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Russell Hill Lowers Batavia Track Record

Published: August 1, 2009 5:21 pm ET

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The New York Sire Stakes season got underway at Batavia Downs Casino on Friday night, in front of a large crowd thanks to perfect weather in Western New York and a baseball cap giveaway, co-sponsored by the Harness Horse Breeders of New York.

Over $200,000 in New York Sire Stakes money was up for grabs with the three-year-old colt and gelding trotters in town to compete in three divisions. It didn’t take long for the newly resurfaced racetrack to produce a new track record. It occurred in the first stakes race of the evening.

Russell Hill, by Conway Hall out the Valley Victory mare Southwind Maywood, established the new mark when he went gate-to-wire in 1:57.4, lowering the previous record, set by The Principle in 2008, by a full second. Jim Morrill, Jr. was in the sulky for trainer Jimmy Takter.

“I heard the announcer (Joe Zambito) say we were on track record time so I let him trot enough to break the record,” Morrill said.

Russell Hill put up numbers of :28.4, :58.1 and 1:28.3 en route to a 6-1/2 length score over Big Sky Domino with Jimmy Whisman. Dillar A Dollar with Dan Daley was a distant third.

The victory was the sixth of the season for Russell Hill, who raised his 2009 earnings to over $262,000 for owners by Al Libfeld, Marvin Katz and Sam Goldband. Going off as a prohibitive favourite Russell Hill returned $2.30 to win.

Jim Morrill, Jr. struck again in the second NYSS division, this time with Rookie Mistake for owner/trainer Jody Weidman. By CR Excalibur out of the Armbro Charger mare Nowhere Fast, Rookie Mistake moved to the lead at the quarter but had to repulse a serious challenge by favourite America and Ray Fisher, Jr. around the final turn before going on to a 2-1/4 length win in 2:00.1. Feel The Rush (Per Henriksen), who led off the gate, finished third.

“I wanted to take advantage of the rail,” Morrill said in a trackside interview. “Jody did a great job with him.”

For the evening Morrill would guide home four winners.

The victory, which was the fifth this season, raised Rookie Mistake's 2009 bankroll to over $65,000. He returned $5.20 to win.

The final division for the colt and gelding trotters went to South Jersey Flash for owner/trainer/driver Steve Reisenweaver. The Credit Winner-Stock To Watch colt never had an anxious moment as he was put right on the lead by Reisenweaver and he raced unchallenged, winning by a comfortable two lengths in 2:00.4. Finishing second was Credit Blues with Per Henriksen while local favourite Hitontheflipside and Kevin Cummings wound up third.

Winning for the second time this season, South Jersey Flash raised his seasonal earnings to almost $80,000. He paid $8.80 to win.

In the overnight feature, the $8,500 Open Handicap Trot, Zapphappy Kash, with Hall of Famer Clint Galbraith, closed with a rush to win going away in 2:00.1 over Bologna with Jim Morrill, Jr. The son of El Paso Kash is owned by Clint and Barbara Galbraith and Rochester Harness Racing.

The race was named in honour of Sunny Flower, a very popular open trotter that campaigned at the Downs for many years.

Racing resumes on Saturday night with post time set for 7:05 p.m. The first 1,000 race fans will receive a booklet containing the 2009 racing schedule, stakes schedule, promotions schedule, information on the Downs' top drivers, history of the Robert J. Kane Memorial Pace, the track's showcase event, and valuable coupons good for free racing programs, daily doubles and discounted clubhouse dining. The giveaway begins at 5:30 p.m. at Players Club.

(Batavia Downs)

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