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Batavia, NY---The 36th season of C. K. G. Billings amateur harness racing rolls into Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 22) with two divisions (one trot and one pace) going for $5,000 each. Batavia is the 42nd stop of the combined 2017 season for the Billings, which has only 17 more to go before they convene for the finals at Yonkers Raceway on Sunday (Nov. 26) and vie for the Delvin Miller Gold and Silver Cup championships and $40,000 in purses. The series that began in the early 1980's is conducted by the Delvin Miller Harness Drivers Association and is considered the Grand Circuit of Amateur Racing. And as a result of their charitable efforts, tens of thousands of dollars are raised each year through amateur driving for the benefit of each club's charity. The C.K.G. Billings contributes its driver's percentage to the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen, NY. Participating drivers support these charities by directing their 5% driver's commissions for all Billings Races to either the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame or to the Delvin Miller Harness Drivers Association for further contribution to the Harness Racing Museum or to a local charity. Drivers who will be appearing at the downs to compete on Friday include Joe Faraldo, Joe Lee and Bob Davis who will all drive in both events, along with Don Hoover, Robert Ciavardini, David Glasser, Anthony Ciuffetelli, Anthony Verruso, David Drew and Matt Zuccarello who will all have one drive apiece. The two events are carded as race one and four and post time for the first race in at 6 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY---The Wednesday night (Sept. 20) spotlight fell on the harness racing fillies and mares at Batavia Downs and All Charged Up took center stage after capturing the $10,000 distaff Open on a beautiful late-summer evening. All Charged Up (John Macdonald) got away last from post six as Squeeze This (Ron Beback Jr.) inherited the front at the start with no one else deciding to go. Beback then took advantage of that situation, leading the girls to the half in a relatively tame :57.3, with the field still in single-file fashion. As they swung into the third turn, Kruella (Shawn McDonough) pulled and started an outer flow. This allowed All Charged Up to scoot up along the pylons into fourth, right behind the still-leading Squeeze This. By the three-quarters Kruella sidled the leader and gained the advantage by the top of the stretch, which is where All Charged Up found the passing lane. Macdonald shot her through like a rocket under heavy urging to nip Kruella under the wire in 1:54.2. It was the third win of the year for the speedy All Charged Up ($6.90), all of which were recorded at Batavia Downs. The J P Stables owns the 6-year-old daughter of Ponder who is trained by her driver, John Macdonald. In the $8,000 fillies and mares Open II, Exotic Beach (Larry Stalbaum) took full advantage of a drop in class to easily wire the field in 1:53.4, which tied her seasonal mark. The win pushed her 2017 bank to $41,016 for Stalbaum who also owns her, through the conditioning efforts of her trainer Kim Asher. Stalbaum had a big night in the bike, winning three more races besides the co-feature. This pushed his total for the meet to 46 and moved him ahead of Jim Morrill Jr. (45) into a second place tie with Ray Fisher Jr. (46), 13 wins behind the meet leader, Drew Monti (59). Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 22) with post time set at 6 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY---Even though the betting public completely overlooked Tioga Downs invader Team Captain at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 16), the 16-1 pacer made his presence known in the $10,500 featured Open by upsetting local harness racing favorite Fireyourguns in one of the most exciting races held at the Downs this season. Team Captain (John Cummings Jr.) got away last in the field of seven as even-money shot Fireyourguns went three-deep to take the lead and set quick early fractions of :26.1 and :54.2. He was being prompted by Believe This Bob (Shawn McDonough) who was parked out the entire mile. As the field bunched into two rows up the backstretch, Team Captain was still last and third-over in the outer flow at three-quarters in 1:23.1 but that was about to change. Coming off the last turn, Focus Power (Drew Monti) tipped three-deep around Itsonlyrocknroll A (Larry Stalbaum) and Team Captain tipped four-wide around him. As the cavalry charge roared down the stretch, Fireyourguns weakened inside as Focus Power and Team Captain went toe-to-toe all the way to the wire with Team Captain eventually getting a head advantage under the light in 1:52.4. Team Captain ($34.20) scored his sixth win of the year for owner Joseph Martinelli Sr. who has benefited from his horse's efforts this year in the amount of $35,610. Paul Bernardo trains the 5-year-old gelded son of Cam's Card Shark. In the co-featured $9,000 Open II pacing event, Show Stopping ($28.20) tracked fast fractions set by Mister Livan N (Larry Stalbaum) from sixth before pulling second-over at three-quarters and then tipping three-wide at the top of the stretch to pace away from the field and win by one-half length in 1:53.1. Show Stopping is owned by Resilient Racing Stable and trained by Rose Russo. Drew Monti, Kevin Cummings, John Cummings Jr. and Ray Fisher Jr. all had driving doubles Saturday. Trainer Rose Russo also sent out two winners from her stable. