A field of six lined up for the $9,500 featured one-mile pace on Monday afternoon at Vernon Downs, but in the end, it was the story of just one horse, JK Panache.
The 5-year-old gelding powered to the front right away and never really had a challenge in a gate-to-wire victory in a time of 1:49.2. That time is just two-fifths of a second off the track record for aged geldings, held by Pontiac Luck and set in 2013.
JK Panache was speedy right from the outset, setting come-and-get-me fractions of :26 for the quarter, :53.2 for the half, and 1:20.4 for three-quarters. Firethorn settled in second after the start, but never made any headway on the leader throughout the race. However, he remained second all the way around the racetrack and backed up the exacta, which paid $24.60.
JK Panache was driven to victory by Chris Lems. He is trained by part-owner David Dewhurst of Clinton, N.Y. The co-owner is Philip Hale of New Hartford, N.Y. JK Panache has been on a roll at Vernon Downs of late, with two wins and a second in his last three starts.
Truman Gale was the driving star on the Monday program at Vernon Downs, winning three races. He claimed both ends of the early Daily Double with Gentlemen Heir winning the opener and R Blue Moon Rising holding on through the stretch to win the second. The Truman Gale Daily Double ended up paying $26. Gale also scored a win in the fifth race, getting Lily's Hi Ho up in time for a victory despite being bottled up in traffic until the late stages of the race.
At Tioga Downs on Monday, the Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi's Eastend Eddie ($9.10) made his return a winning one, pulling clear after making a three-wide push off the final turn en route to a 1:52.2 victory in the $14,000 Open I Pace.
The 6-year-old Million Dollar Cam gelding floated into midfield, stalking a pressured pace disputed by Prairie Jaguar, Fireyourguns, and Electrofire. With Prairie Jaguar (Jim Marohn Jr.) pushing clear to a :27 first quarter and Electrofire (John Cummings Jr.) moving first-over to maintain a pressured pace after a :55.2 half mile, Dan Rawlings moved Eastend Eddie second-over to track live cover to the far turn, subsequently swinging three wide on the far turn. Eastend Eddie responded instantly to Rawlings's move, pushing to the lead in the final 150 yards and drawing clear for a handy victory.
Fireyourguns (Aaron Byron) split rivals late after being boxed in to save second, while Electrofire was an out-kicked third. (Vernon Downs/Tioga Downs)