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In what could only be described as the claim of the year in western New York, Thunderbolt Jaxon who was taken for $12,500 on October 1, has now won his third straight $9,500 Open harness racing feature at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Dec.3). Thunderbolt Jaxon (Ray Fisher Jr.) left sharply and eventually took the lead after being parked out by Inthenameofjames (Drew Monti) to the quarter. When the field settled in, they stayed single file to the half when Shady City (Larry Stalbaum) pulled and started an outer flow with Knocking Around (Dave McNeight III) on his heels. Feeling the heat, Fisher let his charge out a notch up the backside and put some space between him and the attackers as they sped by three-quarters in 1:26.1. At the head of the stretch, Inthenameofjames popped out of the two-hole and took a quick shot at the leader. But that challenge was swiftly turned away as Fisher rocked and knocked in perfect timing and Thunderbolt Jaxon sped away to an easy two-length victory in 1:55.1. It was the sixth win in nine starts since being claimed, and 10th win of the year for Thunderbolt Jaxon ($10.80). He has now accrued $53,846 in annual earnings, the bulk of which has benefited his current owner Mike Torcello. The 4-year-old gelded son of Mach Three is trained by Gerry Sarama. In the co-featured $8,600 Open II pace, P H Hellcat (Shawn Gray) led from the quarter pole until about 200 feet from the wire; that's when the pocket-sitting Brees Creek (Drew Monti) paced on by him to win by a neck in 1:56. Brees Creek ($8.70) is owned by the Resilient Racing Stable and trained by Rose Russo. Several horse people had multiple win performances on Saturday night, led by Drew Monti who had a driving triple. Shawn Gray had a driving double while Sean McDonough was victorious with two horses he both drove and trained. And trainers Rose Russo and JD Perrin each sent two students to the Purple Haze Winner's Circle for pictures. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Dec. 7) with post time at 6:15 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY---Wanna Rock N Roll had an impressive first part of 2016, harness racing at Yonkers Raceway and Vernon Downs. But after making four starts at Batavia in the distaff Open, the mare was turned out in August. Now in only her second start back from the layoff, Wanna Rock N Roll was victorious in the $9,500 mares Open pacing feature at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Dec. 2). Even-money favorite My Tallia Ideal (Dave McNeight III) left and became the early race commander, taking the abbreviated field of five through their paces in post-position order in :28.3 and :59.3. When the group passed the five-eighths pole, Looney Dune (Ben McNeil) and Susie's Delight (Ray Fisher Jr.) both came off the rail and went nowhere, but the move allowed Kruella (Shawn McDonough) to shoot up the pylons from last to third behind the pocket sitting Wanna Rock N Roll (Drew Monti). As the girls came off the last turn, Wanna Rock N Roll tipped out and started pacing by the tiring My Tallia Ideal while Kruella ducked to the passing lane and did the same. But Wanna Rock N Roll had the jump and cruised to an easy length victory in 1:57. This was the eighth win of the year for Wanna Rock N Roll ($14.80) and the purse increased her earnings to $61,970. Rose Campbell owns the daughter of Rocknroll Hanover that is trained by Steve Kiblin. In the co-featured $9,000 Open trot, Noble Legend (Shawn Gray) followed Kahoku (Ron Beback Jr.) for 7/8th's of a mile before pulling pocket and out-brushing the leader to the wire by a nose to win in 1:58.3. The ninth win of the year raised Noble Legends bank to $68,138 for owners Vogel & Wags Nags Stable and Jack Rice. Maria Rice trains the winner. Drew Monti scored a driving triple on the card and that pushed him to 102 wins for the meet. Shawn Gray and Larry Stalbaum both had driving doubles while Steve Kiblin also had a training double. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Dec. 3) with post time at 6:15 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Harness racing driver Drew Monti has enjoyed a season to remember, and it’s not finished yet. Among the 22-year-old driver’s accomplishments so far are: graduating from college, winning a New York Sire Stakes race for the first time, and posting seven victories on a single card. He also is in the hunt for the driving title at Batavia Downs, where he trails Jim Morrill Jr. by 12 wins with eight more dates on the schedule. Following the conclusion of Batavia’s meet on Dec. 17, Monti might make a few trips to New Jersey to race at the Meadowlands before returning his focus to upstate New York and the start of a new meet at Buffalo Raceway. Monti finished fourth in this year’s standings at Buffalo. Monti, a Buffalo native, followed his father, Darrin, and grandfather, Carl, into harness racing. He began driving regularly in 2013 and has won 673 races in his career, including 202 this year. In 2015, Monti established career highs of 224 victories and $1.16 million in purses, but could surpass both totals this season. He needs less than $8,000 to establish a new best for earnings. In May, Monti graduated from Canisius College with an economics