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Monday (Sept. 18) with post time at 5 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY---Slow starts and fast finishes are his trademark and Egosnattitudes followed the playbook to a "T" on Friday night as he captured the harness racing $9,000 Open trotting feature at Batavia Downs. Egosnattitudes (Larry Stalbaum) got away last by ten-lengths to begin the race while Lutetium (Denny Bucceri) called the shots on the front end. While the race cruised by the half in :57.3, Egosnattitudes was rolling up on the outside, trying to get in the mix. Striker Ace (Kevin Cummings) pulled underneath him and drew even with Lutetium and those two matched strides until the five-eighths when Lutetium made a break. With Striker Ace (Kevin Cummings) now on the point, Egosnattitudes kept in hot pursuit and incrementally drew alongside the leader at the top of the lane before continuing right by him in the stretch to win in 1:57.1. It was the sixth win of the year for Egosnattitudes ($3.80) and the third win in four Batavia Downs starts. Egosnattitudes is owned by Graham Grace Stables LLC and is trained by Kim Asher. In the $8,500 Open II, Skyway Priss (Jim Morrill Jr.) was the only mare in the field and led every step of the way, winning her seventh race of the year in 1:57.3, which was a new seasonal mark. It was the second straight win for Skyway Priss ($4.20) both of which were for her new owners Buona Fortuna Stable and Marissa Russo who purchased the mare privately on September 3. David Russo trains the winner. Several horsemen had multiple win nights at the Downs on Friday. Leading driver Drew Monti and Jim Morrill Jr. both had a triple on the card while Larry Stalbaum brought two to the circle. And trainers Darrin Monti, Mark Temperato and Kim Asher conditioned two winners apiece during the proceedings. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 16) with the first post slated for 6 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY---The $121,500 New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for harness racing 3-year-old colt and gelding trotters rolled into Batavia Downs on Wednesday evening (Sept. 13) and the track record for that age, sex and gait, which is also the all-time track trotting mark of 1:54.3 set by Archangel in 2012 was tied by his son, Top Flight Angel (Archangel-Top Photo). In the first $60,200 division, Top Flight Angel (Andy Miller) left the gate, took the lead and called all the shots from there. Travelling well in hand and totally unchallenged the entire mile, Top Flight Angel set quarter fractions of :29, :58.2 and 1:26.2 while opening up a five-length advantage in the process. With the fans on hand aware of the track standard, all eyes were simultaneously on the leader and the clock as Top Flight Angel cruised down the lane and won in 1:54.3, tying the mark. "He was awesome; he just breezed around there. He likes the half. It's just a matter of getting him out of the gate and keeping his attention. He's got the (NYSS) final in a couple of weeks, the Breeders Crown if he's up to it and a couple later stakes. So hopefully we'll be going to the Breeders Crown" said driver Andy Miller. It was the fourth win of the year for the Yonkers Trot champion, Top Flight Angel ($3.80) and it pushed his earnings for 2017 to $362,016 for owner Legendary Standardbred Farm. Julie Miller trains the winner. In the second $61,300 division, Swell Chap (Drew Monti) left from post six and dropped in third as Icanflylikeanangel (Mickey Mc Nichol) took the lead. The field was moving at a brisk clip (:28.1, :57.3) when Monti pulled Swell Chap and started an outer flow in front of the grandstand. Swell Chap drew alongside Icanflylikeanangel and the two matched strides up the backstretch and around the last turn when Stick With Me Kid (Chris Lems) joined the party three-deep coming into the stretch. With the three across the track, Icanflylikeanangel gained a short advantage, but Swell chap swelled-up and came back under urging to win by a length in 1:56.1. "He raced awesome. He put in a good effort at Buffalo (Raceway on July 9) but I didn't get the trip I wanted. I didn't get it tonight either but he got the job done. He's a nice horse" said driver Drew Monti. The win was the sixth of the season for Swell Chap ($11.60) whose earnings now total $157,451. Foge McKeever and Eldon Thompson own Swell Chap (Chapter Seven-Gia) who is trained by Todd Rooney. Two $15,000 Excelsior A series races were also featured on the card Wednesday. Big Man Ev (Chapter Seven-Possessed By Lindy) won the first division wire to wire in 1:56.4 with Andy Miller aboard. Big Man Ev ($3.10) is owned by the Andy Miller Stable, the Lindy Racing Stable and Harvey Eisman and is trained by Julie Miller. Zack's Zoomer (Deweycheatumnhowe-Passageway) won the second division, cutting the mile in 1:55.2 for Jim Morrill Jr. Zack's Zoomer is owned by the Ervin Miller Stable Inc. and Harvey Eisman. Erv Miller does the training. