King James Express leads NYSS entries at Buffalo

Hamburg, NY —– King James Express, the 2020 New York Sire Stakes champion in the 2-year-old colt and gelding pacing division, begins his quest for another title as the traveling series arrives at Buffalo Raceway on Wednesday evening (June 9), highlighting the 13-race program that starts at 5 p.m.

There are 13 colts and geldings split into two divisions in the 3-year-old pacing classification as they kick off their journey to reach the final scheduled for Friday (Sept. 10) at Yonkers.

There are two divisions worth $56,000 and $57,000 and they are scheduled to go off in the second and third races on the program.

In the first bracket, King James Express (Art Major-More Diamonds) drew the five post in the six-horse division. Trained by Mark Harder and to be driven by Matt Kakaley, King James Express won the NYSS 2-year-old title by beating Town Gossip by 2-1/4 lengths in 1:56 at Yonkers.

He won four of 11 starts in 2020, earning $209,201 in purse money on the campaign and put up a lifetime mark of 1:52 at Vernon Downs.

Things haven’t started out well thus far in 2021 for King James Express. In three tries this season, he’s finished no better than fourth which was in his most recent outing at Pocono on May 25.

I’ll Drink To That looks to be the top challenger to King James Express as he has two wins and a pair of second place finishes on his chart in 2021. Jim Morrill Jr. will steer I’ll Drink To That from the six post for trainer Chris Ryder.

Thus far in his career, I’ll Drink To That (American Ideal-Margarita Monday) has missed hitting the board just twice in nine career starts, amassing $85,391 in winnings. He arrives off a 1-1/4 length victory in 1:51 at Harrah’s Philadelphia on May 26.

No Schmo Joe (Roll With Joe-Donna Lee) drew the two spot for driver Kevin Cummings and conditioner Dale Lawton. He has three straight wins at Vernon Downs and Saratoga with his best effort a 1:55.2 during that stretch.

The rest of the field includes Bottle Rocket (Michael Whelan), Major Makover (Mark MacDonald) and Trevor’s Ace (Marcus Miller).

In the second division, Town Gossip tops the seven entrants in the $57,000 bracket. Town Gossip (American Ideal-Flibbertigibbet) will start from the seven position with Drew Monti in the sulky for trainer Jennifer Bongiorno. Finishing in the money in three out of four starts this year, he’s put $12,028 in the bank and has earned $167,473 in just 11 lifetime attempts.

Stop Staring (So Surreal-Paramelons Hanover) drew the inside post for MacDonald and conditioner Ray Schnittker. He’s fresh off a pair of impressive victories at Yonkers and also battled in the Weiss Series for the 3-year-old pacers at Pocono where he finished fourth in the finale, just 1-1/2 lengths behind the winner, Kyuquot.

Others in the field include Mullinax (Morrill Jr.), Major Bean (Matt Kakaley), Umberto (Cummings), Southwind Petyr (Miller) and Special Tyler (Leon Bailey).

The all-age colt and 3-year-old colt track record is the longest standing mark at Buffalo Raceway, a 1:52.3 time set back on May 12, 2012 by Steelhead Hanover. The fastest clocking by a 3-year-old gelding at the Hamburg half-mile oval is 1:51.4 established on July 7, 2018 by Hitman Hill.

There will be a pair of $15,000 Excelsior A events on the program and a $6,500 Excelsior B race which will be the first race on the card.

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