degree. In addition to driving, he also does some work for a financial advising firm. Monti recently took time to talk to Ken Weingartner from the U.S. Trotting Association’s Harness Racing Communications division about his career. KW: It’s been an exciting year for you in many different ways. DM: Yeah, absolutely. There are a lot of things to look back on. I had a good year last year, but I think this is my best year so far. I won a (New York) sire stakes this year, and I’d never done that before. That was exciting. I’m second in the standings at Batavia. It’s still tight. I’m a few behind (Jim Morrill Jr.) but we’ll see. Hopefully I can get there. That would be awesome if I could be leading driver here. And I won seven races (on a card) this year (on Oct. 26 at Batavia). That was a personal high. I’d won five a couple times, but never more than that. KW: I was going to bring that up. You won seven out of 10, right? What was that like? Is it a different feeling when you’re going through a night like that? DM: Not really. I’ll tell you, though, what is different --- it feels like the night goes right by.  When you don’t do any good, it feels like the night drags on forever. KW: Did you expect a big night? DM: I thought it was going to be a good card. I had some good posts and I had some horses that I’d been driving that were down in class and drew inside and were sharp. I didn’t really say anything to anybody; I never want to talk like that out loud. But I thought it could be a wicked good night. And it turned out like nothing could go wrong. I was getting breaks, getting good trips, horses that could beat me were coming up flat --- it was just left and right that I was getting breaks all night. (Laughs.) That’s how you win seven. KW: I’m sure there have been times when you’ve looked at a card and thought you could have a big night and maybe things didn’t go your way. DM: Lots of times. That happens way more often. You think you can really do some good and you don’t do any good at all. But that’s the game. KW: How old were you when you decided this is what you wanted to do? DM: Probably 14 or 15. I started helping my dad regularly. My grandfather has been in it for all his life. I was just brought up in it and we’ve always had horses, at least a few. I started qualifying horses and we had some decent horses throughout the last few years and it kind of showed people I could do a little good. Then I got some chances and it took off from there. I’m just very grateful to everyone that’s given me a chance. KW: What’s the most difficult thing when you’re starting out as a young driver? DM: If you have any success, not to get ahead of yourself. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. And also don’t get down if you don’t do well. I still struggle with that now. It takes a toll on you mentally and you can’t allow that to affect how you drive. You’ve got to go out there clear-minded and do your job the best you can do it. You have to focus on the things you’re doing right.  KW: When you’re trying to make a name for yourself do you take losses harder because you feel they’re missed opportunities? But, as you said, you also don’t want to get too high when you have the success. DM: Exactly. That’s the thing, you do well and you start thinking you should be doing well. And that should never be the case racing horses. There’s never any entitlement. You could do all your work, you could make all the right moves, and sometimes things just don’t line up right. Sometimes horses show up a little flat, sometimes other horses show up better. There are things that are out of your control. As hard as that is to accept, that’s how it is. KW: How do you learn as you’re going through it? DM: There are always different situations in races and you’re never going to do everything right. But you try to learn the kinds of horses you drive and adapt. You get better at that the more you drive. I just try to be really open-minded and listen to what the trainer has to say. I try not to have any preconceptions about the horse, or the trainer. I think you’ll be the most successful that way. KW: Do you watch other drivers and learn that way? DM: All the time. Morrill is right here at home. It’s really easy to watch him as he’s going by you. (Laughs.) I look up to Tony Morgan. I’m good friends with him and I watch him all the time. There are a lot of guys, really. If there is ever a race on, I’m not going to ignore it, it doesn’t matter where it is. You can always watch and try to think what you would do in certain situations. It’s always interesting, it doesn’t matter what race it is. KW: Do you set goals for yourself? DM: Not really numerical goals, like I want to win this many races or make this much money. But I’ll have goals like try to get all good trips, or try not to over-drive a horse, or try not to make a certain mistake again. Just little goals to try to improve. KW: What’s been your biggest thrill so far? DM: Winning the sire stakes, and I’ll tell you why. That’s something I’d never done and I haven’t had a lot of shots to do it. On top of that, Rick Dane trained the horse (Americanfirewater) and (his partner) Monica Banca was there with the horse. That horse was only (age) 2 and hadn’t had a win yet. I came off the track and she was in tears, happy. She said