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY---Some of the best sophomore trotting colts and geldings on the harness racing Grand Circuit will be in town on Wednesday afternoon (Sept. 13) to vie for a total of $121,500 in purses offered in the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) at Batavia Downs. And with only one more stop after Batavia before the finals, everyone will be jockeying for point position in a very close race. The first $60,200 division (carded as race three) features Yonkers Trot winner Top Flight Angel and Hambletonian finalist Guardian Angel AS. Top Flight angel (Archangel-Top Photo) was having a very solid year that turned outstanding for his connections last week when he won the $500,000 Yonkers Trot. Previous to that victory he finished fourth in the Empire Breeders Classic at Vernon Downs and had one win in a NYSS leg. He is currently seventh in points for the final and is in need of a win here to keep pace with the leaders and make the draw for the Night of Champions. With $331,916 earned and a mark of 1:55, he is as solid a choice here as you could want. Leaving from post one and listed at 7-5 morning line, Top Flight Angel will be driven by Andy Miller for trainer Julie Miller. Guardian Angel AS (Archangel-Provide AS) has seven wins this year, two of which were in the NYSS. He raced in the Hambletonian final in August and was trotting second in the stretch when he was involved in the highly contentious interference call that saw him break and finish ninth. Most recently Guardian Angel AS won his elimination of the Yonkers Trot, defeating Top Flight Angel in the process. But in the final he made a break after the start and was never in the race after that. Trainer Anette Lorentzon has regular driver Jason Bartlett up once again behind Guardian Angel AS who has drawn post four and is the early 6-5 choice. In the second $61,300 division, Lord Cromwell (Chapter Seven-Oh Oh Its Magic) come in on a two-race win streak and a freshly set 1:54.3 lifetime mark at Saratoga Raceway. He won the $143,737 Dexter Cup at Freehold Raceway in May and was in the Empire Breeders Classic in June where he finished a close sixth after getting parked the whole mile. He is the top money earner in this race with $169,965 and is part of a stable entry with The Last Chapter (Chapter Seven-J C Josie). Lord Cromwell will depart from post three with Jim Morrill Jr. in tow and the Ed Hart trainee is listed in the entry at 2-1. Eye Ofa Tiger AS (Chapter Seven-Cascade AS) is the top point-getter in the NYSS for this category on the strength of two wins and three seconds in the series. In his last start at Saratoga, he was parked out the better part of the mile and still hung on tough to finish second behind Lord Cromwell, who cut it. For the year overall he has five wins and has never missed the board in 10 starts and those outings have put $138,660 on his card. Like Guardian Angel AS, Eye Ofa Tiger AS is trained by Anette Lorentzon and will be driven by Jason Bartlett. He has post seven and is the early second choice at 5-2. Also on the card are two $15,000 Excel A series trots on the card that offer great betting opportunities and will be hotly contested. Post time for the first race is 5 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY--- Focus Power moved up to the harness racing top class on the grounds after winning in the Open II last week, but the ascension was no impediment as he won the $10,000 Open Handicap pace at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Sept. 9). Focus Power (Drew Monti) left from post four and was in front and on the pylons before they race even hit the turn. With the short field settling, Believe This Bob (Shawn McDonough) wanted the front and came before the eighth pole and cleared before the quarter in :28.1. Positions remained unchanged until Southwind Torque (Ray Fisher Jr.) pulled mid-way up the backside in what would be a short-lived bid. As the outside challenge faded in the turn, Believe This Bob was looking solid in front as they headed for home. However as soon as the passing lane was accessible, Monti directed Focus Power into it and shot right by Believe This Bob and paced away to a two-length win in 1:53.1. Focus Power ($7.80) now has $73,845 on his card on the strength of seven wins this year and the win time of 1:53.1 was only one-fifth of a second off the lifetime mark he just set last week. James Caradori owns the 5-year-old altered son of Shadow Play that gets his conditioning from Darrin Monti. In the co-featured $9,000 Open II, Itsonlyrocknroll A (Larry Stalbaum) got away last and methodically worked his way up the rail while chasing fractions of :26.4, :54.4 and 1:23.3 and before getting loose around the far turn to tip three-deep and simply pace away from everyone to win by two open lengths in 1:53.1. It was the second win in a row and 11th of the year for Itsonlyrocknroll A ($16.40) who now has earned $61,695 in purses for Stalbaum who also owns him. Kim Asher is the trainer. Larry Stalbaum visited the winner's circle five times on Saturday with Itsonlyrocknroll A, Teo Enteo A (1:56, $7.90), Mister Livan N (1:53.2, $4.60), Anderlecht (1:54.4, $3.20) and Saint William A (1:56.3, $7.10). Not wanting to be outdone, Drew Monti and Kevin Cummings each had two winners apiece as well. Trainer Kim Asher also sent four of her horses to the winner's enclosure for pictures. