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HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Taylor Rei absolutely enjoyed watching a pair of mares battle in a speed duel on the front and then reaped the benefits of their hard work to win the $10,500 Fillies and Mares Open Pace at Buffalo Raceway on Wednesday night (June 8) in a seasonal best time of 1:54.3 over the fast track.   Real Joy (Shawn McDonough) and the parked Ugly Betty (Jack Flanigen) tussled to the opening half mile, posting fractions of 28.0 and 56.2. Taylor Rei (Ray Fisher Jr.), who went three-wide down the backstretch, zoomed past the tiring pace-setters, hitting the three-quarter pole in 1:25.3.   In the stretch, Taylor Rei ($15.40) and Ray Fisher Jr. enjoyed the beautiful spring air in Western New York and never had to deal with any challengers, scoring a four length victory. V'La Faire (Drew Monti) finished in second while CS Kentucky (Kevin Cummings) took third place.   Taylor Rei (Cheyenne Rei-Lady Raider), owned by Jonathan Klee Racing and trained by Ryan Swift, has now registered five victories in 15 starts, producing $27,663 in earnings in 2014 and $106,065 lifetime.   The racing action resumes on Friday evening at Buffalo Raceway with a 12-race program scheduled at 6:40 p.m.   For more information including upcoming promotions, race replays, results and the latest news, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway    

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Barn Babe has won $338,167 in her first two seasons, but the start of her 4-year-old mare's campaign has begun slowly.   That changed on Sunday afternoon (June 8) as Barn Babe circled the field and cruised to a convincing 1-1/4 length decision over Haste in the conditioned $4,500 trot in 2:04.4 over the sloppy track at Buffalo Raceway. It was Barn Babe's first win of the season in seven starts.   Sitting sixth three-wide at the three-quarter marker, Barn Babe ($5.00) made a slight bobble but driver Shawn McDonough managed to get her back on stride and roared through the stretch to trot past Haste (Jim McNeight) and Accrual Girl (David McNeight III).   Owned by Steven and Nancy Pratt, Barn Babe now has 13 victories in 32 career starts and now has earned $340,417 lifetime.   David McNeight III and Jim McNeight each posted driving triples on the matinee card.   Racing will return on Wednesday evening with an 11-race card set to begin at 5 p.m.   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. --- Mystical Escapade showed she's starting to round into harness racing shape after capturing the $10,500 Open Trot at Buffalo Raceway Friday night (June 6).   Starting in just her third race since November 15, a stubborn Mystical Escapade went wire-to-wire and held off a fast-closing Heartsaregonnaroll by a diminishing neck in 1:59.2 for trainer/driver Shawn McDonough. Last season, Mystical Escapade had eight victories and nearly $90,000 in earnings. She had finished in fourth and fifth in Open competition in her first two starts of 2014.   Scoring from the inside post, Mystical Escapade ($7.50) put up fractions of 30.1, 1:00.0 and 1:29.1 and enjoyed a two length win at the three quarter pole. In the drive for the wire, Heartsaregonnaroll put in a valiant effort in the passing lane but came up a disappointing neck short. Fiorentina (Kevin Cummings) showed late trot and finished third.   It was the first victory of the season for Mystical Escapade (Valley Victor-Armbro Orbital). The 5-year-old mare is owned by Empowered Racing and now has earned $6,615 in 2014 and $156,318 lifetime.   It was also a memorable night for 33-year-old provisional driver Bradley Jackson as he steered Mister Briunski ($10.60) to a gate-to-wire win. It was the first pari-mutual victory in just eight career starts for Jackson.   Racing will continue on Saturday night with a 13-race slated to begin at 6:40 p.m.   For more information including upcoming promotions, race replays, results and the latest news, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

