The trotters were on full display under the Friday night (August 25) lights at Batavia Downs but the spotlight fell directly on driver Jim Morrill Jr., who choreographed the journeys of the winners of the top two events.
In the $15,000 Open I Handicap trot, Morrill put Makadushin N Cheez on the point and then sat chilly for the next eight furlongs. Makadushin N Cheez put up easy fractions of :28.4, :58.2 and 1:26.4 before taking his 3-½ length lead into the last turn. Morrill stayed reclined behind Makadushin N Cheez as Lougazi (Ray Fisher Jr.) tried to employ his patented late rally in the stretch. But there would be no change in the order this week as Makadushin N Cheez just cruised across the line in 1:56.
It was the 23rd lifetime win in only the 67th lifetime start for the high percentage Makadushin N Cheez ($5.30) who is owned by Joe D’ Agostino, Molly D’Agostino, Phillip Kadushin and David Dewhurst, who also trains the winner.
In the undercard $13,000 Open II trot, Morrill took no prisoners with Mugshots Bro, who grabbed an early lead and maintained a 1-½ length lead to three-quarters. CR Blazin Beauty (Dave McNeight III) and Good Boy (Ray Fisher Jr.) tried their best to catch the leader around the last turn, but when Mugshots Bro hit the top of the stretch, he bolted home to a 3-¾ length victory in a seasonal best 1:57.1.
Mugshots Bro ($3.90) is owned by Herman Niedhammer and Herman Niedhammer Jr. and is trained by Rose Russo.
Morrill ended the night with a total of three wins on the strength of his natural hat trick in races eight, nine and ten, but Dave McNeight III led all reinsmen with a grand slam. Also, trainers Rose Russo and Lee Dahn both scored doubles.
The biggest win mutuel of the year so far occurred in race four when Coco Hall (Jim McNeight Jr.) out-trotted the heavily favored Crews Hilltopper (Jim Morrill Jr.) to the line by a head in 1:59.3 and paid $129.00 to win.
When live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (August 26) at 6 p.m. there will be a $7,322 carryover in the Jackpot Hi-5 pentafecta in the 15th race.
Also on Saturday, Batavia Downs will host its richest card of racing this summer when a total of $467,400 in purses will be up for grabs. The card features both colt and filly divisions of New York Sire Stake and Excelsior 3-year-old trotters with total purses of $294,900 and the $75,000 Kane Memorial Invitational Pace, which is Batavia Downs signature race.
Free full past performance programs for every live card of racing at Batavia can always be downloaded at the Downs’ website (bataviadownsgaming.com) under the “Live Racing” tab and all the racing action can be viewed as it happens for free at the Batavia Downs Live Facebook page.