Vernon, N.Y. -- Connie Hochstetler's Southern Girl ($12.80) is back in form, having earned her third win in four starts in Friday (June 17) evening's $7,500 top-level Miracle Mile distaff pace at Vernon Downs.
John MacDonald sent the 4-year-old Sportsmaster mare directly to the front, sprinting clear of Looney Dune (Ben McNeil) before rating a :56.1 first half. On approach to the far turn, Southern Girl accelerated, forcing the first-over Love Live Laugh (Jimmy Whittemore) and the pocket-sitting Looney Dune to chase a :27.1 third quarter. They nearly collared Southern Girl in the end, but the pacesetter dug in to narrowly hold sway in 1:52.1, staving off a resurgent Looney Dune by a neck in the end. Love Live Laugh stayed on for third as the 6-5 favorite.
Homer Hochstetler trains Southern Girl, who earned her eighth career win.
For MacDonald, the featured win was one of three on the night. Jimmy Whittemore also notched a driving hat trick on the 11-race card.
Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Saturday (June 18) evening, with first post at 6:45 p.m. Eastern.