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New York Sire Stakes

NYSS first-year filly trotters open Batavia meet Wednesday

By Press Release

Photo of Gertrude by Melissa Simser-Lovino.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

When Batavia Downs opens their 2021 harness racing season on Wednesday (July 21), the card will be highlighted by a visit from the New York Sire Stakes and the 2-year-old trotting filly division. Post time for the first race is 6 p.m.

Thirteen first-year trotters will go postward in two divisions for a total purse of $101,700. It’s the second of five stops on their schedule this year leading up to the Night of Champions at Yonkers Raceway on Friday (Sept. 10).

The first $51,300 division is in race seven and seven starters are programmed to go. The morning line favorite is the undefeated Bomb Hugger (Chapter Seven-Stylemaker) who will start from post five at 2-1. 

After breaking her maiden at the Meadows last month in her first lifetime start with a 1:58.4, 7-3/4 length romp, Bomb Hugger made her NYSS debut at Saratoga on July 6 a winning one with a wire to wire effort in a lifetime best 1:58.2. Despite a very brief body of work, she appears to have the best resume in this field at this time. 

Anthony Macdonald will drive for trainer Ryan Swift and owner Thestable Bomb Hugger Group. 

She’s A Scorcher (Chapter Seven-Chilitodayhotamale) made her first ever start in the NYSS division at Saratoga and was faced with post seven and chasing a runaway winner in Joviality S, who went a torrid mile in 1:56.4. She’s A Scorcher was out at the half and gave chase, but understandably tired late in the race. With that experience behind her, She’s A Scorcher can improve here from post two and is listed at 7-2.

Hall of Fame trainer Linda Toscano has Scott Zeron in the bike for owner Ryan Smith. 

Iluvmymiumiu’s (Chapter Seven-Iluvmyjimmychoos) made her first lifetime start in an Excel A event at Saratoga and didn’t disappoint at all. She came from off the pace with a strong stretch drive and won by 3/4 of a length in a timely 1:58.3. Although moving up the the top NYSS division, Iluvmymiumiu’s will definitely be formidable competition from post one at 4-1. 

Brad Grant owns the Tony Alagna trained filly that will be driven by Andrew McCarthy.

In the second $50,400 division, Gertrude (Devious Man-Ophelia) has been labeled the 8-5 favorite on the strength of an impressive debut. 

Gertrude won a strong 1:55.4 qualifier at the Meadowlands in mid-June and crossed the wire five lengths in front of her competition. Then she won her first lifetime and stake start at Saratoga in an equally impressive wire-to-wire, 1-1/4 length win in 1:57.4, with a :28.3 final panel. She does move out to post five here after two consecutive starts at the pylons, but that doesn’t appear to be a hindrance to her chances in this race. 

It’s all Team Orange Crush connections here with Andy Miller driving and Julie Miller training for owner the Andy Miller Stable. 

Former local favorite John Stark Jr. returns to Batavia with the 5-2 second choice Seven On The Rocks (Chapter Seven-Spicedbourbongirl) who sat the pocket the entire mile behind Gertrude in her win, and just wasn’t able to catch her in the stretch. But that was then and this is now. It looks like a similar trip is in the future and Seven On The Rocks fortunes could certainly change from post one. 

Stark both trains and drives for owners Mortgage Boys Stable, James De Armond, Peter Barbado and Sam Bova. 

Cranberry Lake (Devious Man-Ann’s Promise) won a maiden race at Saratoga her first lifetime start in 2:01 with a solid :28.4 last quarter. In her NYSS start the following week over the same track she went a fast mile, trotting in 1:59.2, but a slower final split of :29.4 to finish third. She looks to bring her best in here and is listed at 4-1 from post three. 

Trainer George Ducharme has Scott Zeron up to drive for owner David Firmstone. 

There are also three divisions of the Excel A series going for $15,000 each and two Excel B splits competing for $6,600 apiece. 

Free full-card past performance forms are available for download every race day at Batavia Downs by visiting > Live Racing > Free Full Card Past Performances.

NY Sire Stakes' revised 2020 racing season program released

By Billie Owens

The New York Sire Stakes, the state's premier harness racing program, has released the complete and revised schedule for the 2020 racing season. Two-year-olds will begin with filly pacers on July 4 at Vernon Downs.

