Trainer Linda Toscano and driver Jim Morrill Jr., not only won the first two $36,000 divisions of the New York Sire Stakes two-year-old filly pace at Batavia Downs Wednesday evening, they scored in a $12,800 division of the Excelsior Series in between them.
So through Batavia's fifth race, each had already scored a triple, but they had to work to complete that hat trick as Winbak Farm's Swift As A Shadow barely edged Bet The Moon in the second NYSS division by a nose in 1:56.
Swift As A Shadow, a son of Bettors Delight, went off the 3-5 favourite from the rail while Bet The Moon got pounded down late to 2-1 from the outside post in the field of six.
Though Swift As A Shadow doesn't have a lot of early speed, Morrill took advantage of the rail and made two leavers, Im The Real Major from Post 4 and Clustercuss from Post 5, work to get past him.
First, Im The Real Major cleared to the lead, then Clustercuss overtook him to hit the front in :58.3. Morrill didn't wait long to make his move, and Swift As A Shadow rocketed first-over quickly to the front, taking the field to the three-quarters in 1:27.2 as Tommy Green moved up first over with Bet The Moon following him.
When Tommy Green sputtered, Jason Bartlett took Bet The Moon three-wide. Once he passed Tommy Green, he confronted Swift As A Shadow, and they put on a terrific show, battling head-to-head right until the wire when Swift As A Shadow gamely held on.
In the first and toughest division, Kenny Jacobs' powerful two-year-old pacer Doctor Butch handled his five rivals with authority, coming from off the pace to win by a length and a half over Thirty Two Red in 1:54.2, pacing his last half in :56.4. His winning time was more than one second faster than the other two division winners.
In his pari-mutuel race, Doctor Butch had finished second by half a length to Thirty Two Red in the NYSS at Monticello Raceway. Toscano upped the ante and Doctor Bush won an elimination of the Lawrence B. Sheppard Stakes at Yonkers by four lengths. In the Final, the son of Art Major went off the 6-5 favourite despite having Post 8. Bartlett drove Doctor Butch that night and had no choice but to gun him from the start. He made the lead parked three-wide in a :27.1 opening quarter then did well to hold on for second. Back in the NYSS at Saratoga in his last start, Doctor Butch won in 1:54.
His victory, at the prohibitive odds of 1-4, Wednesday made him three-for-five with two seconds.
Toscano didn't have a horse in the final division, but Morrill did, driving Im Banksy, the 6-5 second choice from Post 5. The even-money favourite in Post 3 was Sir Carys Z Tam, owned, trained and driven by Pat Lachance. Neither of the favourites made an impression.
Larry Stalbaum left hard from Post 6 with Story Book and quickly cleared. Bartlett, driving Eugene Kurzok's Americasgottalent for trainer Ron Burke from Post 2, could have stayed third, but didn't, quickly rushing up to take the lead just before a :29.1 first quarter. Bartlett did a super job backing off the half to :59.2, and Americasgottalent, a son of American Ideal, had plenty left to hold off 36-1 longshot Up Front Pete Vk by a little less than a length in 1:56.3. The victory was Americasgottalent's second in five starts.
Where as a parlay on Morrill and Toscano's three early winners wouldn't have given you bus fare to Buffalo, Americasgottalent paid $13.40 and headed a $170.00 exacta and $548.00 triple.
(Agriculture and NYS Horse Breeding Development Fund)