6:45 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. -- Fresh off his 1,000th career driving win, taken with Jessica Okusko trainee Manny in a $39,900 New York Sire Stakes event at Monticello Raceway on Monday, harness racing driver Chris Lems posted a four-win night at Vernon Downs on Thursday (June 9) evening.   The 29-year-old South Dakota native captured the evening's featured $7,500 Miracle Mile Pace for distaffers, sustaining a first-over bid with Super Soph ($4.60) on the far turn to reel in the pacesetting Pancakes (Fern Paquet, Jr.) and subsequently stave off a late push from the second-over Love Live Laugh (Jimmy Whittemore) for a 1:52.3 triumph. Jackie Rousse trains the 6-year-old Admirals Galley mare for owner Mark Wamp.   Lems also prevailed with Kyler's Valentine ($6.40, 1:55.1), Grecale As ($5.30, 1:57.3) and Thats My Dream ($8.50, 1:57) on the 10-race card.   The 50¢ Pick 5 was hit, yielding $291.50 on the winning combination of 6-6-4-3-7.   Racing returns to Vernon Downs on Friday (June 10), with post time slated for 6:45 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Monticello Raceway was honored to be the site of harness racing driver Chris Lems 1000th career win, ironically Monticello was the site of Chris's his first stake win. Chris drove Manny to victory in the 3rd division of NYSS in 1:54:2. Manny (American Ideal - Foolish Kiss) is trained by Jessica Okusko, for owners M and L of Delaware & Victoria Dickson. Chris also drives for powerful stables of Jessica Okusko and George Ducharme. Monticello Raceway Pick 5 Carry over at $4,532.00 Monticello Raceway’s Pick 5 carry over is now $4,532.00. The first leg of the Pick 5 begins in Race 3.  Director of Simulcasting, Maureen Flynn said “this is the biggest carry over that we have had, we are glad to offer our patrons this opportunity” By Shawn Wiles    

Vernon, N.Y. -- Pantheon Hanover ($4.50) lived up to his billing as the 5-4 favorite in the featured $7,500 Miracle Mile Pace at Vernon Downs, stalking live cover on the far turn and vaulting clear to a 3-1/2 length harness racing triumph. The 4-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding was no part of a :25.4 first quarter duel between Sassy Hanover (Claude Huckabone, III) and All Stienam (John MacDonald), settling second from last in the select field of six. As Panpero Firpo (Brett Derue) emerged from midpack to head outer flow at race's midpoint, Chris Lems angled Pantheon Hanover second-over to stalk steadily improving cover through middle splits of :53.4 and 1:21.3. As the pacesetters began to toil, Pantheon Hanover swung three-wide, pushing to the fore at head-stretch and drawing clear at will. Behind Pantheon Hanover's 1:50 mile, the first-over Panpero Firpo continued his rally to take second, while All Stienam saved third from the pocket.   Trainer Dave Dewhurst co-owns Pantheon Hanover with Philip Hale. For Lems, the featured win was one of three on the night. John MacDonald also recorded a driving hat trick on the nine-race program.   As no one hit the 50¢ Pick 5, a carryover of $256.53 will head to Thursday (June 9) night's card. Post time for the 10-race program is 6:45 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. -- Regina Dewhurst's Pounce K ($10.80) sprinted clear and never looked back in the top-level harness racing $7,500 Miracle Mile Trot at Vernon Downs on Friday (June 3) evening.   Chris Lems vaulted clear with the 6-year-old Donato Hanover gelding through a :27.1 quarter mile, out-sprinting all five of his inside rivals. He would go unchallenged through a comfortable :58 middle half, sprinting clear off the far turn as the first-over Winding Hill (Jimmy Whittemore) worked into second over Keystone Thomas (Robert Leslie), who gapped the pocket off the far turn. Pounce K held clear of Winding Hill by 1-1/2 lengths in the end, completing the mile in 1:53.4 over fast going. Odds-on favorite War Hero (Howard Okusko, Jr.) stalked Winding Hill's cover en route to a third-place finish.   David Dewhurst trains Pounce K. For driver Lems, the featured win was one of three on the nine-race program, with the other two aboard Reve Royale ($3.80, 1:55.1) and Winbak Meadow ($5.30, 1:57).   Another nine-race card is on tap at the Miracle Mile on Saturday (June 4). Post time is set for 6:45 p.m. Eastern.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

