The colt Doctor Butch equalled his 1:52 win record with a front-striding performance in Saturday’s sixth race, the opening division of a $120,064 regular New York Sire Stakes, while Just Bettor established the season’s swiftest mile by an altered freshman with his bold-going 1:53.2 effort in the 11th event, fourth and final division of the NYSS's Excelsior Series contest.
Jim Morrill Jr. did the teaming for noted trainer Linda Toscano in the first of two standard NYSS segments as the favourite Doctor Butch ($3.80) continued his strong season’s showing with a three and a quarter length triumph over the John Campbell-driven second wagering choice Hail The Taxi. The win marked the seventh of the season, coupled with three second-place finishes, for the bay son of Art Major-Classical Yankee, who has returned more than $210,000 in 10 starts to owner Ken Jacobs.
Just Bettor ($12.60) had former Downs driving champion Brian Sears aboard as he rushed into the lead from third at the half and continued on to a career-best clocking, while improving his season’s summary to 2-1-3 after eight outings for the Angelo Frassetto, Kenneth Klein, Old Block Stable and Team S Racing Stable. The Bettors Delight-Just Great offspring’s strong showing provided Vernon’s leading trainer Tracy Brainard with a double and her 58th local victory of 2012.
Just Bettor's time was just two-fifths of a second off the all-time Vernon standard for frosh pacing geldings that was set by Memory King in 2011. Doctor Butch’s clocking missed the freshman colt mark by one second. That mark was set by Schoolkids in 2008.
Saturday’s $60,032 10th race, the second standard NYSS test, was won by Framed Art in a career-fastest 1:52.3 mile. Hall-of-Fame driver Campbell did the teaming as the bay son of Artiscape-Lo Gophobia rallied from fifth at the half and closed from second in the stretch to secure a head victory over the mile-cutting Bet The Moon. The hard-charging effort improved the colt’s performance line to 3-1-2 after eight appearances for owners Andrew Stafford, the trainer, and Arthur C. Stafford.
Saturday’s other Excelsior Series winners were Bettorsluckystreak (Bettors Delight-Cheeky Hanover) in 1:56.2 with Morrill Jr. driving for trainer Gary Messenger and his ownership partners Kenneth Weckstein and Richard Rubin; Art Bettor Now (Bettors Delight-Patsys Art) in 1:55.1 with Jeff Gregory teaming for trainer Margaret Spagnola and owner Michael Polansky; and Clustercuss (Riverboat King-Happy Doris) in 1:55.4 with Sears steering for trainer Mark Ford and owner Robert O. Di Nozzi.
Saturday’s $11,000 Open Pace was won by newcomer Transcending, who raced around Vernon’s seven-eighths mile oval in a very impressive 1:50.1 mile showing. Sears did the piloting for trainer Ron Burke as the eight-year-old son of Grinfromeartoear-Apopka Dream secured his seventh season’s score and 31st lifetime triumph for the Lawrence Karr, Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi and JJK Stables ownership contingent. The sizzling score raised the quick-footed horse’s lifetime winnings to $722,460.
Morrill Jr. and Sears each collected four sulky scores during the 13-race program, while driver Chris Lems captured the first and last races on the card to earn his 11th double of the 70th-program meeting. Morrill Jr.’s first-place finishes were in races three thorugh six .
(With files from Vernon Downs)