As previously announced, 3-year-old events get underway June 21 at Tioga Downs. A full schedule, including dates for Batavia Downs, can be found at

All dates are pending New York State Gaming Commission approval at the individual raceways and are subject to alterations as racing, operating and regulatory conditions change. The NYSS will notify horseman as soon as possible if any changes occur.

"It’s an exciting step to release the revised schedule for our 2020 season,” said Kelly Young, executive director of the Agriculture & New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund. “We appreciate the patience of all our participants as we worked through many uncertainties and continue to address challenges as they emerge.

"We understand there are still many things that could change over the next few months, but this schedule reflects the best information we have at this time. We will continue to work with the state’s racetracks to stay as close to this schedule as possible if changes are necessary or if a track cannot accommodate an event.”

The NYSS would like to thank the management and staff at each track for their cooperation and assistance in developing this schedule. The NYSS is a partnership between the state, the horsemen and the raceways and we were inspired to see the collaborative spirit among all involved to help solidify the 2020 calendar.

Changes for the upcoming season have been approved by the Trustees of the Fund to address the shortfall in revenue due to the extended track closures. The NYSS and Excelsior Series will host five legs for each of the age, gait and sex divisions. Purses for each leg will be maintained at a level very similar to last year.

Excelsior purses remain the same for both the A and B levels ($15,000 and $6,000 plus starting fees, respectively) with no Excelsior events raced at Goshen Historic Track this year.

NYSS Finals on the Night of Champions, Excelsior Finals and County Fair Finals purses will remain at their previously announced levels of $225,000, $50,000 and $10,000, respectively, per division. There will be no Sire Stakes Consolation events this year.

An update on the County Fair schedule is slated to be announced in the coming week. The first racing date is slated for July 9 and the Finals are still planned for the Labor Day weekend.

The publication of the County Fair Racing Schedule booklet has been delayed as dates and procedures are confirmed with participating fairs, but will be available in print and digital form as soon as details are finalized.

Five records fall in NYSS finals at Batavia Downs

By Billie Owens

Photo of Hypnotic Am with driver Brian Sears.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

The weather was perfect, the track was lightning fast and 3,500 excited fans filled the property to watch eight divisions of the $1.8 million New York Sire Stake finals during the Night of Champions at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 14). 

Two stake and three track records were rewritten during the night led by 2-year-old trotting filly Hypnotic Am (Chapter Seven-Daydream Am S) who remained undefeated in 2019 and now sporting a seven-race winning streak.

Hypnotic Am (Brian Sears) tucked in second for just a moment before coming back out and taking the lead by the quarter in a soft :29. She was just cruising on the lead past the half and to three-quarters while Sevntimesalady (Ake Svanstedt) moved into position behind her and tried to keep up around the turn for a stretch run.

In the lane Hypnotic Am was trotting up a storm and had no intentions of letting anyone get near her. Sears sat chilly with the whip on his shoulder while Hypnotic Am pulled away to an easy three-length victory in 1:57.1. 

The time was a new stake record (formerly 1:57.2 set by Barn Bella in 2016) and a new track record (formerly 1:59 set by Plunge Blue Chip in 2017).

“She is a very nice filly and does anything that you want her to,” Sears said. “Marcus (Melander) does a wonderful job getting his horses ready to compete.”

Hypnotic Am ($2.10) was bred by her owner Courant Inc. and is trained by Marcus Melander. 

(Photo of Third Shift with reinsman Ake Svanstedt.)

The next history-making race was won by 2-year-old trotting colt Third Shift (Chapter Seven-Overnight Command) who upset after the favorite Barn Holden made an untimely break. 

Third Shift (Ake Svanstedt) was all business right from the start as he took the front in :28.2 and led by two-lengths. They trotted past the half and on to the second circuit when Third Shift opened up a three-length lead and looked very much like a winner.

Heading into the last turn, Barn Holden (Andy Miller) who had been stalking from second, had a shot at the leader but made a break halfway through the bend. Chaptima (Trond Smedshammer) who was drafting third continued to gain ground and Svanstedt started to feel the pressure. But he got after Third Shift and worked him down the lane and outlasted Chaptima to win by a length in 1:56.

The time was a new stake record (formerly 1:56.3 set by Gimpanzee) and a new track record (formerly 1:57.1 set by Barn Holden) 

Third Shift ($10) is owned by Melby Gard Inc. and Ake Svanstedt, who also trains the winner. Third Shift was bred by Winbak Farm,

The third record beaker was 2-year-old pacing colt Cigars And Port (So Surreal-Sweet On Art) who turned in a lifetime best effort for the win. 

