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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Paquet scores Vernon grand slam; Dragon Fever upsets in feature

by James Witherite, Vernon Downs racing media

Fresh off his three-win Friday performance at Vernon Downs, Fern Paquet, Jr. scored a driving grand slam on Saturday (October 11) evening's 12-race card.

The 46-year-old reinsman kicked off the card with an upset victory, sustaining a first-over bid with Caiden's Colt ($24.80) for a 1:54.4 triumph in the $4,000 claiming opener.  While he then would win the third with 6-5 favorite Lilys Real Boy in 1:54.4 from off cover, his subsequent wins came with minor upsets in mid-level conditioned events.

The sixth race saw Paquet team up with Yankees in Six ($25.60), rallying from last to circle the field in 1:53.2, while he and Barbarian ($14.00) narrowly held off the pocket-sitting Fashion Shark to take the seventh in 1:51.3.  Consequently, Paquet's last two victories on the card also gave Edgar "Sparky" Clarke a training double for the evening.

While Paquet was the top driver for the evening, John MacDonald took home the entire winner's share of the featured $6,500 upper-level conditioned pace (race eight), prevailing with Dragon Fever ($22.00) in 1:51.4.  MacDonald owns, trains, and drives the four-year-old Dragon Again gelding, who kicked to the lead from the pocket in mid-stretch, staving off a late charge from 37-1 outsider UF Bettors Hanover (Justin Huckabone).  Odds-on favorite Superbowl Party (Chris Lems) pushed a taxing pace while first-over, but faded badly while exiting the far turn.

MacDonald notched two other driving wins on the program, winning with his own trainee Flyhawk Jester ($3.30) in dominant fashion, beating first-level conditioned trotters by 13-3/4 lengths in 1:57, and also piloting Eric Felter trainee Stony Brook ($13.20) to a 1:53.1 win in a third-level conditioned pace.

Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Thursday, October 16, with first post scheduled for 6:45 p.m. EDT.