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Tuesday, September 2, 2014 at 11:38 am

Two drivers injured in Batavia Downs accident

post by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports

Press release

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

An unfortunate chain-reaction mishap occurred at the start of the third race at Batavia Downs on Monday (Sept.1) that sent two drivers to the hospital.

When the gate pulled away at the start of the race, driver Chris Long tried to go to the front with pacer Shakin In My Shoes from post five when the horse took a bad step and fell, throwing Long to the track. Following behind him was Shawn McDonough driving Police Car, who then appeared to run over Long, dumping McDonough out of his bike and to the track. Then while on the track, McDonough appeared to be run over by the sulky wheel of another trailing horse, Flight Crew driven by Jim McNeight.

At this point there were two drivers on the track, one horse down and another horse (McDonough’s) running loose without a driver. As horsemen and medical personnel ran to the aid of the fallen, the other drivers pulled out wide on the second lap to avoid the incident at the rail. However the loose horse did not follow suit and instead skirted the pylons, then jumped over the still down McDonough. The jump then caused that horse to fall himself.

The race was declared a “no contest” by the judges at the three-quarter pole and broadcast as such over the public address system by track announcer Joe Zambito who then immediately instructed the remaining drivers to pull up their horses before they finished the race. All wagers made on the race were refunded.

Shawn McDonough was transported to the Erie County Medical Center where he was examined and determined to have a slight concussion but no broken bones. Chris Long was taken to United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia where he was found to have a collapsed lung and possible fractures to the ribs and hip. Both drivers remained in the hospital pending further examination.

Shakin In My Shoes and Police Car, the two horses that went down, both came out of the incident with only a couple minor abrasions.

McDonough is 23 years old and is a regular at Batavia Downs. He is one of the up and coming young drivers in the sport and in his short career has steered 395 winners that have earned over $2 million in purses. He was the leading dash driver at the Downs last year and is currently second for this meet.

Long is 46 and has been driving at Saratoga Raceway and Plainridge Racecourse in Massachusetts. He just started driving at Batavia Downs last week. During his career he has teamed 3,198 winners and amassed purses totaling over $9 million.

Any further updates will be released as they become available.

Monday, September 1, 2014 at 10:27 am

Ken Doll J upsets in NYSS action at Batavia Downs

post by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports

Upset victor Ken Doll J breaks ahead with driver Aaron Byron.

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

It was bombs-away at Batavia Downs Sunday (Aug. 31) when the heavily favored Major Dancer came up just short at the wire as 40-1 Ken Doll J pulled the surprise in a $39,900 division of the New York Sire Stakes for 3-year-old pacing fillies.

Off the gate Sweetnsinful (Jimmy Whittemore) took an uncontested lead around the turn and up the backside before the 1-2 Major Dancer (Jonathan Drury) rushed and took over the top as they hit the quarter in :27.1. After a pedestrian second split of :30.1, Table Talk (Jim Morrill Jr.) started the outer flow and Ken Doll J (Aaron Byron) followed in swift fashion.

Feeling the heat, Drury stepped on the gas and tried to pull away to the three-quarters with a :28 flat third panel. But the strategy was ineffective as the chasing pair continued to make up ground through the turn and into the stretch. From that point on it was a real horse race with a tiring Major Dancer coming back to Table Talk, who was outside of her and Ken Doll J, who was three-wide. When they hit the wire, Ken Doll J just got up in the final stride to win in 1:54 and light up the board. The winner paid $83.00.

Table Talk was second and Major Dancer hung on to be third.

This was the second win of the year for Ken Doll J (Bettor’s Delight-Normajeankillean) and also a seasonal mark. The victory brought her earnings up to $74,882 for owner Ken Jacobs. Ken Doll J is trained by Linda Toscano.

After the race, Byron said “Everything just worked out. I got a great trip and I didn't really have to do much to half. The filly was real good down the lane.”

Just Add Vodka pulls away to victory with driver Jim Morrill Jr.

In the first $39,900 division, Just Add Vodka (Jim Morrill Jr.) was the beneficiary of a patient steer and came away with a three-quarter length victory as a result.

Up Front Elizabeth (Mark MacDonald) flew off the wings and led the field through a quick and gapped :27 quarter in post-position order. The story remained the same to the half in :56.3 when Carlota Blue Chip (Jack Flanigen) pulled and tried to apply some heat. She was only able to get up to third on the outside before stalling with two other horses behind her at the three-quarters in 1:25.

