Melodies Major sets track record at Batavia in NYSS
Written by Alex Feig on September 13, 2018
Melodies Major (Photos courtesy of Paul White)
By TIm Bojarski, for Batavia Downs
Batavia, NY — Two divisions of New York Sire Stake (NYSS) 2-year-old colt and gelding pacers were in town on Wednesday (Sept. 12) to compete for $109,000 in purses at Batavia Downs and in the first $54,500 split, Melodies Major (Art Major-Hilarious) left a lasting impression on the locals by setting a new track record.
Bicorne Hanover (Matt Kakaley) left from post one and opened up a quick two-length advantage while Melodies Major (Tyler Buter) dropped in second to get the perfect garden spot trip. The top two broke away from the field while setting fractions of :28.3, :58 and 1:26.3. At that last station Buter popped the plugs and pulled Melodies Major and he went right past Bicorne Hanover in the blink of an eye. At the top of the lane, Buter sat chilly while Melodies Major paced home in :27.3, well in hand at the wire in 1:54.1.
The time of 1:54.1 is a new track record for 2-year-old pacing colts at Batavia Downs, replacing the 1:54.2 standard set by Doctor Butch in 2012 and matched by He’s Watching in 2013.
“When I pulled him he was loaded with pace,” said Buter after the race. “We got a perfect trip, everything went well and I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
It was the sixth win in eight starts this year for Melodies Major ($5.50) who now has earned $166,433 in NYSS purses and finished as the top point-getter in his division with 325. Melodies Major is owned by Martin Scharf, is trained by Mark Ford and was bred by James Avritt Sr.
In the second $54,500 division, Covered Bridge (American Ideal-Stonebridge Kisses) provided a major upset in a blanket finish.
The heavily favored Reining Deo (Jim Morrill Jr,) took an expected spot on the front end and with no early challengers, Morrill took advantage and backed the half off to :59.1. Having his fill of the slow fractions, Ray Schnittker pulled Hurrikane Kingklee from fourth and started moving up the outside.
Morrill responded with a :28.1 third panel effectively ending the first challenge. However Covered Bridge (Kevin Cummings) who was drafting second-over, tipped three wide at the same time and was raging with pace. Covered Bridge got to within a length of Reging Deo going into the final straight and then proceeded to run him down to the wire, winning by a head in 1:55.4 at 22-1.
Covered Bridge (Photos courtesy of Paul White)
The time was a new lifetime mark for the winner.
“Off a half in :59, she went a big mile from where she was,” said Cummings. “She raced huge, I like her a lot. She’s a nice horse.”
It was the second win of the year for Covered Bridge ($46.80), both in NYSS action for owners David Smith and James Giannuzzi and trainer Jessica Okusko. Covered Bridge was bred by WInbak Farm.
There were also two $15,000 Excelsior “A” races on the card.
The first division was won by Shim (American Ideal-Feel Life) who got away sixth by 12 lengths, survived an interference break then rallied to win by two in 1:57.1. Shim ($5.90) was driven by Ray Fisher Jr. for owners Pat Lachance (who also trains the winner), M & M Harness Racing, Ira Rosenblum and the Royal Flush Stable. Shim was bred by White Birch Farm.
The second division went to Cal (American Ideal-Hula’s Z Tam) who got away third before pulling at the half to take the lead and eventually the race in 1:58.1. Cal ($10.40) was driven by Matt Kakaley for owners Crawford Farms Racing and the Northfork Racing Stable and trainer Chris Oakes. Cal was bred by Pat Lachance and the Z Tam Stable.
The $320,000 NYSS consolation races will be held at Batavia Downs on Friday (Sept. 21). The $1.8 million NYSS finals are the following night, Saturday (Sept. 22) at Yonkers Raceway.