by James Witherite, Vernon Downs racing media
While he employed different tactics from last week, the result was the same for owner-trainer-driver John MacDonald's Dragon Fever ($11.80), who held narrowly for a 1:54 win in Saturday (October 18) evening's featured $6,500 top-level conditioned pace at Vernon Downs.
MacDonald sent the four-year-old Dragon Again gelding straight to the lead, working clear of Celebrity Scandal (Fern Paquet, Jr.) through a :26.3 quarter over sloppy going. After rating a :29.3 second-quarter breather, Dragon Fever found himself nudged along by UF Bettors Hanover (Justin Huckabone) on the far turn. Still maintaining control of the terms through three-quarters in 1:24.4, Dragon Fever repelled the challenge of UF Bettors Hanover, drawing off by two in mid-stretch--but bracing for Celebrity Scandal's late kick. Dragon Fever prevailed by a scant neck, just holding off Celebrity Scandal. The favored Moonlight Ransom (Truman Gale) was forced wide off stalling cover, rallying to take third.
Roman Lopez led all drivers with three wins on the 13-race card.
Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Thursday (October 23) evening, with first post scheduled for 6:45 p.m. EDT.