Jim Morrill Jr. put on a driving clinic at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Nov. 18) winning nine of the 13 races on the card. Morrill’s run included a natural hat trick in races two through four, a natural grand slam in races seven through 10 and victories in both feature races. Morrill also had one third and posted an unbelievable .778 UDR for the night.
Morrill broke his own single night win record of eight that he set back in 2005 at Batavia and was tied a year later by John Cummings Jr.
Morrill won the $15,000 Open I Handicap Trot with E Street, who ran his own personal win streak to four. E Street sat in the pocket behind Crazy Ritz (Jim McNeight Jr.) through quarters of :28.4, :59.3 and 1:29, and then continued to follow until the top of the stretch. It was there Morrill dipped into the passing lane and let E Street sprint to the line with no urging to win in 1:58.2. E Street ($3.70) is owned by Elite Harness Racing and trained by Rachelle Mungillo.
Morrill’s other feature win was with Venier Hanover in the $15,000 Open I Handicap Pace. Morrill put Venier Hanover on the point and dominated the field from there. After getting to the half in :56.3 with Parmesan N (Austin Sorrie) and Stranger Things (Jim McNeight Jr.) trying to keep pace, Morrill gave Venier Hanover his head and scorched a :27.3 third panel that put four lengths between him and the rest of the group. Venier Hanover then rounded the last turn and scooted home, wrapped up in 1:54.3. It was the 52nd career win for Venier Hanover ($4.50), who is owned by Monique Cohen and trained by Shawn McDonough.
Morrill completed his nonagon with BJs Smitty (1:58.3, $14), Virgil N (1:54.1, $4.70), Play The Field (1:56.2, $5.50), Prairie Panther (1:55.4, $2.70), Credit List (1:58.2, $3.60) Rebellious (1:56.2, $2.20) -- who registered his 70th lifetime win -- and Vulcan Star N (1:54.4, $9.80).
Morrill started the night as the leading driver at the current Batavia meet with 147 wins, but just four ahead of Kevin Cummings (143). Now Morrill has a double-digit lead after the dust settled on Saturday as he now has 156 wins to Cummings' 145 (Cummings won two races as well).
Morrill also started the night with the second highest UDR among all drivers in North America with a .436, just .001 behind Brandon Campbell (.437). Morrill may move into first place after Campbell registered a win and two seconds (.704 UDR for the night) in three starts at the Century Mile today in Edmonton, Alta.
Mike Deters was the top trainer at Batavia on Saturday with three winners, all driven by Morrill.
Live harness racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday, Nov. 22 at 6 p.m. and there will be a $2,113 carryover in the Jackpot Hi-5 pentafecta wager in race 13. With no winner of the Pick-5, there is a carryover of $3,035 for that wager on Wednesday and Batavia will be offering a $10,000 guaranteed Pick-5 pool (races one through five). This is part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program and free program pages courtesy of Trackmaster will be available on the USTA’s website.
(With files from Batavia Downs)