Photo of Hypnotic Am with driver Brian Sears.
By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs
The weather was perfect, the track was lightning fast and 3,500 excited fans filled the property to watch eight divisions of the $1.8 million New York Sire Stake finals during the Night of Champions at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 14).
Two stake and three track records were rewritten during the night led by 2-year-old trotting filly Hypnotic Am (Chapter Seven-Daydream Am S) who remained undefeated in 2019 and now sporting a seven-race winning streak.
Hypnotic Am (Brian Sears) tucked in second for just a moment before coming back out and taking the lead by the quarter in a soft :29. She was just cruising on the lead past the half and to three-quarters while Sevntimesalady (Ake Svanstedt) moved into position behind her and tried to keep up around the turn for a stretch run.
In the lane Hypnotic Am was trotting up a storm and had no intentions of letting anyone get near her. Sears sat chilly with the whip on his shoulder while Hypnotic Am pulled away to an easy three-length victory in 1:57.1.
The time was a new stake record (formerly 1:57.2 set by Barn Bella in 2016) and a new track record (formerly 1:59 set by Plunge Blue Chip in 2017).
“She is a very nice filly and does anything that you want her to,” Sears said. “Marcus (Melander) does a wonderful job getting his horses ready to compete.”
Hypnotic Am ($2.10) was bred by her owner Courant Inc. and is trained by Marcus Melander.
(Photo of Third Shift with reinsman Ake Svanstedt.)
The next history-making race was won by 2-year-old trotting colt Third Shift (Chapter Seven-Overnight Command) who upset after the favorite Barn Holden made an untimely break.
Third Shift (Ake Svanstedt) was all business right from the start as he took the front in :28.2 and led by two-lengths. They trotted past the half and on to the second circuit when Third Shift opened up a three-length lead and looked very much like a winner.
Heading into the last turn, Barn Holden (Andy Miller) who had been stalking from second, had a shot at the leader but made a break halfway through the bend. Chaptima (Trond Smedshammer) who was drafting third continued to gain ground and Svanstedt started to feel the pressure. But he got after Third Shift and worked him down the lane and outlasted Chaptima to win by a length in 1:56.
The time was a new stake record (formerly 1:56.3 set by Gimpanzee) and a new track record (formerly 1:57.1 set by Barn Holden)
Third Shift ($10) is owned by Melby Gard Inc. and Ake Svanstedt, who also trains the winner. Third Shift was bred by Winbak Farm,
The third record beaker was 2-year-old pacing colt Cigars And Port (So Surreal-Sweet On Art) who turned in a lifetime best effort for the win.
(Cigars And Port with Jason Bartlett in the sulky.)
Cigars And Port (Jason Bartlett) and Groovy Joe (Matt Kakaley) both left and seated one-two in the turn. They remained that way past the quarter and to a half that Bartlett backed down with a :30.2 split. The race moved up the backstretch still in single file, but Groovy Joe was in the two-path waiting to make his move.
Kakaley pulled the trigger halfway into the turn, came aggressively and drew even with the leader. At the top of the stretch, Groovy Joe took a short lead from Cigars And Port and looked to have the advantage. But Cigars And Port swelled up and came back to open up a length lead at the wire where he won in 1:54.
“Training over the winter I knew this was the horse that would be real good in the sire stakes,” Bartlett said. “He was a little bit of a handful scoring down but he was perfect in the race.”
The time was a new track record (formerly 1:54.1 set by Melodies Major in 2018)
Cigars And Port ($4.80) is owned by Ray Schnittker, Nolamaura Racing, Ted Gewertz and Steve Arnold and trained by Ray Schnittker. Steve Jones bred the colt.
The night also produced a record handle as a result of the excellent card. Monies wagers beat the all-time handle by 93 percent since Western Regional Off Track Betting reopened the track in 2002.
“These finals were all we had hoped for and more and we would like to thank the trustees for selecting Batavia Downs as the 2019 site,” said Todd Haight, director/general manager of Racing at Batavia Downs.
“This event had a substantial impact on the local economy with all neighboring hotels sold out and other businesses in the area getting additional business over this past week. It was good for racing, but it was also good for the entire economy of the Genesee County region.”
Here is a recap of the rest of the stakes:
3-year-old pacing fillies
Zero Tolerance (Heston Blue Chip-Feelinglikeastar)
Driver -- Jim Morrill Jr.
Owner -- Val D’Or Farms and Ted Gewertz
Trainer -- Joe Holloway
Breeder -- Winbak Farms
Time -- 1:54.4
Mutuel -- $2.30
Zero Tolerance (Jim Morrill Jr.) got away third while So Awesome (Tyler Buter) cut pedestrian fractions of :28.2 and :58.1 to the half. Morrill then pulled Zero Tolerance first-up past the half and drew even with So Awesome at the three-quarters. After pacing side by side for about an eighth of a mile, Zero Tolerance just pulled away with a two-length lead and hit the wire a wrapped-up winner over Brooklyn Lilacs (Joe Bongiorno) by 1-¾ lengths in 1:54.4.
“She followed some good early fractions and came home real well,” said her trainer Joe Holloway. “She’ll be going to Lexington next and then to the Breeders Crown.”
