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Stephen A. Flanigen Jr., 75, longtime owner, trainer and driver in western New York, died on November 19, 2014 of natural causes. Steve Flanigen got his start in harness racing after getting interested in the sport through his uncle (Charles Flanigen). He got his license in 1962 at the age of 23 and cut his teeth at the track while working full time on the railroad. After racing one or two of his own horses and picking up a catch drive every now and then, Mr. Flanigen's public stable took off in the early 1980's. Through sharp claims and private purchases, he put together a powerful string of race horses that filled the top classes at both Batavia Downs and Buffalo Raceway for many years. Dorado Drummond, Citronnelle, Rascal Lew J, Danny Fo, Hurry Murray and Avon Sandy are just a few of the horses that pushed Mr. Flanigen to the top of the trainer and driver standings in western New York from 1982 to 1986. He also campaigned successfully at Vernon Downs, the Meadows, Lake Shore Meadows and Rosecroft Raceway during that time. Steve Flanigen drove his last race in 1992 and turned the lines over to his son, Jack, while he continued to train full time. During his career he drove 256 winners that earned $624,552.00 in purse money. As a conditioner, Mr. Flanigen sent another 456 winners to post that brought home $844,515.00 in proceeds. Steve Flanigen was one of the most-liked horsemen on the local circuit and was always happy to help out his fellow horsemen. Whereas he was quite adept at racing pacers, he was particularly skilled at hanging up a trotter and his successes with students of that gait was a trademark throughout his career. When not in the paddock, Mr. Flanigen enjoyed playing cards and bowling and was quite accomplished at both. Mr. Flanigen was the beloved husband of Mary (Murphy); devoted father of Jack (Diane), David (Rachelle) and Shannon (Craig) Whylly; loving grandfather of five; dear brother of Florence, Lallah (John) Cummings and the late Edwin, Sally and Mary; son of the late Stephen and Emma (Lore) Flanigen; brother-In-Law of Jack Murphy. Friends may call Tuesday (Nov. 25) from 2-4 and 7-9 PM at the James W. Cannan Funeral Home (Southtowns Chapel), 3155 Orchard Park Rd. The funeral will be held on Wednesday (Nov. 26) at 9:30 at Our Mother of Good Council Church,3688 South Park Ave, Blasdell, NY. By Tim Bojarski, president, UNY USHWA

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- The weather is turning wintry in Western New York and that can only mean Buffalo Raceway is stepping up its preparations for the 2015 harness racing season, tentatively scheduled to begin on Wednesday, January 14th with a 5 p.m. post time. The racing schedule is pending approval from the New York State Gaming Commission.   Stall applications for the season, which is slated to end on July 26, are available at the Western New York Harness Horsemen's Association office at Batavia Downs and on-line at www.buffaloraceway.com They are also going to mailed out to those who have stabled at the Hamburg half-mile oval. Deadline for applications is December 12.   Jim Mango, Buffalo Raceway's Chief Operating Officer, said, "We are the game in town basically in January, February and March. We race in the winter for the horsemen."   The paddock and barn area are key selling points in the winter months at Buffalo Raceway. "We have the best stable area around. There aren't many out there like this. But if you stable here, we expect you to race here," Mango added.   He went on to say, "This is Tom Agosti's first full season as Race Secretary and he's a smart guy and he's going to put his talents in trying to get new stables here. But there's enormous competition for horses. We hope to pick up some new barns and might surprise a few. It's way to early to tell who might come in though but we know we'll get some good drivers coming in who are basically down during those months."   And while stall applications are going out, the renovation of the racing strip is now complete except for new drainage near the finish line that will be worked on over the next few weeks.   "There have been several horsemen who've seen it and loved it," Mango said of the track. "The turns are really noticeable...they are now more banked to give the relief of pressure on the horses going around the turns."   Pete Arrigenna spearheaded the track work and will be around all season to "help maintain the integrity of the track," Mango added.   Over 6,000 tons of new material have been laid down on the race surface and is "packed down". The $150,000 cost of the track renovations were split by Buffalo Raceway and the Western New York Harness Horsemen's Association.   But even though there's a new racing strip, Mother Nature is always lurking. "Our biggest problem during the winter is the snow," Mango stated. "It takes some skillful maneuvering of the grader to get the snow off the track."   The Buffalo Raceway early season schedule is always a crap shoot. But as Mango put it, "If the weather is good, it pays off. And if the weather isn't good, we'll things aren't so good."   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- "I think we had a good meet with some excellent racing," Buffalo Raceway's Chief Operating Officer Jim Mango said as he reflected back on the now completed 2014 season.   "I seen a lot of positives that have occurred here and I am encouraged about the 2015 season," Mango added.   The first eight weeks of the season, which started on January 8, were hampered by an unusually harsh winter locally and throughout the Northeast which forced postponements of seven cards. "Once the winter weather cleared and spring came, we did alright," Mango said.   Jon Cramer, Buffalo Raceway's Director of Operations said, "I think we've held our own compared to others. We've had another nice increase in our simulcast handle again. Our nightly pools were up 10 percent this year."   On the track, Kevin Cummings took his first driving title at Buffalo Raceway since 2008 with 171 victories, easily beating out Ron Beback Jr. who had 117.   Cummings finished with a UDR of .341 and earnings of $838,902. Cummings also won the crown in 2004, 2005 and 2008.   