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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---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---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

Batavia, NY---The steady rain that diminished track conditions couldn't dampen the performance put on by harness racing driver Jim Morrill Jr. on Wednesday night (Nov. 2) as the high-percentage reinsman turned away the weather, along with his competition, to visit the Purple Haze winner's circle six times during the evening. Victorious horses that Morrill piloted included Charmschooldropout ($3.70, 1:57.1), Release The Terror ($3.70, 1:57.3), Weapon To Win ($2.20, 1:59.1), Sunland Dakota ($7.50, 2:02.2), Iaquinta ($4.10, 1:57.1) and Safe Bet Hanover ($2.70, 2:00.2). Besides his six wins, Morrill also had three seconds and a third among his 10 drives and that gave him an eye-popping .800 UDR for the night. Morrill currently sits fourth in North America in UDR for 2016 with a .421. Overall for the year he has 334 wins, 233 seconds and 158 thirds from 1,227 drives. Morrill has also bankrolled $3.8 million in purses as a result. Morrill is also currently in first place among dash winning drivers at Batavia Downs with 82 wins. Drew Monti, who scored a driving triple on Wednesday, sits right behind him in second with 78 wins and Kevin Cummings remains in third place with 68 tallies. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Nov. 4) with a 6:15 p.m. post time. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY---Jim Morrill Jr. was on fire at Batavia Downs Saturday night (Oct. 22) as he won seven of the 13 races carded and vaulted himself into the dash driving lead for the harness racing meet. Morrill started early and was relentless as the night went on. He scored with Thunderbolt Jaxon ($4.80, 1:56.3), Outoftexas ($5.50, 1:55.3), Green Olives ($3.30, 1:56.2), Dodger Hanover ($2.80, 1:57.3), Littlebitaclass ($7.00, 1:54.2), Adversary Seelster ($3.50, 1:57.1) and Zipnthruthehall ($2.90, 1:57). The current record for wins on one card at Batavia Downs is eight, set by Jim Morrill Jr. in 2005 and matched by John Cummings Jr. in 2006. Beside his septuple successes, Morrill also had three seconds and a third among his 12 drives for the night and that added up to a .750 UDR for the evening. Morrill is currently ranked third in North America for UDR in 2016, sporting a gaudy .415 for the year. He has amassed 322 wins in 1,197 starts and earned $3,776,654 as a result to this point. The fifth win of the night for Morrill was with Littlebitaclass who won the $10,000 Open pacing feature. Claimed two weeks ago for $20,000 and victorious in each start since, Littlebitaclass left and out-legged China Dream (Shawn Gray) to the front shortly after they passed the quarter pole. From there, Morrill grabbed leather to settle the gelding until Knocking Around (Dave McNeight III) drew alongside approaching three-quarters. When they tripped the timer in 1:25.2 at that station, Knocking Around took a half-length lead and appeared to have gotten the best of the leader. But Littlebitaclass gallantly fought back and regained a neck advantage by the head of the stretch. But Knocking Around would not go away and was joined in the fray by China Dream, who had gotten the trip and came up the passing lane. Flanked by adversaries on both sides, Littlebitaclass dug in hard and refused to lose, hitting the wire first by a mere head in 1:54.2. It was the ninth win of the year for Littlebitaclass and it boosted his earnings to $52,201 for 2016. The 5-year-old gelded son of Santana Blue Chip is owned by Mike Torcello and trained by Gerry Sarama. Trainer Alex Giuliani sent three winners postward while fellow conditioners Gerry Sarama and Mihajlo Zdjelar Jr. each doubled up. As was previously mentioned, there is a new dash driving title leader at Batavia Downs in Jim Morrill Jr, who now tops everyone with 73 wins. Kevin Cummings, who was not in action Saturday, is tied for second with Drew Monti with 68 wins and Ray Fisher Jr. is a close fourth with 62. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Oct. 26) with post time at 6:15 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY---For the second week in a row, Kaitlyn Akeeper shown best in winning the $7,800 mares Open II/optional claiming harness racing feature at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Oct. 12). Rather than bolt for the lead as he had done over the last three weeks, Jim Morrill Jr. took Kaitlyn Akeeper off the gate and allowed Mondatta (Dave McNeight III) and Terrorcam (Wade Tomaszewski) to duke it out for the front. When they had finally settled, Morrill tipped Kaitlyn Akeeper early and took the lead from them before the three-eighths pole. From there the race was history. Kaitlyn Akeeper got to the half in :58.1 and three-quarters in 1:26.4, all the time with horses in two-rows behind her. With a gapped two-length lead going around the far turn, the win looked assured and the race would be for minor spoils. As they headed down the lane, Mayabelle (Kevin Cummings) shook loose from behind the fading Mondatta and made a run at the leader, but Kaitlyn Akeeper hung on to win in 1:55.4 by a diminishing two lengths. Mayabelle was second and Mondatta hung on for third. It was the seventh victory of the year for Kaitlyn Akeeper ($2.60) and it raised her purse total to $45,272 for owner Mike Torcello. The winner was trained by Gerry Sarama. Kaitlyn Akeeper was also claimed out of the race for $21,750 by Mark Jakubik. Jim Morrill Jr. scored a driving triple on Wednesday night while Kevin Cummings, Shawn Gray and Dave McNeight III all had two wins apiece. Trainer Dave McNeight Jr. also conditioned two winners on the card. Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Oct. 14) with post time at 6:15 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY---After dropping down from Open company and back into the harness racing claiming ranks, Kaitlyn Akeeper ($4.10) hung on to win the $7,800 mares pacing feature at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Oct. 5). Jim Morrill Jr. shot off the gate and put Kaitlyn Akeeper on the lead and set early fractions of :27.4 and :57. At the five-eighths pole, Mayabelle (Kevin Cummings) pulled first over and applied pressure on the outside for the rest of the race. The group moved to three-quarters in 1:26.4 before rounding the turn and pacing down the lane. With just a length separating them, Mayabelle was outside, Kaitlyn Akeeper in the middle and Missevil (Shawn Gray) was on the pylons after getting the two-hole trip. But Kaitlyn Akeeper toughed it out and won by a neck over Missevil in 1:55. Mayabelle finished third. It was the sixth win in 2016 for Kaitlyn Akeeper and the purse boosted her annual earnings to $41,372 for owner Mike Torcello. The 4-year-old American Ideal mare is trained by Gerry Sarama. Ray Fisher Jr. had a big night, winning four races on the card; three of which provided substantial payoffs. He scored with Chrome finish ($14.00, 2:00), Sobhon Hanover ($26.00, 1:59.1), Twin B Sportsman ($3.90, 1:55) and Artistic Topaz ($28.20, 1:57.2). Jim Morrill Jr. had a driving triple and Shawn Gray doubled up for the night. Trainers Gerry Sarama and John Mungillo also both sent two winners for pictures. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Oct. 7) with post time at 6:15 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY---An all-day rain left the track sloppy for the harness racing card at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Oct. 1), but some of the fastest times of the meet were recorded during the evening. None the least the one Highview Conall N registered while winning the $10,000 featured Open pace at the Genesee County oval. The red-hot Jim Morrill Jr. fired the New Zealand bred off the gate and to the lead as the rest of the field watched in single-file fashion. After fractions of :27.3 and :56.2, Highview Conall N and the second place Heaven Rocks (Kevin Cummings) had a two-horse breakaway in place as they opened up six-lengths on the rest of the field while motoring up the backside. As those two continued to compete alone, Knocking Around (Dave McNeight III) pulled from fourth and started to close the distance with the leader. Around the far turn, Highview Conall N was widening the gap between himself and Heaven Rocks as Knocking around was closing it from third. When