BATAVIA, N.Y. ---When you talk about Sunday afternoon's New York Sire Stakes for three-year-old colt trotters at Batavia Downs, it's not about the quantity but the quality of horses that will line up behind the starting gate.
There will be just two divisions of $65,220 each of the Sire Stakes, but it will bring together 15 top three-year-old colt and gelding trotters along with some big-name drivers to Batavia Downs. There will also be five divisions of the Excelsior Series, including a non-betting affair set for 12:50 p.m., just before the regular 1:15 p.m. post.
Drivers expected in town again will include Hall-of-Famer Cat Manzi, Jim Morrill Jr., Per Henriksen, John Stark Jr., Stephane Bouchard and Jeff Gregory.
The first $65,220 division of the Sire Stakes will be the fifth race with Crazy About Pat and Tirade Hanover headlining the field of seven.
Crazy About Pat (5-2) has won his last two races in the Sires Stakes, posting a 1:57.3 at Saratoga and a 1:56 at Yonkers. Driver Cat Manzi will start Crazy About Pat, a son of Crazed, from the seven post and will want to set the pace which has proven to be successful recently. A winner six times in 14 starts, Crazy About Pat has earned $200,995 this season and has surely matured and developed since 2012 when he had just four show finishes in eight starts and just $21,222 in earnings.
The main threat should come from the rail where Tirade Hanover (9-5) and driver Jim Morrill Jr. will start. In going 1:55.4 in a victorious effort at Saratoga on August 6, Tirade Hanover, an altered son of Crazed, was nearly seven lengths off the lead at the half, but trotted home to win easily by 3-1/4 lengths. He has won $277,161 in his career and had a great 2012 campaign, winning seven times in 11 appearances for $193,999 in winnings.
It should be a classic battle where Crazy About Pat will play 'catch me if you can' with Tirade Hanover, who should come charging with a late kick.
The fans are in for a treat in the eighth race, the second $65,220 division of the Sire Stakes. That's where E L Rocket will be, fresh off a fourth place finish in 1:52.4 in a Hambletonian Stakes elimination at the Meadowlands. He will highlight the field of eight as the heavy 3-5 favorite from post five.
E L Rocket, by Credit Winner, has won five of 11 races and amassed $108,625 this season. He will be driven by local favorite Jim Morrill Jr. and is conditioned by Ron Burke, far and away North America's leading trainer. Burke has 659 wins this season and nearly $12 million in earnings. To prove Burke's dominance, Rene Allard is a distant second with 294 victories, a 365-win difference. E L Rocket has had a four-race win streak earlier in the year and posted marks of 1:53.1 at Vernon Downs and a 1:55.1 at Yonkers, all in Sire Stakes events.
Modest Prince, (3-1) has been camera shy this season, winning just once in 10 starts. But Modest Prince, however, has earned $146,895 this year thanks to being in the money nine out of 10 times. He's also been saddled with some brutal post positions the past three appearances. The rail could be just what Modest Prince, a son of Rc Royalty, and driver Jeff Gregory need to find the winner's circle.
The three-year-colt trotting mark was set last season of 1:54.3 by Archangel. It also set the all-time track record trotting mark at Batavia Downs. With great conditions expected, it's a time that could be challenged.
There will also be four $12,700 Excelsior Series races sprinkled in among the 13-race card, along with the $7,000 Open II Trot and $8,500 Open Trot. The program could be considered the best thus far this season.
A big crowd is expected as besides the outstanding card and nice weather, it's Dollar Days with $1 Sahlen's Hot Dogs, sodas and draft beer.
For more information on the track, including schedule, race replays and upcoming promotions, go to http://bataviadownscasino.com/
by Brian J. Mazurek