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September 30, 2022 - 11:25pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, sports, harness racing.

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Driver Jim Morrill Jr. continued his hot streak Friday night (Sept. 30) after he registered another grand slam in the bike at Batavia Downs and it was highlighted by winning the $15,000 Open Handicap trot with the 11-1 shot, Batting Stats. 

Assigned post one, Batting Stats was sent right to the front of the short six-horse field and held the lead at every station. After passing three-quarters in 1:27.2 while rebuffing a challenge from Night Flyer K (Greg Merton), Morrill and Batting Stats had two lengths at the top of the stretch and held off a late charge from Lougazi (Ray Fisher Jr.) to win by 1-¾ lengths in a season’s best 1:57 flat. 

Batting Stats ($25.80) is owned by Mike Ohol Jr. and trained by Mike Ohol. 

Morrill also scored with the 13-year-old Osprey Vision ($9.30) who got his 49th-lifetime win, Batavia’s 2021 Claimer of the Meet Raksmach N ($1:57.1, $3.80) and Tioga Downs invader Defcon Seelster ($1:58, $4.00). 

In the co-featured $14,000 Open II Handicap trot, Lightfooted Legend overcame early adversity to taste late success. Off the gate, Franks Watching (Ray Fisher Jr.) and Gemini Eddie (Kevin Cummings) both made breaks as Lightfooted Legend (Shawn McDonough) darted for the lead. But at the eighth pole, Lightfooted Legend also jumped, along with the three-wide Pilgrim Caviar (Dave McNeight III), allowing the only horse who didn’t break in the race, Lunar Credit (Jim McNeight Jr.), finally reach the front. McDonough regrouped Lightfooted Legend and put him on the leader’s back and the pair then trotted in line to three-quarters where Lightfooted Legend tipped out and went right after Lunar Credit. The trotters matched strides around the last turn and into the stretch Lightfooted Legend rallied late to win by 1-¼ lengths in 1:57.2.

The Dale Gilmour-trained Lightfooted Legend ($6.40) is owned by David Linker.

Lightfooted Legend was one of two driving wins for McDonough who also registered one training victory on Friday. Driver Ray Fisher Jr. and trainer Ryan Swift teamed up to get two winners across as well. 

When live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 31) there will be two carryovers and one guaranteed pool. The Pick-5 wager in races one through five has a carryover of $1,960 and the wager will have a guaranteed $5,000 pool through the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering program. Free race pages for those races will be available at ustrotting.com tomorrow morning. Then in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 in race 12, there is a $647 carryover as well. Post time for race one on Saturday is at 6 p.m. Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab.

Photo by Wendy J. Lowery

September 29, 2022 - 12:40pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in harness racing, Batavia Downs, sports.

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It’s not too often a 3-year-old pacing filly can knock off a field of top-class older mares, but it happened on Wednesday night (Sept. 28) at Batavia Downs when Tres Chic Bluechip carried the mail all the way to the wire in the $15,000 Open I Handicap Distaff pacing feature. 

Last week’s winner Pretty Blue Angel (Keith Kash) battled So Admirable (Jim Morrill Jr.) for the lead and got it after a :28.1 quarter. With a two length lead, Pretty Blue Angel proceeded to the half and headed into the third turn where a lot then happened. Tres Chic Bluechip (Kevin Cummings) was approaching the leader from third while Farmerwhosemydaddy (Kyle Cummings) and post-time favorite Saulsbrook Olympia (Dave McNeight III) hooked wheels and effectively took themselves out of the race. 

Tres Chic Bluechip drew alongside Pretty Blue Angel on the backstretch and took a short lead in the breeze at three-quarters. The pair paced almost even around the far turn and took the issue into the homestretch. After a solid attempt by Pretty Blue Angel to come back, Tres Chic Bluechip was just too much and paced away by 3-¼ lengths to win in 1:56.2. 

It was the ninth win of the year for Tres Chic Bluechip ($9.90) and pushed her earnings to $57,185 this year for owner John Sixt. Judy Blaun trains the filly. 

There were also a pair of $11,000 upper-level condition races for female pacers on Wednesday. 

In the first, Faithful Desire (Jim Morrill Jr.) took the lead while Dontustopbelieven N (Kevin Cummings followed her through fractions of :29, :58.1 and 1:26.2. At the top of the stretch Dontustopbelieven N popped the pocket and made up some ground heading home. But it wasn’t enough as Faithful Desire hung on by one-half length in 1:55.2. 

Faithful Desire ($12.80) got her third win in her last four starts for the Crazy Parrot Farm and trainer Shawn McDonough. 

Then in the second, Ready Set Rock (Kevin Cummings) left the gate and was never headed from there. With Misty Memory N (Dave McNeight III) tracking from second, Ready Set Rock went :27.3, :57.1 and 1:25.3 before turning for home and keeping the field at bay in a 1:55 victory. 

A recent Maine import, Ready Set Rock ($11.60) got his seventh win of the year for current owner Mike Torcello. Sammy Smith is the trainer. 

Ready Set Rock was the fourth hit in Kevin Cummings grand slam on Wednesday after he had already scored with the aforementioned Tres Chic Bluechip, Parkhill Horton (1:58.3, $12.40) and Tucson Breeze (1:58.2, $3.30). 

Trainer Shawn McDonough led all trainers on the card with a hat trick of his own. 

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Sept. 30) at 6 p.m., one of only two Fridays left on the live racing schedule this year. Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab.

Photo by Wendy J. Lowery

September 25, 2022 - 4:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in harness racing, sports, Batavia Downs.

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The Riddler and Vanna White would have been proud of the betting public after they figured out Puzzling should be the favorite in the $15,000 Open I Handicap on Saturday night (Sept. 24) at Batavia Downs and then collected their money after he dominated the locals with his season’s best effort. 

Jim Morrill Jr. picked up the drive on the shipper Puzzling who was making his first ever start at the Downs. He wrangled the lead away from Stop Action (Kevin Cummings) at the :27 quarter and then laid the lumber on his foes from there. Morrill had the grippers on Puzzling to the half in a slow :29.1 and then rebuffed a challenge from Ideal Artillery (Jim McNeight Jr.) through the third quarter in a stepped-up :27.4. As the pocket-sitting Stop Action started to lose touch around the last turn, Puzzling took a two length lead into the stretch and cruised home to a 2-¼ length victory over Stratosphere (Drew Monti) in 1:52.3. 

A 10-time winner in 2021, this was the second win and fastest time of this year for Puzzling ($6.70) who is owned by Rocco Stebbins. This was one of two wins on Saturday for trainer Joe Skowyra who also sent the Stebbins’ owned Mississippi Rabbit (1:54.1, $3.20) to the winner's circle. Morrill ended the night with three winners. 

The undercard $14,000 Open II Handicap saw Blue Spanx (Keith Kash) set the pace to the half where Stranger Things (Kevin Cummings) pulled first-over with a rush. It took Stranger Things a quarter to draw even with Blue Spanx but when he did, it was a real race to the wire. The two pacers matched strides all the way down the stretch in close quarters and under heavy urging. When they hit the light Blue Spanx had the win by three-quarters of a length in 1:55.3. However, shortly after the race ended, the judges posted an inquiry and eventually placed Blue Spanx second for interfering with Stranger Things in the stretch, and declared Stranger Things the winner. 

