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September 24, 2020 - 3:13pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Majestic Kat takes the lead with driver Billy Davis Jr. at the reins.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

A pair of $8,500 Open I Handicap races topped the card at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Sept. 23) -- one for trotters and one for pacing mares -- and both produced gate to wire winners. 

Majestic Kat moved up to the Open I trot after a 4-1/2 length, 1:57.2 seasonal best win in the Open III last week and despite the jump in class, went almost the exact same mile. Billy Davis Jr. left with Majestic Kat and cut quarters of :28.3, :58.4 and 1:27.1 before Before I Die (Dave McNeight III) trotted alongside him in the last turn and then matched strides all the way down the lane. With less than a half-length between them for the last 1/16th of the mile, Majestic Kat managed to hold her ground and beat Before I Die at the light by a 1/2 length in 1:57.1, which was another new seasonal mark. 

Majestic Kat ($7.90) is owned by Vogel and Wags Nags Stable, Team Rice Racing and Adelphi Bloodstock and is trained by Maria Rice.  

Billy Davis Jr. added two more wins during the proceedings, walking away with a driving hat trick.

Above, HP Sissy and driver Denny Bucceri.

One race later in the top distaff pace, HP Sissy rebounded from two consecutive eight hole draws and went right to the front where she does some of her best work. Denny Bucceri sped to the quarter in :27.1 before grabbing leather in a :30 flat second panel, where the race was really decided. Blacknsweet Adda A (Jim Morrill Jr.) pulled on the second circuit with Protect Blue Chip (Billy Davis Jr.) on her back, but HP Sissy was up to the task. She hit the three-quarters in 1:25.4, rounded the far turn and opened up a two-length advantage while pacing sharply to the wire in 1:54.4. 

It was the fifth win of the year for HP Sissy ($7.10) who is owned by Finnocchario’s Dream Stable and trained by Mike Ohol. 

Finnocchario, Ohol and Bucceri doubled their pleasure Wednesday as they also won with Mach’s Echo who blew up the tote board with a $39.60 payoff. 

Jim Morrill Jr. had a big night in the bike, winning four races on the card. He scored with Sentimental Lady (1:57.1, $5.30), Il Mago (1:57, $4.40), Odyssey Blue Chip (1:58.1, $2.50) and You Mach Me Crazy (1:56.4, $2.30). 

Gerry Sarama trained the last three Morrill winners, giving him a training triple that was matched by fellow conditioner Sabrina Shaw. 

Drew Monti was the final multi-win horseman teaming two winners on the card. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Sept. 26) with post time at 5 p.m.

September 21, 2020 - 2:26pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia Downs has announced a guaranteed pool of $3,000 for the Pick-5 wager on Wednesday afternoon (Sept. 23). The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages are available courtesy of Trackmaster on the USTA’s website or by direct download clicking here

The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, a carryover pool will move to the Saturday (Sept. 26) program.

Post time for the first race Wednesday is 5 p.m.

 

 

September 20, 2020 - 12:39pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Stratosphere with driver Drew Monti.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Despite a jump in class, a return to an inside post proved to be the ticket as Stratosphere went the route in the $8,500 Open I Handicap on Saturday night (Sept. 19) at Batavia Downs. 

Percy’s Z Tam (Jim Morrill Jr.) took a quick early lead but as soon as he crossed over, Stratosphere (Drew Monti) left the pocket, took the lead and called all the shots from there. After hitting the half in a rated :57.3, Stratosphere saw Under Paid (Denny Bucceri) at his flank as that one tried to apply pressure to the three-quarters. 

When they hit that station in 1:25.2, Under Paid had enough and started to fade, allowing Percy’s Z Tam a clear path to pull. Morrill pulled the trigger and Percy’s Z Tam took his best shot. But his best wasn’t good enough this night as Stratosphere kicked away and kicked away hard, opening up a two length advantage at the top of the stretch and pacing home in hand to win by 2-½ lengths in 1:53.4. 

It was the third win in the last five starts and the fifth win of the year for Stratosphere ($5.80) who is owned by Drew Monti and trained by Darrin Monti. 

In the undercard $7,000 Open III pace, McSpidey (Denny Bucceri) was never headed after taking command off the gate and cruised home to a 2-¾ length, 1:53.3 win, which was a new seasonal mark. William Emmons owns the Jim Clouser Jr. trained McSpidey ($3.20) who scored his third win of the year, all of which were at Batavia Downs. 

Drivers Drew Monti and Billy Davis Jr. each had three winners on the card while Jim Morrill Jr., Denny Bucceri and Ray Fisher Jr. had two wins apiece. Trainers Don Rothfuss and Don Niles both had two winners as well. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Sept. 23) with post time at 5 p.m. There will be a $3,000 guaranteed pool in the Pick-5 wager on Wednesday that is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering program. The Pick-5 starts in race one and runs through race five and free program pages for those races will be available on both the USTA and Batavia Downs websites early next week.

September 17, 2020 - 2:41pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Photo: Before I Die with driver Dave McNeight III.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

It’s not too often a 9-year-old goes the race of a lifetime, but that’s just what Before I Die did in the $8,500 Open I Handicap trot at Batavia Downs on Wednesday evening (Sept. 16). 

