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McNeight Achieves 1,000th Training Win

Published: December 15, 2017 10:39 pm ET

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Longtime western New York horseman Jim McNeight reached a career milestone as he earned his 1,000th win as a trainer.

McNeight was at 999 before his pacer Open Water finished second on Wednesday (Dec. 6) and was placed first through a disqualification. But McNeight made it official on Friday (Dec. 15) at Batavia Downs when his trotter Millbrook Hanover driven by his son Jim McNeight Jr., won easily in the snow to notch his 1,000th career victory.

McNeight got started in the business while in his teens and learned under the guidance of his father Ed McNeight Sr. He got his driver’s license in 1981 and became a go-to catch-driver in western New York within a few years.

Focusing mainly on driving for the first part of his career, McNeight added training to his daily duties when he father retired in 1992 and since that time has been a mainstay at Batavia Downs and Buffalo Raceway ever since.

In June of 2016, McNeight was involved in a bad accident at Buffalo Raceway and came away with a severe back injury that sidelined him for months. After time off and extensive rehab, he has been able to resume jogging and training but his doctors will not clear him to race due to the possibility of further damage in the event of another racing incident.

So now McNeight focuses fully on the training end of his current stable of 10 and is a full time coach for his son who does all the driving now and is a rising star on the same circuit his father excelled on for so many years.

Jim McNeight’s 1,000th training win was the result of 6,450 starts that also saw him finish second 932 times and third another 919. All told his earnings have amounted to just under $3.5 million.

“It’s very special to reach a milestone like this but you can’t do it without good, faithful owners and I have been blessed to have three of them,” said McNeight. “Mike Ventura, Mike Calimeri and Dave Sanlorenzo have backed me for over 20 years and made those 1,000 wins possible.”

Mike Ventura owns Millbrook Hanover.

For his driving careerm McNeight has 3,587 wins and over $13 million earned in purses.

Lenny Mac, Sportsmuffler Take Opens

It was girl’s night out in a winter wonderland as snow squalls blew through Genesee County. The mare Lenny Mac beat the boys in the $10,000 Open Trot and Sportsmuffler scored in the $10,000 distaff Open pacing feature at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Dec. 15).

In the week’s top trot, Lenny Mac came from off the pace to win handily, overcoming the field and the elements with the greatest of ease.

Empire Earl N (Larry Stalbaum) went right to the front and led to the half in 1:00.2. Lenny Mac (Ron Beback Jr.) then pulled first-up from fifth and motored quickly alongside Empire Earl N, and then right by him by the time they hit the backside.

From there, it was all Lenny Mac as she opened up four lengths at the three-quarters, six lengths at the top of the stretch and eight lengths when she hit the wire like a runaway train in 2:00.2, blowing up the toteboard at 12-1.

The win was the ninth of the year for Lenny Mac ($27.40) and it padded her bank account to the amount of $54,077 for owner William Emmons and trainer James Clouser Jr.

In the fillies and mares Open Pace, Sportsmuffler, who had recently gotten back to her winning ways after not finishing a race on November 22, caught a strong front=runner at the wire in a thriller.

Miss Irish Rose A (Larry Stalbaum) left for a familiar front-end position and led the field in post position order for almost a half-mile before Squeeze This (Billy Davis Jr.) pulled and attacked at that station in :59.2.

With Miss Irish Rose A still in command by two, the outer flow stalled and Sportsmuffler (Ray Fisher Jr.) tipped three-deep around and moved to within one length of the leader. The two maintained their positions around the far turn but when they hit the top of the lane, Sportsmuffler dug in and drove on to capture a half-length victory in 1:57.4 in a three-horse photo.

The win was the 11th in 42 starts this year for Sportsmuffler ($7.80), who now has $59,149 on her card for 2017. LAV Racing Stable Inc. owns the fibe-year-old Sportsmaster mare that is trained by Mike Carrubba.

Larry Stalbaum widened his dash win lead again scoring three victories on the night. That pushed him to 130 wins for the meet, now six ahead of Ray Fisher Jr. and 11 ahead of Drew Monti. Barring a monumental turn of events, it would appear Stalbaum has his first Batavia Downs driving title just about wrapped up.

One more night of racing remains at Batavia Downs in 2017 and that is Saturday (Dec. 16) with post time is 6 p.m.

There will be a guaranteed $2,500 early Pick-5 pool tomorrow with a mandatory payout. The wager runs from race one to race five and is a 50-cent minimum bet.

(With files from Batavia Downs)


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