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Monday (Sept. 11) with post time set at 5 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

The first race at Batavia Downs Friday night (Sept. 8) may have only been a $6,500 Excelsior B pace for first-year fillies, but to one harness racing participant of the race it was a once in a lifetime milestone. After finishing second with Fast Date in 1:57.2, Jim Morrill Jr. surpassed the $100 million dollar mark in career earnings. That places him 22nd on the list among all harness drivers in the history of the sport. Morrill got his start in the business working for his father at Foxboro Park. The elder Morrill, an accomplished driver himself, always had a small stable there and he laid the groundwork for his son and helped him hone his skills. Jim Morrill Jr. got his first driving start in 1984 and from there he was on his way. "My father meant everything to my career. He set down everything to get me going when he was still driving and put me on every horse in the barn. I didn't really know what I was doing at the time and would drive one bad here or there and if the owner complained about it, he told them to take their horse to somebody else. And then he'd come back to me and tell me "you cost me another horse you little whelp." The family's operation was eventually moved to Maryland and Rosecroft Raceway where the number of horses in the barn grew. Besides driving his father's stock, Morrill started getting a lot of catch drives and soon was finding himself in demand. Rosecroft used to take six-weeks off during Christmas each year and Morrill didn't want to sit idle, so in 1990 he went to New York and started driving for Ray Schnittker and George Anthony at Yonkers Raceway. He soon found a lot of success there as well and decided that move would be permanent. Morrill recalls his most memorable races as being the 2004 Meadowlands Pace where Holborn Hanover was a 58-1 upset winner in 1:49, equaling the stake mark and the 2009 Jugette where Showherthemoney made a break in her elimination before coming back to win that race and the final as well three races later. Jim Morrill Jr. left the New York metropolitan area in 2005 and relocated his business and family to western New York. "I have never regretted moving to the Batavia-Buffalo circuit, we love it here. My wife's sister and mother live near us and when I'm on the road she has her family now instead of being up in New Jersey by herself. The New York Sires Stakes has been great for me as well as the overnight starts and we're just gearing up for the next however-many years to come." In 2006 at Batavia Downs, Morrill set the all-time driving standard for the track with 177 wins and a UDR of .537 for one meet. For his career to date, Jim Morrill Jr. now has had 37,332 starts with 6,902 wins, 5,692 seconds and 4,753 thirds with $100,046,554 in earnings. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY---The harness racing 2-year-old pacing fillies were at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 8) to battle for their share of the $109,000 in purse money up for grabs in the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS). The first $54,500 contest saw Azreal As It Gets (Matt Kakaley) lead briefly before yielding to favored Alexis Faith (Jim Morrill Jr.) past the quarter and settle into a garden-spot trip. Azreal As It Gets took full advantage of that strategic spot as Alexis Faith then battled Michelle's Jazz (Ray Fisher Jr.) from the three-eighths pole to the top of the stretch. From there she found the passing lane and scooted through to win by two lengths in 1:55.4, with a snappy :28.2 final panel. The time was a new lifetime mark for the filly. It was the first win in six tries for Azreal As It Gets (So Surreal-Vanite Semalu) who now shows $58,461 on her card for owners Our Horse Cents Stable and Stable 45. Azreal As It Gets ($6.70) is trained by Jake huff. In the second $54,500 division, Ubettergo Go (Billy Davis Jr.) took off the gate and tucked in fifth while Wisdom Tree (Kevin Cummings) and Hurrikane Shorty (Jason Bartlett) set the early pace on the front-end. When Jan (Jim Morrill Jr.) pulled first past the half, Ubettergo Go followed second-over and advanced up the backside. Around the last turn, Hurrikane Shorty gapped the leader and Jan dropped in second. But Ubettergo Go continued to advance against the stubborn Wisdom Tree, who would not give up. Down the lane Cummings and Davis were