Before I Die (Dave McNeight III) started from the pylons but got away fourth after a three-deep :27.4 mad dash for the front by Victoria Swan (Drew Monti), Il Mago (Jim Morrill Jr.) and Noble Legend (Billy Davis Jr.), who eventually took command. The action stayed fresh as the race passed the three-eighths where Before I Die tipped and proceeded in the breeze rounding the third turn. 

Before I Die trotted alongside Noble Legend and then went right by as the group entered the back straight and from there, he was gone. After opening up a 3-1/2 length lead in a 1:26.1 third quarter, Before I Die gained momentum with every stride around the last turn and then kicked away hard down the stretch to win by 7-3/4 lengths in 1:56.2, which was a new lifetime mark. 

Overlooked at 10-1, Before I Die ($22.80) scored his second win of the year for owners Jaime and Caren Dubay. Jaime Dubay trains the winner.

Above photo, Lady Dudette with driver Kyle Cummings (in red) out front, just before dead-heat with Protect Blue Chip and driver Billy Davis Jr. (in blue).

There was a dead-heat for win in the $8,000 Open I pace for fillies and mares after Protect Blue Chip (Billy Davis Jr.) led at every station with Lady Dudette (Kyle Cummings) right behind her. At the top of the stretch Lady Dudette pulled and matched strides with Protect Blue Chip all the way to the light and the photo nor the judges could separate the two in a race that went 1:54.4. 

Lady Dudette ($5) is owned by Kyle Cummings and trained by Tammy Cummings and Protect Blue chip ($3.40) is owned by Vogel and Wags Nags Stable, Team rice Racing and Adelphi Bloodstock and is trained by Maria Rice. 

Five drivers had multi-win nights at Batavia on Wednesday. Jim Morrill Jr. led the pack with three and Kyle Cummings, Ray Fisher Jr., Dave McNeight III and Drew Monti all scored two. Trainers Ryan Swift and Tammy Cummings also scored two wins apiece. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Sept. 19) at 5 p.m.

September 16, 2020 - 2:55pm
posted by Press Release in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

There is a carryover of $858 in the Pick-5 at Batavia Downs and a guaranteed pool of $3,000 has been announced for that wager this afternoon (Sept. 16).

The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages are available courtesy of Trackmaster on the USTA’s website or by direct download by clicking here.

The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, the carryover amount will move to the Saturday (Sept. 19) program.

Post time for the first race today is 5 p.m.

September 13, 2020 - 12:23pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Mr. Euroman with driver Billy Davis Jr. in the forefront.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

After taking a week off, Mr. Euroman returned with strong resolve and won the $8,000 Open II Handicap pace at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 12). 

Daylight Rush (Dave McNeight III) started from the pylons and kept that position for most of the race. With no other leavers in the contest, McNeight guided Daylight Rush to a tepid half of :57.2 with Mr. Euroman (Billy Davis Jr.) sitting right on his back. 

Mcspidey (Kyle Cummings) pulled first-over in front of the stands but only got as close as a half-length to Daylight Rush by the three-quarters in 1:25.2. As they made their way through the turn, Mcspidey faded and Davis pulled right line on Mr. Euroman who popped out of the hole, barreled down the lane and ran down Daylight Rush at the wire to win by 1/4 length in 1:53.3, which was a new seasonal mark.  

It was the third win of the year for Mr. Euroman ($17.40) who is owned by Vogel and Wags Nags Stable, Team Rice Racing and Adelphi Bloodstock. Maria Rice is the trainer. 

In the $7,000 Open III pace, Polak A (Ray Fisher Jr.) came in fresh off a two-month layoff and bounced back strong his first start out of the box with a come-from-behind effort and strong stretch drive to catch the race-long leader Machlicious (Drew Monti) at the wire to win by a head in 1:55.2. 

Polak A ($25.20) is owned by Eric Prevost and trained by Sabrina Shaw. 

Billy Davis Jr. and Drew Monti both drove three winners on Saturday’s card while Shawn McDonough piloted two. McDonough also registered two wins on the training side along with Maria Rice.  

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs at 5 o'clock on Wednesday afternoon (Sept. 16). There will a carry over pool of $858 for the Pick-5 wager on Wednesday and as a result, a United States Trotting Association Strategic Wagering guaranteed pool of $3,000 for that wager with free program pages available starting Sunday (Sept. 14) at www.ustrotting.comwww.bataviadownsgaming.com and on the Batavia Downs Facebook page.

September 10, 2020 - 1:23pm
posted by Press Release in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Press release:

On the approval of the New York State Gaming Commission, post time on Saturday at Batavia Downs will be moved back an hour --from 6 p.m. to 5 p.m. starting Sept. 12 and remain at that time for the remainder of the meet. 

Batavia Downs is racing a Wednesday/Saturday schedule and now both days will start at 5 p.m.

The only exceptions will be: Saturday Oct. 3 that will start at 7:05 p.m. due to the Preakness; Saturday Oct. 31 because of Halloween; and Saturday (Nov. 7) for the Breeders Cup, both of which will begin at 1:15 p.m. 

There are currently 27 racing dates left on the meet that runs through Saturday Dec. 12.

