Whether racing at Vernon Downs or at Saratoga Casino Hotel, JK Panache (Art Major) has been a force in the Open Pace for the last several years. On Saturday night, the Dave Dewhurst-trained eight year old toughed out a first-over journey to record his eighth victory of the season. The classy pacer took a couple months off this summer and returned in August at Vernon where he rattled off two wins and a second in his three comeback tries. In his return to the Spa on Saturday, JK Panache was the 3-2 betting favorite in the $18,000 feature and was driven by Shawn Gray. After the first quarter went in a quick 27 seconds, the half was paced in 56 seconds and at that point, JK Panache made his move. He served as live cover for Givenupdreaming (Billy Dobson) and they, in tandem, cleared the leader and turned for home separated by just a half length. They took their battle right to the wire where JK Panache proved to be too tough in a mile paced in 1:52.4. Givenupdreaming was the runner-up while longshot Respectable Dream (Mark Beckwith) earned the show spot. The Saturday win for JK Panache was just his second in the local Open this year and his first since back in early May.
Live racing continues at the Spa on Sunday afternoon with a matinee that kicks off at 12:15pm.
Photo: Melissa Simser-Iovino