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HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Im So Handsome (David McNeight III) had to battle to be the boss on the front end and then ended up winning the harness racing war in Buffalo Raceway's $11,000 Class AA-Open Handicap Pace on Saturday night (Feb. 22).   Getting parked for over a quarter mile, Im So Handsome ($11.80) finally got to the pylons and paced home in scoring the length victory over Beachy Dream (Kevin Cummings) in 1:55.0, the fastest of the 2020 meet thus far.   Hold The Gold, who finished in third, parked Im So Handsome through a quarter in :28.3. It was then 'catch me if you can' for Im So Handsome as went the half in a sizzling :56.3.   No one had the answer, however, as Im So Handsome stayed strong in the stretch to collect the win.   Owned and trained by Tessa Perrin, it was the second win in four starts this year for Im So Handsome (Hot Pans-Cheyenne Rose). The decision moved his seasonal earnings to $13,000 and $273,240 lifetime.   In the first of two $10,000 Class A paces, Southwind Onyx (Kyle Cummings) found the top to be the best spot for him with a 1-1/2 nod over the favored Weekend Atnannies in 1:57.1.   It was a three-way scrum at the start between Southwind Onyx, Weekend Atnannies and Utah Beach. When things finally sorted themselves out, Southwind Onyx ($10.60) set the fractions of :28.0, :57.2 and 1:27.2.   There were no problems in the stretch for Southwind Onyx as the 5-year-old gelding was able to turn back Weekend Atnannies (Renaldo Morales III) and Carlos Danger (Mike Baumeister).   Co-owned by trainer Tammy Cummings and Michael Blidy, it was the first win in four attempts in 2020 for Southwind Onyx (Bettor's Delight-It's Only Rocknroll). The win jumped him seasonal earnings to $8,700 and $88,61 lifetime.   In the second division, Lucky McTrucky (Ray Fisher Jr.) watched the pace-setting Burning Shore do all the dirty work then blew on by in the passing lane to register the neck win in the four-horse photo.   Burning Shore, who set the split of :29.3, :59.2 and 1:27.3, couldn't hold off the late charge of Lucky McTrucky ($21.40), Blue On Black (Shawn McDonough) and Don McWhite (Davis Jr.) who took the top three spots respectively.   Co-owned and trained by Perrin, Lucky McTrucky (McArdle-Truculent Lady) is an 11-year-old gelding who captured his first win of the campaign in three tries. The victory increased his earnings to $5,880 and $559,508 in his career.   Morales had a four bagger in the bike while Davis Jr. tripled and Denny Bucceri doubled. Maria Rice, Perrin and Angelo Nappo all posted a pair of training victories.   Racing will continue on Wednesday night with a 13-race program set for 5 p.m.   For more information including the latest news, race replays, results, entries, simulcast schedule and upcoming promotions, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Buffalo Raceway has instituted stage three of the three tiered harness racing 'whipping rule' that will go into effect on Wednesday, March 4, 2020.   First introduced in June of 2019 with minimum driving restrictions, the rule was expanded at the start of the 2020 season with drivers required to keep a line in each hand (except as may be necessary to adjust equipment) from the start of the race until the top of the stretch with both hands to stay in front of the body and not raised above the shoulder from the start of the race until the finish. Continuous whipping is prohibited.   Stage three will now require drivers to keep a line in each hand for the entire race.   "We are pleased with the positive reaction so far received from patrons, horse owners and trainers and the total support from the judges and the Western New York Harness Horsemen's Association," said Buffalo Raceway Racing Secretary Tom Agosti. "There have only been two track imposed suspensions to date for violations of the rule. Everyone seems to be on board."   Buffalo Raceway is on the grounds owned by the Erie County Agricultural Society which hosts many animal related events including the Erie County Fair in August.   "Our racing operation is in line with the Erie County Agricultural Society's mission statement that the welfare of all animals on the grounds is a top priority," said CEO Jessica Underberg. "We are going in the right direction."   Racing will resume at Buffalo Raceway on Saturday evening with a 13-race card set for 6 p.m.   For more information including the latest news, race replays, results, entries, simulcast schedule and upcoming promotions. go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Some hot fractions on the front end and a short  harness racing field helped spur the always closing Lougazi (Ray Fisher Jr.) to the victory in Buffalo Raceway's $13,000 Open Trot on Wednesday night (Feb. 19).   With a field of six, Lougazi ($4.80) was in perfect striking range throughout the main event and rolled onto the win late as he caught the pace-setting Rockefeller Lindy (David McNeight III) in 1:58.2 over the good track.   "It was a short field and I never thought they'd go to the half in :58.3," a surprised but pleased Fisher Jr. said after Lougazi's win. "I thought they might walk it to the half and then sprint home but it actually worked out the opposite."   Rockefeller Lindy put up stout fractions of :29.1, :58.4 and 1:28.2 which was perfect for Lougazi. Tipping three wide, Lougazi was flying and easily cruised past Rockfeller Lindy in notching a half length triumph in 1:58.2 while Daylon Phantom (Renaldo Morales III) captured third.   Owned by Mary Warriner and trained by Ryan Swift, it was the second victory in four attempts for the 6-year-old gelded Lougazi (Lou's Legacy-Winning Blade). The win increased Lougazi's yearly earnings to $17,810 and $216,293 in his career.   Bred For Greatness (Jim Morrill Jr.) has been nothing but great thus far in 2020 as he made it three straight victories in as many starts with a convincing two length win over Noble Legend in the $10,000 Class A Trot.   After settling into third off the starting gate, Bred For Greatness ($3.90) started the first over grind just before the half and finally caught the tempo-setting Noble Legend just past the three-quarter pole.   In the stretch, Bred For Greatness pulled away slowly but surely and enjoyed a two length advantage over Noble Legend (Billy Davis Jr.) in 2:00.0 while Catch The Bouquet (Jim McNeight Jr.) finished in third.   Co-owned by trainer Mike Ohol and Steven Gross, the 6-year-old gelded Bred For Greatness (Federal Flex-Wendy Woo) has produced $12,400 in earnings this season and $104,681 lifetime.   In the $10,000 Class A-B Handicap Pace for the filly and mares, Sarah Cola ($10.60) produced her second consecutive wire-to-wire win with a half length score over Jag Out in 1:58.4.   Taking off from the three post, Sarah Cola (McNeight III) stuffed an early lead attempt from Jag Out (Drew Monti) and that proved to be the right move.   Posting splits of :29.2, 1:00.1, and 1:29.3, Sarah Cola was never in serious trouble on the front end and held back a mild threat from Jag Out late while Machs Echo (Morrill Jr.) rounded out the top three.   Sara Cola (No Pan Intended-Saramotion) is an 8-year-old mare that is co-owned by trainer Jim Graham and Giuseppe Micchia. It was her second victory in four attempts this year, pushing her earnings to $11,428 and $173,709 in her career.   Morrill Jr. have a four-bagger in the sulky while Davis Jr. and Fisher Jr. doubled. Swift and Ohol each had training doubles.   Racing will continue at Buffalo Raceway on Saturday evening with a 13-race program set for 6 p.m.   For more information including the latest news, race replays, results, entries simulcast schedule and upcoming promotions, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway  

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Beachy Dream, after drawing the eight post in his first two starts of the 2020 campaign, finally got some luck in drawing the rail in Buffalo Raceway's featured $11,000 Class AA harness racing pace on Saturday night (Feb. 15). The change in fortunes turned into a 'dream' trip and a victory for Beachy Dream as he turned back Santana Beach.   It was a tussle to the top early as Santana Beach, Beachy Dream and Sir Machalot all made bids to control the fractions. When things sorted themselves out before the quarter pole, Santana Beach took command and set the fractions of :29.0, :58.2 and 1:27.4 over the sloppy track.   Sitting the pocket, winning driver Kevin Cummings tipped Beachy Dream ($3.00) to the outside and collared Santana Beach (David McNeight III) by a length in 1:55.4, equaling the fastest mile of the young meet. Catch The Wave (James McNeight Jr.) finished in third.   Owned by Mike Torcello and trained by Gerry Sarama, it was the first victory of the season for the 9-year-old gelded Beachy Dream (If I Can Dream-Beachy Girl). The win upped his seasonal earnings to $7,700 and $246,280 lifetime.   Iluvtomakemoeny (Ray Fisher Jr.) got the first over trip then held back a closing Myell's Rockstar (Renaldo Morales III) by a nose in 1:57.4 to take the first division of the $10,000 Class A sub-featured paces.   Sitting fourth, Iluvtomakemoney ($7.10) started his first over trip past the half and took command with a panel to pace. Myell's Rockstar took dead aim of Iluvtomakemoney late but ran out of real estate and lost in the tight photo. Southwind Onyx (Kyle Cummings) took the show position.   Co-owned by the Tenah Merah Farms and the Swift Racing Stable, the 5-year-old gelded Iluvtomakemoney (Well Said-Symphony In Motion) is trained by Ryan Swift. It was his first win in three tries this season and jumped his 2020 earnings to $6,200 and $184,831 lifetime.   Im So Handsome (McNeight III) posted a 57.1 back half and that made him a good looking winner in the second $10,000 Class A level.   Setting a solid :59.1 tempo the first half, Im So Handsome ($6.10) left the field in the dust with a 28.4 third split in posting the 2-1/2 length triumph over Blue On Black (Shawn McDonough) and Burning Shore (Kevin Cummings).   Owned and trained by Tessa Perrin, it was the first win in three starts this season for Im So Handsome (Hot Pans-Cheyenne Rose). The victory pushed his seasonal winnings to $7,500 and $267,740 in the 9-year-old gelding's career.   Racing will continue on Wednesday evening at 5 p.m. with a 13-race card scheduled. There's a $555 carryover in the Pick 5 starting in the second race.   For more information including the latest news, race replays, results, entries, simulcast schedule and upcoming promotions, go to www.buffaloraceway.com by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway  

