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MacDonald, Dewhurst Take Vernon Titles

Published: November 21, 2015 10:25 pm ET

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The 2015 season at Vernon Downs came to a close on Saturday (November 21) evening, with a nine-race card bringing the curtain down on the 90-program meeting.

"We thank all of the horsemen who raced at Vernon Downs this year for another successful meet," said Jason M. Settlemoir, Vice President of Racing at Vernon Downs. "As always, we also thank our loyal customers, and we look forward to seeing everyone back in the spring for the 2016 racing season at the Miracle Mile."

John MacDonald took top driving honours for the meet, winning 151 races, 14 more than runner-up Chris Lems. MacDonald teamed up with Vernon Downs training champion Dave Dewhurst in the evening's $4,800 first event, prevailing with odds-on favourite Fox Valley Cadet ($2.60) in pillar-to-post fashion in 1:55.1.

Dewhurst successfully defended his 2014 training championship, concluding the 2015 season with 69 winners, 16 more than Truman Gale. Among Dewhurst's triumphs were a pair on Closing Night, as he also found success with Pantheon Hanover ($6.30) in a $5,400 pacing event.

Co-featured $9,000 races on both gaits shared the spotlight, with Shock N Rock ($12.00) kicking cover to defeat a quartet of pacers in 1:51. Justin Huckabone drove the five-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding for owner/trainer Scott West. Among an octet of trotters contesting their feature, War Hero ($3.90) took advantage of a pocket trip behind Write That Down, vacating the pegs in mid-stretch and lunging to a narrow 1:54.2 win under Howard Okusko Jr. Jessica Okusko trains the seven-year-old Ken Warkentin gelding for Howard Gill.

A pair of events for nine-year-olds and upward closed the season, with trotter Yankee Manny ($3.20, Lems, 1:59) and pacer Veal Marsala ($12.60, Jimmy Whittemore, 1:54.4) capturing the "War Horse" events. Another veteran took his curtain call earlier in the evening: 14-year-old My Fella, owned and trained by Allie Berube and driven by Fern Paquet Jr., made his final Vernon Downs appearance after a 12-season career on the racetrack with a third-place finish in a $3,000 conditioned event.

Live racing will return to Vernon Downs in the spring of 2016. Once made final, the schedule will be available at vernondowns.com.

(Vernon Downs)


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