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Batavia, NY---The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) will present harness racing performance awards to the top dash winning trainer and driver of the meet during the 10th annual "Night of Distinction" ceremony in the winner's circle at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Dec. 16) and whereas the top conditioner has been well identified, the driver's race will likely go down to the final races of the weekend. Kim Asher is currently the top percentage trainer in North America with a UTR of .427 and $1.1 million in earnings. She is also ranked eighth in North America for wins, currently with 208. So it's no surprise that Asher is also the trainer of the meet at Batavia Downs for 2017. Asher has started 351 horses during the session winning 88 races, finishing second 55 times and third another 55 times and saw her horses hit the board 56% of the time. Those efforts gave her a stellar UTR of .390 and $479,491 in purses. Her win total more than doubled her closest competitor. Competing for only the second year at Batavia, Asher's training career spans 19 years and during that time she has won multiple training titles including most recently, the 2017 Buffalo Raceway meet. This year Asher has sent out 208 winners and that mark was a personal best. Her stable boast horses with gaudy win totals like Quicksilvercandy A (20), Saint William A (16), Itsonlyrocknroll A (13) and Kaitlyn Rae (11). During her career Asher has 1,934 wins, 1,456 seconds and 1,222 thirds out of 9,196 starts for a lifetime UTR of .342 and earnings of over $15 million. The driving accolades for this meet are still up in the air. Larry Stalbaum is the current dash win leader with 127 wins while Ray Fisher Jr. is second with 122 and Drew Monti is third with 117. With only two cards of racing left and probably 20 starts apiece remaining for all three drivers, Stalbaum looks fairly solid with a five-race lead. If Stalbaum does win the title it would be his first at Batavia Downs. However the long-tenured horseman is no stranger to being the best set of hands on any circuit. Over his 32-year career he has won dash honors at Northville Downs, Hazel Park, Sports Creek Park, Jackson Harness Raceway, Monticello Raceway, Raceway Park, Cal Expo and most recently, Buffalo Raceway earlier this year. During his career, Stalbaum has driven 5,732 winners and earned just under $39 million in purses. Ray Fisher Jr. has won two driving titles at Buffalo Raceway and four at Northfield Park. But since arriving at the Genesee County oval in 2007 has never taken the top spot there although he did finish second and third three times each. So winning it this year would definitely be a notch in his belt. Since his career began in 1987, Fisher has won 4,200 races lifetime and just shy of $18 million in purses. Drew Monti is the defending dash driving winner at Batavia Downs, taking his first-ever driving title last year with 116 wins. He had a substantial lead this year earlier in the meet, but the competition stiffened and now he has a lot of work to do in order to repeat. Although the 23-year-old Monti has only been driving for five years, he is already closing in on his 1,000th win (currently with 979) and has made $5.5 million in purses during that time. The competition for the driving title will resume on Friday night (Dec. 15) and will be decided on Saturday (Dec. 16). Post time for both nights is 6 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for UNY USHWA  

Batavia, NY---The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) have announced their harness racing "horses of the meet" for 2017 at Batavia Downs. Pacer of the Meet: Focus Power While racing in the top Open class for 13 starts at Batavia, western New York newcomer Focus Power won three times and finished second another five while amassing $36,010 in purses. He was on fire in September when he won three out of four starts while setting two new lifetime marks during that period (September 2, 1:53 and September 23, 1:52.4). After being claimed at Yonkers just prior to the start of the Batavia meet, Focus Power made an immediate impact to the good fortunes of owner James Caradori and trainer Darrin Monti. Driver Drew Monti was aboard for every start. Overall Focus Power has nine wins in 2017 and earnings that total $97,395. Trotter of the Meet: BZ Glide BZ Glide was a fixture in the weekly Open trot once again this year and showed although he's getting older, he hasn't lost a step. In 15 starts against the local best, BZ Glide won three with six seconds and a third banking $34,405 in the process. He also set a seasonal mark of 1:56.3. As has been the case every year, the family affair of Alana Caprio training and Mike Caprio driving, the two also team up in ownership of the big trotting gelding. For the year, BZ Glide has a total of five wins and earnings of $52,405. Mare of the Meet: Voltina