September 10, 2020 - 1:17pm
posted by Press Release in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Photo of Daylon Phantom with reinsman Renaldo Morales III.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

If last week’s 7-3/4 length romp wasn’t enough, Daylon Phantom put the exclamation point on the page this week with his best effort of 2020, winning the $8,000 Open I-II Handicap trot at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Sept. 9). 

Daylon Phantom (Renaldo Morales III) got away fifth while Il Mago (Jim Morrill Jr.) and Lunar Credit (Jim McNeight Jr.) jousted for the lead. With the latter taking control from the former by the half, Morales came first up with Daylon Phantom, drew alongside Lunar Credit at three-quarters and headed down the lane on top while holding off a late closing Lougazi (Ray Fisher Jr.) to win by 1-1/4 in 1:57.1, which was a new seasonal mark. 

It was the second straight top class trot win for Daylon Phantom ($11.80) and owners Franklin Meier and Super Mile. Angelo Nappo is the trainer. 

Later in the $7,250 Open II-III trot, Victoria Swan (Drew Monti) led at every station before pulling away at the top of the lane and stretching out to a three length victory at the light in 1:58.1. Victoria Swan ($7.60) is owned by R.B.H. Ventures and Spagnola Racing. Sabrina Shaw trains the winner. 

Jim Morrill Jr. led all drivers on Wednesday with a grand slam on the card while Kyle Cummings had a hat trick of his own. Trainer Tammy Cummings was the top conditioner of the night with three wins as well. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Sept. 12) with a new, earlier post time of 5 p.m. 

September 6, 2020 - 12:45pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Class Six in the forefront with driver Billy Davis Jr.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

You might say it was a two-horse race at Batavia Downs, except that it was between the top two drivers in Western New York. Billy Davis Jr. won six races including the feature and Jim Morrill Jr. won five races including stringing four in a row, accounting for the winners of 11 of 13 races contested on Saturday night (Sept. 5). 

Davis’s best victory came in the $8,000 Open II Handicap pace behind Class Six. Davis sat in fourth with Class Six while Under Paid (Denny Bucceri) led the field around once. Then Davis pulled Class Six first over and made a three-wide move at the three-quarters, grabbed the lead by the top of the stretch and held off a late rally by Daylight Rush (Dave McNeight III) to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:54.1. 

It was the fifth win in 20 starts this year for Class Six ($19) who is owned by Eric Prevost and trained by Sabrina Shaw. 

Davis also scored with Inspector Murdoch (1:58.1, $4.80), Hold The Gold (1:55.4, $25.80), Sizzling summer (1:55.3, $5.10), Rockin Legend (1:58.2, $5.30) and This Baby Rocks (1:56.3, $2.20). All six wins were for six different trainers. 

Among the five wins Morrill scored was the co-featured $7,000 Open III pace where he went gate to wire with Atlantis ($3.80) in 1:56.3 for owner Mike Torcello and trainer Gerry Sarama. 

Morrill also won with Beachy Dream (1:55..2, $2.90), Sir Richie N (1:56.1, $3.20) and Odyssey Blue Chip (2:00.2, $8.60) which are also owned by Torcello and trained by Sarama giving them a grand slam evening, and Whosurpapa (1:56.1, $2.50). 

After their big nights, Morrill remains the leading driver of the meet with 39 wins, followed by Billy Davis Jr. who has 31. Drew Monti sits in third with 17 and Dave McNeight III is fourth with 16.

Davis is currently the ninth-leading percentage driver in North America for drivers with 500 or more starts (Davis has 536) with a UDR of .343, sitting right behind Tim Tetrick and just ahead of Dexter Dunn. Morrill is seventh among drivers in North America with between 300 and 499 starts (Morrill has 495) with a UDR of .383.

Batavia Downs had a big following at the windows on Saturday night as they registered their second largest handle ever under Western Regional Off Track Betting ownership, only behind the 2019 New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions last September. The Downs customers pumped over $120,000 more through the windows tonight than they did one years ago on this same date. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Sept. 9) with post time set for 5 p.m.

September 2, 2020 - 11:00pm
posted by Billie Owens in harness racing, sports, Batavia Downs.

daylon_phantom.jpg

Photo: Daylon Phantom with driver Renaldo Morales III.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

A pair of big come-from-behind performances were put forth by the winners of the featured trot and pace that highlighted the card at Batavia Downs on Wednesday evening (Sept. 2). 

In the $8,000 Open I-II Handicap trot, Daylon Phantom (Renaldo Morales III) tracked the leading Il Mago (Jim Morrill Jr.) from fifth to the half before following State Ofmyhead As (Ray Fisher Jr.) outside to the three-quarters where he tipped three-deep and from there, annihilated the field down the lane winning by 7-3/4 lengths in 1:57.4.  

It was the third win of the year and a new seasonal mark for Daylon Phantom ($12.20) who is owned by Franklin Meier and Super Mile. Angelo Nappo does the training.  

lady_dudette.jpg

(Photo: Lady Dudette with driver Kyle Cummings.)