they straightened out down the lane it was Highview Conall N pacing strong to the wire for a 1:53.2 win with Knocking Around closing well for second over Heaven Rocks. It was the eighth win of the year for Highview Conall N ($4.10) and it raised his annual income to $74,770. The 7-year-old son of Christian Cullen was a recent acquisition for owner/trainer Nick Gampietro Jr., who purchased him privately on September 26. For the second night in a row, John Cummings Jr. scored a driving grand slam. He returned to the Purple Haze winner's circle with Cheyenne Louie ($6.70, 1:54.4), Normandy Invasion ($2.70, 1:54.4), Youwillwishyouhad ($63.00, 1:55.1) and Bags of Money ($6.00, 1:57.4). Jim Morrill Jr. was a close second with a triple and Drew Monti came through with two. Trained JD Perrin also conditioned two winners on the night. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Oct. 5) with the first post set at 6:15 p.m.     Tim Bojarski

Batavia, NY --- Justgottogetthere was one of the best resident trotters in western New York last year, however 2016 has been a bit of a different story. But it was like old times for the harness racing gelding on Friday night (Sept.30) as he won the $10,500 Open trotting feature at Batavia Downs. Justgottogetthere (Jim Morrill Jr.) went right to the front at the start of the race and remained there until the end. While setting early panels of :28.2 and :58.4, the only challenge the leader got came from Snapshot Springs (Drew Monti) who pulled near the half and tried to engage the front. But the closest he could get was a half-length from second seated Noble Legend (Shawn Gray) who was tracking there the whole mile. After they hit three-quarters in 1:27.2, Justgottogetthere got busy and extended his lead around the far turn and just trotted away in the lane to win by three in 1:57.1. Noble Legend was second and Snapshot Springs finished third. It was the fourth win of the year and a seasonal mark for Justgottogetthere ($11.20), and the first trip to the winner's circle with him for new owner Mike Torcello, who privately purchased the son of Valley Victor on September 3rd. Gerry Sarama trains Justgottogetthere. In the co-featured $8,500 Open II trot, Serious George ($5.50) came early to press the front running Socialdelight (Ray Fisher Jr.) before running her down to win in 1:57.4. Serious George is owned by James Palladino and is trained by Richard Mays. John Cummings Jr. won four races Friday night. He had pictures taken with Gun Show ($4.00, 1:56.2), Hez a Buckeye ($5.60, 1:59), V I P ($9.20, 2:02) and Northern Matador ($13.20, 1:59). Shawn Gray and Jim Morrill Jr. both chimed in with two wins apiece. The Batavia Downs early Pick-5 which on Friday was part of the USTA Strategic Wager with a guaranteed $4,000 pool, recorded the track's largest handle ever by 50%. The 3-2-1-2-6 combination returned $202.00. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Oct. 1) with a guaranteed early Pick-5 pool of $1,500. Post time is 6:15 p.m.   Tim Bojarski

Batavia, NY---Horses trained by Tracy Brainard and driven by Jim Morrill Jr. have been tough to beat over the years and Saturday night (Sept. 10) at Batavia Downs was no exception. That dynamic harness racing duo swept both 3-year-old pacing filly divisions of the New York Sires Stakes and claimed the winner's share of $119,300 in purses. In the first $60,200 division, Milky Way Rae (American Ideal-Aurora Borealus) was used early and late before grinding out a victory down the lane. Milky Way Rae left for the lead but was pursued from the outside by American Ivy (Dan Daley) through a :27.3 quarter. By the three-eighths America Ivy had taken a seat third allowing the leader a breather and a :56 half. But before Milky Way Rae could get too comfortable, No Clouds Bluechip (Kevin Cummings) had pulled from fourth with Dime A Dance (Drew Monti) right behind her. As the trio paced by three-quarters in 1:25, No Clouds Bluechip stalled and Dime A Dance went three-wide around her in the last turn. Starting with a two-length deficit at the top of the stretch, Dime A Dance put on a ferocious drive and took it to the leader, but Milky Way Rae fended off the challenge to win by a nose in 1:54.4. "The