Batavia, NY — The New York Sire Stakes visited Batavia Downs on Wednesday (July 28) with both genders of 3-year-old pacers competing in four divisions for a total purse of $225,000. With excellent efforts put in by the entire group, Town Gossip stole the show as he tied the track record for 3-year-old pacing geldings with an impressive 1:52.2 effort.
Joe Bongiorno and Town Gossip (American Ideal-Flibbertigibbet) battled with Major Bean (Matt Kakaley) to the quarter but got the lead by that pole in :27.3 and from there, he just kept going. With no one pulling right lines until the five-eighths, Southwind Petyr (Jason Bartlett) made the first move and could only advance to second on the rim at the three-quarters where the clock showed 1:24.1. Town Gossip started to pull away in the final bend and when they hit the stretch, he swelled up and paced away to a 2-1/4 length win in 1:52.2, which equaled the track record for 3-year-old pacing geldings.
“The best two horses were on the outside so I wasn’t sure how it was going to shape up. Jason (Bartlett, driving Southwind Petyr) dropped in the three hole and I went to the front. My horse is usually lazy but today on the front he kept to his task on his own pretty well. I knew the horse from behind would give me a run but we didn’t have to go a crazy third quarter and he was pretty wrapped up at the wire,” said Bongiorno.
It was the third straight win for Town Gossip ($3.50) and it pushed his earnings for this year to $91,588 for owner Robert Weinstein. Jenn Bongiorno trains the winner.
The other group of colts and geldings saw the 2-year-old NYSS male pacing champion, King James Express (Art Major-More Diamonds), make a statement for more year-end laurels this year.
I’ll Drink To That (Jim Morrill Jr.) was a strong leaver and dictated the pace for most of the mile. After a speedy :27.1 quarter, Morrill backed down the next two panels substantially and that’s when King James Express (Jason Bartlett) pulled from third and started to advance. As they went around the last turn, King James Express was wearing down I’ll Drink To That and when they hit the stretch, King James Express had the better foot and paced to the wire with a half-length victory in 1:53.4.
“In a well timed move with him he’s pretty fast and he’s great with a target. So I always have to make sure he has a target. When I moved him I thought I was a winner. He’s been getting better and better every start since he qualified this spring and with his progress he should be very good for the final,” said Bartlett.
King James Express ($6.50) won his second straight and now has banked $81,605 this year for owners Mark Harder, Deena Frost, Wayne Carleton and Dean Lockhart. Harder also trains the winner.
The definite star of the entire filly division was Heart Of Mine (Roll With Joe-Aquavella) who claimed her eighth win of the year in the easiest of fashion.
Scott Zeron left and floated his way to the lead in :28.2 and cleared just past that station. With no opposition from there, he backed down the half to :58.1 and the race was basically over. Heart Of Mine continued on the second circuit and maintained a 1-3/4 length lead up the backstretch, around the last turn and heading into the stretch where she extended it to almost three. Down the lane Zeron had Heart Of Mine wrapped up and paced with authority to win in 1:53.4 at the beam.
“She’s pretty nice. She’s extremely professional out there so she can position herself, good gaited so she gets around the turns well and she’s so easy to drive. She’s doing it pretty easy right now and she’s not breaking a sweat so we’ll see how she is going forward,” said Zeron.
Hall of Famer Linda Toscano trains Heart Of Mine ($2.40) for owners The Bay’s Stable, Radio Racing Stable, Fred Wallace and Camelot Stable. The filly now has $176,916 made this year and went to $308,331 lifetime in only 20 starts.
The first filly division went to Summer Rae (Roll With Joe-Solar Eclipse) who put in another solid effort.
Bartlett went right for the lead with Summer Rae and looked very strong on the point. The field followed single-file through fractions of :27.3, :56.3 and 1:24.4, with Party Queen (Matt Kakaley) tracking from second. Kakaley pulled off the far turn and charged the leader in the stretch. But Summer Rae hung tough and won by a quarter-length in 1:54.
“She got a little hot on me on the second turn and third turn, so I was a little bit concerned with that. So we were going more than we were forced to go and at the wire, she got a little tired. But in the lane she hung pretty tough once the horses got to her so I was pretty pleased with that,” said Bartlett.
It was the third win in the last five starts for Summer Rae ($3.60) and owners Kathleen Whitaker, Charles Rowe, Paul Lang and Tom Fanning, who also trains the filly.
Besides winning two of the four NYSS events, Bartlett also won two Excelsior A divisions to register the grand slam on the night.