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October 15, 2017 - 12:09am
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, sports, harness racing.

Photo of Runaway Bay with driver Kevin Cummings.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Racing against Foiled Again last week must have had a positive effect on In Runaway Bay as he put a circle around the best local pacers in the $10,000 Open Handicap Pace at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Oct. 14).

In Runaway Bay (Kevin Cummings) fired off the gate and crossed over like a flash of light. Cruising unchallenged from there until the half, the leader saw fit to cut a rather casual :57.3 fraction. At that point In Runaway Bay was confronted first by Santana Beach (John Cummings Jr.) until three-quarters and then by Fireyourguns (Mike Caprio) when that one faded. Try as he might Fireyourguns couldn’t get closer than a length from the time he pulled and when the race hit the stretch, In Runaway Bay ran away to a three-length victory in 1:53.1, which was a new seasonal mark for the winner.

It was the fifth win of the year for In Runaway Bay ($26.60), all five of which were scored at Batavia Downs. Owner Super Mile LLC has received $30,010 in purses as a result of the 7-year-old Mach Three offspring’s efforts this year which were achieved through the training of Angelo Nappo.

In the $9,000 Open II co-feature, Show Stopping (Kevin Cummings) sat a tight two-hole trip behind the heavily favored Miss Irish Rose A (Larry Stalbaum) before popping the pocket off the last turn and out-pacing the leader to the wire to win in 1:52.1, which was a new lifetime mark. Show Stopping ($7.20) is owned by Resilient Racing Stable and trained by Rose Russo.

Kevin Cummings led all drivers with four wins on the night and James Clouser Jr. led all trainers with three.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Oct. 18) with post time at 5 p.m.

October 14, 2017 - 12:17pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.
Photo of Kahoku with driver Kevin Cummings in the command spot.
 
By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs
 
With little challenge at the start of the mile, Kahoku set pedestrian early fractions and hung on late to win the $10,500 Open Handicap trot at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Oct. 13). 
 
The car released the field and surprisingly nobody left; giving the pylon-sitting Kahoku (Kevin Cummings) the command spot by default. Feeling right at home in that position, Kahoku slowed the fractions considerably with a :30.1 second panel and :59.3 half. Fleet Bumblebee (Drew Monti) was outside on the move at that point and came within a length of the leader by the five-eighths pole. 
 
Pushing the issue from there, the pace quickened to :28.2 for the third quarter but that took a toll on Fleet Bumblebee, who faded as they came off the turn. However a fresh Northern Matador (Ray Fisher Jr.) who had been sitting second the whole mile found the passing lane and incrementally gained ground down the stretch on that path. Sensing the challenge, Cummings urging Kahoku to dig in and he did his best to comply, hanging on to win by a nose in 1:58. 
 
It was the 4th win of 2017 for Kahoku ($10.60) and it raised his earnings to $37,448 for owner Colleen Girdlestone and trainer Kirk Desmond. 
 
In the $8,000 Open II trot, Winky's Pride (Billy Davis Jr.) was also a wire to wire winner, touring the facility unencumbered in 1:58.3. Winky's Pride ($7.80) is owned and trained by Robert Hummel. 
 
Racing resumes at Batavia Downs today (Oct. 14) with post time at 6 p.m.
October 11, 2017 - 9:16pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Photo, from left: Larry Willer, John Mungillo and Jennifer Papiernik

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Western New York veteran trainer John Mungillo reached a major milestone at Batavia Downs on Wednesday afternoon (Oct. 11) and he did it in a very convincing manner. Mungillo sent out his 3-year-old pacing filly Roll With Faith that he co-owns with Lawrence Willer and Finish Line Investors and watched her go wire to wire at 1-9 over a very sloppy race track in 1:57.3 to notch the 1,000th training victory of his career.

The grand achievement didn’t happen overnight, it was a culmination of a lifetime’s labor.

Mungillo started working as a groom for Pete Mondi at Batavia Downs in 1981 and eventually became second trainer for Don Rothfuss where he earned his driver’s license and started teaming regularly. When Mungillo went on his own in 1986 his objective was to have horses from his barn win, regardless of who did the driving and didn’t let ego stand in the way of success.

Although he did drive regularly from 1987-1989, he focused more on training his stock from that point on and really started accumulating wins as his stable grew.

Mungillo’s career best training year was in 2013 when he scored 155 wins with a .309 UTR and earnings of $683,812 as a result. For his entire training career Mungillo has 6,099 starts with 1,000 wins 860 seconds and 791 thirds with $4,466,409 in purses. That’s 43 percent in the money lifetime and that’s not too shabby.

Currently at the Downs Mungillo is racing 10 horses regularly and ranks eighth among all trainers with 13 wins, eight seconds and 14 thirds off 84 starts and has banked $66,782 in purses so far. For the entire year he has 32 wins and $202,945 in purses.

October 11, 2017 - 9:11pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The feature race at Batavia Downs on Wednesday was the $10,000 Fillies and Mares Open Handicap Pace and Squeeze This paid big dividends after being overlooked by the betting public and tripping-out to a narrow margin of victory.