And in the $7,500 Open II-III pace for fillies and mares, Lady Dudette (Kyle Cummings) followed a similar path, getting away fifth behind Lady London (Ray Fisher Jr.) who had paced away to a five open length lead at the three-quarters.

There, Lady Dudette was fourth on the outside and pacing up a storm. A highly animated Cummings continued to urge the mare around the last turn and Lady Dudette caught the leader mid-stretch and opened up a 1-3/4 length lead at the wire in 1:55.4. 

Lady Dudette ($16.20) now has two wins in a row for Kyle Cummings, who also owns the mare. Tammy Cummings trains the winner. 

Driver Billy Davis Jr. had the hat trick on Wednesday while Ray Fisher Jr., Dave McNeight III and Jim Morrill Jr. all had doubles. Trainer Jim Clouser Jr. also had a training double. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday night with a later post time of 7:05 due to the Kentucky Derby.

August 30, 2020 - 2:19pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Photo of Black Is Back with reinsman Drew Monti.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

After winning the top class pace going gate to wire last week, Black is Back did it again from off the pace on Saturday evening (Aug. 29) in the $8,500 Open I pacing feature at Batavia Downs. 

Black Is Back (Drew Monti) started from fifth and watched the action from there as Mr. Euroman N (Billy Davis Jr.) led the race to the half in :56.3. At that station Long Train Runnin (Denny Bucceri) came first up and provided live cover for Black Is Back, who was eagerly following. 

Long Train Runnin was grinding away at Mr. Euroman N up the backside to the three-quarters and into the final bend where Monti tipped Black Is Back three deep and threw the lines at him for more speed. Black Is Back responded and methodically overtook everyone as he paced down the lane to the wire and won by 3/4’s of a length in 1:53.4, which was a new seasonal mark.

It was the third Open win at Batavia this year for Black Is Back ($12.60) who is owned by Curtis Edholm and Mihajlo Zdjelar Sr. Mihajlo Zdjelar Jr. is the trainer. 

Drew Monti also scored a win in the underbilled $7,500 Open II pace with Stratosphere, who led every step of the mile before kicking away to a 2-1/4 length victory in 1:53.3, just missing his lifetime best by 1/5th of a second. It was the second straight win for Stratosphere ($3.20) who is owned by his driver and trained by Darrin Monti. 

Drew Monti capped off a big night with two more wins with Cultural Paradise (1:56.4, $4.00) and Charmbo Orbit (1:55, $11.80) giving him a grand slam for the evening. 

Jim Morrill Jr. also scored a grand slam, winning with Sir Richie N (1:57, $2.90), Triple Seelster (1:55.4, $4.50), Littlebitaclass (1:57.2, $2.90) and Mr. Sideburns (1:57.1, $4.40). 

Other horsemen tallying multiple wins included driver Billy Davis Jr. and trainers Mihajlo Zdjelar Jr. and Gerry Sarama who all garnered two wins on the night. 

After Saturday’s action, Jim Morrill Jr. continues to lead all drivers for wins during the meet with 32 victories, Billy Davis Jr. is second with 23 and Drew Monti jumped into third Saturday with 15. Dave McNeight III (14) and Ray Fisher Jr. (12) round out the top five.  

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Sept. 2) with post time at 5 p.m.

August 27, 2020 - 11:39am
posted by Billie Owens in harness racing, sports, Batavia Downs.

HP Sissy back on her game in Batavia feature

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

HP Sissy had a career session in 2019 but hasn’t won a top class pace this year since March 4. That drought was quenched on Wednesday (Aug. 26) when the mare dominated in the $8,500 Open I distaff pace at Batavia Downs. 

HP Sissy (Denny Bucceri) started from post two and stayed right there while Tellawoman (Drew Monti), who left from post three, marched off quarters of :28, :57.3 and 1:25.2. At that point Bucceri finally popped the deuce and was matching strides with Tellawoman around the final turn in what turned into a very exciting finish. As the pair headed down the lane, HP Sissy got the advantage, kicked away from Tellawoman and the rest of the field and scored a 2-1/2 length win in 1:54.2.

It was the fourth win of the year for HP Sissy ($7.20) who is owned by Finocchario’s Dream Stable and trained by Mike Ohol.

In the secondary featured $7,500 Open II trot, New York Sire Stake 3-year-old trotting colt Barn Holden made a cameo appearance at Batavia and displayed what’s made him the fourth highest point-getter in his division this year.  

Barn Holden (Kyle Cummings) got away fourth while Lunar Credit (Jim McNeight Jr.) led the field the entire race. Heading into the stretch Lunar Credit had a two-length advantage and looked like a sure winner. But Barn Holden, who was almost four-lengths off the front at that point, displayed a furious :28.4 brush coming to the wire and caught Lunar Credit by 1/4 length in 1:56.3. 

Barn Holden ($6.30) scored his third win of the year and pushed his earnings to $70,360 in the process for owners Steve and Nancy Pratt, Purple Haze Stables and Out In The Country Stables. Steve Pratt trains the sophomore son of Conway Hall-Barn Babe. 

Driver Dave McNeight III and trainer Jennifer Giuliani each had three wins on the night. 

Racing resumed at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Aug. 29) with post time at 6 p.m. 

