07/26/2015 3:55PM

Vernon: Mission Brief, Pinkman take Zweig Memorials

Mission Brief trotted to victory in 1:51 4/5.

The road hasn’t been easy for Mission Brief, but she officially stamped herself as a force to be reckoned with by winning Sunday’s $185,000 Zweig for 3-year-old fillies on the trot at Vernon Downs. A possible candidate to face the boys in the Hambletonian on August 8 at the Meadowlands, she stole the show from Pinkman, who captured the $370,000 open division.

After the coupled entry of Wild Honey and Magic Marker came away one-two in a 27-second opening quarter, driver Yannick Gingras made his move with Mission Brief. The pair secured the front after the half in 56 1/5 seconds. “John (Campbell, Wild Honey) made me work a little to get around him, but when I turned the whip on her, she just put her head down like she used to do last year and took off from there,” said Gingras.

With a 27 3/5 third quarter, Mission Brief got separation on the field and continued the quick tempo to stop the tele-timer in 1:51 4/5, one-fifth off the track record set by Check Me Out.

Wild Honey finished second and Magic Marker third.

[DRF HARNESS EYE: Digital Harness Eye is now available for purchase--PPs, Analysis, Charts, and more!]

“Last week she was pretty good; probably 80-90%. This week she was 100%,” said Gingras.

For Mission Brief, she scored for the third time in four starts this year for trainer Ron Burke. With a major decision coming on whether to drop the filly in the Hambletonian Oaks eliminations on August 1 at the Meadowlands or the Hambletonian, Burke said he still had a few calls to make before reaching a conclusion. 

[UPDATE: According to reports from the Meadowlands on Twitter, Ron Burke will send Mission Brief to the Hambletonian.]

Trainer Jimmy Takter sent four to the post in the featured Zweig split for 3-year-old trotters and came away with the first two finishers at the wire.

Pinkman was quick to the front in an opening quarter of 27 3/5, but was content to yield to stablemate Canepa Hanover well before the half in 56 seconds. Those two would remain in order as Habitat made a brief failed bid approaching three quarters in 1:23 4/5.

At the head of the lane, Pinkman scooted past Canepa Hanover and maintained a half-length lead through the wire for a 1:52-flat victory. Workout Wonder shook free in the stretch to finish a fast closing third.

“I was just looking for a trip today,” said Gingras in the winner’s circle. “When Jimmy (Takter, driving Canepa Hanover) came, I was happy to get a trip behind him.”

The win by Pinkman was his sixth in seven starts this year. His earnings this year are $620,179.

The Vernon card also featured a $76,000 Zweig consolation event that attracted seven colts and geldings. Muscle Diamond, a Hambletonian hopeful that has been sidetracked most of the year by foot issues, finally made his second start of the year after a pair of failed attempts.

Muscle Diamond brushed to the front after a quarter in 27 2/5 and cruised along on the engine in 56 4/5 and 1:25 3/5 as part of an easy 1:53 2/5 open-length victory. Total Darkness was second ahead of a closing Fashion Creditor in third.

“He felt great. I know that Brett (Bittle, trainer) doesn’t have the work into him that he would like,” said driver John Campbell, who admitted that the colt would have to play catch-up with other Hambletonian hopefuls.