Classy Lane Rose (Drew Monti) went right to the front and seated all the girls behind her around the first turn. Exotic Beach (Larry Stalbaum) who had gotten away last, became restless at the eighth pole and pulled to start a slow, methodic march to the front. With Classy Lane Rose comfortable on the lead, it took Exotic Beach another half mile outside before she reached the pacesetter at the three-eighths pole to get within striking range.

Aware of the challenge at hand, Monti stepped up the third quarter with his mare but the pesky Exotic Beach would not relent. The two then argued around the last turn before Classy Lane Rose showed some fatigue at the head of the stretch. It was there the pocket-sitting Squeeze This (Billy Davis Jr.) snuck into the passing lane and zoomed by both of them to win by a nose in 1:57.2.

It was the fifth win of the year for Squeeze This ($37.80) who now has $41,591 in the bank. Garth Bechtel owns the 5-year-old Allamerican Native offspring that is trained by Jim Graham.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Oct. 13) with post time at 6 p.m.

October 9, 2017 - 3:17pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Foiled Again with driver Kevin Cummings. Photo by Paul White.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The Nation’s leading trainer Ron Burke shipped two of his millionaires into Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Oct. 7) and won the two biggest overnight races of the season at the oldest lighted harness track in America with Foiled Again and DW’S NY Yank. Burke, The Burke Brigade and driver Kevin Cummings had a very good night. 

The pacing feature was the $15,000 George “Duke” Dranichak Memorial named for a longtime local horseman and racing official whose career spanned over five decades.

Focus Power (Drew Monti) went for the front but outpaced the turn, making a break. This left In Runaway Bay (Ray Fisher Jr.) calling the shots with five behind him in :27.3. Right at the quarter Fireyourguns (Mike Caprio) pulled and sidled the leader around the turn and past the half in :55.1, but Fireyourguns couldn’t clear and remained parked into the second circuit. With the outer flow stagnant, Teo Enteo A (Larry Stalbaum) tipped three-wide at the three-eighths and brought Don’tcallmefrancis (Billy Davis Jr.) into the fray with him. This left Foiled Again (Kevin Cummings) hopelessly locked in at the rail fourth behind a wall of horses.

Just before the three-quarters In Runaway Bay stopped, Fireyourguns finally cleared and Cummings was somehow able to maneuver Foiled Again out of the box and moved him into third behind Teo Enteo A. Halfway through the final bend, Cummings tipped the richest Standardbred of all time three-deep and had him in full gear. Foiled Again proceeded to barrel down the stretch and show his class once again, pacing by everyone under mild urging to win in 1:52.2.

It was the 96th lifetime win for Foiled Again ($4.60) and his fourth victory at Batavia Downs where he won the Kane Memorial Pace in 2009, 2013 and 2016. The richest Standardbred of all time got even richer and now has an unbelievable $7,543,278 in lifetime earnings.

Foiled Again is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and JJK Stables LLC.

The top trot was the $15,000 Brian Schroeder Memorial Trot named in honor of the local trainer/driver who developed many great trotters and excelled on the Grand Circuit.  

The heavily favored DW’s NY Yank left from post six and went right to the front. As the field settled behind him there were no serious challenges as they tripped the timers in :28, :57.1 and 1:27.1. But when they spun off the far turn the leader’s biggest test was yet to come.

Fleet Bumblebee (Drew Monti) had been sitting in the garden spot the whole race and when they straightened out, he hit the passing lane. With DW’s NY Yank suddenly looking vulnerable, Monti went to work on Fleet Bumblebee inside of Cummings who was already high-lining the leader. The two drivers were highly animated all the way down the lane with Fleet Bumblebee gaining with every stride. But as they hit the wire DW’s NY Yank hung on to win by a nose in 1:57 in a very exciting finish.

It was the third win in a row for DW’S NY Yank ($2.40) and sixth win of the year and that effort boosted his bankroll to $140,750 for 2017. His career numbers got even more impressive, now with 46 wins and $1,156,335 in purses to his credit.

The 8-year-old altered son of Dilbert Hanover is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC.

October 6, 2017 - 3:56pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Photo of Miss Irish Rose A with driver Larry Stalbaum, courtesy of Paul White.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The wind and rain blew into Genesee County prior to post time on Wednesday (Oct. 4) but the sun did come out for the first race. That combination may have helped Miss Irish Rose A bloom for a second straight week as she easily won the $9,500 Fillies and Mares Open Handicap Pace at Batavia Downs in impressive style.

Larry Stalbaum fired Miss Irish Rose A hard off the gate and crossed over to the pylons before anyone knew what happened. They may as well have put the finish line there because at that point, the race was over. Leading the rest of the way with a gapped advantage, Miss Irish Rose A cut the corners in :28, :57.1 and 1:25.4 where she opened up a six-length advantage. Stalbaum shut her down at the top of the lane but Miss Irish Rose A still paced home in :28.2 to win by over a length in 1:54.1.

It was the second consecutive win for Miss Irish Rose A ($3.20), her second win in North America and her second successive lifetime mark. Larry Stalbaum owns the 5-year-old McCardle progeny who is trained by Kim Asher.