that was his first sire stakes win and I said it was my first sire stakes win, too, so I’m as happy as you are. She gave me the cooler and a hug and said she was so happy to be a part of it. I was like, please, thank you. I appreciate it more than anything. That was probably the coolest moment. It was awesome. That was meaningful. KW: How difficult was it to drive and go to college? DM: Very tough. I tried to schedule myself where I could go to the track. I usually went to school just in the morning, but I went every day because I couldn’t go a whole day. It was tough to manage my time. I’d come home from races and I’d be shot, but sometimes I had to study or finish a project. But I got through it and did pretty well. I can tell you, I’m glad it’s over. It was busy and taxing mentally. But it was fun. KW: Has it made you better now? DM: I think so. It was a situation where you had to be mature and make sacrifices, or you weren’t going to do it. I never got a chance to do a lot of extras (with friends) but that being said, I’ve been successful and made pretty good money racing. I have some things others don’t have the privilege to have, but I put work in to get them. KW: When you were in high school did you play any sports? DM: I played baseball all four years and I also bowled all four years. KW: Oh really. Were you good? DM: Yeah, my average was like a 210. If I ever get some time I’ll still throw a couple games. It’s just hard to find the time for it. KW: How about baseball? DM: I was pretty good. I pitched through high school. My junior year, we won the regional championship, it’s called the Georgetown Cup. That was a real big season for us. KW: You’ll be wrapping up at Batavia in a couple weeks. Then what’s the plan? DM: Buffalo opens Jan. 11 and obviously that’s home. I’m thinking of trying the Meadowlands when there’s nothing else going on. I’d have to have a lot of success to make it worth going to New Jersey every weekend. Tentatively, Buffalo is just the plan. But we’ll see what happens. I’m open to anything. I’ll probably go (to the Meadowlands) because I’ll be off, but as far as staying, we’ll have to see. KW: What do you most enjoy about doing this? DM: Honestly, one of the big reasons I even do it at all is because I can do it with my family. My grandfather, my father, and I are all at the barn every day. We get to spend time together. I get to spend a lot of time with my dad. Some people don’t get to do that with family. I think I’m lucky for that.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager Harness Racing Communications A division of the U.S. Trotting Association

Batavia, NY --- Larry Stalbaum has been a regular competitor at Yonkers Raceway and Pocono Downs for many years now. But much like Jim Morrill Jr. before him, the small-town feel of western New York has drawn Stalbaum from the major harness racing circuits and he couldn't be happier about the move to Batavia Downs. Stalbaum made his first start of the year at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Nov. 5) and has since been one of the hottest drivers at the track. In only 10 nights of racing his own stable of 16 along with catch drives, Stalbaum has had 79 starts with 20 wins, 12 seconds and 10 thirds. That amounts to a 22% win and 54% in the money percentage, a .329 UDR and $100,570 in purse earnings in very short order. Stalbaum was born in Valparaiso, Indiana and started racing ponies at age seven. He went to work with standardbreds after graduating from high school and has been doing it ever since. Through his early years he worked for many horsemen, but credits Frank O'Mara for teaching him all he knows about harness racing. "I started grooming in Louisville at Latonia and eventually made my first career driving start at Brandywine Raceway in 1986" said Stalbaum. "Since them I have raced just about everywhere, even tracks that most people have never heard of." Racing everywhere has taken Stalbaum 29 years and the numbers that he has accrued in that time are pretty impressive to see; 5,378 wins and over $37 million in purses. Stalbaum lives in Matamoris, PA, which is just across the Delaware River from Port Jervis, NY. He races off his 152-acre farm there and makes the 560 mile, 9-hour round trip to Batavia every race night. His whole operation is family based. Stalbaum's wife, Kimberly Asher, is the trainer and his four children Riley, Kiley, Hawk and Sky jog, train and groom the stock. "My four children are all involved in racing and our business. They all do the horses, they all like the horses and they all want to drive eventually" said Stalbaum. "My oldest daughter Riley just passed her test and got her qualifying license and will start driving very soon. And my other kids will follow along one by one as they get old enough. I don't have any help in my stable right now other than my wife and kids. They do it all." With having much success at bigger tracks that were closer to his home, Stalbaum still made the decision to race at Batavia Downs. "I'm getting a little older and I wanted to slow down a bit. That's part of the reason I was racing at Monticello recently; it was close to home" said Stalbaum. "But the money isn't quite as good there as it is here. What I really wanted to do is just get away from the hustle and bustle of the