Persistent rain and a sloppy track set the stage for racing at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Dec. 2) but the inclement conditions didn’t prevent Ricky B Sharp from excelling in the $15,000 Open I Handicap trotting feature.
Credit List (Kyle Cummings) grabbed the first lead before relenting to Staghouse (Ray FIsher Jr.), who pulled past the eighth to take the front before the :30.2 quarter. As they moved into the stretch for the first time, Kevin Cummings moved Johnny Boy early from fifth and was flying on the outside, catching Staghouse in turn three. Staghouse then made a break and caused interference with trailing horses including Ricky B Sharp (Mike Baumeister) who was fifth at that point.
Johnny Boy opened up a 2-¼ length lead over Credit List approaching three-quarters while Ricky B Sharp extricated himself from the road trouble, moved into third and gained ground with every stride. The top three separated from the field while tightening up between themselves and rounded the last turn in a pack. Johnny Boy took his diminishing lead into the stretch while Credit List and Ricky B Sharp continued to gain ground with every pylon. The three crossed the wire together with Ricky B Sharp getting the nod by one-half length in 1:59.2.
It was the fifth win of the year for Ricky B Sharp ($10.80) and owner Jennifer Signor. Ron Baumeister trains the winner.
The top pace was an upper-level conditioned event that went for $12,500 and Stranger Things claimed his ninth win of the year after closing late with enthusiasm.
JMs Delight (Greg Merton) was commander of fractions to the half but Alta Engen N (Kyle Cummings) came first-over at that station and took the lead midway up the backstretch from the fading JMs Delight. Now on the point, Alta Engen N was under duress from Stranger Things (Kevin Cummings) who had shadowed the leader since the half. Stranger Things drew alongside Alta Engen N midway through the last turn and the two pacers duked it out from there. The pair stayed even until halfway down the stretch where Stranger Things imposed his will and pulled away to a 2-½ length victory in 1:55.1.
It was win number nine this year for heavily backed Stranger Things ($2.60) who is owned by Kathy Schoeffel, Virginia Schoeffel, and James Reuther and trained by Angelo Nappo.
Driver John Cummings Jr. led all drivers on Saturday with a grand slam in the bike. He won with J-S Swanman (2:02.1, $4.30), Bluesville (1:56.3, $4.40), Win Not Lou (156.2, $8.50) and Third Edition (1:56.4, $3.20).
There are only two days of live racing left in the 2023 meet at Batavia Downs and the action resumes on Wednesday (Dec. 6) at 6:00 p.m. with a $786 carryover in the Jackpot Hi-5 pentafecta wager in race 13.
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.