Hamburg, NY-- On a day where the 1 hole ruled the first 6 races Ryan's Caviar had a streak of his own. Ryan's Caviar entered Sunday with 4 straight victories all by half length or less, but today the 10-year-old SJ's Caviar gelding had a much tougher group to face. Getting a very good draw off the claim in the 4 hole, he showed that he could control the pace his own way. After Somedancer Hanover broke before the start, Bit O Lavec set the early pace. Ryan's Caviar (Shawn McDonough) dropped in behind the early pace as Ramblin Rick (Kevin Cummings) the Open horse was parked to the opening quarter mark. The quarter time was a little fast for the trotters in 28.4 over the fast track, but Ramblin Rick rolled up on the outside led to the half way point slowing down the fractions. At that point McDonough decided it was time to pull Ryan's Caviar to try to contend for the lead. By the time the field reached the three-quarter mile pole Ryan's Caviar was clear by two lengths as Ramblin Rick had stopped. Ryan's Caviar went on to win his fith straight race in a rated 2:00 4/5, Bit O Lavec (Dave McNeight III) was a game 2nd and Madimpulse Hanover came flying home to finish 3rd. In talking to Shawn McDonough after the race he said "He has been very sharp as of late is in a really nice class." He (McDonough) went on to say "this horse can take a ton of air and can come from anywhere." In other racing action at Buffalo Raceway one of the 3-year-old fillies scored her first victory since coming to Buffalo Raceway. Aroma (Artiscape-Cinnamon Reel-Cam Fella) scored very nicely in the 10th race for leading driver Kevin Cummings and Trainer Kirk Desmond. Aroma was bread in Maryland by Winbak Farm. By Michael Carter, for Buffalo Raceway

Hamburg, NY-- The rains came, the track was fast and still it did not bother Lutetium and driver Kevin Cummings at all. Lutetium (5.60 5.50 4.40) went right to the lead and never looked back once the gates opened. Driver Kevin Cummings had to do battle with Big Baller (Ron Beback Jr.) and Armed Dangerously around the opening turn but once they straightened away it was smooth sailing. Big Baller Tracked intently from in 2nd, but the times tonight were very quick considering the rain. When the field hit the half mile pole, Lutetium slowed down the pace to a 29.2 2nd panel after a blistering 28.4 opening quarter mark. They all looked to bunch up after that when Shawn McDonough and Mystical Escapade made the 1st move and Studio City (Jack Flanigen) followed. By the time they hit the three-quarter marker it was too late for either of them and Big Baller who was 2nd at the time as Lutetium had opened up by 5 lengths. Lutetium is owned by Colleen Girdlestone and trained by Mark Laidlaw. This is his 6th win of 2014, most of them coming over the Buffalo Raceway half mile track. Racing continues on Saturday night with a 13-race program with a first post of 6:40PM. We start racing on Sundays in June with a 1st post of 1:05 PM. For more information, results, race replays, and much more visit buffaloraceway.com By Michael Carter, for Buffalo Raceway

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- No respect. That's what Western Alumni has to be feeling the past two weeks in the $10,500 Open Pace at Buffalo Raceway. While his feelings may be hurt, the harness racing victories keep on coming.   For the second consecutive week, Western Alumni has proved the betting public wrong, this time registering a 1-1/2 length win over Salazar in 1:54.3 Saturday night (May 10).   Last Saturday, Western Alumni went gate-to-wire to win and return $10.00. This time, it was a first over brush that sent the 6-year-old gelding to a $14.20 victory.   Western Alumni was first over at the three-quarter marker and took over the lead midway around the final turn. Salazar (Ron Beback Jr.), who got shuffled in traffic just past the half, charged late in the lane to finish second as Western Alumni had more than enough in the tank to spring the upset once again. Sand Savage (Drew Monti) took the third place position.   The win was the second in 11 tries in 2014 for Western Alumni (Western Hanover-Countryview Miss). He is owned by North Creek Racing LLC and is trained by Jerry Nugent Jr. The win increased his winnings to $20,520 this season and $162,502 lifetime.   Jim McNeight drove Western Alumni to the victory. It started a streak of four straight wins for McNeight on the card.   While McNeight enjoyed a nice stretch, driver Shawn McDonough was even better as he finished the night with five winners.   Racing returns to Buffalo Raceway on Wednesday night with a 13-race program set to begin at 5 p.m.   For more information including race results, replays, upcoming promotions and the latest news, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway    

