Morrill sweeps Batavia features; Monti wins five

Batavia, NY — A pair of $14,000 Open I Handicap races were up for grabs on Saturday night (Nov. 26) at Batavia Downs, and Jim Morrill Jr. was more than happy to take the top prize in each after he airmailed both of his mounts to impressive victories.

In the trotting feature, Morrill launched Credit List from post eight and battled on the outside with Jumpinthejailhouse (Kevin Cummings) to the quarter in :28.3 before crossing over to the pylons at the three-eighths pole. Morrill then slowed the tempo to three-quarters, forcing Captain Krupnik (Drew Monti) to come first-over from third and get to within a length of the leader heading into the last turn. Credit List and Captain Krupnik broke away from the field and faced off heading for home. Captain Krupnik closed with every stride but couldn’t get to Credit List, who hung on to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:58.4.

Credit List repelled the late challenge of Captain Krupnik in Saturday’s Open I Trot at Batavia Downs.

It was the third straight win for Credit List ($8.00) and eighth of the year, pushing his earnings to $80,471 in 2022 for Room4040 LLC Stable and trainer Kevin Reynolds Jr.

Then, in the next race — the pacing feature — Morrill shooed home Prairie Panther after being parked out every step of the mile. Prairie Panther made his way to second on the outside of Brave World (Denny Bucceri) at the :28 quarter, but Brave World refused to not let Prairie Panther take the front. The two 8-year-old geldings went toe-to-toe to the half in :57 and three-quarters in 1:25.3 before heading into the last turn, still in the heat of battle, but with Stranger Things (Kevin Cummings) now on Prairie Panther’s back and poised to pounce in the lane.

When they hit the top of the stretch, Prairie Panther put away Brave World, but Stranger Things was now outside of him and coming hard. But somehow, some way, Prairie Panther dug deep and had something left in the tank to hold off Stranger Things at the line to win by a neck in 1:55.3.

Prairie Panther was a gutsy winner in the Open Pace, giving driver Jim Morrill Jr. (obscured) a sweep of the Saturday features in Western New York. Wendy J. Lowery photos.

It was the 15th win of the year and 62nd of his career for Prairie Panther ($2.50), who is owned by trainer Michael Deters in partnership with Joel Warner.

Morrill ended the night with three wins.

Driver Drew Monti had a huge night at Batavia on Saturday, winning five races during the card, including a natural hat trick in races 11, 12 and 13. He won with Make Some Waves (1:56, $7.40), A Game Changer (1:56.2, $22.40), Johnny Chip (1:56.2, $23.80), Ey Cowboy (1:57.1, $5.00) and Windemere Ryan (1:57.4, $4.10). He also had two second-place and two third-place finishes that, when combined, gave him a .521 UDR for the evening. Three of Monti’s five winners (Make Some Waves, Ey Cowboy and Windemere Ryan) were trained by Joe Skowyra.

Two other horsemen who teamed up for a natural hat trick were driver Kevin Cummings and trainer Sammy Smith, who combined to win the third, fourth and fifth races with Speed It (1:59, $6.10), Gemini Eddie (2:00.1, $19.40) and The Longest Yard (1:54.3, $2.40).

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Nov. 30) at 6 p.m. and there is another carryover available. The Jackpot Hi-5, in the 13th race, will start with $5,262 in the pool. Free full past performance race programs for all live race days can be downloaded by visiting the track’s website.

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