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NYSS To King James Express, Natameri

Published: August 20, 2021 11:22 pm ET

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Vernon Downs played host to two divisions of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for three-year-old pacing colts & geldings on Friday (August 20).

King James Express ($4.90) and driver Jason Bartlett were victorious in the $55,000 first division.

Stop Staring (Mark MacDonald) took the early lead before Major Bean (Matt Kakaley) took control just before hitting the first quarter in :27. He used a :28.2 second quarter to lead to the half in :55.2.

King James Express made his move heading to the final turn, going first-over from fourth. Major Bean held a short lead to three-quarters in 1:23.1.

As they made the turn for home, King James Express battled for the lead and took over but had to brace for the late charge of second-place finisher Stop Staring. King James Express held on to win in a lifetime-best of 1:50.4. Bottle Rocket (Michael Whelan) took home third-place money.

King James Express is a gelding by Art Major. He is owned by trained Mark Harder of Freehold, New Jersey and Deena Frost of Delray Beach, Florida, along with Wayne Carleton and Dean Lockhart of Collingwood, Ont. The 2020 NYSS champion has won three Sire Stakes races this year. He now has seven career victories with earnings climbing past the $300,000 mark.

Natameri ($4), driven by Matt Kakaley, won the $56,000 second division.

Mullinax (Mark MacDonald) was first to the quarter in :26.1 before Natameri came first-up at the top of the backstretch and took the lead on the way to the half in :54.3. Town Gossip (Billy Dobson) made his move charging first-over as they went around the final turn. Natameri reached three-quarters first in 1:23.

As they reached the stretch, Town Gossip went all out, but Natameri had plenty in the tank and won in a lifetime-best 1:50. Town Gossip had to settle for second. Southwind Petyr (Jason Bartlett) finished third.

Natameri is a colt by American Ideal. He is owned by the the New York-based Purple Haze Stables and trained by Jessica Okusko. The win was his fifth this season from nine starts and seventh career victory.

Vernon Downs' leading driver Leon Bailey drove four winners on the card giving him 80 for the season.

Live racing continues at Vernon Downs on Saturday (August 21) with an 11-race card. Post time is 6:10 p.m.

(With files from Vernon Downs)

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