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Monday, May 30, 2016

Drew Monti Completes Unique Daily Double

by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway
HAMBURG, N.Y. --- In Drew Monti's mind, there was no way he wasn't going to complete a unique daily double last Saturday (May 21).
 
His commencement ceremony from Canisius College in Buffalo was scheduled at 12:30 p.m. and he was slated to drive in eight events at Buffalo Raceway starting at 7 p.m. With college graduations tending to drag on and many photos to be taken after wards, there was a chance Monti might have to take the night off in the sulky.
Drew_Monti_2016.jpg
Drew Monti
 
Not a chance.
 
Wearing the blue and gold cap and gown of Canisius College, Monti happily and proudly accepted his Bachelors in Economics diploma, took plenty of pictures and spent time with family, friends and well-wishers. He then made it to Buffalo Raceway where he donned his racing colors of brown, gold and white with plenty of time to spare.
 
"I knew a long time ago that graduation was on a Saturday and initially I figured I wouldn't drive that night," Monti said. "But then after thinking about it for a bit, I knew that I could do both. There wasn't a chance I was going to miss my college graduation. None. It's a once in a lifetime thing. At worst I figured I might miss the first few races." 
 
So after four years of juggling his schedule with school, studying, working in the barn and driving, figuring out his graduation day events was a breeze. He actually made it to the track around 4:45 p.m., plenty of time to race in all three qualifiers.
 
"After graduation, my friends thought I was out of my mind to drive that night," Monti said. "But I am committed to driving every night and to the people who give me the opportunity to do so. I guess not driving never crossed my mind really."
 
Monti stated before that he used to, on occasion, daydream in class about that night's card. He basically blocked out racing during the graduation ceremony admitted with a chuckle, "Racing that night after graduation was in the back of my mind."
 
Drew finished the night with one victory aboard Bettor Design ($6.30) along with a second and four third place finishes. "I wish I could have done better but it wasn't a bad night."
AE4Y8239.jpg
Monti drove Bettor Design to win on Graduation Day
 
Getting an education was always a priority for Drew. "I could be winning eight races a night but there was no way I was ever going to drop out college. My parents were never going to let that happen and I wasn't going to let it happen either."
 
Drew was especially happy to see his Uncle Dan (Monti) at the graduation ceremony. "I'm his only nephew and he's a doctor in Philadelphia. He pointed me in the right direction academically and was the biggest influence on me academically."
 
It was a tough grind for Monti the past four years. With school five days a week, racing three to four nights a week along with working in the barn on off days, there was little free time. "I never had a set schedule. I tried to keep up on my school work and do it when I could. A break here, a break there, a cancelled class. Every day was a little different and it was a challenge."
 
He handled the hectic schedule well as his final grade point average (GPA) will be in the 3.2 range. 
 
While Monti will continue to find a seat in the sulky, his diploma won't be sitting collecting dust on the mantle. He's already landed a job with Buffalo Financial Associates and starts in about a month.
 
"They (Buffalo Financial Associates) have absolutely no problems with me working for them and driving at night," the 21-year-old Monti said. "It's a good job and I can take it as far as I want to. It's going to be nice to have two incomes."
 
And while he's starting a new job, he's also in the thick of the Buffalo Raceway driving championship race. Jim Morrill Jr. leads the way with 71 victories while Todd Cummings is next with 69 and Monti third with 60.
 
Now he's in search of a Pick-3...graduating college, landing a great new job and winning the Buffalo Raceway driving title. 
 
With the determination, commitment and pride Monti has shown thus far in his young career, it is extremely possible.

Photos by Steve Roth

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Buffalo Raceway Weekly Recap For 5/29

Jim Morrill Jr. continued to hold down the top spot in the driver's standings thanks to a seven-win week including a double on Wednesday and a five-bagger on Friday night.
Jim Morrill Jr.

Morrill holds a 76-70 edge over Todd Cummings for the lead and enjoys a 16-win edge over Drew Monti who sits in third with 60.

