Southern Palms scores in Batavia feature upset

Batavia, NY — Southern Palms has been knocking on the door the past two weeks in the Batavia Downs top trot, but Friday night (Nov. 23) he kicked that door down and dethroned Lougazi in winning the $11,500 Open Handicap Trot.

Southern Palms got to the wire first and won by a head in 1:57. Paul White photo.

Crystal Sphere (Billy Davis Jr.) and Southern Palms (Kevin Cummings) both left from mid-pack and settled on the front in that same order. After doing one lap in :58.1 the outer flow came at them with last week’s winner Lougazi (Ray Fisher Jr.) sitting third in the three-horse outside assault.

As the two-tiers headed past the five-eighths, Crystal Sphere and Southern Palms had separated from the field and Fisher tipped three-deep around the stalled outer advance, but he was still six lengths from the front at the three-quarters in 1:27.4.

Heading into the lane Cummings pulled Southern Palms and took dead-aim at Crystal Sphere, passing that one halfway down the stretch. But he still had to deal with Lougazi who was flying down the middle of the track and looked like he might reach. But Southern Palms got to the wire first and won by a head in 1:57.

It was the eighth win of the year for Southern Palms ($15.60) who has now banked $66,441 in earnings this year for owner Mike Torcello. Western New York racing legend Gerry Sarama trains the winner.

The $8,800 Open II Trot was won by Barn Winner (Ray Fisher Jr.) who tracked the front-running Lenny Mac (Billy Davis Jr.) from the garden spot the entire mile before pulling at the head of the lane and out-trotting her to the wire to win by a head in 1:58.1.

It was the fourth win of the year for Barn Winner ($5.90) who is trained by Ryan Swift for owners Tanah Merah Farm and the Swift Racing Stable.

Drew Monti and Billy Davis Jr. led all drivers on Friday with two wins each on the card.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday evening (Nov. 24) with post time at 6 p.m.

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