When the outer flow faded around the last turn it allowed the rail-riding Barefoot Beauty (Jimmy Whittemore) to come off the pylons and that in turn left a spot for Just Add Vodka (Jim Morrill Jr.) to shoot up inside. At the head of the stretch, the bearing-out Up Front Elizabeth was in the middle with Barefoot Beauty to her right and Just Add Vodka to her left. The three battled to the wire with Just Add Vodka getting the advantage at the end to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:54.2.

Barefoot Beauty was second and Up Front Elizabeth was third.

It was the third win of the year for the Julie Miller trained filly that also happened to be a new lifetime mark. The victory boosted the seasonal earnings of Just Add Vodka (Art Major-Regal Wish) to $94,233 for owners Blue Chip Bloodstock, Inc., Steven Demeter, Herbert Burns III and Nahuel Agosti.

Morrill praised both the horse and trainer saying “I can't believe how much better she was today. Julie did a great job getting her ready.”

Spreester with driver Jason Bartlett

In the second $39,200 split, Spreester (Jason Bartlett) made quick work of a short field and two breaking horses to register a five-length romp in the fastest of the three divisions.

As the field went into the first turn, Delightful Dragon (Mark MacDonald) made an uncharacteristic break and watched as the rest of the field pulled away. Sky Artist (Kevin Cummings) was on the point but Medusa (Aaron Byron) was pushing the issue outside at the quarter in :26.4. But Medusa appeared to get foul-gaited and Byron took her back to the wood fourth. Then Blush Hanover (Jim Morrill Jr.) pulled from second to challenge but also made a break before the half in :56.1.

So with two of the three favorite guilty of miscues, Spreester, who had been sitting second through it all, pulled past the five-eighths, circled and cleared the leader before they hit the three-quarter pole in 1:25.3. When she got back to the pylons, Bartlett popped the plugs and became a passenger as Spreester shifted gears and simply paced away from everybody. She hit the wire a five-length wrapped-up winner in 1:53.3. The winner paid $5.60 to her supporters.

Delightful Dragon recovered from the early break to be second and Sky Artist hung on for third.

This was the sixth win in 14 starts for Spreester (American Ideal-Rodeo Spree) and the Paul Zabielski trained filly topped off her bank at $134,680. Spreester is owned by Kimberly Zabielski.

Bartlett commented “I really didn't want to sit in the two-hole but they kept blowing up around me. She just exploded down the lane.”

The results of today’s NYSS contests were important in the point’s standings leading into the Night of Champions finals. Spreester took over the top spot, Just Add Vodka moved from fifth to third and Ken Doll J vaulted herself from 12th to seventh.

There was also an Excelsior leg contested and was won by Expose who was driven by Jim Morrill Jr. in 1:56.3. The winner paid $6.80. Expose is trained by Linda Toscano and is owned by Linwood Higgins, Stake Your Claim Stable, Brittany Farms and Val D’Or Farms.

Driver Jim Morrill Jr. registered a four-win afternoon and Mark MacDonald scored a double.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs today (Sept. 1) with a special Labor Day matinee card slated to start at 1:15.

Sunday, August 31, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Best Ears made himself heard in Batavia Downs feature

post by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports

Best Ears and driver Jack Flanigen

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

With an eighth of a mile to go, two lengths separated the seven horses that competed in Saturday night’s (Aug. 30) $9,500 Open pace at Batavia Downs and the final result came down to the wire. But when they crossed the line, Best Ears used his head as the margin of victory in the night’s feature race.

When the man said go in the seventh race, Big Unit (Kevin Cummings) bolted from post two and took an immediate lead off the gate. Best Ears (Jack Flanigen) left from the four hole and was parked, but methodically worked his way towards the leader through a :27.3 first quarter. After not being able to take control at the point, Flanigen tucked Best Ears in second behind the hard-rolling leader before the pack hit the half in 55.3.