As a result, Stranger Things ($5.90) got his third win in his last four starts and eighth win of the year for owners Virginia Schoeffel, Kathy Schoeffel and James Reuther. Angelo Nappo was the winning conditioner. Cummings had the hat trick in the bike by the evenings end. 

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Sept. 24) at 6 p.m. Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab.

Photo by Wendy J. Lowery

September 24, 2022 - 8:05pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.

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The top local trotting talent was on full display at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 23) and the co-featured Opens both produced come from behind victories. 

In the $15,000 Open I Handicap, C R Blazin Beauty (Dave McNeight III) led off the gate and halfway up the backstretch before Night Flyer K (Jim Morrill Jr.) grabbed the front approaching the :28.2 quarter. From there no one made a move until the five-eighths where Jumpinthejailhouse (Kevin Cummings) pulled and tried to advance on Night Flyer K, but was only able to get as far as second as they headed around the last turn. When the race proceeded into the stretch, Jumpinthejailhouse faded allowing the pocket-sitting C R Blazin Beauty the out, and she came with a flurry. C R Blazin Beauty trotted up a storm in deep stretch and blew by Night Flyer K while holding off the late closing Credit List (Kyle Cummings) to win by 1-½ lengths in 1:57. 

The Marissa Russo-owned and Dave Russo-trained C R Blazin Beauty ($15.60) captured her 47th-lifetime win and advanced her career earnings to $398,022 as a result. Dave Russo ended the night with two winners to top all trainers on Friday. 

Earlier in the $14,000 Open II Handicap trot, Lougazi (Ray Fisher Jr.) overcame the assigned outside post to nab his sixth win of the year. Sanchez Rocks (Drew Monti) led the field for three-quarters of the mile while Lunar Credit (Jim McNeight Jr.) escorted him on the outside from the half. Lougazi was third-over during that time and drafted there until the last turn when he went three deep and out-trotted everyone to the line and won by 1-¼ lengths in 1:59.1. 

Lougazi ($3.60) pushed his bank to $76,810 this year for owner Mary Warriner on the strength of that victory. Ryan Swift trains the trotter. 

Kyle Cummings was the leading driver on Friday recording three wins during the proceedings.

When live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Sept. 24) at 6 p.m. there will be two carryovers to note for that card. The first is a sizable $1,478 in the Pick-5 in the first race and the second comes in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 in race 11 and that is worth $190. Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab.

Photo by Wendy J. Lowery

September 19, 2022 - 3:22pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.

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After winning four races on Friday night (Sept. 16) at Batavia Downs, the track’s leading driver, Kevin Cummings took it up a notch and won five more on Saturday (Sept. 17). Cummings took the early double with Luis Alberto N (1:56.3, $2.20) and Oreo Dream Xtreme (1:53.3, $4.30) and then reeled in Street Beats (1:56.3, $5.00), Stop Action (1:54.1, $2.90) and Brave World (1:55.4, $3.30).  Cummings also had four second place finishes giving him a .657 UDR for the evening. 

Two races that Cummings didn’t win were the feature races that for the second straight night were won by Jim Morrill Jr.

First Morrill scored with Surfer Beach in the $15,000 Open pace and did it in impressive fashion. Maintaining a gapped advantage from the time he left, Surfer Beach ticked off splits of :27.4, :56.3 and 1:24.1 before rounding the last turn on top by two lengths. He then sped home in another :27.4 sprint to the wire where he won in an impressive 1:52.

It was the fifth win of the year for Surfer Beach ($4.90) and owners Vogel & Wags Nags and Team Rice Racing. Maria Rice was the winning trainer. 

Then Morrill took the $14,000 Open II pace with Out On Bail, who settled on the lead by the :28 quarter after a give-and-go with Stranger Things (Kevin Cummings) who was content with the garden spot. Positions remained unchanged from there as Out On Bail hit the half in :57.2 and three-quarters in 1:25.1. At the top of the stretch Stranger Things tipped to attack, but by the time he got in the two path, Out On Bail had fled the scene. Morrill slung low in the seat and Out On Bail crossed the line up by two in 1:53.1.

Out On Bail ($3.50) is having a career year, now with eight wins and $74,491 earned for owner Mike Torcello. This was one of three wins for Sammy Smith on the card who also scored with the aforementioned Street Beats and Brave World. Morrill ended the night with a triple. 

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Sept. 21) with post time at 6 p.m. Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab.

Photo by Wendy J. Lowery

September 17, 2022 - 2:56pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.

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Jim Morrill Jr. was on fire Friday night (Sept.16) at Batavia Downs, winning five out of the 10 races on the card including both feature races.

In the $15,000 Open I Handicap trot, Morrill left with Credit List and took no prisoners in the process. He parked Frank’s Watching (Ray FIsher Jr.) who eventually ducked in second and Jumpinthejailhouse (Kevin Cummings) who could not find a seat and was destined for a long evening. Credit List went through quarters of :28.2 and :57.1 while Jumpinthejailhouse drafted in the breeze. As they motored up the backstretch, Jumpinthejailhouse was fading and Golden Kronos (Drew Monti) was winging three-deep around him on his advance towards the leader. Golden Kronos got to within one length of Credit List but that was it as Morrill shook him loose down the lane and won by two lengths in 1:57. 

It was the fifth win of the year for Credit List ($4.60) who is owned by Room4040 LLC Stables and trained by Kevin Reynolds Jr. 

In the $14,000 Open II Handicap, Morrill also left with Night Flyer K from his pylon position start and led at every station as well. After splits of :28.4, :57.4 and 1:27.1, Morrill asked for more and got it as Night Flyer K swelled up in the lane and kicked away by 3-¾ lengths to win in 1:56.2, which was the fastest win time ever by the mare over a half mile track and only one-fifth of a second off the Batavia Downs track record for aged trotting mares that coincidentally is co-owned by the second place finisher C R Blazin Beauty (2019), along with Chelsea’s Chance (2018). 

Fresh in from Yonkers, Night Flyer K ($4.00) was victorious in her first start for her new connections Vogel & Wags Nags and Team Rice Racing. Maria Rice is the winning conditioner. 

Morrill completed his quintet conquest with Osprey Vision (1:59.1, $5.10), Joey Pro (1:58.1, $2.10) and Always A Force (1:54.2, $4.40). Four of Morrill’s five wins came in grand slam fashion in races five, six, seven and eight. 

Morrill is currently in second place for dash wins at the Batavia meet and one might think that Friday’s performance would bring him that much closer to the top. However the current leader is Kevin Cummings and not to be outdone by Morrill, he had four wins of his own during the card so Morrill only closed the gap by one. After Friday’s action Cummings now has 65 wins and Morrill has 53.  

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Sept. 17) with post time at 6 p.m. Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab.