Beback Jr. finished with a UDR of .267 and $602,109 in purse earnings while Jack Flanigen rounded out the top three with 97 wins, a .277 UDR and $522,675 in winnings.   The all-time track record of 214 wins in a season set by Jim Morrill Jr. in 2006 will remain for another year.   A total of 59 different drivers made a trip to the winner's circle.   JD Perrin continues to be a model of consistency with his second straight training title. Perrin, who won in 2013 with 78 victories, put up 76 wins this year with a .372 UTR and $346,637 in purse earnings.   Ryan Swift took second place with 44 wins, having a UTR of .282 and bankrolled $208,673. John Mungillo completed the top three with 43 wins and $238,074 in purse earnings.   The track record for wins in a season by a trainer is still Sherri Holliday who conditioned 122 in 2011.   A total of 100 different trainers had at least two victories during the campaign.   The horses were definitely in high gear over th half-mile track at the Fairgrounds in Hamburg. There were a total of seven track records either broken or tied during the season.   Leading the record breakers were 3-year-old trotting colt Gural Hanover. He set his division mark and also took down the Buffalo Raceway all-aged trotting record when he covered the mile in 1:56.1 in the New York Sires Stakes on June 29th.   The 2-year-old colt trotting mark was re-established by Royal Deceptor who went 1:59.3 while 3-year-old filly trotter Glowngold got her name with the record book with a 1:59.0 time.   The all-aged filly and mare pacing record were set twice as Majic Laughter and Cased Solved each registered a 1:54.2 clocking. Sweetnsinful also produced a new standard in her division as the 3-year-old filly pacer won in a sizzling 1:54.1.   Ophiuchus N led the way in victories on the season with 12 during the meet and had the second most earnings with $47,026. Twilight Jack and Western each were victorious nine times on the pacing side.   The top trotters were Lutetium and Kely Jo Wiz as each put up eight wins.   But it was Lutetium who was nothing less than brilliant in winning the Open Trots. He was able to overcome the assigned outside posts time after time, going gate-to-wire to record the victories.   The top money earner among the local horses was Ugly Betty who took in $49,183 thanks to seven wins in 22 starts, Most of her income came in the Fillies and Mares Open Pace.   Buffalo Raceway's post time favorites scored a 43.62 rate.   Looking ahead to 2015, Mango said, "We'll be racing 92 days next season and we'll go three times week from January through May. We'll add the fourth racing day in June and July. The purse structure isn't set yet but I can tell you for sure it won't go down from the 2014 levels."   The main off-season upgrade will be the track itself. "Starting on October 20th, we will be having a major track renovation," Mango disclosed. "In cooperation with the Western New York Harness Horsemen's Association, we will be re-banking the turns, fix drainage issues, especially by the finish line, and putting down 5,000 tons of material. We are looking forward to that work being done. It's a major expense. Hopefully once this is done, it will take some of the pressure off that first turn."   Mango went on to say, "Tom Agosti will be back again in 2015 as Race Secretary. He did a great job in the month he was on the job and I look forward for him to be here the entire year and really put his mark on the race office."   The Niatross and Spring Break Claiming Series look to be back on the agenda for 2015. Mango stated, "The horsemen love it." Asked if the Claiming Series might expand to trotters, Mango quickly added, "That's up to Tommy and the racing office."   Cramer said of 2015 outlook, "We'll be sitting down and looking at promotions, what worked and didn't work. We will have the $5,000 Guaranteed Pick-4 coming back along with 'Back To The Track' and Father's Day events for sure."   Mango said in closing, "We are looking forward to 2015. We will be continuing to make some general improvements, nothing major besides the track. But we do continue to get a tremendous response from a lot of people, especially from the Sire Stakes people who've come in, how pleased they are with the backstretch and barn areas. They rave about it."   And if Mother Nature can cooperate just a little more in the early part of the next season, sunny days could be ahead for Buffalo Raceway as they embark on another year in 2015.   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway      

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- It was closing day at Buffalo Raceway Sunday afternoon (July 20) and the 2-year-old filly trotters in the New York Sire Stakes tried but couldn't beat their divisional track record of 2:00.2 held by Munis Blue Chip from 2009.   So while the standard still stands tall, there were some good efforts with the fastest times of the four $27,251 divisions going to Betcha and Barn Doll who covered the mile over the fast track in 2:01.2. The other winners were Cherry Crown Jewel (2:02.2) and Miss B'Ville J (2:02.0).   In the opening division, Cherry Crown Jewel inherited the lead after Counselor AS (Jeff Gregory) broke stride around the second turn and was never threatened the rest of the way.   "I really didn't want Jeff's horse (Counselor AS) to get the lead but when they broke, we got back on top and it was nice and easy then," winning driver/trainer Dan Daley said. "She's a nice filly and could do well in the Sire Stakes."   Cherry Crown Jewel ($11.40) was easily able to hold off the mild rally mounted by second place finisher Dancewithme Chuck (Charlie Norris), who finished 1-1/2 lengths back, while Stories To Tell (Chris Lems) trotted into third.   The winning time was 2:02.2 and it was the first win in three starts for Cherry Crown Jewel (RC Royalty-Nowerland Kristen).   Daley made it two straight in the Sire Stakes when he guided Betcha ($4.40) to an convincing 3/4 length triumph over Stirling Debutant (Rick Zeron) in 2:01.2 in the second leg. It was the second straight Sire Stakes win for Betcha.   It was a perfectly rated journey for Betcha (Cash Hall-Sienna) as she followed the live cover of Stirling Debutant and exploded three-wide through the stretch to score the victory by 3/4 expanding lengths in 2:01.2.   