Gural Hanover, Flyhawk El Durado win NYSS at Batavia
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Welcomed by perfect weather and a racing strip that was yielding warp speed, the New York bred 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings brought their "A” game and put on quite a show for the burgeoning trackside audience.
In the first $58,000 division, even money favorite Flyhawk El Durado (Conway Hall-El Paso Gal) fired from the gate sharply to take the lead by mid-turn. With Zoey De Vie (Jim Morrill Jr.) and Cash Me Out (Michael Mc Givern) close in tow, the threesome broke away from the rest of the field and toured the track in line to the three-quarters in 1:27.1.
At that station Mc Givern extracted Cash Me Out from third to try and challenge the leader, but the closest he could get was a glance of his tail. Driver Mark MacDonald popped the plugs and flanked by Zoey De Vie inside and Cash Me Out to his right, Flyhawk El Durado out trotted them both to win by a half-length in 1:55.4.
After the race, Mark MacDonald spoke glowingly of his horse.
"He’s just a professional; he’s handy as a rule and he does his job. The two horses we beat are two of the best in the New York Sire Stakes, but I had a pretty good one too.”
Flyhawk El Durado is owned by Martin Scharf and is trained by Mark Ford. He returned $4.20 for the win. The victory pushed his lifetime earnings to $468,687.
In the second division, which also went for $58,000, Gural Hanover did what just about everyone on hand thought he would do and that is win handily.
In a departure from recent starts, driver Jim Morrill Jr. took Gural Hanover (Crazed-Givemearing) off the gate and tucked him in a loose third while Royal Max (Mark MacDonald) bolted for the front. When the dust settled near the quarter, Morrill pulled the gelding and took a lead that he would never relinquish.
With the whip on his shoulder and the lines in his lap, Morrill was a passenger for the rest of the race as Gural Hanover was all business while coasting to a wrapped-up 1:55.4 victory. The overwhelming favorite opened up at 1-9 and went off at 1-9 and returned $2.10 to his backers.
After the race, Morrill reflected "We dodged a bullet by drawing the softer division but that’s alright because it’s a long year and to get an easy one once in a while helps. He’s safe; I could have blasted him out of there, but he was in a good spot and I just waited for the field to settle and slid him in front and let him do the rest.”
Gural Hanover is owned by the Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi, Little E LLC and the Panhellenic Stable and is trained by Ron Burke. The victory boosted his lifetime winnings to $191,363.
There was some excellent competition in the Excelsior A divisions that were also on the card.
General Bill Brown (Crazed-Dusty Girl) extended his winning streak to four with a 1:57.3 tally for driver Mark MacDonald and trainer Leah Raymer. And Commissioner Daley (Conway hall-Irish Washerwoman) scored his fourth win in five starts with his three-length decision in 1:57.2. Dan Daley both trains and drives the gelding.
Mark MacDonald put on a driving clinic Friday night with four wins, two seconds and a third in his 10 Batavia starts while Mike Simons registered a driving double.
Saturday night (Aug. 2) is Back to the Track night at Batavia Downs. There will be contests and giveaways all night including horse racing bingo, T-shirts and driver bobble heads. There will also be a number of food and drinks specials as well. Post time is 6:35 p.m.