Batavia, NY — Batavia Downs begins the second week of the meet on Wednesday (July 28) and the New York Sire Stakes will once again be in town. This time it’s a two-for-one deal as both male and female divisions of 3-year-old pacers will convene at the Genesee County track for a total purse of $225,000. With the Excelsior A and B races also carded, the money distributed by the NYSS alone on Wednesday is $319,800.
Looking at ladies first, eight will go postward in their first division for $58,000.
Summer Rae (Roll With Joe-Solar Eclipse) kicked off her stakes season well, scoring a win and a second in three NYSS starts. And in between she took a speedy 1:53 lifetime mark at Yonkers in an overnight event. The filly is the top money winner in this race, drew post one and looks to have all the advantages.
Trainer Tom Fanning has her regular driver Jason Bartlett up and she has been tabbed 5-2 by the track handicapper.
Think Of Galaxies (So Surreal-Lightning D Dube) looked sharp in winning back-to-back starts in overnight races at The Meadowlands in June, including her lifetime best 1:51.3 mile. In her last start in NYSS action at Yonkers, she left from post seven and tripped-out to finish second behind Test Of Faith, who won in 1:52.2. She gets major post relief here as she moves into post three.
Jim Morrill Jr. will drive for trainer John McDermott and she starts at 3-1.
The second $57,000 split has seven starters and Heart Of Mine (Roll With Joe-Aquavella) is the prohibitive favorite.
Heart Of Mine has won seven races out of eight starts this year and her only loss was to Test Of Faith in the $150,000 final of the Park MGM stake at Yonkers, in what was then a battle of the unbeatens. Heart Of Mine bounced back last week and won in NYSS action with her seasonal best effort of 1:53.3. The filly likes the front and that should be easily attainable from post four.
Hall of Fame trainer Linda Toscano sends the 7-5 Heart Of Mine out with Scott Zeron in the bike.
Tava (American Ideal-Major Harmony), who starts from post one, will be looking to capitalize with a trip and should sit the pocket here. Although she only has one win in seven 2021 starts, Tava has not missed the board since her first start of the year and that includes three NYSS starts. Her win was a 1:53 jogger at Harrah’s Philadelphia in an overnight event which was her lifetime mark. She’s spotted well here and has a chance to close the deal.
Matt Kakaley drives the 3-1 Tava for trainer Scott DiDomenico.
The colts and geldings are split into two five-horse, $55,000 fields and both have prohibitive co-favorites.
The first group features I’ll Drink To That at 7-5 and King James Express at 8-5.
I’ll Drink To That (American Ideal-Margarita Monday) got his first NYSS win this year at Buffalo in June before heading into the Messenger Stake at Yonkers. He fared well in the elimination where he cut the mile and finished second to Abuckabett Hanover in 1:51.3. In the final he got away third and after racing covered, got out coming off the last turn but could not advance on the leading American Courage who won in 1:51.4 over the off track.
Jim Morrill Jr. drove him to victory at Buffalo and is back up for this outing for trainer Chris Ryder.
King James Express (Art Major-More Diamonds) was the NYSS 2-year-old male pacing champion last year and earned $209,201 for the season, and after a slower start this year seems to be rounding into form now. After a third place finish to I’ll Drink To That in the first NYSS event at Buffalo, King James Express raced in three overnight conditioned events where he showed good closing speed. His last start was back in the NYSS at Saratoga where he went his season’s best mile of 1:53.3 in victory with Jason Bartlett aboard. He draws post one here and will be dangerous.
Bartlett is back in the driver’s seat for trainer Mark Harder.
The second quintet also has co-favorites with Southwind Petyr tabbed at 8-5 and Town Gossip at 9-5.
Southwind Peytr has two second place finishes in NYSS this year, but they bookend two outstanding overnight wins that included a 1:50.1 career best at The Meadowlands in June and followed up with a 1:52.4 win at Yonkers over an off track. The competition here is stiff, facing off against Town Gossip who beat him in their last start. But Southwind Peytr did finish ahead of Town Gossip earlier this year when he placed at Buffalo. Southwind Peytr drew wideset in here, but there are only five at the gate.
Jason Bartlett steers for trainer Mark Harder.
Town Gossip has come on very strong lately and enters this race razor sharp. After winning an overnight at Yonkers in a lifetime best 1:52.4 by 2-1/2 lengths, Town Gossip shipped to Saratoga and fired a 1:51.1 mile at the competition. He sat with cover behind Southwind Petyr, who tangled with I’ll Drink To That in a :26.4 third quarter, before finding room in the lane to win by three-quarters of a length. The time lowered his personal best again and bodes well for his chances in this race.
Joe Bongiorno will drive for sister Jenn Bongiorno and will start from post four.
There are also a total of five $15,000 Excelsior A races and three $6,500 Excelsior B events on the card, two of which will go as non-betting races before the pari-mutuel card begins. Post time for the first non-betting event is 4:30 p.m. and the regular card kicks off at 5 p.m.