(Cigars And Port with Jason Bartlett in the sulky.)

Cigars And Port (Jason Bartlett) and Groovy Joe (Matt Kakaley) both left and seated one-two in the turn. They remained that way past the quarter and to a half that Bartlett backed down with a :30.2 split. The race moved up the backstretch still in single file, but Groovy Joe was in the two-path waiting to make his move. 

Kakaley pulled the trigger halfway into the turn, came aggressively and drew even with the leader. At the top of the stretch, Groovy Joe took a short lead from Cigars And Port and looked to have the advantage. But Cigars And Port swelled up and came back to open up a length lead at the wire where he won in 1:54. 

“Training over the winter I knew this was the horse that would be real good in the sire stakes,” Bartlett said. “He was a little bit of a handful scoring down but he was perfect in the race.”

The time was a new track record (formerly 1:54.1 set by Melodies Major in 2018)

Cigars And Port ($4.80) is owned by Ray Schnittker, Nolamaura Racing, Ted Gewertz and Steve Arnold and trained by Ray Schnittker. Steve Jones bred the colt. 

The night also produced a record handle as a result of the excellent card. Monies wagers beat the all-time handle by 93 percent since Western Regional Off Track Betting reopened the track in 2002. 

“These finals were all we had hoped for and more and we would like to thank the trustees for selecting Batavia Downs as the 2019 site,” said Todd Haight, director/general manager of Racing at Batavia Downs.

“This event had a substantial impact on the local economy with all neighboring hotels sold out and other businesses in the area getting additional business over this past week. It was good for racing, but it was also good for the entire economy of the Genesee County region.”

Here is a recap of the rest of the stakes: 

3-year-old pacing fillies

Zero Tolerance (Heston Blue Chip-Feelinglikeastar)

Driver -- Jim Morrill Jr.

Owner -- Val D’Or Farms and Ted Gewertz

Trainer -- Joe Holloway

Breeder -- Winbak Farms

Time -- 1:54.4

Mutuel -- $2.30

Zero Tolerance (Jim Morrill Jr.) got away third while So Awesome (Tyler Buter) cut pedestrian fractions of :28.2 and :58.1 to the half. Morrill then pulled Zero Tolerance first-up past the half and drew even with So Awesome at the three-quarters. After pacing side by side for about an eighth of a mile, Zero Tolerance just pulled away with a two-length lead and hit the wire a wrapped-up winner over Brooklyn Lilacs (Joe Bongiorno) by 1-¾ lengths in 1:54.4.

“She followed some good early fractions and came home real well,” said her trainer Joe Holloway. “She’ll be going to Lexington next and then to the Breeders Crown.”

3-year-old trotting fillies

Quincy Blue Chip (Chapter Seven-Sirenuse)

Driver -- Jim Morrill Jr.

Owner -- Barabara Boese, James Boese and Richard Banca

Trainer -- Richard Banca

Breeder -- Blue Chip Bloodstock

Time -- 1:56.4

Mutuel -- $4.50

Quincy Blue Chip (Jim Morrill Jr.) took no prisoners and went right to the front. With Blue Ribbon Gal (Brian Sears) and Sweet Chapter (Matt Kakaley) making breaks in the first turn, Sensibility (Scott Zeron) who also left, easily grabbed a two-hole trip behind the favorite. Morrill backed the half down to 1:00 and forced Stella Jane (Corey Callahan) and Winndevie (Jason Bartlett) to come in the outer flow to chase. 

Quincy Blue Chip hit the gas on the second circuit, smoking a :28.1 third quarter that thwarted the outside attackers short-lived challenge. Morrill then let his filly have her head around the last turn and into the lane and she trotted home without issue ahead of a fast-closing Winndevie (Jason Bartlett) in 1:56.4.

“I got to the half in a real soft fraction and then let her trot home all by herself,” Morrill said. “She does it all by herself; she’s a real nice filly.”