Daley said of Betcha, "We didn't think she'd be anything special but she keeps chugging along and wants to be a race horse."   Barn Doll (Gregory) was much the best in the third division as smartly trotted past Kaliska (Ray Schnittker) under little urging and posted the two length decision in 2:01.2. Zanna Blu (Gates Brunet) rolled into the show position.   "She's a very well-mannered filly," Gregory said of Barn Doll. "She's done everything they've asked of her. They (owners Purple Haze Stables and Steven and Nancy Pratt) are going to make a lot of money with her."   It was the third victory in four career starts for Barn Doll (Conway Hall-Headintheclouds) and increased her seasonal earnings to $36,357.   The final division saw Miss B'Ville J (Jim Morrill Jr.) use the 'lightning lane' and beat the front-stepping Northern Obession (Schnittker) by a neck in 2:02.   Northern Obession set the tempo with times of 30.3, 1:01.4 and 1:32.2 but had Miss B'Ville J ($4.70) breathing down her neck the entire mile. In the lane, Morrill Jr. dropped Miss B'Ville inside and she responded to post the neck victory.   Owned by KJ Stables and trained by Tracy Brainard, it was the first trip to the winner's circle in three tries for Miss B'Ville J (RC Royalty-South Jersey Angel).   In the $12,600 Excelsior Class A races, Define Royalty (Chris Lems) took the first division in 2:04 and returned $4.20. Barn Girl (Greogry) won the second leg in 2:02.1 and paid $4.60 while in the last leg, The Cuse pulled the surprise ($13.20) as John Stark Jr. sent the winner wire-to-wire in 2:03.2.   The $6,700 Excelsior B series race was won by Untangled Cash (Gregory) and took the victory in 2:05.1 and paid $4.10.   The live racing schedule is now completed for the 2014 season. Simulcasting will continue throughout the remainder of the year at Buffalo Raceway with live racing expected resume in January of 2015.   For simulcast schedule, race replays, results, upcoming promotions and the latest news, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway    

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- The season is almost over at Buffalo Raceway but one of the most exciting races of 2014 took pace in the featured $8,400 conditioned pace on Saturday night (July 19) with a pair of noses separating the top three finishers.   When the photo came up after the blanket finish, Little Man Cam (Jim McNeight) had a nostril in front of Peenie (Drew Monti) while What The Sheik (David McNeight III) was a nose back in third. Little Man Cam covered the mile in 1:57.4 over the good track and returned $17.80 for the win.   It was a classic stretch battle as Peenie tried to desperately hang on after setting the fractions of 28.4, 58.4 and 1:28.3. But Little Man Cam took the outside route and nailed Peenie at the wire while What The Sheik had to settle for a disappointing third after using the passing lane.   It was the third victory in 19 starts for Little Man Cam (Camotion-Rocket Time). The 8-year-old gelding is owned by Michael Ohol and Steven Gross and is trained by Courtney Ohol. The win upped Little Man Cam's seasonal earnings to $20,578 and $149,947 lifetime.   The season concludes on Sunday with a 1:05 p.m. post for the 11-race card. The New York Sire Stakes will close out 2014 campaign with the 2-year-old filly trotters taking to the track.   For more information including the simulcast schedule, race replays, results and the latest news, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway    

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- The 2014 Buffalo Raceway live racing season comes to an end on Sunday afternoon but the track will close with a bang as the New York State Sire Stakes for 2-year-old trotting fillies highlight the final card of the year.   There will be four $27,251 divisions of the Sire Stakes along a trio of $12,600 Excelsior A Series races and a $6,700 Excelsior B race in the 11-race program that is set for 1:05 p.m.   And while there be some talented filly trotters taking to the track, it's like a 'who's who' that will be driving them. Former Western New York regulars Jeff Gregory, Ray Schnittker, Jim Morrill Jr., John Stark Jr., Phil Fluet, Sam Schillaci and John Cummings Jr. all will be returning to Western New York for day. They'll be joined by others including Dan Daley, Chuck Connors Jr., Charlie Norris, Chris Lems, Gates Brunet, Jim Meittinis, Rick Zeron, Robert Shepherd, Jim Marohn Jr. and Tyler Raymer.   The Sire Stakes will be contested in the first, third, sixth and seventh races.   The first leg features Counsellor AS (Gregory) who has a 1-1/2 length win in the Excelsior A Series at Vernon Downs on June 26 in 2:00.1. Counsellor As (Conway Hall-Cordele AS) broke stride in her last appearance at Tioga Downs on July 11. She'll look to rebound starting from the three post as the 3-1 morning line choice.   Her main threat should come from 4-1 second choice Meshugana Miss (Crazed-Daring Marisa) who start from the four post. She has a pair of second place finishes in both of her pari-mutuel starts and will be handled by Connor Jr.   The second division has Betcha (Betcha-Ruccoucou) as the 3-1 choice with Daley in the bike. Betcha cruised to an easy two length decision in the $27,250 Sire Stakes at Tioga Downs in 1:59.4 on July 11. She may play 'catch-me-if-you can' from the four spot.   The toughest leg could be the third which will go as the sixth race. It finds My Twisted Sister (Lucky Chucky-Pretzel Hanover) and Barn Doll (Conway Hall-Headintheclouds) ready to battle it out.   My Twisted Sister (Morrill Jr.) showed plenty of heart in posting a neck victory in the $27,750 Sire Stakes at Tioga Downs in 2:00 on July 11. She'll get the inside post and should get a perfect trip.   Barn Doll drew a tough post, the seventh spot, but can overcome it after posting a pair of big victories of more than three lengths in her last two starts, including 1:59.1 decision at Tioga on July 11 in the Sire Stakes. Barn Doll gets Jeff Gregory as her pilot.   The final division has Spell That (Conway Hall-Mouche Hanover) the 3-1 early choice with Sam Schillaci in the sulky. She was last seen on June 26 at Vernon Downs where she suffered a narrow neck defeat in the Sire Stakes. She'll start out of the six post.   The main threat could come from Northern Obsession (Conway Hall-Northernpossession). This 2-year-old has a pair of competitive third place finishes in two Sire Stakes starts and gets trainer-driver Ray Schnittker on the reins. They'll score from the three post.   For more information including simulcast schedule, race replays, results and the latest news, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway      

