Akron, NY --- The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association has announced the award winners for top performing horsemen for 2013 as well as the Batavia Downs meet.
Paul White photo Ray Fisher Jr. has been named western NY driver of the year.
2013 was an enigma for Ray Fisher because a mid-year accident that could have just as easily killed him ultimately drove him to produce one of the best years of his career. On July 12 at the Buffalo Raceway meet he was the leading reinsman at; Fisher went down in a horrific accident involving half the field and suffered a fractured pelvis and two broken vertebrae. Despite the dire diagnosis, Fisher was seen at his barn the following morning and returned to driving only 20 days later. Without missing a beat, the 45 year-old Geauga, Ohio native righted the ship and went back on a driving tear that hasn’t slowed up since.
For the year, Fisher has scored 233 wins, 190 seconds and 182 thirds from 1,349 starts. His $1,198,955 in purses is a career best and his .296 UDR was his second best ever. Those numbers push his career totals to 3,537 wins and $14,183,533 in earnings. Fisher was the leading dash driver at the completed Buffalo meet and is currently second at Batavia with only two nights of racing left.
The western New York trainer of the year is John Mungillo.
To say that John Mungillo had a career year would be an understatement. His 775 starts, 154 wins and $675,746 in earnings were all lifetime bests for him by a good margin. And his .309 UTR was not far off his previous best effort. Those numbers bring his career stats to 731 wins and $2,820,586 in the bank.
Mungillo will also be recognized as the trainer of the meet for the current Batavia Downs session. His 65 wins, 38 seconds and 37 thirds earned his owners $252,134 and solidified his spot as the top conditioner at the Genesee County oval.
The Batavia Downs driver of the meet is Shawn McDonough.
23 year-old Shawn McDonough has accomplished quite a bit in 2013. Finding himself a commodity among trainers this year, he parlayed that in-demand status into some pretty impressive numbers. He found the winner’s circle at the Downs 94 times and has a legitimate shot to break the century mark by Saturday night. And checks amounting to $452,740 have been distributed to his respective owners as a result of his performances.
For the year McDonough has 173 wins, 176 seconds and 193 thirds from 1,252 starts and has pocketed $896,204 in spoils. Those are all career-best totals by far.
Shawn McDonough is a fourth-year provisional driver and is a rarity to be a "P" and a dash winning champion for a meet.
Ray Fisher Jr., John Mungillo and Shawn McDonough will be presented their awards during the UNY-USHWA “Night of Distinction” this Saturday night (Dec. 7) in the winner’s circle at Batavia Downs.
Here is a complete list of award winners that will be honored:
WNY Driver of the Year- Ray Fisher Jr.
WNY Trainer of the Year- John Mungillo
Batavia Downs Driver of the Meet- Shawn McDonough
Batavia Downs Trainer of the Meet- John Mungillo
WNY Comeback Driver of the Year- Ron Beback Jr.
WNY Rising Star- Drew Monti
Good Guy Award- Paul White
WNY Horse of the Year- Naked News
Batavia Downs Trotter of the Meet- Mystical Escapade
Batavia Downs Pacer of the Meet- Fireyourguns