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Empire Breeders Classic Finals Set

Published: June 15, 2017 10:46 am ET

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The rich finals of the Empire Breeders Classic, a New York-sired event for three-year-old trotters, will be raced as a part of the Father's Day card on Sunday, June 18 at Vernon Downs.

Ten fillies will compete in the first of the pair of finals (Race 8) for a purse of $228,250. Barn Bella is the obvious choice, despite the disadvantage of having to start from the far outside Post 9. The Conway Hall lass has won ten straight races, including her New York Sires Stakes Final at two – which dates back to last August – for owner-trainer Floyd Pratt and partner Wanda Polisseni's Purple Haze Stables. Barn Bella has handled older Open trotters on two occasions and won the first NYSS of the season while preparing for the EBC and beyond. Jeff Gregory will drive.

The $252,000 EBC colt final has been carded as Race 9 and promises to be a far more contentious affair. Devious Man (PP5) is the defending NYSS champ and is off to a great start on his sophomore campaign for the husband-wife team of driver Andy and trainer Julie Miller. The son of Credit Winner has won both of his 2017 starts, including last week's EBC elimination in 1:53.4 after a freshman campaign that saw him earn over $300,000, including a Grand Circuit win at the Red Mile. He is owned by Stroy Inc. and the Andy Miller Stable.

Competition will come directly from the left, as Bills Man (to be driven by Corey Callahan), who won the other EBC elimination in 1:53, will start from Post 4. He's a very well bred colt on the improve for trainer John Butenschoen and owners William Wiswall and M & L of Delaware.

Lord Cromwell (PP9) already has a Grand Circuit score on his sophomore card, as he posted a convincing win in last month's Dexter Cup. He was third in the Devious Man elim, but has drawn poorly for the final. Hall of Fame pilot John Campbell will do the driving for Eddie Hart, who trains the homebred for Carolyn Atherton.

Such An Angel was an impressive second to Bills Man in his elimination, as he closed from well back for driver Mark MacDonald. He was the NYSS division leader for much of the 2016 season and appears to be finding his best form again for trainer Paul Kelley, who conditions the Credit Winner colt for Sam Caruso Jr. and Purple Haze Stables.

Swell Chap (PP7) was the other second-place finisher and has matured nicely from age two to three for trainer Todd Rooney. His two most recent starts have been his best – one was a close second to the highly-regarded colt Enterprise in a NYSS dash which preceding last week's finish. Tim Tetrick has been enlisted for the drive on Sunday for owners Foge McKeever and Eldon Thompson.

The Empire Breeders Classic is funded in part by the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund and NY Harness Horse Breeders along with Vernon and Tioga Downs.

The supporting card is largely comprised of the NYSS for sophomore colt pacers which only increases the quality of the presentation.

Post time for the Sunday matinee is 1:05 p.m.

(Vernon Downs)

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