In the $8,000 F&M Open II co-feature the Asher/Stalbaum playbook was still opened to the same page as Exotic Beach took a quick lead and toured the facility in front from there, winning by a length in 1:56 over an even muddier track. Exotic Beach ($5.70) scored her fifth win of the year for the Man from Matamoris, who owns this one as well.

Larry Stalbaum (Photo provided by Batavia Downs.)

It was quite a big night for the Larry Stalbaum/Kim Asher combination as they teamed up for seven wins on the card.  Besides Miss Irish Rose A and Exotic Beach, they also scored with Kaitlyn Rae (1:56.4, $6.70), Rockin Kasbah (1:57, $6.70), Quicksilvercandy A (1:56.4, $7.20), Cartoonist (1:56, $5.80) and Saint William A (1:57.4, $2.50).

The eighth win by Stalbaum was with Hitontheflipside (2:01, $19.00) who is trained by Jim Graham.

Stalbaum had 10 drives on the card with eight wins and one third and that gave him an unbelievable .833 UDR for the evening. 

The wielding of wins on Wednesday by Stalbaum vaulted him into second place among drivers for dash wins for the meet. Currently Drew Monti is on top with 68 wins, Stalbaum is now is second with 60 and Ray Fisher Jr. has dropped into third.

As far as Asher is concerned, she is now firmly in the lead for wins by a trainer this session with 40. That is seven more than JD Perrin who currently sits in second place as a result of the stellar night by the Asher entourage.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs tonight (Oct. 6) with post time at 6 o'clock.

September 30, 2017 - 2:35pm
posted by Billie Owens in harness racing, sports, Batavia Downs.

Osprey Vision with reinsman Drew Monti, second from outside and pulling ahead.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The old wagering adage suggesting you bet the longest shot in the shortest field was right on point in the $10,000 Open Handicap Trot at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 29) as Osprey Vision scored big after being overlooked at 10-1 in the five-horse field.

With the late scratch of Lutetium, Noble Legend (Jim Morrill Jr.) decided to be the leader to follow this week and took that position shortly after the start. With a sloppy track and no early opposition, Morrill took the field down to the half in :58.1 and looked comfortable in doing so.

As the group was into the second circuit, Egosnattitudes (Larry Stalbaum) was motoring up on the outside with Osprey Vision (Drew Monti) second over. But halfway up the backstretch Egosnattitudes copped one and made a break, leaving Osprey Vision advancing alone towards the leader around the final turn. By the time the race hit the head of the lane Osprey Vision looked Noble Legend in the eye before trotting right by. Osprey Vision then maintained the lead while holding off the late charging Barn Winner (Ray Fisher Jr.) and BZ Glide (Mike Caprio) to win in 1:59.2.

Osprey Vision ($23.80) now has eight wins and $55,814 earned this year for owner Marissa Russo and trainer David Russo.

In the $8,000 Open II trot Empire Earl N (Larry Stalbaum) broke a six-week drought, coming from way off the pace at the half following dull outside cover before tipping three-deep off the last turn to close down the lane and win by a neck in 1:59.4.

Empire Earl N ($12) registered his sixth win of the year and bumped his bank to $55,590 for his owner who drives him, Larry Stalbaum. The New Zealand bred son of Earl is trained by Kim Asher.

Ray Fisher Jr. had a driving triple on Friday. Drivers scoring two wins included Drew Monti and Larry Stalbaum. Trainers getting two wins included Kim Asher, David Russo and Angelo Nappo.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs tonight (Sept. 30) at 6 p.m.

September 29, 2017 - 1:40pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Photo of Miss Irish Rose A with reinsman Larry Stalbaum.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Aussie invader Miss Irish Rose A, who was privately purchased from down-under on Aug. 23 by Larry Stalbaum, made her North American debut a winning one by taking the $9,500 Fillies and Mares Open Handicap pace at Batavia Downs on Wednesday afternoon (Sept. 27) as heavy downpours moved through the area.

From the start, Machin Marley (Kevin Cummings) and Squeeze This (Jim Morrill Jr.) argued vehemently for the lead over the rain-soaked track and pushed the quarter to :28 flat. Machin Marley settled on the front around the second bend and proceeded to take the race to the half in :58. At that station the race became a two-tiered event with Who Says That (Ray Fisher Jr.), Classy Lane Rose (Drew Monti) and Miss Irish Rose A (Larry Stalbaum) advancing in the outer flow.

With three-in and three-out, there was a lot of action up the backside as Who Says That took the lead from Machin Marley for an eighth of a mile before Classy Lane Rose wrestled it from her at the three-quarter pole in 1:25.4. But Miss Irish Rose A was still on the attack and drew alongside the latest leader around the final turn, and then getting a slight advantage at the head of the stretch. It was Rose v. Rose as they headed for the finish; Classy Lane inside and Miss Irish outside. But despite a good fight, Miss Irish Rose A pulled away from her formidable foe about ten yards from the wire and won by a length in 1:54.2.

The 10th lifetime win for Miss Irish Rose A ($3) was not only her first in the northern hemisphere; it was also a lifetime mark for the 5-year-old daughter of McArdle. Kim Asher trains the winner.

