(Red Doll driven by Kevin Cummings.)
By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations
Batavia Downs hosted two divisions of the $108,000 New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings on Sunday (Aug. 9) and a locally owned, trained and driven colt won the first division going for a $54,500 purse.
Red Doll who is owned by John Sixt of Chaffee, NY, trained by Judy Blaun of Elba, NY and driven by Batavia Downs defending driving champion Kevin Cummings, went gate to wire, scoring a measured one-length victory over the heavily favored Autotune Hanover.
Red Roll shot right to the lead as Autotune Hanover (Tyler Buter) had trouble navigating the first turn before making a break. While Cummings piloted the leader to a pedestrian 59.3 half, Buter had settled Autotune Hanover before pulling the colt around gapped horses in an attempt to mount another attack at the front.
After looking rough again in the clubhouse turn, Autotune Hanover made quick work of the back stretch and got within a length of the leader. But after tucking to the pylons behind Red Roll in 1:28.4, Cummings started rocking and knocking the leader and got away from the pack by three lengths at the head of the lane before bringing Red Roll home victorious in 1:57.2.
“I drove him at Buffalo last month so I knew the horse. I took a shot, went to the front and was able to cut the mile I wanted. He was good the whole race” said Cummings in the winner’s circle.
Overlooked in the betting, Red Roll returned a healthy $23.00 for the win.
It was the first win of the year for Red Roll and thus also his lifetime mark. Despite only one win so far, the horse has not missed a check in NYSS action all year and that has put his earnings at $59,117.
(Joe Larry N Curly with leading NYSS driver Jim Morrill Jr.)
In the second division, morning line co-choice Travel Playlist scratched sick and that cut the field down to five pacers. But there was no “stoogery” in post time favorite Joe Larry N Curly’s performance as he was all business, pacing his fastest mile ever over a half-mile track.
Leading NYSS driver, Jim Morrill Jr., got away third with Joe Larry N Curly as Carlos Danger (Kevin Cummings) cut the quarter in 28.4. But as soon as they passed that station, Morrill pulled the 1-9 favorite and methodically moved to the front by the head of the stretch.
The field remained unchanged until Joes On A Roll (John Cummings Jr.) came first over to challenge the leader at the five-eights. But before he could mount any kind of serious threat, Morrill popped the ear-plugs and then held on tight as Joe Larry N Curly switched into overdrive and paced away from everyone. He came home in a brisk 28 flat to stop the timer in 1:56.2 and win by four lengths.
After the race, a visibly pleased Jim Morrill Jr. said “I couldn’t be happier with the way he raced. I pulled the plugs at the three-quarters and he took off like a rocket. I should have left them in! He won easy; he was simply awesome."
It was the third win of the year for Joe Larry N Curly ($2.30) and increased his earnings to $82,794. The colt is trained by Mark Harder, who co-owns him with Joe Jannuzzelli and Dawn Colucci.
There were also two divisions of the NYSS Excelsior “A” series on the card.
The first $15,000 division was won by 1-9 favorite, Craftship (Art Major-Capri Hanover) who was driven by Jim Morrill Jr. Craftship ($2.20) is trained by Tony Alagna for owners Crawford Partners, J. Fodera N M Frank Stable, Joe Sbrocco and Craig Henderson.
The second $15,000 leg was won by KJ Erich (Roll With Joe-Michelle’s Scooter) in 1:59.2. The colt was driven by John Cummings Jr. for trainer Gary Messenger. KJ Erich ($7.20) is owned by Scott Woogen, Brenda Messenger and Phillip Shapiro.
Driver Jim Morrill Jr. was as hot as the western New York weather Sunday, winning five of the 12 races on the card. He scored with the aforementioned Craftship ($2.20) and Joe Larry N Curly ($2.30) as well as Lucky Pablo ($7.40), If It Rains ($2.90) and Zipnthruthehall ($2.60).
Morrill is currently the third leading driver in North America for UDR with a .383. only .002 out of the second place George Napolitano Jr. He is 14th in North America in earnings with $3,123,201, but number one in NYSS competition with $920,602.59, more than three times more than his nearest competitor.
Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Aug. 12) at 6:35 p.m.