August 23, 2020 - 5:21pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Photo: Black Is Back with driver Drew Monti out front.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Having not seen post one in what seems like forever, Black Is Back took full advantage of the anomaly on Saturday night (Aug. 22) and went gate to wire with relative ease in the $8,500 Open I pacing feature at Batavia Downs. 

Percy’s Z Tam (Jim Morrill Jr.) left fast from post seven and took an early lead. But Black Is Back (Drew Monti) pulled the pocket quickly and went to the front for what would be the remainder of the race. After the :29 first panel, Monti backed down the the half to a pedestrian :58.3 and looked about as solid as a favorite could at the point. 

As they headed into the third turn, Under Paid (Denny Bucceri) was rolling up to Black Is Back and tried to push the pace and Black Is Back responded with a :27.2 third quarter. With his chasers now in check on the strength of that burst, Black Is Back spun off the far turn under loose lines and kicked home smartly to win by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:54, which was his best effort of the year. 

It was the fourth win in 10 starts for Black Is Back ($3.50) who is owned by Curtis Edholm and Mihajlo Zdjelar Sr. Mihajlo Zdjelar Jr. trains the winner. 

In the $7,250 Open II-III pace, Long Train Runnin (Denny Bucceri) pulled third over from sixth at the half, tipped three-deep at three-quarters, took the lead in the stretch and with Bucceri bouncing in the bike, paced away to a 1-1/2 length win in 1:53.4. The time was also a new seasonal mark. 

Long Train Runnin ($3.00) is owned by William Emmons and is trained by Jim Clouser Jr. 

Five drivers accounted for all 13 winners on Saturday as Billy Davis Jr., Drew Monti and Jim Morrill Jr. had driving triples while Denny Bucceri and Dave McNeight III each scored two wins. Trainers Darrin Monti and Gerry Sarama led all conditioners with two wins each as well.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Aug. 26) with post time at 5 p.m.

August 20, 2020 - 1:42pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Photo: Driver Billy Davis Jr. and Noble Legend take the lead.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs​

It was a big night for driver Billy Davis Jr., trainer Maria Rice and the ownership group of Vogel and Wags Nags, Team Rice Racing and Adelphi Bloodstock at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Aug. 19) as they sent three from their stable to the Purple Haze winner’s circle, including the winner of the co-featured race. 

In the $8,000 Open I-II trot, Noble Legend followed Il Mago (Jim Morrill Jr.) the entire mile until the head of the stretch when Davis tipped and out-trotted the leader to the wire while holding off a fast-closing Lunar Credit (Jim McNeight Jr.) and won in 1:58.1, which was a new seasonal mark.

It was the second straight win for Noble Legend ($6.50) and third win of the year.

Then in the $7,250 fillies and mares Open II-III pace, Protect Blue Chip drafted third most of the mile while Tellawoman (Jim Morrill Jr.) and HP Sissy (Denny Bucceri) took turns on the lead. Davis pulled from that spot at the three-quarters, cleared by the top of the stretch and held off one final bid by Tellawoman to win by a length in 1:54.4, which was also a new seasonal mark. 

The heavily favored Protect Blue Chip returned $3.10. 

Finally in the $7,250 Open II-III trot, Keystone Apache displayed some old form as he went unchallenged from the word go, scoring a wire to wire 8-1/2 length victory in 1:57.3. That, too, was a new seasonal mark for the winner. 

It was the fourth win in the last six starts for Keystone Apache ($2.80) 

Jim Morrill Jr. also had a driving hat trick, including winning the other $8,000 feature which was the Open I-II for fillies and mares with Toothofthedragon. 

Toothofthedragon who had been third the whole race, found just enough room to get out in the stretch and catch the race long leader Little Joke (Billy Davis Jr.) by a head to win in 1:56.

Toothofthedragon ($4.30) is owned by Mike Torcello and trained by Gerry Sarama. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Aug. 22) with post time at 6 p.m.

August 16, 2020 - 12:18pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Photo: Driver Drew Monti pushes Class Six into the lead to win the race.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The third time was the charm for Class Six who scored his first top-class victory in three Batavia Downs tries after he won the $8,500 Open I pace on Saturday (Aug 15).

Drew Monti pushed Class Six off the gate and to the lead where he would stay the entire mile. After getting to the half in :58.2, Under Paid (Denny Bucceri) launched a mild bid on the outside going to three-quarters, but never got close enough to contend and Class Six rimmed the final bend and headed down the lane. Iluvtomakemoney (Ray Fisher Jr.) who sat the garden spot for 7/8ths of the mile, popped the pocket and made a run, but that was futile as well and Class Six held on to win in 1:55.1. 

It was the fourth win of the year for Class Six ($7.70) who is owned by Eric Prevost and trained by Sabrina Shaw. 

In the $7,500 Open II pace, Western Conquest (Ray Fisher Jr.) also took advantage of the night’s front-end bias and went gate to wire with little opposition and denied the heavily favored Atlantis (Jim Morrill Jr.) at the wire in 1:57.1.

It was the second win in three starts and the fourth win of the year for Western Conquest ($17), owner Tanah Merah Farms and trainer Ryan Swift.