With Restless Yankee and MacKenzie's Bliss tussling early, Kelly Hope's Stonebridge Master ($5.10) had a fast pace to close into, looping the field in the final quarter mile for a 1:51.2 triumph in the featured $8,000 Miracle Mile 2 Pace at Vernon Downs on Saturday (April 12) evening.   The eight-year-old Artsplace gelding was in no hurry early on, sitting well off a pressured :26.4 first quarter, and even having a 12-length deficit at race's midpoint, where JK Panache (Truman Gale) pushed past Restless Yankee (Chris Lems) to force a :55.2 half mile. Midway around the far turn,   Aaron Byron angled Stonebridge Master off the pegs, and the Jordan Hope trainee's response was instant. Moving three-wide at the top of the stretch, Stonebridge Master gobbled up ground at will, taking over the lead in upper stretch, drawing clear to win by 3-1/4 lengths, and posting a solid :26.3 last quarter en route. Unicorn Hanover (Shawn McDonough) closed from far back to take second, while Moonlight Ransom (Jimmy Whittemore) rallied from last to finish third.   by James Witherite, for Vernon Downs

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Running Book is currently like a fine wine...he's getting better with age. The 10-year-old Running Book proved he's still got plenty left in the tank as he buried seven harness racing rivals in the $10,500 Open Pace at Buffalo Raceway Saturday night (March 8).   With driver Ronnie Wrenn Jr. in the sulky, Running Book ($4.30) blasted off the starting gate and never looked back in posting an impressive 6-1/4 length win over Naked News (Jim McNeight) in a seasonal-best of 1:54.4 over the fast track. Salazar (Shawn McDonough) picked up the show dough.   After a rather routine opening half mile of 58.0, Running Book and Wrenn Jr. bottomed out the field with a 56.4 last half. It proved more than enough as the pair looked around for oncoming competition in the stretch but found no takers.   Trained by Buffalo Raceway's leading conditioner JD Perrin, Running Book has now scored three wins in eight starts this season for owner Tessa Roland. He's earned $16,775 in 2014 and has 35 career victories and $652,825 lifetime winnings.   The racing action resumes at Buffalo Raceway on Wednesday night with a 12-race card slated to begin at 5 p.m.   For more information including the latest news, results, replays and upcoming promotions, go to www.buffaloraceway.com/   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway      