Competing the entire meet in the fillies and mares Open I or II, Voltina was as tough as they came winning three Open I's and one Open II along with six second place finishes and took home purses totaling $34,060. She took her seasonal mark of 1:55 at Batavia as well. Owned by CHS Racing LLC, the Tony Cummings-trained Voltina had a career year winning a total of eight races and earning $69,456 in purses. Kevin Cummings was aboard for the majority of her starts. Claimer of the Meet: Quicksilvercandy A Listed as the winning-est pacer in North America for a good portion of the year, Quicksilvercandy A had a field day racing at Batavia Downs. Moving up and down the class ladder, the mare ended up winning seven claiming races including the $20,000 Claiming Championship final for her division in November. Her four seconds and two thirds also helped bump up her bankroll to $40,165 for the meet. Owned and driven by Larry Stalbaum, Quicksilvercandy A recorded a career year of 20 wins and $108,994 in earnings under the training of Kim Asher. Most Improved Horse of the Meet: In Runaway Bay N In Runaway Bay N came to Batavia Downs off a less than stellar early part of the year. He made his first start at Batavia in August, winning in the bottom class; non-winners of $1,000 in 1:55.1. He strung together four wins while working his way up to the Open where he finished second two weeks in a row. The following week he faced Foiled Again and finished a respectable fourth to the richest Standardbred of all time. Since then he has won three Open paces. For the meet, he took a seasonal mark of 1:53.1 and earned $39,050. In Runaway Bay N is owned by Super Mile LLC and is trained by Angelo Nappo. Kevin Cummings was in the bike for the bulk of the work. The connections of these horses will be presented their trophies in the winner's circle at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Dec. 16) during the 10th annual "Night of Distinction" awards ceremony. Post time for the first race is 6 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for UNY USHWA  

Batavia, NY---Anyone who has ever dealt with a quarter crack can appreciate what it takes to get their harness racing horse sound and racing again. Rusty Freeman is responsible for changing the way this debilitating condition is handled, reducing down time from weeks to days and turning the process into a state of the art form over the years. As a result of his tireless work to help the breed, the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) will present Freeman with the Innovator's Award for contributions to the sport of harness racing in the winner's circle at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Dec. 16) during the 10th annual "Night of Distinction" awards ceremony. Freeman was working as a factory machinist in western New York in the late 1970's when he was first introduced to harness racing. While visiting a friend who had trotters, he was shown why a particular horse was lame with a hoof crack and the whole thing quickly intrigued him. He developed a way to use a Dremel tool and cut out just the part of the hoof he felt was needed, and then put a tube under the patch. That way air could still get to the sore area to aid healing and it could also be flushed with antiseptic to keep it clean. He then researched and developed an acrylic compound he uses instead of fiberglass and combines that with Kevlar cloth to do the patches. The combination of the tube under the new patch material gives the area every opportunity to heal and grow out properly in a short amount of time. Freeman has been plying his trade at harness tracks in New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania for almost 40 years now and many times works hand in hand with vets. As a result, hundreds of horses have been made sound quicker, allowing them to get back in the box much sooner. Also a farrier, Freeman is an accredited member of the American Association of Professional Farriers (AAPF) and helps other professionals in the field understand and benefit from his technics. Post time for the first race on Saturday is 6 p.m. By Tim Bojarski, for UNY USHWA  

Batavia, NY---Jim Compton has been a respected western New York harness racing horseman for over 35 years. He trained, drove and bred many horses that are still remembered at his home tracks for their competitive nature and success. For his years of dedication to the sport, the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) will present him with the Lifetime Achievement Award in the winner’s circle at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Dec. 16) during the 10th annual “Night of Distinction” awards ceremony. Compton’s full time job was working for General Motors in Rochester, but his passion was for harness racing. So in 1978 he started moonlighting at the farm of local driving legend Fred Haslip to learn the ins and outs of the business. After a few years he got his trainers