Several horsemen had a multiple win night led by Shawn McDonough who drove three winners while also training two of them. Billy Davis Jr. had a driving hat trick ahead of Jim Morrill Jr. and Ray Fisher Jr. who each scored two pilot victories. Trainers Ryan Swift and Jim Clouser Jr. both sent two horses to the Purple Haze winner’s enclosure. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday afternoon (Aug. 19) at 5 o'clock.

August 13, 2020 - 12:37pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Ray Fisher Jr. had a big night at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Aug. 12) after winning both $7,500 pacing and trotting features.

Fisher first took the fillies and mares Open-II pace with Lady London who led every step of the way. 

Lady London went for the front but got stung to the quarter in :26.4 by The Bay Front (Denny Bucceri) before settling in. However once she was on top, she proceeded to pace with authority. Lady London got to the three-quarters in 1:24.1 with an open two length lead and the field stacked up behind her. The race turned for home and Lady London finished what she started, winning in 1:54, which was a new seasonal mark. 

Lady London ($10.40) is owned by VHF Racing and trained by Sabrina Shaw. 

Then later in the Open I-II trot, Fisher was a passenger behind the runaway State Ofmyhead As who scored a major upset at 17-1.

State Ofmyhead As took the lead and was up by three lengths at the quarter in :28 and from there, he didn’t relent. After getting to the half in :56.3 and three-quarters in 1:26.1, State Ofmyhead As turned for home and opened up a 4-1/4 length margin as he cruised to the wire all alone in 1:57, giving himself a new lifetime mark. 

State Ofmyhead As ($36.80) is owned by the Tanah Merah Farm and the Swift Racing Stable and is trained by Ryan Swift.

Other drivers had multiple win nights including Jim Morrill Jr. who had three and Jim McNeight Jr. who had two. Trainers Gerry Sarama and Jim McNeight also scored two wins apiece.

Trainer Maria Rice hit a personal milestone in race five when her trotter Montepulciano ($4.70) guided by Billy Davis Jr. scored a 1:59.4 victory. It marked the 700th career training victory for Rice in a career that goes back to 2004. Rice has started 4,136 horses during that span garnering 700 wins, 679 seconds and 558 thirds, giving her a lifetime .305 universal trainer rating while bankrolling in excess of $4.4 million in purses.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Aug. 15) at 6 p.m.

August 10, 2020 - 11:03am
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Photo: American Courage with driver Matt Kakaley.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia Downs played host to the New York Sire Stake 2- and 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings on Sunday afternoon (Aug. 9) and the perfect weather brought out some exceptional performances. 

Outstanding 2-year-old colt American Courage (American Ideal-Nola Fool Bluechip) remained undefeated when he won his $50,400 NYSS division. After starting a bit off the gate, American Courage tucked in fifth momentarily before driver Matt Kakaley pulled and advanced him to third at the quarter behind the leading Carrythetorchman (Marcus Miller). But just past the three-eighths, Kakaley had him out and rolling again and this time right to the front.

American Courage cleared and took the lead by the five-eighths pole and really dug in from there. Kakaley sat chilly as American Courage opened up four lengths at the three-quarters, six lengths by the top of the stretch and then jogged home by 10 open lengths, wrapped up in 1:54.2.  

“The gate got going a little fast and got away from us. I just wanted to get away clean and get around the track,” Kakaley said. “This is a serious colt.” 

American Courage ($2.10) remains perfect, now winning six of six lifetime starts for owner Fiddler’s Creek Stable, who also bred the winner. Travis Alexander is the trainer.

(Photo: own Gossip with driver Jim Morrill Jr.)

The other $50,400 2-year-old division went to Town Gossip (American Ideal-Fibbertigibbet) who led at every station from post one. Jim Morrill Jr. backed down the half to a pedestrian :59 before stepping on the gas and letting Town Gossip accelerate away from the field. After hitting the three-quarters in 1:28.1, Town Gossip turned for home and opened up a 5-1/4 length lead at the wire for a 1:57.1 win. 

It was the second NYSS win of the year for Town Gossip ($3) who is owned by Robert Weinstein. Jennifer Bongiorno trains the $25,000 Lexington Selected acquisition who was bred by Winbak Farm. 

(Photo: Groovy Joe takes the lead with driver Matt Kakaley.)

The sophomore set saw its best performance come in the second $55,000 split when the 3-year-old colt Groovy Joe (Roll With Joe-Chotat Milk) went coast to coast in the fastest mile of the day.

Matt Kakaley rushed Groovy Joe off the gate and out-muscled Save Me A Dance (Jason Bartlett) for the lead at the quarter in :27. The race proceeded in single file to the half and past the five eighths before anyone decided to pull on the leader. 

Splash Brother (Tyler Buter) tipped from last midway up the backstretch and tried to push the issue but came up short in the last turn. Groovy Joe was clear in the lane by two lengths with only the pocket sitting Save Me A Dance with a chance at him. He did close strong down the lane but Groovy Joe hung on to win by a half length in 1:52. 

It was the second NYSS win this year for Groovy Joe ($4.30) who is owned by Hutt Racing Stable, Blake Macintosh, Ozzie Mackay and Hoofbid Racing. Blake Macintosh also trains the winner who was a $17,000 Goshen Yearling sale purchase that was bred by Winbak Farm.