Then Ready To Work (Jim McNeight) came barreling from behind to take his shot at the top. He led a dull outer flow to the three-quarters in 1:25 before actually drawing near the leader. As they started to bunch around the far turn, Burton Blue Chip (Lee Dahn) swung three-deep around Ready To Work and Best Ears was sitting cool in the pocket behind Big Unit. But Big Unit fell victim to his own fast pace at the head of the lane and started to fade. When they headed down the stretch, Ready To Work took over the lead before Best Ears found the passing lane and shot through in time to win by a head in 1:55. The post time favorite returned $3.40.

Ready To Work was second and Burton Blue Chip was third.

It was the sixth win in 29 starts for Best Ears who now has a total of $42,017 earned for 2014. The 5-year-old Shark Gesture gelding is trained by Frank Mastrodonato for owners Joe Amico and Joe Amico Jr.

Editor's Note: Racing is under way now, Aug. 31; it started at 1:15. The card features three divisions of the New York Sire Stakes for 3-year-old pacing fillies.

Saturday, August 30, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Batavia Downs hosts New York Sire Stakes Sunday

post by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

On Sunday afternoon (Aug. 31) the New York Sire Stakes 3-year-old pacing fillies come to town to compete for their cut of $119,000 in purses.

The group is highlighted by Major Dancer (Art Major-Two Steppin’ Sally), who is currently the fourth highest money earning 3-year-old pacing filly in North America with $201,644 in the bank. She is a seven-time winner in 12 attempts and has only finished out of the money once this year. She won the $46,248 Town Pro stake at Mohawk Raceway earlier this year in her lifetime best time of 1:51.2 as well as an elimination of the Empire Breeders Classic at Tioga Downs in 1:51.4. She finished second in the $244,875 final to Precocious Beauty in a 1:51.1 mile.

Major Dancer will be driven by Jonathan Drury for trainer Casie Coleman. She is listed as the 8-5 morning line favorite in the third $39,900 NYSS division carded as the eighth race that also features A La Notte Hanover driven by Matt Kakaley and Table Talk with Jim Morrill Jr. at the lines.

A La Notte Hanover (Art Major-All Night Long) starts for the powerful Ron Burke stable and is a two-time winner in 2014. She won her last outing at Yonkers in NYSS action with an impressive 1:55 wire-to-wire victory that brought her bankroll up to $87,733 for the year. She also competed in the Empire Breeders Classic and finished close despite having a lot of traffic to deal with in both of those races.

Table Talk (Bettor’s Delight-Place At The Table) took an early seasons mark of 1:51.4 at Mohawk and has competed in the $420,900 Fan Hanover Stake and $212,150 Mistletoe Shallee where she paced back-to-back 1:49 miles for driver Tim Tetrick. She has been plagued with some bad posts and a breaking issue of late but looks to be in a good spot here for trainer Brad Dalious.

In the first $39,900 division carded as the fourth race, Ron Burke and Julie Miller have the one-two punch going to post. Burke sends out Jaded Dream and Miller counters with Just Add Vodka.

Jaded Dream (If I Can Dream-Jaded Gal) put forth a handy effort at Yonkers in her last, winning a NYSS leg there in 1:54.4. It <http://54.4.it/> was a welcome sight after a series of poor post draws and the resulting tough trips. She has three wins in 13 starts and $62,586 in the bank. Matt Kakaley is back in the bike behind her for the first time since June 18.

Just Add Vodka (Art Major-Regal Wish) only has two wins this year but has been consistently in the money; 13 out of 16 starts and that made her $74,283 for the year. Her mark of 1:55.3 was at Monticello but she has paced considerably faster than that in defeat on several occasions. Jim Morrill Jr. who has driven her several times over the summer gets the assignment.

The second $39,200 division which goes as the seventh race has three very tough competitors going post-ward and looks to be the most closely contested event. It features the first, second and fourth leading points leaders for this sex and gait in the NYSS this year.

Blush Hanover (Art Major-Brissonte Hanover) currently tops the leader board and comes into this race sporting five 2014 wins for trainer Linda Toscano. She finished a strong third in the Empire Breeders Classic final after a very rough parked-out trip. She has a 1:52 mark at the Meadowlands and has only failed to hit the board once out of 14 starts this year. Her $168,831 in earnings is tops in this field and she looks to add to that total in here with Jim Morrill Jr. at the helm.

Spreester (American Ideal-Rodeo Spree) is second in points despite also having recorded five victories. This filly can race on the front or from behind and that versatility makes her a formidable foe. Her $115,080 in earnings is also second highest in the field and driver Jason Bartlett who has driven this filly twice before with winning outcomes, opted to driver her today for trainer Paul Zabielski after having been down to steer two horses in this same race.

