by Michael Chamberlain, Vernon Downs Publicity
Firethorn (John MacDonald) was a gate-to-wire winner in the $8,000 feature race on Saturday night at Vernon Downs. The 8-year-old gelding went directly to the lead at the start and carved out solid fractions of 27.4 for the quarter, 57 seconds for the half, and 1:23.3 for three-quarters. Firethorn received a momentary challenge from Stonebridge Master (Chris Lems), but he stalled entering the far turn and eventually faded to finish last. Firethorn then built up a healthy four-length lead at the top of the stretch and appeared to be home free. However, Moonlight Ransom (Jimmy Whittemore) was angled out in the lane and charged up to eliminate most of Firethorn's lead, finishing second by just a length. The final time for the mile was 1:51.3. Firethorn is owned by JP Stables of Winchester, Ontario, Canada and trained by the driver, John MacDonald. The complete order of finish for the fifth race was Firethorn, Moonlight Ransom, Oozie's Bad Boy, I Do Hanover, Whitemountainpower, and Stonebridge Master. Some Or Lis was a scratch (Sick).
There is a special Sunday evening program of racing at Vernon Downs featuring the Finals of the Empire Breeders' Classic for 3-year-old trotting colts and fillies. The Final for the colts has a purse of $215,125 and the fillies Final has a purse of $217,725. In addition, there will be three New York Sire Stakes for 3-year-old pacing colts. Many of the finest drivers in harness racing will make their way to Vernon Downs for the Sunday card, including Tim Tetrick, Yannick Gingras, and Ron Pierce. It promises to be an exciting evening of racing action. The 11-race program will begin at 6:45pm.