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Jon Win got a softer task Friday night (July 18) in the featured $8,400 Trot at Buffalo Raceway and found things to his liking with a convincing 1-3/4 length victory over Serious George in a seasonal best 1:59.0 over the fast track.   After battling in Open competition the past four weeks with a pair of seconds and a third place finish, Jon Win ($6.60) took a step down and proved to be too much for his six rivals.   Watching a mad dash to the quarter pole between Keystone Bernard, Sack Full Of Gold and Four Starz Credit, Jon Win and driver David McNeight III just bidded their time. Going first over past the half, Jon Win took advantage of the hot fractions set on the front end of 29.0, 58.1 and 1:29.1 and just waited for the stretch.   In the drive to the wire, Jon Win was in perfect position and was much the best as he gobbled up ground and pulled away from the field, beating the late-closing but non-threatening Serious George (Jack Flanigen). The tiring Keystone Bernard (Kevin Cummings) held on for third.   Owned by Paul and Ron Viele and trained by Alex Giuliani, it was the fifth victory in 21 starts this season for Jon Win (Chip Chip Hooray-Melinda Hall). It increased his season earnings to $39,878 and $344,238 lifetime.   There are just two racing cards left on the 2014 season at Buffalo Raceway. The action continues on Saturday night with a 12-race card set for 6:40 p.m. while the finale will be Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m.   For more information including race replays, results, upcoming promotions and the latest news, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway    

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- It's been close but no cigar for V'La Faire in 2014.   But Wednesday night (July 16), she finally broke her camera shyness with a gutsy nose victory over Case Solved in the featured $10,500 Fillies and Mares Open Pace at Buffalo Raceway.   V'La Faire has been very competitive in her nine previous starts this year, finishing in the money six times, but couldn't break her way into the win column.   It looked like another heart-breaking night for V'La Faire as Case Solved set the pace with times of 28.4, 57.4 and 1:27.3. In the stretch, Case Solved (Ray Fisher Jr.) tried to hang on but a determined V'La Faire ($14.40) and driver Drew Monti showed plenty of heart and were able to get a nose in front at the wire in 1:56.1 over the fast track. The favored Ugly Betty (Jack Flanigen) finished in third.   Owned by the Oakhurst Farm and trained by Richard Tomaszewski, V'La Faire has now earned $18,020 this season and $204,436 lifetime. It was the 23rd career win in 102 lifetime starts for the 7-year-old mare.   The final week of racing continues on Friday night at Buffalo Raceway with an 11-race card set for 6:40 p.m. There's just three live programs remaining with the season wrapping up on Sunday afternoon.   For more information including race replays, results, upcoming promotions and the latest news, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway  

At this point many two-year-olds have a couple of starts in them, so it’s time to marry personal observations with wild speculation and project which ones will be stepping up to win the Cup, Jug and Hambletonion next year. This is by no means a definitive list of the best of the best; as a matter of fact I’m going out of my way to include some by off-brand stallions. That being said, here are a few early standouts. Artspeak is a Western ideal colt out of the Artsplace mare, The Art Museum. The Western Ideals have fallen on hard times at the sales of late, relatively speaking, but Brittany threw $100,000 at this guy, which matched the top price for any of his paternal brothers in North America. He has won both of his NJSS starts for Scott Zeron and trainer Tony Alagna, in dominant fashion. On Pace Day he came first over to win in 1:52.3 at odds of 3/5 at the Meadowlands. Western Ideal has given us the outstanding performers and game changing sires Rocknroll Hanover and American Ideal, as well as Always A Virgin and Big Jim. His 2013 crop moves on to the slugfest that is the PASS next year. Stacia Hanover, the winner of the $100,000 NJSS final for freshman pacing fillies, is also by Western Ideal. The $35,000 Harness Breeders purchase is trained by veteran Steve Elliott and, like Artspeak, driven by Scott Zeron. She has two other wins in the restricted class, aside from the high-dollar final which she won in 1:53.4 at odds of 3/5. Yankee Bounty is a two-year-old gelding by the enigmatic Artiscape stallion, Yankee Cruiser. His dam is the Allamerican Native mare Yankee Bootleg. This isn’t a combination that screams early speed. Yes, Yankee Cruiser did give is the current king of the pacing ranks, Sweet Lou, who held world records at two and three, as well as the rejuvenated speed demon Dancin Yankee, but for the most part this stallion was up against it in Pennsylvania. Yankee Bounty, a $21,000 Harness Breeders purchase, has won both of his starts in impressive fashion. He won splits of the Pennsylvania All Stars and the Albatross for Corey Callahan and trainer Kevin Lane. Yankee Cruiser stands his first year in Ohio in 2014. Bob Ben And John is one of the wave of impressive colts from the first crop of 2009 two-year-old division champ Sportswriter. Casie Coleman, who trained the son of Artsplace, and has been the leading cheerleader for his initial offering, plucked him from the Lexington sale for a modest $17,000. His dam is the Cambest mare, My Best Girl. This colt made his first pari-mutuel start last week in a $70,000 OSS-Gold leg at Mohawk. He was an easy winner by three in 1:53 at odds of 2/1 for Chris Christoforou. Sportswriter is absolutely killing it in the freshman pacing division of the Ontario Sire Stakes; he’s taking all the air; none of the others are on the same