By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs
The horses and riders of RUS New York will be at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Sept. 23) to compete for a $1,600 purse in a non-betting race that will take place after race seven on the regular live pari-mutuel card.
Racing Under Saddle (RUS), also known as Monte Racing, is a cross between harness racing and thoroughbred racing. The rider is atop the Standardbred (generally a trotter) in a saddle instead of behind it in a sulky. Internationally, Standardbred RUS is conducted daily at many European tracks and it garners large wagering pools on their regular betting programs.
The Fair Series is organized by RUS New York, an organization that helps coordinate and promote under saddle races across the Empire state. The main goal is to promote this unique sport, educate the public about the versatility of the Standardbred breed and to help Standardbreds find great homes after they finish their days on the track.
The 2017 RUS New York summer schedule included 10 fair dates as well as races at Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs and Saratoga Raceway. Batavia Downs is the fourth pari-mutuel track to host the series this year.
RUS racing debuted at the Downs in 2016 with one of the most exciting finishes the series had all year as Admirable Hanover out-dueled My Friend Charlie down the lane to win by a neck in 2:03.4. The time was a new career best under saddle time for Admirable Hanover and it also produced a new track record at Batavia Downs.
Saturday’s race includes the top point-earners in the series for both human and equine categories.
Michelle Miller is the leading rider with 258 points and she will be on the number one points horse, Railroad Lane.
Railroad Lane has three wins in seven outings and is six out of seven in the money for the year. He has a mark of 2:09.3 at Monticello Raceway over a sloppy track, but was race-timed in 2:05 at Tioga Downs in a third place finish in July.
Last year’s winning rider at Batavia was Vanessa Karlewicz and she is currently the second leading point-getter in the series with 187 and she will be atop Boy Can She Fly who is sixth among all horses.
Boy Can She Fly has only one win in five starts and a mark of 2:15 at the Bath Fairgrounds. But she was race-timed in 2:05.3 at Vernon Downs in a third place finish back on August 25.
Hillary Harnett who sits fourth in points will ride probably the hottest horse in the race as One True Friend has been competing outside of New York against some of the best RUS horses in competition.
One True Friend has three wins in eight starts with a seasonal mark of 2:03.3 at Tioga Downs and has also been race timed at the Meadowlands in 2:01.2. Just last week One True Friend won by almost nine-lengths at Saratoga Raceway in 2:04.3.
Rounding out the field is Sophie Engerran and Funny Photo. Funny Photo qualified in 2:04 handily at Vernon Downs on Friday (Aug. 18) but has only one start this year. That was at the Meadowlands earlier this month where he finished fifth, placed fourth after being interfered with. He is the unknown value in this race as he did win under saddle at Vernon Downs in 1:59.1 in 2016 and 1:59 in 2015.
Post time for the RUS New York race will be approximately 8:10 p.m. Post time for the first race is 6 p.m.