bigger tracks." "I'm tired of shipping three to this track and four to that track and being on the road every night. I would much rather just ship the whole stable over three days and get them all raced and spend more time at home" Stalbaum concluded. After having raced at Batavia for almost a month now, Stalbaum has become quite comfortable in his new environment. The local racing community has embraced him and he is happy to be competing there. "I like western New York. It's got a lot of farm country like where I was raised and many of the people who race there come from families that have been racing locally for generations, and I like that" said Stalbaum. "I tell people all the time about it and when you tell them about being in New York, they think New York City. Because if you're not from upstate New York, you don't know any better." After the Batavia meet ends, the plan is to move the stock to Buffalo Raceway and stable at the track. "When I go to Buffalo, Kim and the kids aren't coming and that's going to be hard for me because I've never been away from them. But because of the winter, I can't ship like I do right now but also can't move the family up here at this point. But that's what we have to do and we'll see how it goes" said Stalbaum. "If everything goes right, we are planning on moving up here permanently. We'll sell the farm in PA and buy some land in western New York and settle down here and race this circuit". With four children aspiring to make harness racing their livelihood, Stalbaum appreciates the atmosphere in western New York for both raising a family and racing for a living. "The future of this sport is young people and all my kids are interested in it now. I let them choose what they want to do with their lives and they all want to race and that makes me happy. I can't make them a doctor or a lawyer, but I can teach them how to be a solid trainer and driver. I just hope the sport is still here for them" Stalbaum said. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY---With another dark and stormy night as the backdrop, Thunderbolt Jaxon didn't despair over the wet harness racing track; he reveled in it as he won his second straight $10,500 Open pacing feature at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Nov. 26). It was basically a two-horse race from the word go. Thunderbolt Jaxon (Ray Fisher Jr.) left and parked Sam Hill (Kevin Cummings) to the quarter in :27.3 before letting him overtake. Once settled in, Sam Hill looked strong on the front and took the group to the half in :56.3. With Thunderbolt Jaxon safely tucked in second, Knocking Around (Dave McNeight III) came first over past the half and tried to mount a challenge. He did draw alongside the leading pair at three quarters but faded from contention by the top of the lane. There, Thunderbolt Jaxon shot into the passing lane and began eroding Sam Hill's lead with each stride, eventually sneaking by him at the wire by a short neck in 1:55.4. It was the ninth win of the year for Thunderbolt Jaxon ($15.00), five of which were accomplished for owner Mike Torcello who claimed the 4-year-old gelded son of Mach Three on October 1. Gerry Sarama trains the winner. In the co-featured $9,000 Open II pace, Southwind Torque ($7.80) made a four-wide move around the last turn to nose out the front running Bakken (Ray Fisher Jr.) at the wire in 1:57.3. It was a four-horse photo finish that saw six horses within one length of each other at the wire. Southwind Torque is owned by Vogel & Wags Nags Stable and Jack Rice and is trained by Maria Rice. Shawn Gray and Larry Stalbaum both had the hat trick on Saturday while Ray Fisher Jr. settled for a pair. On the training side, Kim Asher and Maria Rice both sent two horses for pictures. The early Pick-5, which was part of the USTA's Strategic Wagering program on Saturday paid $4,365 for the 1-1-3-5-8 combination. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Nov. 30) at 6:15 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY --- For the second week in a row, Perfect Rendition stalked quick early fractions before gearing up in the payoff half to win the $10,000 Open trotting harness racing feature at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Nov. 25). When the gate released the short but classy field of six trotters, Noble Legend (Shawn Gray) went for the early lead, seating Jim Dandy (Jim McNeight Jr.) and Perfect Rendition (Larry Stalbaum) in the process. The leader then proceeded to cut quarters of :28.2 and :58 and did it unchallenged as the trailing drivers were content to sit in. The situation remained unchanged until just before three-quarters when Perfect Rendition pulled and started to advance. By the time they hit that panel in 1:27.3, Perfect Rendition was matching strides with Noble Legend and a battle ensued around the final turn. When the pair straightened out at the head of the lane, Perfect Rendition got a slight advantage under Stalbaum's urging and as a result, ended up the best of the bunch as he trotted to victory in 1:57.2 over the rain-soaked track. It was the fourth win of the year for Perfect Rendition ($19.40), half of which were registered at Batavia Downs the last two weeks. The 10-year-old son of Perfectly who is trained by Kimberly Asher has now bankrolled annual earnings