By TIm Bojarski, for Batavia Downs:
The $320,000 New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) consolation races were contested in eight divisions at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 21) with Jason Bartlett and Marcus Miller getting the lion’s share of the eight contests. Bartlett won three and finished third two more times while Miller won two and finished second four times.
Despite a heavy downpour early in the card, the track set up quickly and two lifetime and two seasonal marks were set during the evening in the NYSS races.
Here is a race by race recap of the consolation events.
2-year-old filly pace
Winner -- Topville Angelina (American Ideal-A Fiesty Affair) 1:57.2
Owners -- Erv Miller Stable, Michael Anderson and George Golemes
Trainer -- Erv Miller
Breeder -- Robert Hamather
Topville Angelina (Marcus Miller) travelled second the entire mile behind Sun Viser (Billy Davis Jr.) through even fractions until the top of the stretch when Miller tipped her and she quickly paced by the leader down the lane to win by three lengths in 1:57.2.
2-year-old filly trot
Winner -- Sweet Chapter (Chapter Seven-Mom’s A Sweetie Pie) 2:01.2
Owners -- Hutt Racing Stable, Blake MacIntosh, Glenn Bechtel and the Mortgage Boys Stable
Trainer -- Blake MacIntosh
Breeder -- Winbak Farm
Mutuel -- $3.20
Sweet Chapter (Jim Morrill Jr.) went right to the front and dictated the entire race. Contending with a heavy downpour during the mile, Sweet Chapter trotted to the three-quarters in 1:30.1 without a challenge before Hot Chapter (Marcus Miller) started an attack on the outside. Hot Chapter trotted hard down the lane in the middle of the track but Sweet Chapter had enough left to hang on and win in 2:01.2.
2-year-old colt and gelding pace
Winner -- KJ Leo (Art Major-Winsmith Jess) 1:54.4
Owners -- Brenda Messenger, Philip Shapiro and Scott Woogen
Trainer -- Gary Messenger
Breeders -- Brenda Messenger, Philip Shapiro and Scott Woogen
Mutuel -- $24.40
Cub Fan (Marcus Miller) was a strong leaver and set the pace once he settled ahead of KJ Leo (Billy Davis Jr.) who would get the perfect trip. After getting to the half in :57.1, Jet Rock (Kevin Cummings) pulled first up and pushed the issue with Cub Fan all the way to the top of the stretch. At that point he faded and KJ Leo popped the pocket and paced down the lane stride for stride with Cub Fan. When they hit the wire they were a neck apart with KJ Leo getting the better of the photo in 1:54.4, which was a new lifetime mark.
2-year-old colt and gelding trot
Winner -- JNR Express (Coway Hall-Yankee T L C) 1:59.3
Owners -- James De Armond and Russell Young
Trainer -- Jessica Okusko
Breeder -- Donald La Page
Mutuel -- $9
JNR Express (Kevin Cummings) took no prisoners as he left and led at every station. After trotting well in hand through a 1:29.2 three quarters, JNR Express took a two-length lead into a stretch and held off a late surge by Brady Bunch (Marcus Miller) and Whimzical Chapter (Dan Daley) to win in 1:59.3, which was a new lifetime mark.
(Above: Solitary with driver Jason Bartlett.)
3-year-old filly pace
Winner -- Solitary (American Ideal-Lonesome Day) 1:54.4
Owners -- William Daggett Jr., Lawrence Vukovic and the J L Benson Stable
Trainer -- Nick Surick
Breeder -- Docs Farm
Mutuel -- $3.30
Pelican Blue Chip (Jim Morrill Jr.) grabbed the lead by the quarter and took the race to the half in :57. An outer flow began to advance and by the three quarters horses were three deep heading into the turn with Solitary (Jason Bartlett) locked in fifth with no racing room. Believe In Me (Drew Monti) who was second on the outside bore out and gave Solitary and opening to get out and get out she did. Bartlett gave the filly her head and she shifted gears and paced away from the field to win by three lengths in 1:54.4, which was a new seasonal mark.
“The race didn’t unfold as I expected and I had to make my way out of traffic in the last turn. But When I got her free it was over,” said Bartlett after the race.
(Above: I'm the Muscle with driver Jason Bartlett.)
3-year-old colt and gelding trot
Winner -- I’m The Muscle (Muscle Mass-Lady Bling) 1:57.4
Owner -- Rheau Viau
Trainer -- Rene Allard
Breeder -- Blair and Erna Corbell
Mutuel -- $2.30
In a race shortened by two scratches, I’m The Muscle (Jason Bartlett) wanted nothing but the front and didn’t waste any time getting there. He trotted unchallenged on top by two open lengths in :29.3, :59.3 and 1:29.1 before rounding the last turn and flying home in a quick :28.3 to win in 1:57.4.
“He has been getting better and better each week and last week he was closing on Six Pack Late. He’s a real nice horse,” said Bartlett in the winner’s circle.
3-year-old filly trot
Winner -- Supergirl RIley (Muscle Mass-Crown Laurel) 1:57
Owners -- Paymaq Racing, George Golemes and Harvey Eisman
Trainer -- Erv Miller
Breeder -- Brittany Farms
Mutuel -- $2.10
Marcus Miller took advantage of the continuing front end bias and put the 1-9 favorite Supergirl RIley right on the point as the field followed in single file. With the rest of the group gapping behind, the pocket-sitting Golden Muscle (Drew Monti) pulled at three-quarters to take her shot. But halfway through the turn, Golden Muscle broke and Supergirl RIley found herself all alone trotting down the stretch a wrapped-up winner by three in 1:57.
“She’s just an unbelievable horse. She does everything right and she won easy tonight,” said driver Marcus Miller after the race.
(Above: Ideal Feeling with driver Jason Bartlett.)
3-year-old colt and gelding pace
Winner -- Ideal Feeling (American Ideal-Feelinglikeastar) 1:52.4
Owner -- Rick Berks
Trainer -- Mike Deters
Breeder -- Winbak Farm
Mutuel -- $3.10
Ideal Feeling (Jason Bartlett) seated third off the gate but then came quick past the eighth pole to grab the lead. Rolling handily past the half and to three-quarters in 1:24.1 without any opposition, Ideal Feeling watched as Lyons Steel (Kevin Cummings) left his cover and made his bid for the win. As the race moved down the lane, Lyons Steel continued to gain ground but Bartlett kept Ideal Feeling to task and he won by a half length in 1:52.4 to take his third consecutive win.
Before the races began, Batavia Downs held a press conference with regional media outlets to formally announce the track being awarded the 2019 NYSS Night of Champions.
The Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding and Development Fund awarded the $1.8 million finals to Batavia Downs because of its excellent facilities and their ability to promote the race and offer an exciting fan experience.
Henry Wojtaszek, president and CEO of Batavia Downs Gaming and Hotel expressed his excitement looking forward to next year: “We are very excited for Batavia Downs Gaming to host the $1.8 million finals if the New York SIre Stakes with the long history this facility has with harness racing. We have made so many improvements to the track and can’t wait to host everyone that weekend and showcase our new hotel and beautiful clubhouse.”
Kelly Young, executive director of the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding and Development Fund said: “2019 will be the 30th edition of the Night of Champions and we look forward to bringing it to Western New York and Batavia Downs. We’re really excited to watch this race track do what it does best; that is promoting harness racing and bringing fans in to watch the best horses the state has to offer.”
The date of the finals will be announced once the actual racing schedule is finalized.