driving hard but Davis got more out of his filly in the end and won by a half-length in 1:55.3. The victory was the third of the year for Ubettergo Go (Art Major-Ubetterthink Think), all of which were in NYSS races. Ubettergo Go ($22.40) has earned $87,359 so far this year for owners Tony Basile, Reginald Petitpas, Ozzie MacKay and Blake Macintosh, who also trains the filly. There were also three $15,000 Excelsior A races on the program Friday night. In the first division, Act Like A Diva (Roll With Joe-Music Row) went wire to wire for Jim Morrill Jr. in 1:57.2. Act Like A Diva ($6.00) is owned by Paymaq Racings, Greg Gillis, Louis Willinger and Craig Henderson and is trained by Erv miller. The second division went to Checkered Past (American Ideal-Character Flaw) who tripped-out in 1:57.4 for Jim Morrill Jr. Checkered Past ($4.30) is owned by All Star Racing Inc. and is trained by Peter Foley. The final split was won by Pelican Blue Chip (Rock N Roll Heaven-Feathery Fame) who went gate to wire in 1:56.2. Pelican Blue Chip ($3.60) is owned by Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc., Michelle Rosato and Matthew Dugan and is trained by Tracey Brainard. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY---There will be 14 freshman fillies on hand at Batavia Downs on Friday evening (Sept. 8) to compete for $109,000 in purses in the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for harness racing 2-year-old female pacers. The first $54,500 division (race three) has Alexis Faith (American Ideal-Cannae Cammie) as the early choice to get the job done. Alexis Faith had won five-in-a-row until last week when she suffered her first defeat of the year to Youaremycandygirl in NYSS action at Yonkers Raceway. She set a lifetime mark of 1:53.1 at Tioga Downs last month and is the highest purse earner of this division with $96,145 in the bank. Alexis Faith is also third in the points standing for the final coming up at the end of the month. Trainer Casie Coleman has Jim Morrill Jr. in the bike and they are the 9-5 track oddsmaker's selection from post three. Also in the hunt is Azreal As It Gets (So Surreal-Vanite Semlu). This filly is winless this year but has raced well each week in defeat. She was race timed in 1:52.4 at Tioga Downs last month and more recently has back-to-back third place finishes at Yonkers, both with solid closing quarters. Matt Kakaley will drive for trainer Jake Huff and they will depart from post one at 5-2. The next $54,500 group (race four) features co-favorites Jan and Hurrikane Shorty. Jan (Rock N Roll Heaven-Armbro Savannah) comes late to the NYSS party as she makes her first start in the series. Having raced exclusively at Mohawk Raceway this year, Jan just completed a sweep of the Wish Upon A Star series, winning both eliminations and the final in a lifetime best 1:51.4. Trainer Dr. Ian Moore has assigned Jim Morrill Jr. to drive Jan and they will leave from post six listed at 8-5. Hurrikane Shorty (Art Major-Speed Date) is the current top point-getter and top money winner in the NYSS for her age, sex and gait. She is also the top money winner in this race with $107,565 on her card. Hurrikane Shorty won her first lifetime start in 1:52.3 at the Meadowlands in June and that remains her life's best timing. The filly has never been worse than second in her career. Jason Bartlett is on board for trainer Kevin McDermott and they will start from post three rated at 9-5. There are also three divisions of the $15,000 Excelsior A series on the card that will go as race six, seven and eight. Post time for the first race is 6 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY---There were record breakers coming from everywhere at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Sept. 6) as the harness racing track standard was breached three times during the proceedings of the $108,2000 New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) and $30,000 Excelsior A series for 3-year-old trotting fillies. In the first $59,100 division, Mamora Bay (Sam Schillaci) got away fourth behind a heated front-end battle between Deli-Delite (Drew Monti) and Busy Doing Nothing (Ray Fisher Jr.) that lasted until the half. At that point Schillaci pulled his filly, went three-wide around the fading Busy Doing Nothing and took the lead from Deli-Delite by the three-quarter pole in 1:27. Now on a track record pace, Mamora Bay looked like the only thing to beat was the clock, but Deli-Delight came back on and chased her to the wire. But Mamora Bay hung tough to win by a half-length in 1:57.2, which tied the track record for age, gender and gait. It was the second win of 2017 for Mamora Bay (Chapter Seven-Guilie Bi) who now has earned $95,881 this year for owner Peter Barbado. Mamora Bay ($3.40) is trained by Sam Schillaci. In the second $59,100 split, Celebrity Ruth (Jason Bartlett) took the lead by the quarter pole and was never headed from there as Bartlett sat chilly the whole mile after the favored Barn Bella (Jeff Gregory) made a break by the eighth pole. Setting easy early fractions of :29.2 and :59.4, Bartlett loosened the lines a