Buffalo Raceway

Buffalo Raceway
Racing resumesWednesday at 5 p.m.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Buffalo Raceway Weekly Recap...4/21

Jim Morrill Jr. made his 2014 debut at Buffalo Raceway Wednesday night and once again he dominated by putting up a five-win night.
Jim Morrill Jr. had five winners on Wednesday

Last season, he hit at nearly a 33 percent clip at Buffalo Raceway, winning 58 times in just 183 starts. Morrill Jr. will be back in action on Wednesday night and is slated to ride in all 11 races.

Kevin Cummings is starting to pull away slightly from the field in the driver's standings after registering seven wins on the week, including triples on Wednesday and Saturday. He now has 68 victories and leads Ron Beback Jr. who has 60. 

Beback Jr. had five wins on the week including a four-bagger on Friday night.

Drew Monti continues to impress as he had six victories which included a triple on Friday night and a double on Saturday.

Jack Flanigen scored two wins on Wednesday night, John Cummings Jr. had a pair of doubles on Friday and Saturday nights while Ray Fisher Jr. had two wins on Friday.

Buffalo Raceway Driver's Standings (Wins, UDR, Earnings)
1. Kevin Cummings (68, .304, $338,293)
2. Ron Beback Jr. (60, .272, $308,019)
3. Billy Dobson (51, .278, $238,556)
4. Ray Fisher Jr. (50, .244, $262,084)
5. Ronnie Wrenn Jr. (48, .467, $226,185)
JD Perrin had the best week of the season for any trainer as he scored seven wins on the 37-race week at Buffalo Raceway. That huge effort extended his lead over runner up David McNeight Jr. to 16 victories, 49-33.
Veteran trainer Gerry Sarama had just two wins on the week but both were for owner Michael Torcello as he conditioned Delightful Syd to victory in the $10,500 Fillies and Mares Open Pace on Wednesday and then sent Armed Dangerously to the win in the $10,500 Open Trot on Friday night.

Mijhalo Zdjelar Jr. remained red-hot as his stable had three victories on the week.

David McNeight Jr., Nick Gampietro Jr., Angelo Nappo, Darrin Monti and Ryan Swift always had two victories on the week.

A total of 23 different trainers paid a visit to the winner's circle last week.

Buffalo Raceway Trainer's Standings (Wins, UTR, Earnings)
1. JD Perrin (49, .404, $212,122)
2. David McNeight Jr. (33, .335, $172,408)
3. Charles Stewart (23, .403, $98,025)
4. John Mungillo (21, .251, $133,546)
5. Alex Giuliani (20, .398, $117,426)
5. Ryan Swift (20, .261, $99,836)
Diditagain Hanover 'did it again' at Buffalo Raceway as the 6-year-old gelding won his fifth straight race with a half-length victory over Rock N Roll Legend in the featured $10,500 Open Pace in 1:55.4 over the fast track.
Diditagain Hanover  (#1) wins fifth straight race.
After racing in the $10,000 optional claiming ranks a little more than a month ago, Diditagain Hanover has progressively and successfully stepped up the ladder and reached top rung this week. He showed he was ready for the challenge against the best pacers on the grounds.

It was a slightly different tactic used by Diditagain Hanover ($4.20) and driver Kevin Cummings. Usually coming off the pace, Diditagain Hanover, who scored from the rail, went to the top and didn't look back. After putting up fractions of 29, 58.2 and 1:27, the 28.4 final panel proved to be just enough to hold off the late charge from Rock N Roll Legend (Jack Flanigen). Western Alumni (Jim McNeight) took third place position.

The victory was the sixth in Diditagain Hanover's last seven starts and seventh win of the season. He is owned by Thomas Mazzone and trained by Lisa Zgodzinski. The win sent his winnings to $29,746 in 2014 and $149,989 lifetime.

Armed Dangerously ($5.60) was locked and loaded in the $10,500 Open Trot at Buffalo Raceway Friday night and scored a convincing length victory over Stormont O My in 1:59.3 over a fast track.
Armed Dangerously and Ray Fisher Jr. win Open Trot

Using a first over trip, Armed Dangerously (Ray Fisher Jr.) effortlessly trotted to the lead at the three-quarter pole and played 'catch me if you can' from there. The 5-year-old horse opened up a comfortable two length edge at the top of the stretch and was never in jeopardy of losing it from there.