Kevin Cummings appears to be getting back into mid-season form with eight wins on the week. He had a four-bagger on Wednesday night and bounced back with doubles on both Friday and Saturday nights.

Shawn McDonough had a good week with six victories including a triple on Saturday and a double on Friday. He also had a training win.

Todd Cummings and Jim McNeight each posted two victories on Wednesday night with Ron Beback Jr. had a pair on Saturday night.

Buffalo Raceway Driver's Standings (Wins, UDR, Earnings)
1. Jim Morrill Jr. (76, .557, $298,600)
2. Todd Cummings (70, .292, $392,912)
3. Drew Monti (60, .239, $366,886)
4. Jim McNeight (56, .230, $347,566)
5. Ray Fisher Jr. (52, .232, $336,532)
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JD Perrin is well on his way to a straight training title at Buffalo Raceway as he holds a commanding 76-36 advantage over John Mungillo.
JD Perrin

When Perrin won last year's crown, he did so with 70 wins so he's already eclipsed that standard. He has now tied his winning total in 2014 with 76 wins. In 2013, Perrin finished with 78 victories and he should go by that mark very soon.

Perrin finished the week with five wins and now sits in 10th place nationally in wins with 78. Ron Burke is the runaway leader as usual with 307.

Kirk Demond found the winner's circle four times and moved into fourth place with 34 wins.

Mungillo won three times while Mark Laidlaw, Mike Carrubba, Carl Surdyk and Maria Rice all conditioned two winners.

There were 21 different trainers that had at least one victory during the week.

Buffalo Raceway Trainer's Standings (Wins, UTR, Earnings)
1. JD Perrin (76, .393, $336,524)
2. John Mungillo (36, .312, $207,794)
3. Maria Rice (35, .356, $221,853)
4. Kirk Desmond (34, .293, $177,343)
5. David McNeight Jr. (39,259, $178,830)
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Ron Beback Jr. got to pilot GD Airliner via a catch drive on Saturday night (May 28) and he gave the 8-year-old harness racing gelding a perfect flight in taking the $9,500 Open I-II Handicapped Pace at steamy Buffalo Raceway.
 
Ron Beback Jr. pilots GD Airliner to Saturday victory.
Getting over a second over trip, GD Airliner ($7.90) tipped three-wide in the stretch and used a 28.1 last quarter to gun down the tiring Lucky Nadotremblay in a seasonal best 1:54.3. China Dream (Drew Monti) rallied for second while Lucky Nadotremblay (Shawn McDonough) hung on for third.

It was a battle for the lead early as Lucky Nadotremblay and Bakken went head-to-head. After the dust had settled just past the quarter pole, Lucky Nadotremblay emerged in front and posted fractions of 28.1, 57.0 and 1:26.2.

Following the cover of the favored Youwillwishyouhad, Beback Jr. swung three-wide with GD Airliner in the stretch and easily overpowered Lucky Nadotremblay, winning by an length.

It was the third win in 13 tries this season for GD Airliner (Panspacificflight-Mackenzie Beth). He is owned by Pete Kibler, Ken Owczarczak, R. Osiejo and Courtney McNeight with David McNeight Jr. handling the training duties. GD Airliner has now earned $18,574 this season and $562,987 lifetime

It's a very rare occurrence when BZ Glide draws the inside post at Buffalo Raceway. It happened on Friday night (May 27) in the $10,000 Open Trot and BZ Glide took full advantage of it by posting a gate-to-wire harness racing victory over Lutetium in 1:57.1 over the fast track.

BZ Glide rolls to Open Trot in on Friday
Usually known for his closing kick, BZ Glide ($3.40) started from the pylons and had to deal with the front-running Lutetium who scored from the two hole. Lutetium tried to leave but BZ Glide and driver Mike Caprio quickly put a stop to that thought.