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Charles Stewart and his stable were looking for a place to settle down for the winter months with Hoosier Park closed during that time. His choice? Buffalo Raceway. It's a selection that has proved to be the right and a profitable one thus far. "I looked around and I thought the horses I had would fit very well into the conditions at Buffalo Raceway," Stewart said. "Hoosier Park is a 7/8-mile track but I have some horses with experience on a half-mile track like Buffalo so I figured it would be a good place to go. The purses are equal too, if not better, than at home (in Indiana). Remember driver Shawn Gray when he arrived from Maine a few years back? It took several weeks before harness racing fans locally began to sit up and take notice of Gray, North America's leading UDRS driver in 2011. A relative unknown in Western New York at first but winning races will make make you dig into his past credentials. The same could said about the 27-year-old Stewart. He's got a trainer's title under his belt already in Indiana and posted 365 career wins and $2.57 million in earnings through Sunday. An unknown in Western New York but now one to look for. As far as winning a trainer's title, "I don't really look at the awards but it's nice to have on the resume." He arrived in Western New York at Batavia Downs in mid-November and showed the move was the right one. At Batavia Downs, he started 31 horses with nine wins, five second place finishes and four shows for a 29 percent win average, a UTRS of .323 and $31,232 in earnings. When the racing switched to Buffalo Raceway, Stewart is a win behind current leader JD Perrin by one victory. Stewart, a trainer since 2006, had sent out 35 horses this far with 13 winners, seven second place finishers and three who took the show spot. That's a gaudy .511 UDRS and a 37 percent win average and $56,189 in earnings. Stewart has been helped by having Peter Wrenn come in and drive many of his horses."He's been driving probably 90 percent of my horses for the last four or five years. Pete told me just about everyone of my horses would fit in well here." Wrenn is benefiting from Stewart's success as he sits in second place in the driver's standings with 19 victories, 11 behind runaway leader Billy Dobson who has 30. But Wrenn isn't staying around all season like Stewart is. "He has a small stable he'll go back to in Indiana and I'll probably use Drew Monti and Shawn McDonough when Pete does leave. Drew and Shawn drove for me at Batavia." Stewart added, "I love the Buffalo Raceway paddock. It's head and shoulders above most others. The heated paddock is huge and it's really user-friendly. You need probably just two people to paddock probably five horses. It's a big plus." Right now, Stewart has 21 stabled at Buffalo Raceway and is always on the lookout for more. "I did get a horse from a local owner and would be willing to take on more." In the near future, he'll be losing five out of the barn with two going back to Indiana and three going to the Delaware Sales. About his stable, Stewart said, "I am set up for claimers. I seem to make more money with them...you get the money while you can." The frigid weather has made things a bit more difficult for Stewart but one the's handled as things came along. "You just don't keep them on the track as long and you try to keep them as healthy as possible. I went into the barn and there was three-to-four inches of ice in the water buckets so that takes some extra time to change that. And I've been warned to keep the horses' shoes sharpened keep them really corked." He added of his training routine, "I just blow them out and let them gallop. I think it's easier on their joints and you are using less equipment. I usually do one trip two or three days before a race." Will we ever see Stewart in the sulky during a race? Probably now. "I may only drive if a need to fix a problem with a horse, but otherwise, no." He then added with a laugh, "I am in this to make money and if I was driving I probably wouldn't make much...I'm not very good at it." As for the rest of the year, Stewart plans to stay at Buffalo until the end of the meet, journey back to Indiana, then come back for the 2015 meet at Buffalo. "That's the plan right now," he said. And Stewart goes by the motto many in the horse racing industry go by..."People don't like you when you are doing well and you are well liked when you aren't going well." It's not in a mean-spirited way though. It's almost like a superstitious routine. "I love that so I keep hoping people don't like me because that means I am doing well," he added jokingly. But thus far, Stewart and driver Wrenn have brought in some good horses that have made many people take notice of them and of Buffalo Raceway itself. by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway  

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Dont Say Goodby said 'hello' to the winner's circle once again after registering a three-quarters of a length victory over Stonebridge Rocket in the $10,500 Open Pace at a blustery Buffalo Raceway Saturday night (Jan. 25) in 1:59.1 over the good track.   The victory was the fourth straight in Open competition in Western New York for Dont Say Goodby ($3.30) since arriving from Indiana in late November.   The start was delayed by nearly 45 minutes after a power failure occurred during the stretch run of the seventh race. The wait didn't have any affect on Dont Say Goodby (Peter Wrenn) as he had plenty of energy in the passing lane to run down Stonebridge Rocket (Shawn McDonough).   Sand Summerfield (Dan Rawlings), who went on a brief break around the opening turn, regrouped and had the lead at one point, but had to settle for third place.   The win was the second in as many starts in 2014 for the 6-year-old Dont Say Goodby (Dontgetinmyway-Good By Albatross). It was his 15th career win and jacked his career earnings to $172,077.   Saturday night's card completed a stellar week in the handle department at Buffalo Raceway. The track took in well over $900,000 during the four-day race week.   Chief Operating Officer Jim Mango said, "We haven't seen a handle like this week in Western New York in over 10 years. There were three reasons for the big handles I believe. There were some cancellations during the week at other tracks, we have some good drivers here competing and we've had some well-balanced and wide open fields which leads to increased handles."   Buffalo Raceway will continue racing on Wednesday night with a 12-race program set to get underway at 5 p.m.   For more information including the latest news, promotions, race replays and statistics, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway  

