Day At The Track
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For a young man in his early teen years who never had any intentions of getting involved in Harness Racing, Justin Huckabone has made great strides a relatively short amount of time. It seemed like only yesterday that the 21 year old won his first Pari - Mutual drive at Vernon Downs with Powerful Love for trainer Scott West. Justin a 3rd generation horseman, the son of Claude Hukabone Jr. and brother of Claude Huckabone II. He is a young man of fierce determination and the shortest distance to his goal is a straight line. Recently during a short hiatus over the past summer, Justin became more determine and focused than ever, making a pledge to himself “That is what I want to do with my life and I am going to do everything that is takes to achieve that goal” said the confidant young Huckabone. After seeing what he has accomplished at Monticello Raceway during the winter meet, he is a man on a mission.  He is so driven that he even asked advice and picked the brain of Hall of Famer John Campbell. Although he learned a lot from his mentor and father, ironically enough when first learning the ropes, his father didn’t put him down on many of his horse’s to drive.  Huckabone noted that “as a green 18 year old, there were not a lot of drives available to me and it was tough” In November of 2015, Justin made the move to Monticello to stake his claim and start paying his dues. I have to give a lot of credit to Vernon James and Misty Carey, who helped me get started at Monticello Raceway, along with Jennifer Lappe", said Huckabone. Currently Justin is ranked 6th for most wins at Monticello with 38, his UDRS is a respectable .206. His aggressive take no prisoners driving style is similar to that of his childhood idols of Walter Case, Jim Morrill Jr. and Ron Pierce. Leading Monticello Raceway driver Bruce Aldrich, offered the following when asked about Justin “He is willing to listen to trainers and is not a know it all, he has a good attitude, and comes from a good family with roots in the business” Fellow driver James DeVaux also has high words of praise for the young Huckabone “he is safe on the racetrack, he has a lot of talent, he could go places with his talents, plus he is a decent trainer as well”   Monticello Raceway Racing Secretary Eric Warner, said” The young man is a real talent, usually this is a hard place to get established as a driver, but he has done just fine.” Aside from being an up and coming talent to the sport, Huckabone is also involved in promoting the sport, “I want this sport to stick around for young guys like me” said Huckabone during a recent chat in the backstretch. Justin sees the big picture, very clearly,  “We need to highlight our star drivers and horses and introduce the sport to the younger generation via social media”, said the enthusiastic Huckabone. Justin represents a cut from the new cloth, from the social media generation, he wants to perpetuate the sport and keep it alive during the span of his livelihood in the game.  Justin has all the attributes to succeed in this sport, with a tireless work ethic, a burning desire reach the winners circle in every race. As the racing season starts to gear up, Huckabone sees himself doing triple duty, driving at Monticello Raceway Monday through Thursday, Vernon Downs on Thursday and Tioga Downs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Shawn Wiles

Benefitting from wicked early fractions and a cozy second-over trip, Southwind Trini ($6.00) made good as the slim 2-1 favorite in Friday (July 10) evening's $10,000 Mares Open Pace at the harness racing meeting at  Vernon Downs.   Away fourth in the field of five, the 7-year-old Rocknroll Hanover mare was in no hurry to press Southwind Serenity (Truman Gale) through a torrid :53.3 initial half mile.   On the far turn, Greg Merton angled Southwind Trini to follow cover provided by The Filly Princess (Frank Davis), towed right up into second as Southwind Serenity was gathered in by the steadily-advancing The Filly Princess well past a 1:21.3 three-quarter sectional.   Southwind Trini sustained her bid off cover, putting 1-1/4 lengths on The Filly Princess in the end for a 1:50.2 triumph.   Love You Bye (Jimmy Whittemore) recovered well to take third after she was shuffled to last on the far turn.   Rob Harmon trains Southwind Trini for Karma Racing, Inc.   Claude Huckabone, III led all drivers with three wins on the evening.   Live racing returns at Vernon on Saturday (July 11) evening, with first post at 6:45 p.m. Eastern time.   Fans are invited to arrive early to receive their replica Chris Lems driving colors shirts (while supplies last), and to meet the defending Miracle Mile driving champion.   James Witherite

By All Means continued her winning ways with a 1:54.1 victory in Thursday night's $6,000 featured sixth race at Vernon Downs. Facing five like-minded harness racing foes in the week's top test for female pacers, By All Means ($5.70) got away in fourth place as Things Left Unsaid took the cast to the quarter in :27, and the half in :56.4.

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