Just before the opening quarter pole Lutetium (Kevin Cummings) had decided being parked wasn't the answer and had to settle back behind the pace-setting BZ Glide. With fractions of 28.0, 58.1 and 1:27.4, the race boiled down to a three horse affair.

BZ Glide turned for home a length in front with Lutetium attacking from the inside and Northern Bullet (Jim Morrill Jr.) on the outside. BZ Glide managed to stay strong in the lane and easily held off Lutetium and Northern Bullet who finished in second and third respectively. The margin of victory was a length.

Owned by the Caprio Stable LLC and trained by Alana Caprio, it was the first win in three starts for BZ Glide (Yankee Glide-Bloomer Zoomer). The 7-year-old gelding has now earned $7,000 this season and $176,167 lifetime.

It's only been two weeks since Wanna Rock N Roll arrived in Western New York from Yonkers Raceway but she has learned quickly that harness racing on the front end is the right thing for her to do.
Jim Morrill Jr. steers Wanna Rock N Roll to Wednesday victory.

In her second start of the season at theBuffalo Raceway, Wanna Rock N Roll ($3.60) again made every step a winning one in taking the featured $9,000 pace for the mares on Wednesday night (May 25).

In her seasonal debut last week at Buffalo Raceway, Wanna Rock N Roll went wire-to-wire in 1:56.1 in scoring a 1-1/4 length victory. She went even faster this start over the fast track with a 1:55.2 time in easily winning by 4-1/4 for catch driver Jim Morrill Jr.

Blasting from the five hole off the gate, Wanna Rock N Roll had no trouble in reaching the lead and posting splits of 28.1, 56.3 and 1:26.3. In the stretch, the race was all but over as Wanna Rock N Roll went uncontested to the finish line. Who Says That (Drew Monti) won the battle for second place while Passion R Virginie (Shawn McDonough) took third.

Owned by Rose Campbell and trained by Mike Carrubba, Wanna Rock N Roll (Rocknroll Hanover-Cams Leading Lady) is a 5-year-old mare that now has won six times in 16 appearances this season. The victory upped her earnings to $45,475 in 2016 and $205,732 lifetime.
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Pacers That Horse J D and Aberarder Smitty share sole possession of the top spot for most wins in the season. That Horse JD has nine victories now and is also the top money winner with $42,774 while Aberarder Smitty won for the ninth time on Friday.

Passion R Virginie, Beechwood Wayne, Bold And Lazy and Helena's Hope each have six wins..

Socialdelight are the top winner for the trotters with six victories while Ali De Vie, Kahoku and Oceana are next with five wins each.
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The claim box was silent on Wednesday but two pacers changed barns on Friday and one on Saturday.

Machness went to owner/trainer Jim McNeight for $5,000 while out of the same race, Colleen Girdlestone and Michael Gentner took Bloomins Last with Mark Laidlaw the trainer.

Stonebridge Saga went to the Resilient Racing Stable on Saturday night after the pacer was claimed for $10,000. Rose Russo will be the trainer.
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The handle for Wednesday night was $182,173, Friday night was $136,270 while Saturday saw $135,509 for a total of $453,952. The three-night average was $151,314. Last week's total for the three nights was $634,566.
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In the 'Handicapping Challenge' between Brian's Buffalo Raceway Selections and track announcer Peter Berry, Berry leads 221-178 through Saturday night.

To get additional insight on handicapping, Wayne Teaven will share his thoughts live every evening for that night's program. So besides the opinion of Berry and Mazurek, Teaven will add his view into the mix.
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Brian's Buffalo Raceway Selections would like to thank track photographer Steve Roth for the providing the fine pictures used on this blog. To order any photos in the winner's circle or even action shots, contact Steve at photosbyroth.com
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There were 33 races contested during the week at Buffalo Raceway and the post time favorites won 19 times for a 68% average. For the season, the favorites have won 298 of 675 races for 42.46%.
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The wins from the starting grid at Buffalo Raceway were quite spread out with the one hole leading the way with eight during the week. The five spot was next with seven and the two hole posted six.

