A clear night and a very fast racing surface produced outstanding miles and some huge payoffs at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Dec. 10) and those performances were led by CR Blazin Beauty (Kevin Cummings) who tracked fast fractions early and went from worst to first while capturing the $14,000 Open I Handicap trotting co-feature at 25-1 in a real thriller.
Buzz (Mike Baumeister) took the field to the quarter in :28.2 while Wilberforce (Christian Myers) sat outside of Captain Krupnick (Jim McNeight Jr.) as the pair chased the leader to the half in :57.4. Just past that station the field was four in and four out, with CR Blazin Beauty still sitting last on the pylons.
As Wilberforce faded up the backstretch, Con Air Hall (Dave McNeight III) moved three-wide into contention heading through the last turn while Cummings found room at the pegs and advanced CR Blazin Beauty into fifth by the head of the stretch. As they barreled into the straight, Con Air Hall was even with Sass, CR Blazin Beauty found the middle of the track and continued to gain ground while Lougazi (Ray Fisher Jr.) came out of nowhere and was flying home four wide. In deep stretch four trotters fanned even across the track, but CR Blazin Beauty broke through from the rest and grabbed a neck advantage at the light and won in 1:58.
It was the tenth win of the year and 51st lifetime for CR Blazin Beauty, ($52.50) and it pushed her bankroll to $105,384 this year for owner Marissa Russo. David Russo trains the winner.
Cummings’ win with CR Blazin Beauty was only one of five he scored on the card. He also visited the Purple Haze winners enclosure with American General (1:57.4, $16.80), Thor De Vie (1:55.4, $6.80), Gemini Eddie (1:58, $3.00) and Paprike Blue Chip (1:56.3, $7.20). Cummings is now 13 wins ahead of Jim Morrill Jr. for the dash driving title for this meet with only two days of racing left.
The $14,000 Open I Handicap pace wasn’t nearly as action-packed as the trot, but Stranger Things (Jim Morrill Jr.) put on quite a show of his own en route to his 12th win of 2022.
After the heavy post-time favorite The Longest Yard (Kevin Cummings) made a break in the first turn, Morrill tucked second with with Stranger Things behind Pocket Watch N (Ray Fisher Jr.) but once settled, came back out and took the lead at the quarter in :28 and from there never looked back. He got to the half in :57.4 and three-quarters in 1:26.4 with a comfortable 1-½ length lead and no one close enough to challenge. By the time he hit the top of the stretch he extended that gap to five lengths and just cruised home to win in 1:55.2 while Morrill sat chilly.
It was the second win in a row for Stranger Things ($7.60) who also cracked the “hundred-grand” mark, now boasting $103,945 in earnings for owners Virginia Schoeffel, Kathy Schoeffel and James Reuther. It was one of two winners for conditioner Angelo Nappo on Saturday.
With only two days left in the meet, live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Dec. 14) at 6 p.m. and there is another carryover available. The Jackpot Hi-5 Pentafecta in the 11th race will start with $8,306 in the pool.
Also please note that post time for the final night of racing, Saturday, Dec. 17, has been changed from 6 p.m. to 3 p.m. This was done after the National Football League “flexed” the Week 15 game between the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins to 8:15 p.m. that same day.
The clubhouse will open the doors at 2:30 p.m. and will offer a prime rib and shrimp buffet that will be served from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The Railbar will be open at 2:30 p.m. until the end of the last race, which will be approximately 7 p.m., however it will not remain open for the Bills game.
The final day of racing will also host the “Night of Distinction” year-end awards, which will be presented by the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association and Batavia Downs to honor all the human and equine stars of the 2022 meeting.
Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track’s website at bataviadownsgaming.com and clicking the “Live Racing” tab and then you can watch all the races live on the Batavia Downs YouTube channel.
Photo by Wendy J. Lowery.