When opportunity knocked, Drew Monti answered. It led to the best season of the 25-year-old driver's career. Monti was amid what he called a "pedestrian" campaign at his home track, Buffalo Raceway, when he was presented an opportunity to drive regularly at Plainridge Park. It gave Monti the chance to make new, as well as strengthen previous, connections and drive in an increased number of stakes. By the end of 2019, his purse earnings were a career-best $2.24 million. Prior to last year, Monti had driven in two races worth at least $100,000. In 2019, he drove in 11. He won a Massachusetts Sire Stakes championship with Odds On Orlando and competed in Grand Circuit events at multiple tracks. He did not arrive at Plainridge until early June, but with the notable backing of Lindy Farms, posted 89 wins the rest of the meet. Only Mitchell Cushing and Drew Campbell won more races during that time. Monti also enjoyed success at Red Mile, winning 13 of 75 starts (only Dexter Dunn won more among drivers with fewer than 130 starts at the Lexington oval) while still finishing third in the standings at Buffalo and fourth at Batavia. "It was definitely my best year so far, including exposure," Monti said. "It's nothing even compared to what I'd gone through. Even just going to Plainridge for Lindy Farms and stuff, I feel like I made some big strides as far as taking it to the next level. "It's a great circuit at home, but if you really want to be in the game and do well, you have to get out there. Lindy really got me going. They got me out there and the rest of it snowballed from there. I'm very grateful to them for that." Monti has kicked off this year by driving at The Meadowlands and Buffalo. It is his first trip back to the Big M since the winter of 2017. He has nine wins in 86 starts at The Meadowlands heading into this weekend's action, when he will have a total of 17 drives on Friday and Saturday. "I talked with people about coming down and I'm glad I did," Monti said. "I'm happy to be there. It's been going pretty well, I think. "It's hard to pick where you're going to go. You kind of go where you're needed. Obviously, you've got to have enough work to make it worth your while. Anyone can say they're going somewhere, but to actually compete and have enough work to make it worthwhile is the key." Monti, a Buffalo native, has won 1,532 races in his career with earnings of $9.50 million. In addition to driving, he helps his dad, Darrin, with the family's training stable. The family ties make for difficult decisions when it comes to traveling. "I don't think it's a secret, I love Buffalo," Monti said. "I'm not saying I would be opposed to moving anywhere, but I like the area I live in and I'm very close with my family. That was one thing that was difficult for me. You can't be everywhere all the time. You've got to make sacrifices. Sometimes it was with our own horses back home. I'd be watching our horses race and it was the first time I wasn't the one driving them. That said, I can see the rewards. "I'm very happy with the last couple years and the way things have progressed. I'd like to continue at that pace. I'm not one to really push things. I like to kind of let it come to me. (Early last year) I was a little bummed because I wasn't doing that great at home. I was winning races, but it was just very pedestrian. It's funny; it just shows you how things can change." Monti, who so far in his career has won two driving titles at Batavia and one at Buffalo, hopes to have a schedule similar to 2019 this year. "I'm planning on going back to Plainridge, I'm planning to be available for stakes, Grand Circuit, stuff like that," Monti said. "I'll still make appearances at Buffalo as much as I can. It's hard to say because things can change so quickly and unpredictably. It's hard to plan exactly what you're doing." Because you never know when opportunity will knock.  by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA   