bit to try and put some distance between his horse and Ostrich Blue Chip (Scott Zeron) who was sitting on his back. They smoked the third quarter in 1:28.2 and then with one line-tap from Bartlett, Celebrity Ruth trotted home in :28.2 to win by a length in 1:56.4 which broke the track record. It was the second win in five days for Celebrity Ruth (Archangel-Celebrity Obsession) and sixth on the season. The winner's share of the purse has pushed the filly over the quarter-million dollar mark in earnings this year with $250,983 now in the bank. Celebrity Ruth ($4.30) is owned by White Birch Farm and trained by Trond Smedshammer. Just because the NYSS divisions were over didn't mean the record breaking had ended as well. There were still two $15,000 divisions of the Excelsior A series to be run and one of them got in on the action. Seventh Heaven (Jason Bartlett) got off the wings third and took advantage of an expeditious half of :57.2 (which was faster than either NYSS contest) set by Billie Blue (Chris Lems) and take the lead at the three-quarters before coasting home under wraps in 1:56.4 to tie the three-race-old track record. It was the seventh win for Seventh Heaven (Chapter Seven-Porque) this year and her efforts have now benefitted owner Richard Balog with $50,800 in purses. Seventh Heaven (2.90) is trained by Linda Toscano. The second Excelsior A division was won by Aunt Susie (Credit Winner-Aunt Mel) who went gate to wire in 1:58.2. Aunt Susie ($4.60) is owned by the Ervin Miller Stable, Paymaq Racing, the Nick Surick Stable LLC and Louis Willinger. Nick Surick does the training and Jim Morrill Jr. was in the sulky.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY---Two of the best 3-year-old trotting fillies on the harness racing Grand Circuit will be at Batavia Downs on Wednesday afternoon (Sept. 6) in a division of the $108,200 New York Sire Stakes (NYSS). Barn Bella and Celebrity Ruth will go head to head in the second $59,100 division (carded as race four) of the NYSS in what looks to be a heavyweight battle for the ages with possible track record implications. Barn Bella (Conway Hall-Bravissima) comes into the race as the second richest ($329,584) and third fastest (1:51.3) 3-year-old trotting filly in North America. She has scored 10 wins in 12 starts this year, making breaks the only two times she hasn't finished first. Having campaigned exclusively in New York State this year, Barn Bella has won five legs of the NYSS as well as the $228,250 Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) at Vernon Downs in 1:51.3, which was her lifetime best effort. In her last start on August 18, Barn Bella was racing older male trotters in the overnight Open at Tioga Downs and made a break in the first turn while everyone was jockeying for position. This will be her first start back in 18 days and she looks to rebound with a big effort in the short six-horse field. Barn Bella will be a big hometown favorite as all her connections are from only a few miles of Batavia Downs. Co-owner/trainer Steve Pratt, co-owner Wanda Polisseni and driver Jeff Gregory all call Batavia Downs their "home track" and will converge there with high expectations for their star performer. Barn Bella has drawn post six and has been made the 8-5 morning line favorite. Looking to spoil the homecoming is Celebrity Ruth (Archangel-Celebrity Obsession) who comes in fresh off a win in the $119,010 Hudson Trot final at Yonkers Raceway on Saturday (Sept. 2). Celebrity Ruth was unraced at two but has made up for time lost this year. She has won three legs of the NYSS as well as the afore mentioned Hudson Trot. She also took a major check finishing second to Barn Bella in the EBC. In all, her five wins and five seconds have put $280,938 in her bank account this year. She has a lifetime mark of 1:53.4 taken at Tioga Downs but has been race timed in 1:52.1 at Vernon. Trond Smedshammer trains Celebrity Ruth and has regular driver Jason Bartlett up once again and the pair will depart from post two, listed at 3-1. In the first $59,100 division (carded as race three) Mamora Bay will start at Batavia Downs only four days after competing in the Hudson Trot as well where she finished third behind Celebrity Ruth. Prior to Saturday, Mamora Bay (Chapter Seven-Giulie Bi) had been off since August 1 as she was trying to get over the effects of a virus she has been dealing with all year, as reported by her trainer Sam Schillaci in a recent interview. With that said, she did look good qualifying twice at Northfield Park getting ready for that big stake. In the Hudson, Mamora Bay got away sixth and was forced to come third-over in a dull outer flow and had to overcome a strong front-runner, the rain and a breaking horse around the last turn but still closed well to finish third, beaten less than four lengths. With $66,331 on her card so far in 2017, Mamora Bay has only one win in six starts this year and her connections are hoping she gets back to her form of last year now that she is back in action. Sam Schillaci is aboard once again and has been named the early favorite at 9-5 leaving from post