In the $8,000 Mares Open II pace, Voltina (Kevin Cummings) abandoned her normal front-running posture in lieu of a two-hole trip to victory behind Mean Pauline (Shawn McDonough) courtesy of the passing lane in 1:56.1.

Voltina ($7.10) is owned by CHS Racing LLC and is trained by Tony Cummings.

Kevin Cummings had the driving hat-trick on Wednesday while Drew Monti, Larry Stalbaum and Ray Fisher Jr. each each had two wins apiece. Trainer Kim Asher also sent two from her stable to the winner’s enclosure.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs tonight (Friday, Sept. 29) with post time at 6 o'clock.

September 24, 2017 - 4:55pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.
Focus Power out front with driver Drew Monti.
 
By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs
 
Focus Power left no doubt who the top pacer on the grounds was this week as he tripped out to a two-length victory in the $10,000 Open Handicap pace at Batavia Downs on Saturday evening (Sept. 23).
 
The Downs leading driver Drew Monti sent Focus Power off the gate and took a short-lived lead until he relinquished that spot to Fireyourguns (Mike Caprio) who rushed up and grabbed it by the quarter in :26.2. Fireyourguns then set stout fractions of :55.3 and 1:24.1 while Focus Power drafted in the garden spot. 
 
With little challenge coming from the rest of the field to that point, the top two horses rounded the final turn in line before Monti popped Focus Power out of the pocket and let him do the rest. Focus Power's legs were a blur as he paced into overdrive and flew by Fireyourguns and away from the rest of the group to win in 1:52.4, which was a new lifetime mark. 
 
It was the third win in the last four starts for Focus Power ($6.40), two of which were Open-I paces at Batavia Downs and has earned $81,470 so far this year. The 5-year-old altered son of Shadow Play is owned by James Caradori and trained by Darrin Monti. 
 
In the $9,000 Open II pace, Santana Beach (John Cummings Jr.) went gate to wire in commanding style, winning by eight lengths in 1:53, which was a new seasonal mark. 
 
Santana Beach ($13.80) is owned by Jason Newell and is trained by Richard Roth.
 
Funny Photo with jockey Sophie Engerran.
 
RUS New York had an exhibition non-betting event after the seventh race and the finish was as exciting as last year's race. 
 
Funny Photo (Sophie Engerran) led the entire race cutting fractions of :30.4, 1:02.3 and 1:33.3. But just when it looked like he was home free, One True Friend (Hillary Harnett) came flying from behind and mounted a serious challenge at the top of the lane. But although One True Friend made up almost seven lengths, Funny Photo still hung on and won in 2:04.3, which was a seasonal mark for the winner. 
 
Funny Photo is owned by his rider, Sophie Engerran and is trained by Kimberly Gilman-Daios. 
 
Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednsday (Sept. 27) with post time at 5 p.m.
September 24, 2017 - 4:47pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Noble Legend with driver Ray Fisher Jr. 

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Noble Legend looked very sharp on the front end while defeating six top-end trotters as well as an inquiry at the wire to win the $10,500 Open Handicap trot at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 22).

Noble Legend (Ray Fisher Jr.) left strong off the gate and established a loose two-length advantage on the front end. After passing the quarter in :28.3 the post time favorite Egosnattitudes (Larry Stalbaum) pulled from last and flushed Striker Ace (Kevin Cummings) after they tripped the timer at :58.3 for the half.

Moving up the backside Noble Legend was still strong on the lead as Striker Ace bowed out of the competition. As a result Egosnattitudes tipped three-wide at the three-quarters and advanced to second by the top of the lane. Stalbaum started urging his trotter as he drew closer to the leader, but before he could gain the advantage Egosnattitudes broke wildly halfway down the stretch and galloped across the wire a neck ahead of Noble Legend.

As a result of the obvious lapped-on break, Egosnattitudes was disqualified by the judges and placed last while 
Noble Legend was named the official winner, timed in 1:57.1.

It was the seventh win of the year for Noble Legend ($7) who has now earned $61,370 in 2017 for owners Vogel & Wags Nags Stable and Jack Rice. Maria Rice trains the winner.

In the $8,000 Open II trot, Barn winner (Ray Fisher Jr.) was third at the half, gapped seven-lengths and chasing a runaway Lutetium (John Cummings Jr.) who took the field to a 1:25.3 third quarter, before pulling in the far turn and trotting right by the fading leader to win in 1:56, which was a new lifetime mark for the winner.

Barn Winner ($20.20) now boasts nine wins on the year and $35,310 in the bank. The 3-year-old gelded son of Credit Winner was purchased privately on Aug. 29 by his current owners Tanah Merah Farms LLC and the Swift Racing Stable and is trained by Ryan Swift.

Kevin Cummings had a big night, winning four races on the card. He got across with Pilgrims All In ($5, 1:57.4), Shawnee Magic ($8.90), 1:58.1), Ona Dream ($6.40, 1:59.3) and Kings Treasure ($5, 1:55.3).

Ray Fisher Jr. had a driving triple himself while trainers David Russo, Rose Russo, JD Perrin and Angelo Nappo all had two stable members cross the wire first.

