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Alexa Skye came to Yonkers Raceway with four straight harness racing victories and left having made it five in-a-row, taking Thursday night's featured $30,000 Fillies and Mares Open Handicap Pace in impressive fashion. The 4-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere stopped the teletimer in 1:52 flat.   Driven by Todd McCarthy, Alexa Skye left quickly from post three and cleared Feelin Red Hot (George Brennan) for the lead prior to the 27 4/5 opening quarter. Alexa Skye, who was the 8-5 second choice, was well-rated to the half, posting that fraction in 56 3/5, and then picked up the tempo to 1:24 2/5 at three-quarters as New Zealand imports Seaswift Joy (Andrew McCarthy) and Bettors Heart (Jason Bartlett) began to advance first-up and second-over, respectively.   On the far turn Seaswift Joy was able to drop into the pocket as Feelin Red Hot retreated, leaving Bettors Heart to try and close in two-wide through the stretch drive. Alexa Skye would have none of that, though, as she finished strongly through the lane, widening late to prevail by 2 1/4 lengths. Bettors Heart, who was the 3-2 choice, was the runner-up, and Seaswift Joy held third over a rallying Siesta Beach (Scott Zeron).   Brett Pelling trains Alexa Skye for owners Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc. and John Lengacher. Prior to tonight, Alexa Skye won two overnight races at the Meadowlands in December, then slid over to Freehold Raceway where she went from last at the half to first at the wire in two editions of their Fillies and Mares Preferred Handicap on December 26 and January 1. Alexa Skye, who returned $5.50 to win, now has a record of 11-4-1 from 31 career tries, and she has earned $131,140. The Alexa Skye-Bettors Heart exacta paid $12.40 and the 3-5-4 trifecta kicked back $21.20.   In other wagering developments during the card, the $1 Pick 6 paid $1,572.20 for the combination of 8/2/3/5/3/3 and the 50-cent Pick 5 of 3/5/3/3/3 returned $324.25. Those two wagers, along with the Pick 4, feature a reduced takeout rate of 20 percent for 2021.   Live racing at Yonkers Raceway resumes Friday night at 7:15, and the schedule continues on a Monday-Friday basis throughout the year.   Yonkers Raceway

Monticello, NY – On Wednesday afternoon January 13, former 3 time Monticello Raceway Leading dash winning harness racing driver James Devaux scored a Grand Slam on the 10 race card.  Devaux scored in the first race with Six Bax (1:59.2 - $5.70) the son of Kadabra has now won 2 in a row.  Luigi Bizacko (1:59.4 - $7.40) earned a new lifetime mark in the effort for trainer Joe Skowyra for Devaux’s second win.  In the $8,900 Open Trot, James scored with Sweet Royalty (2:01 - $11.80) Sweet Royalty is trained and owned by Steven Ray of New Berlin, NY.  The final win of the afternoon was aboard Elite Five (PP8) 1:59.4 - $5.00, the 4-year-old mare by Always a Virgin is trained by Chris McCracken. Also on the card, Bruce Aldrich Jr. and Mike Merton each drove home 2 winners and trainer Robert Lounsbury had 2 winners hail from his stable.   By: Shawn Wiles

New Zealand harness racing import Let It Ride improved his record since coming to the United States to six-for-six with a 1:52.1 victory from post position eight in the $30,000 Open Handicap Pace on Monday night at Yonkers Raceway as the 2021 meet kicked off.   Let It Ride had regular pilot Dexter Dunn at the controls, and Dunn floated away from the outside draw, landing a seat in sixth in the first turn. Meanwhile, Bettor Memories (George Brennan) shot out to the lead from the pole position and cut the opening quarter in 27 seconds. Bettor Memories would continue to show the way to the 56.3 half-mile marker, but Hesa Kingslayer (Jim Marohn Jr.), another New Zealand-bred, went first-over from fifth just prior to that marker, giving Let It Ride cover to track.   Bettor Memories remained in the lead at the 1:24.3 three-quarters and was able to keep Hesa Kingslayer at bay around the far turn as well, but Dunn turned Let It Ride loose three-wide before they entered the stretch, and he would out-finish his competition while not asked by Dunn, winning by a comfortable length. Speed Man, a Kiwi transplant driven by Scott Zeron, slid out off the cones to follow Let It Ride after three-quarters and wound up closing for second at 99-1, while Hesa Kingslayer came in third, giving the race an all-New Zealand trifecta.     An 8-year-old gelding by Rock N Roll Heaven and out of the Bettor's Delight mare Love A Gamble, Let It Ride is trained by Nifty Norman for owner Enzed Racing Stable Inc. Let It Ride, who was a two-time Group 1 race winner in Australia in 2018, has a record of 24-6-8 from 60 career starts and has now earned $375,959. He paid $2.20 to win as the 1-9 favorite. The exacta with Speed Man kicked back $61.50, and the trifecta of 8-3-5 was worth $129.50.   