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- After a couple of narrow losses in the $13,000 Open Trot level at Buffalo Raceway, a better post and a change of harness racing equipment proved to be the right remedy for Wilberforce ($3.10) on Wednesday night (Feb. 12)   With a pair of starts from the seven hole, Wilberforce drew the five post and went coast to coast in collecting a 2-3/4 length victory over Lougazi in 2:00.1 over the sloppy track. The margin of victory could have been more but Wilberforce drifted badly in the stretch but had enough in the tank to post the win.   "We put a Murphy blind on him and it did the opposite of what we wanted him to do," chuckled winning driver John Cummings Jr. of the wide journey down the stretch. "You look on paper and you can see he's a good animal."   Posting quarters of :29.4, 1:00.1 and 1:30.2, Wilberforce stepped on the gas the final panel to bottom out the field. Lougazi (Ray Fisher Jr.) finished a hard-charging second while Rockefeller Lindy (David McNeight III) and Daylong Phantom (Jim McNeight Jr.) finished in a dead heat for third.   Owned by trainer Kris Rickert and Dale Wareham, Wilberforce (Caviar Crown-Rose Run Imprint) is an 8-year-old gelding that has won three times in six attempts this season, earning $26,310. His career bankroll jumped to $312,682.   Buffalo Raceway's 2019 Trotter of the Year, Wheels A Turning ($3.40), went wire-to-wire in posting a solid two length victory over Empire Earl N in 2:01.2.   Zooming off the gate from the start, Wheels A Turning went right to the top for driver Aaron Byron and set splits of :30.1, 1:01.4 and 1:31.1. With a panel to trot, Wheels A Turning stayed strong and never looked back as Empire Earl N (John Cummings Jr.) and Traverse Seelster (Denny Bucceri) settled for second and third.   Owned by Allan Schmucker and trained by Sabrina Shaw, it was the first win in three appearances this season for Wheels A Turning (Mr Cantab-Free Wheeling). The 8-year-old mare has now earned $5,080 this season and $256,917 lifetime.   Sarah Cola (McNeight III) cut the mile and had just enough 'pop' left and hung on for the neck decision Machs Echo (Jim Morrill Jr.) in the $10,000 Class A-B Handicap Pace for the filly and mares.   With fractions of :30.1, 1:00.3 and 1:30.1, Sarah Cola ($6.80) showed plenty of heart to turn back the determined Machs Echo in 1:59.2 while Jag Out (Byron) was third.   Co-owned by trainer Jim Graham and Giuseppe Micchia, it was the first victory of the 2020 campaign for Sarah Cola (No Pan Intended-Saramotion). The score upped her season winnings to $6,428 and $168,709 in her career.   Drew Monti completed the evening with a triple while Kevin Cummings, Morrill Jr., McNeight III and Cummings Jr. all doubled. Maria Rice had a pair of training victories.   Racing will continue on Saturday evening beginning at 6 p.m. with a 12-race program scheduled.   For more information including the latest news, race replays, results, entries, upcoming promotions and simulcast schedule, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway  

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- It was hardly 'beach' weather in Western New York on a frigid Saturday night (Feb. 8) but Santana Beach (David McNeight III) topped the harness racing ticket in a 'tropical trifecta' by scoring the victory in Buffalo Raceway's featured $11,000 Class AA pace.   Santana Beach ($5.90) registered a neck win over Catch The Wave (Jim McNeight Jr.) in 1:56.3 while Beachy Dream (Kevin Cummings) was third to complete the seaside sequence.   Andy's Ideal took early command of the race as he notched splits of :28.3, :57.1 and 1:27.0. Santana Beach in the meanwhile started his first over journey just before the half mile marker and took over at the top of the stretch.   It was nervous time late for Santana Beach, however, as Catch The Wave and Beachy Dream made serious bids late but came up just short.   "He hung in there well late," McNeight III said of Santana Beach. "Trainer Richard Roth has his horses sharp right now and this one is really good."   Owned by Jason Newell and trained by Roth, it was the second straight win in as many tries for Santana Beach (Santanna Blue Chip-Chips Beach). The 8-year-old gelding has now produced $10,500 in earnings in 2020 and $146,573 in his career.   In the first of two $10,000 Class A pacing events, the cold weather didn't stop Hold The Gold ($30.20) posting the fastest mile of the meet as he covered the mile in 1:55.4 over the good track in beating Im So Handsome (McNeight III).   With Southwind Torque (Billy Davis Jr.) setting scorching fractions of :28.0, :57.0 and 1:26.3, those torrid splits were perfect for the closers as Hold The Gold (Denny Bucceri) took full advantage of the situation.   Driving widest of all in the lane, Hold The Gold easily swooped on by the front runners and took the length win over Im So Handsome while Casimir Oops (Mike Baumeister) was third.   Owned by William Emmons and trained by James Clouser Jr., it was the first win in two appearances this year for the 6-year-old gelded Hold The Gold (Allthatgltrsisgold-Village Jay). The victory bumped his season winnings to $5,800 and $93,261 lifetime.   The other Class A division saw Burning Shore (Kevin Cummings) sneak by Southwind Onyx in deep stretch to take the head decision in 1:56.4 Iluvtomakemoney (Ray Fisher Jr.) took third.   Southwind Onyx set the tempo with panels of :28.4, :57.4 and 1:27.3 but Burning Shore ($8.30) wore down the pace setter and got up in time to secure the win.   