September 22, 2017 - 5:43pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

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.

September 21, 2017 - 10:39pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The 36th season of C. K. G. Billings amateur racing rolls into Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 22) with two divisions (one trot and one pace) going for $5,000 each. Batavia is the 42nd stop of the combined 2017 season for the Billings, which has only 17 more to go before they convene for the finals at Yonkers Raceway on Sunday (Nov. 26) and vie for the Delvin Miller Gold and Silver Cup championships and $40,000 in purses.

The series that began in the early 1980’s is conducted by the Delvin Miller Harness Drivers Association and is considered the Grand Circuit of Amateur Racing. And as a result of their charitable efforts, tens of thousands of dollars are raised each year through amateur driving for the benefit of each club's charity. The C.K.G. Billings contributes its driver’s percentage to the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen, NY.

Participating drivers support these charities by directing their 5 percent driver’s commissions for all Billings Races to either the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame or to the Delvin Miller Harness Drivers Association for further contribution to the Harness Racing Museum or to a local charity.

Drivers who will be appearing at the downs to compete on Friday include Joe Faraldo, Joe Lee and Bob Davis who will all drive in both events, along with Don Hoover, Robert Ciavardini, David Glasser, Anthony Ciuffetelli, Anthony Verruso, David Drew and Matt Zuccarello who will all have one drive apiece.

The two events are carded as race one and four and post time for the first race in at 6 p.m.

September 21, 2017 - 3:08pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

(Photo of All Charged Up with driver John Macdonald.)

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The Wednesday night (Sept. 20) spotlight fell on the fillies and mares at Batavia Downs and All Charged Up took center stage after capturing the $10,000 distaff Open on a beautiful late-summer evening.

All Charged Up (John Macdonald) got away last from post six as Squeeze This (Ron Beback Jr.) inherited the front at the start with no one else deciding to go. Beback then took advantage of that situation, leading the girls to the half in a relatively tame :57.3, with the field still in single-file fashion.

As they swung into the third turn, Kruella (Shawn McDonough) pulled and started an outer flow. This allowed All Charged Up to scoot up along the pylons into fourth, right behind the still-leading Squeeze This. By the three-quarters Kruella sidled the leader and gained the advantage by the top of the stretch, which is where All Charged Up found the passing lane. Macdonald shot her through like a rocket under heavy urging to nip Kruella under the wire in 1:54.2. 

It was the third win of the year for the speedy All Charged Up ($6.90), all of which were recorded at Batavia Downs. The J P Stables owns the 6-year-old daughter of Ponder who is trained by her driver, John Macdonald.

In the $8,000 fillies and mares Open II, Exotic Beach (Larry Stalbaum) took full advantage of a drop in class to easily wire the field in 1:53.4, which tied her seasonal mark. The win pushed her 2017 bank to $41,016 for Stalbaum who also owns her, through the conditioning efforts of her trainer Kim Asher.

Stalbaum had a big night in the bike, winning three more races besides the co-feature. This pushed his total for the meet to 46 and moved him ahead of Jim Morrill Jr. (45) into a second place tie with Ray Fisher Jr. (46), 13 wins behind the meet leader, Drew Monti (59).

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 22) with post time set at 6 o'clock.

September 17, 2017 - 12:04am
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Team Captain pulls ahead with driver John Cummings Jr.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Even though the betting public completely overlooked Tioga Downs invader Team Captain at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 16), the 16-1 pacer made his presence known in the $10,500 featured Open by upsetting local favorite Fireyourguns in one of the most exciting races held at the Downs this season.

Team Captain (John Cummings Jr.) got away last in the field of seven as even-money shot Fireyourguns went three-deep to take the lead and set quick early fractions of :26.1 and :54.2. He was being prompted by Believe This Bob (Shawn McDonough) who was parked out the entire mile. As the field bunched into two rows up the backstretch, Team Captain was still last and third-over in the outer flow at three-quarters in 1:23.1 but that was about to change.

Coming off the last turn, Focus Power (Drew Monti) tipped three-deep around Itsonlyrocknroll A (Larry Stalbaum) and Team Captain tipped four-wide around him. As the cavalry charge roared down the stretch, Fireyourguns weakened inside as Focus Power and Team Captain went toe-to-toe all the way to the wire with Team Captain eventually getting a head advantage under the light in 1:52.4.

Team Captain ($34.20) scored his sixth win of the year for owner Joseph Martinelli Sr. who has benefited from his horse's efforts this year in the amount of $35,610. Paul Bernardo trains the 5-year-old gelded son of Cam’s Card Shark.

In the co-featured $9,000 Open II pacing event, Show Stopping ($28.20) tracked fast fractions set by Mister Livan N (Larry Stalbaum) from sixth before pulling second-over at three-quarters and then tipping three-wide at the top of the stretch to pace away from the field and win by one-half length in 1:53.1.

Show Stopping is owned by Resilient Racing Stable and trained by Rose Russo.

Drew Monti, Kevin Cummings, John Cummings Jr. and Ray Fisher Jr. all had driving doubles Saturday. Trainer Rose Russo also sent out two winners from her stable.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Monday (Sept. 18) with post time at 5 p.m.

