Barn Doll, Katniss take Empire elims at Vernon
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The 3-year-old trotting fillies Barn Doll ($4.30) and Katniss ($8.50) employed similar tactics toward victory in their $12,500 Empire Breeders Classic eliminations on Sunday (June 14) afternoon, taking charge at the halfway stage and holding clear late in decisive fashion.
In the first elimination (race 6), Jeff Gregory rated Barn Doll well off a :26.2 first quarter, moving the Conway Hall filly out from fourth on the backstretch to slipstream Jewels in Hock (John Campbell) on the backstretch before working clear after a :55.4 half. Barn Doll opened up at head-stretch, ultimately edging clear to a 2-1/2 length score in 1:52.1 over Jewels in Hock. Lock Down Lindy (Tim Tetrick) rallied off stalled cover to take third, while Allerage Belle (Andy Miller) faded to fourth.
Trainer Steven Pratt co-owns Barn Doll with Nancy Pratt and the Purple Haze Stables LLC.
The second elimination saw Katniss secure the pocket behind Zanna Blu (Tetrick) through a :27 first quarter before Daniel Dubé brushed the Credit Winner filly to the lead en route to a :56.1 half mile. As Zanna Blu faded off the far turn, Katniss accelerated clear, holding a two-length margin over a late-chasing Lady Winona (Andy Miller) for a 1:53 triumph. Stirling Debutant (Gregory) rallied late to be third, while Zanna Blu was a tired fourth.
Åke Svanstedt trains Katniss for owner Mario Mazza.
Of the two fifth-place finishers, Counsellor As drew into next Sunday's (June 21) $248,275 final along with the top four finishers from each elimination. The trotting fillies will share the spotlight with the 11 colts and geldings who entered and advanced automatically to their $255,325 final without requiring eliminations.
Earlier in the afternoon, JK Panache ($8.40) made all the pace in the $10,000 Open Pace, holding clear of a late rally from Hunchie (Tetrick) for a 1:49.2 win. Chris Lems drove the 6-year-old Art Major gelding for owners Philip Hale and David Dewhurst (the latter handles the training duties). Odds-on favorite Golden Receiver was left far back of the main body of the field after breaking stride at race's outset.
Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Friday (June 19) evening, with first post at the Miracle Mile scheduled for 6:45 p.m. Eastern time. (Vernon)