by Michael Chamberlain, Vernon Downs Publicity
A Penny Earned certainly earned a hard-fought victory in the $10,000 Open Trot feature on a cold and rainy Friday night at Vernon Downs. A Penny Earned sat the pocket trip for the majority of the mile right behind the betting favorite, Tirade Hanover. Tirade Hanover assumed the lead following an opening quarter-mile of 27 seconds. He then showed the way through a half-mile of 58.2 and three-quarters in 1:26.4 over the sloppy track. However, upon arriving at the top of the stretch, Tirade Hanover drifted away from the inside and A Penny Earned shot through the opening and surged to win in 1:56 flat. Chris Lems handled the drive expertly, patiently waiting for just such a seam. War Hero finished third after an unfortunate trip. War Hero had been third through the early stages and was shuffled back at the inside on the final turn as far back as fifth. He re-rallied through the lane and got up for third to complete the $65.62 trifecta for the 50-cent minimum. The complete order of finish for the feature was A Penny Earned, Tirade Hanover, War Hero, Evil Urges, House Money, Michelangelo, Pine Credit, and My Revenuer. The winner, A Penny Earned, is owned by Alfred Ross, George Ducharme, Nicola Oliva of Massachusetts, and Paul Fontaine of Rhode Island. George Ducharme doubles as the trainer of A Penny Earned.
The co-feature, an $8,000 Open Trot for Fillies & Mares, followed a similar pattern late as Ilovemymommy came through an inside opening in the stretch and assumed command in the final eighth of a mile. She then held off strong charges from runner-up MC Tiny's Hope and third-place finisher Painite. Ilovemymommy trotted the mile in 1:57 flat. Chris Lems was the winning driver in both of the featured events. Ilovemymommy is owned by Karen Smith of New York and trained by Andy Gardner.
Live racing resumes at Vernon Downs on Saturday with a first post time of 6:45pm for the 12-race program.