license and in 1983 he drove his first race. Compton and his wife Sandra always ran a small but successful stable, racing horses like Sly Hi, No Parking Zone, Splurging Rita, Gasper Again and Held For Ransom, who won multiple Opens at Batavia Down, Vernon Downs and Buffalo Raceway en route to amassing 51 lifetime wins. When Held For Ransom’s career was over, Compton bred him to one of his race mares named Suspicious Burns and the result of that breeding was a horse named Michael Scores. Michael Scores was a New York Sires Stake star and rock-solid overnight campaigner for 11 years. He won 86 races and earned $668,079 lifetime without ever seeing the Grand Circuit. He set track records at Tioga Downs (1:50.4) and at Batavia Downs (1:52.1) when he won the 2006 Kane Memorial Pace. And he will always be remembered for his “intentionally parked out” style of racing. Compton’s numbers were not gaudy, however they were efficient. On the training side he had 578 wins out of 2,892 starts with $1.9 million in purses and a UTR of .337. As a driver he won 522 races out of 2,725 starts and made $1.13 million in purses and a UDR of .330. And all the horses he either trained or drove were 50% in the money over his entire career. Post time for Saturday night’s card is 6 p.m.   Tim Bojarski

Batavia, NY---It was a hard fought race between two game harness racing opponents, but Lucky McTrucky came out on top of Jimi Wind Ricks in the $9,000 feature pace at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Dec. 9). Lucky McTrucky (Drew Monti) inherited the lead from the pylons as no one else in the field left. Now lined up in post-position order, the leader strolled the group to the half in a very pedestrian :59 split. Eager to challenge at that point, Jimi Wind Ricks (Billy Davis Jr.) came with a rush at the three-eighths and drew alongside Lucky McTrucky up the backside and that began a very contentious encounter. After a :27.4 third panel, Jimi Wind Ricks got the lead on the outside by over a half-length but could not clear as Lucky McTrucky stayed game and would not let him go by. They continued to fight around the far turn with both Monti and Davis rocking and knocking their respective mounts, hoping each other would give way. They hit the straight and were still going at it but Lucky McTrucky gained a slight edge and held it to the wire where he won by a half-length in 1:55.1. It was the 42nd lifetime win for Lucky McTrucky ($7.30) who is owned by Tessa Roland and trained by J.D. Perrin. In the $8,500 Open III pace, Big Ricky (Ron Beback Jr.) took a mostly overland route to defeat the heavily favored David The Saint (Ray Fisher Jr.) by a length in 1:56.4. Big Ricky ($9.70) is owned by William Emmons and is trained by James Clouser Jr. Driver Shawn McDonough had a big night at the Downs, winning three races including the nightcap with Best Ears who blew up the tote board with an $86 mutuel. The final week of the meet kicks-off when racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Dec. 15) with post time at 6 p.m. There are only two more nights of racing in 2017.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY---Winning two races in a row for the second time in his last six starts, Fox Valley Veto claimed top weekly harness racing trotting honors once again at Batavia Downs after winning the $10,000 Open Handicap on Friday night (Dec.8).   Empire Earl N (Larry Stalbaum) went for the lead and took the field to the half in :58.1. At that station Fox Valley Veto (Billy Davis Jr.) pulled first-over from third and went right up to challenge the frontrunner.   Fox Valley Veto took command by the three-quarters, moving back to the pylons and stretching out to a two-length advantage. Around the last turn, Empire Earl N was trying to keep up but his race was run and Fox Valley Veto had won; wrapped up under the wire in 1:57.1.   It was the seventh win of the year for Fox Valley Veto ($7.40) and it pushed his earnings to $60,837 for owners Vogel & Wags Nags and Jack Rice. Maria Rice does the training.   Then it was bombs away in the co-featured $8,000 Open II trot when 17-1 Court's N Session (Shawn McDonough) came from mid-pack at three-quarters to tip three-deep at the head of the lane and catch heavily favored Osprey Vision (Ray Fisher Jr.) in deep stretch to win by a neck in 1:59.4.   Owned by Marie Houghtaling and trained by Ron Houghtaling, Court's N Session scored his fifth win of the year and paid $37.80.   The Downs leading driver Larry Stalbaum scored four more wins Friday, pushing his meet-leading total to 126. Ray Fisher Jr. who currently sits in second had two wins and now has 121 victories at Batavia.   Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Dec. 9) at 6 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY---The lake effect snows blew into Genesee County making Batavia Downs look like the North Pole and Mydelight Bluechip made like Rudolph and led all the way to win the $10,000 Fillies and Mares Open Handicap Pace on the last Wednesday night (Dec. 6) of harness racing for the meet. Mydelight Bluechip (Ben Mc Neil) was on a "take no prisoners" mission as she left and parked Little Joke (Billy Davis Jr.) and Voltina (Kevin Cummings) to the half in :56.3. As the race went on to the second circuit, Little Joke continued to apply the pressure but Voltina faded away, allowing Miss Irish Rose A (Larry Stalbaum) room to advance to the outside from sixth and move into a closer third position. Moving through the last turn Mydelight Bluechip put away both of those challengers and led by two lengths. At that point it looked like she'd wrapped things up until Squeeze This (Drew Monti) and Hey Kobe (Shawn McDonough) came flying late, gobbling up ground in the stretch. But Mydelight Bluechip dug in and pulled out the win by a narrowing margin in 1:57.2. Privately purchased on November 11 by Ellen Mc Neil, Mydelight Bluechip ($20.80) scored her first victory for her new owner and third of the year overall. The 5-year-old daughter of Bettor's Delight is trained by John Mc Neil III, rounding out the Mc Neil trifecta in the race. In the co-featured $8,000 distaff Open II, Sportsmuffler (Drew Monti) took the lead before the half and from there, left the rest of the field in her rear-view mirror as she pulled away to a seven-length win in 1:56.2. Owned by Lav Racing Stable and trained by Mike Carrubba, Sportsmuffler ($3.70) registered her 10th win of the year and pushed her earnings to $54,149 as a result. Drew Monti was red hot on a cold night, winning four races on the card. Besides scoring with Sportsmuffler, Monti also won with Tymal Luckynpink (1:57.1, $5.50), Juxlivin My Dream (1:59.2, $10.20) and Hold On Tightly (2:02.3, $21.20). Monti actually won a fifth race with P L Hellcat in the tenth race but was disqualified and placed second for a Eurorail violation. Open Water (Jim McNeight Jr.) who finished second in that tenth race was placed first and gave trainer Jim McNeight his 1,000th career training victory. McNeight's training win total has earned $3,495,864 in purse money for his connections. McNeight also has 3,587 driving wins with an additional purse amount of $13,133,205 to go along. In the Downs eleventh race, the heavily favored Heavenly Way (Ray Fisher Jr.) was soundly backed in the show pool and finished fourth in a five-horse wire photo. With Heavenly Way being off the board, it prompted eye-popping show payouts of $77.50, $108 and $264. The driver's race just got a little more interesting after Wednesday night. Larry Stalbaum still leads with 122 wins and Ray Fisher Jr. is second with 119. But on the heels of his big performance, Drew Monti draws into a closer third with 116 wins, only six behind the leader with only four days of racing left in the 2017 meet. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Dec. 8) with post time set at 6 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY---As a result of no winning ticket once again on Saturday (Dec. 2), Batavia Downs will offer a $2,500 guaranteed early Pick-5 pool when harness racing resumes on Wednesday afternoon (Dec. 6) at the oldest lighted harness track in America. The Pick-5 is a 50-cent base wager that begins in race one and runs through race five. There is no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners the entire pool (minus takeout) will be carried over to the next Pick-5 pool. Wednesday's guaranteed pool is part of the USTA's Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages courtesy of Trackmaster are available on the USTA's website. This link will take you directly to those program pages. Post time for the first race Wednesday is 5:00 pm.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY---In a harness racing performance that could only be described as overwhelming, Chumlee A made a bold backside move after being parked out from the start to win by as many as he wanted in the $10,000 Open Handicap Pace at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Dec. 2). Major Trick (Kevin Cummings), Lucky McTrucky (Drew Monti) and Chumlee A (Larry Stalbaum) all left the gate and wanted to cut the mile, but only one could do it. So Major Trick grabbed the pylons and parked out Lucky McTrucky while Chumlee A settled in second-over in the outer flow. The top two horses fought tooth, fang and claw through swift early fractions of :27.1 and :55.4 and neither one would relent. With the same leading order headed around turn three, Stalbaum tired of following and tipped Chumlee A three-deep past the five-eighths pole as the group motored up the backside and by the three-quarters cleared, and the route was on. Chumlee A was in overdrive and opened up distance between himself and the rest of the field with every stride. Stalbaum sat chilly from the top of the lane home as Chumlee A continued to pour it on of his own volition, eventually ending the six-length route in 1:54. It was the third straight win both in North America and at Batavia Downs for Chumlee A ($3.20) and it established a new lifetime mark for the Somebeachsomewhere progeny. Chumlee A is owned by Mark Jakubik and Kim Asher, who also does the training. The $9,000 co-featured Open II Pace went to Heaven Rocks (Ron Beback Jr.) who toured the facility on the front end unfettered from start to finish, winning by a gapped five lengths in 1:53.3. Heaven Rocks ($5.70) sixth win of the season was also a new lifetime mark for the 5-year-old son of Rock N Roll Heaven that is owned by William Emmons and trained by James Clouser Jr. Larry Stalbaum, Ray Fisher Jr. and Ron Beback Jr. all has two wins on the night. