by James Witherite, Vernon Downs racing media
Charlene Long's Oh No Three O ($4.30) withstood a strong challenge from A Penny Earned, extending his winning streak to three with a 1:54.1 triumph in Friday (October 10) evening's $10,000 Open Handicap Trot at Vernon Downs.
Assigned the outside post in a field of seven, Howard Okusko, Jr. sent the seven-year-old Ken Warkentin gelding right to the front, pushing clear of Helios (Claude Huckabone, III) and Aruba Vacation (Aaron Byron) to establish an uncontested lead through a rated :56.4 half mile. On the approach to the far turn, Oh No Three O saw his lead slip to a half-length, as A Penny Earned (Chris Lems) commenced a stout first-over challenge. The two were heads apart past three-quarters in 1:24.3, but Oh No Three O would not be denied a third straight win, edging clear to a 1-1/2 length win. Helios chased at the pegs to hold second off his pocket trip, while A Penny Earned flattened to third.
Paul Long trains Oh No Three O, and the featured win was one of three driving scores for Okusko. Fern Paquet, Jr. also tallied a driving hat trick on the evening's 11-race card.
Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Saturday (October 11) evening, with first post scheduled for 6:45 p.m. EDT.