Medusa (Bettor’s Delight-Mythical) ranks fourth in points among the group but is not that far behind the leaders. She has seven wins in 14 starts and $102,723 stashed away. The Paul Kelley trainee has a lifetime mark of 1:51.2 at Vernon Downs and also had two good efforts in the Empire Breeders Classic races. Tioga Downs regular Aaron Byron gets the drive tonight from Tim Tetrick who had been at the lines for her last three starts.

Post time for Sunday's races is 1:15.

Batavia Downs also has a special Labor Day matinee 12-race card on tap for Monday (Sept. 1) with a 1:15 post.

Thursday, August 28, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Sassa Hanover smashes track record; Morrill sweeps NYSS at Batavia Downs

post by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports

Sassa Hanover driven by Jim Morrill Jr.

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

There was a lot of action on Wednesday night (Aug. 27) at Batavia Downs and as the New York Sire Stakes headlined the racing, both man and beast were in top form.

The Ron Burke trained Sassa Hanover (Rock N Roll Heaven-Sayo Hanover) rewrote the record books when she toured the facility in a blistering 1:54.2, erasing the old mark of 1:54.4 for a 2-year-old pacing filly set by Barefoot Beauty just last year. This was the fourth track record set at Batavia Downs in 2014.

Jim Morrill Jr. left the gate with Sassa Hanover from post five in the $35,867 division and dropped in third behind the early leader Devil Child (Jimmy Whittemore) and the pocket sitting Yes You Can (Mike Whelan). But when they headed up the backside for the first time, Morrill quickly came out and overtook the leader by the quarter in :28.1 and at that point, the race was over.

Sassa Hanover got to the half in :57.1 and the three-quarters in 1:26.2 and from there her only adversary was the clock. Morrill popped the plugs past the last station and the slick-gaited filly paced her hips off down the lane in a :28 flat last quarter and the record breaking final time of 1:54.2. Sassa Hanover paid $2.10 for the win.

Devil Child (American Ideal-Kattimon) was second and Yes You Can (If I Can Dream-Cantbuymehappiness) was third.

This was the fifth win in six starts for Sassa Hanover and it boosted her bank account to $125,992 for owners Burke Racing Stable LLC, The Panhellenic Stable Corp, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Lawrence Karr.

Mosquito Blue Chip driven by Jim Morrill Jr.

In the first $35,167 division, Mosquito Blue Chip (Bettor’s Delight-Sandfly Hanover) made it two in a row for trainer Paul Jessop and driver Jim Morrill Jr. but not without a tenuous ending.

My Little Delight (Mark MacDonald) left swiftly in the four horse field and spearheaded fractions of :27.4, :58.2 and 1:28.4. But the action picked up at the three-quarters when Pop The Tags (Brent Holland) came with a rush to challenge the front running filly around the turn and down the stretch. However when the rail opened up as the group straightened out, Mosquito Blue Chip buzzed through the gap and nipped the leader at the wire by a half-length in 1:56.3. The heavy 2-5 favorite returned $2.80 for the win.

My Little Delight (Bettor’s Delight-My Little Dragon) was second and Pop The Tags (Bettor’s Delight-Breathe) was third.

It was the second win in seven starts for Mosquito Blue Chip, pushing her annual income to $101,302 for owners Our Three Sons Stable LLC, Donato Falchicchio and Paul Jessop.

Bettor N Better driven by Jim Morrill Jr.

The final $35,867 division was as good as it could be for Bettor N Better (Bettor’s Delight-Vanite Semalu) as she won easily in her preferred front-running style. This was the second NYSS win on the night for trainer Ron Burke and the third for driver Jim Morrill Jr.

Off the wings, One Hot Majorette (Mike Saftic) flew right to the front from post six and crossed over by the eighth pole. Jim Morrill Jr. played give-and-go with Bettor N Better off the rail and retook the front as soon as they straightened out up the backside. But Heavenly Bride (Mark MacDonald) was immediately at her again and established the third lead change as they passed the quarter in :29.