(Photo: Major Betts and driver Dexter Dunn in the forefront.)

The first $54,000 3-year-old division was won by Major Betts (Art Major-Southwind Johanne) for driver Dexter Dunn who made his first-ever driving appearance at Batavia Downs. 

Major Betts took the lead and cut fractions of :27, :56.4 and 1:25.4 before his first challenge of the race came from Blank Stare (Corey Callahan) who pulled within a length of him at that third station. Major Betts successfully rebuffed that attack and headed down the lane on top by a length. But as he drifted just off the pylons, the pocket sitting Ideal Perception (Jason Bartlett) shot up the cones to take his best shot. Major Betts still had pace and stood his ground to win by a head in 1:53.3. 

It was the third straight NYSS victory for Major Betts ($2.10) and owners Joseph Jannuzzelli, Mark Harder and Deena Frost. Mark Harder also trains the colt who was bred by Southwind Farms and sold at the Lexington Selected sale for $70,000. 

There were seven $15,000 divisions of Excelsior A and four $6,600 divisions of Excelsior B races Sunday as well and those results can be found at this link. (https://racing.ustrotting.com/chart.aspx#636946)

Matt Kakaley, Jason Bartlett and Drew Monti all had hat tricks on the all-stake card with Tyler Buter and Jim Morrill Jr. each scoring two wins as well.

August 9, 2020 - 1:04pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Percy Z Tam started slow but put on a spirited late rally to capture the $8,500 Open I pacing feature at Batavia Downs on Saturday evening (Aug. 8). 

Getting away fifth, Percy Z Tam (Jim Morrill Jr.) watched as Under Paid (Denny Bucceri) took command and led the group to the half in :57. Thor De Vie (Ray Fisher Jr.) pulled at that point and Percy Z Tam followed one back as the race moved around the clubhouse turn. 

From there, positions remained unchanged until halfway through the final turn when Morrill tipped Percy Z Tam three-deep into the head of the lane and started to accelerate. First he circled Mr. Euroman (Billy Davis Jr.) who came off the pylons and then caught Under Paid before the wire to win by 1/2 length in 1:54.2. 

It was the fifth win of the year for Percy Z Tam ($8.80) who is owned by Mike Torcello and trained by Gerry Sarama. 

In the $7,500 Open II pace, Iluvtomakemoney (Ray Fisher Jr.) was hopelessly boxed in at the three-quarters yet managed to find racing room in the last turn. Fisher then went three-high turning for home and Iluvtomakemoney was able to catch Atlantis (Jim Morrill Jr.) at the wire by a nose to win in 1:55.3.

Iluvtomakemoney ($8.70) scored his fourth win of the year for the Tanah Merah Farms and Swift Racing Stable. Ryan Swift is the trainer. 

Shawn McDonough remained red hot at Batavia, winning three more races as both driver and trainer. Jim Morrill Jr. and Billy Davis Jr. also both had three driving wins Saturday while trainer Jim Clouser Jr. also had a hat trick. Trainer Gerry Sarama and Maria Rice each scored two conditioning victories as well. 

With two weeks of racing now in the books, Jim Morrill Jr. is the current dash driving leader with 13 wins followed by Billy Davis Jr. with 10, Dave McNeight III with seven and Shawn McDonough with six. On the training side, Gerry Sarama and Shawn McDonough are tied for the lead with seven wins apiece followed by Jim Clouser Jr. with six and Maria Rice with five. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs today (Aug. 9) with a special early post time of 1:15 p.m. It’s an all New York Sire Stake card featuring 2 and 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings.

August 8, 2020 - 1:39pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

A marathon 15-race card will be held at Batavia Downs on Sunday (Aug. 9) when the New York Sire Stakes roll into town for the second and final time this summer. Four NYSS divisions of 2- and 3-year-old male pacers headline with an undercard featuring 11 Excelsior legs that all tolled offer $341,200 in purse money. 

Nine 3-year-olds will go to post in two NYSS divisions and will feature some very fast horses. 

The first $54,000 leg has Major Betts (Art Major-Southwind Johanne) listed as the morning line favorite and for good reason. Major Betts took a lifetime mark of 1:49.4 at Tioga Downs in a NYSS event in June before competing in the $636,650 Meadowlands Pace in July. In that stake he drew post eight, got away tenth and chased a 1:47.2 mile in vain. The following week he jogged in 1:51.1 in another NYSS race at Yonkers. 

Dexter Dunn is scheduled to make his first-ever driving appearance at Batavia Downs to drive Major Betts for trainer Mark Harder. 

The other three horses in the short field of four have all been race timed under 1:50 this year but will definitely have their hands full on Sunday. Blank Stare (Bolt The Duer-Hypnotize) took his mark of 1:50.1 in a NYSS race at Tioga, Genius Man (Art Major-Unred Hanover) has won his last two starts and Ideal Perception (American Ideal-Southwind Siren) has not missed a check in NYSS action this year.

Blank Stare gets Corey Callahan for trainer John Butenshoen, Genius Man has Marcus Miller up for Erv Miller and Ideal Perception will have Jason Bartlett driving for Andrew Harris. 