Stormont O My (Drew Monti) rallied for the place position while Fiorentina (Kevin Cummings), the pace setter, finished third.

Owned by Michael Torcello and trained by Gerry Sarama, Armed Dangerously (Cash Hall-Drive You Wild) has now won four times in nine appearances in 2014, earning $20,038 this season and $166,545 lifetime.

It's been close but no cigar for Delightful Syd in the $10,500 Fillies and Mares Open Pace at Buffalo Raceway the past two weeks. She's been knocking on the door with a pair of narrow losses by less than two combined lengths.
Delightful Syd  (#2) was one of Jim Morrill Jr.'s five wins

But this week, Delightful Syd ($3.70) got the services of driver Jim Morrill Jr. and it resulted in a hard-fought head victory over a game Heavenly Place in a seasonal best time of 1:57 on the fast track Wednesday night.

In the $10,500 Fillies and Mares Open Pace feature, Morrill Jr. gave Delightful Syd the perfect trip.

With Fiftyonefifty (Kevin Cummings) setting fractions of 29.1, 59.0 and 1:28.3, Morrill Jr. started his challenge with Delightful Syd before the half-mile pole, coming out first over. Just by the three-quarter marker, the 7-year-old mare took over the top and never gave it up. Heavenly Place (Drew Monti) put up a valiant, however, coming up just a head short at the wire to finish second while Ugly Betty (Jack Flanigen) placed third.

The victory was the second in seven starts this season for Delightful Syd, who is owned by Mike Torcello and trained by Gerry Sarama. The win pushed her earnings to $13,760 in 2014 and $177,189 lifetime.
The Buffalo Raceway race office announced the third claiming series of 2014, “The Spring Break”. The very successful and lucrative pacing series have been a favorite of horsemen and bettors. It is for horses who have started in a $4,000 claimer of less in 2014.
Spring Break Claiming Series set

“The Spring Break”  knockout claiming series is set to start May 31 with the second leg on June 7, the third leg on June 14th with the $15,000 added final and consolation scheduled for June 21.   Nominations must be received by May 17.

There will be races for “series nominated horses preferred” on May 21, 23 and 24.

Nomination forms and rules are online under the horsemen's page at www.buffaloraceway.com  or by calling the race office at 716-649-1280, ext 6234.
During the week, the favorites won of  17 of 37 races for 45.93 percent. For the year, the winning favorites at Buffalo Raceway are coming in at a 42.66 rate.
A new feature that has now been added to my website is a weekly trivia question. Please vote and I'll give the answer to the question in the next week's weekly recap.

The question last week was who had the most wins on a single race card in Buffalo Raceway history. The answer is Kevin Cummings who did it on  June 11, 2005. Congratulations to the two people who had that answer right..a mere 4 percent of the voters!!!

This week's question is "Who trained and drove four New York Sires Stakes horses to victory in a single race program at Buffalo Raceway?"

Make sure to vote on this week's trivia question located on the top right hand side of the page. Enjoy. Thus far, this questions have been stumpers to most people!!
Here is the breakdown of wins by post position for the 37-race week. The inside post had the most with 10 victories while the two spot scored 6 times. Every post had a least two wins, including the outside eight hole.
1.  10
2.   6
3.   3
4.   3
5.   5
6.   5
7.   3
8.   2
The handle for the week showed Wednesday night taking in $200,348,  Friday night saw $205,938 while Saturday night's card handled $172,057 for a weekly total of $578,343. That breaks down to an average nightly handle of $192,747. The handle last week was $557,014.
Ophiuchus N has over the lead for most wins on the season at Buffalo Raceway with eight while Diditagain Hanover has seven victories as both pacers added wins on Saturday night.

Gus Is All Lane, Big Baller and Kely Jo Wiz lead all the trotters with five wins.
The claim box was silent on Wednesday but there were two claims on Friday night and a pair more on Saturday night.

The pacer Twilight Jack was taken for the $5,000 tag for owner/trainer Adam Short.

Later on the Friday night program, the trotter Herbie Is Gone was claimed by Frank Lamacchio and Guy Polillo with John Mungillo the trainer. Herbie Is Gone had a $10,000 tag.