Buffalo Raceway wins by post position (Week/Year)
1.   8  (196)
2.   6  (111) 
3.   5  (94)
4.   3  (107)
5.   7  (81)
6.   3  (50)
7.   2  (28)
8.   0  (14)
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Racing will continue on Wednesday night with an 11-race card which will feature Happy Hour from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. along with $3.50 hot dogs, pizza, pretzels and more.

After a 5 p.m. post on Friday night, Saturday's live post time will be 6 p.m.

It will be a big day at Buffalo Raceway for the Belmont on June 11th. There will be over 20 tracks on the simulcast menu throughout the day along with Buffalo Raceway's live program.

There will be free full past performances available for Belmont Park, shuttle service to and from Hamburg Gaming, Happy Hours from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. and Double Reward Points for Player Extra members.

The clubhouse is expected to sellout but there's plenty of time to make reservations by calling 716-649-1280, extension 300.

Also, bring your group out to the track for a great night of live action. There's a packages available for groups of 10 or more. Call 716-649,1280, extension 200 for more details.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The ABC's of WNY Harness Racing for 2016

Below are the yearly ABC's of harness racing at Buffalo Raceway as the 2016 season kicks off on Wednesday, January 13th with a 5 p.m. post time. 

A: Andrew (Drew) Monti continues to be a rising star locally in the sulky and give Kevin Cummings a run for his money in the driver's standings.
Drew Monti

B: Buffalo Raceway putting on some great competitive races once again and hopefully will enjoy some outstanding weather.

C: Cummings (Kevin) will once again challenge the all-time win mark in a season of 212 set by Jim Morrill Jr. He'll be the one to beat in the driver's standings as well.

D: David McNeight Jr. finds his way to the winner's circle once again on a regular basis. With son David McNeight III in the bike, he's a contender for the training title.

E: Exotic wagers at Buffalo Raceway, including the new Pick-5, have some great payoffs.

F: Flanigen (Jack) remains a 'never overlook' driver when making selections at Buffalo Raceway.

G: Gregory (Jeff) keeps returning 'home' to compete on the New York Sires Stakes circuit.

H:Having afternoon racing the summer may be one of Western New York's best kept secrets.

I: Inclement weather is a word off limits this season in Western New York.

J: John Campbell makes another appearance during the season after arriving for the Sire Stakes after a 23-year absence in 2015.
Incelement weather, including snow, always possible in WNY

K: Keep an eye on the Friday night races as huge prices tended to be the norm.

L: Lems (Chris) finds success once again as he won $115,879 in just 31 tries at the Hamburg half-mile oval.

M: Morrill (Jim) continues to make starts in the New York Sire Stakes locally and for racing fans to enjoy his driving talents.

N: New Pick-5 wager produces some big carryovers and payoffs during the season.

O: Ouriel (Howard and Michael) have success with their stable including Breeder's Crown winner Divine Caroline. Also, their charitible support to such organizations as the Sunshine Horses and the Boys and Girls Club.

P: Perrin (JD) takes more opportunities to drive as he searches for his third straight Buffalo Raceway training title.

Q: Queen? Will Ugly Betty return to be the 'queen' at Buffalo Raceway?
Maria and Jack Rice

R: Rice Stable (Jack and Maria) has a big year on the local circuit.

S: Sire Stakes attracts high-class fields with the youngsters just making their way to the races and beginning that journey locally.

T: Track records don't fall as quickly as they did last season. With a total of 10 new marks either tied or broken in 2015, it would be nice see some standards remain for a few years.

U: Upsets are expected especially in the early season. Many the horses will be on more than a month break so the surprises are not unusual.

V: Video Lottery Terminals helps keep the purse structure at Buffalo Raceway in a healthy position.

W: Welcome to Peter Berry, 'The Voice of Mountaineer Park' as he will call the first half of the racing season at Buffalo Raceway.