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Since arriving in Western New York at the end of October, Artsy Princess has been knocking at the door for a victory with four second place finishes in her six local appearances.   But on a frigid Wednesday evening (Jan. 22) in the $10,500 Fillies and Mares Open Pace at Buffalo Raceway, Artsy Princess was no longer camera shy as she scored a half-length victory over You're Too Funny in 2:00.4 over the good track.   Driven by Shawn McDonough, Artsy Princess ($13.00) went three-wide down the home stretch and used a 29.1 final quarter to collar You're Too Funny (Jack Flanigen) while Ahlbback Yankee (Mike Micallef) held on for third place.   High Speed Life (Ray Fisher Jr.) had set the fractions of 30.4, 1:00.3 and 1:31 after starting from the outside but called it a night as the field turned for home.   Artsy Princess was helped out in the field of seven as Right On Ram and Red Star Fiona both broke stride before the mares hit the backstretch for the first time.   Owned by the Empowered Racing Stable and trained by Carl Smith, it was the 12th career victory for Artsy Princess (Western Hanover-Clouding Over) and moved the 6-year-old mare's career earnings to $251,749.   Racing will continue on Thursday night at 5 p.m. with a 10-race card on tap.   For more information including statistics, race replays, results and news, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway  

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Fiorentina ($7.00) fired out of the starting gate and never looked back in easily winning the $10,500 Open Trot at Buffalo Raceway in a sparkling 1:58.3 over the fast track on a brisk Friday night. With most of the field of eight coming in from other tracks, the stay-at-home Fiorentina (Aaron Byron) set sail from the four post and put up fractions of 30.3, 1:01 and 1:30. A 57.3 second half mile including a blistering 28.3 final panel spelled doom for the rest of the field. Zorgwijk Heavenly (Ray Fisher Jr.) rallied for second while even money favorite Ellisarro Hanover (Shawn McDonough) took third as both failed to come up with an answer to catch the winner in the stretch. Owned by Frank Lamacchia and Guy Polillo, Fiorentina (Angus Hall-Red Hot And Blue) is a 5-year-old mare trained by John Mungillo. It was her 15th victory of her career and moved her lifetime earnings to $134,325. Racing resumes on Saturday night with a 13-race program on tap beginning at 6:40 p.m. The feature is the eighth race where a field of seven will go to the post in the $10,500 Open Pace. Buffalo Raceway schedule shifts to Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights next week. by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway    