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Dec. 6) at 5 p.m. when the early Pick-5 wager will carry a guaranteed pool of $2,500. Please note that it will be the last Wednesday of the year as racing will only be held on Friday (Dec. 15) and Saturday (Dec. 16) the final week of the meet. By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY---Challenged for almost the entire mile, Fox Valley Veto took on all comers and went wire to wire to capture the harness racing $10,000 Open Handicap Trot at Batavia Downs on Friday evening (Dec.1)   Fox Valley Veto (Billy Davis Jr.) and Lutetium (Kevin Cummings) both wanted the front and they went at it hot and heavy off the gate. Fox Valley Veto cleared and then held Lutetium at bay outside to the half in a quick :57.2.   Past the five-eighths Lutetium rightfully packed it in and Fox Valley Veto opened up a three length advantage when he hit the three-quarters in 1:27.2. But during the third quarter, Empire Earl N (Larry Stalbaum) had motored up from the back of the pack and was closing quickly on the leader.   At the top of the stretch Empire Earl N was full of trot and looked like he was going to blow right on by. But Fox Valley Veto had the will and held his ground, toughing-out the win in 1:58.   It was the third win in five starts at Batavia Downs for Fox Valley Veto ($4.00) who is owned by Vogel & Wags Nags Stable and Jack Rice. Maria Rice is the trainer.   In the $8,000 Open II trot, I Want Kandy (Drew Monti) left and tucked behind Kahoku (Kevin Cummings) who cut 7/8th's of the mile before Monti pulled and trotted right on by to win by a length in 1:58.2.   It was the first win in two Batavia Downs starts for I Want Kandy ($6.30) and the eighth win of the season overall. Darrin Monti trains the winner that is owned by Carl Monti.   There was an accident in the first turn of the night's seventh race when Catherine'sdiamond (Ray Fisher Jr.) took a bad step and went down and Madd Hoss Jackson (Larry Stalbaum) couldn't get around her and hooked bikes. Stalbaum became unseated but both horses were immediately controlled by their drivers and taken safely to the outside of the track as the race progressed.   Both horses were unhurt and both Fisher and Stalbaum drove the remainder of their mounts.   Stalbaum maintained his Batavia Downs dash driving lead as he won two races on the card (both came after the incident in the seventh race) while the second place Ray Fisher Jr. scored the hat trick. Currently at the meet Stalbaum has 119 wins, Fisher has 117 and Drew Monti has 111.   Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Dec. 2) with post time at 6 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY---As the weather gets cold Voltina gets hot and she proved it by winning the $10,000 Fillies and Mares Open Handicap Pace at Batavia Downs on Wednesday evening (Nov. 29), which was her third victory in her last five starts in the top harness racing class. Voltina (Kevin Cummings) fired off the gate and took the lead with lightning speed. Squeeze This (Billy Davis Jr.) also left from post seven but took a quarter mile to clear. As soon as she did, Voltina came right back to grab the front and that was all she wrote. As Voltina took the field to the half in :57.2 and three-quarters in 1:26, she scoffed at minor challenges from Hey Kobe (Shawn McDonough) and Who Says That (Ray Fisher Jr.) and kept to her task around the final turn. As they headed down the lane Cummings was flailing the lines and opened up a two-length advantage with Voltina looking lively. But one last test came from Mydelight Bluechip (Ben Mcniel) who shook loose in the passing lane and came with a rush. However Voltina was stout and hung on to win by a length in 1:55.2. Having the best year of her life, Voltina ($8.20) scored her eighth victory of 2017 and bolstered her wallet to $69,456. The 7-year-old daughter of Allamerican Native is owned by CHS Racing LLC and is trained by Anthony Cummings. In the co-featured $8,000 distaff Open II, Little Joke (Billy Davis Jr.) took back and followed quick early fractions before pulling second-over at the half behind America Ferrera (Kevin Cummings) and eventually overtook her at the top of the stretch and pulled away to a six length romp in a 