by Michael Chamberlain, Vernon Downs Publicity
War Hero (Ken Warkentin-Miss Gibbons) emerged victorious from a three-horse stretch battle to score a victory in the feature $9,000 Open I trot on Friday night at Vernon Downs. The complexion of the race changed immediately as A Penny Earned (Chris Lems) broke stride as the gate opened. He ended up trailing throughout. Surface Tension (Dan Daley) inherited the early lead and was quite tenacious in front, turning away an early challenge from Pop I (John Macdonald) and then holding Evil Urges (Jimmy Whittemore) at bay until the field made the stretch.
War Hero (Frank Davis) followed the useful cover from Evil Urges and moved up while trotting three-wide in the lane, passing Evil Urges in deep stretch to get up and win in 1:54.2. It was a minor upset as War Hero went off at 5-1 in the field of six, paying $12 to win. The fractions were 28 seconds for the quarter, 57.1 for the half, and 1:25.4 for three-quarters. The complete order of finish was: War Hero, Evil Urges, Surface Tension, Pop I, My Revenuer, and A Penny Earned.
War Hero is owned by Howard Gill of Pine Bush, New York and trained by Jessica Okusko.
Live racing resumes at Vernon Downs on Saturday night with a 9-race program. The Racing Under Saddle series will also continue on Saturday, as six horses will go to the gate in the second leg. The featured pari-mutuel race will be the seventh race with a purse of $6,500. The morning line choice is Axiom Hanover, who will be driven by Chris Lems. Post time on Saturday night is 6:45pm.