BATAVIA, NY --- Considering the magnitude of the highlights from the 2013 racing season, what exactly does Batavia Downs Gaming do for an encore in 2014?  Meet the challenge, says Todd Haight, Batavia Downs’ General Manager of Live Racing. But for now, in the wake of closing night 2013, they’ll savor the triumphs of the recently concluded live season at America’s oldest lighted harness track: ** The world’s richest pacer, Foiled Again, paid a visit on Oct. 5 and won the 11th annual Robert J. Kane Memorial Pace. Two weeks later, Foiled Again won the Breeders’ Crown Open Pace at Pocono Downs. This year’s Kane night handle was the largest since 2005. ** Export handle took another big jump. ** A state-of-the-art gaming floor opened in October. ** Five new track records were established while two others were tied. ** Shawn McDonough became the first provisional driver ever to win a track driving championship, and he did it in style, outdistancing Ray Fisher Jr. 103-88. The final total mutuel handle on Batavia races increased again, climbing by over $660,000, or 9% over last year. Export handle, coming off a 50 percent increase in 2012, was up another 19 percent this season, though the on-track handle dipped 15 percent. "We knew it was going to be a tough year on-track with construction of the new gaming floor taking place as our live season was starting,” Haight said. “In fact, we had two days in early October that we raced with no on-track wagering at all. The on-track numbers improved significantly once the gaming floor moved downstairs on October 4.” “So we’re extremely pleased that we continue to grow our export business and I'm confident we can turn around our on-track numbers next season.”      Haight noted that the ITW (Inter-Track Wagering facility) will be moving back to the racetrack before the live season gets underway, so the Downs will once again be able to conduct some of their most popular promotions that they weren't able to do this year. There were many highlights away from the betting windows, too: The Western New York harness racing community showed it is truly caring as $12,885 was raised for the “Stay Strong Anthony Coletta” fund in early December. Coletta was seriously injured in a racing mishap in mid-November at Harrah's Philadelphia, so Batavia Downs drivers, owners, trainers, staff and fans donated to help out the 31-year-old driver in his recovery. Of the new records, two were set by pacers. Xenia Hanover posted a 1:53 time to set the aged mares record and Barefoot Beauty went 1:54.4 to set the 2-year-old filly pacing mark, while 2-year-old colt sensation He's Watching went 1:54.2 to tie the record. Fireyourguns was named the Pacer of the Year. Mystical Escapade, the Batavia Downs' Trotter of the Year, set the aged mare mark with a 1:56.3, while Lutetium set the aged gelding mark with a 1:56.3. JS Trotting Bob, a 2-year-old colt, got his name into the record book with a 1:58.2 clocking and Bouncing Bax tied the 3-year-old filly trotting time with a 1:57.2. While McDonough won the driver’s title, Ron Beback Jr. was victorious 84 times and won the comeback award. John Mungillo, the Western New York Trainer of the Year, won his first Downs training title. He totaled 66 victories, nine more than J.D. Perrin. Carl Smith finished third with 37 wins. Extreme Balance, with driver Jack Flanigen, pulled one of the biggest upsets in Batavia history when he scored at odds 168-1. The Jim Graham trainee returned $338 to win. Post-time favorites won at a 40 percent clip. The 2014 racing season is tentatively scheduled to being on Wednesday, July 23, pending approval of the New York Gaming Commission. by Brian J. Mazurek, for Batavia Downs  