planet. SBSW shook the Pennsylvania program to its foundation with his first crop, but what’s happening with Sportswriter in his restricted program may be more dramatic. Shadow Play impressed us last year with his first crop, but he hasn’t gone on to be a factor in the open realm with his sophomores. We’ll wait and see if Sporty, a key player from the stressed Adios line, makes his presence felt outside of Ontario. Sassa Hanover is a filly from the first crop of Rock N Roll Heaven. Ron Burke bought her at Lexington for $50,000. Sassa’s dam, Sayo Hanover, is half to the very fast Shadyshark Hanover. Jim Morrill drover her to an easy two length win in a NYSS race at Monticello on the July 4. She won in 1:56.3 with plenty to spare. And two of her paternal sisters—She’s Heavenly and Band Of Angels—also won top dollar splits of the sire stakes that day. Heaven was held in high esteem at the sales, and thus far he is fulfilling his promise.   Dragon Eddy is a two-year-old gelding—aren’t they all—by Dragon Again, a stallion known more for throwing rugged long lasting types like Foiled Again, Atochia and Aracache Hanover than he is as a sire of early speed. My Little Dragon won her division at two, but she was an exception. Well, Eddy is something of an outlier himself. He brought $42,000 at Lexington, which is on the pricey side for Dragon Again, who now stands in Ohio. John Buttenschoen trains and Mike Simons drives. At the end of June Eddy won a split of the Pennsylvania All Starts in 1:54.3 at Pocono, and he went on to win a division of the Albatross in an eye opening 1:52.4 at odds of 2/5 at the Meadows on July 8. Mission Brief is a brown Muscle Hill filly who opened a lot of eyes when she took her $100,000 final of the NJSS by 13 lengths in 1:53.3 for Yanick Gingras and Ron Burke. This was an improvement on her previous start, where she only won by ten. Her dam Southwind Serena is by the great trotter Varenne. Mission Brief was a $150,000 Lexington purchase. Look out! The Bank is a Donato Hanover colt out of 2008 three-year-old division winner, Lantern Kronos. He won a split of the Pennsylvania All Stars for Jimmy Takter on July 4th and broke stride while leading on the last turn as the 1/9 favorite in a division of the Hickory Pride at The Meadows this week. Again, Takter drove. Uncle Lasse, a full brother to Shake It Cerry and Solvato, is another very promising Donato colt in the Takter Barn. He also won on July 4. Yesterday he was beaten in a quick 1:56.3 split of the Hickory Pride by the Cantab Hall colt Billy Flynn, driven to perfection by Brett Miller. Possess The Will and Your So Vain notwithstanding, Donato has pretty much been all filly no colt to this point. If this pair is turned over to Gingras or Pierce they could change that in a hurry. Honor And Serve, a Donato colt out of 2008 freshman division winner and world record holder Honorable Daughter, is another who might turn the tide. He just took a split of the Hickory Pride for Dave Palone and Jim Campbell. Royal Deceptor is one of numerous offspring of the New York stallion RC Royalty that sold at the Morrisville sale. The success of last year’s Hambletonion winner, Royalty For Life, inspired many to look favorably upon the eleven-year-old siring son of Credit Winner. Cheryl and Michael McGivern took this brown colt home for $11,000. Royal Deceptor won all three of his qualifiers, then went out and won a split of the NYSS in a track record 1:59.3 at Buffalo Raceway for Michael McGivern. Gatka is a big, rugged filly from the first crop of seven-year-old Hambletonion winner Muscle Massive, whose big brother Muscle Mass met with success in Ontario and has since been relocated to New York. Gatka is a sister to Ake Svanstedt’s Muscle Hill filly Heaven’s Door, who won the $100,000 NJSS sophomore final and finished second behind Shake It Cerry in the Del Miller. She won a division of the PA All Stars at The Meadows in 1:56 at 2/5 and last week she took a split of the Meadow Gladys with ease in 1:57.1 at 1/5.  Billy Flynn, a $120,000 Lexington purchase by Steffan Lind, is by Cantab Hall, arguably the best trotting stallion in North America. Another brown colt—there seems to be a run on them—he is out of the Enjoy Lavec mare Zeta Jones and was bred by Brittany farms. Billy took a split of the PA All Stars by six lengths in 1:57.2 at Pocono earlier this month and he beat the highly regarded Centurion ATM and Uncle Lasse in a division of the Hickory Pride. Brett Miller drives. Wild Honey is proving to be a $35,000 bargain for Jimmy Takter. The daughter of Cantab Hall was a close second to Gatka Hanover in that one’s first start and, like Gatka, won a split of the Meadow Gladys at The Meadows, for Yanick Gingras. by Joe FitzGerald, for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/

The Erie County Fair is right around the corner and to end July with a bang, the Agricultural & New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund, the Erie County Fair along with Buffalo Raceway are hosting the New York County Fair series on Wednesday July 16. The first post is at 1:05 pm on The Fairgrounds in Hamburg for the annual card. Twenty horses are expected to compete in seven races with over $20,000 in purse money up for grab. The County Fair Series is a non-pari-mutuel series designed for young horses that are building their skills. The races are held at 22 County Fairs throughout New York State, bringing the excitement to the backyards of thousands each summer. With no betting and free admission, the County Fair Series offers a family atmosphere for race fans of all ages. Live racing continues at Buffalo Raceway through Sunday, July 20. Post time is 5:00 pm Wednesday, 6:40 pm Friday and Saturday and 1:05 pm on Sunday. Simulcast wagering from across North America is available Wednesday through Sunday, year round. The Erie County Fair runs August 6 through August 17, 2014 on The Fairgrounds in Hamburg, NY featuring a mile long midway, over 2,500 animals, top name grandstand concerts and more. by Jon Cramer, for Buffalo Raceway