On the wagering front, the first edition of the new $1 Pick 6 at Yonkers had a pool of $2,839, and the sequence of 1/1/2/1,2/8/5 returned $355.50. The 50-cent Pick 5 handled $13,964, and the winning combination of 2/1,2/8/5/1 paid $122.00. As a reminder, the takeout on the Pick 4’s, Pick 5’s, and Pick 6’s at Yonkers is now 20 percent.   Racing at Yonkers will resume on Tuesday night with first post at 7:15, and the track will continue on a Monday-Friday schedule throughout 2021.     Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, N.Y. – Australian import Let It Ride will make his Yonkers Raceway debut in the featured $30,000 open handicap pace on Opening Night (Jan. 11). The move to the Hilltop comes after the Rock N Roll Heaven gelding took a Meadowlands preferred/open handicap in such style as to garner praise like, “he really amazed me,” from harness racing trainer Nifty Norman. In that start Jan. 2, driver Dexter Dunn slotted Let It Ride into seventh after starting from post nine as Harambe Deo ripped an opening quarter in :26.1. Let It Ride followed the second-over cover of Rock Diamonds and drew within 4 lengths of the lead as Harambe Deo blitzed a :53.2 half-mile. Dunn tipped Let It Ride three-deep at the midway point of the final turn and the pacer rocketed into contention.  Under a tight hold, Let It Ride angled into the stretch on even-terms with Harambe Deo. Dunn took a glimpse over his right shoulder and saw rival Hesa Kingslayer, who followed Let It Ride third-over, still 2 lengths behind and under urging. Dunn gave a few whip taps and pulled the plugs at the furlong marker. Let It Ride didn’t let up, extending through the finish line to cap the mile with a :26.1 final quarter and stopping the clock in 1:48.1, just one-fifth of a second of Golden Receiver’s record January mile at the Meadowlands in 2012. “You just don’t see an 8-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven come from Down Under and do this sort of thing,” Norman said. “I was hoping he was a winners over type of horse. He’d been a classy old horse, but he hadn’t been very good for a couple years. He trained down good, he qualified good, every start has been good. But his last race was unbelievable. He just seems like he’s getting better all the time, too.” Bred in New Zealand, Let It Ride won his first four starts at the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club for trainer Tim Butt with Dunn in the sulky from Feb. 10, 2017 to March 31, 2017. Over the next year, Let It Ride went unplaced in four Group 1 races in his home country, but found better luck in Australia.  Let It Ride won six straight races at Tabcorp Park Menangle and Albion Park between May 26, 2018 and July 21, 2018, including a pair of Group 1 stakes in the AU$100,000 New South Wales Breeders Challenge Four-Year-Old Entires and Geldings Final, in which he paced the mile in 1:49.4, and the AU$200,540 Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship over 2,680 meters with Dunn driving.  After that Blacks A Fake win, which saw Let It Ride explode out of the pocket to win by 5 lengths, the brilliance seemed to fade. Let It Ride won just three of his next 27 starts through Sept. 26, 2020. Tim and Anthony Butt, longtime friends of Norman, thought the horse would benefit from Lasix and a deal was made to export the horse to the U.S. “Basically, I think putting him on Lasix turned him around,” Norman said. “We didn’t do a lot with him. His feet were a little sore, we changed his shoeing, put him on Lasix, and that was that. He’s such a good-winded horse. He must have a big set of lungs because he never seems to get tired. Nothing bothers him.” Let It Ride was cleared to the U.S. Oct. 5, 2020 and made an impression as soon as he arrived in Norman’s stable. Norman says Let It Ride is easy to be around, is a simple horse to train, and describes him as a gentleman. “He’s a grand looking horse. He’s a big, strong fellow. He’s got a great, big hind end on him and he’s in great shape,” Norman said. “He looks after himself really well. He’s got a good coat and always carries lots of weight. He’s a good-looking horse and good-natured, good to be around. He doesn’t do anything wrong. He’s a real nice horse.” Let It Ride was ready to qualify in short order and did so at Harrah’s Philadelphia Nov. 11, 2020 with assistant trainer Scott Petherick in the bike. Off a pocket trip, Let It Ride came home in :27.2 to post a 2-length win in 1:55.1. From there, Let It Ride ran up a five-race win streak culminating with that “amazing” Meadowlands win Jan. 2. Dunn drove in each pari-mutuel start. “Scotty qualified him and he said, ‘jeeze, this is the real deal. He’s strong as hell.’ Once we raced him a couple times – and we just raced him off the pace to see how he would be – Dexter came back and said, ‘this thing is a bull,’ ” Norman recalled. “I said, ‘it would be great if I could get him back to where he used to be.’ He said, ‘I think he’s there already. He feels better than he ever did when I drove him.’ I felt pretty good after he said that.” Let It Ride will start from an assigned post eight in his first start at Yonkers, which will also be his first race on a half-mile, or 800-meter, track. Let It Ride spent most of his time in Australia on the 1,400-meter oval at Tabcorp Park Menangle and got several starts over various tracks measuring approximately 1,000 meters.  Let It Ride got one start each over the 946-meter track at Cranbourne and the 931-meter track at Newcastle, which approximate the U.S. half-mile oval. In addition, Norman trains Let It Ride on the half. Norman opted to come to Yonkers before nominating Let It Ride to the Borgata Pacing Series, which closes Feb. 16, 2021. “We’ll see how he handles a half-mile track. I don’t think that will be a big challenge; I think he’ll get around it fine. We’ll just have to see how it goes,” Norman said. “I really wasn’t worried about what he drew, I just wanted to see how he’ll get around Yonkers. I don’t think he’ll be as well-suited to it, I think he’ll be better-suited to the big track, but I just wanted to see how he got around it before I pay him into the stakes races. “He’s a big horse, big hopple,” Norman continued. “He drives pretty good, but some horses just can’t find their speed on a half-mile track. But he seems to pace the turns really good wherever he goes. I don’t think he’ll have an issue.” With Dunn set to drive again, Let It Ride is the 8-5 morning line favorite. The competition includes Hesa Kingslayer, the Mike Deters trainee who finished second in this open handicap Dec. 12, 2020 and won a preferred handicap from post eight at Freehold Dec. 26, 2020 before finishing second to Let It Ride last out. Hesa Kingslayer and Jim Marohn, Jr. will start from post five and are 3-1 on the morning line. Ron Burke will send out Bettor Memories, who will start from the inside after scoring a 1:50.4 pocket-riding victory in the Meadows $16,200 open handicap Dec. 29, 2020. George Brennan will drive the 3-1 shot.  San Domino overcame post seven to score a 1:52.3, 4 1/2-length victory in this open handicap for trainer Deborah Daguet in his last start Dec. 12, 2020. He will start from post seven again tonight with Jason Bartlett set to drive.  Western Fame won two in a row in the local conditions in late November before getting parked the mile as the 7-5 favorite in his open debut for Shane Tritton. Jordan Stratton will look for a cleaner trip with the 8-year-old tonight. Tookadiveoffdipper and Raukapuka Ruler, third and fourth, respectively, in the invitational pace for Borgata Series eligibles Nov. 28, and Speed Man, 35-1 winner of this open Nov. 21, complete the lineup. Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday through Friday with a first post time of 7:15 p.m. For entries to the races, click here.   By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

Akron, NY --- As the 2020 Batavia Downs meet draws to a close on Saturday (Dec. 12), the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association has announced the top human and equine performers for this past harness racing season. These awards would normally be presented in the winner’s circle on the final night of racing during the annual UNY-USHWA Night of Distinction. However due to state restrictions with regard to the ongoing global pandemic, that will not be the case this year. The award winners will be given gift certificates in the paddock in lieu of the usual trackside ceremony because no one is allowed on the apron. This will be the first time the Night of Distinction has not been held since its inception in 2008. The following were the best on the track from the 2020 Batavia Downs season.   Driver of the Meet-Jim Morrill Jr. A two-time dash title winner at Batavia Downs already, Jim Morrill Jr. notched his third after winning 101 races, finishing 11 wins ahead of the second place Billy Davis Jr. who won this award last year. In 401 starts at Batavia Morrill also had 70 seconds and 51 thirds for a .391 UDR and winnings of $500,000 for the meet. Morrill, who scored his 7,500th career victory at the Downs this past November, currently sits 13th in North America for UDR among all drivers with 500 or more starts and his overall mark of .383 for the year is the highest he’s had since the 2016 season. Jim Morrill Jr                                --Paul White photo For all of 2020 Morrill has 742 starts, 180 wins, 133 seconds and 92 thirds and $1,267,773 in earnings.     