American JJ, Crocketts Cullen win in NY
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American JJ (Michael D. Miller) won the $6,000 featured trot at Vernon Downs on Saturday (August 31).
Sweet Royalty (Claude Huckabone III) went to the lead hitting the first quarter in :27.2. American JJ ($14.20) followed behind in the pocket and watched as Sweet Royalty hit the half in :57.1 and three-quarters in 1:26.1.
American JJ, who is owned by Lewis and Terry Miller while trained by Michael D. Miller, popped out of the pocket as they made the turn for home. Sweet Royalty held tough in the stretch but American JJ kept coming at him. American JJ cleared in deep stretch and held off the late charge by second place finisher The Fixer (Howard Parker) to win in a lifetime best 1:55.2. Sweet Royalty had to settle for third.
American JJ is a 6-year-old gelding by Jailhouse Jesse. It was his fifth win of the season. He now owns 16 career victories.
Driver Jimmy Whittemore and leading trainer Marissa Chadbourne combined for three winners on the night. They went to the winner's circle with Blameitonthenight ($4.40), Gracie G ($10.60), and Winding Hill ($5.80).
Jay Jonza of Wahington Mills, NY won the 2019 Toyota Corolla in the Horseplay Car Giveaway contest. Patrons purchased rubber horses starting on opening day with all the money going to different local charities each month. If their horse was picked out of the horses that laned in the car they received an entry to win the car plus a wagering voucher. Tonigh they picked out every entry until their was only one left. Jonza was all smiles when his name was picked. He is a regular at Vernon Downs and everyone said it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.
Crockets Cullen N (Christian Cullen) took advantage of sizzling fractions in the Saturday feature at Saratoga Casino Hotel to secure his first Open Pace victory of the season. Larry Stalbaum owns and drives the Tracy Tarantino-trained eight year old who is once again enjoying a strong season in 2019.
Crockets Cullen N is no stranger to the Spa and in fact, he won the local Open on two different occasions last year. On Saturday night, regular Open winner Hudson Phil was once again the betting public’s odds-on favorite but that one’s early speed wound up taking its toll.
An eight-time local Open winner in ’19, Hudson Phil powered out to the front end in a first quarter of an eye-popping 26.1 before reaching the half in 54.1. Crockets Cullen N was the first challenger for the favored leader and had little difficultly overpowering him approaching three quarters. Stalbaum went pedal to the metal around the final turn and though fellow closers Military Master A (Mark Beckwith) and Jersey Jim closed in a bit, it was Crockets Cullen N who reigned supreme in the $15,000 feature.
The final time of 1:51.1 was just shy of the lifetime mark of 1:51 for Crockets Cullen N, who gave Stalbaum one of his two winners on the night. The New Zealand invader paid $9.50 to win and led an exacta with Military Master A second that returned $119.50 while the triple, which was completed by Jersey Jim, came back $534.
Stalbaum and Tarantino teamed up for three winners on the card as their Lord Willoughby A and Itsonlyrocknroll A secured front-running victories on Saturday night. (Vernon & Saratoga)