race shaped up good for her because she likes to rock on the front" said Morrill. "I thought she could go in 1:52 tonight on this track but it didn't come to that." It was the fifth win of the year for Milky Way Rae ($13.20) and it boosted her 2016 earnings to $86,674 for owner Fortunate One LLC. The second $59,100 leg saw Wishy Washy Girl (Roll With Joe-Wish All you Want) trip-out for the win and give the Morrill/Brainard team their second winner's circle presentation. Wishy Washy Girl left and dropped in second behind Time On My Hands (Ray Fisher Jr.) who was rolling from the pylons. But despite the two being ahead of the field by a good ten lengths, Morrill pulled and tried to go to the front, cutting the quarter in :27. However Fisher would have none of that and he pushed his filly on and made Morrill see-saw his back into the hole. Between the half in :55.2 and three-quarters in 1:24.4, Art Critic (Drew Monti) pulled and drew alongside Wishy Washy Girl. At the same time, Fisher was highly animated in urging on the front-running Time On My Hands who was clearly running out of gas. This locked in Wishy Washy Girl who was raging with pace until the top of the lane. When the passing lane finally opened up, Morrill popped Wishy Washy Girl through the opening and sped to an instant two-length lead and won in 1:54.4. "She was good but she would have been a lot better if they went 1:22 to three-quarters" Morrill explained. "That's why I came out of the two-hole at the quarter, because when they go too slow she's tough to hold. She was crawling over that horse around the last turn; she was very good." The win gave Wishy Washy Girl three for the year and the purse enriched her bank account to $82,328 for owners Michael Cimaglio and Stephen Demeter. There were also two divisions of the $15,000 Excelsior A series on the card. Ghost Runner (Art Major-Spirit Of The West) was an easy wire to wire winner in 1:54.1 for Jim Morrill Jr. and trainer Erv Miller. Ghost runner ($2.30) is owned by Dr. Scott Leaf, Deborah Mackenzie, Gerald Fielding and Tom Jackson. The Morrill/Miller combo also took the second division with Rolling Going Gone (Roll With Joe-Long Gone) in 1:58, and once again wire to wire. Rolling Going Gone ($2.30) is owned by Ross Bonafield. Driver Jim Morrill Jr. ended the night winning five races.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY---He's diminutive in size but dominant on the track. Dayson ($2.20) came from off the pace and pulled away to a convincing victory in his division of the $119,300 New York Sire Stakes for harness racing 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Aug. 31). Off the wings, Allerage Echo (Chris Lems) and The Royal Harry (Oskar Florhed) both left and battled old-school to the quarter in :28 flat before The Royal Harry finally took the lead. Meanwhile Dayson (Jim Morrill Jr.) relaxed in third about eight lengths behind, waiting for the dust to settle. The field remained unchanged to the half but became more closely grouped, nose to tail. At the five-eighths pole, Morrill tipped Dayson and asked for more, and more is what he got. He eased past Allerage Echo and snuck up on The Royal Harry as they circled the final turn. When they hit the top of the stretch, Dayson found another gear and he pulled away on his own. Morrill had the whip tucked and the lines in his lap as they crossed the wire a four-length winner in 1:57.3. "He was very good; nice and strong. He got around the track perfect tonight and didn't do anything wrong" said winning driver Jim Morrill Jr. "I tipped him up the backside and was hand-wrapped to the wire." It was the eighth win in 12 starts this year for Dayson (Conway Hall-Nervey's Taurus) who now boasts $230,583 in 2016 earnings for owners Burke Racing Stables LLC, Our Horse Cents Stable, J&T Silva Stable LLC and Rossie Smith. In the other NYSS division, A Jersey Contract ($14.00) pulled the upset after a crafty drive by the Downs leading driver Kevin Cummings that gave him the home-field advantage. With the scratch of morning line favorite Smalltownthrowdown due to his participation in the $500,000 Yonkers Trot on Saturday, Sir Royson (Jim Marohn Jr.) became the favorite and went off at 1-1. However