Top percentage drivers to clash as Batavia meet closes
Batavia, NY — The first winter meet hosted by Batavia Downs in over two decades will close out its 15-date run on Monday (Feb. 27) with a nine-race card starting at 3 p.m. The early season session has produced record-breaking handles for the track, but has also placed two of its regular drivers in lofty standings nationally among their peers.
Kevin Cummings is currently the fifth leading percentage driver in North America for all reignsmen starting under 300 times, boasting a .416 universal drive rating. And right behind him is Jim Morrill Jr. who ranks eighth in the same category with a .393 UDR. So it’s no surprise that the pair sits among the top in the Down’s standings where Morrill is first with a .466 and Cummings is third with a .416.
Morrill is not scheduled to drive on Monday but another local driving leader who will be on hand to close out the meet is Larry Stalbaum, who actually ranks second between Morrill and Cummings with a .465 UDR at Batavia this winter. Stalbaum also trains his owns horses and is the leading percentage conditioner this meet among those with 25 or more starts. His barn posted a stellar .593 UTR and produced 13 winners.
Cummings and Stalbaum will go head-to-head twice on Monday, most notably in the $13,000 Open I trot which is the featured race on the card. Stalbaum starts his own Inquiring Mind, who has a win and a second in his two Batavia starts and is the morning line favorite at 3-1. Cummings will sit behind Silver Buckeye, who just finished third in the $18,000 final of the Western New York Pop-Up Series. He will start from post one at 6-1.
The other match up comes in the co-featured $12,000 Trackmaster pacing event where Cummings has the 5-2 favored Ready Set Rock, who made her last start on November 30 in the $14,000 Distaff Open I. After two qualifiers at Batavia, Ready Set Rock will make her 2023 seasonal debut Monday. Stalbaum will sit behind Abuelita Hanover, who despite coming into this race with two consecutive convincing victories, has been overlooked in the morning line at 12-1. It’s noteworthy that Ready Set Rock and Abuelita Hanover are the only two mares among the field of eight.
Live racing will return to Batavia Downs on Wednesday (July 26) with a 53-date summer-fall meeting that will run through Saturday (Dec. 9).
By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs