Day At The Track

Stakes Season gets underway Friday at Batavia

05:38 AM 16 Aug 2013 NZST
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Cat Manzi, harness racing
Cat Manzi will be at Batavia Downs for first night of Stakes races

BATAVIA, N.Y. -- The New York Sire Stakes arrives at Batavia Downs for the first time this season and it will feature two-year-old trotting fillies who will go for over $100,000 split into three divisions on Friday night. Post time for the 12-race program is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. There will also be three $12,800 divisions of the Excelsior Series as well for the two-year-old filly trotters.


The group of talented freshmen trotters will also bring in an array of driving stars to Batavia Downs including Hall of Famer Cat Manzi and Jim Morrill Jr. Also making their way to town will be the likes of Gates Brunet, Jim Marohn Jr., Steve Smith, Jim Meittinis, and former Western New York regulars Ray Schnittker and Jeff Gregory


Manzi has won 14,770 races in his career, making him the third all-time dash-winning driver in North America. He also has earnings of nearly $158 million, placing him fourth all-time in North America. Manzi is a member of the Living Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y. He has 175 victories thus far in 2013 and over $2 million in winnings. Manzi is scheduled for seven drives on Friday.


Morrill Jr. will be in the sulky nine times Friday night and loves the home cooking of Western New York. At Buffalo Raceway this season, he won 58 of 183 races, posting a 31.7 win percentage. His UDRS at Buffalo was an astounding .461 and earned $538,623. This season nationally, Morrill Jr. is 20th in victories with 260 and 10th in earnings with over $4.1 million. He's fifth in North America in UDRS with a .382 mark. Morrill Jr. won the 2006 Batavia Downs driving title with a record 177 victories, a mark that still hasn't been challenged.


The first race on the card will be a $34,577 division of the Sire Stakes. Flyhawk Falina has been installed as the 2-1 favorite in the field of six and scores from the two post for driver/trainer Dan Daley. Flyhawk Falina is a Cash Hall filly out of Nowerland Nanette and has posted a wire-to-wire win in the Sires Stakes at Buffalo Raceway on July 3rd. She has been in the money in three out of four career starts and has earned $36,764.


The fourth race on the program has a field of seven going postward in the Sire Stakes and will feature local favorite Crediama who is owned by the Purple Haze Stable LLC of nearby Fairport, N.Y.  Crediama is tagged the 4-1 morning line second choice. She won her last time out, winning by a nose over Beauty Of Gray at Tioga Downs in 1:57.4 on August 3.  Crediama is a Credit Winner filly out of Mama B.

Ruby Ruby Who is a major danger. She enters with first and second place finishes in her last two starts in the Sire Stakes. Jeff Gregory will be aboard the 3-1 favorite.
The final division of the Sire Stakes will be seventh race and it looks very competitive. The favorite is Avalicious (3-1) who starts out of the five spot. She turned in a 1:58.2 time at Tioga Downs, finishing a game third last time out and will be driven by Chris Lems.
The main threat could come from the rail where Beauty Of Gray will start for driver Jim Mettinis. As mentioned earlier, Beauty Of Gray was nosed out by Crediama last time out and is the 4-1 second choice.

Another contender lurking is out of the seven spot. That's where Share My Secret starts. She scored a victory in 1:59.3 at Tioga Downs on August 3rd and sits at 7-2.

With expected nice weather on Friday and the racing strip being lightning fast during the first three weeks of the season, the track record of 1:59.0 set by Dreamy Dawn in 2010 could be in jeopardy.
In the three Excelsior Series, also for two-year-old filly trotters, Brookside Lily in the third race, and both Jesse T and Trish in the sixth race all come to town riding two-race winning streaks. 

Driver/trainer Ray Schnittker delivers Baby Shaq in the ninth race, the final Excelsior race of the night, and is the 5-2 favorite from the seven post. Baby Shaq has already competed in both the Sire Stakes and Excelsior Series but is looking for her first win.

For more information on all the upcoming Sire Stakes coming to Batavia Downs, the promotional schedule, race replays and results, go to


by Brian J. Mazurek


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