Vernon, N.Y. -- A powerful :26.3 closing quarter from Little Santamonica ($3.60) enabled her to amass a five-length margin of victory in Thursday (June 2) evening's featured $7,500 Miracle Mile Pace for Harness Racing distaffers at Vernon Downs.   The 8-year-old Little Steven mare sprinted clear from her assigned outside post before yielding to Wanna Rock N Roll (Truman Gale) at the completion of a :26.2 first quarter. Little Santamonica would enjoy a cozy and clear pocket trip through a rated :57.2 middle half before Chris Lems angled her out at head-stretch. At first asking, Little Santamonica sprinted off, making quick work of Wanna Rock N Roll and evading eventual runner-up Yes You Can (John MacDonald) by five lengths in a 1:50.3 mile. The Filly Princess (Andy Gardner) made similarly mild late gains to take third, while pacesetter Wanna Rock N Roll faded to finish last but one.   Jordan Hope owns and trains Little Santamonica. For Lems, the featured win was one of three on the night. Jimmy Whittemore also registered a hat trick on the nine-race card, with a pillar-to-post 1:53.1 effort from Gimme the Cash in the sub-featured $5,500 Mares Miracle Mile Trot one of his three wins.   The 50¢ Pick 5 was hit for $100.12.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Friday (June 3) evening, with the first of nine races slated for 6:45 p.m. EDT.   James Witherite, Vernon Downs  

Vernon, N.Y. -- Commencing his move upon exiting the far turn, M & L of Delaware and Victoria Dickinson's Dude's the Man ($4.30) worked to the fore in mid-stretch to capture the Memorial Day (May 30) feature at Vernon Downs, a $10,000 Open/Preferred Pace.   A stakes contender at three, the 4-year-old American Ideal entire kept well off the early pace, better than only the well-detached Damon Blue Chip through splits of :26.1 and :54.2 dictated by JK Panache (Truman Gale). As JK Panache left pocket rival Rock On Me (Dan Daley) behind on the far turn, Chris Lems angled Dude's the Man off the pegs, gearing up off the far turn into a :27 third quarter.   Dude's the Man ultimately collared JK Panache in mid-stretch, holding off a late bid from 21-1 outsider Memory Game (Jimmy Whittemore) to prevail in 1:49.4 by three-quarters of a length. JK Panache faded to third upon giving way.   Jessica Okusko trains Dude's the Man, now a six-time winner.   Lems led all drivers with four wins on the 12-race card.   The 50¢ Pick 5 sequence stymied the Monday punters, chiefly on account of Western Toro's 16-1 upset in the eighth race. The carryover to Thursday (June 2) evening's Pick 5 is $552.54. Post time for the first of nine races on Thursday at the Miracle Mile is set for 6:45 Eastern.   by James Witherite,for Vernon Downs    

Regina Dewhurst's Pounce K ($16.60) made sustained progress from race's midpoint en route to a two-length harness racing victory in Friday (May 20) evening's featured $7,500 top-level Miracle Mile Trot at Vernon Downs.   Chris Lems was in no hurry with the 6-year-old Donato Hanover gelding, sitting last but one in the initial stages while Winding Hill (Jimmy Whittemore) engaged Ulster (Brian Russo) in a speed duel through fractions of :28 and :56.1. As the battle intensified on the backstretch, Pounce K began his extended uncovered bid, working into second on the far turn as Winding Hill claimed an outright lead. Pounce K ultimately reeled in Winding Hill at the eighth pole, stretching out his lead and holding two lengths clear of a resurgent Ulster for a 1:55 win. Walk the Floor (Angus MacDonald) rallied from last to take third.   Dave Dewhurst trains Pounce K, now a 20-time winner.   John MacDonald led all drivers with a treble on the 11-race card.   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs with a 12-race card on Saturday (May 21) evening, featuring a pair of New York Sire Stakes races for 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings. First post is slated for 6:45 p.m. EDT.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

A Penny Earned ($3.00) lived up to odds-on billing in the harness racing featured trotting event Vernon Downs on Friday (May 13) night, posting a 1:54.2 mile to claim the winner's share of a $7,500 purse.   Chris Lems sent the 7-year-old Conway Hall gelding to the front from the outset, working clear of My Lucky Word (John MacDonald) through a :27.3 first quarter mile. After rating a :29.2 breather in the second quarter and dismissing of My Lucky Word, A Penny Earned was forced to accelerate by the first-over Winding Hill (Jimmy Whittemore), who pressed to within three-quarters of a length on approach to the far turn. A Penny Earned responded immediately to the challenge, ultimately edging clear to a two-length triumph, the 28th of his career. Winding Hill sustained his pursuit in second, while My Lucky Word was nine lengths detached in third.   Trainer George Ducharme co-owns A Penny Earned with Alfred Ross, Paul Fontaine, and Nicola Oliva.   John MacDonald led all drivers with three wins on the nine-race card, while Lems recorded a double.   The 50¢ Pick 5 once again went uncovered, resulting in a carryover of $1,101 to Saturday (May 14) evening's program. First post is slated for 6:45 p.m. EDT.   by James Witherite, Vernon Downs

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