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Coraggioso Wins Vernon Open Trot

Published: May 17, 2013 11:43 pm ET

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Track record-holder Coraggioso cruised to a convincing victory in Friday’s $10,000 featured Open Handicap Trot while fellow high-stepper Hold On Tightly became the first five-time winner at the current 10-night Vernon Downs meeting.

With trainer Gates Brunet doing the teaming in Friday’s ninth race, the favourite Coraggioso raced like he was superior and proved it with a 1:54.1 front-striding score over five top trot rivals. It was the second tally, coupled with a second-place finish, in three current appearances and the 13th lifetime triumph for the quick-striding New York Sires Stakes champion, who now sports career winnings of nearly $519,000. Joseph Spadaro and noted thoroughbred announcer Tom Durkin own the son of Conway Hall-Electra Hanover, who established a 1:53.4 standard for four-year-old trotting horses at Vernon on May 3.

Two races later, Hold On Tightly remained undefeated after five seasonal starts when trainer Roman Lopez piloted the four-year-old trotter to a solid 1:57.4 score. This is the initial racing season for the bay son of Cash Hall-Keystone Fitting, who is owned by Richard B. Thurlow.

Hold On Tightly’s tally was one of three on the program for Lopez, who became the meet’s leading trainer with 12 victories. With a one-win lead over defending champ Rick Plano on the current conditioning chart, the 53-year-old reinsman trails only Plano in the track’s driving derby, 24-21.

Multiple Vernon driving titleist Jimmy Whittemore picked up a pair of first-place finishes during Friday’s 12-race program.

Vernon will simulcast the entire card from Maryland’s Pimlico Race Course on Saturday, including the famed Preakness Stake, which is slated for approximately 6:19 p.m. Vernon’s live 12-race harness program will follow at 6:45 p.m

Downs officials have announced that due to the Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) outbreak at the track, Vernon will continue with just Friday and Saturday night live competition (first post 6:45 p.m.), at least through May 25. A 1:15 p.m. Memorial Day matinee card is planned for Monday, May 27.

(With files from Vernon Downs)

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