Photo by Wendy J. Lowery

September 15, 2022 - 1:05pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, sports, harness racing.

James V. Compton, 80, passed away on Sept. 13, 2022.

Mr. Compton was born on February 17, 1942 in Batavia, New York to the late Cecil and Alice Compton of East Pembroke, New York. He received his education at Corfu High School and worked as a milkman in the days of home delivery, then as a machinist before going to General Motors in Rochester, where he would retire.

Mr. Compton also loved horses and that led him to become involved in harness racing at Batavia Downs. He first got his license in 1972 and became both a successful driver and trainer that competed at several tracks in upstate New York. Early in his career he raced mostly claimers but starting in the early 1990’s he experienced some real success.

First came Held For Ransom who was an Open pacer that Compton both trained and drove and eventually won 51 races along with $125,115 in purses. Then when Held For Ransom’s racing career was over, Compton and his wife Sandra bred him to one of their retired race mares, suspicion Burns, and the result was his most notable horse, Michael Scores.

Michael Scores (1:50.4, $668,079) started out as a New York Sire Stake star and went on to be an overnight Open legend and will forever be considered one of the greatest pacers to come out of western New York. Out of 275 lifetime starts, Michael Scores won 86 races, finished second 47 times and third 27 more. His biggest win came in 2006 when he captured the Kane Memorial pace at Batavia Downs and set a new all-time track record of 1:52.1.

A short list of other notable horses campaigned by Mr. Compton include 55-race winner Gasper Again (1:53.4, $165,975), 50-race winner Splurging Rita (1:58.2, $161,231) and Sly Hi (1:56.1, $70,953).

During his career, Mr. Compton compiled some impressive numbers. As a driver he had 522 wins, 459 seconds and 367 thirds out of only 2725 starts, giving him a stellar .330 UDR and $1,137,716 in earnings. As a trainer he had 2,892 starts with 578 wins, 483 seconds and 385 thirds that gave him a .337 UTR and $1,934,431 in earnings.

Mr. Compton is survived by his loving wife of 61 years, Sandra L. Compton; his children, Kevin Compton of E Bethany, Roger Compton and his wife, Cheryl of Bloomfield NJ, Cheryl Squire and her husband, Timothy of Wakefield NC, Jeanne Palmer and her husband, Albert of Warsaw NY.

Mr. Compton also has 6 grandchildren; Taylor Squire, Rachael Boynton, Aaron Pahuta, Allyssa Compton-Disla, Michael Compton and Amanda Palmer; 2 great-grandchildren, Addison Gregg and Ethan Boynton; sister-in-law, Grace Compton; brother-in-law, Wayne Speed; Patty Beverly and her family, John Nelson and his family, Geri Puma and her family, along with many nieces, nephews and dear friends.

Mr. Compton is predeceased by his siblings, Phillip Compton, Richard Compton and Carol Speed, as well as his grandson, Zachary Squire.

Family and friends may call on Sunday (Sept. 18) from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Falcone Family Funeral & Cremation Service Inc., 8700 Lake St. Rd. (Rt. 19), LeRoy, New York. His Celebration of Life Service will be held on Monday (Sept. 19) at 11:00 a.m. at Northgate Free Methodist Church, 8160 Bank St. Rd., Batavia, New York. Interment will follow in Hillside Cemetery, East Pembroke, New York.

September 15, 2022 - 1:03pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

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After winning two straight top paces for fillies and mares at Batavia Downs, Shallow was handicapped by post eight and seven the following two weeks and did not hit the board. This week she caught a short field but still had to dig deep to win the $15,000 Open I pace for fillies and mares on Wednesday evening (Sept. 14). 

They were three deep into the first turn when Shallow (Ray Fisher Jr.) out-tussled So Admirable (Jim Morrill Jr.) for the lead motoring to the quarter in :28.2. But Morrill wasn’t content with a pocket trip and pulled So Admirable in front of the stands and took control of the top before they hit the half in :58.1. 

Heading past the five-eighths, Tres Chic Bluechip (Kevin Cummings) pulled first-up but couldn not get closer than third on the rim as So Admirable was stretching out to a 2-¼ length advantage by the three-quarters. Heading into the lane, Shallow ducked into the passing lane while Tres Chic Bluechip went outside of So Admirable, making it three across the track. They stayed even for several strides but Shallow got the advantage in deep stretch and won by three-quarters of a length in 1:55. 

Shallow ($10.40) hit double digits in the win category, now sporting 10 victories in 2022 and they earned $82,616 for her owner Room4040 LLC Stables. Andy Gardner trains the winner. 

In the $11,000 upper-level conditioned event also written for distaff participants, Faithful Desire (Jim Morrill Jr.) drafted perfectly behind Misty Memory N (Dave McNeight III) through fractions of :29, :59.3 and 1:27.3 before tipping off cover and pacing home in a stiff :27.4 to win by one-half length in 1:55.3. 

Scoring her second win in the last three starts and sixth win of the year, Faithful Desire ($5.00) is owned by Crazy Parrot Farm and is trained by Shawn McDonough. 

Faithful Desire was the fourth win of the night for Morrill, who led all drivers for output on Wednesday. Tom Mays led all trainers for wins with two. 

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Sept. 16) with post time at 6 p.m. Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab.

Photo by Wendy J. Lowery

September 11, 2022 - 3:55pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in harness racing, Batavia Downs, sports.

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Taking full advantage of a soft second quarter, Just Plain Loco hit the gas in the second half and put away the field in the $15,000 Open I Handicap pacing feature at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 10).

Dave McNieght III left hard with Just Plain Loco, seated fellow leaver Stratosphere (Drew Monti) in the first turn and then took the field to the quarter in :27.4. With the six-horse field staying single file from there, McNieght grabbed leather and backed off the second panel to :30.1 and that was the game changer. Surfer Beach (Jack Rice) made the first over move and tried to advance towards the leader, but Just Plain Loco had another plan in mind.

He sped to three-quarters in 1:25.3 and put some distance between himself and the field before heading into the last turn. At the top of the stretch Just Plain Loco had a two-length advantage and a lot left in the tank as he paced home in 1:53.1, which was just one-fifth of a second off his season's best effort. 

It was the seventh win of the year for Just Plain Loco ($4.30) who is owned by Paul Lang and Mark Toth. Jennifer Giuliani trains the winner. 

McNeight had two wins during the night. 

The $14,000 Open II Handicap pace was a real slugfest and only the photo finish camera could separate three horses at the wire. 

Drunkonaplane (Jack Rice) left and got the cold shoulder from the pylon-starter Yankee On The Move (Kyle Cummings). The two went at it through quarters of :27.3 and :56.1 before Ideal Artillery (Drew Monti) rolled up first in the breeze and tipped three wide around the fading Drunkonaplane at the five-eighths pole. 

Ideal Artillery then hooked up with Yankee On The Move at three-quarters and they paced in unison around the far turn and into the stretch. It was there that American Trademark (Keith Kash) shook loose and made it three across the track. Under heavy urging, the trio battled all the way to the line where Ideal Artillery got a nose in front to win in 1:53.4. 