1:55. Now two for two since arriving at the Downs, Little Joke ($6.00) has eight wins and $51,435 on the year for owners Vogel & Wags Nags Stable and Jack Rice. Maria Rice trains the winner. Driver Kevin Cummings who continues to be the hottest driver on the grounds at Batavia, scored four more wins on Wednesday night. Besides taking the feature with Voltina, he also won with Fie Fy Fo (1:57.1, $9.70), Our Last Photo (2:00.1, $3.20) and Goldstar Thumper (1:57.3, $53.00). In the last 10 cards of racing at Batavia, Cummings has won 28 races and now has 102 wins for the meet. He currently sits in fourth place for dash wins behind Larry Stalbaum (117), Ray Fisher Jr. (114) and Drew Monti (110) and with seven nights of racing left, has a legitimate shot at the driving title. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Dec. 1) at 6 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY--- As a result of no winning ticket once again on Saturday (Nov. 25), Batavia Downs will offer a $3,500 guaranteed early Pick-5 pool when racing resumes on Wednesday afternoon (Nov. 29) at the oldest lighted harness racing track in America. The actual carryover is $1,225. The Pick-5 is a 50-cent base wager that begins in race one and runs through race five. There is no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners the entire pool (minus takeout) will be carried over to the next Pick-5 pool. Wednesday's guaranteed pool will once again be part of the USTA's Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages courtesy of Trackmaster are available on the USTA's website. To access the free program pages click here. Post time for the first race Wednesday is 5:00 pm.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Batavia, NY--- Batavia Downs leading harness racing driver Larry Stalbaum is nick-named "The Bomber" for his propensity of winning with long shots. Stalbaum lived up to his moniker on Saturday night (Nov. 25) when he escaped the consciousness of the betting public and got home first with 14-1 shot Itsonlyrocknroll A in the $10,000 Open Handicap Pace.   It was a mad dash off the gate as Hardts Or Bettor (Ray Fisher Jr.), Littlebitaclass (Billy Davis Jr.) And Focus Power (Drew Monti) all battled for the lead. Focus Power tucked in third and Hardts Or Bettor parked out Littlebitaclass for the remainder of the contest. The pair paced in tandem in :26.4 and :56.1 when Littlebitaclass wore down past the five-eighths.   At that station Jimi Wind Ricks (John Cummings Jr.) tipped three-wide around him and approached the leader by three-quarters in 1:25.2. But Hardts Or Bettor was still not done as he rebuffed that challenge as well and rounded the last turn looking like he might be the best. But Itsonlyrocknroll A, who had been drafting fourth behind all the early action, made his way into the passing lane at the head of the stretch and from there wore down Hardts Or Bettor to won by a length in 1:54.2.   It was the 13th win of the year for Itsonlyrocknroll A ($30) and it pushed his earnings for 2017 to $80,785. Owned by his driver, Itsonlyrocknroll A is trained by Kim Asher.   The Stalbaum/Asher team also captured the co-featured $9,000 Open II pace in the very next race with recent Austrailian stable addition, Chumlee A.   Stalbaum was second at the quarter with Chumlee A but came quick at that station and led the remainder of the race. After getting to the half in :57.2, Stalbaum turned on the jets and sped the third quarter to :28.3, putting some distance between himself and the rest of the field. From there Chumlee A was wrapped-up and won by as many as he wanted to in 1:55.1.   It was the second win in two North American starts for Chumlee A ($2.60) who is owned by Mark Jakubik and his trainer, Kim Asher.   For the night the Stalbaum/Asher duo combined for four winners on the card, making their respective meet-leading driver and trainer leads even more secure.   Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday afternoon (Nov. 29) with post time at 5 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Batavia, NY---In his last trip to Batavia Downs three weeks ago, Dragin The Wagon won handily wire to wire in 1:56.1. After two starts at Yonkers he returned to the Genesee County harness racing oval for a curtain call as the star of the show once again as he won the $10,000 Open Handicap Trot on Friday night (Nov. 24). Dragin The Wagon (Billy Davis Jr.) went right to the front and opened a gapped lead that would only get bigger. After grabbing leather to the half in :58.4 on a two-length advantage, Davis gave Dragin The Wagon his head while motoring up the backside and that is where he started to pull away. Two lengths turned into four at the three-quarters, six lengths at the top of the lane and eight lengths at the wire where he stopped the clock in 1:56.3 as the rest of the field could only watch from afar. It was the seventh win of the year for Dragin The Wagon ($3.50) who now has