by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway
HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Missile J, the winner of the $300,000 Art Rooney Pace in late May at Yonkers Raceway, headlines one of the two $58,000 (est.) divisions of the New York Sire Stakes for 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers that arrive at Buffalo Raceway on Wednesday evening (June 15).
Co-owned by Kj Stables and the Purple Haze Stables, Missile J (American Ideal-Cantor's Delight) went unraced as a 2-year-old but he's sure making up for the lost season now.
In just nine career starts, Missile J has five wins, two seconds and a third for $198,675 in earnings. He's won six of his last eight tries and finished in second twice, losing by just a length each time.
Missile J's win in the Rooney on May 28 at Yonkers was impressive to say the least as he started from the dreaded eight post, but driver Brian Sears managed to work out a perfect trip with him. They stopped the timer in 1:53, beating Tailgunner Hanover by 2-1/4 lengths.
Last week however in a $39,900 division of the Sire Stakes at Monticello, Missile J (Tim Tetrick) tried the cut the mile from the seven post but couldn't hang on late as Talk Show got up in time for the victory in 1:53.4.
Jim Morrill Jr. gets the call aboard Missile J who is the 7-5 morning line choice that is trained by Linda Toscano.
The main threat in the race could come from Manny who scored from the rail last week in the Sire Stakes at Monticello in 1:54.2 for Chris Lems.
Others in the five-horse field, set for the ninth, are Nox Vegas Bluechip (Kevin Cummings), JK Heaven Sent (Joe Bongiorno) and Carlos Danger (Billy Dobson).
In the opening division, set for the eighth race, Fine Diamond looks to sparkle as he takes on five other rivals. A winner three times in five attempts this season, Fine Diamond draws the two post with Bongiorno in the sulky, finished second to Manny last week in the Sire Stakes at Monticello. Fine Diamond failed to win a race in 2011 but put $145,114 in the bank in just 11 starts.
The favorite at 2-1 is Craftship (Morrill Jr.) who drew the rail. He took a $39,900 leg last week at Monticello over Artmagic by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:53.2.
The remainder of the field includes Roll Away Joe (Kevin Cummings), Bottom Deals (Lems), Autotune Hanover (Dobson) and Cenovis (Ray Fisher Jr.).
With perfect weather expected along with a fast race track which has produced three track records already in 2016, the 1:52.3 colt mark set by Steelhead Hanover in 2012 could be in jeopardy along with the gelding standard of 1:53.4 established by Murder He Wrote in 2014.
There will also be three $15,000 divisions of the Excelsior A Series and one non-betting race for the Excelsior B Series.
Racing will begin at 5 p.m. on Wednesday with a 11-race card set. There's a $487 carryover in the Pick-5 as well which begins in the fifth race.