Morrill, not content to sit in second, once again pulled Bettor N Better at the top of the stretch and retook the lead once more before they hit the half in :58. From there the race was Bettor N Better’s to be won. She took the group to the three-quarters in 1:27.4 before On Hot Majorette came back for one more challenge. That was quickly rebuffed and Bettor N Better paced away down the stretch to a length and a half victory in 1:56. The winner returned $2.10.

Heavenly Bride (Rock N Roll Heaven-Native Bride) was second and Heavens Legacy (Rock N Roll Heaven-Unique Legacy) was third.

That was the fourth win in six starts for Bettor N Better and pushed her earnings to $117,125 for owners Our Horse Sense Stable and Blue Chip Bloodstock, Inc.

Jim Morrill Jr. put on a driving clinic, scoring five wins and three seconds on the night. He was employing incremental positioning in many races where he made several moves within the mile to improve his horse’s location during the race and the strategy was paying off. Morrill is the leading NYSS driver this year and has been annually for some time. In 2014, horses he drove have won 41 NYSS races and earned in excess of $1.6 million in those contests.

After the races, Morrill spoke glowingly of all his charges.

“Sassa Hanover is a very, very nice filly. She didn't really get over the track that well tonight but we got the job done anyway. She will definitely be one to beat in the final at Yonkers. Mosquito Blue Chip drew well and then had the race set up perfect for her. When the rail opened up, she sprinted to wire and got across. And Bettor N Better is just a sweetheart, but she is very professional, too.  We were on cruise control the entire mile.”

There were also three divisions of the Excelsior A series on the card that offered a total of $36,000 in purses.

The first $12,600 division was won by Moremercy Blue Chip (Rock N Roll Heaven-Mercy Mercy Mercy) who is trained by Julie Miller and was driven by Chris Lems. The winner paid $4.70. Moremercy Blue Chip is owned by the Andy Miller Stable and the Pinske Stable.

The second $12,600 leg was won by Rock My world (Rock N Roll Heaven-Love The Game) who is trained by Ed hart and was driven by Jim Morrill Jr. She returned $4.20 for the win. Rock My world is owned by Jeffrey Snyder.

The third $12,700 split went to Hey Kobe (Bettor’s Delight-American West) who is trained by Jean Drolet and was driven by John Plutino. The victor returned $8.10. Hey Kobe is owned by Stephen Schneider, William Siegel and Marthe Drolet.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Aug. 29) with post time set at 6:35.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 3:48 pm

NYSS 2-year-old pacing fillies invade Batavia Downs Wednesday

post by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

In the sixth of eight New York Sire Stakes visits for 2014, three divisions of first-year female pacers go postward on Wednesday night (Aug. 25) in pursuit of $106,901 in purses. Races one, four and eight will feature the best distaff side-wheelers bred in the state.

The track record of 1:54.4 set by Barefoot Beauty in 2013 definitely has a target on it as many of the entrants are more than capable of a similar mile and will be taking a big shot.

In the first race, Mosquito Blue Chip (Bettor’s Delight-Sandfly Hanover) is coming off three sharp efforts, and most recently got her first lifetime win in 1:55 at Yonkers last week. She hasn’t missed a purse check all year and that has made her the top money winner in the race with $83,718. The Paul Jessop trained filly will be driven by Jim Morrill Jr.

The royally bred My Little Delight (Bettor’s Delight-My Little Dragon) scored a lifetime mark at Vernon Downs two starts back in 1:52.3 and came up just a head short to Mosquito Blue Chip last week. Mark MacDonald gets the nod from trainer Noel Daley for the third-straight week and MacDonald has been on fire in each of his Batavia visits this year. The outside post in the short field should have no effect on this talented 2-year-old.

Pop The Tags (Bettor’s Delight-Breathe) steps back up to NYSS action after winning three in a row in Excelsior action. She has one start in the top series this year but with disappointing results. But Pop The Tags is in a good spot here to utilize her front running speed for driver Brent Holland who was at the lines in her last three efforts for trainer Erv Miller.

The fourth race features the 2-5 heavy favorite Sassa Hanover (Rock N Roll Heaven-Mango Hanover) from the powerful Ron Burke Stable. After reeling off four consecutive wire to wire NYSS wins that includes her lifetime mark of 1:52.2 at Vernon, Sassa Hanover, who is currently second in the point’s standings, came up just a nose short to Mosquito Blue Chip in her last start at Yonkers. Her $108,085 in earnings and four victories for the year surpasses her competitor’s combined totals for each category and she looks to add to those numbers tonight. Jim Morrill Jr., who last sat behind her in a 1:56.3 win at Monticello Raceway on July 4, takes the lines from Yannick Gingras this week.