he also made a break before the gate opened and that immediately made the race interesting. Southern Palms (Jim Morrill Jr.) took full advantage off the gaffe and opened up a three-length lead over pocket-sitting A Jersey Contract going to the quarter. The field stood pat past the half when That's A Bad Boy (Tyler Freese) pulled first over with Drazzmatazz (Mark Macdonald) on his helmet. The top four were then grouped two-by-two at three-quarters in 1:28.4. Around the last turn, Drazzmatazz tipped three-wide around That's A Bad Boy trying to gain on the leader, but A Jersey Contract who had the perfect journey in second, shot up the pylons and collared Southern Palms by a neck in 1:57.4. The time was a new lifetime mark for the winner. "The race shaped up real well for us. We got a two-hole trip right to the wire and he had a lot of trot sitting in there" said his driver Kevin Cummings. "I knew when I got him in the passing lane he'd give me more." It was the third win this season for A Jersey Contract (Lucky Chucky-Giza Dream) and it pushed his yearly earnings to $88,574 for owners Tom Vassiliou and Nicholas Tallarico. A Jersey Contract is trained by Maureen Salino. There were also two divisions of the Excelsior A series on the card. The first division was won by Credevi (Credit Winner-Fleur De Vie) in 1:58, which was a new lifetime mark. Credevi ($2.30) was driven by Jim Morrill Jr. for owner Wanda Polisseni's Purple Haze Stable and trainer Trond Smedshammer. The second leg went to Royal Bachelor (RC Royalty-Becca J) in 1:57.4. Royal Bachelor is trained and driven by Dan Daley and is owned by Ann-Mari Daley, James Crawford IV and Michael White. The winner returned $9.00. Jim Morrill Jr. is the leading driver on the New York Sire Stake circuit and also the third leading UDR driver in North America and he showed why on Wednesday as he won five races; three in stake races and two overnighters. His victories included Credevie ($2.30), Dayson ($2.20), Thanks for Playin ($2.60), Terrorcam ($5.10) and Purple N gold ($5.10). Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Sept. 2) with post time set for 6:15 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Fad Finance shattered the track record for harness racing  three year old trotting fillies at Saratoga Casino Hotel on Friday night. Jim Morrill Jr. piloted the Trond Smedshammer-trained filly who was the race's 3-5 betting favorite in her division of the $89,950 New York Sire Stakes. Morrill moved Fad Finance out to the lead and despite being pressured almost every step of the way, the sophomore highstepper had enough left to secure her fifth victory of the year. Fad Finance stopped the timer in 1:54.1 crushing the previous track mark for sophomore fillies of 1:55.3 set by Barn Doll (Jeff Gregory) in NYSS action last year. Fad Finance had just enough to hold off the late charge by Goosebump Hanover (Stephane Bouchard) who had to settle for second despite trotting in 1:54.2. Swinging Royalty (Jason Bartlett) earned the show spot. Ake Svanstedt's Non Stick (Lucky Chucky) prevailed in the other $89,950 Sire Stake on the night as the filly overcame being parked out throughout the entire first half of the race before scoring in 1:56. For Non Stick, the win was the fifth in eight seasonal tries and the eleventh in fourteen lifetime starts. Just as Fad Finance was in the earlier NYSS race, Non Stick was her race's 3-5 betting favorite. New York Sire Stakes action returns to Saratoga on Wednesday night when two year old trotting fillies are featured. Live racing continues on Saturday night at the Spa with a 7:05pm first post. Mike Sardella