to $29,763 for owner-driver Larry Stalbaum. In the co-featured $9,000 filly and mares Open pace, Kruella ($8.60) scored her third win in a row, coming from second-over in the outer flow to tip three-wide at the head of the lane and brush by to a slick 1:56.4 win for driver Shawn McDonough. Kruella is trained by Jineen Simone who co-owns the mare with Bonnie Kowalcyk. Ray Fisher Jr. had a grand slam Friday night, including a natural hat-trick in races four through six. He won with Wicked Elphaba ($6.50), Southern Palms ($11.20), Rock The Dream ($9.60) and Babes Chip ($2.60). Shawn Gray and Larry Stalbaum both registered driving triples on the evening while trainer Kim Asher sent two of her students to the winner's circle. Racing resumes on Saturday night (Nov. 26) with first race post time set at 6:15 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY---The New York State Gaming Commission has approved a request from Western Regional Off Track Betting (WROTB) to extend the current Batavia Downs harness racing meet by two days: Friday (Dec. 16) and Saturday (Dec. 17) will be added to the current schedule. Post time for Friday (Dec. 16) will be 6:15 p.m. and Saturday (Dec. 17) will be 5:00 p.m. "WROTB asked for the additional days to make up for the first Sunday of the current meet that was cancelled due to a shortage in the box and also to accommodate the large number of Christmas parties looking to book the clubhouse during live racing" said Todd Haight, Director/General Manager of Live Racing at Batavia Downs. "It will also shorten the amount of down time for our horsemen between when our meet ends and Buffalo Raceway starts back up." Please note; there will be a double-draw on Tuesday (Dec. 13) for both Friday and Saturday of that final week. For more, information log onto www.bataviadownsgaimng.com and click on the "live racing" tab. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY---Old man winter reared his ugly head on Saturday night (Nov. 19) as high winds and driving rain greeted the night's harness racing competitors. However the extremely sloppy conditions couldn't dissuade Thunderbolt Jaxon from his best effort as he splashed to a gate to wire victory in the $10,500 Open pace at Batavia Downs. Thunderbolt Jaxon (Jim Morrill Jr.) left and took the front by the quarter as the rest of the field ducked for cover. The leader and a close-following Spender Hanover (Drew Monti) led pedestrian fractions of :29.2 and :59.1 as an outer flow started to chase. Shady City (Larry Stalbaum), who had been parked out from the start and Knocking Around (Dave McNeight III) constituted that bid but neither could sustain up the backside. Around the last turn, it was Thunderbolt Jaxon who could sense the win as he strode out and paced away from Spender Hanover down the lane and crossed the wire well in hand in 1:57.2. It was the first Open class win for Thunderbolt Jaxon ($5.60) at Batavia Downs since being claimed on October 10, and his eighth overall win of the year. He has now earned $43,846 in 2016. The 4-year-old gelded son of Mach Three is owned by Mike Torcello and is trained by Gerry Sarama. Since Larry Stalbaum started racing regularly at Batavia Downs, he's been winning races at a hurried pace. That trend continued Saturday as he scored a grand slam on the card. And the winning horses gave Kim Asher the training grand slam as well. The two teamed up in the winner's circle with Story Book ($5.30), Itsonlyrocknroll A ($2.50), Steuben Patriot ($31.20) and Box Car Johnnie ($3.50). Jim Morrill Jr. had another three-win night to remain the Downs leading dash driver, now with 112 wins. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Nov. 23) with post time at 6:15 p.m. Please note that a double draw will take place on Tuesday (Nov. 22) for race cards to be held on Friday (Nov. 25) and Saturday (Nov. 26). The entry box will close at the normal time of 9:00 a.m. For more information please visit the horsemen's link at www.bataviadownsgaming.com. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY---After three outside draws in lower class, Perfect Rendition (Larry Stalbaum) moved into the top class and took advantage of post one to rebuff six harness racing challengers in the $10,000 Open trot at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Nov. 18). Noble Legend (Shawn Gray) left and took a hard fought lead at the quarter in :28.1. But as soon as he crossed over, Perfect Rendition pulled and retook the lead. From there he dictated a :58 half and a 1:27.2 third panel. During that stretch, The Bronx Bumper (Jim Morrill Jr.) came first over to challenge but never got closer than third. At the head of the stretch The Bronx Bumper challenge had ended, but then Nobel Legend popped the two-hole and drew a bead on the leader. Noble Legend gained ground with every stride but he ran out of stretch before they hit the wire and Perfect Rendition won by a head in 1:57.2. It was the third win of the year for Perfect Rendition ($6.70) and it pushed his earnings to $24,763. Larry Stalbaum owns the 10-year-old gelded son of Perfectly who is trained by Kim Asher. Jim Morrill Jr. won three more races on Friday while Shawn McDonough, Ray Fisher Jr. and Larry Stalbaum each won two. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Nov. 19) with post time set at 6:15 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY --- Harness racing horsemen racing at Batavia Downs are reminded of draw schedule changes for Thanksgiving week. A double draw will take place on Tuesday (Nov. 22) for race cards to be held on Friday (Nov. 25) and Saturday (Nov. 26). The entry box will close at the normal time of 9 a.m. All program information, including driver changes for Friday's card, must be submitted to the judges by 1 p.m. on Tuesday (Nov. 22). Saturday's program changes must be received by the Judges no later than 9:30 a.m. Wednesday (Nov. 23). Qualifying races will remain at the regular time of 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday (Nov. 23). Entries for Wednesday (Nov. 23) qualifiers must be received by 10 a.m. on Tuesday (Nov. 22). There are 13 more race cards remaining in the 2016 season that has been extended through Dec. 17. Post time for all remaining cards will be 6:15 p.m. with the exception of closing night when the races will kick off at 5:00 p.m. For more information please visit the horsemen's link at www.bataviadownsgaming.com. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY---With $125,000 up for grabs to the "blue-collar" horses of western New York, the local harness racing scene became decidedly more interesting on Saturday night (Nov. 12). The 2016 Batavia Downs Claiming Championship Series culminated with lots of action on the track, a clubhouse full of owners and a very bettable card of races for the gamblers. In the $20,000 final for $7,500-$10,000 claiming trotters, Love U Forever (Jim Morrill Jr.) tracked a fast first half before pulling first-over at the five-eighths. When he cleared at the top of the stretch, he pulled away into a stiff headwind to take a length victory in 1:59.1. It was the 11th win of the year for Love U Forever ($3.30) and his 2016 earnings are now $59,802 for owners Mike Torcello and Sam Smith. Dave Weston trains the winner. The $20,000 final for $8,000 to $10,000 claiming pacers went to Outoftexas (Jim Morrill Jr.) on the strength of an overpowering performance. Leaving from post five, Outoftexas went right to the front and never looked back, winning by three lengths in 1:55. It was the 10th win if the year for Outoftexas ($4.40) and it inflated his earnings to $53,223 for the year. The 11-year-old Camluck gelding is owned by Dan Antocicco and is trained by Steve Kiblin. The $20,000 final for $5,000 to $6,000 claiming horse and gelding pacers went to War Front (Jim Morrill Jr.). War Front ($3.00) got away mid-pack and pulled at three-eighths with cover. Morrill tipped him three deep at the three-quarter pole and they flew by the field around the last turn before cruising to an easy three-length win in 1:57. Owner-trainer Lee Dahn saw his winner's bankroll increase to $30,308 on the strength of his sixth win this year. The $20,000 final for $5,000 to $6,000 claiming filly and mare pacers was won in commanding fashion by Vals Jett (Ray Fisher Jr.). Taking the lead from post one, Vals Jett was heavily pressured from the half all the way to the wire and refused to let anyone get by her to win by two-lengths in 1:58. Vals Jett ($3.00) has now earned $31,914 and six wins this year for owner-trainer Dave Dylo Jr. The $15,000 final for $4,000 to $5,000 claiming trotters was won by Chrome Finish (Shawn Gray). Gray fired Chrome Finish off the gate like a rocket and led the whole race. He set blistering early fractions of :28, :57.2 and 1:28 before closing it out on top by two in 2:00.2. It was the seventh win of the year for Chrome Finish ($4.60) and it raised his annual earnings to $30,934 for owner Mary Warriner. Ryan Swift trains the winner. The $15,000 final for $4,000 claiming horse and gelding pacers was won by Big Unit (Drew Monti). Monti pulled Big Unit second-over before the half and followed that cover to the head of the lane. When he hit the stretch, he found another gear and motored to the front and pulled away by a length in 1:57.3. It was the third consecutive win for Big Unit ($3.60) and fourth of the year and the purse increased his 2016 earnings to $17,634 for owners Carl and Darrin Monti; the latter also trains him. And finally, the $15,000 final for $4,000 claiming filly and mare pacers was won by Can U Be Fun (Shawn McDonough). Can U Be Fun tucked in second and sat a perfect two-hole trip for the whole mile to the head of the lane. There, McDonough shook her loose and she paced away to an impressive four-length win in 1:57.3, which was a new seasonal mark for her. It was the fourth win of the year and it boosted her bankroll to $21,306 for owner Kathleen Lauer. Shawn McDonough also trains Can U Be Fun. Jim Morrill Jr. wins five more races at Batavia Downs Jim Morrill Jr likes winning in bunches and his penchant to do so was quenched again on Saturday night (Nov. 12). After he scored five wins this past Wednesday and five on Friday, he got five more horses across Saturday to end the week with an exclamation point. Morrill won with Love U Forever ($3.30), War Front ($3.00), Mobil Big John ($6.00), Outoftexas ($4.40) and Littlebitaclass ($3.70). Morrill now has 104 wins during the meet and leads all other horsemen in that category by at least 14 wins. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY---BZ Glide drew the outside for the fourth consecutive week, but also found himself in lower harness racing company. So he used his class to overcome post eight and win the $8,500 Open II trot at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Nov. 11). Mike Caprio hustled BZ Glide off the gate and took a lead he would never relinquish. He tripped the timers in :28.2, :59 and 1:28.2 while his seven opponents struck several formations of chase behind him. But it didn't matter who was in and who was out on Friday night as BZ Glide kept his mind on his business, while Caprio kept his whip on his shoulder, and trotted home confidently to win in 1:58.2. It was the fourth win in 17 starts this year for BZ Glide ($7.10) and it pushed his earnings to $33,630 for the Caprio Stable LLC. The 7-year-old Yankee Glide gelding is trained by Alana Caprio. Jim Morrill Jr. kept up his torrid winning pace as he scored five more wins during the night. He visited the Purple Haze Winner's circle with Justgottogetthere ($2.90, 2:00), Caliber Seelster ($10.40, 1:57), Zipnthruthehall ($7.10, 1:56.3), Bags Of Money ($2.80, 1:55.4) and Medolandcampbell E ($8.30, 1:56.4). The quintuple pushed Morrill's win total for the meet to 94, now 10 ahead of second place Drew Monti, who was blanked on the evening. Kevin Cummings moved into third place on the strength of one win Friday, now sporting 69 victories which is one ahead of Ray Fisher Jr. at 68. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Nov. 12), featuring seven divisional finals of the Batavia Downs Claiming Championship Series with purses totaling $125,000. Post time for the first race is 6:15 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY---The seven divisional finals of the 2016 Batavia Downs Claiming Championship Series will be contested this Saturday (Nov. 12) and the participants will be vying for purses totaling $125,000. The claiming series was point-based and broken down by gait and claiming price and the accrual of points was on a monthly basis. Divisions included $4,000, $5,000-$6,000 and $8,000-$10,000 claimers on the pace and $4,000-$5,000 and $7,500-$10,000 claimers on the trot. Points were awarded to the top-five finishers of each race and accrued monthly. The eight horses from each class category that made final were comprised of the top three point earners from August, (July 25-August 31) and September (September 1-30), and the top two point earners in October (October 1-31). In the finals, the $4,000-$5,000 categories will compete for $15,000 and all other categories will vie for $20,000. "This is the biggest non-stakes event ever held at Batavia Downs" said Todd Haight, Director/General Manager of Live Racing at Batavia Downs. "The $125,000 being offered in these events will be competed for and won by our resident horsemen and that is good for the local racing scene." The top two events are the $7,500-$10,000 claiming trot and the $8,000-$10,000 claiming pace, both going for a purse of $20,000. In the $20,000 trot, 10-time 2016 winner Love U Forever has been made the early 8-5 choice. The 4-year-old Andover Hall mare has most recently won in Open III condition company in 1:59.3 after getting away poorly with interference. She has won three out of her last five starts and her only bad outing during that time was over a sloppy harness racing track. Love U Forever's regular driver, Jim Morrill Jr., will again steer in this event from post three for trainer David Weston. Socks N Shuzy is the 5-2 second choice and was a beaten favorite in her last race at the $10,000 claiming level. She got away poorly from post 6 and was 13-lengths off the leader at the quarter. But after fading to last before the last turn, Socks N Shuzy brushed home sharply and was only three-lengths shy of the winner in a 1:59.1 mile. Starting from post four, Ray Fisher Jr. drives for trainer Priscilla Mooney. In the $20,000 pace, Bazooka drew post one and was made the 5-2 favorite by the track handicapper. Although he only won two races all year, they came in succession just three weeks ago and his form has been maintained ever since. After competing in $10,000 and $15,000 claimers the last three weeks, he comes in here sharp and ready. Bradley Jackson drives and trains the 6-year-old Sportsmaster gelding. The 3-1 second choice is Cheyenne Louie who is taking a major class drop for this event. His last two starts were in $20,000 claiming races where he drew consecutive outside posts. And before that at the $15,000 claiming level, he won over a sloppy track in 1:54.4 handily, going wire to wire. That clocking was also his seasonal best time. John Cummings Jr., who drove him to that win, is aboard again for trainer JD Perrin. The claiming series divisions are carded as race one, two, three, four, six, 11 and 12. Post time for the first race is 6:15 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY---The dash driving lead has been a hotly contested issue this harness racing meet at Batavia Downs and the lead has changed hands several times. But recently, Jim Morrill Jr. and Drew Monti have separated themselves from the pack and have been pulling away nightly. That rivalry continued on Wednesday (Nov. 9) as Jim Morrill Jr. won five races on the card while Drew Monti won four. And the wins could have gone either way during the night as