Devil Child (American Ideal-Kattimon) has yet to win a NYSS race but missed doing so twice this year by a combined total of only one and three-quarters lengths. After scoring an easy win at Vernon in an overnight last week, she may just be brave enough now to track Sassa Hanover from the rail and have the best shot of challenging her in the lane. Jimmy Whittemore is up for trainer Homer Hochstetler.

The third division in the eighth race has another Ron Burke pupil pegged as the 4-5 morning line choice. Bettor N Better (Bettor’s Delight-Vanite Semalu) has three wins and two seconds in five lifetime starts, all of which were NYSS events. Her lifetime mark is a 1:55 effort at Saratoga but she just got beat at Vernon in a 1:52.3 clocking over the big track. She seems to thrive on the front end and tonight from the rail with Jim Morrill Jr. aboard, she seems to be set up for success.

Our Hot Majorette (Art Major-She’s So Hot) raced off a two-week layoff last week at Yonkers and managed to show well. But to see what this filly is really capable of you must look at her effort on July 22, also at Yonkers. She followed the top New York 2-year-old filly Band Of Angels, and just missed winning. She finished second, beaten only half a length in 1:54.4, last quarter in :26.4. If she is able to regain that form in here, the favorite could be beaten. Mike Saftic makes a very rare Batavia Downs appearance on the call from trainer Eric Adams.

There are also three divisions of the Excelsior series on the card going for a total of $38,000. They are programmed as races seven, nine and 10.

Post time for Batavia Downs Wednesday night races is 6:35.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 9:58 am

Batavia Downs top trot goes to BZ Glide

post by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports

BZ Glide and driver Mike Caprio

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

After drawing outside in the top class the last two weeks, BZ Glide finally got some post relief and driver Mike Caprio took full advantage of it to capture the $9,500 Open trot at Batavia Downs.

When the man said go, Typical New Yorker (Ray Fisher Jr.) and Second hand News (Kevin Cummings) immediately fired out to challenge rail rider Absolutely Certain (Ron Beback Jr.) who quickly rebuffed their rush. Second Hand News took a seat third and Typical New Yorker was hung out to dry as the bunch rounded the quarter in :28.2 and the half in :59 flat.

At that point BZ Glide pulled from sixth and started up on the outside behind the tiring Typical New Yorker and was forced to tip three-deep at the five-eighths pole. Caprio and BZ Glide pulled alongside Absolutely Certain at the three-quarters in 1:28.2 and despite furious encouragement from Beback, went right by the pair in the turn. By the time they hit the top of the stretch, BZ Glide had cleared as was trotting home a winner in 1:57.2, which was a new seasonal mark for the gelded son of Yankee Glide. The winner paid $8.80.

This was the fourth win in fourteen starts in 2014 for BZ Glide and it pushed his earnings to $37,345 for the year. BZ Glide is owned by his driver, Mike Caprio and trained by Alana Caprio.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Aug. 27) and will feature three divisions of the $106,901 New York Sire Stakes for 2-year-old pacing fillies. Post time for the first race is 6:35.

Saturday, August 23, 2014 at 10:38 pm

Salazar is a convincing winner in Batavia Downs feature

post by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports

By Tim Bojarsky for Batavia Downs

Salazar and driver Ron Beback Jr. started from post one, led the whole race and won pulling away in the $9,500 Open pace at Batavia Downs Saturday night (Aug. 23).

Off the gate, Salazar motored into the first turn fast enough to seat What The Sheik (Dave McNeight Jr.) who left two deep and then park out Rock N Roll Legend (Drew Monti) who  was three-high at the eighth pole. The group hit the quarter in :27.3 and continued to the half in :57.3.

Realizing he was not going to see the wood, Monti popped the plugs on the still parked Rock N Roll Legend and drove on. He got his nose to the leader’s tail when Western Alumni (Jim McNeight Jr.) made a three-wide move passing the three-quarters in 1:27.1 and three horses were in hot pursuit of the leader at that point. But Beback raised the lines in the final turn and Salazar responded to some intermittent urging down the lane to score a convincing two-length victory in 1:55.1.

