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Honorable Daughter Shines In 'Empire' Elim

Published: May 17, 2009 1:31 am ET

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Honorable Daughter, Donttellmywife and Matchplay Volo were elimination divisional winners in $12,500 flights of the Empire Breeders Classic for three-year-old trotters, while crowd favourite Smoky Bonz captured the $9,000 Open-1 pace in racing action at Vernon Downs on Saturday, May 16.

Honorable Daughter, a winner in nine of 11 starts last season including the Breeders Crown, started off her sophomore campaign with 1:58 triumph over a sloppy course in Saturday’s first flight for New York-bred fillies. Jim Morrill, Jr. steered the daughter of Malabar Man-Honorable Mother to the front early in the sixth race and she continued on to a 1-1/2 length triumph. The career-winner of $841,805 is shared in ownership by Paolo Rosanelli and John Siena.

Noted trainer Larry Remmen earned a double in the distaff competition when Matchplay Volo, a daughter of Conway Hall-Stroke Play he conditions for Norman Smiley, Gerald Smiley and the Mystical Marker Farms, won the eighth event in 1:59.1. Morrill again urged his charge to the lead early in the mile and they finished first by a length to remain unbeaten after two current outings, including a career-best 1:56.4 score at The Meadowlands on May 10.

Donttellmywife, undefeated in seven starts last year, started his current campaign on a winning note with a 1:57.4 score in Saturday’s seventh session, the event’s colt/gelding division. Jeff Gregory steered the son of Malabar Man-Nowerland Sweet T into the lead before the half and the gritty gelding motored on to a half-length triumph. Trainer George Ducharme shares ownership of the lifetime winner of $227,165 with Nicola Oliva and Shannon Di Antonio.

With Howard Okusko teaming for trainer Jessica Okusko (his wife), Smoky Bonz cracked the winner’s circle for the first time in five current attempts after a 1:55.2 performance in Saturday’s ninth race. The popular seven-year-old gelding shot through an opening in the final sixteenth, then surged to a nose decision over Outlaw Blues. It marked the 30th career victory for the lifetime winner of $224,698, who is shared in ownership by the Purple Haze Stables and George Wyman.

Morrill, Jr., Gregory, Okusko and Jimmy Whittemore were credited with driving doubles during Saturday’s 11-race card, while Jessica Okusko joined Remmen with a pair of training tallies.

Joining Honorable Daughter and Matchplay Volo in the EBC filly final, to be raced at Vernon on Memorial Day afternoon, will be Porque, The Ice Queen, Beachcomber, Contag Way, Sister Marcy, Social Butterfly and New Hampshire Girl. Snowblind Lindy will be the first also eligible.

The male EBC championship race here on May 25 will also feature Russell Hill, Calchips Brute, South Jersey Flash, America, Danger Hall, Tip The Tide, Brother Nick and Dillar A Dollar.

(With files from Vernon Downs)

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