three. Looking to challenge for the spoils is Maewegonow (Deweycheatumnhowe-Mauresmo) who is the highest money earner in this leg with $91,220 banked. But she also only has one NYSS win to her credit. Maewegonow has shown versatility racing on the front end as well as from behind and in this short field could be successful with either strategy. She has hit the board in seven out of 11 starts and took a lifetime mark of 1:55.3 in her last outing at Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs in an overnight event. Charlie Norris trains and drives Maewegonow who has drawn post two and is tabbed at 5-2. The current track record for 3-year-old trotting fillies is 1:57.2 set by Cowgirl Hall in 2012 and matched by Bouncing Bax in 2013. There are also two divisions of the $15,000 Excelsior A series on Wednesday that are programmed as races six and seven. Post time for the first race Wednesday is 5 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY---A full card of harness racing action, food specials and a driver's bike race are all on tap as part of the annual Labor Day extravaganza at Batavia Downs on Monday (Sept. 4). The live harness racing action kicks off at 1:15 p.m. with twelve exciting races. But there will also be something for the whole family to enjoy all day long and certainly no one will go hungry. The featured meal is a $10.95 chicken barbecue provided by the Center Street Smoke House from noon to 3 p.m. in the clubhouse. The smell of the on-site prepared barbecue chicken with "all the fixin's" will permeate the grandstand and come with a built in value. Every meal purchased comes with $10 in Batavia Downs Gaming Free-play to be used on the gaming floor after earning one base-point. If chicken is not to your liking, there will also be $1 Sahlen's hot dogs, $1 draft beer and $1 soda available on the track apron outlets from noon to 4 p.m. Then after the seventh race, Batavia Downs will present the annual Driver's Bike Race sponsored by Crazy Cheap Cars of Oakfield, NY. This race features eight of the top drivers at the Downs competing in a race on bicycles that will then be given away to the fans who correctly picked the winner of the race. Our live guests may place an entry in the box of the driver that they think is going to win in the Paddock Room from noon to 2:30 p.m. There will be eight names chosen from the winning driver's box after the bike race is completed and each name drawn will receive one of the bikes used in the race. There is no purchase necessary, you must be 18-years-old or older to enter and you must be present to win. This year's competing drivers include (in post-position order) are Larry Stalbaum, Mike Caprio, John Cummings Jr., Rock Vinci, Jim McNeight Jr., Shawn McDonough, Drew Monti and Denny Bucceri. Caprio, Vinci, Monti and Bucceri have all won this race and bragging rights are on the line for the next twelve months.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY---After tasting defeat for the first time this year at Batavia Downs last week, Fireyourguns rebounded in a big way as he routed the best local pacers in the $10,500 Open Handicap harness racing feature on Saturday night (Sept. 2). After getting parked three-deep leaving for almost a quarter of a mile, Fireyourguns (Jim Morrill Jr.) finally cleared and took the front before the first bend and then never looked back from there. He was loose on the lead the whole journey, gapping the chasing Southwind Torque (Ray Fisher Jr.) by as much as three lengths as the trailers merely scrambled to keep up. When the race passed three-quarters in 1:23.3, Morrill was content with how things were going and merely fed some line, leaned back and watched as Fireyourguns took it home by himself to win by a comfortable two-lengths in 1:53. It was the 54th lifetime win in only 119 starts for Fireyourguns ($3.10) who now has $381,706 on his card. Robert and Jennifer Lowe own the 8-year-old gelded son of American Ideal in partnership with Terence Mc Clory who does the training. In the secondary featured $9,000 Open II pace, Focus Power (Drew Monti) led every step of the way, posting three quick :28 and change quarters before flying home in :27.3 to put away the field in 1:53 flat, which was a new lifetime mark for the winner. The win was the sixth of the year for Focus Power ($5.80) who now has earned $68,845 in 2017. James Caradori owns the Shadow Play progeny and Darrin Monti trains him. Jim Morrill Jr. drove a grand slam on Saturday while Kevin Cummings, John Cummings Jr. and Larry Stalbaum each had two winners during the night. Trainer Kim Asher also had two winners sent out from her barn. Racing resume at Batavia Downs on Monday afternoon (Sept. 4) for the big Labor Day matinee program that features the annual driver's bicycle race.