What The Sheik, who had the two-hole trip, was second and Western Alumni came up to be third. The winner paid $4.80.

This was the fifth win in 28 starts for the 8-year-old gelded son of McCardle and it brought his seasonal earnings up to $55,152 for owner Lisa Denison. Salazar is trained by Lisa Lederhouse.

The Down’s leading dash-driver Kevin Cummings scored a driving triple on the night while Shawn McDonough, Jack Flanigen and Drew Monti all registered doubles. The latter are currently second, third and fourth respectively in the local standings.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Sunday (Aug. 24) with post time at 1:15.

Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Buen Camino sets Batavia Downs track record in NYSS action

post by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports

Buen Camino and driver/trainer Trond Smedshammer

By Tim Bojarsky for Batavia Downs

Perfect weather and a lightning fast track provided record-breaking conditions for Buen Camino and trainer/driver Trond Smedshammer and the pair did not disappoint. They were never headed in a $55,500 division of the New York Sire Stakes on Wednesday night (Aug. 20) at Batavia Downs and rewrote history.

In an uncharacteristic move, Smedshammer sent Buen Camino out of the gate and put him right on the point; something the 2-year-old had never done before. But it wasn't done by accident; his driver had a plan.

Smedshammer said after the race “It was time to put him on the front end. He was very good tonight.”

And perhaps very good was an understatement.

After cutting fractions of :29.3, :59.4 and 1:29.2, Buen Camino pulled away from the pack while motoring in a :28.3 final panel to post a lifetime mark of 1:58 flat, which was also a new track record at Batavia Downs for 2-year-old trotting geldings.

Post time favorite Gabe The Bear Dean (Ray Schnittker) got caught second over in a dull outer flow behind Andy Ray (Brent Holland) and followed that one to the top of the last turn before tipping three deep. But by that time it was too late as Buen Camino had opened up three and was cruising for the wire. Insomniac (Jason Bartlett) who skirted the pylons during the mile caught second and Mambo Blue Chip (Jeff Gregory) closed well to be third. The winner paid $22.40.

This was the second win in only four lifetime starts for Buen Camino (Cash Hall-Baby Bella) and it boosted his earnings to $64,722 for owner Wanda Polisseni of the Purple Haze Stable LLC.

After the race, Polisseni said “He’s been a nice horse since day one but he's had some bad trips along the way. Trond really likes him and we’re both very optimistic for next year.”

Tidquist and driver Mike Simons

In the other $54,500 division, Tidquist (Conway Hall-Appomattox Lady) captured his first lifetime win in a convincing wire-to-wire, 1:59.4 victory for driver Mike Simons.

Shooting quickly off the wings, Tidquist took a powerful four-length lead to the quarter pole where most of the field had trouble keeping up with him. After marking the first three stations in :30.1, 1:01.2 and 1:31.1, Royal Deceptor (Michael Mc Givern) who had been tracking him second, finally got close and pulled to challenge at the top of the lane. But Tidquist had another idea and turned on the speed to fly home in a sparkling :28.3 final quarter to win by a widening length and a quarter. Royal Deceptor hung on for second and Wings of Royalty (Chris Lems) was third. Overlooked by the bettors, the winner paid $27.60.

The win was the first in six lifetime starts for Tidquist and was responsible for the bulk of his $33,196 in earnings for owners Robert Brooks, Jana Bowen, John Buettner and Charlene Long. Tidquist is trained by Jeffrey Long.

There were also three divisions of the Excelsior Series that went for a total of $38,000.

Abir Hanover (Credit Winner-Are You Ready) captured the first $12,600 division in 2:01.2 for trainer Paul Kelley and driver Jason Bartlett and paid $4.60. Abir Hanover is owned by Paul Kelley, W.J. Donovan and Theodore Gewertz.

Lucky Pablo (Lucky Chuck-Classical Princess) won the second $12,700 split, also in 2:01.2 for trainer/driver John Stark Jr. and paid $24. Lucky Pablo is owned by Edmund Smith, Crawford Farms LLC, James Giannuzzi and David Smith.

And in the third session, Crazshana (Crazed-Keystone Shana) won the $12,700 contest in 2:00.2 for trainer/driver Trond Smedshammer and paid $3.50. Crazshana is owned by the Purple Haze Stable LLC.

