The lake effect snows blew into Genesee County making Batavia Downs look like the North Pole and Mydelight Bluechip made like Rudolph and led all the way to win the $10,000 Fillies and Mares Open Handicap Pace on the last Wednesday night of racing for the meet.
Mydelight Bluechip (Ben McNeil) was on a "take no prisoners" mission as she left and parked Little Joke (Billy Davis Jr.) and Voltina (Kevin Cummings) to the half in :56.3. As the race went on to the second circuit, Little Joke continued to apply the pressure but Voltina faded away, allowing Miss Irish Rose A (Larry Stalbaum) room to advance to the outside from sixth and move into a closer third position.
Moving through the last turn, Mydelight Bluechip put away both of those challengers and led by two lengths. At that point it looked like she'd wrapped things up until Squeeze This (Drew Monti) and Hey Kobe (Shawn McDonough) came flying late, gobbling up ground in the stretch. But Mydelight Bluechip dug in and pulled out the win by a narrowing margin in 1:57.2.
Privately purchased on Nov. 11 by Ellen McNeil, Mydelight Bluechip ($20.80) scored her first victory for her new owner and third of the year overall. The 5-year-old daughter of Bettor's Delight is trained by John McNeil III, rounding out the McNeil trifecta in the race.
In the co-featured $8,000 distaff Open II, Sportsmuffler (Monti) took the lead before the half and from there, left the rest of the field in her rear-view mirror as she pulled away to a seven-length win in 1:56.2. Owned by Lav Racing Stable and trained by Mike Carrubba, Sportsmuffler ($3.70) registered her 10th win of the year and pushed her earnings to $54,149 as a result.
Monti was red hot on a cold night, winning four races on the card. Besides scoring with Sportsmuffler, Monti also won with Tymal Luckynpink (1:57.1, $5.50), Juxlivin My Dream (1:59.2, $10.20) and Hold On Tightly (2:02.3, $21.20). Monti actually won a fifth race with P L Hellcat in the 10th race but was disqualified and placed second for a Eurorail violation.
Open Water (Jim McNeight Jr.) who finished second in that tenth race was placed first and gave trainer Jim McNeight his 1,000th career training victory. McNeight's training win total has earned $3,495,864 in purse money for his connections. McNeight also has 3,587 driving wins with an additional purse amount of $13,133,205 to go along.
In the Downs' 11th race, the heavily favored Heavenly Way (Ray Fisher Jr.) was soundly backed in the show pool and finished fourth in a five-horse wire photo. With Heavenly Way being off the board, it prompted eye-popping show payouts of $77.50, $108 and $264.
The drivers' race just got a little more interesting after Wednesday night. Larry Stalbaum still leads with 122 wins and Fisher is second with 119. But on the heels of his big performance, Monti draws into a closer third with 116 wins, only six behind the leader with only four days of racing left in the 2017 meet. (Batavia)