X: X factor? Will there be a new driver coming in during the winter to challenge the local driver colony?

Y: Youwillwishyouhad stays as sharp as last year at Buffalo Raceway with eight victories and $45,090 in the bank.

Z: Zdjelar (Mihajlo Jr.) finishes again in the top 20 in trainer standings.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Peter Berry To Call Races At Buffalo Raceway

Peter Berry, the voice of Mountaineer Park in West Virginia, will be calling the action for the first half of the season at Buffalo Raceway when their 90-day campaign opens up on Wednesday, January 13, 2016.

Buffalo Raceway Chief Operating Officer Jim Mango said, "Peter is an A+ announcer by anyone's standards and we are pleased to have him here for the first half of our meet." 
Peter Berry to call first half of season

Berry said, "I'm thrilled to get the opportunity to call harness racing in the United States. I was a long-time writer for the sport in Australia and it has been my first love for as long as I can remember.

"I did some harness race-calling at a very young age in Australia while attending a race-calling academy but moved to journalism at 17 and had to put my passion on hold. That passion was reignited by Wiggle It Jiggleit at the Little Brown Jug,” he added.

Berry will return to Mountaineer Park in mid-April when their season begins.

A former news editor at the Daily Racing Form, Berry was a harness racing writer and United States sports correspondent and columnist for The Age in Australia. The Youngstown, OH resident also has owned standardbreds in Australia.

Located at the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg, Buffalo Raceway will race on Wednesday and Friday evenings at 5 p.m. and Saturdays at 6 p.m. throughout the meet. Sunday afternoons will be added starting on June 19 with post times of 12:35 p.m. Closing day is July 24.

For more information on Buffalo Raceway including the latest news, entries, results and race replays, go to www.buffaloraceway.com

Sunday, December 13, 2015

DID YOU KNOW.........?????????

Here are some fun, fast facts about Buffalo Raceway.........

Buffalo Raceway has shifted post times for its 90-day meet with tentative start times of 5 p.m. on Wednesday and Fridays, 6 p.m. on Saturday evenings and 12:30 p.m. when Sunday afternoon racing commences on June 19.
Racing begins on Wednesday, Jan. 13

Buffalo Raceway will offer a Pick-5 wager this season starting in the 5th race. It will have a minimum 50-cent wager and should the Pick-5 not be hit, there will be carryovers!!!

The superfecta will have a 10-cent minimum. There will be four daily doubles offered each night along with a pair of Pick-3s. The Pick-4 wager has been eliminated.

There were a total of 156 claims made last season at Buffalo Raceway as compared to 135 back in 2014 and 107 in 2013.

There were 98 different drivers to sit in the sulky during the 2015 campaign including two females. Maria Rice and Hannah Miller each got one start over the Hamburg half-mile oval but each finished out of the money.

Fireyourguns set the all-time track record at Buffalo Raceway my crusing the mile in 1:52.0, shattering the old standard of 1:52.3 established by Steelhead Hanover back in 2012. Veteran horseman Mike Caprio drove Fireyourguns to the victory.
Fireyourguns setting new track record of 1:52.0

Buffalo Raceway's first racing day ever was on June 12, 1942.

The first triple dead heat ever at Buffalo Raceway was on May 18th, 1957.

There were seven dead heats for the win while there were seven dead heats for place in 2015. Also there were four ties for the show position during the campaign

More than 1,200 ton of material was put down on the Buffalo Raceway surface this fall. At the end of the 2014 season, more than 6,000 ton was laid down as the turns were re-banked and the drainage was improved. That's 7,200 tons of material over a two-year span or 14,400,000 pounds!!!

Mother Nature cooperated with Buffalo Raceway in 2015 as only one racing day was scratched due to weather issues.

The home stretch at Buffalo Raceway is 640 feet long and 80 feet wide.
Hall Of Famer John Campbell

Hall of Fame driver and 'Mr. Harness Racing' John Campbell returned to Buffalo Raceway in 2015 for the first time since 1992 and won with Jewels In Hock in New York Sire Stakes action. Campbell hadn't won a race at the half-mile oval at the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg since 1990.

