The pacer Northern Companion and driver Truman Gale were each prominent performers during Saturday night's 60th Anniversary celebration program at Vernon Downs.
Northern Companion charged home from third in a :27.3 final quarter to defeat track record-holder JK Panache in Saturday's $10,000 featured Open pace, while Gale, a former provisional driving champion at the track, captured four of the evening's 13 races.
Competing over a rain-soaked "sloppy” track in Saturday's 10th contest, Northern Companion laid back in fourth while JK Panache carved fractions of :26.3, :55.1 and 1:23.3. With trainer Robert Hoffman doing the steering, the 5-year-old son of Cambest-Smoke It Out began his closing kick near the three-quarter mark before drawing off in the final stages of the mile to win by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:51.2. It marked the third local score, the eighth season's tally and the 28th lifetime win for the career-earner of $147,452, who is owned by Dorothy Zarza.
Gale started the program with wins in the Early Double behind Tobell and Hot Cowboy. He added victories with Ringo Hanover in race four and No More Drama in race 11 to join Rick Plano, Roman Lopez and Jimmy Whittemore as the only drivers to have posted four or more wins during a single Vernon card through 30 programs.
Lopez logged three wins during the evening, while Hoffman hustled up a pair of first-place finishes, as did trainer Jocelyn Lavigne.
Trainer Lopez guided the Tanah Merah Farm's Glorious Winner to a 1:55.2 triumph in Saturday's $8,000 Open-2 trot.
DOWNS DOINGS—A 1:59.1 performance by Philip K. Hale's trotter Fedigan's Glory in race three was the promising colt's initial lifetime victory. Lopez did the teaming for trainer Dave Dewhurst…Track official celebrated Vernon's 60th Anniversary season with a commemorative T-shirt promotion, an expense-paid trip giveaway to the prestigious Hambletonian Stake, and a $500 betting voucher prize in the Great Moments in Vernon Downs History promotion…Vernon will offer live racing Thursday-Saturday next week, with Thursday's July 4 card starting at 1:15 p.m…A revised 2013 racing and stakes calendar, as well as additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at www.vernondowns.com. (Vernon)