The Purple Haze Stable sent out three winners on the evening and drivers Trond Smedshammer and Mark MacDonald both had driving triples.

Racing resumes on Friday (Aug. 22) at Batavia Downs with a 12 race card that has a 6:35 post time.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Batavia Downs hosts NYSS 2-year-old trotting colts Wednesday

post by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

On Wednesday night (Aug. 20) at Batavia Downs $110,000 is up for grabs in two divisions of New York Sire Stake action for freshman trotting colts and geldings.

The fourth race has seven horses going postward in the first division for $54,500 in purse money.

Royal Deceptor (RC Royalty-Art Of Deception) went wire to wire in his career debut at Buffalo Raceway in a sparkling time of 1:59.3, which set a new track record. That win at Buffalo makes him one of only two horses in the race to be victorious over a half-mile track. He then won at Tioga before finishing third at Yonkers. After being scratched sick on Aug. 2, driver Michael Mc Givern elected to race the colt from behind rather than on the point like had all year. Assuming he needed that start after his 17 day layoff, Royal Deceptor has a great chance to rebound here with his early speed from post five for trainer Cheryl Mc Givern.

Wings Of Royalty (RC Royalty-Sparkling Cider) has been spectacular on bigger tracks this year for trainer George Ducharme, but has had his challenges over the half-mile ovals. In his last four starts he has set two consecutive lifetime marks at Tioga Downs (1:57.4) and Vernon Downs (1:56) but in between has made breaks off the gate at Yonkers and Monticello Raceway. Regular driver Chris Lems will try to make him behave from the rail to get his third victory of the year.

Pier Ho Exotic (Conway Hall-Rose Run Exotic) has had just the opposite history. He made breaks at Tioga and Vernon but has a win at Buffalo Raceway in 2:01, a second at Yonkers and a fifth at Monticello after being parked out most of the mile. Pier Ho Exotic is the other horse in the race to win over a half-mile track and John Cummings Jr. will once again be on board from post two for trainer Megan Wilson.

The second $55,500 division is carded as race eight and has eight starters. It also features a battle between the top point’s leaders for this sex and gait.

Gabe The Bear Dean (Lucky Chucky-Madam Hooch) had a flawless performance last week at Monticello Raceway when he went gate to wire in 1:58.4. The four and three-quarter length victory was his fourth in six starts and boosted his earnings to $74,119 for the year. Trainer/driver Ray Schnittker will have to overcome post six in the full field of eight but has the gate speed to do it.

Mambo Blue Chip (Lucky Chucky-Flirty Two) has been nearly flawless for trainer Linda Toscano his last four starts, winning three and finishing second by only half a length. Those victories helped bank his $68,169 for the year and leave him tied with Gabe The Bear Dean atop the NYSS leaderboard for 2-year-old trotting colts with 183 points. Mambo Blue Chip has Jeff Gregory aboard from the rail and that puts him in the perfect spot for his stalking style.

Insomniac (Crazed-Catch Some Z’s) has a win and two seconds since coming into the Paul Kelley stable on July 19 and that includes a 1:56.4 lifetime mark at Vernon Downs. In his other two starts he was narrowly defeated by today’s favorites, Gabe The Bear Dean at Yonkers in 1:58.3 and Mambo Blue Chip at Monticello in 1:59.3. Jason Bartlett who has driven Insomniac for most of the year is aboard again, looking to avenge those defeats.

There are also three divisions of the Excelsior series on the card with total purses amounting to $38,000.

The most closely contested of those is the tenth race where Crashana (Crazed-Keystone Shana) is coming off back-to-back three length victories and is set to go against Lucky Budd (Lucky Chucky-Britt’s Spirit) who also has back-to-back victories going into tonight. Both horses scored their wins on the same nights at the same tracks, but raced in different divisions. They also both sport 1:57.3 lifetime marks at Vernon Downs.

Looking to play spoiler is Titanium (Conway Hall-Classic Yankee) who dropped into Excelsior action from the NYSS last week to collar his first win of the year at Monticello in 2:01.2, the same night Crashana and Lucky Budd raced and won. Facing these two for the first time and drawing inside them, Titanium will look to become the dominant trotter in this series tonight.

Post time for the first race is 6:35.

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