Trainer of the Meet-Gerry Sarama Not only did Gerry Sarama register career training win 1,000 at Batavia this year, he also won 62 races, finishing 31 ahead of his nearest competitor to claim his first training title at the Downs. Sarama also had 34 seconds and 26 thirds during the meet with total earnings of $275,112. Gerry Sarama                       --Paul White photo Sarama has had one of his best overall years training in 2020 with 87 wins, 60 seconds and 55 thirds out of 426 starts while posting a UTR of .326 and earnings of $475,635. That UTR is the highest Sarama has had in 22 years as a conditioner. Sarama also trained two of the meet’s three equine award winners.   Pacer of the Meet-Black Is Back (Western Terror-Magic Moments) 1:52.1, $288,875 Black Is Back made 16 starts at the Downs and won six Open I Handicap paces while finishing second and third twice each, banking purses of $33,645 in the process. He registered his season’s best time on August 29 when he toured the facility at Batavia in a sharp 1:53.4.   This is the second consecutive year Black Is Back has been named Horse of the Meet at Batavia Downs. Black Is Back is owned by Curtis Edholm and Mihajlo Zdjelar Sr. and is trained by Mihajlo Zdjelar Jr.   Trotter of the Meet-Il Mago (Kadabra-Northern Style) 1:52.3, $899,763 Il Mago came to western New York through a private purchase back in July and won his first two races upon arrival. Since the Batavia meet began, he has been in the Open I Handicap trot every week and has dominated that class all meet. In 14 starts Il Mago has won seven, was second twice and third once more and earned $35,390 during that time. His best win time at the Downs was 1:56.4, a mark he hit twice during the meet. The classy 11-year-old has 55 lifetime wins and is currently just $237 short of $900,000 lifetime and has a legitimate chance to cross the $1 million dollar threshold before he retires. Il Mago is owned by Mike Torcello and trained by Gerry Sarama.   Claimer of the Meet-Sir Richie N Sir Richie N started the year racing at the Meadowlands and found his way to western New York through a private sale in January. Although he had moderate success earlier in the year, it was nothing like he would see when he got to Batavia. Sir Richie N raced in claimers ranging from $4,000 to $10,000 during his 18 starts and he won 10 of those along with three seconds. His fastest win came on October 3 when he paced the Genesee County oval in 1:55. His efforts earned him $30,630 in purses and a very strong following at the windows. Sir Richie N is owned by Mike Torcello and is trained by Gerry Sarama. Also, Batavia Downs has announced that the track will offer a guaranteed pool of $3,000 for the Pick-5 wager on Saturday (Dec. 12) with a mandatory payout as this is the final card of the meet. The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages are available courtesy of Trackmaster on the Batavia Downs and USTA websites or by clicking here.  The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, the closest combination(s) will be paid out on Saturday. Post time for the first race is 5 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, president, UNY-USHWA

Monticello, NY- She was the only woman in the race but that was of no concern to Marianna Monaco because she had no trouble defeating her seven male harness racing rivals in the $5000 NAADA Trot at Monticello Raceway on the cold and dreary afternoon of Thursday, December 10. . In an unusual beginning the front-end speed-ball Ladys Big Stormont came up empty and was third at the quarter in "29.1 as Tony Verruso gunned Exarch to the lead with Someway Same Hall and Tony Ciuffetelli following closely. Verruso kept the pedal to the metal and Exarch led by the half in 1:00 flat. Bob Davis was the first to move with Lucky June Bug and Monaco let him pass on the outside and then moved Stealing out to follow, second over. "I think that was the winning move for me by allowing Bob (Davis) to move first and then following him,'Monaco said. "And his horse (Lucky June Bug) was strong to the final turn." With Exarch still cutting the fractions he had command as the field headed for home. "I thought I was gonna be the winner but Marianna had her trotter in high gear on the far outside and he overtook us in the deep stretch," Verruso said. At the wire Stealing was a solid length winner over Exarch who was a nose better than Someday Some Hall in the 2:01.1 clocked mile. For Monaco it was her seventh winner this season Stealing is owned and trained by Darren Rybka, Jr Sent off at odds of over12-1 her charge, Stealing, paid $24.40; $14.00 and $5.00 across the board.   John Manzi