2-year-old pacing fillies

The Fun Marshall (So Surreal-Hallmark Hanover)

Driver -- Scott Zeron

Owner -- Richard Silverman, Mary Kinsey Arnold, Edward Mcenery and Michael Gluckman

Trainer -- Richard Silverman

Breeder -- Steve Jones

Time -- 1:54.2

Mutuel -- $7.50

The Fun Marshall (Scott Zeron) was automatically in front off the pylons as no one else left in the race. She got to the quarter in :27.4 and the half in :58.1. There, Cash Roll (Andy Miller) started to pursue from the outside with Merga Hanover (Matt Kakaley) on her back. 

The group sped up the backside in :28 flat when Kakaley made a bold move and tipped Merga Hanover three-deep going into the last turn. With the pace still stiff around the final bend, Merga Hanover’s bid failed and The Fun Marshall began to extend her lead as they came to the wire where she won by five in a new lifetime mark of 1:54.2.

“We took our time with her all year and she really developed, and the rail helped tonight,” Zeron said. “I’ve never had her on the front before and when that horse tipped three-deep she just opened up. She paced as fast as she could down the lane.” 

3-year-old trotting colts and geldings

Gimpanzee (Chapter Seven-Steamy Windows)

Driver -- Brian Sears

Owner -- Courant Inc. and S R F Stable

Trainer -- Marcus Melander

Breeder -- Order By Stable

Time -- 1:56.2 

Mutuel -- $2.10

Gimpanzee (Brian Sears) was all business and left nothing to chance from the start. He went right to the front and did things at his own discretion. With no one making any moves behind him, Sears cut very soft fractions of :29 and :59.1 before speeding it up a bit to 1:28.1 in the third panel. 

Winnerup (Trond Smedshammer) who had moved from the back of the pack, made his way to second and got as close as Sears wheel. But the party was over from there as Gimpanzee stretched out and flew home in :28.1 to win by two-lengths in 1:56.2. 

3-year-old pacing colts and geldings

Hickfromfrenchlick (So Surreal-My Girl’s A Star)

Driver -- Matt Kakaley

Owner -- Ray Schnittker, Nolamaura Racing and Thomas Spatorico

Trainer -- Ray Schnittker

Breeder -- Steve Jones

Time -- 1:54

Mutuel -- $2.10

Hickfromfrenchlick (Matt Kakaley) had post one but let Artie’s Ideal (Marcus Miller) take the lead off the gate. That courtesy was short-lived as Kakaley pulled Hickfromfrenchlick back out and retook the front at the quarter in :28. They got to the half when Buddy Hill (Tyler Buter) came calling from fourth and challenged the leader.

Hickfromfrenchlick and Buddy Hill battled side by side up the backstretch to the three-quarters and around the last turn. But as game as Buddy Hill was, Hickfromfrenchlick was just better. He pulled away in the lane and won by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:54.

“He’s a real good colt," said trainer Ray Schnittker. "He was sore last year and came back good this year. He was real good tonight.”

In Batavia Downs signature event, the $50,000 Robert J. Kane Invitational pace, Dorsoduro Hanover (Matt Kakaley) got away fifth while Our Max Factor N (Jason Bartlett) took the field to the half in :57. Southwind Amazon (Jim Morrill Jr.) came first-up and drew even with Our Max Factor N and it became a match race for a while from there.

The pair paced furiously in a quick :27.3 third panel and continued the battle into the final turn. When it looked like one of them would win, Kakaley shook Dorsoduro Hanover loose at the head of the stretch, tipped three-deep entering the lane and made up three lengths in the final eighth to win by a head in 1:52.2. 

“He went a real game mile and closed well off the slow fractions up front,” Kakaley said. 

The millionaire son of Somebeachsomewhere-Deer Valley Miss scored his 15th lifetime win and added to his earnings total that now sits at $1,449,151. Dorsoduro Hanover ($4.30) is owned by Burke Racing, J & T Silva, Purnel & Libby and Weaver Bruscemi. Ron Burke trains the winner.

(Photos courtesy of Melissa Simser.)

Experts handicap this evening's NYSS Night of Champions at Batavia Downs

By Billie Owens

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Seven industry publicists and handicappers give their selections for the $1.8 million New York Sire Stake Night of Champions finals and the $50,000 Robert J. Kane Memorial Invitational pace tonight at Batavia Downs.

Dave Brower-Meadowlands broadcaster, handicapper and oddsmaker

Race 2


Zero Tolerance has been virtually unbeatable in NY so far this year, but could get a nice test from the outer draw. So Awesome has picked up her game of late and might be able to sit a "garden trip" with a big kick at the end.