Owned by Mike Torcello and trained by Gerry Sarama, the 10-year-old gelded Burning Shore (No Pan Intended-Fine Line increased his career bankroll to $249,279 with the victory.   Racing will resume on Wednesday evening at 5 p.m. with a 13-race scheduled. There is a $10,000 guarantee in the Pick-5 starting in the second race.   For more information including the latest news, race replays, results, entries, simulcast schedule and upcoming promotions, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Lougazi continued to use his patented late charge to the wire and once again it paid off in a harness racing victory as he captured the $13,000 Open Trot at Buffalo Raceway on Wednesday night (Feb. 5).   First over and sitting third past the half mile marker, Lougazi made steady progress to the front and took command at the top of the stretch, beating a closing Daylon Phantom (Renaldo Morales III) by a length in 1:58.3 over the good track. Wilberforce (John Cummings Jr.) took third.   "Anytime we are within four lengths of the lead, I am feeling pretty good about our chances," driver Ray Fisher Jr. said of Lougazi and his closing tactics. "We stick to the same game plan every week. There's only one way to race him."   Owned by Mary Warriner and trained by Ryan Swift, it was the first win in two tries this season for the 6-year-old gelded Lougazi (Lou's Legacy-Winning Blade). The win jacked his career earnings to $206,543.   HP Sissy (Denny Bucceri) made Protect Blue Chip go the long mile in the co-featured $12,000 Class A-Open for the distaff pacers and those precious extra strides proved to the the difference.   Handing out the parking ticket for the entire mile, HP Sissy turned back the late challenge by a stubborn Protect Blue Chip (Billy Davis Jr.) to score the half length decision in 1:57.0.   Off the wings, HP Sissy and Protect Blue Chip were both intent in cutting the mile and neither gave an inch. With fractions of :28.0, :57.0 and 1:27.0, HP Sissy was able to nudge ahead at the top of the stretch but Protect Blue Chip stayed within striking distance and made a late bid again but came up a half length short. Lady London (Fisher Jr.) was third.   Owned by the Finocchario's Dream Stable and trained by Mike Ohol, HP Sissy (Up The Credit-Monica Blue Chip) is a 7-year-old mare that has now produced $373,629 in lifetime earnings.   David McNeight III had a driving triple with Bucceri and Fisher Jr. collecting two each. Sabrina Shaw had a pair of training victories.   Racing will continue on Saturday evening at 6 p.m. with a 13-race program scheduled. There's a $6,000 guarantee in the Pick 5 which begins in the second race.   For more information including the latest news, race replays, entries, results, simulcast schedule and upcoming promotions, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway  

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Catch The Wave (James McNeight Jr.) caught a huge opening in the passing lane and it propelled him to a stunning $42.40 harness racing victory on Saturday night (Feb. 1) in Buffalo Raceway's featured $11,000 Class AA pace.   Weekend Atnannies (Renaldo Morales III) stomped out the fractions of :30.1, 1:00.0 and 1:29.1 over the good track but it was a tempo that proved to a little too hot to handle on the snowy evening.   Andy's Ideal (Ray Fisher Jr.) and Brave Magic (Denny Bucceri) appeared then destined to battle it out to the wire as Weekend Atnannies called it a night. Catch The Wave had other ideas however as the passing lane had a giant slot open up and took full advantage, striding away to a 1-1/4 length victory in 1:58.2. Andy's Ideal and Brave Magic captured the place and show checks respectively.   Owned by Mike Ventura and trained by Jim McNeight, it was the first win in 2020 for Catch The Wave. The 8-year-old gelding has now produced $168,884 in lifetime earnings.   In one of the $10,000 Class A events saw Santana Beach (David McNeight III) go gate-to-wire in posting an easy 2-1/2 length decision over Southwind Torque in 1:56.3, the fastest mile of the young meet thus far.   Setting fractions of :30.0, :59.0 and 1:28.0, a 28.3 last quarter by Santana Beach, took the starch out of the rest of the field. Southwind Torque managed to hold on for second with Obo Hanover (Kevin Cummings rounding out the top three.   Santana Beach (Santanna Blue Chip-Beachs Luck) is an 8-year-old gelding owned by Jason Newell and conditioned by Richard Roth. The victory upped his career winnings to $141,063.   Santana Beach has fastest mile of meet with 1:56.3 (Bill Burke Photo)   The other Class A pace, Carlos Danger (Ron Beback Jr.) sat the pocket, took the lead, then held off a fast charging Casimir Oops by a half length in 1:58.1 to register the $14.60 win. China Dream (Billy Davis Jr.) took the show position.   Co-owned by the Decker's Corner Stable, the Decker's Gate Stable and JC's Get R Done Stable, it was the first victory of the campaign for the 7-year-old gelded Carlos Danger (American Ideal-Natchtoches) The score upped his lifetime bankroll to $198,137.   Ray Fisher Jr., Davis Jr. and McNeight Jr. all doubled in the sulky. Roth, Jim McNeight and Maria Rice had a pair of training wins.   Racing will resume on Wednesday evening at 5 p.m. with a 13-race program scheduled. There will be a $1183 carryover in the Pick 5 which begins in the second race.   For more information including the latest news, race replays, results, entries, upcoming promotions and simulcast schedule, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway    