On Tuesday afternoon (July 15 ) Monticello Raceway will host 3 year old trotting colts and geldings in both the New York Sire Stakes and the Excelsior Series. Two NYSS events, along with five Excelsior's, will offer over $163,000 in purse money. The NYSS events mark the third of eight legs for the sophomore trotters at various New York racetracks en route to the $225,000 Final at Yonkers Raceway on September 13. Along the way the competing colts and geldings will earn points in each leg, depending on the placements, with the top eight point recipients earning a berth in the rich finale. Although the Excelsior's outnumber the NYSS, five to two, those competing in the sire stakes events, at least at this time, are the cream of the crop and each division will go for a purse of $59,100. Two of the Division A Excelsior's go for $12,600 purses while the three Division B trotters each race for $6600. The NYSS trots will go as races eight and 12 on Tuesday's 13-race card and both fields contain quality trotters. The first $59,100 split pits Gural Hanover, an altered son of Crazed-Givemearing, against Expressive Action, a Conway Hall-Yetta's Angel colt. Both young trotters have similar credentials with each having three wins, one second and one third in five starts. And both have won on big tracks in 1:54 and a piece although Expressive Action has already earned over $167,000 while Gural Hanover's current bankroll tops $75,000. However the latter has defeated the former in the two previous NYSS events at Saratoga Raceway and at Buffalo Raceway. The odds-maker sets a 4-5 morning line odds on Gural Hanover while Expressive Action has been rated at 2-1. Gural Hanover is owned by Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, Little E Stable and Panhellenic Stable and will start from the four- hole with Jimmy Morrill, Jr. at the controls. Meanwhile, Expressive Action, trained by John Grasso for the John Grasso Stable, Inc. will have his regular driver, Mike Simons, in the sulky when they start from post position two. Cash Me Out, with three consecutive victories-two in NYSS action-has been rated the 2-1 early line favorite in the second $59,100 division. His last, a 1:56.4 come-from-behind triumph over Expressive Action at Buffalo Raceway was a beaut. The Cash Hall-China Victory colt has four wins and three seconds in eight starts and over $88,000 in earnings. Owned by Traylor Racing, trained by Cheryl Mc Givern, Cash Me Out will start on the far outside from post six with Mickey McGivern at the lines. Flyhawk El Durado, the winner of last year's $225,000 2 year old colt and gelding final, will be the main competition in the six horse field. Trained by Mark Ford for Martin Scharf the Conway Hall-El Paso Gal colt has purses of over $77,000 and a best win time of 1:54.1 taken at Mohawk Racetrack in Canada. Mark MacDonald will be in the pilot's seat when the colt leaves from post four. The five Excelsior Stakes trots make a solid undercard on the Tuesday program. First post will be at 12:50pm. by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Mother Nature definitely was a major factor in Sunday afternoon's New York Sire Stakes for 2-year-old filly pacers but the heavy rains didn't stop Our Hot Majorette, Bin N Heaven and Bossers Joy from registering victories over the sloppy track.   Bin N Heaven posted the fastest time of the three $36,566 divisions with a 1:59.4 time. Our Hot Majorette and Bossers Joy each lit up the tote board in the other two legs. Mike Saftic managed to hang on at the wire to score a $23.60 win while Bossers Joy and Brent Holland took the final division and returned $80.00 for the victory.   The heavy rain made the track a sloppy mess but Bin N Heaven, entering her race a perfect 2-for-2 in qualifiers including 1:56.3 at Mohawk, found the wet going to her liking. Taking over the lead just before the three-quarter marker, Bin N Heaven (Rock N Roll Heaven-Binions) paced away from the field and beat Mosquito Blue Chip (Jim Morrill Jr.) by 2-1/4 lengths while Fan Mail (Mark MacDonald) finished in third.   "There we no problems at all," McNail said of Bin N Heaven's trip. "She was push button. She went when we needed to go. Those were great fractions considering the weather."   Owned by Frank Bellino and trained by Tony O-Sullivan, it was the first pari-mutuel win in Bin N Heaven's first start.   Our Hot Majorette (Art Major-She's So Hot) showed plenty of heart in the lane and took the opening leg with a head victory over Amertime (MacDonald) in what can only be described as a monsoon rainstorm. Ameritime cut the mile with 31., 1:03 and 1:34.3 but stop Our Hot Majorette in a ding-dong battle down the lane. The heavily-favored Sheeztoughenough (Morrill Jr.) took the show position.   "Wow," was the first comment of driver Mike Saftic when he returned to the winner's circle. "That was a great trip for her in here. I really couldn't see too much though. That was sure an adventurous trip."   Our Hot Majorette is owned Miller Farms and is trained by Eric Adams.   Bossers Joy (Art Major-Esther's Joy) enjoyed the frolic in the wet going and rallied for an impressive head victory over Crucial Moment (Jimmy Whittemore) in the final division. Mydelight Bluechip (Chris Lems) rounded out the top three.   Hitting the half-mile 11-1/4 lengths behind the leaders, Bossers Joy used a slow and steady journey on the outside to snatch the win, getting up in the shadow of the wire for the upset victory.   "She really whipped around the track," Holland said of the last half mile by Bossers Joy. "There were no issues. She raced well." Holland, who tripled on the card, added with a laugh, "We finally got the lead when we wanted it...at the wire."   Bossers Joy is owned by Francis Azur and is conditioned by Kevin McDermott.   In the $12,700 Excelsior A Series, Holland took two divisions with by steering Bugatti Beauty ($24.00) to a 2:03.2 decision and Jag Out ($3.00) to a 2:02.3 win. Hey Kobe ($6.50) won the other leg for driver John Plutino in 2:02.3.   The Excelsior B Series, worth $6,600, went to Delightful Plan ($4.80) with Jeff Gregory in the sulky. They covered the mile in 2:05.2.   The final week of racing for the 2014 season begins on Wednesday night with a 10-race card program set for 5 p.m.   For more information including the latest news, race replays, results and upcoming promotions, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway      

