by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway
HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Mesmerized finally got out of his second place trance by using a late rally to capture the featured $8,200 trot at Buffalo Raceway on a chilly Friday night (Jan. 13).
After three consecutive runner up finishes to close out the 2016 campaign at Batavia Downs, it was time for Mesmerized to get the spoils of a victory by nudging out the front running Winkys Pride by a nose in a snappy 1:58.4 over the fast track. Ali De Vie (Ray Fisher Jr.) was third.
Winkys Pride (Larry Stalbaum) was in command for the first three panels, putting up splits of 28.4, 59.0 and 1:29.1 as Mesmerized (Shawn Gray) tagged along in second.
As the field turned for home, Winkys Pride looked like she had given Mesmerized ($7.10) the slip but the 5-year-old gelding (Cantab Hall-Gift Card) re-rallied on the outside and managed to put a nose in front in the final step at the wire.
Owned by Jack Rice along with Vogel & Wags Nags Stable, Mesmerized is trained by Maria Rice. He has now won nine times in 51 career starts, putting $141,468 in the bank.
It was also 2016 Awards Night at Buffalo Raceway and along with getting a victory in the first race with Mesmerized, the Rice family along with the Vogel & Wags Nags Stable celebrated as their 5-year-old gelded Noble Legend was honored as Buffalo Raceway's 2016 Trotter of the Year.
In another great twist, That Horse JD, who was selected as 2016 Pacer Of The Year thanks to 12 victories in 24 starts and $57,760 in earnings, won the sixth race on Friday's program in 1:56.3. He was conditioned by JD Perrin who was recognized as the Trainer of the Year. Perrin registered 106 victories in 2016, the second most wins ever in a season for a trainer at Buffalo Raceway.
Jim Morrill Jr. was named Driver of the Year, his first at the Hamburg half-mile oval since 2006, after scoring 131 wins in just 338 starts.
Racing will resume on Wednesday night at 5 p.m. with an 11-race program scheduled. Buffalo Raceway was forced to cancel Saturday's card due to a lack of entries but simulcasting in the clubhouse will be held as usual.
For more information including the latest news, upcoming promotions, race replays and results, go to www.buffaloraceway.com