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Vernon Downs' 2008 Meet Wrap

Published: November 14, 2008 4:32 pm ET

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Vernon Downs wrapped up its final day of live racing for the 2008 race season on Saturday, November 8.

Vernon Downs witnessed five track records fall during the 2008 meet, including the first sub-1:50 mile in its history, recorded by pacing mare My Little Dragon and driver Brain Sears. My Little Dragon stopped the timer in 1:49.4 in the $123,500 Artiscape Pace, defeating her arch rival Darlins Delight and reinsman Yannick Gingras by three quarters of a length.

Other track records that were lowered during the year came courtesy of Schoolkids, who fascinated racing fans with a dazzling 1:51 mile. The performance established a new track record for two-year old pacing colts in the Kindergarten Classic Series. Schoolkids has went on to do well after that performance, as he has won the $89,500 final at Vernon’s sister track, Tioga Downs, in mid-September.

Deweycheatumnhowe smashed the track record of 1:54.4 for three-year old trotting colts when he turned in a spectacular 1:54 clocking on August 15 in preparation for his visit to the World Trotting Derby.

Falls for You and driver Brian Sears set the track record of 1:53.1 for four-year old trotting mares this year on August 15, as they won the $133,500 Conway Hall stakes event for older trotting mares by open lengths.

Josh Marks finished the race season as the leading driver at Vernon with 114 wins in only 383 starts, giving him a UDR of .419. Jimmy Whittemore, Vernon Downs-USHWA 2006 'Rising Star' award winner, finished out a great season as well, as he posted a career high of 98 wins, a UDR of .278 and steered the winners of $479,195 in purses.

Chris Lemms, Vernon Downs-USHWA 'Rising Star' award winner in 2007, Howard Okusko, Jr. and Claude Huckabone III rounded out the top five drivers standings in 2008.

Conditioner Tracy Brainard shattered the benchmark for training wins with 101 victories in 2008 and ended the year with an excellent .478 UTR at Vernon. Brainard currently ranks second in North America with a UTR of .476 for trainers who have between 300 and 499 starts in 2008. Her stable has banked $1,286,984.

Lonny Hale finished second in the training ranks, while Jessica Okusko, Angus MacDonald and Joe Sansone rounded out the top five conditioners at the 'Miracle Mile.'

“The race meet this year, in my eyes, at Vernon Downs was a success, with the calibre of horses that raced at Vernon; fans were able to see some of the best harness horses in all of the world and witness records being broken, some of those records that had stood for quite sometime at the Miracle Mile," said Jason Settlemoir, Vernon's vice president, Racing and Simulcast.

"We will continue to work on new ideas for promotions, giveaways, and new ideas for races over the winter months so our fans get the best experience while they are here at Vernon."

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