A Penny Earned certainly earned a hard-fought victory in the $10,000 Open Trot feature on a cold and rainy Friday night at Vernon Downs.
A Penny Earned sat the pocket trip for the majority of the mile right behind the betting favorite, Tirade Hanover. Tirade Hanover assumed the lead following an opening quarter-mile of 27 seconds. He then showed the way through a half-mile of 58.2 and three-quarters in 1:26.4 over the sloppy track. However, upon arriving at the top of the stretch, Tirade Hanover drifted away from the inside and A Penny Earned shot through the opening and surged to win in 1:56 flat. Chris Lems handled the drive expertly, patiently waiting for just such a seam. War Hero finished third after an unfortunate trip. War Hero had been third through the early stages and was shuffled back at the inside on the final turn as far back as fifth. He re-rallied through the lane and got up for third to complete the $65.62 trifecta for the 50-cent minimum.
The complete order of finish for the feature was A Penny Earned, Tirade Hanover, War Hero, Evil Urges, House Money, Michelangelo, Pine Credit, and My Revenuer.
The winner, A Penny Earned, is owned by Alfred Ross, George Ducharme, Nicola Oliva of Massachusetts, and Paul Fontaine of Rhode Island. George Ducharme doubles as the trainer of A Penny Earned.
The co-feature, an $8,000 Open Trot for Fillies & Mares, followed a similar pattern late as Ilovemymommy came through an inside opening in the stretch and assumed command in the final eighth of a mile. She then held off strong charges from runner-up MC Tiny's Hope and third-place finisher Painite. Ilovemymommy trotted the mile in 1:57 flat. Chris Lems was the winning driver in both of the featured events. Ilovemymommy is owned by Karen Smith of New York and trained by Andy Gardner.
Live racing resumes at Vernon Downs on Saturday with a first post time of 6:45pm for the 12-race program.
Meanwhile, at Tioga Downs, newcomer Little Santamonica's ($3.50) 1:52 victory in the featured $14,000 Miracle Mile 1 distaff pace was the highlight of a driving hat trick for Aaron Byron, who propelled himself to the top of the Tioga Downs leaderboard with a three-win night on Friday (May 16).
With Southwind Trini (Jim Marohn, Jr.) calling the early shots, Byron brushed to the fore with Little Santamonica through a sensible :28.2 first quarter. The six-year-old Little Steven mare never looked back from there, accelerating clear on the far turn and being driven to hold a 2-1/4 length margin over Southwind Trini at the winning post. Sinspirational (Mike Simons) stayed on in traffic to finish an even third.
Byron also scored driving wins with Paystobea Meangirl (1:58.3) and Crazyboutdadrummer (1:56.0) on the evening's 10-race card. Racing resumes at Tioga on Saturday, May 17, with the first of 11 races scheduled for 6:15 p.m. EDT. (Vernon Downs &Tioga Downs press releases)