Ideal Artillery ($5.70) is owned by Howard and Michael Ouriel and is trained by Don Rothfuss.

Kevin Cummings was the top driver on Saturday with three wins during the proceedings. 

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Sept. 14) with post time at 6 p.m. Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab.

Photo by Wendy J. Lowery.

September 9, 2022 - 6:31pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in harness racing, Batavia Downs, sports.

Richard R. Mays, of Hamburg, passed away on Sept. 7, 2022, after a fierce battle with cancer.

Mr. Mays was a lifelong horseman who competed in western New York for 50 years. He was first licensed in 1973 at the age of 16 and has been competing at tracks across New York state ever since. He experienced great early career driving success with the Open pacing mare May O’neighs (2:01.1, $83,925) and Open pacing gelding Lyron Hanover (1:59.3, $127,242) along with a list of other top horses that he raced at Batavia Downs. Later in his career when he switched to training more than driving, Mr. Mays developed many solid racehorses including the multiple stakes winner Two Twentytwo (1:51.3, $293,729).  

During his career, Mr. Mays drove 1,638 winners that earned $4,222,626. He trained another 321 winners which added $1,585,531 to his purse total. His total career efforts won him 1,959 races that benefited his horse’s connections $5,808,157. Mr. Mays was actively racing right up until the time of his passing.

Mr. Mays was the beloved husband of Karen M. Mays (nee Babcock), loving father of Christopher (Frances) Mays, Jamie Simmons, and Scott Mays, dear grandpa of Tyler, Mayson, Maddie, and Hudson, dearest son of the late Frank and Marion Mays, loving brother of Frank Jr., Robert, Terry, Tom, and Joyce. Mr. Mays is also survived by a large loving family and many dear friends.

The family will be present to receive relatives and friends on Thursday, Sept. 15 from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Hamburg Chapel of the John J. Kaczor Funeral Home, 5453 Southwestern Blvd. (corner of Rogers Rd.) where a closing prayer will be said at 7 p.m. Please share condolences at www.kaczorfunerals.com.

September 8, 2022 - 12:48am
posted by Tim Bojarski in harness racing, sports, Batavia Downs.

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Beaten only a nose last week after winning three in a row, Saulsbrook Olympia got back to her winning ways after she parlayed a lot of early movement into a late stretch score in the $15,000 Open I Handicap pace for fillies and mares at Batavia downs on Wednesday night (Sept. 7). 

Dontustopbelievn N (Jim Morrill Jr.) grabbed the front and made fellow leavers Demeter N (Larry Stalbaum) and Dashintothebeach N (Luke Hanners) work hard to take it from her. Demeter N cleared at the :28 quarter and Dashintothebeach N supplanted that one at the top of the stretch, heading to the half. And just as the field had finally achieved single file, Tres Chic Bluechip (Kevin Cummings) pulled first-over from fifth and brought Saulsbrook Olympia (Dave McNeight III) with her to push the issue even further. 

Dashintothebeach N continued to lead up the backstretch until she hit three-quarters where Tres Chic Bluechip drew alongside, but that was just part of the evolving story. Saulsbrook Olympia who had been drafting one out and two back in the breeze was now winging it three-wide halfway into the final turn. By the time they hit the straight, Tres Chic Bluechip had overtaken Dashintothebeach N, but then Saulsbrook Olympia overtook Tres Chic Bluechip and pulled away to 1-½ length victory in 1:53.4. 

It was the fourth win in the last five starts and eighth win overall this year for Saulsbrook Olympia ($9.40) who is owned by William Mcneil and Edward Gorc and trained by Jeniffer Giuliani. 

McNeight III had a driving double on Wednesday. 

There were also two $11,000 upper-level condition races for distaff participants and the winning pair went nearly identical miles. 

In the first So Admirable (Jim Morrill Jr.) started from post one and was never headed. After cutting quarters of :28.1, :57.1 and 1:25.3 while extending her lead to three lengths by the top of the stretch, she closed out the deal in 1:54.2, equalling her lifetime mark. 

So Admirable ($3.50) is owned by Joe Amico Jr. and trained by Shawn McDonough. 

Then in the second, Winning Words (Kevin Cummings) also left from pylon position and went gate to wire in handy fashion. After splits of :28, :57.1 and 1:26, Cummings let Winning Words pace home on top by 1-¾ in 1:54.3.

Winning Words ($4.50) is owned by Steven Goehle and Norene Mego. Angelo Nappo trains the winner. 

Cummings ended the night with three wins while Nappo wrapped it up with two. 

Other horsemen with doubles on Wednesday were driver Dan Yetman and trainer Dave Russo. 

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Sept. 10) with post time at 6 p.m. Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab.

Photo by Wendy J. Lowery

September 3, 2022 - 11:24pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in harness racing, sports, Batavia Downs.

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After a perfect steer from Kyle Cummings, Flying Finn N finished strong to register his season’s best effort in the $15,000 Open I Handicap pacing feature at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 3). 

Flying Finn N traded leads with Art Scene (Jim Morrill Jr.) off the gate, but landed in front for good just past the :28.2 first quarter. With no imminent aggression near the leader, Flying Finn N hit the half in :57.4 and circled the third turn before he needed to look to his right. It was at the five-eighths pole when Stop Action (Kevin Cummings) entered the picture and drew alongside Flying Finn N to match strides to three-quarters and around the final bend. At the top of the stretch Stop Action stalled, but the tripping Art Scene found the passing lane while Just Plain Loco (Dave McNeight III) swung wide for the drive. But try as they might, neither would get closer than a length to Flying Finn N who was confidently ridden-out by Cummings to claim a one-length victory in a seasonal mark of 1:53.3. 

It was the sixth win of the year for Flying Finn N ($7.90) who is owned by William Emmons and trained by Jim Clouser Jr. 

Cummings and Clouser doubled up after they also won with Jeremes General (1:57, $2.60) three races later. 

In the $13,000 upper-condition co-feature, American Trademark (Keith Kash) got a perfect pocket trip behind Thor De Vie (Jim Morrill Jr.) before shaking loose in the lane to claim a 1-¼ length win in 1:54.2. It was the seventh win of the year for American Trademark ($4.50) who is owned by L’Emmur Stable. Kash also trains the winner. 

Kash joined the double club by adding Breakout Session (1:54.1, $6.50) to his win tally Saturday. 

The Batavia meet's leading driver, Kevin Cummings, was also the leading driver of the night as he scored a hat trick during the proceedings. And with his two wins, Jim Rothfuss joined Clouser as co-leading conditioner for Saturday. 

There is a substantial carryover in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 wager at Batavia Downs and when live racing resumes at the track on Labor Day Monday (Sept. 5), that pool will start with $2,265 in race 11. Labor Day features the annual driver’s bike race and giveaway and $1 hot dogs, draft beer and soda from noon to 5 p.m. at the Homestretch Grill. Post time for the first race is at 1:15 p.m. 

Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab.

Photo by Wendy J. Lowery

September 2, 2022 - 12:08pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in harness racing, Batavia Downs, sports.