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Rockefeller Lindy ($17.60) and driver David McNeight III watched the favored Wilberforce do all the dirty work but then cleaned up in the end to take Buffalo Raceway's featured $13,000 Open Trot on Wednesday night (Jan. 29) in 1:58.0 over the good track.   McNeight III started the 2020 campaign on a memorable note as he had four driving victories including the feature win and a $115.50 decision aboard Won Sweet Dream in the nightcap. He also had a training score.   It was the first night of the 66-day season at Buffalo Raceway. Director of Operations Jon Cramer said, "It was a good night. The clubhouse was busy, the weather cooperated, the track crew did a great job in getting the track ready and people were excited to be back."   In the feature, after briefly getting the lead, Rockefeller Lindy (David McNeight III) relinquished the advantage as Wilberforce (John Cummings Jr.) muscled his way to the top.   Posting fractions of :29.1, :49.2 and 1:29.1, Wilberforce was bracing for challengers in the stretch. The closers didn't disappoint. The pocket-sitting Rockefeller Lindy found plenty of racing room through the passing lane to collect the half length win over Wilberforce while the late-charging Lougazi (Ray Fisher Jr.) picked up the show check.   Co-owned by the Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, the 6-year-old gelded Rockefeller Lindy (Lucky Chucky-Touch Of Lindy) was now earned $154,617 lifetime. James Clouser Jr., Buffalo Raceway's defending training champion, conditioned the winner.   Daylon Phantom (Renaldo Morales III) didn't look like he had a ghost of a chance until the top of the home stretch but then unleashed a powerful kick to roll past a surprised Noble Legend (Billy Davis Jr.) and Some Royalty (Shawn McDonough) in winning the $10,000 Class A trot.   Sitting third with a quarter mile to trot, it appeared that Noble Legend and Some Royalty were going to duke it out to the wire but Daylon Phantom ($17.80) came from way back to steal a neck victory in 1:58.3.   Owned by Franklin Meier and Super Mile LLC, it was the first triumph of the season for the 5-year-old gelded Daylon Phantom (Kadabra-Daylon Marvel). Conditioned by Angelo Nappo, the victory moved his career bankroll to $64,949.   Protect Blue Chip ($2.40) paced right off the gate and never looked back in taking the $10,000 Class A pace for the filly and mares in the season opening event. She beat Who's Got The Move by 3-3/4 lengths in a snappy 1:57.0.   As the wings opened, Protect Blue Chip (Davis Jr.) set the splits with panels of :29.2, :58.2 and 1:28.2. A 28.3 last quarter mile sealed the deal for Protect Blue Chip as Who's Got The Move and Mean Pauline (McDonough) had to settle for second and third respectively.   Owned by the Vogel & Wags Nags Stable, Team Rice Racing and Adelphia Bloodstock, it was the first win in two tries this season for the 5-year-old mare Protect Blue Chip (American Ideal-Lucky Turn). Trained by Maria Rice, it upped her seasonal winnings to $5,000 and $92,004 lifetime.   Davis Jr. and Drew Monti had three wins apiece with Denny Bucceri doubling. Rice had three training victories.   Racing will continue on Saturday evening with a 12-race card set for 6 p.m. It will be 'Lucky Exacta Night' with customers receiving a pair of ceramic Buffalo Raceway coasters and a lucky exacta combination which could win you free wagers.   For more information including the latest news, race replays, results, entries, upcoming promotions and simulcast schedule, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

Hamburg, NY — Buffalo Raceway will open the 2020 harness racing season on Wednesday night (Jan. 29) with a 13-race program that gets underway at 5 p.m. It will be a busy week at the half-mile oval located at the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg as there will be lots for the fans to look forward to during opening week. Wednesday’s opener will feature a $2,500 guaranteed Pick-5 which begins in the second race. There will also be free programs and a 2020 season magnet giveaway. In the Winner’s Circle Cafe, personal pan pizzas will just be $5 and patrons can also taste the new philly cheese steak and meatball hoagies. When the action returns on Saturday (Feb. 1) with a 6 p.m. start time, the popular ‘Lucky Exacta’ contest returns as each fan will receive two ceramic Buffalo Raceway coasters along with an exacta combination. Should your exacta come in, you’ll spin the prize wheel to win free wagers on the last race of the night. The coasters will also have $5 in free play from Hamburg Gaming. While the fans will be treated off track, it’s back to business for drivers and trainers. Billy Davis Jr., who swept the driving titles last season at Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs with 119 and 131 victories, respectively, will be busy as he is scheduled to drive in 12 of the 13 events on opening night. “I had a very good meet last year,” Davis said in looking back on 2019. “I am hoping to build off that and have another good run.” He went on to say about the early part of the season, “It’s always difficult to know how the opening days of racing meets can go but I am very confident in my trainers and their horses. It would be great to start the season off with a bang.” James Clouser Jr. returns after he claimed the training crowns at both Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs in 2019. He had 56 winners at Buffalo Raceway last season and added 51 more at Batavia Downs. He’ll send a pair out on the opening night program. Maria Rice, who was the runner-up behind Clouser in both Western New York meets last year, hopes to jump start her season as she drew into six races on the Wednesday night card. The main event on the slate is the $13,000 Open Trot that drew the likes of 2019 Buffalo Raceway ‘Trotter of the Year’ Wheels A Turning and Lougazi. The sub features include the $10,000 Class A Trot and the $10,000 Class A Pace for the fillies and mares. Racing will be held on Wednesday evenings beginning at 5 p.m. while Saturday nights will have a 6 p.m. post. Action returns on Friday starting in April and will have a 5 p.m. start time. For more information, including the latest news, race replays, entries, results, upcoming promotions and simulcast schedule, go to www.buffaloraceway.com. by Brian Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

Batavia, NY --- Harvey E. "Gene" Griffin of East Pembroke, NY passed away Friday (January 24, 2020) at Unity Hospital in Rochester, NY, surrounded by his loving family after a lengthy illness. He was 75-years-old. Mr. Griffin was born December 23, 1944 in Caledonia, NY, a son of the late Mollie (Charles) Minor and Fredrick (Goldie) Griffin Sr. Mr. Griffin was a member of the Western New York Harness Horseman Association and raced mainly at Batavia Downs and Buffalo Raceway during his career. As a versatile and talented horseman in the sport, his first driving win came in 1979 while his last training victory came in 1993. Mr. Griffin is survived by his beloved wife of 49 years, Paula Griffin. Gene leaves to mourn his children, Keith (DeOnn) Griffin of N. Carolina, Kenneth (Carolyn) Griffin of Batavia and Tammy Griffin of East Pembroke. Mr. Griffin is also survived by 11 siblings, a host of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Mr. Griffin was preceded in death by his daughter, Denise Parker; sister, Mary Griffin and brothers, Fredrick, Benjamin, Gordon and James Griffin and Arthur Minor. Family and friends are cordially invited to share thoughts, condolences and fond memories on Saturday (Feb. 1) from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the J. Leonard McAndrew Funeral Home, 2 Bogue Ave., Batavia, NY. Expressions of sympathy may be shared with the family at: www.mcandrewfuneralhomes.net. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Buffalo Raceway will open the 2020 season on Wednesday night (Jan. 29) with a 13-race harness racing program that gets underway at 5 p.m.    It will be a busy week at the half-mile oval located at the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg as there will be lots for the fans to look forward to during opening week.   Wednesday's opener will feature a $2,500 Guaranteed Pick-5 which begins in the second race. There will also be free programs and a 2020 season magnet giveaway.   In the Winner's Circle Cafe, personal pan pizzas will just be $5 and patrons can also taste the new philly cheese steak and meatball hoagies.   When the action returns on Saturday (Feb. 1) with a 6 p.m. start time, the popular 'Lucky Exacta' contest returns as each fan will receive two ceramic Buffalo Raceway coasters along with an exacta combination. Should your exacta come in, you'll spin the prize wheel to win free wagers on the last race of the night. The coasters will also have $5 in free play from Hamburg Gaming.   While the fans will be treated off track, it's back to business for drivers and trainers.   Billy Davis Jr., who swept the driving titles last season at Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs with 119 and 131 victories respectively, will be busy as he is scheduled to drive in 12 of the 13 events.   "I had a very good meet last year," Davis Jr. said in looking back on 2019. "I am hoping to build off that and have another good run."    He went on to say about the early part of the season stating, "It's always difficult to know how the opening days of racing meets can go but I am very confident in my trainers and their horses. It would be great to start the season off with a bang."   