Batavia, NY --- Despite wintry conditions and a sloppy track, driver Ray Fisher Jr. was on top of his game and delivered five horses to the harness racing winner's circle at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Dec. 9) including three straight winners in races two through four for the natural hat trick. Fisher's top score was in the $10,200 Open I Handicap trot with CR Blazin Beauty, who bolted right to the front and called all the shots. With the two post time favorites making breaks before the quarter, CR Blazin Beauty went unchallenged through fractions of :28.2, :59 and 1:27.4 and then turned for home with a four-length lead. From there she trotted to the wire under wraps to win in 1:59.1. The victory pushed CR Blazin Beauty ($8.70) to $41,275 in earnings for the year for owner Marissa Russo. David Russo trains. Fisher also won with Lady Justice (2:02.4, $19.20) and Mr. Quaker (2:01.2, $6.90), both of whom are trained by his wife Ryan Swift, and Wonderful World (1:58.2, $5.00) and Awake My Soul (2:00.1, $2.50) who were both trained by Sabrina Shaw. Fisher wasn't the only hot driver on the cold night as Jim Morrill Jr. also had a grand slam on Wednesday. Morrill took the co-featured $10,200 Open I Handicap pace for fillies and mares with Blue Bell Bonnie who also went coast to coast. Blue Bell Bonnie tucked third off the gate but Morrill made an early power play pulling past the eighth to take the lead from Lady London (Ray Fisher Jr.) at the quarter. Once there, the pair led to the half in :58.1 and three-quarters in 1:27.1. Coming off the last turn Lady London pulled to take a shot at the leader but Blue Bell Bonnie would have none of that. She switched gears and paced away to an easy length win in 1:57.3. Blue Bell Bonnie It was the sixth win of the year for Blue Bell Bonnie ($4.30) who is owned by Mike Torcello and trained by Gerry Sarama. Morrill filled out his card winning with Le Millienaire (2:02.3, $5.40), Southern Palms (2:00.3, $4.10) and Simonthediamond (2:03.2, $5.40). Live racing at Batavia Downs will resume one more time in 2020 as the meet comes to a close on Saturday (Dec. 9) and the Downs has announced there will be a guaranteed pool of $3,000 for the Pick-5 wager that night. The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages will be available courtesy of Trackmaster on the Batavia Downs and USTA websites on Thursday (Dec. 10). Post time for the first race Saturday is 5 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY --- Driver Jim Morrill Jr., trainer Jim Clouser Jr. and owner William Emmons teamed up to win both harness racing feature paces at Batavia Downs on a snowy and sloppy Saturday night (Dec. 5). In the $8,500 Open I Handicap pace, McSpidey coasted behind Tullow N (Dave McNeight III) through quarters of :28.4, :58.4 and 1:27.2 before leaving the pocket off the last turn and outpacing him to the wire in a quick :28.4 last quarter to win by 3/4 of a length in 1:56.2. It was the third straight win for McSpidey ($3.20) and his first Open I victory at Batavia Downs this year. Then in the $7,500 Open II Handicap pace, Long Train Runnin left, took command and never looked back. After getting to the half in a tepid :58.2, Morrill hit the gas and opened up a three-length lead at three-quarters and extended it to five at the top of the stretch. From there he was wrapped up heading for home the easiest of winners in an identical time of 1:56.2.  It was the second win in the last three starts and sixth win of the year for Long Train Runnin ($2.50) who has only missed one check in his last 10 starts. Morrill also won two more races on the card giving him a Grand Slam for the evening. Morrill is the meet’s leading dash win driver, currently with 97 wins. Another Grand Slam winner was trainer Gerry Sarama who scored four with Big Pocket Teen 1:59.1, $89.50), (Beachy Dream (1:58, $3.90), Sir Richie N (1:58.1, $3.00) and Love The Dragon (1:58.1, $5.60). Sarama has 60 wins this meet to lead all other trainers by a minimum of 30 wins. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Dec. 9) and will kick off the final week of the meet. Wednesday will feature a guaranteed pool of $3,000 for the Pick-5 wager. The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages will be available courtesy of Trackmaster on the Batavia Downs and USTA websites on Monday. The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, any carryover pool will be moved to the Pick-5 wager on the Saturday (Dec. 12) program. Post time for the first race Wednesday is 5 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Yonkers, NY-- Two 7-horse fields of trotters went to post tonight (Dec. 3) at Yonkers Raceway in the North American Amateur Drivers Association harness racing series which was presented before the betting card got underway and when each event was declared official, a pair of Tony's emerged victorious; Tony Ciuffetelli won his split with Golden Kronos in 1:58.2 while Tony Verruso copped his division with Exarch in 1:59.2. Both horses used the front-end route to victory. In his split Ciuffetelli sent Golden Kronos to the lead from the two-hole and they got first call at the quarter in :29 while keeping Karets and driver Joe Lee on the limb. They were one-two by the half and remained in those positions until the three quarters where Karets began to fade. At that point Golden Kronos and Ciuffetelli scooted away to a three-length lead as they headed for home and at the wire Golden Kronos was an eased-up 1-1/2 length winner over Dw's Revenge who was driven by 17-year old Brett Beckwith.    Five lengths behind the winner If I Must rambled home third best for Paul Minore. In the other event hot-handed Tony Verruso notched his third victory in his last five starts when he gunned Exarch to the lead from the seven-hole. “I was told he could and leave like a runner and when the gate sprung I let him ramble and we were in front before the (first)turn,” Verruso said. “Once there it was little more than catch-me-if-you can.” They passed the first stanza in a swift :28.1 and they had two lengths on the field when they trotted by the half in :58.1 “Bob (Davis-with Lucky June Bug) was the first to move on us but my horse easily kept him at bay and in the stretch we opened daylight and finished a 2-1/2 length winner,” Verruso added. Lucky June Bug was second best while Jacks To Open took home the show dough for Nicole Dicostanza. The NAADA series continues next Thursday at Monticello Raceway   By John Manzi for NAADA

Monticello, NY – On Thursday afternoon at Monticello Raceway McGwire Sowers enjoyed a driving triple, it is the second time in a month that Sowers drove 3 harness racing winners on the afternoon. Sowers literally lit up the tote board with his first winner Terem Up Louie (PP4) , the 45-1 longshot scored in 1:59.4 and returned a healthy $87.00-win ticket for owner Tammy Sowers.  Sowers next trip to the winner’s circle was aboard the 3-year-old Hypnoticdream, the son of Hynotic Blue Chip scored a 4 length wire to wire win in 1:56.4 - $3.50. For Hypnoticdream is was his 3rd win of the season, he is owned by Mo Coo Inc of Merrick, NY. The driving triple came in race 6 with Our Regal Ideal N, the classy 9-year-old gelding romped in a 12 length victory for owner Clifford Grundy, time for the mile was 1:56.1 - $2.70. The 20-year-old McGwire Sowers seasonal driving win total is 70, ranking him in sixth place, right behind fellow Mainer Brandon Parker Jr. Bruce Aldrich Jr. leads the pack with 110 wins. While only 20 years old the reserved McGwire shows a great amount of poise and patience in the sulky, no doubt benefitting from the advice of his sage and father Bo Sowers. Bo Sowers also enjoyed a training triple on the card, the 3 wins upped his tall to 76 wins thus far for the season at the Mighty M, giving him a strangle hold on leading dash winning trainers. Gary Messenger is in second place with 55 winners. Michael Merton had a driving double on the afternoon.   By Shawn Wiles

Batavia, NY --- A field of Open trotters and Open filly and mare pacers went postward, each for $8,500 on Wednesday evening (Dec. 2) at Batavia Downs and two local harness racing favorites notched additional wins to their already impressive resumes. On the trot, Il Mago (Billy Davis Jr.) continued to dominate the diagonal-gaited gang after grabbing a quick lead and opening up a 2-1/2 length lead going to the quarter in :28.3. He then extended that lead to four lengths at the half and five at three-quarters. Turning for home, Il Mago was already wrapped-up and trotted unabated with 6-1/4 in hand stopping the clock in 1:56.4, which was only one-fifth of a second off his seasonal mark. It was the 55th career win, ninth win of the season and fourth win in a row for Il Mago ($4.60) who is owned by Mike Torcello and trained by Gerry Sarama. The top distaff pacers saw the return of HP Sissy (Jim McNeight Jr.) after a seven week sabbatical and “Sissy” came to play on Wednesday. After taking command right off the gate, she tripped the timer in :28.1, :58.4 and 1:27.1 before a credible threat presented itself in the name of Lady Dudette (Kyle Cummings), who got close to the leader heading into the last turn. But close would be as far as it went as HP Sissy turned for home and held sway to the line where she won by 1/2 length in 1:56.3. HP Sissy It was the seventh win of the year for HP Sissy ($6.50) and owner Finocchario’s Dream Stable. Jim McNeight trains the winner.   