Race 3


Let's take a shot here with Quincy Blue Chip, who benefited from the post draw over Winndevie! She has beaten that foe a couple of times and I think her inside edge will make the difference, AS long as she trots!

Race 4


Merga Hanover should have no trouble crossing over in here and has been the dominant force on the NYSS circuit so far. I'm not even worried about the outside post. She's simply the best of these.

Race 5


Hypnotic AM hasn't lost yet this year and it's not going to happen tonight, after the very "friendly" draw of post two. This is just a killer in the making, and I hope we get to see her go Grand Circuit in Lexington (Ky.) after this.

Race 6


Dorsoduro Hanover got a nice break after "keeping up" in the McKee on Hambo Day and had the perfect prep for this at Scioto. This is a race he will be "aimed" for and I think he just outclasses these for the Burke Brigade and Matty K.

Race 7


Just to make things interesting, Groovy Joe got stuck behind the eight-ball, but it might not matter. He's beaten pretty much every horse in the field already and he's also proven he can overcome a bad post. Easily best with no American Rebel around.

Race 8


In the night's most wide-open contest, I think Berkery J might have a little speed edge on the outside-drawers. Sears was listed on two in and I hope he took this one. That will put the Ducharme colt over the top!

Race 9


If you want to bet against Gimpanzee, I suggest you go buy a hot dog instead! Post seven won't matter for this super-talented Melander-trained colt and it's on to the Grand Circuit against his stablemates after this.

Race 10


I've really enjoyed watching Hickfromfrenchlick mature this season for the duo of Schnittker and Kakaley. This is a real nice colt, and he's getting better and more mature. The draw puts the race in Matty's capable hands, and I think they will be very tough to catch!

Michael Carter - Social Media and Publicity Directo - USTA

Race 2


This race becomes a little more wide open with Zero Tolerance drawing toward the outside. She hasn’t raced from the outside on a half in a while and that is obviously a little concerning. So Awesome has been a consistent filly who has the speed to ration out the fractions.

Race 3


Pilgrims Lass added Hopples and seems to be over whatever breaking issues she may have been having. She is one to watch late as she will be coming from off the pace.

Race 4


Merga Hanover is going to be a tough beat from out here, the start three back from post six at Batavia is really hard to ignore. I’m not sure that you beat her here.

Race 5


This is going to be an interesting race, because the top three horses have only faced each other once a piece and so far its been all about Hypnotic AM. She is a tough filly, who already has proven her Grand Circuit potential.

Race 6


My hometown hero, Southwind Amazon, gets a try against Grand Circuit caliber again tonight. He has been able to hold his own against some of the top level horses, look for him to be sneaky good tonight.

Race 7


While post eight will be tough to overcome, Groovy Joe has raced from out here before with little to no problems. Not sure you’ll get much of a price on him, but I like his chances.

Race 8


This is one of the more competitive Sire Stakes finals of the night and that makes it a fantastic betting race. Hobbs gets some much needed post help, and if he fires like he did two back after a perfect trip, he wins.

Race 9


This becomes a whole new race with Gimpanzee drawing the outside, even though he is the obvious class of the race. Lucky Weekend gets Morrill back in the bike and if anyone can win from this spot and take down the champ it’s him.

Race 10


Shake That House entered even though he is eligible to the Jug on Thursday, he looks to rebound following a tough effort in the Empire Breeders Championship. He is as versatile as they come. This is a whole new race with American Mercury skipping.

Bob 'Hollywood' Heyden - Handicapper

Race 2


Excellent and one of the more wide open NYSS events, Sulky Queen reunites with Sears and gets the jump on the outside leavers.

Race 3


Get those Pick-4 tickets going and don't be shy about hitting #8 a few times. Remember that sire Credit Winner won the first SIX NYSS finals he was ever in back in 2004-2005!

Race 4


NO-this is not a mirror image-the SAME numbers two races in a row. A very consistent sort Galleria Gal can take advantage of a lot of uncertainty (XTRA Lead changes) and roll by late.

Race 5


Melander and a perfect freshman Hypnotic AM -- I think we've seen this movie before. Division championship will be hers with a win tonight and a Breeders Crown.

Race 6


2018 Jug Runnerup but then the divisional champion Dorsodoro Hanover finds himself in a good spot to get the latter half of his season rolling. This should be a barn burner.