September 16, 2017 - 2:07pm
posted by Billie Owens in harness racing, sports, Batavia Downs.

Photo of Egosnattitudes in the foreground driven by Larry Stalbaum.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Slow starts and fast finishes are his trademark and Egosnattitudes followed the playbook to a “T” on Friday night as he captured the $9,000 Open trotting feature at Batavia Downs.

Egosnattitudes (Larry Stalbaum) got away last by ten-lengths to begin the race while Lutetium (Denny Bucceri) called the shots on the front end. While the race cruised by the half in :57.3, Egosnattitudes was rolling up on the outside, trying to get in the mix. Striker Ace (Kevin Cummings) pulled underneath him and drew even with Lutetium and those two matched strides until the five-eighths when Lutetium made a break. With Striker Ace (Kevin Cummings) now on the point, Egosnattitudes kept in hot pursuit and incrementally drew alongside the leader at the top of the lane before continuing right by him in the stretch to win in 1:57.1.

It was the sixth win of the year for Egosnattitudes ($3.80) and the third win in four Batavia Downs starts. Egosnattitudes is owned by Graham Grace Stables LLC and is trained by Kim Asher.

In the $8,500 Open II, Skyway Priss (Jim Morrill Jr.) was the only mare in the field and led every step of the way, winning her seventh race of the year in 1:57.3, which was a new seasonal mark. It was the second straight win for Skyway Priss ($4.20) both of which were for her new owners Buona Fortuna Stable and Marissa Russo who purchased the mare privately on September 3. David Russo trains the winner.

Several horsemen had multiple win nights at the Downs on Friday. Leading driver Drew Monti and Jim Morrill Jr. both had a triple on the card while Larry Stalbaum brought two to the circle. And trainers Darrin Monti, Mark Temperato and Kim Asher conditioned two winners apiece during the proceedings.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 16) with the first post slated for 6 o'clock.

September 14, 2017 - 11:45pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Photo of Top Flight Angel with driver Andy Miller.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The $121,500 New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for 3-year-old colt and gelding trotters rolled into Batavia Downs on Wednesday evening (Sept. 13) and the track record for that age, sex and gait, which is also the all-time track trotting mark of 1:54.3 set by Archangel in 2012 was tied by his son, Top Flight Angel (Archangel-Top Photo).

In the first $60,200 division, Top Flight Angel (Andy Miller) left the gate, took the lead and called all the shots from there. Travelling well in hand and totally unchallenged the entire mile, Top Flight Angel set quarter fractions of :29, :58.2 and 1:26.2 while opening up a five-length advantage in the process. With the fans on hand aware of the track standard, all eyes were simultaneously on the leader and the clock as Top Flight Angel cruised down the lane and won in 1:54.3, tying the mark.

“He was awesome; he just breezed around there. He likes the half. It’s just a matter of getting him out of the gate and keeping his attention. He’s got the (NYSS) final in a couple of weeks, the Breeders Crown if he’s up to it and a couple later stakes. So hopefully we’ll be going to the Breeders Crown” said driver Andy Miller.  

It was the fourth win of the year for the Yonkers Trot champion, Top Flight Angel ($3.80) and it pushed his earnings for 2017 to $362,016 for owner Legendary Standardbred Farm. Julie Miller trains the winner.

Photo: Swell Chap pulls ahead with driver Drew Monti.

In the second $61,300 division, Swell Chap (Drew Monti) left from post six and dropped in third as Icanflylikeanangel (Mickey Mc Nichol) took the lead. The field was moving at a brisk clip (:28.1, :57.3) when Monti pulled Swell Chap and started an outer flow in front of the grandstand.

Swell Chap drew alongside Icanflylikeanangel and the two matched strides up the backstretch and around the last turn when Stick With Me Kid (Chris Lems) joined the party three-deep coming into the stretch. With the three across the track, Icanflylikeanangel gained a short advantage, but Swell chap swelled-up and came back under urging to win by a length in 1:56.1.

“He raced awesome. He put in a good effort at Buffalo (Raceway on July 9) but I didn’t get the trip I wanted. I didn’t get it tonight either but he got the job done. He’s a nice horse” said driver Drew Monti.

The win was the sixth of the season for Swell Chap ($11.60) whose earnings now total $157,451. Foge McKeever and Eldon Thompson own Swell Chap (Chapter Seven-Gia) who is trained by Todd Rooney.

Two $15,000 Excelsior A series races were also featured on the card Wednesday.

Big Man Ev (Chapter Seven-Possessed By Lindy) won the first division wire to wire in 1:56.4 with Andy Miller aboard. Big Man Ev ($3.10) is owned by the Andy Miller Stable, the Lindy Racing Stable and Harvey Eisman and is trained by Julie Miller.

Zack’s Zoomer (Deweycheatumnhowe-Passageway) won the second division, cutting the mile in 1:55.2 for Jim Morrill Jr. Zack’s Zoomer is owned by the Ervin Miller Stable Inc. and Harvey Eisman. Erv Miller does the training.

