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

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

Batavia, NY---It was much like a walk in the park for visiting Mohawk Raceway harness racing regular Rockin In Heaven as he went gate to wire without issue in the $10,000 Open Handicap pace at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Aug. 26).   Driver Jim Morrill Jr. left decisively with Rockin In Heaven and gained a lead he would not relinquish. While touring the facility with the best view, he took his competitors to the half in :56.1 before getting it in gear in the second half.   With For A Bettor Time (Kevin Cummings) sitting behind him Rockin In Heaven was challenged by Believe This Bob (Drew Monti) moving to the three-quarters. But Morrill let him out a notch and posted a :27.4 third quarter to keep everyone in check. From there he swelled up and motored down the lane to a handy victory in 1:52.1, which was the fastest pacing mile of the 2017 meet.   It was the fourth win in 15 starts for Rockin In Heaven ($4.80) and it pushed his earnings for the year to $57,819. The 5-year-old son of Rock N Roll Heaven is owned by Dr. Ian Moore, Douglas Polley, Francois Lecomte and Gordon McComb. Dr. Moore trains Rockin In Heaven.   In the co-featured $9,000 Open II pace, Show Stopping (Kevin Cummings) pulled first-over at the five-eighths and paced stride for stride with the front-running Lucky McTrucky (Jim Morrill Jr.), eventually out-duelling him at the wire to win by a nose in 1:53.4, equalling his seasonal mark.   Show Stopping ($26.60) is owned by Resiliant Racing Stable and trained by Rose Russo.   The Downs leading driver Drew Monti had a grand slam on Saturday night while Jim Morrill Jr., Kevin Cummings and Ron Beback Jr. each had two wins apiece.   Batavia Downs had a very special guest visit the track on Saturday. 2012 Olympic women's pole vault gold medalist Jenn Suhr was in the clubhouse enjoying the races. Suhr, who is also a 15-time U.S. National champion and holder of several women's pole vaulting records, most recently won a gold medal in the 2016 World championships in Portland, Oregon.   Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Sunday (Aug. 27) at 1:15 p.m. The card features the the $107,000 New York Sires Stakes for 2-year-old Colts and geldings and also Family Fun Day and the "Dauschund Dash" wiener dog races.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