The second $55,000 split features three closely spotted starters. 

Splash Brother (So Surreal-Sugarcoated) is a winner of three out of five races this year including one NYSS victory and his 1:48.2 lifetime mark at the Meadowlands in June. That is the fastest mile paced by a 3-year-old gelding so far in 2020. 

Groovy Joe (Roll With Joe-Chotat Milk) who won six NYSS races last year at two before finishing second in the final. In three tries this year he has only one win, but it was a lifetime best effort of 1:48.4 at Vernon Downs. 

Save Me A Dance (Heston Blue Chip-Dance Hall Girl) has three consecutive second place finishes in NYSS action after winning his seasonal debut at the Meadowlands in 1:51.1. 

Tyler Buter drives Splash Brother for trainer Ray Schnittker, Matt Kakaley will steer Groovy Joe for Blake McIntosh and Jason Bartlett will team Save Me A Dance for Andrew Harris.  

A dozen 2-year-olds will also compete in NYSS action in two $50,400 splits and this division features one of the top freshman horses in North America.

American Courage (American Ideal-Nola Fool Bluechip) is undefeated coming in to Batavia, going five for five this year and including two NYSS wins. He also won the $154,250 MGM Springfield Stake at Yonkers. He took his lifetime mark of 1:51.3 in his last start at Tioga Downs and that win pushed his earnings to $119,908.

To date he is the fastest 2-year-old pacing colt, the richest overall 2-year-old pacer and the third winningest overall 2-year-old pacer in North America.

Matt Kakaley will drive American Courage for trainer Travis Alexander.

Trying to take their best shot to beat him is Carrythetorchman (American Ideal-Kattimon) who won a preliminary leg of the MGM Springfield at Yonkers and has finished second in two NYSS events and Sauvignon Bluechip (Art Major-Some Girls Do) who tripped-out behind American Courage last week to finish second at Tioga.

Marcus Miller will drive Carrythetorchman for trainer Erv Miller and Tyler Buter will team Sauvignon Bluechip for trainer David Dziengiel.

The other 2-year-old leg has two competitors getting some relief from chasing American Courage, but who will now face off against each other. 

Town Gossip (American Ideal-Fibbertigibbet) has raced American Courage three times this year and finished second behind him twice. He did win his only start when not facing him in a NYSS race at Tioga where he went wire to wire in convincing fashion. 

King James Express (Art Major-More Diamonds) tripped-out and won his first NYSS event at Saratoga before drawing in with American Courage at Tioga and getting a rough overland trip where he was parked over half the mile. 

Jim Morrill Jr. will drive Town Gossip for trainer Jennifer Bongiorno and Jason Bartlett will be behind King James Express for Mark Harder. 

There are also seven $15,000 Excelsior A races carded along with four $6,600 Excelsior B races. Post time for the first race is 1:15 p.m.

August 6, 2020 - 1:09pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, sports, harness racing.

Photo: Gia’s Surreal with driver John Cummings Jr.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

There were some big performances put forth at Batavia Downs on Wednesday afternoon (Aug. 5) as Gia’s Surreal muscled her way to victory in the top distaff pace and Jim Morrill Jr. won five races on the card to extend his driving lead for the meet. 

After coming up short from a tough spot last week, Gia’s Surreal put an exclamation point on her performance in the $9,000 fillies and mares Open I pacing feature at the Downs. 

Gia’s Surreal (John Cummings Jr.) settled in fifth off the gate but only until the eighth pole, where Cummings pulled her and flew to the lead by the quarter in :28.1. She didn’t get much of a breather from there as HP Sissy (Denny Bucceri) pulled before the half and was on the attack and pushing the issue. 

HP Sissy fully engaged Gia’s Surreal and kept the fractions honest going up the backside, but after the 1:25 third panel on the rim, she tired while Gia’s Surreal accelerated. Cummings commenced bouncing in the bike around the far turn and opened up 2-1/4 lengths by the top of the stretch. From there the race was history as Gia’s Surreal extended her lead to 3-1/2 at the wire where she won in 1:54.4. 

It was the fourth score of the year for Gia’s Surreal ($4.50), who is owned by Edward Peron, Lee Winters, Thomas Mariano and Jim Graham, who also trains the winner. 

The top trot of the night was the $8,000 Open II event where Noble legend (Billy Davis Jr.) took a new seasonal mark of 1:58.2 after leading unchallenged at every station to score his second win of the year. It was the 35th lifetime win for the 8-year-old son of Kadabra-Lovin It and the purse pushed his total earnings in excess of $300,000; now with $302,519 in the bank for owners Vogel & Wags Nags, Team Rice and Adelphi Bloodstock. Maria Rice trains Noble Legend. 

Driver Jim Morrill Jr. turned heads once again on the strength of his five win outing on Wednesday. He was a frequent visitor of the Purple Haze winner’s enclosure as he made his way back there with Lyra (1:55.3, $12.40), Littlebitaclass (1:57.3, $3.80), Mighty Nicky (1:59.2, $7.80), All Music (1:59, $3) and The Bay Front (1:56.3, $2.30). He ended the night with a .535 universal driver rating.  

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Aug. 8) with post time at 6 p.m.

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