Taking advantage of a second-over trip, Big City Jewel ($3.80) kicked cover at head-stretch and held off a stout late charge from 18-1 longshot Some Or Lis to capture Sunday (Aug. 16) afternoon's featured $8,000 Open II Pace at Vernon Downs.
John MacDonald settled at the back of the pack early on with the 4-year-old Artiscape gelding, having no part of the pace while A Fool For Mark (Dustin Ingraham) controlled a :55.4 first half mile.
On the far turn, A Fool For Mark faced pressure from the first-over Its a Good Thing (Chris Lems), and Big City Jewel slid second-over to slipstream dueling leaders off the far turn.
After a :27.4 third sectional, MacDonald fanned Big City Jewel off cover, and the two vaulted to the lead in upper stretch--but they weren't out of the woods yet.
A threat remained from Some Or Lis (Andy Gardner), who hooked to the grandstand side after a mild shuffle on the far turn. Big City Jewel ultimately prevailed in 1:51.3, a length better than his late-closing rival, while Its a Good Thing held third after he was overtaken from off cover.
Homer Hochstetler trains Big City Jewel for owner Kristofer Heim. Truman Gale, William Hernandez, and Chris Lems all recorded driving doubles on the 11-race program.
Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Friday (Aug. 21) evening, with the Artiscape distaff pace, Muscle Hill distaff trot, and Crawford Farms open trot serving as co-headlines to the blockbuster program. Post time is 6:45 p.m. Eastern time.