YONKERS, NY - Taco Tuesday, a 4-year-old gelding by Cantab Hall, will make his first start out of Rob and Patti Harmon's stable in the 1 1/4-mile, $68,000 Open Handicap Trot at Yonkers Raceway July 30. The change comes after Rob Harmon received an unexpected call from the trotter's owner, Vince Laurenzo, after Taco Tuesday galloped most of the mile in the Hambletonian Maturity July 15. "I got a phone call on Sunday the day after he raced at The Meadowlands from Vince. He wanted to know if I would take him and start training him. I told him that would be great," Harmon explained. "I never met him before. I still haven't met him, only talked to him on the phone. He has some good horses. He wants to race at Yonkers, so that was probably the big key there." Before coming to Harmon's stable, Taco Tuesday won 10 of 42 races and banked $290,937. Laurenzo bought Taco Tuesday out of the Harrisburg sale last fall for $90,000 and the trotter has switched stables several times since. Now, Harmon is happy to have Taco Tuesday settling into his barn. "He's a nice horse. You wouldn't even know he's in the barn. Clean legged, doesn't do one thing wrong. That's a good horse," he said. For Harmon, the process of getting an established older horse in the stable is a multi-step one. He examines blood work, watches replays, and gets a feel for the horse. Mainly, he aims to make the transition as easy as possible or the horse and tries to keep them on the same routine. "The first thing I always do, I always pull their blood. I want to see what they are, especially when they're racing good, I like to maintain the blood to where they are. Then I watch a video to see how he is," Harmon said. "This horse is pretty good, just wears an open bridle and he's pretty simple. The good thing about that is, to me it's easy to follow what they've been doing." Harmon's stable is in the midst of a strong year. He has sent out 42 winners from 252 starts at Yonkers with another 57 placing. His horses have earned $929,367 at the Hilltop Oval this ' season. "We're doing good. Every winter I always do pretty decent. Usually after April or May I start shifting horses to Tioga because they either get tired or they run out of their classes, but knock on wood, horses have been holding on and we're trying to stay there and race more," he said. Taco Tuesday is a 12-1 morning line in his debut for Harmon after qualifying in 1:52.4 at The Meadowlands July 22. He posted a final quarter in :27.4 and finished fourth behind Crazy Wow, Tuonoblu Rex, and JL Cruze. Jim Morrill, Jr. drove in the gelding's first move for Harmon and the trainer was happy. "Jimmy said he was really manageable, just went around there and he trotted 1:52.4," Harmon said. "It just seems like he gets a little hot behind the gate, but that's up to the drivers. And a lot of those guys already know the horse." Taco Tuesday's trouble behind the gate will be his biggest hurdle when he starts from post six in the Open Trot this Sunday. Taco Tuesday's biggest asset is his early speed and a first-tier post position helps that, but getting away cleanly is just as important. "It looks like he's best when he goes toward the front, but it's tough with him. You have to baby him off the gate because you don't want him to run, try to keep him calm. But that first step off the gate is what we need to get in front of those good horses, too," Harmon reasoned. Jordan Stratton will drive Taco Tuesday this Sunday. It will be Stratton's first time sitting behind the gelding since they paired up to win a 1-mile, $40,000 Preferred Handicap at Yonkers April 15. After the early scratch of Springbank Sam, 10 horses will challenge Taco Tuesday, including 2-1 morning line favorite and last week's Open Handicap Trot winner Homicide Hunter. "There's horses that are nice in there. No one looks like a throw out. We just need a lot of luck in the mile-and-a-quarter race, that's all." Post time at Yonkers Sunday is 11:30 a.m. For entries for the card, click here. by Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- It was the perfect recipe for harness racing success on Friday night (April 14) for The Bronx Bumper in Buffalo Raceway's featured $8,200 trot.   Drawing the pylons in a six-horse field and mixing in the services of driver Jim Morrill Jr., The Bronx Bumper ($3.10) made it look easy in posting a 2-1/4 length win over Kahoku in a seasonal-best 1:57.2 on the fast race track.   The Bronx Bumper and Kahoku were fortunate to head to lead early as the remainder of the field was scattered thanks to breaks by City Kid and Lucky Pablo. It became a two-horse breakaway as The Bronx Bumper, using fractions of 28.4, 58.1 and 1:28.0, brought Kahoku along in second.   In the stretch, The Bronx Bumper faced no challengers and was able to trot away from Kahoku (Ron Beback Jr.) and third place finisher Ali De Vie (Ray Fisher Jr.).   Owned by Michael Torcello and trained by Gerry Sarama, it was the sixth victory in 14 starts this season for the 8-year-old gelded The Bronx Bumper (Ken Warkentin-Carolina Hall). The win pushed his 2017 earnings to $30,284 and $183,889 lifetime.   Morrill Jr. and Larry Stalbaum each finished the evening with three victories while Kevin Cummings had a pair. Trainers Kirk Desmond and Sarama each doubled.   Racing will continue on Saturday night at 6 p.m. with a 12-race program scheduled. There is a $488 carryover in the Pick-5 which begins in the second race.   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. --- The Bronx Bumper was sent off at 1-to-5 odds on the tote board and he didn't disappoint on that proposition in easily taking down the field in the harness racing featured $8,200 trot at Buffalo Raceway on Friday night (March 24).   Drawing the rail and having the services of red-hot driver Jim Morrill Jr., The Bronx Bumper ($2.50) allowed Lucky Pablo and City Kid tussle for the lead before making a charge to take command just before the quarter pole.   Posting fractions of 30.0, 59.2 and 1:29.2, The Bronx Bumper enjoyed the fresh spring air down the stretch and easily cruised to the dialed down length victory over Lucky Pablo (Drew Monti) in a seasonal best 1:58.1 over the fast track. City Kid (Larry Stalbaum) held on for the show position.   Owned by Michael Torcello and trained by Gerry Sarama, The Bronx Bumper (Ken Warkentin-Carolina Hall) has now won five times in 11 appearances in 2017. The win pushed his seasonal earnings to $23,160 and $176,755 lifetime.   Monti finished the evening with three victories while Morrill Jr. and Stalbaum had doubles. Steven Weaver had two training wins.   Racing will continue on Saturday night at 6 p.m.with 11 races scheduled.   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

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  

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