In harness racing, provisional drivers aren't supposed to get first call to drive the best horses on the grounds. Provisional drivers don't repeatedly drive horses to track records and absolutely under no circumstance do they ever win more often than their peers. But all of that changed Saturday at Batavia Downs where 23-year-old provisional driver Shawn McDonough concluded the meet at the Western New York track by becoming the first "P" driver in harness racing history to win a track's dash title. And in the end, it wasn't even close. McDonough took the lead atop the driver standings over the summer and entered the final week of the meet holding a 93 to 84 win advantage over the next closest driver, Ray Fisher. In the final three days of the meet, McDonough won three races Wednesday, another three on Friday, and for just good measure scored a grand slam on the meet's final night putting him over the 100 win mark. A strong Buffalo meet in the first half of the year that saw McDonough win 71 times from 591 starts gave the young driver a wave of momentum heading into the new meet at Batavia. There, a number of factors played a role in McDonough's record breaking success. McDonough said, "John Cummings left here and that opened spots up. A couple drivers got hurt (Ray Fisher and Jack Flanigen nearing the end of at Buffalo), and that opened up opportunities. I did well for a number of the trainers and they kept with me." McDonough credits the Empowered Racing Stable and Resilient Racing Stable as a large part of his success at Batavia. I was working for Empowered Racing Stable with Carl Smith and they put me on the right foot with some power to drive. My own owners, the Resilient Stable, they gave me a great opportunity to train horses and I've done well. In regards to Empowered, "You know, they have great horses and spend a lot of money on horses and bring them to these tracks. I broke the track trotting record this year with their mare Mystical Escapade," said McDonough. In addition to the smashing record setting performance by Mystical Escapade who would go onto be named Trotter of the Year at Batavia, McDonough also broke a track record with the pacing mare Xenia Hanover by virtue of a blowout eight length win in 1:53. Other horses of note from McDonough are Cactus Jack and Resilient Stable's millionaire trotter, Self Professed. McDonough said that his best of claim of the year was Debs Girloffortune. "I claimed her for $4,000 and she made almost $16,000 just at Batavia for me. I think she missed one check in about twenty starts." Even with the breakout success at Buffalo, it was hard for McDonough to envision just how much of that would carry over into the Batavia season. "Heading into the meet someone had asked me how many wins I'd get, and I thought maybe 75 or so. I can't explain it but for some reason every year I have better luck at Batavia than I do at Buffalo. Being a provisional driver I didn't know what the opportunities would be like, but a lot of my buddies are good trainers and they all helped to put me on the map pretty good." McDonough continued, "I never thought realistically I would hit the 100 mark; it was just a great year. I'm thankful for my owners, all my family and friends. I've got a good helper too with my girlfriend Ashley Holiday who helps out a lot. We've got a really great team here and everything clicked." In becoming the first provisional driver to ever win a track dash title, it does beg the question: Why is McDonough still a provisional driver in the first place? By the very definition of what a provisional license essentially is, it's almost inexplicable that McDonough remains under that classification. Ultimately, it is only the state appointed judges presiding at Buffalo/Batavia that can grant McDonough to a full "A" driver status. But despite the subjective nature at which that determination is made, McDonough has laughably outpaced what the standard minimum requirements are, pursuant to the United States Trotting Association 2014 Bylaws. There are a number of different ways that minimum requirements can be met, but generally speaking what's required while holding a 'P' license is one year driving experience, plus 25 satisfactory pari-mutuel starts and a win requirement of 5 wins. McDonough has held a 'P' license now for 4 years and in just this single year alone, he has won 174 times with earnings in excess of $900,000. Searching for an answer, McDonough said "I asked at the beginning of the Batavia meet why I can't yet have an 'A' license and didn't really get an answer, so I told myself that I'm going to have to go out there and try to win a title to show the judges. I'm not sure how it makes them look having a 'P' driver go out there and win a title, but you can't argue with them." He continued, "They're actually the ones that told me towards the end of the meet that I was going to be the first 'P' driver to win a dash title and break history, I didn't even know that." McDonough added, "I had an opportunity to go to the Meadowlands and drive for Empowered Racing. They asked me to go with them but I wasn't able to (because of the 'P' status). All I can do is be patient and keep it going. Just this year I've had close to 180 wins; I'm not dangerous and haven't caused any accidents - nothing." The next time we'll see McDonough in action is when Buffalo starts their new season on January 8. Until then, he's giving his horses time off for a little break. As for plans later down the road McDonough says "I'm just being patient. If I have a good year again maybe we'll look at trying Pocono. If I get a couple of my guys to go and get owners like Empowered and Resilient to move their stock we'll see what happens." In the meanwhile, McDonough will enter 2014 seeking his second consecutive track title in Western New York. Unheard of for a 'provisional' driver. by, Brett Sturman for The Racing Beard

BATAVIA, NY --- America's oldest lighted harness track, Batavia Downs Gaming, concluded its 67th season of live harness racing on Saturday night (Dec.7) with a 13-race program, billed as the Night of Distinction. Awards were presented in several categories by the President of Upstate NY Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association, Tim Bojarski. Also trackside was delegate Sam Pendolino. Closing night featured a must pay out Pick-6 contest that over 300 racing fans participated in. Steven Bennett of Rochester and Daniel Coughlin of nearby Oakfield, picked the most winners and took home $500 each. For the second consecutive week, Dont Say Goodby ($16.60) used a strong drive in the lane to rally from far back and capture the featured $8,500 Open Pace in 1:54.4 over the fast track. OK Braveheart (Ken Holliday) sent the fractions of 27.1, 56.2 and 1:25.3 but called it a night just past the three-quarter marker. But it was a wake-up call for Dont Say Goodby there as driver Drew Monti sent him four-wide around the final turn and was by far the strongest in the race to the wire. He finished a length in front of Unicorn Hanover (Jim McNeight) while JS Tango (Ray Fisher Jr.) finished in third. "He's a really good horse," Rising Star Award recipient Drew Monti said. You just have to point him, he was loaded (with pace) at the wire. Trained by Charles Stewart and owned by Derek Menchhofer, Dont Say Goodby has now won seven times and has earned $67,827 this season and $165,487 lifetime. The meets dash leading reinsman, Shawn McDonough, ended the Western New York racing season with a driving four-bagger. John Mungillo was the Downs top conditioner. Live racing is tentatively scheduled to resume at Batavia Downs on Wednesday, July 23, 2014, pending New York Gaming Commission approval. Effective Sunday, December 8, simulcasting wagering is offered on a daily basis. by Brian J. Mazurek, for Batavia Downs

