Triple feature Thursday at Batavia

Batavia, NY — After a lengthy respite, winter returned to western New York as persistent snow and wind kept things challenging for the Thursday afternoon (Feb. 15) card at Batavia Downs. The program featured the three top weekly classes and two big efforts from the meet’s leading drivers.

The $14,000 Open Handicap Pace for fillies and mares was up first, and Imprincessgemma A (Brett Beckwith) got her first victory of the year.

Leaving from post five, Imprincessgemma A cut fractions of :28.1, :58.3 and 1:28 while Ball Diamond (Keith Kash Jr.) followed closely in the pocket. Ball Diamond pulled to advance at the top of the last turn and almost drew even as they entered the stretch, but Imprincessgemma A held sway and paced away to a 1-1/4-length victory under a line drive in 1:57.3.

Imprincessgemma A made every call a winning one in Thursday’s distaff pacing feature at Batavia Downs.

It was the 43rd career win for Imprincessgemma A ($3.90), and it pushed the 10-year-old’s lifetime earnings to $601,489. Imprincessgemma A is owned by Elite Harness Racing and is trained by Shawn McDonough.

Imprincessgemma A was also one of four driving wins on the card for Brett Beckwith, who also won with Stars And Stones (2:00.3, $6.90), Angelo J Fra (1:58.1, $9.20) and Silver Buckeye (2:02, $8.00). Beckwith currently sits second in the driver standings.

Then, in the $15,000 Open I Handicap for male pacers, Umberto (Dave McNeight III) got his second win in a row on the strength of an impressive effort.

Umberto also left from post five and crossed over to the lead in the first turn. After setting up shop on the point, Umberto paced unchallenged through swift quarters of :27.3, :57.2 and 1:25.1. In the last turn, McNeight lay back for the ride home, and Umberto strode to the line by 2-1/4 lengths and won in 1:54.

Umberto posted a second consecutive win in the Open I Handicap Pace.

Umberto ($7.40) is owned by El Dorado Stables and is trained by Dave McNeight Jr.

Finally, in the $15,000 Open I Handicap Trot, E Street (Jim Morrill Jr.) drew a rare inside post and tripped out to an upset.

Big Box Hanover (Larry Stalbaum) took the lead before the quarter as E Street sat behind him in the cozy pocket. After hitting the quarter in :29, positions remained unchanged to the half and up the backstretch. It was there that Special Prosecutor (Drew Monti) made a first-over push and joined the fray at three-quarters in 1:30. Big Box Hanover responded to the challenge and pulled away by a length as they hit the straight. But at the same time, E Street dipped into the passing lane and, within the length of three pylons, had the lead and bolted home by a length in 1:59.3.

E Street took aim up the open stretch to post a 7-1 upset in the Open I Handicap Trot. Wendy J. Lowery photos.

E Street ($16.60) is owned by Elite Harness Racing and trained by Rachelle Mungillo.

E Street capped off a driving grand slam for Morrill as well, after he had already won with P C Foreign Affair (2:02, $10.40), Just A Wrangler (1:55.4, $6.50) and Mayweather Hanover (1:59.1, $5.30).

Trainers Taylor Fritz and Andy Torre both had conditioning doubles on Thursday.

Live racing at Batavia Downs resumes on Monday (Feb. 15) at 3 p.m. The card will feature the $100,000 finals of the Western New York TrackMaster Series for pacers. Also, there will be a $2,669 carryover in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 in the 13th race.

Free full past performance programs for every live card of racing at Batavia can always be downloaded at the Downs’ website.

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