Former Buffalo Raceway regulars returned back to the area for Sire Stakes action in 2015 and enjoyed good results. Jeff Gregory was 9-of-18 for $139,950 in earnings while Ray Schnittker took two wins in eight tries for $40,813.

The highest win payout in 2015 came when Diditagainhanover pulled a $240.50 shocker on April 10th. The all-time win price at the Hamburg half-mile oval is $490,50 established on March 10, 2011 when Allamerican Tiki rolled to the upset win.

Kevin Cummings won seven races on March 4, 2015 but ended up a victory short of tying his own record of eight wins he registered on June 11, 2005. He also was just the third driver in Buffalo Raceway history to notch 200 or more victories in a season as he found the winner's circle 203 times. Jim Morrill Jr. holds the all-time mark of 213. Shawn Gray also went over the 200-win plateau with 206 in 2011.
Trainer JD Perrin

JD Perrin once again captured the training title with 70 victories in 377 starts. He was also the leading money winner with $388,290 in purses.

Michelle Gramza was the top female conditioner with 39 victories in 152 attempts. Gramza finished 7th in the overall standings. Maria Rice finished 10th overall with 32 winners in 204 appearances. Courtney Ohol cracked double digits victories for the ladies with 12 while Lisa Lederhouse and Rachelle Mungillo each posted 10.

Post time favorites hit at a 41.99 clip in 2015.

The one post was as expected the place to be at the half-mile Buffalo Raceway track as 267 victories came from that spot. Scoring from the inside resulted in a mark of being in the money 60.8 percent of the time. The two post was next with 207 victories and surprisingly the four hole had 186 wins as compared to the three slot which had 170.

The dreaded eight spot resulted in just 20 victories for a mere 3.2 win percentage. That outside spot managed to finish in the money just 13.1 percent of the time.

Frank Milby
The season opening race of 2015 was the memorable one for driver Frank Milby as the newcomer rolled to a $38.60 victory aboard Memumsnotnice. It was Milby's first start ever at Buffalo Raceway but found the going tough the rest of the season, winning just 10 times in 171 appearances. The stint in Western New York turned out to be a nice warmup for Milby however as he led the way at Ocean Downs in Maryland with 71 wins in 391 starts and is the current runaway leader at Rosecroft Raceway with 109 victories in 522 rides.

The highest nightly handle of the 2015 campaign was on Wednesday, January 21 when $412,238 was wagered.

The Prophet Mary had the most wins on the season at Buffalo Raceway with nine trips to the winner's circle, earning $40,907. Ironically, the pacer won 6-of-8 races on a off-track, the tops among all trotters and pacers on the grounds.

Youwillwishyouhad had the highest earnings per start, winning and average of  $3,221 per outing. The pacer won 8-of-14 starts.
Youwillwishyouhad scoring a victory in 2015.

Justgottogetthere led the way for the trotters with an average check of $2,679 in 18 appearances. Justgottogetthere won 8-of-18 efforts.

When considering a driver on an 'off-track',  Ray Fisher Jr. had just one victory in 66 tries at Buffalo Raceway for a 2% average last season. Kevin Cummings in the meantime had the best win percentage on a 'off-track' with 69 victories in 256 starts for a 27% win mark. These numbers are all based on drivers having at least 50 starts over an track that was considered 'off'.

Steve Roth will once again be the Buffalo Raceway photographer.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

2016 Buffalo Raceway Schedule (Tentative)

Below is the tentative 2016 live harness racing schedule at Buffalo Raceway. Post times for Wednesday and Friday nights will be 5 p.m., Saturday evenings will go to the post at 6 p.m. and Sunday matinees will get underway at 12:30 p.m.

Racing begins on Wednesday, January 13 and will end on Sunday, July 24.