With Restless Yankee and MacKenzie's Bliss tussling early, Kelly Hope's Stonebridge Master ($5.10) had a fast pace to close into, looping the field in the final quarter mile for a 1:51.2 triumph in the featured $8,000 Miracle Mile 2 Pace at Vernon Downs on Saturday (April 12) evening.
The eight-year-old Artsplace gelding was in no hurry early on, sitting well off a pressured :26.4 first quarter, and even having a 12-length deficit at race's midpoint, where JK Panache (Truman Gale) pushed past Restless Yankee (Chris Lems) to force a :55.2 half mile. Midway around the far turn, Aaron Byron angled Stonebridge Master off the pegs, and the Jordan Hope trainee's response was instant. Moving three-wide at the top of the stretch, Stonebridge Master gobbled up ground at will, taking over the lead in upper stretch, drawing clear to win by 3-1/4 lengths, and posting a solid :26.3 last quarter en route. Unicorn Hanover (Shawn McDonough) closed from far back to take second, while Moonlight Ransom (Jimmy Whittemore) rallied from last to finish third.
Racing resumes at Vernon Downs on Friday, April 18, with first post slated for 6:45 p.m. EDT.