08/21/2015 9:14PM

Vernon: Fresh faces take major stakes

Derick Giwner
Happy connections of trotting mare D'One after winning the Muscle Hill.

Vernon Downs hosted three major stakes on Friday night and fresh faces paraded in and out of the winner’s circle in each race. Drivers Mark MacDonald, Jason Bartlett and Orjan Kihlstrom each took their turns smiling before the camera behind Obrigado, Venus Delight and D’One, respectively.

In the featured $200,000 Crawford Farms Trot, Obrigado was handled aggressively to the front and never looked back despite facing a stern test late in the mile. The fractions were 27 1/5, 56 1/5 and 1:24 4/5 as Lindy’s Tru Grit came at the winner hard off the final turn but could not pass and had to settle for second in the 1:52 mile. Melady’s Monet left for position and closed well for third.

For Obrigado and MacDonald, the win was some vindication after knocking on the door all year but failing to win a major stake.

“He’s been so close and these owners have stuck with me. It is really nice to get them a win,” said MacDonald.

Trainer Paul Kelley said the 5-year-old gelding had the Maple Leaf Trot at Mohawk in September on his calendar but would try to race the horse a couple of times at Yonkers as well in hopes of getting into the $1,000,000 International Trot on October 10 at the New York oval.

In the $177,000 Muscle Hill, D’One tucked fourth as Bee A Magician made her way to the front. Despite having to make two moves to secure the lead, Bee A Magician set kind fractions of 26 3/5, 56 3/5 and 1:25.

Brian Sears appeared to be home free behind Bee A Magician, but no one told D’One and pilot Orjan Kihlstrom. He was ultra-patient waiting for the stretch to come off the cones and when he unleashed the 5-year-old mare, she exploded home in 26 3/5 to score in 1:52 2/5 by one length over Bee A Magician.

“She’s very fast and we always thought she would be best from behind,” said trainer Roger Walmann, who had not mapped out her immediate schedule going forward but left open some interesting options.

“She is eligible to the Maple Leaf, but it is hard to go against the colts. I will think on it. I want to go to the Red Mile and beat her mother’s record. I have to try,” said Walmann, referring to Giant Diablo’s 1:50 1/5 world record set in 2007 at the Red Mile.

Venus Delight is another horse that finally picked up a major stakes victory when she scored in a track record equaling 1:49 4/5 in the $194,000 Artiscape.

Venus Delight flashed early speed and wound up sitting in the pocket behind stablemate Anndrovette through fractions of 26, 54 3/5 and 1:22 3/5. In the stretch driver Jason Bartlett was able to find room for the one length victory over a closing Radar Contact. Anndrovette was a neck back in third.

“She goes with them every week but just hasn’t been getting lucky lately,” said Bartlett, who drove for trainer Jeff Bamond, Jr.