September 12, 2017 - 11:30am
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Some of the best sophomore trotting colts and geldings on the Grand Circuit will be in town on Wednesday afternoon (Sept. 13) to vie for a total of $121,500 in purses offered in the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) at Batavia Downs. And with only one more stop after Batavia before the finals, everyone will be jockeying for point position in a very close race.

The first $60,200 division (carded as race three) features Yonkers Trot winner Top Flight Angel and Hambletonian finalist Guardian Angel AS.

Top Flight angel (Archangel-Top Photo) was having a very solid year that turned outstanding for his connections last week when he won the $500,000 Yonkers Trot. Previous to that victory he finished fourth in the Empire Breeders Classic at Vernon Downs and had one win in a NYSS leg. He is currently seventh in points for the final and is in need of a win here to keep pace with the leaders and make the draw for the Night of Champions. With $331,916 earned and a mark of 1:55, he is as solid a choice here as you could want.

Leaving from post one and listed at 7-5 morning line, Top Flight Angel will be driven by Andy Miller for trainer Julie Miller.

Guardian Angel AS (Archangel-Provide AS) has seven wins this year, two of which were in the NYSS. He raced in the Hambletonian final in August and was trotting second in the stretch when he was involved in the highly contentious interference call that saw him break and finish ninth. Most recently Guardian Angel AS won his elimination of the Yonkers Trot, defeating Top Flight Angel in the process. But in the final he made a break after the start and was never in the race after that.

Trainer Anette Lorentzon has regular driver Jason Bartlett up once again behind Guardian Angel AS who has drawn post four and is the early 6-5 choice.

In the second $61,300 division, Lord Cromwell (Chapter Seven-Oh Oh Its Magic) come in on a two-race win streak and a freshly set 1:54.3 lifetime mark at Saratoga Raceway. He won the $143,737 Dexter Cup at Freehold Raceway in May and was in the Empire Breeders Classic in June where he finished a close sixth after getting parked the whole mile. He is the top money earner in this race with $169,965 and is part of a stable entry with The Last Chapter (Chapter Seven-J C Josie).

Lord Cromwell will depart from post three with Jim Morrill Jr. in tow and the Ed Hart trainee is listed in the entry at 2-1.

Eye Ofa Tiger AS (Chapter Seven-Cascade AS) is the top point-getter in the NYSS for this category on the strength of two wins and three seconds in the series. In his last start at Saratoga, he was parked out the better part of the mile and still hung on tough to finish second behind Lord Cromwell, who cut it. For the year overall he has five wins and has never missed the board in 10 starts and those outings have put $138,660 on his card.

Like Guardian Angel AS, Eye Ofa Tiger AS is trained by Anette Lorentzon and will be driven by Jason Bartlett. He has post seven and is the early second choice at 5-2.

Also on the card are two $15,000 Excel A series trots on the card that offer great betting opportunities and will be hotly contested.

Post time for the first race is 5 p.m.

September 11, 2017 - 3:40pm
posted by Billie Owens in harness racing, sports, Batavia Downs.

Focus Power with driver Drew Monti.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Focus Power moved up to the top class on the grounds after winning in the Open II last week, but the ascension was no impediment as he won the $10,000 Open Handicap pace at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 9).  

Focus Power (Drew Monti) left from post four and was in front and on the pylons before they race even hit the turn. With the short field settling, Believe This Bob (Shawn McDonough) wanted the front and came before the eighth pole and cleared before the quarter in :28.1. Positions remained unchanged until Southwind Torque (Ray Fisher Jr.) pulled mid-way up the backside in what would be a short-lived bid.

As the outside challenge faded in the turn, Believe This Bob was looking solid in front as they headed for home. However as soon as the passing lane was accessible, Monti directed Focus Power into it and shot right by Believe This Bob and paced away to a two-length win in 1:53.1.

Focus Power ($7.80) now has $73,845 on his card on the strength of seven wins this year and the win time of 1:53.1 was only one-fifth of a second off the lifetime mark he just set last week. James Caradori owns the 5-year-old altered son of Shadow Play that gets his conditioning from Darrin Monti.

In the co-featured $9,000 Open II, Itsonlyrocknroll A (Larry Stalbaum) got away last and methodically worked his way up the rail while chasing fractions of :26.4, :54.4 and 1:23.3 and before getting loose around the far turn to tip three-deep and simply pace away from everyone to win by two open lengths in 1:53.1.  

It was the second win in a row and 11th of the year for Itsonlyrocknroll A ($16.40) who now has earned $61,695 in purses for Stalbaum who also owns him. Kim Asher is the trainer.

Larry Stalbaum visited the winner's circle five times on Saturday with Itsonlyrocknroll A, Teo Enteo A (1:56, $7.90), Mister Livan N (1:53.2, $4.60), Anderlecht (1:54.4, $3.20) and Saint William A (1:56.3, $7.10). 

Not wanting to be outdone, Drew Monti and Kevin Cummings each had two winners apiece as well. Trainer Kim Asher also sent four of her horses to the winner’s enclosure for pictures.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on today (Sept. 11) with post time set at 5 p.m.

September 11, 2017 - 3:37pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The first race at Batavia Downs Friday night (Sept. 8) may have only been a $6,500 Excelsior B pace for first-year fillies, but to one participant of the race it was a once in a lifetime milestone.