With just a week before the eliminations for the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, Broadway Donna and All The Time have emerged as the top contenders to capture one of the most treasured prizes in harness racing for 3-year-old fillies, but there is a lass in the Empire State that might very well travel to New Jersey to stake her claim to divisional honors. She is Fad Finance. “She is eligible to the Hambletonian Oaks,” said Trond Smedshammer, her conditioner. “But she would have to win the Zweig (this Sunday) impressively for me to think about entering her. Vernon Downs is a nice track and it looks like we will have nice weather for the race this weekend, so they should be able to go in 1:54 to win. She would need to trot in the area of 1:53 for me to send her there so it is up to her.” A daughter of Credit Winner and the Sierra Kosmos mare Armbro Vanity, Fad Finance was purchased for $60,000 at the 2014 Standardbred Horse Sale in Harrisburg by Purple Haze Stables, Marc Goldberg and Rojan Stables. The filly, who sports a career record of 14-7-3-1 and has quietly amassed $129,988 in purse money, will face eight rivals in the $140,000 Zweig Memorial Filly Trot at Vernon Downs on Sunday (July 24). Fad Finance will leave from post position two with Jim Morrill Jr. holding the lines. She is the 7-2 second selection on the morning line behind Julie Miller’s charge Womans Will (5-2) and will face stiff opposition from Paul Kelley’s Straight A Student (8-1), as well as Paul Reid’s Flowers N Songs (9-2), and George Ducharme’s Swinging Royalty (5-1). Fad Finance has won three of her six starts this year, with earnings of $83,038. She defeated 2015 New York Sire Stakes champion Non Stick in their $12,500 Empire Breeders Classic elimination on June 10 at Vernon Downs. Non Stick returned to dominate the $225.000 final the following week, but Fad Finance got the measure of her again on July 10 at Tioga Downs in a $40,600 New York Sire Stakes contest. Fad Finance followed that performance with a track-record-equaling 1:58.2 spin around Buffalo Raceway’s oval on July 17 in a $60,200 sire stakes split. It was a gritty effort, as the filly was locked in for most of the stretch and was able to put her nose down on the wire for her third win of the season. “I raced her in the Excelsior Series last year so she would learn some manners,” Smedshammer said. “She was on the line of being hot and I would try to keep her in the pocket to teach her some lessons. If you look at her lines you can see where she was on the front because she was aggressive and then would tire in the last quarter coming home. I think she is a better horse off the helmet and this year she is minding her manners. The only race we were not pleased with was the Empire Breeders Classic final (fifth). She was on the lead and went some fairly fast fractions before getting tired late. That’s when the other fillies passed her.” Despite Smedshammer’s admission that Fad Finance could be a bit headstrong, as many fillies can be, he was drawn to her because of his affiliation with her pedigree, which is excellent. This filly is a half-sister to Vanity Plates (Conway Hall, $164,878), who competed in the 2007 Matron final (sixth) and was eighth in that year’s eliminations for the Breeders Crown. Another half-sibling, Monkey Man (Glidemaster, $92,220) was talented enough to finish second to world champion Muscle Network in an $86,500 division of the International Stallion Stakes at The Red Mile in 2013 and was the runner-up to the very talented Rose Run Parker in a $45,250 division of the Madison County Stake at Hoosier Park 22 days later. “I trained her mother,” Smedshammer said. “I actually picked her out as a yearling and bought her, then sold her to her current owners. She had ability and was very well-mannered, unlike many Sierra Kosmos horses. Unfortunately she had some soundness issues, but I knew she had some foals that had done well. I think Chris Ryder did well with one of her first fillies (Vanity Plates) so when this one was available (Fad Finance) I was looking forward to the opportunity to train one of her foals. The pedigree on her female side is very good.” Although Armbro Vanity only earned $63,365 on the racetrack and her dam, Armbro Haughty, collected $375 in her racing career, these mares hail from the tremendous Armbro Flight. In fact, Armbro Haughty was that Canadian superstar’s final foal. That blood courses through Fad Finance’s veins and demonstrates she may just very well belong with the elite in her division as 2016 draws to a close. “We will see what happens with her,” Smedshammer said. “She is eligible to things outside of New York, such as the Breeders Crown, and if she shows us she can mind her manners, we will allow her the opportunity to take on those kinds of fillies. She has improved this year and we hope she will continue to improve.” Below is the field for the $140,000 Zweig Memorial Filly Trot, in post position order, with listed drivers and trainers. PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Line 1. Earn Your Wings-Jason Bartlett-Anette Lorentzon-8/1  2. Fad Finance-Jim Morrill Jr-Trond Smedshammer-7/2  3. Lindylicious-Chris Lems-Gilbert Garcia-Herrera-8/1  4. Straight A Student-Mark MacDonald-Paul Kelley-8/1  5. Open Access-Matt Kakaley-Robert Baggitt Jr.