Race 7


Groovy Joe has never been worse than second-including three back when he started from the same post. Lukewarm call for him in a race where you might want to hit the all-button if you've caught something early.

Race 8


Chaptiama has gotten hot at just the right time for Trond Smedshammer. Bred by Winbak Farms, remember they more than doubled any other breeder in the NYSS program in 2018 with better than $1.8 Million and are on the doorstep of their 10,000th winner!

Race 9


Gimpanzee The King should have no issue dispensing these en route to his 15th career win. His stirring Yonkers Trot win was everything it looked like and more.

Race 10


Arties Deal is my upset special for the night. The rail is sure to get way overbet, and the leavers figure to be many. His 2 and 3 YO season look amazingly alike 2/11 at 2 125G; 2/11 at 3 134 G. Good spot to get his REAL season into gear.

Ken Warkentin - Track Announcer - The Meadowlands

Race 2


Zero Tolerance draws a challenging post, yet the undefeated top points-getter in her NYSS division is tough to deny fresh off an easy win @ Batavia.

Race 3


Stella Jane just missed to Sensibility with a perfect trip @ Yonkers, that may have signaled a return to top form & she has the inside advantage on the major players in here.

Race 4


The Fun Marshall was a solid runner up to Merga Hanover last out @ Vernon Downs, a rousing winner @ Saratoga before that & now has rail control to trip out.

Race 5


Hypnotic AM has simply been flawless for the red-hot Team Melander, Grand Circuit caliber filly draws inside where Brian Sears can control her destiny.

Race 6


Hayden Hanover, a 1:47.3 Meadowlands performer this season, regained form in his last two, just missed to Iamarocknrollegend N last out @ Yonkers.

Race 7


Save Me A Dance was a hard-charging second in the Sheppard Final, tuned up with a solid third @ Tioga Downs & draws inside the standout Groovy Joe.

Race 8


Note the 1:54.4 tally @ Vernon Downs on 7-25, rebounded with a close second last out, plenty of potential here & Ake Svanstedt will have him primed for the big money.

Race 9


2018 undefeated Dan Patch Award winner Gimpanzee was a very good third in the Hambletonian Final & crushed in the Yonkers Trot, world-class colt.

Race 10


Shake That House was a decisive upsetter in the Hempt, got torched in the EBC, regrouped & draws well for the rematch with Hickfromfrenchlick.

Gordon Waterstone - Associate Editor - The Horseman And Fair World

Race 2


Zero Tolerance is obviously the one to beat and will be the betting favorite, but So Awesome has a post advantage so let’s take an early stab that she’ll use that to turn the tables and pull the upset.

Race 3


Quincy Blue Chip has only beaten herself this year so as long as she tends to business she will be tough to collar. Winndevie and Sensibility should be moving forward off the gate and if the choice makes a mistake, they’ll be the ones taking advantage.

Race 4


Merga Hanover has been nearly flawless but again the post advantage here goes to The Fun Marshall and that gives her the edge to finally reverse the order.

Race 5


Hypnotic Am comes into the race unbeaten and she will come out of the race unbeaten as she looks head and shoulder above the rest. Seventimesalady is the horse to key underneath for exotics.

Race 6


Dorsoduro Hanover finally gets away from Lather Up and outside posts, and that combination should make the difference and lead to victory. Toss Southwind Amazon’s last start as well as Hitman Hill’s, and you have the rest of the ticket filled.

Race 7


If Groovy Joe had drawn anywhere inside he would have been hard to beat, but post 8 negates his advantage so the edge goes to Cigars And Port, who should get a great trip in here. But don’t overlook Sandy’s Bolt, who has post 1 and comes in off a layoff and heavy backing in his previous attempts.

Race 8


The early speed is all on the outside here and it seems likely Berkery J and Bourbon Express will be the last ones to the front. It will be a battle from there, but don’t overlook Barn Holden or even Chaptiama, who has won two straight.

Race 9


It’s not a question if Gimpanzee wins here, but a question of “by how many lengths?” He’s in his own league here, and among the other starters give Livinonthedash the nod.

Race 10


Hard to imagine a scenario from post 1 that Hickfromfrenchlick won’t have the lead at the first-quarter call, whether he forces the issue or there is some quick give-and-take. Shake That House could be auditioning for a Little Brown Jug appearance here so a big effort is expected.