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The New York Sire Stakes visited Batavia Downs for the final time this year on Wednesday (Aug. 31) with a dozen 2-year-old trotting colts and geldings competing for the remaining spots in the finals to be held during the Day of Champions at Tioga Downs on Saturday (Sept. 10). 

In the first $52,500 division, Cecil Hanover (Chapter Seven-Columbia) looked sharp getting his first lifetime and NYSS win.

Cecil Hanover (Ake Svanstedt) left and led the field to the quarter where Met Your Request (Andy Miller) assumed the top position as the clock read :29. Positions remained unchanged to the half when Svanstedt tipped Cecil Hanover and regained control of the race past the five-eighths. At that point Met Your Request and Tillio's Action (Mile Merton) both made breaks and Cecil Hanover was on top by 4-½ lengths going by three-quarters in 1:29. Coming off the far turn the race was over as Cecil Hanover trotted home on his own and won easily by 4-¾ lengths in a lifetime mark of 1:58.2.

Cecil Hanover ($6.80) is owned by S R F Stable, Midnight Sun Partners, Ake Svanstedt and Jorgen Sparredal. Svanstedt also trains the colt that was bred by Hanover Shoe Farms.

The second $53,500 leg went to Onion Gum (Chapter Seven-Princessa) who also scored his first NYSS win as well. 

Jax Spratt (Kevin Cummings) took command and went :28.4 and 1:00 to the half as Sevecheetah (Trond Smedshammer) and The Strawboss (Jim Morrill Jr.) followed close behind. The first to pull was Onion Gum (Jordan Stratton) who moved from fourth and was quickly second and only one length off by three-quarters. It was a real race around the last turn and when they hit the straight three horses had a shot. Jax Spratt was still on top but Onion Gum was wearing him down. Sevecheetah then found room at the pylons and was barreling towards the wire. But Onion Gum chewed up the most ground to the line and won by one length in 1:59.4. 

Onion Gum ($4.20) is owned by S R F Stable (who was also part owner of Cecil Hanover), Order By Stable (who bred the colt) and Mario Mazza. Lucas Wallin trains Onion Gum. 

Jordan Stratton continued his driving dominance at Batavia Downs on Wednesday after winning another four races on the card. Beside his victory with the aforementioned Onion Gum, Stratton also scored with How About Murph (1:56.2, $7.40), Dashintothebeach N (1:54.1, $5.00) and the aptly named Grand Slam Hero (2:02.2, $16.00).  Stratton was in town last Friday (Aug. 26) and registered a hat trick during the night, giving him a total of seven wins in his last 15 drives in Genesee County. 

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Sept. 3) with post time at 6 p.m. 

Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab.

Photo by Wendy J. Lowery

August 28, 2022 - 9:50pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, sports, harness racing.

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Batavia Downs leading driver Kevin Cummings continued his torrid pace on Sunday (Aug. 28) after his Grand Slam performance at the track on Saturday night. Cummings drove six more winners of the 12 races held, giving him a total of 11 wins in the last 22 races in which he drove. 

Cummings biggest win of the day came with Jumpininthejailhouse, who won the co-featured $14,000 Open II trot in fairly easy fashion. 

Jumpininthejailhouse went right to the front and reached the quarter in :28.4 as All About Thechase (Mike Caprio) and Batting Stats (Keith Kash Jr.) followed closely behind. With positions unchanged from that point, Jumpininthejailhouse then went :59.2 to the half and 1:28.3 to three-quarters and extended his lead to 2-½ length coming off the last turn. The race was over at the point as Cummings had Jumpininthejailhouse wrapped up by 2-¼ lengths in 1:57.4, which tied his season’s best clocking. 

Jumpininthejailhouse ($4.20) is owned by Mike Torcello and was trainer Sammy Smith’s second win of the afternoon. 

Cummings completed his six pack with wins behind Faithful Desire (1:55.2, $2.90), Anurka (1:57, $6.10), Bacardi (1:57, $3.90), Parkhill Horton (1:58, $6.30) and Way To Go Fabio (1:55.3, $6.30).

So far this meet, Kevin Cummings has 45 wins in only 156 starts and sits ahead of Jim Morrill Jr. (39) in the top spot for dash supremacy.   

The one race Cummings didn’t win was the $15,000 Open I Handicap trot, where Saratoga regular Oh So Pine shipped in off a disappointing start at Plainridge Park and got back on track in a gate-to-wire win. 

Larry Stalbaum flew off the wings with Oh So Pine and opened up a three-length lead at the :29.2 quarter. With Lunar Credit (Jim McNeight III) snug in the pocket, Oh So Pine continued to set a steady tempo to the half in :59.2 and three-quarters in 1:28.3. At the top of the stretch Lunar Credit and Sanchez Rocks (Drew Monti) were both within a length of the leader as they were trotting to the wire, but Oh So Pine was the toughest of them all and won by one-half length in 1:57.4. 

The Stalbaum-owned and trained Oh So Pine ($6.20) got his third win of the year and raised his cash total to $64,199 in 2022. 

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Aug. 31) at 6:00 p.m. and there will be a carryover of $1,502 in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 in race 12. Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab.

Photo courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery

August 28, 2022 - 9:47pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

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Surfer Beach took a while to get the lead but when he did he finished the job this week, winning the $15,000 Winners-Over I Handicap at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Aug. 27).

Last week's feature winner Stratosphere (Drew Monti) was first to the front and held that position until the :27.3 quarter when Surfer Beach (Jim Morrill Jr.) went to the head of the class. With little resistance over the next half mile, Surfer Beach hit the half in :56.2 and three-quarters in 1:24.4, where a luke-warn outside challenge from Blue Spanx (Keith Kash Jr.) failed. As the pacers turned for home, Stratosphere popped the pocket and tried to catch Surfer Beach like he did just one week ago, but Surfer Beach had more in reserve this week and paced home in :27.4 to win by 2-¼ lengths in 1:52.3.

It was the second win in the last three starts and fourth overall this year for Surfer Beach ($3.20) who is owned by Vogel & Wags Nags and Team Rice Racing. Maria Rice trains the winner. 

Morrill ended the day with three wins and Rice scored two of her own. 

Then in the $14,000 Winners-Over II Handicap, Out On Bail tripped out to his seventh win of the year. 

For horses left but Out On Bail (Jim McNieght III) was first to the front, until Daylight Rush (Dave McNieght III) decided to vacate the pocket in lieu of the lead at the quarter. The race then proceeded to the half in :57.4 when Long Train Running (Drew Monti) came first up and pacing towards Daylight Rush. Positions remained unchanged as they moved to three-quarters where Long Train Running started to fade which gave Out On Bail the room he needed to tip into the stretch. McNeight did pull Out On Bail at the head of the lane, passed Daylight Rush shortly after and then held off all late challenges to win by 1-¼ length in 1:54.3. 

Out On Bail is owned by Mike Torcello and is trained by Sammy Smith, who had two winners on Saturday.  