James Clouser Jr. returns after he claimed the training crowns at both Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs in 2019. He had 56 winners at Buffalo Raceway last season and added 51 more at Batavia Downs. He'll send a pair out on the opening night program.   Maria Rice, who was the runner up behind Clouser Jr. in both Western New York meets last year, hopes to jump start her season as she drew into six races on the Wednesday night card.   The main event on the slate is the $13,000 Open Trot that drew the likes of 2019 Buffalo Raceway 'Trotter of the Year' Wheels A Turning and Lougazi. The sub features include the $10,000 Class A Trot and the $10,000 Class A Pace for the filly and mares.   Racing will be held on Wednesday evenings beginning at 5 p.m. while Saturday nights will have a 6 p.m. post. Action returns on Friday starting on April and will have a 5 p.m. start time.   For more information including the latest news, race replays, entries, results, upcoming promotions and simulcast schedule, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway  

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- When the Buffalo Raceway 66-day live harness racing season begins on Wednesday, January 29, there will be changes both on and off the track.   One of the most important changes will be the stricter guidelines for the whipping rule at Buffalo Raceway that was instituted last season.   Along with previous regulations, the track has modified the rule which states "drivers shall keep a line in each hand (except as may be necessary to adjust equipment, pulling plugs, dropping blinkers) from the start of the race until the top of the stretch and both hands shall stay in front of the body and cannot be raised above the shoulder from the start of the race until the finish. Continuous whipping is prohibited."   Drivers will be subject to penalties set down by Buffalo Raceway and are not contingent on any rulings made by the New York State Gaming Commission's judges.   Other changes at the half-mile oval located at the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg include the addition of 600 tons of material placed on the racing surface in the fall, new HD televisions in the clubhouse and paddock along with new self-serve wagering terminals.   The Winner's Circle Cafe will continue to serve freshly prepared food that will be delivered to your table. New menu items for 2020 include personal pan pizzas along with philly cheese steak and meatball hoagies.   The popular 'All-You-Can-Eat' buffet returns the last Saturday each month. The cost is $19.99 and includes the dinner, race program along with a $5 betting voucher and $5 in free play at Hamburg Gaming.   Racing Secretary Tom Agosti is bringing back the A, B and C classifications. He said, "We think this system works best for Western New York horsemen."   Also on the racing end, with the purse structure be the same as in 2019.   Buffalo Raceway's Director of Operations Manager Jon Cramer said, "We are excited about the improvements we've made on and off the track for the fans and horsemen and look forward to a great 2020 meet."   Horses will begin arriving on the grounds this Sunday in preparations for the campaign. Racing will be held on Wednesday evenings beginning at 5 p.m. while Saturday nights will have a 6 p.m. post. Action on Fridays will return on April 3 with a 5 p.m. start time.   For more information on Buffalo Raceway's 79th racing season including entries, race replays, results, upcoming promotions and the latest news, go to www.buffaloraceway.com.   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

HAMBURG, NY - Buffalo Raceway will open its 79th season of live harness racing on Wednesday, January 29th at 5pm (Post-time). The day will mark the beginning of a 66-day meet that will see racing on Wednesday and Saturday evenings through March with post times set for 5pm and 6pm respectively. Friday night action will begin in April with starting times slated for 5pm. The season will close on Saturday, July 18th. From Buffalo Raceway  

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Stall applications for the upcoming 2020 harness racing season at Buffalo Raceway are now available through several different sources.   Applications have been mailed out and can also be obtained at www.buffaloraceway.com or picked up at the Western New York Harness Horsemen's Association office located at Batavia Downs. Deadline to return the form is Friday, December 13.   Racing at the half-mile oval located at the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg will begin on Wednesday, January 29 and will conclude on Saturday, July 18.   Race Secretary Tom Agosti also announced that the conditions instituted last season will remain in effect in 2020 with Class A, B, C and D levels used. The purse structure will remain the same as in 2019 as well.   For more information including the latest news and simulcast schedule, go to www.buffaloraceway.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

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