the two finished a close one-two in races one, three, seven and twelve. Morrill won with American Anthem ($6.50, 1:57.1), Connery Blue Chip ($5.90, 1:59), Weapon To Win ($5.70, 1:58.3), Olivia's Z Tam ($5.10, 1:58.3) and Charmschooldropout ($2.30, 1:58.3). Monti won with Niche Blue Chip ($6.20, 1:59.3), Jimi Wind Ricks ($9.50, 1:59.4), Court's N Session ($22.40, 1:59.3) and Don't Sweat My Swag ($17.80, 1:59). Besides winning at a remarkable rate over the last several weeks, both drivers have also exhibited lofty UDR's during that time as well. Tonight, with each driving in 11 out of the 12 races on the card, they both hit the board nine times. Morrill's UDR was .616 and Monti's was .576. After Wednesday's action, Morrill is the current dash leader with 94 wins, five ahead of Monti who is sitting in second with 89. Kevin Cummings and Ray Fisher Jr. are tied for a distant third with 68 victories to their credit. With 16 nights of racing remaining in the 2016 season, the all-time track record of 177 wins during the meet set by Morrill in 2006 looks safe. However the heated competition between these top two titans for this year laurels will more than likely go down to the final night. Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Nov. 11) with post time at 6:15 p.m. There is a $550 carry-over for the early Pick-5 on Friday (races one through five) and that pool will be guaranteed at $1,500.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY---Yonkers Raceway invader Shady City got away last before sweeping the field around the last turn to pull away and win the $10,000 harness racing Open pacing feature at Batavia Downs on Saturday afternoon (Nov. 5). Last week's Open pace winner, China Dream (Shawn Gray), tried to repeat his effort by going to the front in a quick :26.4 quarter. After he settled, the field of six rounded the turn before splitting into two-rows as they motored to the half. Thunderbolt Jaxon (Jim Morrill Jr.) pulled first up in the outer flow with Knocking Around (Dave McNeight III) and Shady City (Larry Stalbaum) following right behind him. The group remained three in and three out past the five-eighths when Shady City (Larry Stalbaum) swung three-deep as the leader tripped the third panel in 1:25.2 with a two-length lead. Shady City seemed to stall by the head of the stretch and China Dream was looking like a winner. But Stalbaum went to the stick in the lane and with his tail flagging and ears perked, Shady City made up three lengths and strode by China Dream like an easy day at the office to win in 1:54.1. It was the fourth win of 2016 for Shady City ($9.60) and it pushed him to $53,882 in earnings for the year. Stalbaum owns the 6-year-old son of Metropolitan who is trained by Kimberly Asher. In the co-featured $9,000 Open II pace, Lucky King (Ron Beback Jr.) took the long way home, coming from seventh and parked out from just past the quarter, to swing five-deep in the stretch and win by one and one-half lengths in 1:56. It was the fifth win of the year for Lucky King who is owned by Keith Pinkowski and trained by Mihajlo Zdjelar Jr. The grossly overlooked winner returned a healthy $77.00. Drew Monti had a four-win night while visiting reinsman Larry Stalbaum copped three. Shawn Gray and Ron Beback Jr. both took two races apiece. On the conditioning side, Kimberly Asher had the training hat-trick. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Nov. 9) with a guaranteed Pick-5 pool of $3,500. Post time is 6:15 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY---For the second time in four weeks, Dontch Remember ($3.80) defeated the best resident pacing mares on the Friday night (Nov. 4) harness racing in the $10,000 distaff Open at Batavia Downs. Dontch Remember (Jim Morrill Jr.) got away third as Kaitlyn Akeeper (Kevin Cummings) and V'la Faire Wade Tomaszewski) took the top two spots through the first turn. But not happy with that position, Morrill pulled before the quarter and took the top just after that station in :28. Positions remained unchanged until Who Says That (Shawn Gray) pulled first-over just passed the three-eighths and started a slow grind up the outside. Making up ground with every stride, Who Says That got even with the leader at the three-quarters in 1:26.4, then eventually took the lead from Dontch Remember as they headed around the final turn. But just before they straightened out for the stretch drive, Dontch Remember regained her advantage and surged along the pylons. She held off a stubborn Who Says That and a late surging Kaitlyn Akeeper to win the race by a length in 1:55.3. It was the ninth win of the year for Dontch Remember and the winner's share boosted her earnings to a career one-year high $53,805 for owner Mike Torcello. Gerry Sarama trains the winner. Jim Morrill Jr. padded his dash driving lead by winning four consecutive races on Friday's card, bringing his total for the meet to 86. Shawn Gray got a driving hat trick and Ray Fisher Jr. scored a double. Trainers Mike Carrubba and Maria Rice each sent to winners to post. Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday afternoon (Nov. 5) with an early 3:30 p.m. post time for a special Breeders Cup day presentation.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

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