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Empire Breeders Classic trotting eliminations at Vernon on Friday
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On Friday night (May 18), Vernon Downs will host five $12,500 elimination races for the Empire Breeders Classic, the first major event of the season for 3-year-old trotting fillies and colts, as races five through nine.

The box was overflowing with entries for the filly division with 26 declared for the eliminations, resulting in three divisions with the top three on the official order of finish returning for the $265,000 final.

The most accomplished of the lot include Plunge Blue Chip who dominated the class at two, last season's surprise New York Sires Stakes final winner Lucky Ava and the fleet Atlanta who trotted to a 1:52 win in her first start of the new season at The Meadowlands last week.

Plunge Blue Chip and Lucky Ava both hail from the barn of Ake Svanstedt who has no fewer than five fillies in the elims and will drive both on Friday.

The only blemish on Plunge Blue Chip's freshman season was a shocking out of the money finish in the NYSS final where her barn mate Lucky Ava picked up the mantle and scored what is by far her biggest win. Svanstedt owns a piece of each, partnered with Blue Chip Bloodstock and Tomas Andersson on Plunge Blue Chip and Little E, LLC and Van Camp Trotting Corp sharing the title on Lucky Ava.

Atlanta captured everyone's attention with her stunning 1:52 win against a field that included older horses and a legitimate Hambletonian contending colt in a Meadowlands overnight last week. She zoomed by the field with a withering stretch burst to claim the win with Scott Zeron driving for his father Rick who trains her. Holland Racing Stable, Howard Taylor and Brad Grant own Atlanta in partnership with the trainer.

Svanstedt also has one of the top contenders among the 19 colts in last year's NYSS final winner Six Pack. A winner five times in nine lifetime outings, Six Pack is the fastest of the colts by virtue of his 1:53.1 win in a NYSS event at Vernon just a week ago. Svanstedt owns him in partnership with Little E, Stall Kalmar and Lars Berg.

The second division of colts is a very competitive, balanced field that includes the winner of last year's Kindergarten final, Tito. Driver Andy McCarthy will have to chart a winning course from an outside post eight for the Erv Miller trainee who was third in his seasonal debut last week. Anthony Lombardi, George Golemes and Louis Willinger are Tito's owners.

From the pair of colt divisions, the top four and one of the fifth place finishers drawn by lot will advance to the $248,000 final.

Both of the rich finals will be part of the Memorial Day matinee card on Monday (May 28).

The EBC eliminations will be carried live on The Meadowlands broadcast, spaced between the Meadowlands races.

Races six-nine will comprise the Pick-4 with a $2,500 guaranteed pool in concert with the USTA Strategic Wagering Program. Program pages will be available on the web.

First race post time is 6:10 p.m. with the EBC races slated to begin at 7:30.
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