By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs
(Photos courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery)
Batavia, NY — It was a dark and stormy night at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Oct. 19) with a steady rain, brisk wind and sloppy track for all to deal with. But much like the postman, it didn’t deter the Downs’ leading driver Kevin Cummings from completing his appointed rounds as he successfully delivered five horses to the Purple Haze Winner’s enclosure despite the elements.
Cummings struck early and often, winning with Rip It Up (2:00.2, $4.40), Gimme The Pacifics (1:59.1, $10.80) and Everdeen (1:59, $3.60) in races two, three and four for the natural hat trick. He then completed his count with JB’s Star Dancer (1:58, $4.20) and Ruthmae Hanover (1:59, $3.00).
The five Wednesday wins give Cummings 98 for the current Batavia meet, putting him 12 ahead of Jim Morrill Jr. (86) and 55 ahead of Dave McNeight III (43).
The one race Cummings didn’t win was the featured $14,000 fillies and mares Open I Handicap pace where John Macdonlad piloted Protect Blue Chip from the pocket to procure the purse.
Ready Set Rock (Denny Bucerri) was sent down the road from her pylon position start, put Protect Blue Chip in the garden spot and had things under control until My Standards (Drew Monti) came calling from fourth at the half in a soggy :59. My Standards forced Ready Set Rock to pick up the pace as she strode alongside in a 1:28 three-quarters, where Tres Chic Bluechip (Kevin Cummings) joined the party with a three-deep move.
As the group entered the stretch, the two outside attackers’ bid failed, allowing room for Protect Blue Chip to vacate the pocket and challenge for the win. While Ready Set Rock was under heavy urging, Macdonald simply tapped the wheel disk once and Protect Blue Chip passed the leader and held off the late closing So Admirable (Shawn McDonough) at the line to win by a neck in 1:58.1.
It was the sixth win of the year for Protect Blue Chip ($9.40) who is owned by Vogel & Wags Nags and Team Rice Racing. Maria Rice was the winning trainer.
In what was clearly a very even playing field, 13 different trainers claimed one race each on Wednesday.
A $1,662 carryover and $5,000 guaranteed Pick-5 pool in race one on Wednesday generated a handle of $7,718 for that bet and produced a $6,204.25 payout for the winning combination of 2-1-8-5-1 for the 50-cent wager.
Batavia Downs honored local driving and training legend Gerry Sarama Wednesday on the occasion of his 80th birthday. Sarama started his racing career in western New York in 1966 and hit the heights at Roosevelt Raceway in the 1980’s where he competed against some of the greatest horsemen of all time. During his driving career, Sarama won 2,630 races and over $11 million earned in purses. Last year he reached the 1,000 win plateau for training and has earned another $6.5 million as a conditioner. All the horsemen and horsewomen as well as all the management and staff of Batavia Downs, wish “The Man With the Hands”, Gerry Sarama the very best on this special day.
Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Oct. 22) at 6 p.m. and there is another carryover available. The Jackpot Hi-5 Pentafecta in the 13th race will start with $823.54 in the pool. Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track’s website at bataviadownsgaming.com