Batavia driver's race goes down to wire
December 14, 2017
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The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) will present performance awards to the top dash winning trainer and driver of the meet during the 10th annual "Night of Distinction" ceremony in the winner's circle at Batavia Downs on Saturday and whereas the top conditioner has been well identified, the driver's race will likely go down to the final races of the weekend.
Kim Asher is currently the top percentage trainer in North America with a UTR of .427 and $1.1 million in earnings. She is also ranked eighth in North America for wins, currently with 208.
So it's no surprise that Asher is also the trainer of the meet at Batavia Downs for 2017.
Asher has started 351 horses during the session winning 88 races, finishing second 55 times and third another 55 times and saw her horses hit the board 56 percent of the time. Those efforts gave her a stellar UTR of .390 and $479,491 in purses. Her win total more than doubled her closest competitor.
Competing for only the second year at Batavia, Asher's training career spans 19 years and during that time she has won multiple training titles including most recently, the 2017 Buffalo Raceway meet. This year Asher has sent out 208 winners and that mark was a personal best. Her stable boast horses with gaudy win totals like Quicksilvercandy A (20), Saint William A (16), Itsonlyrocknroll A (13) and Kaitlyn Rae (11).
During her career Asher has 1,934 wins, 1,456 seconds and 1,222 thirds out of 9,196 starts for a lifetime UTR of .342 and earnings of over $15 million.
The driving accolades for this meet are still up in the air.
Larry Stalbaum is the current dash win leader with 127 wins while Ray Fisher Jr. is second with 122 and Drew Monti is third with 117. With only two cards of racing left and probably 20 starts apiece remaining for all three drivers, Stalbaum looks fairly solid with a five-race lead.
If Stalbaum does win the title it would be his first at Batavia Downs. However the long-tenured horseman is no stranger to being the best set of hands on any circuit. Over his 32-year career he has won dash honors at Northville Downs, Hazel Park, Sports Creek, Jackson Harness Raceway, Monticello Raceway, Raceway Park, Cal Expo and most recently, Buffalo Raceway earlier this year.
During his career, Stalbaum has driven 5,732 winners and earned just under $39 million in purses.
Fisher has won two driving titles at Buffalo Raceway and four at Northfield Park. But since arriving at the Genesee County oval in 2007 has never taken the top spot there although he did finish second and third three times each. So winning it this year would definitely be a notch in his belt.
Since his career began in 1987, Fisher has won 4,200 races lifetime and just shy of $18 million in purses.
Monti is the defending dash-driving winner at Batavia Downs, taking his first-ever driving title last year with 116 wins. He had a substantial lead this year earlier in the meet, but the competition stiffened and now he has a lot of work to do in order to repeat.
Although the 23-year-old Monti has only been driving for five years, he is already closing in on his 1,000th win (currently with 979) and has made $5.5 million in purses during that time.
The competition for the driving title will resume on Friday night and will be decided on Saturday. Post time for both nights is 6 p.m. (Batavia Downs)