Kevin Cummings had a big night scoring a driving grand slam that included a natural hat trick in races three, four and five. He won with China Dream (1:56, $6.70), Best Brew (1:58.1, $21.00), Gallery Opening (1:56.4, $18.40) and Beachboydesire (1:55.3, $51.00). 

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Sunday (Aug. 28) at 1:15 p.m. and there will be a carryover of $1,270 in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 in race 12. Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab. 

Photo courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery

August 28, 2022 - 9:44pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, sports, harness racing.

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American Dealer N scored a 2-½ length victory and set a new all-time track record of 1:50.2 in the 17th edition of the $75,000 Robert J. Kane Memorial Invitational Pace at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Aug. 26).

American Courage (Matt Kakaley) fired off the wings and took a quick lead while American Dealer N (Joe Bongiorno) also left and tucked into the garden spot. After getting to the quarter in :27.1 and the half in :55.3, Gia's Surreal (Brian Sears) was first to pull and try to approach the leader. But American Courage was not slowing down after the :27.3 third quarter and he and American Dealer N were starting to separate from the field. As they came off the turn and headed down the lane, American Dealer N ducked into the passing lane and accelerated like a jet by American Courage in deep stretch and won in 1:50.2 to set the new track standard. 

It was the sixth win of the year for the Australian import American Dealer N ($26.80) who is owned by Enviro Stables and Ken Jacobs. 

This was the second Kane win for Jacobs and Toscano who won the 2008 edition with Kenneth J who also set the all time track record then of 1:52 with his effort that day. 

It was also the third win of the night for Joe Bongiorno. 

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Aug. 27) at  6:00 p.m. Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab.

August 28, 2022 - 9:19pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

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The New York Sire Stakes for 3-year-old trotting colts, geldings and fillies were held at Batavia Downs on Friday evening (Aug. 26) with a total of $232,700 in purses available for the 17 state-bred participants. There were two divisions for fillies and a lone male division that had a purse of $119,800 and that was a heavyweight fight. 

Slay (Chapter Seven-Swinging Royalty) got a perfect trip from driver Joe Bongiorno and ran down Molotov Cocktail in deep stretch to claim a narrow victory.

World At War Deo (Wally Hennessy) took over the lead from Chapheart (Trond Smedshammer) at the :28 quarter and got a short breather to the half before the action really picked up. Molotov Cocktail (Brian Sears) was the first to pull and Slay was happy to get his cover as they moved around turn three on the second circuit.  

They headed up the backside in two rows with World At War Deo still in front with Molotov Cocktail right by his side as they motored to three-quarters. Around the last turn, Molotov Cocktail took the lead in the middle of the track and Slay tipped off his cover going three deep, and the pair hooked up from there. The two trotters were at full speed down the stretch, matching strides all the way. Molotov Cocktail and Slay were inseparable under strong urging from their drivers until just before the line where Slay got a neck in front and won in 1:55.4. 

It was the second straight win and fourth of the year for Slay ($4.60) who now has $262,897 made in 2022 for Crawford Farms Racing and James A. Crawford. Tony Alagna trains the colt bred by Jonas Schlabach.

Then there were the girls. 

The first field of four fillies vied for $55,900 and Cash Fusion (Chapter Seven-Swing Anna Cash) delivered as expected. 

Tyler Buter took Cash Fusion off the gate while In A Tiny Way (Jordan Stratton) settled in the lead. But that last only an eighth of a mile before Buter rushed the front and took command. The group remained single-file until the five-eighths when La Vie En Blanc (Joe Bongiorno) pulled first up and leveled off in second outside of In A Tiny Way. Around the last turn Cash Infusion started to swell up and opened up 1-½ lengths by the top of the stretch. Down the lane Buter sat chilly as Cash Infusion coasted home on top by 2-¼ lengths in a new lifetime mark of 1:55.3. 

It was the third win of the year for Cash Infusion ($4.40) who has now earned $132,723 this year for owners  William Donovan, Purnell & Libby, Joe Sbrocco and the George Ducharme Stable. George Ducharme also trains the winner that was bred by Jonas Schlabach. 

The second group of five lined up for $57,000 Valentina Blu (Chapter Seven-Corazon Blue Chip) was very strong in victory. 

Seven On The Rocks (John Stark Jr.) went quickly for the lead but the spot was short-lived as Joe Bongiorno took over with Valentina Blu before the quarter that went :29.1. There were no changes in order until the backstretch when Je Suis Si Belle (Andy Miller) charged the leader with She's A Scorcher (Jordan Stratton) following close behind. The top four trotted in two rows around the last turn with only three lengths between them until they straightened out. In the stretch, Valentina Blu dug in under a drive and opened up by 1-½ lengths at the light and won in 1:56.1.

It was the second win in a row and third of the year for Valentina Blu and pushed her 2022 earnings to $122,125. Crawford Farms owns the Tony Alagna trained filly that was bred by Spring Haven Farm and Doug Millard. Due to multiple stable entries, Valentina Blu raced for purse only. 

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Aug. 27) at  6:00 p.m. Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track's website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the "Live Racing" tab. 

Photo courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery

August 26, 2022 - 11:13am
posted by Tim Bojarski in harness racing, sports, Batavia Downs.

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The 17th edition of the Robert J. Kane Memorial Invitational Pace will be held at Batavia Downs on Friday (Aug. 26) and with the $75,000 purse being the highest ever offered, has drawn the highest quality field ever seen since the race was instituted. With combined earnings of just under $5 million between the eight starters, the 2022 edition should place the track record of 1:51.1 in jeopardy and prove to be the most memorable yet.

Funatthebeach N was claimed last September at Yonkers Raceway for $75,000 by owner Mark Ford and it has been the days of wine and roses ever since. He went on to win three Yonkers Open paces and finished second by a length in another to Tattoo Artist in the track record tying time of 1:49.3. This year he won two legs of the Borgata series at Yonkers before taking the $549,000 final in April. In June he took his second major stake after winning the $200,000 Battle of Lake Erie at Northfield Park in 1:49.2 which also gave him a new lifetime mark. Since that time he has continued to be a force in the best class at The Hilltop and comes into Friday’s race as the second richest aged pacer of 2022 (behind only Bulldog Hanover) with $546,197 in earnings. He is also the richest horse in this race with $879,946 made lifetime.  

American Courage won seven straight New York Sire Stake races at two before taking his first defeat in the final. He came back at three and won the $500,000 Messenger Stake at Yonkers and competed in both the Meadowlands Pace and the Little Brown Jug. This year he paced the eighth fastest mile of the season at Mohegan Sun Pocono in July when he scorched the oval in 1:47.4 in a 6-1/4 length romp. He has since won two Open paces at Yonkers in identical 1:51 miles and comes into this race razor sharp off a 1:48.3 second place finish to Allywag Hanover at Mohegan Sun Pocono just six days ago.   