earned $70,168 for owners Cary, David and Michael Cantelon. The 7-year-old gelded son of Angus Hall is trained by Jeff Byron. In the co-featured $8,500 Open II Trot, Lutetium (Kevin Cummings) also went coast to coast by a gapped margin to win his seventh race of the year under wraps in 1:58. Colleen Girdlestone owns Lutetium ($4.30) who has now bankrolled $44,355 for the year. The winner of 58 races lifetime is trained by Priscilla Mooney. Kevin Cummings led all drivers on Friday with four wins on the card. Over the last eight nights of racing at Batavia Downs Cummings has also led all drivers in wins with 22 over that period, finishing first in 25% of his starts. Once well out of the dash competition earlier this year, Cummings is now a closing fourth and definitely in the conversation for one of the top three spots. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday evening (Nov. 25) with post time at 6 p.m.   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Plainville, MA---The curtain came down on the 2017 live harness racing season at Plainridge Park on Friday afternoon (Nov. 24) with many outstanding human and equine performances to mention from the 125 day meet. Greg Merton was the leading dash driver with 230 victories and those starts earned his connections $1.509 million in purses. Both numbers were new track records, smashing the same records Merton set last year. Merton was also the leading UDR driver (with a minimum of 100 starts at the meet) with a glowing percentage of .475. Jim Hardy was second for both wins and earnings with 109 tallies and $745,663 in the bank. Monique Cohen was the meet's leading trainer with 71 wins for the session while Frank Antonacci led in UTR (with a minimum of 100 starts at the meet) with a stellar .596 and in earnings with $467,917 deposited. All totals for both Cohen and Antonacci were new track records. The horses themselves were responsible for setting some records as well during 2017. There were 11 track records broken and two more that were tied during the course of the meet. The biggest day of harness racing ever held at Plainridge Park as well as in the State of Massachusetts, was responsible for two of those track records when some of the best aged trotters from the Grand Circuit convened at The Ridge on Friday (July 28). The old standard of 1:53 for an aged trotter was first beaten by Gural Hanover (Matt Kakaley) in 1:52.1. And then just one race later in Plainridge's signature event, the $250,000 Spirit of Massachusetts Trot, JL Cruze (Andrew McCarthy) scorched the oval in 1:51.2 to break it again. The recently concluded Massachusetts Sire Stakes also set record numbers. The state-bred program distributed in excess of $1.44 million in purses which was the highest amount ever for that series and the horses that participated in those events were responsible for breaking eight stake records and also tying one more. In the three years since Plainridge Park has opened its gaming floor the effect on the racing product has been profound. In the track's recent filing to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for next year's racing dates it indicated that from 2015 through 2017 purses have more than doubled and handle has gone up 34%. The 2018 live racing meet will once again kick off in April and run through November with a total of 110 racing days. Year-round simulcasting continues without interruption. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts  

Avon, NY--- Western New York harness racing horsewoman Margaret Preston died on November 22, 2017. She was 92. Preston was born October 31, 1926, the daughter of the late William and Marie (Cleary) Preston. She is survived by her sister Maureen Kingston; nieces and nephew Maura (Emil) Kostraba, John (Beth) Kingston, Sheila Kingston (Wes Clements), Andrea (Jon) Bailey; several great nieces and great nephews. She was pre-deceased by her brother-in-law David Kingston. Ms. Preston was an avid horsewoman who raced harness horses for many years. She bred and owned several Standardbred race horses in addition to training and driving them. Her last win in the sulky came with trotter Serious Fan at the Palmyra Fair in a New York County Fair stakes in 2009 at the age 84. Ms. Preston was a member of the United States Trotting Association and the Western New York Harness Horseman's Association. Besides racing horses, Ms. Preston was retired from the Dundee Central School District as a Librarian Media Specialist. Family and friends are invited to call Sunday (Nov. 26) from 4-7 p.m. at the Stephenson-Dougherty Funeral Home, Inc. 350 Genesee St, Avon, NY. Her Funeral Mass will be held Monday (Nov. 27) at 10:00 a.m. at St. Agnes Church, Avon, NY followed by interment at St. Agnes Cemetery. Memorials may be made to St. Agnes Cemetery, 96 Prospect Street Avon, NY 14414, or St. Rose Cemetery PO Box 8A Lima, NY 14485.   Tim Bojarski

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