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY---Only eleven New York bred 2-year-old colt and gelding pacers will visit America's oldest lighted harness racing track this year to compete for the $106,000 in purses available in the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS), but the quality over-rides the quantity that will race at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 1). The first $53,500 six-horse division goes in race three and features the undefeated Hitman Hill and Casual Cool. Hitman Hill (American Ideal-Fox Valley Shaker) got a late start this year but he has made the most of his outings, winning three out of three so far this season. Starting and winning in the Excelsior A level, Hitman Hill moved up to the NYSS quickly and torched a lifetime best 1:50.4 over a sloppy track at Vernon Downs in only his second lifetime start. He has since won at Yonkers in 1:53.2 and very much looks like a speed horse to be reckoned with. Hitman Hill has drawn post one for trainer Chris Oakes and the western New York native has assigned Brett Miller line duty for the night. The track odds maker has him pegged at 6-5. Casual Cool (American Ideal-Sight To See) is almost perfect this year, winning four out of five starts; all in NYSS action. The horse has raced well on both big and small tracks and over wet and dry surfaces. His lifetime best came at Vernon Downs as well, where he won handily in 1:52.2 with a wicked :26.3 final quarter. He is also the highest money earner in this race with $80,303 already in the bank. Trainer Linda Toscano has put the Downs leading driver Drew Monti in the bike behind Casual Cool for this outing and they will depart from post three at 3-1. In the second $52,500 five-horse split that is carded as race four features three horses that are firing on all cylinders right now. Paprike Blue Chip (Roll With Joe-Bliss N Vinegar) has won two out of four NYSS events including tying his lifetime best effort of 1:54.2 at Yonkers Raceway last week. The gelding has not missed the board in five starts, boasts the highest earnings of this group ($68,048) and doesn't seem to mind who drives him. This week Jim Morrill Jr., who won with him at Saratoga Raceway on August 8, is back in the bike for trainer John Butenschoen and they will start the race from post three at 8-5. Jersey Jim (Artiscape-Jersey Pearl) has overcome an early season breaking problem and blossomed into a fleet-footed flyer. After taking his mark of 1:54.1 at Saratoga, Jersey Jim finished second off a trip at Vernon Downs in 1:50.4 behind Hitman Hill, pacing his mile in 1:51.3. Last week at Yonkers he overcame a slow start from post seven to close quickly and finish third and this short field plays right into his closing style. Jersey Jim gets his regular driver Jim Devaux again and they will leave from post five at 9-5 for trainer Perry Simser. My Delight (Betterthancheddar-Kg Delight) hasn't won since breaking his maiden in an overnight event in July, but he also hasn't missed the board in any of his NYSS starts either. He's shown the ability to leave but seems just as content to travel off a trip. He figures to get a good journey here and will be in a close stalking position to make a play at the end of the mile. Trainer Homer Hochstetler has called upon Bret Miller to steer this week and they have drawn post two and are the early third choice at 5-2. There are also two $15,000 Excelsior A series events on the program that will go as races six and seven. Post time for the first race is 6 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY---Classy Lane Rose has been a shrinking violet with the Batavia Downs winner's circle this meet having not won in four starts here. But the harness racing  mare was in full bloom on Wednesday (Aug. 30) as she went gate to wire in convincing style to win the $9,500 Fillies and Mares Open pace. Classy Lane Rose (Drew Monti) left with the gate and the field willingly settled in post-position order behind her. After letting her intentions be known, she then tempered her speed to the half, backing it down to :58 flat. No one made a move until the three-eighths pole when Susie's Delight (Ray Fisher Jr.) came first-up and brought Kruella (Shawn McDonough) along with her. Monti kept the challengers at bay, speeding up the third panel to :28.1 and from there the race was won. Despite horses fanning four-wide around the final turn, Classy Lane Rose was in full stride and paced home in a crisp :27.4 to win by a length. Now with $60,300 in the bank on the strength of six wins this year, Classy Lane Rose ($3.30) is owned by Carl Monti and trained by Darrin Monti. The co-feature $8,000 distaff Open II field was shortened to five starters after two late scratches and as a result, Mean Pauline (Shawn McDonough) got a perfect pocket trip behind the point-mare Hot Patootie (Larry Stalbaum) and then shot through the lightning lane to win by a length in 1:55.2. It was the fifth win of the year for Mean Pauline ($11.80) and owner Harry Wortzman. McDonough also trains the winner. Drivers Drew Monti, Larry Stalbaum and Ray Fisher Jr. all had two wins on the card. Trainer Kim Asher also scored two victories on Wednesday evening. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Sept. 1) with post time at 6 p.m. Friday's card features the $106,000 NYSS for 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

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