by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway
HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Western Alumni had a bit of a tussle to get to the front end in Buffalo Raceway's $10,000 Open Pace on Saturday night (Feb. 20) but that battle ended up winning the war.
Facing a stubborn Listowel to the opening quarter, Western Alumni (Jim McNeight) managed to set the fractions and hung on late to register a neck victory over Youwillwishyouhad (Bruce Aldrich Jr.) in 1:56.0 over the fast track.
It was the featured event on the 13-race card that completed a three-day race week where the handle was over $900,000.
Buffalo Raceway Chief Operating Officer Jim Mango said, "It is nice to see the numbers like that for our operation in Hamburg. It was a week of hard work for the track crew with the rising temperatures playing havoc. The race secretary (Tom Agosti) has put together full competitive fields and it is starting to make a difference resulting in exciting racing in Western New York. The measure of it is more wagering. I think it will continue throughout the meet."
Back to the Open, Western Alumni ($9.30) posted fractions of 28.0, 57.4 and 1:26.3. The 8-year-old gelding then had to rebuff the late charges of Youwillwishyouhad and China Dream (Jack Flanigen) who both missed by a neck and head respectively.
It was the second straight win for Western Alumni (Western Hanover-Countryview Miss), now a winner of $12,060 this season and $272,044 lifetime. He is owned by North Creek Racing LLC and is trained by Jerry Nugent Jr.
The finals of the Niatross Knockout Claiming Series are set for next Saturday night with a purse of $24,000. Notching victories in the semi-finals were Flashy Trick (1:58.0) and Beechwood Wayne (1:59.3). Along with the winners, also earning a spot in the finals were Mach It Paid, Delightful Caitlin, M G Jade, Midas Blue Chip, First Of Fun and Tymal Torch.
Horses not reaching the finals will battle in the $10,000 consolation.
Racing will continue at 5 p.m. on Wednesday night with a 13-race card on tap.
For more information including the latest news, results, race replays and upcoming promotions, go to www.buffaloraceway.com