Bill Davis Jr. and Ray Fisher Jr. both had driving hat tricks on Wednesday while trainers Ryan Swift and Sabrina Shaw each registered two wins. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Dec. 5) with post time at 5 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY --- Batavia Downs has announced that it will be increasing all purses by 20% for the final week of harness racing of the 2020 meet. That would raise the top purse for all Opens from $8,500 to $10,200 all the way down to the bottom purse from $3,200 to $3,800. "It has been a very difficult season for everyone in this business and we are pleased to be raising the purses during the final days of racing to help the horsemen get a jump on their expenses heading into the downtime between meets." said Todd Haight, Director/General Manager of Live Racing. "Despite all the challenges this year, we have been able to complete our meet without interruption and that is do to everyone involved working safely and carrying out all our safety guidelines. Hopefully the increased purses will help make the holidays a little better for all." The final week of racing consists of Wednesday (Dec. 9) and Saturday (Dec. 12) with post time for both days at 5 p.m.   Guaranteed $3,000 Pick-5 pool Wednesday at Batavia Batavia, NY --- Batavia Downs has announced there will be a guaranteed pool of $3,000 for the Pick-5 wager on Wednesday (Dec. 2). The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages for races one through five are available courtesy of Trackmaster on the Batavia Downs and USTA websites or by clicking here. (https://www.trackmaster.com/freeContent/usta/freeContentFiles/hpl/btv1202x.pdf) The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, any carryover pool will be moved to the Pick-5 wager on the Saturday (Dec. 5) program. Post time for the first race Wednesday is 5 p.m.    By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY --- With no winner in the harness racing Pick-5 wager on Wednesday (Nov. 25) at Batavia Downs, there is a $2,392 carry-over that will move to Saturday (Nov.28) and there is a guaranteed pool of $7,500 for the Pick-5 wager that day.  The pool, which is the largest guarantee of the meet, is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages are available courtesy of Trackmaster on the USTA’s website or by clicking here. (https://legacy.trackmaster.com/usta/btv1128x.pdf) The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, any carryover pool will be moved to the Pick-5 wager on next Wednesday’s (Dec. 2) program.  Post time for the first race Saturday is 5 p.m.  Below is an analysis of the Pick-5 races by Batavia Down's resident handicapper, "Hot Picks".  Race 1: You may be able to escape by just using two horses, No. 4 Journeyman and No. 8 Rainbow Romance N. Billy Davis chose to drive Journeyman over No. 5 Gimme The Pacifics, a horse he has been driving, so I’ll let his choice do my handicapping. The horse has simply faced better, so you could get brave and single Journeyman, since Rainbow Romance has post 8 and hasn’t hit the board this year, despite being in top barns (Scott DiDomenico and Gerry Sarama).   Race 2: Up until this last race, newcomer No. 2 Random Task A may have been a single. He’s still a must- use since Torcello-Sarama-Morrill have teamed up countless times to win with this type of shipper. No. 5 Mateo steps up off a terrific mile and is a big closing threat, even though he does lose regular pilot Drew Monti. If you can spread, maybe include No. 3 Sure Please and No. 4 Raylan Givens.   Race 3: Three to use here, No. 4 Ideal Chance (the Cummings barn has continuously won with newcomers from The Meadows), No. 6 Xenia’s Chip and No. 7 Love The Dragon. Since the No. 3 Pure Image is an unknown factor, a big budget could include, even if the TrackMaster rating numbers say he’s a tick below. And No. 2 Calvery Hill was facing infinitely better in the summer but hasn’t raced in three months. If you’re brave, single No. 4, whose TrackMaster ratings are superior.   Race 4: A narrow budget can maybe survive with just No. 4 Kings Treasure (the speed) and No. 3 Terror O (the closer). No. 1 Jude Hall rarely wins (1-for-23) but he was victorious the last time he drew the cones (albeit in a lower class on Halloween).   Race 5: There’s nothing worse than being alive to the final leg and getting knocked out. It’s conceivable to foresee a few different scenarios on how this race will be run, so several could be in play to win. Thus, spread if you can. No. 1 Carlos Danger and No. 6 Bugatti getting Billy Davis are obvious must-use types, No. 4 Jimmy C R has speed and is dropping and No. 7 Big Pocket Teen has Jim Morrill Jr. but a bad post.   Tim Bojarski

