Harness racing driver Jack Flanigen steered Columbia County ($8.90) to victory in the $9,000 Russ Di Bella Memorial Trot on another gorgeous summer night at Batavia Downs Casino. With an initial surge from the rail, Columbia County took the early lead. At the quarter, favorite Fifty Two Finn (John Cummings Jr.) bolted forward from first over and took the front in 28.3.
Manfromnantucket (Jim McNeight) pulled out of third and competed for the lead as they made their way around the final turn. But with a little racing luck, Columbia County caught the passing lane and took it to the win in 1.58 by two lengths. Manfromnantucket placed and Fifty Two Finn hung on for third.
Flanigen stated “I thought he would be tough in here tonight. The horse trots great and he always gives it all he’s got. The race went how I thought it would and I got a clear lane at the end.”
The race was in honor of Russ Di Bella, the original voice of Western Regional Off-Track Betting. Between his start in 1973 and his retirement in 2005, you could hear Di Bella’s announcements on the loudspeaker of any OTB parlor.
“Russ was a joy to work with, we miss his enthusiasm and humor,” said Mike Kane, president of Western Regional Off-Track Betting.
It was also a big night for both Chris Page and Ray Fisher Jr. scoring three wins a piece.
Don’t forget about the $1,000 handicapping event tonight. You can find the contest forms at the Player’s Club beginning at 5:00 p.m. and it is free to enter. The top five finishers will receive a cash prize. It is also the final USTA's Strategic Wagering guaranteed $5,000 Pick-4 pool of the season. THe Pick-4 wager takes place on race 2 through 5.
Be sure to visit www.bataviadowns.com to view live streaming video of the races Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday at the downs.