Akron, NY --- With 2013 coming to a close and racing getting ready to take an early winter break in western New York, year-end awards are something that many people look forward to. With that in mind, the members of the Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association have cast their votes for the top gait performers for the Batavia Downs meet as well as their pick for the top horse overall.
|Naked News was named Horse of the Year.|
UNY-USHWA has named Naked News as the western New York Horse of the Year.
Naked News (1:54.1, $266,433, Passailed-Santiago Sissi) is a tough veteran race horse that made every one of his starts this year at either Buffalo Raceway or Batavia Downs. In those 39 outings, he had 10 wins, seven seconds and seven thirds for total earnings of $72,598.
This 10-year-old working man started the year in high claimers and made his way to the top conditioned class on the grounds as he captured four Open wins between the two tracks. He took his lifetime mark of 1:54.1 this year at Buffalo on August 10 and had career high totals for starts, wins and earnings as well. His lifetime bankroll now totals $266,433.
Naked News seemed to get better with age as his last three years were his best. And he was the only horse this year to maintain a continuous level of success at both tracks from his first win at Buffalo on Feb. 9 through his last win at Batavia in an Open II on Oct. 26.
Naked News is owned by Joseph Caligiuri’s Summer Wind Stable of Hamburg, N.Y. and is trained by Bob Gruber.
|Mystical Escapade was named Trotter of the Year.|
The Batavia Downs Trotter of the Year is Mystical Escapade (1:56.3, $149,702, Valley Victor-Armbro Orbita).
Mystical Escapade had only six starts at Batavia Downs after racing at Saratoga and Yonkers earlier in the year. The 4-year-old mare shipped in after a month layoff and quickly made folks take notice. Her first start was in the Brian Schroeder Invitational on Oct. 5 where she finished third. But her performance after that became historic.
The following week Mystical Escapade drew post seven and was the sole mare in the Open Trot with a full field of horses and geldings. With two breakers in front of her off the gate, she got away 14 lengths behind the field. But pulling past the half, the daughter of Valley Victor put a circle around the group and pulled away to a two length win in 1:56.3. The time was a lifetime mark for her and a new track record for older trotting mares at Batavia Downs.
In six starts, Mystical Escapade had three wins, one second and one third, all in the top trotting class on the grounds and all as the only mare racing against the boys. Those starts also helped propel her annual earnings to more than $89,000.
Mystical Escapade is owned by Stephen Andzel, Mark Briandi and Stephen Grant of Empowered Racing and is trained by Carl Smith.
|Paul White photos|
|Fireyourguns was named Pacer of the Year.|
The Batavia Downs Pacer of the Year is Fireyourguns (1:50.2, $124,561, American Ideal-Villa Hanover).
Fireyourguns did not have a ton of starts at Batavia, but made the ones he did count. He won four Open Paces and was two lengths away from winning two more. In his nine starts at the Downs, the speedy 4-year-old had four wins, two seconds and one third, all in the top pacing class. He took a half-mile seasonal mark of 1:53.4 and pocketed $27,675 in purse money from the meet.
On Oct. 5 he competed in the Kane Memorial Pace, facing off against $6 million winner Foiled Again and the national 3-year-old pacing colt of the year for 2012, Heston Blue Chip, and finished third in a 1:52 mile.
Fireyourguns is owned by Terence McClory and Robert and Jennifer Lowe, and is trained by Terence McClory.
All the connections of these horses will be presented their awards during the UNY-USHWA “Night of Distinction” this Saturday (Dec. 7) in the winner’s circle at Batavia Downs.
The driver and trainer awards will be announced Friday.