-6/1  6. Womans Will-Andy Miller-Julie Miller-5/2  7. Spicedbourbongirl-Jeff Gregory-Jeff Gregory-10/1  8. Flowers N Songs-Yannick Gingras-Paul Reid-9-2  9. Swinging Royalty-Tim Tetrick-George Ducharme-5/1 Earn Your Wings and Straight A Student will race as an ownership entry. by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor 

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Straight A Student ($3.10) and Fad Finance ($3.50) took their respective $60,200 divisions of the New York Sire Stakes and tied the Buffalo Raceway track record for 3-year-old filly trotters in doing so with times of 1:58.2 over the fast track on Sunday afternoon (July 17).   The clocking equaled the mark of 1:58.2 established in 2015 by High Rise.   In the opening leg, Straight A Student (Mark MacDonald) got a perfect trip and won the cavalry charge down the stretch to register a head victory over Lindylicious (Kevin Cummings). Goosebump Hanover (Jim Morrill Jr.) took the show position.   At the start, Straight A Student parked Goosebump Hanover to the quarter pole before finally relinquishing the lead. From there, Goosebump Hanover was in command until the top of the stretch when Straight A Student came charging down the passing lane and Lindylicious attacked from the outside.   It was a blanket finish with Straight A Student getting the head win over Lindylicious while Goosebump Hanover was just a neck back.   "I just wanted to make it around the first turn," MacDonald said in getting Straight A Student to the winner's circle. "I knew if I followed Goosebump Hanover around the track, I'd be where I wanted to be in the end."   Straight A Student (Credit Winner-Smarter Than Smart) as been playing second fiddle for much of the season as she has had five runner up finishes in her seven starts. "She's trotted some big miles this season and finally got the win," MacDonald added.   Trained by Paul Kelley, Straight A Student pushed her seasonal earnings to $71,885 and $93,675 lifetime.   In the second division, Fad Finance was ready to roll midway down the backstretch the final time but had to wait for racing room before rallying late to nip Monarchs Sequel (MacDonald) by a nose. Swinging Royalty (Chris Lems) secured the show position.   Fad Finance had nowhere to go heading to the three-quarter marker as the pace-setting Swinging Royalty and the first-over Monarchs Sequel had her boxed in along the pylons.   In the race for the wire, Fad Finance found some wiggle room and just got up in time to take the nose victory.   "I did all I could do to keep her in the two hole," Morrill Jr. said of Fad Finance's journey. "If I could have gotten her free down the backstretch, we probably would have won by five lengths."   Trained by Trond Smedshammer, it was the third victory of the year for Fad Finance (Credit Winner-Armbro Vanity). The win pushed her seasonal bankroll to $83,038 and $129,988 in her career.   Fruition ($5.10) was the fastest in the $15,000 Excelsior A Series with a 2:00.0 victory which gave MacDonald a double while Kevin Cummings drove Outside Court ($7.30) to a 2:00.4 win.   Shawn McDonough swept both of the $6,600 Excelsior B Series as he was aboard Catalina Cash ($6.60) and Barn Diva ($10.40). Catalina Cash covered the mile in 2:02.0 while Barn Diva toured the Buffalo Raceway half-mile oval in 2:03.1.   Morrill Jr. took top honors on the day in the bike as he posted five wins.   The final week of the 2016 season at Buffalo Raceway will start on Wednesday night at 5 p.m. with a 12-race card scheduled. The New York Sire Stakes will kick off closing week as the 2-year-old colt and gelding pacers will be in action.   