On Saturday evening, a pair of pacers went for $10,000 as Puppetandmee N went to Katheleen Weller with Christopher Naedele handling the training duties. Then later on, Kevin Cummings took Jettison with Kirk Desmond listed as the conditioner.
A seminar for new and prospective owners sponsored by the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund and hosted by Harness Horse Breeders of New York State will be held at Buffalo Raceway.  This seminar will provide valuable information for prospective or rookie owners and focus on all aspects of horse ownership. 

New owner seminar at Buffalo Raceway May 10th
The seminar is scheduled for Saturday  May 10th, 2014 at Buffalo Raceway and will start at 1:30 p.m.. It will include a meal and live racing.

The seminar will cover the rewards and risks of horse ownership, actual costs, choosing young horses or claimers and how to choose a trainer. Participants will have the opportunity to tour the racing facility and meet the Race Secretary and the Presiding Judge.

They will also visit a trainer’s stable and talk with owners.

Tuition is $20 per person or $30 per couple and includes the seminar and materials, dinner, live racing, a Pathways certificate, membership to HHBNYS and follow-up services.

Seminar requires advance registration. For more information or to register for the seminar, please call Harness Horse Breeders at 518-785-5858 or e-mailinfo@hhbnys.com.
In the Handicapping Challenge, Brian's Buffalo Raceway Selections enjoys a 153-122 lead over Buffalo Raceway's track announcer Michael Carter.
Western New York's largest Kentucky Derby Party is at Buffalo Raceway on Saturday, May 3. With great racing, delicious food and hot gaming, Buffalo Raceway is where the action is.
Derby Day At Buffalo Raceway on May 3rd

The clubhouse will be packed, as usual, wearing Derby hats and cold drinks in hand cheering on their favorite horses in the biggest day in horse racing.

Features at Buffalo Raceway will include:
*Doors open at 10 a.m.
*First post from Churchill Downs is 10:30 a.m.
*Live harness racing at 6:40 p.m.
*Free admission and parking
*Over 20 tracks to wager on via simulcasting
*Free full past performances for Churchill Downs and  Belmont Park
*Shuttle to and from Hamburg Casino
*DOUBLE Raceway Reward points
*Lunch specials
*Happy Hour from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m.
*Advance wagering on the Kentucky Derby Friday, May 2
*Kentucky Oaks/Kentucky Derby Double wager available on May 2

Make reservations TODAY before the clubhouse sells out at 716-649-1280, Ext. 300
Racing action continues on Wednesday night with an 13-race program set to begin at 5 p.m. A reminder that the track has now kicked into the April schedule with with Friday and Saturday nights' post at 6:40 p.m.

Wednesday night features $3 specials including beer, hot dogs pretzels and more while Friday night you can get  $5 off your fish fry by clicking on the coupons at www.buffaloraceway.com

The Winner's Circle Cafe is open every race night featuring weekend specials including their famous fish fry, and a great variety of food.

Over 75 tables overlook the half-mile oval with televisions for a closer view of the action or to wager at other tracks across North America.

For reservations, call 716-649-1280, ext. 300 at least 24 hours in advance. The track is now taking reservations for the Kentucky Derby Day program on May 3rd. This night always sells out in the clubhouse so don't be disappointed. Make your reservations now!!

To find race replays, news, upcoming promotions, statistics and results, go to www.buffaloraceway.com

Monday, February 3, 2014

Trainer Charles Stewart Getting Comfortable At Buffalo Raceway

Charles Stewart and his stable were looking for a place to settle down for the winter months with Hoosier Park closed during that time.
Trainer Charles Stewart

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 UDTS 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.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Michael Carter Ready For Announcer's Role At Buffalo Raceway

Michael Carter was a bit hesitant at first when he first applied for the announcer's job at Buffalo Raceway for 2014.

The 25-year-old was living with his wife Jessica in the warm Gulf Coast state of Mississippi. Hattiesburg to be exact. But a choice had to be made. Another season in the warm south or hoping for your first full-time announcing job of your career at Buffalo Raceway...in the middle of winter.

But when the job offer was made around Thanksgiving to take over for previous race caller and Pompano Park bound Gabe Prewitt, Carter eagerly accepted the post. He now anxiously awaits the season opener at the Hamburg half-mile track on Wednesday, January 8th with a 5 p.m. post.

