RC Cruiser was in cruise control for most of the mile but had just had enough left in the tank at the wire to hold off a hard-charging Unicorn Hanover and capture the $9,000 Open Pace at Batavia Downs Saturday night in a season-tying best time of 1:53.3.
After Mark It On Ice took the lead briefly at the start, driver Jim McNeight and RC Cruiser took over again at the quarter pole and posted fractions of :27.2, :56.1 and 1:25.1 over the fast track on the balmy night.
It looked like RC Cruiser ($4.30) was in command halfway down the stretch, holding what seemed to be a comfortable lead. That lead dwindled away quickly as Unicorn Hanover (Robert Verney) gobbled up ground late but came up just a head short at the wire, having to settle for place position. Mark It On Ice (Anthony Morgan) took third.
It was the fifth victory of the season for the seven-year-old gelding and second win in his last three starts in the Open. RC Cruiser is owned by Franklin Meier of West Seneca, N.Y. and trained by Jerry Nugent Jr. The win pushed his seasonal earnings to $49,888.
Veteran reinsman Anthony Morgan has a driving four-bagger while Jack Flanigen notched a driving hat trick.
Racing resumes on Sunday with a 12-race matinee slated for 1:15 p.m. The feature is the $9,000 Open Trot with Serious George and driver Jack Flanigen the morning line favorite at 5-2. This is the final Sunday of the season.
It's also the ever-popular Family Fun Day at Batavia Downs featuring the Wiener Dog Races which start after the final harness race. Also, there will be free pony rides along with Mr. Scribbles, Pringles The Clown and $1 Sahlen's hot dogs, draft beer and sodas.
And if that wasn't enough, there's another Sundays With Ashley set from 12 noon until 12:45 p.m. as Batavia Downs' parade marshal Ashley Holliday and her horse Jake will be available in the winner's circle for photos and to answer any questions.
For more information or to watch live streaming video of the races, visit www.batavia-downs.com.
by Brian MAZUREK, for Batavia Downs