After finishing second with Fast Date in 1:57.2, Jim Morrill Jr. surpassed the $100,000 million dollar mark in career earnings. That places him 22nd on the list among all harness drivers in the history of the sport.

Morrill got his start in the business working for his father at Foxboro Park. The elder Morrill, an accomplished driver himself, always had a small stable there and he laid the groundwork for his son and helped him hone his skills. Jim Morrill Jr. got his first driving start in 1984 and from there he was on his way.

“My father meant everything to my career. He set down everything to get me going when he was still driving and put me on every horse in the barn. I didn’t really know what I was doing at the time and would drive one bad here or there and if the owner complained about it, he told them to take their horse to somebody else. And then he’d come back to me and tell me “you cost me another horse you little whelp.”

The family’s operation was eventually moved to Maryland and Rosecroft Raceway where the number of horses in the barn grew. Besides driving his father’s stock, Morrill started getting a lot of catch drives and soon was finding himself in demand.

Rosecroft used to take six-weeks off during Christmas each year and Morrill didn’t want to sit idle, so in 1990 he went to New York and started driving for Ray Schnittker and George Anthony at Yonkers Raceway. He soon found a lot of success there as well and decided that move would be permanent.

Morrill recalls his most memorable races as being the 2004 Meadowlands Pace where Holborn Hanover was a 58-1 upset winner in 1:49, equaling the stake mark and the 2009 Jugette where Showherthemoney made a break in her elimination before coming back to win that race and the final as well three races later.

Jim Morrill Jr. left the New York metropolitan area in 2005 and relocated his business and family to western New York.

“I have never regretted moving to the Batavia-Buffalo circuit, we love it here. My wife’s sister and mother live near us and when I’m on the road she has her family now instead of being up in New Jersey by herself. The New York Sires Stakes has been great for me as well as the overnight starts and we’re just gearing up for the next however-many years to come.”

In 2006 at Batavia Downs, Morrill set the all-time driving standard for the track with 177 wins and a UDR of .537 for one meet. 

For his career to date, Jim Morrill Jr. now has had 37,332 starts with 6,902 wins, 5,692 seconds and 4,753 thirds with $100,046,554 in earnings.

September 11, 2017 - 3:35pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Azreal As It Gets with driver Matt Kakaley.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The 2-year-old pacing fillies were at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 8) to battle for their share of the $109,000 in purse money up for grabs in the New York Sires Stakes (NYSS).

The first $54,500 contest saw Azreal As It Gets (Matt Kakaley) lead briefly before yielding to favored Alexis Faith (Jim Morrill Jr.) past the quarter and settle into a garden-spot trip. Azreal As It Gets took full advantage of that strategic spot as Alexis Faith then battled Michelle’s Jazz (Ray Fisher Jr.) from the three-eighths pole to the top of the stretch. From there she found the passing lane and scooted through to win by two lengths in 1:55.4, with a snappy :28.2 final panel. The time was a new lifetime mark for the filly.

It was the first win in six tries for Azreal As It Gets (So Surreal-Vanite Semalu) who now shows $58,461 on her card for owners Our Horse Cents Stable and Stable 45. Azreal As It Gets ($6.70) is trained by Jake huff.

Ubettergo Go in forefront with driver Billy Davis Jr.

In the second $54,500 division, Ubettergo Go (Billy Davis Jr.) took off the gate and tucked in fifth while Wisdom Tree (Kevin Cummings) and Hurrikane Shorty (Jason Bartlett) set the early pace on the front-end. When Jan (Jim Morrill Jr.) pulled first past the half, Ubettergo Go followed second-over and advanced up the backside. Around the last turn, Hurrikane Shorty gapped the leader and Jan dropped in second. But Ubettergo Go continued to advance against the stubborn Wisdom Tree, who would not give up. Down the lane Cummings and Davis were driving hard but Davis got more out of his filly in the end and won by a half-length in 1:55.3.

The victory was the third of the year for Ubettergo Go (Art Major-Ubetterthink Think), all of which were in NYSS races. Ubettergo Go ($22.40) has earned $87,359 so far this year for owners Tony Basile, Reginald Petitpas, Ozzie MacKay and Blake Macintosh, who also trains the filly.

There were also three $15,000 Excelsior A races on the program Friday night.

In the first division, Act Like A Diva (Roll With Joe-Music Row) went wire to wire for Jim Morrill Jr. in 1:57.2. Act Like A Diva ($6.00) is owned by Paymaq Racings, Greg Gillis, Louis Willinger and Craig Henderson and is trained by Erv miller.

The second division went to Checkered Past (American Ideal-Character Flaw) who tripped-out in 1:57.4 for Jim Morrill Jr. Checkered Past ($4.30) is owned by All Star Racing Inc. and is trained by Peter Foley.

The final split was won by Pelican Blue Chip (Rock N Roll Heaven-Feathery Fame) who went gate to wire in 1:56.2. Pelican Blue Chip ($3.60) is owned by Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc., Michelle Rosato and Matthew Dugan and is trained by Tracey Brainard.

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