3-year-old trotting fillies
Quincy Blue Chip (Chapter Seven-Sirenuse)
Driver -- Jim Morrill Jr.
Owner -- Barabara Boese, James Boese and Richard Banca
Trainer -- Richard Banca
Breeder -- Blue Chip Bloodstock
Time -- 1:56.4
Mutuel -- $4.50
Quincy Blue Chip (Jim Morrill Jr.) took no prisoners and went right to the front. With Blue Ribbon Gal (Brian Sears) and Sweet Chapter (Matt Kakaley) making breaks in the first turn, Sensibility (Scott Zeron) who also left, easily grabbed a two-hole trip behind the favorite. Morrill backed the half down to 1:00 and forced Stella Jane (Corey Callahan) and Winndevie (Jason Bartlett) to come in the outer flow to chase.
Quincy Blue Chip hit the gas on the second circuit, smoking a :28.1 third quarter that thwarted the outside attackers short-lived challenge. Morrill then let his filly have her head around the last turn and into the lane and she trotted home without issue ahead of a fast-closing Winndevie (Jason Bartlett) in 1:56.4.
“I got to the half in a real soft fraction and then let her trot home all by herself,” Morrill said. “She does it all by herself; she’s a real nice filly.”
2-year-old pacing fillies
The Fun Marshall (So Surreal-Hallmark Hanover)
Driver -- Scott Zeron
Owner -- Richard Silverman, Mary Kinsey Arnold, Edward Mcenery and Michael Gluckman
Trainer -- Richard Silverman
Breeder -- Steve Jones
Time -- 1:54.2
Mutuel -- $7.50
The Fun Marshall (Scott Zeron) was automatically in front off the pylons as no one else left in the race. She got to the quarter in :27.4 and the half in :58.1. There, Cash Roll (Andy Miller) started to pursue from the outside with Merga Hanover (Matt Kakaley) on her back.
The group sped up the backside in :28 flat when Kakaley made a bold move and tipped Merga Hanover three-deep going into the last turn. With the pace still stiff around the final bend, Merga Hanover’s bid failed and The Fun Marshall began to extend her lead as they came to the wire where she won by five in a new lifetime mark of 1:54.2.
“We took our time with her all year and she really developed, and the rail helped tonight,” Zeron said. “I’ve never had her on the front before and when that horse tipped three-deep she just opened up. She paced as fast as she could down the lane.”
3-year-old trotting colts and geldings
Gimpanzee (Chapter Seven-Steamy Windows)
Driver -- Brian Sears
Owner -- Courant Inc. and S R F Stable
Trainer -- Marcus Melander
Breeder -- Order By Stable
Time -- 1:56.2
Mutuel -- $2.10
Gimpanzee (Brian Sears) was all business and left nothing to chance from the start. He went right to the front and did things at his own discretion. With no one making any moves behind him, Sears cut very soft fractions of :29 and :59.1 before speeding it up a bit to 1:28.1 in the third panel.
Winnerup (Trond Smedshammer) who had moved from the back of the pack, made his way to second and got as close as Sears wheel. But the party was over from there as Gimpanzee stretched out and flew home in :28.1 to win by two-lengths in 1:56.2.
3-year-old pacing colts and geldings
Hickfromfrenchlick (So Surreal-My Girl’s A Star)
Driver -- Matt Kakaley
Owner -- Ray Schnittker, Nolamaura Racing and Thomas Spatorico
Trainer -- Ray Schnittker
Breeder -- Steve Jones
Time -- 1:54
Mutuel -- $2.10
Hickfromfrenchlick (Matt Kakaley) had post one but let Artie’s Ideal (Marcus Miller) take the lead off the gate. That courtesy was short-lived as Kakaley pulled Hickfromfrenchlick back out and retook the front at the quarter in :28. They got to the half when Buddy Hill (Tyler Buter) came calling from fourth and challenged the leader.
Hickfromfrenchlick and Buddy Hill battled side by side up the backstretch to the three-quarters and around the last turn. But as game as Buddy Hill was, Hickfromfrenchlick was just better. He pulled away in the lane and won by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:54.
“He’s a real good colt," said trainer Ray Schnittker. "He was sore last year and came back good this year. He was real good tonight.”
In Batavia Downs signature event, the $50,000 Robert J. Kane Invitational pace, Dorsoduro Hanover (Matt Kakaley) got away fifth while Our Max Factor N (Jason Bartlett) took the field to the half in :57. Southwind Amazon (Jim Morrill Jr.) came first-up and drew even with Our Max Factor N and it became a match race for a while from there.
The pair paced furiously in a quick :27.3 third panel and continued the battle into the final turn. When it looked like one of them would win, Kakaley shook Dorsoduro Hanover loose at the head of the stretch, tipped three-deep entering the lane and made up three lengths in the final eighth to win by a head in 1:52.2.
“He went a real game mile and closed well off the slow fractions up front,” Kakaley said.
The millionaire son of Somebeachsomewhere-Deer Valley Miss scored his 15th lifetime win and added to his earnings total that now sits at $1,449,151. Dorsoduro Hanover ($4.30) is owned by Burke Racing, J & T Silva, Purnel & Libby and Weaver Bruscemi. Ron Burke trains the winner.
(Photos courtesy of Melissa Simser.)