'Magnificent card for Night of Champions' says Heather Wilder, cohost of Night of Champions broadcast

By Billie Owens

By Jason Politi / New York Sire Stakes:

Drivers and trainers will be hoping for their chance to chat with Heather Wilder at Saturday’s New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) Night of Champions at Batavia Downs.

A familiar name to many through her work with the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) and United States Harness Writers Association’s (USHWA), Wilder will be cohosting the broadcast of the Night of Champions with Peter Kleinhans.

Kleinhans will provide analysis and handicapping insight while Wilder will conduct winner’s circle and trackside interviews for their eight NYSS finals and the Robert J. Kane Memorial Pace (Race 6).  

While assisting with managing her family’s stable, Altmeyer Wilder Racing, which also involves her parents, Ruth and Dan Altmeyer, and her husband, Mike Wilder, she has taken on a role as special events broadcaster, which she says is a perfect fit for her.

“My earliest memories are in the barn. I love to give back to the sport in any way that I can,” Wilder said. “The Night of Champions will be a very special place to be, with top-notch names on the Grand Circuit in one place at the same time. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am.”

The Night of Champions will also be a night of firsts for Wilder: her first time working with Kleinhans, and her first time at Batavia Downs.

“I love seeing new tracks and how they run," Wilder said. "I’ve heard nothing but good reviews for Batavia Downs, so I’m really looking forward to getting there and working with Peter on the broadcast.”

Todd Haight, director/general manager of live racing at Batavia Downs, echoed the anticipation of having the team on site for the Finals.

“We are very excited to add such accomplished and professional talents to our production of the Night of Champions,” Haight said. “The Night of Champions is special for Batavia Downs and we couldn’t be more pleased to have both onboard.

"Heather and Peter have performed at the highest levels of the sport both on and off the track and will bring a unique perspective to the show for our fans.”

The Night of Champions is New York’s richest night in harness racing, with $1.8 million in total purse money on the line. Post time is 6 p.m. Entries for the event are available here.

“It is a magnificent card with some of the best horses, horsemen and horsewomen all assembled as part of one event,” Wilder said. "New York’s racing program is just first class and everything is in place for this to be a great night with huge stars. I am thrilled to be a part of it.”

NY Sires Stakes and Batavia Downs to livestream draw Sept. 11 for 'Night of Champions'

By Billie Owens

Press release:

The New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) and Batavia Downs will be livestreaming the draw for the 2019 “Night of Champions,” via Facebook on Wednesday, Sept. 11. Assemblyman Stephen M. Hawley (Batavia) will serve as Honorary Drawmaster.

Wednesday's draw will begin at 12 p.m. and can be accessed through the NYSS website and Batavia Downs and NYSS Facebook pages.

The draw is open to the public and will take place in the End Zone Room, located just off 34-Rush Sports Bar. No RSVP is required.

The finals for New York State’s premier harness racing program for 2- and 3-year-olds are set to take place Saturday, Sept. 14. The eight race event will feature $1.8 million in purse money.

“We have made an effort this year to expand our livestreaming capabilities as we continue to increase access to fans and the harness racing community across the state,” said M. Kelly Young, executive director, Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund.

“I invite owners and horsemen to join us live or online as the excitement builds toward next Saturday’s finals at Batavia.”

Updated points standings for all divisions of the NYSS are available at:

About the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund

The Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund is a public benefit corporation established in 1965 by the Laverne Law (Laws of New York, Chapter 567 of the Laws of 1965).

The mission of the fund is to promote agriculture through the breeding of Standardbred horses and the conduct of equine research within the state. To carry out its legislative mission, the Fund administers the New York Sire Stakes races, Excelsior/State Fair Series races, and County Fair Races.

Additionally, the Fund provides assistance to county agriculture societies and contributes to the statewide 4-H program and to the Harry M. Zweig Fund for Equine Research.

Batavia Downs partners with Daily Racing Form for $1.8 million NY Sire Stakes Night of Champions in September

By Billie Owens

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia Downs is pleased to announce they are partnering with the Daily Racing Form (DRF) to enhance and expand their coverage of the $1.8 million New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) Night of Champions (NOC) that will be held at Batavia Downs on Saturday, Sept. 14.

“We are very excited to be working with DRF on this biggest night of racing in the state,” said Todd Haight, director/general manager of Live Racing at Batavia Downs. “I think this is a great opportunity for our track to partner with a world-class name in horse racing and given the extent of their outreach and fan base, will be beneficial for Batavia Downs beyond the NOC.”