Gia’s Surreal is the only female in this field and only the second ever to start in this race. She raced at Batavia as a 2 and 3-year-old and knows this track well. This will be her first start back at her home track since August 5, 2020. Over the past two years, she has faced the best Open female pacers in North America week in and week out and is held in the same esteem as Lyons Sentinel, Racine Bell, Test Of Faith, Majorca N, Amazing Dream N, Rocknificent and Siesta Beach. She has done some of her best work over a half-mile track as is evidenced by her work at Yonkers since 2021.

Splash Brother has raced at Batavia Downs three times during his career competing in the NYSS, but this will be his first start back since 2020. That was the year he took his lifetime mark of 1:48.2 at the Meadowlands. Last summer he was race timed in eight sub-1:50 miles out of 10 straight starts including a 1:47.4 clocking where he has beaten only 2-3/4 lengths at the Meadowlands. He continues to flaunt his speed at five, taking a seasonal win mark of 1:48.4 at the Meadowlands, being race timed in 1:47.2 in the $98,000 Roll With Joe Stake in July he and comes into Friday’s race off a sharp 5-1/2 length win at Yonkers in 1:51 flat. It’s also a homecoming for trainer Ray Schnittker who is originally from nearby North Tonawanda, NY and started his career racing at Batavia Downs.

Semi Tough is another Yonkers Open regular who finished third in the $549,000 Borgata final behind Funatthebeach N in April. He was given a couple months off after that series and only has three starts back since that time. This horse has a lot of back class after earning just short of $500,000 as a 2 and 3-year-old. The former Pennsylvania Sire Stake star was in a number of prestigious stakes during his career including the North American Cup, Little Brown Jug and Breeders Crown twice. Those appearances have pushed his lifetime earnings to $874,000, making him the second-richest starter in this race.

American Dealer N is a multiple Group One winner in the southern hemisphere that includes a victory in the 2021 Queensland Derby at Albion Park. He made his last start in Australia on December 4, 2021 and then landed in North America shortly after. He made his first U.S. start in March at the Meadowlands a winning one after a 1:49.2 effort in an upper-level condition race. Since that time he won a leg of the Borgata and two Opens at Yonkers. He was race timed in 1:48.3, beaten only a neck at the Meadowlands in May with a sparkling :25.3 final quarter. The following week he was race timed in 1:49.4 in the $100,000 Commodore Barry where he lost by only 2-3/4 lengths. He will face some familiar foes in this race.  

Wild Wild Western was unraced at two but competed in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes at three as well as the $400,000 Adios, but that was pretty much the extent of his stake action. As a result, he has earned the bulk of his $484,025 in lifetime earnings the hard way --- in overnights. He has been a fixture in the Open class at the Meadows (where he took his 1:49.1 lifetime mark) and Northfield Park since 2020. Recently he finished third in the $100,000 Commodore Barry race timed in 1:49.2 and competed in Invitational paces at Hoosier Park and Mohegan Sun Pocono.

Moonshine Kisses has been lightly raced this year but he has tons of speed and knows how to win. The Saratoga-based pacer shipped to Massachusetts for his last three starts and really made a mark in the top class at Plainridge Park. His first outing there was a 1:49.3, 4-3/4 length win that not only gave him a new lifetime mark, but also tied the Plainridge track record for aged pacing horses. He then finished second to Allyouneedisfaith N by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:50.2 after getting parked the entire mile. He bounced right back in his last start and won again in 1:50.2. He is another blue-collar horse that just shows up and performs.

The $75,000 Kane Memorial will go as race nine with an estimated post time of 8:40 p.m. Friday’s card also features New York Sire Stake 3-year-old trotters of both genders competing for $232,700 in purses. Post time for the first race is 6 p.m. 

Photo courtesy of Mark Hall

August 25, 2022 - 4:15pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.

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Jim Graham is a longtime western New York horseman that has been training and racing at Batavia Downs since the 1980s. He has over 1,500 conditioning wins and in excess of $7.25 million in purses throughout his career. For a majority of that time, he has been a proponent of young horses targeted towards racing the full stake spectrum from county fairs to the New York Sire Stakes. But little did he and his partners Ed Peron and Lee Winters know that a little filly that they purchased five years ago named Gia’s Surreal would turn out to be a generational type of racehorse they would have a chance to race her back at their home track in the biggest overnight race ever held there.

The homecoming for Gia’s Surreal will be Friday night (Aug. 26) at Batavia Downs when she will face seven rivals in the $75,000 Robert J. Kane Memorial Invitational Pace.

Gia’s Surreal (So Surreal-Nancy Irene) entered the 2017 Morrisville College yearling sale as Hip number 2 and was purchased for $20,000 by Graham who broke and trained her until he was involved in an accident at Saratoga. She was then given to Brett Crawford who finished training her down leading up to her racing in the NYSS as a 2-year-old in 2018. That year she had a total of six starts in that series getting money in each and making the final where she finished fifth. But the filly never won a race in a total of nine starts in her freshman year.

Gia’s Surreal’s fortunes changed at three as she won four out of five NYSS Excel “A” races before finishing second in that final. She then transitioned into racing in the Open classes at Batavia Downs where she won three out of five to end the year that saw her in the winner’s circle 10 times.

After a delayed start due to Covid in 2020, Gia’s Surreal returned as an aged mare and eventually shipped north to Woodbine Mohawk Park where she ripped off three out of four wins while taking a lifetime mark of 1:51.4 in November. She continued to race in Canada until March of 2021 when the decision was made to add more tracks to her calendar in April.

“I thought she was a quality horse and I wanted to race her at Mohawk. But after she succeeded there we had high hopes that she could compete at the highest level. So we paid her into the Meadowlands events and Lexington and started making her schedule around those races,” said Graham.

Gia’s Surreal’s first start in New Jersey was a new lifetime mark of 1:50.3, a standard she would again lower to 1:49.3 later that year back at Woodbine. She was stellar at Yonkers and won the Open there in 1:52.1. And over the past two years she has made a plethora of stake starts on the Grand Circuit including the $160,000 Artiscape, $178,500 Dorothy Haughton, $191,050 Lady Liberty, $252,800 Roses Are Red, $189,600 Milton, $168,000 Dayton Distaff Derby, $175,000 TVG Mares final, $381,800 Blue Chip Matchmaker series, $100,000 Clara Barton and $100,000 Cleopatra Invitational.

The level of competition Gia’s Surreal has seen since 2020 is second to none. She has lined up against the likes of Lyons Sentinel, Racine Bell, Test Of Faith, Majorca N, Amazing Dream N, Rocknificent and Siesta Beach just to name a few. And at this top level to date she has amassed $713,380 in earnings from her 30 wins, 16 seconds and 16-thirds out of only 98 lifetime starts. That is just under a 30% win percentage and just over 60% in the money.

“She has been rock solid her whole career. We had a little issue with her front ankles late in the season last year and early this year she had a wall separation in her foot that caused her to miss two legs of the Matchmaker. But knock on wood, she’s been a very solid and sound mare,” explained Graham.