Carter does have harness race calling experience as he was a fill-in at Colonial Downs in Virginia, Rosecroft Raceway in Maryland and was the voice of the four-day meet at the Shendandoah County Fair in Virginia. But this job at Buffalo Raceway will be totally different. It's his first full-time job and the elements (snow, rain, fog, sleet, freezing rain, etc.) will be a factor.

"I've never called races in adverse conditions," Carter said. "I've heard from Gabe Prewitt about it..the cold, the heavy snow, wind. But I am actually looking forward to it."

He added, "This is the start of my career and I know Buffalo Raceway gets a lot of exposure in the winter. It's exciting to be starting here. I heard there are a lot of great people at Buffalo and heard a lot of good things."

Carter and his wife arrived in Western New York just before New Year's Eve and were greeted with bitter cold temperatures, a fresh six inches of snow and wind. "It was a challenge to get to the track," he chuckled about his trip to the Hamburg half-mile oval. "I got to look around a bit and it looks great. The backstretch was amazing but really didn't get a good look at the track as it was covered with snow. But the whole facility looks nice."

I mentioned a few races to Carter that he could watch from Buffalo Raceway over the past two season where the weather was much more suitable to the sled dog races in Alaska than harness racing in Western New York in mid-January. He watched them and later said, "Wow...I can't believe how the weather was and what a great job Gabe Prewitt did in calling. I can't believe how the drivers handled it either."

While Carter isn't afraid of the adverse weather conditions, he has one fear most announcers do and that's calling the wrong horse in front. "I've never done it but that's my biggest fear."

About uprooting his St. Louis-raised wife and Mississippi-settled Jessica to Buffalo, Carter said, "She's behind me 1,000 percent. She didn't know much about harness racing until she met me...she's gotten into it now. She's all for it."

Chief Operating Officer at Buffalo Raceway Jim Mango said of the hiring of Carter, "I've been in this business over 30 years and I think he's got the potential to be a great announcer. He's already a good announcer but he can become a great announcer."

Some might wonder why Buffalo Raceway would go with a race caller who hasn't had a full-time job in the field before. Mango hopes lightning strikes twice as he quickly quelled all concerns. "If you remember, Gabe Prewitt was never a full-time caller when we hired him and he turned out to be a great one. Michael Carter is very excited about his first opportunity and has a very pleasing voice. He's going to do a good job for us."

Carter said his strong point in his announcing is "picking up horses that are closing late." The long stretch at Buffalo Raceway will be a perfect place for him to utilize his strength.

But don't expect Carter to use any snappy lines during his calls, at least not yet. "I don't think I've really developed a style or catch phrase...not yet at least," he stated.

His race calling career started out in the like many in announcing...in the family living room. "I was like 14 or 15 and I started calling races in front of our television. I was always interested in the race announcers. My dad heard me doing it and told me 'you know, you might have something there'." He admits that the Meadowlands was 'his track' and driver John Campbell was 'his favorite' as he started his journey to become an announcer.

Carter moved from the living room and started practice calling at Colonial Downs and according to him, "It was terrible." But his hard work and never give-up attitude did allow him to fill in at Colonial Downs. He also announced at Rosecroft where track announcer Pete Methurst, as Carter put it, "Was my coach and my mentor."

But Carter admits his first call of his Buffalo Raceway career might give him a few butterflies. "It might be a little nerve-wracking...but once I get the headset on, I think I will be fine."

Learning the horse's names, driver's colors, pronunciations and such will also be on Carter's priority list along with Buffalo Raceway in-between race procedures.

Raised in New Hampshire for the first seven years of his life, Carter had become a New England Patriots fan. He laughingly admitted, "I walked into a store our first day in Buffalo and I had New England Patriots stuff on. I got a lot of strange looks." He now realized he was in Bills' country, especially after the Patriots beat the Bills 34-20 in the 2013 season finale.

Carter said on his list of things to get before the move to Buffalo was to get a snow shovel. Good call.

So if his preparation is as good as his race calling, Carter's first year as Buffalo Raceway track announcer should be a start of a long career.

Welcome to Western New York.

You can follow Michael Carter and his first season at Buffalo Raceway on twitter @mcarte1

Buffalo Raceway 2014 Live Racing Schedule