For more information including the latest news, upcoming promotions, race replays and results, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Whosurpal was claimed two weeks ago for $15,000 by Tessa Roland and Thomas Mazzone and the 6-year-old gelding is sure making a great impression with his new connections.   After rolling to an 8-3/4 length victory last week in 1:53.3 in a $7,400 conditioned pace in his debut in the JD Perrin barn, Whosurpal stepped up in class and found the $10,000 Open Pace at Buffalo Raceway a breeze as well by coasting to an easy 2-1/4 length victory over China Dream in 1:54.4 on Saturday night (July 16).   Driven for the second straight week by Jim Morrill Jr., Whosurpal sat fourth behind the pace-setting He's Got It (Ron Beback Jr.) to the half in 57.1.   But down the backside the final time, Whosurpal was first over and brushed to the lead without any trouble, opening up a commanding six length advantage at the top of the lane. Midway through the stretch, Morrill Jr. throttled down Whosurpal and beat the non-threatening China Dream while Bad Fox (Lee Dahn) was third.   It was the third victory in 25 starts this season for Whosurpal (Whosurboy-Galyn Seelster), a winner of $31,112 this season and $115,308 lifetime.   Morrill Jr. finished the card with five victories while Todd Cummings had a double. Perrin had a training four-bagger and Roland had four trips to the winner's circle as an owner.   There's an 11-race card set for Sunday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. The New York Sire Stakes will be in town with the 3-year-old filly trotters to square off in a pair of $60,200 events. There will also be action in the Excelsior A and B Series.   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

YONKERS, NY, Monday, July 11, 2016-It was the second downstate go-round for the state's glamour division Monday night, with Yonkers Raceway hosting the $166,374 New York Sire Stakes Armand Palatucci Pace for 3-year-old colts and geldings. A pair of consecutive divisions, worth $82,437 and $83,937, respectively, comprised the event. Slight 2-1 favorite Roll Away Joe (Jim Morrill Jr., $6.30) had enough things go right for him in the opening division, which he won in a life-best 1:53. Starting outside his six rivals, he left into a chasmic three-hole as Stolen Glimpse (Matt Kakaley) was stung early by pole-sitting Autotune Hanover (Tyler Buter). A :26.2 opening quarter-mile gave way to a more sensible :55.3 intermission. Roll Away Joe was out and moving toward a 1:24.1 three-quarters, ducking inside when "Autotune" phoned it in. Stolen Glimpse held a tenuous, half-length lead into the lane, but was about to get swallowed up. Roll Away Joe slide inside, then whipped a second-over Craftship (Scott Zeron) by a length-and-a-half. Artmagic (George Brennan) was third, while Stolen Glimpse faded to fourth. "The fast early fractions helped, but at the finish he was so good that he wanted to go around again," Morrill said. For "Joe," a Roll With Joe gelding co-owned by Stephen Demeter, Howard Taylor and Thomas Lazzaro and trained by Tracy Brainard, it was his second win in 11 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $65, with the triple returning $228.50. Odds-on Missile J (Tim Tetrick, $2.10), surprised very few in the second sire stakes grouping, prevailing in 1:53.2. Looped leaving from post No. 4 by Fine Diamond (Kakaley), the people's preference made the lead before a :27.4 opening quarter, Subsequent fractions of 57-seconds flat and 1:25.2 gave Missile J a couple of lengths in and out of the final turn. Fine Diamond chased from the pocket, beaten a non-threatening three-quarters of a length. Ideal Son (Morrill Jr.) was a three-hole third. For Missile J, the Art Rooney Pace-winning American Ideal gelding, he's now 8-for-13 this season resume ($312,902). Linda Toscano trains the winner for co-owning stables KJ and Purple Haze. "He rated well and paced home really strong," Tetrick said. Sire stakes continue here Thursday night, with the $163,374 Michael Sorentino Trot (3-year-old colts and geldings). Friday night, it's the $167,974 Art Watson Pace (3-year-old fillies). by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

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