As for the Kane this week, Gia’s Surreal is only the second mare to compete in this race. Artistry In Rhythm started in the 2010 edition for driver Ken Holliday but did not fare very well, however that is nothing more than a footnote 12 years later. Gia’s Surreal is the third richest and second-winningest starter in this race and starts from post two for Hall of Fame driver Brian Sears. With her class and ability, there is no doubt that “Girl Power” could reign supreme for Gia’s Surreal on Friday against seven male rivals who would be at the top level of competition in any racing jurisdiction in North America.

“This is a great field of horses and it will be a true test of her savvy obviously, but we’re not afraid of anybody. When we were asked if we’d be interested in racing in here I knew that many Open male pacers would be entering the Canadian Pacing Derby eliminations so I was fairly certain that none of the top-top echelon Grand Circuit boys would be entered. So I said, sure we’ll come for it,” said Graham.

“She seems excellent coming in. She spent a few days at the farm, on the treadmill, in the field, and then she just jogged the rest of the week. I feel great about bringing her home and I’m glad I was asked to be here. It was an honor to be included with this caliber of horses.”

Moving forward Gia’s Surreal is paid into every major mares race until the end of the year. Next week she goes back to Canada for the Milton, then she will ship back to Dayton and then The Red Mile. Assuming that she’s still in top form, she will finish the year in the Breeders Crown at Mohawk and the TVG at the Meadowlands.  

Post time for the special Friday card that also features New York Sire Stakes 3-year-old trotters of both genders vying for $232,700 in total purses is 6 p.m.

Photo courtesy of New Image Media

August 25, 2022 - 4:02pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

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The New York Sire Stakes for 3-year-old trotters of both genders will be contested at Batavia Downs during a special Friday night card (Aug. 26) with $232,700 in purses, as well as points up for grabs for horses that still need to solidify a spot in the finals at the Night of Champions at Tioga Downs on Saturday (Sept. 10). 

The marquee event will be the $119,800 division for colts and geldings where two 2022 Hambletonian elimination competitors will square off.

Slay (Chapter Seven-Swinging Royalty) is currently tied as the second fastest 3-year-old trotting colt in North America as a result of his 1:51, :26 flat last quarter victory in the $125,000 Stanley Dancer Memorial at the Meadowlands in July. Two weeks after that he was in the $100,000 Hambletonian elimination where he was beaten only 3-¾ lengths although he missed making the final. But he bounced right back in a NYSS event at Saratoga where he handily won gate to wire in 1:54.3 and 1-½ lengths ahead of Molotov Cocktail. That was also his fastest win time ever recorded over a half mile track.

Slay has been competing against the best sophomore trotters in the country all year including Joviality S, Jiggy Jog S and Temporal Hanover and as a result, has amassed $202,997 in earnings this year putting him seventh on the list among all North American 3-year-old male trotters. In the NYSS series he is currently tied for second in points (125) with Cool Papa Bell and is third in earnings ($84,825) and has his sights firmly on the finals in two weeks. 

Joe Bongiorno will be in town to drive Slay from post five for trainer Tony Alagna. 

Molotov Cocktail (Chapter Seven-Moonlight Cocktail) was the NYSS 2-year-old male trotting champion last year and returned strong for his second campaign. He took an early season lifetime mark of 1:52.2 at the Meadowlands in an overnight event which is one of only two wins for him this year. But the second came last week in the $200,000 Earl Beal consolation at Mohegan Sun Pocono, where he scored in 1:52.4. In between he was beaten only 4-½ lengths in his Hambletonian elimination and although he didn't make the final, followed that up with a very impressive third in the $50,000 Muscle Hill at the Meadowlands where he was race timed in 1:51.4 after being parked most of the mile.

Molotov Cocktail has also encountered many tough trotters on the trail this year having faced off against Hambletonian winner Cool Papa Bell and Rebuff and his 2022 efforts put him 10th in North America for earnings among all 3-year-old male trotters. However because of his Grand Circuit schedule he has only two NYSS starts where he finished second both times. That currently puts him in a three way tie for eighth in points and he needs a top finish here to ensure a trip to the lucrative final at Tioga.

Brain Sears will drive for Hall of Fame trainer Linda Toscano and they will leave from post four. 

The fillies will go in two fields and there does appear to be a standout in each group. 

The first $55,900 division features Cash Infusion (Chapter Seven-Swing Anna Cash) who has had a very full dance card this year. She competed in the $187,500 Empire Breeders Classic at Vernon Downs, $126,165 New York New York Mile at Yonkers Raceway, $123,000 Zweig Memorial at Vernon and $33,500 Continental Victory at the Meadowlands where she finished third and was race timed in 1:52.3. Plus she took money in all four of those events against very tough fillies like Joviality S and Jiggy Jog S while competing in much fuller fields. A big plus is her 1:57 lifetime mark that came on the half mile track at Saratoga earlier this spring. She did break at Monticello in her last start but recovered nicely to be beaten by only three lengths. 

Trained by George Ducharme, Cash Infusion will leave from post four with Tyler Buter at the lines. 

Looking to upset is In A Tiny Way (ConwayHall-Mc Tiny’s Hope) who was unraced at two but has had an outstanding year at three, starting with a win in her first stake engagement in a $15,000 Excel “A” race at Tioga Downs in a lifetime best 1:54.3. She has since gone on to do some of her best work on twice-arounds, winning in 1:57.3 at both Yonkers and Monticello Raceway, the latter in her last start which was a NYSS event.  

Jordan Stratton will drive from post two for trainer Mike Simons. 

Then in the $ 57,000-second leg, Valentina Blu (Chapter Seven-Corazon Blue Chip) comes in with the credentials to be a prohibitive betting favorite at post time. Last year she finished second in the $200,000 NYSS final to Joviality S, third to Venerable in the Mohawk Million and second in the $294,580 Kindergarten Classic making up the bulk of her $336,703 first-year earnings. This year she has only made five starts back thus far but two of those were NYSS wins. She also finished third in the $187,500 Empire Breeders Classic behind Joviality S and Bare My Soul, who she is currently tied with for top NYSS points in her division. After finishing sixth in the $123,000 Zweig she took a month off and won her first race back at Monticello in handy fashion. This is definitely a prep race for the finals for this filly. 

Joe Bongiorno will steer for trainer Tony Alagna from post two. 

Seven On The Rocks (Chapter Seven-Spicedbourbongirl) is a five-time winner this year but none have come in stake action despite being very competitive in his NYSS starts. She’s A Scorcher (Chapter Seven-Chilitodayhotamale) just got beat in 1:57.2 in a NYSS race at Buffalo in June but has since faced very formidable company over bigger tracks at both Oak Grove and The Red Mile in Kentucky Sire Stake action. Both will look to upset the probable favorite. 

John Stark Jr. trains and will drive Seven On The Rocks from post three while Jordan Stratton will drive Tony Alagna’s entry She’s A Scorcher from post five. 

The NYSS are carded as race one, three and eight. There are also four $15,000 Excel “A” series events carded as race two, four, five and six.

Friday’s card also features the 17th Robert J. Kane Memorial Pace that has a stellar field of eight top Open pacers slated to go postward in race nine for $75,000 which is the highest purse ever offered in this race. 

Post time for race one is 6 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Lisa Photo

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