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Western Alumni had a pair of second place finishes the past two weeks in the $10,500 Open Pace at Buffalo Raceway but Saturday night (July 12) he got a chance to pose in the winner's circle once again after holding off Rock N Roll Legend by a half length in 1:55.1 over the fast track.   Driver Jim McNeight and Western Alumni played give-and-go with Big Unit to the opening quarter marker and managed to set the pace with times of 28.3, 58.0 and 1:26.4. Big Ears made a bobble around the clubhouse turn the final time and scattered the field somewhat, leaving the front-running Western Alumni to battle Big Unit (Drew Monti) and Rock N Roll Legend (Kevin Cummings) to duke it out the last quarter mile.   Through the stretch, a determined Western Alumni managed to hold the off the pair thanks to the urging of McNeight. Rock N Roll Legend finished in second with Big Unit taking the show spot.   Western Alumni (Western Hanover-Countryview Miss) is owned by North Creek Racing LLC and is trained by Jerry Nugent Jr. It was his fifth win in 20 starts in 2014 and upped the 6-year-old gelding's earnings to $43,260 and $185,379 lifetime.   Racing will continue on Sunday afternoon with a 1:05 p.m. post. It's 'Back To The Track' at Buffalo Raceway with free programs, t-shirts, sno-cones, cotton candy and pony rides. The New York Sire Stakes is also in town with the 2-year-old pacing fillies taking to the track.   For more information including race replays, results, upcoming promotions and the latest news, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J.Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway    

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- There's plenty to see and do at Buffalo Raceway Sunday afternoon (July 13) when the popular 'Back To The Track' promotion takes place along with a 13-race program featuring the New York Sire Stakes for the 2-year-old pacing fillies. The action gets underway at 1:05 p.m.   The 'Back To The Track' day, in conjunction with the United States Trotting Association and Buffalo Raceway, features harness racing bingo, free programs, sno-cones, cotton candy, pony rides and t-shirts. It's a great day of activities for those of all ages.   There will be plenty of action on the Hamburg half-mile oval as well with three $36,566 divisions of the New York Sire Stakes, slated as the second, fourth and sixth races, along with three $12,700 legs of the Excelsior Class A series.   The young ladies will be gunning for the divisional track record of 1:56.3 set by Silk Purse (2011) and Summertime Lea (2012). A total of six track marks have been either broken or tied at Buffalo Raceway this season so hang onto your hats.   The first division of the Sire Stakes features Sheeztoughenough (Art Dealer-Sheezadiamondealer) who'll score from the two post with Jim Morrill Jr. Installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite, Sheeztoughenough's last outing was a beauty with a 1:55 win at Mohawk in a $11,280 conditioned pace.   The main threat should come from Ameritime (American Ideal-L'Charm) who enters with two straight victories. She scored in a Excelsior A Class race with a 1:58 mark at Monticello and captured a fillies and mares maiden conditioned race at Tioga in 1:58. Mark MacDonald will get the call on the 7-2 second choice.   The remainder of the field includes My Little Delight (Jeff Gregory), Mo Molly Blue Chip (Kevin Cummings), Our Hot Majorette (Mike Saftic) and Heavens Legacy (Brent Holland).   The inside posts are the place to look in the second division as favorites will start from there. Mosquito Blue Chip gets the two hole for Morrill Jr. and is the 2-1 favorite. She comes to town after finishing a solid second at Monticello on July 4 in a $27,750 Sires Stakes race.   Lurking on the rail is Bin N Heaven (Rock N Roll Heaven-Binions) with Doug McNair in the bike. She was won both her qualifiers including a 1:56.3 at Mohawk Raceway back on June 29 and is the 3-1 second pick.   Others in the division include Amazing Phrasing (Jim Mettinis), Float On By (Saftic), Fan Mail (MacDonald) and Devil Child (Jimmy Whittemore).   The final leg has Neverhaditsogood (Art Major-Indulge Me) who finished second behind Bettor N Bettor in the Sire Stakes at Monticello on July 4. She finished 2-3/4 lengths back. McNair will be at the controls for Neverhaditsogood, who'll score from the four post.   The main threat could come from the rail-sitting Bullville Maggie with MacDonald set to go in the sulky. Bullville Maggie finished third in a $27,250 at Monticello on July 4 and was 6-1/2 lengths. She was straddled with the seven post, however, so the inside draw here could make a huge difference.   Also in the race as Mydelight Bluechip (Chirs Lems), Crucial Moment (Whittemore), Bachata Hanover (Morrill Jr.), Bussers Joy (Holland) and Yes You Can (Saftic).   After Sunday, it will be closing week at Buffalo Raceway with just four cards remaining. The racing schedule shows a 5 p.m. post on Wednesday while Friday and Saturdays will start at 6:40 p.m. Next Sunday is closing day with a 1:05 p.m. matinee slated.   For more information including upcoming promotions, race replays, results and the latest news, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- The Buffalo Raceway half-mile oval continues to be a perfect fit for Lutetium ($4.00) as he once again dominated the $10,500 Open Trot with a 3/4-length victory over BZ Glide Friday night (July 11) in 1:56.2 over the lightning fast track.   It's been an unbelievable stretch for Lutetium at Buffalo Raceway. He's now won seven straight races in Hamburg including six straight in Open competition. Lutetium has also been in front at every quarter-mile marker during that streak.   It was an expected showdown between Lutetium and BZ Glide and they did not disappoint.   Lutetium (Kevin Cummings) in his usual front-running style, took command of the lead and posted fractions of 28.4, 58.3 and 1:27.4.   At the three-quarter marker. the only one left in contention was the slightly-favored BZ Glide (Mike Caprio) as the remaining five trotters were waving the white flag. Lutetium had plenty left in the tank, thanks to a 28.3 final panel, as BZ Glide could only get within a non-threatening 3/4 lengths at the wire. Jon Win (David McNeight III) was a distant third.   The win was the 10th in 19 starts this year for Lutetium (Credit Winner-Luby), owned by Colleen Girdlestone and trained by Mark Laidlaw. It was also his 21st victory in 57 tries since the beginning of 2013, placing in the money 36 times in that span as well. Lutetium, a 7-year-old gelding, has now earned $56,790 in 2014 and $242,596 lifetime.   Racing continues on Saturday night at Buffalo Raceway with a 13-race card set for 6:40 p.m.   For more information including race replays, results, upcoming promotions and the latest news, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek for Buffalo Raceway    