Akron, NY--The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association has announced the award winners for top performing horsemen for 2013 as well as the Batavia Downs meet. Ray Fisher Jr. has been named the western New York driver of the year. 2013 was an enigma for Ray Fisher because a mid-year accident that could have just as easily killed him ultimately drove him to produce one of the best years of his career. On July 12 at the Buffalo Raceway meet he was the leading reinsman at; Fisher went down in a horrific accident involving half the field and suffered a fractured pelvis and two broken vertebrae. Despite the dire diagnosis, Fisher was seen at his barn the following morning and returned to driving only 20 days later. Without missing a beat, the 45 year-old Geauga, Ohio native righted the ship and went back on a driving tear that hasn't slowed up since. For the year, Fisher has scored 233 wins, 190 seconds and 182 thirds from 1,349 starts. His $1,198,955 in purses is a career best and his .296 UDR was his second best ever. Those numbers push his career totals to 3,537 wins and $14,183,533 in earnings. Fisher was the leading dash driver at the completed Buffalo meet and is currently second at Batavia with only two nights of racing left. The western New York trainer of the year is John Mungillo. To say that John Mungillo had a career year would be an understatement. His 775 starts, 154 wins and $675,746 in earnings were all lifetime bests for him by a good margin. And his .309 UTR was not far off his previous best effort. Those numbers bring his career stats to 731 wins and $2,820,586 in the bank. Mungillo will also be recognized as the trainer of the meet for the current Batavia Downs session. His 65 wins, 38 seconds and 37 thirds earned his owners $252,134 and solidified his spot as the top conditioner at the Genesee County oval. The Batavia Downs driver of the meet is Shawn McDonough. 23 year-old Shawn McDonough has accomplished quite a bit in 2013. Finding himself a commodity among trainers this year, he parlayed that in-demand status into some pretty impressive numbers. He found the winners circle at the Downs 94 times and has a legitimate shot to break the century mark by Saturday night. And checks amounting to $452,740 have been distributed to his respective owners as a result of his performances. For the year McDonough has 173 wins, 176 seconds and 193 thirds from 1,252 starts and has pocketed $896,204 in spoils. Those are all career-best totals by far. Shawn McDonough is a fourth-year provisional driver and is a rarity to be a "P" and a dash winning champion for a meet. Ray Fisher Jr., John Mungillo and Shawn McDonough will be presented their awards during the UNY-USHWA "Night of Distinction" this Saturday night (Dec. 7) in the winner's circle at Batavia Downs. Here is a complete list of award winners that will be honored: WNY Driver of the Year- Ray Fisher Jr. WNY Trainer of the Year- John Mungillo Batavia Downs Driver of the Meet- Shawn McDonough Batavia Downs Trainer of the Meet-John Mungillo WNY Comeback Driver of the Year-Ron Beback Jr. WNY Rising Star-Drew Monti Good Guy Award- Paul White WNY Horse of the Year- Naked News Batavia Downs Trotter of the Meet-Mystical Escapade Batavia Downs Pacer of the Meet- Fireyourguns   Tim Bojarski Hoof Beats Magazine Columnist United States Harness Writers Assn. National VP-USHWA President-Upstate NY Chapter  

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