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Gibson Scores First Training Win

Published: September 4, 2009 11:21 pm ET

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The young trotters Sky High and Tip The Tide turned in tiptop performances during Friday night’s 10-race program at Vernon Downs.

Sky High, a two-year-old filly owned by Calvin Lasher, earned her “maiden” victory after a 1:58.3 effort in Friday’s second session, while Tip The Tide, who holds the distinction of having the most consecutive tallies by a diagonally-gaited equine at the meet (four), equaled her win record with a 1:56.2 showing for Wanda Polisseni’s Purple Haze Stables in the featured sixth event.

Chris Lems, the second-leading dash-winning driver after 63 local programs, did the steering for trainer Gary Gibson as Sky High, a daughter of Muscles Yankee-Shes The Limit, raced on the lead throughout her contest and drew off in the stretch to win by nine lengths. The crowd favourite paid $3 to win and gave Gibson, son of the late Vernon fan favourite horseman of the same name (Gary Gibson), his first training credit in his initial start as a standardbred conditioner.

Sky High’s time was just one tick of the timer off the meet’s fastest mile by a frosh distaff high-stepper, which was established by Nicole on July 10. The 1:58.1 track record for two-year-old filly trotters was set by Armbro Prowess in 1996.

Lems also did the catch-driving for Jessica Okusko, the meet’s top race-winning trainer, keeping Tip The Tide ($14.80) in the pocket until the stretch drive and then urging the bay son of Conway Hall-Olympics on to a two-length score, his sixth at the meet and seventh all-time.

Lems, who won the last three races during Thursday night’s card, posted another triple, his sixth of the season and trails only Jimmy Whittemore, 86-74, in the meet’s dash-winning derby.

Last season’s dash king Josh Marks also posted a hat trick during the program, his seventh of the meet, while Whittemore, Okusko and defending training champ Tracy Brainard each chalked up a pair of first-place finishes during the card.

Vernon has designated Saturday’s 10-race card “Fan Appreciation Night", offering attendees a free racing program, a free soda and one free hot dog, plus prize drawings. First post will be at 6:55 p.m. The Downs will also present a 1:15 p.m. matinee card on Monday, which will feature this season’s Conway Hall contest for trotting mares.

(Vernon Downs)

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