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- The 'Back To The Track' promotion returns to Buffalo Raceway on Sunday afternoon (July 13) with a 1:05 p.m. post time. It's a way to bring long-time horse players and newcomers to the track for a fun-filled day of activities for all ages. The day will include the harness racing bingo game, free t-shirts, pony rides, sno-cones and cotton candy along with some great racing including the New York Sire Stakes Series for 2-year-old pacing fillies.A total of 13 races are scheduled. The man in charge of the 'Back To The Track' event at Buffalo Raceway is Director of Operations Jon Cramer. He said of the upcoming promotion, "This was an idea by the United States Trotting Association and we've been involved since its inception. They've taken the lead role in the promotion of it. They've also done a great job with it along with the guaranteed pool promotions such as the $5,000 Pick-4 we've had." And while the USTA has been involved in getting people back to the track on a national level, it's Cramer who is spearheading the Buffalo Raceway campaign to increase business at the Hamburg half-mile oval. "I'm committed to Western New York and harness racing here," Cramer said. "My family and I are all from here and I can't see myself leaving." But harness racing was the furthest thing on Cramer's mind when he graduated from Keuka College with a marketing degree. He said, "The only thing a knew about harness racing was that there were horses involved. I wasn't involved in the industry at all. When I was growing up as a kid, I wasn't thinking I wanted to work at a race track. It never crossed my mind. "I think I saw harness racing once before I got the job here," Cramer added. "I worked for the Erie County Fair full-time and as an intern. For marketing, it's a sprint with the fair because it's just 12 days long. In harness racing, it's a marathon." Cramer, who also got his feet wet in marketing at Walt Disney World, with the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Bisons, said, "When I took the job at Buffalo Raceway, I really didn't know the harness racing end at all." Chief Operating Officer of Buffalo Raceway Jim Mango said of getting Cramer, "Denny Lang (Chief Executive Officer of the Erie County Agricultural Society and Buffalo Raceway) told me about Jon when he was working on the Fairgrounds. Denny said Jon would be a good fit here on the racing side. I didn't know anything about Jon but we needed someone because we had long-time employees leaving back then. When we first met, Jon and I sat down and said this is what we have to do to succeed here." Well, it has become a perfect fit for Mango, Cramer and Buffalo Raceway. "Jon was a quick study. He picked up things quickly," Mango said. "His value has grown as I've gotten older." Cramer was the Marketing and Simulcasting Coordinator for five years and now has been in the role of Director of Operations for the past two seasons. "I am kind of like the jack of all trades at our track," Cramer said. "You have to be with a small staff like we have here. I've found the more you know, the better off you'll be. If I can't find the answer to a problem, I'll call in an expert." Mango said of Cramer, "Jon really knows a lot about marketing and simulcasting. He does everything I don't want to do and things I can't do," he added with a laugh. "He's in his 30's so he's a perfect fit for using social media," Mango continued on to say. "Social media is something that has long passed me by but Jon knows how to use it." The 34-year-old Cramer said, "I think social media is very important now. We are finding ways to keep the fans engaged with the track and the horsemen. It's the generation now. Using all the social media outlets is so important to keep everyone informed." Simulcasting continues to grow at Buffalo Raceway as the export signal is up 20 percent this season. Since the arrival of Cramer, Buffalo's export handle has grown from $7.1 in 2006 to what will exceed $14 million in 2014. "It was an area that I thought we were lacking in," Cramer said of the simulcasting numbers he saw at Buffalo Raceway when he first started. "I think we've made strides in getting into some key outlets. I attend the annual simulcast conference and put on my salesman's hat." What has also help drive up the export numbers was the new television graphics that the track added at the start of the 2013 season. "It made our simulcast product much better," Cramer said. "We added new cameras, new sound, new video presentations and graphics and improved lighting in the front stretch." Mango said, "I've think we have a pretty good relationship with our simulcast outlets now. We give some priorities to some like the time we race. I also think we've developed a pretty good relationship with TVG thanks to Jon and (former Buffalo Raceway announcer) Gabe Prewitt." Michael Carter, Buffalo Raceway's first year announcer said of Cramer, "Jon is very professional. He has great knowledge about the business side but equally cares about the harness racing side as well. I know he cares about the long-term stability of Buffalo Raceway. I also really appreciate him as well for taking a chance on me as an announcer." So for the guy who knew little about harness racing when he started, he is now completing his seventh season. "The fun part of my job is I learn something new every day. It's always a challenge. But we all have to continue to work together, the track and the horsemen," Cramer said. And with Cramer still learning, he's keeping all facets of Buffalo Raceway on the front burner. by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

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