DRF will broadcast the entire night of racing live on their website, provide video analysis of races prior to the night and also provide content in their newsletters and on their website.

“I think it’s really important to provide the live video of the races for owners and breeders that can’t get out to Batavia that night to see their horses in person," said Derick Giwner of DRF. "Some might not have an ADW or subscribe to some kind of service and this will give them the chance to watch all the action live.”

“We will be producing a video analysis of some of the featured betting races or guaranteed pools, depending on what the card offers that night. The video will be available on the DRF Harness website starting the Thursday afternoon before the big night.”

DRF will also provide a Spotlight Newsletter that will be sent out to all their core subscribers, be promoting the NOC on their website, social media and in their newsletters, provide a dedicated landing page at on both the Thoroughbred and Harness sites, free downloadable Past Performances for the night and will also be tweeting out comments and results live the entire night of the races.

“The idea is to get more eyes on these races," Giwner said. "The people in the industry know when the NYSS NOC is and that it’s at Batavia, but the general gambler out there, who might never play Batavia, may have no idea. We want to drive this traffic to Batavia that night.

"The New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions is the pinnacle of racing in New York each year and DRF is excited to work together with Batavia Downs to make it a success.”

Haight has similar views on the importance of a quality, information-filled program for that night, which has a post time of 6 p.m.

"We always have the desire to draw new customers to Batavia's racing product and everything DRF brings to the table in this partnership is going to help accomplish that," Haight said. "And the ability to get free past performances in the hands of the vast base of subscribers that DRF has could be potentially a big handle driver for us."

The New York Sire Stakes is the state's premier harness racing program designed to promote the breeding, buying and racing of standardbred horses in New York.

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel chosen as site for 2019 New York Sire Stakes 'Night of Champions'

By Billie Owens

Press release:

The Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund on Friday announced Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel as the host of the 2019 New York Sire Stakes Finals, also known as the “Night of Champions.” The Fund’s Board of Trustees selected Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel at a scheduled board meeting Sept. 7, following a proposal submission process. The date for the 2019 Finals has yet to be set.

The Fund invited race tracks from across New York State which host New York Sire Stakes events to submit proposals. Tracks were considered on various criteria including the offering of a 24-hour detention barn, ability to promote the event and offer an exciting fan experience. Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel was chosen based on the merits of an impressive proposal, and its capacity to host the championship finals for the top state-bred 2- and 3-year-old Standardbred horses.

"Batavia Downs Gaming is extremely proud and excited to have been selected to host the 2019 New York Sire Stakes Finals,” said Todd Haight, director/GM of live racing at Batavia Downs Racetrack. “This series has annually been a centerpiece of our live racing presentation since its inception in 1965, as our track has been so committed to the development of New York-bred horses going back to the 1950s when we facilitated our own colt and filly stakes.

"We look forward to welcoming all the owners, horse people and horses that make the New York Sire Stakes the premier program of its kind, to Batavia Downs to enjoy our new paddock, new hotel and excellent clubhouse facilities."

“The Sire Stakes Night of Champions shines a spotlight on the excellence of our equine industry, which supports the agricultural economy across the State,” said M. Kelly Young, executive director, Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund. “Having hosted significant New York Sire Stakes events in the past, Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel will provide an excellent showcase for the 2019 'Night of Champions,' our premier event of the season. Batavia Downs offers a fantastic clubhouse and fan experience that will only complement an outstanding racing program.”

The 2018 “Night of Champions” is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 22, hosted by Yonkers Raceway. The eight-race event will hand out $1.8 million in purse money.

The New York Sire Stakes program promotes the breeding, buying, and racing of Standardbred horses in New York State, and is administered by the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund. It was the first program of is kind, featuring 2- and 3-year old colts and fillies, and has become the model for state-bred racing programs in North America.

About the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund:

The Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund is a public benefit corporation established in 1965 by the Laverne Law (Laws of New York, Chapter 567 of the Laws of 1965). The mission of the fund is to promote agriculture through the breeding of Standardbred horses and the conduct of equine research within the state. To carry out its legislative mission, the Fund administers the New York Sire Stakes races, Excelsior/State Fair Series races, and County Fair Races. Additionally, the Fund provides assistance to county agriculture societies and contributes to the statewide 4-H program and to the Harry M. Zweig Fund for Equine Research.

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