SOME OF THE horses that have moved from Vernon Downs to Buffalo Raceway have done quite well at the Hamburg track.
Take Youknowwhatimean, for instance.
Until losing Saturday night, the oddly-named pacer had won two invitationals (at $4,600 and $5,000) in a row for provisional driver Joe Nassimos, one in 2:01 1/5 , and has 10 wins this season.
Nassimos has been driving the Abercrombie gelding for owner Dr. Jim Marshall and has nothing but praise for the pacer. "He raced well both times, coming from last place at the three-quarters (Dec. 8) and paced the final quarter in 28 4/5 to win in 2:01 1/5 ," said Nassimos.
Like many of the sport's newcomers, Nassimos is a graduate Morrisville Ag-Tech, a two-year school whose curriculum includes standardbred racing.
Several of the drivers remarked that some Vernon newcomers adapt well to the half-mile track, after racing at Vernon's three-quarter mile oval, the only one of its kind in North America.
"Sometimes a change in scenery makes a big difference. But it takes a horse a while to get used to the smaller track," said Don Holmes, who has raced at Hamburg intermittently over the last 20 years.
Other trainer-drivers in from Vernon include Chris Lawton, Don Hoover and Angus MacDonald. The latter has been ill and unable to race recently.
Lawton, also a provisional driver, won twice with Hawaiian Lio, while Hoover, who is assistant race secretary at Vernon, won a Thursday trot with Christy's Promise, one of his occasional drives, as he beat Holmes with Crown Mint, extending the latter's winless streak to 21.
The name of Holmes is familiar to many Hamburg fans. Don Holmes is a son of the late Jimmy Holmes, who was one of the most popular drivers in Hamburg history. He raced well-remembered horses like Silver Laird for Carl Meyer and Hazel Battles, who won many open classes.
Don Holmes has been "toughing it out" since his father died in 1985.
"When dad was racing we worked well together. If he was racing in Canada he would send me horses if he had a few extra, and while he was here at Hamburg or Batavia, I helped him train," said Don, now 41, who once raced well-known horses like Aberdonian and Armbro Oshawa.
"But it's been real tough to get a stable built up the last few years," said Holmes, who is looking for more horses to train and drive.
While Don's luck appears to be faltering, his brother, Brian, 36, who also started with his father at Hamburg, is prospering in Ontario. His 55 wins, mostly catch drives, took Elmira's dash title and he also races at Flamboro Downs.
Hearty Welcome wins features
Hearty Welcome, a 5-year-old son of Abercrombie trained by part-owner Wilson Witten Jr., formerly of Williamsville, has won two $12,000 invitationals in a row at Pompano Park, one in 1:54 1/5 and the other in 1:55 1/5 . So far in 1990, he's won 11 of 40 starts with seven second-places and seven thirds. Witten also trains Raque Bogart, who in 1988 set the world record for 2-year-old pacers (1:52 1/5 ), which has since been broken. He's won six of 21 starts, the best this year in 1:54.
Openers for two tracks set
While the opener for The Meadowlands is Dec. 26 in New Jersey, confusion over the dates for the opening for Los Alamitos in California has been resolved. It's first meet will run Feb. 8 to April 13, then another meet runs from Aug. 20 to Nov. 30.
Along shed row
Super Timken, a Michigan-bred son of Superman (yes, that's right), won his eighth race in a row, taking the $22,000 featured trot at Greenwood in 2:00 with Steve Condren driving. His best mile was 1:56 3/5 . . . . Remember Manfred Hanover, the 10-year-old trotter who was driven to world records a few years ago by Patsy Rapone? He returned to racing briefly this year, winning in 2:02 at Hazel Park, Mich., and won four races at fairs in 14 starts. . . . I Can Trot, formerly co-owned by Steve Blumhagen, won a $12,000 trot at Mohawk in 1:59 4/5 with Lyle McArthur driving. McArthur also won with the pacing mare Worth More in 2:00 2/5 /.
Boxing Day at Flamboro
The $9,400 final of the Newcomer Series will be held at Flamboro Downs Wednesday night, which is Boxing Day night, one of Canada's top holidays. Honeybee Wilco and Yankee Butch each have two wins in the preliminaries. Away He Goes broke their winning streaks in one of last week's divisions with a 2:01 4/5 win.