Monticello, NY -  If Michael Merton looked at his horoscope today it would have told him that today was going to be a good day, as on the 10 race card Merton won 4 of them.  The harness racing quadruple began in race 2 from the 8 hole aboard Brutally Lucky who was just that, the 2 longest shots on the board finished 1-2 Brutally lucky paid $59.50 with the 65-1 Paradise Paintball finishing second, the 8-5 exacta returned $1,195 and the 8-5-3 Triple came back at $4,912. Fast forward to race 5, The New Americana (PP3) scored a wire to wire win in 1:57.4 - $6.00 to notch his 4th of the year. In the following race it was with Bliss And Luck (PP5) who used the catch me if you can tactic to win in 2:00 - $2.50. In the last race of the day Michael scored with Fox Valley Charliz in 1:56.1 - $4.60, the win gave trainer Andrew Adamczyk a training triple on the card. Young gun Brandon Parker also drove 2 winners on the day.   By: Shawn Wiles

Batavia, NY --- One came from behind and one led all the way, but both were the best in their harness racing class at Batavia Downs on Wednesday evening (Nov. 4). The $8,500 Open I Handicap trot was won by Lougazi (Ray Fisher Jr.) who got away a gapped fifth while Daylon Phantom (Dan Yetman) took an unchallenged lead to the half in :58.2. There, Before I Die (Jim McNeight Jr.) pulled first over with an advancing Lougazi on his tail. Positions remained the same up the backside and around the far turn until Lougazi tipped three-deep at the top of the stretch and the pocket-sitting Majestic Kat (Billy Davis Jr.) found room inside and shot through. Four pylons from the wire, Lougazi and Majestic Kat passed Daylon Phantom and then hit the line together in 1:58.4. After the photo, Lougazi got the nod and came back for his picture.   It was the fourth win of the year for Lougazi ($8.10) who made his first start in almost a month for owner Mary Warriner. Ryan Swift is the trainer. Then in the Open II pace for fillies and mares, Tellawoman (Jim Morrill Jr.) led every step of the mile, tripping the timers in :28.4, :58 and 1:26.3 before turning for home and hitting the line on top by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:55.4. It was the third straight win and fourth out of the last five for Tellawoman ($3.10) who is owned by Rose Campbell and trained by Russell Bratt. Tellawoman winning in 1:55.4 Ray Fisher Jr. led all drivers on Wednesday as he registered a hat trick. Also Jim Morrill Jr., Billy Davis Jr. and Drew Monti, who are currently the top three dash drivers of the meet in that order, all had two wins. On the conditioning side, 12 different trainers accounted for the night’s 12 winners. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Nov. 7) with post time at 1:15 p .m. The early start is due to the Breeders Cup races.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY --- Western New York racing legend and former Grand Circuit driving star Gerry Sarama reached another harness racing career milestone after getting his 1,000th training victory with Ohio Prince in the 12th race at Batavia Downs. Sarama has been around the sport his entire life as his father owned and raced horses. He started driving at an early age and quickly found himself at the top of the driver colony in western New York and won many driving titles at Batavia Downs. Sarama made a move to Roosevelt Raceway in the late 1970’s and successfully competed with the best in the nation on the biggest stage at the time, racing side by side with the likes of Carmine Abbatiello, Herve Filion, Billy Haughton and all the other great New York City reinsmen of that era. But he eventually found his way back to his roots and continued to be at the top of his game ever since. The one constant of Sarama’s career regardless of what track he was competing at, he was always a highly sought after catch driver.    During his driving career, the now 78-year-old Sarama amassed 2630 wins and bankrolled $11.5 million dollars. But he curtailed that activity in 2007 and turned his attention to training full time. Since doing so Sarama has found as much success in the jog cart as he did in the sulky. He currently oversees about 14 horses and since taking over conditioning duties full time, his stable has won in excess of $5.6 million. During his entire training career Sarama has made 6,153 starts with 1,000 wins, 931 seconds and 843 thirds giving him a .292 UTR. The entire staff at Batavia Downs as well as all our horsemen would like to congratulate “The man with the hands” Mr. Gerry Sarama on this accomplishment.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

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